Sunday, June 29, 2008

robert spooner: the art of sport in fly-fishing

When you begin to study art, and its locality divergences, it becomes very easy after a time to generally spot works of the west versus that of the east. And it so happens that often in my mailbox, I may get a card from an east coast gallery opening along with an invitation from one of the west - and it is funny to see how art is represented and marketed in both locations.

But to stay on top of what's really up and coming in the art world, I also study submission calls. About two months or so ago, there was a fairly large national competition call for equine art. I immediately thought of three to four people (in the west) who might have an interest. Equine art is fairly specialized (and a high commodity in Kentucky horse country - particularly in horse portraiture), but as you get up into Montana and Wyoming (to name a few) it's not that much of an rarity - still for us here in the east, equine art isn't regularly hanging on most metropolitan gallery walls.

That was when I realized Abend Gallery Fine Art in Denver, CO sent me a notice that they were featuring some pretty exciting equine works by Norman Cable (promoted just after the Belmont Downs race) and I was thinking - there you have it, that's another example of art in the west! I was reviewing the fact that in my circles, it's not often you see equine art in the form of horse racing, but more often that you see it in the wild form of horses running through a canyon, standing still in the stable, or more rarely in the setting of a rodeo, which Abend is also offering by showcasing Carolyn Miller's work.

But what Abend's done that's really interesting and exciting is to curate a variety of action works (Indian powwows, hockey games, circus performers, white water rafting) into a compilation called the Art of Sport. And within Art of the Sport is a very specific example of "Western Art" offered in Robert Spooner's fly-fishing works. Now fly-fishing can be enjoyed nearly anywhere, but in my (growing) experience, I almost always see the few works I have seen in this genre coming from the west (excepting increased concentration on the sport from the Maine and Canadian regions). Spooner's done a conceptual study of river life that's very noteworthy, suspenseful, and coincidentally humble.

Spooner's adaptations come from observation. He's the guy in the corner watching, waiting, watching, painting, teaching, and watching. I once heard it said at an Academy Awards event that actors do much of the same to hone their craft and that you simply can't BE a character actor unless you spend much of your days observing others. With Spooner, there's nothing unglued, distressed, misproportioned, or metaphorically symbolized. Spooner exemplifies Edgar Degas statement, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Spooner's oil works, including my personal favorite, Downstream Cast, Play'n Hookie, and Silver Stream are featured above.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

peter batchelder's new england nuances

We've been friends with The Churchill Gallery in Newburyport, MA for some time now and we wanted to congratulate them on their summer Artwalk which will be held this evening. The Churchill Gallery has some diverse talent in their stable, and it was their recent mailer featuring Old Point by Peter Batchelder that first turned our attention to his unique style.

I'm not sure whether it's the reference to New England scapes, or the inference to solitary (and seemingly uninhabited) buildings, or maybe it's the captivating skies that speaks to our soul. The works are time in motion studies. Everything stays the same year after year, yet not one thing remains the same one moment after another. Skies with unknown weather patterns float effortlessly above studied ground with a hint of wind. The works are almost Amish-y without the spirituality; complexly beautiful in their disciplined simplicity.

Featured above is Batchelder's 2007 oil on canvas North Truro, the 2007 oil on canvas Cottage (offered through Kiley Court Gallery), and my personal favorite - the 2007 oil on canvas Two Cottages. You can see more of Batchelder's work in his upcoming August show at the Redmond Bennett Gallery in Dublin, NH. We love some of Batchelder's works of Martha's Vineyard - it never ceases to amaze me how an image can bring you back to a place.

Batchelder's artist statement says, "I paint subjects that appeal to me from several perspectives. Having grown up in a rural setting, I was surrounded by nature. I still enjoy the solitude of fields and meadows, intrigued by the old architecture that seems to have always been part of the landscape. I am drawn to the way light hits objects, particularly in the early morning or late afternoon. My focus has often been on the landscape without people. Childhood interests in architecture and archaeology have lead me to consider the history of an old barn, or a stone wall, built centuries ago. Lately I have begun to give more consideration to the people who inhabited those scenes, who built those walls and worked in those old barns. I am slowly bringing figures (sometimes animal, sometimes people) back into the landscapes."

Friday, June 27, 2008

paper whimsy's re-engineered photographs and art papers

Gale Blare's Paper Whimsy is a painstakingly-cared-for on-line gallery and e-store for some of the most beautifully re-engineered vintage photograph papers available in the marketplace today. Paper Whimsy takes high resolution scans of vintage and collectible photos and makes them available for collage, mixed media, and other art projects. They then digitally rework and enhance the images and offer them in collage sheets for artists' use. What makes Paper Whimsy a cut above the rest is Gale's attention and curatorship of often hauntingly unforgettable images - many of children's faces. Paper Whimsy has a trained eye for beauty, form, and function - visit them soon to see "everything you need to get creative." The site's Galleria, Bric a Brac, and Attic are truly sources of inspiration for blocked artists of any media.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

amy lin's detailed dots: determined and exacting effort

If you've been traveling within the Washington DC art circles lately, there's no doubt you've encountered the fast rise of Amy Lin's pencil drawings. She had shown at the Heineman Myers Contemporary Art Gallery earlier this year just prior to exhibiting at The Art League from April - May 08. And when Lenny Campello knighted her works on his hot-and-buy-now-list, I had to see for myself. I was present at the April successful opening of "Interaction" where works Transition, Unknown, Sacrifice, Strength, Gentle, and Release were displayed in large works on the Art League's walls. Lin graciously sat down with me prior to the reception's start.

Lin credits Ms. Myers in helping the artist feel comfortable in initially showing about 13 works in Bethesda. Lin said that with Myers' encouragement, Lin felt that even if no one were to purchase a work, she would still feel comfortable doing her process exactly the way she currently does. And that process for Lin is abstract stream of consciousness. It's her own interpretation and her own sharing of a meditative and encompassing work which she says has manifested itself into making her feel sick if she's not drawing and adding to somewhat negative thoughts that Lin's squandering her life if a pencil is not in hand.

Lin explained that she most encounters creative blocks before the execution of her dots. When she has to select her color template, it feels like a committed choice to decide. The number of hours that go into a work represent a color commitment that cannot be changed half way through. Lin says her color choices represent her mood at the time of selection and that can be, at times, incongruent with the happiness she feels in execution of a final piece. In her quiet escape of her own world, she says that her primary interest is not that of occupation, but rather of avocation - and that she might not enjoy the process so much if she thought of it as a duty.

Whatever non-committal anxiety Lin expresses in color choice, she is gracious in pointing to Michael O'Sullivan who she credits with suggesting a change in framing choice to allow more room for her works. She thanks Randall Scott for a suggestion in working with bigger paper and varying paper qualities. Lin likes the DC art scene, and she does not view her works in a political light. She flinches a bit as she self-describes her efforts as introspective, peaceful, and introverted. She is self-taught and views that experience as carrying gifts of freedom.

Although Lin enjoys the exhibition process, and is surprisingly self-collected at such a normally nervous time prior to an opening, she does say that arts management and the business side of art can be a true challenge for artists who simply wish to create. When asked what advice she would give a young artist, she says, "do your own thing." She recalls a story from her high school days where a painting was reviewed by authority and Lin subsequently changed the work to comply. She says when she went back to look at the painting, she realized she had liked it all the better the way it originally was. She warns, "don't sacrifice your own ideas ... keep at it and keep doing it."

Lin hasn't painted since high school, her full-time professional position keeps her time for the dots at a commodity, especially when works can literally take thousands of hours. Lin is feeling the electrical charge as the gallery is filling up with people and she doesn't realize how luminescent she looks in her pink chiffon gown. Her eyes dart and I ask her finally, "what's the best part?" And she looks back calmly and answers, "how the colored pencils feel against the surface of the paper." Lovely.

art hamptons july 11 - 13

Art Hamptons is scheduled to be held from July 11 - 13 this year at the Bridgehampton Historical Society Grounds. This show looks very promising not only in the quality of artists but also for the fine list of exhibitors. At Art Hamptons, you can see original works of Andy Warhol, Wolf Kahn, Romare Beardon, Jackson Pollock, and Sam Francis to name a few. I'm also encouraged by a variety of events slated in support of non-profit community organizations.

Art Hamptons is designed as the Hamptons premier art event, is sponsored by industry leaders, and provides a rich venue for museum quality art from the 20th and 21st centuries. If you go, don't miss North Carolina's Jerald Melberg Gallery representing the formidable Wolf Kahn's work for nearly 25 years.

blue elephant art center

Recently on a monsoon of a rainy day, I took the trek up to Frederick, MD without an umbrella and happily visited The Blue Elephant Art Center. Blue Elephant is a compilation of 10 cooperative artist studio spaces and 3000 sq. ft. of gallery space. Affordable openings for full and shared studios are available with all utilities included.

On June 7, 2008, the center held its first Members' Group Show of 2008. "Mission Statement" featured the art works of Shane Acuff, Chris Bransome, Deb Clark, Vince Coates, Sara Corley, Chuck Forsythe, Ben Fartrell, Tom Kemp, Claudia Lipshultz, Noah McWilliams, Steven Orrence, Caroline Qualls, Colin Smallwood, Matt Spire, Sandy Swann, Paul Tooley, Audrey Warren and Mr. Jingles. The collective attempted to answer the question, what is the blue elephant?

On July 5th, from 7 - 11 pm, the Center will be featuring "Metal" - the first in a series including wood, fiber, paper, and flesh. The art center will hold additional extended hours through July 13th.

Brian Slagle & Paul Tooley are doing a great job at promoting the potential of the Blue Elephant Art Center. If you are looking for a new opportunity, send your contact information (name, address, phone, email) and preferably some images of your work (5-10 color copies or email JPEG images at 72 dpi) and one page statement of work and artist intent to Brian Slagle, Blue Elephant, 4a W. 5th St., Frederick, MD 21701 or call him at 301-663-7809. Email address Alternate contact: Paul Tooley, 301-371-4291,

Blue Elephant image credit to the original artist Casey McGlynn.

graham franciose emotes

graham franci0se is an illustrator, painter, and silk-screener who was recently featured at Art Whino's "We don't sleep well" exhibition in their new National Harbor gallery. Much of Graham's works are emotive combinations of exaggerated faces and the human interplay with stars.

Graham's "Wish Series" to be remembered and for health shouldn't be missed and are available on his website. The work above is 11 x 15 and titled Wonder. Although Graham's works are strongly powerful in their emotive pull, they are at the same time wonderfully sweet and innocent - perfect for children's hospitals, libraries, or sleeping chamber applications.