Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sneak Peak - Tiny Trios by Don Lent

Don Lent just sent me some images of his lates series that he will be exhibiting in the upcoming "Teeny Tiny Art Show" in September. All of the drawings feature my beloved Three Graces! At this time, there are 8 drawings that measure 8x10 and 1 measuring 10x10. The media are gouache, watercolor, charcoal and pencil on paper.

Below are two tiny previews:

Art World Astrology

I just got off the telly with Alex Mathis and she told me to check out Cirrus gallery where she will be exhibiting some of her work in their upcoming group show in August. Now located in LA, Cirrus Editions and Cirrus Gallery was founded by print visionary Jean Milant in 1970 (it was originally located in Hollywood). From that time, Cirrus stamped itself as a unique American art institution, functioning as a combination print workshop, publisher and art gallery.

As I believe in the power of the zodiac, it was a delight to find on their website, Horoscopes - Art World Astrology by Mat Gleason. Here is the general forecast for June 2007:

"The messenger planet Mercury is going retrograde once again, causing havoc as it appears to sail backward across the sky and like a rollercoaster through our personal and professional lives. The Art World is not immune form the planets and as the little messenger planet makes its way this month, galleries will see a lot of their resources stretched without commensurate payback, artists will have tension in the studio with work not meeting the right standards, and art collectors might be confronted with a turkey purchase they made not being the investment they assumed. In June the past is close behind and it is not as pretty as you recall. Read your specific zodiac sign to see where exactly June will take your art and your art career."

In addition there are forecasts for each of the twelve signs. I am a Pisces (feb 19 - mar 20)...

"A creative surge in early June could fizzle quickly so take a lot of notes. Pisces artists will have a creative block mid-month and having recent inspirations around the studio could keep you working through it. Pisces gallerists will have to make due with day after day of non-collector foot traffic asking annoying questions as the highlight to the late June workweeks."

Friday, June 29, 2007

New Jewelry from Jen Burrall

We just received a shipment of new jewelry from Jen Burrall! Our first month together was a huge success leaving our inventory quite low. The new shipment includes a variety of stones including turquoise, olive jade, amazonite and green pearls, and a variety of Jen's unique designs.

Shown above:
Twisted Root earrings w/ Turquoise $120.
Nest post earrings w/ Turquoise $120.
Small Nest cuff bracelet w/ Turquoise $240.
Floret drop necklace w/ Turquoise $220.
Nest rivet ring w/ Turquoise $140.

Shown above:

XL Impression cuff bracelet w/ net pattern $260.
Large Moat cuff bracelet w/ Amazonite
Square Moat ring w/ Olive Jade $140.
Impression Cirque dangle earrings $80.
Small Nest necklace w/ green pearl $180.

In addition to the pieces available in the gallery, many of Jen's designs are available to special order with different stone options and patterns. Stop in the gallery to see her full color catalogue! (if you are unable to stop in please feel free to email me:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

on the verge of greatness

Not too long ago I included a post regarding one of the pieces in our current show, 'Melencolia' by Raegan Russell, which is a homage to the original engraving by Albrecht Durer. The piece has been significant to Raegan as both an artist and a teacher (at Berwick Academy). She saved as her last assignment for her students to use the Durer as a starting point for them to express their own ideas about melancholy. Raegan explained that melancholy in Durer's day was not seen as depression, rather as that mystical moment in time when an artist knows that they are on the verge of greatness, however, can't quite grasp their ideas.

Raegan shared some of her students' work with me and I thought I would go ahead and share them with you! Shown above is a collage by Ellie Bolster of Portsmouth, who was in Raegan's AP class and just graduated from Berwick Academy. The collage shown to the left is by Alyssa Smith, another of Raegan's AP students.

Throughout the exhibition, many of Raegan's students have come in to see her work. Thoughtful and engaged, they have provided me with a positive view of today's youth... and high hopes for the future.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

sneak peak

Our upcoming exhibition, 'Shifting Nature', will feature recent works by Brian Kiernan. The show opens on July 6th, however, I thought I would give a sneak preview as Brian's paintings have dramatically evolved in the past year. Incessantly seduced by the interior of the forest, his relationship with his subject has grown and the paintings have become more complicated, saturated with vibrant color and distinct form.

Working on site to execute small studies, in contact with nature, Brian absorbs the various encounters provided by the depth of the woody terraine. His observations are then gathered together and translated into fictive landscapes within the artist's studio. From the many sites and sources an amalgamation of the landscape is created. "Working from observation allows me to use the nuances of observed light while simultaneously developing the paintings in a more improvisational way. Much like the course of a myth, it has roots in reality, and over time it evolves and adapts, adding more complex layers."

'Shifting Nature' will be on exhibit in the gallery from July 6 - August 6. The opening reception will be held Friday, July 13th, 5-8pm in conjunction with art 'round town.

Monday, June 25, 2007

more muddy-bird!

Tim Christensen-Kirby just dropped off some new work fresh from the kiln. I have been eagerly awaiting this shipment for weeks, as Tim's inventory was essentially nonexistent following a hugely successful showing at the Smithsonian Craft Show this past Spring.

Tim's work is narrative, specifically illustrated, sometimes spiritual, often funny, and always understandable. "I make pots about the times in which we live, and the challenges of living in a world in which we are divorced from the natural world around us. I make my work to be appreciated by those who know a lot or a little about pottery or art, and make it with the hopes that some of these pots will survive longer than me or the culture in which we live, and will still be as pertinent and relevant then as it is now."

His latest shipment to the gallery includes the 'Dragonfly' cup shown above ($110-), and the 'Chicadee' plate shown here ($400-). Additional works feature Octopi, Salamanders, Gannets and Jellyfish.

Tim was on his way for a well-deserved vacation up North, where he will surely find rest, relaxation and endless acres of inspiration. More of Tim's work will be featured in 'Things with Wings', our upcoming exhibition scheduled for August - more about this show in a later post!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

photo shoot

Yesterday afternoon a friend of mine came in with his wide lense to capture the gallery in its present form. Unfortunately my lighting situation is not ideal for a photo session, however, you can get a sense of the space. I only wish I had taken before shots, as the gallery has dramatically transformed in the past three years (fact: when I first moved into the space, all of the walls were covered in unsightly blue carpeting!).

With the integration of the functional art - fabulous one-of-a-kind handbags by Becky Oh!, jewelry designs by Sara du Long, Erin Moran, Jen Burrall and Jill D'Angelo, and unique handmade teeshirts by Byrdy (Dirty Bird) - merchandising is forever on my mind...

Thank you kindly m. winters - your photographic excellence is much appreciated!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Andy Warhol: Modern Master!?

Poignant and prolific, Jane Kaufmann has been a sculptor for divers decades. Jane is both opinionated and fearless - her comical sculpture has taken on many matters of seriousness including politics, war, domesticity and aging. Visceral and direct, her work has brought eminent bliss to many and offense to a few. Jane recently brought in a new sculpture depicting "Old Andy Warhol". I cannot help but recognize a connection: Throughout her career, Jane has challenged the definintion of fine art, as did the "Prince of Pop".

As a central figure in the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol became famous world wide for his work as an artist, filmaker, author, record producer and as a public figure. His social cirlce consisted of bohemians, intellectuals, celebrities and wealthy aristocrats. Warhol is perhaps most remembered for his bizaar and enigmatic personality; his vulnerablility is perfectly captured in this portrait by Alice Neel (she is, by the way, one of my favorite painters!)

He was a controversial figure, hated by many critics who believed his work was all a "hoax". The quintessence of Warhol's art was to remove the difference between fine arts and the commercial arts used for magazine illustrations, comic books, record albums or advertising campaigns. Warhol once expressed his philosophy in one poignant sentence: "When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums".

Though I struggle to compare a department store to a museum, I have come to respect Andy Warhol for his ideas, and understand him in the context of his time. The Pop Art movement emerged in the 1950's as a reaction to Abstract Expressionism. Employing images of popular culture (as oposed to elitist culture in art), the movement made art accessible to the general public - I greatly admire Warhol and other Pop Artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Keith Haring and Roy Lichtenstein for their ability to broaden their audience.

I was recently inspired by Warhol's silkscreens, the 'Marilyn Monroe' series in particular. I used nine different images of the 'Three Graces' by Rubens, Botticelli, Carracci, Regnault, Burne-Jones, Thorvaldsen, Canova, Raphael and an unknown artist of Pompeii. In place of the of the silk-screen, I cheated, taking advantage of modern technology, specifically Adobe Photoshop, and borrowed Warhol's pallette. The nine images cleverly conceal a glass doorway leading down to my basement in the gallery.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Barbie Bling

The amazing Sara du Long popped in for a visit the other day. I can't quite remember how the topic of Barbie dolls came up in our conversation, but Sara told me about her friend and fellow jewelry designer Margaux Lange. Margaux creates unique hand-crafted jewelry using elements from Barbie dolls. The plastic parts are framed within sterling silver and combined with pigmented epoxy resin. Her designs are sophisticated and elegant, the overall effect is both beautiful and a bit creepy!

I was obsessed with the popular fashion dolls as a little girl - well into my adolescence! The Barbie compulsion is rare in its influence on countless young women from multiple generations, as Barbie was launched by Mattel in 1959. I have to assume that Margaux also played with Barbie when she was a little girl; I admire the way she has incorporated nostalgia from her childhood into her adult work, while at the same time commenting on feminism and ideas about beauty thru quality craftsWOMANship and a sense of humor.

Visit Margaux's website to view more of her unique designs, including a variety of necklaces, bracelets, brooches, rings and earrings - all featuring elements of the precious plastic icon.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

dirty byrd apparel

Byrdy of 'dirty byrd apparel' just dropped off some new hand-made teeshirts that are now available in the gallery!

Byrdy has a bfa in fashion design from Mass Art, and she is very good at what she does - making fun, unique and stylish products. A homegrown operation, started in her mother's basement, has recently expanded to her studio in Portsmouth, NH. Every bit of the operation from pattern drafting to sewing, screen making to printing are done within the confines of her little studio and with her little hands (with a little help from some friends!).

Hand-made original designs doesn't have to equal expensive - teeshirts in the gallery are $40, and Byrdy promises a high quality trustworthy item that will not fall apart after one use. Byrdy also makes adorable handbags which we hope to carry in the not too distant future! (lots of ideas & only one sewing machine!)

Stylish and hip-hip hooray for fabulous form and function!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Tiny Tributes

I recently finished another group of miniature paintings. They are my way of paying homage to some of my favorite artists and their masterpieces. Among the "chosen ones" are Raphael (the Lady and the Unicorn, c. 1505), Leonardo (Mona Lisa, c. 1503), Botticelli (Birth of Venus, c. 1485), Rubens (Le Chapeau de paille, c. 1625), Ingres (Portrait of Mademoiselle Rivière, c. 1805) and Lucas Cranach (Eve, c. 1528).

*These petite paintings measure 4.5"x3.5". They are now available in the gallery for $90 each. Soon enough the miniatures and other small works will also be available online thru the gallery website!

My miniatures have provoked many discussions lately regarding a video on YouTube, 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art, at least five folks have mentioned it within the past week so I finally took the time (2 min + 46 sec) to take a look. Its maker thoughtfully selected paintings throughout the History of Western Art featuring female subjects and morphed them into one another. The women appear to be alive - muses in motion. I can see why so many people thought of this video when they saw my paintings, as many of the same portraits are included in the video. (in fact, this self-portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun was next on my list!)

Purveyor of Portable Style

Becky O'Neil a.k.a. Becky OH! just dropped off some fabulous new handbags for the summer season!

Becky is a trained sculptor, she studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She has been sewing since she was about eight. "Handbags seem like a very logical combination of my two loves." Her range of handmade bags run from small wristlets to elegant zippered clutches to large shopper totes and custom work for bridal parties. She has about ten styles at any given time and adds and subtracts to her designs several times a year. "I let the fabric inspire me to new combinations of pattern and color."


Becky has been telling me about these fabulous sandals - she wore them when she delivered her bags last night (seen here with coordinating bolsa bag). Mohop sandals are handcrafted in Chicago by Annie Mohaupt, a former architect. "They are composed of rubber soling made from recycled tires, a Finnish birch plywood core, and topped with various select veneers. These components are laminated together and pressed on molds that Annie designed and fabricated herself. The graphics on the footbed of the sandals are Annie's original designs, which she screen-prints by hand at Chicago's legendary Screwball Press. Annie takes care to use the most environmentally-friendly woods, glues, sealers and inks that she can source.

The most unique aspect of Mohop shoes is Annie's patent-pending 'strapping system' (for which she has yet to come up with a proper name). Essentially, the wearer can customize her shoes by changing the ribbons that tie the shoes on. Different lengths and styles of ribbons can be used to achieve a virtually infinite number of looks with just one pair of wooden bottoms."

Becky, Annie and other independent designers create products that are useful, fashionable and unique with quality and worth that surpass mass-produced items. One small step for sandals, another giant leap for independent design!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hidden Treasures Auction

The Art Gallery at UNH is hosting a very special evening of art and antiques! On Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 6:00 p.m., the festivities will begin with a lively preview reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres, followed by an auction of paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, and photographs, as well as jewelry, textiles, glass, and collectibles.

A highlight of this fund-raising event will be the auction of many one-of-a-kind “treasure boxes” made by many local artists, including myself. (shown: Donning pirate attire in anticipation of Hidden Treasures! are local artists Tim Christensen-Kirby (front row), Arthur DiMambro, Grace Youngren, Jane Kaufmann,and Valerie Sobel.)

Hidden Treasures! is organized by members of The Art Gallery's Board of Advisors and volunteers. Funds raised from this special event will benefit The Art Gallery.

Limited spaces for Hidden Treasures! are available and advanced reservations are requested. To make reservations please contact the Art Gallery thru their website.

Sometimes a cigar, is just a cigar.

I just finished my "treasure box" to be donated to the Art Gallery at UNH (more about this later!).

My "treasure box", 'Sometimes A Cigar, Is Just A Cigar', borrows its title from the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (though there is no evidence that he actually uttered these words) meaning that sometimes a cigar is what it is and not a phallic symbol . The painting itself, oil on paper within a cigar box, references a reclinging female figure by Suzanne Valadon, her bold representations of female sexuality challenged the traditional male constructions of femininity.

"Born in France, the daughter of an unmarried laundress, Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) became a circus acrobat at the age of fifteen, but a year later, a fall from a trapeze ended that career. In Paris she pursued her interest in art, first working as an artist's model before becoming a noted painter. As confirmed in portraits, she was a strikingly beautiful woman and she worked as a model for artists while she was observing and learning their techniques. She modeled for artists such as Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, and is known to have had an affair with the latter two." (Wikipedia: Suzanne Valadon)

Valadon painted still life, portraits, floral art, and landscapes that are noted for their strong composition and vibrant colors. She was, however, best known for her candid female nudes. She defied artistic convention by painting nude women with natural, even homely bodies, who she presented matter-of-factly, instead of as sex objects.

Suzanne Valadon is one of my "sheroes", I often look to her life and art for inspiration. I love the combination of strength and vulnerability in her female figures, she reminds me that there is beauty in imperfection!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Good Art Will Not Match Your Sofa?

I just received word from Holly Becker, interior design consultant and writer of the wonderfully informative and inspiring decor8, that she was asked to design a room for Adorn magazine - around a chair they had selected for their upcoming Fall issue.

Holly revealed that she immediately thought of Bailey Saliwanchik's paintings, as she had seen them in the gallery here this past March. "I built the room around the chair AND Bailey's work, because I was so inspired by them when I first saw them in your gallery." (Shown is 'Joanna' and 'Whisper'.)

I am told that this is not the final picture, but you can get a sense of how the room came out - absolutely fabulous! I love the way Holly used the artwork and chair as her inspiration and built an environment around them thru color and the integration of raw and organic forms with clean lines and modern sophistication.

Bailey Saliwanchik is a young emerging figurative painter, originally from Maine, she now resides in Brooklyn, NY. Her paintings focusing on the beauty found in nature, color and the female form. "The image of a woman is all encompassing. There is power in delicate form. These bodies are rendered from the inside out, built from masses of pattern and blind mark and rotation until they reveal themselves to me. Breast, hand, spine, jaw - borne of chaos and perfectly flawed." Bailey first exhibited in the gallery this past March in 'Memory of Conversations', an exhibition of works by Bailey and Alexandra Mathis. She will be sending me some work for our upcoming 'Teeny Tiny Art Show' this September!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Biennial at the Portland Museum

While in Portland, I could not pass up the chance to see the 2007 Biennial at the Portland Museum of Art (which runs thru June 10th!). The exhibition features 98 works by 61 artists, showcasing Maine's contemporary art scene.

Thru the main entrance, on the left wall of the lobby, is a large mural by Sandy Litchfield, it is one of two paintings by the artist in the exhibition. Beautiful and substantial, the paintings vibrate back and forth between representation and abstraction. A recognizable landscape transcends to a welcoming wonderland. Pools of pigments (oil, acrylic and ink) form powerful color harmonies as they appear to both merge and repel. Sandy's work has been inspired "by summers spent on Sebago Lake as a child and in recent years with my family on Moose Pond. In the studio, I make notations of my brief journeys outside. My imagination expands my memories until the possibilities seem endless. But I keep coming back to that walk on a path with its small but remarkable moments of perception and wonder."

Another paramour in the exhibition was a painting by Gail Spaien. Influenced by American Folk Art, the tradition of Indian miniatures, and Minimalism, Spaien’s compositions combine decorative patterning and exquisite rendering to create quiet, peaceful moments. "The act of painting remains vital because it is a physically direct way of translating sensation, values, and context into visual form. My own work is humanistic and as such it is concerned with human feelings. These paintings celebrate life’s poignancy and sensations of quiet pleasure. Sincerity, homeliness, beauty, and comfort are the values embedded in the work." They serve as a much needed escape, a sanctuary.

First Friday in Portland

Portland's visual arts community opens its doors to the public the first Friday of every month from 5-8pm. The First Friday Art Walk is a self-guided tour of local art galleries, art studios, museums and alternative art venues. I attended this past Friday with my wonderful friend Dan (his feelings were hurt that I have not yet mentioned him in my blog as he is my willing and able companion on many of these arts and culture excursions!).

First stop was the SPACE Gallery located on Congress Street. It is a wonderful space, no pun intended, that promotes emerging and unconventional arts, artists and ideas. The current exhibition 'Everyday Inside Out' featured works by Elizabeth Duffy and Bradley Wester.

Duffy's drawings are made on the inside of envelopes, using the existing data protection patterning as a point of departure. I appreciate that at first glance I am unaware of her use of everyday stationary, drawn to (again, no pun intended!) the delicate markmaking as it gracefully spills over the surface of the envelope onto the wall itself. The works are large in scale, interesting from afar and close up. Simultaneously, she achieves a qualitiy of graphic boldness and delicate doodling.

Another stop on the tour was Whitney Art Works. The current show 'Intelligent Design' featured new works by Lydia Badger, Lucinda Bliss, Carl Haase and Sage Lewis.

Pictured here is a sculpture by Lydia Badger. She creates "delicate dioramas that dramatically depict the drama of nature. Her sculptural installations present colorful, quirky, tense narratives that feature a menagerie of endangered birds, rodents and dinosaurs made of painted clay set in self-contained floating worlds." I greatly admire Lydia and other artists who use their medium to express thier concern for the environment and other global issues, those who are not afraid to take on politics and shake things up, forcing their audience to stop, think and hopefully take action.

Final destination - dinner! Asmara, located on Oak Street, features Eritrean and Ethiopian edibles. It was my first Ethiopian dining experience, I credit Dan with constantly broadening my palette by exposing me to world fare!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Mirth and Melancholy

Raegan dropped off her work yesterday afternoon! The pieces look great, I couldn't help myself but "ooh and aah" as each piece came thru the door. One of the things I enjoy most about Raegan's work are the stories behind each piece. We sat on the floor and I listened to her explain the significance of certain elements and the personal journey of this most recent body of work.

As soon as she left, I proceeded to hang the show. Raegan's work looks great in this space. The rich textures and her earthy palette look great against the brick, not to mention the old wood floor I recently exposed. The hanging went quickly and I am quite pleased with the end result!

Most of the work in the show is inspired by Raegan's recent trip to Russia this past fall in addition to her garden outside of her studio. However, one of the pieces in the show, Melencolia I, is inspired by an engraving by German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer, of the same title. It is an allegorical composition which has been the subject of very many interpretations.

"One interpretation of this etching is that it represents the frustrations of an individual trying to invent something ingenious but failing at the task, and feeling depression or melancholy as a result. In the engraving are various symbols of scientific reasoning, such as numerical patterns (the number square) and scientific measureing tools (the weight balance and the hour-glass for precise time measurement). A hammer represents a tool that would be used to manufacture an actual product based on the ingenius idea. The dog and the baby angel represent those who patiently encourage the genius, but eventually fall asleep. The frustrated genius lies awake in the after hours, determined not to sleep until the new idea arrives." (Wikipedia: Melancholia I)

In Raegan's Melencolia I, she borrows elements of the original composition integrating the angels from the Dürer with her own language to reinterpret the symbolism of the master engraving. She has replaced the number square with a lunar calendar, the bell with a modern day horn and the hour glass with the symbol of infinity.

It is no wonder, that Melancholia I, has been the subject of more modern interpretation than almost any other image in art. Artists have been putting this pressure, of creating a "masterpiece", on themselves for hundreds of years. Isn't it ironic that Dürer's frustration with wanting to create a masterpiece would actually result in just that!