David Alfuth: Bohemian Builder

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David Alfuth

David Alfuth

“You are on your own now,” said David Alfuth’s father the day of David’s graduation from  the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.  David had a double major in drawing/painting and art history, and was equipped with teaching credits, so he was good to go.  David took up the role of elementary art teacher in the Sheboygan school district for three years, enjoying the exuberance of children receptive to art – and, contrarily, putting up with the hard winters and enduring small town ordinariness.  But the longing to travel finally caught up with him after his Triumph Spitfire sports car got stuck in the snow one too many times.

Architecture (1)

Architecture (1)

Maybe he absorbed a wanderlust while hanging around the railroad yards, cleaning out box cars to help pay college tuition.  Maybe he inherited a wanderlust gene from his Dad’s German/Prussian ancestors who emigrated to Wisconsin decades earlier.  Or maybe his artistic temperament gave him the courage to leave the local pea cannery and cafe dishwashing station behind.  Add to those the winter weather.  Whatever the reasons, he packed his bags and headed out in search of more dynamic places, anywhere but the stable, ordinary neighborhoods of his childhood.

Ceiling #2

Ceiling #2

At the end of those three years of teaching, David and a few friends left Middle America for a yearlong, inspiring, delightful wandering of Europe.  It was the first of many travels abroad. Upon his return to the states, David settled in Washington DC, worked for Osuna Gallery, went to parties, hung out with off-beat people and decided to pursue an art career here.  Although he taught in several suburban school districts, David lived in the city where he could walk out the door and visit the museums, go to the theater and hang out in jazz clubs.  In between exploring abstract painting on vellum (several of which are now in Washington Hospital Center Critical Care Unit) and exploring photography, he finally settled on constructing black and white collages inspired by his travels and his collection of cubism and futuristic art.

Cubism (2)

Cubism (2)

Storytelling is characteristic of his most of his works, but David is focusing on perspective and architecture for his November 2014 solo exhibit at Touchstone Gallery.  From the hundreds of Xeroxed copies of Dover images, David is using fragments of old drawings to show the underworld that supports the above world, the unseen as well as the visible.  The time consuming process of gluing each specifically sized image onto black backing board enables him to create low relief collages as well as the Cubist inspired sculptures in his “Best of Both Styles: 3-D Collage” solo,  Expertly using contemporary copying tools, precision cutting, and an exacting vision, David works magic in the multiplied details that characterize his stories of wonder and mystery.

View his solo exhibition at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave, Washington DC.,  info@touchstonegallery.com

From Nov. 7-30, 2014, Preview: Nov. 5-6, 11-6pm, Opening Reception Nov. 7, 6-8:30pm

Touchstone Artists Shine at 2014 (e)merge DC Art Fair

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(e)merge ART FAIR 2014

Capitol Skyline Hotel
10 “I” Street, SW
Washington D.C., DC 20024

The (e)merge art fair presents an extensive line-up of special projects and performances. Three Touchstone Artists join the fray: Leslie Nolan, Pete McCutchen and Ai-Wen Wu Kratz.  (e)merge also engages curators, gallerists, collectors, artists and other art world innovators in panel discussions during the fair.


 

LESLIE NOLAN: Energetic Figuration

Leslie Nolan

Leslie Nolan

Painter Leslie Nolan focuses on individual figures with the idea of capturing the real individual behind the facade.  Rather than portraits, the subjects of these works have become more and more distorted to reflect inner turmoil instead of the veneer we humans tend to display in public.  Her goal “is to de-cloak the individual from artificial wrapping to display a frank, honest and sometimes disconcerting state of being.”  Her work has evolved from full figure views to extreme close-ups in larger and larger formats, allowing for more abstracted brushwork and pop color.

Nolan’s controlled chaos seems to suggest that something important has happened to each subject, their  reaction to money or job-related issues, loneliness, semi-stable environments, or familial concerns. The idea behind this work is to show what is felt rather than what is seen.   “I’ve pared away context, details of clothing and background, and simplified a color palette to focus on emotion. I purposely avoid connecting all the dots.  The viewer must imagine a unique narrative based on his or her own idiosyncratic interpretation,”  Nolan states.

Hearing the Light

Hearing the Light

Nolan prefers horizontal or square formats to suggest that something different is happening, something significant. The most important technical element in her works is bold gestural, loose brushwork.  It exposes the process of the painting.  Corrections, scratches, drips, oozes are all elements that lend an unstable, constantly shifting feel to the character –  just like emotions, which are difficult to hold in check.  The energetic brushwork emulates an outpouring of feelings unrestrained by civility.  The work appears honest and real, in part because a polished, softened or subtle look is purposefully avoided. The work is all hand done.  Images are genuine expressions, forceful, and candid. Rosemary Luckett

THE ARTIST: University of Madrid, Spain; BA Portland State University; MS George Washington University;  MS National Defense University

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS: 2014 Art League Gallery; 2014 Touchstone Gallery; 2012 Glenview Mansion Gallery


AI-WEN WU KRATZ: Magical Intangibles

Ai-Wen Wu Kratz

Ai-Wen Wu Kratz

Ai-wen’s technical  goal in painting shaped canvases is to incorporate the material of the painting support into the image of the artwork.  She creates while painting on a huge ping-pong table using brushes, shaped canvases and masking and drafting tapes. The acrylic pigment application is hard-edged on both cotton duck and linen duck canvases. The inherent lightness and darkness of the textiles enrich the final image.

Renewal/Part II

Renewal/Part II

Once the technical parameters are met Ai-wen focuses on the magical aspects, the spiritual and intellectual qualities that appear in the colors, lines, shapes, forms and movements.  She tries ” to orchestrate an image so strong that it provokes intangible magical feelings in the viewer.”  In so doing, the basic visual elements have become her subject matter rather than any representations from daily life. The lines, colors, planes, forms, shapes and movements from her tools describe  the magic she feels and lighting enhanced environment amplifies it. Rosemary Luckett

THE ARTIST: BFA/Fort Wright College; MFA/Cranbrook Academy of Art; Alumna/Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; Alumna/NY Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS:  2013 / Gallery M, Vienna, Austria; 2014 / The New York Art Connection, Long Island, NY; 2014 / Crisolart Gallery, New York, NY


PETE McCUTCHEN: Beauty in the Salvage Yard

Emergency Exit

Emergency Exit

Pete McCutchen’s work shows what can happen when you get lost — on purpose.  He was driving through rural Pennsylvania, and he saw it: an Opel GT perched atop a school bus.  There was a big “no trespassing” sign, and at least some chance the owner of the salvage yard had firearms, but Pete knew he had to shoot there.  And so he asked Cliff Connors, of Connors Auto Parts for permission.  After signing a waiver, Pete got permission to shoot on 70 acres of rusted trucks, broken buses, and disused vehicles.  He asked Cliff how he got the Opel on top of the bus, but he didn’t have to ask why; it spoke for itself.

Thus was born Pete’s “Out of Service” series, an ongoing exploration of rural Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  Soon he will expand his search to West Virginia.  He seeks to find and show the beauty in the disused broken wrecks found in the corners of rural America.  Pete McCutchen

Shelter

Shelter


Bill Mould : The Art of Allusion

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Bill Mould 2012

Bill Mould

Bill is a ceramic sculptor — one who works at taking clay from the earth and transforming it into sculptures, which recall ancient myths. The clay, heavy to begin with, becomes light and intensely fragile as he works with it.

Before exploring art, Bill was a professor of literature and a dean for 30 years. He worked closely with very bright students and watched them transform themselves into startlingly wonderful young men and women. It was like watching butterflies emerge from pupae. Art is the same, except that the artist has a much more direct hand in the process.  If a student or a child goes awry, one works hard to correct the problem. If a sculpture goes bad or blows up in the kiln, you mourn briefly, toss the shards, and move forward.  It is much easier.

Thinking about his own process, Bill muses, “I don’t think you ‘become’ an artist.  I think that we are all potential artists. It is when one decides to delve into one’s creativity that art can happen”  Over these past two years, Bill continues searching for the creative vein of ore that dwells within, exploring the theme of the palimpsest—a surface which has had many words and images scratched upon it, only to be erased to make way for new perceptions.“ Each piece is designed to evoke more than it shows. “My art is not an illusion, but an allusion, a constant reference to events and people and moments outside the piece itself.” Bill creates one-of-a-kind sculptures, using a unique approach which forces the ceramic clay into unusual forms and textures evoking parchment, leather, bronze and other substances. “The sculptures are enigmas. Through them, I attempt to capture those moments when truths slip in and out of our grasp, leaving us certain that there is more to the universe than what is simply in front of us.”

For Bill life itself is a palimpsest. “Events and objects around us have a direct impact on our personal palimpsest, as we have on others.” The world Bill has shaped calls on us to search the levels below apparent surfaces to discover truths which bind us as magical beings.  Now he has expanded his focus to see the human face as a reverse palimpsest that reveals truths, deep emotions, and past experience despite efforts to mask these vulnerabilities.

Every time he does a piece, it is a new discovery. The more he works, the more sure he is that a world without art is a world without insight into its soul. Not all artists can reach the highest levels, but all of us who work with sincerity and commitment will uncover at least a shred of the magic of the universe. And those of us who stop and absorb each piece are the richer for it.

Incognito, Ceramic, 21 x 15 inches

Incognito, Ceramic, 21 x 15 inches

Of the hundreds of Washington gallery exhibits in 2012, The Washington Post ranked Bill Mould’s last solo show at Touchstone among that year’s ten best. On September 5, Bill returns to Touchstone Gallery with a fresh approach to the elusive medium of semi-abstract ceramic clay. Bill Mould’s ABOUT FACE… et al solo exhibit (September 5 – 28, 2014) at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC previews September 3-4, 11am–6pm.  The opening reception is Friday, September 5, 6 – 8:30 pm. Work in this exhibit has never been shown before.

Bill has exhibited widely through the DC/VA/MD area, as well as elsewhere up and down the East Coast. His work appears in many private collections in the area, as well as in New York City, the far West, the South, London and Paris. The National Institutes of Health commissioned him to create Hippocratic Oath, as the only art hanging in the NIH Executive Board Room. -Rosemary Luckett, Bill Mould

Newton More and His Photographing Tools

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newtonmore

Newton More

When it comes to cameras, Newt More has a hard time choosing his favorite.  It might be the pinhole camera or the now extinct Polaroid.  Or a digital camera which enables him to use the high dynamic range (HDR) process.  Then again, it might be the Holga toy camera, which he is having a lot of fun with these days.

Newt’s interest in cameras began during a decades-long career in science.  Newt graduated with a BS in zoology from University of Maryland, got his masters in pathology at the  Georgetown University, then worked there in a biological lab support job.  After that he moved to the George Washington University Medical  School clinical research lab where he became familiar with fluorescent confocal microscopy.  Somehow working with microscopes parked an interest in photography with hand-held cameras.

“I learned photography backwards,” he says, “jumping from the most complex cameras to the simplest.” The simplest being pin-hole cameras which he constructs himself by poking  holes with a #10 needle in boxes or aluminum pie plates and using them to capture images on film.  Though technically referred to as lenseless photography, the pinhole actually acts as the lens. Exposure times are tricky, so this trial-and-error filming requires a lot of patience and a lot of film.

Bike (pinhole)

Bike (pinhole)

Before Polaroid film became a casualty of the digital revolution, Newt experimented with preemptive exposure times by pulling apart the photo while processing was still going and then transferring the images to various surfaces including wood, just to see what unusual effects he could achieve. He scanned some of those fugitive prints into the computer for fine-tuning before printing out with archival inks on good photography paper. Newt photographs in color as well as black and white, inspired especially by photographer Edward Steichen.

Columns, Rome  (sx 70)

Newt also uses the HDR technique using a regular digital camera.  In this case several different exposures of the same scene are taken.  Then  under- and over-exposed areas  are “blended”  in the computer to get the dynamic range correct. This method also requires a lot of patience and a competence in Adobe Photoshop.

Annecy, France - HDR

Annecy, France (HDR)

For now, the Holga 2″ x 2″ medium format camera has captured his interest.  After developing the negatives in the darkroom, he scans them into the computer where he can scale up the size of his black and white prints, blur the edges, or manipulate them in other ways.  “Large images have more gravitas,” he says.  That makes for a lot of hefty photos.  About 60 framed prints are now housed in his guest room while an attic studio is undergoing renovations.

Great, Liverpool (Holga)

Newt likes photographing structural objects in ways that show how things are put together, how they operate.  Recently while sifting through old family photographs, his brother pointed out a shot of Newt as a young lad drawing forms very similar to the layered photos he makes today.   Thus that early tendency is evident now after a long detour into the world of science.

Photographer Arnold Newman pointed out that  “…a lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart.” Newton More not only uses several “better” cameras, but he also has the head and heart needed for making outstanding photographs that reveal the depth of his subject matter in a creative way.  Look for Newt More’s structural street shots in the MiniSolo Exhibition at Touchstone Gallery,  August 1-29, 2014 and other photography images in the monthly Touchstone exhibits. Rosemary Luckett

Steven Fleming: Artist on the Move

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Steven Fleming  (Rosemary Luckett photo)

Steven Fleming (Rosemary Luckett photo)

Steven Fleming is a runner and a cyclist, moving happily through the landscape in all seasons. A feeling of wanderlust is part of what keeps Steven moving, both physically and artistically.   Maybe it’s because he grew up in a Navy family that relocated every 18 months or so.  Maybe it’s because he has a zest for exploring new landscapes and new ways to make art.  Maybe it’s because he is “never content to rest in one place and repeat the formulas of the past.”

Baja

Baja

After studying constitutional law in college, he headed in a different direction after graduation, eventually settling on a career as a lighting designer.  At the same time that he put in his nine-to-five, he took watercolor classes from Skip Lawrence, Rex Brandt, and Millard Sheetz and art classes at the Maryland College of Art and Design.  These classes inspired him to go home after work and paint for three hours every night.  In between times he began reading about the lives of artists and how they went about being creative and found inspiration for their work.  He learned how to be “loose” and how to “push it” to express himself through abstraction, realism, and impressionism, in several media (watercolor, acrylics and oils).  Collecting and playing guitars feeds also feeds his creative soul.

Red Stockings

Red Stockings

Steven somehow knew from the moment he began to paint that he wanted to teach art someday.   But first, he had to quit his lighting career, dive deep into painting and learn what he could about the lives of working artist’s, and where the creative impulse comes from for each one.  “I tell my students to also branch out and take different kinds of art classes, to read a lot of art books about artist’s ways of thinking,” he says, “but please skip reading the how-to brush recipe books, and learn by doing instead. There’s a delicious banquet of art media ready to explore, so don’t stick with one medium. Explore many of them.  Why be satisfied with a daily toasted cheese sandwich diet when you could experience so much more?”

Squares, Lines and Textures

Squares, Lines and Textures

Since 1998 Steven has been on the faculty of the Art League School in Alexandria.  He also teaches private painting classes in his studio and leads workshops, frequently overseas, taking students outdoors to experience landscapes first hand.  He knows how to paint the wind, how to meld cattle into green meadows, and how to abstract from these landscapes so the primary sense of the place comes through via texture, color, light and line. “Working in plein aire is the best way to understand the land,” he says, “even if the wind tips your easel over sometimes.”  Rosemary Luckett

 

Light at Cape Elizabeth

Light at Cape Elizabeth

Steven’s abstracts and impressionist landscapes,  “Surface and Light”, are on exhibit at 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC from July 5-27, 2014. Gallery hours are 11-6 Wed-Thurs-Fri, and 12-5 Sat – Sun.

You are invited to enter into the landscapes he paints and to join him for the Encore Party Friday, July 25, 2014 6-8:30 pm.

Twindoki Spain Lunch

Twindoki Spain Lunch

Charles Goldstein: Painting His Way Through Memories

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Charles Goldstein

Natalie Portman once said,” Everyone dreams of living in Paris,” a city both beautiful and severely  scarred by periods of cruelty, revolution and war. Artist Charles Goldstein doesn’t just dream of Paris.  This is where he was born and near where he lives now.  However romantic the Paris of our dreams is, reality is different for Charles.   The memories he paints in Les Chemins de Memoire (The Paths of Memory) currently on exhibit at Touchstone Gallery, are rooted in the Holocaust and the disappearance of 84 members of his close family in France and in Poland.

Rien qu'un ecrasant silence No1

Rien qu’un ecrasant silence No1

Charles’s expressionist abstract period started after the Algerian Independence war, when he realized that figurative painting couldn’t describe  the unspeakable.  After a long period of work about his travels to India, he choose to work on Memory, about a family that he never met and which disappeared “as Ashes and Dust ” during the Holocaust  in Poland.  In this series, he chose to define his identity and pay tribute to those who became “ashes and dust” through abstract paintings.  Encouraged by French painters and heavily influenced by painters Mark Rothko, Alfred Manessier, Phillip Guston, and Franz Kline, Goldstein’s works are stirringly emotional, each revealing in richly somber tones the need to bear witness to a past that still haunts his soul.

Charles Goldstein began painting at an early age and has continued for at least 48 years. It is his life-long passion. Even when he was still in professional activities, Charles used to isolate himself in his atelier at night and work in there for hours,  That discipline and experimentation with color and form serves  him well in the memory paintings.  His niece Anne Goldstein Levy describes the work this way: “Charles’s juxtaposition of color and form impart feelings of solitude and, ultimately, freedom. Each work skillfully conveys a mélange of melancholy, a contemplative visual soliloquy that is both cathartic and visually stunning. A skilled use of materials expresses a deep-seated passion and a broad depth of emotion. Vivid colors meld and drift, ebb and flow, underscoring loss, sorrow, and a quest for self-discovery. One of the most remarkable characteristic of Charles ‘s work is the way he handles colors, structure and different mediums with oil paint.”

L'enclos du temps No2

L’enclos du temps No2

Charles now lives near Barbizon, less than 1km from the Chateau of Vaux –le- Vicomte, one of France’s national treasures.  In a recent documentary Academicien Jorge Semprun, other historians, and several art majors discuss the importance of The Memory in Charles paintings.  Charles exhibits his work at several Parisian galleries.  One of his large paintings traveled all over the world with an European exhibit .  His last exhibit just ended in NYC.

When Charles is not working or painting, he  dedicates his time to the others . Charles has been decorated by Nicolas Sarkosy with the Legion d’Honneur for being an exemplary citizen.  For 27 years he has been deputy MaYor of Melun-in Seine et Marne. He was in charge of the cultural services of Seine et Marne, is a former president of the Rotary club, and today  he is on the advisory board of the CRIF (Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France) in Paris.

Les Chemins de Memoire (The Paths of Memory) continues until June 29, 2014 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC.  You are invited to the closing Reception on Saturday, June 28, 6  8:30pm.  202-347-2787 info@touchstonegallery.com ; Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5.   –Anne Goldstein, Rosemary Luckett

L'ecriture et la vie (hommage a Jorge Semprun) 2011

L’ecriture et la vie (hommage a Jorge Semprun) 2011

 

 

Colleen Sabo: Exploring the Wildlife

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Skype Photo copy

Colleen Sabo 2014

If one is open to the unexpected,  life may take astonishing twists and turns. Colleen Sabo knows about this first hand.  She grew up in nearby Arlington, Virginia, and planned to attend James Madison University after finishing a post high school summer job with NATO at the Pentagon.  However, Colleen loved the job so much that she shelved her college plans and stayed at NATO for three more years.  At age 21, she headed off to Brussels and Paris with the whole NATO staff.  During her five years in Europe, travel was the name of the game–sandwiched in between writing and editing on the job, studying French and English at the University of Maryland overseas program, and absorbing art ideas everywhere she went.

Upon returning to the states, Colleen got a writing job with the Nixon White House Staff, started taking pottery classes with a local Virginia potter, worked for the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and took part in the unit that launched the Department of Energy in 1977. Before she knew it, 25 years had come and gone.  Colleen decided then to retire from government work, so she could begin a new journey on a road less traveled.  One with a sign post:   →  Explore Art

Stoic Spirit copy

Stoic Spirit, Mixed Media Painting

She spent several years forming and firing porcelain clay vessels, her first art love, then moved on to watercolor, acrylics, drawing, and picture framing.  Artists who inspire Colleen are Mark Rothko and his sense of inner light, Jamie Wyeth and his use of opaque watercolors, and Anne and Cynthia Packard, Provincetown MA artists.   Colleen’s art is heavily influenced by living on the Chesapeake Bay as well.  She turned her property into a natural “bay-scape” habitat, not unlike Monet who built a garden in Giverney so he could paint it.  Colleen’s abstracted landscape paintings focus on capturing air, light and the intense colors she sees on the Western Shore.

Ever the explorer, 15 years ago Colleen went with a friend to see several injured raptors living at a nearby nature center.  She was immediately smitten with the large birds.  Entranced, she entered the training program and learned how to care for them.  You wouldn’t think a petite person like Colleen could actually hold a large bird of prey like an eagle, osprey, hawk or Great Horned Owl with wings spanning six feet.  But she has a knack for it. When she isn’t painting or working for Touchstone Gallery, she cares for injured birds and teaches about them at two nearby nature centers operated by the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission. Wearing a special Kevlar-lined leather glove, Colleen is not afraid of the crushing power in a raptor’s talons, and the big birds are not afraid of her.

Focused Fury copy

Focused Fury, Mixed Media Painting

It’s not surprising then,  that Colleen has taken to painting these magnificent raptors .  Be sure to visit her June, 2014 solo exhibit Avian Attitudes: Owls, Hawks, and a Vulture  (mixed media paintings) at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC June 6-29, 2014.  The Opening Reception Friday, June 6, 6-8:30pm will be an exciting event, as three live raptors will be part of Colleen’s presentation.

Out of the Shadows copy

Out of the Shadows, Mixed Media Painting

Aileen Beringer: Not Your Ordinary Snapshot

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Eileen Beringer 2014

Eileen Beringer 2014

 

Touchstone Gallery intern,  Aileen Beringer lays her life on the floor in her senior thesis at the Corcoran’s 2014 NEXT Exhibit of student work.  Titled “I Only Cry in the Shower,” the installation is located in a darkened space about 12 feet by 12 feet on the second floor of the museum.  It is constructed of broken sheets of glass, a video, written stories, and a suspended field of crystals and jewelry elements.  An overhead video projects portraits of Aileen through this rain of hovering crystals onto shattered mirrors resting on the floor.  The images are fleeting, changing quickly so that no coherent picture emerges either on the ceiling or the floor – just flickers of a face transformed into colored light by the prism on the floor.

These 3-D elements give us a hint as to what life is like for Aileen.  “My shower is lined with my insecurities, my torment, my stories…” she writes.  “My own brain is plotting against me…I have three disorders that hold me captive from the rest of the world.”    The sound element of the installation is Aileen reading the stories she’s written then using microphones under the mirrors over laying life sound from the room to give the viewer a sense of what her audio processing disorder is like.

Shattered mirrors

Shattered Glass

Aileen helps us understand the difficulties she endures by including  short narratives in white books attached to the wall.  Although she states that it is not easy for her to express herself through the written word, this writing is compelling. Written almost in free verse, her succinct, descriptive sentences make clear  what is only hinted at in the flickering video and the distorted sound track. Together they describe the journey of a child who struggled to remain in an Individualized Educational Program at her Albemarle County School.  Persevere she did, and in doing so, graduated  with high academic achievement, a clearer understanding of her gifts and disorders, a love for the camera and the wide world of photography, and a keen interest in jewelry making techniques.

Lost Ring

Lost Ring

Aileen was tested by fire during those hard growing-up years.  Luckily she was supported by her family and friends.   “One of my friends got a camera and let me mess around with it,” she recalls.  “I knew then that I wanted one of those and got one. Then I started talking photo classes, spent a lot of time messing around in the darkroom, and just fell in love with all of it.”  As Aileen continues to experiment on the boundaries between photography, sculpture, and sound, who knows what will spin out from her creative hands and mind.

After she graduates this spring Aileen says she “really wants to stay in DC, start more art projects, work in a gallery full time or part time and maybe something like bar tending on the side.  “After a year or two,” she continues, ” I’ll start looking into getting a MA or a MFA.”  In the meantime, her “I Only Cry in the Shower” installation can be viewed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art 10-5 Wed-Sunday until May  18, 2014.   The 2014 NEXT exhibit is free at  500 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006    –Rosemary Luckett

 

 

Shattered Glass Prism

Shattered Glass Prism

Shelley Lowenstein: Painter of Crowds and Spaces

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Shelley at the opening of Quotidian: The Art of Interaction

Shelley at the opening of Quotidian: The Art of Interaction

As a 7-year-old living in Connecticut, Shelley Lowenstein rode the bus downtown with her best friend to explore the stores on Main Street, and to spend their allowances in Woolworth’s five-and-dime.  The shopping was fun but Shelley loved watching people and making up stories about them in her mind. What did they do? Where were they from? Where were they going? Around the same time, Shelley discovered movies.  Once a week she settled down into the dark recesses of the local theater and escaped into other worlds which sparked her imagination even more.  Ever since these youthful experiences, Shelley has been fascinated by how people are in public spaces.

Shelley attended Boston University, graduating with degrees in English and Secondary Education.  Faced with a saturated job market for teachers, Shelley moved to New York to work for Simon & Schuster on audiovisual materials, focusing on editing and writing educational film strips.  In 1972 Shelley moved to Washington DC.  She attended graduate school at the University of Maryland, and built a successful career writing, designing, and producing a wide range of multimedia educational materials for National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, Maryland Public Television, and many others.

French Gothic, Lisieux Train Station, Normandy

French Gothic, Lisieux Train Station, Normandy

In early 2000, after years of writing, Shelley turned to painting and found that her imagination was reawakened. As she painted, she created stories in her mind about the scenes and subjects.  She studied with nationally recognized narrative painter Kathryn Freeman, California impressionists Peggy Kroll Roberts and Camille Prezwodak, Washington, DC area realists like Diane Tesler and Ed Ahlstrom, and colorist Walt Bartman. Each one of these gifted artists shaped Shelley’s style and artistic direction.

Today, Shelley is still fascinated by watching people: their gestures, their expression, their relationships to others around them. She is especially intrigued by transitional terminals– airports, train stations, and bus stations.  Masses of people wait or come and go in these places, giving her ample opportunity to observe how they relate to each other, and to imagine what their life stories might be, just as she did as a 7 year old on a bus going downtown.

Waiting Chairs Union Station

Waiting Chairs Union Station

But her new works reveal a new reality in everyday life.  For regardless of setting, we don’t see many people engaged with one another.  It’s no mistake that there are “devices” in so many of the paintings. “I’ll talk to anybody, anywhere,” says Lowenstein.  “But with smart phones and other mobile devices, we no longer need to connect with the people right beside us.  Need directions?  Get a map on your phone.  Need something to read?  Check the news online.  Take a photo rather than be here in the moment.  I‘m not the first to wonder if the very devices meant to keep us connected are increasing our isolation from one another.”

Lowenstein explains further:  “I’m an observer; I am not trying to make earth shattering social or political statements.  Still, it wouldn’t hurt if we slowed down, stopped, observed what is happening around us as we go about the routines of daily life, and actually talked and laughed with one another.” Shelley’s most recent works emphasizing people in transition, “Quotidian: The Art of Interaction,” are on exhibit at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC, 20001.  202-347-2787;  April 2 – 27; Encore party April 25, 6-8:30

Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport

Rosemary Luckett: Uncovering the Unseen

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Rosemary Luckett

Rosemary Luckett

Rosemary Luckett has been on good terms with the earth since she was a young girl weeding sugar beets and caring for the animals on her family’s farm in the desert plateau of south central Idaho.   These earliest experiences of taking care of the environment that then, in turn, took care of her, were the seeds of Rosemary’s sense of this relationship as vital and mutual.  Over time, she has developed a visual language–plastic ducky’s, bones, tree forms, maps, and birds to express her love and worry for the earth through her artwork.  The techniques used varies with what she is exploring.  Sometimes collage.  Sometimes sculpture.  And more recently photography.

Wheelbarrow Ark

Wheelbarrow Ark

In her current solo show, Earth Blankets, at Touchstone this month, Luckett continues in her quest to draw our attention to making visible parts of the landscape that we have made invisible.  In particular, the trash and detritus we eliminate from our everyday lives—the glass bottle that held our sparkling water, the colorful hard plastic that formed the toys our children played with – are cast away in to the “unseen” and Luckett rediscovers them.  She takes these broken and decayed fragments we have lost interest in and re-ignites our interest.  We can’t help ourselves but to reconsider what we left behind.

Industrial Blanket for blog

Industrial Blanket I

Luckett photographs detritus, and in this very act, she begins the transformation.  By transferring the photographs of a broken and scratched CD found in the grass onto a cloth blanket, Luckett creates a conflicting experience in us:  we are both painfully reminded of our daily contributions to the blanket of trash that covers our earth, and at the same time, we are experiencing beauty and interest in the 3D form before us.  The “blanket” is an object we associate with softness, taking care, and protecting from discomfort.  Through Luckett’s work, we see in ourselves both the capacity for warmth, beauty and protectiveness as well as for decay, destruction and disinterest.  While we may already be familiar with these conflicting aspects of ourselves, by feeling it all at once, Luckett has us in a conundrum.

Luckett’s work can be seen April 3-27 At Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC.  Opening Reception Friday April 4, 6:00-8:30. Closing reception April Friday April 25, 6:00-8:30,

Dana Brotman

Trash Blanket Blocks IV

Trash Blanket Blocks IV

Tossing the  Ark

Tossing the Ark

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