Janathel Shaw: Portraits of Courage

Featured

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Janathel Shaw

Janathel Shaw’s April solo show, SOLIDAREity! is a reflection upon the status of Blacks in America: a series of figurative pieces and portraits of men, women and children looking boldly into the present and the future.  Inspiration for this new series derives from the lost souls, activists and community of people who are part and parcel of the American landscape—people who enrich that landscape in both hidden and overt ways.  The portraits incorporate texture, rich deep lines and are anchored in contrast.  Several are rooted in a defiant solidarity of consciousness, soulfulness, and personal voice.  Some are dark in tone in recognition of ongoing struggles.

Shaw’s images are her “voice,” her “signs of the times.”  She is spurred on by the words of American poet Niki Giovanni,

“If Black History Month is not

viable then wind does not

carry the seeds and drop them

on fertile ground

rain does not

dampen the land

and encourage the seeds

to root

sun does not

warm the earth

and kiss the seedlings

and tell them plain:

You’re As Good As Anybody Else”

Dreaming the Phenomenal

Yes, the poem was written specifically for Black History Month, but the affirmation still resonates in the lives of Black Americans, not only in February, but all year long.  Likewise Shaw’s art speaks of those who endure prejudice, yet still find the strength and courage to inspire hope in others.

Shaw is in tune with the increasingly divisive 2016-17 political climate that is driven by a resurgence of fear and prejudice.  Her graphite and acrylic drawings, as well as ceramic figures, are part of the corresponding response to this climate–part of a movement, a re-awakening of rebellion and solidarity at the grass roots and national levels.  Her works speak of a diverse America that will not return to the dark racist period of the Jim Crow era.  Her voice joins the chorus of young people who raise their voices and march in the streets calling for justice and equality.

Shaw’s portraits in courage, SOLIDAREity, art works are on exhibit April 5-30 at Touchstone Gallery; 901 New York Avenue NW Washington DC 20001, 202-347-2787 info@touchstonegallery.com.  See smaller ceramic pieces at the TG Trunk Show on April 8th from 2-5pm.

Opening Reception: Friday April 7–

6 – 8:30pm; Encore Reception: April 29, 2017 from 1-3 pm. www.touchstonegallery.com  Wed-Fri 11-6 Sat-Sun12-5

Here to Stay

Jeanne Garant: Parallel Paintings

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Jeanne Garant

Touchstone oil painter Jeanne Garant paints abstractly.  For a painter like Jeanne, abstract means to focus on a particular shape and color noticed at any given moment and then to discard the rest.  She draws from the jumble of life rather than trying to capture it all in a photographic or three-dimensional way.  Garant’s attitude in creating the flat or one-perspective paintings, 275 Stripes, mirrors that of New England painter Milton Avery. “I try to construct a picture in which shapes, spaces, colors, form a set of unique relationships, independent of any subject matter. At the same time I try to capture and translate the excitement and emotion aroused in me by the impact with the original idea.”

Growing up in a small New Hampshire city, Garant was influenced in subtle ways by her family environment.  Her father was a carpenter and her mother a clothing designer.  She recalls some of these influences:

Clapboard houses protecting denizens from the winter’s cold.

Wooden floor planks lined up in logical order.

The subdued colors of a cloudy day.

Delicately striped cotton ticking pillow fabric.

Boldly striped awnings shading out hot summer sun.

The clean edge of a shadow slanting across a sunlit door.

Draw The Line

These visual experiences emerge in Garant’s generally tranquil paintings, which are minimal in color (black, white, gray, brown with a small punch of color) and shape (rectangular panels and lines), but generous in paint. “Sometimes it comes easy and is great fun,” she says.  “But sometimes it just won’t cooperate and is hard work.  I like it both ways and look forward to exercising my passion in my home studio and in my Torpedo Factory studio.“ Her simple compositions often belie the complexity that comes with changing colors multiple times and carefully applying tape to maintain straight lines.  It’s a long process that requires patience to complete.

Mist

Eventually Garant left New Hampshire and moved with her husband to Washington DC, raised two sons and earned a degree in Art History from George Mason University.  She began taking studio art classes in silkscreen printing and commercial design–which launched her printmaking career that focused on architecturally precise shapes and subdued color.  Printing with several Torpedo Factory Printmaking groups she stayed with this medium from 1980-2000, and then switched to  painting, collage and encaustic (happily discarding the need to frame works under glass).  After trying pastels and acrylics, she settled in to using oils on canvas and wood panels.  Garant often mixes cold wax with her oils to gain texture, to reduce sheen, and to make the paint dry faster.  Cold wax also allows for scratching into and revealing previous layers and can be manipulated with a mist of Gamsol, a solvent.      –Rosemary Luckett

To view Jeanne Garant’s contemporary compositions, visit 275 Stripes  at Touchstone Gallery from May 3-28.  Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  Opening Reception is Friday, May 5 from 6-8:30 pm. Meet the Artist Saturday, May 20, 1 – 3 pm; 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001; http://www.touchstonegallery.com; info@touchstonegallery.com

Ebony Graphite Pewter & Bone

Marcia Coppel: Conversations

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Marcia Coppel

Marcia Coppel’s paintings are influenced by the color and spontaneity of Mexico.  She loves to sketch in restaurants, cafes and on the beach. Her May 2017 solo, Connect/Disconnect 2, is about communication and the lack of it in today’s digital culture. The interactions (or isolation of individuals in the same space) could have been situated anywhere in the world.  But since she loves Mexico and spends a lot of time there, she made drawings and paintings situated in that country.

People on the beach aren’t talking to each other.  Some are floating in the air of their own imaginations.  Smart phones aren’t shown but they are alluded to.  The colors are lush and the people are amusing but, in many of the paintings actual conversations among those present is absent.  However, In other paintings people are enjoying conversations.  Since Marcia was a speech pathologist in her pre-artist life, she is disappointed when people are tapping on their phones instead of enjoying the people they are surrounded by.

Balancing

Visit Touchstone Gallery to see Connect/Disconnect 2 and decide for yourselves what kind of communication is going on in her bright tropical inspired paintings and simplified drawings of nudes languishing on the beach. Touchstone Gallery from May 3-28.  Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  Opening Reception is Friday, from 6-8:30 pm. Encore Reception Saturday, May 20, 1 – 3 pm; 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001; http://www.touchstonegallery.com ; info@touchstonegallery.com

Frida At The Beach

Lisa Tureson: Curiosity —> Exploration —> Creativity

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lisa Tureson

Lisa Tureson

Once Lisa Tureson decided to leave her career in the insurance industry, there was no stopping her from exploring and learning about the many techniques, materials and tools artists use to express themselves.  Actually, she probably always did have a curious and exploratory bent.  At age four Lisa often watched her artist-teacher mother at the easel.  Thusly inspired, her first murals were created out of her mother’s lip stick on her sisters’ bedroom walls. Whether she was chastised for her use of the lipstick medium or praised for her ambitious wall-size art expression, this “project” proved a precursor to the large paintings in her present day solo exhibit Scribbles: An Urban Art Expression at Touchstone Gallery during March 2017.

Being a self-directed person, the more classes Lisa took, the more she wanted to learn. She studied how to paint her specific areas of interest from working artists with teaching studios all over the world. She sought out the experts in areas such as mural painting, gilding, graining and trompe l’oeil. Add to that: how to paint on glass, antique mirror and create all manner of plaster surfaces that constitute her very broad portfolio. Now her mixed media paintings reveal an accrual of many techniques, which gives them a textural flavor that delights the appetite for her abstract, non-objective works.

Kobenhaven

Kobenhavn

Since Lisa began painting professionally in 2001, her career has coalesced into three diverse branches.

  • Commissioned paintings for the design community. These are usually site specific, although some can be seen in design center showrooms.  In 2016 her 6’ x7’ painting Koibenhavn was featured and sold in the DC Design House, benefiting the Children’s National Health System.
  • Paintings for displaying in art galleries are the spontaneous-looking creations that belie the hard work Lisa puts into each one. She eschews paint brushes in favor of plastic (like credit) cards, trowels, blades, palette knives, spreaders, Ink-tense, watercolor crayons and pencils, acrylics, clear coat varnish, smooth plaster and rough plasters.  Add to that paper collage elements or photographically painted elements that replicate a collaged element (a trompe l’oeil effect).
  • Published commercial work is usually geared to a certain niche in the art-print market. Many of her licensed images are found in Department stores, Home Goods Stores and home decorating catalogs.  Some are limited signed editions and other are unsigned open-edition prints.

Lisa’s paintings in Scribbles; An Urban Art Interpretation are based on a Copenhagen city wall whose cracked paint stopped her in her tracks.  Entranced with the complexities of that surface, she began this series of paintings which have a soft graffiti look that only a combination of smooth and coarse plaster, imbedded papers and drawings, and colored inks can accomplish.  Some works bring to mind a phrase from American abstract expressionist painter Joan Mitchell, “There are those fleeting moments, those almost ‘supernatural states of soul’, as Baudelaire call them, during which ‘the profundity of life is entirely revealed in any scene, however ordinary, that presents itself to one.’” Viewers can get a sense of this in Lisa Tureson’s solo paintings on exhibit during March at Touchstone Gallery. –Rosemary Luckett

Opening Reception: Friday March 3, 6 – 8:30pm;  Encore Reception: Sunday March 26, 2 – 4pm; Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Avenue NW Washington DC 20001

Wed-Fri 11-6 Sat-Sun12-5; 202-347-2787

www.touchstonegallery.com;  info@touchstonegallery.com

 

Overlapping Frames

April Rimpo: Finding Different Perspectives

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

April Rimpo

April Rimpo

It’s been said that there are about 34 towns in 25 states named Springfield.  Five of them are in Wisconsin and at least one is in Massachusetts.  The latter is singular, because April Rimpo grew up there close to her grandparent’s home where paintings made by her grandfather graced the walls.  When April drew pictures as a child, copying cartoon figures and exploring what the pencil could do, she received positive feedback from the family and teachers.

In high school April worked part time in her father’s metal name plate company to earn spending money and enough cash to take lessons from a nearby artist.  The first few lessons always emphasized value studies in black and white media.  Like artist Harley Brown, her instructor Paul Scopp believed, “Value drawings are one of the artist’s best friends.” When students had that under their belts, they moved on to creating color images with any medium they desired.  April selected colored pencil and oils.  The genial atmosphere in the class was encouraging to the students as they worked at their own pace.

Traffic Jam

Trapped

Being an adventurous person, April moved to Portland, Oregon after high school and was a math major at Reed College.  Quite a switch from art, but something she had always enjoyed and done well with, no doubt inherited from her mother who had completed college with a double major in physics and math. An interest in anthropology rounded out her liberal arts education.  After two years at Reed, she moved back to Springfield and enrolled in Western New England College, studying electrical engineering, an avenue of applied math, in evening classes after work.  Seven years later a bachelor’s degree was in her possession, and that paved the way for a 32-year career at Motorola and then General Dynamics.

Her electrical engineering job began in Arizona and was all about designing integrated circuit boards for government communications departments.  Circuit print-outs were enormous!  Twenty feet wide in some cases allowing April to trace the circuitry and verify it correctly reflected her design.  As time passed she became a systems engineer working with customers to solve their design problems then translate non-tech language into industrial instructions for other tech workers to complete.

 

DC Bike Ride

DC Bike Ride

April’s engineering mindset during those years was balanced out by creative activities in stained glass, fused glass, oils and watercolors.  Van Gogh paintings and those of the French Impressionists began to influence her creative efforts.  An avid photographer April developed an acute vision, which was “sharper” than the pencils she once used as a child. “I had to look at the world differently in systems engineering,” April concludes. “That practice trained me to find a different perspective in whatever I am looking at in my environment.” Now she draws with her “eyes,” capturing compositions and colors in the landscape that catch her attention.  “I see unique stuff that others tell me they don’t see and that is what I try to paint when I get back to my studio.”

Bridge City Lanterns

Bridge City Lanterns

April has an extensive file of photographs from which to explore when starting a painting.  These digital photos are modified in the computer and then each serves as a template for every new acrylic or watercolor painting.  With this tool she can adjust the color digitally, enhance one color and eliminate another, or combine a part of one photo with another.  She plays until the composition and color express the emotion she is feeling and then begins to paint with watercolors or acrylics on paper. April thinks, like Jim Dine “My attitude towards drawing is not necessarily about drawing. It’s about making the best kind of image I can make, it’s about talking as clearly as I can.”

Her latest paintings are a collection of scenes fastened to stretcher frames and sealed, thus eliminating the need for glass.  These landscapes of both the United States and abroad reveal similarities as well as cultural differences threaded together by a common architecture, composition or human activity.  Queues and passage ways are universal and towers reaching to the sky describe communities across the globe. Her passion for painting bicycles and cyclists from near and far can also be found among the Common Threads.

Common Threads, April’s Rimpo’s solo can be seen at Touchstone Gallery March 3 – April 2, 2017

Opening Reception: Friday March 3, 6-8:30pm

Artist at Work in the Gallery: Sunday March 5, 1 – 4pm

Encore Reception: Sunday March 26, 2 – 4pm

Ponte Vecchio,

Ponte Vecchio,

“Hands On”: Touchstone Foundation for the Arts Fellows Make their Mark on Touchstone Gallery in 2017

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This year the Touchstone Gallery artist members circles includes four Touchstone Foundation for the Arts-sponsored Fellowship members, two of whom will solo in June 2017.  The four are  Lionel Daniels, Susi Cora, Jo Ann Block, and Carol Moore.  Each is working in a different medium and each is working towards a unique goal.  Their work can be seen in each monthly Touchstone exhibit.

Carol Moore

Carol Moore

Printmaker Carol Moore allows her fascination with the natural world to guide her inspiration, whether it is a tiny plant specimen or an animal that catches her attention. Her current works seeks to elaborate on the origins of the plant and animals as well as the plates used in the printmaking process. As the plate takes a greater role, the divide between the matrix and the printed image is blurred and the evidence of plate characteristics cannot be ignored.

Over in the Meadow

Over in the Meadow: Carol Moore

Susi Cora, while working in an entirely different medium, share’s Carol’s observation and attention to the natural world.  Susi’s art practice is currently focused upon abstract ceramic sculpture and she utilize slabs, tablets and totems to communicate stillness and metamorphosis. Surfaces are reminiscent of nature’s processes of accretion and erosion and the textures and patterns are taken from imagery of geologic formations, shorelines modeled by the wind and tides, and lichen-covered fountains.

Susi Cora

Susi Cora

The sculptures are hand built using pressed slab and coiling methods. Surface treatments are highly textural, composed of manipulated layers of clay and slip. A variety of oxides and stains are utilized combined with limited applications of matte and crackle glazes. The work is fired using both conventional and pit firing methods. This way of working aligns with the natural processes of the earth and parallels eons of human experience.

Plate: Susi Cora

Plate: Susi Cora

lionel

Lionel Daniels

While Susi manipulates clay with her hands, Lionel Daniels only paints with his hands. For him, the brush is the middle man that must be eliminated. A true finger painter, Lionel creates figurative photo expressionist paintings that depict Black Life and the day to day struggles and triumphs of African Americans that still exist today. The purpose of this work is for his audience to honor the ancestor, recognize the message, and spark an internal dialogue within them. Lionel is also exploring the political arena in his current works.

Change: Lionel Daniels

Change: Lionel Daniels

Necessary: Lionel Danials

Necessary: Lionel Danials

block_jo-ann_head-shotJo Ann Block is a multimedia artist constructing her works from physical items at hand, large pieced together drawings,  and digital collage fragments joined on the computer. Jo Ann presents autobiographical collages, piecing together her trajectory from growing up queer and her struggle toward emancipation from social stigma. The collages are an amalgam of historical and personal imagery using a range of materials and methods to cut and paste a complex identity.

Wall Installation segment: Jo Ann Block

Wall Installation segment: Jo Ann Block

Touchstone Foundation for the Arts (TFA) is proud to sponsor these four gifted artists.  TFA, a nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, was created by the artists of Touchstone Gallery to increase their engagement with the community around them and to accept donations to make that possible.  Their inaugural project was the creation of the TFA Fellowship for Emerging Artists. The fellowship is open to Washington area artists and is designed to help emerging artists to develop professionally through a two-year membership in the Touchstone Gallery, mentoring by established artists, participation in gallery group shows, and a culminating solo show at the end of the two-year fellowship period.

http://touchstonefoundationdc.org/

info@touchstonegallery.com

Mary Ott: The Pull of Metallics

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mary Ott working in the Montgomery College Print Studio, Silver Spring MD

Mary Ott working in the Montgomery College Print Studio, Silver Spring MD

Mary Ott’s February solo exhibit “Metallics: Paintings and Prints” at Touchstone Gallery features artwork that includes copper, silver and gold-colored paints and inks. Mary’s techniques, whether on a smooth canvas base or a unique and textured paper, result in images of nature that seem influenced by the Zen of Japanese art, an art aimed at uncovering the essence of the object under scrutiny.  In Mary’s work, grasses are singled out and isolated from complexities of a natural biosphere; then presented in a simplified space, elucidating the purity of seemingly simple life forms–forms often forgotten in our contemporary rough-and-tumble mechanical world.

Aurora

Aurora

All of the paintings were created in a two-step process in which a base layer of paint is applied to the canvas followed by the addition of delicate lines.  Mary dips fine embroidery yarn into acrylic paint and drags it across the base layer forming lines that allude to grasses and other features found in nature.

Grass Bouquet VI, copper

Grass Bouquet VI, copper

Mary also makes images by “pulling” prints from a plate using a printing press. In the printing process, inks are applied to a rigid plate that has been etched in a particular design, then transferred to paper as it passes through a press. Several of the prints titled “Wide Grass …“ were produced in the  following manner:

  • First, liquid “stop-out resist” was applied line-by-line to a 9” x 24” plate with a piece of thread, in a manner similar to the method used to create linear elements in the paintings.
  • Second, using a process known as aquatint to create a tonal effect, some areas of the plate were sprayed with a fine mist of black lacquer to resist the nitric acid. The plate was etched for more than 40 minutes in nitric acid, producing deep grooves in the plate.
  • For “Wide Grass XXXVII,” silver-colored etching ink was applied to the completed grooved plate and excess ink was carefully removed. Using a printing press, the image was printed on Unryu blue printing paper.

On the other hand, “Grass Bouquet VI” was created by printing a soft-ground etching in combination with  a screen print. To create the etching plate:

  • An acid-resistant coating called a “soft ground” was applied to a zinc plate.
  • Dried ornamental grasses were pressed into the ground and then the grasses were removed.
  • The plate was etched by submerging it in nitric acid.
  • Then black etching ink was applied to the etched plate.
  • After wiping excess ink off the plate, the etched image was printed on BFK white printing paper.

Finally the copper-colored image of grasses was added to the print using screen printing techniques.   –Rosemary Luckett and Mary D. Ott

Explore these paintings and hand drawn prints featuring artwork with copper, silver and gold elements from February 1 through February 26, 2017, Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC.

Reception: Friday February 3 from 6 to 8:30 pm (snow date Friday February 10).

“Meet the Artist:” Saturday February 18 from 1 to 3 pm.

Hours: Wednesday — Friday 11 am to 6 pm,  Saturday & Sunday –noon to 5 pm. No admission fee.  www.touchstonegallery.com ; 202 347 2787.

Wide Grass XXXVII

Wide Grass XXXVII

Steve Alderton’s Fleeting Memories

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Steve Alderton

Steve Alderton

Steve Alderton, in his third series “Memoryscapes: Blurry Lines III,” continues an exploration of landscape memories as viewed through the prism of time.  In this final component, Alderton pushes his works until they become abstract and the focus is contemplative in nature.  His acrylic paintings describe landscape qualities that are “felt” rather than defined as specific representational scenes our eyes see in the real world of land, sea or sky.

Memoryscapes - Blurry Lines III No. 18 Acrylic on canvas 16” X 16”

Memoryscapes – Blurry Lines III No. 18 Acrylic on panel 16” X 16”

Using sponge rollers and large brushes to form overlapping shapes, Alderton’s paintings suggest fleeting glimpses as seen from a plane or while riding in a car in his native Midwest.  Swiftness of movement is implied by blurry junctures of overlapping blocks of color.  In some paintings, pale colors and glimpses of darker tones suggest the ambiance of immense skies, harvested fields, and occasional copses of dark evergreens.    In other works, vibrant greens and yellows hint at late spring seasons when wheat and corn grow, covering the soil besides swaths of blooming mustard.  Time of day is alluded to in each, as well as seasonal temperatures and whether clouds or sun predominate.  Viewers will want to spend some time with the meditative influences of these color articulations. –Rosemary Luckett

MEMORYSCAPES: BLURRY LINES III

Opening Reception:  Friday, February 3, 6 – 8:30 pm

Snow Date: Friday February 10, 6 – 8:30 pm

Meet the Artist: Saturday, February 18, 1 – 3 pm

Memoryscapes - Blurry Lines III No. 5 Acrylic on canvas 28” X 48”

Memoryscapes – Blurry Lines III No. 5
Acrylic on canvas
28” X 48”

Memoryscapes - Blurry Lines III No. 12 Acrylic on canvas 30” X 30”

Memoryscapes – Blurry Lines III No. 12 Acrylic on canvas 30” X 30”

Elaine Florimonte: Painting Layered Metaphors

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elaine Florimonte

Elaine Florimonte

Elaine Florimonte’s day often starts out over coffee in the morning while she touches base with some of her high school art students.  They come in early to talk about the parallels between art and life and what to do when something goes wrong in a painting—philosophical stuff.  “It’s a privilege to be present in their lives at these moments when 15 to 18-year olds are forming their identities,” she muses, “and I stay connected to about four or five each year, following their progress through college.”  In the classroom Elaine teaches techniques and various media while coaching them through the standard processes of making art.  Sometimes she picks up the brush and paints on her own canvas to get a point across, a technique she learned from one of her own teachers during her high school days.  It was this particular teaching model that convinced her to study art and then become an art teacher herself.

Elaine acquired her undergraduate degree in art education with a minor in graphic and computer design at Radford University and then stayed for another three years to gain her MFA in two dimensional media. Her computer graphics portfolio and gregarious personality got her a job with the Fairfax County Office of Staff Development and Training followed by teaching stints in Oakton High School, Centerville High School, and finally Westfield High School where she heads up the art studio program today.

With My Brothers and My Sisters

With My Brothers and My Sisters

In tandem with her teaching career, Elaine practiced the art of painting.  First in a tiny office with a cardboard easel and a sheet of paper taped to the wall so it wouldn’t get spoiled.  Painting purely for enjoyment. Her confidence increased as she entered art shows in Berryville Virginia’s gristmill fundraisers, but realistic subject matter evolved into more abstract works over time.  She came to realize, like artist Richard Diebenkorn, that “It is not a matter of painting life. It’s a matter of giving life to a painting… [It’s about] putting down what I felt in terms of some overall image at the moment today, and perhaps being terribly disappointed with it tomorrow… trying to make it better and then despairing and destroying partially or wholly… getting back into it and just kind of frantically trying to pull something into this rectangle that made sense to me.” When Elaine begins to paint in this way, it is like she’s taking a step into an unknown place, surrendering to a process in which the paint and a flick of the wrist lead the way to an image that is synchronized with head and heart.

My Bitter Pill to Swallow

My Bitter Pill to Swallow

Elaine’s first solo exhibition Accumulation at Touchstone Gallery includes large works, diptychs and small 6”x 6” paintings from her summer project of creating one painting a day for 30 days.  Whether large or small, these paintings reveal layer upon layer of color, brush strokes and shapes.  The paintings may be abstractions from a sculpture she photographed on a recent trip to Greece.  Or they may begin with overlapping drawn images that come and go until a non-objective status is achieved. “The light and shadow patterns describe, or are metaphors, for people’s overlapping lives,” she says, “plus I’m inspired by artists Paul Cezanne, Andrew Wyeth and Helen Frankenthaler.”

To be experience the movement of Elaine’s veils of color and movement, visit Accumulation at Touchstone Gallery from November 30-December 23, 2016.  Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  Opening Reception is Friday, December 9 from 6-8:30 pm. Encore Reception Sunday, December 11 from 1-3 pm. Artist’s Talk at 2.901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001; http://www.touchstonegallery.com  –Rosemary Luckett

Elaine Florimonte Studio

Elaine in Her Studio

Jill Brantley: Creating Fresh Surroundings

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jill Brantley

Jill Brantley

The experience of playing freely during childhood must imprint itself indelibly in one’s psyche.  So many artists and writers who grew up in small towns across America seem to have been fueled by these long lazy periods of spontaneity as children. I put Jill Brantley among those so endowed.  She was fortunate to live in a small town in New England.  No stoplights.  Church steeples rising above oaks and maples.  The whole nine yards.  She remembers walking to school, riding bikes in the dark on summer nights, roaming with friends from yard to yard inventing games as they went along.  Imagination sparking imagination.  And a mother ringing a special bell at dusk.

Jill’s family circle was also a creative place, one that fostered reading and thought-provoking discussions at the dinner table.  “Why people do the things they do and what causes mental illness,” for instance.  (Her father being a professor at Boston University, Harvard and Tufts and her mother being a nurse).  When Jill’s father was sent to Paris for a year-long UNESCO project,  thirteen-year old Jill experienced a different kind of creative jolt.  She was in awe of how French women dressed and accessorized with scarves, handbags and jewelry.  Looking back she thinks her current interest in “the decorative” along with “the narrative” or what makes people tick, began in those formative years.

Gawkers

Gawkers

In college at American University, Jill wrote poetry, joined in a dance troupe and majored in sociology with a minor in social anthropology.  After graduation she worked at McLean hospital in Boston, but left after a year to pursue jobs in other areas, to marry, and then to travel Europe in a van for three months. Making art was not even in the cards as she mothered two small children.  Eventually she took a job with Tri City Too, a home decorating company commissioned to do color consultations in client homes.

From her advisory work with color schemes, she transitioned into the fine arts classes at the McLean Community Center, the Art League School in Alexandria, and Myrtle Beach NC.  Rob Vander Zee and several Art League teachers encouraged her to bring the imaginative childhood experiences into the fore using the languages of acrylic paint and collage.  “Being an artist is not like being a surgeon,” Vander Zee taught. “As you come to a turning point and seem lost, you have to decide whether or not to take a leap into the unknown.”

The Suitor

The Suitor

On a memorable visit to a Metropolitan Museum of Art’s special Matisse exhibit that included odalisque costumes, she was overwhelmed by the Matisse’s family textiles as well as his brilliant paintings.  “I came out of the exhibit vibrating with excitement!  I wanted to go in those rooms and stay there,” she states. “After that I began to add fabrics to my collages.”

Another painting giant, German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, inspired Jill too.  Kirchner reflects, “It seems as though the goal of my work has always been to dissolve myself completely into the sensations of the surroundings in order to then integrate them into a coherent painterly form.” Jill does exactly this in her first Touchstone Gallery solo exhibition of collages entitled Situations.  The works are constructed with paint, paper, fabric and found objects.  They summon memories from the past like shag rugs, and plastic covered seat cushions, as well as pets, flower arrangements, and gesturing people—narratives describing how individuals embellish themselves and their surroundings in mundane, or ambiguous or humorous ways.  Like Kirchner, she “paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, in fact …creating new appearances of things.” Her complex two dimensional compositions include unusual papers, fabric and intricate color schemes.   

In summarizing her life and art, Jill observes, “I am so blest to have found a creative path to serenity in spite of it being a lot of work.  It is such a gift to have the ability and opportunity to do this with my life right now while being supported by the many creative people I study and exhibit with.”  –Rosemary Luckett

Situations will be on exhibit November 4-27, 2016, Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC.  Opening reception is Friday, Nov. 4, 6-8:30pm.

Henry Not Again

Henry Not Again