Maureen Squires: Partnering Painting with Words

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Maureen Squires

While writing Touchstone blog essays, I ask the question, ”How do artists arise in America?” The answer, of course, is that exceptional artists come from small towns and large all across the land, predictably and unpredictably.  I thought about this recently while driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where my attention alternated between fast-moving 18-wheelers and glimpses of green pastures sculpted from long-ago deciduous forests when horses were the main mode of transport.  Road signs mention the small towns that are quickly by-passed.

Maureen Squires, like one of her favorite authors Annie Dillard, recognizes these landmarks because they were both raised in Pittsburgh’s east end.  As a child Maureen was preoccupied with drawing and attracted to handwriting.  She had definite ideas about which scripts she liked and which she did not, and practiced her favorites over and over.  As a Seton Hill University freshman she took her initial calligraphy class as part of her first Drawing and Design course.   It laid the foundation for her lifelong fascination with words and how to give them form in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner.  Design and painting became natural partners for the words she loved to script.

Solar Wind V, 30 x 23, sumi and acrylic, pointed brush, 300 lb watercolor paper

Maureen spent two post-graduate years in calligraphy studies headed by Arnold Bank at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  Bank was one of the founders of the Type Directors Club in 1946, which added momentum to establishing 20th century calligraphy and typography studies in mainstream visual art in America.  Bank coached his students struggling with the inevitable mistakes inherent in the meticulous production of calligraphy that, “If it’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing over again.” Scraping mistakes off the paper was only one solution.  Although also inspired by Gottfried Pott, Donald Jackson and Thomas Ingmire, Maureen attributes much of her calligraphic thinking and skill to Bank.

Creation II, 20 1/4 x 22, acrylic, Sumi on cold press, pen and brush

Upon completing studies, Maureen was employed by the AT&T Bell Labs art department for a while.  But her most enjoyable work experiences happened after she became a freelance artist, picking up projects and meeting other calligraphers the world over.  She also developed her painter’s eye, focusing on “the secret of seeing” during the creative process. Before toning Arches Text Wove paper or canvas, Maureen chooses inspirational words that suggest a color scheme, which in turn, gives life to words.  Maureen’s first Touchstone Gallery solo show, Words as Muse, typifies this process. The work in this exhibit celebrates the concepts and wordplay of Annie Dillard: “After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down eons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever-fresh vigor.”  It’s the language of movement and vigor.

Profusions on Profligacies, 30 x 30, acrylic on canvas

The field of calligraphy is a fluid one, so associating with other artists keeps Maureen current with what is happening in her field.  She attends annual International Calligraphy Conferences, and has directed three of them.  This year Maureen is curator and editor of the most recent issue of Scripsit magazine, a publication of the Washington Calligraphy Guild, many of whose member artists work in federal government agencies and the White House, scripting certificates, special documents, and formal invitations.  A copy of Scripsit is part of her December 2017 exhibition Words as Muse. It’s an exhibit in which, in the words of calligrapher Massimo Polello, “…letters become a means to exist outside myself… going beyond the letters, captured by a sole need to see. They become signs, images, evocations, urgent needs, emotions.”   It’s a unique exhibit and one in which viewers will see how words and painting marry up to form unique expressions.—Rosemary Luckett

Opening Reception Friday, December 1, 2017, 6-8:30 pm

Meet the Artist Maureen Squires/Artist Talk Saturday December 16, 2-4 pm

Touchstone Gallery — 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001

202-347-2787 — Info@touchstonegallery.com  — http://www.touchstonegallery.com

Wednesday- Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 12-5

The Secret, 20×30, acrylic on canvas

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dana brotman: capturing the confluence of humble materials & insightful gaze

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       — dana brotman

If we each open our eyes a little wider and really look at our environment, we begin to see a lot of packaging “stuff” that might be falling to the floor as we open a gift or other everyday objects–the worthy and useful objects we think important.  We throw that packaging away mostly without really looking at it. But, even if the rest of the world ignores it, Dana Brotman does not.  She’s actually attracted to many of those “stuffs” and now actually uses it in her art processes.

In the past, drawing or painting on a flattened smooth box or some handy corrugated cardboard was the natural thing for Dana to do on those occasions when she ran out of the good paper–the deckled edge watercolor kind that soaks up ink and paint so superbly.  During the past year it became apparent to her that the portraits she so loves to do actually take on a different attitude if they are painted on discarded materials.  The foundation color peeks through more easily on cardboard. The flattened box edges provide boundaries to the portrait and emphasize the shapes she is preoccupied with.

woman + man

Painting faces “is what I do”, says Dana. “It’s what comes up for me when I pick up my charcoal or paints.  I love the geometric, almost symmetrical shape of the face, neck and shoulders.  I try to capture the gaze of the person I am observing.” Rather than attempting to replicate an exact likeness photographically, she may exaggerate part of her composition.  Sometimes the neck is elongated in the manner of Amedeo Modigliani.  Sometimes, following Paul Klee’s lead, she uses black line and childlike simplification of forms.  Sometimes she begins by recalling the drawings that her daughter made years ago at age four.  She intuitively knows that, “One eye sees, the other feels,” as Klee once remarked.

woman in high collar

Dana’s first solo at Touchstone Gallery reflects these attitudes.  beg borrow + steal: works on cardboard delights the eye with figures installed sans glass.  Some are separated from the wall by brightly colored vintage frames.  Others float on the wall flaunting their rawness.  One stands alone four-sided on a pedestal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new work belies the journey Dana has taken over time.  As a young woman Dana felt like a fish out of water at James Madison University, so she gave up her art minor there, and answered the call of a cooler climate in the North.  Equipped with snow boots, warm clothes, and her little box of paints, she enrolled in Tufts University in Boston.  She completed a graduate degree in counseling psychology two years later.  The climate suited her, so she went to Garden City on Long Island NY, and obtained a doctorate at the Adelphi University’s Derner Institute.   Dana married a Jersey boy there and then relocated back to Virginia again—paint box still along for the ride–where she maintains a psychotherapy practice along with the job of motherhood. for the ride–where she maintains a psychiatric practice along with the job of motherhood.

girl + green necklace

Feeling the lifelong urge to paint at age 40, Dana opened up her trusty paint box and began making small “hidden” paintings while entertaining ideas for big ones.  A gift certificate for a gesture drawing class at the Art League in Alexandria changed everything.  “It was as though I had awakened in another country where I didn’t know the language,” she recalls, “but I kept going, learning and collecting papers and enjoying how each absorbed pigment differently. Corrugated cardboard textured surface does the same thing as a gesture drawing class does.  It stops me from fretting over the process.  It’s a gift that helps me bypass anxieties about trying to ‘get it right’.” Once her creative genie got out of the box, there was no stopping the flow of artwork and the enjoyment found in the painting process.

As she became practiced in art, Dana also looked for a way to be part of an artist community and then to show her work.  Touchstone Gallery fills that bill. Viewers will enjoy her lively painted portraits in beg borrow + steal: works on cardboard from October 4-29, 2017 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001. 202-347-2787. Touchstone Gallery.com.  Wed-Fri: 11am-6pm; Sat-Sun 12-5 pm. It’s an animated and delightful exhibit. Opening reception Friday October 6, 2017, 6-8:30 pm. –Rosemary Luckett

two women

Patricia Williams: Ordered Complexities

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Patricia Williams

“Both science and art have to do with ordered complexity.” –L. L. Whyte, 1957

My September 2017 solo show was originally intended to be an abstract landscape series, but it turned into an homage to math and science.  This happened because the people who decide such things declared March 14, 2015 to be the official pi (π) day. (Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and always equals 3.14159265359….) I met my husband Andy in engineering school, and while neither of us claims any particular STEM skills at this point in our lives, we had a vigorous discussion of this important issue over breakfast one morning, and we vigorously dissented. In our opinion, the official pi day should have been March 14, 2016. That’s because 2015 is truncated, and we believe it more appropriate to round up to 2016.

Our discussion sent me off to art class thinking about mathematics in general and pi in particular, something I had not done in a very long time, and I painted a picture incorporating various aspects of pi. It was so much fun! I immediately painted the natural logarithm e and the golden mean phi (ɸ). Then I let it rest. I had focus on painting landscapes for the Seasonal Variations show I planned to mount in 2017.

Ode to Pi Day (Truncated with Errors)

But Touchstone’s January 2017 themed exhibit What’s Next? changed my thinking. The show was announced right after last year’s elections, and as I read about it, the only thought I had was, I have no idea. I don’t know where things are going. This reminded me of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which says that you can determine either the position or the movement of a small particle but not both at the same time. Heisenberg’s work led to a thought experiment involving the paradox of Schrödinger’s Cat (an imaginary circumstance in which a cat could be deemed both dead and alive at the same time). So I painted Schrödinger’s cat. Mostly, people couldn’t have cared less about Heisenberg, but they liked the cat. That gave me the courage to paint what I really wanted and needed to paint.

“Hey, Heisenberg, Have You Seen My Cat?”

Ordered Complexities has been a very personal series for me and also a great joy to work on. One of the nicest things about it has been that it has given me the opportunity to engage friends who have little or no interest in art in the artistic process. For example, if I ever knew about Pascal’s Triangle, I had long forgotten it. A friend who is a civilian consultant to the military and who is very polite about my abstract works (meaning he doesn’t like them) suggested it. Look it up. It’s fascinating. A colleague in the Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle suggested Fermat’s Last Theorem. A friend from school loaned me a textbook on a software program called Mathematica that gave me an idea for painting Fermat. Someone else suggested the square root of two, and I learned about the silver mean (silver ratio) and the fact that the Babylonians, who did not have zero, let alone the Internet, left a clay tablet demonstrating a derivation of the square root of two. I fell in love with math and science all over again.

Perhaps most importantly, I learned that the intersections of art and science are not as rare as I thought. When I was researching Enneper surfaces, I discovered Man Ray’s 1934 photograph of one, Objet Mathematique. I found someone called Mr. Parr engaging his students through covers of popular songs rewritten to explain scientific concepts, such as Newton’s laws of motion. The heartbreakingly beautiful Sagrada Familia, a cathedral in Barcelona, Spain (under construction since 1882) incorporates many geometric and mathematical constructs, including a magic square in its Passion Façade. Perhaps as mass and energy are equivalent (E=mc2), art and science merely reflect different states of thought.

Enneper’s Space

Today’s world is full of divides. Certainly not the most important, but one which vexes me, is the divide so often found between people who see themselves as creative and people who see themselves as mathematical. I hope these paintings will in some small way provide a bridge across that divide. I hope that anyone who sees the images will find them interesting. I hope that my friends who are uncomfortable with math and science will find them approachable and perhaps explore one of the concepts a little more. I hope that my friends who are uncomfortable with art will see that it has something to offer in interpreting the world. Most of all, I hope that if you have a favorite irrational constant, mathematical formula or scientific concept, you will share it with me. I am not yet through with this series. Or, more to the point, it is not through with me.

The paintings in Ordered Complexities are comprised of layers of transparent watercolor and watercolor pencil or water-soluble graphite on Multimedia Artboard™, a rigid paper substrate. In some paintings, intense colors and murky darks all but obliterate the underlying text. In others, wispy lines of water-soluble graphite are punctuated with jolts of color. The paintings are driven by content, but content is secondary to the interplay of color and form.–Patricia Williams

Ordered Complexities: New Watercolor Paintings by Patricia Williams; August 30 –October 1, 2017

Opening Reception ▪ Friday, September 8, 6-8:30 pm

Meet the Artists ▪ Saturday, September 23, 1-4 pm

Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC; info@touchstonegallery.com    www.touchstonegallery.com; 202-347-2787

The Thinker

 

Claudia Samper Mixed Media Stories

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Claudia Samper

 

Argentinian born Claudia Samper reminisces on her early life in Buenos Aires.  “As a youngster I was always drawing and creating things with my hands,” she recalls. “By the time I entered the university I didn’t have many choices in Buenos Aires except for traditional career paths–medicine, education, law, etc. We of course did have a wonderful art institute, but it never crossed my mind to pursue art then.”  The one track that suited her the most was architecture.  After completing that 6-year degree program, she had acquired a solid base in both the technical and the art spheres of the curriculum.

As a teaching assistant, Claudia taught architectural modeling and design courses.  Her favorite part of architecture was inventing designs and drawing complex perspectives by hand. Auto Cad computer renderings she learned later after moving to the US.  Additional classes in graphic design paved the way for a career change as her attention to architecture waned and interest in exploring ceramics increased–especially hand built sculptural forms.

Connecting the Dots

The magnetism of oil colors and portraiture captured her interest during her experiments with clay.  Gradually oil paint “won the day” and she discovered that paint could better portray her interest in the human condition than her clay pieces. Claudia, moreover, was drawn to the paintings of Alice Neel, Lucian Freud, Rembrandt, and Velasquez, because they knew how to capture the interior expression of the person they were painting, going deeper than getting the shape of the mouth and distance between the eyes correct. Claudia learned to paint loosely, too, and didn’t concern herself with getting the anatomy photographically correct.  Inspired by tango composers, poets and singers, she started a series about them, drawing from old black-and-white photographs just to get the basic form before allowing the colors and brush strokes to express the personality of her subject.  Lucian Freud had explained it well, “The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.”

House of Cards

But the architectural outlook in Claudia has returned lately to her work, in the form of small precisely rendered surreal paintings. Their graphic quality takes precedence over her use of oils.  Many of these new works pair lifelike songbirds with Origami birds on a white background that negates the natural habitat from which avian life usually springs.  By situating the birds in a spare environment, Claudia tells a distinctive story of the relationship between humankind and the natural world–a story for the viewer to decipher without the muffle of bushes, land and sky. The recognizably live birds and the folded paper birds each bring with them their own history of meaning.  Each also becomes a metaphor for people trying to make sense of a world where mixed messages and conflicting information seem to be the order of the day. Hence the title: Connecting the Dots.

In her first solo at Touchstone Gallery, Connecting the Dots, Claudia tries out new materials along with the oils: colored pencils on transparent Mylar, ink on translucent Mylar, and graphite.  Some pieces are 3 or 4 layers thick resulting in images that go beyond mere presentation–images that have to be discovered bit by bit by the viewer. You can see and enjoy these intriguing works at Touchstone Gallery from July 8-30.

Opening Reception: Friday, July 14 from 6-8:30 pm

Meet the Artist Saturday, July 29, 1 – 3 pm;

901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001; Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  http://www.touchstonegallery.com   info@touchstonegallery.com

Jeanne Garant: Parallel Paintings

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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

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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

Janathel Shaw: Portraits of Courage

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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

Lisa Tureson: Curiosity —> Exploration —> Creativity

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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

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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

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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