Aleksandra Katargina: Painting the Road to Happiness

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Aleksandra Katergina

Aleksandra Katargina

The color of a bud opening in spring, dismal gray leafless trees looking slightly reddish from a distance, and the almost crass lemon yellow of blooming daffodils announce the freshness of each new spring.  The transformation of dormant life into energetic green and wild color is so powerful that poets wax on about it and artists paint about it. Aleksandra Katargina, a blossoming young painter living in the DC area, is on the same path. She is the Touchstone Foundation for the Arts first Emerging Artist Fellow Winner mounting her first oil painting solo exhibition In Pursuit of Happiness.

Aleksandra became captivated by Nature at a very early age while spending summers with her grandparents in Penza, Russia. She lived in Moscow during the school year, and early on found the urban environment too artificial for her tastes.  Although Moscow offers its 12 million inhabitants the tallest skyscraper in Europe, the colorful onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Spasskaya Clocktower in Red Square, for Aleksandra city fun was to be enjoyed in small doses. The quieter realm of the countryside was more suited to her personality.

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In Pursuit of Happiness

Aleksandra’s summer experiences in Penza, a smaller town south of Moscow, allowed her to bask in the peace and quiet of her grandmother’s garden.  There she developed a green thumb, scrutinized plants and animals, and learned to draw the figure. While her mother wrote and illustrated little books for her little Sasha, Sasha practiced her craft by drawing on top of the original images.  During her teen years, Sasha recalls, “Drawing was peaceful and gave me happiness.  I realized that making art was the best thing I could do in this world.”  So she settled comfortably into drawing and painting with watercolors.

Coming to the USA at the age of 14 to live with her father was quite an adjustment for Sasha.  In this new place her previous studies of English and interaction with Russian friends already in the states made the transition easier than it would have been otherwise. After high school she studied art at Maryland College of Art (MICA) and then earned a master’s degree in art with a painting concentration at Towson University near Baltimore, MD.

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Displacement of a Random Urbanite

In her studies Aleksandra really wanted to learn traditional technical processes to hone her skills.  “I wanted to collect a set of tools so I could express what I want to express,” she says. Through the help of teachers she did attain her goals.  Michael Economos taught her anatomy and figurative techniques.  Additional figure and landscape classes from Mark Karnes, built up her skill and confidence.  Sangram Majumdar pushed her very hard to develop the necessary work attitude. Lance Moore’s technical process class unraveled the mystery of oil painting for her.  “It was kind of like cooking,” she says.  “One adds a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make an explosion of taste, but I had to learn which spices to use in each project.”

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Tale of the Golden Fish

While inspired by nature, Aleksandra is not a pure landscape painter in the sense that any given landscape dominates the canvas.  Faces, figures, and animals that capture her attention are set into each natural living (landscape) environment.  Using her friends and herself as models, she forms the composition of the painting focusing on the body language of the posed model.  Although she does refer to her own photos of people, Aleksandra says that “work from life makes me work faster, but that doesn’t mean the painting will be quick to complete.  Brush strokes are more expressive and loose when I paint from life.  Light is much more expressive and has a strong presence in life drawing, whereas photo references don’t show light or depth of space accurately.”

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Rain

Even as humans these days try to distance themselves from the natural world, Aleksandra purposefully pairs animals with people in a natural environment.  In the process she paints parables, connecting the disappearing dots between humankind and the natural world.  For instance, her painting Shaman was inspired by the manga movie “Princess Mononoke.”  Director Hayao Miyazaki also thinks about connections.  He says, “Modern life is so thin and shallow and fake.  I look forward to when developers go bankrupt, Japan gets poorer and wild grasses take over.” In Aleksandra’s maiden solo exhibition In Pursuit of Happiness, she asks what avenues contemporary humans take while trying to find to happiness.  Her mastery of painting techniques are a visual feast, and the deep philosophical subtext worth deciphering.  Leo Tolstoy said that, “Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul, and shows people these secrets which are common to all.” Viewers should expect to spend contemplative time here, because Aleksandra’s paintings focus on the secrets of her soul, which are, in reality, as Tolstoy observed, common to all. –Rosemary Luckett

Touchstone Foundation for the Arts first Emerging Artist Fellow Winner Solo Exhibition

In Pursuit of Happiness

Paintings by Aleksandra Katargina

Touchstone Gallery May 1-31, 2015

Opening Reception: Friday, May 1, 6-8:30pm

Preview: April 29-30, 11am-6pm

Quick Portrait Event: Sunday, May 31, 2-4pm

Cynthia Young: Color Field Painter

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Cynthia Young

Cynthia Young

As I write this essay, I’ve got one eye on the keyboard and the other on the sunset.  Glowing peach and gray clouds streak across an aqua sky. It’s the kind of color phenomenon that penetrates Cynthia Young’s eye and then transfers to canvas when she starts a painting.  She begins by positioning her canvases on the floor, then pouring oil paint thinned with turpentine on to them.  She watches the colors percolate and swirl around each other forming shapes. After the paint dries, the canvas goes up on the wall where she paints with a brush to finish up the composition. While observing her surroundings Cynthia learned intuitively to “see forms instead of objects.”  She sees color patterns instead of tree canopies, and meditates on colors in the dark shapes forming storm clouds.

The circuitous journey to becoming a color field painter began in Ravenna, Ohio where she pretty much had the run of the neighborhood during childhood.  Though shy, she and her best friend (who lived in the undertaker’s house) found places to let their imaginations run wild.  Sometimes in the attic telling ghost stories until they scared themselves silly.  Sometimes dancing among the caskets.  Sometimes hiding in a club house made from a huge casket carton.  Sometimes sitting quietly in a corner drawing or out of sight climbing trees.

Storm Cloud

Storm Cloud

Cynthia’s life changed at age 12 when her parents divorced and her mother remarried and moved with Cynthia and her new stepfather to Youngstown, Ohio.  In this town of steel mills she enrolled in high school and, during the summer, worked for a florist picking cabbages.  Cynthia left the fields after she was hired by the local radio station.  Cynthia learned how to give the required weekly speech from memory in French class and how to endure the trials of belonging to a high school sorority. Receiving the PanHellenic Award for All-Around Student topped off her senior year.

Blue

Blue

Cynthia started college in her mother’s alma mater, Connecticut College for Women, in New London, Connecticut not far from the Coast Guard Academy.  Her shyness gone now, she became a party girl as well as a student.  “I had a good time and every year I changed my major,” she recalls. “Many courses looked interesting: history, philosophy and finally art where the teacher gave me more negative input than positive.” She spent a wonderful summer studying art at Rhode Island School of Design, a course that pointed her in the direction of art studies.

In New London, while in college, Cynthia began dating Avery Young, a Navy man from the submarine base across the river. He was one of the first to make his career in the newly-minted nuclear submarine program. Avery pursued her relentlessly for three months until she finally agreed to tie the knot. Everywhere they were stationed she studied art.  After Avery retired, they moved to McLean, VA. Here she was close to the Corcoran where she took classes.  She also enrolled in George Washington University eventually obtaining an MFA there while working as receptionist at the Reading Center.

Riot of Spring

Riot of Spring

The day finally came when, under the tutelage of Arthur Smith and inspired by Helen Frankenthaler and Willem De Looper, Cynthia found her voice creating non-objective paintings. She and a friend, rented a painting studio in the old Atlas Building (now the Spy Museum on 8th and F Streets, NW). The sixth floor was full of pigeons and thought to be haunted.  There was only one bathroom in the whole place.  “Every spring we were broken into and our radios were stolen,” Cynthia recalls, “but the thieves paid no attention to our art.” Erotic shops on the first floor, museums just around the corner, and the support of 25 other artists in the building made it a perfect place to create. Happily she painted there and taught drawing and watercolor for 15 years at Northern Virginia Community College across the Potomac River in Virginia.

Unfolding

Unfolding

Cynthia, who identifies herself a 20th Century Traditionalist, is a long time member of Touchstone Gallery where her work is displayed year round.  Since her beloved husband is now gone, she spends time with her daughter living in New Jersey and two grandchildren: one who studies at the University of Vermont and the other who is a ski instructor on the verge of starting a medical career.  She is still looking for a suitable painting studio.  New ideas and colors just keep percolating to the surface.

–Rosemary Luckett

Twilight

Twilight

Pete McCutchen Wins Honorable Mention in the Monochrome Awards International Black & White Photography Contest, 2/2015

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Pete McCutchen

Pete McCutchen

Winning an Honorable Mention in the Monochrome Awards means a lot. I began photographing at eleven years of age, and like most of my generation I started in the black and white darkroom. (No iPhones back then.)   I did black and white almost exclusively for years.  With the advent of digital technology, I began exploring color.  The tools of digital editing allow for precise control that isn’t possible in the color darkroom and inkjet printer have a color gamut and archival qualities that far exceed any chromogenic process.

For the last decade or so, I’ve produced mostly color work. My solo shows have featured color work, and nearly all of the awards received were for color work. My color work is rich, lush, and saturated.  I use color expressively, more like a painter than a traditional photographer.  My first award in an international competition — the Neutral Density Awards — was for a color portfolio.

http://ndawards.net/winners-gallery/nd-awards-2014/other/hm/606%22.

Five Lights

Five Lights

It’s really gratifying, therefore, to be able to return to black and white and be recognized for a traditional black and white photograph.  It’s even more rewarding to be acknowledged in an international competition along with photographers from Spain, Italy, the UK, Brazil, the Ukraine, Israel, Iran, and many other countries. The work produced by the other awardees is great, and the number of countries from which they’re drawn is impressive.  I feel honored to be included.

Crime Pays

Crime Pays

My winning image “Five Lights” was shot in an abandoned power plant. Another photographer had borrowed my tripod; I was wandering around, shooting hand-held. Look up, I always say, and so I did, Above me I saw big suspended lights. The bulbs were long gone, but the light streaming from the windows hit the reflective coating of the fixtures.  They glowed.

 

Final Antechamber

Final Antechamber

The light was beautiful. There just wasn’t a lot of it.    Shooting hand-held, I cranked the ISO (light sensitivity) up to 10,000.  Even with a Nikon D3, an image at ISO 10,000 is going to have a lot of noise.  In color, noise is ugly, but I knew I would convert it to black and white.  In black and white, the noise looks like film grain, enhancing the image with a gritty textural feel.

The light from the windows was harsh and bright, while the rest of the interior was in deep shadow.  I could have exposed the image to retain highlight detail in the windows, but the result would have been total darkness n the shadows. Instead, I exposed for the shadows and allowed the highlights to be blown out.  I didn’t want detail in the windows; I wanted them to glow, making this old power plant seem almost like an ancient cathedral. –Pete McCutchen & Rosemary Luckett

See the winning Monochrome Awards photos at http://monoawards.com/winners-gallery/monochrome-awards-2014/professional/fine-art/hm/332

Henry County Illinois, December, #6

Henry County Illinois, December, #6

Harmon Biddle: Transforming Landscapes

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Harmon Biddle

Harmon Biddle

Army families and those in the diplomatic corps move around the country a lot and often get stationed “overseas.”  Harmon Biddle’s family fit those service categories.  She lived in many states and  European posts including Germany, Japan and England.  While she didn’t think of herself as an artist at a young age, she was often at the side of her mother who painted pastel portraits. Perhaps some of that artistic sensibility and some of those varied landscapes seeped into her psyche only to become an active force in adulthood. Harmon always dabbled in art but this took second row seat to becoming a psychoanalyst.  She currently practices psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in tandem with her art.

Magnificent Wave

Magnificent Wave

In the 1980’s, Harmon made an art studio over the garage.  She intuitively knew that she wanted to get serious about painting. Now with “a room of her own” and inspiration from Southwestern landscapes, Harmon began to paint.  Her format often takes the shape of long horizontal rectangles, as if she’s trying to capture 180 degrees of horizon. Other paintings are pure emanations of her imagination, particularly those based on oval egg shapes.   Being a psychoanalyst, one would think Harmon could explain where those eggs came from, but she’s not exactly sure. It’s up to the viewer to discern meaning from this complex symbol whose meanings range from potential to vulnerability, and from strength to latency or potential.

Remembrance

Remembrance

As in her landscape compositions, Harmon just starts with a particular color and then sees what happens as she flows watercolor paints into the paper.  Something happens in her unconscious between the time she records an image and when she actually begins to paint it.  Color becomes arbitrary.  Sometimes it’s bright, as in the egg pictures, and sometimes its subdued browns and grays.  She has the aptitude for accepting what comes forth from her imagination and letting the process lead her to an unplanned completion.

Celestial Body

Celestial Body

Taking her paintings a step further, Harmon sometimes pairs up with an Italian glassmaker at Adriano Berengo Fine Arts on the island of Murano.  There, her two dimensional egg paintings are transformed into very heavy and transparent glass structures that capture light in unexpected ways.  Both paintings and the large glass 3-D pieces in her Touchstone Solo Earth Elements can be viewed between February 4 and March 1. –Rosemary Luckett

Heat

Heat

Gail Vogels: Exploring and Transforming

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Gail Vogels

Gail Vogels

It’s not surprising that Gail Vogels was inspired by the novel All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr when she set out to construct her new multi-media art works. She’s been interested in literature most of her life, studying it in college and coming away with a bachelor’s degree in the field. “That book was a launching point for me.  I wanted to explore  micro and macro themes happening simultaneously–those natural forces and choices that make us human beings.  Using mixed media elements -instead of painting – I tried to figure out how to make various themes intersect on a picture plane. Plus, using scissors and glue is fun.  The process is old school and the experience evokes your childhood.”

 

While She Slept

While She Slept

Gail started these transformative works by eschewing her favorite paint, cutting up several figure drawings and collecting other papers and monotype prints.   Keeping in mind the entire galaxy of our existence and the space between that largeness and tiny life forms, she began to arrange her elements on the surface of cradled clayboards.  (Archival and acid-free, Claybord is created by applying an archival kaolin clay ground to a True Artist Hardbord substrate, then sanding it to a velvet-smooth, absorbent finish.) This rigid backing is ideal for accepting textures, hand altered papers, found objects and the permanent black ink she uses.  The technical aspect of gluing required experimentation with many adhesives.  Several coatings of matte medium cover the finished design and protect the layers underneath.  These works are mostly black and white except for a bit of sienna and metallics.

 

Beauty

Beauty

Gail grew up in “Wyeth country”,  a rural area outside Philadelphia, PA.   At an early age  she developed the language of perception by watching her mother and a neighboring artist create oil paintings.  Fearing she could not make a living as a painter, she pursued a graduate degree in counseling college-age students. Because of her husband’s career,  she moved  to Atlanta, GA. The transition from this particular northern city to this particular southern one was a daunting undertaking.  At the same time, it provided an opportunity.  The opportunity was to realize a dream of hers–to study fine arts at the graduate level.

In this solo exhibition Oh Life! at Touchstone Gallery, Gail seems to reflect Wyeth’s outlook.  “I paint my life, ” he has noted many times.  Even though he’s classified as a realist, his paintings have an abstractness about them.  Upon examination, even the simplest painted object has a profound meaning.  Gail likewise celebrates life, objects of nature and architecture, and the human figure.  Her assembled stories of the beautiful and the temporary remind the viewer how the small intersects vitally and mysteriously with the large.  Her abstract multi-media works are  now on exhibit from January 2 – February 1, 2015.  Opening Reception ▪ Friday, January 9, 2015, 6-8:30 pm.  Visitors will be able to watch Gail’s work process on Artists at Work ▪ Sunday, January 25, 2-4 pm.  She will answer questions and discuss her work. 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC. info@touchstonegallery.com

 

Contemplation

Contemplation

 

 

Pat Williams: Coaxing Abstracts From Reality

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Pat Williams

Pat Williams

“I enjoy painting more than anything else I’ve ever done, and I’ve done quite a few things,” says Pat Williams, a native of North Carolina who now lives in Falls Church, Virginia.  This is quite a remarkable statement coming from a person who majored in engineering and spent most of her career working for electrical cooperatives and other energy companies.

When creativity eventually bubbled to the surface, Pat exited her electrical finance career to put her writing skills into practice.  As a communications consultant, Pat’s writings are highly controlled. “

The simple watercolor sketch that sparked the beginning of Pat's solo series

The simple watercolor sketch that sparked the beginning of Pat’s solo series

I edit in my mind before I ever put a word on paper. I edit myself further as I polish drafts, and then the drafts are edited by an employer, an editor, often a committee. The end result is a collaborative effort, which can be wonderful, but it isn’t necessarily me.” That editorial format left Pat searching for another way to express herself more freely.

With trepidation and self-doubt,  she enrolled in a watercolor class. Practically speaking it was a good choice. Her paintings were portable, they dried fast, and she could work on them when traveling with her husband on business.   The classes seemed a bit daunting at first as they generally are for beginners of any age, but Pat laid out some basic rules for herself.  She would paint for enjoyment and not worry about what anyone else in the class was doing.  She soon realized that there is a reason the teacher is the teacher, so she focused on learning what her instructors had to offer.   Phillip Hocking, her first teacher, patiently guided her through the nuances of watercolor.  “Yes, you must buy $3 sheets of paper even to practice on! And don’t be timid about putting enough paint on that paper,” she remembers him saying as he coached her in the techniques she wanted to learn.

Internal Dialog

Internal Dialog

Everybody needs a teacher that is able to draw out the creativity of an individual student,” remarks Pat.  Deborah Ellis did that while showing her how to manipulate the interaction between water and paint.  Steve Fleming offered enlightening critiques and encouraged her to exhibit work, while Marsha Staiger taught her to express her own vocabulary of abstraction with fluidity and fluency.

Urban-crowding

Urban-crowding

Starting in 1989 Pat painted reality in fine detail, but over time she achieved a long-held goal of being able to painting abstractly. Her January 2-February 1, 2015 Touchstone Gallery solo exhibition, Hidden Things Revealed, is a culmination of that learning process.  Using a Multimedia Artboard ™ foundation  (a rigid paper substrate consisting of an innovative combination of paper and thermalset resin), these paintings are explorations of the similarities and differences among common plants and animals.  Glimpsed behind veils of Pat’s abstract washes, disparate life forms are connected by color and shape divulging both hidden and revealed aspects of each.

See Hidden Things Revealed at the opening party on  Friday, December 9, 2015, 6 to 8:30pm and during Gallery hours throughout January.  In addition, Pat will be painting at an Artist at Work event at Touchstone on Sunday, January 25, 2-4 pm.  In a relaxed Gallery atmosphere that includes light refreshments, she’ll explain how she works — while she works.  Questions are welcome.  info@touchstonegallery.com; 202-347-2787

Rosemary Luckett

Be Present

Be Present

Annika Haas: Observing with a Photographic Eye

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Annika Haas, Estonian Photographer

Annika Haas, Estonian Photographer

Photographer and Touchstone Gallery Guest Artist Annika Haas lives and works in Estonia, a small country located between Latvia and the Gulfs of Finland and Riga—a cool, but fertile land.  Annika grew up there and received her BA from the University of Tartu in Finno-Ugric languages.  Subsequently she studied photo journalism in Tartu.  Traveling to London provided her with the chance to continue studies at the Photo Opportunity Studios and foto8 gallery.

A member of the board Estonian Association of Press photographers, she has entered and won many contests.  The latest being 2014 Grand Prize for Estonian Press Photo.  In 2012, she received Honorable Mention in the 2012 FotoWeekDC International Awards Competition, Washington DC, USA. For a complete list of exhibition and awards visit her website at www.annikahaas.com.

planewatchers03web

Ivan Melnitski

Annika’s work includes several series: Gypsies in Estonia, portraits, landscapes, Lake Peipus Russian Old Believers, and why some people are bald and others not. These series are in color, while Underground bar scene works are shot in black and white. Annika eshews the computer and uses a Ljubitel camera and latitude negative film to make chromogenic colour prints (C-prints).

Tamara

Tamara

Annika’s Touchstone solo “Plane Watchers” are a series of photographs that follows the extinction of the last of the Soviets in Estonia who are being displaced from their 54 year old little dachas and gardens so that the Tallinn Airport runways can be expanded. Began in 2010, the series contains both portraits and documentary photos.  It reflects the conflict between the followers of a fading era and a new social order pressing down on them.  “It shows how a group of people hangs on to the past in the teeth of the new rules,” Annika explains.  The complex human stories in this exhibit may remind viewers of similar work produced by William Eggleston and Washington DC’s William Christenberry who document the lives of people of the southern United States.

Annika’s works are sponsored by the Embassy of Estonia in Washington and can be seen from December 5-28, 2014 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC.  www.touchstonegallery.com; info@touchstonegallery.com.  Rosemary Luckett, Annika Haas

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Paula Lantz: Designer of Plans and Paintings

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Paula Lantz head shot copy

Paula Lantz

Paula is one of those rare persons who can make and follow a detailed plan of action and yet act spontaneously in the next moment.  For the first half of her professional life, she focused on corporate jobs as a “structural planner” of employee self-improvement programs.  In  the second half she became an abstract painter.  Perhaps these seemingly contradictory abilities are innate, or perhaps she learned them along the way.

Paula’s life began in Marfa, Texas, a small town in the high desert of the Trans-Pecos, located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park.  Her family were ranchers.  Marfa  was a quiet place whose population numbered around 1900 folks.  It’s claim to fame is that the movie “Giant” was (appropriately) filmed there.

As often happens in this giant territory, rains cease, long droughts set in and some ranchers lose their shirts.  Luckily  Paula’s father had a college degree in accounting, so when their ranch dried up, he found a fiscal job in Columbia, South America, and took the family with him.  Paula spent the next 10 years traveling between a boarding school in Charleston, SC and her Columbian home, voyages that sparked a life-long love of travel.  Her college years were spent at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Resting Ballet Dancer

Resting Ballet Dancer

Equipped with a masters degree in health, Paula settled on the east coast to begin a double career as mother and health professional.  Paula became a designer of smoking cessation and employee fitness programs for the corporate world as well as for hospitals in Northern Virginia and Maryland.  After 20 plus years in this field, Paula turned those organizational skills in a different direction, designing a two-part art plan for herself! She decided (1) to be a docent at one of DC’s art museums, and (2) to began taking art classes.

Paula followed her plan and has been a docent at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art for 20 years.  Art classes continued parallel to the docent job.  She learned from Alice Neal, Andy Warhol, the Impressionists,  Bonnard, Diebenkorn, Matisse and so many others while exploring monotype printmaking, mixed media materials, and painting.  The drawing she began in college anatomy classes evolved into new ways of seeing.  “But nothing is ever lost or goes away,” she notes.  Along the way Paula became an artist using the bold intense color relationships she saw in the Texas sunsets of her youth. Add to that use of mixed media texture and a sensibility for abstraction and non-representation.

Couple at the Bar

Couple at the Bar

In her solo exhibit of dramatic psychological portraits, Observations, Paula leaves organizational structures behind, improvises, plumbs the depths of her travel experiences and paints abstractly the people she observes.  With brush dipped in acrylic paint and empathy in hand, her creativity pours forth energy and color in a spontaneous yet cohesive way, capturing the temperament of ordinary people– the essence of a moment in their life onto the canvas in a powerful way. Her nine gestural figurative paintings will be on exhibit at Touchstone Gallery December 3-28, 2014. The opening reception is Friday, Dec. 5 from 6-8:30 pm. 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC. Rosemary Luckett

diptych

Breakfast

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


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