From The Director: Residency Alumni Exhibition

Residency Alumni Show  at Main Street Arts

Installation shot of the Residency Alumni exhibition at Main Street Arts

Our current exhibition is one that is fairly atypical for Main Street Arts — it’s not really thematic, it doesn’t necessarily have a large idea that brings the work together, it isn’t an invitational based on specific media, it isn’t a national juried exhibition or a solo show. The thing that brings these very different artists together is that they have all been artists in residence at Main Street Arts.

Residency Alumni Show at Main Street Arts

Some of the work by former residents included in the exhibition

The Residency Alumni Exhibition has been a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate nearly three years of the residency program at the gallery. In June, 2016 we launched this program as a way to have a consistent place for making art in the gallery—to make it more of an active space where art was being made on a regular basis. That idea evolved over time to become what it is today: a program that provides artists dedicated time and space to focus on their work in a creative and supportive environment.

Residency Alumni Show at Main Street Arts

Ten of the  former artists in residence included in the exhibition along with two April 2019 resident artists. Pictured above, back row (left to right): current resident Becca Barolli, former residents Moira Ness, Mandy Ranck, Eve Bobrow, Ali Herrmann, Zoey Murphy Houser, Kaele Mulberry and Victoria Savka. Front row (left to right): current resident Rowan Walton, former residents Renee Valenti, Emily Long, and Emily Tyman.

Residency Alumni Show at Main Street Arts

Panel discussion before the opening of the Residency Alumni Exhibition

As of April, 2019, 54 artists have come from 17 states and Canada to work in the studios at Main Street Arts, and 42 of them are included in this wide ranging exhibition. It was a heartwarming experience to open up packages from former residents as we prepared for this show. So many of these artists are now friends of ours and this gave us a chance to see their work again, some of which was actually made during their time here!

Laying out the diverse array of work in the exhibition

Laying out the diverse array of work in the exhibition

Visitors to this exhibition will often remark about how diverse and eclectic this show is and I see that as a testament to the range of artists that have come through the program.  We’ve had painters, sculptors, potters, photographers, writers, printmakers, installation artists, a puppet maker, and fiber artists over the past three years. The exciting thing for me was seeing how all of this different work — over 100 pieces — pairs together in an exhibition. To have artists from 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 all together on the same wall and with work in a wide variety of media and style.

Residency Alumni Show at Main Street Arts

Opening reception for the Residency Alumni exhibition at Main Street Arts

While this exhibition will come to an end on Friday, May 17,  the residency program will continue and we will see many more artists come through the studios at the gallery. We plan to highlight the work of future residents in upcoming residency alumni exhibitions and we look forward to seeing how the program will grow and evolve in the future.


The residency program is an integral part of our mission as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art organization to promote the work of regional, national and international artists, encourage the creation of art and foster art education. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the residency program, you may do so on our website: MainStreetArtsGallery.com/support

 

Meet the Artist in Residence: Rowan Walton

Rowan Walton, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of April 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Rowan some questions about her work and studio practice:

Artist Rowan Walton

Artist Rowan Walton

Q: Please you tell us about your background?
I grew up on a ridge of Mt. Tamalpais in Mill Valley, California; about 20 minutes north of San Francisco. A winding road snakes itself up to my house, often through heavy maritime fog, so it can feel like an island up there (which is why I tend to identify with the mountain and surrounding shoreline rather than the town below). As a kid on this conifer-covered island, I rarely enjoyed reading, so while my twin brother flew through books like a falcon, I drew or even just sat with our dogs and thought for an hour. My brother’s vocabulary grew to an intimidating extent, but so did my ability to draw—especially dogs! Did one of us benefit more than the other? The jury is still out. However, I have been exploring art ever since then.

Heading into college, I was well on my way to an extraordinary art school on the East Coast until I realized that as an artist, especially a young one, I need more than art. A month later, I was pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies in Seattle…as well as a degree in Visual Arts because…well…who I am kidding?…I can’t shake it.

"Yours", graphite, 2017, Rowan Walton

“Yours”, graphite, 2017, Rowan Walton

Q: How would you describe your work?
My work is a bit of a mixed bag. Pieces can be cheeky; charming; challenging; and often a bit peculiar. I have a tendency to convey concepts through something I’d put as “anatomical narrative”— gestures depicted by human or nonhuman subjects that serve as emphatic reflections of my own perceptions based off of assumed associations, be they conscious or not.

Moreover, I typically draw with a graphite pencil because it gives me direct control over what I am trying to visually articulate. I also enjoy challenging myself with other mediums like painting and sculpture if the materials and space are present. Similarly, if I have new materials and/or tools to work with, I am almost always inspired to use them.

"Tangerine Lizard", tangerines, wire, tape, papier-mâché, thread, net, 2015, Rowan Walton

“Tangerine Lizard”, tangerines, wire, tape, papier-mâché, thread, net, 2015, Rowan Walton

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Complicated, but well worth it. Feel free to reach out for the full story!

Q: Do you collect anything?
Jars, exhibition cards, cafe cards, some records, and the odd thing or two.

 

"Alternative Self-Portrait", recycled plywood, graphite, charcoal, acrylic, 2014, Rowan Walton

“Alternative Self-Portrait”, recycled plywood, graphite, charcoal, acrylic, 2014, Rowan Walton

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
Music is vital to my life. Frankly, I believe that its power to connect and comfort individuals outweighs that of visual arts, but I also think it’s no coincidence that most musicians explore other artforms and vice versa. It’s a topic I shamelessly nerd-out about, but I’ll keep it to a minimum for now…

I worked for my university’s radio station as a disk jockey and booker, so I made a lot of promotional art for shows back then. Most recently, I created a drawing inspired by the macabre lyrics and cheeky wit of Marika Hackman, an all-time favorite of mine. Aside from that, I’m not usually inspired by music in that way, I use it more as a vessel for productivity and a soundtrack for “The Zone.”

The genre changes with the time of day, but I often need some kind of softness in the sound. For example, some classic go-to’s are Mazzy Star, Jessica Pratt, Stereolab, Shana Cleveland & the Sandcastles, John Maus, Natural Child, Widowspeak, Allah-Las, Celtic fiddling, and roots reggae.

"Indulge", Acrylic and ink, 2018, Rowan Walton

“Indulge”, Acrylic and ink, 2018, Rowan Walton

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I am currently preparing to apply to graduate school, so initially, I had applied to this residency because I felt it would be a wonderful opportunity to help me discern what sort of program I want to pursue. In particular, if it would be a studio practice or a research program.

My goals for the residency are to champion some of my longstanding ideas, build up my portfolio, rollout my social media presence, and to simply grow.

I am currently working on a series of ¼” plywood pieces that are inspired by the air fresheners that hang in cars. Each piece is a painting of one of my favorite vintage car models (like a 1970 Ford Bronco), about a foot or so in height and 2-3 feet in width. The final products will have a resin finish with a secret ingredient, so you can hang the car on a wall and get a whiff of something pleasant as you walk by (fingers crossed). I am also working on concept art for a hypothetical children’s book about crows.

A few of the pieces I am currently working on.

A few of the pieces I am currently working on.

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
Lean into it. If you want your artwork to go anywhere, it’s your responsibility and no one else’s.

Move at your own pace. Whether it be quick or slow, let it happen and trust it. Life is ultimately a matter of timing, so the sooner you can accept that not everything is in your control, the better off you’ll be.

Keep learning more. Artists should not be boring.

Cultivate that sense of humor. You can virtually forgo the aforementioned tips if you honor this with all you’ve got. Humor is the flesh that connects us to ourselves and gives us patience.

Challenge the traditional/societal notion of the artist. Unless you want to make money off of your art, the only person who truly needs to know you’re an artist is you.

"Seacret Puppets", acrylic print, graphite, 2015, Rowan Walton

“Seacret Puppets”, acrylic print, graphite, 2015, Rowan Walton

Q: What’s next for you?
Graduate school!? Also, hopefully a show this summer to unveil those cars pieces.

Q: Where else can we find you?
On Instagram @slowwag. It’s a bit misleading due to a lack of posts, however they’re on the horizon and I am indeed in the background of it all. Please feel welcomed to reach out!

Meet the Artist in Residence: Becca Barolli

Becca Barolli, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of April 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Becca some questions about her work and studio practice:

Becca Barolli, San Francisco Art Institute Open Studios, 2016

Becca Barolli, San Francisco Art Institute Open Studios, 2016

Q: To start off, please tell us about your background?
I’m originally from North Granby, Connecticut and currently live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2010 I earned my BFA in photography from the University of Connecticut. After graduating, I spent four years teaching experimental art and digital photography classes at the Mansfield Community Center. In 2016 I received my MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute working in sculpture.

Bad Seed, 23" x 22" x 22", recycled tire soaker tubing, 2015

Bad Seed, 23″ x 22″ x 22″, recycled tire soaker tubing, 2015

Q: How would you describe your work?
I make abstract sculptures using craft techniques like weaving and braiding with raw industrial materials like rebar tie wire and recycled tire soaker tubing. My work is very labor-intensive, fueled by a compulsive need for repetition and reverence.

Through endurance based processes I repeat stereotypical feminine gestures that defy the initial industrial function of these materials. My work involves variations in tension and density to consider vulnerability and explore the differences of being open or closed off, relaxed or uptight without passing judgement on either condition.

Untitled (ripple), 36" x 36" x 5", 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Untitled (ripple), 36″ x 36″ x 5″, 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I spend a lot of time in the studio. I usually focus on one piece while taking breaks to try out other ideas that are still being formed. Some sculptures are comprised of one object that builds up over time while others consist of pieces that were compiled and connected over time.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
For my time at Main Street Arts, I would like to further develop new construction strategies I have been working on to create a range of small objects and at least one finished, labor-intensive piece. While working recently, I have been considering the intricate connections and relationships found in tight-knit communities and what it means to be existing within such contexts.

Right before coming to Clifton Springs I was working on a piece that is basically a free-standing, corrugated wire tube I’m weaving where each tier is a similar but slightly different iteration of the previous sections in the stack.

Untitled (vessel), 23.5" x 14.5" x 14.5", 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2018

Untitled (vessel), 23.5″ x 14.5″ x 14.5″, 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2018

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? Who are your favorite local artists?
My favorite artist is Ruth Asawa and I learn something new from her wire sculptures every time I see them in person. Not only is her work amazing but she contributed a lot to art education and public access to art in San Francisco all while raising six kids. I have too many favorite artists frequently showing in the Bay Area to name them all, but I would recommend Sahar Khoury, Alicia McCarthy, Ben Venom, Lucien Shapiro and Windy Chien.

Untitled (lumpy), 69" x 60" x 19", 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Untitled (lumpy), 69″ x 60″ x 19″, 16.5 gauge annealed steel wire, 2017

Q: What’s next for you?
I am excited to continue where I left off in my studio back home but with the experience I’ve gained during my time here. I am also looking forward to being in a group show at SHOH Gallery in Berkeley that opens on April 27th.

Q: Where else can we find you?
You can find me on Instagram @beccabarolli or visit my website www.beccabarolli.com.