Inside the Artist’s Studio with Julie Herman

I am a Syracuse, NY based photographer with work in the de/composition exhibition currently on display at Main Street Arts.

"Packard Automotive", photograph included in de/composition at Main Street Arts

“Packard Automotive”, photograph included in de/composition at Main Street Arts

I received my BFA from Alfred University, and currently work for Light Work, a non profit photography organization based at Syracuse University. Light Work supports emerging and under represented artists through a residency program, grants, and lab facilities. I also do freelance work and studio photography.

My photographs focus on the decline of American industry, and the effect it has had on neighboring communities. As a child growing up in Endicott, NY, I witnessed the slow collapse of IBM, the region’s major employer. When layoffs began, I remember watching my father worry about losing his job. As offices closed, and manufacturing plants were shut down, the landscape became dotted with vacant factories and shuttered storefronts. As IBM’s presence in Endicott slowly dwindled, the places where I spent my childhood were abandoned, and stand now as derelict property.

The IBM country club pool, now full of reeds and rainwater

The IBM country club pool, now full of reeds and rainwater

Former blast furnace, Pennsylvania

Former blast furnace, Pennsylvania

As I began to search for other towns that had been similarly affected, I saw the same story unfold in other areas; places that once had function and purpose are now empty, nature slowly reclaiming the buildings and their contents. Despite their great amount of deterioration, I find these places serene. A sun beam through the roof, or a seedling rooted in the floor signal hope and beauty where it might not be expected.

Control panel at the now abandoned IBM country club

Control panel at the now abandoned IBM country club

Empty house in a company town in Pennsylvania

Empty house in a company town in Pennsylvania

Forgotten work glove at a Pennsylvania lace factory

Forgotten work glove at a Pennsylvania lace factory

Recently, I have begun collecting mementos from the places I visit. Old invoices, letters, torn wallpaper, and discarded books all tell stories of those who had been there before. I have also been collecting old IBM memorabilia: postcards of the manufacturing facilities, photographs, and items that belonged to my father. I don’t know what I will do with them yet, but gathering them feels like the next step to me.

Collected items

Collected items

I took my first photography class in high school, where I was introduced to a traditional black and white darkroom. Despite the prevalence of digital cameras, analog processes are still central to my image making process. While my freelance work demands the immediacy of a digital workflow, almost all of my personal work is done in the darkroom.

I photograph using medium format film cameras from the 1950’s and 60’s. Shooting with film forces me to slow down, consider each frame, and be present in the space. There is joy and excitement in waiting to see the images; not knowing with certainty that I’ve captured what I intended.  I enjoy the process of analog photography, the physicality of the work, and even after two decades of darkroom printing, watching an image materialize in the developer is a magical experience.

After years of using a community space, I finally installed a darkroom in my basement. The nice thing about developing film and silver gelatin prints is that it doesn’t change much. It’s the same process that I used in high school. There is no need to upgrade to a better camera, a nicer monitor, or faster computer.

You can see more of my work at www.juliekherman.com or on instagram @juliekherman.


Julie Herman is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s studio with Adriano Valeri

Me in the studio

Me in the studio

My name is Adriano Valeri, and I’m participating in Main Street Arts show de/composition!

I was born in Milan, Italy, and when I was eight years old my family relocated to Quincy, MA, a working class city south of Boston. As a birthday present one year, my parents enrolled me in an after school art class held in the basement of a frame shop. It was a great way to bond with other young artists and helped me adjust to my new environment. The teacher was an academically trained portrait painter. She was very affectionate with the kids, but also held us to a high standard. She taught us to use acrylic and oil paints, which I still favor to this day. Overall, I feel the experience was fundamental to my development as an artist.

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My studio space

After graduating from a county vocational high school where I had specialized in arborculture, I choose to return to Italy and to further my education in the arts. I was accepted to the State Academy of Arts in Venice and spent the next 10 years studying and working both there and in the surrounding region. I learned to be more inquisitive and intellectually engaged as an artist. Although I have stuck with traditional techniques such as oil on canvas, it’s important for me that the paintings acknowledge critical issues of our time and to ensure the medium remains fresh and surprising.

After having completed my undergraduate and masters degree, in addition to several artists residencies, I opted to move to New York City and to further my career in the United States. I’ve lived in NYC for fours years now, working on my paintings in Brooklyn. My studio is a spacious drywall cubicle with a large table and some small desks. There’s a window that overlooks a busy highway and some empty lots and the whole floor is occupied by artists and craftspeople. Inside I like to find a balance between creative messiness and impractical clutter. On the tables, paper plates crusted in oil paints vie for space with sketches and photographs, while the walls are thronged with completed paintings.

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View from the studio

As a child, painting and drawing was a way for me to express my fascination with animals and wild places. As an adult, I chose to paint subjects drawn from everyday experiences with the urban environment. Plants, construction material, feral animals, litter. We live in a globalized and rapidly homogenizing world, and I want to make paintings which can resonate with people across the globe.

I think we as a species have never before been as psychologically disconnected from the land we inhabit. The production of food and consumer goods is internationalized and largely automated. Internal and international migration, displacement for economic reasons or from social and natural calamities,  and the evolution of our mentality and social patterns of behavior contribute to a massive distancing from the organic process which occur around us. 

What I’m really interested in is bringing the viewer’s focus to  the land we inhabit. I’m not interested in making work that is purely documentary — I’m interested in how these marginal spaces teem with unintended interactions that result from our massive presence as a species, so I’ve developed a personal narrative style to convey that. I love how trees can absorb and deform a chain-link fence. It reminds me of the incessant action of biology, this weak force that is constantly at work everywhere, and is assimilating everything we shed.

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The painting “Belgian Planters” which is currently on view in de/composition at Main Street Arts

I’m excited to have been selected for the show de/composition at Main Street Arts! Since this is a recurring theme that I acknowledge  in my painting, it was exciting to see how the other participating artists approach this topic in different media and from different perspectives and practices.

You can find more information about me and images of my work at adrianovaleri.com


Adriano Valeri  is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Stephanie Garon

By juxtaposing organic materials against an armature of steel, my art captures paradoxes of decomposition: formalism and fragility, permanence and impermanence, and nature and nurture.

Evaluating placement of my sculptures in an exhibition

Evaluating placement of my sculptures in an exhibition

I’m continually experimenting and evaluating placement of my sculptures. Since I focus on environmental awareness, it’s important to me to bring organic materials indoors to the viewer.

My sculptural work placed in a different setting

My sculptural work placed in a different setting

Placement affects meaning. The viewer’s perspective changes, but this sculpture gets lost in the environment. Should it?

Images from Redwoods

Images from the Redwood Forest in California

My inspiration stems from nature, in additional to the following four artists:

  • Eva Hesse: delicacy of materials, framing of powerful themes with grace,
  • Anish Kapoor: using steel and similar infusions to instill messages about humanity,
  • David Nash: playfulness in creating nature based work that succumbs to nature,
  • Meret Oppenheim: for transforming items traditionally associated with decorum or refinement into sculpture.
Eve sculpture

“Eve”, sculpture included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts

Eve is a monument. Whether we see lungs or breasts or the negative space between the forms, we are forced to acknowledge the greatness of nature, despite how much we nurture it, as evidenced by the evergreen changing. It is foreboding. These decaying materials, presented in unexpected ways, challenge reason and emotion. Eve changes color and sheds through the duration of the exhibit: it’s nature’s own performance art.

“Impediment”, current work

“Impediment”, aluminum, plaster, soil 70x30x30

My current work, shown above, is inspired by pine needle bunches. I plan to fill a small gallery space with these repeating forms.

To see more of my work, visit my website: www.garonstudio.com.


Stephanie Garon is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jeremy Moule

Hi. This is me.

Hi. This is me.

Every photograph represents a moment; whether the exposure lasts a fraction of a second long or spans several hours, the maker is capturing a defined period of time.

I find many of the moments in my images as I wander through Rochester’s streets and neighborhoods. I’m subject agnostic — not a true street photographer — alternating between people, the built environment, and various objects. My mood often guides me and seeps into my images; so do gut reactions to what’s in front of me. It’s a slight shift from my full-time work as a journalist, where I’m supposed to keep my emotions out of my writing.

A little time on my feet and a little patience enabled me to make this photo.

This photo came together after a little time on my feet and a little patience. I think the anonymous subject and I shared a little fascination with the fire-breathing machine.

“Spectre of the Piss Tunnel,” which is part of de/composition, came together in an instant and is a good example of my process.

I was out walking around the edge of the High Falls District and started photographing a stack of newspapers that had been tossed in a tunnel under the Inner Loop. Then a stranger walked past me. The camera I was using, an old Yashica, isn’t exactly built for speed, but I recomposed and refocused in time and click, I got the image.

"Spectre of the Piss Tunnel"

“Spectre of the Piss Tunnel”

The image has a gloomy, tense quality to it, which was my intention.  I knew I wanted the figure to remain in the shadow, so I set my camera’s shutter speed accordingly.

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Cameras are tools, part of a process but not the process itself.

With people, I like to preserve a sense of the anonymity inherent in a city environment. The objects and structures I photograph show traces of human presence, if not the impact that people have on their surroundings and environments.

The way we alter our surroundings sends messages, intentional or not.

The way we alter our surroundings sends messages, intentional or not.

Sometimes I use a digital camera, but my preference is usually for 35mm or 120 film. I hand-develop my black and white film as well as my color negative film, and I do my own black and white printing. The analog processes are tactile and meditative, plus I’m generally happier with the results.

The Flower City Arts Center darkrooms are about the closest thing I have to an actual studio, and they’re a valuable resource. So is the community around the center. The folks who work, teach, and create there have given me knowledge, criticism, and opportunity which has in turn helped me grow as a photographer.

Bye!

Bye!

 


Jeremy Moule is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Maria T. Bentley

MTB studio

Tethered to our innermost beings and the marrow that comprises us, our bodies are rooted in the earth. The loss or decay of any one of these can cause an imbalance. I aim to provoke that delicate steadiness while inducing a sense of nostalgia, and odd familiarity.

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“Bottom of the Barrel” 2015 – mixed media sculpture

I was born and raised in Seneca Falls, NY. Growing up surrounded by the Finger Lakes, rural farm land, and state parks, I am continually drawn outdoors. Religious influences and family experiences are other factors that play a role in my work. I see the use of clay as a representation of the physical body, drawn from the Genesis creation story; recycling of material and life. To me ceramic vessels and sculptures take on a figuratively charged quality representing people from my life.

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“C.A. O.” 2015 – ceramic/ mixed media sculpture

Alzheimer’s and the aging process are explored in my color palate and surfacing quality. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing to watch a loved one experience, for me it was my grandfather. I recall his vibrant personality and coloring became muted, rather quickly. I recall bruises and the cloudy confusion in his eyes as he became a shell of the man I once knew. Using ceramic burnout methods I expose natural fibers to the firing process, leaving an  exoskeleton of what was, similar to those that experience Alzheimer’s.  What was once there remains in essence but is never the same.

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“How are the numbers?” 2019 – ceramic

Using muted earthy colors and textures associated to decay, decomposition, aging, and the natural earth, I mimic the passing of time. The combining of materials and insertion of light charges the work with multiple layers. In each piece I combine three or more materials experimenting with ceramic, wood, glass, neon/ light, metal, and fibers.

MariaT.Bentley_DusttoDust

“Dust to Dust” 2019 – mix media sculpture

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etail shot of the ceramic garbage pail in “Dust to Dust”

I enjoy incorporating apples into my work as it add an ephemeral element to the piece that grows/decays with the passing of time. Apples hint towards my childhood as well as referencing religious creation stories. The piece above invited viewers to eat an apple and dispose of the core in the ceramic garbage pail. Over time there was an accumulation of cores, the collection of compost created by humans, and the decay of these cores provided a wonderful smell and color to the inside of this white void.

My studio practice is sporadic. I am constantly traveling to portfolio days and art classrooms across the country for my position in admissions at Alfred University.

In our "Sugar Shack" making maple syrup this past winter.

In our “Sugar Shack” making maple syrup this past winter.

Image may contain: one or more people, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Working in the garden on our land

I reside in Hornell, NY with my partner. We have land that we garden on and we have a maple farm, Maple Marrow at B&T Farms. We spend a great deal of our time outside playing in the earth or creating with it. I am continually researching and exploring new ways to enhance my practice, manipulate material, and expand my network.

View more of my work on my website at www.mariatbentley.com.


Maria T. Bentley is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Chad Cleveland

Self-portrait, Acrylic on board

Self-portrait, Acrylic on board

I grew up in Fairport, N.Y.  and I’ve been making art since my early 20’s.  Having grown up heavily involved in sports, I never really created much artwork through my younger academic years.

It was in my undergraduate program at Binghamton University that I decided to be an artist. It’s funny because I had never painted before, but I was sure that’s what I wanted to do in life.

“Passing Through”, painting included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts

“Passing Through”, painting included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts

After diving into the art program  head  first I quickly realized that I was a terrible painter. My drawings were strong but I had a hard time converting my ideas into the world of paint. However, I was advised and encouraged by my instructor, mentor, artist, and friend Dave Shapiro. He was an extremely gifted artist who worked under the tutelage  of Philip Guston  at one point in his career.  He insisted that I was indeed on the right path, and with hard enough work  I could get to where I wanted to be.

It was because of his encouragement and support that I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for my MFA in painting and drawing, and eventually an MST in Art Education.

"Bill", work in progress

“Bill”, work in progress

I was fortunate enough to be exposed to many different gifted artists and professors at RIT. This lead me to experiment with a variety of different media and techniques, and exposed me to ideas that were very foreign, yet extremely exciting. This was when I met another extremely important artist, guide and mentor in my life by the name of Bill Stephens. He has been paramount in the development of myself as an artist and human being.

"The Crow", work in progress

“The Crow”, work in progress

My current body of work consists of variations and experimentation with the human portrait.  Throughout my career I have ventured back-and-forth between the world of abstraction/non-objective art and representational/figurative art forms.  So it is now that I find myself  at the marriage of these two worlds.  I find that each piece leads to the next, and serves as a jumping off point for the next idea.

For more of my work, follow me on Instagram @chad_cleveland.art


Chad Cleveland is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shopde/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

Meet the Artist in Residence: David Fludd

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

Artist David Fludd

Artist David Fludd

Q: Please you tell us about your background.
I currently live and work in New York City.  I have a BA, in art from Morehouse College and an MFA in painting and printmaking from the Yale University School of Art. I have also attended Skowhegan.

The layering and building of textures is apparent in my paintings. I am interested in creating textures and working with color as well as black and white. I see the process of printmaking and painting as being related.

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 24”x30”

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 24”x30”

I am interested in printmaking and its multifaceted possibilities in terms of changing a single image from print to print. Printmaking is open to improvisation and experimentation; printmaking informs my painting practice.

I draw from life as well. This experience is important and adds to my art. The works are open to interpretation. In this manner, dialogue is invited. I also play the piano and compose music.

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas. 50”x32”

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas. 50”x32”

Q: What type of music do you listen to?
Music informs my work technically and in the way that I approach a canvas — with the ideals of exploration. I am constantly exploring music and experimenting with composition. Improvisational concepts are present in the works and basic musical compositional techniques such as retrograde motion and augmentation are present. I compose and perform as a pianist.

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 19”x24”

David Fludd, “Untitled”, 2018, Acrylic on Paper, 19”x24”

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I plan to create works on paper and to work with drawing and watercolors. I am interested in experimentation. The art that I plan to create will be improvisatory and experimental in nature. The  compositions will be open to interpretation.

The works that I create are influenced by where they are created. By this approach the works express the experiences of where they were created. The art expresses the experiences of working by the sea or in a city, or more rural place in a unique way. In this regard multiplicity exists and thereby expresses many places, often simultaneously.

Untitled. oil on canvas, 2016, 18”x24”

David Fludd “Untitled”. oil on canvas, 2016, 18”x24”

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
I have an open sensibility in creating art and I am constantly learning, experimenting; trying new ways of creating and seeing. All of the parts of my compositions are carefully arranged in the process of creation. I am interested in a spontaneous methodology as a way of articulating compositions.

I explore color and texture and multiple approaches to painting and drawing. I make an effort to instill an awareness of seeing the fundamental basic shapes and structures in my art. I have studied many paintings throughout the world. I am fascinated by different approaches to painting and drawing and instill my own work with a vibrancy and sense of looking forward while understanding painting from a historical viewpoint.

Meet the Artist in Residence: Britny Wainwright

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

Artist in her studio.

Artist in her studio.

Q: Please tell us about your background.
Hi, I’m Britny. I grew up just south of the Finger Lakes region, in Owego, NY. It’s refreshing to not have to describe where the Finger Lakes are!

I attended Alfred University, receiving my BFA in 2012. In 2017 I received my MFA from Ohio State University. While both degrees are in fine art, I concentrated in ceramics for both of them.

I now live and make work in Columbus, OH. I first moved to Columbus for graduate school in 2014, and have stuck around for the amazing creative community. I love living in a vibrant city, and Columbus has many great opportunities for artists! I teach as an adjunct instructor at Ohio State and Capital Universities, and maintain a studio practice.

Enduring Blossom, 2017, terracotta, glaze, canvas, wood, foam, house paint. 64” x 54” x 60”.

Enduring Blossom, 2017, terracotta, glaze, canvas, wood, foam, house paint. 64” x 54” x 60”.

Q: How long have you been making artwork?
The earliest memory I have of my obsession with material and making things, was a field trip in preschool. I think it was some sort of career day, but what I lost my mind over was the sand art table! The scratchy sound the plastic spoons made dipping into containers of brilliantly colored sand has stuck with me. I think this experience was the first time I realized making art could be something primary in my life.

I really got serious about being an artist in college. I was very fortunate to attend a fantastic undergraduate program in art — Alfred University’s School of Art & Design. It provided me with a well-rounded art experience, and ultimately I concentrated in ceramics, although my secondary was painting. My minor was in art education, and I even finished my teaching certification before decided to pursue graduate school for an MFA.

Untitled. 2019, felt, painted canvas, trim, fiberfil. 27" x 43" x 6.

Untitled. 2019, felt, painted canvas, trim, fiberfil. 27″ x 43″ x 6.

Q: How would you describe your work?
I’d have to say my work is a granny’s dream of ugly couches, and floral prints, plus material play? Most of my academic training was focused on ceramics, and it deeply influences my work,  but I now maintain a much more hybrid practice of ceramics and fiber. I find both of these mediums, plus painting, are necessary to speak about the content in my work.

I am an artist because I have things to say. As a woman the very act of making work is a feminist act. I try to not discredit my voice before I speak! Placing floral pattern, stitching, embroidery, and bright colors in the gallery is an act of celebration of feminine things. I question the authority of these things in gender and art, and the conceptual consideration these practices receive, or don’t.

Studio shot. Clay motif "tiles" in progress.

Studio shot. Clay motif “tiles” in progress.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
It depends on what I’m making, but most certainly heavy-repetition is guaranteed. When I make works that require ceramic motifs, or tiles as I call them, I start with producing them: rolling slabs of clay, cutting motifs, defining and drilling holes, drying, firing, etc. I then build the structure and stitch on the tiles by hand before upholstering. Ceramics is a long process and sewing is quite the opposite. It’s instant gratification! I’m able to walk into my studio and finish a piece in a few hours — totally unheard of in ceramics.

Lay Your Pretty Little Head. 2019, painted canvas & cotton, terra-cotta, thread, fiberfil. 5" x 15" x 15"

Lay Your Pretty Little Head. 2019, painted canvas & cotton, terra-cotta, thread, fiberfil. 5″ x 15″ x 15″

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’m starting a new body of work I’ve long wanted to make: examining women’s patriotism in America. I will be visiting Seneca Falls, where the Declaration of Sentiments was signed in 1841, demanding that women have equal footing with men under the constitution. I’ve also been collecting visual resources from the 1976 Bicentennial — in particular home decor. I’m intrigued by the trend of domestic patriotism of this time. Especially because women’s public patriotism is sometimes misunderstood as un-American! This local historical research paired with studio explorations of patriotic motif will leave me with a new body of ceramic and fiber work that grapples with women’s patriotism in America.

Also, I’m lucky enough to be able to install a new exhibition in the second floor gallery entitled, power. I will be showing a new ambitious sewing piece, and several other recent works. Exhibition reception is on June 14th from 5-7pm, and artist talk at 6pm!

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork?
I love DC. The variety of museums is astounding. The East Wing of the National Galleries is good, in particular the Matisse room. The Freer & Sackler is also great, I took a lot of non-western art history courses in college. A lot of very important ceramic history can be found in China, Japan, and Korea, so the Freer is almost always on my checklist. I also love the Lincoln Gallery in the American Art Museum. The Hirshhorn for really great contemporary stuff. Oh, and The Phillips Collection, that Wolfgang Laib beeswax room- drool worthy.

Recreation. 2018, terra-cotta, slip, fabric, wood, house paint, thread. 45” x 50” x 36”

Recreation. 2018, terra-cotta, slip, fabric, wood, house paint, thread. 45” x 50” x 36”

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
In particular to artists thinking about going to graduate school — take time off after undergrad. Those few years are so valuable. I worked as a server, an assistant cook, a substitute teacher, a house sitter, etc. If you power through to graduate school, I’m not sure you’ll really convince yourself why you want to be an artist. That floundering will make you appreciate graduate school so much more!

Q: What’s next for you?
I have quite the busy summer! After my residency at Main Street Arts, I will be a visiting artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Arlington, VA for the month of July. I hope to finish this new body of work while in residence there. I also have some upcoming shows for the 2019-20 season! Follow my social media for more information.

Q: Where else can we find you?
www.britnywainwright.com
Instagram: @britny_wainwright
Facebook: Britny Wainwright