All posts by Stacey Rowe

Meet the Artist in Residence: Stacey Rowe

Painter Stacey Rowe, artist in residence during the month of April 2017, is working in one of our two studio spaces for the month. We asked her a few questions about her work, life, and more:

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Stacey Rowe in her studio at Main Street Arts

Q: Tell us about your background.

A: I moved from the Syracuse area to Rochester to attend college at Nazareth. I have a B.S. in Studio Art and an M.S. in Art Therapy. I think I started painting on canvas around the age of fourteen. I work as a freelance writer and public relations/ marketing consultant. I’m also the editor-at-large at (585) magazine. The flexibility allows me to do a residency like this.

Q: How would you describe your work?

A: I paint in acrylic and I’d describe my work as colorful, humorous, and often layered with symbolism.

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art? 

A: I’m very cerebral about it. Meaning: I tend to think more than sketch when I’m planning a piece. I’ll jot down lists of ideas and go about researching. Then, I’ll sketch right on the canvas and start painting. There are usually one or two improvisational items that happen once I get into it, so it’s good that paint is such a forgiving medium!

Some of the Pantone People Series

Some of the Pantone People Series

Q: What are your goals for this residency?  

A: I currently have three pages of ideas for the Pantone People series. These are smaller square works (6” x 6”) typically featuring a celebrity with some sort of creative play on the Pantone color swatch name. I’d like to put a dent in that list and also work on some larger pieces that will feature some of the funny animal characters I have created. I’m also going to teach a workshop on April 15. We’re going to have fun!

Q: What is the most useful tool in your studio? 

A: I’ve been using “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver” for years and it really is the best. I once left paint on a relatively new brush overnight and this totally saved it. It’s also great for reshaping and conditioning brushes.

Q: Do you collect anything? 

A: Now that I’m older, I’m reducing my “Hoarders-Lite” tendencies. It’s tough because as an artsy person, it’s very easy to accumulate a lot of useless stuff! When I was a kid, I collected anything and everything – rocks, coins, different kinds of toys, and stuffed animals. I had a run on snowglobes for a bit. They’ve been in a few of my paintings. Since my father relocated, I only have one left and it’s kind of a relief. I still grab shells on beach trips and display them in a nice jar upon my return. I do have a few coins I’ve saved from my travels. I’d eventually like to see those in some form of jewelry. French Polynesian currency is particularly eye-catching.

"Goodbye Special Friend" is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

“Goodbye Special Friend” is a painting I did for my graduate thesis in 2000. It features the only snowglobe I have left from the collection.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why? 

A: It’s so hard to pick just one here. I love Gustav Klimt for his gorgeous pattern work and all of that gold leaf. I love Andy Warhol for his pop sensibility. I love Frida Kahlo for her ability to tell a story through imagery. And, of course, there’s the king of color – Henri Matisse.

Q: Who are your favorite local artists? 

A: I was incredibly happy that my college painting and illustration professor, Kathy Calderwood, had a show at RoCo last spring. It was great to see so many of her new paintings in a show. Lately, I’ve been interested in the work of Edie Small (Edith Lunt Small). She had a very intriguing piece in the RoCo member show in December. I’m always interested in what Sarah Rutherford and Andrea Durfee are doing because they are such incredibly skilled and powerful artists. I like what Shawn Dunwoody has done with street art and neighborhood beautification the past several years. He has fantastic energy and an ability to engage young artists and the general public. I’m also drawn to some abstract artists because their work is so different from my own – Brian O’Neill (who also does hyper-realistic work), Nate Hodge, and Bill Judkins – to name a few.

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Nena Sanchez Gallery in Curaçao

Q: Where are your favorite places to see artwork? 

A: Anytime I travel, I seem to wind up in a museum. I also love seeing the street art in other countries. Aside from the obvious choice (France), one of my favorite art destinations was Curaçao. In addition to the Kura Hulanda Slave Museum, I visited the Nena Sanchez and Serena Janet Israel galleries. The art community is very strong there. The architecture, floating market, and beach drinks aren’t too shabby, either!

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Inside my studio at Main Street Arts

Q: What advice would you give to other artists? 

A: There are going to be people who tell you to grow up and get a real job. Don’t listen to that noise. Yes, find something to pay your bills, but don’t give up on your passion.

Q: Who inspires you and why? 

A: I consider myself to be pretty fortunate that a very strong, intelligent, creative, and independent mother raised me. Naturally, I’m drawn to likeminded individuals. Many people inspire me and I’m very lucky to know such a diverse group of creatives in both my personal and professional life.

Q: How do you promote your artwork? 

A: I look for show opportunities and I use social media (primarily Instagram and my personal Facebook account) to get the word out. I’m often following up with people (a.k.a. nagging them) who express interest in a piece after a show comes down. I’m also planning on getting an Etsy or some kind of online shop going soon. I set an account up years ago but never had the time to figure it all out.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Stacey Rowe working in her studio at Main Street Arts as Snappy the turtle supervises.

Q: What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork? 

A: I will listen to pretty much anything except country, but I have to be careful that it’s not too funky – I’ll get distracted and won’t get anything done!

Q: What’s next for you? 

I’m working on getting some work in a few galleries outside of New York because I have family in Florida and several friends who have moved out of state. I figure it might make for a good excuse to visit!

Q: Where else can we find you?

A: My websiteTwitter & Instagram

Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts. Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly. Upcoming deadline: May 31, 2017 for a residency in July, August, September 2017.


Inside the Artist’s Studio with Stacey Rowe

Stacey’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”. Her work is available for purchase in our Online Gallery Shop:

I started teaching myself how to paint while on a family vacation during the summer between eighth and ninth grade. I primarily painted landscapes on canvas in acrylic, but occasionally dabbled with oils and painting on other surfaces. While I always took art classes in school, the class times were never long enough to really get into a project. So, I wound up doing a lot of painting outside of class at my kitchen table and out in the garage during summer months.

Snowglobes Painting

Snowglobes 1997. One of my earlier works from Nazareth College – won the Poster Award and was featured on the annual student show poster.

I grew up in Liverpool, New York (just outside of Syracuse), and moved to Rochester to attend school at Nazareth College, where I was a studio art major and psychology minor. During my freshman year, I contemplated switching my major to English, which is pretty ironic considering that the bulk of what I do today is working as a writer and independent marketing consultant. At that time, I had no interest in teaching art or English, so my mother (a former third grade teacher) encouraged me to stick with the art therapy career plan. I concentrated my art efforts in painting, illustration, and printmaking and then entered what is now Nazareth’s Creative Arts Therapy graduate program immediately after finishing my undergraduate degree.

While in my first year of graduate school, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away a year later – about a month before graduation. I surprisingly managed to finish my thesis and graduate on time, which is what she wanted. Since she was one of my biggest supporters, I really struggled with painting after she died. I entered one show later that year, and other than a couple of craft projects (mostly unfinished), I basically took a hiatus for almost fifteen years and focused on other things, including making a career change from art therapy to marketing and public relations.

Stacey Rowe On the Side Expo RoCo

Stacey Rowe with two of the three pieces she created for On the Side Expo in 2015

In 2015, there was an opportunity to present work at Rochester Contemporary Arts Center for a Rochester Advertising Federation show called On the Side Expo. I had quite a few older paintings in storage, but for the first time in years, I had a strong desire to create new work. Worried that I would likely be rusty, I still managed to pull off three new paintings and even sold one of them a couple months later. These paintings were very similar to the style I developed in college studying under Kathleen Calderwood, where I focused on color, symbolism, Jungian archetypes, and mythology. I’d say my style is very influenced by the Expressionists, but I’ve also been a longtime fan of Klimt, Matisse, Kahlo, and Warhol.

No Hot Dogs Snappy the Turtle

No Hot Dogs 2015
Snappy the turtle’s debut appearance at the 2015 On the Side Expo

I’ve always had an interest in juxtaposing everyday life with fantasy – giving animals or inanimate objects humorous and human-like qualities. The end result is often surreal and the scenes are laden with symbolism. I get much of my inspiration from my own life events, notable places and people, and pop culture. Some of the old characters (like the cheeky monkeys) have reappeared in my newer works; and a new, temperamental critter named Snappy emerged and gained some traction. Buoyed by the positive response, I decided to keep it going.

Impostor Syndrome RoCo RAF Connect

Impostor Syndrome from On the Side Expo 2016

While Snappy the turtle continues to pop up in my larger works, I’ve spent the past year exploring something more “pop art” influenced – the Pantone Series. What started as a 6×6 exhibit piece featuring the Instagram-famous The Fat Jewish evolved into a series of other famous people. Each is positioned against a Pantone chip backdrop in a color that represents something about that person. Two of these pieces are currently in the Small Works show at Main Street Arts. Most recently, I was asked to complete something holiday-themed for Cohber Printing based on the blue color they use in their logo and branding guidelines: Pantone 300 C. Naturally, I chose to depict Elvis Presley in “Pantone 300 C Blue Christmas.” The image will eventually be turned into holiday cards. In the series of pictures below, you can see how I go about creating one of these pieces.

I think the most challenging part of creating art is finding the time and space to do it, particularly when you have another occupation and aren’t a full-time “working artist” in a studio. Much like in my younger years, I still paint out of my kitchen – some things just never change! In the same vein, I don’t think my style has changed that much despite the fifteen-year break, but I’m probably focusing on different ideas than those of my “twenty-something” self. I feel very fortunate and grateful that I’m back doing something I’m passionate about and that I’ve been given these opportunities to show my work and meet other artists and makers in the community.

Snappy Baby Yoga

Snappy Baby 2016 – Snappy’s latest adventure involves going to yoga class

Kitchen Studio

I’m still painting in a corner of my kitchen – but pretty soon that mixer will be helping me make some holiday cookie art!

Those interested in connecting can find me on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or via my website. Stay tuned for new folks popping up in the Pantone Series and more!

Stop by Main Street Arts to see Stacey’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Stacey’s work is available in our Online Gallery Shop: Visit her website at

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by ceramic artist Ryan Caldwell.