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Meet the Artist in Residence: Geena Massaro

Geena Massaro, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the months of July and August 2019, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Geena some questions about her work and studio practice:

Geena drawing

Geena drawing

Q. Please tell us about your background.
I grew up in Palmyra, NY and still reside there. I attended Pratt MWP in Utica, NY as well as the better known Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where I received my BFA in painting and drawing. Since finishing my BFA, I worked as a preschool teacher and am currently a teacher’s aide in a special education program. I’ve always found the energy of children inspiring, honest and relatable so I seem to have developed a gravity for this type of profession. I am currently attending Nazareth College in pursuit of a degree in art education.

Q. How long have you been making artwork?
I have been making art since I was a child. My imagination was my home and a safe place to follow some of the curiosities I developed about perceiving my inner and outer worlds.  I identified with the quiet self who  actively observed both my imaginary world and the physical world in one channel, so drawing became very natural to me. It was my habit and identity as a child.

The first thing I consciously remember drawing was an elephant. I remember showing my parents at the kitchen table (where I actually still draw) and my mother telling me that I was going to be an “artist” and I remember I took that very seriously.

Self portrait as a child, graphite on paper, 2019

Self portrait as a child, graphite on paper, 2019

Q. How would you describe your work?
I started this style of automatic painting that is very reactive to surface and are conversations (and excavations) with my own silent innerness. My paintings exhibit compulsive movements, perceived more through the hand than the eye. Superficially, they are highly textured and raw spaces. The goal of this kind of painting is not to represent a specific thing but to be within the activity of a field of feelings come and gone- observed and released through me to my hand and onto the surface. I started doing this as a way to push my paintings and myself into places of the unknown. When I reach this state of the unknown, I feel I often go blind to the action of my hand and become involved in this deep instinctual play of automatic-reactive problem solving. 

Geena Massaro, Untitled, oil on canvas, 2019

Untitled, oil on canvas, 2019

My drawings channel the same hand but a different eye. They often depict some innocent and vulnerable object or character (I seem to be followed by the archetype of the child) turned melancholic.  It is the expression of my hand however that I do believe defines my drawing- regardless of what I could say my subject matter is.

Geena Massaro, Isabella at the table, graphite on paper, 2018

Isabella at the table, graphite on paper, 2018

Q. What is your process for creating a work of art?
I am very curious about seeing and enthusiastic about the act of (and the mind of) drawing itself. Translating an image from my perceptions to my hand, my hand becomes a vehicle towards another seeing.

I draw a lot from reference photos that I have accumulated from my time as a preschool teacher. I draw a lot of my students. I think sometimes the drawing begins with a separate emotional response (some curious response) and then I just continue reacting to whatever through the language of line. My line dances fast from light to heavy and I tend to draw small- around sketchbook scale.

Geena Massaro, Lily in a chair II, graphite on paper, 2019

Lily in a chair II, graphite on paper, 2019

My paintings develop out of reaction as well. Painting is embarked upon in phases of intense work and suspensions of waiting. Painting begins in the hand and it’s completion is seldom foreseen. The process is a blind, visceral response between thought, hand and material.

Geena Massaro, Untitled (Blue), oil on canvas, 2018

Untitled (Blue), oil on canvas, 2018

The painting sits once I tire of the action and then waits for me to return to it. I live with the painting as if it were complete. This is when the painting speaks to me. I contemplate its suggested “eternity” through this play until I am either tormented or inspired to re-enter the work- or agree with it’s completion.  this play is very childlike to me and liberating. It is difficult for me to see my paintings clearly as the object they insist to be in their completion and I am curious still how to define the life of an artwork.

Geena Massaro, detail of Untitled (Blue)

Detail of Untitled (Blue)

Q: What advice would you give to other artists?
I’ve learned that it is more productive and enjoyable to leave some questions out of the working hand and to ask them when you are out of the creative state. I think asking yourself questions while working is important but any question that involves a doubt about the work  will be more beneficial and constructive to yourself when you are out of the work and in a state of reflection instead.

Geena Massaro, Untitled (Carter, curtain, dog, room), graphite and chalk on paper, 2018

Untitled (Carter, curtain, dog, room), graphite and chalk on paper, 2018

Q. Who inspires you and why?
Children seem to have a big emotional impact on me. It may be because they are naturally what they are and I have a feeling of this being more difficult to know in adult life. I think children are always in a creative space.  Their brains are so hungry and I feel mine is too but I feel it is so much more natural to engage with that when you are child. They take the information of life as it comes. I love my students and there is so much natural wisdom in the things they say and do. They remind me to be honest with myself and my own inner child.

Q. Who is your favorite artist and why?
My favorite visual artist, overall, is Cy Twombly.  Apart from his works being highly charged in historical literary significance, there is a sublime freedom and play in his hand and the language his works possesses which I feel moved by.

Geena Massaro, Sasha’s communion and lilies, graphite on paper, 2019

Sasha’s communion and lilies, graphite on paper, 2019

Q. What type of music do you listen to? How does music affect your artwork?
I’ve noticed, my hands respond to noise reflexively, so I really enjoy listening to music while working. I respond to all kinds of genres, so whatever I’m into at the moment is what’s playing.

I had a huge relationship with John Frusciante’s music during college (especially after reading his essay on the creative act, The Will to Death). His work and expressions carry through to me still so deeply so I turn to him sometimes by default because I know a strong energy exists in his music.

I sing a lot to myself when I work as well.

Q. What are your goals for this residency?
My goal for this residency is to produce as much as I can and really be present with my creative world. I want to work bigger and I am very excited to have the space to do so (my current working studio is also my bedroom which is very limiting).

I want to try to unite the worlds of my painting hand and my drawing hand more successfully as well. I would like to try larger figurative paintings that use the same kind of mark as my non-objective paintings but solve themselves with a  figure. I would like to try to make more spaces for the figures to exist in in the paintings that would combine a better sense of space with the dance of paint that my non-objective works have.

Geena Massaro, Lily, oil on canvas, 2017

Lily, oil on canvas, 2017

Apart from figure, there are other subjects in me that I find reoccurring in the gravity of my innerness and I want to try to understand how these objects or things got there and what I could do with them in my work.

Geena Massaro, Untitled (Julianna, bird, branch), graphite on paper, 2019

Untitled (Julianna, bird, branch), graphite on paper, 2019

Q. What’s next for you?
I can’t really say what’s next yet. I’ve been  looking forward to this residency and I’m just really excited for this opportunity to be with myself and create.

Q. Where else can we find you?
Instagram @geenamassaro

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jacquie Germanow

 

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

Me in my studio with chisel and wood form

My work process is highly intuitive and relies on an interactive dialogue with the materials at my hand and the possibilities in my head.  I use the energetic/magnetic variety of materials—sometimes, at the edge of existence—to resurrect a visual metaphor in sculpture. The work often progresses through many iterations before being realized for exhibit.

When I was finding my path to becoming an artist, I read a book by Carl Jung that resonated within me:

The artist has at all times been the instrument and spokesman of the spirit of her age. Their work can only be partly understood in terms of personal psychology. Consciously or unconsciously, artists give form to the nature and values of their time, which in turn form them.

I knew it was my path, and because of that I have always seen my role as a conduit for translating universal energy into material conversations.

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

Positive clay forms waiting to be cast into plaster/silica molds

I love the connecting conversation that my work provokes and enjoy the feedback. Yet, getting ready to show work is always stressful for me. The dialogue shifts from a uniquely personal and nourishing one to a very public and hence “judgey”arena that I know is important as a vital gift to humanity. Visual art is quiet for the artist, for the viewer and patron.  If we are receptive, it makes a connecting vibration in our hearts.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to English parents who escaped from China just before the Japanese invaded. I became a US citizen when I was 14 very aware of the toll WWII had on my family and my parents homeland. Encouraged by my mother’s artist soul, I have been making art ever since I can remember, and I am particularly struck by memories of sculpting sand on the beaches of the Jersey shore.

The artist at work

Ready to work

My fascination with how things work and the seductive forms and
colors of nature led me into science culminating in a pre med BS. Physics, philosophy, and religion were part of this liberal arts study and they turned my mind from scientific deduction to an inductive formulating mind set that artists use to build work. The excitement of making art was like receiving a lightning strike. Could I dare to do this for my life’s work? I went west to study art in Utah never realizing how the geology would impact my visual acuity. I received an MFA in Sculpture there.

If I have a style, it is by default. I am told my work is recognizable, but I do not aspire to a style. I do trust my dreams, revelations, visions, my capacity to synthesize, and find meaning in the ordinary. Each work bubbles up and percolates. Execution is usually much more arduous than I tend to anticipate because I am magnetized by a large palette of materials. Alas, Inspiration is a command. (Agnes Martin) I take the afore seriously and gratefully.  

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Mold loaded with glass and ready for kiln

Perhaps by pulling together such disparate forms and  textures into unity, I give credence to connection, heart and memory in a world caught by divisiveness and discord. The space between forms has always spoken to me as a synapse  of forces.  The spiral, a symbol of change,  seems to keep surfacing in my sculpture and painting.  

The most challenging aspect of making my work is how to attach one material to another so that it reads as a whole, seamless impulse.

photo 3

The inclusion of glass and showing my paintings has been the biggest change in the last 20 years.  They all address timeless themes, but in very different ways.  I really enjoy how they inform each other and me.

My sculptures are beautiful maquettes for public spaces.  Wouldn’t it be great to see that happen! “My work is a tether that loops around  the invisible, the chaos, the quiet; always seeking the structure of the sublime.  Without it I am adrift in the in between.”

Visit my website to see more of my work: www.jagvisualart.com.  You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

www.jagvisualart.com


Stop by Main Street Arts to see four of Jacquie’s sculptures included in “Sacred Curiosities”. The exhibition runs through November 17, 2017. 

Call for Artists: 16th Annual Art Sale Benefiting Bethany House

Artists, are you looking for a way to do some good with your art? Consider donating your artwork to the 16th Annual Art Sale benefiting Bethany House!
 
The University of Rochester’s American Medical Women’s Association is hosting their 16th Annual Art Sale benefiting Bethany House, an emergency shelter for women and children. They’re seeking donations of art, gift cards, gift baskets, services, and more. Everything will be sold or auctioned with proceeds going to Bethany House. They are asking for donations to be received by Thanksgiving.
 
Work can be sent to:
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
CACHED Office
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 601
Rochester, NY 14642
 
We will also be collecting artwork at Main Street Arts to deliver for donation! Stop by the gallery by Friday, November 18th with your donation and we’ll bring the work in for you. Please attach a business card or informational sheet with your name and contact information to your work, along with the suggested value of the item.
 
Click here for more information: Donation Request
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Letters

Letters inspire me, whether hand drawn or computer generated. Graffiti, elegant Copperplate, brush, pencil… I am obsessed with letters.

In June, I attended the International Calligraphy Conference, held in North Carolina (the next one will be in Utah). Participants choose either a week-long class or two half-week classes in everything from sign painting to Renaissance illumination.

I had the unparalleled honor of studying flourishing with Pat Blair, who serves as Chief Calligrapher at the White House. The saying goes, “If you can’t flourish, don’t prove it.” With Pat’s expert instruction and a few years of practice, I hope to prove that I can flourish!

As a lettering junkie, I’ve also studied with a number of highly-respected calligraphic artists – Julian Waters, John Stevens, Carl Rohrs, Mike Gold (Art Director at American Greetings), Peter Thornton & his talented wife Sherri, Reggie Ezell, and many more over the past 18 years. Each instructor, whether in a one-day workshop or a year-long intensive study, has contributed at least a nugget of inspiration. I am always anticipating my next “fix!”

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Ellie Honl: Part II

Hello, my name is Ellie Honl and for this second post, I would like to share a little more about my creative process with you.

I first want to give you a glimpse at my creative process by using a diagram I recently created.  I feel like there are unlimited ways that one can be an artist and I want to share with you the way that I work.

UK.pdf

Creative process by diagram: to be read from top to bottom

I always start by observing the environment around me whether I am actively or passively taking part in it. After looking over the art I have made from the last ten years, I recently discovered that I have always been inspired by wonder, and my curiosity about the unknown. That sense of wonder has come from the natural world as well as the human constructed. I do some research about the thing that has inspired me and then I jump into experimenting and playing with process. I evaluate these outcomes and continue experimenting. Why “experiment” instead of “make art?” I feel like it is much easier to be creative when there is no pressure or self judgement. I do more experimenting, then spend time researching things related to the outcomes. I assemble the pieces with this new knowledge while I try to balance opposing forces. Then I re-evaluate and continue creating.

Inspiration:
So what is wonder? It is the zone between the known and unknown. It is the child-like sense of awe and amazement. It could also be the sublime, horrific, and grotesque. It is the rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience.

Over the past seven years, here are some images of things that have inspired wonder in me, and which I have included in my artwork:

A swarm of starling birds

A swarm of starling birds

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 12.27.17 PM

Colorful mold

Wardian Cases from the Victorian era.

Wardian Cases from the Victorian era.

Naturally occurring, geometric minerals.

Naturally occurring, geometric minerals.

The Maunsell Sea Forts, England.

The Maunsell Sea Forts, England.

Process:
The mediums I use to create my artwork are primarily printmaking with the addition of photography, and time-based media (video).

Printmaking is the transference of an image from a matrix (wood block, copper plate, silkscreen) by use of pressure onto another substrate – usually a piece of paper. I love printmaking because of its unique look and its ability to work well with other mediums. Because the original image (matrix) is not destroyed, it allows me to experiment more and to create a lot of variations.

I’m currently using photography in my work in the form of the alternative process technique called cyanotype. I love the moody blues it produces and it is extremely quick and easy. I’ve been making photograms with it by laying objects on top of the paper I’ve coated with the solution then placing it in the sun to expose.

"Coming Together" was created by exposing gravel and bark to the cyanotype-coated paper.

“Coming Together” was created by exposing gravel and bark to the cyanotype-coated paper.

I use stop-motion animation to compliment the whimsical, quirky feel of the prints and to bring their narrative to life. I like that the medium is appealing and more accessible to people. The process is very time-consuming, but the results are like magic!

A setup of my stop-motion workspace.

A setup of my stop-motion workspace.

That is a quick synopsis of my creative process as well as an explanation of the techniques I use to create my artwork. For more images of my artwork and explanations about them, check out my website at www.elliehonl.com  Thanks for following and make sure to check out the show Structurally Speaking.

Five Fun Things To Do in Clifton Springs NY

Clifton Springs, the view from the gallery's balcony.

Clifton Springs, the view from the gallery balcony.

Main Street Arts is fortunate to have such a picturesque home in Clifton Springs, New York. It’s a beautiful spot, surrounded by parks and fun shops; the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon.

One of Clifton Springs' many beautiful parks.

One of Clifton Springs’ many beautiful parks.

There are quite a few gems in Clifton Springs, and we’d like to share with you a few of our favorites…

1. Nima’s Pizzeria
Nima's Pizzeria, Clifton Springs NY

Nima’s Pizzeria, Clifton Springs NY

Nima’s Pizzeria is the best spot for a slice of pizza in town. The staff at Main Street Arts eat there on a weekly basis (At a minimum, possibly more if we’re being honest). Nima’s has been a member of the Clifton Springs community for the past twenty years and is well-deserving of their great reputation for high quality slices at low prices. Stop by for a quick lunch, or just grab a soda or snack for your walk down Main Street. After your lunch drop by Clifton Springs Hardware to pick up an ice cream bar or frozen treat!

18 W Main St, Clifton Springs, NY 14432

2. Explore! The Book Store
Explore! The Book Store. The spot for all of your reading needs in Clifton Springs!

Explore! The Book Store. The spot for all of your reading needs in Clifton Springs!

If you’re a bookworm you’ll want to make a stop in Explore! The Book Store. Selling both new and used books, this Clifton Springs favorite carries contemporary and classic titles. Pick up a book and camp out at one of Clifton Springs’ many beautiful parks. A good book on a sunny bench can be one of the best ways to spend a summer day.

A good book on a sunny day is the best combination.

A good book on a sunny day is the best combination.

18 East Main Street, Clifton Springs, NY 14432

3. The Foster Cottage Museum
The Foster Cottage Museum in Clifton Springs

The Foster Cottage Museum in Clifton Springs

The Foster Cottage Museum is run by the Clifton Springs Historical Society, a group dedicated to preserving community memory and sharing the story of Clifton Springs. Stop by the museum to learn about the village’s origins, the Clifton Springs’ Water Cure, and to see historical images and artifacts. And while you’re in the area, make sure to stop by the Hospital Labyrinth next door.

The Foster Cottage Museum in Clifton Springs, NY

The Foster Cottage Museum in Clifton Springs, NY

9 East Main Street, Clifton Springs, NY 14432

4. Warfield’s Restaurant
Warfield's Restaurant in Clifton Springs

Warfield’s Restaurant in Clifton Springs

One of the most well-known attractions in Clifton Springs, Warfield’s Restaurant is home to some of the most delicious food we’ve ever tasted.

Stop by the Warfield's Bakery for some of their famous freshly baked bread.

Stop by the Warfield’s Bakery for some of their famous freshly baked bread.

Directly across from the gallery, Warfield’s features “a seasonal menu of elegant country fare with Asian and European influences”. Stop by to enjoy a cocktail in the lounge, a pastry from the bakery, or enjoy a delightful meal indoors or in their outdoor seating area overlooking their beautiful English Garden.

Stop by for Warfield's Jazz in the Garden during the summer months.

Stop by for Warfield’s Jazz in the Garden during the summer months.

During the month of August visitors may enjoy Jazz in the Garden, an event held every Wednesday evening.

7 W Main St, Clifton Springs, NY 14432

5. Main Street Arts
Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs

Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs

And last but not least, we invite you to visit our gallery of contemporary art and fine craft, Main Street Arts. Our gallery has over 3,000 square feet of exhibition space, as well as a room for workshops and classes. At Main Street Arts you can expect to see bi-monthly exhibitions in our main gallery space, as well as a gallery store featuring jewelry, ceramics, art prints, and more. Our second floor features four more rooms for solo or group exhibitions, changing every two months.

Main Street Arts, FLORA Exhibition

Main Street Arts, FLORA Exhibition

Visit the exhibitions page for our exhibition schedule, or our visit page to plan a trip to the gallery.

Peter Pincus gave a great artist talk for his solo exhibit, "Sleep, In Spite of the Storm"

Peter Pincus gave a great artist talk for his solo exhibit, “Sleep, In Spite of the Storm”

20 West Main Street, Clifton Springs, NY 14432

We hope you make a visit to Clifton Springs, NY! And let us know if we missed out on any of your favorite spots in the comments.