medium /// mixed media




spencer merolla

spencermerolla

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Cool… wait… is that… hair?”, you’d be exactly right. Crazy and amazing. This is the work of Brooklyn based artist Spencer Merolla. I’m going to let her explain what this is about and where it came from:

“This series takes the Victorian women’s practice of sentimental hairwork as its jumping-off point. For the Victorians, mourning was a very public act. Rather than a private emotion or an embarrassment, grief was a popular motif for the arts and fashion. What strikes modern sensibilities as mawkish and overly sentimental behavior was, at the time, considered proof of a person’s sincerity and morality. Ornamental hairwork, painstakingly crafted from the hair of loved ones, was a fashion that insisted the wearer embodied these virtues. This work plays with the tension between sincerity and emotional performance, imagining a contemporary practice in which moderns might socially engage with death’s physicality. The dissonance of the craft (when transposed onto the emotional and aesthetic landscape of our times) draws attention to the ever-shifting boundaries of permitted public display.

That the hair must be severed from the body to be worked in this fashion is a compelling aspect of the practice for me. With few exceptions, the provenance of antique hairwork is now unknown. As a result, it loses its essential quality of referring to a specific person, while still being a distinctively “personal” object. In a sense, the story of hairwork is a testament not of our capacity to remember our lost loved ones, but of our ultimate inability to hold onto them.”

Yep. Crazy and amazing.





“distant friends”

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Today I’m talking to Swedish artist/illustrator Camilla Engman. Eep! She is one of those people who I’ve got way up on an artsy pedestal… and so do a lot of you apparently! I’ve had several people send messages asking if I can get her to come on the podcast. Yes, yes I can! Listen on the little player right up there, or subscribe on iTunes

Let’s start with a few of my favorite paintings by Camilla:

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Ah, so good. Mysterious, narrative, and oh so beautifully painted. We talked a little bit about her strange characters… the bears and dogs etc… turns out they represent people {people that may or may not take on those animal-like characteristics}:

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Ahh, I love them so much. So sweet and innocent… but I have a feeling they’re probably not quite as sweet and innocent as one might think. Next, these are the amazing envelope collages, from her “Distant Friends” series that she and Ana Ventura started together. I cannot get over them. So simple. So smart. So “damn I wish I thought of that” :

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LOVE! We also talked about her studio. Sigh. I want to go to there:

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She’s in her own little house which is part of a larger arts community area, in Gothenburg Sweden, called Konstepidemin, which means “the epidemic of art”. There is a little blue restaurant, galleries, AND guest studios that you can apply for as part of their artist-in-residence program. Here’s a little peek:

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Yeah. Let’s ALL go there! Thank you so, so much to Camilla for talking to me, even though she was worried about her English… which I thought was perfect/much better than my Swedish; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode; and THANK YOU for listening! There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Her online shop, Studio Morran
  2. Book that Camilla did with Uppercase
  3. Apply for a guest residency at “Konstepidemin”

 





kirkland bray

kirklandbray

Love. These collages are the work of New Jersey based artist Kirkland Bray. He’s been painting for over twenty years, but in 2012 discovered a love for using found bits and pieces to create his work. Ah, a man after my own heart. I love his description of this…

I’m inspired by the hunt to find new materials and the challenge of editing. A piece is finished when the combination of shapes and ideas comes together like a puzzle; when the positive and negative space have equal say; when I’ve exhausted all other possibilities.

Ditto. And ps… I love these ones too:

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“painting with thread”

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Sigh. Yet another artist whose work I’ve loved for years and years. I’m talking to American artist Stephanie K. Clark. Right off the bat she answered one of my questions almost poetically… how does she describe her work? She “paints with thread”. Love. We talk about art vs. craft, our love of houses, and our shared fascination with peeking into people’s windows at night … don’t judge us. You can listen to our conversation right up there under that lovely blue house, or you can subscribe on iTunes

Let’s start with a few of her fantastic houses. The plan had been to pick two or three… but clearly that was impossible:

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Gah! I love them all so much {and ps. she does commissions… in fact, she quit her day job because so many people want their homes “painted in thread”}. It’s really hard to tell from the photos, but a lot of these are shadow boxes, so you really can look into the windows as the pattern you see is actually a couple of inches back. Did that make sense at all?

Now, onto her dreamy clouds… thread with just a bit of pastel in the background:

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Sunsets, not sunrises apparently … the speed round revealed that she is not a morning person! Up next, her tiny but gorgeous little rugs:

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Oh. I love them… all 3 inches of them! These are a few of the pieces she’ll be showing this coming May at Good Eye Gallery in LA (Eagle Rock). And of course, after all of the talking about her red hair, I had to show you what a hot mama Stephanie is:

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Look at her, doing it all! Baby in arms, fabulous hair, holding up a magazine featuring her beautiful work. Not too shabby!

And with that I will say thanks to Steph for taking a break from her incredibly busy life to chat with me, thank you to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode and as always, thank YOU for listening {and if you feel like leaving a rating on iTunes that would make me so happy}. Ok, happy Saturday… see you next week when there will be more art for your ear.

Other Links: UMOCA  //  Flight of the Conchords





phyllis bramson

phyllisbramson

Oh, I do love a bizarre narrative  ♥  These gorgeous mixed media collages on canvas are the work of the prolific, Chicago based artist, Phyllis Bramson. I feel like I’m flipping through my old art history books… except that the traditional Chinese paintings suddenly have a fantastic pop culture wink! This is how Phyllis describes her work:

“I use images that are infused with lighthearted arbitrariness and amusing anecdotes about love and affection, in an often cold and hostile world. Mostly, I am making work that percolates forth life’s imperfections: that doesn’t take decorum all that seriously, refusing to separate manners of taste from larger questions about “good behavior.” The paintings are reactions to all sorts of sensuous events, from the casual encounter to highly formalized exchanges of lovemaking (and everything in between). Miniaturized schemes, which meander between love, desire, pleasure and tragedy; all channeled through seasonal changes. Burlesque-like and usually theatrical incidents, that allow for both empathy and “addled” folly, while projecting capricious irritability with comic bumps along the way.”

{found via Littlejohn Contemporary, NY}





vanessa mckeown

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“Fruloons & Vegeloons”… I cannot even begin to express how happy these make me on a Friday morning. This is the colorful, creative, and clever work of UK based designer / stylist / artist Vanessa Mckeown. I can’t decide which is my favorite. The tomatoes? That orange? The eggplant? Impossible. And this is just the tip of the pineapple… check out her site for all sorts of other wonderfully witty work. Happy Friday!





#5womenartists

A project for today! Listen to this…

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NWMA), the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating great women artists, has announced a new social media campaign for this March’s Women’s History Month. If you ask someone to name five artists, they will likely name prominent male artists, but how many people can list five women artists? To increase awareness the museum will launch the campaign “Can you name five women artists?” March 1 on its website and blog as well as on social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Using the hashtag #5womenartists, the campaign will encourage NMWA’s online community to help address the gender imbalance in the presentation of art both in the United States and internationally.

Oh, I am so in… mind you, I could name 500 women artists that I love, but I’ll play by the rules. Here are 5 of my {many} favorite artists, who also happen to be women:

5women_kilgallen
5women_donovan
5women_rich
5women_smith
5women_anne
5women_MAIER

Alright yes, that was 6, but I had to make sure that the mysterious and talented Vivian Maier was in there too! Ok, now it’s your turn – jump on those social media channels and name #5womenartists whose work you love {contemporary or historical} and help make it really easy for people to be able to name five women artists ♥

{click on the artwork above to see more of their work}





donald martiny

donaldmartiny

Oh my word. Giant, juicy paint strokes on the wall? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This is the work of American artist Donald Martiny… how, you ask? Polymer and dispersed pigment on aluminum. Stunning.





“paper nerds unite”

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Ah, beautiful little sandwiches of paper, paint and found images! Today I’m talking to Austin based artist Xochi Solis. We’ve worked on a few projects together but we’ve only communicated through email, so I was very excited to hear her voice and get to know her a little better. It worked! You’ll notice throughout the post I’ve put the titles of each piece… thanks to a little tidbit I learned during the speed round. Oh, the speed round… such a wonderful source of information. Alright, you can listen right up there under “she sings hymns out of tune”, or you can subscribe on iTunes. Let’s kick things off with a few of my favorite pieces of Xochi’s:

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Her work makes me want to make things. I want to find paper, flip through old books, squeeze out a few tubes of gouache and get stackin’! I was so thrilled to have Xochi as one of the artists in my book, Collage. In that book I gave all 30 artists the same starting image to do with whatever they pleased. It was a photo of my dad and uncle as kids so it was really fun for my whole family to see the amazing artwork that came back. Here’s a peek:

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Love! Can you see where Dad and Uncle Bill are? And as mentioned, Xochi sweetly packed up her original piece {above} and sent it to me! It’s hanging in my living room as we speak… and so is the other piece shown right beside that photo of my dad and uncle. I had no self control so I made a collage for the book too.

Now, we also talked about her work going from paper to walls… in the form of giant installations:

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Beautiful! Up next, her love of hands! Yep, she loves hands and elbows in her work. See if you can find them in these next three pieces:

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Where’s Waldo… but more hand-ish. Now what kind of an artist interviewer would I be if I didn’t ask the question, “What’s your favorite color?”. Well, she had a complex answer! Sort of a peony pink/orange and an avocado/citron green. Here they are in action:

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And I looooved her story about finding that green paper, hence the title of this episode! So, somehow in the excitement of talking about paper and tacos, I forgot to mention the piece she did for my Spring 2016 collection at Land of Nod. It’s so gorgeous, and surprise surprise, also includes her favorite colors:

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Isn’t that lovely? My favorite thing about working on that Nod collection is having accomplished contemporary artists make gorgeous work that could hang in a nursery… or in the middle of your living room. Love.

Alright, that’s that! Thanks to Xochi for talking to me… I wish we could have shared a few tacos and margaritas {next time}; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode – and don’t forget, I’ll be drawing one name this Monday, February 29th for a $50 gift card to be used toward art at saatchiart.com… just sign up for my ‘art for your inbox’ email if you’d like to be entered;  AND huge thanks to you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.





susanna bauer

susannabauer

Ok. I seriously don’t even know where to start. Leaves hand-sewn into perfect cubes? Delicate embroidery that transforms leaves into doilies? It’s all just too beautiful and perfect. I wrote about the sticks, stones, and leaves {way back in 2012} of German-born, UK based artist Susanna Bauer, but wow, she just keeps pushing the leafy envelope. Stunning.

If you’d like to see these delicate beauties in person, Susanna has shows coming up this March in New York {March 11 ~ April 16 at the Muriel Guepin Gallery}, and in the UK {March 2 ~ May 26 at the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World}.