Local Talk - Q+A with artist Cathy LeCleire

We're so thrilled to have you post at the shop - both as a friend and accomplished artist. At what age did you first know that you had the interest and desire to take your thoughts and create something?

I’m probably showing my age but the first time I realized that art could be anything you wanted it to be was going to the World’s Fair in Queens and seeing Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup cans and Claus Oldenburg’s huge fan made out of vinyl. I really felt I could be an artist too.

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What were the first projects that you worked on?

I’m not sure of my first project because there are probably so many. I’m a printmaker so that means I work in multiples. I first went to college and studied Political Science and went back to Art School after I graduated. I feel my first projects tended to be political in nature. Printmaking has always had a political background because it was always about protest and bringing information to the masses.


How did you take this interest and apply to greater learnings at the educational level?

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I have always enjoyed teaching and found I was good at it. Educational institutions are the greatest place for pollination and stimulation. I find my students are my greatest inspiration and I hope my mentoring and encouragement leads to greater creativity of ideas.


So, you now teach  printmaking and book art techniques  at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Given that the world has become more and more digital - how has your craft evolved?

Printmaking is always evolving and taking on contemporary mediums. We embrace the digital age with dot screens, filmmaking, zines, etc. Students are always looking for the printed word as social media. They print large editions many times that are mass-produced and can have an immediate response. I think many printmakers are at the forefront of the digital age but also enjoy traditional methods such as etching, lithography and screenprinting.

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As a teacher, what is the most interesting thing you have learned from your students?

It took me a while to trust my students and allow them to make mistakes. I once received the best evaluation from a student. She said I did too much for the student and I should let them fail because failing is the best way of learning. So now I always say “have fun and make mistakes!”


Please tell us about the work you have so graciously offered here at Local - Endangered Species.

I have recently been interested in the dangers of plastic and the fact that it cannot decompose. By using it as a printing surface I created a mural of animals that I feel are in danger of disappearing. With the use of contemporary, unmistakable and repeated images combined with global awareness, I have created statements of the ecological consequences in our daily lives.


What's next? What other projects are you currently working on?

I shouldn’t say but I’m back to political art in these dangerous times. I’ve been making sashes like what the suffragettes wore in pink with slogans for issues such as gun control, women’s rights, me too movement, etc. And as with printmaking they are controversial!

Learn more about Cathy here

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Local Talk - Q+A with Illustrator Gina Stritch

How did you learn and hone your craft?

After fifty years, I'm still learning and honing. I'd say the best way to do anything is to just do it: sit down or stand up and draw, pencil and paper, pen and ink, computer, or whatever tool you have on hand.

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You interact with so many pets and pet parents, what has been the biggest learning for you?
 

I listen to what people say and draw the best drawing I can draw. I try not to intellectualize what I do. My philosophy is simple: draw the pet and make the owner happy, but NEVER compromise. Draw as if your drawing MUST stand the test of time. I don't aim for photo images, I aim for the best, simplest drawing I can draw. It's all about the drawing: pencil, ink, maybe a little watercolor, that's it. 

 

I've noted that pet sketches can come off extremely campy OR spot-on, with the artist being able to capture not just the image but the personality and character of the pet. Each of your sketches tells a different story and are so powerful, how do you approach each subject to extract that special something?
 

Source material: the better the photo, the better the drawing. If I get a good photo, you get a good drawing.

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Are there any particular artists that have influenced your approach?
 

Honestly, no, I'm into my sixth decade and am who I am. I don't try to be anyone else. I admire John Singer Sargent and many, mostly American artists. I admire the work ethic and business sense of Andy Warhol and I like the drawings of Al Hirschfeld, just to provide a few examples. Are they all commercial artists? Yes, but they were also extremely talented and intelligent and diligent.

 

Do you have pets, if so - tell us about them?
 

I have dozens and dozens, hundreds of pets, but they're all on paper. 

 

Tell us a bit about the images you have shared with us @ Local.
 

The drawings on the magnetic wall are all originals. Some are oil pastels and ink, (but I mostly stopped using oil pastel because it's messy and smears), and the others are watercolor and ink. Some are based on professional photos, but some are just good cell-phone photos. Some are popular breeds, some are unknown breeds. Some of my favorite drawings are mixed breeds. I used the drawings I used for a practical reason: it's what I had at hand. The drawings I don't have have been sold and the best artist is one who sells his or her work.

 

What's the best way for you to work with clients? Phone call, in-person meetings, simply sharing a photograph?
 

All I need is a good cell-phone photo emailed to me. I can work with a poor (hard copy) photo, tooand sometimes, maybe that's all a person has.

 

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Local Talk - Q+A with Photographer Scarlett Givner

At what age did you learn that you had an interest in taking photos?

I am 13 years old now and I started taking pictures when I was 11.  The first photo I took from this series was P.M.A.R. in New York City.  It was taken in an alley way. The image of the stick figure against the brick just pulled me in

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In this age of cameras built into cellphones, do you take pictures on your phone or do you use an actual camera? If so, what type of camera?

I take pictures on my phone because I never had access to a camera and its easier to just press one button- I don’t need to fiddle with a lot of confusing buttons on a typical camera.

 

Do you plan for time to go out and capture images or do you take photos here and there as you go throughout your day?

I just take my phone with me and when my camera is on I see the world differently.  I see things that look like they have a story. I feel a pull to take a photo when I see the right image

 

Are there any particular photographers that you look to for inspiration?

I love photos from National Geographic and I find that inspiring.

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How important is it for your family to support your craft?

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They love my pictures and are very supportive of me. Most of my family members have at least one of my photos in their house.  I think they choose the photos they like based on their personality.  For example, my grandma likes really bright colors and is into fashion so she really likes ‘Shoe Repair’.

 

What's next for building your photography craft? Are you seeking any type of arts + photography education?

I want to be an actor when I grow up but photography comes second so I may want to pursue it later on.  I will continue taking photos when I feel  inspired.

 

Tell us a bit about the photos you have shared with us @ Local.

My collection is called Steam Punk Rainbow because sometimes when I take photos I crank up the lighting in chrome and also use the noir effect.  I like to take pictures of buildings, alleyways  pipes, statues and it reminded me of steampunk.  I like taking pictures using angles because I feel they are more unique that way.  It’s pretty cool to walk into Local and see my art on the wall.  Now people can enjoy my pictures as much as my family does.

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Local Talk: Q+A with artist Bonnie Maranz

Where were you born and raised? Describe your upbringing and impact on both your art and where you are in life today?

 My life began in an urban neighborhood in Newark, NJ. Large crowded apartment houses, small family owned grocery stores, bakeries and a soda shop on every corner dominated. When I close my eyes I can still see the dark passageways surrounding our apartment building, the tight close proximity of neighbors working and struggling beyond dark days of the Depression and World War II.  Long shadows that continued to overcast our lives. Looking back I realize it was my public education and the people living in that apartment house—389 Leslie Street—that I will never forget. Many helped forge a love of art and a vision of a life beyond the everyday.

In particular, across the hall from our first floor apartment lived a young couple—Nathan and Ruthie Kruger. Nathan Kruger owned an art gallery, Rabin and Kruger, downtown Newark where he partnered with an art conservator Bernard Rabin. Ruthie Kruger was an art teacher. Rabin and Kruger represented the famous artist Joseph Stella. Nathan helped to broker the sale of Stella’s iconic painting “The Brooklyn Bridge” to the Newark Museum. Ruthie started giving me private art lessons when I was three years old! They give me my first art book which I still have with the inscription: “To Bonnie (the little artist) we hope you will grow up to be a big artist and this book will help.”

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When did you know you were interested in pursuing an art career?

I always knew I was an artist and would continue painting and drawing, but I never really thought of art as my career. As an undergraduate, I planned to teach art to children as a creative way to make a living (combining a love of art with the need to earn money). It wasn’t until I was graduating from Kean College (studio art/education) that I decided with the encouragement of my mentor, Dr. Pearl Greenberg, to pursue a Master’s Degree in Painting. As I was preparing to graduate she said, “You are really talented, you should just concentrate on Painting and pursue a Graduate Degree”. Advice I embraced.

It was when I started classes at Montclair State University that I really began to think in terms of career—how to grow and seek opportunities, concentrating on developing series of expanded work, learning more about artists and trends and haunting museums as much as possible. At that time the requirement to earn a Master’s degree was “to do work never done before”. What a challenge! Big thank you to professors Carmen Cicero and Jonathan Silver!

 

Describe your role as professor and the enjoyment you obtain from teaching.

As a college professor I have the privilege of teaching Art (Appreciation, History, Drawing, etc.) to the most vital group of our future country. I teach the value of appreciating visual language in it’s many forms, how it intersects with history and innovative critical thinking. I help students connect patterns of revolutionary breakthroughs in the humanities starting with Cave Art. Their insights are revealing, refreshing and often revelatory!

 

What generally inspires you and influenced your work? Tell us more about the “Edge” and how you arrived at this philosophical approach.

During the five years I was studying at Montclair State—concentrating on a “breaking through”, I really began to understand how difficult innovation is to achieve. Copying is really much easier.  Getting an idea of course is exciting. Then implementing it—making technical choices, lots of disappointments and experiments, the tremendous amount of work involved. So, into the fifth year when Carmen Cicero congratulated me on making a break through I was thrilled. He told me “A lot of people don’t every breakthrough.You will leave a lot of people behind and lose their support, but not to worry you will meet the people you need to meet.”  I didn’t understand the scope of this advice but I became addicted to searching for the next breakthrough. This still colors my work.

The “Edge” is a metaphor for many things. It started when a close friend observed that “I was the type of person who would approach the edge of a precipice, stare a it, be mesmerized but never jumped in.  What does that mean? More questions than answers. Do I have to jump in? Are there real boundaries and definitive stop signs? Can I go wherever I want in my mind and imagination?

 

What artists have inspired you and influenced your work?

Just this week I watched the National Geographic series “Genius”. Albert Einstein’s story. Over and over he declared it was his imagination and visualizations that helped he come up with many equations and formulas. Like the power of a visual to “travel on a wave of light” in his mind.

Of course, the greats: Van Gogh, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich, etc,  as well as great women artists like Frida Kahlo!

More personally contemporary and modern artists are the ones I revisit all the time. Especially Yves Klein, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Ad Reinhardt and the lesser known American Impressionist Albert Blakelock.

 

What message are you trying to communicate with your art? What do you want people who see your work to think/feel?

I want them to react to the language, color and mood I am trying to convey. Forms that verbal language cannot express.  I welcome their reactions and interpretations. Often my work is broken into modules that can stand on their own or combine. Works on walls that wander while remaining grounded as backdrop or anchor.

Ultimately I believe a painting is a state of mind.

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If an art curator came to your house tomorrow to organize and catalog your work, what are the three most important things to communicate to that person?

My work is my ongoing journey away from the ground we stand on while at the same time being firmly rooted on the horizon of our existence.

I am articulating the underpinning Modulus of life as I imagine it—using paint and canvas.

Attempting to surprise and delight the viewer and myself!  

 

Describe the medium you work in and the materials you use. Why that medium and why those materials?

Using oil paint on paper and canvas. Slow to dry, I love the fact that oil paint can be manipulated and the colors are often gorgeous!  Still works for me! I believe we all still love the seduction of   painting!

 

What’s the future direction of your art? What do you plan to do next?

Still studying and looking at Hubble Telescope images. Can’t wait for the next visual discovery out there in the Cosmos.

 

What do you want your legacy to be?

I don’t think I can predict what my legacy may be. I want to be remembered as part of a wonderful community of artists that just had to create in our time and place.

 

http://www.basemeantwrx.com/new-events/2015/7/24/bonnie-maranz-gallery-night-oil-paintings-on-canvas-paper

 

 

Local Talk: Q+A with artist Robert Carter

We recently posted the work of artist and professor Robert Carter at the shop which was followed by an exhibition in the space. Perhaps it was awareness of his career spanning over 65 years or knowing that our country's tragic past did not stop this man from honing his craft and prolifically telling his story but it was such a powerful moment for everyone involved. A heartfelt thank you to his daughter Heather for working so diligently to transport Robert's work over to Local and steward all communications related to the event.

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We hosted a Q+A during the event and at one point, I inquired as to what one factor contributed to his (Robert's) success and he surprisingly quoted Eddie Murphy, and paraphrasing here:

 

My commitment has always been there. I remember an interview with Eddie Murphy where he talked about having a plan B if his comedy desires didn’t work out and he said, he never had a plan B because he felt that allowed him to be totally committed to plan A. I realized that I too never had a plan B.
— Robert Carter quoting Eddie Murphy

 

Something about this quote is energizing and paralyzing at the same time as once you take that leap of faith in life, you must literally take a leap and not look back. I can somewhat (loosely here....no comparison to Robert's journey) empathize as opening Local took a degree of strength and belief that was at times physically and mentally difficult. All that said, you keep going and working and working until you come out the other side. Sometimes you fail and sometimes you succeed but either way - you did it and that's a powerful story.

See below for more of a bulleted Q+A from Robert followed by a link to his website. Robert's work will be proudly displayed at Local throughout the month of April.

1) Where were you born and raised? Describe your upbringing and impact on both your art and where you are in life today? 

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky during segregation. We were poor, and I always had the support of my family. I remember a life-affirming experience I had when I was about eight or nine. We had a cheap print on our living room wall of a cottage in the woods, and I decided to copy it. I made an oil painting. My mother took the time to have it framed. At the moment I didn’t realize how important that was—by today’s standards it was a very inexpensive frame. But it was a confirming act. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be involved in this area called art. And I still have that painting today.

2) When did you know you were interested in pursuing an art career? 

I always had the encouragement of my family—my parents, my wife and children. I was also supported by my teachers at a very young age. Something I will never forget is when my high school art teacher, Mrs. Lucille Wathen, came to my house to get my portfolio and enter me in a competition for the Scholastic Art & Writing Award. To have her come to my house on a Saturday afternoon was like having an audience with the Pope. We had a reverence for our teachers and for her to go out of her way and to then be awarded was a blessing I didn’t anticipate.

3) Describe your role as professor and the enjoyment you obtain from teaching. 

I refer to myself as an ‘art coach’. The process of teaching has contributed to my personal, intellectual, and technical growth. This is how I describe how meaningful teaching has been: I taught a lesson the first time, and no one understood it. I taught it a second time, and no one understood it. I taught it a third time, and I understood it. Education has been an enriching experience for me, and when you see something working well with your students it emboldens it even further.

4) What generally inspires you and your work? 

Religion, music, social and political issues, and the subtleties of the human experience are my main sources of inspiration.

5) What artists have inspired you and influenced your work? 

Charles White, Albrecht Dürer, and Käthe Kollwitz have had great influence. 

6) What message are you trying to communicate with your art? What do you want people who see your work to think/feel? 

I use the human figure as a conduit for ideas. I would like people to experience behavioral universals that are tinted by race, geography, economics, time, etc.

7) If an art curator came to your house tomorrow to organize and catalog your work, what are the three most important things to communicate to that person? 

I would want the curator to deeply understand both the true essence of the characters in my work and how they are conduits for expression. I would want him to look beyond my work’s technical merits, and see its spirit.

8) Describe the medium you work in and the materials you use. Why that medium and why those materials? 

I use a variety of materials that lend to the personality of the composition. I juxtapose the naturalness of weathered wood with the boldness of acrylic paint to convey vibrancy, vitality and purity in my three-dimensional work. My drawings are mixed media composed of ebony pencil and collaged materials.

9) What’s the future direction of your art? What do you plan to do next? 

Generally speaking, an intensification of spirit and growth in my craftsmanship is always my goal. Ode to Joy, referencing Beethoven, is the theme for my next composition. 

10) What do you want your legacy to be? 

I would like to inspire greater sensitivity to the human experience, cultural and spiritual enrichment and, of course, joy.

 

http://www.robertcarterstudio.com/

Local Talk: Interview with Local Artist Amy Putman

So excited to have you up at Local! Thank you for sharing your work with us. Tell us, your artistic approach all stems from your experience with your parents. What was it like to have parents that encouraged this direction?

Thank you for having me! I’m a huge fan of Local and so happy to be there.

My parents were a huge influence because they encouraged all things art.  From art lessons and books, to countless museum trips, art was valued and appreciated. My mom is a weaver and she would invite me into her loom-room to talk about design and analyze color. My dad’s interest was photography so he built a dark room in the basement and taught me how to process film and make prints. They also gave me honest, thoughtful feedback about my work which was important. I learned how to listen and figure out what was or wasn’t working.

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You have a strong sense of activism in your personal life working on such influential programs like the Million Mom March for Common Sense Gun Laws on the National Mall in Washington DC. How has this mindset worked its way into your art?

I’m motivated by issues of social justice and this past year has magnified the polarization and divisiveness in the United States and around the world. I’ve been working on a number of mixed media pieces on canvas called the “Fence Series” which grew from the debate about building walls. It’s a look at what we love and what we fear, through the perspective of the fences that divide us.

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Collage is a recent treatment for your work. It's candidly an area that is a bit of a juxtaposition for me as it seems extremely simple but on the other end - where do you start? So, where do you start and how do you know when it's done?

The process of creating a collage begins with the collection of images that will eventually be used to make it.  I have collected thousands of images in an ongoing, obsessive treasure hunt for whatever inspires me. When I’m not ripping up magazines I’m carefully cutting up the

images, creating puzzle pieces. Imagine having a puzzle box with thousands of pieces in it, but without a picture on the cover for guidance as you put it together.  I never plan what I’m making. It’s a spontaneous process which makes it fun as well as challenging. I always have several collages going at once because I won’t finish a collage until I find the perfect piece.  This can take days, weeks, or even months

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You have quite the busy schedule showing locally here in NJ as well as other states but then jump into Europe to show in such richly artistic centers like Berlin.  Do you find that your work is interpreted very differently by market?

There is a lot of international interest in collage.  To my surprise, Instagram opened doors with exciting opportunities. Through it, I was invited to show in Berlin and also featured in a beautiful book called, “Making the Cut | The World’s Best Collage Artists Vol 1” published in Australia.

 

What has living in NJ meant to your POV on art and the artistic community? 

There’s a large and wonderfully diverse community of artists here and those I have met have been incredibly supportive and inspiring. Montclair has so much to offer for people interested in the arts, including the Montclair Art Museum, the Yard School of Art, and Studio Montclair with its beautiful new space for art shows on Bloomfield Ave. I believe that when you put yourself out there great things can happen, but many of the great things that are happening are because there’s so much interest in the arts here.

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Please tell us about the work that you have up at Local?

This is a body of work that grew from my fascination with the surreal. I love the surprise element of the design process and how a collage reveals itself to me as I create it. I try to make art that engages the viewer so they keep looking and try to figure out what’s happening.

 

What's next? What are you working on presently?

I’m incredibly excited to be collaborating on a new series of mixed media pieces with an LA based internationally renowned photojournalist who focuses on human rights issues.

 

What’s your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

My favorite coffee is a latte especially when there’s a heart in the foam on top.

www.amyputman.com

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Local Talk: Interview with Local Artist Qua Rosario

Tell us how you first became interested in the craft of writing.

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I first became interested in writing around 7th grade. That’s when I realized I could quickly come up with creative stories and I enjoyed it.

 

Many people dream of writing a book but very few take the leap of faith and put pen to paper. Did you face a similar challenge? 

No. One day I was browsing the shelves for a new book to read and there was nothing that moved me, so I decided to write one myself.  I raced home and just started free writing. There were times when it was a struggle to focus or find the right transition, but you just push through.

 

What advice can you give to those seeking to become an author?

Go for it.

 

Please share the premise of your new book.

Rixew Awakening is about a young boy, Sailen, and girl, Meerah, who are forced upon their wits into action, adventure, and a world of mythology when they find out they are decedents of an ancient race of outlawed, magical mortals, now hunted by the empire. In their rural upbringing, their families sheltered them from their heritage and the persecution of their race. Now, Sailen and Meerah must decide how their awakening will shape their future, and that of family, friends, and race.

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What is it about the fantasy genre that is most appealing to you?

I find fantasy most appealing because of the excitement and adventure. The imagination and thrill of breaking barriers of the expected characters and physical world. There are no limitations.

 

What writers have inspired you, past and present?

Older writers that I find inspiring are Edgar Allen Poe and J. R. R. Tolkien, more recently, J. K. Rowling, Christopher Paolini, and Anthony Bourdain.  

 

How has living in the Montclair area contributed to your approach?

Living in the Montclair area has allowed me to engage local resources to share and spread the word about the book. People are very supportive and quick to provide a valuable reference or tip. 

 

What are you working on now, any plans you can share with us?

Right now I’m focusing on marketing for Rixew Awakening, along with co-writing a rom-com movie script. Around summer I plan to begin working on my next book.

 

Tell us something about writing that only you or few people know.

The creative process is a lot of fun.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

My favorite coffee beverage is a well made frozen or iced, caramel espresso drink.

 

 

Local Talk: Interview with Local Artist Arlene Farenci

Arlene, we met about a year ago when we first opened Local and very happy that have been able to connect again. We spoke at that time about having your work at Local and now excited to share your work in our space. Why is meaningful for you to show your work in a non-gallery/ museum space? 

I think the exposure one gets at a coffee shop can even top a gallery. Lot’s of traffic. People can drink their coffee and look at art at the same time. 

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I’ve felt strongly about Abstract Expressionism for as long as I can remember. It works in two ways for me, first - i can get serious and look for a deeper message OR i can just sit back and appreciate the aesthetic beauty of it. How did you land in this space? 

I always loved gesture, even when I was painting representational work. I wanted to take away the objects and make the gestures the main image. There is really no deep meaning. I hope that the viewer finds them engaging and interesting.

 

I read on your site that you graduated with a Fine Art degree but moved into Graphic Design as a more practical path. There’s this struggle of should vs. must for all of us. I’m curious - without any of life’s obligations - what would you do differently with your fine art knowledge? 

In my wildest fantasy I am painting on very large canvases in a loft space, in Soho.

 

Tell us a bit about the work you have graciously shared with us at Local. What was the mindset you arrived at before and while creating this work? 

I work best when I don’t plan ahead. The Mokulito technique is fun because there are lots of possibilities. I usually start out with painting gestures or marks with a brush and see where it goes. I can print one plate or I can combine it with another one and even drill into the wood (ie, “This Way and That”) or I can add color ink directy to the plate  (ie, the large unframed “Untitled”) and treat it like a monoprint. 

 

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The concept behind Mokulito is somewhat perfection through the imperfect as wood can produce different images based on variables like materials, pressure, temperature and humidity. How did you come to discover and use this process in your work? 

An artist was giving a presentation at the Manhattan Graphics Center where I do my work. I was immediately attracted to her expressive style and later took a Mokulito class with her. I gravitate to that medium mostly because I like the textures that come from the wood. It is also not highly technical and I can work fast. 

 

Can you tell us about a project you are currently working on and the genesis of the work? 

I have a bunch of boards ready for me to sand down and start painting on. I have thought about using the drill to carve the edges of the wood plate, so it’s irregular and not smooth.

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Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield and the surrounding communities have a strong sense of art, culture and music. What is it about living in this area that is important to you as an artist and mom? 

It's a great place to raise a child. I made lots of friends through my son and we still remain close. I have to say, living close to the city is important to me as an artist. That’s where I am from and where I do my art. 

 

Tell us something about your craft that only you or a few people know. 

Mokulito can only be printed in one day. You cannot print the plate one day and again the next day. So it is quite an intense process, getting as many prints as I can in one session.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage? 

Iced Decaf Americana

 

http://www.thepaintedprint.com/

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Local Talk: Interview with Local featured artist Michael Stahl

Michael, we have known you for 14 years! I know this as you photographed our daughter when she was first born. What struck me then as it does now is that you absolutely love your craft. The initial consultation, the photography, the bracketing of images - the entire process. What is it about this discipline that keeps you so motivated?

Well, I've always been a darkroom rat.  I spent countless hours with my film and trays and chemicals making black and white prints.  So I just love the process of creating images.  I find it easy to stay motivated because every session is different and is nuanced in some way.  The important thing for me during a session is making it feel like the camera disappears.  In most cases that does happen as I strike up a rapport with the person in front of me. That's a special feeling.

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Alright...putting you on the spot - you have photographed countless families in the area, is there one that stands out for any particular reason? 

Nice try. But I cannot say that any ONE family stands out.  We've had memorable moments during session (newborn peeing on a dad, for example).  But we also do have families that we see over the years and it's very rewarding for us to see the children as they grow.  We've been doing this long enough to have toddlers that we've photographed come back in for a high school senior portraits.

 

Having been a photographer for 20+ years, what can you say is the greatest lesson learned thus far?  

Patience!  Of course there are days when our subjects might not be in the best mood for a portrait.  So we try to have a laid back approach in which there is plenty of time for even the most reluctant person to come around and present their true self to me.  

 

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What photographers (past or present) have been meaningful to you and why? Which should we take a moment and explore? 

Richard Avedon--I love the simplicity of his studio portraits.  George Hurrell for his dramatic images of Hollywood stars.  And I own Ansel Adams' series of technical books on creating the black and white print and of course his landscapes just stop you.  Bill Brandt broke a lot of "rules" with his edgy and stark portraits.

 

Montclair has been a geographical focus throughout your work. Why is this town so special for you?  

It's such an eclectic town so we get to meet so many interesting people, which results in interesting portraits.  We also love to do our part to support local organizations. The folks in town have really supported our efforts to help out the Food Pantry and animal rescue organizations.

 

In this world of cameras on a variety of devices, and filters to match any desired mood - how do you continue to articulate the essence of professional photography?  

I think it has to do with having a specific point of view and style.  I am flattered when people tell me that they can recognize our work.  Because style is not an app you can download or something one can copy.  It has to come from within.  But we also have to provide something that one cannot do for themselves.  That's why our focus continues to be well lit studio portraits.   

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Black and white seems to evoke quite a bit of emotion but color obviously has its purpose? How do you toggle between the two and ultimately commit to a particular direction?  

We default to black and white  That has always been my passion.  But color does have its place and we work closely with our clients to determine the direction to take.

 

What advice do you provide for someone considering a career in photography?  

Heed your passion.  Photograph things that are meaningful to you.  Seek out a mentor and look to professional organizations (PPA for example) for guidance and educational opportunities.  And don't forget that you are a businessperson, too.  Value yourself and your work and others will also.

 

Tell us something about photography that only you or a few people know. 

"I'm not photogenic" is BS.  There is something about everyone that is photogenic.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Straight, strong drip with a little half and half--early and often!

 

www.portraitsbymichaelstahl.com

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Local Talk: Interview with local entrepreneur and founder of Site, Stay, Go - Michelle Glasser

 

Everyone dreams of taking their passion and making it happen (yes, thats a line from Flashdance). What was the key moment for you in kicking off the process?

Not to date myself, but I love the Flashdance quote. What a feeling!

I let this idea fester for a long time. My dog has since passed, but when she was with us, I was always forgetting what I needed for her on walks, trips and hikes.

What gave me the courage to kick off the process was motherhood to human babies. I can’t really explain it, but I got braver; more willing to invest in myself and my ideas. About two years ago, I applied for my first patent, spoke to a product engineer and the ball got rolling.

 

What is your favorite feature of the Sit, Stay, Go? 

My favorite feature is the water/bowl combo at the pawparent’s fingertips. The fact that no packing and clipping are required is a huge plus; no remembering either, since it’s a complete unit and attached to the leash. Finally, this product doesn’t dangle like other water bottle pet products, because all the features are neatly built in, making it great for walks, hikes, travelers, therapy pets and road trippers.

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What are some words of wisdom for anyone considering taking on a life passion project?

Might sound cliche, but don’t give up. As you probably know, it’s really easy to get discouraged, and I’ve had my moments during this entrepreneurial journey. At those times, I had to dig deep, and take everything in bite sized chunks, task by task, without thinking too far ahead.

 

We're huge fans of dogs as our Instagram clearly demonstrates. What is it about these special beasts for you that narrowed your focus in this space?

I love dogs too. I’m highly allergic, but I love ‘em. Despite my bubble girl status, I got a Yorkie after 9-11 and loved her with all my heart. Ten years later, after having my first colicky kid, I craved simplicity. All the baby products and dog products seemed so complicated to me. Then I started to look at ways in which items could be improved, simplified or just plain hacked. With many ideas in the queue, the PET DINETTE is the first patent pending product to hit the market.

The pet space, in particular, was attractive because it seemed like there is a tad less innovation vs the baby — home markets, plus much inspiration could be drawn from baby (and for baby from pets). Moreover, the pet market is HUGE, with over half of the households in the United States owning a pet (almost 80 million homes!). Finally, dogs are my thing. Despite all the physical obstacles I was born with, I just love dogs and fiercely believe in supporting the rescue of pets. Since SitStayGo gives a portion of each sale to Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter in East Hanover, I could do my little part to help animals.

Do you have a special pet in your family? Breed? Photo?

Here’s my furbaby Yorkie, Margot, the thirsty, high maintenance muse behind the PET DINETTE. After one square block, her tongue would be to the pavement, requiring me to buy water and serve her from a makeshift bowl made with my hand. She passed a few years ago, and now I’m taking allergy shots in preparation for the next furbaby.

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The SitStayGo is fantastic for long hikes with a pooch. Are there any hiking routes around Essex County that you recommend?

I’m partial to the trails at the Eagle Rock Reservation. It’s a quiet oasis right here in Montclair’s backyard.

 

Tell us one thing about dogs that no one or just very few people know.

When training your pooch, first identify whether the breed and your dog specifically is prey or food driven - once you have that critical piece of information, you can leverage it as a training reward.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Ice green tea. So refreshing!

 

https://sitstaygoco.com/

 

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