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



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