Local Talk - Q+A with Local West Coast Artist Dolores Lusitana

We're so thrilled to have you post at the shop and thank you for being so accommodating in shipping the images!  West Coast images in an East Coast space brings me happiness as we're all California dreamin' to some degree. How do you think about one coast vs. the other from an artistic perspective? 

_MG_6270.news.jpg

I was first drawn to photography while living in New York City from 1981-1997. I’ve always thought of the city as a people laboratory - everyone combating the pressures of city life, the weather, the fierce professional competition, yet somehow all interdependent in those struggles. There’s an underlying humanity that I don’t experience in the same way on the west coast. California offers a more idealized lifestyle; grand, expansive landscapes, lots of sunshine with a cultural slant towards leisure. They’re completely different ways of life. Despite being a native Californian and grateful for the relative ease here (sans the earthquakes and fires..) I’ve always felt more at home on the east coast, more alive and inspired. Perhaps ironically, I think now of New York as a periodic B12 shot, my place for ideas and inspiration, and California the place where I can hunker down without distraction and get the work done.

 

Your prints, 'A deeper look at the Venice Beach Canals' provides us with a glimpse into a special place in southern California. Why did you select this area as your focus? 

I’d stopped shooting for a time and started my business, Situation Book. I was spending a lot of time behind the computer, and starting to feel a little hollow for abandoning my own creativity. The Venice Beach Canals were within walking distance from my home and I decided to take my camera for an outing - shooting for the first time in a couple of years. I had no objectives, no real intention of making images, I just let myself walk and shoot anything and everything that caught my eye. I found the reflections in the canal waters really beautiful and started making photographs - mostly figurative images, watery reversals of the many white bridges that intersect the walkways, the towering palm trees, the people walking by. They appeared like impressionistic watercolors and it made me happy to be outside in that quiet little enclave of peace and nature hidden inside Silicon Beach. I liked those images enough to continue going back.  

It wasn’t until I starting noticing the full-frame abstractions on my computer screen that the WATERCOLORS project began. I saw things that I hadn’t in my viewfinder, and discovered that by shooting more instinctually I was creating work I found more interesting. That’s when I began to see my photographs more like abstract paintings - and I focused on that approach going forward.

Do you often work with reflections or was this approach inspired by the environment?

I’ve always been more fascinated with people in social situations, how they each inhabit a given space together, than abstract or landscape driven photography. This work came out of my need to reconnect with the natural world and not think too much. What I saw in the water was just an unexpected gift.

The reflections on the Canals are created by wind and tides and ambient light, so you never really know what you’re going to encounter, and that reinforced my inability to control the situation. The source of all the reflections are inherently the same since they’re from the homes, buildings, gardens that line the walkways. But, they’re constantly morphing in shape and color given environmental factors. The lesson for me was to stay open. There was one day when the wind was so high that I thought nothing was achievable. But that day ended up yielding a number of interesting frames, including the image I call WINGS which is at LOCAL now.

How have these images provided you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of this landscape? 

I think good landscape photography is incredibly difficult. Taking a photo of a sunset is relatively easy, but in most cases I believe the viewer is reacting to the splendor of nature rather than the artistry of the photographer. To capture how a landscape makes the artist feel, to imbue the absolute beauty of nature with an individual human emotion, that’s not easy. At least not for me. The appreciation and understanding I’ve gleaned from this work is more about the origins of perception - how and why we all see things differently. I perceive very distinct scenes or images within these photos - rather than strictly water reflections. Other people often see very different things - which makes me happy.  I try and leave them open to interpretation - and encourage people to reposition them vertically and horizontally to their liking.

 

As a self-taught artist, what can you tell other individuals who would like to pursue an artistic endeavor OR career?

I do believe that everyone should have some kind of creative pursuit - no matter what it is - something that can never be mastered but always improved upon and made more and more your own. You learn a tremendous amount about yourself in the process, and it will always provide you with something to work at, hopefully share with others, and get joy from. I hope I’m still working at something creative when I’m old and blind.

IMG_2226.bluemoon.jpg

If I can offer any advice (and I’m not sure that I or any other artist is really qualified) it’s that we all experience the world differently, uniquely - and that’s what you want your art to reflect. And I believe that can only be achieved by process, time, and personal honesty, not strictly technical savvy. Craft - as applied to digital photography - can be crucial to expanding your visual vocabulary, but if you don’t dig into your own creative process it can override your vision. I try not to seek validation from others, which is hard. I look for something that speaks to me, perhaps even for me, and keep at it. If I’m really onto something, and keep at it, it will evolve. And hopefully it will eventually start to disappoint me. That discomfort is the challenge you need to move forward. I like to think of this period as “growing pains” - both in the creative process and in life in general.

 

What other artists within or outside your primary discipline do you look to for inspiration?

In my earliest days my photographic muses were people like Helen Levitt, Louis Faurer, Robert Frank, Bruce Davidson, Bresson…the usual street art suspects. Later, I discovered the magic of color documentary when I found a book by William Albert Allard in a bookshop in NYC near Houston. Blew my mind. I then sought out the work of the great National Geographic shooters:, Sam Abell, James Nachtwey, Gerd Ludwig, Eugene Richards, Alex Webb. Now I’m more drawn to the artists, mostly painters, of an earlier time. The European Impressionists and Beat Contemporaries. Odilon Redon always take my breath away.  As does Erik Satie.  And kids. Watch for how little children see the world - and look for that perspective.

 

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

Right now I’m focused mostly on getting this work out into the world a bit more. I’ve really just started showing it.

I’ve also started playing around with some light abstractions taken from the windows of my mother’s bedroom. She’s 92 now, and sleeps a great deal; her room is often dark but for the light creeping through the windows. It’s a tricky subject, but it feels like there’s something there.  Maybe not.  We’ll see.

dlusitana_watercolors_01.jpg

 

Any other thoughts to share?

There is beauty all around us in every day things. Spend some quiet time in nature; it can nourish you in ways that nothing else can.  And, thank you for this opportunity. I hope your customers find some pleasure in the work.

Thank you!

See more of Dolores’ work at https://www.doloreslusitana.com/about/

 

 

IMG_2222.trees.jpg

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.

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 7.43.00 AM.png

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?

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 7.43.15 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 7.42.09 AM.png

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

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 7.42.41 AM.png

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.

Picture1.png

 

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.

Picture3.png

 

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

Picture2.png

 

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.

Picture4.png

 

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

Picture5.png

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. 

This way and that copy.jpg

 

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. 

 

afarenci_4 copy.jpg

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.

FarenciA4Untitled copy.JPG

 

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/

PlayfulGestures2 copy.jpg

Local Talk: Interview with Advent Calendar artist Melisa Gerecci

What are advent calendars and why do you make them?

Advent is an annual three-to-four week season leading to December 25.  Traditionally, advent calendars are made in Germany and available at christkindlmärkte (Christmas markets).  A viewer opens a small door each day to reveal hidden images.  The calendars often depict holiday scenes based on 19th century paintings.  They are enjoyed each year during a season intended to be a time of joyful anticipation.

advent1.png

Advent calendars come from a particular cultural practice, but the concepts they represent are universal.  Across cultures, people look forward to certain things.  Remember waiting with excitement to see an old friend?  Or how we look forward to gathering over a special meal?  We search for ways to hold on to memories of meaningful times and places. 

I make advent calendars to help mark time.  December has, sadly, become stressful for many of us, and my goal is to restore a sense of anticipation.  I’d like to slow the fury of this time of year with a simple practice and beautiful imagery. 

What is your process?

Each calendar concept takes about a year to complete.  I start with a general sense of a place and time I’d like to celebrate.  The next step is to translate that memory into a scene and a related collection of drawings.  After the idea is generated, I draw.  And I draw.  And I draw some more. 

Then it gets technical—the drawings are organized to correspond with parts of the main scene.  They also tend to follow a sequence.  In “Houston house,” for example, the hidden drawings narrate three years of related experiences shared by a group of friends.  Some calendars are highly specific, and individual doors are keyed to dates when events occurred.  For example, in “Tex-Mex Christmas,” our Lady of Guadalupe appears on December 12, as she is said to have done in 1531 in Tepeyac, Mexico.  After the drawings are done, color copies are made and doors are cut by hand into the main scene.  The drawings are attached, and each door is numbered.  If the calendar is idiosyncratic, I’ll include a legend on the back.  But part of the fun is the surprise of opening each door!  You don’t always know what’s lurking back there.     

How do you choose the subjects of your calendars?

The first calendar I made was for a friend, to mark one year of knowing each other.  I drew his exquisite studio apartment and hid references to topics we had discussed, things we had seen together, and places we had visited.  This year’s calendar was a love letter to Houston, my hometown.  I am currently working on two designs for next year: the Kadıköy neighborhood in Istanbul and a “badvent calendar” for Halloween.  I could also see a Montclair calendar in the cards…

advent2.png

Sometimes there’s lid flying off a pot or an upturned chair.  What are those about?

I like to include some whimsy.  The main scenes I draw are location-specific and include a lot of observational detail.  The unexpected element can lighten the mood a bit.

Conceptually, what does being local mean to you and how does it play a part in your process?

Local means finding the beauty in the everyday and the easily overlooked.  There are unexpected patterns that emerge if we keep our eyes open.  When I’m out, I ask myself: what am I looking at?  And when I look, what am I seeing?

What has living in Montclair meant for you and your work?

Montclair is a human-scaled place.  Being able to bike, walk, and take the bus around lets me observe my surroundings.  Plus, Montclair residents are open-minded and curious.  It’s a good combination for creating site-specific art.

What role do paper calendars have in contemporary, web-based culture?

A vital one.  Paper is one of our early technologies for recording and communicating experience.  Today, there are many ways to track time electronically.  And think of all the automatic reminders we use.  That doesn’t have to be the exclusive way of organizing our days.  I have a mild online presence, but these calendars are meant to be experienced in person. 

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

There are so many ways to organize time!  And there are examples all over the world on how to do it.  I tried using a calendar once where the week ran from Monday through Sunday instead of the typical Sunday through Saturday.  It was disorienting at first.  But then it made me think about how visually grouping Saturday and Sunday together could reorient our entire workweek.  Time is remarkably fluid.

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Affogato!  For a fleeting moment, it’s hot and cold at the same time.  It’s best enjoyed the minute it’s served.  And it has such a serious name for such a delightful beverage.   

 

www.megerecci.com

Local Talk: Interview with featured artist Darin Wacs

We connected first after discovering that we both were born and raised in NYC. I am grateful every day for such a rich childhood amongst the artist, musicians, and entrepreneurial business owners that made up my neighborhood of Greenwich Village. How did your particular art discipline emerge out of your respective NYC experience?

*I grew up with a father who was a fashion designer and painter and a mother who loved art....we spent all our free time at museums and galleries in NYC...

 

Darin_2.png

Is there a person or experience that was pivotal in sharpening your direction?

*In grad school at The School of Visual Arts..the painter Gary Stephan and the sculptor Judy Pfaff helped/forced me to define and stand up for what I was trying to do with my sculpture..

 

What words of inspiration do you share with anyone considering artistic expression?

*I would say to not be afraid to try new things even if they don't always work out...make a mess..

 

What is it about crafting objects out of raw materials that inspired your path?

 The texture and colors of raw materials go against my tendency to paint everything in bright colors..it was a challenge to see if they could work as a medium for me..

 

I’m always interested in artistic endeavors with over-emphasized scale - small or large. Is there a project that you feel like you nailed it relative to the size of the final piece (or pieces?)

*I think my large scale 'sculpture signs' in Palo Alto, CA are good examples of large public projects that draw viewers in and surprise them..I don't see them as sculptures that are also engaged in way finding but art that helps you find places.

Darin_3.png

 

I’m sort of going through this phase questioning what’s really real or just a figment of our imagination. Is it all just a dream? That said, tell us about the quote you selected from Alexander Calder to include on your site “The universe is real, but you can’t see it. You have to imagine it.” 

I love Calder..and the idea that art can create its own universe is magical to me..I think a lot of the work I make inhabits its own world.

Darin_1.png

 

I’m thrilled with the pieces you selected for Local. Please tell us about them.

From the first time I walked into Local I was struck by this idea that I wanted to make light fixtures that were also sculptures...I could picture how they would work in the space and how they might relate to my silkscreen prints..the three 'critter' pendants were painted with the palette of Local in mind to contrast with it and be a part of it..some of the other small sculptures were painted at the same time as the critter lights and show another form and scale which relates to the larger pendants..also I thought about what would work within the spaces that Local has for showing art. I am always taken by what a positive vibe Local has (thanks entirely to you and Adele) and felt like it was a perfect fit for the work I make which hopefully inspires an overstuffed feeling of joy and wonder. 

Darin_4.png

 

What does living in Montclair and being able to show your work here mean to you as an artist?

Montclair is a community with lots of creative people living in it..I know so many talented people and often meet new ones...this is the first time I'm showing sculpture here and its been wonderful.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

An iced latte

 

http://darinwacs.com/