Local Talk Series: Q+A with Maryanna Coleman

Your work ranges from real life to fantasy which is unique to other artists we have had at the shop. What inspiration drives your subject matter?

I love children’s books and their whimsical illustrations, as well as “realistic” paintings – of architecture, animals, nature, and more.  I try to weave a little of both styles into my paintings. 

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What artists were influential when you were honing your craft?

Ludwig Bemelmans (illustrator of the Madeline books), Caitlin McGauley, and Beatrix Potter’s whimsical styles and animals are some of my favorites!  Other influences (whether or not they show in my work) are Michael Sowa, Kathryn Freeman, Matisse, Maira Kalman, Janet Hill, Erin Armstrong, Wayne Thiebaud, Edward Gorey, Tracey Sylvester Harris, William Joyce, Erika Lee Sears, Dorothy Shain, Ashley Longshore, Cj Hendry, Donald Robertson, Pauline de Roussy de Sales, Charlie Mackesy, and many more.

 

How did you actually start your life as an artist? When did you know you had something special to share?

I’ve been making art since I was a kid, and continued to take art classes through high school.  I majored in Studio Art at Gettysburg College, and sketched/painted on the side for fun after graduation while working in “corporate” jobs.  I started an Instagram account of my art and sold a few pieces here and there – it gradually took off after that!  It’s fun to think back to locally hand-delivering some pieces, then eventually shipping internationally.  What initially started out as dog/pet portraits has evolved into wedding art (wedding scenes as gifts, invitations, etc), scenery and house/architectural portraits, and book illustrations (most recently Louise Penny’s past three books!).

 

Watercolors are such a specific art and clearly you are masterful with your approach. How did you address this particular discipline when developing your technique?

I taught myself!  I actually hadn’t “played” with watercolors since I was in grade school (or maybe early high school?).  I always worked in acrylics/oil/charcoal/drawing, but when I was in my small NYC apartment, there was next to no space for oil painting.  I started playing with watercolor when I realized it was the quickest/easiest set up/clean up, and could spend hours on something as small as 5x7” as opposed to a 5 ft canvas.  I definitely owe larger/general painting skills to my art professor from an oil painting class in Florence.

 

I see lots of animals in your show. Do you work on commissioned pieces as well?

I do!  I started with many dogs because I really wanted (and still want) one and am just drawn to them.  That developed into many commissions of pets – whether for a birthday, anniversary, wedding gift.  They always make for fun and meaningful presents.

 

My favorite is the dog in a military jacket. There's something about his posture and facial expression that is intriguing. Tell us about this piece.

My friends actually had me paint their dog in a British militia style coat for no other reason than they love history and think the dog looks British – and I love it!  He feels simultaneously refined and unsure of himself to me.

 

What does living in Montclair contribute to how you see the world through your work?

Living outside New York City gives me more space and quiet.  I am able to have both the greenery of suburbia as well as access to the buzz of NYC and Montclair.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Iced coffee (or very specifically cold brew at Local!) with either almond milk or regular milk.

Thank you!

Learn more about Maryanna here:

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Local Talk: Q+A with iconic Montclair artist: Fern Bass

Fern! So happy to have your work @ Local. Your work is well known 'round these parts. Tell us how and where you began your artistic journey.

I started out at The Brooklyn Museum Art School when I was 11ish. I would ride the Flatbush Avenue bus excitedly clutching the wooden paint box my uncle Herbie gave me. I remember the first time I walked into the art school I was euphoric. It was like, “Wow! I’m allowed to do all of this cool stuff? For the whole day?!?

 

We spoke (and laughed a bit) together while hanging your work speaking to the art scene in Greenwich Village in the 70s and 80s. What elements of that environment influenced your current state of art?

Well, I was at Pratt in the late 70’s early 80’s and deep into the study of graphic design and working as a waitress in the West Village. I was working so hard I didn’t get out much, so I wasn’t that aware of the art scene at the time. Anyway I’m more of an old schooler-I love the art of the Italian Renaissance, the Post Impressionists, the German Expressionists, Edward Hopper and Fairfield Porter.

 

How did Bass Arts Studio come to be? What is your proudest thought provided its existence?

After working as a graphic designer for 15 years I quit to stay home and raise my girls. That’s when I started painting again. Then I got divorced and began teaching at a studio in town and found that I really loved teaching. When my ex exited he took his fleet of Porsches with him and I found myself with an empty garage and then...light bulb! I renovated the garage and bought easels and started a school. That was 15 years ago.  Such a better use of a garage, dontcha think?

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You have a wonderful focus for artistic direction for teens. Not to get too deep, but on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is artistic development for children at this stage?

 I think it’s totally important. 10 of 10. I don’t know how I would have gotten through high school without spending 95% of my time making art. It was a lifeline for me.  I super identify with my teen students. They badly need an outlet for their angst, the intensity of their emotions, and their hopping hormones. They need to feel seen and acknowledged. I try to connect with them, see where their talents lie and reflect that back to them.  Developing technical skills grows their confidence and gives them the tools to communicate their ideas.

 

For yourself, how can you balance teaching with maintaining a high degree of personal creative inspiration?

 I prioritize! I am a very good time manager and a benign neglector. I only do what is absolutely necessary and let the rest go to maximize my time in the studio. I rarely shop with the exception of groceries.  I guard my time like it’s the most precious resource I have (because it is). There’s a lot of parallel process and cross-pollination between my personal work and my teaching, one discipline feeds the other. And I drink a lot of coffee! I am lucky my husband is extremely organized and does a lot of household stuff. (I have the fun job-I cook)

 

Tell us about the work you chose to share with our local community.

I have a thing for Parisian waiters. I love the graphic pattern of their long white aprons against their black vests and pants. And the graceful way they hold their trays and acrobatically move through space. A while back I did a series on dancers. These waiters are serving but their gestural movement feels very related to dance. 

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 What plans do you have around new creative projects?

I am probably not done with the cafe series, but I am planning to do a whole series on dogs.

 

Since you started, is there one experience that confirmed you did a beautiful thing?

There have been so many, it’s hard to pick. Many of my students have gone on to art school and art careers. That’s very gratifying. Last week an eleven year old in my Drawing Bootcamp was marveling over a large figure drawing she did and said, “Wow, I never thought I could do this!” That was a beautiful thing.

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What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

I like a nice cappuccino. Whole milk please.

Learn more about the one and only Fern Bass by visiting her website @ https://www.bassartsstudio.com/

 

 

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Local Talk: Q+A with multi-media artist Colleen James

Thanks so much for sharing your work @ Local! Initial response has been overwhelmingly positive. Tell us about these images and especially the composition.

The series Wave is intended to draw the viewer in on a few levels. The ocean has a calming effect — a respite in nature from our busy lives. The image is at once familiar and unfamiliar. I’ve combined images to create something that is intended to pull you in, to make you look closer and ask if it’s real or imagined. I like to play with collage — to physically cut/paste/combine the images in a new abstract way.

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Santa Monica has this really magical/ special mojo, what pulled you into using this location as your canvas?

I was traveling for work and woke up early one morning. The moment of sunrise is so special, especially when you’re alone — the quality of the light, the magnitude of it all.

Art is a passion project for you, yes? At what point in your life did you start putting concepts together?

Art is more of a way of living for me, and always has been. It’s a kind of meditation. My mother was an artist, and my two sisters and daughter are artists. I studied painting in college, with a focus on portraiture, and up until a few years ago I was exclusively into realism. Since 2015 I’ve moved to collage and abstract painting. I’m also lucky to have a day job that I’m passionate about (working for the furniture brand Knoll).

How, why and when do you take on a particular project?

I like to experiment and work in a multitude of styles and mediums at once. In my studio I usually have 3-4 projects going at any given time. Right now I just finished a portrait for a friend, and I’m also working on a large color block painting. I find that keeps my work fresh.


Is there a particular medium you prefer working with?

Oil or acrylic painting is my favorite — I love the feel of the paint, the excitement of a new canvas. It’s where I find my happy place.
 

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Is there a project that you have been working towards for some time but haven't taken that next step? I ask this question because so many of us have thoughts to building a creative model or platform but just stop short before fully committing.

I start a painting series and usually stop after 3-4 pieces and start something completely new. At some point I’d like to find a language that I stick with for a longer period. I feel fortunate to have a passion and practice that I can lean into even more as I grow older — age presents no limitations when it comes to art.

What does living in Montclair mean to you as an artist?

I’ve be deepening my involvement in the community of artists here in Montclair. It’s an incredibly rich and welcoming group. 

You are donating proceeds of sales of this project to Toni's kitchen which is an awesome gesture. Tell us more about your connection to this truly unique and valued organization right here in Montclair.

My husband and I both volunteer there. The mission is so important — the people who run it are incredible as are the people they serve. I like the idea of using my art to connect with the community.

What's next for you in the art space?

I’m working on an abstract series on paper and canvas. I’m inspired by the repetitive patterning of artists like Damien Hirst and Agnes Martin. You can find it on my website at colleen-james.art

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What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

I’m pretty simple when it comes to coffee. Good, strong drip coffee with milk.


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? 

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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.

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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.

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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/

 

 

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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 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 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 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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