Local Talk - Interview with Local artist and Classic Man Barber Mike Lasovski

You are a barber by trade, and an amazing one - when did you know that you had a desire to capture and share your photography?
 

I've always had a passion for art, and I've been drawing ever since I can remember. I love fashion and music, and used to do styling for short films and sing in a progressive metal band.   Photography is just another creative outlet for me. I've been perusing it  for the last 3 years.    


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 with my phone and make it more artistic by shooting different angles and using  effects. I use what I have for now, but would love to buy a camera in the near future to get better quality and details. 

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?

It is more about "capturing the moment" for me. If I see something interesting in the aspect of colors and angles or anything that I think would look good as a photograph, I'll stop what I'm doing and take a picture.

How does you full time job as a barber translate into your approach for taking photos? I know from hanging photos with you at the shop that your eye is quite good!

I am a perfectionist at my job as a barber and my clients know that! I don't like to leave out anything for the chance, and risk a haircut coming out not looking good. I see everything, every piece of hair. I treat my artwork the same way.

You are originally from Israel, how does your childhood in a different country inspire your approach to photography?

I grew up in the city of Jerusalem, a place that is very rich in history and culture. Jerusalem has spiritual energy, and that by itself inspires any creative individual. Also, growing up, I was surrounded by artistic friends (who later became musicians, fashion designers, photographers etc). Being surrounded by such people pushed me to develop the creative side in me as well. Photography has a universal language with which I can express myself.

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

I would love to take some additional photography classes and develop the skill further. I'd like to do more exhibits in the near future and reach a wider audience.

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

The photographs reflect how I see the American culture. It is about my life as a barber. The pictures I have chosen have a dark vibe, capturing the spirit of Halloween 

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follow Mike on Instagram @mikey_thebaba.barber

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: 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 featured artist Dawn Garrison

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We're excited to have your work at Local! We discovered each other as you have painted for some time but rarely publicly displayed your work. Why us, why now?

I am going to call this ‘where serendipity and opportunity crossed paths’. John Lennon is better known for his version but in 1957 Allen Saunders wrote ‘life is what happens to us while we are making other plans’. For me it is an apt description of the last 25 years. Long story short, after much prodding by several friends I began opening myself to opportunity and soon after met you. This sampling of my work at Local is one small step.

 

Which past or existing painters have had specific meaning for you, which have really stimulated your passion for this art?

I appreciate various artists and painters of many styles and most stimulate me on some level. I love impressionism but my natural tendency is realism. I am captivated by the works of Angus Wilson, R. Mike Nichols and Brienne M. Brown.

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Tell us about your subject matter. How do you choose where to focus your creative energy?

I could get lost in this question but if I allow myself I would write a novella so I’ll answer this in more recent context.

For quite a long time all I painted were landscapes and gardens, until one day I was done. Currently I paint animals. I have a great love for creatures so it makes sense they have been my focus. This last year and a half I have mostly been busy painting commissions; primarily dogs and that’s alright by me.

 

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Do you paint during a particular time of day? in a particular space?

I am so fortunate to have a dedicated space on the southeast side of our home. I am surrounded by natural light and an awesome view (when I look up – lol). Painting during the day works best for me.

 

There's a local Montclair element in one of your paintings. How did you come to live in the area and why is Montclair important to you?

I was born in Montclair and raised in the area and met my husband in high school. We have always felt family was important and wanted to stay close; plus this area has so much to offer no matter what your interests are.

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Of all of your work, is there a particular piece that has the most meaning for you?

I painted a self-portrait during a difficult time in my life. The style totally deviated from anything I had done before or since. I think a psychologist might have fun interpreting it today.

 

Tell us something about painting that very few or no one knows.

I can only speak for myself, but on occasion you have to remember to breathe.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

I do love a cup of herbal tea but when I first sat at your counter sipping a cup of drip coffee it transported me to cafes in Europe. Exceptional.

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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.

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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…

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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