Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Andrea Keys Connell

I have admired the work of Andrea Keys Connell for quite a while now. Her ceramic sculptures and large installations are so impressive to me. I would love to have the opportunity to see them in person one day. For now, I will continue to follow her work online...and continue to be constantly amazed.

Andrea is influenced by many things, but she is particularly "interested in intergenerational trauma and how a person’s past, particularly a past that has been interrupted by a traumatic event such as war, can influence patterned behaviors that are passed through the family." Heavy stuff indeed...and it certainly comes across in her work. To see more sculptures, take a look at Andrea's website.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Alexa Meade

Prepare to be blown away. At first glance, the figurative paintings above, by Washington, DC artist Alexa Meade, seem like beautiful, colorful portraiture. Alexa captures her subjects with bright colors and heavy brush strokes, but wait...the hair looks SO real. Too real. That's because it is. In fact, this isn't a flat painting on's an actual person sitting in a chair, who has been painted to look like they are in an actual painting. Make sense? No. Well, take a look at the pictures at the bottom of this post to see what I'm talking about.

Alexa has innovated a Trompe-L'Oeil painting technique than can perceptually compress three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional plane. She paints her representational image directly on her three-dimensional subjects. Her work is an impressive combination of installation, painting, performance, and photography. All of Alexa's work, the hours spent creating these images, is gone in a matter of hours (or however long it takes the model to jump in the shower and scrub the paint off their bodies). What remains after the scene has ended is a photographic reminder of what was. It serves as documentation of the performance.

Are you blown away? I thought so. To see more of Alexa's impressive work take a look at her website.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekend Guest on The Jealous Curator

I was beyond excited when The Jealous Curator asked me to be one of her "weekend guests" on her blog (which just happens to be the only blog I read on a daily basis...I love it!) I have been a fan of The Jealous Curator for quite some time now. She finds the most interesting artists, and as someone who can barely keep my own blog updated as frequently as I would like, I am constantly jealous of her! Her daily blog posts never fail to please. She is a witty writer and has an amazing eye for choosing exactly the kind of artists that interest me.

The Jealous Curator was kind enough to write a post about a show I was curating a few weeks ago, and ever since we have become email buddies. When she asked me to be one of her "weekend guests" it took me less than a second to respond with, "YES, YES, YES!!!" It was an honor to be asked and I was excited to be included on the impressive list of her previous weekend guests. The hard part was choosing one artist to write about. Instead of writing about any of the artists I had previously written about on my own blog, I wanted to find someone new to feature. I found some artists I loved and then realized The Jealous Curator had already written about them. Like I said, she has a knack for picking artists I love. Then I ran across the hand-stitched illustrations of Emily Eibel and I didn't have to look any further. I knew I had found the artist I wanted to write about. I mean, look at these:

To see my guest post on The Jealous Curator's site, click here. If you aren't familiar with The Jealous Curator's blog you definitely should be. In fact, one visit to her site and I think you will become a daily viewer like me.

Michaelene Walsh

Micaelene Walsh is a ceramic artist and Associate Professor of Art at Louisiana State University. According to Michaelene, "dolls and animals have always interested me because they seem to possess an inner life." I really hope these little guys don't possess an inner life because they remind me of something that would come to life in the middle of the night and attack you in your sleep. Kind of creepy, I know, but that's one reason I am drawn to them. I like to live dangerously. It's the same reason I like to go on all the rides at a county fair. Who doesn't love the thrill of stepping onto a old, mechanical ride that was put together in a day and could fall apart at any second. It gets the adrenaline pumping. mind tends to stray. Let's get back to Michaelene. If her unique creations weren't enough to interest me (although they totally were) just take a look at her bio and artist statement. I was hooked after I read this:

Bio: This is my story... I was raised by a family of mountain gorillas. This partially explains my love of animals. When I’m not loving on animals, I’m generally eating them.
The end

Artist Statement: If you have eaten ice cream, marveled at a monkey, played with a doll, drawn a heart or written a secret note on blue lined notebook paper, we have something in common, at least on the surface.

So great! Take a look at Michaelene's website to see more of her ceramic scultpures, drawings and installations. Speaking of her installations, I couldn't resist throwing in this photo from one of her installations titled, "Bittersweet."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Robin Venable

Working in an art gallery can be a great experience. Being surrounded by creativity is always a fun thing, and luckily I get to do this 5 days a week. Having amazing co-workers makes the day even better, and Robin Venable is one of the best co-workers I have ever had. We make each other laugh constantly, we entertain each other with stories, we get in the most ridiculous fights ever only to make-up again in 5 minutes...but even that keeps the day interesting. Not only is Robin a fantastic co-worker, she is also a great friend...and did I mention that she is also an amazing artist? Well, she is.

Robin came to the gallery a year ago having just received her MFA from Florida State University. Her work is beautiful and unique. She works on round canvases instead of the traditional rectangluar ones. She doesn't like the feeling of being "trapped in a box" with a rectangular canvas, and prefers the movement the circular base gives her work. Robin loves medieval manuscripts, transparency, religious icons and ornate designs. She is also heavily influenced by her spirituality and draws on those things, and more, to create her layered paintings. Her work attempts to make sense of life's complexity...a battle of light and dark. Her latest paintings are a reflection of her own struggles, and serve as very elaborate self-portraits. She paints herself into each painting surrounded by light, dark, pattern, shadows, animals, colors, etc. These are the most interesting to me and I look forward to seeing what new paintings will emerge in the months and years to come.

More of Robin's work can be found on her website. Take a look for more images and info. For now, Robin and I have to get back to work.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paul Wackers

I don't know a lot about Paul Wackers. I know he received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004, and lists several impressive solo shows on his C.V., but other than that there's not a whole lot of biographical information on his website. I do know this, though...I could stare at his paintings for hours. Take a look at his website for more images...but try not to stare for hours. Not good for the eyes :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Inspired" at The Arts Company

There is nothing I love more than curating shows. Researching talented artists, seeing the artwork as it's created, planning the layout of the show in the gallery, and watching it all come together for the opening reception is one of the most exciting things I have ever had the pleasure to do in my professional career. I have curated several shows, have worked with some amazing artists, and have had a blast the entire time. "Inspired," however, will always stand out to me and be one the shows I am most proud of.

It all started back in March of 2010 when I was visiting New York City with a friend of mine. We were walking down 5th Avenue in the heart of the city, admiring the stores, wishing I could afford to purchase the beautiful things I was seeing, and staring at all the gorgeous window displays. I was passing Bergdorf Goodman when I looked up and was instantly stopped in my tracks by their window display, not by the clothes, but by the large-scale woodblock prints that provided the backdrop for the fashion. I had no idea who the artist was, but it wasn't something I was not going to forget. When I was finally returned home to Nashville I immediately started researching to find out who this artist was. I learned that his name was John Welles Bartlett and he was living in Brooklyn. I found his website and sent him an email to introduce myself. After a few back and forths, I asked him if he would be part of a show I was curating in late summer. I expected an immediate "No thanks." I assumed that someone, who was getting this kind of exposure and attention in New York, would already be booked solid with other shows. To my surprise, he said "Yes!" Now I actually had a show to start planning!

"TV Donkey with Ant" by John Welles Bartlett

I wanted this exhibit to be a two-person show, and I already had an idea floating in the back of my mind about how to make this more than just an average exhibit of two artist's work. The trouble was finding that other artist who was just the right fit with John. I found a couple artists who I was very interested in, but unfortunately (or it turned out) they were either already booked for shows, or just didn't return my emails. Then I ran across Julianna Swaney, and I was so happy those other artists didn't work out. I found her work on My Love For You and was instantly a fan. I knew her small, intimate works would be a nice contrast, and yet completely complement John's large-scale woodblock prints. I emailed her, and her quick reply couldn't have been nicer. Even though she was already booked for three other shows in September, she still agreed to be a part of mine. I don't know how she found the time to create all the work for these four shows, but she did...and personally, I think I got the best ones!

"Hidden Birds" by Julianna Swaney

Once each artist was confirmed for the show, I ran my idea past them. I wanted to engage each artist and have them create something that would be special for this exhibit and very interesting to all the folks who would make it to the show. I asked each artist (who were total strangers at the time) how they would feel about studying the body of work of the other artist and creating one piece for the show that was inspired by the other. I didn't know what kind of reaction this would get, but I was hopeful. As it turned out, both artists loved the other's work and were very excited to take on this challenge. Personally, I think they were even more excited to see what the other artist would create knowing that they were the inspiration behind it. As the months went on, I would receive images from the artists of all the new pieces they were working on...but I still hadn't seen the inspired piece. I was starting to get worried. I had already sent out the press release, hyped the theme of the show, given interviews to some local publications--all based on the idea that each artist was creating this inspired piece, and the show was even called, "Inspired." What in the world would I do if one or both artists decided they just couldn't manage to do an inspired piece? I was nervous. Luckily, each artist was just saving the best for last and when I finally saw the inspired pieces I knew that the show was going to be amazing!

John's work

Julianna's work

The opening reception was this past Saturday. John was able to fly to Nashville for the show, but Julianna had a show opening in Portland, OR, where she currently lives and wasn't able to make it. Even though she couldn't be here, the evening was a huge success. After some great press, including a very nice spotlight in Nashville Arts Magazine, and a wonderful post by The Jealous Curator, hundreds came through the gallery that night. Some were there for the free wine, but the majority were actually there to see this special exhibit. I talked to so many people, answered so many questions, and loved every minute of it. By the end of the night we had sold a lot of artwork (according to Julianna, the most she has ever sold at an opening reception...EVER), and introduced two fantastic new artists to the gallery and to Nashville. I'll never forget the evening. I want to thank both of these great artists who I now consider great friends, the amazing people I work with at The Arts Company (Anne, Robin, and the whole gang), and my incredibly supportive friends and family who made the night memorable and special.

The show continues through September 25 at The Arts Company. Please stop by and take a look if you can, or see the pieces in the show on the gallery's website.

John, me, and the editorial staff of Nashville Arts Magazine

With two of my best friends, Candace and Beth

Our front window display...just as impressive as Bergdorf Goodman, in my opinion :)

In case you were are the two "inspired" pieces:

"TV Maiden with Birdhouse" by John Welles Bartlett

"Reception" by Julianna Swaney

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