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Artsy Spot: Florida Mining

7 Nov

Ninety-nine percent of the time I completely love my life in the Pacific Northwest.  But occasionally, there is that nagging little 1% that longs to be back in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, just so that I can be in the thick of the exciting artistic resurgence happening there.  Though the arts in Jax were hit hard by the recession, artists and art supporters are determined to make Jacksonville a cultural destination.  Among them, artist Steve Williams is bringing home forward-thinking, atypical art with his new gallery, Florida Mining.

CPHACE by Laird, inaugural exhibition at Florida Mining

Williams is no stranger to playing gallerist.  He’s been at the heart of several successful galleries in Jacksonville over the years.  As an artist, he thrives on being involved with other artists and their creative processes.  And, being the generous soul that he is, wants to help them succeed and in the process, is bringing his unique vision for the arts to his hometown.

Florida Mining

Florida Mining’s mission?  To present emerging to mid career artists who are thought provoking and fresh with a mix of medium and perspective.  And they were off to a slammin’ start with their first show featuring a new series of work by Northeast Florida photographer Laird, a series infared photographs which begin with organic surroundings and are composited and mirrored so that the resulting image becomes almost hauntingly alien, yet familiar.

CPHACE series by Laird

Florida Mining’s sleek, contemporary space, designed by the brilliant team at Designmind, Larry Wilson and Rebecca Davisson ( both artists in their own right ) is the perfect showcase for making avant-garde work accessible to North Florida.

Florida Mining

Up next for Florida Mining is a new show, Tonya Lee: All Smiles, a new series from the Jacksonville-native, current Philadelphian featuring paintings and wallpaper ( yes, you read that right! ), embracing Lee’s fascination with alternative materials.

Tonya Lee: All Smiles

Tonya Lee: All Smiles opens at Florida Mining this coming Friday, 11/11/11.  If you are anywhere nearby, you will not want to miss it!  Big things are in store for this new venture.  Go and experience it for yourself.

If you’re not in Florida, be sure to check out Florida Mining on their website, Facebook and Twitter.  Always interesting and cheeky fun to be had.

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Artist Diggs: Foard Above

25 Aug

Please enjoy this oldie by goodie while I spend the next two weeks camping, packing, visiting with the mom-in-law and moving from WA to OR. See you in September!

Christina Foard is above the clouds– literally and figuratively.  Her new studio space sits high above downtown Jacksonville in the AT&T building.  How could she not be over the moon? This is her view, ya’ll!

Despite the breathtaking view or perhaps, in part, because of it, Christina admits her new studio was a bit overwhelming when she first moved in.   An empty office space, originally intended for row upon row of cubicles, proved challenging to figure out how to best utilize as an art studio.  But a huge advantage to so much space?  Christina has room to breath and room to create. 

Ditto goes for her three kids, who are often at the studio with her, sometimes for hours on end.  There is plenty of room for them to run around, even skateboard(!) throughout the studio and Christina has set up a “living room” so that she and the kids have a place to relax while she’s in the studio.

There is also room for Christina, the artist, to “play”.  When stuck for direction or just needing to get some creative juices flowing, she can plop herself down on the floor and play with paint and paper or stand over it and do some “Pollock-style” action painting.  If that won’t get your painting mojo working, nothing will.

Christina’s work is autobiographical– each piece is about a particular time, place, person or memory and is often used as a kind of catharsis, a way of working through a particular memory and replacing what may have been a negative with a positive.   Though a lot of her work is technically representational ( centered around recognizable objects ), it is also highly symbolic.  Circles and ribbons have begun popping up in Christina’s work lately, often symbolizing the intrusion of a chaos of thought on a peaceful mind. 

Just as her life is constantly changing and evolving, so too, is Christina’s work.  For this artist, it is more about the process of creating than a finished “marketable” product.  ( Though people do respond to her work and it sells quite well ).  The paintings she creates aren’t necessarily “precious”, she will often go back and not just tweak but completely rework a piece so that it hardly resembles its former self.

The pieces pictured below, for instance, are works in progress.. they may not exist as you see them a week from now.

This new space is allowing Christina to grow as an artist like never before.  She is filled with ideas and there are stacks of new canvases just waiting for paint.

 

The new studio is also giving her a chance to venture into collage and sculpture.  She has wiped her slate clean of exhibitions and shows until early next year, to give herself time to rejuevenate, reinvigorate and explore where her art will take her.  I can’t wait to see where the journey leads!

You can see more of Christina’s work on her Pick of the Crop page here at Artsy Forager or drop by her website.

Pick of the Crop: Meet Miss Maribel

22 Aug

It’s been such a grey, gloomy week here in North Florida, that I thought we could all do with a little sunshine!  Maribel Angel’s work never fails to make me smile.  Maribel grew up in a Spanish speaking family and their influence definitely comes through in the vitality and liveliness of her work.

Maribel’s work tells a story, one that comes from within her own imagination and world of dreams.  A place filled with festive color, galloping horses, flying bunnies and fanciful birds.

As Maribel’s work symbolically explores the effects of layers of time and history, so her treatment of her mediums are often a layering of paper, images, paint, text and symbols.

It is in these details that Maribel’s graphic design background comes through.   Not only in the use and placement of text, but also in the juxtapositions of color and pattern.  Actually, I’ve always thought she could be a very successful textile designer.  I would totally buy a fabric or wallcovering in the design of “Bohemian Blossom”  ( pictured below ), wouldn’t you?  I’m picturing a this on a full skirt with a crisp white shirt and floppy straw hat!

So, Maribel Angel.. Painter-Graphic Designer-Future Textile Designer ( if I had my way! ).. let’s see, any other hyphenates to describe this multi-talented artist?  Oh, that’s right–she’s also a sculptor!!

Maribel takes found objects and gives them new life in her assemblages and I must admit, I find every one of these “Cuckoos Nest” birds absolutely charming.   Seriously, I’ve never met one I didn’t completely fall for.   Maribel was sweet enough to give me a wonderful miniature guy and it is one of my favorite possessions.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting acquainted with Maribel’s artwork.  I’m looking forward to sharing more with you soon!  In the meantime, you can check out more on her “Pick of the Crop” page here at Artsy Forager or on her own website. Her work can usually be seen in person at Plum Art & Design in St. Augustine, FL, Southlight Gallery in downtown Jacksonville or if you’re near Sarasota, see her work at Bolivar Art Gallery.

Elegant Embodiments: David Engdahl

3 Aug

I have not tried to reproduce nature, I have represented it.

— Paul Cezanne

Never where these words more true than in the work of sculptor, David Engdahl.  The former architect has been shaping wood to create beautiful sculptures for over twenty years.  Inspired by the forms in the environment surrounding his home in north Florida, Engdahl takes his cue from organic shapes, simplifying or exaggerating them to create elegant embodiments of the natural world.

Lamelliform 128

Using plywood, a mechanically manipulated natural material to create these organically inspired sculptures creates a dynamic tension between the material and inspiration source.  By taking a normally lower level type of wood source and creating spledid sculptures, Engdahl is not only taking something “ugly” and making it beautiful, but also hearkening back to the wood’s original forms.

Lamelliform #91

Lamelliform #21

The beauty in nature is all around us.  But we rarely notice it, much less ponder it.  Engdahl’s work may help us recall the glimpse of  antlers in the woods, the shadow of a sea turtle making its way across the surface of the deep or the swaying of thin branches in the breeze.

Lamelliform #200

He brings nature and artifice together in a way that reminds us that they can work together to reveal the best in each.

To see more of David Engdahl’s work online, visit his website. Be sure to check out this wonderful video in which the artist explains his creative process and give you a glimpse inside his home studio.  If you’re in the North Florida area, stop by Studio 121 at 121 W. Forsyth Street in downtown Jacksonville, where he will be the featured artist, August through October.

Featured image is Lamelliform #194.  All images are courtesy of the artist’s website.

A Girl and Her Chickens

21 Apr

A little girl with brown pigtails makes a trip with her family to Colombia and there, befriends two chickens.  And so begins the story of “What Happened to the Chickens?”, the latest exhibition of Yvonne Lozano’s work at The Art Center in Jacksonville.

Yvonne Lozano’s work is autobiographical, each painting telling the story of a particular childhood memory or even just the memory of the feeling of being a kid.  Upon first glance at her style, you may think “A child could have done that”, which is exactly the point!  Her simple, faceless figures look initially like a child’s creation, but look a little more closely and you will see a layering of glazes and accomplished drawing skills.

Yvonne has created a storyboard format for these works, some finished paintings, some watercolor sketches, so that it seems that you are “reading” a book in progress.  The small sketches reiterate the childlike quality to the work and the “story” itself reads like a wonderful children’s book!  ( I personally think it is only a matter of time until we see Yvonne as a children’s literature author & illustrator! ).

“What Happened to the Chickens?” is a story after all, so I don’t want to give too much away.  If you’re in Jacksonville, please make some time to visit The Art Center gallery downtown to see & “read” this charmingly familiar childhood story.

The Art Center Cooperative gallery space is located at 31 W. Adams Street in downtown Jacksonville, FL.  Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-3pm.

To see more of Yvonne’s work, visit her website, YCLArt and be sure to “fan” her Facebook page!

Lucky Spasms and Other ArtWalk Goodness

7 Apr

Beauty was abounding in Jacksonville last night and I’m not just talking about the perfect weather.  My sister-in-law and I attended the monthly Downtown ArtWalk and were treated to not just the usual visual stimulation but mental and emotional engagement, as well.  Now, I had a list about a mile long of the spots I wanted to hit, but we arrived late and spent quite a bit of time at each one, so.. yeah, we only made it to a few. 

But we began the night with a bang at The VAULT Gallery, Willliams-Cornelius’ space in a former bank vault ( yes, you read that right! ) on Forsyth Street.   Greeted by the Mr. Williams & Ms. Cornelius themselves, and intern Adam, we set off to see what artist Jeff Whipple had in store for us.   Whipple has been working on this “Spasm” series for more than thirty years.  What began as a painterly device to fill negative pace, the three-barred icon has grown from an element in the background to become the object of an entire series of work.

The three bars that comprise a “spasm” serve to symbolize life, lifetime or a lifestyle.  The artwork is open to interpretation, based on the viewer’s own experience– how you see it may not be the way I see it and that’s OK.  All of our lives are different and it is in this difference that we each find meaning in the spasms.  This is work that truly that makes you stop and think– what does this mean?  To the artist?  To me?

In conjunction with the showing of Jeff Whipple’s work, Williams-Cornelius also presented a performance piece by self-proclaimed “deformance artist”, Liz Gibson.  Gibson was born with a birth defect causing her to have only seven fingers– five on one hand and only two on the other.   The performance last night was a character of Gibson’s own creation “Ben Wa Betty”.  Betty appears as part archetypal Asian lady, but in a hip and provocative way.  Gibson tells stories of how at times she felt lucky or unlucky to have been born with a deformity, all while pouring wax over her deformed hand, proving how you can take something that seems unlucky and make something beautiful out of it.  

The overaching theme is one of contentment– be happy with who you are and how you were made.   At times you may feel unlucky, but there will always be a reminder of just how lucky we all are.

 Our next stop was Southlight Gallery, where there is always a display of exceptional art by some of the most well-known artists in Jacksonville, right along side with talented emerging artists.  The featured artist last night was wood sculptor, Grant Ward

I’m a sucker for any burl or wood sculpture and have been a fan of Ward’s pieces for a long time.  There is something about an artist that looks at a log or a tree stump, sees the potential for creating something unique AND possesses the craftsmanship to create something polished and beautiful out of such rough raw materials.

I have always especially loved Ward’s pieces that combine burl wood with spun metal.  These pieces take on, for me an other worldly space-like quality.  It is as if the wood is a planetary surface and the metal pieces are alien pods making their home there.

After leaving Southlight, we made our way toward the river to the Suntrust Tower, new home of Town Editions, Thomas Hager’s new line of accessibly affordable limited editions– making this artist’s beautiful work available to even a young collector.

 

These hand-crafted, signed and numbered editions are created using vintage photographic processes, which give the simple subject matter an elegance and sophistication lacking in much of today’s photographic prints.  Also on view are some of Hager’s paintings ( He paints, too!  I know! ).

 

Filled with texture and a pastel & neutral palette, these pieces are reminiscent of sand or rock.  They have an organic feeling to them that such completely non-representational work rarely possesses.   I’m looking forward to seeing Tom’s paintings evolve just as his photography continues to do so.

I wish I could tell you more about all the places we visited and amazing art we saw, but alas, that was the end of our night.  I can tell you that I will be back downtown soon to visit the exhibits and studios I missed.  I’m not sure how anyone could see it all in ArtWalk’s four hours.. but what an awesome problem to have! 

May’s Downtown ArtWalk will be May 4, 2011.  More information available here.  Hope to see you there!

Loss of a Legend: Hamish MacEwan

6 Apr

Yesterday I learned of the passing of one of the great leaders of the art community in Jacksonville, Hamish MacEwan.  Hamish was born in Scotland, eventually coming to the US and earning a Masters of Art degree from Harvard University.  His career brought him to Jacksonville and though he gained notoriety as the head of the arts department at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville and producer of cultural programs for Jacksonville’s local PBS Station.  It is in his paintings and personal relationships that Hamish’s real legacy is found.

Vertical Interior Exterior I by Hamish MacEwan

 I can still vividly remember my first encounter with Hamish.  I had only been working at Fogle Fine Art for a short time, when Hamish came into the gallery on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville.  I had, of course, already been familiar with his work from living in Jacksonville and working for SuperStock, who handled the licensing of much of his artwork. 

Vertical Horizontal Break I by Hamish MacEwan

He came into the gallery looking like a character from a Rosamunde Pilcher novel, dressed in cordoruoys, tweed jacket ( complete with elbow patches! ) and hat.   His voice had that beautiful Scottish lilt and he was the epitome of a Scottish gentleman.  I always remember his hankerchiefs, because they reminded me of my own grandfather, also an old-school hankerchief user.

Vertical Interior I by Hamish MacEwan

Hamish was a prolific artist, painting every day even into his 90’s.  In 2009, Fogle joined forces with MOCA Jax to do a retrospective of his work the year Hamish turned 90 years old, “90 in “09” showcased the artistic journey of this remarkable artist.  I was fortunate to give Hamish a ride home after the opening at the gallery.  He was blown away by all the attention and so appreciative and humbled by this celebration of his life of work.

Vertical Interior II by Hamish MacEwan

After I dropped Hamish off that night, I watched him amble along the sidewalk to his apartment, leaning on his cane.  I pictured him the next day, same as always, painting in his studio.  I like to think that he is still painting. 

Goodbye, Hamish.  Thank you for the creative legacy you have left us all.

All images via Fogle Fine Art.