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Steve Williams in Sustainotopia

27 Apr

I hope you guys have wandered over to the Artsy Forager Facebook page to check out this month’s Featured Artist, Steve Williams!  It’s been so much fun sharing Steve’s work with you over the month of April.  With the Month of Steve is coming to a close, I wanted to share with you a few new pieces from the irrepressible Mr. Williams.

Cap Tossing Over the Wall of Space

These latest works were created for the Sustainotopia conference, which happened in Miami this week.  Sustainotopia is “an impact conference that encourages people to really consider how social relationships between investing, finances, and environmental sustainability can become more collaborative, creating a global community that benefits economically from doing what is, essentially, the right thing.”

A Slender Acquaintance With the World

National Soil Destruction Leading to Self Implosion

You can read more about Sustainotopia on their website ( and make plans to attend next year! ) and read about Steve’s thoughts on living an impactful life on his blog, Making Cheddar.  And if you’re new here or haven’t already done it, be sure to check out Steve’s website!

The Wild Selves: Anne Siems

24 Apr

As I mentioned before, there were certain shows I knew I wanted to see while we were in Seattle last weekend.  I’ve loved the work of Seattle artist Anne Siems since first seeing it online and was excited to get my chance to see her work up close and personal.  Her solo show, Guidance is showing at Grover Thurston Gallery, just up ( or down? Still don’t have my Seattle geography down pat ) the street from Foster/White, so away we went.

Wolf Girl, acrylic on panel, 48x48

Siems’ inspiration behind the show was the evolution of her daughter from childhood into adolescence and the idea that wild animal spirits may help children navigate their way through this transition.  In each of us there is a wild, animalistic-like spirit that, as we grow up and grow older gets buried under years of suppression and training in proper behavior.

Antler Girl, acrylic on panel, 40x52

In Siems’ work, we see children taking on historically grim expression and formal, constricting garb, reminding us of centuries of children whose innocence is lost all too soon.  Children whose natural wild spirits may fight against the constraints of social tradition and custom.

Bison Boy Drawing, mixed media on paper, 38x50

I was particularly drawn to Bison Boy ( above ), perhaps for the way the figure is isolated starkly against the white paper background.  He has been taken out of his environment, out of his element.  His garments are in the somewhat effeminate style of his era, yet his bison head & skin seem to be reminding us to not forget the wildness within.

George’s favorite work in the show was Lynx Cap ( below ), as this figure retains a sprightly, little girl expression in contrast to the other figures’ more suppressed, even haughty countenances.  She is still an innocent.

Lynx Cap, mixed media on paper with embroidery, 22x30

Guidance Tree, mixed media on panel, 48x48

I could go on and on about these and talk about every one– they are so interesting, visually and spiritually.  If you’d like to see more of Anne Siems’ work, please visit her website.  If you’re in Seattle, I highly recommend a visit to Grover Thurston to see these in person, a truly stunning show.

Featured image is Heart Branches, mixed media on panel, 30×30.  All images are via the artist’s website.

Mixing Light Into the Grey

12 Jan

None other a luminary than my husband’s man crush, Eddie Vedder said, “It’s an art to live with pain.. mix the light into the grey.” Although I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that all artists must suffer in order to create great work, artists have long had a way of funneling hardships endured into their work.  The result is often something extraordinary.  When diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer, Cleveland artist Arabella Proffer channelled the painful endurances of modern medical procedures into research of the remedies of the past.  The result is a new series, The National Portrait Gallery of Kessa, a collection of paintings exploring the medical procedures and superstitions of the past.

Skin of the Fox Cures the Pox, oil on linen, 16x20 ( via Lee Joseph Publicity )

Being in the midst of a Frida Kahlo biography, Arabella’s work immediately struck a chord with me.  But these aren’t remade Kahlos.  There may be a similarity in style and subject, but while Kahlo’s work dealt directly with her own experiences and emotions, Arabella instead chose to portray imaginary female subjects, creating not only a visual representation but a history and backstory for each.

Violets for Heart Veins, oil on linen, 16x20 ( via Lee Joseph Publicity )

From the artist: “After having a section of my leg removed, I began researching medicine from the Middle Ages through the 18th century; this series was a good way for me to work out my anger and be even more thankful that what I’m going through is nothing compared to old remedies and techniques. My art and interests were in the way society lived in the past, but with emphasis on the defiant, glamorous, and eccentric — not daily strife. You could have been rich, important, or beautiful, but if sick, you would still receive brutal or worthless treatment.”

Sawed, oil on linen, 16x20

Black Madonna, oil on linen, 5x7

This series, along with selected works from the Black Madonna series, are now on display in a solo exhibition, Ephemeral Antidotes at Articulated Gallery in San Francisco through February 3rd.  If you’re not in the San Fran area, be sure to check out Arabella Proffer’s website for more of her work.

Featured image is a detail from Violets For Heart Veins, oil on linen, 16×20.  All images are via that artist unless otherwise stated.

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.

Vibrant Earth: Deanna Marsh

19 Sep

After three months in the cultural dead-zone that is Aberdeen, WA, it feels good to be living in a town with an active arts community.  Grants Pass, OR isn’t exactly Portland or Seattle, but it is a welcome change.  Last weekend, I was delighted to tour the current show at the Grants Pass Museum of Art , Vibrant Earth, featuring the glass sculptures and tapestries of California artist Deanna Marsh.

Gone Rogue, kiln-formed glass and steel, 36x36

It is really no surprise for artists to be inspired by the Western landscape in all it’s dynamic diversity.  Deanna Marsh’s fused glass and metal sculptures capture the essence of the rushing rivers and steep mountain slopes.  Recalling the wild spirit that still resides throughout so much of this landscape.

Golden Geodesy, brazilian geode, kiln-formed glass, copper and steel, 48x18x3

Deanna’s work is beautifully wrought and large in size, making her ideal for corporate & healthcare placement ( *hint, hint, to all my art consultant & designer readers!! ).

Accommodating Land by Deanna Marsh, kiln-formed glass and steel, 64x30

So if you happen to be anywhere near Grants Pass, Oregon, A) Let’s have coffee! and B) visit the Grants Pass Museum of Art before September 30th to see the work of this talented artist in person.  If you can’t see it in person, please make sure you visit the artist’s website to view more of her work.

Featured image is Choose Your Path by Deanna Marsh.  All images are courtesy of the artist’s website.

The Designers Who Would Be Artists

13 Sep

It seems that the art world is embracing fashion and its cultural influence.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent Alexander McQueen exhibit, Savage Beautybroke attendance records for fashion exhibits at the institution.  Designers, especially ones specializing in couture fashion, seem to have more freedom than ever to create uniquely artistic forms.  We see designers such as the late McQueen taking inspiration from the art world and creating masterpieces in their own way.

Dress, VOSS, Alexander McQueen, razor clam shells stripped and varnished

Are these practical clothes?  No.  But then, art isn’t created for practicality’s sake.  It is created to be an outlet and a source of inspiration.  McQueen and other designers like him have taken inspiration from the forms and textures of ancient and modern sculpture to develop glorious garments that inspire.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Mary Katrantzou

Stephane Rolland

Manish Arora, Autumn/Winter 2011-2012

On a simple dressmaker’s form, these could be mistaken for museum-worthy sculptures, but when worn, they become a moving work of art.

Sleeping With Peas And Toads: Deborah Scott

8 Sep

Sometimes a princess has to do what a princess has to do.  Like kiss a frog, get a horrible night’s sleep with a pea stuffed under the mattress or maybe just open her eyes and wake up.  Seattle artist Deborah Scott has created an intriguing new series, Waiting For Prince Charming, which explores how traditional fairy tale themes would be translated in our modern world.

Snow White, oil and mixed media on canvas

For instance, how would Snow White’s modis operandi of relying on her beauty and reputation as “the fairest in the land” work to secure her prince in today’s world?  Mass media advertising, of course.  Scott depicts her, perhaps this most vapid of the fairy tale princesses, as a purely passive participant in her own fairy tale.  Her happy ending isn’t a result of anything she does or who she is, but merely because of her famous looks.  Sound familiar?

The Girl Would Believe Anything, oil and mixed media on canvas

And then there’s the chick from The Princess & The Frog.  How many women have been deceived into thinking that warty, nasty toad would one day magically turn into a prince?  He may seem debonair and sophisticated, but he is a frog all the same.  And once we realize how duped we were.. we are horrified at our own stupidity.

A Social Climber's Romance, oil and mixed media on canvas

In A Social Climber’s Romance, we see a well rested young woman and a pea peeking out from under the mattresses– she obviously hasn’t passed the real princess test, but is oblivious to the meaning of her sweet slumber.  In this series, Deborah continues to hone her classical, figure-focused narrative style, which works tremendously well to carry out the themes in each work.

Waiting For Prince Charming opens at All City Coffee in Seattle September 10th and will be on exhibit there until November 5th.  If you’re in the Seattle area, please check it out!  Better still, there will be an artist’s reception on October 21st, Deborah is a delight in person and meeting her will give you such deeper appreciation for her work.

In the meantime, stop by Deborah’s website to see more of her work and check out her introduction on Artsy Forager here.

Featured image is Princess And The Pea.  All images are courtesy of Deborah Scott.

Special thanks to Deborah for giving me a studio tour and a sneak peek at this new work when George & I were in Seattle last week!  Look for features on some of her talented studio mates on the blog soon!