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Opportunity for emerging art writers from Artblog!
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We always love sharing great opportunities with our community and this one hits close to home as it is from our friends over at Artblog! If you’re not yet familiar with this amazing organization, Artblog is a Philadelphia based online arts publication that covers art news, exhibitions, events, and more both locally and internationally. They are huge supporters not only of artists, but also of art writers and have an exciting opportunity for emerging art writers that any budding critics should be aware of.


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Artblog is thrilled to announce the 2019 Art Writing Challenge, a FREE contest with cash prizes, to support emerging writers who are passionate about the arts in Philadelphia. Our motivation? To get more people talking, writing, and thinking about art in our wonderful city. Apply today!

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Dear Readers,

We are excited to announce the 2019 Artblog Art Writing Challenge – a regional writing contest for emerging writers, with cash prizes and publication on the award-winning arts publication, Artblog. The focus of the Challenge is writing about art (and music) in Philadelphia. The contest’s goals are: to encourage more people to write about the arts, to discover new writers in the arts community and to honor and promote those writers.

This is the fifth year for the Art Writing Challenge. Thanks to the generosity of our donor, Mari Shaw, the 2019 Challenge includes prizes for music writing.

What kind of writing are we looking for? Essays, reviews, and interviews, as well as poetry, free-form responses, and experimental methods are all eligible. To get a sense of the full scope of forms and genres, please take a look at the material published on Artblog.

Sincerely,
The Art Writing Challenge Team
Roberta Fallon and Matt Kalasky, Co-Founders, Wit Lopez, Artblog Managing Editor
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SPECIAL NOTE FROM THE ART WRITING CHALLENGE TEAM:
The Art Writing Challenge is a contest for emerging writers.

a. Writers who are or have been salaried to write articles for print or online publications are not eligible within the scope of this contest.
b. Writers who have made $3000 or more in one calendar year from their writing are not eligible.
c. Writers who have contributed previously to Artblog and been paid are still eligible as long as they meet the above criteria.

Find all of the details for the contest here.

Interview with Mari Shaw
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Over the summer, Create! Magazine had the pleasure of speaking with Mari Shaw, an intellectual property lawyer, author, and art collector. While the original purpose of our call was to discuss Words, Books, and the Spaces They Inhabit, Book One of her series on The Noble Art of Collecting and her forthcoming book, The Noble Art of Art Writing, we ended up having a lively conversation about how she became interested in art, her experiences in Berlin where she lives four months a year, trends in the art world, and more.

Mari Shaw’s interest in art didn’t happen by accident but it certainly wasn’t by design. It began bubbling at a young age. In her upcoming book, The Noble Art of Art Writing, she explained:

“When I was a child, the place that most impressed me was my Uncle Martin’s three-story house with a clinker brick façade topped by a pitched roof that sloped down to one side. It sat on a narrow lot of a block of shorter symmetrical houses in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. My father called Uncle Martin’s house an eyesore. Admittedly its irregular dense blocks of cement burned into various colors and patterns was at odds with the surrounding mostly beige homes and curtained windows, but I found my uncle’s house brilliantly modern and enchanting, both outside and inside. The living room furniture included an Eames Molded Plywood straight-backed Lounge Chair, a flat sleek fireplace with a stack of logs at the ready, a phonograph system and a collection of classical records. The walls were lined with pictures, most of them made by my uncle, and shelves and shelves of books. When I visited, which was often, my uncle talked to me about art and music, frequently illustrating his point by reading from one of his books. “Art reshapes how we respond to the world”, he would tell me. And so it was that I came to understand the restorative and uplifting powers of art.”

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On her eleventh birthday, Shaw’s nascent interest in the arts hit another gear when her parents granted her permission to ride the ‘El’, the elevated subway line that runs from the suburbs, including Skokie, by herself into the heart of Chicago to visit the Art Institute. With unfettered access to this renowned collection, she became a museum regular. Closer to her suburban home, she spent untold hours in bookstores and libraries feeding her omnivorous reading addiction, a compulsion which served her well when she wrote for her college newspaper, alongside its editor Roger Ebert, who went on to become among the most important American film critics of his generation. Surprisingly, Shaw never took an art or art history course in college or graduate school. In fact, although she loved going to museums and circled around the arts in a meaningful way, she wasn’t much engaged in collecting art until later on. Like most young collectors, she started with inexpensive prints and posters.

Shaw says that moving to the east coast in 1972 marked a turning point for her. Already a self-described ‘art addict’, she was thrilled to be living across the Parkway from the Philadelphia Museum of Art which she visited every Sunday, capped by a weekend in NYC every couple of months. Before long, frequenting Philadelphia galleries sparked an enthusiasm for collecting original works by Philadelphia artists. The art of these Philadelphia artists still hangs in the five-story home she now shares with her husband Peter Shaw, including works by Thomas Chimes, Tristan Tristin Lowe, Quentin Morris, Bill Walton, Eileen Neff, David Goerk, Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Kocot and Hatton, and Jon Poblador Poblkdor. She became an active participant in the arts community in Philadelphia and still is.

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Mari & Peter Shaw

In The Noble Art of Collecting, Shaw explains how her collecting jolted into an entirely new dimension in 1985, the year after the Shaw’s married.

“The first serious fight I ever had with my husband Peter was over whether we should collect [expensive] art. I had been buying art for decades…But Peter was proposing a whole different thing: buying a 5-foot oil painting on canvas by Dorothea Rockburne, titled Balance (1985). Though Balance enchanted me with its brilliant colors and scrumptious strokes, the notion of possessing it was abhorrent to the vestiges of my 1960s flower-child mentality. This painting is a masterpiece that belongs in a museum [not in our house]. ”

On the Shaw’s next Sunday visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Peter pointed to labels indicating most of Mari’s favorite works were donated. Mari softened, but, ever the lawyer, she required conditions for collecting, which the couple have followed with only a few exceptions, before agreeing:

(1) They only buy the work of living artists in the primary market, rather than at auction or through secondary market dealers, to ensure the artists profit from the sale of work the Shaw’s buy. Similarly, they seek out artists who are out of favor in the market, or emerging artists and artists in their local communities who have demonstrated a serious practice when they first buy their work.

(2) They do not buy to sell, though on rare occasion they do sell work they have owned for more than a decade to raise money for a non-profit. Shaw believes conservation and patronage are integral aspects of collecting. “I think the privilege of living with art in your lifetime comes with the responsibility of conserving it and supporting artists and cultural institutions.”

(3) Finally, Mari was and is passionate about sharing their collection with the public. She did not want works to sit unseen in storage permanently. Peter agreed, and the couple makes sure their works are exhibited, loaned, or displayed in their home most of the time. They accept at least one museum group per month for a private tour of their collection during the times they are in Philadelphia, and Mari enjoys making the artworks available to students, including repeat visits from classes she has taught over the years at the University of Pennsylvania and other schools. Her granddaughter Lucy’s preschool class once came for an art tour.

Read an Artblog feature with Mari Shaw  here .

Read an Artblog feature with Mari Shaw here.

So, it was that in 1985, the Shaw’s bought Dorothea Rockburne’s oil painting from the Andre Emmerich Gallery in New York, which at the time seemed a very expensive acquisition. The painting still hangs in their living room, but is promised to the Whitney Museum. Other works from their collection have also been promised or donated to other museums, including ten film and video works they donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2017. They do not turn down requests to loan work in their collection to museum exhibitions if the artists who made them request that they do.

In 2004, the diversity and pace of the couple’s collecting took a leap when Mari bought an apartment in Berlin, where she spends four warm weather months every year. While their collection which began primarily with American artists had already broadened to include European and Latin American art, and unwittingly, a concentration of women artists, the Shaw’s knowledge and access to art dealers and art knowledge soared when they established a Berlin base. Every spring, Peter joins Mari the last weekend in April for Berlin Gallery Weekend and spends two weeks looking at art in German’s exciting capital. Peter returns in early summer to travel with Mari to other European cities for a couple of weeks of Biennales, Museum exhibitions, or art fairs.

During her time alone in Berlin, Shaw reads, draws, walks, and haunts bookstores and galleries by day and often goes to the theater or a concert in the evening. In 2007, Mari served as the first American representative on an advisory committee for the quinquennial Documenta XII art exhibition held in Kassel, Germany. In 2009, she began to write her first book, Painter and Pataphysician Thomas Chimes alone in her apartment and across the street at the internet café housed in a museum dedicated to the Ramones, the band that introduced punk. She went to the café as soon as it opened, long before the Ramones crowd roused, where the owner supplied her with free tap water, a rarity in Berlin, and, now and then a free cup of coffee. In 2015, Mari met Caroline Schneider, owner of Sternberg Press in her morning Yoga class. Schneider encouraged her to write a book to be published by Sternberg Press, which eventually became The Noble Art of Collecting.

Among Mari’s current on-going projects in Philadelphia is working with Artblog to enhance its annual Art Writing Challenge. Shaw has been connected with Artblog, Philadelphia’s top online art publication, for decades. She has gone from having been featured in interviews to contributing guest posts, serving on the advisory committee and now sits on the Board. She loves the story behind the organization’s founding and its commitment to diverse, quality writing.

To this end, she saw an opportunity to expand expend and secure Artblog’s annual Art Writing Challenge by making a three-year commitment to up the amount and number of money prizes awarded to the winners. In 2019, she established a new award category in music writing as a match to contributions from others to the Art Writing Challenge. While it was exciting to solidify this online platform for celebrating emerging writers, She wanted to do more. Recognizing that there is something special about having one’s work published on printed paper, she decided the next step was to create a paper book to memorialize the history of Artblog, its Art Writing Challenge, and each of the winning essays selected since the inception of the competition. Voila! She introduced the idea for The Noble Art of Art Writing, which will be hitting bookstores next year as Book Two in her “Noble Art of Collecting” series.

We end our conversation thinking about the iconic opening to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of Incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…

Shaw pointed out how beautifully these well-crafted words give us perspective in our own troubling times, 160 years after Dickens wrote them.

“Bravo to Artblog for continuing to encourage and professionally acknowledge a new generation of art writers in Philadelphia”, bravo to the artists who took the Art-writing challenge, and bravo, to the winners,” she said.

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Mari Shaw will be moderating a discussion on November 15, 2019, from 2 to 3:30pm at the Kislak Center of the University of Pennsylvania at 3420 Walnut Street discussion called “Invisible and Illuminating illuminating”, based on a chapter in her upcoming book The Noble Art of Art Writing. Two-time Art Challenge winner Janyce Denise Glasper Glazer, Manager of the Percent for Art Program Manager for the City of Philadelphia and Artblog Board member Jacque Liu, and multidisciplinary artist and educator, Shelley Spector, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Deisgn and the University of the Arts will be panelists.

Mari Shaw’s books Painter and Pataphysician Thomas Chimes and The Noble Art of Collecting can be purchased on our web shop.

Studio Sunday: Brandi Hofer
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This week’s Studio Sunday feature highlights the work of Canadian artist, Brandi Hofer. With three pieces from her GUS series currently on view with PxP Contemporary, we wanted to learn more about her creative practice, how she tackles creative blocks, and what inspires her work. Behind the bright colors and gestural marks lies a wealth of emotion tied to love, loss, new life, and most importantly, the joys and challenges of motherhood. Learn more about the artist and her work in the interview below!

Bio

Brandi Hofer was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan in 1986. She studied in Red Deer, Alberta, at Red Deer College from 2004 - 2006 before transferring to the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008.

Hofer has worked in several art media including: drawing, printmaking, and painting, with oils, acrylics encaustic, mixed media, and watercolors.

Hofer has long focused on female portraits and has explored themes of feminism, empowerment, the emotional self, and the female psyche. Hofer's work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in France, London, New York, and all across Canada. In 2011, she attended residencies at Red Deer College, Toronto Island, the Marnay Art Centre outside of Paris France, and was part of artist Robin Lambert's project in Montreal, Quebec. She was listed as the online Saatchi Gallery’s “Artist to Watch” feature on their website. Most recently her work appeared on HGTV’s House of Bryan, Bryan Inc, and has been published in The World of Interiors Magazine and a General Motors commercial.

Her show "Gus", based on parenthood, for 2018 traveled to Red Deer at the Harris-Warke Gallery, Lloydminster with through The Collective Art Market, and the Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon.

Brandi Hofer's studio where she works and creates is located in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada.

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When did you first become interested in art?

Art or being an artist and creative has always been a part of me. From a very young age, I was interested in all forms of art, particularly painting and drawing. Every book in our home had an original drawing on its pages. My parents were always very encouraging and open to my interests, they never pushed or questioned, they were just supportive of whatever interest my siblings and I had. If I received a gift from someone, it was always related to the arts. I remember breaking a wishbone on Thanksgiving when I was about 4, and I wished aloud for a pack of markers, that week in the mailbox the “wishbone” delivered. I was very fortunate, in the regard that I had a support system, encouragement, love, and the space to experiment, explore and create.

Around my second year in the visual arts program, something began to shift, and I made a conscious decision to actively pursue the avenue of becoming a professional visual artist. I had no idea what being an artist and running an art studio or what it meant to run a self-employed business actually entailed. I just knew that I was passionate about creating, it made me happy, it was fulfilling, and I would do anything to be able to do it every day.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood, being a parent is one of the most difficult and challenging endeavors in one's life, however, I have no doubt it is the most meaningful. As an artist, I am influenced and inspired by my everyday environment. In this new series of artworks, I aim to highlight and capture the beauty of being a parent, (from what I've experienced) as the richest time in my life. This series aims to speak about my triumphs and struggles as a mother. It deals with the ideals of motherhood, its morals, and its priorities. It is an exciting series that revels in a mother’s time with her child.

I would like to begin by establishing that I rarely like to bring up or to discuss the subject matter of losing my mother in 2014, being that it is emotionally painful. I lost my mother, my beacon of wisdom and love, my sense of home. After a brief fight with lung cancer, my mom passed, I was six months pregnant at the time with my first child. I found her death to be beyond life-shattering. Devastatingly I lost my “home”, the constant in my life. Though her values and way of life are entrenched in my every day, I still long for the sound of her voice and cling to the dream of her meeting her grandchildren. Her meeting them for even a minute, to see how amazing, beautiful, and smart they are, those thoughts are the most heart wrenching for me. There is no doubt in my mind that my son Gus and my husband Carly saved my sanity in those trying months following her death. Gus was my focus, and Carly was my strength. I learned in that trying time that a mother’s love for a child is an insurmountable love, and I now know how much my mother loved me. 

That experience and shock of death awoke something in me. I had a new thirst for life. Nothing scared me anymore. Nothing could be more painful than losing my mother. You will not get the things you want in this life by not taking a chance in the first place.

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

-Steve Jobs

Since the passing of my mother, my life has kicked into high gear. Time is our most precious commodity and should be spent on the things that matter most: family, love, and one’s passions. Moments are fickle and fleeting; I have endeavored to make the most of mine. I refuse to lock myself away in my studio alone and not include my children in my passion for the arts. I want to show them the beauty of mark-making, dancing, and expressing yourself with a brushstroke or a splash of paint. I want to teach them that it’s ok to make a mess, “YES Gus you can step in the paint, squish it between your hands, and no Finn, you can’t eat it”!  My 2-year-old son Gus and I had the most amazing time together painting this series; I hope the unique artwork can even scratch the surface of the significance of our time together.

The paintings consist of a series of portraits. The intention of the work is to project strength, integrity, love and the struggle of what it takes to be a parent. This series is a celebration of motherhood, parenthood and the sheer innocence of being playful. The mindset and mood of the artwork is to project the incorruptible freedom of a child’s open cognizance, and zest for living life in the moment. 

What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your art?

My aim and hope are that the viewer can connect in some way, get a feel for the artwork, and grasp not necessarily the exact meaning that I have intended while creating, but to have their own associations and perceptions.  Moreover, the viewer can feel the passion and emotion behind the imagery, figure, portrait, and forms in the artwork. 

What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

I do think about this from time to time. I have a few “wishes”, like utilizing social media a few years ahead, in a more effective manner for business purposes, I could have built a wider audience had I been more focused or aware of its effectiveness earlier on. I also wish I had applied myself as hard as I do today, and made a point of being in the studio, including it as a part of my daily routine, like I do presently. I have always been very prolific, but I think could have had more of a vision and focus for my practice. I still would not change a thing about how my life or my creative process, or the way my art business has evolved into what it is today. There are important lessons to be learned in the way that life falls into place. I feel like changing anything would possibly affect the outcome of where I am now, I am happy and grateful for the life that I have presently, and in the end, I guess I wouldn’t take my future self’s advice. 

How do you overcome creative blocks? 

I believe in working through creative blocks. As long as you are in your studio creating, there is a lesson to be learned or ideas to explore. You are never going to get ahead if you can’t take the first step of being present in your practice. I also believe in rest. You cannot master your active life if you cannot master your resting life. Living a balanced life helps my practice immensely: getting a proper night’s sleep, taking naps, reading, eating well, spending time with loved ones, meditating, and exercising. Because when I finally get that time in the studio it feels like an honor and a special treat. How many people can say they do what we do as artists? I am always grateful for the ability of simply being an artist, creating something out of nothing, and creative blocks are just an organic part of the process. 

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

The most recent show that I am involved in is with PXP Contemporary for their “Faces & Figures” show. My work from the “MINE” series is soon to be available in an upcoming publication titled, “FEMME Issue II”. My “MINE” series (from 2018/19) has found homes in several galleries. I just had my third child recently, and I am taking a month or two to rest. I will continue working on my ongoing commissioned work, as well as my personal in-progress series. The focus of my new series is based on heritage, lineage, and imagery from found photos from the past, this series will be opening at the Assiniboia Gallery in 2021. I also was recently featured in an episode for a documentary series “Making it in Saskatchewan” which aired in June. The “GUS – artwork created by Mother & Son” series just finished its tour. The series was a 44-piece show and interactive installation, travelled to 3 Galleries across Canada, in 2017/18. 

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By Alicia Puig

Studio Sunday: Natalie Bradford

This Studio Sunday we meet Natalie Bradford, a multimedia artist based in Michigan. Inspired by the connection between humans and nature, her work also depicts themes of absence and decay. Two of her surrealistic ink drawings are currently on view with PxP Contemporary. Learn more about the artist in her interview below!

Bio
Natalie Bradford is a young, emerging artist en route to earn her BFA with an emphasis in Printmaking from Western Michigan University. She splits her time between Kalamazoo and Detroit, where she is from, and creates prints, paintings, drawings, and collages. She has exhibited locally and previously been featured in Average Art Magazine, Wotisart Magazine, A5 Magazine and Juste Milieu Lit + Art Zine.

Statement
My artwork is mostly surreal and imaginative and oftentimes deals with themes of absence, decay, humans, and nature. It explores my concerns, anxieties, and curiosity about the future and what happens to our bodies and souls when we die. I create images and narratives of what I perceive to be life after death depicted by the human figure, nature, and animal/hybrid creatures.

When and how did you first become interested in art?

I was always interested in art, ever since I could (kind of) hold a pencil. I started to get serious about it during my senior year of high school when I had to decide on what college to go to and which ones had the best art program. I ended up choosing the Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and love it!

Tell us about what inspires you creatively. Can you share a bit about the meaning behind your drawings that we're exhibiting in Faces & Figures?

I’m inspired a lot by nature. My drawings depict birds and human body parts and speak to the circle of life and the temporality of life. Basically, how humans, being organic beings, eventually die and their body goes back into nature to nourish new life.

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What is your process like?

My process starts with a very rough, vague pencil sketch to establish important lines and curves and then I move into using a pen. I know using a pen this early on in a drawing is risky since it can’t be erased, but as I work through a drawing, I’ll sometimes instinctively make marks or add pieces that weren’t originally sketched out and it adds another element to my drawings

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio space is kind of split in half at the moment; I have my own studio space through the Printmedia department at WMU where I work on my prints and other class projects, and then I have a little makeshift studio space in my sunroom at my house. That space is where I do most of my drawings. I always keep a stack of sketchbooks and an empty coffee canister of pens and pencils in both studios.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

One thing my now-retired high school art teacher said to me my senior year was that making art isn’t just dependent on talent; he said: “Art making is about 1% actual talent and 99% dedication and time spent on your craft.” I oftentimes put this pressure on myself to make masterpieces every time I sketch, paint, draw, or print. That quote has stuck with me for a long time because it acts as a reminder to myself not to rush the process and really take my time with planning and sketching out my pieces, and working through the actual piece.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have three prints that are going to be in a holiday exhibition at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center this November to December! This will be my second time exhibiting work at this gallery and I’m really excited about the prints that will be on display because they are three of my favorite ones and it’s nice to have work in a gallery that’s close to home for me.

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10 (+1) Highlights from Expo Chicago 2019

EXPO Chicago ran from September 19 -22, 2019 at Chicago’s Navy Pier.


By Christina Nafziger

  1. MARINARO Gallery, NYC

Marinaro Gallery’s booth at Expo Chicago was located in the EXPOSURE section of the fair, a program dedicated to galleries that are ten years or younger. All booths in this section feature two-person exhibitions or showcase just one artist. It may seem risky for a gallery to feature work by a single artist at an art fair given that so many collectors have a very different tastes. However, this decision ended up being the right one for Marinaro Gallery, making their booth one of the strongest at the fair. They showcased the work of midwest artist Danny Ferrell, whose paintings revel in soft, pastel hues, forming affectionate portraits of queer men. Ferrell’s paintings are stunning on their own, but as a group reveal scenes of sensuality and tender masculinity. Marinaro Gallery represents the artist along with other emerging talents on the scene.

2. Western Exhibitions, Chicago

Western Exhibitions’s booth was located in the PROFILE section of the fair, which presents solo booths and focused projects, showcasing ambitious installations and tightly focused thematic exhibitions. The Chicago-based gallery had the work of Richard Hull on view, which included the artist’s expressive, abstract paintings and sculptures. Hull received his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and is influenced by the Chicago Imagists. It was amazing seeing a Chicago gallery showcasing a Chicago artist in their hometown—and with an incredible installation! Western Exhibitions started as a nomadic gallery in 2002, and now occupies a dynamic space in Chicago’s West Town gallery district. Focusing on contemporary art, Western Exhibitions shows thought-provoking and visually innovative artists who work across most media, with an emphasis on personal narratives and cosmologies; LGBTQ artists and issues; pattern, decoration and surface concerns; works on paper; and artist books.

3. Peres Projects, Berlin, Germany

It is an impressive and not-so-easy undertaking to take your white cube of a fair booth and successfully transform it into an extension of the art itself. Berlin-based gallery Peres Projects accomplished just that—its electric blue wall highlighted the equally as colorful paintings of Ad Minoliti that adorned its surface. Neon orange continued onto the floor, completing the geometric shapes that echoed in the artwork on display. The two artists that Peres Projects showcased were Cameroon-based artist Ajarb Bernard Ategwa and Argentinian artist Ad Minoliti, whose works were similar in palette, but differed enough in style as to not overpower each other. This was a popular booth at the fair both for the quality of the art and for the colorful walls that provided a great photo op!

4. Claire Oliver Gallery, NYC

Claire Oliver Gallery, located in New York, showcased the exhibition Upending the Narrative, which included the work of Bisa Butler and Leonardo Benzant. Claire Oliver Gallery explains that the two artists “create detailed and sumptuous works of art redolent with content and mystery; these works demand to be studied. Equally important to the painstaking ‘making’ is their studio practices exploring the current condition in their own African American communities.” Butler’s quilts form elaborate and colorful portraits that tell her story, while Benzant’s work use material and process as a way to connect to her ancestors. Both artists’ work are incredible examples of the malleability while exploring the possibilities of fabric and textiles as medium, proof that these “craft” materials hold high value. The textural elements and intricate details of these works compel the viewer to spend time with each piece—which I certainly did at Expo Chicago! I highly recommend seeing these works in person if you are ever in New York.

5. Ascaso Gallery, Miami

Images of Ascaso Gallery’s booth do not do it justice. You can say this about any piece of art, really, as most art is better experienced in person. However, the works in this booth all create a mesmerizing, hypnotic affect for the viewer, using optics to blend together carefully painted grids of colors, bending and warping perspective. Featuring all kinetic art, the gallery featured the work of Jesús Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, Victor Vasarely, and Luis Tomasello. Located in the Wynwood art district in Miami, Florida, Ascaso Gallery showcases exclusively Latin American artists, specifically those who are Venezuelan.

6. De Buck Gallery, New York, Antwerp, Saint Paul de Vence

Founded in 2011, De Buck Gallery “focuses on contemporary artists, from emerging to mid-career, and is deeply committed to compelling and innovative artists’ projects and exhibitions.” And innovative is certainly the word to use in the incredible works on display in the gallery’s booth at Expo this year. Full of work that was both diverse and engaging, each piece spoke for itself, including the work of Devan Shimoyama, Rashaad Newsome, Stephen Towns, Sharif Bey, and Amani Lewi. The selection of work included the stunner “After the Black Ecstatic” by Devan Shimoyama. Made up of glitter, jewelry, color pencil, oil, rug, collage, and sequins, this piece was easily the star of the booth—and in my opinion, one of the strongest pieces at the fair by far. Other work at De Buck Gallery’s booth was just as memorable, featuring work that ranged from 2-D portraiture, to ceramic sculpture, to a suspended hoodie covered with flowers. Each piece was not-to-be-missed.

7. Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago

It may seem that I am a little biased naming another Chicago gallery, since I myself live in the windy city. However, it is just a coincidence that the Chicago-based gallery Carrie Secrist Gallery also had a stand-out booth at Expo—as one can see from the large-scale, geometric work of Dannielle Tegeder, the eye-popping collages of Stephen Eichorn, or the kaleidoscope-like vinyl that covered some of the walls of the booth. Also on display at the booth was the work of Whitney Bedford, Shannon Finley, Shannon Finley, Diana Guerrero-Maciá, Andrew Holmqvist, Anne Lindberg, Liliana Porter, and Dannielle Tegeder. In their hometown, Carrie Secrist Gallery did not come to disappoint.

8. Galería CURRO, Guadalajara, Mexico

Galería CURRO took a different approach to their booth than most. Instead of loud works that might catch your eye, the main piece in their booth drew strength in its small details, calling visitors hurrying through the fair to come in for a closer look. At large, international art fairs such as Expo Chicago, there is a lot to see, and visitors must use their time wisely if they want to see it all. However, I could not stop myself from lingering at this booth examining Octavio Abúndez’s piece “A Fake History of Humanity,” which is made up of 256 small paintings that state a fictional moment in history and its corresponding date. Example: “Thirty years after its invention, access to the internet was classified as addictive. July 9, 925 C.E.” Galería CURRO explains, “A Fake History of Humanity must be read as a compendium of lies or fictions resulting from a different reality in which colonial history, geopolitics, religion, scientific and social progress have completely turned. It questions through dark humor this post-truth, fake news and ‘alternative facts’ world we are living in today.” Other artists exhibited included Alejandro Almanza Pereda, Andrea Galvani, and Adam Parker Smith.

9. Shulamit Nazarian Gallery, Los Angeles

Having included LA-based gallery Shulamit Nazarian Gallery on my top 10 Expo Chicago list last year, I was excited to see what they had in store for 2019. And of course, they nailed it again this year with a two-person booth featuring the work of Cammie Staros and Summer Wheat. Influenced by Egyptian relief sculptures and Modernist painting, the paintings of Summer Wheat vibrate with a sharp pulse, creating an electricity within her figures. Her large-scale work is paired perfectly with the ceramic and neon work of Cammie Staros. Also drawing influence from antiquity, the artist references classical Greek vessels, but with a stark, contemporary twist of neon that illuminates her work, infusing it with a radiating hue. Shulamit Nazarian Gallery came to Expo this year, and, again, delivered.

10. Sundaram Tagore Gallery, NYC, Hong Kong, Singapore

Sundaram Tagore Gallery showcased compelling work that demanded closer attention, such as the work of Chun Kwang Young, whose work at the fair was simultaneously 2-D and 3-D, creating hundreds of small, triangular forms to form a larger wall-piece. These geometric forms jut out from the picture plane, and are made up of antique mulberry paper tinted with teas or pigments. However, it was the gorgeous installation by Anila Quayyum Agha that was the crowd favorite, as her piece was always surrounded by visitors waiting to snap a good photo, or become a part of the installation themselves. As you step into the space constructed for Agha’s piece, you would quickly find yourself immersed covered with elaborate patterns created through light and shadow. With locations in Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York City, Sundaram Tagore Gallery is devoted to examining the exchange of ideas between Western and non-Western cultures.

(+1) Bonus! - Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

It would be remiss of me to not mention the booth of Catherine Edelman Gallery, the contemporary photography gallery where I work, whose legacy in Chicago is longstanding—and with good reason. Catherine Edelman Gallery has been on the forefront of fine art photography for 31 years, bringing to Chicago artists that push the boundary of the expanding and ever-changing field of photography. This was my first art fair working within a booth instead of continuously roaming the endless rows of art along with the other hoards of people—and it gave me a new respect for the gallerists that stand all day for the duration of the fair! In our booth, we featured the work of Clarissa Bonet, Terry Evans, Michael Koerner, Sandro Miller, Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Gregory Scott, and Joel-Peter Witkin. This collection not only showcased the photography that was challenging both in its concept and subject matter, but also pushed the concept of photography itself. In Michael Koerner’s work, unique, abstract pieces are created through a cameraless process. Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison use photography as the base and jumping off point to their practice, painting directly on the surface of pieces like “Souliers a la Poulaine, 2018.” Expanding the medium still is Gregory Scott, who combines photography with video to create “Elevator, 2019,” an exploration and homage to the artist Jim Dine, infused with Scott’s signature humor. Be sure to check out this gallery’s new home in West Town next time you are in Chicago, or stop by our booth in winter at Art Miami and say hi!

Studio Sunday: Andrew Indelicato

Andrew Indelicato, an artist, designer, and teacher, is this week’s Studio Sunday feature. In his interview, he discusses the crucial moment last year when he reevaluated the work he was making in order to develop a style that was more true to himself in addition to what he believes is the most rewarding aspect of being an artist! He also has two works currently available with PxP Contemporary in their show ‘Faces & Figures.’

Bio

Andrew Indelicato holds a Master's in Fine Arts and a Master's in Product Innovation. He is passionate about color, design, and Japanese culture. Indelicato has recently been featured in multiple publications and group exhibitions and he currently teaches Art, Creativity, and Design at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Statement

This body of my work revolves around the beauty of alternate futures that lay within the aesthetics of niche Anime subcultures. In today’s age, we are always looking for something to escape into. Remembrance and the retro always come forth. We want to relive ourselves within the nature of what we watched and saw when we were younger. It’s all about connecting to something that never was but perhaps might come forth in the future. The work draws upon the cyberpunk and dystopian aesthetics with subtle hints of neon vaporwave culture. It's big, bold, and a tad kitsch. The work can become somewhat awkward, but we as viewers crave this and then always want to take a peek.

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Tell us about your background in art. Where and what did you study?

I grew up in a creative household and was always pushed to pursue what I wanted. I got my BFA in Painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, an MFA in Painting and Drawing at the University of Georgia, and just recently I completed a Master’s in Product Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University.

How did you develop your style?

I’ve always had a hard-edged geometric aesthetic as well as an intuitive way with color. In 2018 around May, I had a gut-check moment about my work and why I was actually making the work that I was. I didn’t enjoy what I was making so I started to do some self-reflection and remembered the things I was passionate about and the things that I grew up with. These things really never left me and I wanted to bring these topics and images into the contemporary world. It’s an ongoing process and I’m enjoying the ride.

What is your process like? Do you work on pieces simultaneously?

I do a lot of research and planning for the imagery I want to use as well as the aesthetic I want to go for. Some of it is mapped out, some of it is just by chance - one of my goals is to find the play between both. I like to work on multiple works at the same time, especially within different media. Drawings, paintings, and digital work all go on at once.

Name a few artists who inspire you or where you look for inspiration.

I’d say KAWS, John Felix Arnold, and Felipepantone, just to name a few. For inspiration, I also look to anime, manga, and pop culture or tech websites as well as YouTube and Instagram.

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio space is all over the place right now. Unfortunately, I don’t have a dedicated space, but I have a screened-in porch that I use and a spare bedroom I use part of. I must always have my computer and my projector.

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What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist? The most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect is time, finding time to make for yourself and not for a client or anyone else. The most rewarding is that gut feeling when you know you hit that sweet spot in the piece you are working on. It’s like putting two puzzle pieces together, it just feels right.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Right now I’m working on a couple of paintings for a group show for early next year as well as getting some things together for new opportunities.

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Sergio Garcia
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We were so excited to learn more about Sergio Garcia, a highlight artist for the upcoming Moniker Art Fair in London! Sergio is a Cuban-American artist, a sculptor and a painter who uses art as a means for exploring his personal identity, both past and present, within the context of the ever-present human condition and the socio-political environment. Read his interview below to know how he got started in art, what he will be presenting at the fair, and the other big projects he has coming up this year!

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Tell us about your background and how you became interested in art?

My father’s side of the family is from Mexico and my mother’s side is from Texas. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. Growing up I read a lot of Bloom County comic strips and listened to a lot of Iron Maiden and ZZ Top. I started drawing a lot of album covers on book covers at school. Eventually, I slowly started getting into graffiti and skateboarding. The skateboarding culture really influenced me and my work today. As I got older I learned to airbrush and started airbrushing cars and motorcycles. Then that slowly led me into doing contemporary art. I still paint motorcycles every now and then.

You use words like unconventional and unorthodox when discussing your work. Can you describe in what ways your work can be seen as pushing past traditional boundaries and what effect you hope to achieve by doing this?

I guess the main reason would be the types of materials I use. Most of my work is done in automotive paint. I also use a wide range of material like; blown glass, plastic, resin, fiberglass. All with automotive clear float finishes. I guess another thing would be that I don’t have one set way of making my sculptures. I experiment with all types of products to achieve the best look possible.

Tell us about your most interesting project or favorite piece that you've made?

Believe it or not it’s the ones for the moniker art fair. Probably the OJ II WHEEL. Seeing that one come to life brings back a lot of memories and excitement. I think a lot of my work ties to youthfulness and this one hits home the hardest.

How does your process work? Do you do a lot of research and sketching or create art more intuitively? How long does one piece take and do you work on series separately or simultaneously?

I do a lot of research beforehand. I think about every option and I even try samples of materials that I think would work best. I try to have everything thought out before I attempt it. Some series I think about for years before attempting. Sometimes I’ll make a piece and then assembly line the rest. Other times I go all in and change things as I go.

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What can we look forward to from you at Moniker Art Fair?

I’m doing a new series that I’ve kept under wraps of oversized hyper-realistic skateboard wheels. I’m really excited about this series. I’ve been wanting to make them for a while. Moniker offered me a spotlight series which gave me the freedom to pull it off. The group of work is called “It’s the little things”. Skateboarding culture is kind of what got me into doing art in the first place. A lot of the styles, graphics, colors, and thing from the 80s and 90s struck a chord with me. It still does to this day. So it’s nice to pay homage to that. I hope the viewers are just as excited as I am.

Are there any other exciting projects, collaborations or exhibitions for the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

We have Miami in December, which is Art Basel. I’ll be showing with Thinkspace. That’s always my favorite time of the year. Other than that, I have a few mural projects in the works.

By Alicia Puig

New from RijksCreative - How to paint in the style of Karel Appel!
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We recently introduced the YouTube Channel RijksCreative, a series of art tutorials created as an initiative by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. If you have always wanted to try painting or experiment with a new style, we encourage you to check out RijksCreative’s most recent lesson. In it, you’ll watch Ruud Lanfermeijer give instructions on how to paint in the CoBrA style of famed Dutch artist Karel Appel. Visit RijksCreative online to learn more and see the entire collection of instructional videos! 

Here’s the direct link to watch ‘How to create a Karel Appel painting’. Take a look at the video notes for a complete list of the supplies you’ll need before you begin!

About RijksCreative

As part of an initiative that brings both greater awareness and appreciation of the vast collection of masterpieces exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, the RijksCreative YouTube channel allows you to delve deeper into the style of prominent figures throughout art history. On RijksCreative you’ll find how-to videos in which art teachers from the museum demonstrate the steps to creating compositions like Rembrandt or painting self portraits like Van Gogh. Each video explains one art technique in detail so that even beginners can follow along! 

Check out the RijksCreative channel here.

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About the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the Dutch national museum dedicated to the arts and history. The building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885. The Rijksmuseum has on display over 8,000 objects and a total collection of over 1 million. A walk through the galleries is a journey through 800 years of art and history. Some of the museum’s masterpieces include works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands and welcomes over 2.5 million visitors each year.

For more information about the museum please visit their website

Studio Sunday: Ladislas Chachignot
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Meet Ladislas Chachignot, a French artist working in Barcelona, who we’ve profiled for our Studio Sunday feature! His traditional and digital paintings integrating the figure and nature are characterized by beautiful and complex compositions that draw the viewer in. Learn more about his studio practice in his interview below and make sure to check out his two available works in PxP Contemporary’s current exhibition ‘Faces & Figures.’

Bio

Ladislas Chachignot is a French digital and traditional artist based in Barcelona. Specializing in colorful and detailed art, Ladislas is a kind of graphic chameleon that is working both digitally and traditionally, mixing various techniques to experiment and create vivid and bold artworks, full of details that are reflecting his vision of the world.

Ladislas is inspired by several themes like pop culture, urban art, graphic design and illustration, ecology and arts or crafts from ancient civilizations. The painting technique via a digital medium is almost the same as the traditional one: everything is hand-drawn and painted using a graphic tablet. No photographs or photographic textures are included in his images.

In parallel to his digital work, Ladislas began to paint on canvas and transfer his knowledge learned in digital art into traditional. He uses various mediums such as watercolor, acrylics, water-based markers, and spray-paint to create his images and paintings. No matter the medium, digital or traditional, Ladislas is willing to transfer his vision of the society and world and share his love for living as well as raising awareness toward the preservation on planet Earth by showing its richness and diversity.

Statement

I'm confronting the human body and its place alongside the richness and diversity of nature. See how we interact and are part of it and at the same time how we transform our world to fit to us.

I'm showing the ambivalence / ambiguity that lies in each human being, the two sides that are clashing and go in opposite directions within us:

- The constant need to control, adapt our environment to our own needs without thinking of the consequences of these modifications.

- In opposition to the need of peace and balance that we can find when connected with the natural environment. A kind of roots that we've rediscovered.

Through these images, I am questioning our place as humans in the world. We do concentrate more and more in the cities and are progressively losing the connection between nature and our initial primitive wildness and freedom as we fall more and more into a digital and 24/7 connected way of living.

How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

Images were always something very attractive for me since I was a child. I could spend hours in the toy shop watching colorful packagings and dream about stories I could create with all those toys. I was watching a lot of cartoons and always loved to play. I started to discover the art world bit by bit with school trips and with my parents. We visited French museums and I remember that I was amazed by all the paintings I was seeing on the walls.

I was attracted by ancient art and crafts from old civilizations (like Pre-columbian art) , so much details and stories, "bestiary" of gods, monsters and heroes. 

Everything I needed to imagine stories while watching the images.  I started to absorb images everywhere and tried to draw characters I saw in magazines, on the TV... With the growth of internet and its unlimited access to images I discovered various new visual trends and Artists I loved. 

It helped me a lot to develop my skills and also to get inspired to create new paintings.

We love that your work is so bold and colorful. Can you tell us about what inspires you?

Colors are really important for me yes. I guess it's my way to express emotions through the image. It's really interesting because when you experiment with it you learn how to create contrast, and highlight some elements in your image only with the use of colors.

You can change the mood of a painting just by picking some specific colors and the way you create lighting in your scene.

I think that my main inspiration is definitely "nature". It's a source of unlimited inspiration, so much species, and diversity. Patterns, colors, shapes, there's everything you need to create images. You can find species and then discover sub-species that has different colors and shapes, sometimes quite different from the one you knew. To me, Nature is a the biggest source of creation, and we all inspire ourselves with it.

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What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

I don't think I sketch too much when I'm starting a new piece. I've got an idea of how it should look in the end and then I start putting lines on the paper. But the great point of doing this is that as it's not planned totally, there's room for improvisation, it makes the process more fun and enjoyable. I follow my instinct on this, and look for the moment when I tell myself " yes, there's something interesting here". I look for excitement and fun when creating.

I usually sketch the character first and then I start to fill the canvas bit by bit all around the character.

I do everything with pencil, lines are quite sloppy in the beginning, but I focus of the composition and how shapes are interacting between each other. To create movement and so the viewer can dive into the image and look for details. Then I erase slowly and leave the first layer of lines a bit visible so I can re-create a refined and clean version of the lines. Then start the "color phase" where I'm putting colors and change them progressively as I experiment and build the image. In this step also, I don't plan too much, I often have a "mood board" but I leave room to make "tests". It's quite easy to do with the digital medium so I do it until I feel I found the right combination in the image.

Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

I work in a co-working space which is a big open space in an ancient factory in Barcelona.

I've got a desk in it so I can leave my things inside and don't need to remove them every evening.

My workstation is made of my computer that I leave closed, an additional screen bigger than the computer screen which I use as my main screen + my Cintiq pro 16 graphic tablet. When I work I leave my images and references open on the other screen and paint on the Cintiq .

I also have an additional Hard drive to save projects and don't leave them only in one place , would be a shame to loose all my images so I often do backups and copy my things on various places.

I surround myself with plants on my desk. Small green plants that I let grow and invade the desk if I could I would create a jungle surrounding my screen and myself but Im a bit afraid of the humidity problems I would have with this solution haha). I also have a collection of pine cones that I collect everywhere I go. I've got some from various countries all around the world and display them in a jar on my desk. I like to collect things so I display a few of them, images, a few toys or motivating quotes to help me get some good and relaxing vibes when I work.

When I paint of canvas I prefer to do it at home as the activity is more messy and dirty, I don't disturb anyone like that.

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What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing about being an artist is that I mix work with passion. I'm lucky to be my own boss and propose my vision to my clients. 

I feel I express myself through my images and have a purpose with this. The best thing is that I can give people emotions when they look at my images. When I see that I give them a small piece of "dream", a moment of "pause" and spark there curiosity, I'm really happy of it. It's a reward to remind me that art has a great power to deliver strong message and emotions and I'm grateful I can create connections with people by doing this.

When I look back 10 years ago and think about what I wanted to be, I feel that I'm on my way on the right track. I don't have all the solutions yet but I trust that if I do my best and do it with pleasure, people will see it through images.

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

I'm currently traveling for a a month in Los Angeles. As I live in Europe, the culture scene is a bit different from the USA. 

I'm gonna get inspired and stop by various galleries to present my art and meet gallery owners. The city is really excellent for art. Many artists I follow are living or exhibiting there.

I also want to see if there would be opportunities to work there. I combine my activity of illustrating with painting. The entertainment scene is so developed in LA, I feel it would be a great place for me to live and work. 

I'm also in the process of a collaboration with an organization for the protection of the oceans. These type of projects are something I'm really interested in and I'd like to do more of these in the future. Using art to deliver important messages and raise awareness toward environmental preservation is one of my goal for the next few years.

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By Alicia Puig

Women Working in the Arts: Liza from @curatoronthego

For the next installment of our Women Working in the Arts series we are excited to share the story of Liza, founder of @curatoronthego. She is a Toronto based independent art curator and fine art agent who we recently connected with via PxP Contemporary. After reading about her business, her background in curating, and the exciting projects she has been working on, make sure to check out her top picks from our gallery on Instagram or Facebook!

Tell us a bit about your background as a curator. What kind of work interests you?

Art has always been my passion; as a young girl, I attended art classes, and any time my family travelled, I was excited to visit local museums and art galleries. When I moved to Canada in 2010, I chose Art History as one of my majors and decided that I wanted to work professionally in the art world.

After working in a few local art institutions, I completed my MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. The program gave me the opportunity to work on larger curatorial projects and meet many amazing local artists, which was perfect for me. My thesis exhibition focused on themes of storytelling and community engagement. When there is a story behind the artwork, it brings value to the piece, and creates a conversation between the artist, collector, and their respective friends and family. I believe that people love art that challenges them and makes them think.

Now, I work directly with artists and help them thrive as art entrepreneurs. This year I helped ten artists who were stuck in their careers and were seeking artistic direction. I mentor artists on how to build a prosperous and thriving art business, and educate them on how to work with art dealers, pricing and market their works, organize exhibition, conduct sales, and more.

Name one woman artist - either contemporary or from history - who has had an impact on you.

I try not to have role models. People tend to copy those who are more successful, and I believe having my own unique story and voice is what is important to me and what I value most in other people. However, I’ve been working with one local artist for the last five years, and she has inspired me to believe in myself, dream big and work smart. Her name is Jessica Gorlicky; she is a Toronto-based fine art and performance artist and has toured around the world speed painting, and making outstanding emotional art, including an international street art movement. Not only is she a talented artist, but also a skilled businesswoman, entertainer, and inspiration for many emerging artists.

What is one piece of advice you would give to emerging artists?

Invest in yourself.

Artists need to invest in their careers. That includes supplies, studio space, and if they work from home, they should make sure to eliminate any distractions. Artists should invest in their career development, like traveling to other countries, exhibiting at international art fairs and shows, and using helpful technology, such as mailing lists, to grow their network. As well, do not be afraid to rely on professionals like accountants, lawyers, and mentors to help you with behind-the-scenes tasks; it will help you to dedicate as much time as possible on art production. Lastly, it’s important to have a clear mindset, and a set of goals for a successful career. If you are not willing to invest in your career, who will?

Do you have any exciting projects, collaborations or exhibitions coming up that you’d like to share? 

In August, I hosted my first Career Recharge Seminar Event for local artists as a platform to get advice and learn from art and non-art professionals, and also as a place to network and share their stories. The event has inspired me to host more art seminars in the future, and to build new platforms for artists, such as online courses to share tips and tools, and guide artists to create profitable art businesses when they are unable to hire an agent or curator, and do what they love. 

In October, I am curating a solo show of one of the artists I currently represent Matt Pine (www.mattpineart.com) in Toronto.

You can find me at www.curatoronthego.com or on Instagram @curatoronthego.

By Alicia Puig

Studio Sunday: Karen Navarro
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Our Studio Sunday interview this week highlights the work of photographer Karen Navarro. Learn more about what inspires her colorful, figurative images, her creative process, and the motto that keeps her going in tough times! You can also view two of Karen’s works in ‘Faces & Figures’, a group exhibition presented by PxP Contemporary.

Bio

With a background in fashion design, Argentina-born artist, Karen Navarro, works with a highly stylized aesthetic in a diverse array of mediums that includes photography, collage, and sculpture. Her constructed portraits, as she describes it herself, are known for the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details. Navarro’s work expresses self-referential questions that connect in a much larger scale to ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading. Similarly, Navarro explores in her work femininity as a cultural construct.

Navarro has lived in Houston since 2014 where she completed the certificate program in photography at the Houston Center for Photography. In 2018, Navarro was awarded a scholarship at the Glassell School of Art | The Museum of Fine Art Houston where she studied analog photography. Most recently, she received the Artadia fellowship in 2019.

Navarro's work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Her most recent shows include ones at the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, TX (2019), Presa House Gallery in San Antonio, TX (2019), Melkweg in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2019), Museo de la Reconquista in Tigre, Argentina (2018), The Union in Houston, TX (2018), and Houston Center for Photography in Houston, TX (2018).

Statement

Driven by an insatiable curiosity about understanding the self and the resulting human behaviors shaped by social norms. Furthermore, understanding the role of social norms in the construction of personal and social identity, my work seeks answers and proposes questions that may not yet have a predetermined answer.


Through the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details, the constructed portraits, as I like to call them, recreate a character that usually doesn’t have an identity. My photo process blurs those lines of identity by disguising, hiding and covering the faces. In the performative photographs, often times, the characters are isolated in a serene environment. I believe photography allows me the expression of self-referential questions. By expressing personal worries, my work appeals to connect these ideas to a much larger scale of ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading.

When did you first become interested in art? 

I first became interested in art while doing a photography assignment for an art class in high school. But I would say that I grew up surrounded by an artistic environment, my grandmother was a dressmaker and my grandfather, who I didn't get the chance to meet, liked to draw. I remember spending my childhood days with my grandmother in her atelier. And, I think that was what led me to study fashion design and then photography. My fashion design training had a strong art program. I gained a general overview of art and history but it wasn't until I came to Houston that I started to get more interested in the contemporary art world and the art scene.


Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

My inspiration comes from different sources. Color, lighting and shadow from the everyday can inspire a mood. I usually use these moods to approach new artwork and link it to philosophical ideas, self-referential questions, or something else in what I believe in and I want to share. Looking at artwork and specially from the Surrealist, Renaissance and Cubist periods brings a lot of inspiration. I'm interested in the concept of identity so I explore it in many different ways. Photography for me is about creating conversations, making relevant a topic that may be only relevant for me. It's about inviting people to question along with me. My work doesn't offer answers because I don't believe in absolute truths. And, in the in-between of this dichotomy of not believing in absolute truths and having an opinion at the same time is where I position myself every time I approach a new body of work. Inviting you, seducing you through a highly stylized image to reflect on topics that may challenge our social notions.

What is your process like?  

Usually, everything starts on the sketchbook, then I pay a visit to the warehouse to buy some painting to paint the backdrop wall. After that I go to the thrift store to get some clothing and some props to prepare for the photo shoot. In my performative photographs I create characters, for this reason I meticulously arrange the elements in the scene. Although, while in the photo shoots I allow myself to get creative and try new things, I don't stick entirely to the sketchbook. 

Since my work is evolving and I am working on new mediums, like collages and soon sculpture, my process changes according to the work I am doing. For example in my last series of collages "El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos"  I added laser-cutting, 3-D printing, and embossing.


Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

I like to call my studio ‘big white box’. I love the high ceilings and how airy it is. Natural lighting is something I can't live without. My studio has small window that faces the top of a tree. I enjoy looking at the the wind blowing the tree with the sky on the background. During the mornings the sunlight is very beautiful. For me, my studio is my sacred temple, everything has to be in order and be very minimal for me to be able to concentrate.

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What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

My motto is from a Spanish saying, Persevera y triufarás, which translated literally into the English language means Persevere and you will Triumph. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. 

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Yes! There are two things I‘m very excited to share. I'm currently working on some sculptures that explore the notion of body and beauty. It’s an extension of my body of work “Soft Objects”. I’m currently at the first stage, but am very excited about it!

I’m also organizing and co-curating a show called “Alternate Pathways”. The show celebrates Houston’s cultural diversity and has received a grant from the city. The show opens on October 19th 6-8 PM at 2315 Union St, Houston, TX 77007⁣⁣. 

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Andrew Hem
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In advance of Moniker Art Fair coming up on October 2 - 6, Create! Magazine caught up with painter Andrew Hem, who will be exhibiting at the show. Read his interview below!

Raised as the child of Cambodian immigrants in Los Angeles, Andrew Hem’s illustrative paintings bridge disparate aesthetic influences as well as cultural touchstones and sensibilities. Hem’s paintings typically highlight an individual within a group of figures, homing in on the one person who is often somberly staring out from the canvas. Using a cool palette in which the colors do not quite match up with the real world, the artist creates somber moods in illusionistic spaces set at a remove from reality. Although his color scheme—with its supernatural rendering of the natural world—elicits comparisons to impressionism, Hem also echoes graffiti art based on his straightforward and illustrative rendering of figures and space, as well as allusions to street culture, art, and fashion.

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How and when did you first become interested in art?

I became interested in art around 12 years old through graffiti. I feel like most kids who grew up in the 80s in my neighborhood had a similar start.

Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

Great designs inspire me so much - whether it be architecture, fashion, or interior design. I love color combinations. I get inspired by all the different color combos I could achieve if I had more time in the day.

What is your process like?

I start with an idea in my head. I would then do some rough sketches to plan out the composition. From there, I would shoot some references. I like to add a 50/50 blend of reference and Imagination. Before, I would do all imagination and found that I tended to repeat myself. And when I used all references it would tend to be too stiff for my liking. The 50/50 was the perfect look I was aiming for.

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can't live without in your work area?

My studio is my garage and I love it. I use to have a separate studio but spending the money to transform my garage was the nest decision I could’ve made. I have a tv in that I probably couldn’t work without. I work while listening to movies so Netflix is playing all the time in my studio.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you find meaningful?

You are going to need a Coretta Scott to be king.

Can you share a bit about what you will be exhibiting at Moniker and what viewers can look forward to?

Most people think that an artist is born with talent. They don’t really know the hard work and time spent perfecting the craft. I wanted to showcase the moment rarely seen. We see the end result and assume how talented that artist is. With this new body of work you will get a glimpse of the backdoor.

Samantha Louise Emery returns to The Other Art Fair October 3 - 6
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Artist Samantha Louise Emery is set to exhibit a multimedia portrait of author and journalist Caitlin Moran at The Other Art Fair in London in October as part of Art Below.

Caitlin Moran is one of ten in Emery’s portrait series IKONA | Mirrored Interior featuring the influential female trailblazers who have inspired the artist throughout her life. After creating original digital artworks from photographs of her chosen muses and superimposing imagery of her own body, the artist instinctively paints and embroiders directly onto the printed canvas. Through her layering of pigment and texture, the artist intricately translates her perception of her subjects’ unique voice, expression, and aura.

Emery’s work conveys a powerful message about female solidarity and empowerment. By including a self-portrait in each of her portraits, she seeks to keep in touch with her own evolution as a woman as well as highlighting the importance for all women to regard themselves as modern muses.

“Throughout my life, I’ve sought to understand who it is to be a Woman. What is the nature of our roles as a daughter, mother, partner, sibling and ultimately an individual? The root of feminine strength lives in us and is a birth right to all Women. I am on a journey to rediscover the source of a woman’s power, the Feminine Spirit. We’ve been graced with living in a time when many women have asserted their feminine selves and have inspired others through their actions. Yet more awareness still needs to be brought to the world about feminine solidarity, education and the positive effects it can have for girls and women today, and into the future. This sense of purpose drives the exploration and rendering of IKONA | Mirrored Interior; celebrating women who have inspired my life through their actions, attitudes and accomplishments. Some of these women I have known quite well and have participated in my evolution as a woman, and as an artist. Others have inspired me from afar, and yet all of them share something in common; they exercise their feminine vulnerability with courage and dignity. This internal mirroring is a phenomenon that I work to expand through my use of hand embroidery, digital drawing and traditional painting techniques, and digital photo compositing. I follow an intuitive process which seeks to combine shape and colour to develop textures that interpret the deep and intricate feminine qualities of each subject while honouring their unique personality.”

“Above all else, Caitlin Moran makes me smile. From the inside out. Her desire to bring laughter into the world channels my sense of self respect by being able to laugh at my own circumstances and daily struggles. Her strength of character and articulate nature sharpens my own wit and feminine intuition as I continue to grow and mature.”   Latex, acrylic and embroidered gold, silver and copper on canvas.  120cm x 170cm

“Above all else, Caitlin Moran makes me smile. From the inside out. Her desire to bring laughter into the world channels my sense of self respect by being able to laugh at my own circumstances and daily struggles. Her strength of character and articulate nature sharpens my own wit and feminine intuition as I continue to grow and mature.”

Latex, acrylic and embroidered gold, silver and copper on canvas.

120cm x 170cm

Emery is currently working on her next series IKONA | Wise Women which will showcase cultural activists, journalists, and filmmakers, amongst others, who inspire women to rise to their highest potential through their work.

A portion of all income from the series IKONA | Mirrored Interior is donated to the Working Chance charity and the Malala Fund. Working Chance is the only recruitment consultancy for women leaving the criminal justice and care systems. The Malala Fund works to give all girls the chance to an education.

London born Emery completed her Ceramic and Design degree at Central Saint Martins in 1993. In 1992 she won the award at the Young People’s Film & Video Festival for her short film Night Shift inspired by the work of Sylvia Plath. Emery then moved to Canada and debuted several series of paintings which she exhibited in Toronto and New York. The multimedia artist splits her time between the UK and her studio in Bodrum, Turkey, her spiritual home.

For more information please contact: Phoebe Ruffels, phoebe.ruffels@damsonpr.com or +44 (0) 203 981 5200

Studio Sunday: Ekaterina Vanovskaya

This Studio Sunday meet Ekaterina Vanovskaya, a Russian born and Philadelphia based painter. She is one of the 14 international artists participating in PxP Contemporary’s exhibition ‘Faces & Figures’ and we’re pleased to be presenting two of her stunning figurative works in the show!


Bio

Ekaterina Vanovskaya was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. She received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009 and an MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2015. Ekaterina has exhibited nationally, which includes shows in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, among others. She completed the Artist in the Marketplace Program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and recently participated in the Governors Island Art Fair in New York and the AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Ekaterina received the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in 2017 and 2018.

Statement

Pale, distressed figures inhabit my large-scale oil paintings. There are several repeating themes in the paintings: loneliness, nostalgia, longing, melancholia, and a search for a sense of place. There are often figures depicted doing mundane tasks, or caught in a state of hesitation or fear, in forlorn atmospheres. A specific emotional longing translates into a painting.

I was born and spent my childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia and memorable childhood experiences frame the core of my work. These memories symbolize isolated experiences and therefore have a strong emotional impact. The physical places I no longer occupy and they do not exist in the same state, as when I knew them, all is imagined.

How does our past impact our emotions, responses, and ways of being? These perceptions of our childhood inevitably define the way we live our lives today. Painting starts to serve as a reconciliation with the self. It is as if I am painting about a secret that nobody else knows.

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When did you first become interested in art?

I started painting when I was fifteen years old, by accident really. Then during my senior year of high school I saw a poster on the wall for Portfolio Day in New York. (An event where you can show up with art work and get accepted into art school.) Completely on a whim, I gathered all my paintings into black garbage bags and made my mother take me to Portfolio Day. That’s how I ended up at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I did all sorts of things there, including painting, and generally had an amazing time. My last year there I already knew I wanted to go to graduate school for painting and I went to grad school a few years later. I think the School of The Art Institute of Chicago really opened my eyes to the world of art making and that’s where I realized that I can and want to pursue art seriously.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

All my paintings start with a feeling. I was born and spent my childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia and a lot of my paintings are about memories of my childhood, my family and friends. I can think about a painting for months and years before actually painting it. There is usually a faint picture or idea in my head and the more I think about it the clearer it gets. I used to make a lot of drawings for my paintings - of each person, object, tree, room and so on. Now I don’t have to do that as much - and I try not to draw anything besides my composition sketches. I am afraid that making too many drawings will take away from the impulse of making the painting. I always have a sketchbook and I write down ideas for future work and notes about each painting as I am making it. Sometimes when I am trying to figure things out, I will write in my sketchbook something like, “Is the window in the painting blue?” And then the answer, “No.” It’s really funny. I usually have four or five paintings in my head and four or five different paintings that I am physically working on in the studio.

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What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your paintings?

I hope they take away an experience of looking that is memorable. I want to share something about my life and say, “This is how I am in this world, come with me”.


What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

I would say, don’t worry so much and do more stuff. Enjoy college even more, for example. But maybe it was good to be so stuck on one thing - painting, who knows. I was always too worried about how things are. Someone said to me once, in painting class, “Whatever gets you through the day is fine.” I still think about that phrase, especially in terms of painting, and I think it's good advice.


How do you overcome creative blocks?

I don’t. I have creative blocks all the time actually and until fairly recently I would think, “Oh no, I have a creative block again, but I must paint!” But I hate doing something just to do it and I think it’s a waste of paint, energy and time to work on a painting “just to keep going”. I only paint in service to the idea I have and if I don’t want to paint, I don’t paint. I used to be really regimented in the way I work and now I am trying to be more loose and instinctive because I am always trying to make my paintings more personal, more diaristic, different from the previous work. So that’s a strange demand to make while at the same time saying, “but you must paint continuously for this many hours just like you did in grad school" and so on. I want to be free to follow my pattern of thoughts in painting form. In my experience a creative block comes before there is a change of direction or approach in the paintings. I would say trust that change and go on in whatever way possible for the time being.

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Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on the rest of this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I was just invited to participate in a group exhibition at Mercer County Community College, October 28th - December 19th, 2019. There is also POST - Philadelphia Open Studio Tours in October, where artists open their studios to the public. I enjoy it every year and I am really looking forward to it.

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Ken Nwadiogbu

Founded in 2010 in London, Moniker Art Fair is a hyper-curated five day contemporary art fair, exhibiting an international roster of the finest artists and galleries at the cutting edge of urban art and culture. This October, Moniker brings its acclaimed event format to Chelsea, which has for 9 years attracted contemporary art collectors in their thousands to East London. Moving from Shoreditch to Chelsea marks a year of radical change, as Moniker continues to push the narrative of urban art, and its role on the London art scene, Moniker’s reinvention in Chelsea will pioneer its future-forward outlook.

Over the past decade, the fair has embraced risks and it seeks to prove how powerfully the immersive and experiential fair format can stimulate audiences and win over the next generation of contemporary collectors. As much a festival as an art fair, Moniker has evolved since its East London foundation and the scene’s inevitable global transience means it can embrace its transient roots as it relocates.

The five day arts festival will include a daily talks and film program hosted by The Art Conference, Live Dj’s, art workshops, immersive experiences and a selection of food and beverages.


OPENING TIMES

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VIP + COLLECTORS OPENING: Wednesday 2 October | 3pm - 10pm

PUBLIC PREVIEW: Thursday 3 October | 3pm - 10pm

Hosted by Creative Debuts

PUBLIC FAIR DAYS

Friday 4 October | 1pm - 9pm

Saturday 5 October | 11am - 8pm

Sunday 6 October | 11am - 6pm

Create! Magazine was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview one of the highlight artists who will be exhibiting at the fair, Ken Nwadiogbu. Ken is a Nigerian visual artist whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and is inspired by gender equality, African cultures, and black power.

You actually studied civil and environmental engineering in school so how did you pivot to focusing on art?

Interesting question. If you’re from Africa, you’ll understand that nothing says “value” more than a university degree. Not just any degree, but either from Engineering, Law, Accounting or Medicine. So from a young age, the society starts, subconsciously, breeding this hunger; regardless of it being your passion or not. This was my case. Everyone wanted me to be an Engineer, and it became a subconscious part of me, even tho I loved drawing.

I entered into Civil and Environmental Engineering in the University of Lagos. Was doing pretty well till I stumbled on someone drawing the Dean of the University at that time. Everything changed from there. The feeling of Art started coming back, the hunger begun to grow, I begun researching and asking questions- “how did he draw that?” Study brought hunger.. hunger brought addiction... addiction brought love. And that’s how I feel deep in love with art in the first year of my university.

Was it something that you were always interested in or pursuing on the side?

I never thought I’d be a visual artist 7 years ago. All I thought was, I was gonna be an Engineer. The moment I started art, my mindset changed and this slowly drifted my attention from my studies into my art. Couldn’t quit Engineering, cause to everyone, the excuse was “a taboo”, so I had to get that certificate, prove I had that value, then pursue art exactly how I wanted to pursue it. “Art is not lucrative”, they’d say. “Art is for the poor”, “Art is for the dumb”... so many wrong perception... but I’d not blame them, I’ll blame the society for the lack of knowledge and exposure, and the government for the lack of support to the Nigerian art scene.

Your work is described as being part of the Contemporealism movement. What do you see as the core principles of this style of art?

I started off doing Hyperrealism as my mentors range from the likes of Carole Feuerman to Chuck Klose. But you see, one would describe hyperrealism as a genre of painting and sculpture, resembling a high resolution photograph... Just that.

For me, I’ve always wanted more, so what I try to do with my work is not just creating high resolution photographs but incorporating with it- the 3-Dimensional illusion and figurative elements born from conceptual ideas and contextual narratives. In some sense all I’m trying to do is deploy elements of contemporary art or illusions of form and space, usually, to create emphasis in the narrative I portray. With this style, I get to display Hyperrealism in a ‘unique Contemporary way’.

Tell us about where you find inspiration for your art and how you use art to express ideas on social and political issues.

It started with me being extremely disappointed with a lot going on in my country. Then I figured, every country has same issues, just with different names and profiles. This pushed me to create art to attack this abnormality- To listen, To speak, and To change a wrong socio-political ideology. I believe that with my visuals, the narratives I portray, and my actions, I can, in some way, change the world to see value as I see it- a conscious act to build worth from within.

What is the art scene in Nigeria like and what did you do to push beyond it at a young age to begin showing internationally?

The art scene in Nigeria is a growing one. The likes of ArtX, Omenka, Artyrama, Rele, and Retro Gallery are changing the narrative by showing upcoming amazing visual artists. But that’s just few out of the numerous galleries around the country. The scene is changing, and I believe it’s only a matter of time. For me, I’ve always seen myself exhibiting internationally... I’ve always seen myself in the likes of Christie’s and Sotheby’s, making global moves like Kehinde Wiley and Kerry James Marshall, birthing strong narratives like Ai Wei Wei, and still being as contemporary as Damien Hirst. I’ve always seen myself as more, so I went for it and it has taken me thus far.

Can you share a bit of what you will be exhibiting at Moniker art fair coming up in October?

A plethora of works that show black presence and value. Works made as of January to August, 2019 in Nigeria- a time when the country went down in value- both politically, financially, and economically... and holds the record of housing one of the highest cases of fraud in the world. A very strong time for me, as a Nigerian and as a Visual Artist.

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