Posts tagged Philadelphia
Beth Beverly
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Practicing taxidermy since 2000 and state and federally licensed in 2010, Beth Beverly is Philadelphia’s premiere couture taxidermist, specializing in wearable mounts and unusual home decor. Her hats have won awards at the Devon Horse Show, Brandywine Polo, and Radnor Hunt Clubs. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, AMC's series about competitive taxidermy "Immortalized" and most recently the Netflix series "Stranger Things." 

Beverly has been giving lectures and leading workshops on taxidermy since 2013 at The Wagner Institute, The Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, Morbid Anatomy and University of the Arts. Her knowledge on the craft and restorative skills have been tapped by museums such as the Academy of NaturalSciences, the Franklin Institute and The Vadon Hunting Museum in Transylvania, Romania.

Statement

The raw materials in my work are sourced via scavengry, as in no animals were harmed for the craft of taxidermy. All my specimen have either expired of natural causes or are the byproduct of humanely raised farm stock. My recent work with stillborn farm animals is deeply fulfilling to me as I explore my understanding of time and our attempts to bend it to our will as a means of holding on to that which we prize.  While these infants are frozen in time as an eternal blank slate of innocence, they have younger siblings who will age, reproduce, and die. My taxidermy is meant to be touched and handled to provide a sense of intimacy rarely attained with nature in the wild.  It is my hope that those who experience my work -be it a piece of decor for home or self- share my wonder at the treasures existing right before us in the natural world.

www.instagram.com/diamondtoothtaxidermy

Caitlin McCormack
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Caitlin McCormack is a Philadelphia-based fiber artist who works primarily with crocheted cotton thread that is dredged in a mixture of glues, stiffened, and positioned in the form of animal and humanoid skeletons, which are showcased in velvet-lined shadow boxes and under glass display domes. She earned a BFA in Illustration from The University of the Arts in 2010, and originally pursued illustration as a career, but has found her footing, and a sense of fulfillment, in the creation of these sculptures, which convey her thoughts regarding memory, and how the authenticity of a recollection becomes distorted over time.

Caitlin's body of work, which originates as sketches drawn from memory after observing osteological specimens, transforms throughout the process of its construction and becomes a hybrid of recognizable, skeletal forms, and the artist's own visual biases. She has taken part in gallery and museum exhibitions across the US, as well as in Japan, the UK, Germany, Australia, and The Netherlands, and receives representation from Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia.

STATEMENT

The act of stiffening intricately crocheted cotton string with glue produces material that is structurally similar to delicate bone tissue. The string utilized in this process can be viewed as the basic cellular unit of fabrication, and by utilizing media and practices inherited from my deceased relatives, I aim to generate emblems of my diminishing bloodline, embodied by each organism's skeletal remains.

With a majority of my work, I employ pseudoscientific principles and antiquated methods to generate material, in an attempt to impart a visual indication that something has transpired in a fabricated reality. I aim to construct the likenesses of creatures suspended in a state of perpetual dormancy, by way of crocheting - a practice that is based upon active proliferation. Little by little, this process permits me to construct a very personal taxonomy of creatures symbolizing my memories and experiences.

The material out of which my work is composed acts as an alchemical conduit between the garment and the clothesline; it acknowledges the latter as a symbol of the ancestry and familial bonds which have greatly informed my work. I wish to give the impression that a garment has disintegrated and reformed itself, warped by the passing of time, in the image of a tenacious animal's remains, a reflection on both the persistence of memory and the significance of cloth and thread in the realm of human experience.

www.caitlintmccormack.com

Sarah Detweiler
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Sarah Detweiler is a Philadelphia-area based, mixed media painter whose most recent works incorporate embroidery with watercolor, gouache, and oil. Sarah has a BFA from the University of Delaware and a Masters in Art Therapy from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She has exhibited in group and solo shows in various locations including New York City, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Pennsylvania.

My work explores narratives around themes of feminism, female empowerment, and the human experience through figurative, mixed media paintings. I integrate the traditionally feminine craft of embroidery to challenge the boundaries of feminism. The embroidery allows my work to be revealed in stages and acts as a visual invitation to take a closer look. My art reflects the feminine experience through personal and global issues because, in many ways, a woman's experience is universal.  Whether it acts as a mirror to the viewer or as a window into another person's narrative, ultimately, my art is about making connections.

www.sarahdetweiler.com

Interview with Chris Kotsakis, Founder of Artistacon
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Chris lives in Southern New Jersey in the same house where he first discovered his passion for art after doing an extraordinary job drawing his favorite characters from Greek Mythology at age 5. His 27 year professional illustration/creative direction career has been influenced by his love of comic books and adventure heroes like Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. Former collaborators have commended his professionalism and ability “to deliver superior work from concept to completion.”In a fully equipped studio, he utilizes various mediums combining traditional art techniques and digital technology.

Artistacon 2019 was founded by Chris and Janet Kotsakis after the first successful iteration of Artistacon 2016, founded by Enrico Botta, Chris Kotsakis, and Janet Kotsakis.

Artistacon is a conference for seasoned and aspiring artists celebrating the creative process and the mentorship of a new generation, it will be held in Philadelphia, PA on March 22, 23, and 24, 2019. Hosted by Moore College Of Art and Design.

This event promises to be a unique and intimate engagement featuring well-known Guests of Honor and Featured Creators. They will be conducting workshops, educational symposia, portfolio reviews, demonstrations, and displays from featured guests, all willing to share their expertise with those looking to build and expand professional bridges or pursue a career in the Arts.

Join the cast, crew, and special guests for a weekend of creative growth and inspiration is one of the oldest and most culturally important cities in the United States. Level up your creative game and explore America's founding city.

WHEN/WHERE:

Friday, March 22, 2019 – Philadelphia Sketch Club: Meet and Greet , Drink And Draw

Saturday & Sunday, March 23-24, 2019– Moore College of Art & Design : Conference Venue

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Tell me about yourself and what you do. 

I’m a life-long artist myself, drawing since age 5. In 1992, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the University of The Arts in Philadelphia. Since then, I worked as a full-time freelance illustrator for many years, with diverse clients in all genres of illustration including advertising, editorial, and publishing. 

What inspired you to start Artistacon? Tell us about the event and why you decided to create it. 
My colleague and I were guests of NY Comic Con’s Artist Alley in 2012, and while we were speaking to people, as we promoted our own art and product, we noticed we were getting just as many questions from people asking how to get into the Art field – how did we get work, where were the best resources for learning, etc. We decided to help people who are eager to learn, and Artistacon was founded. We held the first one in 2016 in The Lyceum in Burlington, NJ.  

What can attendees expect from Artistacon? What are some topics that will be covered by your guest speakers? 

We use the word “intimate” quite a bit when we speak about Artistacon. This is not a “con” with 5,000 people, this is an intimate educational experience where people who are either just beginning their journey into a career in the Arts or are interested in doing so can actually meet and speak with professionals who are experienced and successful in their respective fields. Attendees can get portfolio reviews, mentorship or advice from Art Directors, publishers, Fine Artists – you name it. We have worked hard to ensure there’s something for everyone, and that is evident in our programming. 

Our topics are geared to those exploring a career in the Arts. Many artists and writers have a great deal of talent, and they have to work to continue developing their craft. We will have workshops and panels from Fine Artists like Dave Palumbo, Neilson Carlin, and John Wellington, as well as writers, illustrators, and comic artists to help them continue that part of their process. But there’s a business side that many art professionals have to be knowledgeable about too, and we are providing information on subjects such as social media, self-promotion, what Art Directors are really looking for, self-publishing and many more. 

How do you choose your guests of honor and presenters? 

We are artists, too, and we know who we admire in the industry, and we aren’t shy about asking the best of the best to be a part of Artistacon. Most people we speak to jump at the chance to give back and share their wisdom. We also want to make that we have a diverse group of people with a variety of talents, from a variety of genres and disciplines to ensure that we are providing attendees with a great experience. I think we have accomplished that – we have 40+ presenters among our Guests of Honor, Featured Artisans, and panel participants. 

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What is your favorite quote or mantra that helps you on your creative journey? 

All ships rise with the tide. I support a lot of artists and am passionate about the importance of the Arts, whether as a field of study, career or simply as a hobby. It has fed my soul throughout my life, and I see what it does for others who share their talents. We as an industry need to be there for each other, support each other, teach each other and ultimately, mentor the next generation by sharing what we’ve learned along the way. When we work together, all of us will succeed.

What are you most excited about in regards to your event? 

Personally, I am excited about seeing many of my friends in the industry, and, in turn, watching as they share their experience and expertise with the attendees. I recharge being in an environment with other people who are as passionate about art as I am. My team and I have been working on this event for two years, and we are excited about seeing the attendees learning, networking and collaborating with our guests and presenters. Having it all come to life.

Any tips for creatives inspire to create their own conference or event? 

Don’t be afraid to try. Introduce yourself, ask the hard questions – you never know what will come of it if you just take the chance.

Learn more about the presenters

Tiny Room For Elephants Festival in Philadelphia | April 19th-21st
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After speaking with the organizers, Create! Magazine is thrilled to be supporting TRFE and their upcoming event in April! Learn more about this exciting festival in Philadelphia that combines art, music and more below.

Tiny Room for Elephants Festival (#TRFE19) is a month long, collaborative, multi genre art and music experience, held throughout the month of April at Cherry Street Pier.  It is a living art ‘gallery’ that incorporates styles and mediums of 25+ Philadelphia artists painting/installing live from April 8th-April 17th. The finished works are celebrated on April 19th, April 20th and April 21st with live music, djs/producers, panels and interactive elements. 

The organizers, Dame & YaYa

The organizers, Dame & YaYa

The schedule of events is as follows:

Opening Exhibition 

Date: Friday, April 19, 2019

Time: 6:00pm-10pm

Fun Stuff:  Standing Room Only, A Wearable Art Show

Sounds: Camp Candle, Club Crusades, Eric Boss, Johnny Popcorn, Joshua Lang

Music Series

Date: Saturday, April 20, 2019

Time: 9:00am-9:00pm

Fun stuff:   Day Breaker (Tickets sold separately) "1000 Ways to Make It", panel moderated by Cosmo Baker; Live screen printing w/ Do It Now; Sticker Make & Take (Sticker Stampede); DIY Donut Station w/ Federal Donuts

Sounds: Aime, Cierra, Drew Mills, Emynd, Eric Boss, Expo, Femi, Jabair, John Morrison, Kayin x Sylo, Killiam Shakespeare, Kingsley Ibeneche, Mellowbastard, Pierson, Rover Rover, Shane tha Great, Suzanne Sheer, Tha Riva, The Bul Bey

Family Fun Day

Date: Sunday, April 21, 2019

Time: 12:00pm-6:00pm

Fun Stuff:  Easter Egg Hunt, World's Largest Kid's Sip n' Paint (tickets sold seperately), Sticker Make & Take (Sticker Stampede)

Sounds: Lee Jones & Friends

Sponsored in part by: YARDSPhiladelphia Weekly, HabithequeDo It Now T ShirtsFederal Donuts, Joe Werner ProductionsBlickTru WaveThe ParlorBeauMonde OriginalsChampionDWRC

Interview with James Oliver, Artist and Owner of James Oliver Gallery

James Oliver is a painter whose precise visual language pushes the tradition of twentieth century abstraction into a contemporary context. Oliver is a conceptually driven formalist whose work is inspired by his dreams and emotional states, which he abstracts into an undetermined and subjective viewing experience by emphasizing line, color, and form. Even as Oliver turns to a figurative practice in recent series, rendering cultural icons like chopper bikes, Pontiac Firebirds, and his childhood poodle in detailed line drawings, these representations similarly evoke broadly accessible affects abstracted from his mental landscape.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your art.

I'm known as a near-minimalist painter that first got attention working abstractly. Now I'm getting known more as being a painter who delves into representational and figurative works. I have been working on a series of paintings of muscle cars and vintage motorcycles and completely enjoying it. I use minimal color in my works and am known for my line-work.

What inspired you to start your gallery? Give us a little history of the beautiful exhibition space in Philadelphia.

I have been presented a huge space for my studio practice. I quickly realized that the space was bigger than the amount I would really need. Shortly after receiving the keys to the space, I showed it to some close friends and most determined I should open an art gallery; the landlord also mentioned this. I quickly concluded with their input and my own background in the arts, that I can do this! So, long story short, JOG (James Oliver Gallery) was born. We have featured many great artists from the local talent pool to artists from near and far at our gallery that generally showcases works that may be on the minimalist and clean side, both abstract and figurative. All mediums. Over the course of the years, people have mentioned that maybe we should expand within the building at some. An opportunity arose in 2017 to take over the second floor, and we would make this a particularly unique endeavor. This all came about with the partnering through partnering up with our neighbor, Bryan Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Design Group. His company specializes in interior landscape and does business throughout the city. We decided in this partnership to "marry" horticulture with contemporary art. The artwork we feature at Hot-Bed would be a plant, animal, or science-driven exhibitions. So far so good!

Over these years I had the good fortune of working with some great interns and assistants. Most notably, Aubrey Loftus who first interned here for a year and then became staff and now is director of both galleries. She is a very talented artist and curator/director that has helped bring us into our biggest phase.

How has running a gallery influenced your own art making?

As one might imagine, being surrounded by great quality works over these months and years has uniquely inspired and driven me to create and develop my best works to date. My recent series of works was inspired not only by being around the gallery and the art scene but from input by visitors and fellow artists and their encouragement to develop the series. Lovin' it!

Sacred Geometry: Interview with Phyllis Gorsen and Paula Cahill
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Phyllis Gorsen

I have created a series of multi-canvased paintings that describe how we are all connected together by having elements of everyday life in common. I use symbols in both visual and written language as depictions of these commonalities highlighting the connections created by their universality despite varying perceptions. I use a combination of abstraction and representation in the work.These paintings explore connection in two ways: larger multi-canvased compositions that are broad symbolic illustrations of elements of common human experiences, and smaller “couples” paintings that represent two universal elements symbolically paired together in written language. These works are more specific in nature. 
My paintings are intended to move the eye using energetic patterns, movement and vibrancy. My hope is that viewer is captivated by the visual allure of the surface to allow for a slow unveiling of the meaning of the work – which is that we all connected by sharing many of these human experiences.

-Phyllis Gorsen

Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

I have been painting most of my life, primarily figures.  What I loved most about figurative work is that many times it contains the thing that is most basic to all of us. Race, gender identity, religion, etc. inform our experiences and perspectives and thus there are multitudes of viewpoints stemming from that. But, even with these differences, there are overarching similarities that we are share. That is the place that I want to put the emphasis on. As an artist, my work has always been about connection. I try to portray the human aspects that are intrinsic to all people regardless of our differences.  

When I went back to school and got my MFA in 2014 from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, I studied the figurative painters that I loved so much, mainly the Bay Area Figurative Painters like David Park and Richard Diebenkorn. It was then that I started to concentrate on figurative work that captures the patterns of everyday life, but I never made my work autobiographical. I was always much more interested in those spaces that are common to everyone. And although the figure was a catalyst for my work, between the use of color, collage, and pattern, there has always been a strong abstract component. After I graduated, I started to play around in the studio thinking more about the literal interpretation of patterns of everyday life. That’s when I took the turn into geometric abstract work.

As I delved deeper into the abstract elements, both in subject matter and execution, I began portraying components of everyday life in symbolic terms. I created paintings mimetic of the human experience without the use of figures. Most people don’t realize that my paintings contain symbols, I think mostly because I try not to make them too obvious. I prefer a slow unveiling of the meaning behind the work. I do fuse abstraction and representation within many of my paintings as long as I feel they describe the various facets of our commonalities. Some of these elements are recognizable and others are symbolic interpretations of components such as language, technology, nature, culture, etc. Often, I use lines to bridge these symbols together, illustrating how they connect us together. Linguistically, I am exploring the use of symbolism through my titles. These play a critical role in telling the story of each piece and drive the composition of some paintings. All of my work has a high degree of vibrancy and vibration that is a constant within my practice.

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What inspired you to create the work you are including in the exhibition at James Oliver Gallery?


My works in the show contain pieces that are more complex and have various visual components and meanings, as well as paintings that are more distilled and simplified. In addition to the complex paintings that are attached to multiple canvases, I wanted to include paintings that were separate but related. So I have works that are both interconnected such as “Essence and Pursuit” and outwardly connected such as “Of a Circular Nature…”- which are a set of four paintings? It was an exciting exploration in the idea of connection to depict it internally and externally. All of the work is painted on circular canvases or within circular spaces. The circle to me is beautiful in that there are no defined edges. They feel like complete bodies to me and allow me to investigate the idea of connection in a more fluid way.


What are some ongoing themes or ideas you have been exploring within your paintings?

As I mentioned before, I focus on how the commonality of shared patterns connects people together by using symbolism- both abstract and representational. I personally feel that the most powerful works are the ones that combine visceral sensory experiences with fundamental content underneath. I like making the surfaces of my paintings beautiful with the hope that the viewer is enticed enough to uncover the underlying message of human connection. In “Interweave”, the idea was to illustrate that regardless of our differences, people are internally woven together creating a society. In “Interlink #1-12”, the 12 separate canvases each represents a microcosm of a society that is linked to ones surrounding it. In “Essence and Pursuit”, there are eight canvases representing elements of humanity. From the top left panel going across and down, they are: Connection, Essence (red rings emanating outward), diverse populations of people moving together and apart (top middle), Vegetation, Geography, Technology (bottom middle), Knowledge, and Cities.


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What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

Sacred Geometry describes the patterns found in nature from the most minuscule particles to the greater cosmos. We obviously took on the title of the show “Sacred Geometry” with some poetic license. The idea behind the show was to exhibit work that had geometric abstract elements that also incorporated the meaning behind it.

When you walk into Hot-Bed Gallery, the viewer is immersed in a room of vibrant pattern and color. It really is visually exciting due to the interplay of color and movement from our work. I was really happy to be exhibiting with Paula Cahill because I am an admirer of her work and I felt that our paintings would fit well together. Hopefully, the audience will be seduced by the luminous surfaces to want to know more about the paintings.

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Paula Cahill

Is it possible to pinpoint when straight and curved lines were invented? The contours of ancient rock paintings give us organic lines and line is evident in the motifs of early Greek vessels and Egyptian Funerary art. Renaissance artists were lauded for their invention of perspective, a system contrived of straight lines that extend to infinity. Modernists isolated and formalized gestural line as subject. I strive to extend this conversation by painstakingly mixing and repeatedly laying down up to 100 gradients of color in my attempts to contemporize line.

- Paula Cahill

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Tell me about your creative journey so far. 

I studied figurative painting for many years before transitioning to complex abstract paintings. While in Graduate School, one of my critics looked at my figurative work and told me that if I wanted to paint flesh better, I should paint a fish. So, I did. When he came back, he said: "That's a pretty good fish, you should paint another one." Apparently, my other critics also thought that I should paint fish and they told me so. I never figured out if they thought I painted great fish or lousy flesh, but I kept painting fish. Pretty soon, I became interested in the way fish were moving in my aquarium and I began tracking their movements with line. I used those lines to make my first linear abstract paintings.

Being an abstract painter was like being a kid in a candy store for me. I wanted to experiment and try every type of abstract painting. I experimented for about six years. When I decided to get serious about showing my work, I asked friends for advice. They basically told me that I was a gallerist's nightmare! I needed to settle down to create a cohesive body of work. That's when I returned to the lines and I’ve been developing this body of work for almost two years. I’m glad that I made this commitment because the work has become more precise and complex. I’ve moved beyond fish and have used a variety of catalysts for the paintings. Art historical reference, movement, music, geometry, and memories have all been sources for my paintings.

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What inspired you to create the work you are including in the exhibition at James Oliver Gallery?

To me line is everything! Line is everywhere and it has been with us forever. I often wonder if we can pinpoint when straight and curved lines were invented. The contours of ancient rock paintings give us organic lines and line is evident in the motifs of early Greek vessels and Egyptian Funerary art.Renaissance artists were lauded for their invention of perspective, a system contrived of straight lines that extend to infinity. Modernists isolated and formalized gestural line as a subject. I strive to extend this conversation by painstakingly mixing and repeatedly laying down up to 100 gradients of color in my attempts to contemporize line.

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What can visitors expect from this exhibition?  

My new 2019 paintings will be exhibited for the first time in Sacred Geometry at Hot Bed. Geometry and historical reference are heavily weighted in this work. I think that viewers will be surprised to see some color shifts and compositional changes.

Jaime Brett Treadwell at Pentimenti Gallery

The paintings on view in shift alt delete point to a slight detour from previous directions. Experimentation with new ideas, specifically architectural and mechanical drawing methods, combined with my persistent 1980’s childhood influences, including MTV graphics, digital synthesizers, and Miami Vice, has resulted in a deeper complexity of interwoven parts. I chose the exhibition title shift alt delete after recognizing the correlation between keyboard functions and the shifting realities present throughout this body of work. The shift key is designed to shift from one version to another, such as lower case to upper case. Alt, short for alternate, is designed as a modifier key to adjust or alter change. This ability to change or manipulate reality parallels my recent investigations regarding visual deceptions and spatial ambiguity through line, shape, color, and space. Similar to the key functions, elements in my painting often serve multiple roles. For example, a thin line may operate as the edge of a shape and also contribute to a repeating pattern of lines, later to return as a single line that cuts through another form or shape. These moments of co-existence throughout the painting disrupt the viewer’s perception of truth, often bending reality. Similar to pressing the shift, alt or delete key, these paintings can quickly switch identities back and forth, as they suggest alternate realities or a fictional universe.

www.jaimetreadwell.com


Pentimenti Gallery 

Nov. 10th – Dec. 20th

Philadelphia, PA 

Mental Health For Artists: Podcast Interview with TJ Walsh

On this episode of Art & Cocktails, artist and psychotherapist TJ Walsh shares his story, how he found his way back to painting and the moment that inspired him to help others through therapy. TJ talks about overcoming emotional difficulty, depression, creative burnout and offers practical insight for creatives going through a hard time. We discuss his approach to painting and recent exhibition as well.

Bio

TJ Walsh, BFA, MA is a Counselor/Psychotherapist, Painter, Art and Higher Education Administrator. Prior to receiving his M.A. in Clinical Counseling Psychology from Eastern University in Saint Davids, PA, TJ received his BFA in Graphic Design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

TJ has deep experience working with young adults, university students and young couples with a focus on artistic and creative personalities. He typically works with young couples who are struggling to connect with one another and individuals who find themselves stuck in place. In addition to his work in group and private practice, TJ is a seasoned Student Affairs/Student Life professional with foci in the areas of Counseling, Conduct/Judicial Affairs, Title IX.

Originally trained psychodynamically, TJ has since obtained or is working toward certification in Emotionally Focused Therapy, as well as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). No matter the therapeutic theory that may be running through his mind, the primary focus is to build a strong, therapeutic alliance and to instill hope in the person(s) who sits across from him so that they may live a life worth living.

TJ writes and speaks about topics of art, culture, faith & mental health. His work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is on faculty at Eastern University in the graduate school's Counseling Psychology department teaching Personality and Psychosocial Assessment and Psychopathology.

Statement

TJ Walsh explores the inner realm of the subconscious through abstract paintings. As he states, "This work focuses on the hidden conversations that course through the undercurrent of our minds, unconsciously giving form to who we are as human beings. I work fast letting my emotion and intuition drive the painting. It is through this process that I hope beauty reveals itself.

For other artists, beauty is revealed through striving for technical perfection. These artists desire to make any sign of the human creator disappear. For me, the opposite is true. I want my hand to be very evident in the work for it's the human experience, the struggle, the failures, the successes, which is most beautiful to me.

The process of creating is an intimate practice. Art making is a meditative, reflective, physical, emotional and spiritual practice. Creating something that comes out of ourselves, releasing part of us into the world to be experienced by others is something that many people in our culture do not experience. This intimate practice of pulling from within and connecting with the deepest parts of our beings is beautiful because it's natural, pure and uninhibited. It's being human on on of its most raw levels."

Links:

Instagram: @tjwalsh 

Private Practice: www.tjwalshtherapy.com

Art site: www.tjwalshartist.com

Exhibition:

TJ’s exhibition will open on December 8 at Darlington Arts Center

www.darlingtonarts.org




5 Questions with a Curator: Eileen Owens, Philadelphia Museum of Art

We were so thrilled to be able to chat with Eileen Owens, currently a Research and Exhibitions Assistant in the European Paintings Department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She curated the exhibition ‘Biting Wit and Brazen Folly: British Satirical Prints, 1780s–1830s', which opened at the museum earlier this year. The show will be on view for a few more weeks, until December 5th, so we highly recommend that you go and check it out!

Connoisseurs, 1799, by Thomas Rowlandson. Hand-colored etching. Given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Carl Zigrosser, 1974.

Connoisseurs, 1799, by Thomas Rowlandson. Hand-colored etching. Given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Carl Zigrosser, 1974.

Installation view. Photo credit: Joseph Hu.

Installation view. Photo credit: Joseph Hu.

Talk about your background in art and art history. Was it something that you were always interested in growing up?

Yes and no. I grew up in the southeast of Ireland, in a medieval city that was steeped in history. I would visit Kilkenny Castle often (my sister and I could probably still recite the tour now, decades later!) and loved learning about the city’s history. So, I had an appreciation for art in a very broad sense, but I didn’t visit my first art museum until I was a 17. When I moved to New York State, my high school offered an art history class, and I was immediately intrigued--I could actually learn about all these paintings I only vaguely knew about from TV or magazines. Taking that class, and having opportunities to visit the Met and MoMA on field trips, truly unlocked something in me. It was as if I was suddenly in on this secret new world--one I felt profoundly connected to.   

Even with this passion though, the understanding that I could have a career working in an art museum came to me fairly late. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college that I committed to adding Art History to my major. The cliché of falling in love with art in Rome is true for me. I challenge anyone to live there for three months and not contemplate how important, enlightening, and continuously relevant art is in our shared history. Not to mention the sheer thrill of seeing so much beauty in one place! It was impossible to ignore.

You went on to study at Temple University for your MA in Art History. What was your focus and what did you enjoy about the program?

I studied nineteenth-century French art, with a focus on prints and print culture. I felt really supported by the faculty at Temple. The size of the program made it easy to develop solid mentor relationships with professors and some great friendships with fellow students as well. Being in an art history program that is part a renowned fine arts school—where people are creating and exchanging ideas in real time—was really appealing to me too.

Temple’s connection to Philadelphia and its arts and culture scene was also a huge influence, not only for access to exhibitions and arts institutions, but for internships and post-grad job applications, too. Being able to capitalize on that network really helped me get my foot in the door.

Tell us about how you ended up at the PMA! That must have been an exciting transition out of grad school.

It definitely was! I was very fortunate to have gotten a fellowship right out of school and to still be working at such a valuable institution now. I was selected as the Suzanne Andre Curatorial Fellow in Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, which is a two-year fellowship that I began in 2016. In grad school, I developed a love of works on paper—how they were made, how they functioned in society, who collected them—and this was my first museum position where I got to interact directly with these objects on a daily basis. Running the department’s busy study room, preparing for acquisition meetings, completing condition reports, taking courier trips—it was all vital training in the daily tasks of a curator.  

Monster Soup Commonly Called Thames Water, Being a Correct Representation of that Precious Stuff Doled out to Us, William Heath, 1794%2F95 - 1840 Gift of Mrs. William H. Horstmann, 1955.

Monster Soup Commonly Called Thames Water, Being a Correct Representation of that Precious Stuff Doled out to Us, William Heath, 1794%2F95 - 1840 Gift of Mrs. William H. Horstmann, 1955.

As part of your two-year fellowship you had the opportunity to curate an exhibition. How far in advance did you begin planning for it, what was the process like and what did it entail?

All in all, from concept to opening day, the show was in planning for the better part of a year and a half. I started throwing around potential exhibition ideas pretty much as soon as my fellowship began. I had a standing interest in caricature, having researched French satire for my masters’ thesis.  The museum’s holding of caricature, specifically British caricature, is so rich it just made sense to showcase these fantastically funny and perpetually relevant images.

I spent a long time looking through the more than 300 British caricatures in the museum’s collection. Early on, I made the choice to focus specifically on social satire, intentionally leaving out political works that might be less relevant (or understandable) to a modern audience today. What was so revealing, and actually pretty heartwarming, was how similar our collective sense of humor is now and then. What Londoners in the 1800s found funny and what we laugh about today really hasn’t changed that much. There are so many relatable threads running through the comedy of these centuries’ old prints—from anxieties about new technologies and environmental issues to the struggle to keep up with the latest fashion.

The Gout, James Gillray, c. 1745 - 1818. Purchased with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1949.

The Gout, James Gillray, c. 1745 - 1818. Purchased with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1949.

The show has been up for several months and has been extended until December, congratulations! What are you working on now or what's next?

Thank you! It has been so fun to share the exhibition with visitors. I love sneaking in the galleries and watching people, young and old, giggling at the prints!

I was fortunate enough to stay on at the PMA once my fellowship ended. Currently, I am a research and exhibition assistant in European Painting, working with curator Jenny Thompson on an upcoming Impressionist exhibition that will open in April 2019. In addition to the exhibition, we are planning a reinstallation of the PMA’s nineteenth-century permanent collection galleries too. Both are exciting projects that I’ve really enjoyed digging into!

*Photo credit for all exhibition installation images: Joseph Hu.

Jessica Curtaz

Jessica Curtaz is a Philadelphia-based street artist and arts advocate. She transforms public space through installing crocheted weeds, insects, real and imaginary creatures, and other, over-sized flora and fauna onto the urban landscape, bringing a feminized craft out of the home and onto the streets. 

Born and raised in California, Jessica holds a BA in both plant biology and fine art from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her background in science, and early career as a researcher at UCLA, collecting water samples off a boat in the Santa Monica Bay and staring at diatoms through a microscope, has been a huge influence on the subject matter and style of Curtaz’s work. She plays with and distorts natural elements, elongating forms, tweaking shapes, and creating the macro out of the micro.

Being seasick for two years prompted a career change. Jessica completed her MFA in drawing from Claremont Graduate University in 2006, shortly before moving to Philadelphia. Jessica now works as a teaching artist, specializing in adaptive teaching methods to special needs populations including the blind and visually impaired, and adults and children with physical and intellectual disabilities. These classes focus on art both as a creative outlet and a vocation. She is an advocate for increasing the autonomy of marginalized populations as well as strengthening their voice in the larger community. To these ends she has led several public art projects, including a knit bombing installation with students at the PA School for the Deaf focusing on de’VIA (Deaf view/image art) principals and the specifics of communicating when deaf. She also organizes community volunteers to participate in her classes, work with students with disabilities and further increase understanding and communication between differently abled populations.

Statement

My work challenges the boundaries we impose around art, making it accessible to everyone. I take a practice often considered as feminine domestic craft and bring it into public space, imposing my imagination and “feminine” perspective on the urban landscape. I crochet giant weeds, insects, real and imaginary creatures, creating oversized fantastical renditions of flora and fauna, that I install, with and without permission, on chain link fences, city lampposts, and, occasionally, gallery walls. My public installations play with scale, with subject, with context and location. I spend just as much time crocheting paper airplanes that will last less than 24 hour on a chain link fence as creating a giant garden for an interior space. I am interested in navigating this struggle between creating ephemeral works, in unexpected outdoor locations, and more solid, more permanent pieces.  I am interested in challenging how location equates to monetary value. What does it mean when a crocheted nasturtium is installed on a gallery wall versus when it appears outside that gallery on a chain link fence. I want to make art a part of people’s everyday lives. I want someone to be confronted with a seven foot crocheted praying mantis on their way to work, or for the fence around their parking lot to suddenly sprout giant dandelions. These pieces incorporate humor and escapism into an explicitly political feminist project, blending the banal with the fantastic, the domestic realm with the public sphere.



Alex Eckman-Lawn and Seth Clark at Paradigm Gallery

Two upcoming solo shows by Pennsylvania-based artists, Alex Eckman-Lawn and Seth Clark, opening this Friday, October 26 at Paradigm Gallery.

Fragmentation by collage artist, Seth Clark, feature new multimedia works. Fragmentation is a continuation of the artist's ongoing exploration of abandoned, deteriorating architecture; however, this featured series is less representational than his previous works. Derived most notably from found paper and wood, Clark's ambitious, intricate and delicately-worked mixed media collages aim to represent the fragmented and complex nature of architecture in decline, what he refers to as the beauty of decay.

Recessive by visual artist Alex Eckman-Lawn is the artist's first solo show with the gallery. Eckman-Lawn's latest multi-layered, hand-cut paper collages continue the artist's ongoing exploration of his anxieties and fears, recurrent themes of interest particularly focused upon the body and the weight of family history. His collages, at once precise and sure-handed, have a sulfurous glow, a magical aura seemingly rising dark and ominous from the hinterland of his mind.

About Paradigm Gallery

Paradigm Gallery + Studio® exhibits contemporary artwork from around the world with a focus on Philadelphia-based artists. Established February 2010, the gallery began as a project between co-founders and curators, Jason Chen and Sara McCorriston, as a space in which to create artwork, to exhibit the work of their peers, and to invite the members of the community to create and collect in a welcoming gallery setting. To this day the gallery still aims to welcome all collectors, from first time to lifelong, and continues to support accessible work that welcomes a wide audience.

Benjamin Howard

Benjamin Howard was raised in a household that embraced the arts. His father John Howard was an avid draftsman and practiced illustration daily. His grandmother Eleanor was a watercolorist and oil painter. At a young age Benjamin developed his own mark making, often relying on his father for help in transcribing his lines. Growing up in the 1980s, cartoons were a big part of his daily life and became a heavy influence on how he viewed line and composition. Frequent trips to the Philadelphia Museum of Art with his parents had him transfixed with the bold nature and color of pop art.

His formative years were spent doodling in the margins of his notebooks and voraciously tearing through construction paper until the next logical step: he left for art school. Benjamin attended Tyler School of Art in 1997, enrolled initially to pursue graphic design, but quickly fell in love with painting. Howard studied painting from the mid-century artists, such as Philip Guston and Arshile Gorky, admiring their quirky composition and strong contours. Upon discovering artists from the Chicago Imagists, the Hairy Who and Peter Saul, he was hooked.  These artists were luring the viewer in with cartoonish quality while conveying bigger meaning.

Benjamin's current work seeks to explore the culture of everyday life infused with the fantastical. Now a long time resident of Philadelphia, traversing across the urban landscape each day lets him experience the over-sensory stimulation that inhabit his compositions. His paintings are grounded by tangible characters, such as boats, architecture, flowers, innocuous icons of American life, and otherworldly anthropomorphisms. Like his influencers, forms are derived from a balance of strong graphic line and the organic, haphazard, application of paint. Folded between these gestures are social commentaries and references to current events presented in a playful reminiscence of a children's coloring book.



Ekaterina Vanovskaya

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 including New York City and Chicago. She completed the Artist in the Marketplace Program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and recently participated in the Governors Island Art Fair, New York and the AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Ekaterina has received the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in 2017. Ekaterina teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ and Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.

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 reconciliation with the self. It is as if I am painting about a secret that nobody else knows.

Addressing Social Issues Through Art: Amy Scheidegger Ducos

By Sarah Mills

I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting & Drawing from East Carolina University in 2005 and a Masters of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University’s graduate program in 2010. 

Originally from North Carolina, I relocated to Philadelphia in order to join the Drexel graduate program to pursue a more multi-faceted role in the world of art and culture.

In 2011, I founded the Artistic Rebuttal Project – a grass roots art advocacy initiative that strives to, through story-collecting and story-telling, emphasize the power and necessity of the arts. On the project’s behalf, I periodically travel around the country speaking with university students in art programs, creative adults and kids, imploring them to become active in their communities in order to better serve the places in which they are rooted. It is only when the public knows the importance of art and art’s way of connecting our past to our future, can the arts act as a civic lesson to citizens everywhere. That same year, I was nominated a Creative Connector, a recognition pioneered by Leadership Philadelphia. Creative Connectors are “hubs of trust, seen as trustworthy and credible who use art and design to mobilize people around an issue.” 

In March of 2017, I moved to Quito, Ecuador to study how arts and culture are managed and appreciated in an older, foreign country. Living here, I am able to carve out a lot more time to create my own work.

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My work is largely social issues-centered, ranging from global warming, mental health, immigrant rights to body positivity.

My recent body of work was sparked by a myriad of issues that were once at the center of a progressive government and leadership - broadening women’s issues and mental health policies, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, and confronting police brutality and many more - that are now being rolled back by an administration run by greed and ignorance.

Now that I am living abroad in Ecuador, I am seeing these issues from what is considered a third world country. In this third world country, the class of person who would be considered the minority in the States is the majority that runs the country. In turn, women and the poor are treated on the whole and with a lot more respect in my particular third world country than the United States. 

My intent with the images enclosed is to explore the experiences I’m having watching and learning how Ecuador deals with these issues in contrast to my country of origin.

My work is created through a variety of mediums. I work initially with graphite and ink on paper as a first layer, then watercolor and acrylic on paper, as well as non-traditional materials like coffee (from the Galapagos). After scanning in these traditional/non-traditional mediums, I inject more color and detail digitally, creating a digital painting using a tablet.

www.amyartisticrebuttal.com

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How did you first start creating?

I first started drawing when I was 2 years old and I haven’t stopped! My mom saved everything (including the attached photo what "what mommy looks like when I'm bad"), put me in every after-school art class my parents could afford, art teachers from elementary to high school (I was lucky enough to have art classes every year) all encouraged and nurtured my inherent urge to make art and it blossomed into a skill that I’ve sharpened throughout the years.

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Travel obviously plays a big role in your work, can you talk about your experience and the impact it had?

I didn’t travel much until I was 17 - the first time I ever got on an airplane. But since that first flight, I’ve tried my best to see and experience as much as I could afford. As fate may have it, I met an extraordinarily kind man from Ecuador while we were both earning advanced degrees in Philadelphia, PA. Pedro, by the end of his student visa, had to return to Ecuador, so after about 2 years of dating and living together in Philly, we took the leap of faith that we were going to work out and I moved to Ecuador with him in 2017. The shift to a completely different culture where I was now the minority took a long time to adapt to. In the States, I felt like things were “made” for me. Everything was in English, almost everything on tv and online is marketed towards women because women do the shopping...like the world catered to me and I had access to everything I needed, even when money was tight. And I wasn’t rich by any means - I grew up lower middle class in a very rural town. Once I moved out of state I had my struggles not being able to find full-time work after I got my Masters in Arts Administration and yet I feel I excelled because the society I was in was some-what tailored to help me, a young white woman, succeed. Therefore, to be taken out of that environment and placed in a city where I couldn’t understand one conversation being had on the street, needing my fiance to tag along everywhere I went to translate, I ultimately, after 9 months needed to fly back to the States because I had overstayed my time Ecuador without getting the proper documentation. I was a legit illegal immigrant for 5 of those 9 months. (Americans can stay in Ecuador for 4 months until needing to register with the government and we had a crap lawyer who didn’t do her job). It gave me a completely new look at the America I grew up in and I have to tell you, it’s not a positive new look. I think my South American now-husband and I are lucky to not be living in the United States at this specific point in time. We would be in constant fear that his status would be in question and that we might be separated. I have learned that all Latin Americans - from Mexico to Chile to Spain - are all lumped together when Americans in power talk about them. When the current administration started calling Mexicans rapists and Venezuelans criminals as they stood in line for asylum at the border, I listened as my husband, an Ecuadorian, called all of them “his people” as he watched in agony as the United States continued to perpetuate harmful myths, vow to deport them all, and separated children from their parents. And for me, who has always had art as a form of therapy, expression, and retreat, my subject matter naturally becomes a portrayal what I’m feeling in response to my husband and his family’s current state of shock surrounding what the United States has become - for them. I can always return and I have thousands of good memories of growing up in North Carolina and finding my voice in Philadelphia. America will always be my home but when you’ve never lived outside if it, you don’t know the true impact and role it plays as far as what direction the rest of the world is headed. As Mark Twain once wrote - “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

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Much of your work involves observations on social, political, and cultural events, how did you get started creating this type of work?

My first major move, long before I moved to Ecuador, was moving from North Carolina to Philadelphia - which completely opened my eyes to how different races are treated across the country. I grew up in a somewhat mixed community, had friends of all colors, but we were in a rural town where law enforcement (from the point of view of a teenager who maybe wasn’t clued into politics quite yet) was community-led, everybody knew everybody. So there was a sense of justice and fairness spanning all ethnicities because if you were caught doing something you shouldn’t have been, no matter the color of your skin, the town sheriff knew your momma and knew she raised you better. Once I got to Philadelphia, things couldn’t have been more different. Avoiding eye contact with strangers was paramount because if you did say hello, more often than not it would turn into a creepy guy trying to follow you home from the subway or an arrogant man feeling entitled to let you know your tattoos are “unbecoming of a lady” and “your job should fire you” for letting one peek out underneath your shirt sleeve. And because none of those experiences are against the law, sometimes you have absolutely no one to turn to. From rural North Carolina where you go from home to car, to work, back to the car, back home, to Philadelphia where you feel you’re exposed on a regular basis - I became very hardened myself yet very aware of what women and men of color are subjected to on the daily. I could endure someone talking shit about my tattoos or my weight on the bus, at least I was never spat on because of the hijab being worn, or followed around a drug store simply because my skin was black and I was wearing a hoodie. Living in such proximity to racial profiling and racial biases has made me more empathetic and aware that racism is alive and well - and that I’m always working on my own biases that I wasn’t fully aware of having grown up in the South. That emotional work shows up in my artwork now - that idea from Mark Twain about travel, I’ll amend it to say that proximity is also fatal to prejudice. If you can SEE what happens to people of different races and backgrounds and be able to compare that to how you’re treated - your world will be flipped on its head if you think equality or equity has been reached in any way shape or form.

What is your favorite part of your creative practice?

My favorite part is I guess what you would call the middle part, where idea meets reality. Once you’ve conceived an idea and you begin sketching it - for me the first few sketches are never what I had envisioned in my head, but by the 3rd or 4th, it starts coming out the way it should. So when I’m able to step away from my work and say “YES! That’s what I was going for,” I get really excited to keep going and finish.

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How has making art impacted your life?

That’s a difficult question, considering I’ve never NOT had art as a critical part of my life and being. I would say, having this ability has been the greatest gift, no doubt, but it has also been the root of some sadness as well. I’m currently writing a children’s book about my childhood where I was used for my skills and then discarded when my skills/I myself wasn’t “needed” anymore. Or times in my life where I wished I could have spoken my mind instead of keeping quiet at the moment and instead of painting about it later. Both are valid ways of communicating but I think I always wanted to be more vocal but didn’t know how which is something that maybe comes with age and experience. My voice is a lot larger than it ever has been - my family can attest to that - and now that I’m almost 35 I’m finding a better balance between speaking vocally and speaking through my artwork.

What is a piece of advice that was given to you that you would like to share with our readers?

The main thing for me, when I was in art school, I had a teacher named Mr. Hartley, who has since passed, but he told me being an artist had nothing to do with talent: it was all about practice and sharpening your skills. I had a lot of people tell me when I was growing up that I’ll be an artist, no doubt, it’s a talent I was born with and I shouldn’t waste it. But the work you have to put into it is NOT something the average person realizes. The amount of artwork that doesn’t see the light of day because it’s not up the artists’ ridiculously high standards is not something the average person realizes. So yes, you can be born with talent, but don’t let that for a minute make you think that being an artist isn’t all about the work. “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life” IS A LIE!

What is the most important thing you have learned from your creative journey thus far?

I have learned that the world and all its creatures are so complex, it’s beyond all of our practical comprehension. I grew up thinking being right was more important (to me) than anything else. In Philadelphia, I thought hustling and being busy from sun up til sun down meant I was doing all the right things. I learned that everyone’s got baggage so stop judging. In Ecuador, I am learning that the world was not made just for me, so I need to adjust-adjust-adjust myself on a regular basis and not be afraid of how other people see me. Through my journies of becoming an Ecuadorian resident, my own personal difficulties of learning how to speak Spanish, and now at the beginning of my marriage, I have learned that trying to be right all the time and trying to come off like I know something about everything is exhausting, arrogant, and won’t work for me or the important people in my life anymore. I’m settling into a place where most things are new to me and there’s no way I could have prepared for them or knew about them. Personal evolution is my current mindspace and I have to leave all the doors and windows open.

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