Posts tagged Pop Art
Studio Sunday: Michelle Lee Rigell

It is the last week of our show ‘Pilot’ with PxP Contemporary so this Studio Sunday highlights one of our invited artists, Michelle Lee Rigell. She is a contemporary realist painter who is based in St. Louis and we have featured two works from her ‘1,000 Crane Project’ in the exhibition. Read on to learn more about her creative practice, studio space, and exhibitions for the rest of the year!


Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Michelle Lee Rigell is a St. Louis-based contemporary realism artist who works in acrylics. Since 2015, Rigell has shown her work in several locations in the Greater St. Louis area including SOHA Gallery, Art Saint Louis and fundraising art events such as Wall Ball for Artscope and Art of PAWS for St. Louis Effort for AIDS. Rigell also volunteers as an instructor and is the assistant director of Arts As Healing Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings the therapeutic benefits of art to cancer patients and those with chronic illnesses.


I tend to gravitate toward subjects that evoke nostalgia and whimsy. I am currently working on a project called the "1000 Crane Project" because of my childhood love for origami. When I wasn't drawing or painting, I was constantly folding origami. My goal is to capture the beauty and precision of origami while incorporating the flawed nature of wrinkled papers and used wrappers and labels of some of my favorite childhood American products.

Cranes are also a symbol of good fortune and longevity in Korean culture. They have been an apt subject matter in my life because rediscovering my passion for painting began as a way to cope with my miscarriages and difficulties with infertility. I am a firm believer that art can provide healing, and I want to be able to help others heal by providing a sense of sentimentality and humor through my art process and experiences.  


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?

I’ve loved art for as long as I can remember. As a child I wanted to be an animator and graphics designer like my uncle, the other artist in our family, but in high school, I focused on getting into medical school. I was convinced by the adults in my life that this was a more practical career path, but ultimately I chose not to pursue a career in medicine after graduating from college.

After moving to St. Louis for my husband’s medical training, my mother-in-law encouraged me to take art classes. When I signed up, it never crossed my mind to pursue a career in art because I didn’t have any formal education in art and I had lost a lot of confidence in myself. Around the same time, I had a miscarriage and my second not too long after, so it was a period filled with a lot of hurt. Fortunately through the classes, I met my mentor and began volunteering for the Arts As Healing Foundation, reigniting my passion for art and opening new possibilities for me. I went on a long and roundabout journey back to an art career, but now I am sharing my love for art to others who need it and love it with more appreciation and passion than when I was younger.

We love that your work is so fun and whimsical with hints of nostalgia. Can you tell us about what inspires you and the story behind your series of origami cranes specifically?

A few years ago for Christmas, my mentor gifted me a glass jar with the Chinese character for happiness and good fortune on it. Along with art, I also loved origami growing up, so I decided to fill it up with cranes, which then led to an even better idea of painting them.

Before my “1000 Crane Project”, I was already painting nostalgic subjects like record players, musicians, vintage signs using earthy, dark tones; I grew up listening to a lot of Oldies music. But as I gained more confidence in myself and my work, I wanted to experiment with bolder compositions and colors. I had found the perfect subject that was not only iconic and symbolic but had been a big part of my childhood as well. Instead of using crisp, new sheets of paper, I thought it would be more interesting and challenging to make cranes with wrinkled, brightly colored candy wrappers that are sometimes more plastic and wax than paper. It would give me more opportunities to play with lights and darks to create all the tears and odd folds. And who doesn’t love candy? As long as I can bring a smile to the viewers’ faces, I know I’ve done a good job.


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

I fold all the cranes I paint first. Occasionally I’ll go on a folding spree and fold whatever piece of paper or candy wrapper that catches my eye, so that later if I need inspiration or a new idea I can go through ones I’ve already folded. Sometimes I have to do a little cutting and taping supplemented with thumbnail sketches especially with the candy wrappers, so I can get the right labels and patterns to show through. I prefer to paint from my still-life set up, but I also take photos to refer back to because the cranes are tiny.

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

Currently my studio is in our guest bedroom. I’ve tried almost every other room in our house before settling into where I am now. The guest bedroom has the best lighting as it faces north with lots of windows. I try to take advantage of the natural lighting as much as I can, so my colors don’t shift. For me, lots of sunshine leads to lots of motivation and productivity. I would eventually like a space where I can make larger paintings and move more freely, but I also like being comfortable and having everything I need at home.


What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

One of my favorite things about being an artist is being able to express myself but also being able to have a safe place for me to tune everything out. The other is that I never stop learning as an artist. I’m continuously finding ways to improve my technique and to challenge myself to elevate my artwork.

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

I recently finished a piece that will be up for silent auction on August 3rd at this great fundraiser, Art of PAWS by St. Louis Effort for AIDS. The proceeds help patients care for their furry companions so they can focus financially on their healthcare. I will also be in a four-man exhibition at the Angad Arts Hotel in downtown St. Louis from August 2nd to October 26th.

How We Started Collecting Art on a Budget and Why It Is Important to Us

By Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig

From Kat:

Working with hundreds of artists through Create! Magazine over the past several years has given me an incredible opportunity to discover beautiful and affordable works. I had the privilege of decorating my apartment on a budget because I was exposed to artists working in all mediums, styles, and price points. 

It first started off as trades with my own work, and later evolved to me purchasing some of my favorite pieces to add to my ever-growing collection. 

What makes owning original art special, instead of settling for a cheap canvas print from Ikea or Marshall’s is that your space will have a completely unique vibe, curated based on your visual aesthetic. It will make it so much more fun to entertain your guests because each piece has a story that you can share. I don’t know about you, but I want to cultivate an interesting life both inside and outside of my home. 

Having been both the buyer and seller of artwork, I love the process. For example, it makes me so proud to share my growth with those who invested in my work early in my career. I bet the gentleman that purchased my first large painting in 2012 is excited to see me move on to exhibit at international art fairs, work with bigger galleries, and be featured by leading blogs and publications. It’s exciting for the collector to feel as if they are a part of the artist’s journey and evolution and that they were a part of making their success happen. On the flip side, I love seeing the artists I traded with or purchased from move on to reach higher levels and increase their value in the art market. More than anything, having my community literally surround me inside my home brings me immense joy and comfort. 

If you are ready to upgrade your living space and truly make it unique, exciting, and full of the energy of the creatives that you love, take the first step and buy your favorite thing that you can afford at the moment. Most artists and galleries will work with you and can even offer a payment plan if you don’t have cash upfront for a larger piece. I have frequently let my collectors pay as low as $100 per month for larger paintings. 

A few months ago, Alicia Puig and I launched our online platform, PxP Contemporary, which will help you get started on your art collection. We wanted to create a space where new collectors can order a piece they love without awkward interactions, especially if you are new to buying art. Shop our collection of affordable works ranging from $100-$2000 to help you get started! If you aren’t quite sure which piece you want to buy first, don’t be shy about contacting an artist you’ve been following on Instagram to get more information about their work and pricing or you can look for local gallery exhibitions where you might just find something you fall in love with. With any of the works exhibited with PxP Contemporary, you can always email us with questions at We’re happy to help!

Here are a few of my favorite pieces which are available at PxP Contemporary:

From Alicia:

Looking back to our days in college, perhaps it was always meant to be that Kat and I would be working on a gallery project together. She was technically my very first art purchase! While we were both pursuing our BFA degrees at Kutztown University, I fell in love with a beautiful landscape piece with a country home pictured against a vivid pink background that she had painted and mustered up the courage to ask her if I could buy it. At the time, we knew each other through working at an off-campus gallery, but weren’t as close as we are now so I wasn’t sure what she would say. Luckily, she agreed, gave me a price that I could fit into my student budget, and I started to realize that I could afford to collect art that I loved. I simply had to ask or else I’d never know. As I started in my career, I was able to continue to learn more about buying art from working in galleries. I learned about asking for discounts and payment plans, but also continued to buy directly from artists as well. 

For me, like with Kat, my apartment would never feel complete without art on the walls. It both looks and feels empty. Whenever I move into a new place, I get anxious until I start to curate the space because without art, it doesn’t yet have that same feeling of being my ‘home’. So this ends up being one of the very few aspects of moving that I actually enjoy, ha!

The artworks I hang around me also serve as a reminder of wonderful artists who I have worked with in the past and places I have visited, the lovely friends and family who have purchased art for me, or are just pieces that make me happy when I look at them! One of the most beautiful things about art is that it is so emotional and personal. You have the power to find art that speaks to you and surround yourself with it. It can bring consistent reminders of positive memories and spark feelings of joy. Who wouldn’t want that? 

More than the aesthetic part of collecting, however, I also enjoy that I’m supporting someone else’s career. While it is exciting to buy art from big names that you may have seen in history books or museums, it is so important to invest in the current generation of living artists. The artists who are household names now usually had patrons or other buyers back in their day and the majority definitely wouldn’t have been able to continue their work without them. This is probably the art historian in me talking, but if we don’t support those working today, how will they be able to leave their mark? Many are worried about making ends meet, not making history. So let’s make sure that we’re all doing what we can to support each other in this community. 

Not to mention, there is so much talent in a vast array of mediums both traditional and new and it is wonderful that today there is even greater recognition for women artists, artists of color, and LGBTQIA artists. We can all find our niche. Therefore, with a little bit of research you will definitely find someone’s work that is really meaningful to you. I certainly have!

These are all reasons why we created PxP Contemporary. We wanted a place that makes collecting easy: not intimidating, not complicated, not expensive, and not low quality. We’ve curated a selection of work by incredible artists from around the world and given them a platform to showcase their art and tell their stories. If you aren’t familiar with PxP yet, I invite you to take a look. I hope you’ll join us! 

In addition to our website: you can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated with gallery news and exhibitions.

The first exhibition curated by PxP Contemporary!

The first exhibition curated by PxP Contemporary!

Giving up Is Not an Option with Ashley Longshore

Join Ashley Longshore and Kat on this special episode. We talk about the hard stuff: working through financial difficulty, not giving up, trusting and believing in yourself during times of uncertainty, staying in a positive frequency no matter what and working with high end clients. 

Sarah Ashley Longshore is a Louisiana-based painter, gallery owner, and entrepreneur. She is the owner of the Longshore Studio Gallery, located on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Longshore's art focuses on pop culture, Hollywood glamour, and American consumerism and has been compared to the artwork of Andy Warhol.

Philip Colbert

Living and working in London. Colbert is known for his multi-disciplinary approach, creating a "World of Art" working across sculpture, painting, clothing and performance to create a unique contemporary voice. 

He is known for his bold sequin embroidery paintings and sculptures and for having created the world renowned design brand THE RODNIK BAND. Described by Andre Leon Talley as "the Godson of Andy Warhol."

Philip Colbert’s strong use of colour and abstraction of iconic imagery place his work within an engaging dialogue with the contemporary post pop art movement. Like his Pop Art predecessors, he employs distilled compelling symbols of mass culture and re-contextualizes them in his life to create a provocative, multi-disciplinary satirical language of his own. 

Colbert conceives the 1950s American kitchen aesthetic as the foundation of ‘Pop’ and distills it with his own playful response to important icons and symbols, such as meat imagery, prominent in the work of Soutine and Francis Bacon, and the iconic image of fried eggs, which Colbert describes as "mini Mondrian's with irreverent humour". In doing so, he creates a dialogue with established ideas and works of the past. He ironically pastiches this imagery, playing on the notion that their repetition and overuse over the years have rendered them ultimate icons of pop culture.

"I am interested in art of the everyday. I am inspired by everyday symbols that can unlock profound meaning, I want to wallpaper my life with these symbols, from my suits, cars and interiors, for me LIFE and living is the ultimate essence of art”.

Colbert has exhibited in fairs, museums and galleries worldwide, such as:  Miami Basil, the Van Gogh Museum, the Design Exchange in Canada, and in the recent World Goes POP show at TATE Modern.

What is your artistic background? 

I am self taught as a painter and studied philosophy at St. Andrews University in Scotland. My view is that everything starts with philosophy.

Did you know you wanted to pursue this path or did you have other interests? 

Art has always been my main interest. From a young kid, it was always paintings and sculpture that intrigued me the most with aesthetic culture. I loved the power of value and associated storytelling they were given, treasures that were beautiful to look at. After studying philosophy, I decided that I wanted to make things, and make my philosophy real and engage with life physically. 

How important is fun and experimentation to your studio practice? 

For me humour and creative freedom are paramount, humour allows us to shake the cage of our imprisoning thought structures, and touch a greater sense of truth. The truth that everything is absurd and arts greatest strength is to reveal in this absurdity. Freedom to move between genres is key also, as it’s limiting to think in traditional confined stereotypes. For me, an artist should be free to make a world of ideas. 

What is a typical day like for you?

On a typical day, I walk to the studio around 9am, which takes around 15 minutes, then I work till around 7pm. I find creativity comes when you least expect it, so spending lots of time in the studio helps. :)

Share an experience that had a significant impact on your art career.

A significant impact on my art career was meeting Jeff Koons in an art gallery in Edinburgh when I was a student. It was in a period when he was perhaps less well known than today, yet had created some provoking work. He was giving a talk in a small gallery there and I had traveled to meet him. He did a drawing for me after the talk and told me the story of how he had met Dali when he was a student and how that effected him. I liked how artists created their own mythology and connection to art history through the simple act of a meeting, and it inspired me to think that I was free to engage in this narrative.

What are you currently working on? 

I am working on a big art show for Miami Basel in Dec 2017.

Interview: Teresa Duck

Teresa Duck is a contemporary British painter, living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. She Studied at Northumbria University where she gained a BA Honours in fine art.

Teresa’s work combines formal realist painting with abstracted elements, alongside working in sculpture and assemblage. Through which she explores identity and aspects of contemporary culture.


When did you know you wanted to become a painter?

I've always drawn and painted.  As a child, drawing and making things was an escape mechanism, and I still use making art as a tool to get away. I've always relied on it to get me through hard times and it's almost like an old friend now.  I don't know if I ever decided to become a painter. I just started spending more time making paintings, and it took over my life little by little. It's not something that I can stop doing or just turn off. It's too much a part of who I am now.

Who are the figures in your paintings? Are they fictional characters or based on real people?

The figures in the paintings are primarily characters. I'm more interested in how the female form is perceived as a whole rather than the individual qualities of each figure. I tend to use female characters, although not exclusively, as I am myself female, so it is a viewpoint I'm privy to. The women in my current series are depicted without clothing, in a state of being between nude and naked, but are unaffected by their immediate surroundings in either instant. 

There is an excerpt by John Berger in his book Ways of Seeing that this series draws upon, which is actually rather fundamental to the work. This excerpt explains the use of the nude female figures. 

“To be naked is to be oneself.

To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized as oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become nude (the sight of it as an object stimulates the use of it as an object) Nakedness reveals itself, nudity is placed on display.  To be naked is to be without disguise.

To be on display is to have the surface of one’s own skin, the hairs of one's own body turned into a disguise, which in that situation can never be discarded.

The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.”


When did you start incorporating pop culture references into figurative work?

The popular culture elements are relatively new, and they vary, they tend to be a mix of products. But some are symbols from works of fiction. Others are completely abstract in nature. Often the titles of the paintings give clues to their origin, but they may be found in other paintings. For example, the swallows that can be found in "Mrs. Woolf in the Cellar with a bottle of bleach" are taken from Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts they tend to work as a breadcrumb trail. As much for myself as for the viewer. The primary structure of the title itself is a play on the popular board game Cludo (taken from the latin Ludo, which means 'I play') in which the winning player must guess the correct suspect in the correct room with the correct weapon. In this case, the Cellar pertains to Jung. I enjoy these word games immensely.

The objects also are objects of desire; the intention is that they hover between being cute and funny and somewhat sinister. The serious and the absurd. Perhaps a dash of the unheimlich. Perhaps in the style that John-Paul Sartre described in Nausea, in which Antoine, the main character, encounters nausea caused by objects. They impose upon him, overwhelm the intentionality of his consciousness and remind him of his absurd reality. Nausea is a sick feeling that lies behind the colors, smells, and appearance of objects and people. An object or person essence does not exist, but is the creation of its observer.


What has been the most exciting moment in your art career so far? What did you learn from it?

I'm not sure I can say.  I think the most exciting part overall is just creating a body of work. I've learned that I make more accomplished work if I just refuse to worry about the public response to it and do what I feel will make a good painting. That in itself is, I think, the most important thing I've learned. To not be afraid to make what I feel is necessary for myself.