Friday, July 20, 2012

A"hand"some place...

Much like the bumble bee in my bee balm above, I've been buzzing between two towns  located west and east of the steel city the last couple of weeks..but as promised, here's my follow up from the last post...The Artists Hand Gallery opened to a wonderful crowd last Friday night. I met with the managing director Sandy Trimble this week and she told me that there were more than double the number of people she had expected and even had to make another wine run during the opening...that's a good thing!

So now that they are all up and running I wanted to show off this good looking and thriving new space. Check out the front of this place....

...and here's a few from the inside to give you an idea of this place. The coffee shop is up and running...the cafe is bright and comfortable and a great place to sit and people watch on the main street in Indiana when you are done checking out all the really great local art.

Below are a couple shots from the back to the front with my work  set up in the "featured" artist space. The back of the gallery is set up as a workshop area...complete with very cool re-purposed bath tub as a great wash-up sink!

Once again, I just want to add how happy I am to be a featured artist here and wish this place the best of luck. If you are ever in the greater metropolitan area of Indiana, PA, you should make plans to stop by and check out the artwork then kick back for a while with some java. As always click to view bigger...and you can click here to see some close ups of more of my work in the show. Enjoy the pics...later homies.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Give'm a hand!

getting ready for Friday night!
Last night was the big opening...The Artists Hand Gallery opened on the main drag through Indiana, PA. Unfortunately I was not able to attend, but I was there in spirit. Its been long coming but its been worth the wait. I was in there setting my work up last week, as I am one of two featured artists in this newly renovated, sharp space. The Artists Hand has been a labor of love(and maybe blood, sweat and tears too) for founder Brian Jones and managing director Sandy Trimble and now they should be able to really step back and smile proudly. 

The Artists Hand Gallery will function as a community art center for Indiana, offering workshops in their ample studio space, featured gallery shows, fine art/fine craft from local artists, and a pretty damn fine coffee shop too. That's right....COFFEE too! When I stepped in through their big glass doors and checked out the slick, stained concrete floors, exposed brick, clean bright colors, I had to say,"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore". It is everything you might want and more in a local gallery and art center.

I shot some pics while I was setting up my 7 small works and while the crew there was hustling to get things ready for Friday night. I will be returning this coming week to Indiana and will shoot some more pics of everything all finished that I can once again post about them! I am featured with another artist, Joy Fairbanks who is showing large scale photographs of people viewing famous art works. This is a pretty interesting first recognize the art in the photo and then your eyes and brain explore the rest. The combination of her large photos on the wall and my small pieces on pedestals really work well together in that space. I am happy to have been asked by Sandy Trimble to exhibit my more sculptural oriented work.  
 The pieces are a mix of really new, re-imagined works and ideas that I have been exploring for some time now. I have been in a difficult transitional period since moving from Indiana. I now live almost 2 hours away from Indiana and that means away from Nancy Smeltzer's Little Mahoning Creek Pottery where I made and fired all my work. Between all the travel and other j-o-b, I have only been able to eek out a very small bit of work. I have had to rely on the kiln kindness of my friend Dan Kuhn and trying to align my crazy schedule with Nancy's firing times. I am thankful to both for allowing me to continue to make work. So when I was asked to do this show, I knew I had a few pieces ready to rock but also knew that I had to approach the "making" in a different way.
"The Ride"
 As a clay guy, artist, potter, whatever, I tend to make multiples of everything...not just utilitarian works but also odd closed forms. I believe this to be a habit born from the tradition of throwing sets or groups of mugs, cups, or other functional items. This leaves me with extras, bits and pieces that have no home, no purpose except that they were created and for one reason or another pushed aside and set on the back burner. I focused my attention on these "art parts" and on the recent treasures I acquired through junk shops and thrift store adventures. I treated them all equally as found objects...some that I created and fired multiple times and others formed for commercial purposes...but the playing field was leveled and I looked hard for relationships among the group. All the pieces I am showing have a found object component that comprises the whole. The glazed surfaces are paired up with nontraditional mediums like flocking and "tool dip" and a few pieces sit on various faux turf or in a couple cases, a plastic tray and a funky old stand. This relationship creates a "ground" or in my mind a "-scape"...a place where that small piece actually inhabits and through that habitation there becomes a mini-representation of our natural world...a strange little landscape if you will. 
"Autumnal Landscape with Goose"

That's what I am calling this little show... "-scapes". The pieces felt a little risky and I had no feedback on most but just put them out there anyways...risk and my own feelings about the works came first. The kitsch elements, like the addition of the seated toy railroad people on the tips of these flowery closed forms, brought a sense of basic human emotion to these otherwise very abstract little forms. However close I am traveling to the land of cheese and raw sentiment, I don't care. I simply like the addition of the little seated folks and am amazed at what power and basic viewer connection a single 1/4 inch piece of mass produced plastic can produce. (This is where I side step a major discourse in Duchampian Modernism...lets save that for another time.) Another work, "Poppy Field", makes an appearance in its yet 3rd composition...this piece has been in 4 very good exhibitions and in 3 of those has appeared in different configurations... 1) "Poppy Field" on its original heavily flocked table top, 2) "Poppy Field as Window Box" on a long floating shelf on the wall with turf, 3) and now "Poppy Field as Hors D'oeuvres" a paired down grouping on an 80's inspired sleek black and red plastic serving tray. Going back to what I was talking about earlier, I made a lot of these forms with the poppy images and now I can configure them in multiple settings.
"Poppy Field as Hors D'oeuvres"
I will post more from The Artists Hand Gallery next week...there is still plenty more to show off, like the hand crafted coffee bar and workshop space of this wonderful new art venue. Enjoy the pics(click to enlarge), feel free to chime in here with comments(much appreciated)and stay cool.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A drive -by lookie-loo...

soon to
That's what your getting today folks...a drive by lookie-loo...a sneak peek...a little looksie...a peep at what will be ...wait for it...wait for it...drum roll please...the new studio!!! But man is it ever slow coming...we are waiting...and waiting some more for everything to be in place so we can inhabit this newly renovated space. I keep telling myself,"be patient" because I know it will be worth the wait. The owner of this building is doing a lot for us on the inside by getting it ready to be a clay studio...honestly, up and beyond what I would expect. And of course, everything moves a little slower in the summer.
ex-hotel bar turned studio...
But lets talk about the outside of this space for now. The studio space is conveniently  located on the main street that runs through our little town of Beaver Falls, PA. It is part of a great old brick building that at one time was a thriving hotel on the lower end of town. The actual space that we will be in is located behind the two minty green facades. It is a double store front that is connected on the interior. The one side opens directly on to the sidewalk and the other side has an inset covered entrance. My father-in-law, who has lived here since the late 20's, told me that that particular space used to be the bar for the hotel and has seen its share of troubles. Well, not anymore folks...currently the building is part of a supportive services group that assists people with varying challenges to become mostly  independent and eventually live on their own in the community of their choosing. As part of our deal there, we will also provide a "class" of sorts once a month for those residents that would like to participate. 

Like I said in the last post, we plan to offer classes for both children and adults, "rent" out studio space to those who already have a little experience, offer a clean retail gallery space, and also make our own work from this space. I am anxious to get it going... in the meantime I have plenty to keep me busy but I still feel like the little man in my terrarium...waiting ever so patiently and peering in through the glass.