Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Al Gury on Collecting

Al Gury, Blue Moon, 8 x 10 inches, oil on panel

Al Gury, Blue Moon, 8 x 10 inches, oil on panel

Al Gury is showing landscape and still life paintings at F.A.N. in the month of February.  I interviewed Al last winter and we talked about nurturing the artist.  I recently got a chance to interview Al again. We talked about artists collecting works and objects.
Al’s studio and home is filled with wonderful pieces of pottery, prints, printings and sculpture he has collected over the years. Some of the objects turn up in his still life paintings and I was curious to know how the printings and paintings inform his works.
I wanted to ask you about your own collection of art and objects. Why do you collect?
As to collecting, I always have since childhood. Objects, like icons, have meaning to me. Like icons, they are windows to imagination and creativity.
 

When did you start collecting? What is the piece that started your collection?

There is no one object that started me on collecting, but there are some that stand out. On my birthday in 1980, I also happened to be moving. I was grabbing packing boxes out of a dumpster in center city to help with the move. In the dirt in the bottom of the dumpster I saw some shapes that didn’t seem right for the situation. So…, I climbed in. What I pulled out of the filth were two very beautiful decorated boxes. It turned out they were sewing boxes from the 1830’s, made in China*. They were also filled with the delicate ivory tools for embroidery. An amazing find that I cherish to this day. And a beautiful birthday gift.
Al Gury, Snow Fields, 20 X 24 inches, oil on panel

Al Gury, Snow Fields, 20 X 24 inches, oil on panel

What attracts you to a piece of art or an object?

Generally, the first thing I notice in an object, even in flea markets, will be the shape of the object. I have a strong feeling for shapes, whether it’s old hand made tools or pottery. When I’m looking for particular objects to add to one of my collections, I will often scan a shop or a market for particular shapes to identify the object of the search.  When I draw my sketchbooks or journals, I start with shapes.
Al Gury, White Peonies, 14 X 11 inches, oil on panel

Al Gury, White Peonies, 14 X 11 inches, oil on panel

How does your collection influence your art making?

I have surrounded myself with objects and collections that have meaning for me: icons, pottery, paintings, prints, sculpture… These create an environment that helps me keep alive the  feelings, beliefs, hopes and traditions I love, and nourish the aesthetics I wish to bring to my painting.  
*link to sewing boxes similar to Al’s collection
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Artists

Interview with Kate Kern Mundie

Kate Kern Mundie, City Hall in Fog, 14 x 12 inches, oil on panel

Kate Kern Mundie, City Hall in Fog, 14 x 12 inches, oil on panel

Kate Kern Mundie is exhibiting 30 paintings at F.A.N. Gallery for the month of December. Her work in this exhibition is a mixture of landscape, still life, and interiors.

Q: How would you describe your work?  What inspires you to put brush to surface?

A: I paint because I like to lose myself in the experience of painting. There is a rhythm to painting: you examine the subject – landscape, still life, what have you; you mix the colors and brush them onto the surface;  you step back and look again; you ask yourself if this is an honest interpretation; and repeat over and over.

Kate Kern Mundie, Smiling Barn, 12 x 12 inches, oil on panel

Kate Kern Mundie, Smiling Barn, 12 x 12 inches, oil on panel

Q: What is your first creative memory?

A: When I was four years old, my mother sent me to art classes at the St. Louis Art Museum. I have no memory of the classes except looking at a Picasso painting. I cannot remember what I thought of it at the time, but the painting became seared into my brain. We moved from St. Louis to Boston, so I had not seen that painting for years. I came across the painting in a book many years later when I was in college and was very excited to see it again.

Image via St. Louis Art Museum: Pablo Picasso, Pitcher and Fruit Bowl, 51 1/4 x 76 3/4 inches, oil on canvas, 1931
Image via St. Louis Art Museum: Pablo Picasso, Pitcher and Fruit Bowl, 51 1/4 x 76 3/4 inches, oil on

Q: What was it about that painting that appealed to you? Do you think it has an influence on your work today?

A: I would do “exquisite corpse” drawing with my dad and the line work in the painting looked like the drawings we did. I also really love the leaf shapes. I don’t know if it has any influence today but I wonder if I had not seen the painting and had such a connection to it would I have ended up a painter?

 
Q: Do you have a creative habit? How do you shape your art making practice to nurture your work?

A: I am trying to make a creative habit. As I get busier with kids, family, and work building in time to make artwork is a challenge. My husband is also an artist so I cannot be selfish and sneak away to the studio all the time. I end up working in bursts; I will paint for a few days and then nothing for a week or more. However, I am trying to be more mindful about scheduling dedicated art-making time.

Kate Kern Mundie, Hats, 20 x 40 inches, oil on panel

Kate Kern Mundie, Hats, 20 x 40 inches, oil on panel

Q: What do you read, listen to, or look at to recharge you or fuel your work and find inspiration?

A: I read a great deal. I usually have two or three books going at the same time – a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. The best books I have read in 2012 are The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson.

While I paint, I like to listen to music – such as Charles Mingus and Joe Strummer, or I listen to the news and interview programs on NPR. 

Al Gury taught me the importance of keeping a journal. Journaling helps you learn to write better. Writing about your own work can make narrative themes stand out and can help you to better understand and develop your work. It’s also great when you are applying for a grant and can take great chunks out of your journal and clean up into an application essay.

I look at a lot of art. I really like the work of many of my contemporaries like Alex Kanevsky, Tim McFarlane, Jon Redmond, Stanley Bielen, Katy Schneider, Peri Schwartz, and Jenny Saville.  I look to the Ashcan School painters like George Bellows, Edward Hopper, and John Sloan for inspiration.

Kate Kern Mundie, Delaware Canal, 24 x 16 inches, oil on panel

Kate Kern Mundie, Delaware Canal, 24 x 16 inches, oil on panel

Q: What do you do for fun when you are not in the studio?

A: I spend time with my family, taking my kids on bike rides. I do yoga to unwind, and have begun to teach it as well. I like to watch movies.  When it comes to movies, my tastes are all over the place. I like movies by directors like Hitchcock, Frank Capra, John Woo, Yimou Zhang, Quentin Tarantino, and Guy Ritchie.

1 Comment

Filed under Artists

Interview with Tezh Modarressi

Tezh Modarressi, "We Harrdly Go Outside," 6 X 6 inches, oil and encaustic on wood

Tezh Modarressi, “We Hardly Go Outside,” 6 X 6 inches, oil and encaustic on wood

Tezh Modarressi’s latest exhibition at F.A.N. Gallery, “Now You See It. . . “ (as in  . . . and now you don’t) represents two years of work, painting in oil and encaustic on wood. Buildings, vehicles and nature are shown as they are on the brink of disappearing. Tezh finds these images eerily sad, but also compelling. The rough wood combined with the wax medium, is meant to reinforce the sense of time’s passage.

What is your first creative memory?
The first creative memory I have is sitting in Quaker meeting, next to a family friend (an artist) who was drawing. When she noticed me watching she passed me the sketch so that I could copy it. As I started copying it the time flew by. I remember thinking, “This is great! When I get home I’m gonna need some more paper.”
Tezh Modarressi, "Get Out Of The Cold," 9 X 9 inches, oil and encaustic on wood

Tezh Modarressi, “Get Out Of The Cold,” 9 X 9 inches, oil and encaustic on wood

Do you have a creative habit? How do you shape your art making practice to nurture your work?
My only habit is that I need to be in my studio early in the morning. I put on music and have a cup of coffee. By mid afternoon I start overworking and over thinking my work. That’s when I should leave the studio, not even go back to do small touch ups.
You have fun and interesting titles to your work. How do you come up with your titles?
I think I make up little scenarios about the places I’m painting. Sometimes the titles are little inside jokes I’ve made with myself about what I picture is going on. While I’m working on a painting I write notes on the margins that I go back to when I title them. Other paintings I just instantly know what I’m going to call them when I start to draw the first draft.
Tezh Modarressi, a Baltimore native, graduated from the Rhode lsland School of Design in 1988.  She currently lives in Philadelphia.  Her work centers around  abandoned cars, houses, barns and outside scenes.  Modarressi works in encaustic medium.  She feels the layering and building up of wax on a wood surface in the encaustic process works well with these subjects. Tezh works in both oil on paper and encaustic mediums depending on how she’d like to show off the subject.
Tezh Modarressi, "Save Me," 7 X 7 inches, oil and encaustic on wood

Tezh Modarressi, “Save Me,” 7 X 7 inches, oil and encaustic on wood

Leave a comment

Filed under Artists

Interview with Jesse J. Gardner

Jesse J. Gardner, Rural Urban, 12 X 18 inches, oil on panel

Well-known portraitist Jesse J. Gardner will present his most recent series of landscape paintings, On the Streets of Philadelphia, at FAN Gallery this October. This series explores several neighborhoods familiar to the artist; Kensington, Frankford, Northern Liberties and Manayunk. Sculptor and critic Leslie Kaufman has written of the artist’s work; “Gardner’s Philadelphia is not on any visitor’s map…he searches city neighborhoods and industrial locations to illuminate lost places whose histories were long abandoned and forgotten. As an urbanist dedicated to environmental issues, Gardner wields his paintbrush as a spotlight – to reveal both what we have lost, and to suggest what may still be reclaimed.

Jesse J. Gardner grew up on farms in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and Canada’s Cape Breton Island. Before he began focusing on art, he was a volunteer firefighter at the Pine Plains Hose Company #1 in New York and worked as a long distance trucker and construction worker.

Jesse J. Gardner, “Trees at Huntingdon Street II”, oil on panel

What is your first creative memory?

I was always drawing, and recall that the subjects that interested me as a young child were similar to my subject matter today: houses in the landscape. The first serious drawing was done around age 11, when I looked down the hill at the rooftops of my neighbor’s barn and outbuildings and produced a pencil drawing on a cheap tablet. My parents decided at this point that I was serious about being an artist, and gave me extra time off on our busy farm to draw and paint. I had an interest in preserving historic architecture as a teenager, and when we lived in Nova Scotia in the 1970’s, began making detailed pencil studies of Canadian National Railway stations that were being demolished.

How do you think about your body of work, the portraits and the landscapes? Does one inform the other or are they separate in your mind?

I see the subject matter as emanating from the same conscious desire to dig below the surface and reveal the inner light. It is part of the same narrative; restoring a measure of dignity to the invisible and overlooked. I have integrated the two occasionally. Look for these two separate themes to come together in my work in the near future. It is a natural evolution for the work.

You can find out more about  Jesse’s portrait work and involvement with firefighters here.

How did you get involved doing the portrait work?

It grew out of an interest in the invisible service class–workers who keep the world moving but are taken for granted–rarely acknowledged or recognized for their efforts. My parents were very involved with the Labor Movement when I was growing up, so it felt right to be documenting in paint these hard working, ordinary people. I know that my concept of the heroic firefighter was shaped very early on, growing up as I did with farmers and mechanics as role models.

Jesse J. Gardner, "Rapid Eletcric Company,"oil on panel

Jesse J. Gardner, “Rapid Electric Company,”oil on panel

How do you choose your landscape subject matter?
I paint obscure places for the most part, far removed from the tourist itinerary and the “center” of things. When I paint familiar landmarks, like the Ben Franklin Bridge, I look for vantage points that most would dismiss as  non-picturesque, even ugly. In the series River Town, I ended up painting the bridge from underneath, with a focus on the floating March ice and abandoned piers. The bridge was the focus, but treated as a secondary element. It makes one rethink the familiar and question assumptions.

Jesse J. Gardner, "Poplar West," oil on panel

Jesse J. Gardner, “Poplar West,” oil on panel

Who are your influences art or otherwise?
I owe a great debt to my parents, who are writers and farmers and who shaped my approach to my work by emphasizing the importance of craft and honest labor and self-reliance. They exposed me and my siblings to a wide range of art and culture, which was unusual on a working Vermont farm. They taught us to do everything to the best of our ability. Most importantly, they nurtured an appreciation for lost and endangered places–we restored farm equipment, homes and barns, and cleared abandoned fields for grazing land.

My artistic influences are wide ranging. I love the expert drawing and chiaroscuro of Rembrandt and Velásquez, Whistler’s portraits and nocturnes. I appreciate Egon Scheile, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas for their draftsmanship.  I am profoundly moved by Käthe Kollwitz’s etchings The Weaver’s Cycle.

There are Russian realist painters from the pre-Stalinist era who have had a profound effect on me. I feel a kinship with Grant Wood, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, and Edward Hopper. There is a contemporary painter named William Wray who I really admire. Brad Holland’s poster illustrations for the Public Theater provoke a visceral reaction in the viewer; he is a brilliant artist and this is a body of work that every artist who is interested in portraiture should study.

I have discovered Chinese modernists recently.  Qi Zhilong’s series Chinese Girls has inspired me to consider a new series of large portraits. There is so much that I want to explore as an artist, and so little time.

Jesse J. Gardner, "My Little Town," oil on panel

Jesse J. Gardner, “My Little Town,” oil on panel

Leave a comment

Filed under Artists

F.A.N.’s Newest Painter: Evan Harrington

Evan Harrington, "Pears With Atomizer," 8 X 12 inches, oil on canvas

Evan Harrington, “Pears With Atomizer,” 8 X 12 inches, oil on canvas

For June 2012 we welcome a new artist to F.A.N. Gallery.  Evan Harrington is a Bucks County native. He received his fine art training at various ateliers here and abroad, and is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

I wanted to find out a bit more about F.A.N.’s newest painter.

What advice has influenced you?

I am particularly interested in the advice given by musicians and athletes. They seem to experience the same situations and hurdles as a working artist, but from a different perspective. Two things stand out in my mind: practice and vision. Every time I pick up a brush or a pencil, I feel it is working towards improving my ease with the mediums. Each drawing and painting I work on, no matter how simple or complex, is working towards improving my hand-eye or hand-mind coordination. “Visual calisthenics” is what one of my friends calls it. Vision is the other major influence on my studio practice. It is important to be relaying some thought or visual idea through each piece of art. Some songwriters circle one theme their entire careers while others change it up with each piece they produce. Either way, vision is the backbone to the art I create.

Who taught you the most about art?

My father taught me how to paint and draw from an early age. My mother was instrumental in getting me to lessons and encouraging me. I had quite a few influential instructors along the way that helped me reach some of my own goals. I have always spent a good deal of time looking through books on various artists, which has expanded my knowledge and perspective of art. Of course, there is a huge component of self-discovery, which is also essential to a healthy growing artist.

Evan Harrington, "Abdul Holding A Toad," 24 X 18 inches, oil on canvas

Evan Harrington, “Abdul Holding A Toad,” 24 X 18 inches, oil on canvas

Your father is an artist.  Do you discuss art or your work with him? How is your work similar or different from his?

My dad, Glenn Harrington, has been working as a professional artist for over 30 years. We discuss art quite frequently. Most of the time, we bounce ideas off of each other.

It is hard for me to keep my work free and spontaneous while creating a large body of work for shows so it really helps that my father is constantly pushing me to branch out and try new ideas.

Many people do see our work as similar and some as entirely separate. I am so familiar with his work and so closely connected to mine, that I have no perspective in being able to see the differences or similarities. I rarely see him paint a still-life, and that is my main subject, so I suppose that is a considerable distinction. I can also sometimes detect our differences in brush work. One thing that I know we both share our interests in the same painters and paintings. Whenever we go to a museum or flip through a catalogue, we frequently agree on our favorite artwork.

When you are in need of inspiration are there particular things you read, listen to, or look at to fuel your work?

Every avenue of my life inspires painting. Seeing new places, meeting up with friends, a wonderful painting, all encourage me to get back to the easel. I thrive off of absorbing beauty and history while in the studio. A lot of times, this comes in the form of books. Sorolla, Degas, Kline, Sargent, Garber, and Velazquez are among my most frequently visited artists. I listen to every type of music available, it helps keep the energy and focus level up. My hobbies, which include tennis and aviation, help bring balance to my life and naturally inspire.

How did you get into aviation? 

As a kid, I spent several Saturdays going to the local regional airport to watch planes depart and land with my family. Also, I was fortunate to travel a good deal when I was young, so airports have always been an exciting place for me. A year ago I went up for my first lesson and have loved it ever since. It’s a great way to get out of the studio and gain perspective. It truly feels like another world when you are 5,000 feet above the ground. I have always loved looking at maps, so the visuals of aerial perspectives fascinate me. One flight early on in my training I remember seeing New York City and Philadelphia clearly at the same time, and only 3,000 feet above the earth’s surface. This was an eye opener for me; it was probably a similar feeling for those astronauts who were able to see the earth as round for the first time.

Do you have a pilot’s license?

I do not have my license quite yet. Painting is priority, then flying. My goal is to have it done by the end of summer so I can move onto getting my instrument rating. I have quite a few friends who are pilots,  so I fly with them frequently. I am unable to log flight hours with them, but I still gain the experience.

Evan Harrington, "Morning Flower," 20 X 20 inches, oil on canvas

Evan Harrington, “Morning Flower,” 20 X 20 inches, oil on canvas

How do you hope your work will grow? Are there any other themes you wish to explore with your work? 

I am not sure what direction my work will take this next year. Often I look through my latest body of work, select the pieces that I think are strongest, figure out why they are particularly successful, and then replicate those principles in my next body of work. I have practiced painting everything while I was in school and up to now, so I have prepared myself to be technically ready for whatever lies ahead. My goal is to dig deeper than the surface classifications of subject and theme and perhaps explore things like texture or pattern. The unknown is what keeps the process really exciting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Artists

Events & Exhibitions in Philadelphia – With Art Philadelphia™

A great new website for curating your own art experience in Philadelphia

Events & Exhibitions in Philadelphia – With Art Philadelphia™.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

Gregory Prestegord: Urban Artist

Gregory Prestegord, Building in the Rain, Abstraction, 48 x 48 inches oil on panel

Gregory Prestegord, "Building in the Rain, Abstraction", 48 x 48 inches oil on panel

Gregory Prestegord’s paintings capture the noise of an urban atmosphere, the movement of a city that does not sleep; sun baked ball fields, rain on steel and glass and all the grit and glory that is urban living. Gregory explores Philadelphia, his home town, through energetic paint splashed and brushed on panels. His work bridges between traditional “Philadelphia Academy” style and neo-expressionism and abstraction.

Gregory Prestegord, Soccer in South Philly, 16 x 36 inches, oil on panel

Gregory Prestegord, Soccer in South Philly, 16 x 36 inches, oil on panel

I asked Gregory if I could talk to him about his work for F.A.N.’s blog. Gregory said, “I’m an urban painter. There’s not much more to it.”  While he may see it as just painting, his work connects to Philadelphians and their love of this city. Gregory is an energetic painter. He reminds me of some of the great painters of the last century in his physicality, energy, and fearlessness. He is an urban painter who captures the feel of a city’s time and spaces. Gregory’s work is like Dutch genre painting of the 17th century mixed with a little neo-expressionistic graffiti style of the 1980s.

Gregory Prestegord, "Inside the Divine," 24 x 48 inches, oil on panel

Gregory Prestegord, "Inside the Divine," 24 x 48 inches, oil on panel

Gregory does not cite any particularly influences but feels, “There were a few artists who really captured the period they lived in. So I can’t say I’m influenced by one artist more than by all the great artists of their period. Some were better at capturing the feeling of their time.  My work is very gritty it reflects my life and what I find to be interesting subjects that others can relate to.” Gregory’s paintings distort and abstract reality as he tries to portray the grittiness of Philadelphia. Within his energetic paintings he makes room for the viewer to find places of rest in the visual cacophony, “I’m mixing more abstraction with reality trying to create a space for the viewer to be calm in. I’d like people to look beyond the surface of the painting and just enjoy the feeling of it; the light the texture and the chaotic process. It’s like nature is anyway.”

Gregory was trained formally at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. “I was doing everything– cast drawing, figure painting, but I went my own route, into the streets, while others were in class I was outside working. I was bored of the everyday still life setups and the models posing. I felt that was very boring after a while. If I wanted to make a career out of this I needed to get outside and work on the street. So I did.  I would paint in alleyways and street corners. I was inspired to paint my city not some pretty park or rich street corner, or vase of flowers. I was inspired by the grittiness of things around me.  That was life to me and I think it’s a way of remembering the past.”

Gregory Prestegord, "Scrap Metal Yard," 12 x 12 inches, oil on panel

Gregory Prestegord, "Scrap Metal Yard," 12 x 12 inches, oil on panel

Besides his painting, Gregory study’s capoeira, a Brazilian art form that combines dance, music, gymnastics, and martial arts. I asked him if studying capoeira influences the way he paints or if it helped him to focus on his work or was a way to recharge and be a part of a group after the isolation of working in the studio. Gregory said, “Capoeira helps with both focus and getting out of the studio, but all old forms of exercise help by shaping the mind. Yoga, biking, tai chi, capoeira, swimming, running – any of these types of group activities change your perception of the world and can reshape your artistic mind. Being an artist is a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is after you sell a painting. I don’t mean that as a joke but when someone buys a painting you know you’ve inspired and connected to someone (and made some money to get through the month).  Painting is like mediation. You are alone with your thoughts or trying to get away from your thoughts. You are a prisoner in your own mind in a way. You never know if your painting will connect to someone.  A couple of years ago I worked with prisoners teaching art to inmates. I felt a sense of camaraderie, I understood their isolation.”

Gregory Prestegord, " Under It," 12 x 12 inches, oil on panel

Gregory Prestegord, " Under It," 12 x 12 inches, oil on panel

I always enjoy talking to Gregory. He is upbeat and full of energy. He told me, “This past year has been one of the most successful years of my life and I only can pray that it continues. But that can change fast.  I would say to people, ‘If you think artists have an easy life, think again.’”

2 Comments

Filed under Artists, Events