STUDIO DEBRIS

Yes, I am...

With all of the getting married, international travelling, guest-hosting, and (of course) writing about other artists I've been busy with over the last few seasons, it's easy to overlook my own studio projects. For those who are concerned, I've become quite skilled at adapting my working process to a bi-state program, shuttling my MSPCA tote bag between Hyde Park and Providence, full of the appropriate supplies to support my works in progress.

Works in progress: "Lost and Found: Tiger" by Meredith Cutler

Still, it's slow going, but I'm taking advantage of the seasons' shift to ramp up my production a bit. Not surprisingly, I'm moving on...and around back to my mixed-media/alternative fibers roots. I hope to have a good start on this new body of work to share with you very soon, thanks for keeping up with me!

REVIEW: Quintessential at Firehouse No. 13

While many think of Firehouse No. 13 as a hot spot for local performance and music events, it is important to know that the welcoming ground-level space hosts gallery shows as a backdrop to its ever changing roster of sound and dialogue.

Like other alternative arts spaces (I’m thinking back to some hairy events at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge) this can pose unique challenges to both artist and audience, as the ebb and flow of humans interact with each other, the elements (beverages, PA) and the artwork.

With this in mind, I was lucky to drop in on the soft opening of Quintessential, selected works by Nathanial Allen, Keith Borges, Tennyson LaCasio and Joshua Nierodzinski, just hours before the remnants of tropical storm Hannah soaked the steamy streets.

In “quintessential” FH 13 style, a backdrop of live music (by Borges’ duo 12lb. Beard) accompanied the artwork, and the artists were present in full opening dress. For me, a shocker! I’ve been getting used to the slack-asualness of Providence, i.e. the apparent acceptability of wearing pajama pants out on the town.

Beyond my shock of encountering eveningwear at an alternative space art opening, I can recommend a view of this show to anyone interested in emerging regional upstarts. The work, a fair mix of painting and small sculpture by South Coast/New Bedford-based artists, provides a balanced and thoughtful counterpoint to some of the more materially effusive and exuberant installation/performance-based work often seen from the younger set.

Keith Borges: "Grande double mocha latte with 18 sugars", Mixed-media

Above: "Grande double mocha latte with 18 sugars" (installation detail) by Keith Borges

While easy to overlook given the size of the space, the specimen-like mixed-media sculptures of Keith Borges are worth seeking out. By placing narrative combinations of formally simple, manmade and organic materials on narrow display pedestals, Borges forces the viewer to examine the reliquary and transient nature of objects. I particularly liked the scale of "Mutilation, Amputation, Humiliation", although the temptingly open tray of sugar-bedded, rusted belt-buckles bafflingly titled "Grande double mocha latte with 18 sugars" is the more daring of the set.

Nathaniel Allen: "Three Over Three", Mixed-media

Above: "Three over three" by Nathanial Allen

Fellow small-scale sculptor Nathanial Allen’s work is harder to sort out. Squarely arrayed on and across FH13's expansive plank floor, the barely knee-high works are challenging to confront from a full-sized human's (okay, ¾ size in my case) perspective. Simply constructed, and evocative of game board pieces, his "Three over three" and "Four blocks and a box" could serve as stronger studies for a larger sculptural idea. I would like to see Allen’s work in expanded form, or at least displayed on their own in a “white box” space more friendly to sculptural work of this challenging scale.

Studio neighbors Joshua Nierodzinski and Tennyson LaCasio chose to alternate their oil paintings across the long display wall. Certain pairings fare better than others, but the complimentary sizes and palates of the two painters provide a friendly platform with which to point out the formal differences in their work.

Tennyson LaCasio: "Ethereal Accension", Oil on canvas over board

Above: "Ethereal Accension" by Tennyson LaCasio

LaCasio’s canvases are ethereal, expressionistic and wildly atmospheric. My favorite piece in his set, “Ethereal Accension”, brings to mind Renaissance ceiling frescos in varying states of decay and conservation. While not easily visible on the depicted photo, a gestural pair of marks that could represent aircraft, birds, or perhaps the floating ghosts caused by retinal effects recede into a cloud and dust palate. I should point out that LaCasio is not afraid to confront challenging, and at times caustic color palates in the same, light-filled ethereal style.

Joshua Nierodzinski: "Little Portuguese Bend", Oil and acrylic on panel

Above: "Little Portuguese Bend" by Joshua Nierodzinksi

Nierodzinksi takes a similar, cerulean and dust palate to a journalistic, grid/ledger destination in his painting titled “April May March”. In this case, the light appears to be reflecting off of an object instead of emanating from an atmosphere. Again, counterpoint is a strength of this show. In this and “Little Portuguese Bend”, the other of his stronger, non-representational work, there is a sense of buildup and decay, with stabilizing bands of color supporting abstraction that hovers on the edge of becoming.

Quintessential officially opens at Firehouse No. 13 this Friday, September 12th, with musical hosts: Cardboard Fort, 12lb. Beard and friends providing live entertainment from 6pm-1am.

Firehouse No. 13: 41 Central St. Providence, RI 02907.

Loco for Ponoco

It's a lazy, post-storm Sunday here in Providence, and the tugboats are heading back out to the Narraganssett Bay now that the coast is clear. After being cooped up in the house yesterday while windswept rain played the bongos on my roof, I took a bit of a walkabout in hopes of ressurecting my laughable excuse for a tan. Perhaps I should have brought this concept "Sun Tan Stencils" design from U.K./Ireland-based Observatory with me? (I always did covet an anchor-shaped sunburn).

"Suntan Stencils" concept from Observatory on Ponoko.com

All the better segway for me to mention my newfound playground on the web: Ponoko.com! Ponoko is an all-in-one, laser-cut prototyping/production service where designers can realize their vector-based designs in a variety of popular materials, from MDF to acrylic. In addition, designers can choose to sell their creations directly on the Ponoko website (ala Etsy); or, publish their vector plans for customized production by other Ponoko users; either for a fee or for free. The possibilities for designer collaboration are wide open, making Ponoko a unique online variation on the traditional atelier; and, bringing our drawing-board dreams that much closer to reality and the marketplace!

Baffi D'Oro (The Golden Mustaches)

While I don't go much for the smoke and mirror froofery of the leading political party conventions, I admit that I have been tuning in here and there to the DNC (until the excess of barfy inspirational classic rock forces me to change the channel to good old fashioned baseball). Regardless, I'm trying to put on a brave face for the election this November, and give my fellow Americans the benefit of the doubt that they won't persist in supporting the ongoing error of the current Republican party.

Presidential Facial Hair Hall of Fame Gocco Stickers by jelloh on Etsy

Speaking of brave face, check out these extraordinary Presidential Facial Hair Hall of Fame gocco stickers from jelloh on Etsy. While our current candidates are silky smooth, and suspiciously not sporting anything as rockin' as mutton chops, why not celebrate the presidential facial hair legacy of our forefathers Lincoln, Roosevelt, Taft (and Van Buren)! Printed on "fancy printmaking paper", these large handprinted gocco stickers are the original designs of Philadelphia based artist El Lohse. Pick up a mixed pack of 10 baffi (mustaches) sporting presidents for only $12 shining American dollars!

Presidential Facial Hair Hall of Fame Gocco Stickers by jelloh on Etsy

Call For Entry: CAFÉ™ online web portal

It's a lovely, breezy, late August day and I've got lots to do, but I just came across this great website: CAFÉ™ (www.callforentry.org) that lists a bevy of open calls for entry of artist work. I've bookmarked it for myself, and you should too. Although the site is run by WESTAF, quite a lot of New England artist opportunities for exhibition are currently listed. Check out the Boston Printmakers North American Printmaking Biennial 2009 and the forthcoming The Perfect Fit shoe themed show at the Fuller Craft Museum. Good luck!

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