Category Archives: Artist Spotlight

Blue Lyra Review’s spotlight on a single artist that covers several of their pieces and work.

Richard Tuschman

Morning Sun 2012
Morning Sun 2012

 

Spotlight on an Artist

Richard Tuschman began experimenting with digital imaging in the early 1990’s, developing a style that synthesized his interests in graphic design, photography, painting and assemblage. His work has since been exhibited internationally and recognized by, among others, Photo District News, American Photography, Prix de la Photographie, Paris, and the International Photography Awards. Commercially, his work has been featured in publications and advertisements for clients such as Adobe Systems, The New York Times, Penguin, Sony Music, Newsweek and Random House, among others. He has lectured widely on his artistic technique and creative process, and has taught at the University of Akron Myers School of Art (Akron, OH), Ringling College of Art + Design (Sarasota, Fl) and Cuyahoga Community College (Cleveland, OH). He currently lives and works in New York City. Find more of his work here.

 

Hopper Meditations

Hopper Meditations is a personal photographic response to the work of the American painter, Edward Hopper. 

Woman Reading 2013
Woman Reading 2013

My images are created by digitally marrying dollhouse-size dioramas with live models. The sets I built, painted and photographed in my studio. A lot of the furniture is standard dollhouse furniture, but some I made myself. I then photographed the models against a plain backdrop, and lastly, made the digital composites in Photoshop. 

I have always loved the way Hopper’s paintings, with an economy of means, are able to address the mysteries and complexities of the human condition. Placing one or two figures in humble, intimate settings, he created quiet scenes that are psychologically compelling with open-ended narratives. The characters’ emotional states can seem to waver paradoxically between reverie and alienation, or perhaps between longing and resignation. Dramatic lighting heightens the emotional overtones, but any final interpretation is left to the viewer. These are all qualities I hope to imbue in my images as well.

Hotel By Rail Road 2012
Hotel By Rail Road 2012

In other ways, my pictures diverge from Hopper’s paintings. The general mood in my work is more somber, and the lighting is less harsh, than in Hopper’s. I am trying to achieve an effect perhaps closer to the chiaroscuro lighting of Rembrandt, another painter I greatly admire. I would like the lighting to act as almost another character, not only illuminating the form of the figures, but also echoing and evoking the their inner lives. I suppose I would like to marry the theatricality of Rembrandt with the humility of Hopper. In this way, I like to think of my images as dramas for a small stage, with the figures as actors in a one or two character play. The characters, by appearance, are rooted specifically in the past, somewhere in Hopper’s mid-twentieth century. For me, this augments the dreamlike, staged effect of the scenes. The themes they evoke, though—solitude, alienation, longing—are timeless and universal.

Still-Life Montage

This series of still-life montages digitally layers tabletop photography, painting, and assemblage. Though the process relies heavily on technology, it is important to me that the work conveys a sense of intimacy and emotional weight, qualities that one does not often associate with technology. I see the works themselves as mood pieces, exploring themes of loss, vulnerability, longing, growth and decay. 

Hat & Book 2007
Hat & Book 2007

The fragile beauty of birds, flowers and small plants has always seemed an apt metaphor for the ephemeral preciousness and variety of life itself. In addition, for a long time I have been drawn to organic materials such as wood and oil paint for their primal physical presence. I had been working with these materials for many years before digital technology came along, so it felt only natural to incorporate them into my digital work. I also like the way the early photographic techniques left artifacts of the process on the finished print, adding both an abstract poetry and a reference to their creation. I suppose I am after a similar effect. The scanned and photographed painted textures in the montages are built layer upon layer of brushed, scraped, rubbed, and glazed oil or acrylic paint. One step leads to the next, applying the paint in one way or another, then responding to that, over and over. When I am compositing the scanned textures and photographs on the computer, the process in analogous. Instead of applying layer upon layer of paint, I am continually re-working layers of images and textures, trying different opacities and blending strategies, dodging and burning, etc. I see each new layer as analogous to an event in the life of the piece, one leading to the next. In this way, even those layers that end up invisible in the finished version, much like forgotten events in our lives, have somehow contributed to the whole.

 

Western Still Life 2011
Western Still Life 2011

Vanessa Marsh

TwoCarsandaLamppost

Spotlight on an Artist: Vanessa Marsh

 

Vanessa Marsh is a visual artist from Seattle Washington now living and working in Oakland, CA. Although the end result of most of her work is photography, she engages with drawing, painting and sculpture to create her images. She has received fellowships from Headlands Center for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony and Kala Art Institute. Her work can be seen at Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco, CA, Kala Gallery in Berkeley, CA and Julie Nester Gallery in Park City, UT.

Artist Statement:

Always Close But Never Touching 

WomanWalkingTo make the images, I construct miniature scenes out of models and natural elements such as moss and grass and photograph them against real backgrounds. Inspiration for the scenes is drawn from memories of human interactions and the experiences of the landscapes of Northern California and Western Washington.

The specific details of the memories have been transformed over time in my mind—influenced by subsequent observations, events, and occurrences. As memory is a combination of both real and imagined elements so too are the photographs. Alluding to different locations and experiences simultaneously, the images are of unknown, imagined places yet are also evocative of something familiar. Ultimately, the images reference a shared experience of isolation. 

I create dreamlike spaces that are at once anonymous and entirely personal. Rooted in imagination and memory the images represent locations that are suspended in both time and place, with no before or after. 

San Francisco 2008

Everywhere All at Once 

Sometimes there is a hazy, almost tropical light that falls over the Bay Area. The moisture in the air falls on the landscape and makes it appear as a series of two-dimensional planes intricately layered together. When I see this light, I imagine these individual planes of landscape each moving freely along independent trajectories. In my imagination, the landscape becomes one of dislocated landmarks, geography and infrastructure, constantly changing. Within the series Everywhere All at Once I bring to form these imagined landscapes and combine them with intensely starlit skies, highlighting both a personal as well as a collective experience of the world. My goal is to make images that are familiar and dreamlike, evocative of an almost unreachable memory. 

Looking out over the landscape the night sky provides a reminder of the smallness of our existence and also the vast possibilities inherent to our experience. It provides a connection between distant individuals, a jumping off point for belief systems, and an interstellar reference that helps us to navigate our world. For me, more than anything, the night sky provides a sense of space and infinity that is at once the essence of openness and possibility and also terrifyingly complex and unfathomable. 

I remember as a child the first time I looked intently out into a starry sky. I was away at summer camp up in the San Juan Islands and we were sleeping outside in a field by our cabin. It was dark enough to see the Milky Way; so dense it looked like a large smudge of light across the sky. Our counselor explained to us that the light we were seeing took so much time and crossed so much space that the stars it was coming from may not even exist anymore. I don’t remember when I fell asleep that night, but I know it was awhile that I lay there staring up, my heart pounding, realizing the vastness. 

-Vanessa Marsh, Oakland, 2014


Bikers

 

Landscape#12

 

Image Info:

Vanessa Marsh, Two Cars and a Lamp Post, from the series Always Close But Never Touching
Vanessa Marsh, Woman Walking, from the series Always Close But Never Touching
Vanessa Marsh, Bikers, from the series Always Close But Never Touching
Vanessa Marsh, Landscape #8, from the series Everywhere All at Once
Vanessa Marsh, Landscape #12 from the series Everywhere All at Once

Nicoletta Ceccoli

 

Nascondino
Nascondino

Nicoletta Ceccoli born in 1973 in the Republic of San Marino. She always loved picture books and since childhood she then has never stopped  browse through them, smell them, buy them. She graduated at the Art Institute of Urbino in animation. She currently works as an illustrator in San Marino. Her first book was published in 1997. Since then she has illustrated for the major publishing houses, amongst the others by Random House and Simon and Shuster of  New York, Mondadori in Italy. She likes to experiment with different techniques and materials, from traditional acrylic on paper, to the use of plasticine and photography .Her books have been widely translated throughout Europe, Asia and South America and appreciated by readers of all ages. Her latest work has been  as  concept artist for the film La Mechanique du coeur directed and written by Mathias Melzieau and Stephane Berla and the production of Luc Besson. His personal works have recurrent theme of loss of innocence. Her protagonists are fragile snow whites living in worlds of paradoxes and loneliness in atmospheres between fable and Flemish painting. Her site is http://www.nicolettaceccoli.com/

 

Interview with the Artist, Nicoletta Ceccoli

 

 

Eat Me, Drink Me
Eat Me, Drink Me

Please tell us about your background – your childhood and art school.

My mother, a primary school teacher, always surrounded me with beautiful children’s books. My father is a carpenter, and it is from him that I received both my creative spirit and the love of creating things with my own hands. I grew up spending lot of time with my father in his workshop.  He worked in wood to make beautiful  furniture, and he gave to me colored pieces of wood with glue, and I loved creating objects from them. I made dolls and funny little animals and houses for them to play in.

I drew endless worlds of my own where I could imagine living another life. These places were always more magical to me than the real world . When I was 14 years old, I discovered the wonderful world of picture book artwork in Bologna, where I had traveled to see one of the most important children’s book fairs. I decided then and there that this would be my career.

 

 

Can you describe your work space ?

I work at a large table in the center of my studio space. Behind me is a giant library filled with picture books. Some of my favorites are kept open on the shelves….. Edward Gorey’s pop-up book, ‘The Dwindling Party,’ and ‘The Cat With Boots’ by Stasys Eidrigevicious. Also ‘Tiff Taff and Lulu‘ by my friend Eva Montanari and ‘Nemo in Slumberland’ by Winsor McCay. Then I have a shelf with toys that inspire me. Some of them belong to my childhood; a Pinocchio made of wood by my father, a Jiminy Cricket crocheted by my grandmother, and a cottage of sugar, made from many lollipops and candy canes. On the wall are prints by  Femke Hiemstra, Edward Gorey, Guido Cagnacci, and a poster from the film ‘Drive’ by Nicholas Winding Refn.

 

You work in a small town of San Marino. Please describe the city and what do you see from your window ?

San Marino offers a breathtaking view of three medieval towers that are on the top of the Titano Mountain. This inspires me to create the exaggerated perspectives from high places that I often like to play with in my children’s books. From my studio windows I can see a bit of the Titano Mountain and the Sea of Rimini.

 

How much of the town and nature are an inspiring for you and how much is it a separate world that you imagine and paint?

What I imagine has no special relationship to my actual surroundings….I feel that I paint separate worlds.

The city where I studied, Urbino, influenced me a great deal, visually. The school where I received my art training with master classes, The Institute of Art, is located within the Ducal Palace. Time stopped for me in this place… I was surrounded by historic treasures and masterpieces like ‘La Flagellazione’, created by  Piero della Francesca. I enjoyed this frozen stillness, and  felt enchanted by the entire city, which remains an open air museum of the 16th century.

 

Who are your characters and what story or message they have?

My stories are about the  mysteries of adolescence. My girls innocently and sensually  allure without being completely aware of this delicate passage. In my playful way, I like to suggest a mischievous sensuality. Some of my work brings to mind the iconography of the martyrs… St. Sebastian, St. Teresa…. bodies ‘slain’ in pain, but appearing almost in the throes of pleasure at the same time.  These pictures show bodies of martyrs punished and tormented, and the more wounded and tormented they are, the more they  shout their sensual presence.

My protagonists are fairies that I dream of, candidly expressing cruelty, loneliness and fragility, and simultaneously flaunting beauty  and madness. My work is poetic on the surface and speaks of a child’s sweetness, while the  contradictions, like the dark side of a nursery rhyme, betray my deeper anxieties.  

 

What is the  process of your work ?

I sketch a rough and then draw it. The idea may change, but a concrete painting brings forth precise contents.

 

Do you have a vision in your mind when you sit next to an empty canvas?

My work always begins with a precise sketch, and after, I use colours.

 

Do you leave your art to the viewer’s interpretation or is it important to you that they will understand the story you wanted to tell?

I prefer for every one who looks at my work comes away with their own interpretation.  In this way, a sense of mystery remains. I want people to consider their childhood joys and nightmares…

 

What is your inspiration?

Everything I see and experience nurtures my inspiration; faery tales, poetry, paintings, literature. I am interested in mythology for the irrepressible imagination and metamorphosis between creatures of this world and the humanization of all things. I believe that our imaginations connect us to the mysteries of life, the truest part of ourselves.

 

 

 

Fisheye Copia
Fisheye Copia

You are children’s book illustrator. How is it different from painting ?

May I say that I prefer to be thought of simply as an artist, and when I am working or playing, I am painting. My illustration projects are commissions for storybooks that interpret  a story, and this requires me to follow certain rules. When working on a structured project, I miss the chaos that is everywhere with personal work. At the same time when I am  totally free, I miss the constraints, because they reassure  me.

Illustration tells a story with images that are parallel to the written words, and consistent with that story, and I think the best illustration conveys the essential meaning through another language. I take on commissions that intrigue and inspire me, and not too many, so that I have time to create exhibitions of my personal work, too.

Working as an illustrator over the last 20 years has allowed me to keep in touch with the child within myself. I hope that when one of my story books is the first form of visual education for a child that he or she may feel inspired to imagine conquering their fears in real life, just as in a magical fairy tale.

 

Who is your favorite writer ?

Kurt Vonnegut because in his writing he approaches very serious matters with a bitter and unique sense of humor .

  

Who is the writer you like to work with ?

I loved to work on The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum with  Kate Bernheimer.

 

What is your favorite classic children book?

Pinocchio 

 

Arpia
Arpia

In your painting there are some influence that remind the Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories. what can you tell us about it ?

My adolescent girls are all a little bit Alice, struggling with a body in flux, changing, in a world that is itself in constant metamorphosis– transforming and evolving in a way that is ‘illogical’ in its very nature. Wonderland  is the place where every feeling and emotion exists beyond rules and conventions. Here, the usual course of things is turned over and over again in an unusual way. This is where we search for and discover our own  identity and dreams.

 

Are there any aspects of your life, things that you love that find their way to your paintings?

I do realize that the characters in my pictures reflect my alter ego. When I look for an idea, though, I don’t really think about a personal experience. After the painting is finished, I often realize how the painting evolved from my own feelings. The unconscious process is quite like in a dream, and what I mean by that is when I have discovered an idea I pursue it completely unaware of where I am heading or what I could encounter along the way.

 

Who are the artists that inspires you ?

Too many to list!  Remedios Varo,Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Alberto Savinio, Mark Ryden, Stasys Eidrigevicious, Edward Gorey, Paolo Uccello, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dali, Jan Swankmajer…….

 

Do you listen to music while you paint?

Yes, and sometimes I am very inspired by a particular song, or the melancholy within the music.  “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is a song by Joy Division about  the end of a love affair and the drying of  feelings. I used that title for one of my recent paintings where between two lovers there flows water that separates them, just as love ebbs in the song.

“Girls Don’t Cry” is a title that I used for another painting, and it was my intention to homage the band The Cure. A little girl is full of tears because she cutting an onion, in theatrical pose as if she were Giuditta beheading Holofernes’s. It is a comical scene, and reminds me that I need to laugh a little more, and not take myself too seriously.

 

Can you tell us about a project you are working on right now?

I am working on designs for an artist series of candy tins for Hint Mint. I am enjoying it because I have complete freedom to illustrate the flavors cinnamon, chocolate, mint and pomegranate in a whimsical way. I am creating a sugar coated world of pleasures and sweetness, which is an extension of my recent personal work, “Eye Candy,’ that was exhibited at AFA in New York. I will be working on another show for them for 2014, and I sign limited edition prints that are shown in their galleries in the US and France. 

 

What is your motto in life?

Use humor as response to fears.

Susan Bee

Susan Bee: Out the Window
Out the Window

 

Spotlight on Artist: Susan Bee

 

Susan Bee: Trouble Ahead
Trouble Ahead

Bio:
Susan Bee is a painter, editor, and book artist, living in New York City. She has a solo painting show, “Criss Cross: New Paintings,” up until June 29 at Accola Griefen Gallery, NY. Bee has had six solo shows at A.I.R. Gallery. She has published many artist’s books including collaborations with Charles Bernstein, Johanna Drucker, Susan Howe, Regis Bonvicino, Jerry Rothenberg, and Jerome McGann. Bee is the coeditor with Mira Schor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online. Her artwork is in many public and private collections including the Getty Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Yale University, New York Public Library, and the Harvard University Library. Her work has been reviewed in Art in America, Art News, The Forward, The New York Times, Art Papers, and The Brooklyn Rail. Bee teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Visual Arts.

 

Susan Bee: Wherever You Go
Wherever You Go

Artist Statement:
The series of oil paintings that I have been working on recently is based on stills from films, mostly noirs. These primarily small oil paintings dramatize the relationships between male and female characters through the lens of the dark, violent films of the 1940s and 1950s. These new works concentrate on complexity, sensuality, dramatic tension, and strong emotions. I am creating these paintings as spaces for a drama to take place. I’m emphasizing the dynamic between the figures, whether they’re pressing against a windowpane, or pressing up against each other. The paintings’ focus is on these relationships and the psychological space and emotions that are carved out among the persons that I’m portraying.

 

Ahava, Berlin
Ahava, Berlin

Ahava, Berlin, was inspired by a trip I made in 2012 to Berlin. I stayed near the former Ahava Kinderheim, located in the Mitte, which was the Jewish ghetto, and is now an arts district. It was a politically progressive Jewish children’s home. My mother lived there from 1927 to 1934. Both my parents grew up in Berlin and were exiled in their teens to Palestine. I based this painting on a melancholy snapshot of me standing in front of the war-scarred, graffitied building, which remains standing as a testament to the suffering of the Jewish population in Germany. The orphanage and most of the children were transferred to Israel, where Ahava, (Hebrew for love) continues to this day.

Website:

http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/bee/

Image Info:

Susan Bee, Out the Window, 2011, 16″ x 20″, oil and enamel on linen.
Susan Bee, Wherever You Go, 2013, 24″ x 36″, oil on canvas.
Susan Bee, Trouble Ahead, 2012, 20″ x 24″, oil on canvas.
Susan Bee, Ahava, Berlin, 2012, 24″ x 36″, oil, enamel, and sand on canvas.

Aron Wiesenfeld

 

Spotlight on Artist: Aron Wiesenfeld

Wedding Party
Wedding Party

 

 

GreenhouseBio:

After attending Cooper Union School of Art in New York, Aron Wiesenfeld had a five year career as a comic book artist.  He returned to school in 1997 and earned a BA in art from Art Center College of Design.  Since then his drawings and paintings has been in five solo shows, including a retrospective at the Bakersfield Museum of Art in 2010.  His work has been in numerous group exhibitions in the US and Europe, and has been featured in books and magazines internationally.

 

MarchArtist Statement: 
I find inspiration in a lot of places, and I try to keep my eyes open as much as possible.  I don’t set out with a specific agenda for what I want to achieve in my work because I really enjoy just following my impulses, seeing where they lead, and trying to surprise myself.  I think good images are loaded with potential stories, emotions, and places. (Art Title: “March”)

The people in my work are often engaged in coming-of-age rituals.  Some are institutional: weddings, first communions, quinceaneras.  Others are more personal, and harder to define.  The key ingredients of those are solitude and a desperate internal need to distinguish or define oneself.  Like many examples from history and literature, like the shaman’s journey or the Arthurian quest, he or she tests herself on the anvil of a hostile environment, mirroring the internal struggle that is at the heart of it. 

 

The GardenWebsite:
www.aronwiesenfeld.com

Image info:
“The Garden” oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches, 2012

“Greenhouse” oil on canvas, 33 x 30.5 inches, 2012

“March” oil on canvas, 21 x 17 inches, 2011

“Wedding Party”, oil on canvas, 70 x 95 inches, 2011