I am always up for looking at art. I love going to galleries, museums, shows and art fairs just to see what is new, get ideas, & marvel at the talent out there. Lately with the Covid quarantine, I started following a few artists on Instagram, enjoying Isolation Art School in particular. Although I love art, I don’t have an art collection really. My home is filled with my own art mostly, I have a few favorite paintings that I can’t seem to part with, a few older paintings for posterity to remind myself of my progression but haven’t really collected anything, until now.
I started listening to this amazing pod cast called Collect Wisely by Sean Kelly. His gallery is on the corner of 36th Street and 10th Avenue, just down the block from our apartment. Apparently it has been there for decades, but had not been one I frequented in Chelsea. Anyway, you can click this link to hear the first episode with collector J. Tomilson Hill. I have been making my way through the episodes and am fascinated that most collectors start when they are young with simple, affordable pieces. Although my youth is but a faded memory, I decided to start my collection just the same.
Logan Hicks is an artist I follow on IG. He does murals, paintings and photography that I always find beautiful. I also love the history and stories he recounts in his posts about the places that inspire him. Recently, he has been roaming the streets of New York City at night and taking some amazing photographs. I love New York and it was so hard to choose but I managed to pick two, one of the Apollo Theater in Harlem and the second of Coney Island, both taken at night. So these are the first pieces in my collection. Click the links and tell me what you think. They are limited edition photos. He has a marvelous shop, Work Horse Visuals, which I hope to replicate one day when I get my act together. Ha!
I am generally a very open person. My family is always amazed at the intimate details complete strangers share with me about their lives. Some amazing opportunities have come my way just by happenstance, or fate as you will, from being open.
One summer afternoon in 2014, shortly after I had moved back to NYC, I found myself on an LIRR platform, trying to figure out which platform was for trains going into NYC and which were going out to the end of Long Island. There was no one around to ask, the ticket window was closed. An unusual looking man, dressed in cargo shorts, a tee shirt and a ball cap that said, “JERK” across the front walked onto the platform, (I later discovered the street artist, “Incarcerated Jerkface” hence the cap). He had a twinkle in his eye, a waxed handlebar mustache, tattoos everywhere and was carrying some canvas bags. I decided to ask him if I was in the right place. He answered in an Irish brogue that indeed I was on the platform heading to NYC. We started talking and he told me that he was heading to Bushwick, Brooklyn to work on a mural for The Bushwick Collective, and showed me all the cans of spray paint in his bags. Solus was my personal introduction to Street Art. His visual social commentary is concise and on target and his playful sense of humor draws you into his world and makes you want to see what else he has to say. That chance meeting opened my eyes to all the street art around me and I was hooked.
I wanted to work with spray paint and on a larger scale. The street is a gritty place so I used that influence by spray painting on old construction board, then using markers and oil crayons for more definition. I worked in the stairwell in my building which was being renovated so there was lots of construction there at the time. Certainly not ideal but super exciting. I was kicked out of the stairwell by the construction dude and that was the end of spray painting until I moved to the Bay area near San Francisco. I converted the garage of that place into my outdoor studio. I started small and found I liked thinking about the directional light that I could create within each piece. More fun.On
“Shady Stars”, 21″ x 21″, acrylic spray paint on steel, Sold
“Tropical Red”, 21″x 21″ acrylic spray paint on steel, Sold
“Aqua Shots”, 21″x 21″, acrylic spray paint on steel, Sold
Once I got the feel of it, I wanted to work bigger so found some steel at Home Depot and did a series of large flowers, experimenting with different techniques. I like layering the colors in a veil, masking the edges and experimenting with different nozzles to get different effects.
Finished and framed it brightens up an otherwise white apartment in my beloved NYC.
Big Red was juried into the Artbox Project’s gallery at Art Basel Miami. My friend went to check out my art and make sure everything was looking good for me. I was digitally represented in this show which is wonderfully vibrant on the screen.
Delphinium, (above), can be hung vertically or horizontally. A lot of time when I am working on a composition, I flip the panel around to make sure it is balance, especially in more abstract works. Carmen, (below), has layers of color to create luminosity and vibrance.
Violet Iris was sold to a collector who loves everything Iris.
I really liked the vibrant brights but wanted something a bit softer in dessert colors to sell in the high desert of Park City, Utah. I made Metamorphosis and Spiraling Fauna as companion pieces. The former is a large orchid like flower and the latter a compilation of smaller shapes weaving through one another.
“Metamorphosis”, acrylic spray paint on steel, 39″ x 51″, $6000
Metamophosis in the Artbox Gallery booth at the Spectrum Miami show, 2016.
“Metamorphosis” $7000, in a Park City boudoir.
Spiraling Fauna, 2015, 39 x 51, oil on steel, Sold
“Spiraling Flora” in a Deer Valley home.
So now what? Well, since the weather has finally warmed up, I am back in my well ventilated semi-outdoor studio thinking about what to do next. I used an underpainting that was spray painted for my most recent piece, “Pestilence” and am working on a few more sub-paintings for a few more city scapes. I follow artist Douglas Schneider in social media as I really enjoy his perspective and works. He is a master at abstracting parts of his paintings while still having nostalgic, figurative elements as well.
As I stay safely at home in Park City, abiding by the social distancing guidelines, my heart goes out to everyone effected by this pandemic, but particularly those in the epicenter of disease in our country, New York City.
I wanted to channel my emotions and put them into a painting and this is the result. The underpainting is done with acrylic spray paints, some grid panels I found and a stencil that I designed and made. The achitectural structure of the metal grid contrasts with an organic, spidery, floral overlay which represent the virus infiltrating the city. The cityscape is taken from some photos I took from the 45th floor, overlooking the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. I interpreted the disease as an alluring, ghostly siren making her way into the city, tempting citizens to their fate. She brings with her the disease, suspended in the air around her. I have left some of the underpainting showing though in the streets and buildings representing the viruses infectious, rapid spread. Hope is the message on the building, hoping people will stay home and safe and curb this ravaging beast.
One of the things I love about Urban Art are the characters that become part of the artists signature style. There is something about these playful images in particular that touches a nostalgic chord in me. Watching cartoons on Saturday mornings, walking down to Denure’s shop in town to read the comic books, (then buy one or two for good measure), and reading the Sunday funnies are very fond memories of my youth.
Betty Boop has always been a favorite. Check out one of her early flicks, “The Old Man of the Mountain”. One of the things that catapulted her to fame was the longing of folks during the Depression to harken back to a happier time. Another was that she was pre-National Legion of Decency and the early flicks were quite racy. You can’t talk about Betty and not mention the famous Cab Calloway song, “Minnie the Moocher”.
This mural by Trent Call is in the pedestrian tunnel under Bonanza Blvd. on the rail trail in Park City, Utah. The characters remind me of the Betty Boop era (one of the characters has a striking resemblance to her), and could easily have been in one of her movies. I like that the artist has these wonderfully nostalgic characters enjoying many of the fun things that Park City has to offer: hiking, biking, skiing, drinking coffee and spirits and also illustrates some of the crossover of the local industry: making movies, roasting coffee and cocoa beans, distilling spirits, brewing beer and mining.
When you are looking for something fun to do in isolation, take a bike ride on the rail trail and check out this spectacular Street Art! It is in the second tunnel as you ride up the hill towards Main Street!