The Promise of Introducing the Mona Lisa to the Blind

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The Mona Lisa is among the most famous paintings in the world—revered for centuries, owned by emperors and kings, and visited in the Louvre by approximately 6 million people annually. Still, its beauty and impact are diminished for people who cannot see it because of visual impairment. But that may be about to change if either of two crowdfunding campaigns currently on Indiegogo and Kickstarter succeeds.

The one on Indiegogo is a campaign proposed by Unseen Art that’s “raising $30,000 to create a software platform that would allow those without sight to download famous artworks and 3D-print them.”

Founder Marc Dillon has said, “The classical artworks of the world are something we believe everybody should have accessibility to and it should be free. […] So we have to build something in order to do that.”

The notion is to “let artists create 3D interpretations of artworks by scanning a photo of the original, then adding depth and simplifying detail.” Then, anyone with access to a 3D printer could access the file, download, and print.

The project on Kickstarter from the group 3DPhotoWorks is different in that it is looking to fund a much more expensive, commercial platform for use by museums, science centers, and other cultural organizations. They’ve developed and tested “a process called 3D Tactile Fine Art Printing” that is “capable of converting a painting, drawing, photograph or other form of traditional 2D artwork into a 3D printed tactile fine art” as large as five feet by ten feet.

The technology is based on the science of neuroplasticity and inspired by “the work of Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” which shows “that the human brain is capable of processing the tactile information obtained from fingertip contact like it had been obtained from visualization.” In these cases, sensors have been “implemented into the prints, which when touched, give off audio that tells the user what is being shown at that part of the painting.” In that way, their brain can put together a mental picture of what’s in the painting, photograph or drawing.

One aesthetic question raised by this, according to Tech Crunch, is whether “a 3D painting [is] still a painting?” And, in another sense, are the new creations new pieces altogether? Dillon sees this as a differentiation between the two approaches, and describes 3D Tactile Fine Art Printing as “more of a relief style” versus the fully 3D models Unseen Art aims to distribute.” He argues that there’s particular value in the 3D modeling he’s proposing because they found, “there needs to be some depth of touch, and there needs to be some limitation to detail—a perspective on the art, or an impression of the art, for people to really understand it.” Using the Mona Lisa as the best-known example, he says, if you included every bit of detail about the picture, then people aren’t really going to get a lot out of it.

Regardless, Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, in talking about 3DPhotoWorks, stressed the importance of increased accessibility:

Too often people invent ways of describing art to blind people rather than creating authentic means for the blind to perceive visual imagery in nonvisual ways. This technology opens up new avenues for exploration and understanding and will enhance the experience for everyone. This technology also has the potential to allow greater participation by the blind in a wide variety of fields, especially the visual arts and STEM subjects.

[This article first appeared in Non-Profit Quarterly]

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Art-centric Apps Meet the New Art Audience in Full Embrace

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Grab your hashtags and your paddles. Today, every second counts as #fineart artists, galleries, museums, collectors, and entrepreneurs connect socially and for business in the fast-paced art marketplace. Instagram and a host of art-centric apps are revolutionizing and democratizing the world of art.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that eighty-one percent recipients of National Endowment of the Arts grants said the Internet and other technologies are “very important for promoting the arts.” Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also emphasized their importance, telling CNBC that, “Social media and art-related apps have allowed the New York museum to expand the reach of its art in the world.”

Sreenivasan, whose goal is to expand access to the Met’s collection, said, “It’s common to look at the comments on the posts, see people tagging their friends and setting up outings to the Met to see the art in person.” For organizations, having a large presence on digital media can also drive sales and museum visits. And Dave Krugman, a social media consultant and social editor at the BBDO ad agency who has 173,000 followers on his own Instagram account, said social media users can “publish to their own audiences and be their own editors and be their own storytellers.”

In the world of social media, both according to the 2015 Online Art Trade Report by Hiscox, the London-based fine-art insurers, and as reported by Bloomberg News, “Facebook and Instagram are considered the two most important social media channels in the art world.” A recent survey of art collectors on Instagram found that 51.5 percent of them had purchased works from artists they discovered there, with an average of five purchased works by artists originally found on the app.

As CNBC reported last week, “Tech start-ups are combining data and social media with artistic vision to help expand art appreciation—as well as find lucrative buyers and potential investors.”

  • Aura, which was featured at this year’s Association of Art Museum Directors meeting, is an app that “uses ‘big data’ to help art lovers keep track of all the works and exhibits they’ve seen, and helps them share what they love on social media.”
  • The app Artsy aims to make art accessible. “It works as an online database of more than 300,000 works in galleries and museums as well as The Art Genome Project, a system that logs similar qualities between artists and artworks.” The objective is to help people find art they love and want to buy.
  • Paddle8, an online auction house and app recently profiled in the New York Times, is among many betting that there’s a lot of money to be made where art and tech meet in the cloud.

Art fairs are also seeing a benefit, as buyers are increasingly taking advantage of online previews to get a jump on negotiating for art pieces they want rather than waiting to browse onsite at the fair. For example, at this month’s Art Basel, more than 500 inquiries were made beforehand via Artsy. This kind of activity can also increase the popularity of a piece or an artist, making it easier to assess the potential for higher sales and how the market is trending. Aura is a tool for just that purpose. And the stakes can be enormous these days—as evinced by the fact that last month, auction house Christie’s had its first $1 billion week.

But Instagram and the others are also a boon for more average investors and art lovers. The Artsy survey about how art collectors use Instagram found:

  • Of collectors surveyed, 87 percent checked Instagram more than twice a day, and 55 percent opened the app five or more times a day.
  • Collectors rely on Instagram as a tool for discovering and researching art trends.
  • Instagram has a clear impact as a discovery tool. Around 61 percent of collectors consistently look at an artist’s hashtag before buying—and 42% do so often.
  • As reported above, 51.5 percent of surveyed collectors had purchased work from artists they originally discovered through Instagram.
  • A large majority of collectors—73 percent—believe that Instagram makes the art market more transparent, with many citing that as its key impact.

The Artsy report concluded:

“Instagram is best viewed as a marketing tool as opposed to a sales tool. It is great for finding out about an artist’s most recent body of work, or learning of a gallery’s latest exhibition, or getting behind the scenes takes on the inner workings of the art world.”

Going forward, as the art business broadens its capabilities and reach online, key questions will be: How much control will artists have over sales of their work and cultivation of their audience? Who will the major power brokers be and how will they ensure audience loyalty? And, what are the risks and pitfalls to everyone involved as art is made more digitally accessible and technology makes it harder to protect?

[This article first appeared in Non-Profit Quarterly]

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Glass Art and Business: Artist Martin Kremer

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Martin Kremer discovered glass art at college, though not through an art program or formal lessons, but because one of his housemates got bored with the glass class he was taking and Martin took his friend’s scraps and his hobby and began to learn about glass on his own.

He bought a book on the topic and also began learning from others who worked in the field, one was a third generation glass artist, another taught him soldering, and other artists provided gentle corrections along the way. His experience taught him you can learn a lot when you’re not “spoon-fed,” but have the chance to struggle through the artistic roadblocks and learn what does and doesn’t work.

Kremer’s work began as a hobby, and then grew over time. He had additional good fortune when his wife got a great job offer in the early 80’s, which allowed him time to pursue his art seriously. Shortly afterwards, he started picking up wholesale accounts for his stained glass jewelry boxes, and he got involved with a craft co-op where he learned the arts business, including how to work with galleries. It took time to build, with places ordering 4 to 6 pieces at a time.

“Working with the craft co-op was helpful, and it was also important to get out to smaller retail shows” says Kremer. “But if I were starting today, I’d try to work with Buyer’s Market of American Craft and the American Craft Council Shows which both have mentor programs, since the major gift shows are harder to get into. It’s also good to connect with galleries and catalogue producers.

“Really, you need to get one good client to give you an economic base,” explains Kremer, “though you have to be careful with that because it can be a trap. There are two reasons: the first is that they often want you to do the same things again and again because that’s what they’ve found will sell; and secondly if you come to rely on that income, it’s easy to get lazy and to not explore new things. I advise people not to get in too deep with any one customer, so you can afford to leave when you’re tired of producing the same thing.”

“In my case with the jewelry boxes, I eventually turned the work over to one of my subcontractors, which worked out well. I also found over time that I’ve priced myself out of some markets – so you might find that you move from selling to craft shops to selling through galleries up to selling more expensive commissioned work.

“These days, the economy has made it more difficult for artists, from what I’m hearing from my peers. There’s a shift in the market because of the aging of the craft buyer. A lot of collectors are aging, and people are downsizing, which means they don’t have as much space for art as they used to. Also, kids are not buying big things to live with – so the demand is for more functional things that can sell in the $50, $60, $130 range.

“So, you can plan to cater to that audience, or choose to go the high-end, specialty route, though that’s a difficult market to crack. In my case, I’m doing furniture that combines steel and wood bases with glass on top. These can sell in the $5000-$8000 range for a console or occasional table. I’m finding with these that I enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with other artists on some of the pieces.

“My advice to beginning artists is to make the art that resonates with you. If you try to create for the market, it’s very hit or miss. Then take samples or models of your work around to decorators, architects and others who can recommend you to show what you can do. It may not be easy to do the legwork, but good work does come out in the long run.

“Local art centers can be a good place to start educating yourself because they’ll have beginner classes where you can learn – often how to fuse glass, because that’s easier, but also how to blow glass. Stained glass used to be in vogue, since it’s an easy entry point, but it can be limiting.

“There are also a handful of good schools that specialize in this area: Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Arrowmont in Tennessee, and the Pilchuck glass school in Washington State. Another good place to learn more is on the Warm Glass website, which is also connected to a studio that offers classes.

Martin Kremer is an award-winning artist who has studied blown and fused glass at the Penland School of Crafts, at Urbanglass in Brooklyn, NY and at the Corning Museum of Glass Studio in Corning, New York.

He started fusing by translating pattern to glass, with inspiration from Native American fabrics, Venetian tiles and marquetry patterns. That work led to the Ventana series of vessels, studies in contrasts: opacity/transparency, matte/glossy, all played out on a vividly colored palette. That series has recently taken a sculptural turn in the direction of walls, Paredes, and other structures incorporating fused glass with the same contrasts but with the addition of an architectural tension between free-standing pieces. They might be seen as models for large public monuments.

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From bulldozers to fine art with David Gelfman

 

David Gelfman, Metal Sculptor

“A visitor to my studio is just as apt to find me repairing somebody’s bulldozer as creating fine art,” says David Gelfman. “To me, the activities are not as different as they sound”. Indeed, Gelfman’s work delivers an exciting fusion of the industrial functionality of a bulldozer, and the form, delicacy and taste expected from fine art.

David Gelfman was immersed in the mechanics of creating at an early age. In his adolescence, Gelfman spent summers working for a metal fabricator, picking up tricks of the trade along the way. He also shared his father’s wood-shop in his own basement, and explored furniture design, along with many other skills. Gelfman’s insatiable fascination with machinery and farm implements has followed him since childhood. As a ten year old, he developed this interest, and continues to collect a range of machinery today. Gelfman realized his destination as an artist during his undergraduate education at St. Lawrence University (New York) and graduated with a BA in 1989. During the pursuit of his MFA (Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute, in Baltimore), Gelfman “began to focus in on the mechanics of creating the imagery that had previously just inhabited [his] imagination.” Since 1994, Gelfman has worked out of his studio in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The studio is a large barn, filled with a collection of mid twentieth century machine tools, as well as Gelfman’s in-progress works.

David Gelfman’s work flourishes from his expertise in manipulating materials. Through his ability to physically construct, Gelfman has produced a myriad of different types of work. Gelfman describes one piece, designed for and displayed at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art (Ridgefield, CT): “Many of the largest works Iʼve done are the result of [my] preoccupations with older technologies. One piece I did was a submarine which was in a show at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. We were asked to create works that were site specific. I made up a little dreamlike situation of the tide  leaving this submarine behind. I often have a childish beginning to a piece.” Gelfman’s sculptural work is based in concept, as well as the artist’s mental imagery constructed in quite a physical manner. In his purely sculptural work, Gelfman’s inspiration seems ever-changing, but draws from interests in antique machinery (submarines as well as tractors, sawmills and steam locomotives), geometry, and his six months a year spent managing commercial fishing expeditions. He has worked on pieces that are interactive, and considers the relationship between the sculpture and the viewer to be significant.

Along with working on purely sculptural pieces, Gelfman has worked extensively on functional creations. With the advantage of education in both materials and visual art, Gelfman pours much of his focus on artistic architectural metal work: staircases, railings, custom furniture, fans. Although these pieces are as functional as any piece built in a factory, Gelfman’s artistic taste and style shine through; his ability to create a form that balances artistry and operation is truly unique.

As a creative, Gelfman recognizes and speaks on the struggle that a career in the art world presents: “Art-making can be a compulsion that is difficult to control and it can go on hiatus.” Gelfman suggests a “healthy dose” of activities not based in creating art in order to stay balanced, and states that much of his time is spent working technically. However, it is hard to believe that this routine does not, at the end of the day, benefit his art, both in terms of skill and concept. The continued technical exposure to machinery informs his functional designs and influences his sculptural forms. This back-and-forth interaction gives Gelfman’s work the advantage of impeccable craft and the attraction of being conceptually unparalleled. While his sculptures are delicately constructed from the basis in large-scale machinery, Gelfman’s artistic architectural metal designs are decorative and entertaining, yet undeniably conceptual and of course, completely functional. David Gelfman’s harmonic integration of industrial mechanics and artistic finesse allow his work, sculptural or functional, to succeed and grow through his career. “I would say […] that I have been able to create unique things and demonstrate a singular style that is gratifying. I find that my work and materials do evolve…”

Gelfman has exhibited work in galleries in Connecticut and New York. Two large-scale steel sculptures remain on permanent display at the Connecticut Childrenʼs Medical Center in Hartford, CT. Gelfman has worked on private sculptural commissions, custom interior and furniture design and fabrication. He also recently finished renovating his own home.                                                                                  –contributed by Jordan Marker

 

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Artful Original Thoughts: Artist Joann Mettler

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Joann Mettler has followed her artistic passion through a variety of mediums and has found some surprising and delightful subjects along the way. From whimsical pigs and cows to bowls full of flowers with hidden images; from the contents of her colorful shoe closet to capturing facial expressions and making them into a crowd of people-sized faces on wheels, her work is playful, discerning and insightful.

For her, being an artist involves active engagement with the process and her emotions as each work evolves. Here she shares some of her thoughts, entitled My String of Pearls.

 MY STRING OF PEARLS

Artful original thoughts – Joann Mettler

I paint to lift the human spirit.

Love empowers (a work of art). It’s all bits and pieces but in the end it is something that is deeper than the surface.

You are limited only by your imagination.

Painting is like a lottery ticket; scratch the surface and you’ll find a painting.

I try to find what is in a painting rather than putting it there.

I never know where my work is taking me…I just keep watching, working and following its path.

Creating is like walking through a cloud.

Painting is a process where you construct, deconstruct and then reconstruct.  What’s left is the painting.

To make art YOU need all of your emotions to make sense of your senses.

Artist choices tell the story of themselves; completely personal and inspired by all they have touched, felt and seen.

Art is visual thinking.

Paintings need quiet places.

Painting is my silent music.

In painting, you can’t get away from being yourself.

If you’re not you then who are you?

Your painting is your humble opinion.

Respect your creative hands and don’t expect perfection.

Don’t make it so right that it’s wrong.

I do what I do for you (the viewer)

Your art shouldn’t reveal everything.

A state of mind:  Just being there, No dimensions, No before, No after.

Clouds are like patterned smoke.

It’s not simple to keep life simple.

Is this the rest of your life, or are you resting for the rest of your life?

It’s not what happens to you in life rather it’s how you react to what happens to you.

A sale purchase unneeded is expensive.

Don’t make a decision if you don’t know what decision to make.

I’ve smiled a lot through the years and they’ve made some impressions.

There will never be another you.

Common sense adds up to more than dollars and cents.

I always read the fine print; it is here that you find some important information.

If I didn’t see out of the corner of my eye I wouldn’t see anything.

I try to show you something other than reality.

New isn’t necessarily better; better is better and not necessarily new.

YOU are responsible for your own boredom.

Be there for yourself

So much damage can be done with the turn of a screw.

For every curve there is an opposing straight on the human body.

I’ve seen the power of courage.

Death is the resolution to life.

I COLLECT SHAPES they give me information to recognize an object.  Simple shapes are distillations of objects which become metaphors for the actual objects and can be very descriptive.  I don’t paint things as they are, rather, I paint my perception of how they are. I take shapes out of context.  The outside shape doesn’t have to be related to the inside.

©Joann Mettler 2013

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Japanese influenced painting: Bertille Baudiniere

Bertille de Baudinière, Painter

Bertille de Baudinière has distinguished herself and her work during her creative career with an aesthetic practice on three continents – specifically in Japan, USA and Europe – through its diverse nature and the integration of social issues in her art.

She discovered Japanese art, especially sumi-e and abstraction during her studies in the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris 1979-1982 . She was looking for a way to get out of Western culture. “I wanted to go as far away as possible. The Far East fascinated me in its approach to the abstract, it’s totally different spirit, its analysis of space and its taste for simplicity. I enrolled in Japanese language and literature courses and in 1986 obtained a research grant from the Japanese government studying the influence of occidental techniques used by Japanese artists.” She discovered space and simplicity (“two specific Japanese ideas”) and it became her golden rule until now.

The series that followed, Green Earth, 1989-1990, owes its title to a Nihonga pigment of the same name. Symbolic of the link that unites man and nature, Green Earth celebrates the cosmic dimension of Japanese Buddhism; the essential idea that man and the smallest blade of grass are both part of a whole.

The artist did not return to Europe right away. “The weight of the past is too heavy there; to create you must turn your back on the past.” She decided to expand her research to the United States. The earth of the Plains and of the native Americans inspired the second series of twenty paintings entitled Red Earth, 1991, with vast, deep, monochromed spaces irradiated with light.

In Paris 1993-2006 her return to France also marked her return to casein. Enriched by her experiences, she pursued her work on various series of paintings, convinced of the need to explore, test and clarify: Ecrans-Lumière, 1995-1998, Painting by numbers in 1999 (In response to the digital invasion, she covered her paintings with the numerals 0 and 1, retaining from the binary language the idea of combinations that tend towards the infinite), Planètes, 1999-2000, Voilages, 2001, Light-screen, 2001, Chênes-lièges, 2002-2003, Painting by letters, 2004, Blue Earth, 2005-2007.

In 2008, she decided to come back to the United States and live in New York with her family. Bertille de Baudinière found a studio in an artist community in Long Island City.  Since 2008 she has painted the series New York light and a huge American flag, Skype, a series of portraits about the internet, Colorimetry using wood sticks and color filters,  Harlem and some views of the city from above and, finally, Green Earth 2012.  She experiments with new techniques and uses different mediums in order to explore recurring themes in the work. This keeps it new and exciting, which is evident in her current Green Earth paintings.

The work is colorful, vibrant and powerful. Baudinière uses acrylic and casein, color filters, natural pigments, wood, piano strings, and a variety of found objects in her paintings, mixed-media works and assemblages.

My eye is always attracted by new and different materials, both natural and recycled. Sometimes I use these materials in my paintings, such as the natural sponges in my recent Green Earth series. At other times the material becomes a medium itself, such as the discarded wood lattice with which I made the Colorimetry series. With the help of these various materials I try to create constructions in which matter is transformed into light.

Bertille de Baudinière was born in Saint Malo, France. She received her diploma from Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts de Paris in 1982. In 1986, she was granted a research scholarship by the Japanese government and was enrolled as a Master scholar at the National University of Music and Arts in Tokyo. She received her MFA in 1990.

Baudinière has exhibited nationally and internationally including Islip Art Museum, US, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, US, Hainan National Museum, China, Tomura Gallery, Japan, Fondation des Etats-Unis, France, Zurdorfer Wehrturm Museum, Germany, Galerie Arte Noah, Germany and Dalian, China.

She has been granted residencies, given lectures, curated special exhibits and designed sets throughout the world and has created several videos.

Baudinière’s work is in the collection of Museum of Landau, Germany, Fondation Danielle Mitterand, Le GNG, l’Energie pour demain,  Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Queensborough Community College, and Fondation des Etats-Unis. Her work has been shown in Le Monde Diplomatique, Beaux arts magazine, Art Press, Editions Unesco, Nice-Matin, Omaha World Herald, and Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger.

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Artists in Support of the Armed Forces

Karen Loew, Chair of Coast Guard Art Program, Visual Artist specializing in soft realism

Karen Loew and the artists who participate in the Coast Guard Art Program (COGAP) and the art programs of other branches of the country’s armed forces immortalize in paintings the bravery of men and women serving in the U.S. military.

The artists are, according to Loew, “visual historians, morale boosters and fan club”. Artists work as volunteers, and they donate time and talent to create works of art depicting the varied missions of the military. “The paintings depict experiences of danger, the suspense of the unknown, the anxious moments of search and rescue, the relief of a successful mission, and the emotions of a return home,” says Loew. Each work of art is a gift from the artist to the Collection.

“Emails I have received thank us for capturing their memories and experiences, and for portraying the Coast Guard in a very positive and remarkable way. I chair the COGAP Committee at the Salmagundi Club, which is an artistic and cultural center that’s been here for over 140 years and is also the proud sponsor of COGAP. When I joined COGAP in 1999, I did not have expectations of what would become of the art I would donate to the Collection. Rather, I was just thrilled to be accepted and have my art included. Since then, I have observed that the art of the Collection does have an amazing public life, educating the public about the missions and history of our Coast Guard through displays at museums, libraries and patriotic events. Art is also displayed in government offices and at Coast Guard locations around the country.

All the branches of the United States armed services have art programs:

The United States Coast Guard Art Program was co-founded in 1981 by combat artist George Gray and John Ward of Coast Guard Community Relations. COGAP welcomes requests for public displays of artwork and inquiries from artists to join the program.

Management of the United States Air Force Art Program and Collection is the responsibility of the Secretary of the Air Force, Office of the Administrative Assistant. The Air Force Art Program Office handles day-to-day administration of the program. The office is charged with responsibility for the Art Program.

The United States Marine Corps Art Collection, held in trust at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, document over 230 years of Marine Corps history. The mission of the Museum is to collect and preserve in perpetuity, artifacts that reflect and chronicle the history of the Corps. The more than 60,000 uniforms, weapons, vehicles, medals, flags, aircraft, works of art and other artifacts in the Museum’s collections trace the history of the Marine Corps from 1775 to the present.

The United States Navy Art Collection has over 15,000 paintings, prints, drawings, and sculpture. It contains depictions of naval ships, personnel, and action from all eras of U.S. naval history, but due to the operation of the Combat Art Program, the eras of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Shield/Storm are particularly well represented. The Branch manages the art collection, produces exhibits, loans artwork to museums and institutions, and provides research assistance on the art collection.

The United States Army Art Program or United States Army Combat Art Program is a program created by the United States Army to create artwork for museums and other programs sponsored by the US Army. The collection associated with the program is held by the United States Army Center of Military History, as part of their Museums collection.

Karen Loew is Chair of the Coast Guard Art Program Committee of New York’s Salmagundi Club, and she serves on the club’s board of directors. In 2002, the Coast Guard sent her to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) to document activities of Coast Guard Port Security Unit 305. She is frequently a speaker at COGAP events, most notably for the opening reception of the COGAP exhibition in Vlissingen, Holland in 2009. In 2011, she was given the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest recognition given to those who have made outstanding contributions in advancing the Coast Guard’s missions.

Loew’s art has been featured in the book American Women Artists in Wartime, 1776 – 2010 as well as The New York Times, and Professional Artist. Her paintings are held in private and public collections.

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Gilding Tips: Artist Karen Fitzgerald

My work is idiosyncratic – it’s round and it incorporates gilding extensively in its surface, process and idea.  In a wider view, my work is traditional in that I put paint on a substrate.

Gilding has wide applications in our world. It’s been found as far back as the early Egyptian civilization. We know the Chinese were gilding 5,000 years ago. While gilding in our modern world is usually decorative in application, traditionally it was used to signify something beyond the physical. It indicated the sacred, spiritual realm.

Learning gilding has been an experience of constant surprise. The basic idea is that a metal, beaten thinner than a human hair, is applied to a surface. The variety of glues (referred to as ‘size’) is astounding. Older German gilders used a mixture of beer and honey. A contemporary gilder uses the juice of garlic. Size falls into 2 categories: water-based and oil-based. Leaf is delicate to handle – I rarely use loose gold leaf. It is available in two forms: loose and transfer. The transfer leaf is adhered to thin tissue – handling it is less risky than loose leaf. When using loose leaf (I always use loose leaf in silver, copper and aluminum) you can tear it up, achieving an interesting non-gridded surface. By carefully sealing gilding you can gild in layers – for instance, adding linear elements on top of a gilded background.  Sealants are as various as size! One of the things I’ve learned is that gilding requires a constant attention to touch, and a constant willingness to change a habit of process. I recently gilded a copper ground.  I sealed it with shellac first, allowing the shellac to cure for 24 hours, then added a layer of Lascaux UV.  Overnight the Lascaux turned a deep brown!  Whatever reacted, the fact that it did signals me to that attentive mode, being careful not to assume materials will sit happily together.

I use gilding in a non-decorative manner. My intention is to signal to the viewer that they are not looking at a replication of the physical world. Gold is embedded in the core of our civilization, its dynamic energy often signals something beyond the purely physical. The precious metals I gild with indicate a quality of energy that expands beyond our physical world, a quality that is metaphysical and transformative.

Light suffuses our world – its energy shapes the mood of each day. I use color as pure light, physical energy, creating complex shades and tones that reconnect energies present in the everyday world with my own as well as viewers’ experiences. My work gives you a way to have a visual experience of your own energy. Similar to looking in a mirror, when you look into one of my paintings, you respond to the color, nuance and energy that is embedded in the piece. You have an experience of your energetic self, manifested in the physical properties of the paint. We know from scientists that energy can travel in waves.  Here-in lies the power of the wave: as you experience this energy, it has the capacity to shift your own energy to a higher level. I have always loved the action of wave energy in water. As the energy passes through the water, it lifts the water. As the energy of my painting reaches you, it lifts your energy.

In the New York area, a terrific resource is Sepp Leaf, international distributor of gold and metal leaf, gilding supplies, Liberon and decorative finishing products

Karen Fitzgerald’s work has been widely exhibited in the United States, including at the Queens Museum of Art, the Madison Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, the University of Arizona – Tucson, and at the United Nations in New York.  Her work is also in the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Union Gas collection, the Rienhart Collection of Germany, the Museum of New Art in Detroit and many other public and private collections.

Workshop: Ms. Fitzgerald will be offering a day-long gilding workshop at her studio in Long Island City, NY on January 21, 2012. She’ll cover types of gilding, how to gild large areas, gilding in layers, working with copper, aluminum, silver and gold and related topics.  For information, contact Kbfitzgerald@gmail.com.

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10 Tips Selling Art to Galleries

 

Mindy Yanish, Owner, Offerings Gallery

What do artists have to know about working with retailers and gallery owners?

  1. Don’t think having friends and family like your work means you can succeed in selling to others on a regular basis.
  2. Know that being talented is not enough to be successful.
  3. Don’t treat all retailers or gallery owners the same; like artists, every retailer or gallery owner is unique and should be approached that way.
  4. Don’t assume the store or gallery owner doesn’t understand what it is to be an artist. Just because I own or run a store doesn’t mean I haven’t lived that struggle – in fact, I have and it’s been a double roller coaster.
  5. Don’t believe if you’re an artist you can’t be good at business. Operating a successful business is as creative as anything else you do in art. It’s a living thing like a painting, and you have to be very creative to make it work – the skills are very complementary.
  6. Realize that the relationship is not just about selling art – it’s much more than that. It’s collaboration between the store or gallery owner and the artist. The more I understand about you and your work, and the more I love it, the better I can translate and convey that to potential buyers.
  7. Understand that for the relationship to be successful there should be an emotional and I believe a spiritual connection between you and the person selling your work. Your work is much more than a physical product.
  8. Know I need to be able to convey information about your art and about you as an artist – art is part of a person’s soul, and if the artist realizes I’m not just a business person, and we connect, I can sell and speak about who they are in a meaningful way.
  9. The art world hasn’t to do with proximity (where you live), who refers you, or how much you sell. If you are producing art true to who you are, you are succeeding. You must, as an artist, do your most authentic work.
  10. Someone else can’t tell you how much you can get for your work. I can guide people, but it depends who you’re painting or creating your work for. Ask yourself: Who do you see as your audience? Are you doing it for the masses as a product, or are you creating for another type of buyer? How much time have you put in? What do you think your art is worth?

What, in addition to quality of work, makes you want to work with a new artist?

One word – Humility!

For me, that’s the sign of advanced art making. Once an artist thinks they’re past the point of accepting feedback and critique, then they’ve hit a wall and boxed themselves in. Those who are going to grow more are open to teaching.

How can an individual help you once her or she becomes one of your artists?

The artist should be willing and able to nurture the relationship with me through ongoing dialogue and communication as their work evolves. I want to know how and why that is happening.

This continues an exchange of ideas and keeps the relationship alive. It enriches both of us and lets me be part of the evolution of the person’s work. The artist’s authenticity must be heart-felt, and that can’t be faked. It’s about connection, not just the piece. Creativity is a gift you can’t own it.

Mindy Yanish is proprietor of Offerings Contemporary American Craft & Fine Art Gallery located in Katonah, New York north of New York City. Offerings specializes in local art as well as American hand-made jewelry and antiques, collectibles and contemporary fine crafts. Mindy holds a Master’s Degree in painting from the School of Visual Arts.

 

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