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Masterworks Monday: Frida Kahlo

8 Oct

While Mr. Forager & I are on the road, making our way to California, we’re rerunning Artsy Forager’s most popular posts.  This post originally published on May 2, 2011, when the blog was barely two months old.  Enjoy!

In honor of Cinco De Mayo this week, I thought we’d focus today on the amazing Frida Kahlo.  When I was in painting classes in college, I remember there being this older Bolivian lady who was auditing the classes and she was obsessed with Frida Kahlo.  She was sweet but somewhat obnoxious.  For a long time, the fact that she was so obsessed with Kahlo managed to turn me off on her artwork.  Weird how our minds work sometimes.

But then, somewhere along the line, I let go of this irrational bias and took another look at Kahlo and her work.  And I was quickly won over.  Health problems plagued Kahlo from a young age, suffering first from polio and then being severly injured in a horrific car accident which left her in a full body cast and bedridden for three months.  Though she eventually recovered from her injuries, extreme pain would torment her for the rest of her life.

Two Fridas

Before the accident, Kahlo was studying to become a physician, but she dealt with the boredom of being confined to bed by taking up painting with her father’s watercolors.  And so, Frida Kahlo, the artist was born.

Kahlo’s work often included symbols of Mexican mythology, as well as those of Christian and Jewish faiths.  Though she is perhaps best known for her self-portraits, often depicting events in her own life, such as the accident, subsequent miscarriages, etc.

She married renown Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera in 1929 and their life together was a tumultous one.

Her work has been described as surrealist, but I think it is the unvarnished depiction of her real life pain and struggle that makes her work so interesting and relatable. We may not have all been through the kind of physical pain Kahlo experienced, but perhaps it is that we can all certainly relate to her emotional pain and the need to express it on canvas.

Be sure to check out the official Frida Kahlo website.  A beautifully designed site full of interesting information about the artist.

Droppin’ Y-Bombs: Suzanne Tidwell at Occidental Park

4 Oct

While Mr. Forager & I are on the road, making our way to California, we’re rerunning Artsy Forager’s most popular posts.  This post originally published on July 18, 2011.  Enjoy!

This being my first summer in the Pacific Northwest, I knew the climate would be much cooler than summers in Florida.  But no one told me that even the trees would be wearing scarves!

Yarn Bombing by Suzanne Tidwell, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

G and I were in Seattle on Saturday and our first stop was Occidental Park.. I was dying to see large scale yarn bombing in person.  Suzanne Tidwell’s bright warm colors juxtaposed against the dark trees under a cloudy sky would melt the heart of the Grinch himself.

Yarn Bombing by Suzanne Tidwell, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

Yarn Bombed Lamp Post, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

I mean, let’s face it, here in the PNW, we have a lot of gray days.  So why not help nature along a little by adding some color and whimsy?  I think the trees approve.  They just look so much happier, don’t they?  ( Wait, did I just inadvertently quote Bob Ross?! )  And of course, those bony lamp posts HAD to have been cold, being steel and all.  Now they’re super cozy.

Yarn bombing is a type of street art, which instead of using chalk or paint, utilizes colorful installations of knitted or crocheted yarn.  Begun as an attempt to enliven and beautify cold, urban environments, it has grown into a full-on art movement.  These aren’t just grandmas and bored housewives looking for a creative outlet and a bit of mischief.  Many yarn bombers are fiber artists who connected with the whimsical style and slightly rebellious nature of yarn bombing.

In many cases, the yarn bombing is done illegally, just like traditional graffiti and often under the cover of night.  However, bombers are rarely prosecuted, if caught.  Perhaps due to the playful, non-threatening nature of the “tagging”.  It would be like arresting Tinkerbell.

Fiber artists have tagged iconic public sculpture such as the Rocky Balboa statue in Philadelphia, a traditional red London telephone booth and Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull sculpture ( But don’t call that one yarn-bombing to the responsible artist, Olek.  She takes offense and considers her own work art, while the work of others to be trite.  Not sure I see the difference, but that is her prerogative, I suppose. )  What began as a clandestine art movement is now moving into mainstream favor, with artists, like Seattle’s Suzanne Tidwell, being commissioned to produce large scale public installations and corporate projects.

Totems and Yarn Bombs, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA

There is so much darkness and despair in our world today.  I say thank you, yarn bombers, for seeking to bring a little sunshine and fanciful wonderment to our world.  Long may you knit.

If you’d like to learn more about Suzanne Tidwell, whose work is featured in Occidental Park in Seattle as part of the summer ArtSPARKS program, check out her website and Facebook page.  To learn more about yarn bombing, check out this website, run by two knitters living in Vancouver, BC who also wrote a book about the phenomenon, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti.  

[ Insert Art Here ]: Art For Every Pocketbook

4 Jan

I am a firm believer in buying art at whatever level you can afford and I’m not talking about the framed art aisle at Target.  While there are certain levels of art collecting which some of us may never reach ( I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll never own an original Georgia O’Keeffe, just keepin’ it real ), there is fabulous art available for every budget!  Just because your budget is limited, that’s no excuse for blank walls!  For this installment of [ Insert Art Here ], we’ll take a look at 3 art options for the same space– all fab, each fitting a particular budget level.  Here we go!

Let’s begin with our blank( ish ) canvas–

From http://www.nestdallasdesign.com, home of Bradley Agather, designed by Beth Dotolo, photo by Kevin Dotolo ( artwork removed, to see the original design, click on this photo )

For the Beginning Collector:

Artwork by Ann Tarantino via 20x200

Prints are the easiest and most budget friendly way to begin an art collection and these days there is no shortage of sources for quality limited editions.  These Ann Tarantino prints ( Far and Wide [ left ] and Flying Colors [ right ] ) are archival pigment prints, $200 each ( not including framing ) and are available through 20×200.  Pretty sweet, right?

For the Mid-Range Artsy:

Artwork by Michelle Armas

So you’re ready to put your money where your mouth is and begin a serious art collection?  Original work by emerging artists is a great place to start.  Atlanta artist Michelle Armas has become something of an art & design blog darling and with that comes a certain ( well deserved! ) notoriety which makes her work highly collectible.  Her abstract paintings are riotous and painterly, filled with joyous color.  The piece above, Eggplant is an acrylic work on canvas, 30×40 inches.  It is available through Gregg Irby Fine Art at $1000.  An awesome price for a piece of that size and quality!  Forego your daily $4 chai-mocha-frappawhatever from Starbucks and you will be able to purchase a piece like this, too.  It’s all about priorities, ya’ll. 🙂

For the Serious Artophile:

Artwork by Christina Foard

Christina Foard is a painter’s painter.  She paints intuitively and revels in the materials, not afraid to get her hands dirty.  There is an emotionality to her work that, along with its glorious physical texture, provides a depth that you don’t always find in abstract compositions.  The piece above, Floating Invasion ( acrylic on canvas, 40×30 ) provides this space with a certain amount of gravitas, while still giving just the right amount of color and movement.  But Foard’s works are pieces you buy because you can’t stop thinking about them.. you have to have them.. If they happen to match your throw pillows, well, that’s just a bonus.  ( FYI– Floating Invasion is no longer available, but Foard pieces in a similar size are usually in the $3000 range )

My final word.. as Dan Fear said “Buy art because you like it and because it moves you, and because it enhances your life.”  This has been a little exercise that I hope will inspire you to purchase a piece of art that you love this year.   Now that’s a new years’ resolution I can get behind!

Friday Forager Faves: Treehuggers

2 Sep

Please enjoy this oldie by goodie while I spend the next two weeks camping, packing, visiting with the mom-in-law and moving from WA to OR. See you in September!

There is nothing I love better than a day spent walking in the woods or paddling down a slow moving river.  Nature’s beauty has a way of inspiring me to want to paint, write, cook, just create.  In celebration of Earth Day, this Friday’s Forager Faves round up includes a few artists who obviously feel the same way.  These are works insprired by the wonder of the earth in which we live.  Enjoy and get outside!

Quiet Cypress by Jim Draper

Sweet Grass No. 7 by Lori Keith Robinson 

Riverbank Afternoon by Debbie Martin

 

Tree Song No. 7 Colorshow by Kristi Taylor

 

Yes, Virginia, You CAN Afford to Buy Artwork! ( Part 2 )

1 Sep

Please enjoy this oldie by goodie while I spend the next two weeks camping, packing, visiting with the mom-in-law and moving from WA to OR. See you in September!

The affordable artfest continues today!  In case you missed it, you can catch Part 1 here.   Here are a few more suggestions for purchasing affordable artwork:

  • Art festivals– Just about every community at one point of another puts on some kind of arts festival or at the very least, there are a few within easy driving distance of where you live.  Festivals are a great place to check out ( usually ) a wide variety of artwork.  And with individual artists manning their own booths, it’s also a great opportunity to chat with them about their work.  Plus, you can usually score some funnel cake.  Win-win!! 

 

  • ArtWalks— Many communities are also getting on the ArtWalk bandwagon, which I am all for!   ArtWalks customarily take place once a month, usually the same evening every month such as the First Friday or Second Saturday.  While the ArtWalks usually involve visiting local galleries, which we’ll touch base on below, many of them set up tents in a local park or closed-off street where local artists can display their wares.

 

  • Arts Markets– A growing trend is a local “arts market”, which is a weekly market, combination farmer’s market, street fair and arts market.   A wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning, grab some fresh ingredients for dinner, listen to local music and discover new artists.   

 

  • Local Galleries– You may think this one is obvious, but in many communities, brick & mortar art galleries are rapidly disappearing, thanks in no small part to the recession.  If you are lucky enough to have some local galleries in your area, do what you can to support them.  Don’t just go to the free events– actually buy something, even if it small.  Many galleries today offer payment plans for larger purchases, don’t be afraid to ask.  Galleries are in the business of supporting artists and selling their work.  While it’s nice to browse, browsers don’t pay the rent.  Most art galleries are run by average folks who love art or are artists themselves and are an important feature of any thriving community.  Please patronize local galleries– your community will thank you.

 

  • Art by Students– Chances are, you have a community college or university of some kind in or near where you live.  These institutions are often filled with budding artists.  Check the colleges’ websites to find out more about their art programs, exhibitions, etc.  Purchasing student work is a wonderful, economical way to start a collection AND help give emerging young artists a boost of confidence.  Even if they don’t make a career out of being an artist, that student will always know someone loved their work enough to buy it and they will cherish that knowledge. ( I speak from personal experience! )

 

  •  Artists Themselves– OK, so this suggestion may call for a huge, UMM..DUH, LESLEY!!, but it’s definitely an option, especially today when many artists are foregoing traditional gallery representation, choosing instead to market their work on their own.   There are certain advantages to dealing directly with an artist, such as they may have more room to negotiate on price or payment terms without a middle man, as a direct “patron”, the artist may notify you first of new works you may be interested in and best of all, you can get to know the artist personally, which often makes the work you love that much more significant. In addition, many artists are now offering “budget” limited editions of their work, which make it all the more affordable.  ( Check out Town Editions, a limited edition collection offered by Pick of the Crop artist, Thomas Hager ).   A word of caution though, on a somewhat touchy aspect of buying directly from artists which goes back to my point of supporting local galleries– if you see a piece in a gallery that you love PLEASE do not try to circumvent the gallery and purchase from the artist directly.  It’s dishonest and well, just a crappy thing to do.  Most artists value their relationships with galleries or have a contract with the gallery and would not sell such a work to you in any case, but I’ve seen it happen.

 I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  It can be intimidating to buy artwork, but buy what you love and you’ll never be sorry.

Yes, Virginia, You CAN Afford To Buy Artwork! ( Part 1 )

31 Aug

Please enjoy this oldie by goodie while I spend the next two weeks camping, packing, visiting with the mom-in-law and moving from WA to OR. See you in September!

It is a huge misnomer that only the rich can afford to be art collectors or even to purchase original work.  When most of us think of an “art collector”, we tend to think of the stereotype of the wealthy patron, attending auctions at Christie’s, buying artwork for more than many of us make in a year, heck, in a lifetime.  Or maybe you’ve gone into a higher end gallery and seen a price and thought to yourself, “Self, no way you’ll ever be able to afford that.”

Well, I’m here to tell you, the times they are a changin’.  It has never been easier or more affordable to purchase original artwork and/or high quality limited editions.   No, I’m not talking about the kind of “original art” you buy at the fleamarket or from a sale in a hotel ballroom.   I’m referring to original, gallery worthy fine art.  The kind you can be proud to hang on your wall.

Here are some suggestions for finding the artwork of your dreams and getting your collection started:

Online galleries/exhibition websites– These are popping up all over the place and many of them represent some very talented artists and you can usually find wonderful work in every price point.

  • Etsy— Possibly the largest online art & handmade marketplace, complete with a powerful search engine, you’ll find a wide range of artwork available.  Many artists are using Etsy to reach a wider audience and as a way to sell their work independantly. ( Note that many of the artists with shops on the “exhibition sites” will have their links on those sites connecting back to their Etsy shops. )

Into the Mystic, photgraphic print, 8″x8″ $30

  • 20×200this New York City based website works with artists to offer limited editions of original work.   Starting at just $20 for the smallest size, 20×200 offers affordable, quality work for newbie collectors.

Well-Being I, limited edition on archival paper, 8″x10″, edition of $200, $20

  • Papernstitch— I must admit, I’m a little biased toward this one, as it is run by my friend ( and fabulous artist in her own right ), Brittni Wood.  Started as a blog, Papernstitch is a growing online exhibition site, curated monthly by Brittni and features handpicked, talented artists, designers and craftspeople.   The Papernstitch blog is still going full force and features daily posts from Brittni and a handful of other talented contributors.  Papernstitch is definitely worth a look when you are searching for something special.

  Open Space by Rachel Austin, original mixed media on canvas, 8″ x 8″, $85

  • Artwelove— Founded in 2008, ArtWeLove “offers exclusive, museum-quality art editions by today’s inspiring artists”.  A big difference with this site is it focuses on offerings from artists whose work is found in top galleries, museums and exhibitions throughout the world.  The work is curated and commissioned directly from the artist to ArtWeLove exclusively– you won’t see these prints anywhere else.  The site has a “learning engine” similar to Amazon.com, which tracks your artwork preferences over time and makes recommendations for you.

 Petal, Pixel and Stain by Nina Tichava, limited edition on archival paper, starting at $50

  • PoppyTalk Handmade–Founded in 2008 by a Canadian husband and wife team, PoppyTalk Handmade is a monthly curated and “themed” marketplace showcasing artwork, handmade and vintage goods from around the world.   Sort of an online street fair/festival, PoppyTalk provides an online marketplace to emerging and indie artists and craftspeople. 

Pillow Land, sewn print by Clare Elsaesser of Tastes Orangey, 4.75″ x 4.75″, $20

Stay tuned over the next few days for more suggestions on ways to buy original art on any budget!

Artist Diggs: Angel’s Haven

30 Aug

Please enjoy this oldie by goodie while I spend the next two weeks camping, packing, visiting with the mom-in-law and moving from WA to OR. See you in September!

There are people and by people, I mean artists, whose life and art are so intertwined that almost everything in their life looks like their artwork.  Maribel Angel is one of those people and I mean that in the best possible sense.  The minute I drove up to her home & studio in St. Augustine, Florida, I knew I was in for a treat.

Maribel’s home & studio, which she shares with her husband, Cash, dog Miss Hannah and three cats, is on a quiet street removed from the bustle of tourists in downtown St. Augustine.  Entering through a green gate with a little bell,  I am greeted with a hug from the artist and meow from possibly the friendliest cat ever, Lulu. 

Trimmed in bright colors reminiscent of her paintings, the house, studio and workshop are like sweet little dollhouses.  Maribel and Cash purchased the property, which faces a lovely canal where Lulu loves to beg for attention from joggers, as a fixer upper and have done most of the work themselves over the years.  It is apparent that this is a place created with love.

Let’s go into the studio.

Sunlight streams through the windows, filling the diminutive studio with light and warmth. 

Every artist’s studio needs a comfy chair.  A place where an artist can curl up with a cup of coffee and read or dream about where inspiration will take them next.  Finished artwork or works in progress are all around the studio– like these sweet little horse paintings ( below ), which were big sellers during the MOCA Studio Tour a few weeks ago. 

The studio floors are reclaimed hardwood, which came from a local horse barn.  Maribel theorizes that perhaps the floors are subconsciously leading her to paint horses!  Whatever the cause, these equestrian inspired pieces are hard to resist.  However, I am even more in love with a new series Maribel is working on– inspired by the Anthropologie catalog! 

I told Maribel how much I loved these and when she told me her inspiration source, I was downright gleeful!  There is just something about Anthropologie that we artsy girls love.  Ask anyone who has ever been in one with me.  I get this joyous, glazed over look in my eye, which I’m sure is very similar to the look I had upon leaving Maribel’s.

On the opposite side of the room, are the quintessential elements of any artist’s studio– easel, work table and of course, stacks of works in progress.   See the horses?  I think the floors are working their magic. 

Ever wonder how Maribel creates those wonderful, collaged layers in her work?  First, she makes a color copy of the inspiration source, whether it be a textile pattern, page from a book or other ephemera, then soaks the copy in a medium solution which allows her to peel the transparent image from the paper.  The transparency allows for background paint and other elements to show through and using this instead of the paper itself will be more permanent and chemically stable. 

I can’t wait to try this out on my own.. I already have a few ideas!  If only I was as prolific as Maribel.. there is artwork and inspiration everywhere you turn in her studio.

Don’t you love the rustic window paned doors?  Maribel has definitely created a space that warms the heart and nurtures the soul.  I was there for less than an hour and came home incredibly inspired and ready to create!  I hope our visit to Maribel’s studio has done the same for you.

To see more of Maribel’s artwork, visit her Pick of the Crop page here at Artsy Forager or drop by her own website.

Going Along Swimmingly: Samantha French

29 Aug

Please enjoy this oldie but goodie while I spend the next two weeks camping, packing, visiting with the mom-in-law and moving from WA to OR. See you in September!

Swimmingly [ swim-ing-lee ]
–adverb-  Definition:  without difficulty; with great success; effortlessly.
‘Tis the season for swimming.  If you’re in Florida at least, maybe if you’re elsewhere ’tis the season to dream of swimming.  I recently came across the paintings of New York ( by way of Minnesota ) artist, Samantha French, bathed in sunlight and clear blue water.
Reminiscent of summers spent on Minnesota lakes, French’s work seeks to recapture those fleeting, carefree days of summer.  Days spent in the water, underwater, by the water.. nothing compares to the lovely worn-out feeling of a day spent swimming and relaxing in the sun.
The swimmers and sunbathers in French’s work are reminiscent of days gone by.. of colorful convertibles, hotdog picnics, the days of Hepburn and Tracy.

French has a show titled “Open Swim” opening at the Left Bank Gallery in Essex, CT this Thursday.  To learn more about the artist, visit her website and be sure to fan Samantha French Art on Facebook!  Prints of her work can be purchased through her Etsy store.

Perfect for summer, yes?

Friday Forager Faves: Shutterbugs

26 Aug

Please enjoy this oldie by goodie while I spend the next two weeks camping, packing, visiting with the mom-in-law and moving from WA to OR. See you in September!

I can’t believe it is the end of another week already.  The time is quickly flying by as George and I prepare to make our way to the West Coast.  I plan to take LOTS of photos both on our trip and once we have arrived.  But alas, I am merely the point & shoot type.  Oh, I try to compose a nice shot or get all artsy with the angles and such, but I have a long way to go.

I took a few photography classes in high school and college and well, let’s just say I never did quite get the hang of it.  I am mechanically challenged to say the least.   I have such respect for fine art photographers, because I know how difficult getting that perfect shot can be.  So today’s faves feature some of my favorite photogs!

 Doug Eng

 

Amy Carmichael Smith

 

Thomas Hager

 

Pamela Viola

 

Heather Blanton 

 

Matt Sawyer

 

Have a great weekend, Artsies!  Get out and take some cool pictures.

 

Artist Diggs: Foard Above

25 Aug

Please note that unfortunately, Christina is no longer in this studio.  She is actively created from her home studio– but I loved this insight into her creative world.

Christina Foard is above the clouds– literally and figuratively.  Her new studio space sits high above downtown Jacksonville in the AT&T building.  How could she not be over the moon? This is her view, ya’ll!

Despite the breathtaking view or perhaps, in part, because of it, Christina admits her new studio was a bit overwhelming when she first moved in.   An empty office space, originally intended for row upon row of cubicles, proved challenging to figure out how to best utilize as an art studio.  But a huge advantage to so much space?  Christina has room to breath and room to create.

Ditto goes for her three kids, who are often at the studio with her, sometimes for hours on end.  There is plenty of room for them to run around, even skateboard(!) throughout the studio and Christina has set up a “living room” so that she and the kids have a place to relax while she’s in the studio.

There is also room for Christina, the artist, to “play”.  When stuck for direction or just needing to get some creative juices flowing, she can plop herself down on the floor and play with paint and paper or stand over it and do some “Pollock-style” action painting.  If that won’t get your painting mojo working, nothing will.

Christina’s work is autobiographical– each piece is about a particular time, place, person or memory and is often used as a kind of catharsis, a way of working through a particular memory and replacing what may have been a negative with a positive.   Though a lot of her work is technically representational ( centered around recognizable objects ), it is also highly symbolic.  Circles and ribbons have begun popping up in Christina’s work lately, often symbolizing the intrusion of a chaos of thought on a peaceful mind.

Just as her life is constantly changing and evolving, so too, is Christina’s work.  For this artist, it is more about the process of creating than a finished “marketable” product.  ( Though people do respond to her work and it sells quite well ).  The paintings she creates aren’t necessarily “precious”, she will often go back and not just tweak but completely rework a piece so that it hardly resembles its former self.

The pieces pictured below, for instance, are works in progress.. they may not exist as you see them a week from now.

This new space is allowing Christina to grow as an artist like never before.  She is filled with ideas and there are stacks of new canvases just waiting for paint.

The new studio is also giving her a chance to venture into collage and sculpture.  She has wiped her slate clean of exhibitions and shows until early next year, to give herself time to rejuevenate, reinvigorate and explore where her art will take her.  I can’t wait to see where the journey leads!

You can see more of Christina’s work on her Pick of the Crop page here at Artsy Forager or drop by her website.

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