Monday, July 26, 2010

Karen Freedman: Artist Interview

I have been an admirer of Karen Freedman's work since the first time I saw it. Her work is very energetic. In the process of our dialogue, it was fun to learn that we attended the same college (Philadelphia College of Art) at overlapping times.

Karen Freedman at work in her current studio

Lynette (LH): Can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Karen: Although I have been a working artist my entire adult life, I only began my journey as a fine artist about eight years ago.

LH: Where did you grow up and what (if any) were there any early influences on your work?
Karen: I was born, raised, educated, married, raised two children, divorced and still live in and around Philadelphia, PA. One of my long-term goals is to avoid having my obituary read that I died and will be buried in Philadelphia too.

Reclamation: Veiled Gift
6” x 6” encaustic, cold wax on panel
LH: Did you receive any formal art training? If yes, where, and what did you major in?
Karen: I attended Philadelphia College of Art (now The University of the Arts) majoring in jewelry design. My first introduction to this craft was through my high school art teacher who had a small jewelry shop set up in a portion of our classroom. I loved it. I was a stereotypical feminine product of the era. This was the first time I was actually encouraged to get physical with creativity. As a child I loved to wander the aisles of the hardware department at Sears, lusting after all the tools and imagining what I could do with them. Jewelry Design gave me that chance.
Unfortunately, we were taught to make jewelry as an art form and not as a living—so after college I taught myself graphic design and had a successful freelance business for many years.
When I originally enrolled in art school and declared my major, my father commented, “You’re not an artist unless you paint”. Not the wisest thing to say to a rebellious 17 years old. It wasn’t until my late 40’s that I realized I didn’t have to listen to that voice anymore. That is when I enrolled in some continuing ed classes at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the attempt to learn the skills and techniques I had managed to avoid to this point.
Yet the most valuable lessons I took away from art school had nothing to do with technique, craft, or color theory. Art school taught me how to think outside the box, how to problem solve. I learned how to look at situations from many different angles and come up with as many solutions. Those are skills I use on a daily basis whether making art or not. Or maybe my life is just one big performance piece. 

Reclamation: Smiles of a Fool
12” x 12” encaustic on panel
LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
Karen: I have always thought of myself as an artist. It has never been a choice although there are times when I thought it was. Throughout my life I have gone through many fits and starts and quite a few vocational incarnations but the art was always there.

Abacus: Summation 
12” x 12” encaustic on panel 

LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general.
Karen: I have finally come to realize that the repetitive themes of my art are more that a just a visual vocabulary. My artist statement will tell you that my work is about order and repetition. Since that can easily be read on my website I’d prefer to just list the common themes my life and art share and let you connect the dots. They are, in no special order: games, puzzles, cryptograms, spreadsheets, geometry, conflict, contrast, resolution, dance, color, process, surprise, and laughter.

LH: What is your media?
Karen: I have been working almost exclusively in encaustic for about five years. This medium meets so many of my visceral needs. Encaustic is visually sensual, a luminous conduit for pigment, challenging, unforgiving, labor and processes intense, and last but not least, it gives me an excuse to indulge my inner ‘tool junkie’.

There are zillions of concepts whirling around in my head. I am now in the process of finding the common threads to weave together to form the matrix of a new series.

The Studios, in Contrast....
LH: Karen, what is your workspace like? 

Karen: My studio is located in the dark, unfinished basement of a house that I am currently renting. Although quite large, it pales in comparison to my former studio that was in a converted factory/artist’s studio complex. I love working in a facility with access to other artists. It was a great source of inspiration, opportunities and human contact. The size, layout and lighting of my former studio space itself was great and I only now appreciate how much the physical properties of a studio can affect my process.

An important part of my process is to hang my work in my studio during different stages of each painting’s development. There was an area in my old studio I thought of as my “do nothing space” where I could disengage from the physical act of painting and literally distance myself from the piece. While sitting there I would read, do cryptograms or anything else that would get my brain working in a different direction. Periodically I would stop to look up at the painting(s) in progress, with fresh eyes. My gut reactions at those moments guide me towards the resolution of conflicts or confirm that I am on the right track. My current studio space has no finished walls for me to hang my work. Instead what I have is a basement lined in insulation. Unfortunately the ceiling is too low to upright my easel. I am trying to come up with some cost conscious ways to meet my needs in a space that is temporary. I welcome any ideas.

Karen's current studio

Another view of her current workspace

Karen's Thinking Chair—in her previous studio

Karen's Thinking Chair—in the current studio

Another pic of the previous space

LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
Karen: Discipline and action. If I don’t have a concept, I just start something and see where it takes me. It usually leads somewhere.

LH: Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that show your work?

LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Karen: I don’t have a really good answer for this. Getting stuck can make me feel like a hamster on a wheel. I keep repeating the same concept and loose the ability to move forward. Recently, I had to give myself permission not to paint, which is different than just not painting. Sort of like the concept of how good things happen when you stop expecting them. My best work comes when I can let go.

LH: What are you reading right now?
Karen: “The Golden Ratio, The Story of Phi, The World’s Most Astonishing Number”, by Mario Livio. I’m exploring the formal use of mathematics in art in hopes of incorporating it as an added element to my work.

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Karen: Previously I was able to devote myself to my art full time. Since my recent divorce I decided to enroll in cosmetology school as a way to earn enough income to support myself. This will also take the pressure off of depending on the sale of my art to sustain my ability to create art.

LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Karen: I hope to continue to produce work that stimulates me visually and challenges me mentally. I’d like to keep moving forward even if that means revisiting old themes and approaching them in a novel way.

LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
Karen: Nothing concrete at the moment.

Thank you Karen!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eileen Goldenberg: Artist Interview

Eileen at work in her studio
Lynette (LH): Eileen, where do you live now and where do you make your art?
Eileen: San Francisco

Array 61
12 x 12"
©Eileen Goldenberg

LH: Did you receive any formal art training?
Eileen: Yes, I have a BFA, from Alfred University and an MA and MFA, from the University of Iowa in ART. I also took the 5 day encaustic painting workshop from R&F Paints

LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist? At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
Eileen: I knew when I was 5 years old that I was going to be an artist. My mom tried to talk me out of it, but no dice…I started with ceramics, and did that professionally for over 35 years. For the last 10 years I have been painting with encaustic. The ceramics is losing to the painting. I just love to paint so much.

Array 75
24 x 48"
©Eileen Goldenberg
LH: What is your media?
Eileen: I paint with encaustic, a paint made with beeswax, damar resin and pigments. The paint is melted on a hot palette and you fuse it with heat and when it cools, it is permanent. The Damar resin makes the bees wax hard and durable.

Array 70
24 x 24"
©Eileen Goldenberg

LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general?
Eileen: My work is abstract, based on a matrix that I build up with thousands of tiny dots of paint, then layers and layers of more wax. I love the effect that has on the finished surface. It adds richness, pattern and depth to the work.

LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Eileen: I am always drawing, sketching, thinking, if I feel “dry”, I go to a gallery, museum or read. I know that when you are an artist there are ups and downs. I don’t get worried, I have so many sketchbooks filled with ideas and concepts I can always flip through those and see what looks interesting. I also study art from other cultures, Australian Aboriginal art, bark paintings from the Mbuti women in Africa, etc.

LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
Eileen: I try to do art every day, either drawing or painting. Of course I have to keep up with show applications, shipping work, applying to art fairs, etc. the business of art. I listen to books on tape when I paint, it seems to keep my left brain busy while my right brain can paint. And I am reading while I am painting. I know that the book ends up in the art somehow, but it is hard to say where…my studio is always set up and ready to go…

LH: What is your current work about?
Eileen: The latest series is called Array, because of the rows and organization. I can change colors, the size of the dots, it is endless. I also work in mostly a warm palette, reds, yellows, oranges, etc. The pieces are mostly white on white, very minimalist, with one line or arrangement of dots in a distinct color towards the bottom of the work, I feel it gives a feeling of calmness, serenity.I love when people look at my art and they get in real close to see the depth of the surface. The wax creates an optical depth because of its natural translucency.

Eileen's palette
LH: Can you share with my readers a little about yourself? Where did you grow up and what were there any early influences on your work?
Eileen: I was born in Brooklyn NY. I went into Manhattan regularly to the museums and galleries; New York is so rich with art, a great place to see all kinds of things. I had a great art teacher in High School, Ms. Last. She taught the practice of “more so” basically to keep pushing your ideas to the maximum level, and then back it out to where you like it.

I went to NYU for my first year of college and the best part was being in Greenwich Village and wandering around that area of the city. I also went to school at the Brooklyn Museum and learned ceramics there. The school is gone now but I remember going on Saturdays. Then I transferred to Alfred University, to the College of Ceramics. They have everything there for every kind of ceramic technique: wood firing, Raku, electric, wheel throwing hand building, glaze calculation classes, etc. And the studios were open 24 hours a day.

Helen Frankenthaler, Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin have been my inspiration. I feel that my work is getting minimal, doing more with less.

LH: What is your workspace like?
Eileen: I work at home. I have the entire downstairs of the house, still too small, but I manage.

LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?

Eileen: I get up early; maybe 5-6am, have tea, maybe draw a little, and then head to the gym. On my way back through the studio, I turn on my palettes and then have breakfast. I check emails, do business stuff for about an hour, until the paints are melted. Then paint for a few hours. Our dog has to go for a walk in the afternoon, so I take a break and we go to the park. Usually a nap, have tea and do some reading or drawing. Then more computer work until I make dinner for my wife. What inspires me is life, ideas come to me and I try them out. I work in series; the Tea House series has over 350 paintings. I am up to about 85 in the Array series. I keep trying different ways to express my concepts and voice.

LH: What are you reading right now?
Eileen: The Lay of the Land, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Double Comfort Safari Club… just finished, Where the Wild Things Are, De Koonings’s Bicycle, so many books…

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Eileen: I teach ceramics one day a week to children and I teach encaustic painting in my studio.

LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Eileen: I will have 5-6 more galleries, have my work in a few museums and I will be awarded more grants.

LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
Eileen: I will be at the Salem Art Fest, Salem OR., July 17&18, American Crafts Council San Francisco Show, August 13,14,15, Celebration of Craftswomen in San Francisco Nov 28,29 and Dec 4,5. also I have a piece in Private Eyes, Artist's Visions at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art. I have had work in about 10 gallery shows this year, such as the Texas National, Cole Art Center, Juried by Judy Pfaff, Nacogdoches, TX, Exploring the Triptych, Lux Center for the Arts, Lincoln NB, Luminous Layer, Exploring Contemporary Encaustic, Lakewood Center for the Arts, Lake Oswego, OR, Working with Wax, Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa,5th National Encaustic Invitational, Conrad Wilde Gallery, Tucson AZ.
And a One Woman Show at Hallway Gallery in Bellevue, WA.
LH: How long does it take you to make a painting? (Eileen suggested this question)...
Eileen: I often get asked how long it takes for each painting. People don’t realize that it takes the training, many, many hours of school, developing your voice, painting hundreds of paintings, developing and perfecting a technique, etc to do art. The time it takes to do one piece is irrelevant. A Picasso was just sold for $104 Million and they said it took him one day… I really hate that question, I usually say “a long time”.

LH: How do you help people who don’t “get” abstract art?
Eileen: With abstract work some people feel the need to “find Wendy” in the work, free associate, try to find figures or pictures. My work is about feelings and emotions not about looking for an object. My work in NON objective, if they just look at it, they will find that the work speaks to them in non verbal ways. After all, art is a visual experience we are always trying to be verbal about it, reviews, critics, etc. try to translate the visual into words. It is really about just the pure pleasure of looking at art.

LH: How do you title your pieces?
Eileen: Coming up with titles is a challenging aspect of art making. I usually think about what is the essence of the work, what am I trying to say. I name a whole series with one name and then I start numbering them as I paint them...If the paintings change significantly, so they feel like they need a different name, I will come up with a new title. I use a thesaurus to help come up with words.

Thank you!

You can see more of Eileen's work at any of these web sites:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Colors of Asheville, North Carolina

A building side in Asheville; I forget the street name

and some other nice texture from the same general area

Over the fourth of July weekend, my husband and I visited Asheville, North Carolina. We were drawn to Asheville to explore the arts and holistic community, beautiful mountains and miles of Appalachian Trail, terrific restaurants and lots of culture. 

We had lunch with the lovely and energetic artist, Mary Farmer. She's a resident of Asheville, and gave us some terrific tips for places to eat and visit. (Thanks again, Mary!) So we visited Minerva Gallery, which is one of the venues where Mary shows her work. I especially enjoyed seeing her work in "the flesh" because I'd only seen it online. It is very rich work.

Entrance to Gallery Minerva

Paintings by Mary Farmer:

32 x 48"
48 x 40
The next day we visited a Community Yoga venue and took an awesome class. The concept is that the Yoga teachers donate their time and so the classes can be free or you pay what you can to support the organization. Checkout

We made a random visit to Malaprops Bookstore, which was interesting. I especially loved the banned books section. They were having their "Buy Local" soiree at the store that afternoon. I came across this cool book about the Black Mountain College. I wish I could have been a student there; it was founded in 1933 and no longer exists. 

Homage to the Square: With Rays  by Josef Albers

In addition to all this; the street musicians were terrific!
These folks were fun; and a little Tracy Chapman-esque.

Although I don' t know their names, these women have amazing voices!

Below, we enjoyed the Bluegrass Shindig on the green.

While wandering, Greg's "percussion radar" let us to the Skinny Beats shop:

And my puppy radar brought us to these little mix pups who were up for adoption, in front of a local pet store. I would have taken them all home with me if I could have....

The Wedge Brewery serves up local beer-- it's in the River Arts District of Town

while displaying a little art...

We visited Hot Springs, NC and rented one of these tubs along side of the French Broad River.
And hiked on the Applachian Trail, below.

On our way out of town, we visited the local Farmer's Market. Full of peanuts, canned goods, ham and American flags for the Fourth!

Needless to say; we had a great trip. I'll spare you all the story of how we forgot our keys in the hotel room... :D

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kim Bernard: Artist Interview

Lynette (LH): Kim, can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Kim: I just turned 45. I have 2 sons, 17 and 20. My husband is a painter and loves to sail. I love to dance. Right now, I’m taking an aerial dance course at UNH.

LH: Where did you grow up and what were the early influences on your work?
Kim: I grew up in Rochester, NH. I’d have to say my parents were my biggest influences. My dad was very handy, could build anything and not afraid to try something new. My parents were very capable in a cross gender sort of way. My dad learned to sew and knit from my mom. And my mom was never afraid to tackle a “man's” job herself. Both cooked and cleaned. Both were do-it-yourselfers, real task masters and both very physically active. They supported my creativity and never questioned it.

LH: Where do you live now?
Kim: Since 1988, I’ve lived in North Berwick, a small town in southern Maine with a population of about 4000, close to Boston, Portsmouth and Portland.

LH: Did you receive any formal art training? If yes, where and what did you major in?
Kim: In 1987 I graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA in Sculpture and just this May, 2010, I graduated from Massachusetts College of Art & Design, with my MFA in Sculpture.

LH: At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
Kim: From my earliest memories… I just always remember making stuff. I was an only child and I think that’s how I amused myself.

Synergy 17
a kinetic sculpture installation made of encaustic, cable and steel

LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
Kim: Yes, I felt like such a rebel. I was just about to return for my sophomore year at Parsons and had been planning on becoming an illustration major. When I returned I switched my major to fine art. I knew it was the less secure, more risky road to take, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy otherwise. When I finally made the switch, it felt so right.

LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general.
Kim: I have been focusing for the last 2+ years on merging my love of dance, yoga and movement with my studio practice.

Spiraling Inward
an ensemble of video, drawing and sculpture, is a record of a repetitive spiral process in 2-D, 3-D and time based media.  “Attaching the video camera to my hand, I took footage of me drawing large spirals on a page.  Varying the speed of the line, the camera pans the elliptical loops.  Though the hand cannot be seen, the fingers and the graphite can.”  Both the drawings and the coil sculptures are a record, or residual, of the process. 

LH: What is your media?
Kim: I work with a variety of mediums both 2 and 3 dimensionally. I allow the concept of a work to dictate my selection of materials and choose techniques that are in service to my ideas. That approach has led me to working with encaustic, ceramic, cement, steel, plaster, fabric, wood, iron, bronze, lead, and most recently, video.

LH: What is your current work about?
Kim: Right now all of my work has to do with movement. My last exhibit investigated 2 particular types of movement, bounce and swing, OK 3, there was some falling in there, too.

LH: What is your workspace like?
Kim: I have a 19’x16’ winterized studio in our barn. In the summer, I spread out into the unheated part of the barn where I can have more space.

LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
Kim: I find it best never to get out of the “groove”. In other words, I try to keep a flow. If I’m too long away from making art, I find it hard to get going again. I do like taking a break, especially after a finishing a big body of work, but I see this as a time to fill the well, reflect and regroup. I am inspired by kinesthetics, kinetics, physics, the laws of motion, flight and gravity. My recent sources of inspiration are the Museum of Science, Cirque de Soleil and Pilobolus.

Shirodara/Wax Pendulum, sculpture, cable, cast aluminum, wood panel, encaustic

LH: Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Kim: I journal and sketch and brainstorm. I ask myself what I am most curious about and what I most want to know, what I want to learn more about, experience and what I am afraid of. I read, look, research and do. That usually shakes up some ideas.

LH: Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
Kim: Ashtanga yoga, walking and driving. My best thoughts come when I’m on the move.

LH: What are you reading right now?
Kim: I just today ordered Learning to Fly: Reflections on Fear, Trust, and the Joy of Letting Go by Sam Keen but before that, a lot of required reading for my masters degree: art theory, art history, etc.

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Kim: I teach, but I don’t consider that a job because I enjoy it. I teach out of my studio in the summer, MECA, Plymouth State University and all over as a visiting artist.

LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making? Oooo, tuff question! I’ll be 50. Kim: That’s a mid-life I figure. I hope then I can climb the aerial fabric without using my feet and do a handstand by then. No seriously, I hope technology allows me to use body sensor networks so I can just move, collect the data from my movement and my art will be made with that data without my getting my hands all dirty. They have the technology at MIT already. Or maybe, like Janine Antoni, I could collect my brain wave data while I sleep and use that to make art. I at least hope I’m doing something art-wise that I haven’t thought of yet.

LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
Kim: Arden Gallery in Boston in September, Flinn Gallery in Greenwich, CT in December, TSKW in Key West in January.

To see more of Kim's work, visit:
Thank-you, Kim!