Monday, October 29, 2012

Bonny Leibowitz: Dallas


Artist Bonny Leibowitz

Were there any early influences on your work? 

I’m originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania living in Dallas, Texas. Making art was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom was encouraging and possessed drawing skills as did my father, who was an inventor, developing machinery and designs for his drapery and bedspread manufacturing business. I am sure some of this history helped to foster an atmosphere of acceptance in my endeavors.

Continuum's Edge, 2011
photography, encaustic wax, monotype
on kozo and pigment on cradled board

My first work experience was developing large negatives for a commercial printer. Later, I worked for my father burning silkscreens and mixing hundreds of colors for silkscreen printing on textiles. Back then there were no mixers that calculated a color and told you how many parts of which pigments should be mixed; it was all done by eye and I’m sure that experience gave me a comfort level with color I would not have had otherwise.
I then began working in a gallery here in Dallas, learning the business, selling art and organizing exhibitions.

The QUESTion, 2012
46x46 (with variable reinforced shaped edges)
photography, encaustic wax monotype
on kozo and pigment on cradled board  

Did you receive any formal art training? 

I regularly attended figure drawing sessions at Bucks County Community College starting from the age of 14. I was always pretty passionate about art; making it and looking at it was just part of my life. Living near New York I was able to go into the city to visit the galleries and museums, which was a big plus.
I attended Temple University’s Tyler College of Art, however most of my training was not in a formal setting as I spent a great deal of time in the studio developing my work which met with a lot of “success” early on. I say “success” in quotations in that the work sold very well early on but I don’t necessarily consider sales a definitive sign of success, of course. Success now is the dedication and excitement of creating a body of work with intention, passion and a level of technical, visual and conceptual quality and a cohesive thread which allows me to explore my inner world and to share that world. Those early days gave me a lot of confidence in my work moving forward.

Biology of the Soul, 2012
photography, encaustic wax
and pigment on cradled board

What is your current work about? 

In my most recent body of work “Symbiosis”, I am exploring our physical, spiritual and psychological make-up. By recontextualizing nature, I’m inviting form and space to interact and procreate in new ways. It’s my intention to question perceptions and envision the formation of elements on fast forward as though we are watching a movie of how things came to be in time and space, yet here they are in new ways.  

Utilizing some of the great anatomical studies by DaVinci, I reveal a biological structure and create associations with organic forms such as mushrooms, plants and oceans which in some cases offer and suggest a dialogue or intercourse with one another. Some of the imagery is plush and sensual such as these large milkweed pods I’ve been drawn to. I then allow the pods to open to more aggressive forms and structures such as banyan tress and elements of Peter Paul Rubens’s “Massacre of the Innocents”, an image with great struggle, movement and emotion. In several works, Bouguereau’s “The Birth of Venus” with lovely putti in route to the heavens makes an appearance and then all elements become juxtaposed—with splashes of big pink fur in all of its very kitsch glory and compositions in which oceans, wings and mountains float about and ask if our notions of how things are is an absolute truth or a perception in this place and time.  

My work is an investigation of both a historical nature and one of ever evolving moments in our lives that effect change and create new realities.

Thinking back to your first question about early influences, I continue to think of my Mom. I can remember how I’d often make fun that her whole world was “faux”. Back when I was in grade school she covered all the furniture including the piano in in faux teakwood contact paper because she preferred it to the actual walnut. The kitchen walls were also contact paper; the 3-D pop out kind that looked like bricks. And to top it off, we had a Rembrandt on velvet. That’s what happens when you are highly creative, funny and love nice things you can’t afford …ha!  These days, I like to think she made her own world just as I do, just as we all do and just as I do in my work; creating a world revealing and sharing history, hopes, struggles and perceptions which impact relationships and create new realities.

Consider Everything, 2012
46x46 (with variable reinforced shaped edge) 
photography, encaustic wax, monotype
on kozo and pigment on cradled board

What is your workspace like? 

These days I am working between my painting studio and encaustic studio. When I work I have everything going at the same time, I’m printing imagery on my Epson 3800 onto Niyodo paper in order to collage portions of images with wax onto my surface. I’m printing to my laser printer for transfer processes usually on parchment to layer imagery adding depth. My Hotbox is warmed up and ready as I print monotypes on kozo and mulberry papers to hand tear and utilize for color and shape building composition. I use pigment sticks and very translucent layers of wax so I have heated griddles and my torch available as well. Lately I’ve been focusing thin layers of celadon and cerulean and some dull pinks that seem to speak to me along with deep umbers. Looking forward, I’m planning more dimensional works, constructions, sculpture and a collaborative installation.

Bonny's studio

Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

I have several friends and collectors who I’ve been enjoying going to openings here in Dallas with. Our art scene is very exciting. Dallas has some fantastic galleries and amazing artists. It’s always great to spend time looking and discussing art with passionate, knowledgeable and insightful people and to share ideas, techniques and resources with. I’ve been fortunate to have developed good relationships with a few artists I respect which I go to on occasion for critical feedback.  

I can say I am part of many communities including artists who work in encaustic wax. Having opened The Encaustic Center in 2009 has opened doors to a whole new world for me. I’ve been fortunate to have world class artists, experts in their field, here to the center for three day workshops, demos and talks. Attending and being part of the International Encaustic Conference was a rich and rewarding experience. I gave a demo and workshop there at the conference this past year in Provincetown and look forward to attending again.

It’s become an ever deepening priority for me to visit artists in other cities, visit the galleries and to develop bonds that will allow us to share art related ideas and opportunities.

My recent exhibition at Cohn Drennan Contemporary, here in Dallas was completely thrilling. After an intense year or more of hard work on my most recent series “Symbiosis”, the exhibition was well received with a mention in the Dallas Morning News by Michael Granberry and a great review by Todd Camplin, independent writer featured in Modern Dallas and I enjoy a greater bond with the galleries, clients and peers now.

photography, encaustic wax, monotype on
kozo and pigment on cradled board

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

I’ve met many artists through facebook I would not have otherwise had an opportunity to be introduced to so readily. It’s fantastic to be able to connect, view and experience the art world this way. I’ve spoken with artists about process and shared notes of admiration, suggested galleries and been invited to participate in exhibits through these connections including Fresh Faces curated by Rita Barnard last year. I place a lot of importance on giving back; announcing calls for submission, shows by friends and sharing techniques and resources.  One interesting group has been “50 Contemporary Artists”. Tim Phelan invited me to become one of the artists in this book which has not been published but I am now enjoying the work of many artists included and their posts through this connection.

I am involved with donating to Art and Advocacy. This is a fundraiser for children of abuse via the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. Many exciting Dallas artists participate for a great cause.

Engage, 2012
photography, encaustic wax and oil
pigment on cradled board

Do you have any shows coming up that you'd like to mention?

Yes, I am quite pleased my most recent body of work, Symbiosis has been chosen for an exhibition at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art!

Here are the details:

Bonny Leibowitz: Symbiosis

Gallery Reception and talk: Friday, November 9, 6-8 pm
Exhibition dates: November 9, 2012-January 25, 2013

Danny Bills
Curator of Collections and Exhibitions
Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University
2 Eureka Circle
Wichita Falls, Texas


Do you have other jobs other than making art? If so, please give us some details.
I own and operate two private teaching studios, The Bonny Studio and The Encaustic Center. 

At The Bonny Studio; I teach classes in acrylic and oil painting building techniques while fostering individuality and growth from beginner to more advanced levels and assist artists in getting their work into the public eye.  I also offer drawing and sculpture workshops conducted by Guest artist Michael O‘keefe. 

At The Encaustic Center I teach encaustic wax painting, specializing in collage, transfers, painterly effects, texture, pours and monotypes. The Encaustic Center also offers workshops specializing in stencils, masks and 3-D work by Deanna Wood, transfer techniques by Susan Sponsler and a variety of line pattern and concept based workshops by Brett Dyer. Additionally, The Encaustic Center offers two 3-day workshops per year by renowned guest artists for their area of expertise. To date we’ve had Miles Conrad, Deborah Kapoor and Paula Roland to name a few and are looking forward to having Jeff Hirst here in March of 2013. We have more amazing artists slated through 2015!

You can see more of Bonny's work on her website,
Thank you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lynn Basa: Chicago


Artist Lynn Basa
photo Saskia Siebrand

1. Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what were any early influences on your work?

I live in Chicago now. I grew up in the country outside of Bloomington, Indiana but left for Seattle a week after I graduated from college to go to graduate school.  I lived there for 22 years because I had two consecutive day jobs that were pretty wonderful. First as the curator of the Safeco Insurance company’s collection, and then as the founding director and curator of the University of Washington Medical Center’s art program.

8' x 20'
Byzantine glass mosaic, onyx, LED, fiber optic
client: University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Human Ecology
photos: David Bader

My goal was always to be a full-time artist and I figured that if I must work then it should be in jobs where I could learn about the art business.  All the while I was working as a curator, I led a parallel life as an artist — developing my work and building my portfolio.  I’d work 40 hours a week by day, and by night go home to my studio and work another 30-40 hours. My entire life was lived in art (as it is now).  All of my friends were artists, every waking moment was spent making art or looking at it or thinking about it.

Dangerous Escapade
36" x 72" x 2"
oil and wax on panel
photo: Tom Van Eynde

2. Did you receive any formal art training? If yes, where and what did you major in?

My formal art training began in the 7th grade when I was introduced to ceramics.  I went to a university lab school where we had good access to art teachers and facilities.  I credit my teacher, Denise Smith, quite a bit with picking up where my parents left off and cultivating my inner artist. I studied ceramics through high school and then majored in it at Indiana University.  When I was 15, though, I started exploring fiber and that turned into a 30-year long career until I figured out that I was trying to make textiles that looked like they were painting, so I switched to painting around 2000.  It also finally got through my thick skull that if I wanted to make a living as an artist that there was a much larger market for painting than for fiber art.

A Complicated Adventure
18" x 50" x 1.5"
oil and wax on panel
photo: Tom Van Eynde

3. What is your current work about? 

One of the most rewarding responses anyone can have to my work is a phrase I hear often from the public: “I didn’t think I liked abstract art, but I really like this.” There’s a quality to my work that is so rooted in naturally-occurring forms that anyone who has ever been fascinated by geological strata, the complex beauty of a rust stain, or the random arrangement of raindrops on a windowpane, will respond to my work.

24" x 36" x 2"
oil and wax on panel
photo: Tom Van Eynde

In my paintings, I strive to capture a force of nature that, to me, can only be done with encaustic.  The same chemical reactions that create shapes from melting and flow are the same as the ones that occur at macro and micro levels all around us in the natural world.

In my public art commissions I try to maintain this aesthetic but also create environments that draw people in.  In my most successful pieces, the participation of the viewer completes the artwork.

Coursing Through Life
10' - 20' x 100'
Terrazzo with recycled glass and mirror
client:  University of Northern Iowa, Sabin Hall
photo: Doug vanderHoof

4. What is your workspace like?
For most of my life my studio was in my home, but three months ago I moved into the storefront of an old building I bought 4 years ago and turned into artist live/work apartments and studios.

My long-time storefront tenant moved out, and because the neighborhood is still downtrodden with lots of vacancies, I couldn’t find another commercial tenant so I divided up the space and rented it to other artists.  My space is in the front and since the building is on a corner it’s got lots of light and visibility to the street.  I’m really enjoying it a lot.  It’s such an eye-opener about who is pulled in by the art.  It’s hardly ever the constant stream of hipsters going by, but it’s retired cops, People’s Gas workers, Mexican business owners.  Last week a drunk lady pulled up on her bike and spent a long time looking at all of the art. There’s a hooker who stations herself at my doorstep and when I asked her to move she sassed that she had been there longer than I had and I had no right to ask her to move.  She’s still there.  I just say “excuse me” when I need to get into my studio.  There are shootings and gang wars.  Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Spike Lee film.

Lynne Basa's Studio

5. Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?
I used to be quite involved with arts groups and working with the city on major arts initiatives.  Last year I realized that I can’t afford to donate my time like that when it takes everything I’ve got to make a living as an artist, so now I don’t volunteer.  I need to put the oxygen mask on myself before I put it on the passenger next to me.  Besides, I give at the office. I’ve poured an obscene amount of my savings into rehabbing my building and renting it for slightly below-market rates to artists.  It seems to be a boost to the other property owners in the immediate vicinity.  I just found out yesterday that a French bakery is moving into one of the long-vacant storefronts across the street, and someone else is opening a coffee shop.

I also moderate panels and give workshops on public art.  Not for free, if I can help it, of course!

6. How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

I meet with two groups of two other artists about once a month and we talk about issues related to our practices, give each other leads and business tips, go to galleries together.  Because of my book and because I’m a full-time artist, other artists and students frequently come to me for advice on how I’m able to pull it off.  I enjoy talking to them because I think a rising tide lifts all boats and the more empowered artists are to stop thinking of themselves as starving artists and realize that we have something that the economy will pay for, the better its going to be for the rest of us.

Nine sculptures ranging in size up to 3' x 3' x 19'
Powder-coated steel, cast glass, copper, LED, fiber optic
client: University of Northern Iowa, Panther Village
photo: Doug vanderHoof

7. Do you have other jobs other than making art? If so, please give us some details.
While I teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and give workshops based on my book, my main source of income is selling my paintings and doing public art commissions. That said, I don’t see art-making, teaching, and building ownership as separate from my entire practice.

I’m at the point in my evolution as an artist where I’m beginning to understand how all of the threads of my practice are interconnected. I no longer see myself as a painter who also does large public art commissions, who teaches at SAIC, who owns an artist live/work building, who is active in the economic development of my neighborhood. I can now see the overarching impulse that drives all of these ambitious undertakings, each one of which could be a career in and of itself: The common thread is the desire to be inclusive.

You can see more of Lynn's work on her website!

Thank you Lynn!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cherie Mittenthal: Provincetown, Mass.


Artist Cherie Mittenthall

Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what were any early influences on your work? 

I grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut. I was always with a sketchbook growing up. I was also a musician. It was a very difficult decision to decide to go into art or music. I played the oboe and saxophone. I decided that it might be easier to get a job if I majored in art and would continue playing music. Some of my early influences were Picasso, Nancy Spero, Anselm Keifer, Kathe Kolowitz, David Hockney & Antonio Frasconi—all really different artists.

Blue House with Seagrass
encaustic and marble dust on panel
16” x 16”, 2012

Harbor 5
encaustic on handmade paper
12” x 9”, 2012

Did you receive any formal art training? If yes, where and what did you major in? 

My training was mainly as a printmaker and bookmaker, I have my Bachelors of Fine Art from the Hartford Art School and my Masters of Fine Art from State University of New York, Purchase College in 1992. I’ve been painting ever since. For the past 20 years have been working predominantly with pigment stick on paper and in the last 9 years have been working with encaustic and other mixed media. And I try and take as many classes at Castle Hill as I can!!

Harbor 3 in Blues 
 encaustic on handmade paper 
12” x 9”, 2012

What is your current work about? 

I would say my most current work is about water and light. I am very interested in marrying materials and imagery. I work mainly in encaustic, wax and pigment stick and some other mixed mediums like tar, shellac, alcohol. I work on panels and also on handmade paper. I tend to work in series. I am very influenced by the color palette that I live in.

Foggy with Boat 
encaustic on handmade paper 
12” x 9”, 2012

What is your workspace like? 

My workspace is in my house and is somewhat small. It is in the 3rd floor loft, so there are some limitations, like the size I work and toxic materials I light on fire. Its great to have the convenience to be able to just go upstairs and paint.

Mittenthal's studio

Harbor 2
encaustic on handmade paper 
12” x 9”, 2012

Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

I am. I’m the Executive Director of Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill.  I am lucky enough to be surrounded by great artists all the time. Challenging, watching, experimenting, learning, playing….this is a very exciting world to live in. 

Each winter I spend a full day in my studio as well as I try and spend a good part of the time making bowls and animals in clay. It is what keeps me exploring the 3 dimensional side of life. I love doing it, though running out of shelve space for bowls in my house.

I also do some teaching in encaustic at Castle Hill. I usually try to do a beginner workshop every year. I really enjoy teaching. Provincetown is a wonderful art community, I am surrounded by artists all the time. It’s a great place to live. I also show at Kobalt Gallery in Provincetown.

      Harbor with Breakwater
encaustic and mixed media on panel
16” x 16”, 2012

I enjoy the quiet and solitude of winter and the off season, then the complete opposite with the hub bub in the Spring and intensity of Summer. It helps that I’m a libra! I like the balance. I need the balance.

Landscape with Fence and Spaceship 
encaustic on handmade paper 
12” x 9”, 2012

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

I think the community is built on art openings, going out each Friday night and supporting your friends. See new art, watching for something new and exciting. Being part of, and seeing things develop. It’s a wonderful community for that. There was a group that was formed last year once a month to talk about each other’s art. Though I never ended up making it to the group, I really wanted to and this is the winter I will join it.

Crow on the Beach
encaustic on handmade paper 
20 x 16", 2012

Do you have jobs other than making art? If so, please give us some details.

Organizing events, 2 years ago Joanne Mattera, the founder and director of the International Encaustic Conference and I joined forces and we co-produce this pretty huge professional event, which revolves around encaustic. It has grown and gotten better each year. We are a great team. It’s a huge amount of work and a piece of art in itself. We are bringing hundreds of people together each year to share new methods in technique, talk about process, connect with professionals making art. Encaustic is the common thread though not the only theme.  There was also a new component about curating shows. Last year we organized 12 Provincetown Shows and 2 in Truro. One that I curated.  This year we are growing that concept and looking for people to think about curating shows and presenting them to Joanne and myself. All really good stuff.

I also am involved in the Provincetown Cultural Council.  I was the past chair but happy to just be a member of the committee now.

Oh, and walking my perfect dogs: Harpo and Lily.

You can see more of Cherie's work here:

Thank-you Cherie!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Leonardo Drew at Sikkema Jenkins and Co.
Chelsea, NY

For best results view in full screen mode.

This short video is for those who can't get to NYC to view this wonderful show. It was taken today on my iPhone, and posted on the bus ride home from NY. Enjoy!