Treacy Ziegler – Landscape of Confinement

June 11, 2012

I recently attended an artist’s talk by Treacy Ziegler at the Arnot Museum in Elmira NY. Treacy talked about the pieces in her multi-media installation “From Confinement / The Waiting” at the Arnot Musuem, and about the her experiences exhibiting in and working with prisons. It was fascinating for me to hear Treacy’s experience with the inmates and the influence it had on her work. Most of the talk was about teaching the inmates how to think about art differently. As an artist I was puzzled to hear her say “I don’t believe art should be about self-expression” What do you think?

She writes about the installation in her Statement:

“A few years ago, during one of my first visits to several prisons throughout the east and mid United States, I asked the warden on seeing the cramped small cells if “memory” was an inmate’s largest dimension of space? He replied, “Memory is the first dimension of space that the inmate loses.”

My initial interest in exploring this landscape of confinement is as a painter of landscape and evolved out of exhibiting my paintings in a medical setting where patients had very serious illnesses. Although I was struck by the responses, I was struck more by the realization that my work was in a space where the viewer was not only challenged by that space but also defined by that space. It seemed to me that the most extreme example of this ontological aspect of space is prison. Whoever one is, doctor, lawyer, artist, one is defined as an inmate in prison. I wanted to know what would happen if I put my work, those landscapes of very personal place, into the space of prison: a box within a box. Do these metaphoric personal places become annihilated by the larger space, or do the paintings create place within this institutionalized space? And if so, how? Since the project started three years ago, I have donated over 80 paintings to prisons and have had exhibitions in several prisons. At one prison I donated 47 large paintings that now hang throughout the inmates’ blocks.

In additions to these exhibitions and donations, I conduct workshops with the inmates. While the focus of these workshops is learning about art, I use “landscape” as a means for the inmates to explore the potential of place through reconstructing the elements of any landscape. What are those basic visual cues that connect person to place?

When one is not free to physically explore space and when space is consistently transparent (instead of a combination of the transparent and opaque spaces to which one is accustomed), can “home”, that primary sense of place, be established?”

New work by Treacy Ziegler at West End Gallery

Currently at the West End Gallery we have these new light-box paintings by Treacy Ziegler. Painted on plexiglass they glow from behind. Stop in to see them and take the time to read more of Treacy’s writing about her work at: Treacyziegler.com

– Bridget B. van Otterloo

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Gallery Survival Guide

February 2, 2012

As we approach the opening for our annual Little Gems show this Friday evening, we thought we would share a Gallery Survival Guide that was written by one of our newer artists,, Rebecca Finch.  She put this together this gentle list of do’s and don’ts for some friends who may have been  intimidated by the prospect of attending a gallery opening.  Rebecca does a great job de-mystifying the gallery experience.  If you know someone who has never been to a gallery or an  opening, pass this on.  Thanks, Rebecca!

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Gallery Survival Guide/ Rebecca Finch

So you think you might be attending your first gallery opening, and you’re not quite sure what to expect? Wipe the sweat from your forehead, get a tissue for your clammy hands, and breathe a deep sign of relief for we are here to help you.

Yes, sometimes a gallery is a place where people who know a lot about art, who love to drink wine and eat cheese, and who could easily purchase a wall full of expensive art, like to spout out long sophisticated words and keep the average Joe in the dust trying to figure out what just happened.

But I don’t think you will find this to be the norm at most galleries.

As you prepare for your excursion, here is a glimpse of the atmosphere you can expect to find at most gallery openings:

Rebecca Finch- Apple Solo

There might be a large group of people moving around the gallery.

 The structure is usually open house in which you may arrive at any time and leave when you wish

 Sometimes there is live music. Take it in and enjoy.

 Light refreshments are usually served.

 You may see the gallery director floating around making guests comfortable and being available for any questions or sales.

 The artists will usually be present and the well known ones will probably be in a perpetual conversation.

You will find people who genuinely love art, love to create it and love to talk about it.  That’s where you come in.  You don’t have to know a lot and you certainly don’t have to put on a front of art history knowledge.  Art is meant to be enjoyed, discussed and felt.  If you’re new to this, there’s no shame at all.  Just observe, ask questions, form your opinions, and enjoy.

There are a few common sense rules listed here but don’t be overwhelmed.  Remember that the goal is for you to enjoy yourself and not make you even more paranoid.

Gallery Etiquette:

Rebecca Finch- Bright Cloves

• Dress appropriately. Somewhere in between jeans and a T-shirt and a suit and tie is the appropriate dress for most galleries. You don’t have to be fancy, just don’t be a slob.

• Turn off your phone. This is not a place for phone calls or texting.

• Don’t head straight for the snackies. Enjoy some art first. And when you do hit the snacks remember they’re snacks. Not dinner.

• Please respect the paintings, sculpture, and glass by keeping a distance. It’s best not to touch art that you don’t own.

Refrain from making negative comments on a work of art because the artist, their friends or family could be in earshot. Share your critical comments over dessert or during the ride home.~

And here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to a gallery:

• Step inside and take in the whole space, noting the flow of traffic and the direction you would like to proceed.

• Begin observing the art. Making note of how you feel about the artwork. Do you like it? Why or why not? See if you can find something positive to say (just in case someone asks).

• Hunt for at least one piece of art that you like the most. Or, if it’s a group show, figure out who your favorite artist is.

• Try to find out something about your favorite artist. There are usually statements or bios nearby.

Rebecca Finch -Allegory For Love

• Ask yourself why you are drawn to certain pieces of art. Analyze your gut reactions. Is it the colors? Subjects? Style?

• Do you have questions about how the art is created? The subject matter? If you feel up to it, ask the director if they can point the artist out to you so you can ask your questions. Again, artists love to talk about their craft (even the humble ones – they are passionate, not cocky).  Try not to be afraid or intimidated.

Be sure to enjoy the atmosphere, the food, opportunity to learn something about art, the live music, and above all else enjoy seeing beauty.

Hopefully this little lesson will help you on your venture into the art world. Art appreciation can be as simple as enjoying something that you’re seeing. If you don’t have plans to attend a gallery opening, then make some. It makes for a great date night accessory in the middle of dinner and dessert. Bring some friends and talk about the show over something drippy and chocolatey.


Get To Know: Rebecca Finch

December 6, 2011

Rebecca Finch- Christmas Past I

Can you give us a snapshot of your life?
33 year long story short: I grew up in South Florida, started studying piano at 5 years of age, began harp lessons in my sophomore year, and earned a BS and an MA in commercial art at a college in the Florida panhandle. I have been married for 7 years to my college sweetheart, Ben and have an amazingly sweet and happy 14-month-old son, Landon. We lived for 3 ½ years in southern New Jersey and have now lived in the beautiful Finger Lakes area for 4 years.
 
I paint still lifes in oil, play harp for weddings and banquets, design custom jewelry, and am also a graphic designer for which I’ve been to France twice for magazine advertising jobs.

When did you start creating art?
I’ve been doodling and enjoying photography for as long as can I remember, but the start of my real pursuit of art took place in college. I was a freshmen voice major and found myself wandering around one of the senior artist’s exhibitions after class. I saw a drawing rendered on black paper with colored pencil. I believe that God filled me with inspiration to immediately try my hand at some art.

I had most of my homework done and it was the weekend, so I went to the bookstore on campus and bought some black construction paper, pencils and some greeting cards that had photographs on them to draw from. As I worked on my first self-imposed art project, my roommates and friends told me that I should go into art. I hadn’t told them at the time that I was having second thoughts about continuing my major in music.

As most who are skeptical of their own abilities, I was unsure whether or not my natural skills would be what it took to succeed as an artist major so I submitted my creation to the art teachers asking for their thoughts. The following semester I found myself sitting in my first art class dry mouthed, hands shaking and wondering what I had gotten myself into. But as the semester rolled along, I found myself succeeding in ways I never expected. From then on art, like music, became an extension of myself. I might curl up and die if I didn’t have a creative outlet.

Rebecca Finch-The Place Setting

How do you choose your subject matter?
Many days I am trying to squeeze in some quick painting while my little boy takes a nap. When this is the case, I usually walk through the house and grab an object that catches my eye or something I had noticed earlier in the day. It’s usually color, lighting, an edge or texture that grabs my attention, but almost always it causes an emotional response. After selecting one object I get an idea for the feel of the painting and am able to choose some smaller complimentary objects, and I add color with some fabric, flowers or fruit. Sometimes I can see the painting or portions of it finished in my mind and I can also feel how it will be to paint certain parts of the painting.

Many times some of the objects have sentimental value to me. I’ve painted many wedding or anniversary gifts, items from my husband, trinkets that remind me of places we’ve been or people who are special to me or have passed on. Recently I have begun adding objects that have a symbolic meaning to me, and I feel this adds needed depth to my paintings.

Who has influenced your work?

I continue to be entranced by Richard Schmid’s work for his practical and wise technique. I love Carol Marine for her gorgeous colors, fun painterly edges and creative cropping of her subject matter. I also find John Singer Sargent to be one that I continue to look back at for his subject’s hands, and for placing only necessities on the canvas.

I also dabble in children’s book  illustrations and have a handful of illustrators whose work I love to drink in.

N.C. Wyeth

Looking at N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations for Treasure Island, Last of the Mohicans, The Black Arrow, The White Company, and Kidnapped makes me want to pull out the paints. To me Wyeth’s work is a beautiful meld between fine art portraiture and illustration. They’re completely inspiring.

Lisbeth Zerger

My favorite illustrated work of hers is the Gift of the Magi.  Swirling paint and charcoal make this heartwarming story come to life.

James Gurney

I love the authenticity of the Dinotopia books that his sketchbook style gives. And of course his detailed paintings are simply gorgeous.

Do you have a favorite piece of art by someone other than yourself? 

There are so many, I will choose from my long list of favorites.

For fine art paintings, I love Carnations and Apples by Carol Marine.

For illustration, I love Wyeth’s The Black Arrow. I think it’s the lighter backgrounds, the contrast of the men with the snow, and in some of the illustrations the trees seem to grow right out of the canvas. Brilliant.

Rebecca Finch-Just Peachy

I always have music going in the studio and it’s usually orchestral movie soundtracks. I enjoy John Williams, Alan Silvestri, and John Barry. If I’m feeling the need for some dark music, I enjoy James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer. If I need something more lively, I enjoy William Joseph.

Favorite movies?

The Forgotten, The Count of Monte Christo and August Rush.

What was the best advice you ever received that has helped you with your art? 

I really enjoy Richard Schmid’s book, Alla Prima. He shoots straight and steps on toes, but it’s a needed refreshing nudge. There’s a phrase from that book that I keep on my studio wall: “Never knowingly leave anything wrong on your canvas”. It haunts me as I paint and keeps me from getting lazy.

And as far as technique goes, squinting at my still life to simplify values has been an invaluable and necessary action I take while painting.

If you could only pass along one piece of advice to a young artist, what would that be?

Well, if it’s appropriate that I pass on advice without being a seasoned artist myself, I would just simply say fight for your art. As a stay-at-home mom and wife who also tries to fit painting into the mix, I am currently in the fight myself. We all get distracted, we have families, we have to do the laundry, we have to cook, care for each other, and do a million necessary evils in order for life to continue on.

You must take yourself seriously as an artist. Introduce yourself as an artist. Set up your work hours (even if it’s only 2 hours an evening after the kiddos go to bed) and don’t answer the phone or get on Facebook because . . . you’re working.

So with all of that you must make a plan to get into the studio. Set achievable goals and enlist the help of those around you to simply get yourself painting and creating on a regular basis. The rest (marketing, gallery leads, . . .etc.) will follow. It will involve thinking ahead, being proactive and probably less sleep. Whatever that goal is, you must keep that dream in front of you. It was gallery representation for me, and now I have new goals that I’m working toward.

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“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you’ve imagined.”

 -Henry David Thoreau

Rebecca Finch-Christmas Past II


Remembering Liz Gerard/ Mark Reep

November 15, 2011

Photo: Parnilla Carpenter

A year ago, we said goodbye to our dear friend Liz Gerard.  For any who may not have known Liz well, here’s a little about her:

When I met her in 1995, Liz was a framer. Her standards were exacting, and she enjoyed the craft of presenting and preserving clients’ work, whether paintings worth many thousands, or someone’s family photos. The first time I priced materials with her, she offered a deep discount.  She said “I don’t need to make money off my friends.”

Liz was a talented artist, a potter whose work was at once quiet, inventive, whimsical, and elegant.  To me, it seemed a direct reflection of her spirit, her personality, and the value she placed on touch. She took these photos of her work for a show with her partner, Marty Poole.

Liz was a skilled and intuitive masseuse. She once told me that she didn’t think in terms of healing her clients; she tried to hold a place where they could heal themselves.

Of course, she was many other things: Devoted daughter, sibling, partner, friend. We all have cherished memories, our own Liz stories, and anyone who’d like to share theirs is encouraged.  Here are a few of mine.

In the late nineties, Liz offered me a job at Corning Art & Frame. I was recovering from a back injury, and it became obvious that simple things like bending over the V-nailer weren’t doable yet. Disappointing, but I’d learned some things about framing, and I’d also begun to learn about Liz’s thoughtfulness and generosity: She’d decided running shoes would make the basement’s concrete floor more tolerable than my work boots, and she’d planned to buy me a pair.

To Liz, this was a small thing, and if she could help, she would. If she could, she would.  We all know different sides of our friends, maybe.  But that’s such a big part of who she was.

Fast forward a few years.  Liz sold Corning Art & Frame.  West End Gallery moved to 12 West Market. One day we were talking at an opening, and Liz asked about a drawing of mine that she liked.  I’d taken it home, reused the frame, and I found the matted drawing and gave it to her.  Her thank-you card said a surprising thing: When I think about you, I think two things: Simple and true. The more I thought about that, the more I liked it.  No matter what your beliefs or approach to life, simple and true is always good. It’s become one of those measuring sticks I use to evaluate work, especially my writing: If it’s not simple and true, it’s not good.  If it can be simpler, more honest, it should be.  And so with most everything, really.

I don’t think I ever told Liz this.  She’d probably have been interested; she was interested in nearly everything (exceptions included talking about the weather, and meatballs).  She’d probably say, Oh? and laugh a little.  I wonder if she ever realized how much we all valued her take. I need to be as willing to listen, to give my friends’ concerns my full attention, to consider as carefully as Liz did before I blurt.

We learn from those we admire and respect. I learned a lot from Liz.

Not long after, I was leaving another opening when Liz pulled in.  We talked for a few minutes, and she produced an envelope and handed it to me beaming.  Open this when you get home home, she said.  When I did, I found a $1000 gift certificate at CAF.  The note explained that as part of the sale she had a large credit at the shop, of which this was only a small part, etc.  Of course, this was anything but small to me.  It was huge, stunning.  That $1000 bought a lot of mats, and enabled me to be in many shows I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Again, that’s just who Liz was. She knew I was shuffling frames, and she did something about it. When she saw a need she could meet, she did.  When she could bless someone, she did. Still is, will be as long as any of us who knew her are here.

 A few years later, another opening.  Liz was looking at my drawing Grace, and I said I should take this one home, I didn’t want to sell it any longer.   Liz said it was her favorite of my current stuff too, and asked what I liked about it.  Most of us enjoy talking about our own work, and I probably rambled some.  I’m a fairly private person, but Liz was always an easy person to talk with. We didn’t talk often, but no matter how long the interval, no time or effort was ever needed to reconnect.  I expect everyone felt that way about her.

Grace sold, and when I stopped in to pick up the check, the drawing was waiting for me, with this note:

Mark–

 

Moments of grace are rare–

hold on to this one.

I loved hearing your feelings

about this piece– what a gift.

When you surpass this one (and you

will) you can give Grace to me

(or not– you decide).

Either way, I look forward

to hearing about it.

                 

                 –Liz

I’m glad I have this; it’s good to be able to share a few of her own words here.  Of course, I left the drawing for her, with big thanks.  And I’m honored it still hangs in the home she and Marty shared.

Liz liked the film Pay It Forward, and believed in doing just that.  I can’t repay her friendship, her support and encouragement, her time and thoughtful counsel.  I don’t know how much good I did her; I doubt it began to approach all the ways she blessed me.  What I can do is pay it forward, try to do something of the same for others.

It’s important to talk about the good things, to thank and honor those we love and miss. But Liz was crazy funny too, and she wouldn’t want this post to be all serious and sad and mopey. So here’s one more story, from a WEG picnic.

Parnilla and I were in the pie room reloading (well actually I suppose there was a lot of other food left, and Parni was likely considering things like salad and cheese, but my focus by that point was nearly exclusively pie).  Liz was browsing too.  Bridget came in and went into the bathroom, and Liz decided we should leave her a gift outside the bathroom door.  This was startling but a kind suggestion.  What should it be.  There was a comforting amount of pie left so I wasn’t too grudging about agreeing pie would be good.  So a slice on a plate was placed carefully outside the door.  Then at the last moment its position must be quickly adjusted so Bridget would see it but not step in it and the intended effect be minimized at best.  All done trying to maintain radio silence of course.  Except for muffled giggling.  Or at least mine.  Bridget came out and found the waiting pie and was unfazed but not unpleased and ate it.  Somewhat anticlimactic in terms of storytelling, but one of my favorite Liz moments.  Unexpected and fresh and fun.

It occurs to me now that for Liz, even playing like this involved a gift.  I think it was second nature to her.  She gave generously of any resource or capability she had.  She’d likely dismiss this, say something self-deprecating or funny. But simple and true as I can say it: Liz was one of the best people I’ve known, and we were all blessed to know her.

– Mark Reep


Avatars/ GC Myers

July 11, 2011

The next exhibit at the West End Gallery is the new show from artist GC Myers, Avatars, which opens this Friday, July 15th, with a reception that runs from 5-7:30 PM.  The artist will be in attendance and music will be provided by guiarist William Groome.  The painting to the left is titled Family Pictures and is part of the show, one of several pieces from this exhibit done in a subdued sepiatone.  This painting is on paper and is in an 18″ square frame.

Here is a statement concerning the theme of this show from the artist:

The dictionary defines the word “avatar”as “an incarnation, embodiment or manifestation of a person or idea.”   A symbol for something beyond the apparent. That is how I have come to view many of the things that are the subjects of my paintings, especially the group for this current show.

For instance, I view the red tree that often appears in my work as a representation of something more than a tree. For me, that tree is a symbol of the individual spirit, the true self. It could be me or it could be anyone who looks on it and identifies some part of themselves in it.

It wasn’t always this way. When I first started painting, I wanted to accurately represent the landscape as it was, in appearance. But as I progressed it became more about capturing the emotions raised by the landscape, those feelings that are triggered by the color of a tree’s leaves in certain light or the way a tree standing alone in a field can make one feel. I began see the tree as a spirit and tried to empathetically sense what it might feel to be in its place. It gave the paintings a different feel, one of being living entities rather than mere depictions of a scene.

There are other avatars in this show beyond the red tree. I see the red chair as representing something more than a chair. And the windowless houses with their red roofs are symbols of something beyond mere homes. The paths that run though these paintings are not just trails through a landscape. Even the suns or moons in these paintings mean something to me beyond being sources of light. I see them as an avatar of the greater power of which we are all part, always there, always watching.

Perhaps that is asking a lot from a bit of paint on some canvas or paper. Maybe. But it is what I see in this work and hope others do as well. Maybe they will only be attracted to the color or shapes of a landscape and see it only as lovely scene, one that I would like to feel themselves in. The painting has become, in its own way, an avatar for what they see as a better place.

And that is good enough for me…

——-GC Myers


Influences/ James Ramsdell

June 28, 2011

What artist do you consider as having the greatest influence on your work? 

Before I get into comments on specific artists who have had a prolonged effect on me, I just wanted to say that I have always been inspired by the work that I see when I visit the West End Gallery. I always come away with my batteries charged! 

I’m reminded of the response by Edward Hopper when asked this question! He said,” Me!” I thought, boy, is he arrogant! But as I thought about it, that really needs to be our answer in a way. I think we, as artists, need to be independently doing our own thing. We need to look inside ourselves and paint from our own hearts. 

But, I also think that art is not done in a vacuum. There are two artists that I find myself refering back to often for advice from their paintings- An English “wildlife and train-scene” painter, David Shepherd  (shown above) and an American “calendar painter,” Paul Detlefsen (shown to the right). 

From David Shepherd, I get advice on scope, on composition, on colors, on paint texture and atmosphere. And from Paul Detlefsen, I get nostalgia, atmosphere, colors, and quietly stated detail. 

And actually from Edward Hopper, I think I try to emulate to some degree his lifestyle as an artist. He quietly went about his day working and thinking about his painting. He was able to build his life around one of creativity and was able to hold off many of the distractions of our modern world. 

Although there are tons of artists that I like and admire, both past and present, these three are ones that seem to have kept a profound presence with me over the years.

—James Ramsdell


A Must See Show: Marty Poole

June 6, 2011

 If you were on Market Street in Corning this past weekend and saw an incredible glow coming out of one of the storefront windows, you were no doubt somewhere near the West End Gallery, where the new exhibition of paintings from Martin Poolewere just hung.  The show, which opens Friday, June 10th, with an opening that runs from 5-7:30 PM, is a stunner, with masterful explorations of paint handling and emotion from one of the great contemporary American painters.

 
It is truly a powerful exhibit.  There is a wide variety of figurative works that feel tightly rendered from a distance but upon a closer look are shown to be loose, gorgeous surfaces that are almost abstract in their execution.  All convey deep emotion and are totally engrossing.  It’s such a compelling group of work that one finds oneself feeling as though there is not enough time to take in all.  Coupled with his figures are Poole’s trademark landscapes with deep views and subtle lighting that hints at the ethereal. 
 
So please come out to the opening this coming Friday and take in this beautiful group of work.  Or better yet, come early in the week as well and spend some time with these pieces away from the crowds.  You will not be disappointed.