Tag: philip pearlstein

AMR Open Studios Tour Celebrates Its Eighth Anniversary This Summer

Art is at home in the Catskill Mountains. A tradition started by Thomas Cole and his disciples in the early 1800s has transformed the area into a place for pilgrimage where artists from all over the world come to create and be inspired. An influx of creatives moving out of Brooklyn in recent years has infused the area with energy and spearheaded the emergence of new projects and initiatives to create and show new works by artists at various levels in their careers and working in all disciplines.

AMR Artists, a newly formed artist coalition affiliated with the AMR (Andes-Margaretville-Roxbury) Open Art Studios Tour, which takes place every year the last weekend in July, has stepped up to the plate to offer new opportunities for artists. According to its mission statement, “The AMR Artists Coalition supports a vibrant cultural life for our community by promoting and advocating on behalf of the area’s artists and cultural institutions. The Coalition recognizes that a creative environment is an essential component of energetic civic life and sustained economic growth in the community.” The group’s motto is a quote by Albert Einstein: “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.”

Launched in 2012, AMR Open Art Studios Tour has grown into a major cultural attraction, as art tours have become more and more common all over the country. Studio visits trigger questions that aren’t often asked in formal settings such as galleries and museums, and allow for a more intimate interaction with the art work. As art historian George Philip LeBourdais eloquently articulated in a piece for Artsy magazine, “The studio is where strange magic happens, as much for the artist’s imagination as for the public’s. It’s the conjuring place of new concepts, styles, or forms. Sometimes it even comes to be seen as sacred, a place where visitors become pilgrims to the altar of art.”

Helene Manzo's Easel
Painter Helene Manzo’s Studio in Roxbury’s Historic District. © Simona David

AMR (Andes – Margaretville – Roxbury) Open Studios Tour 2019 will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 27 – 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with close to thirty participating artists and artisans working in all disciplines – painters, sculptors, photographers, printmakers, ceramicists, furniture designers and textile artists. Located in a bucolic scenery, all studios will provide unique experiences for visitors to explore the area and learn directly from the artists.

Participating artists this year include: Lisbeth Firmin, Ellen Wong, Gail Freund, Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes, Gerda Van Leeuwen, Peter Yamaoka, Margaret Leveson, Helene Manzo, Frank Manzo, Gary Mayer, Gary Mead, Rosamond Welchman, and others.

Gail Freund, a new artist affiliated with the group, moved to the area in 2016 after having worked in New York City for over forty years in the fields of illustration, theater and jewelry. Formally trained at the Parsons School of Design, Freund has always drawn and painted. However, after moving to the Catskills, she became fully immersed into studying and depicting trees the likes of which she hadn’t quite seen while living in Manhattan. Her life in the Catskills allows far more time for studying and drawing nature scenes, she explains. Her approach is simple and direct.

Gail Freund Shows During the AMR Art Tour in 2018. Photo Credit Simona David
Gail Freund during AMR Open Studios Tour in 2018. © Simona David

The artist works in three disciplines: ink on paper, embroidery, and book art. Asked about her drawings, Freund explains: “I had to start somewhere, and ink on paper seemed simple and an easy way to get back into drawing.” The landscapes, all in black and white, are an invitation for the viewer to imagine a larger context than the one strictly depicted by the artist. Some of these are currently part of a show at the Catskill Watershed Corporation in Margaretville paradoxically called “Local Color: In Black and White.” The show will remain on view through July 5.

The Big Daddy
Big Daddy at the American Visionary Museum in Baltimore. Source: Facebook

In 2017 Freund joined a group called Catskilled Crafters led by Wendy Brackman to create a project called The Ties That Bind, cutting and sewing together pieces of old ties donated by the community. The group created a piece called Big Daddy, currently on display at the American Visionary Museum in Baltimore in the Father Room as part of an exhibit called Parenting: An Art without a Manual, which will remain on view through September 1. NPR recently did a story on this, which ran on Father’s Day. The group sewed 1,462 hexagons into a nine-foot striped tie made out of hundreds of men’s ties and one wool suit. Brackman, who spearheaded the project, explains: “My dad was a bit of a dandy. He shaved every day, he looked good, he put himself together with his collar and wide ties.” Brackman is known as a performance artist (“Wacky Wendy”), as well as paper milliner (“Wacky Hat”).

Freund’s embroidery has gained attention due to its quirkiness and bold colors, but also extreme precision. Fascinated by road signs, the artist managed to capture some of the more vivid ones in a series shown recently at various locations throughout the area. One of these embroideries has received an award at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM) Spring Show, marking WAAM’s centennial. Asked about her interest in embroidery, the artist explains that she was looking for the perfect excuse to slow down and meditate, and that came in the form of making embroidery.

Gail Freund Award-Winning Embroidery at WAAM Small Works Show. Contributed Photo
Embroidery by Gail Freund, awarded at the WAAM’s Spring Show. Contributed Photo.

This year Freund is also working with a group of book artists led by Hedi Kyle to create fabric books, a multi-disciplinary project that will be shown in 2020. All artists are being given the same theme and size of the project, but each approach will be different. Kyle, who is coordinating the project, is a book conservator and educator, and co-founder of the Book Preservation Center at the New York Botanical Garden. As head conservator at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and as an adjunct professor in the Graduate Program for Book Arts and Printmaking at the University of the Arts, Kyle had trained and mentored a generation of conservators and book artists. The oldest artist in this group is Polly Vos, who is 94.

bowie.4x6_.embroidery and fabric paint on linen.April.2019
Postcard Embroidery by Gail Freund. Contributed Photo.

Freund will be showing her works during the AMR (Andes-Margaretville-Roxbury) Open Art Studios Tour, sharing studio space with painter Deborah Ruggerio. Ruggerio’s studio is located at 54096 State Highway 30 in Roxbury.

Landscape painter Ellen Wong has participated in the AMR (Andes-Margaretville-Roxbury) Open Art Studios Tour every year since it launched in 2012; she describes the experience as a positive one, and a great opportunity to show and talk about the setting where her art comes to life. Wong has been painting the Catskills since the 1970s, when she opened her studio in Roxbury. Initially trained as an abstract painter, she discovered that what she really wanted to do was landscape: “I noticed that every time I went somewhere I always brought with me my watercolors, and I always sketched where I was; somehow that’s how I got to understand, absorb or take in a new environment – I felt very sensitive to place,” she explains. “Does the world need another landscape?” she muses, but then she adds: “I can’t help it.”

image1
Esopus After the Rain, 12″ x 16″, oil on canvas, 2019 by Ellen Wong. Contributed Photo.

The recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Wong studied in the Art Department at Brooklyn College with Philip Pearlstein, known for reviving realist figurative painting in the 1960s. Pearlstein’s departure from Abstract Expressionism back then made him a renegade in the art world. It’s that kind of artistic sensibility and daring attitude that Wong had learned from Pearlstein.

Capturing the beauty of the environment but also the ordinary and the banal turns her experiences into markers for posterity. “I want to have a signature,” Wong explains. I want people to say “Oh, that’s Ellen Wong,” whenever they see my paintings. I like to ask deep questions, not necessarily seeking answers, but just asking questions that lead me to a path of my own. “I’d like to go deeper. Does painting the environment, water, for instance, which is life in my paintings, lead one to think of Flint, Michigan, for instance?”

openstudiostour
Wong’s Studio in Roxbury. Contributed Photo.

Wong follows a dictum by Lois Dodd: “paint where you are.” That leads the artist to creating a space uniquely hers. She now reads Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art, a book by Mary Gabriel that chronicles the lives of these women not as muses but as artists themselves. Ninth Street is a block away from where Wong herself lives in New York City. She reflects on how abstract expressionism was a revolt against portraiture and landscape. But changes in society always call for a different language.

Wong’s studio, which will be open during the AMR Open Art Studios Tour, is located at 121 Shephard Lane in Roxbury.

Print
Studio 190. Contributed Photo.

New this year, the AMR Art Tour is partnering with Studio 190 in Walton to show works by artists affiliated with this group as part of the two-day event. Studio 190 is a collaborative art program within The Arc of Delaware County, encouraging self-expression, exploration, creativity and teamwork, and providing support for artists to work in a professional studio, equipped with all the necessary tools and guidance from visiting artists.

Leah Schmidt, the program coordinator, explains that up to 35 artists have been taking part in this program so far. They work in different disciplines, although painting is the predominant activity. Some of the artists attend the program every day, while others participate in only one block per week, depending on their skills and dedication, although the most important achievement is to maintain a level of enjoyment so that all the participants have a meaningful experience.

Since 2017 the program has continued to grow under the guidance of art consultants and accomplished artists and educators such as Alan Powell, who have been working with Studio 190 to help branch out more into the community and ensure recognition for the art created in the studio. Under Powell’s guidance the group created the “Selfie” project inviting each participant’s creativity into portraying their own vision of how they see themselves and making personalized works that then can be shared with the community. The project is documented through the group’s Instagram feed as well as its website.

The “Selfie” project as well as other works will be shown during the AMR (Andes-Margaretville-Roxbury) Open Art Studios Tour on Saturday and Sunday, July 27 – 28 at the Community Church located at 904 Main Street in Fleischmanns.

For maps and more information, visit http://www.amropenstudios.org/ and www.facebook.com/amropenstudios/.

The AMR – Andes, Margaretville, Roxbury – Open Studios Tour 2019 is funded by the Delaware County Department of Economic Development – Tourism Advisory Board, and the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, and by 28 participating artists and 44 community business sponsors. Additional community support comes from the Longyear Gallery (Margaretville) and the MARK Project (Arkville).

SPONSORED STORY

© 2019 Simona David

Featured Destination: AMR Open Studios Tour 2016

Saturday and Sunday, July 30 – 31, over twenty artists in Andes, Margaretville and Roxbury area (AMR, for short) will open their studios to the public, and show their working spaces. During the tour, artists working in all media will talk about their styles and techniques, and the process of making art. Launched in 2012, AMR has been a great success, attracting a large number of visitors summer after summer. Similar tours take place all over the country, as open studios have become quite popular in recent years.

This year AMR features artists such as: painter and printmaker Amy Masters; architect, printmaker and photographer Ted Sheridan; urban landscape painter Lisbeth Firmin; ceramicists and printmakers Peter Yamaoka and Gerda Van Leeuwen; landscape painter Ellen Wong; weaver Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes; and poet and furniture designer Gary Mead, among others.

Amy Masters

Amy Masters has been an artist all her life. Formally trained as painter and printmaker, she pursued a degree in Interior Design at the Parsons School of Design, and worked as a draftsman for an engineering firm in New York City, before dedicating herself exclusively to painting and drawing. For over two decades, she taught in the New York City’s public school system, and spent her summers painting and drawing the world around. Moving to the Catskills in 2006, she was suddenly given far more space and limitless opportunities for inspiration. Amy likes to think about her work as being inspired by the natural world and the actual objects and vistas around her studio. But she likes to re-arrange and re-envision the landscape in the abstract. What is important to an abstract painter, says Amy, is the relationship between colors, lines and shapes, and the complexities of pattern and texture that emerge at the end of the process.

Her color palette changes periodically. Last summer, for instance, she was working extensively in blue, green, and red. This summer she enjoys exploring the possibilities of various shades of white, beige, and grey. But she always likes to add an unexpected dot of red somewhere on the canvas to surprise and intrigue the viewer.

A couple of years ago Amy re-discovered her passion for prints, and after taking an etching class in the City and working in a printmaking studio, she began producing prints using a variety of techniques. She currently works on a series of prints inspired by feathers. “When I was doing these prints, I was thinking how unique and individual these feathers were, and that resonated with the process too. Because each time you make one of these monotypes, they’re completely different.”

Painter and printmaker Amy Masters working on a series of monotypes inspired by feathers
Painter and printmaker Amy Masters working on a series of monotypes inspired by feathers. © Simona David

Amy will be showing her prints during the open studios tour later this month, and will be talking about various printmaking techniques. Her studio is located at 222 Chris Long Road in Arkville.

Ted Sheridan

Ted Sheridan is an architect, printmaker, and photographer. He has taught courses on architectural acoustics and the acoustics of musical instruments at the Parsons School of Design, and has lectured at the University of Virginia, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto.

Six years ago, Ted began experimenting with metallic compounds, corrosion, and magnetic fields to create original patterns of rust on paper. For his very first project he used old, rusty car parts, and after leaving them out in the rain on a piece of paper, he discovered an immense array of shapes and shades that he did not expect. Coming from the world of architecture where everything is controlled and precise, Ted sat to explore the randomness of the oxidation process, and began working on more and more elaborate projects.

Metallic Print by Ted Sheridan
Metallic Print by Ted Sheridan. © Simona David

About a dozen prints are hanging in his studio at this time. Each one of them was produced by a different method and stylistic approach; some are concentric circles reminiscent of nebulas in space, others are rectangular stripes imposing in their own right. All these will be shown during the open studios tour on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 – 31.

Ted’s studio is located at 222 Chris Long Road in Arkville.

Lisbeth Firmin

Lisbeth Firmin is a contemporary American realist known for her urban landscapes. For over four decades her work has been in hundreds of solo and group shows across the country and internationally. She was cover artist for the 2008 spring issue of Epoch, Cornell University’s literary magazine, and was the featured artist in the 2008 summer issue of the Gettysburg Review. Awards include a 2007 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for printmaking (Lily Auchincloss Fellow) and a Merit Award at the 2007 Roberson Regional Art Exhibition, Binghamton, NY, juried by Philip Pearlstein. Lisbeth was awarded a Community Arts Funding Grant, New York State Council on the Arts in 2007. Other awards include a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the New York Print Club Emerging Artist Award, the CCVA Award at the Chautauqua Center for the Visual Arts, first prize in the LANA International Arts Competition; along with full fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, National Seashore Residency, the Vermont Studio Center and Saltonstall Arts Colony.

Asked about her artistic process, Lisbeth responded: “I can’t explain that. It’s a visceral thing. I could be walking around, and doing grocery shopping or some other mundane stuff like that. And I see something, and I say I want to paint that. I don’t even verbalize it. It’s more like I could paint that, I want to paint that. Now I always have my little iPhone with me. And what’s happening these days is that I see something about the light on a figure, and this is what interests me. And it just comes naturally to me: I know exactly where to put the paint, and how to capture the light. I’m moving away from buildings and streetscapes.” Lisbeth says that her work is not about the colors, but about the light and shadow in the composition, apparent in works such as Fifth Avenue (1995), and Woman on a Train (2014).

Fifth Avenue, 7" x 15", gouache, 1995. Contributed photo.
Fifth Avenue, 7″ x 15″, gouache, 1995 by Lisbeth Firmin. Contributed photo.

To learn more about the artist, read our extensive interview with Lisbeth: https://artinthecatskills.com/2015/08/31/featured-artist-lisbeth-firmin. Her studio is located in the Commons Building at 785 Main Street, Margaretville.

Peter Yamaoka and Gerda Van Leeuwen

Artists Peter Yamaoka and Gerda Van Leeuwen met in a Boston airport in the early 1980s as they were both traveling to and from Provincetown. They married three years later. Peter studied at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, while Gerda received a degree in art from the University of Utrecht in her native Netherlands. In college both Peter and Gerda studied painting. Later in their artistic careers, they specialized in printmaking: Peter chose lithographs, while Gerda directed her attention to etchings. Since moving to the Catskills in the early 1990s both artists switched to ceramics: Peter prefers voluminous mythology-inspired vases, while Gerda makes small porcelains inspired by animal life. In Tribeca Peter and Gerda operated a printmaking shop. In the Catskills, they opened a fully equipped ceramics studio, where they both work and teach classes. Both artists have exhibited extensively in New York City and throughout the Catskills.

Ceramicist Peter Yamaoka in his studio
Ceramicist Peter Yamaoka in his studio. © Simona David

Peter’s vases are inspired by ancient Chinese motifs, Greek mythology, Mexican folklore, and the Catskills scenery. All his vases are both functional and decorative at the same time: “they’re sculptures,” Peter tells me. They withhold on top whimsical cities or mythological figures, an invitation to imagining and exploring. He also makes dioramas, fully employing the narrative feature of this form of art. All his vases and bowls are hand-made out of clay, then fired on an electrical kiln, and glazed in expressive, telling ways.

Gerda makes small porcelains inspired by animal life – primarily dogs and coyotes that we ordinarily see in the Catskills. Her anthropomorphic approach often leads to scenes of dancing dogs in a very human-like posture – portrayals that remind me of Matisse’s Dance. Victorian era practice of combining human heads and animal bodies or vice versa to awing effect in art also pops into my head. Gerda makes monotype prints on rice paper and canvas, similarly inspired by highly anthropomorphic pursuits. A large printing press occupies the central space of one of the studios.

On occasion Gerda makes woodblock prints. She currently works on a large scale wall piece using water based ink on paper and wood panel. A metal template is used to create a specific pattern that recurs throughout the composition. This particular work is done primarily in blue and gold hues. It will soon hang in a New York City apartment.

Peter and Gerda's Ceramics Garden
Peter and Gerda’s Ceramics Garden. © Simona David

Both Peter and Gerda are proud of their garden: the artists craft copious outdoor pieces that blend organically with the landscape. The tree of life reappears sporadically throughout the garden. Peter and Gerda have participated in the AMR Open Studios Tour ever since the tour first launched in 2012. Every summer they open both their studios and the garden, and demonstrate ceramics and printmaking techniques. Peter and Gerda’s studios are located at 777 Carroll Hinkley Road in Roxbury.

Ellen Wong

The recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Ellen Wong is an accomplished painter and educator whose works have been exhibited both in New York City and the Catskills, going back to the 1970s. Ellen studied in the Art Department at Brooklyn College with Philip Pearlstein, known for reviving realist figurative painting in the 1960s. Pearlstein’s departure from Abstract Expressionism back then made him a renegade in the art world. It’s that kind of artistic sensibility and daring attitude that Ellen learned from Pearlstein.

Landscape painting by Ellen Wong. Contributed photos.
Watercolor by Ellen Wong. Contributed photo.

Ellen herself was initially trained as an abstract painter, but in time she discovered that what she really wanted to do in life was landscape painting: “I noticed that every time I went somewhere I always brought with me my watercolors, and I always sketched where I was; somehow that’s how I got to understand, absorb or take in a new environment – I felt very sensitive to place,” she says. “And it was a good way for me to get to know a place. And I discovered that I had this desire to work outside, to work from life, and to work in watercolors, and that became in a way my primary medium,” she added.

Ellen’s studio is located at 121 Shephard Lane in Roxbury.

To learn more about Ellen, read our extensive interview with her at https://artinthecatskills.com/2014/10/18/featured-artist-ellen-wong/.

Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes

Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes is a professional weaver residing in Delaware County. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and the Center for Tapestry Arts in New York City. She designs both functional and aesthetic products using traditional American patterns. Her work can be seen in museums and gallery exhibits, and at various arts and crafts fairs throughout the region.

“Weaving is one of the oldest forms of a blend of art and function. The techniques of twisting fibers to make them stronger and durable started out probably in the earliest times of mankind history. From those twisted fibers men and women learned to do basketry, learned to create fabric, and also to use it for decoration. For instance, in a lot of the Native American pottery from the South-Western U.S. and Central and South America you will see that twisted fibers have been pressed up against the clay to create a pattern on that clay. It’s been made as an impression on the clay to make it look as it was woven. In reality, it is a three-dimensional structure that was never plated or twisted in itself,” explains Tabitha.

Weaver Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes
Weaver Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes. © Simona David

Tabitha says she loves the fact that weaving isn’t a forgotten art. She particularly enjoys the mathematical structure of setting up the loom, and is excited about what it takes to create fabric. Her favorite part is mixing the colors, and the texture of the yarns together. “To me that’s magical – how I get a piece of fabric: something out of nothing.”

Tabitha’s studio is located at 424 Carr George Road in Denver. To learn more about Tabitha, read our extensive interview with her at https://artinthecatskills.com/2015/01/31/featured-artist-tabitha-gilmore-barnes/.

Gary Mead

Poet and furniture designer Gary Mead grew up on a farm in New Kingston, and fell in love with wood as a teenager, when he began working in a sawmill. In 1979 he opened his own company Fruitful Furnishings, and for many years designed and built custom furniture for clients all over the country. “The woodworking passion would not leave me alone, so as I was running the mill and raising my three sons, I was working on my home in Arkville composing pantries, kitchen cabinets, furniture, floors, walls and ceilings from wood, practically turning my home into a museum of woods,” he says.

Gary’s artistic eye and his understanding of the wood led him in recent years to creating compositions from curved and more unusual wood. In 2011 he opened his art gallery, dedicated exclusively to wood. While some pieces are both functional and aesthetic, others are purely decorative. The floor in his gallery is representative of all the trees growing in the Catskill Mountains from walnut, beechnut, butternut, maple, cherry, and birch trees to various kinds of pine. All these have been used to designing durable tables, cabinets, and pantries. Gary proudly proclaims that all the compositions in his gallery are actually from woods within a fifty-mile radius from his galley. “I am excited to teach people about the wealth of wood we have right here in our back yard,” he says. He will be showing his gallery during the open studios tour on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 – 31. His studio is located at 1289 South Side Road in Margaretville.

Xylophone Table by Gary Mead
Xylophone Table by Gary Mead. © Simona David

The AMR Open Studios Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 30 – 31, from 11 am to 5 pm both days. For maps and more information, visit http://www.amropenstudios.org/.

The AMR Open Studio Tour 2016 is funded by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, and is administered in Delaware County by The Roxbury Arts Group, and with fiscal support from The MARK Project and participating artists.

SPONSORED STORY

© 2016 Simona David

The Poetics of Space with Fred Guyot at the Erpf Center

The Erpf Center in Arkville is hosting The Poetics of Space, an art show featuring the works of abstract painter Fred Guyot. Guyot, who received his MFA from Brooklyn College, studied with famous Philip Pearlstein in the 1960s, and developed a style characterized by rich, bold colors. The Poetics of Space includes works produced between 1990 and 2010, and will remain on view through May 27. For more information, visit http://catskillcenter.org/events/fred-guyot.

IMG_1088 IMG_1092 IMG_1099 IMG_1108

© 2016 artinthecatskills.com

Featured Destination: AMR Open Studios Tour 2015

Saturday and Sunday, July 25 – 26, 11 am to 5 pm, over twenty artists in Roxbury, Halcottsville, Margaretville, Arkville, and Pine Hill area will open their studios to the public, and show their working spaces. During the tour, artists working in all media will talk about their styles and techniques, and the process of making art. AMR (ArtTour Margaretville-Roxbury) Open Studios Tour, which launched in 2012, has been a great success, attracting a wide range of visitors summer after summer. Similar tours take place all over the country, as open studio tours have become quite popular among art lovers.

Peter Yamaoka and Gerda Van Leeuwen

Artists Peter Yamaoka and Gerda Van Leeuwen met in a Boston airport in the early 1980s as they were both traveling to and from Provincetown. They married three years later. Peter studied at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, while Gerda received a degree in art from the University of Utrecht in her native Netherlands. In college both Peter and Gerda studied painting. Later in their artistic careers, they specialized in printmaking: Peter chose lithographs, while Gerda directed her attention to etchings. Since moving to the Catskills in the early 1990s both artists switched to ceramics: Peter prefers voluminous mythology-inspired vases, while Gerda makes small porcelains inspired by animal life. In Tribeca Peter and Gerda operated a printmaking shop. In the Catskills, they opened a fully equipped ceramics studio, where they both work and teach classes. Gerda is also the executive director of the Longyear Gallery in Margaretville. Both artists have exhibited extensively in New York City and throughout the Catskills.

Artist Peter Yamaoka in his studio
Artist Peter Yamaoka in his studio. © Simona David

Peter’s vases are inspired by ancient Chinese motifs, Greek mythology, Mexican folklore, and the Catskills scenery. All his vases are both functional and decorative at the same time: “they’re sculptures,” Peter tells me. They withhold on top whimsical cities or mythological figures, an invitation to imagining and exploring. He also makes dioramas, fully employing the narrative feature of this form of art. All his vases and bowls are hand-made out of clay, then fired on an electrical kiln, and glazed in expressive, telling ways.

Yamaoka showing a vase inspired by Greek mythology
Yamaoka showing a vase inspired by Greek mythology. © Simona David

Gerda makes small porcelains inspired by animal life – primarily dogs and coyotes that we ordinarily see in the Catskills. Her anthropomorphic approach often leads to scenes of dancing dogs in a very human-like posture – portrayals that remind me of Matisse’s Dance. Victorian era practice of combining human heads and animal bodies or vice versa to awing effect in art also pops into my head. Gerda makes monotype prints on rice paper and canvas, similarly inspired by highly anthropomorphic pursuits. A large printing press occupies the central space of one of the studios.

Van Leeuwen showing animal inspired porcelains
Van Leeuwen showing animal inspired porcelains. © Simona David

On occasion Gerda makes woodblock prints. She currently works on a large scale wall piece using water based ink on paper and wood panel. A metal template is used to create a specific pattern that recurs throughout the composition. This particular work is done primarily in blue and gold hues. It will soon hang in a New York City apartment.

Woodblock prints by Van Leeuwen
Woodblock prints by Van Leeuwen. © Simona David

Both Peter and Gerda are proud of their garden: the artists craft copious outdoor pieces that blend organically with the landscape. The tree of life reappears sporadically throughout the garden. Peter and Gerda have participated in the AMR Open Studios Tour ever since the tour first launched in 2012. Every summer they open both their studios and the garden, and demonstrate ceramics and printmaking techniques.

Garden ceramics at Yamaoka and Van Leeuwen's studios
Garden ceramics at Yamaoka and Van Leeuwen’s studios. © Simona David

Peter and Gerda’s studio is located at 777 Carroll Hinkley Road in Roxbury.

Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes

Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes is a professional weaver residing in Delaware County. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and the Center for Tapestry Arts in New York City. She designs both functional and aesthetic products using traditional American patterns. Her work can be seen in museums and gallery exhibits, and at various arts and crafts fairs throughout the region.

“Weaving is one of the oldest forms of a blend of art and function. The techniques of twisting fibers to make them stronger and durable started out probably in the earliest times of mankind history. From those twisted fibers men and women learned to do basketry, learned to create fabric, and also to use it for decoration. For instance, in a lot of the Native American pottery from the South-Western U.S. and Central and South America you will see that twisted fibers have been pressed up against the clay to create a pattern on that clay. It’s been made as an impression on the clay to make it look as it was woven. In reality, it is a three-dimensional structure that was never plated or twisted in itself,” explains Tabitha.

Tabitha says she loves the fact that weaving isn’t a forgotten art. She particularly enjoys the mathematical structure of setting up the loom, and is excited about what it takes to create fabric. Her favorite part is mixing the colors, and the texture of the yarns together. “To me that’s magical – how I get a piece of fabric: something out of nothing.”

Tabitha’s studio is located at 424 Carr George Road in Denver.

To learn more about Tabitha, read our extensive interview with her at https://artinthecatskills.com/2015/01/31/featured-artist-tabitha-gilmore-barnes/.

Ellen Wong

The recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Ellen Wong is an accomplished painter and educator whose works have been exhibited both in New York City and the Catskills, going back to the 1970s. Ellen studied in the Art Department at Brooklyn College with Philip Pearlstein, known for reviving realist figurative painting in the 1960s. Pearlstein’s departure from Abstract Expressionism back then made him a renegade in the art world. It’s that kind of artistic sensibility and daring attitude that Ellen learned from Pearlstein.

Landscape by Wong
Catskills Landscape by Ellen Wong. Contributed photo.

Ellen herself was initially trained as an abstract painter, but in time she discovered that what she really wanted to do in life was landscape painting: “I noticed that every time I went somewhere I always brought with me my watercolors, and I always sketched where I was; somehow that’s how I got to understand, absorb or take in a new environment – I felt very sensitive to place,” she says. “And it was a good way for me to get to know a place. And I discovered that I had this desire to work outside, to work from life, and to work in watercolors, and that became in a way my primary medium,” she added.

Ellen’s studio is located at 121 Shephard Lane in Roxbury.

To learn more about Ellen, read our extensive interview with her at https://artinthecatskills.com/2014/10/18/featured-artist-ellen-wong/.

Other participating artists include: Lisbeth Firmin, Hedi Kyle, Ken Hiratsuka, Midori Kato, Patrice Lorenz, Frank and Helene Manzo, Anthony Margiotta, Amy Masters, Gary Mead, John Sanders, Ted Sheridan, Alix Travis, and Rosamond Welchman.

Poppies by Alix Hallman Travis
Poppies by Alix Travis. Contributed photo.

The AMR Open Studios Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 25 – 26, from 11 am to 5 pm both days.

Halcottsville Grange will be a HUB for several artists who will demonstrate their craft to the public:  Alix Travis – coloring books, Rosamond Welchman – clay, Catskill Mountain Quilters Guild members – quilting, Katherine Somelofski – stained glass, Kathleen Green – painting and portraiture, and Oneida Hammond – painting.  The Grange HUB will be open 11 am to 5 pm on both days, and Margaretville High School Art Students Katlynn Shamro and Sage Finkle will serve as interns.

For maps and more information, visit http://www.amropenstudios.org/.

The AMR Open Studio Tour 2015 is made possible with funds from the O’Connor Foundation and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, and is administered in Delaware County by The Roxbury Arts Group.

© 2015 Simona David

SPONSORED STORY

Featured Artist: Ellen Wong

Ellen Wong (2)
© Ellen Wong

The recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Ellen Wong is an accomplished painter and educator whose works have been exhibited both in New York City and the Catskills, going back to the 1970s. Wong studied in the Art Department at Brooklyn College with Philip Pearlstein, known for reviving realist figurative painting in the 1960s. Pearlstein’s departure from Abstract Expressionism back then made him a renegade in the art world. It’s that kind of artistic sensibility and daring attitude that Wong learned from Pearlstein.

Wong herself was initially trained as an abstract painter, but in time she discovered that what she really wanted to do in life was landscape painting: “I noticed that every time I went somewhere I always brought with me my watercolors, and I always sketched where I was; somehow that’s how I got to understand, absorb or take in a new environment – I felt very sensitive to place,” she says. “And it was a good way for me to get to know a place. And I discovered that I had this desire to work outside, to work from life, and to work in watercolors, and that became in a way my primary medium,” she added.

Wong paints mostly outdoors, in the field, but she’s done some studio work as well. For instance, “Local Gets Personal,” a series of bluish-purple Jersey cows on Catskills’ farmland, shown at the Roxbury Arts Group two years ago, was done mostly in the studio: “When I’m outside I take in so much, and for that show I wanted a highly culled sensibility of these places, and so I did do a lot of work in the studio.”

On the other hand, her current show at Longyear Gallery in Margaretville “The Road Show,” on view till October 20, was done entirely in plein air. “The Road Show” includes twenty-five oil paintings, watercolors and drawings depicting Catskill Mountains’ scenery in various seasons, although green panoramas predominate. Most of the paintings were done over the past two years, but the show also includes a few older winter and fall pieces. The biggest painting in the show is a 24” x 36” oil on canvass called “Grazing on the Far Meadow on Rt.30 across from Lucci and Randy’s”. Lots of roads: “Autumn in Margaretville” (oil on linen), “Not Just Any Road, Hardscrabble Road” (oil on panel), “Driving Along Red Rock Road Find Farm” (oil on linen), and Wong’s favorite spot in Roxbury – “Foggy Morning, Briggs Road Along the East Branch” (watercolor). The creamery also has a special place in Wong’s collection. Included in this show are “Stormy Weather at the Creamery” (watercolor on paper), and “Rounding the Curve at the Creamery” (graphite on paper).

Artist Ellen Wong
© Ellen Wong

“Frederic Church, a student of the Hudson River School of Painting, was like a Paganini on a violin, he could do these amazing things. When I had a research grant, and saw some of his oil sketches – the view of the Catskill Mountains from Olana, those works to me are infinitely exciting, and one of the things we must do as landscape painters is to retain that excitement,” articulates Wong.

Wong started painting in oils, and admits that she never painted with acrylic, but loves the immediacy of watercolors and drawing. “What I paint dictates what medium I use. When light is a critical element, I just like watercolors because of their quickness of capturing that light. When solidity or form is important, I feel that oil really lands itself for that,” she explains. And, she continues: “I think these are the things that I struggle with, how to labor over a painting, and not having it looked like it was labored, because you don’t want to see someone’s labor, you just want to see that moment in a way.”

Wong has painted the Catskill Mountains’ scenery for the past twenty-five years, but has never gotten tired of it. “The challenge of working from life is a challenge that never ends, and that propels me in a way, and I look for different things. When I first came to the Catskills, I was most impressed by the extraordinary vistas, in the tradition of the Hudson River School of Painting, but nowadays what draws me in is mostly any road – driving on any road, and observing how the light and shadows fall on that road. Over time I think I moved from the majestic view of the Catskill Mountains to the more banal aspects of living here. And some of my paintings document things that are no longer here, like some of the buildings that I depict in my earlier paintings.”

Asked how she wants people to react to her paintings, Wong says that she wants them to be moved, but “I don’t want the work to be sentimental, and I don’t want it to look like a photograph either, although I work from life.” “I also like when people experience familiarity and recognition in the places that I depict,” she adds.

When asked how she deals with the ever changing environment when working on a specific piece, Wong says: “Sometimes the painting changes, and it’s ironic, because I’m looking to capture a particular place in a particular moment in time, but if you think about capturing a moment, there are hours and hours of work to get that moment. In a way, the painting captures the nature of the changing weather.”

The artist’s journal further edifies the process of creating new artworks: “To paint landscape is to be a poet, changing forms, states, colors, sitting by the waterfall in the morning, in the delicate shadow of a little seedling on a rock, the details, the subtle nuances of shadows, trying to deal with rushing waterfall, … how to paint, how to draw, it becomes a technical challenge, and it takes me away from the experience of nature,” Ellen Wong, landscape painter.

© 2014 Simona David