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on the hunt for good art

Artist Crush: Verena Baumann

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

These picnic scenes by Swiss painter and photographer Verena Baumann clearly reference that most famous of picnic scenes, Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. Both artists hack away at entrenched social constructs; Manet by placing a nude woman in the company men, Baumann by creating a soup of figures, interactions and intentions. Both pull apart the concept of polite, orderly society.

 

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BSDA ARTIST INTERVIEW: Katy Smail

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Katy Smail is a Scottish illustrator living and working in Brooklyn (she is repped by Kate Ryan). Her unabashedly feminine florals are the latest addition to Buy Some Damn Art; my interview with the artist is below.

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Carnations

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Kate: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Katy: I grew up in Edinburgh and the surrounding countryside, Scotland. I live in lovely Brooklyn, NY now.

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Kate: What kind of work do you do as an illustrator / designer in addition to your art practice?

Katy: I work as a freelance illustrator/ designer and am represented by Kate Ryan Inc here in New York. My freelance work varies from pattern and kids apparel design to advertising, editorial and horoscope illustrations. A lot of the fashion work I do involves collaborating with photographers to create illustrated “sets” for their images. I love the variety in my day to day working life, I find that all of my different outlets feed into each other so that my painting informs my design work and vice versa.

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Posey of Poppies

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Kate: You’re friends with florist and stylist Ariel Dearie. Given your shared affinity for florals, you must collaborate… right?

Katy: Yes, we have been friends for years and now share a studio. We met working at a restaurant and kind of started out on our own creative careers at the same time. In the beginning I used to assist Ariel with floral jobs, and as time has gone on we have collaborated in a variety of different ways. It is heaven to be surrounded by her flowers as I work, and she is so generous with letting me paint her arrangements or leaving pretty leftovers on my desk. It is inspiring to walk into the studio and see so much loveliness every day! I feel really lucky to work alongside such a talented lady, but mainly we just have fun gossiping while we work.

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Little Coral Flowers

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Kate: When winter set in and flowers are imported or artificial, what kinds of things inspire you to keep painting?

Katy: I hate the winter, I hate the cold. I find it really difficult. I always spend Christmas at home in Scotland, and even though things are a little frozen over, it is still lovely to be in the countryside with all of the moss, scruffy trees and wild bracken. The muted colors and textures are inspiring. Otherwise I have a variety of winter coping mechanisms for creativity; the hot houses at the botanical gardens, museums & galleries, cosy days at home with tea and old books. Again, I’m pretty lucky because Ariel manages to find interesting botanicals all year round. Also my husband scatters many beautiful plants in our home, so that helps.

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Pink Roses

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Kate: Brooklyn is a creative hub but each year more artists are prices out. How do you feel about and what is the reality of being an artist here?

Katy: It’s scary and hard. Sometimes I feel crazy for wanting to make art here when all my money goes on just paying rent or visiting home once a year. But then I think about the wonderful creative community that I have here; it is such an open and friendly place to live and work. From the first second I visited I just felt so strongly that I had to be here. It is amazing what humans will put up with to follow a gut feeling. I try not to think too far ahead or I get anxious. The reality of being an artist/ freelance worker is that you are always in an unstable position. Maybe you have a good couple of months, but it is invariably followed by a spell where there is no work and you can barely scrape rent together. It is stressful. But I have always had a kind of blind determination that I would make my living from my art. I believe that if you work really hard and keep doing what you believe in, then good things will happen.

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Kate: What is your total pie-in-the-sky dream project or job?

Katy: I would love someone to fund me to travel around the world, drawing and painting the wild botanicals of different countries & regions. I would compile the body of work into a book of drawings on wildflowers of the world and a series of paintings to exhibit. That sounds magical. 

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Artist Crush: Kate Tucker

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kate Tucker’s recent exhibit SELF-SIMILAR at Rubicon ARI is wonderfully playful and fresh.

“In her new body of work Tucker highlights the role played by the outline or edge in directing the outcome of a painting. For this exhibition she cut irregular forms… then painted with a renewed consciousness of the image as the surface of an object. In exploring this notion Tucker draws on mathematical notions of self-similarity, in which the whole is the same as or similar to one or more of the parts.” – Helen Gory Galerie

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BSDA ARTIST INTERVIEW: Stephanie Clark

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

This is an interview I did with artist Stephanie Clark about her series Woolly Islands on Buy Some Damn Art. Clark has lived a nomadic life; her paintings are personal mementos of the various landscapes that have left deep impressions on her. She is a graduate of the Museum School (SMFA) in Boston and currently resides in Santa Fe.

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Bulbous Snow Drifts at Midnight

Kate: You were born in New Mexico and, having lived in Chicago, IL, Boston, MA and Grand Forks, ND, you are now back living in your home state. What has that been like for you?

Stephanie: While I was born in New Mexico, I have lived for the longest duration of time, non-consecutively, in Alaska. Despite traveling and residing in many places, I definitely consider Alaska to be my physical “home”. It is the land that resonates the most with me. This is my third time living in New Mexico, and I still don’t consider it my home. I have learned that it is really people, thoughts, small isolated moments within landscape, and ideas that ground me most in my life rather than the place itself.

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White Bellied Hawk

Kate: What are “Woolly Islands”? Do they exist in real life?

Stephanie: Woolly Islands represents a series of smaller works dealing with the sublime, abstraction, ritual, and the line that binds all things within landscape and environment. These paintings are where I started to think about the compartmentalization of landscape. How when I view landscape it is often in these small ways… While I do have romantic notions of places and just as everyone can, fall into nostalgic ways of thought, I know that it is extremely complicated and often very dodgy territory to think with nostalgia and rely on romantic notions of the world. I always revert to what I see, how I am thinking, and what I feel when in a particular place. Woolly Islands represents the intimacy of a landscape. Through this intimate relationship with landscape, I convey how landscape functions for me through paint. I think of myself within the landscape, physically experiencing a place, not as a despot, conqueror, or passive observer.

I often think about the American West. I began considering this series when I moved to the Southwest. So, while I began to think about the negative effects of manifest destiny, I also began to consider how one views themselves within the environment, the concept that visually there is an expansive space out here in the West that allows one to see things in the distance creating a haziness, an ambiguity, and a longing. I then started considering islands as the direct opposite of the West. What are islands? How do they function, these isolated surrounded bodies of land? I began to think of my paintings as these little islands physically, each of them communicating a part of the land I was seeing and experiencing intimately, yet surrounded by this vast void of space.

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Woolly Islands

Kate: Your latest paintings, including those on BSDA, measure just 8″ x 8″. What is it like working on a smaller scale? Was this intentional?

Stephanie: For the past three years since graduating from the Museum School (SMFA) in Boston, MA, I have moved around, worked, and attended residency programs. This lifestyle has required a smaller format of work. As a result, I began to think of domesticity and transiency in relation to abstraction. I found pleasure in making abstract work in smaller dimensions and found the process to be more challenging. While I have worked larger and intend to again, it is really nice to move quickly from one piece to another. Seeing things change quite immediately, watching other pieces that need their time, take their time is a process that is rewarding. Finally, these works are square in reference to the grid.

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Kate: Can you tell us a bit about your “Rock Bottom Riser” series?​

Stephanie: The Rock Bottom Riser series is in-progress and began while I was an artist-in-resident at Vermont Studio Center in February of this year. It really was a side project to get my mind going in the early mornings and mid-afternoons when I was in the studio. The thirty-two gouache on paper paintings are images of snow, dirt, and debris that had become dissolved, were pushed around, trampled upon, melted, and refroze everyday.

I found on my daily walks that the way the snow and slush shifted and morphed really created these patterns and shapes that held my attention—these daily images of mutating murk somehow seemed suspended in my mind. I would think of the tracks I had seen imbedded in the muck, the marks that remained from people walking, or dogs’ piss stains in the snow, and ruminate upon these collected visuals, then paint these slush patterns from my mind upon returning to my studio.

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“Rock Bottom Riser” installation

Kate: You have two upcoming projects in Iceland. How did you make that connection?

Stephanie: I will be a resident artist at Norðanbál Gamli Skóli (The Old School), in Hrísey, and Gullkistan in Laugarvatn, both in Iceland during the winter of 2015. Since I was young, I was drawn to the North. I have always had a fixation with the Arctic and decided that I wanted to visit as many locales bordering or above the 49th parallel north during my lifetime. While I was living in Chicago I found myself often thinking of snow, mountains, wide abounding spaces, and was longing for those spaces that I knew in my youth. With this in mind, I returned to the desert.

At this point in my life, I am spending so much physical time in a space that is so opposite what I feel most comfortable in. I knew that I wanted to make a series of work concerning snow, hibernation, and deep winter. From there, I applied to a few residencies in Iceland and started planning for my move. To create work while immersed in Iceland’s winter will be a remarkable opportunity.

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Artist Crush: Yutaka Kawai

Monday, June 30, 2014

I appreciate how Japanese artist Yutaka Kawai treats watercolor like it’s acrylic – carving out shapes and layering paint with a bold hand. In other words, she is not afraid of letting things get a little messy.

 

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