Sunday, April 15, 2018

Shana Kaplow, Artist and Professor

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 13th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Shana Kaplow. I noticed one her artworks walking into Rosalux Gallery a long time ago and I have liked her art since then. Shana is a talented artist and professor. I think her answers to my questions are super interesting and I think you will too! Thank you for reading! 

Jackson: How did you become interested in art? How old were you?

Shana: I think I was always interested in art, which started with drawing. My mother is an artist so I grew up around her paintings, her art magazines, her studio, and going to art museums, so art and art-making were always present. It was a natural activity - a way to engage myself. I have favorite memories at around age 4, of a new big box of crayons, the one with the built-in pencil sharpener - so exciting! When I was 6 yrs. old, I was given a gift of a new set of colored markers, and I still remember the thrill of seeing all the colors. When I was 9 yrs. old, I remember seeing a Lynda Benglis sculpture and some deeper ideas clicked for me - that a visual object or image had the potential to hold multiple ideas within it. An object could be both solid and fluid, or it could wake me up to see things in a new way, or it could be totally unfamiliar and I could notice my mind working to figure out how to relate to it. These realizations were really expansive for me and I have later looked back upon that experience as very formative. As I got older, I struggled with the idea of making art as a career - perhaps it was because I wanted to individuate and do something different than my mother, but I also saw that it was a hard choice to make professionally and financially. However, when I got to college (planning to major is psychology), I realized that I really felt most alive when I was making art and learning about artists’ works, and decided to major in Studio Art in my second year. After that, I was totally committed to pursuing art as my priority and set out to figuring out how to make that work.

Jackson: How did you hit on your current style with the chairs? It is so unique.

Shana: I had included images of chairs, off and on, in my paintings over the years. Sometimes I would just paint a chair when I didn’t know what to paint. It is a form and structure that interested me because it reflects the human body. But I didn’t originally make the chair an important subject in my work and it was much later that it became a more full-blown image that I keep returning to. Now I am exploring how objects, like furniture, that we live with are meant to support the body, are often manufactured very far away. I think about who is making the things that I use intimately in my life and what their body’s relationship is to the object. What are the conditions of their lives? And what are the conditions of my life, my decisions, etc? I’m interested in what we don’t see, and the chair or the table become edges and structures that I am looking “through”, so to speak, as a way to see what is ‘unseen’. I’m curious about the relationship between what is close and what is far away. I am looking at my role in that relationship. I’m still trying to figure out how to ‘talk’ about that with visual language. It seems like there is something I keep being interested in that involves realism and abstraction simultaneously. I’ll also say that I don’t think much about the word “style”. I just make my work, and it keeps changing, developing, evolving. It’s never the same twice.

Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead who would it be?

Shana: Oh, so many! But one that comes to mind would be Louise Bourgeois. She was a very influential artist for me years ago. She was an incredible role model to see out there working as a woman who made powerful and honest sculptures and paintings. She is an important artist for a whole generation or two of younger artists. She was fierce in her opinions and fearless in her art-making. She was kind of a fiery personality and had many bold and original things to say. You can watch a documentary film about her called "Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress, and The Tangerine”. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Allison Ruby - Artist, Red Garage Studio owner, Creative Gardener

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 12th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Allison Ruby, who is a wonderful artist, gardener, and she also owns Red Garage Studio! She put one of my paintings in a group show last year and it was very exciting for me. Her answers are great and her story is very surprising and inspiring. Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think!

Jackson: How did you get the idea to put a gallery in your garage? I would like to do
something like that with my Dad.

Allison: For several years I’ve been working out in my garage during the summer and always dreamed of having a more bright and pleasant space to work, so I decided that once I graduated from art school I would finish off the space and turn it into a dedicated studio. But after leaving school I realized how much I missed the creative energy present in a space where there were many people working, creating and collaborating, and how much it fed my creative process. Also I was feeling a little lonely and looking for ways to meet new people and make new friends. Furthermore, I had done an internship at the Nash Gallery where I got very interested in the curation and installation process. All these things inspired me to open my studio space up to occasional pop-up shows and it grew from there.

Garage galleries come out of a long tradition of home or apartment galleries that have
been going on for more than a century. With the art world’s economy evolving I think
alternative exhibition spaces are becoming ever more common. I like these spaces for
their intimacy and funky DIY aspect. Galleries can be intimidating and often seem to
separate people from art, literally putting it on a pedestal (an item verboten at Red
Garage.) I like spaces that bring people together so that they engage with one another
in meaningful ways that create connection. This is something that is not only integral to
my artistic practice but what I strive for in general in life. I want to know my neighbors
and energize my immediate community. My goal is to use the events at Red Garage to
help accomplish that. It is also a way for me to support other artists.

I say if you want to do your own art shows go for it! I will caution you that it is not as
easy as it looks. It requires a lot of time and hard work to do well. 

Jackson: How did you become an artist? Was it something that just happened?

Allison: All my life I have engaged in creative activities, not specifically visual arts. As a child I was especially involved in theater, music and dance. I really liked art until third grade when the art teacher at my school yelled at me for putting red flowers in the tall savannah grasses in my section of the African safari mural the class was making. That ruined art for me for a long time. In my late twenties I became very interested in Waldorf education and eventually became a teacher. The arts are integrated into all subjects at Waldorf schools and made me understand art and success in a new and more encompassing way.

Then in 2005 I was hit by a car while riding my bike to work and was very badly injured.
I had a brain injury and basically all the muscles in my neck and back were torn or
severely sprained. I had to retire from teaching and ended up more or less bedridden for several years. I was seeing many doctors and specialists to help me heal, but there was not much progress and I was told I would probably always be like that. One of the people I saw was a speech therapist whose exercises were useless to me and instead of looking deeper or admitting she did not know how to help me, she got irritated with me for not improving! I had mentioned to her how I had been a teacher and that some of my problems I had seen in young children who had learning difficulties, so at what turned out to be our final session, when I said what we were doing did not seem to be helping me, she took it personally and very crossly said, “So what would you do for one of your students instead?” She said it in a sarcastic way, but when I went home I really took that question to heart and thought about it.

Part of the answer I came up with was drawing my body. I was so disconnected to my
physical body after the accident that I could not even tell if I was holding my head
straight or sideways. I started drawing my body in parts, and that process really helped
me. That led me to do more painting, which really helped my spirit. I was so weak I
could only work for about 15 minutes before I would need to go lie down again, so I
used watercolor palette paints that did not require a lot of set up or much strength. Over
the years as I healed I continued to paint, until several years later I was finally strong
enough to go back to school and pursue an art degree.

Jackson: Everyone seems to like this question so I always ask now: If you could meet
any artist, who would it be and why?

Allison: I would love to meet Caledonia Curry, aka Swoon. I love her work and I love how she thinks about her practice and its role in the world. I would have given anything to be part of her Swimming Cities project. I admire the way she brings art out into the world to draw people together and build community. Plus her work is gorgeous. I love the grand scale installations she has done and all the different media she incorporates. I have heard Callie speak and she seems like an incredibly genuine, fun, and dynamic woman, the kind of person I look for as a friend.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Lindsy Halleckson, Artist

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 11th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed the excellent painter Lindsy Halleckson. My Dad and I really love her paintings and we have featured them many times on our @artworldexploration Instagram. Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think!

Jackson: My Dad and I really like your paintings. How do you get the canvases to look like they are glowing?

Lindsy: Good question, and thank you, Jackson! I paint using brushes on canvas (and sometimes linen) with dozens of thin layers of thinned out acrylic paint. Each layer builds up more color, while still showing the colors underneath. For me, the process is meditative and physical. It feels very natural- almost like breathing. Even though the process isn't terribly difficult, it takes a lot of time and patience. 

Jackson: How did you know that you wanted to be an artist? 

Lindsy: From the time I was really young, I always needed to be making things. I loved drawing, painting, writing and illustrating stories. There was always a lot of music in my house growing up, and I played a couple of different kinds of musical instruments. Figure skating was a significant part of my teen years, so that was a major creative outlet for me as well. In junior high and high school I took a lot of art and music classes, which I loved. I was pretty good at drawing and loved color theory. But, I also loved science and math. When I went to college, I thought I wanted to study music composition and eventually write scores for movies. I didn't actually consider visual art seriously until I went on a trip to New York for a couple of weeks during my senior year in college. Spending time in that city made me realize that making a life as an artist is possible. 

Somewhere along the line, I realized that art, math, and science are all ways that we learn about and connect with the world around us. Being an artist didn't mean that I needed to abandon my interest in science but could be a way for me to explore ideas and concepts - learning through making, like a scientist learns from experiments. That realization seemed to be what most excited me about being an artist.

Jackson: If you could meet any artist, who would it be and why?

Lindsy: This is such a good question! There are so many artists I'd really like to meet. If I could meet ANY artist, I would definitely want to meet Agnes Martin. Lately, I've been interested in the work of Zaria Forman. I love how her work overlaps visual art and environmental activism. Her mastery of drawing is inspiring to me, and the way that she raises awareness about issues affecting our climate is especially important right now. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Christina Alderman, Assistant Director, Family and Teen Programs at the Rhode Island School of Design

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the tenth interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Christina Alderman. I met her when I was little and she worked at the Walker Art Center. She was probably my first art friend and I miss her. That is me at the bottom right of the Walker poster above. Christina organized the group and it was fun. We had pizza. Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think!

Jackson: Do you miss the Walker Art Center? I miss seeing you there.

Christina: I miss the Walker very much because I met so many amazing people like you! It’s a part of my life that I will treasure and never forget. I continue to watch the Walker from afar, so I continue to see the many amazing thing it does.

Jackson: What kind of art is your favorite and why? 

ChristinaIt’s hard to have a favorite because my job always keeps me learning about so many new kinds. This summer I have been spending a lot of time learning about ancient polychrome. Many of the ancient marble sculpture and statues we see in museums were painted all sorts of colors. They had golds, bright reds, blues and more. It was amazing. It’s been fun to wander galleries and imagine what these statues might have been like.

Jackson: If you could meet any artist who would it be and why?

ChristinaSo many artists, but I am going to have to go with Mark Rothko. I am not sure I would have my job or even care about art if wasn't for Rothko. When I started college, I was convinced to take an art class. We went on a field trip to the Albright Knox museum in Buffalo, NY, and I saw Rothko. I stared and stared, and then I cried. I had no idea why, or no idea what it meant, and I was crying. It changed my life. That was the moment I wanted to spend my life around art and began my quest to figure out how to work at an art museum. So, if it wasn’t for Rothko I might not have even met you and so many other things in my life would have never happened.  I would like the chance to say thanks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

J. Wren Supak, Artist

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the ninth interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed J. Wren Supak. She is a very talented artist. I have met her and she is really nice. Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think!

Jackson: How old were you when you first became really interested in art?

Wren: I cannot remember not being interested in making art. I thought I was a Master Abstractor as a toddler. I thought I could play the violin, dance and play piano like a virtuoso, and I wasn’t embarrassed or anything, I felt proud and confident.… Now I feel like a kid with only so much to learn. Funny, hm? 

Jackson: How do you get the ideas for your paintings? Mine just seem to pop out of my brain.

Wren: I read and research history, stories, feelings and memory, and try to imagine what those things would look like if I could not use words or anything, but I could only SHOW the concept. I ask myself what does so and so look like? And then I try to create that picture— I try to show not tell an idea.

JacksonIf you could meet any artist, who would it be and why?

Wren: I am an avid art historian as well as artist and I commune with my favorite artists by studying their paintings, process, biographies, and of course doing studies of their work. I feel that they are my friends and that I am their friends. They’re my heroes. I would like to hang out with so many artists, including; Hilma af Klint about why she kept her abstract paintings and why she kept her abstractions a secret, Georgia O’Keeffe and look at her earliest experiments with ink abstractions, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, JMW Turner, James Whistler to look at Nocturne in Gold together, my Australian grandfather who played a dozen instruments, who died before I met him, Alfred Stieglitz to talk about Equivalents, some writers I admire, musicians, designers, etc., etc., etc., I could literally just go on and on. But I narrowed it down to someone I might actually meet in person someday. I choose Megan Walch. I have studied her work, her style and her process on-line, but I would like to see it in person, truly I would like to study with her for a chunk of time. She works in Tasmania, we have corresponded several times, from way over there, through digital communication, she helped me through a creative block on a painting or two. I think I could learn a lot from working with her. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Liza Sylvestre, Artist

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the eighth interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Liza Sylvestre. She is a talented artist. She is also nice and we have some of her art hanging on our walls. Thank you for reading!

Jackson: You make many different kinds of art. What kind do you enjoy making the most? I really liked your Soap Factory show.

Liza: This has been a tough thing to work through. My background is in painting, and it's this commercial gallery work that many people know me for. But for the past two years I've been creating multimedia conceptual artwork, like the work for my Art(ists) on the Verge show at The Soap Factory. It has definitely felt like I am juggling two separate studio practices, and I've struggled to justify them. Now that I'm finally at a place where I don't have any more painting shows I'm committed to, a breakthrough has occurred, and I'm so grateful for it. I can finally let go of some things, and with some past ways of working in my studio, and move forward with with new work. It's really easy to fall into a rut once you've had some measured success. People will purchase something and it's easy to feel like you should make 100 more of that something so that you can pay your bills! But the truth is that I was feeling stagnant in my studio until this new multimedia work came along. And now I see ways in which I can utilize my drawing and painting skills with the same sensibility that my new media work requires.

Jackson: How did you become an artist? Did you see a specific artwork? I guess that is two questions.

Liza: I think becoming an artist was just a natural inclination. It's a way of life for me, and for my family (my partner is also an artist and we have a young one and a half year old son together). I studied art in undergrad but "being an artist" felt so large and impossible and out of reach at the time of my graduation. I moved to Miami, I worked as a fashion designer there and in London, and I took my time coming back to art. There was a moment, while I was still living in Miami, when I made a really conscious decision to dedicate more of my time to my artwork, to make it a serious focal point of my life. I signed a lease on a an art studio and showed up every day, no matter what. That was a really pivotal decision, and one that all of the art-steps I've taken have followed. It takes so much work just to learn how to work, and it's so important to figure it out. It's all still a process, I'm still becoming an artist, or evolving as an artist.

Jackson: If you could meet any artist, who would it be and why?

Liza: Oooh, tough one. In my experience, often times meeting an artist is really not the same thing as enjoying their work. But, in an ideal world, Ann Hamilton and I would sit down, and she would share all of her art making secrets with me, and we would become the best of friends

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Alison Hiltner, Artist and Associate Director at SooVAC

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the seventh interview on my art blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Alison Hiltner. She is an amazing artist and is also Associate Director at Soo Visual Arts Center. She is really smart and I have known her since I was little. 

Jackson: How did you create all the green stuff for your exhibition at Mia? It was amazing.

AlisonGreat question Jackson and thank you! I have been cultivating cyanobacteria, a primitive form of algae going on two years now. The cyanobacteria that is in the show is not from the original cultures however, that has been growing for about 6 months. The lab in the back of the gallery is a tiny snippet of the process. Aquariums, lots of filtered water, cultures, pumps, bubblers and time is really all it takes:)

I was interested with working with cyanobacteria for a number of reasons; it’s prominence in scientific investigations, the role it played in creating the atmosphere we breathe  and for aesthetic considerations, the green is so vibrant it seems to be the definition of plant-life, the color a child would select from a box of crayons to color in leaves. I was drawn to algae for a variety of different reasons, and to quickly clarify, it is actually cyanobacteria a primitive form of algae. Cyanobacteria was instrumental in forging the earth’s atmosphere from the very beginning of the evolution of life. It also holds a very complex place in our rapidly altering climate, both as a resource to course-correct as well as a force for ecological destruction. I see this as a concise connection to how humans interact within our environment. On a more basic level, it appealed to me as something that registered as an organic life form, it’s intense shade of green feels like the defining color of a plant, but on an intensely primitive level. It forges a difficult, but meaningful, connection between the viewer and the cyanobacteria to push viewers to connect with a life-form that seems void of life, yet critically essential to our ecosystem.

JacksonWhat kind of art do you most like to look at?

AlisonAll kinds! Along with being a practicing artists I have the pleasure of working at Soo Visual Arts Center as the Associate Director, and that enables me to experience a wide variety of work. We have a lot of amazing artists in the Twin Cities and I have had the gift of working with a lot of them. 

Though I especially enjoy art that challenges expectations, something that demands me to even if momentarily look at the world differently.  

JacksonIf you could meet and speak to any artist, who would it be? I was excited to meet Sharon Louden.

AlisonLouise Bourgeois. Though I’m not sure if I would have the ability to speak if I was standing in front of her.