I've always loved reading and spending time browsing the shelves of bookstores to find a great new fiction novel, informative business book, or art publication. To that end, I've decided to start a 'PxP Book Club' series of blog posts to talk about what I've read recently that I think might be of interest to the gallery's community of artists and art lovers. Happy reading fellow bibliophiles ;)
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When Kimberly Drew, aka @museummammy on Instagram and the former social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that she was releasing a book called 'This Is What I Know About Art', I knew I had to read it. What I didn't know at the time was how much her story would resonate with me. It's a short read at only 64 pages (I finished it in one sitting on a Saturday morning!), but it's packed with inspiring anecdotes from her life about her experience in college, getting the internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem that changed the course of her career, and how she felt during her time at the Met.
CLICK HERE to grab her book.
More about Kimberly Drew:
Kimberly Drew is an American art curator and writer. In March 2011, she started a Tumblr blog called Black Contemporary Art, while she was still in college. She invited several peers to contribute and post about black artists who were featured on museum websites but had no digital presence on Tumblr so that they would become part of a recorded history and reach a younger demographic of art lovers and appreciators. Drew refers to herself as a curator of Black art and experiences and has been recognized by the contemporary art platform Artsy for her work advocating for racial equality in the art world. She held the position of Associate Online Community Producer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 2015-2019 and has also coordinated social media campaigns for the White House, among others.
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As an art historian, reading through this book was right up my alley! I enjoyed learning all of the stories about The Jealous Curator's (aka Danielle Krysa) picks of contemporary women artists and the book also includes sidebar sections about famous women artists throughout history for those who might not be familiar with them. Another bonus specifically for artists is that the beginning of each section highlights a project that relates to the theme of the chapter to help spark new ideas or techniques for your own art. Learning about talented and inspiring women artists AND hands-on tasks to motivate you to push your own creativity? This book does it all - plus it's simply a beautiful publication to display on any bookshelf or coffee table. She's even since come out with a workbook sequel!
More about The Jealous Curator:
Danielle Krysa earned her BFA in Fine Arts from The University of Victoria in British Columbia, and a post-grad in graphic design from Sheridan College in Ontario. She launched the now immensely popular contemporary art site The Jealous Curator in 2009 and has since authored several books on art and culture.
"The Jealous Curator launched in 2009, as a place for me to show artwork that “made me jealous”. Yes, I was jealous of other artists’ work, their lives, their success, their studios. I felt like I’d never have any of that – and I was right – because I wasn’t making art! I was stuck, and so busy comparing myself to everyone else that I didn’t even allow myself to be creative. It was awful. I started the blog to document the work I loved, but more importantly, I wanted to find a way to flip the jealousy into something positive – admiration and inspiration to be specific. It worked!
As I move forward with the site, I’ve realized that what I’m most interested in is, of course sharing/exposing the work of talented contemporary artists through my daily posts, but I’m also absolutely fascinated with the self-doubt part – the insecurities, inner-critics, creative blocks, and of course the jealousy that all of us have to deal with at some point. If we share openly about this, about the vulnerability that comes with being creative, all of us will benefit."
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Originally published in issue 17 of Create! Magazine
“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.” — Kurt Vonnegut
Seth Remsnyder began seriously painting in 1996 at the behest of his high school art teacher, Mr. Charles Acri. “Ack” as the kids sometimes called him would put Seth in the hallway with two talkative classmates for models, have him stretch a canvas and paint for the entirety of his art classes and study halls. The good teacher taught Seth to paint expressively and to avoid “worrying about likeness for now and to just paint.” And his soul grew. He then pursued his Bachelors Degree in the Fine Arts from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, graduating with the BFA in 2001. After a rather drawn out and confusing hiatus from painting after graduating college, in 2008 Seth began to paint again. It was in late 2009 that Seth began to experiment with the work that he is now involved with. Seth is now enrolled in the MFA program for painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design and working in the Automotive Restoration Industry. Seth is married and lives in Maryland with his wife and is a Dad to three little girls and one little boy in heaven. Seth’s hope is to continue painting come hell or high water and his utmost hope is that his soul will continue to grow.
The essential question that is driving the changes in my work over the past two to three years is this: “Why don’t we see what we’re supposed to see?” This has taken my work from painting on canvas to primarily spray painting on metal signs to creating actual signage to be installed in public. I’ve asked some deeper questions around that essential question above: Could it be that we’ve lost, as a society, something of our value for taking notice of the important realities around us? What role can painting play in re-establishing that value? This work intends to act as a commentary on that question both indoors and out. In the end, this work is important to me because it is a commentary on what we see, and perhaps, why we see what we see.
Lines have made up the motif of my paintings for several years now. My continued work with lines in my painting has pulled some inspiration from the linear visual language of road signs. Some are confusing, some elegant, some geometric, all are very important. They are lines we absolutely need to see. And yet these signs and the linear, visual-language found exalted on them are often overlooked or ignored. These works double as an artistic intervention playing off of the idea of signage. What if the public were confronted with serious abstract art in their daily commute? Could it help them pay more attention to their surroundings? My work intends to interact with that question directly; not by virtue of the content of the work for that is a visual play on an already established visual language, the allusion is as metaphysical as it is physical. I don’t intend to tell the viewer how to think. I intend to show the paintings in a form that they are already familiar with to see if they will make those connections.
Tell me about your journey. When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
When I was young, maybe seven or eight, I saw a painting by Vincent van Gogh in a catalog of post-impressionist paintings my Mom kept in a magazine rack. The painting is called "Stairway at Auvers." Look it up; it's beautiful. I had never seen a post-impressionist painting before that, and I was captivated by it. It made me feel things I had never felt before looking at a picture, ya know? I wanted so badly to be able to do what this person had done in that painting. It was like a cartoon that was completely serious, and real, and I couldn't wait to try painting after I saw that. There is an incredible atmosphere to that painting, and I knew I was looking at a real place when I saw it, but I couldn't understand how, given how loose and free van Gogh's painting is, this could feel the way it felt. I'm trying my best to describe how I felt when I saw it because, of course, a kid isn't going to articulate all of that. Anyway, I think that's the first time I thought of "being an artist". Second to that would be my high school art teacher, an artist named Chuck Acri, really made me aspire to make serious art.
My journey as an artist started there, and since then I've had ups and downs, but for the past, probably, ten years or so, I've been in touch with how important it is to me. My wife and I lost our third baby back in 2014 (his name is Bobby); we were crushed, and during that time I found out how much of a gift the ability to make art is. I felt that I had a way to speak things I couldn't say with words, already there for me, and I think painting helped me not to lose my mind. I just wrapped up my Master's Degree in Fine Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and that was a whole other crazy experience having a family and a busy job, but it was the challenge I wanted and needed and I'm grateful for everything I experienced in that program. I have three daughters and a brand new little boy named Hank, and life couldn't be crazier. I feel a bit lost at the moment, with the change to life after graduating, but I'm also enjoying the time.
What are your current paintings about and what inspired your new collection?
My current paintings are about how we see. Non-representational art is a funny thing because when we see it we often make it represent something in our mind. And the way we approach looking at art like this is intriguing to me. I think looking at art can help us see the world better, in subtle ways that we might not even realize unless we think about it. So I played off of the idea of "signage" with the public installation of this work to make the point that art plays a similar role in our lives. It can be a signpost for how to look around ourselves and our world. And similarly, with the work in these kind of shadow boxes... a frame is a tool of emphasis... it tells the viewer to focus on what is inside of it, that it's important... its a kind of a sign telling viewers to square up. So, I included the ground under the painting when I made them get after the idea that what we are doing when we look at art is really meant to take us beyond the surface or image that we're focusing on. The framed pieces tell the viewer that what is beyond the work is also important.
What led you to create signs? What do they mean to you?
What led me to this was just paying more attention to the world around me, especially when I'm commuting to work. I get stuck in a ridiculous amount of traffic almost every day, and I realized that I was kind of mentally teleporting to work. I would get out of my vehicle and realize I didn't remember anything I just drove past. It kind of scared me because I imagine that's what it's like to experience serious memory loss. And I have dealt with some memory loss myself after a few surgeries I had in recent years. So I decided I would commit to really taking note of what was around me when I was stuck in traffic. One of the first things I realized was how many signs are out there and how many people just blatantly ignore them. I mean, they are made to be seen, noticed, and in many cases obeyed or followed, so it's really significant that we just don't even see them most of the time. The idea of looking for signs is kind of ironic and funny to me, and that's what made me want to play off of that phenomenon with this art.
What do they mean to me? Right now, I am placing them in spaces that I think are neglected spaces that also get overlooked. So they kind of symbolize the idea of taking notice of spaces and places. They also are about taking a space and immediately investing meaning into it by virtue of the fact that the space is now a place for art. Add that, to the answer to the previous question, is a good sense of what these works mean to me.
Name a few influences and inspirations.
Gordon Mata-Clark, Robert Irwin, Vincent van Gogh, Katharina Grosse, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Goldsworthy, Philip Guston, Salvador Dali, public and street artists everywhere, my profs from SCAD who are all still very committed artists, my kids, my wife, Janet, my buddy, Caleb, who has been really sick with cancer and still making and writing music through it (and his family), Arthur Conan-Doyle, Stephen King, committed writers of Haiku everywhere, Michael Connelly, Andrew Klavan, Hank Aaron, all of my friends and family who have supported me, challenged me, loved me, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, dusk during late summer and early fall, salt air, saltwater, New Balance 993's, coffee. To name a few...
Describe a typical day in the life. How do you balance studio time and other responsibilities?
Wake up, work out (sort of yoga) check the internet to see if everything is still around, play with Hank, drink a glass of water, make breakfast, help kiddie-poos get ready for school, make breakfast, sort of, make coffee, leave for work. Pick music for the ride. Lots of Marley to stave off the road rage. Stare at the sights while stuck in beltway traffic. Think. Get angry. Calm down. Think some more. Get to work. Work on cars. Talk to people. Check internet. Think. Think. Think. Read by audiobook. Tell wife I'm coming home. Go home. Sit in traffic. Think. Think. Podcast maybe. Music. Get home. Kids, kids, kids. Hopefully make art or at least write something. Maybe watch a show with my wife. Maybe make art some more. Sleep. This or some remix of this is a typical day these days, but it never feels too typical. Kids say they never use algebra in real life, but trying to find balance in all of that is a kind of algebra. It's a busy life.
Originally published in issue 17 of Create! Magazine
Scott Hutchison's paintings and drawings are comprised of overlapping figures stitched together in one composition. They are multifaceted, abstracted, and meant to evoke the idea that our identity is in flux. Though we are singular beings, our psyche is not. We are molded in part by time and our life experiences.
The subjects in Scott's work personify the strength and frailty of consciousness and the depths to which we experience the human condition. The figures are displaced, out of sync and stitched together from a multitude of people, like ghosts or layered memories, both timeless and self-aware.
All of Scott's work can be seen as a journal entry, the manifestation of a deep concern for place and purpose in this world. He reassigns faces and body parts through a mixture of trial and error, coupled with random chance and the need to create something from nothing. During this process, Scott is seeking answers to a larger question: Who or what defines us as an individual? Are we here by accident, or is there a greater purpose, or are we just a product of our culture and our experiences? Scott's art is meant to tug at the viewer and suggest that there may be more to this material world. Each piece is intentionally shrouded in mystery, letting the viewer interpret its multitude of meanings.
When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
I didn’t think about art that much when I was younger. I dated a girl in high school that was active in my school’s art club and up until that point I never thought I was good, or took art seriously. She went off to college, the relationship ended, but I carried a torch and fell in love with art. Afterwards, I became the art club president of my high school and the rest is history.
What has been the most challenging part of your creative journey so far?
The challenges I face creatively are small compared to the fight I wage for balance between creative studio time, the art business, teaching, my family, and personal health. Like a lot of artists, I find myself burning the candle at both ends to fit it all in. I often have so much on my plate and so many paintings yet to paint that I become frustrated when I can’t get into the studio, or the work is going slower than I would like. It’s important to continue to remind myself that paintings take time and this is a life-long journey, a marathon, not a sprint.
Tell me about your process. How do you design each painting? Do you plan each work, or is the process more intuitive?
All of my work begins from a photo session with a model. It’s important not to plan or guide the model too much so that the poses and expressions are more natural and honest. After the session is over I digitally collage and experiment by juxtaposing the poses on the computer in a similar manner one would collage with cut paper. I sometimes work on the collages for days; moving various body parts around the screen, combining multiple poses, modifying skin tones, and inserting different models or photo sessions together with the goal of creating something new. The process of collaging on the computer is very experimental and random. However, the painting process is less so. Apart from the usual edits, accidents and discoveries one might have when painting most subjects from life.
What do you hope to communicate to the viewer through your work?
I often describe my work as self-portraits. The subject is not me, per se, but I see them as journal entries, representing a long-standing interest in time, movement, memory, and our understanding of the self. I do this through the use of multiple time frames and views of the same person, displaced body parts as well as energetic and rhythmic color passages. I’m not interested in painting a traditionally pretty picture. I am more interested in capturing the underlying message that we are more than a singular experience or moment in time. The figures are meant to be in flux, fading in and out of this world or dimension.
Your palette is often dreamy and otherworldly. What drives the color choices in your work?
I’m glad you see it that way. My color choices are primarily inspired by the composition and mood of the work as well as the perceived emotions I see in the model’s pose. Color can be a tricky thing. I’ve been pushing a more saturated palette lately and I am always concerned that if I go too far the color will dominate the subject or cheapen it by making it too pretty or loud. A dreamy and otherworldly palette suggests introspection and quiet. I’m happy to be in that color space for now.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
I confess there’s no real organization to my typical day. It’s always been important for me to have a variety of things to do: paint, draw, promote, or prep. I never go into my studio knowing exactly which of the three to four current pieces I might work on, or if I need to promote or prep for the fifth. I have found that this keeps me interested and busy while in my studio. Let’s face it: sometimes painting isn’t in the cards that day. Then perhaps it becomes a planning day, or a prep day, or one of research or reading about art. In the long run, the important thing is to show up and be in my studio. Art happens most of the time, but it’s good to have options.
What are you currently inspired by?
I have been an artist for over twenty years now. My son is only 10, but for some reason I feel like I have always been doing it for him. He’s my real inspiration.
Originally published in Issue 17 of Create! Magazine.
Betsy Enzensberger sculpts works that create a visceral longing and remembrance of the most nostalgic delights from childhood. The artist uses the familiarity of those sweet treats to help us remember the simplicity, value, and culture of desserts so often associated with positivity and joy.
Enzensberger was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Tulane University in 2001 and is now a Los Angeles-based artist with a studio in Mar Vista. She has shown with galleries domestically in Los Angeles, Miami and New York, and internationally in Hong Kong, London, Stockholm and Byron Bay, Australia. You can find her sculptures in multiple public and private art collections.
Betsy Enzensberger has become quite well known for her realistic, larger-than-life sculptures of dripping, frozen treats. Resin looks like candy. It appears delicious and sweet. The shiny exterior has a wet, melting quality. Her Melting series plays with the desires of everyone’s inner child. The lure of sweet, sticky popsicles artificially instills intense longing. The colorful confections practically beg to be rescued and consumed.
“Resin - I love it. It’s beautiful, sexy, mysterious. It’s also toxic, messy, and annoyingly exhausting to create. However, I enjoy the challenges that resin presents. There’s just something about it I can’t resist. If the process was easy, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Were you creative as a child? What inspired you to pursue a career as an artist?
Oh yes! As a child, I couldn’t stop creating - it’s all I wanted to do. My mother was an art teacher, so she allowed me to create whatever I wanted and I had access to really cool art supplies. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had won several awards for my art and had been published in various books. This was all really good encouragement for my creative mind.
How did you start making popsicle sculptures? What was your early work like, and how has it evolved?
I didn’t start with popsicles. The first thing I made was melting Ice Cream Sculptures. It had nothing to do with my incessant sweet tooth; rather it was the material itself, the resin that encouraged the “Melting” series. Resin looks syrupy when you’re working with it and looks like candy when it’s set. A friend of mine begged me to make popsicles, since that was her favorite thing. Apparently a lot of other people like popsicles too, because that has been my most popular series thus far.
If you rewind to college, I actually studied abstract painting. Resin art is not something you learn in school. You need to be taught by a master, which is how I learned.
How do you commit to art-making and make sure you spend enough time in the studio?
Hmmm… it doesn’t feel like a commitment or a job. I can’t image not creating. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t make shiny, pretty things… and I really love the challenge that resin brings versus the other mediums I’ve worked with over the years. There are so many artists out there that don’t make their own work. What’s the point of that? For me it’s the process that is the more enjoyable than the outcome.
Share a brief version of your daily routine.
Wake at 5:30-6:00am (naturally, of course). Coffee before anything else. Then, straight to the studio. The second I smell the resin, I’m ready to work. There are always different projects happening simultaneously, so I can choose to do whatever suits my current mood.
What has been the most exciting moment for you so far in your art career?
That’s a tough question, because every time I get a new opportunity or create a cool piece, I’m grateful to be able to do what I do. Traveling for art shows is THE BEST because it fulfills my want to travel with my need to create and show my work. So, if I have to pick one, my Solo Show in Hamburg, Germany is probably the most exciting moment thus far. It opened on September 5th and was completely sold out by 9pm that same day.
What do you hope your collectors experience when it comes to your artwork?
Pure and simple, I want them to experience JOY. I found that collectors in cities that have harsh winters tend to really appreciate my work because it reminds them of the joy if summer or the nostalgia of childhood.
What are you currently working on and what's coming up next for you?
What I’m working on is a secret… But I can tell you that I plan to be in Miami for the art fairs in December and Los Angeles for the LA Art Show in February. I will debut some brand new work at both shows. Stay tuned for more:)
Positivity, Popsicles, and Living the Sweet Life With Betsy Enzensberger: Art & Cocktails Podcast Episode
Learn more and check it out on iTunes, Spotify, Libsyn and more or visit createmagazine.com/podcast
This conversation covers:
-Why Betsy Enzensberger initially chose to work in a gallery, what she’s learned from over a decade of doing it, and how this experience has helped her build confidence as an artist!
-Her best advice on professionalism for emerging artists & how to put your best foot forward when submitting to galleries.
-How she developed her signature style and artistic voice.
-Top tips on social media, how to find the right gallery for your work, and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with galleries.
We're thrilled to begin a new series of blog posts written by our artists! This week, we invited painter Elisa Valenti to talk about the joys of sharing her art with collectors.
“You are not entitled to a book of patients” is something I would tell my preceptor students. Each patient that walks into your pharmacy is earned and each interaction is a chance to build trust. It takes years to earn the trust and respect of your community. The same holds true for my art collectors. With each work, I share a bit of myself, I welcome them to listen to my message and to bond with my work. I have now transitioned my life from working as a clinical pharmacist to a professional artist and I feel this sentiment when each piece of art sells from my collections.
There is a rollercoaster of emotions I experience as an artist, from the inception of an idea, through the process of creating, to unveiling the work, and finally to it making its way to a collector.
Inspiration: The moment that vision appears in your mind can be as fantastic as it can be stressful. When I experience grand moments of inspiration, I want to do nothing more than get all that energy down on paper. Time cannot go fast enough. I want to experience in front of me what I see in my mind. It can be stressful because I fear the moment will be fleeting and I will lose that spark.
Joy: The sense of accomplishment and growth from seeing your vision realized is incredible. You can see right in front of you how you have changed and matured as an artist with each new work you put forth. The work reflects your evolution and development.
Appreciation: The feeling of hearing how your work touches a person’s soul is unreal. An artist puts themselves into the world and the work can either be accepted or rejected. It can cause indifference, or it can spark joy and inspiration. I feel a great sense of awe and humility when I receive feedback like, “I want to thank you for being there for me, someone you don’t even know, in times you don’t even know about. You reach much farther than you think”. We put our art into the world blindly, unknowing of its power, unknowing of the emotion it will evoke in others. I do not take for granted the gift I have been given and pray I can continue to shine a light on those who need it.
A Bittersweet Feeling: Artists spend hours laboring over their creations, days, weeks, years consumed by the thoughts of their work. They obsess over the countless details it takes to bring their work to life. They live with these works as though they live and breathe, sharing their space. When an artwork is purchased, it is a joyous event and yet bittersweet - like sending your child off to college! :)
Gratitude: In a sea of artists, your heart, your instinct, your eyes, chose mine. There is a certain magic involved in that moment you see yourself in a piece of art. That moment of emotion that lets you know that piece was meant for you, is special. I enjoy that gleam in the eye of the viewer the moment they connect with my art, equally as much as I enjoy the moment of my own initial inspiration. The artwork is the link between the artist and the collector. The message in the work is the connection. The purchase is the daily visual reminder of a person’s dream.
Thank you to my collectors for appreciating my art, supporting my vision, and believing in my passion! I hope you enjoyed me sharing my thoughts with you. Follow along with me on Instagram @elisavalentistudio and shop original works on my website or see selected works available with PxP Contemporary.