Seeing the Signs: Interview with Seth Remsnyder for Issue 17 of Create Magazine

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. 

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PxP Contemporary featured on Art Zealous

Alicia was recently interviewed by Art Zealous to discuss tips for new art collectors.

"Between her role as the co-host of The Create! Podcast and running PxP Contemporary, an online platform for connecting artists & collectors, Alicia Puig certainly has her hands full. 

An early adopter of the work-from-home lifestyle, Alicia relocated from Philadelphia to Costa Rica more than 2 years ago – giving her a significant head start on everyone who only recently discovered the joys of remote employment. As this cultural shift has more people than ever spending more time than ever before at home and investing more in affordable art, Puig’s talent of connecting emerging artists with collectors has never been more relevant or in demand."

Read the full feature on the blog's website!

Body positive artwork by Queens-based painter Elisa Valenti

Artist Elisa Valenti describes having grown up “in a time before being plus size was normal” and how that had a profound effect on her. So many women can relate to the idea of never having seen someone who looks like them in pop culture or mainstream media and the feelings of self-doubt or otherness that are often associated with it. So she paints what she wishes she had seen back then, depicting women in ordinary scenes of life. She is a skilled painter with a demonstrated ability to balance the skin-toned hues of her figures with either lush and vibrant or more neutral colors in the background. Yet, you’ll find the most beauty from her work in the realness of each body and of each woman, and in turn you may be inspired to look for (and perhaps discover) that same unassuming confidence reflected in yourself. 

Elisa Valenti Art

Body Positive Art 

Painting works that she has such a strong emotional connection to hasn’t come without its challenges. “It took many years for me to muster the courage to put my work down...I have battled with the limiting fear of perfection. I have left many paintings unfinished because I didn’t feel they were worthy or I feared ruining them” she admits. But she has persisted and has an ambitious body of work to show for it. What was at first a feverish desire to complete paintings quickly in order to see them fully realized has since been slowed down to a more methodical process of working a little and then stepping back to contemplate. Elisa often works on two paintings at once to allow this to happen more fluidly. When she is taking a break with one work, she can go back to a second one with fresh eyes. This adjustment allows her to be present in her creative practice, enjoy each painting as it develops, and push past blocks to creative breakthroughs.

How does she define beauty considering that it plays such an integral role in her paintings? “Beauty is the personification of humble confidence and selfless courage.” This is what she has spent years working through and exactly the vibe that she has cultivated in her recent series of paintings.

Elisa Valenti Artist Statement

I grew up in a time when eating in public was shameful, stomach rolls made you unworthy, and shopping for clothes was traumatic. I grew up before being plus size was normal.

My work reflects the images I wish I had seen—beautiful, luscious women doing ordinary things, just like everybody else. They are a reflection of my own battle with body image and my journey to mental health.

If you’ve ever been made to feel insignificant, I hope they inspire you to own your image of yourself and never give that power to someone else.

Elisa Valenti Art Body Positive Artwork

Her Story

Elisa Rosa Valenti, whose brand is Elisa Valenti Studio, is an unapologetically body-positive and contemporary figurative artist living and working in Queens, New York.

Her work evokes a very personal interpretation of beauty, strength, and vulnerability. Through a combination of drawing or painting from models and staged photographs, her full-figured women come to life on the canvas. The varying flesh tones used in her signature variation on cubism make each figure seem as if it could be any woman and indeed many of her viewers see themselves in her work.

Elisa is a self-taught painter. She studied fine arts and art history at the High School of Art & Design and holds her Doctorate of Pharmacy from St. John's University. She has been featured by Create! Magazine, Canvas and Crumpets, and OprahComplex and she previously exhibited with Superfine Fair in New York. 

Click to shop our collection of available art by Elisa Valenti

Mansa Musa With Cleopatra & The Black Effect

We're pleased to share this powerful personal essay by artist Kestin Cornwall that gives more insight into his work overall and specifically, to his painting "Mansa Musa With Cleopatra." 

I create art to document change and to ask questions. I try to approach my work as a visual thinker and aim to think critically. Media has often distorted representations of Black and Brown males; how we speak, love, and live. The North American media industry is the largest in the world, and therefore has a huge effect on how the world views minorities, specifically Black and Brown males. This large consumption of media affects the public’s attitudes towards Black and Brown men. These preconceived notions and perceptions of us have directly affected the treatment of Black and Brown men within the justice system. It also affects self-realization and individual development, punitive laws, and police practices that in the end affect and change our communities and how we all interact within them.

While creating the image titled "Mansa Musa With Cleopatra", I wanted to take into account how some will see love and affection in this image, while others will see aggression, consciously or subconsciously, admittingly or not. I wanted to ask questions about love, biases, perceived ideas and views and how the media and history are often written from a eurocentric perspective. This one-sided perspective views Black and Brown, as well as men from other groups, differently and in many ways unjustly, while simultaneously claiming to push equality. It's also selective with who is included in documented mainstream history and who is left out. All this while also underrepresenting specifically Black men but Black people in general as well as other minority groups. Why do we all know who Isaac Newton is but many don't know of Musa al-Khwarizmi or Brahmagupta?

Thinking back to this, I remember growing up, and how my family would be fearful of how the world would see me when I left the house. They would run down a list of things to do and not do in case of an unwarranted interaction with a police officer, fearing that I would be viewed as a threat. My mother grew up in the '60s in Detroit. She has brothers, she's seen the news, she has had racism affect her life in North America, and she knew to warn me based on her past experiences. I remember spending time with my white friends who did not have this fear. White families instructed their kids to demand a badge number by police and had no fear of how police would incorrectly identify and interact with their sons. They felt protected by the police.

The lack of balanced representation and the pre-decided view of Black men and other groups has led to many issues. Tamir Rice was a 12-year old African-American boy. Tamir was shot in Cleveland by Timothy Loehmann, a 26-year-old white police officer. Loehmann shot the 12-year-old boy on site. This is just one example of bad policing with clear biases, and an officer behaving over aggressively, ending in a loss of a very valuable life.

My grandfather paid taxes, was respected, and worked legally in North America. My dad worked his whole life and paid taxes in Canada, sometimes three jobs just to feed us. My other grandfather is the descendent of southern slaves, who built North America, and were abused and neglected by the country they so dearly loved. Even after the government promised in 1865 that those freed would be paid land and provided the ability to work that land, the same tools white Americans had been given for 100’s of years, this was never actually given to Black Americans. If we use the game Monopoly as an example, white America has been playing for days. Black people were forced to stand the whole time at gunpoint in the doorway to this room and just moments ago had the opportunity to sit down and play at the table.

A close friend, who is white, asked me years ago, when we were 24 or so, what I saw for my future by 30. I remember his face when I told him I was expecting to be dead by now. I just want to make it out. Out to me at the time was a better life than what we had there, and opportunity. At the time I was watching what family members in Detroit were experiencing. I was seeing men like me being mistreated. I had been in altercations and been called racial slurs. I was seeing how Canada treated Indigenous people and Black people. My teachers had shown us the video of the Rodney King beating and I’d seen the misrepresentation and disparity in arrest shown on camera on shows like “Cops”. I was targeted by the police as a teenager at a party in high school. I’ve always kept my grades up, I’ve always been respectful, I’ve never wanted to fight unless it was self-defense. But now, having time to analyze some aspects of the past, I realize these interactions and survival mindsets have had an effect not just on me, but on our culture, on our society, on our communities, and on our countries.

I think society is desensitized to Black and Brown pain and death, due to the media bias, including shows like “Cops”. I want to humanize our women and our men while uniquely representing them. There are many types of Blackness. As Black men we love, as Black men we protect our women, we kiss babies, we enjoy the greenery of a garden, we care, we create. As far as numbers, studies show that as Black men, we are more likely to play with our children at home and do homework with our children in our homes. We are powerful, we are strong, some of us are built like Michael B. Jordan and LeBron James. We’re also calm, cerebral, and kind-hearted like John Lewis and Barack Obama. The Black Effect.

-Kestin Cornwall 

The Complete Smartist Guide

The Complete Smartist Guide is now available!

Learn more about the book here.


Dessert art by LA based resin sculptor Betsy Enzensberger

Our mission is to have collectors come to know us for our selection of affordable contemporary art! We work hard to curate pieces that are both high-quality and unique. To that end, today we're highlighting one of our favorite artists who creates fun dessert art sculptures that are sure to make a statement in any collection - Betsy Enzsensberger

dessert art Betsy Enzensberger

Dessert Art

Whether you are new to buying contemporary art or a seasoned collector, we know you'll love Betsy's work. Her life-sized sculptures of frozen, melting treats are a conversation piece that, unlike the real thing, lasts forever. You can even contact us if you'd like Betsy to create something custom for you. Treat yourself! 

Dessert Sculptures

Since these pieces are generally around five inches, they are easy to display on a desk, mantle, or shelf. Place it atop a few colorful coffee table books for a chic, modern look. Each dessert art sculpture is unique, signed by the artist, and comes in a special box.

Betsy Enzensberger Art

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. She was born and raised in New York and is now a Los Angeles-based artist. 

Enzensberger has become quite well known for her realistic, larger-than-life sculptures of dripping, frozen treats such as popsicle sculptures. The material resin looks like candy in that it appears delicious and sweet. The shiny exterior has a wet, melting quality. Her Tragically Sweet 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.” – Betsy Enzensberger

Shop her collection here!

About PxP Contemporary

PxP Contemporary is an online platform that connects collectors with high-quality, affordable artworks. We believe in transparent pricing, building meaningful relationships with our clients, providing exceptional customer service and above all, supporting the talented artists who we work with and represent. CEO & co-founder Alicia Puig and co-founder Ekaterina Popova, with a combined 15+ years of experience working in the arts, launched PxP to challenge the traditional gallery model and make the process of buying art a more accessible, digital-friendly experience. Art lovers, whether looking to add to an already established collection or acquiring their very first piece, can browse our curated selection of art with fixed prices up to $2,500 by contemporary artists from around the globe. 

A Conversation About Art & Current Events with Kestin Cornwall: Art & Cocktails

In this episode, Alicia returns as a guest host to interview Toronto-based figurative painter Kestin Cornwall.

Over the past ten years, Cornwall has focused on creating relevant progressive art. He has used a varied practice of combining hand drawings, digitally removing the human hand and then forcing the element of the human hand back into the work. Using elements such as painting, wheat-pasting, screen-printing, installation and drawing to explore the relationship between art, human rights, politics, sex, and freedom, Cornwall critically charts current political, social, and economic landscapes with compositions brimming with references to media, popular culture, music, and art history.

We discuss:

Steps that the art world should take in order to be more inclusive & diverse
The importance of developing your creative voice as an artist
Tips for developing your style & more advice for emerging artists