Art Mecca

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Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 6.58.41 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-04 at 6.59.13 PMJust as you’d find in many towns and cities across America, there’s a picturesque, tree-lined street in Santa Fe that was once a rural, residential avenue but that has evolved to become a commercial district full of restaurants, boutiques, and other appealing shops. But this street in Santa Fe is like no other. This street is the world-famous Canyon Road, known for the approximately 100 art galleries and artists’ studios all clustered together in a single mile-long stretch. This mecca for art aficionados is the home of Ventana Fine Art.

Ventana 2012

Ventana

Connie Axton, the gallery’s owner, opened the gallery in downtown Santa Fe in 1983, but she jumped at the chance to move Ventana Fine Art to Canyon Road when the 1906 brick schoolhouse became available in the mid 90s. “It needed a lot of renovation when we moved in, but we love it here,” notes Axton. She’s since added a beautiful sculpture garden around the structure, and inside the gallery, the smaller-sized rooms feel intimate and inviting. “You get to see and appreciate the art the way you would see it in your own home,” adds Wolfgang Mabry, Ventana’s Sales Director.

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Girl with a Secret gouache 8.25 x 10

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Girl with a Secret

Ventana represents about 30 different artists, and the gallery prides itself on the fact that no two artists are alike, allowing collectors to discover new styles and to create unusual pairings and groupings of art. “Our mission is to show all different kinds of art,” says Axton, “as long as it’s the highest quality.” Here, collectors will find everything from nonrepresentational works by Martha Braun and Jennifer Davenport to figurative bronzes by Mark Yale Harris, Rebecca Tobey, and Michael Masse to classic landscapes by Doug Dawson and Rod Hubble. And, of course, the cornerstone of the gallery has always been John Nieto, who is one of the first living American artists to bring dramatic fauvist color with a contemporary edge to traditional Native imagery. His fresh spin on tradition parallels the transformation of the Santa Fe art scene itself, which has evolved over the last 30 to 40 years from a regional center for time-honored Southwestern art to an international hub featuring the full spectrum of contemporary art.

En El Bosque 16 x 20 mixed media pastel Albert Handell

Albert Handell, En El Bosque mixed media pastel

One of Ventana’s gallery artists who defies simple categorization would have to be nationally known painter Albert Handell, whose landscapes are a fascinating blend of traditional and modern. He paints the quintessential scenes of New Mexico, often including those architectural landmark adobe houses known throughout the region. Yet his approach to color, composition, and textured application of the pastel medium are thoroughly contemporary and exciting.

Santa Fe Gold pastel 16 x 20 Albert Handell-1

Santa Fe Gold pastel 16 x 20 Albert Handell

Axton and Mabry note that they’re also thrilled to represent the estate of Paul-Henri Bourguignon (1906-1988), and in fact, they’re about to host their fourth exhibition of works by this 20th-century Modernist master. “He’s a pretty fascinating fellow,” says Mabry. “He was born in Belgium, and he was an artist, writer, poet, and novelist. He traveled all over the world until he fell in love with and married an American woman, an anthropologist who taught at The Ohio State University. He then moved to Columbus and continued painting there for the rest of his life.” Selected by Bourguignon’s estate manager, Jane Hoffelt, to represent the artist’s estate after his death, Ventana Fine Art has held four annual exhibitions but this is the first retrospective. “It’s exciting because you can see a progression in degrees of abstraction in his works,” adds Mabry.

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Scaldis (Antwerp) acrylic 18 x 24

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Scaldis (Antwerp)

Listening to Axton and Mabry talk, it becomes clear that these gallerists have an abiding passion for the art within their gallery. “No one can predict which works of art will appreciate in value,” Mabry points out, “which is why we encourage people to purchase art purely for the aesthetic and emotional satisfaction they derive from it.” To learn more about Ventana Fine Art, and for details on the Bourguignon exhibition opening June 2 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. and continuing through June 21, visit www.ventanafineart.com.

Jennifer King is a marketer, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. She currently provides art marketing services and coaching to visual artists through her company, Connect Artist Marketing. Learn more at www.connectartistmarketing.com.

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Storytelling is Crucial

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Making Pictures for A Living

Guenevere Schwien vividly remembers the exact moment she decided to become an artist. “I was in second grade, and a watercolor artist came to our classroom to give a demo,” she recalls. “After he showed us a few techniques, I thought, This is what you do as a grown-up? You make pictures for a living? I was like, yeah! Sign me up!” That was it. Her passion for painting has never waned.

Spontaneous Light pastel Guenevere Schwien

Spontaneous Light pastel Guenevere Schwien

The artist considers herself fortunate to have had parents and teachers who supported her dreams all along the way. Growing up, she attended a number of different schools where art education was important, and she was encouraged to explore painting, ceramics, and other media as well. “I really loved sculpture, but I always had this romantic notion of becoming a painter,” she admits, so when it came time to go to college, she decided to study painting at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

 

Tangent (distance) - website

Tangent (distance)

Guenevere was attracted to the school because the faculty were required to be practicing artists with work in galleries. She says she was heavily influenced by her instructors, one in particular. “One of my first mentors was Carolyn Meyer. She’s a landscape painter who inspired me so much that I wanted to emulate her.” For a time, Guenevere thought she was destined to be a landscape painter working in the alla prima method, which is the cornerstone of the school’s art education. “I was really into painting these rainy street scenes,” she says, starting to laugh. “I went through so many tubes of Ultramarine Blue. Tubes and tubes of it! My mother still calls it my blue period.” But in her last semester of the program, she met another artist who changed the course of her career.

During those last few months of school, Guenevere discovered motorcycle riding, a hobby she still enjoys to this day. “I got really into motorcycles, and I couldn’t stop obsessing about them,” she admits. “I was taking a class with Kevin Moore, and finally one day he said, ‘You talk about motorcycles all the time. When are you going to start painting them?’ It completely opened my eyes to something new. It was as if he had given me permission to think about painting something other than landscapes, something I was truly passionate about. And that’s when I became Motopainter.”

Modern Beauty 24x36 for WEbsite - Oil

Modern Beauty

For several years, Guenevere focused primarily on motorcycle art, creating paintings under the name Motopainter. She has explored other subjects as well, but recently she’s begun a new series involving lights, which she believes will be her signature subject matter offering a lifetime of possibilities. A spirit of fun, a love of color, and a dedication to showing movement are the threads that tie all of this work together. “I really dislike the term ‘still life,’” she states emphatically. “My paintings do not fit that description. Are we stuck with that term for life? If we are, I’m going to rebel against that as much as I can.”

Not only has Guenevere’s subject matter changed over time, her approach to painting has as well. And it all started with an exhibit at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. “I worked there during college,” Guenevere explains, “and I had the privilege of seeing a lot of great exhibitions. One of them was a Chuck Close retrospective, and I can still remember the first time I saw his huge black-and-white self-portrait. I was truly amazed—that was the sensation I felt, pure amazement. Since then, I have been striving to create paintings that have that kind of impact.” Guenevere says that’s when she fell in love with photorealism and started training herself to precisely render the illusion of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface.

9Ft Ducati with Artist

9Ft Ducati with Artist

While technical mastery is certainly an important component of her work, narrative and meaning are equally essential in creating the kind of impact she’s after. Oddly enough, her ability in this area has been enhanced by her practice of capturing her art-making process on video. Guenevere started shooting videos of her work in progress several years ago when she was commissioned to paint a six- by nine-foot painting for a motorcycle collector. “I knew this would be a rare opportunity,” she notes, “so I hired a videographer to document the occasion.” She enjoyed going back and reviewing the creation of that painting so much that she taught herself how to record her own videos of herself at work, which she now posts to her YouTube channel as often as she can. But only recently has she begun to appreciate the ways her video documentation has influenced her art. “Storytelling is crucial to making a good video, and I started to realize that you can do that in art,” she goes on to explain. “Even in painting, you can pare down the feelings and distill the story into a single image. So, in a way, shooting videos has shown me how to communicate an idea in one image.”

Guenevere Painting Lights Web

Guenevere Painting Lights

Perhaps this explains why Guenevere is so content working on the new series about lights. They are the perfect vehicle for both technique and expression, allowing her to make emotional statements through visual communication, which is the very thing she says she’s been striving for all these years. “These paintings represent a message I want to share with the world,” she notes. “To find the beauty in the tangled mess, to constantly look for that gold in the garbage, the light in the dark—that’s a huge life lesson that I’m still making a daily reality. So, my message is triumph over struggle, and I hope people find that kind of mystery and magic and joy in my work.”

Bringing hope and positivity to the world through art is no small thing. Turns out, there’s purpose, challenge, and a wealth of self-fulfillment in making pictures for a living.

Recently named the Grand Prize winner of the American Women Artists 2017 Spring Juried Exhibition, Guenevere Schwien is a member of the International Guild of Realism and is currently represented by the Carmel Art Association. To see more of the artist’s work, visit her website at www.gueneveres.com

 

Jennifer King

is a marketer, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. She currently provides art marketing services and coaching to visual artists through her company, Connect Artist Marketing. Learn more at www.connectartistmarketing.com.

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MODERN PIONEER OF TROMPE L’OEIL: GARY ERBE

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Virtuoso

By Gabriela Dellosso

“Fool the Eye” is how the genre of Trompe l’oeil is defined. A well known example being “Which is Which”(collection of the Brandywine River Museum of Art), by artist Jefferson David Chalfont (1856-1931) depicting a realistically painted postage stamp, placed right next to an actual postage stamp (in this particular work of art the viewer is asked to identify to the real stamp and which was painted). As Trompe l’oeil developed compositions emerged from artists like William Michael Harnett (1848-1892) and John F. Peto (1854-1907). They had great skill to accomplish successful Trompe l’oeil paintings and they painted unconventional subjects, that historical still life paintings never included. They painted everyday things, like paper currency, worn old books or a rusty old horseshoe that is nailed on a wall (like Harnett’s The Golden Horseshoe, 1886).

The Big Splash copy

When I first saw the paintings of Gary Erbe, I saw a tremendous amount of creativity and originality that distinguished his work from his predecessors. He combines ideas and themes and plays realism against modern, flat elements, resulting in unique visuals. His work bridges classic and modern principles seamlessly. Gary has had an incredibly long and successful career as a painter. His body of work spans five decades. The level of quality is incredibly consistent over a 50 year time period.

Mastery is something all artists dream of achieving. It requires the artist’s complete and focused dedication in creating the work. A master has a singular vision that is like a fingerprint, a unique identity that will separate him/her from the crowd. The body of work they leave behind is influential to future generations. It has been very inspiring for me, to observe all of the above, in Gary’s work. I consider him a great mentor and friend and an example of virtuosity. It is remarkable to note that he is self-taught. I first met Gary over 20 years ago, when he was President of Allied Artist of America . He was a very dedicated president for Allied ,resulting in his being awarded President Emeritus. What I learned from my friend and mentor through many conversations is staying true to yourself and your vision. Gary’s world revolves around his art. He has flawless work habits. He paints everyday, starting his work day at 6am and ending at 4pm. He has a wonderful partner in his wife Zeny. She is incredibly supportive and helps Gary with many tasks that would otherwise take up his valuable painting time. That 100% dedication to his craft , is what gives his work its depth, both in vision and technique. I am reminded of something I read once about another American Master, Norman Rockwell. Rockwell used to put a sign on his easel 100%–he gave no less and that is what I see in Gary and his work.

Jazz copy

A wonderful example and one of my favorite paintings of his is “Virtuoso”. The subject of the violin was a favorite of William Harnett and John Peto. Both Harnett and Peto’s paintings show a violin painted in a classical manner. Gary is inventive with his depiction of the violin and creates something very original.

Here we see a combination of imagination and skill. We are introduced to a violin in a completely new way. The violin is recognizable, but it is composed of a series of colors, shapes, combined with classically painted elements like the realistic bow. The color combinations invite the viewer to explore the shapes as they enhance the idea of the violin and the music it creates. The horizontal and vertical lines echo throughout the painting, but always lead back to the central element of the violin, like a melody, where there are repeated rhythms and harmonies to form a song.

Composition in Red White and Blue copyComposition in Red White and Blue, 1975, Oil on Canvas, 72 x112 in, Private Collection

“In Composition in Red White and Blue” you find your self immersed in the vertical and horizontal elements of the flags. The subtleties invite the viewer to examine the subject of this picture, the differences of the types of flags, the details of wrinkles in the fabric of the flags, the variety of the textures and transparencies in the flags add to the intrigue of the painting.

Here are more examples of Gary’s work:

Take Five copyTake Five, 1981-82, Oil on Canvas, 64×54 in Collection of Max N. Berry and Pamela Thomas

The Big Splash copyThe Big Splash, 2001, Oil on Canvas, 40×50 in, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Cusenza

The 50'sThe 50’s, 1991, Oil on Canvas, 64 x84 in, Collection of Ira Kent

Gary is currently embarking on a 50 year retrospective tour where you can see his work in person.

The retrospective exhibition opens at:

The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH http://butlerart.com/exhibitions-2/
Butler Museum Exhibition Dates: May 14 -August 6, 2017.Then it travels to the Brinton Museum, Big Horn, WY http://thebrintonmuseum.org/events/#exhibition
Brinton Museum Exhibition Dates: September 16 – November 30, 2017
Then it travels to the Reading Public Museum, Reading, PA http://www.readingpublicmuseum.org/plan-your-visit
Reading Museum Dates: June 5 – September 9, 2018
The next venue is the John F. Peto Studio Museum, Island Heights, NJ http://petomuseum.org

Subway SeriesSubway Series, 2008, Oil on Canvas, 55 x 45 in, The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY

Peto Museum Dates: September 22- December 16, 2018

The Butler Institute of American Art is also celebrating this landmark in his successful career as an artist by publishing a 300 page book . The large format scholarly written volume is hard cover with over 250 illustrations. This is the most comprehensive book written about Gary and his groundbreaking work. The 11 chapters are written by art historians and scholars, providing insight to the artist’s life and over 50 years of creating an impressive body of work. Here is an outline of the chapters. Contributing writers are Dr. Thomas Folk, Dr. Carol Lowrey, Dr. Christine I. Oaklander, Carter Ratcliff, Dr. Michael Schantz and Dr. Louis A. Zona.

It is a rare opportunity to gain an insight to Gary’s work.

Chapters include his 1. bio, 2. his early years, 3. The American Flag, 4. Modern Principles, 5. Pop Culture, 6. Sports, 7. Social Commentaries, 8. Sculpture, 9. Constructions, 10. Technical Aspects and 11. A detailed chronology.

Gary personally devotes one chapter, on the technical aspects associated with painting, including how to prepare canvas like the old masters, the special formula for the oil medium he uses, the proper varnish to use and the palette.

Chapter 9 discusses his constructions. Gary’s technical process involves fabricating a construction with various mediums. The purpose of the construction is to develop the idea, composition, color and subject matter. Then he actually paints from observation, from the original construction which serves as his model. Here is a picture of his latest construction for his painting “Jazz”.

Erbe book cover copyA signed copy of Gary Erbe’s collectable book” Footprints” is available on amazon.com.
Here is the link: http://a.co/e2bXBC6
Or you can call the artist directly for a signed copy at 973-562-0067 .

Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.  Her first one- woman exhibition took place in 2006 at the Butler Institute of American Art, followed by a solo at The Eleanor Ettinger Gallery in 2008. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Butler Institute of American Art, OH; The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY; and many other important museums in the country.

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