I recently attended the Southern Graphics Councils’ annual conference, which was held this year in New Orleans. One of the highlights for me was an opportunity to catch up with the work of artist, Mary Jane Parker, who had a solo show at the Gallery at R&F in 2008. In her current solo show, Keepsakes, at Arthur Roger Gallery, Mary Jane presents new work inspired by the masses of foliage that blanketed the New Orleans landscape in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Struck by the natural patterns of vines and how they decorated the surfaces of the city, she began photographing, drawing and cutting stencils of them, thinking that these intricate stencils could be used for a series of encaustic paintings. But something happened in the process that made her realize she didn’t need the wax at all! The show features hand and laser cut paper, prints and photographs.
From September 8th through October 2nd, The Carroll House Gallery at Keene State College in New Hampshire hosted, New Views of Encaustic Art, featuring the work of Francisco Benitez, Kevin Frank, Leah Macdonald, Marybeth Rothman, and yours truly, Laura Moriarty.
On September 13th, I was invited by Professor Peter Roos, who curated the exhibition, to present a lecture at the Redfern Arts Center, where I spoke about my work and presented an R&F Encaustic Demonstration for an awesome group of students who were eager to experiment with encaustic.
Thanks to Peter Roos for conceiving and organizing these events, and for promoting encaustic at the academic level, where it makes such an important difference.
Last Saturday, January 15th, was the 23rd anniversary of R&F’s founding in the now proverbial basement in Brooklyn. But what’s so special about a 23rd anniversary? It’s not a marker like a 20th or a 25th anniversary. I have to admit even we didn’t pay much attention to it here.
But then I got to thinking how much this year really does represent something very special in R&F’s history. This was the year that we collaborated with Ampersand Art Supply to create EncausticbordTM, and that led to the introduction of the Encaustic Center, a fully integrated selection of encaustic paints, tools, and supports now available in art supply stores around the country.
Our 1st anniversary represented our continuation of commercial encaustic paint begun by Torch Art Supply in the late 1940s, which was for many years the only commercial encaustic paint in the world. But it was, particularly back then, a specialty paint relegated to the back corners of most art stores.
Our 23rd anniversary represents the establishment of encaustic paint as a mainstream art material. While the symbol of a 20th anniversary is china and the symbol of a 25th is silver for R&F the Encaustic Center signifies this milestone in our history.
I arrived at work early this morning, and though the rest of the building was dark, soft light and the sound of Hawaiian guitar music emanated from the small, curtained-off gallery space. Artist Sean Sullivan has been spending all his spare time in there these days, and will continue to all this week as he prepares “LOST ON ROADS”, a new installation of works on paper to open this Saturday.
‘Spare time’ for Sean means when he’s not making some of the best artist paints in the world here at R&F, where he has been a paintmaker for the past three years. So he spent the whole holiday break in the gallery, and has been spending evenings and early mornings making adjustments - all behind a plastic curtain. Through his own unique creative force, Sean has transformed the Gallery at R&F into a kind of sanctuary. The space was so magical this morning that I couldn’t help but share a sneak peek. It will be interesting to see how much it changes between now and the opening, but for now, come on in and poke around with me, (and dig the shiny new finish on the gallery floor, thank you, Darin).
LOST ON ROADS, a new installation by Sean Sullivan, will open this Saturday evening, December 4th, 2010. There will be an opening reception from 5-7 pm, with an informal artist talk at the start of the opening - please join us as we celebrate the work of our talented co-worker. LOST ON ROADS will remain on view through January 22nd, 2011.
The Gallery at R&F, in cooperation with the Nancy Graves Foundation and Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, New York, is proud to present an exhibition of little-known encaustic and mixed media works by the late painter and sculptor, Nancy Graves. The show will run from October 2nd through November 20th, 2010, with an opening reception on Saturday, October 9th, from 5 – 7 pm. Linda Konheim Kramer, Executive Director of the Nancy Graves Foundation, will speak at the opening.
Nancy Graves’s personal aesthetic emerged in the later 1960s in the form of realistic life-size sculptures of camels. These works were rooted in her childhood memories of the animals preserved by taxidermists in the Natural History section of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and in the idioms of Abstract Expressionism taught at the Yale University School of Art where she was a student in the early 1960s. The interplay between the replication of nature and the formal values of abstract art was to inform her work throughout her life.
In 1972 Graves took a break from sculpture and turned to painting. Between 1977 and 1984, she created nineteen encaustic and mixed media paintings, seven of which are featured in this exhibition, the first to focus exclusively on Graves’s use of encaustic. In her unpublished ‘Notes on Paintings’ of 1978, the artist gives a technical description that mentions encaustic as but one of several methods used to help her achieve a “depth of field through layering”, where the process could be understood as the meaning of the work. This series of vibrant works is a testament to Graves’ abiding interests in natural phenomena, geology, archaeology and cartography. Their aerial perspective suggests mysterious, colorful maps of imagined territories, which strongly relates to a series of prints that the artist completed in the early 1980’s.
Nancy Graves was born in Pittsfield, MA in 1939. While studying English literature at Vassar College, she received a fellowship in painting to the Yale-Norfolk Summer School. From 1961 to 1964 she studied fine art at Yale University, New Haven, CT, and in 1964 received a Fulbright-Hayes grant in painting to study in Paris. In 1966 she moved to New York and established a studio. Her first solo exhibition was in 1968 at the Graham Gallery, and the following year she became the first woman artist to have a solo retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1985 she received the Yale Arts Award and in 1986 Vassar acknowledged her accomplishments with an exhibition and the Vassar College Distinguished Visitor Award. Solo exhibitions of her work appeared in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; and Aachen, Germany. In 1991 Graves married Avery Leete Smith, a veterinarian in Kingston, NY. Graves died of cancer in New York on October 21, 1995. The Nancy Graves Foundation was established in 1996 through a provision of the artist’s Last Will and Testament to give grants to individual artists and to maintain an archive of her life and work and organize exhibitions of her art.
Please join us at The Gallery at R&F for the opening reception for this impressive exhibition on Saturday, October 9th, from 5-7 pm, when Linda Konheim Kramer, Executive Director of the Nancy Graves Foundation will present a brief talk about the artist and her work.
On Saturday, November 6th, artist Cynthia Winika will present a special one-day workshop in conjunction with the exhibition for artists who have an interest in Graves’ use of Encaustic with Mixed Media.
Charles frequently returns to drawing, forcefully striking marks into the heavily manipulated buttery paint, then tearing it apart, alternating in a push-pull sequence of drawing and smearing, scraping back, revealing previous drawing marks, and piling what he has scraped up into thick sculptural mounds.
It is an amazing and unceasing gestural exercise over many hours, as Forsberg turns the formless ooze he started with into a powerful structure of shapes and sharply accented marks.
Anyone attending Forsberg’s Pigment Stick workshop on August 10-12 will experience the thrill of sharing his method of working paint with utter abandon and confident control.
There are so many questions that keep popping up about the materials that we use, where they come from, and how they are processed. When we talk about beeswax, terms such as Pharmaceutical grade, bleaching, refined and filtered are commonly used. This blog seeks to offer up the materials definitions that are most important to you.
Beeswax is secreted by wax glands in the bee’s abdominal area and used to create the honeycombs of the hive. Pure beeswax is composed solely of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Its natural color when it is secreted is white. When beeswax is harvested from the hive it is often contaminated with impurities, which discolor it. At this stage it is called unrefined or crude beeswax.
Unrefined or crude beeswax is colored in a range of earthy hues from yellow to black. This coloration is caused by pollen, propolis (resin), and dirt. If you use unrefined wax for its color, it is important not to assume that the color is permanent because the color is organic matter, which is not necessarily stable in light and is subject to fading, darkening, or a color shift. (See below for variations of crude beeswax)
These are reasons why you would most likely want to use decolorized, white beeswax for encaustic. You may wonder how does the wax get whitened? Artist manufacturers avoid the term ”bleached beeswax” because it implies the use of chemical bleaches. But the wax industry uses the term for the mechanical as well as the chemical methods of decolorizing beeswax.
Chemical bleaching is not the best choice for artists for two reasons. For one, chemical bleaching (which uses either potassium permangenate & phosphoric acid or sulfuric acid or various peroxides) does not always mean removing the colorant. In many cases it simply masks it. It is often used to whiten colorants that non-chemical bleaching can’t, but these colorants can later return to their original color. Furthermore, chemical bleaching can be harsh on the wax, creating free fatty acids and making the wax more reactive to pigments and pollutants.
Sun bleaching exposes the wax to the ultraviolet light of the sun, which breaks down the colorants. This is a gentle and effective method of decolorizing the wax. The process, however, is expensive on an industrial scale because it requires so much space, but it is also the most accessible method for artists who want to bleach their own wax on a small scale.
Filtration is a process in which the wax is forced under high pressure through filters of activated carbon and clay that absorb the colorants and take out all foreign matter. Filtration is preferable to chemical bleaching because it maintains the structural integrity of the wax. It is also, in the long run, the least expensive and the most practical of the three methods. It is the best choice for artist material.
Pharmaceutical grade beeswax is a standard set by the government that certifies that the wax meets certain chemical requirements and that it is pure beeswax. The chemical standards (such as its ability to be saponified) are of importance to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical use of beeswax. For the artist, the real importance of pharmaceutical grade beeswax is that it is a guarantee that the beeswax has not been adulterated with other waxes (such as paraffin or microcrystalline), rosins, stearic acid, or tallow. However, the term pharmaceutical grade does not refer to the method by which it has been decolorized. Artists should seek out wax that is both guaranteed 100% beeswax and filtered or sun bleached.
And, in case you’re wondering, R&F uses only pharmaceutical grade filtered beeswax.
This blog is an amplification of comments that I originally posted on www.AMIEN.org.
In conjunction with the exhibition, “Fahrenheit 180″, R&F Handmade Paints will present a demonstration of encaustic painting technique at Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY. Cynthia Winika will be doing the demo on Thursday, March 18th at 2pm.
For more information about attending the demo, please contact Ann Street Gallery, 104 Ann Street, Newburgh, NY at 845.562.6940 x. 119, or visit www.annstreetgallery.org
The Ann Street Gallery proudly presents the exhibition, “Fahrenheit 180: Group Encaustic Exhibition.” In this exhibition, fifteen contemporary artists from across the country and abroad explore the ancient tradition of encaustic painting. Works exhibited range from abstract designs to figurative paintings. Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added and then applied to a variety of surfaces. Early examples of encaustic art date back to Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits 100-300 AD, and later in the 20th century, artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg embraced the medium. More recently, encaustic art has seen resurgence in popularity among contemporary artists as this event exemplifies. Those interested in the ancient medium of encaustic art should not miss this exhibit. Exhibition runs through to Saturday, April 10th, when there will be a closing reception.
Featured artists include: Grimanesa Amoros, Willow Bader, Francisco Benitez, Joy Broom, Kathryn Dettwiller, Sisavanh Houghton, Nash Hyon, Marilyn Jolly, Laura Moriarty, Catherine Nash, Martha Pfanschnidt, Don Porcella, Cindy Stockton-Moore, Kathleen Thompson, and Janise Yntema.
The Ann Street Gallery, located in Newburgh, NY specializes in contemporary emerging and established artists. The gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or by appointment.
Tonight is the opening of WORKING WITH WAX: Contemporary Encaustic Painting in Northern California at Santa Rosa Junior College Art Gallery. This exhibition is curated by Thomas Morphis and is on view through March 6th, 2010. Featured are innovative Northern California artists who have been exploring the physical and expressive possibilities of working in beeswax. Artists include Tracey Adams, Mary Black, Emily Clawson, Robin Denevan, Eileen Goldenberg, Howard Hersh, Lisa Kairos, Julie Nelson, Mark Perlman, Carrie Ann Plank and Eleanor Wood.
There will also be an Artist’s Talk with Mark Perlman on January 25th from 12-1:30pm in the Newman Auditorium.
If you are in the Northern Bay Area be sure to check out an Encaustic Demo with Mary Black (featuring R&F Handmade Paints) on February 4th from 1-4pm in the Art Gallery. This Demo will provide a hands-on experience exploring the encaustic process that will be sure to get you hooked.
For more information please go to: