Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Interview with Suzanne Demeo

Below is a short interview with Suzanne Demeo, Adjunct Instructor in the Art and Art History Department. A grouping of her watercolor paintings are on display in the Faculty Show.

Q: All of your work in this show depicts a similar stretch of road in the Nevada desert, what appealed to you about this area?

A: When my parents retired 15 years ago they moved from Connecticut to Nevada. Since then I have visited them at least once a year and I have been photographing the landscape and using the photos to inform my artwork. Over the past two years my parents have passed away. During my last visit I found a box filled with photographs my mother had taken of the cloud formations over the mountains behind their house. The sky is so vast in the west, the vistas stretching so far because of the lack of trees and the clear thin air. My mother was really taken with the variety of cloud formations and the way the “weather” moved through the valley. I have been painting the Nevada landscape off and on for many years but I never really thought much about painting clouds. Five out of six of the paintings in this exhibition were taken in part from my mother’s photographs. The exception is “Field on Fire” which is based on a photograph that I took very early in the morning as the sun was coming up over the mountains. The color of the light in the west is different and the shadows are crisper than ours because of the lack of humidity. I find the whole area infinitely beautiful and am grateful to my parents that I have had an opportunity to explore that part of the country. I am feeling the loss of my parents and also the loss of subject matter for future work.

Q: Why did you choose to use the medium of watercolor for these scenes?

 A: I have not painted in any other medium since college and did not attempt watercolor until about twelve years ago. Before that I used paper collage and pastel mostly. Prior to this series I was working with mixed media; combining watercolor, pastel and gouache. I wanted to limit myself to watercolor only for this series of paintings. The medium requires that you think ahead. It is an additive process. Areas of whites and lights need to be “reserved’ because you cannot go back and add them later unless you use an opaque medium such as gouache which gives the work a different look. There really is no such thing as white watercolor paint. I spent a lot of time on the preliminary drawings which I really enjoyed. Then there is the surprise element of watercolor because of the way the water and paper influence the paint.

Q: What artists or periods of art history inspire the subjects and /or aesthetics of your work?

A: Although I appreciate many different types of art and artists, I found out a long time ago that looking at a particular artist or period in art to find inspiration does not usually work for me. It becomes too much of an academic exercise and I just end up getting lost.  Usually the inspiration for my work comes from the colors and forms of nature or manmade objects. For a while I was interested in the colors of rust on metal surfaces. When I initially moved to Virginia I made a series of paper collages with flower and plant forms because I was inspired by all of the different things that grow in the South compared to New England. This time my inspiration was my father. He was an incredibly creative guy and a really good artist. I inherited several of his oil paintings, watercolors and drawings and have them hanging in my home. After my mother died I went two years without working in my studio in any serious way.  Between May and July I made twelve paintings. With my mother’s cloud pictures, my father’s beautiful watercolor brushes and a stack of their old CD’s, I thought about them as I painted their big back yard.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Faculty Artists Featured Elsewhere!

Happy Friday everyone!

I was just recently alerted to the work of two of our faculty artists in other venues, so I thought I'd pass them along!

Elizabeth Mead's work is currently being exhibited at the Seldon Gallery in Norfolk in an invitational exhibition entitled, SUBSTRATA: Layered Meanings in Contemporary Art curated by Amy Brandt, who is the McKinnon Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk.
Untitled (Matoaka) on display at the Seldon Gallery
Image Courtesy Elizabeth Mead

You can also see Mead's work in a collaboration with dance professor Joan Gavaler on a dance piece called, "The Molting," which is part of Dancevent this weekend at Phi Beta Kappa Hall at the College.

  • SUBSTRATA: Layered Meanings in Contemporary Art opened October 4, 2012 and will run until November 24, 2012. The Selden Arcade is located at 208 East Main St. Norfolk, VA.

  • Danceevent in Phi Beta Kappa Hall runs only through this Saturday night, October 27, 2012. Shows are at 8 pm. Tickets are between $5-$10.

Naomi Falk also has work currently being exhibited at the Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, VA. The interactive part of the exhibition is entitled ONE on ONE Conversations with Artists and it is part of the FALL SOLOS 2012 show.

Shift on display at the Arlington Arts Center
Photo Credit: Naomi J. Falk

  • ONE on ONE Conversations with Artists will take place on November 10, 2012 from 4-6 PM.

  • FALL SOLOS 2012 will run through December 23, 2012. The Arlington Arts Center is located at 3550 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA. You can also access it on the Metro via the Orange Line: Virginia Square.

 Click here to read the Washington Post review of Fall Solos 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Almost Show Time!

Hello all!

Getting close to completion on the installation of Faculty Show 12!
Here's a small look behind the scenes!

A ladder and the title wall!

Installation in progress!

Homecoming Heads-Up

Click here for an article in the W&M News!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Interview with Mike Jabbur

Below is a short interview with Assistant Professor of Ceramics and artist, Mike Jabbur.  Several pieces of Jabbur’s work will be included in the Faculty show that opens THIS WEEKEND!  Also, be sure to check out his website!

Q: Your artist statement emphasizes the dual nature of your pottery- both the utilitarian and aesthetic. Do you intend that your pieces SHOULD be useable or are they meant to be more aesthetic displays?

A: This is a very timely question for you to ask.  For a long time form has been my top priority, and it has only been important to me that my pots can be used.  I’ve explored that relationship in many ways.  For a while, I intentionally challenged the idea of use within my work, and thereby hopefully challenged the user/viewer to engage more “actively” with my pots.  More recently, I have been comfortable with the idea that my work is for “special occasion.”  This was under my assumption that users would be more willing to accommodate the challenges of use if the occasion was somehow highlighted or enriched through that challenge.  More and more, especially very recently, I have been making subtle changes that simplify use within my work.  I’m approaching this very carefully, as I don’t intend this shift to include a demotion of form to a lesser priority.  Instead, it’s an opportunity for me to challenge myself in my studio, to push the ease of utility without sacrificing my ideals with regard to form and aesthetic.

Q: Do you conceptualize/visualize in your head before you begin what your pieces will look like when they’re done, or do the pieces evolve as you work on them?

A: New forms within my body of work usually first present themselves as flashes in my mind, generally vague and somewhat foggy.  Sometimes they generate because I’ve been thinking about a given function, so the seed is planted in my subconscious.  Other times, I see an object and immediately see it through the lens of my process.  I draw a lot, especially when I’m developing new forms.  It’s so much faster to work through ideas.  I can get through a week’s worth of studio trial and error in an evening with my sketchbook.  But drawings seldom work exactly as I hope they will in 3-dimensions.  So I bounce back and forth between drawing and potting for a while until things start to come together. My process is more controlled than it may appear, and I can predict to a fair degree what I will end up with.  But I’ve also developed a process over time that includes the opportunity for variety, chance happening, sometimes disaster, and every now and then something magical to happen.
Q: What appeals to you about the art of ceramics? Who or what inspired you to pursue pottery?

A: My initial interest in pottery was not about process or the act of making.  What first attracted me to pottery was the idea that art and utility could coexist within a single object.  I was then, and am still today, enchanted by pottery’s ability to enrich occasions, beautify a meal, spark a conversation, and fulfill the very human need and desire for beauty within our daily lives.  I was inspired to pursue pottery because I felt an overwhelming desire to devote my livelihood to such experiences. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Forklift, A Pallet Jack and a Hoist walk into the Museum...

If Superman can’t make it, how do members of the Muscarelle Museum of Art staff install a 1-ton sculpture in the Museum’s draft lobby? Answer: A lot of heavy machinery.

The arrival of the sculpture Conscious of Her Shores by exhibiting artist Jayson Lowery yesterday presented a unique challenge because it was so heavy. The sculpture is made out of marble, limestone, steel, and cast iron and the process of removing out of the trailer it arrived in and getting into the museum proper was an intricate one. Below, I have included some pictures of the installation. (Click on images below to enlarge.)

Sculpture is standing upright, attached via steel chains to be lifted out
via forklift; on the left is the artist.

Sculpture is moved to the door of the museum onto the
waiting pallet jack.

Pallet jack helps to move sculpture into the Museum's draft lobby.

The hoist then helps to place the sculpture and take it down
from the pallet jack to the plywood.

The sculpture is moved into place.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Artist Mention in the Daily Press

Check this out!
Courtesy of the artist and the Charles H. Taylor Arts Center
A work by Linda Carey, a member of William & Mary Art Department faculty, is currently being featured in a show in Hampton, Virginia at the Charles H. Taylor Arts Center. The show will be up through this Sunday, October 14, 2012.  Here is a link to the details about the show.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homage to Leslie Cheek, Jr.

Leslie Cheek, Jr. (1908-1992)
“The peculiar value of Mr. Cheek’s work at the College of William & Mary has been in his perception

of the irreplaceable importance of art in college life today. Not art only as a field for amateurs, but art as a field for intelligent and trained appreciation; art as a medium of self-expression and, above all, in the long years of leisure that lie ahead, art as a source of fuller culture, and as a stimulus to continuous growth.”
-John Stewart Bryan, President of the College (1934-42)

Leslie Cheek, Jr.
As we prepare for the 12th exhibition of art by the faculty of the Department of Art and Art History at the Museum, I think it is important to take a moment to acknowledge the achievements of the person responsible for bringing a Fine Arts department to the College -- Leslie Cheek, Jr. Mr. Cheek dedicated his career to furthering and promoting the study of the arts at the College and in the greater community.

Leslie Cheek, Jr. studied art at Harvard University and architecture at Yale University. He graduated from Yale in 1935. After graduating from Yale, Cheek came to Williamsburg to paint landscapes. Shortly after arriving, he became friends with James L. Cogar, a curator at Colonial Williamsburg and with John Stewart Bryan, the President of the College of William and Mary. Cogar had also studied at Yale and taught in the History Department at the College of William and Mary. So, when Cogar left for a semester abroad, Cheek was offered his position. During his tenure, he utilized the first photographic slides ever used at William and Mary.

At the College, Cheek founded one of the first Fine Arts Departments in the south in 1937. Originally the Department was housed in Taliaferro Hall, a converted dormitory that was also the first air-conditioned building in Williamsburg. Andrews Hall, which currently houses the Department of Art and Art History, opened in 1968.

The 1930s was an exciting time in Williamsburg. Cheek hosted architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who presented a lecture based on select works that MoMA loaned to the College. He also brought Georgia O’Keeffe back to Williamsburg after a thirty-year absence. She received an honorary degree and the College hosted an exhibition of her work. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller donated a Georgia O’Keeffe painting to the College. This painting, White Flower (1932), is now an integral part of the Muscarelle Museum of Art’s collection.

Cheek also served as the Director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from 1948-68. He was the second director and the longest-tenured director in the museum’s history. Meanwhile, in 1955, Cheek opened the Virginia Museum Theatre to bring the performing arts into a museum space.

As part of his legacy, Cheek created an endowment at the College in 1986 to establish a national award for outstanding presentation of the arts. The Leslie Cheek Jr. Medal is presented to a person whose achievements significantly contribute to the furtherance and promotion of the fields of museum, performing, or visual arts. The director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art in conjunction with the heads of the Fine Arts Department and the Theatre Department choose the recipients of this prestigious award. In 1983, Leslie and his wife, Mary Tyler, were instrumental in the building of the Muscarelle Museum of Art on the College’s campus.