Branching out

Branching Out

By Chris Graebner

January-Moon-(web)

When Eric Saunders, Pat Lloyd and I first talked about this show last fall and came up with a title, we thought that Branching Out would speak to the subject matter of all three of us in some way. Pat is a wood turner, Eric often photographs natural settings – trees and woods, and I was planning that my work for this show would all be botanical subjects. However, life intervened. Pat dropped out of the show, and Michael Salemi, also a wood turner, came on board. The title still worked. Then life intervened again. In December I discovered that I had cancer and that the next several months would be filled with 2 major surgeries and a lot of slow recovery. The few pieces that I had underway were not botanicals, so that connection to the show title was out. I would not have the time or considerable energy it takes to do a whole show of new botanical work.

The-Night-&-The-Moon-(web)

As I was slowly recovering from surgery I became fascinated with clouds and decided to make them the focus of a small group of paintings. Usually, clouds are just a sort of backdrop, making the sky a little more lively and realistic. They provide a bit of movement in a landscape. But in these paintings I wanted the clouds to take center stage and do all the talking – a little bit of “branching out,” if you will. I enjoy painting night scenes, so clouds at night became a natural progression – another bit of branching out.

Light-Up-the-Night-(web)

When plants get trimmed or blocked, they send out branches and move in a different direction so they can continue to grow. In similar fashion, these paintings have been a way of trimming my expectations – of moving in another direction and continuing to grow. I hope you enjoy them!

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Branching Out

Bowls Upload 12_2014-17

 

Michael Salemi

Not infrequently, folks who view my work at galleries or art fairs ask about the function of some of my pieces. Of course, they don’t ask about bowls, ikebana, vases and other pieces with obvious functionality. But they do ask me about pieces like the one pictured. They want to know its use.

Woodturning is both a craft and an art. As an artist, the woodturner endeavors to create a form that is pleasing to the eye. The form might be pleasing because of the character of the wood employed, or because of the shape of the vessel, or because it showcases the artist’s skill, or simply because it is.

We don’t ask painters what their paintings are for. We understand that they are meant to please the eye—nothing more and nothing less. It is the same with woodturning. While woodturners frequently make vessels that are meant to be used in everyday life, they try even harder to make their vessel beautiful—to delight the eyes of those who see them and acquire them.

So what is the pictured vessel? Is it a plate with a box? Is it a serving bowl for nuts? Is it a leaf and a flower? Yes to all but the more important question is: “Is it pleasing?” Please come and view my featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts between now and May 22. Perhaps your eyes will be delighted.

 

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Branching Out

 

License Plate Holder

License Plate Holder

Eric Saunders

For me, “branching out” implies moving away from images of branches of trees towards images of other natural subjects and subjects that are at least partially man-made. It can also mean branching out into digital enhancement of images.

River View in Winter

River View in Winter

When moving away from postcard images of nature, it is still necessary to keep a sense of balance and organization to the composition of the image, else the “pendulum” has swung too far the other way.

Rust and Peeling Paint

Rust and Peeling Paint

 

Winter SkyN0 8

Winter SkyN0 8

 

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Branching Out

April postcard RGB Branching out

Eric Saunders, Chris Graebner, and Mike Salemi are “Branching Out” with their new work.

Eric Saunders is a photographer who uses many techniques to digitally enhance his photographs. For Saunders [branching out] “can mean branches growing on a tree, or it can mean exploring new directions in technique and content.” He explains, “In the past few years, I have made photographic images that are literally of branches on a tree, and images that pursue new directions from outdoor landscapes using various digital enhancements, and images that feature man-made subjects.”

Saunders will have 15-20 new images in the show.

Appropriate for Branching Out, wood is Mike Salemi’s medium. The newest member of The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, Salemi describes his love of wood and his process as a backdrop for the pieces he will present at the April show. Salemi says, “I have always liked working with wood. While a graduate student, I would escape to the campus woodcraft studio each day to find peace and a sense of satisfaction. After I retired, I decided to make a serious effort to develop as a wood turner. In my work, I attempt to strike a balance between classic design prescriptions and my belief that many blocks of wood have something to say. The former leads me to create pleasing proportions in my spindles and pleasing curves in my bowls. The latter leads me to look to the wood for suggestions of shape and texture. I am particularly attracted to blocks of wood that have started to decay. A partially decayed piece of wood can reward the turner with dramatic color and pattern but requires that the turner navigate voids. Handling the negative space in a funky block of wood is a challenge worth taking.”

Chris Graebner is a painter whose work is often inspired by nature. Graebner refects, “One of my earliest memories is watching in awe as my mother painted the oak tree in our front yard. Instead of a brown stick with a green blob on top, her tree had bark, branches, and individual leaves. I was so amazed; I wanted to do that too!”

Working primarily in oil, Graebner will introduce new paintings this April in Branching Out.

Opening Reception

April 29

6-9

 

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Luminous

What the Mystery of Us Knows

What the Mystery of Us Knows

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Luminous

 

Arianna Bara Lapis and Azurite photo by artist

Arianna Bara

In designing the focal pieces for this show I was inspired by a cold and windy trip to the Acoma Pueblo, which lies on top of a 365 foot mesa in New Mexico.  The harshness of the land, the history of the native peoples and the stories of their indomitable spirits and resilience made a deep impression.

The site is the oldest continually inhabited settlement in North America at about 1000 years old.  On top of the mesa, two and three level homes are still made of adobe, with outside ladders leading to the upper stories where people live.  There is no running water, no electricity and no sewage disposal.  For centuries the only access was an almost vertical set of stairs cut into the rock face.

Arianna Bara Tiger's Eye, Plume Agate, Baltic Amber and Garnet, photo by artistThe day I was there was the second of a two-day festival of dancing and ceremony honoring the dedication of the newly-elected leaders.  Native people returned in large number to their ancestral homes on the mesa to participate and there were only a handful of non-native visitors there.  I felt completely immersed within a culture that was foreign to me and honored to be able to observe these dances and ceremonies performed for the Zuni people, not tourists.

The sounds of drums, rattles, chanting, the colors and patterns of traditional clothing and pottery, all stood out brightly against the surrounding brown of the desert and unceasing wind and sand. There was a palpable sense of a living, breathing ancient culture that uplifted me and inspired my work.

My major pieces for “Luminous” are female figures crafted of sterling silver and semi-precious stones like turquoise, carnelian, chrysoprase and lapis lazuli.  The silver is heavily textured and darkened with a liver of sulfur patina making them appear ancient.  They are being buffeted by the wind, perhaps a storm is raging around them, but they are not only still standing, they are strongly rooted.

Arianna Bara Turquoise, Chrysocolla, Carnelian, Amethyst and Lapis

Luminous

March postcard RGBArianna Bara is a metalsmith who takes her inspiration from nature. Bara says, “To be luminous is to be full of light, to be brilliant and dazzling even in the dark. I have always loved this word, maybe because it is so rich in imagery. It makes me think of moonlight on a starry night, or the delicate glowing creatures found in the darkest depths of the oceans.”

Bara uses sterling silver as the backdrop for her one-of-a-kind designs. She further explains. “As one who feels that we are spiritual beings on a human journey, the word (luminous) evokes the brilliance of the eternal spark within us and is a perfect description of what I am trying to convey in my work. I think of my sterling silver figurative jewelry pieces as ‘Radiant Beings’. I want them to stir a memory, long-forgotten perhaps, of where we come from and serve as a reminder of who we truly are.”

Painter Eduardo Lapetina has this to say about his work for the show Luminous. “I strive to produce luminous paintings that exhibit the powerful emotions embodied in the process. That is much more important to me than making images that are necessarily pleasing or objectively beautiful. The steps leading to my abstract paintings are the art of hiding and disclosing. It is the discovery of mysteries of the subconscious mind that are part of my own personal legend. Personality counts. These abstractions hold the promise of dreams, visions, fears, intangibles and will. It is a collaboration of mind and spirit. It is a form of magic that may speak both to you and for you with a private, secret, confidential language. They also require something from viewer; it demands contemplation, study, feeling, and flights of fancy.

Opening Reception

March 25
6-9
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