TRILOGY

 

Michael Selemi

The current Featured Artist show at Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is called “Trilogy.” At first, the name suggested to me nothing more than that there were three featured artists. But then it occurred to me that Trilogy suggest a challenge—making interesting triples. Stepping up to the challenge has been a lot of fun and produced some interesting pieces.

The signature threesome of the show is a group of “multi-axis” statuettes which I call Day, Night and Dusk. I made the statues from Holly, a white wood, and Wenge, a black wood. I laminated Holly and Wenge to make the blank for Dusk. I then turned the blanks around two different centers creating forms which remind me of African female figures.

A second grouping in the show is a series of “pool cue” vases. The blank for each of the vases was created by taking a core rod of wood and then adding lamination layers in contrasting colors. Turning through the blanks reveals the sort of colored curves that one sees pool cue handles.

A third grouping is a set of Cherry hollow forms each with an undercut rim. I made the forms as close to identical as I could and then distinguished each by dying the rim a different color—red, blue and a very deep purple that is nearly black.

A fourth grouping is a double set of three—six ikebana identical in all respects except for the wood employed. I chose woods that created a gradual transition from white to black by starting with Holly, then using both light and dark Cherry, then using the pinkish Ebiara, and finally using Walnut and Wenge. Each of the Ikebana is of Asian form with a square downward sloping rim and a slightly rounded crown.

A fifth group is a set of cantilevered bowls made from three different species of Australian burl. The shapes of each bowl are quite similar with the rim of the bowl following the natural edge of the burl used to make it and with the curve of the bowl continuing through the rim. The burls themselves contribute great beauty to the pieces with pleasing color gradations and swirl patterns.

I also created a group of nesting Sycamore bowls, three square-rim bowl forms in Red Hear, Purple Heart and Walnut, three plates with laminated stripes, and three small Padauk boxes with identical finials but slightly different covers.

Making threes has not only been fun but it has also challenged me to create differences Waamong wood turned pieces while preserving the feature that defines the group. The show which includes work by Marcy Lansman and Alice Levinson will be on display until October 21. I hope those who visit enjoy seeing my work as much as I enjoyed making it.

 

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ART for a C note

The 22 members of the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts come together to present work that is different in medium, but equal in price. The pieces range from paintings to glass, fabric to pottery, and metal to wood. The common thread: everything is $100.
Opening Reception
Jan 26
6-9

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The Art of Giving

 Each holiday season the members of the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts transform the gallery to showcase original ornaments and hand-made gifts. The gallery’s 22 members work in a variety of media, providing a wide array of art and fine craft for holiday shoppers. The glass art includes hand-blown vessels, ornaments, solar lights, paperweights, and jewelry. Fiber art on display includes framed collage quilts and hand dyed stitched cloth. The jewelry in the show covers a variety of styles and techniques, from copper and bronze to sterling and fine silver necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings, some with gold accents and stones. Visitors will also find metal sculpture, handmade art dolls, pottery, turned wood, and carved ironwood with turquoise and silver inlay. Fine art photography, oil and acrylic painting, scratchboard, and mixed media work festively surround the three dimensional pieces on pedestals.

Come explore the wonderful art exhibited at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts; you will find exactly the right gift for that special person.

Opening Reception

Friday Nov 24

6-9

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Beyond the Surface

Larry Favorite

I have been an artist for more than 40 years, yet I still find it difficult to describe my art. Put simply, I create boxes, bowls, small sculptures and wall hangings out of desert ironwood. I inlay sterling silver and turquoise into the surface of each piece. My inlays are most often images drawn from nature.

Like most artists, I have had to overcome a variety of challenges in order to create my art. The wood that I use in my work is found only in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Each year, I drive cross-country and spend long, hot days in the desert, searching out downed ironwood trees. (I never cut a living tree.) I rough-cut the trees in the desert, load the massive chunks onto my truck, and haul literally over a ton of ironwood to my studio in Mebane on each trip. The physical and logistical challenges of these annual treks to gather ironwood can be daunting.

Desert ironwood is exceptionally dense and heavy, in many ways more like stone than wood. It is nearly impossible to cut into ironwood using traditional woodworking tools and methods. But I was a mechanical engineer before becoming an artist, and I’ve always enjoyed solving technical problems. Still, it has taken me years to adapt tools and to refine the techniques that I use today to transform rough-cut desert ironwood into highly polished, elegant pieces of finished art.

On my journey as an artist, I have overcome many challenges, but I have also received many gifts. Physically, I am healthier than I ever was when I was an engineer. At 79 years of age, my hands are still rock steady. When I was in the business world, I was not a patient person; ironwood has taught me patience. I no longer receive a regular paycheck, but I have learned to trust that the Divine Intelligence of the Universe will reward me for my efforts (hopefully in time for me to pay my bills). I don’t have to punch a time clock, yet I still show up in my studio (almost) every day, and I work longer hours than I ever did before. I do this not because I have to, but because being in my studio and creating art continues to bring me joy.

 

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Let the River Answer

 Michael Salemi

This past year has been a year of losses.  Not the least of these was the death of the poet Leonard Cohen.  Among my generation, Cohen is best known for the song “Suzanne,” the woman who lives by the river and, when faced with a difficult situation, “let’s the river answer.”  That song and the poetry it holds was, for me, the motivation for our show.

Rivers are tricky.  On most days they are peaceful.  But on some they are raw power and will have their own way.

It’s like that in woodturning.  On most days, the lathe is a peaceful place to work.  The wood is gentle and the turner translates it into peaceful and pleasant shapes that beg to be held. But sometimes, the wood is not peaceful.  It is gnarly, with voids and grain patterns unsuitable for pleasant shapes. Confronted by wood like that it is best if the turner let’s the wood be what it will.

Our show has been a joy.  It is always fun, and a little frightening, to offer a new body of work to gallery regulars. Our community supports us so well and, in turn, we are driven as artists to live up to that support. We know that we too must let the river answer.

Let the River Answer

march-postcard-rgbArianna Bara describes the inspiration for each of her new one-of-kind creations in sterling silver: “My pieces for this show are about questions. The ones we all have about why we are here and what we are here to do. Believing as I do that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that nature is our partner and guide in that experience, the search for answers leads me to look to what is right beneath my feet, to what is right beside me as I walk in the woods or along the river. I believe the answers surround us and are there for us to discover.”

Wood turner, Michael Salemi writes, “Normally, rivers contain the flow of water within their banks. But when water is too powerful to be contained, the river answers by changing. My work for this show displays the same tension. Some pieces are controlled shapings of wood to classic and expected forms, but others reflect the power of the wood itself—the work becomes what the wood would have it be.”

Of his new work for the show, Eduardo Lapetina states, “My paintings are a way for me to enter the world, not an escape from it. A painting opens a door into a space in which a play may be staged– where conflict, climax, and resolution all come together. In the process of creation, a painting becomes a battlefield for my struggles about what is, what is not, what ought to be, what I like, what I love, what I hate, frustrations, disenchantment, embarrassments. My art exposes to the world my most private thoughts and feelings, forming a spatial connection between what lives within me and what is alive in everyone else. I want my spaces to be painted without intention, without conscious technique, without anything that might interfere with the connections I seek to create. I do not want to keep a tradition. I am not looking for beauty, but the viewer might find it in my art. My paintings are not about any particular theme or motif, they are attempts to convey the immaterial through materiality. My aim is to project energy, visual vibrations, light, voices, excitement, and enthusiasm, and to capture them in a physical form that you can take home with you.”

Opening Reception

Friday March 31st

6-9

 

 

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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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