Up Close

 Lynn Wartski
One of my favorite parts of our yearly featured artist shows at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts occurs at the beginning of the day we install.  It starts with each of us unpacking and un-crating the work that we have produced.  What happens at that point is a mixture of art and magic in itself. Somehow, art by three separate artists in solitary studios starts to tell a harmonious story.
This year, I have the honor to show my art doll figures along side the sculptural paintings of Linda Carmel, and the textile creations of Alice Levinson. There is a level of complexity in the work of all three artists that truly invites the view to take a look “Up Close”. Obviously, it is a natural fit for a sculptor like me who creates art doll figures.  The scale and level of detail of my work invites the viewer in.  I want you to notice that one piece has purple shoelaces, or that another is actually holding a small file to sharpen the spear she holds. You will find many similar discoveries within Alice and Linda’s work as well.
My dolls for this show are all quite different.  The only real common feature this year is an increased used of paperclay as my medium of choice for the heads and hands of my figures.  I have in the past retained a tie to my earlier sculpture work in metals by always including some amount of copper in each piece.  This year, I decided to free myself from that constraint.  The end result is nine figures each with their own completely different story to tell, and each tale told with materials that make sense for that piece alone.  I guess that now I must fully refer to my work as mixed media sculpture.  I invite you to come in to the Hillsborough Gallery this month, and take a close look at each, and see what they say to you.

Up Close

Alice Levinson will be presenting her contemporary sewn textiles.  Levinson says, “There is an old saying, ‘the devil is in the detail’.  In the case of my artwork, detail is at the heart my work. Viewing from the usual gallery distance one sees a total composition. Hopefully the work is visually interesting and pleasing to the eye. The overall effect is important in my work. The compositional schema hints to narrative as the palatte suggests mood. The true hallmark of my work, however, is in the attention to detail. I encourage the viewer to approach and come UP CLOSE.”

Approaching Levinson’s work reveals the variety of materials she incorporates into complex compositions. With closer scrutiny one can appreciate the dense variety of stitching which embellishes and elaborates each work.

Of her process Levinson writes, “Starting with white cloth, I experiment freely with dye, pigments, and printing techniques to create cloth which is complex in texture and rich in visual interest. This cloth is the primary prompt to my work. It’s variations in tone, color, and texture inspire me, prompting a creative response.The fabric is cut or torn and pieces are mixed and melded as I assemble my work. Each composition is built of successive layering of fabric and thread. My intuitive work process encourages spontaneity and experimentation.  I live and work in a quiet wood. My work is infused with the lines of the trees, movement of wildlife, and the seasonal changes of form, color, and light.”

For Up Close painter Linda Carmel focuses on women and how they work together. Many of her images involve women helping each other. Carmel’s paintings of women are a perfect illustration of the campaign slogan, ‘stronger together’.

Carmel writes, “I hope that my images will remind us to treat ALL people equally regardless of gender or race. My work strives to speak directly to women, to acknowledge their inner strength and celebrate their power. These themes are especially significant in the present moment as women have been forced to re-engage in fights for rights that they thought were won long ago. Women are massing, marching, and protesting.”

Carmel builds up her canvases with acrylic modeling paste. She creates interesting background textures and then sculpts her figures. Carmel’s paintings are durable: she encourages people to touch them. Get up close and enjoy!

Sculptor Lynn Wartski writes,  “I see our title, Up Close as in invitation to our viewers to take a focused look at our new work.  ‘Athena Sharpening Her Spear’  was the first piece I specifically created for Up Close.  The seated goddess is clad in elements of knowledge, wisdom, and learning, as well as her gleaming armor. Athena is intently sharpening her spear as she prepares for an intense battle.”

Wartski reflects, “This entire year I’ve been experimenting with other surprises that allow some dolls to tell even more of their story.  While continuing to refine gesture and expression, I’ve also incorporated text and images into some surfaces creating collage elements within the sculpture.  In this way an Alice in Wonderland doll became a piece about questions and questioning, and a butterfly figure emerging from its chrysalis about giving flight to dreams and imagination. The scale of my art doll sculptures bids one to take a more intimate look. I try to reward this level of scrutiny with the details that I work into each figure.  I admit that I love creating little elements for each doll, especially the shoes.”

Opening Reception


June 30


it’s all about the story



“Out Of Abaton” is John Bemis‘ new interpretation of the well-loved tale of Pinocchio. Just as the wooden puppet changes into a human boy, Bemis transforms this classic story with fantastic creatures, alchemy, and the mystery of human emotion–all woven into the magical and glorious landscape of Italy. The artists of the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts depict this fantasic tale in paintings, photography, metal, fiber, glass, ceramics, and wood. It is a show for all those who appreciate rich story telling and local art.

About John Claude Bemis:

John Claude Bemis is an award-winning author and also an inspiring speaker and musician. Bemis grew up in North Carolina and became an elementary school teacher after studying Art History and Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. His experiences of reading, exploring, and teaching naturally evolved into a career of writing. He received the Exellence in Teaching Award from UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Education and was chosen as North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate for Children’s Literature in 2013. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.


Feb 24


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Go Figure

Lynn Wartski
A big part of the joy of creating art can come in experiencing the reactions of others.  I enjoy watching people in the gallery approach my figure sculptures for a closer look.  They have the exact opposite effect of an expansive painting where a step back will get the best view. Their scale as art dolls requires the viewer to approach, crouch down, and perhaps walk around. It is in this intimate proximity that each piece can reveal all the little surprises and details I have worked in to the final design. It is rewarding to have those who appreciate my work take note and tell me and others what they see there.
I experienced several of these moments at the opening reception of Go Figure!  One woman viewing my piece “Cello”, asked if I had myself played the instrument.  I replied that I had not, and asked what had made her ask.  She said that she had played the cello, and that I nailed not just the posture of the figure, but that her hand, wrist, and finger positions were spot on.  I told her that I had in fact spent time pouring over images of cellists for that exact reason.
A couple was looking quite carefully at “Getting Lift”.  The husband asked his wife to walk this way to see the stitching on her helmet, just as the wife told him to come to the back so that he could see how I had laced the wings on to her back.  They both told me that it truly appeared that she was just about to take off from her base, and inquired what the key chained to her belt unlocked.
Others remarked that they didn’t truly appreciate “Secrets” until they were able to get up real close and see the expression on her face, or the fact that her boots just happened to match the fabric of her dress bodice. Of “Lacing III”, one viewer told me that she could really see the dancer’s concentration to her task.
A number of people told me that they could place themselves right in the moment I tried to capture with “Sunshine on a Cloudy Day”.  They all noted the joy and freedom of the figure despite the weather she was probably experiencing.
Perhaps most rewarding, were the comments that surrounded the show Go Figure! itself. Most saying that beyond the obvious connection of human figures, that there was a brightness and strength of spirit that tied all of the artists work together.
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ART from shows

Our Art is….

art doll balloon webLynn Wartski

The art doll sculptures I have created for this year’s feature show stretch beyond  interesting little characters. I worked to push gesture and movement to hopefully capture each figure in a moment of a narrative. My hope  is that the viewer finds him or herself wondering what is going on with each individual, or what will be occurring in the very next moment,

The piece I chose for the postcard image for the show, “Balloon”, is a good example of this extension with narrative. A small figure with pigtails is stretching on tiptoe while grasping the end of a balloon string. Is she in the process of loosing her grasp? I she running along with a breeze? Perhaps it is a magically strong balloon that will carry her away? I guess the answer resides with each viewer.

I have also continued my experimentation with new materials and media incorporation into  my art dolls. Though I know that I never would want to fully step away from the copper that has become a trademark of my work, I have enjoyed playing with other materials as the main component of a piece with the metal in a supporting role.

art doll media w

My piece titled “Media” is an example of play and experimentation with materials. Though she still began with a copper face that I hand hammered, the rest of her creation took a number of detours. I shaped her torso, skirt top, neck, and one of her shins from wood. Her head and one arm are paperclay over an armature, and her hair is hand cut parchment. Lastly, her multiple mixed media arms and legs are articulated with joints rather than my usual bendable padded wire frame.

One piece that nicely brings together both the elements of narrative and expanding media is “Paper Alice”. My version of Alice in Wonderland steps out of a story that many already know. I based this art doll on pen and ink illustrations from a classic edition of the book.I fully sculpted her head and arms from paperclay, and metal is found only in her accessories and details. Images and favorite quotes from the tale are worked into her clothing and on her base, and she has a wig made of strips of parchment paper.

art doll paper alice webI thoroughly enjoy creating these art doll figures, and even more, people’s reactions to them.


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Our Art Is…

May postcard RGB

Exploring What Art Is At The Hillsborough Gallery Of Arts

Three very different artists are featured this month at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. Painters Pat Merriman and Eduardo Lapetina and sculptor Lynn Wartski present their newest work in a show they call OUR ART IS…..
Pat Merriman, a founding member of the gallery, says “When I paint it is always with my favorite themes…this time I have revisited Koi on long 10”x30” panels that allow them to swim up or downstream. ” They shine with glints of gold, unusual colors and playful acrylic textures. There will also be one or two Hillsborough or NC scenes, and I am honoring my love of cooking by painting vegetables, fruits, and cooking scenes from my kitchen.”

Eduardo Lapetina paints large colorful canvases. Describing his creative method, Lapetina says “I strive to produce 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. An image arrived at through such a slow, deliberative set of processes appears fresh and immediate by maintaining spontaneity at every turn. The destination is unknown until I finally get there.”

Lynn Wartski adds whimsy to the show with the unique doll sculptures for which she is increasingly well-known. Says Wartski “My art doll sculptures test the limits of expression that can be achieved with unconventional material choices of forged copper, and other metal work, for faces, hands, and various elements of design. The result is a collection of pieces with a cohesive sculptural style despite the incorporation of widely varied materials and experimentation. The dolls I have been working on for this year’s show have an additional dimension beyond capturing gesture and interesting costuming. With these sculptures I introduce more of an element of narrative into each piece. I’ve worked to capture a moment of movement, or the figure caught somewhere mid-stride. I hope the viewer finds him or herself looking at that single captured static moment and wondering or imagining what the next moment would hold.”


Please join us for the Opening Reception
Friday May29th


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Preview of the Orange County Studio Tour

OCAG_postcard_RGBPlease come join us for the Opening Reception at our Last Fridays celebration.


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