Artist Spotlight: Spencer Merolla

spencer_merolla_headshotHow long have you worked in the Gowanus neighborhood?

I have worked in Gowanus for three years and was drawn to the area because of the great community… and unforgettable aromas.

About my work

My work is concerned with bereavement including the tension between public and private grief, social customs and the material culture of mourning as well as the objects as repositories of memory that retain and transmit meaning. I work with human hair, clothing, and found photographs.

Is there an aspect of Gowanus that inspires you?

I like the history of Gowanus and an interested in Gowanus as a marshland, a revolutionary war battle site, an industrial center, and a cautionary tale about environmental degradation.

Why should people visit your studio during Gowanus Open Studios 2016?

Visitors to GOS 2016 should visit my studio because it is always fun and also because my studio is in a building with so many other participating artists.

spencer_merolla_b-r  spencer_merolla_six-word-novel

What do you have on your walls at home?

At home, I have everything from small original works by artists that I love to antique wallpaper design sketches to matchboxes, souvenirs, bits of wood, and a countless list of other unexpected objects.

What is your secret talent?

My secret talent is that I enjoy memorizing Latin plant names.

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To see more of Spencer’s work, visit her website: www.spencermerolla.com

Artist Spotlight: Katie Hector

katie_hector_headshotHow long have you worked in the Gowanus neighborhood?

I have worked in Gowanus for one year.  I was motivated to establish my studio here because of the location and access to natural light.

Is there an aspect of Gowanus that inspires you?

The residential family-oriented environment is a calming respite from the bustle of Manhattan and other parts of Brooklyn.

Why should people visit your studio during Gowanus Open Studios 2016?

Over the past year, I have created work that references internet culture and technological interfaces. I will have glass work, drawings, and wall sculptures on display during GOS2016.

  

What do you have on your walls at home?

The artwork of close friends.

What is your secret talent?

I quilt!

  

To see more of Katie’s paintings, visit her website: katiehector.com

Artist Spotlight: Elsie Kagan

elsie_kagan_headshotHow long have you worked in the Gowanus neighborhood

Gowanus and the surrounding neighborhoods have been my home since I first moved to New York City in 2005. It is home sweet home to me.

About my work

My paintings fuse the formal tropes of traditional genres with an energetic emphasis on themedium’s materiality. Drawing from 17th century Northern European still life paintings, as well as live observation, my work harnesses the power of pictorial space and surface presence, testing the line between representation and abstraction. Often large in scale, the work is physically active, corresponding with my arm span and the movement of my body. I use a combination of oil paint and watercolor paint suspended in vinyl to achieve a drippy dynamic vibrancy. As a counterpoint to the large-scale work, I make smaller compositions with Flashe paint on panel—intimate sketches emphasizing drawing and gesture. Dramatic and exuberant, my floral paintings depict the delicate refraction of stems in water alongside gravity’s power to drag color down a surface, seeking that charged moment when paint is at once a smear and a cluster of blossoms.

elsie_kagan_secondwind

Which artists inspire or influence your work? Is there an aspect of Gowanus that inspires you?

I draw my influences from many different places and sources, both current and historic. My work often converses with a particular point in the history of painting, along with a moment-by-moment response to the qualities of paint, color, and live observation. There are times where the landscape of Gowanus has appeared directly in my work. I am also continually buoyed and excited by the work of other artists in this neighborhood.

Why should people visit your studio during Gowanus Open Studios 2016?

Visitors will have the opportunity to see a vibrant and exciting body of work that I finished this year including both large and small scale paintings that I call still-lives. Brand new work in a more embryonic stage will also be on view. I am beginning to address my experience of motherhood in my work.  It feels vulnerable to share work that is in the beginning stages, but that is what is exciting about an open studio.

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What do you have on your walls at home?

My own artwork at home is now often crowded out by the art created by my children. I have a small collection of artwork on my walls by (mostly local) artists that I admire. My most prized piece is by Stanley Whitney, who I was lucky to work with in Rome while at Tyler studying for my MFA.

What is your secret talent?

I love rhythm. I’ve studied some West African drumming in my time, and though I’m probably pretty rusty now, I used to be a pretty good tap dancer.

elsie_kagan_everythingisgreen

To see more of Elsie’s paintings, visit her website: elsiekagan.net

Artist Spotlight: Carlos Torres Machado

How long has you studio been in Gowanus?

I have worked in Gowanus for two years.  For me, Gowanus is an art neighborhood, you can feel it.   I am seduced by the freedom of Gowanus.

About my work

My work is a cross between the pastiche of postmodernism and the romanticism of the 19th century. I reinvent and merge explored visual languages through the use of color and linguistic tools.

Which artists inspire or influence your work?

The artists that I admire the most are those that had the personality and courage to break the art paradigms of the time periods in which they lived.

Why should people visit you during Gowanus Open Studios ?

Visitors to my studio will discover a new experience of confronting color.  The interaction between human beings and technology in the age of the digital revolution interest me.

   

What is your secret talent?

I follow my inner voice.

To see more of Carlos’s work, visit his website: torresmachado.com

Artist Spotlight: JoAnne McFarland

How long have you worked in the Gowanus neighborhood?

I have worked in Gowanus since 1989 and was drawn to the neighborhood because of the abundance of light filled spaces at affordable prices.

Which artists inspire or influence your work?

Thomas Eakins inspires my technique, Edward Hopper inspires my mood, and there are a gazillion poets and writers that inspire my ideas.

Why should people visit your studio during Gowanus Open Studios 2016?

You won’t see kick ass paintings of Shirley Temple anywhere else! And my dress collages are weirdly cool.

JoAnne_McFarland_YouMakeMyMouthWaterDressJoAnne_McFarland_ExerciseofAuthorityDress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you have on your walls at home?

I collect work by women artists in particular and have, amazingly, more than 20 pieces up in my studio-size apartment!

What is your secret talent? 

I can get other people to risk more.

JoAnne_McFarland_3Shirleys

To see more of JoAnn’s paintings, visit her website: joannemcfarland.com

Artist Spotlight: Martha Walker

Martha_Walker

How long have you worked in the Gowanus neighborhood?

I have worked in Gowanus since 2001 – more than 15 years. I lived in Park Slope and, when searching for studio space, it was a priority to find an industrial space where it was safe and legal to work with gas.

About my work

My work is sculptural and is described as abstract expressionist. The material that I most often work with is welded steel. Metal sculptures that are organic and fluid in form are created using a unique process called “puddling,” which is when steel is dripped like wax to build up form.

Which artists inspire or influence your work?

Theodore Roszak and Chakaia Booker inspire me. I am also inspired by Rodin and Michelangelo.  There is a language of classical composition in everything that I make.

Martha_Walker_Ectasy    Martha_Walker_HeartOfTheMatter

Why should people visit your studio during Gowanus Open Studios 2016?

I welcome visitors, both to have my work exposed to a greater audience, and because I welcome the interaction and discussion that this inspires. 

What is your secret talent?

Concentrating on the process instead of the product.

Martha_Walker_Dyad

 To see more of Martha’s sculptural work, visit her website: marthawalker.net

Artist Spotlight: Robin Roi

Robin_Roi_1

How long have you worked in the Gowanus neighborhood?

I have lived in the Park Slope area for over 25 years. When my youngest son was 8, I heard about a wonderful ceramic teacher, Adrienne Yurick, who had clay classes for children at a studio called “3rd Avenue Clay”. I sent my son, Soren, there for a couple of years. He loved it and made some wonderful clay sculptures which I have kept to this day. At the time, I was working at Evergreene Architectural Arts where I was employed as Director of Decorative Painting for many years. Some years later, in a desire to revive my personal career as an artist, I decided to take a ceramic class at this same studio in the heart of Gowanus. That was probably about 15 years ago and I have never stopped working in ceramics as well as attending the 3rd Avenue Clay studio.

What motivated you to establish your studio here?

For part of the year, I also work in the ceramic studio at the Greenwich House Pottery in Manhattan. However, as I live now in Windsor Terrace, 3rd Avenue clay has always felt like my home studio. Now that I have become involved as a volunteer with the GOS, I am more excited than ever to have this great community of artists as a support and a resource. Being part of a more intimate community is especially important living in New York where it can be a daunting task to find one’s place.

Why should people visit your studio during Gowanus Open Studios 2016?

Robin_Roi_2Although I have been working at the 3rd Avenue pottery for over 15 years, I have never participated in the GOS as I did not have my own private studio and logistics were not convenient to open the studio up to the public. Finally, this year I decided to find a space in the Gowanus area where I could exhibit my pottery as well as offer the opportunity to other ceramic artists in the area to show their work. I have located a wonderful space called the “Shapeshifter Lab” on Whitwell Place. We will have over 15 ceramic artists as well as a few painters and photographers. I am calling it “Ceramic Central”. If anyone is interested in ceramics….this is the place to come!!

About my own work

My ceramic work is mostly functional but with a highly decorative flair, sometimes verging on sculpture or at least the “not so utilitarian”. Although the pieces I make can function as every day vessels, I believe their decorative surfaces and inventive forms give them a unique quality much like a piece of art. Pitchers are a favorite form of mine as they can be very playful and the slightest shift in the slant of a handle or spout can drastically change its personality. I love in equal parts the forming of the vessel and the decorative painting and glazing of surfaces. Sometimes I am amazed at how the simplest form can become an object of such beauty with the right glaze or surface design and likewise, a fabulous form without a wonderful surface is left wanting. Pattern and design have always been my passion and my gift. My ceramics show off the best of this talent.

Check out more of Robin’s work at her website: robroidesign.com

Robin_Roi_3Robin_Roi_4

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