Art is so much a part of our lives; whether you realize it or not, whether you collect it or not, whether you like it or not. It surrounds us. We live amidst multitudes of creative decisions that have been made by artists. Decisions that have been made yesterday, today, and hundreds of years ago. Paintings, illustrations, sculpture, architecture, advertising, landscaping, websites, television, music, automobiles, books, clothing… I could go on and on! And right now creativity is sparking in someone's imagination that you don't even know which will impact you at some point in the future. Isn't that crazy? I know! I love art!
Because of this amazingly creative nook of the world we live in and call home, I have had a spark of creativity myself! My goal is to interview people about what their own favorite piece of artwork is. Now this could be as grand as your Mother's portrait which hangs in your living room, or as simple as little Johnny's crayon drawing he did for your birthday when he was 3. I want to know what speaks to you and why. And in sharing that with the community, I hope to enrich or spark a bit a creativity in others as a result.
When thinking of my first interviewee, one person popped into my mind instantly and I'm such a lucky girl, he said yes. Lee Stockdale has been an avid art collector for much of his life. In his home he surrounds himself with things he loves; his family, a lot of artwork, and spectacular photographs that spark many conversations. Lee is an amazing writer and as of late an award-winning poet. Lee is also a blues musician. He plays harmonica, sings and writes songs. He is very active in our community with Tryon Writers, and emcees literary readings at the Upstairs Artspace. When I asked Lee what his favorite piece is he didn't hesitate. A painting called "Proof" by local artist Margaret Curtis was his immediate answer. An oil painting on board, spanning 7 feet wide and 3.5 feet tall, it is something to behold. "I can’t tell you how honored I feel to have it in our home," Lee beamed.
When I asked Lee why it was his favorite painting he had many reasons. "First, the woman in the middle of the painting is beautiful. She seems to be in her own world and she’s just incredibly strong and confident there. She’s the centerpiece. Everyone else revolves around her. All these other people, who I quickly understood to be family members related to the woman in the center, are all in various stages of delight or disapproval at her and what she’s wearing and her attitude. Margaret captured each one of the nine individuals in such a way that they could all be on different planets. There’s so much psychological information being conveyed. That’s what fascinates me. But then it’s just so colorful and detailed. The people are so alive you can almost hear their thoughts. I find myself standing and looking at it. I don’t do that with any other painting we have." I love how much Lee shared with me when I asked him this question. He really thought about it, dug deep, and verbalized thoughts and feelings he hadn't before.
When probed about what the artist's actual goal was (aka the "Artists' Statement") on this piece, Lee had this to share: "I think she was trying to show how different these family members were, on what different wavelengths they were. This piece, to me, says ‘heart.’The figure standing in the center is the heart of the painting. It is, in fact, Margaret’s mother. Margaret appears to me to be acknowledging her mother as the center, the heart, of this very 'diverse' family, notwithstanding that some may be on Jupiter and some on Saturn. I also know that Margaret in fact used herself as the model for her mother. So it may be that she was drawing similarities between herself and her mother. I think the painting is a huge ‘I love you’ to her mother."
But beyond that goal of the artist, Lee feels that the painting speaks volumes more. "The mother figure could be 'every mother.' She certainly reminds me of my own mother, right down to the cigarette. But I think anyone could look at this painting and see their own family in it; a woman at the beating center of the heart of the family and everyone arrayed around her in various stages of acceptance, love, denial, understanding, misunderstanding, ridiculousness. It’s got this great heart, but also this terrific absurdist sense of humor."
Analyzing the painting and what it says to each person is always interesting, but for me I always have another burning question; what moved you to buy it? "I knew I had to have it," Lee said. "When I saw it in person I immediately called my wife, Gail, and said 'It’s huge and it’s unbelievable.' It was like, oh, Lord, I know these people because it’s my family, that archetypal quality. So it wasn’t like we purchased a painting, it was like we opened the door and let the family in." Wow! So Lee found a painting that he felt was his family, even though it wasn't, and needed it to come home with him. That connection fascinates me. That's just awesome! I do believe that art speaks to people and that each piece is just waiting for its owner to come along and say “There you are, come home now.”
Interestingly, this isn't even what Lee thought to be his favorite style of work; he typically prefers abstract and impressionistic pieces as Picasso is his favorite historical artist. I love that this piece spoke to him so profoundly, that what he thought he enjoyed didn't even matter. He also feels that "Margaret is moving in a direction in which she’s creating her own unique style. This is what great artists do. No one else is doing what she’s doing."
Lee has been a lifetime art lover, and he can regale such a great story. When I asked him the following question I was tickled that he had such an in-depth answer: "Has there ever been a show or exhibit that you have seen in your lifetime that you can still recall and if so, why has it stuck with you?" Lee answered, "Picasso’s Guernica, at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, about 1974. My mother had just married this fellow named Ted and we were getting to know each other. I more wary than he. One night we were talking and Ted started railing against Guernica, he thought it was very bad. He told me to go see it, so I did. Although it’s a very famous piece, I did agree with Ted that it’s not Picasso’s best work. The piece has stuck with me because I was thrilled that my mother would marry a man who had such passionate feelings about Picasso one way or the other. I thought: we’re going to be good friends. We were." I think it's remarkable that a hearty debate over a painting gave Lee a premonition that came to fruition. Art does unusual things for people.
Along the same lines of exhibits that have touched Lee, I wanted to know if any galleries or museums have ever struck a special chord with him? "Yes, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Seven floors. Edgy, colorful, historical, fascinating. Gail and I spent 3 or 4 hours there. I could spend every day for a month. I think I’m not kidding." There you have it. I know I will have to get to Pittsburgh and test out his recommendation, and compare notes with Lee on how long I trail the halls and walls of Warhol.
As I wrapped up my questions with Lee I did have one final query about educating our youth in the arts, and how important he feels that is? "We have an enormous responsibility to recognize talent and nurture young artists in both our schools and in our families. I feel a personal responsibility to educate kids regarding poetry. I’m trying to figure out how to do that, because poetry has the power to cut through so much and get to the heart of things kids are going through. We all have to do what we can." I agree with Lee wholeheartedly. Being more visual arts centered, I hadn't really thought of poetry being an outlet for our youth either. Great insight Lee!
I want to thank Lee Stockdale for being my first interviewee. His answers to my questions more than exceeded my expectations for my initial article. Shockingly, there were many more questions and great answers, but I tried to keep this short (ha!), so they will stay with me. I hope this interview has enlightened, inspired, and sparked something creative in us all. I hope it makes us look a little more deeply into the art that surrounds us and think about what we enjoy, or even dislike about it. After all, anything art can do for us is a gift.
Skyuka Fine Art is proudly displays "Big Blooms" featuring the recent works of Detroit illustrator turned fine artist Dave Capalungan. Capalungan is an accomplished artist who creates works of painterly realism. His subjects have often included still life as well as portraiture. However, in this new series Dave uses bold colors and focuses on the contrast between light and shadow, employing brush strokes ranging from detailed to loose to depict gorgeous and lush larger-than-life florals. The result of these fresh blooming floral pieces, often being blown up five times their size, is stunning . "I have always been an artist; with stops in advertising, digital work, and architectural renderings over the years. Now as a painter, I want to share my impression of the beauty of everyday life with paint, canvas and brush." Capalungan hails from Detroit and studied at College For Creative Studies.
Looking for that perfect gift to give a loved one? The thought of shopping the big box stores just a big turnoff? Who can blame you? Does he really need another wallet or cardigan? Does she really need another piece of sexy lingerie or trendy jewelry this Christmas? Do Grandma and Grandpa really need another afghan or cheesy framed photo of the kids taken at a photo portrait studio? NO! Make this holiday and Christmas season special by commissioning a charcoal portrait by award-winning nationally known portrait artist Richard Christian Nelson. Nelson started doing these portraits as studies for his oil portraits and they were so hot with the clients that they began requesting just the charcoals.
Prompted by the realization that some people wait until the last minute to purchase gifts, and that there is simply no way a portrait could be completed in that short of a time frame, we are now offering the opportunity to still give the gift of a charcoal portrait in a gift certificate form in time for Santa's big day. Can't you just imagine how she'll burst with joy when she opens up her portrait gift certificate? Or how about an intimate, sensual figurative nude like Jack did of Rose in the movie Titanic? Can you just see you hubby's face when you tell him that is what you will be giving him? His eyes will light up with pure excitement and arousal! Just picture Mom and Dad as they realize they will have the gift of their grandchildren captured in the way the old masters did as opposed to how Walmart photo studios does it? Simply purchase this certificate online or call gallery at 828-817-3783 and the certificate will be mailed off to you in time to get that perfect gift under your tree this year.
Don't let your location stop you from ordering this special offer now; Richard travels all around the country frequently and can schedule your sitting soon. Whether you live in Asheville, NC or New York City, Chicago or Detroit, Savannah GA or Atlanta, even Los Angeles or Dallas, he'll get you on his schedule!
Original artwork makes the best gift, commission your perfect gift today.
SPECIAL HOLIDAY OFFER: Order between 12-7-12 and Christmas and receive half off of framing!
Tonight we are hosting an opening reception for artists Gary Cooley and Michael McNamara. Both of them went to CCS (then Center for Creative Studies, now College of Creative Studies) with my husband, Richard Christian Nelson and all of them were trained as illustrators and worked for years in commercial art. And all three of them became fine artists as well. In fact they are all out in downtown Tryon painting the views so many of us are very fond of, Morris the Horse, our movie theater, the old drug store Misseldines, and all with the familiar and moving Foothills as a back drop.
It is amazing to me how moving a streetscape painting can be of a location that is familiar to me. Michael McNamara has brought numerous stunning paintings done on sight of fantasitic scenes from New York. They exhibit unusual lighting, a gritty urban feel, as well as extreme and unusual perspective. But he is also from my hometown; the Motor City. From his time spent there over this past winter he produced a few familiar scenes. Corktown, a Northville frozen over lake, and of course downtown Detroit scenes featuring what I used to call "The Ren-Cen" which is now GM Headquarters. GM happens to hold a few of Rich's portraits of their former chairmen, but it also holds memories for me. As a teenager my girlfriends and I would go there to shop on their lower concorse level, and have lunch at Olga's, and usually end up chasing some boys, or have them chase us. Good times. These paintings take me right back to a certain Christmas break, a fresh snowfall on the ground and my friend's mom, Mrs. Smith driving us down Jefferson to drop us off for a care-free day of fun. I can still smell Mrs. Smith's perfume, which I loved, and now wear myself, feel my new high top tennis shoes I got for Christmas that year which were the height of fashion, and hear my friends giggle about how much fun we were going to have. I miss those days, and these paintings make me feel like a kid again. This is what great art can do; stir us.
Speaking of stirring, Gary Cooley's jazz and blues portraits do just that. Nina Simone, Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke and Jimmy Yancy faces are so engaging, so well done, you can feel their rhythm and sense their souls just as they are about to belt one out for us. The expressions he has captured, as well as the lighting and color on these pieces, well, they are just stunning.
Then, Mr. Cooley thows you a curve ball; vintage ray guns. I-love-these. So fun. So wacky. Floating in mid air with a great color splash of draped fabric behind them, they almost look like they are in an anti-gravity chamber on Buck Rogers space ship! They get any sci-fi nerd (me!) geeked!
I'm looking forward to spending time with these paintings and enjoying them in our gallery. You should too. Come on by. The show will be up until the end of May, 2012. May 12th is another Tryon Gallery Trot here in downtown Tryon where 13 galleries, businesses and restaurants stay open late from 5-8pm with new shows, opening receptions and entertainment. The Tryon Fine Art Center's "Art in Bloom" is that day too, so it should really be a fine day to be in Tryon. But then again, it always is.
If this week is any indicator for the year ahead, it's going to be a great one! This week Rich was notified that his "Charlotte" entry won first place for the commissioned portrait category in the Portrait Society of America's Members' Only Competition! We are so proud of Rich and all of his accomplishments, but this one is special. Typically Rich photographs many of his subjects due to the fact that they are too young to sit, or simply don't have the time or the inclination to do so. This portrait was different, Charlotte wanted to enjoy and experience sitting for her portrait. She sat for two full days in Rich's studio. As Rich sketched and painted, she quietly did her job; be a great subject. As you can see, and the Portrait Society concurs, the results were spectacular.
The family is shown here with Rich at a traditional portrait unveiling party with family and friends in their home. Charlotte's mother, in the time that Rich had been working on her daughter's portrait, decided she enjoyed her experience so much that she became a representative with Portraits Inc.
Rich is truly blessed to be able to do what he loves, have the talent to do it, work with great families like this, and gain accolades along his journey. Congrats to you Rich. You deserve it. Now get back into your studio and paint already!
It is hard to believe, but we are coming up on our first anniversary here at the gallery. It was this time last year that we were building walls, tearing up carpet, and installing the correct lighting. Dust and excitement were in the air! We even had our priest, Father Patrick Winslow come and bless the gallery! We opened on New Year's Day by hosting a reception open to the public. The outpouring of well wishes and support was overwhelming, and we had no idea how well received our little gallery would soon become in our beloved little town of Tryon.
It's been a fantastic and art filled year! We've hung eight different shows, hosted a lecture, a concert, an auction, a jewelry party, and started a town gallery crawl. It has been a nonstop whirlwind of activity. Good activity. But the best activity (and my favorite) is when someone comes in, falls in love with a piece and takes it home with them. Finding new homes for the artwork we select for the gallery is what makes it all worth while. A heartfelt "congratulations" always pops out of my mouth when a client decides on a piece. I am so pleased that we've had the opportunity to connect one-of-a-kind original art, done by professional artists, with the right art lovers time and time again this year. This is what it is all about.
As we look forward to our second year here in Tryon, we'd like to start off by celebrating the past year, and ringing in the next with an open house here at the gallery. Please join us on January 1st from 1-5pm here at Skyuka Fine Art. It's gonna be another great year!
Opening receptions are such fun! And Keith Spencer's recent reception at our gallery was no exception.
Many came out to enjoy and congratulate Keith on a fantastic new body of work.
Some were old fans, and a number of new fans were definitely made that night.
Keith's work displays both bold color choices and expressive brush strokes. In his latest piece, Sunset Strip, this talent of his is expertly displayed. The intense setting sunlight draws you in as much as the road in the foreground.
Keith's work will be on display at the gallery until October 7th. Don't miss this full color experience!
The Tryon Gallery Trots here in downtown Tryon have truly blossomed. With new businesses opening, businesses relocating more centrally to downtown, and more merchants opening their doors for the evening the Trot couldn't have asked for a better kick off season.
The Upstairs Artspace's new exhibits "Curvature and Color", "Carolina the Beautiful", and "Cassie Ryalls: New Work" really wowed the crowds. Paintings, photographs and figurative sculptures make for an exceptionally well rounded, colorful and detailed exhibit. The Upstairs enjoyed a full house throughout the entire Trot.
Skyuka Fine Art's live charcoal portrait demonstration was a refreshing addition to the Trot. Rich Nelson's subject; son Lucas, was a very steady and attractive model. Rich discussed his technique and answered questions from curious viewers who also enjoyed the current exhibit "Women of Western North Carolina".
Tryon Painters and Sculptors once again welcomed a nice group of art lovers coming to see their latest Members' Show. Since moving to downtown onto Maple St., TP & S has seen a dramatic rise in visitors to the new gallery. A wide variety of styles and mediums are displayed in this lovely first Members' Show in their new space.
Kathleen's "Burnsville Potter-Claudia Dunaway", and "Real and Faux-Teddy Bears by Linda Boiter" opening was a huge success. Many guests brought in special family furs looking to breathe new life into them by creating lovable, extremely cuddly teddies.
Vines and Stuff and Green River Gallery hosted late hours, while Kiveo introduced a new selection of Bob Neely works on their expansive walls. Richard Baker's lovely new studio is so inviting, one simply doesn't want to leave; comfortable seating makes for great viewing of his newer local landscapes.
Two new businesses participating in this recent Trot were Outdoor Living by Bravo, and Dom and Pat Ferullo's new studio and workshop space on Pacolet St. With more artists, a design studio, the new ice cream store 'One Scoop at a Time', and the new 'Cafe My Place' in town, the Trots are drawing larger and larger crowds. Don't miss the final scheduled Trot coming on October 8th.
Recently I saw a news video on a scientific study proving something very interesting; that viewing, enjoying and purchasing art releases the same chemicals in our brain as when we are in love. Remarkable. I've always known that my own personal enjoyment of the arts did something special and inexplicable for me, but to now understand its chemical roots just makes sense.
When art moves me, it is for different reasons then when it moves my husband or our children. I always ask the kids what their favorite piece is in a show is and why. For instance, at a recent show of our friend Richard Baker's paintings I asked our daughter Lily that very question. Her favorite of Mr. Baker's was a landscape he had done involving a llama farm and it even had a few cute llamas in the foreground. When I asked Lily why she said she had just been to a llama farm on a field trip with her class and she had a great time. So the painting reminded her of that good feeling and her fun afternoon with her friends at school. So at that very moment when she saw the painting, her brain released a chemical of joy and love. How amazing is that?
Here at the gallery I get to witness people stepping into these little "chemical releases of love" all the time! They come in, we may chit chat a bit but they always grow silent when they see something they like and I just get to sit back and enjoy it, quietly. Knowing I am part of providing that amazing feeling they just got hit with is exciting beyond words. And then if they want to take it home and put it on their own walls- well, I feel like I have just made a true love connection that will last a lifetime! Guaranteed no fights, jealousy, no "do these pants make me look fat" questions to dodge, just simple pure love and enjoyment.