Viewing entries in
Making it in the Art World

Comment

Visual Notes: Graphic Recording Fall 2017

The last few weeks I've been pretty busy with graphic recording, the process of real time illustration and note capturing for a few clients. I had the chance to capture discussion for a prominent company at Grand Circus in Detroit, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and a fascinating discussion hosted by Engage as part of Steve Case's Rise of the Rest nationwide tour. 

Graphic recording at the Antheneum in Detroit

Graphic recording at the Antheneum in Detroit

IMG_7922.JPG
IMG_7902.JPG

I'm currently in the planning stages of an illustration for ypsiGLOW, a phenomenal street event on October 27th celebrating performance, music, art making and luminaries in downtown Ypsilanti. My glowing chalk drawing is going to be done on vinyl, backwards, so I can install it on glass at the Ypsi Real office/Convention Visitors Bureau on Michigan Avenue. It will be.a large three panel piece circling ypsiGLOW's goals of inclusivity, being an "Ypsi made" event and promoting cultural and economic development in downtown Ypsi. Look out for that starting on the 19th! 

Unfortunately, I'll miss the ypsiGLOW festivities this year because I'll be flying back from a graphic recording gig in Memphis. I've never been and I'm so excited to hear the music, taste the BBQ and visit some incredible museums including the Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel. The conference I'll be covering over three days is about access to food and innovations being made in urban areas. I can't wait to share some inspired illustrations with you later this month!  

Comment

35 Comments

Our intern extraordinaire: Ashanti

We are really happy to introduce you to Ashanti Johnson, our new intern at Chin-Azzaro! 

A couple months ago, I was making the rounds during our opening and I met a student that had ventured out on her own for the night. Ashanti struck me immediately with her knowledge, confidence (and compliments, who doesn't love hearing those?) Nick and I had coincidentally started talking about taking on an intern to learn the ropes of the studio: marketing, publicity, project timeline planning, general administrative tasks, areas we needed support as our business grew. 

After five minutes of conversation, I hired her on the spot. And to top it off, I found out she and Nick attended the same high school. It was meant to be!

Here's a short and sweet Q&A but please stop in and meet Ashanti during our next opening (which is NOT on a First Friday but rather Thursday, Sept 10th at 6 pm. Jessica Tenbusch and I will have an artist's conversation at 7 pm about her show Lacuna: Life Through Death).

CA: Who are your favorite artists, figures that inspire you? 

AJ: One of my biggest inspirations and favorite artists since I was very young has been Jean- Michel Basquiat. The themes of his art and how they inspire the viewer to see the deep truths of our society when it comes to race, class and knowledge through abstract figures and graffiti really influences a lot of my art. Some of my other favorite artist and inspirations include Frida Kahlo, Kehinde Wiley, Cree Summer and Kara Walker.

CA: What’s your major/minor and favorite classes? 

AJ: I major in graphic design and my favorite classes so far have been my 3D art classes. Although I work mostly in 2D, the classes have helped me see art in a whole new light, now I see art in literally everything.

CA: What do you do to de-stress?

AJ: Write, I've always enjoyed writing poems and short stories it helps me forget about all the stress and worries.

CA: What are your favorite things to do in Ypsi?

AJ: I love going to The Ugly Mug to grab a cup of coffee and visiting the local venues during First Fridays.

CA: What will the name of your gallery be? 

AJ: Artists On The Rise Gallery and Studios.... Or at least something like that , a place for aspiring artists to get mentored and display their art.

CA: The last word?

AJ: s an avid learner I'm so excited to intern with Chin-Azzaro and learn more things about the art world! I am so thankful to be apart of Ypsi's unique and rising art scene and I hope to make my own mark and someday help aspiring artists like myself. :)

 

 

35 Comments

Comment

Dear Artist...

Over the last two months we've received a mound of submissions to exhibit in our humble space. Being the competitive process that it is, I've had to send more "no"s than "yes"es. And yet everyone has been gracious with the feedback regardless of outcome. What I've learned is that artists are itching not only for a place to show, but a place to be seen and possibly sell. I don't claim to be an "expert" at anything, I simply have a platform in which to sell the work. But I'll delve into that later.

I was compelled to write this post because of an email I received over the weekend. After teetering on a photographer whose work I thought was captivating and technically sound, I passed on the opportunity to show her work because she was enjoying editorial success. In her enthusiastic response, she shared that she was recovering from a recent stroke. She had lost some of the peripheral vision in her left eye but was still continuing to "get out there everyday with my little camera!" That truly touched me and made me remember my own anticipation when I was on the other side of the vetting process, how nerve wracking it was, the hope you hold to find out if your work will be seen.

Every one of you has a circumstance that I know nothing about and all I get is a small snippet of your life experience in a digital folder. For that, I am incredibly grateful. "Thank you" to each and every one of you that submitted.

I'm really humbled by this experience and feel I can lend some advice and hopefully help some of you to gain some understanding on how to continue the path. I'd also like to shed some light on how I make the decisions I do and what you should look for in a gallery and dealer. 

Dain Mergenthaler

Dain Mergenthaler

Traditionally, galleries sustained artists with a stipend so they could live and create art until the opening of a show and beyond. There are still a handful of high-caliber galleries that practice this model but most simply don't have the capability to function at this level. We certainly don't. I do not represent artists in an ongoing manner, but I do publicize, market, advocate for, live, breathe, sleep that artist's work during the months leading up to the event and the entirety of the exhibit. (And we do have contracts which allow for us to keep and sell work past the exhibit but relinquish upon the artist's request).  

From my understanding, the few galleries serving this immediate area have shuttered their exhibition programming or moved on. And there are even fewer chances to be highlighted as a solo artist. We are a small operation but we've had big experiences in the past. I've worked with contemporary artists like Julian Stanczak and Jerome Witkin and curated traveling museum exhibitions. I understand the practices to get work seen and I'd like to apply that to this market.

I look for thematic confidence. Meaning, how well do the pieces look together? After all, hanging a retail exhibit is very much about merchandising. For our Virtuous show, Jermaine Dickerson produced new graphite drawings, mixed media paintings and charcoal sketches, but all on the same topic - modern day media coverage and the state of sexism, racism and injustice - based around the comic book genre.

I'm a stickler for presentation so even if your work is on extravagant paper or your sculptures stand seven feet high, I have to consider how that translates in our space — a storefront with a track hanging system and approximately 11 foot ceilings. It is unlikely, but not impossible, for me to hang works on paper with metal clips and nailed to the wall. I don't think this looks professional nor inspires confidence in a buyer, no matter how exceptional a work is. You may think this is snobbery, but I'm trying to strike a balance between the museum guidelines I once adhered to, the gallery presentation of American works I'm used to and the early 20th century architecture of our building with a combination of cement, plaster and drywall surfaces.

We only show solo exhibits right now and that's what I intend indefinitely. Could you imagine an album that only had one or two songs from each artist? This type of compilation dilutes the aesthetic vision of the artist and understanding the intent and curating a good show takes time and exposure to a theme. My father, who is also an artist, once told me that a good painting means you can imagine the whole world in the style of the work, like you opened the front door one day and everything was saturated Gaughin. Since we're familiar with big names like Van Gogh and Picasso, we know what to expect. But with an unknown or contemporary artist, we need time to cleanse the palette, recalibrate and adjust to their vision. I believe solo shows are the only way to do this.

We enter into a contract where I have responsibilities to publicize and market you in the best light, in a way that's honest to your product. There are certain costs I will cover including print materials and signage supporting the opening, food and drink costs and occasionally supplies and/or framing depending on the deal. A dealer should always be able to disclose what pieces have sold and for what amount during the duration of a contract. They should also be able to relinquish your pieces when you request them, if, this was part of your contract as well. 

As the artist you also have responsibilities to deliver the caliber and number of works discussed, on time. They can't be owned by anyone else, unless they're on loan for a show with explicit understanding by all parties. Requests (whether it be for supplies, framing, extensions, what ever it may be) should be asked for in advance when possible. 

In terms of the submission process itself, following directions is of utmost importance. We (curators, dealers, gallerists) sift through dozens of submissions weekly and standardizing the process makes us able to consume images and keep track more easily. I recommend hiring or swapping with a photographer to take the best lit photographs possible against blank, unfussy backgrounds. I've received CVs and resumes in Word, text and jpeg formats but PDF ensures things don't get scrambled and look how you intended them to when you sent them off. 

And as you may have guessed, salability is keyBecause our exhibiting venture is still in its budding stages (our first show and panel discussion was only two weeks ago, selling five out of nine works), we're testing the waters to see what people will buy and whether sales will come via online and phone. But we're hopeful our expertise will drive people to buy in-person over what the internet has offered the last couple decades, much like the craft beer movement is sweeping big grocery store staples. There's nothing like seeing a piece in person (which is why I schedule studio visits when I can), so I'm hoping to capture the group that would normally purchase on Etsy or a reproduction from a site. 

Dennis Jones

Dennis Jones

I'm also keeping in mind what's easily consumable for a first time art buyer, a corporate collection, a longtime collector. Each show will test out a different price point as I'd like most people that enjoy art to be able to add something to their collection while seasoned buyers will be challenged with contemporary art that's not just "decorative" but authentic and well-executed

Finally, it's true. It does come down to what I like — what I find interesting, engaging, challenging. When I look at a submission, I have to believe there is a journey of longevity and collaboration. I'm a proponent for the arts and therefore, a fighter for the artist. 

Even though the submission season has ended, please don't hesitate to ask if you ever have a question.  The images in this post are a few of the artist submissions I've accumulated over the last two months. Enjoy. 

 

Comment

Comment

In the Studio with Jessica Tenbusch

Last week I got to visit our September artist, Jessica Tenbusch in the studio while she prepped some of her luxurious objects for our show. I first discovered her work during a post for DIYpsi and was taken with how beautifully organic her pieces are, as if they sprung from nature themselves. 

Much of her work is derived from animal parts but she only uses objects that have been found deceased or gifted by friends and family. Jessica is a master of melding materials and creating surfaces that are at once awe-inspiring and slightly macabre. In her "menagerie" that day, I got to see skulls of deer, coyote, raccoon, possum, a few teeth, casts of cicadas, and other various insects. 

I was in awe of the myriad of hammers and supplies in general that Jessica uses for her metal, plaster, woodworking practices. She is truly a jack of all trades. 

Measuring her wood slabs to be cut in the wood shop.

Measuring her wood slabs to be cut in the wood shop.

A frog suspended in layers of resin and encased in metal. To the right, a fitted wooden palette which will house the piece.

A frog suspended in layers of resin and encased in metal. To the right, a fitted wooden palette which will house the piece.

From conceiving the idea on paper to creating the real thing, this piece   includes such materials as   resin, wood, cicadas, cast bronze and various metals  .

From conceiving the idea on paper to creating the real thing, this piece includes such materials as resin, wood, cicadas, cast bronze and various metals.

Check out Jessica's intricate jewelry for purchase at her Etsy store, equilibria. And save the date September 4th, 2015 for her opening party with her exhibit running the entirety of the month, September 1-30, 2015.  We can't wait to unveil the exceptional craftsmanship and splendor of her work. More to come!

 

Comment

Comment

Art, Lately

After the winter hibernation, spring is one of my favorite times of year for art-seeing. There's revived energy, excitement and the exhibition season is taking off with high expectations with our first event tomorrow night. 

This past week has been a packed schedule of artist visits and just some cool pieces along the way. 

A detail of a painting by Molly Diana, our November 2015 artist.

A detail of a painting by Molly Diana, our November 2015 artist.

Screenprinted fabrics at Stamps School of Art & Design

Screenprinted fabrics at Stamps School of Art & Design

A piece from the MFA at Stamps

A piece from the MFA at Stamps

Another piece from the MFA show

Another piece from the MFA show

A few of the pieces from Margaret Hitch's 24 piece series. See it in its entirety this October.

A few of the pieces from Margaret Hitch's 24 piece series. See it in its entirety this October.

A piece from the Graduate show at Ford Gallery at EMU

A piece from the Graduate show at Ford Gallery at EMU

John Murrel at Ford Gallery at EMU

John Murrel at Ford Gallery at EMU

Get out there. See some art. Be inspired.

Comment

Comment

Big {Art} Announcement



Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a safe and memorable celebration to ring in 2015. 

We are excited to announce that we'll be exhibiting artists starting this March! While showing work in the new space seemed like a natural progression for us, we didn't prioritize it when we found the studio, simply because we weren't sure of how we would formalize what kind of gallery we would be and what type of art we would show. And then we realized, there are so few venues for consuming retail art in the area, we couldn't shy away from something we love doing and are good at. 

Here's the roster of artists for 2015.

We met Jermaine Dickerson as the resident graphic designer for a campus office at Eastern Michigan University. His style is steeped in realism, anatomical accuracy and suspension of reality as he delves into worlds of superhero status. I was immediately drawn to his meticulous linework and it didn't take us long to ask Jermaine to be the first artist to exhibit. As an emerging artist with an infectious laugh, we see unmistakable promise in Jermaine's work ethic and talent. You can see some of his digital design skills on his website and follow more of his projects (and the occasional still life) here on Facebook

Stan Malinowski has been a friend and mentor to Nick ever since we lived in Chicago. They had a collaborative show in 2008 and he's shared a wealth of his experiences in the fashion photography world. Starting in the '50s at Playboy, Stan moved on to fashion magazines in world markets, working with the likes of Anna Wintour, Christie Brinkley, Gia Carangi, Iman and many more. Stan is the preeminent perfectionist (and superb dinner mate), overseeing every process of his prints and negatives. We plan to show a carefully chosen group of photographs from a 20 year span, 1970-1990. This is a show of works exclusive to us and we're very proud of this.

Woon Sein Chin is my dad. He studied fine art in Taiwan during the '70s right before he emigrated to the States. While he and my mother worked odd jobs to make a living, he has never stopped painting. In 2011, he started working at the Museum of Contemporary Art in security and is surrounded by the artists that have inspired him over the years, Bacon, Matisse, Picasso. Last year, he was invited to show his works in the 3rd floor gallery of the MCA. His style is steeped in expressionism, with broad, electric strokes of oil and we'll be showing works on paper and canvas.

I met Megan Williamson when she visited Madron Gallery (where I served as director) on the recommendation of friend. It turns out the artists we had hanging on the wall (American greats such as Reginald Marsh, William Glackens, Frederick Frieseke), were the influences to her influence, Nic Coronas. I had never met anyone that knew so many of the styles and artists so intimately. We've been friends and collaborators since. Megan's canvases are constructed of elements that play upon each other and rely on how our eyes interpret those intersections of color and shape. During our weekly conversations, we talk about possibilities, ideas, dreams (a few shared on her Facebook page). It is our pleasure to show a series of Megan's still lifes and landscapes.

While perusing the various holiday fairs last month, I stumbled across an intriguing piece by Jessica Tenbusch (image above). Made of bone, copper and a method of hand hammering metal called repousse, I was immediately drawn to the perfect execution of her precious, organic pieces. Using only animals and parts found deceased, her pieces are are multi-step processes in experimentation. When I met her during the bustling DIYpsi fair, she was gracious and humble and I had to collaborate with her. We will show a new series of her fine art objects next Fall but you can admire and shop from her Etsy shop, Equilibria in the meanwhile. 

I'll have more information about each exhibition each month before. We can't wait to share our vision of fine art, design and photography with you. Happiness and health to you in 2015. 


Artist Submission Process (accepted January through March 2015)   

Chin-Azzaro is committed to a high standard of marketing, publicity and exhibition practices. With our years of experience in the fine art retail world, we strive to offer a breadth of high quality works to our audience. If you are interested in submitting your work for consideration, please send the following in a zipped folder titled with your name. 

1. CV and/or resume

11. 6-10 images of your work 

111. Artist statement (previous statement acceptable)

1111. Optional: website address, social networking links, references

Please send to: info@chin-azzaro.com and allow 2-3 weeks for a formal response. 

Incomplete submissions will not be considered. Thank you!



Comment

Comment

We're Getting a Space!

I still can't believe it happened because everything happened so quickly but...we signed a lease on a studio today! A couple months ago it didn't even seem feasible but things literally just came down to timing and luck. Nick and I had looked at storefront retail space in downtown Ypsilanti a few weeks ago. It was a large main room with great light (facing the west), a square shaped office and a makeshift "kitchen" area with bathroom. There was storage in the back and was sandwiched between an existing business and a promising one doing a build-out next door. Then we were told it wasn't available. I'm not going to lie. We sulked. And sulked. 

We didn't talk about it but I'm sure we both thought about it.

Then, a week later Nick got a call and BAM! Just like that, we were back in the game. We did some research, figured out the timing and now we're the proud tenants of 9 S. Washington Street starting November 1st!!! We decided opening day would be 11/11 so if you come by before that we'll be in shambles and running around looking for furniture and cleaning. We will be a mess, but would love to meet you if you're in the neighborhood and want to stop by to say "hello." 

We're so excited to be part of the growing Ypsi scene and we can't wait to show everyone what we have in store. We'll be part photography (and teaching) studio, art space and consulting office. For now, we have limited hours (Tues - Fri, 9 am to 3:30 pm) but will take appointments as they come in. 

Thank you to everyone that has given us advice, good vibes, praise, encouragement and your general and monetary support over the last three years. We couldn't have done this without you. Please come see us soon!

 

Opening day is Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 from 9 am to 3:30 pm

Opening day is Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 from 9 am to 3:30 pm


Comment

Comment

Artprize 2014: A Weekend in Grand Rapids

I got the visit Artprize over the weekend,  the largest art fair with winners chosen by community vote. Attendees must be present to register to vote and winners win cash prizes in the six-figures. Originally sponsored by the DeVos family as a public art event, it has garnered participation from artists worldwide since it's inception in 2009. Nick and I haven't participated since 2010 (he showed a larger-than-life photo comic book and I showed an interactive piece made from reused materials at a nursery school). 

Though there was a lot of marketing through artists and supporters handing out cards and campaigning, I tried to reserve voting to the pieces that truly moved me, made me think and converse with the friends I was with. The initial round of voting is underway and there's a second tier of votes needed after the Top 10 are announced. The fair runs through October 10th and I highly recommend a visit. Whether you're a fan of the communal vote or not, it's an opportunity to see a ton of free, contemporary art in every type of venue imaginable.

Here are just a few of the highlights.

#eggprize

#eggprize

A phonograph that sung the phrase "All You Need Is Love" when you held a business card along the ridges.

A phonograph that sung the phrase "All You Need Is Love" when you held a business card along the ridges.

Kaitlin Brewer's "Shattered" at Grand Rapids Art Museum 

Kaitlin Brewer's "Shattered" at Grand Rapids Art Museum 

Anila Quayyum Agha's "Intersections"

Anila Quayyum Agha's "Intersections"

A small section of "Elephants", the 2012 grand prize winning piece by Adonna Khare

A small section of "Elephants", the 2012 grand prize winning piece by Adonna Khare

Michigan artist Ann Lovelace was the grand prize winner of 2013 with her quilt piece "Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore"

Michigan artist Ann Lovelace was the grand prize winner of 2013 with her quilt piece "Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore"

#peace #GrandRapids #bluebridge

#peace #GrandRapids #bluebridge

#steampunk

#steampunk


Comment

Comment

"Good Banana, Bad Banana"

A couple months ago I was approached to document a project happening at Washtenaw International Middle Academy in Ypsilanti, Michigan. A passionate and gregarious group of kids had been tapped to create a game as part of the NASA/US Department of Education STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Challenge Pilot for astronauts to play in space. Yes, that kind of space.  

DSC_2820.jpg

The kids' initial idea was to include a limited set of objects the astronauts have access to during their travels. One of them is a banana. Thus, the idea of "Good Banana, Bad Banana" was born. With a couple tosses of fruit, creative velcro use and ripped t-shirts, they created an ingenious and engaging game to be played in zero gravity. The game was videotaped (see the video here) and I took photos of the process.

DSC_1054.jpg
DSC_1207.jpg
DSC_2230.jpg

There were definitely challenges along the way...

DSC_2172.jpg

But as you may have guessed by now, Team Spaced Out won their division! 

DSC_1270.jpg

I was there to watch the kids speak to an impressive panel from NASA and the US Department of Education yesterday via teleconference (along with students from the three other schools that had also won in their respective divisions). I couldn't be more proud of the kids and the staff that nurture and help them to execute their ideas. Congratulations to everyone!

000_4219.jpg
000_4249.jpg
DSC_2863.jpg
DSC_2890.jpg
000_4287.jpg


Comment

1 Comment

Wife Interviews Husband: Getting to Know Nick

We talk about art and photo and business. All. Day. Long.  Sometimes we need to take a moment to stop and appreciate all the incredibly cool things we've worked on. For today's post, I interviewed Nick and asked him a few things about his career and inspirations. Prepare to be surprised. I always am. 

We started the company two years ago this month. Photo from October, 2011.

We started the company two years ago this month. Photo from October, 2011.

Y: Where was your favorite location shoot and why?

N: My favorite location shoot was going to Singapore, although it didn't matter it was Singapore. It was the first time I really left the country and went somewhere that far from home. I was with Sciortino, but felt like I was all by myself. I've gone on other shoots I've really enjoyed, but the excitement of seeing how people on the other side of the world live and seeing how different landscapes can look was really humbling. The funny thing is I almost faked ill to get out of it because I didn't want to leave home...and you.

Y: Who was the most famous person(s) you've been on a shoot with? 

N: The most famous people I've worked with are Brett Favre, Stacy Keech, Louis Farrakhan. 

Y: What do you enjoy shooting the most?

N: I like shooting people that are aware of themselves.

Y: What sets you apart from other photographers in the area?

N: --------silence-------- 

Y: Where do you get your inspiration from for your fine art photos?

N: My work is usually based on something I've seen or experienced. Everything has a story or a control, for lack of a better description. I like my work to say something, whether people understand it or not. None of that "let it happen" bullshit. Photography is about control. Even the stuff that you can't control takes a good amount of control to achieve. 

Y: Who are your influences?

N: Arthur Fellig (Weegee), Chris Marker, Art Azzaro, Arnold Newman, definitely, definitely not ________, Jeff Sciortino, David Bowie, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and many more.

1 Comment

Comment

Artist Profile: Kelly Ventura for Crate & Barrel

Kelly and I met in Book Arts when we attended art school years ago. I always remembered her pieces for being subtle and thoughtfully brilliant. We crossed paths again in Chicago when she was showing her incredible fiber pieces at the gallery where I worked and at The Renegade Craft Fair. Now we're all back in the Ann Arbor area and Kelly is a full time product and surface designer. We were so thrilled to hear that a line of her illustrations had been picked up by Crate & Barrel to be reproduced for their Spring 2014 art print lineCongratulations, Kelly!

N captured some great shots of her working in the studio in preparation to send to C&B for their artist profile.

Small001.jpg
Small005.jpg

 Kelly works largely in watercolor and pen. She has a beautiful signature style that's whimsical and saturated with color.

Small003.jpg
Small002.jpg

See more of Kelly's work at KellyVentura.com and her Minted site. We can't wait for her collection to come out next spring - look out for it!

To have your works of art or yourself captured in the studio, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email us at info@chin-azzaro.com

Small004.jpg

Comment