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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!

 

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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


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Overview: Magritte at The Art Institute of Chicago

Unexpectedly, I also got to see Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 at the Art Institute over the weekend. The exhibit begins with René Magritte's time in Brussels, weaving you through a maze configuration of galleries as you're introduced to his playful surrealist dreamscapes (and sometimes nightmarish) of figures, forms and design-heavy canvases. His handling of oil paint is at once seamless, which iterates his exceptional acumen for working in trompe l'oeil, while maintaining his stylized hand through minimalist shapes.

Working alongside surrealist contemporaries such as Joan Miro and Salvador Dali, his metaphorical works force viewers to question the reality of multiple planes and how we process what we're seeing within a work.

Clairvoyance

Clairvoyance

The Philosopher's Lamp

The Philosopher's Lamp

Included during this era is perhaps his most recognizable work The Treachery of Images with its infamous moniker Ceci n'est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe), calling to attention the representation of objects and how the image of the pipe is not truly a pipe but simply a rendering of one. 

My favorite part of the show was the center hallway, a long gallery of parallel walls. Viewers could absorb the imagery of singular works such as Clairvoyance, The Portrait and The Philosopher's Lamp. While his imagery is not always explicitly violent, there are a few bloodied images of animals, certainly a nod to the German occupation of Belgium during WWII.

The exhibit of over 100 pieces closes with two familiar works (part of the permanent collection at the Art Institute) including Time Transfixed and On the Threshold of Liberty. 

Time Transfixed

Time Transfixed

On the Threshold of Liberty

On the Threshold of Liberty

The show is only open for one more week (through October 13th) but if you're in Chicago, I recommend seeing this exhibit. Tickets are available here

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Art Happenings In Chicago this Weekend: Oct 3 - 5

We got our tickets to see David Bowie Is at MCA a while back and we're excited it's finally upon us this weekend. After talking to our friend Chris, it turns out there's a ton of art events going on. 

The Great Chicago Fire Festival is being put on by Redmoon Theater with a ton of support from the City. We expect to see a lot of impromptu performance, installation and art pieces all over the city and particularly the waterfront, right where our hotel is. I can't wait to see the spectacles. 

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I'm so bummed that our tickets for Bowie are during this time but there's also the Shockingly Modern Home Tour going this Saturday. We're huge fans of architecture and I especially love to see how people dwell in these types of spaces. 

There's also the West Town Art Walk, a series of venues, galleries and spaces hosting openings along Chicago Avenue. It will be a walk down memory lane for us and I hope we can make it. Check out the long list of participants here.

And here are a few other art walks this weekend: 

Little Village, Oct. 3 -5

Ravenswood, Oct 4 - 5

Various home salons throughout Chicago take place each Saturday in October in Re-mapping the Salon.

There's no photography allowed in the Bowie show but I'm excited to do a full review when we get back next week. Maybe we'll see you around this weekend! Go out, see art. xx

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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


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Art Publicity for American Painter, Megan Williamson

During my time at Madron Gallery I dealt works mostly by deceased artists. (My specialty was impressionism and social realism, from 1890-1950 and some modern, post-war). But every so often, I had the privilege of working with a local artist and among my favorite people to work with is Megan Williamson. To describe her as an artist is too easy. She's an advocate, activist, patron, friend and so much more. 

In 2009 she exhibited her show, bed of earth, blanket of blue air at the gallery. We hung the show by neighborhood and she wrote snippets about her experience painting plein aire at each location directly on the walls. We were constantly exchanging ideas via email, engaging conversations (where we discovered her roommate in NYC was my professor and mentor at college) and we always had a blast.

Megan is just about to embark on her twentieth solo show at Cliff Dwellers in Chicago. And I'm proud and happy to be working with her again.  I'll be handling Megan's press releases, marketing, artist branding and social networking. 

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New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

I adore much of Megan's work because I can see her sensibility and spontaneity in each precious canvas but they also remind me of the nooks that we used to walk by in our old 'hood. Now, Megan is moving on to still lifes and figurative works that employ her Fauve, expressionist brushstrokes into spatial studies of modern allegory. 

Icarus (revisited) 30x24.jpg

We just launched her Facebook page but won't you please take a moment to Like her and follow the incredible work she does? 

For information on publicizing, branding and marketing your art work, please contact us here

Artist press release with logo brand and inventory list for exhibition

Artist press release with logo brand and inventory list for exhibition


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Art Around Town: A New Social Enterprise Changing the Face of Art Education in Local Schools

Nick and I have been working on something exciting with The B. Side, a program within the Office of Academic Service-Learning at Eastern Michigan University for a few months and the news was announced in local media today. Art Around Town is a new social enterprise that provides supplies for students to create art products.

We help them learn the consigning and art retail process, exhibit the work, sell it—raising funds to buy more art supplies and give them choices on how to spend the money whether it be field trips, guest speakers...anything is possible. Nick's been capturing the art pieces for their auction catalog and website and I've been consulting and working on marketing, brand and publicity.

The full article can be found here in Ypsilanti Courier and we've included a few photos of student work below. In May, a series of events will celebrate the launch of student work being sold in a retail setting at Riverside Arts Center as well as online. 

May 2nd is First Fridays in downtown Ypsilanti and an opening to the public will coincide. 

May 3rd is the Auction and some of the best pieces will be available for bidding. 

 

We already have our eyes on some incredible paintings and drawings and we urge everyone, whether you're an avid collector or have never bought a piece, to come out and support this incredible program. See you in May!

If you're an artist looking for creative publicity, we handle all aspects of art marketing, branding and press releases. Email Yen here

Press + media: There is a private event on Thursday, May 1st with photo opportunities where we will highlight student artists. For more information or images, please contact us

 

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Graphic Recording: Illustrating Verbal Thoughts

Last week I was approached by a medical start up group at the University of Michigan for my illustration skills. They had a work retreat and wanted it to be recorded real-time on a whiteboard. I had seen some really spectacular examples of graphic recording on youtube but never thought I would get to do it myself. I got my first taste of it yesterday and now I'm hooked! 

Much like mural work I've done in the past, it's challenging and physical. Unlike a mural where I get to take my time to measure, sketch and take my time, illustrating a talk or presentation is very different in that I have to synthesize the information immediately and make it consumable in a visually interesting way. 

Graphic recording and mind mapping for a medical conference at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Graphic recording and mind mapping for a medical conference at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

It took me a little time to get started but the ideas were flying and I got some great illustrative ideas down. See for yourself. 

If you have a work, group or corporate retreat you need graphic recording for, shoot me an email

 

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Recent Project: Chalkboard Drawing at Sweetwaters

What was a digital idea, turned into a reality this past week at one of our favorite hang outs, Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea. They have multiple locations and this is their Ypsilanti one right across from Eastern University's campus.

After measuring everything out, I created each font type by hand. It was a lot of work but the five or so hours flew by. Check it out when you're in the 'hood. It should be up through the new year!

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Chalk03.jpg

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Tiny Expo 2013 at Kerrytown Shops

We're so excited to be a part of Tiny Expo again, what they cleverly call "Ann Arbor's biggest little indie arts & crafts fair!" This year it's moved to the popular Kerrytown Shops and we'll be selling our wares on Saturday, Dec. 14th with a fun preview and set up the night before. 

Nick will be selling a new series of toy-themed photos and I've been working on original watercolors of...food! So mark your calendars, bring your eyes and feast on a bevy of new inventory for a whole new season of gift-giving. 

And don't forget  — the week before, Saturday the 7th, we'll be at Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair for our first ever pop-up event benefitting all the awesome programming done at 826michigan. Lots of fun and photos and activities will be had by all!

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How to Sell Your Art and Other Helpful Tips

Yesterday's post on pricing student or "emerging" art work tackled the difficulty of pricing your works to move. But maybe even more difficult is gaining the exposure and putting your works in the right venue to be seen and sell. When I was talking to Paula Shubatis about the value of large scale oil paintings, I was also considering the proper space for the pieces to be hung. She had a really great idea to have a non-profit sponsor so that she could apply for a permit to exhibit in an alley downtown. I immediately posed the question, "How will that make you money?" Yes, it would gain her intrigue and possibly some press, but I was concerned with how she was going to be rewarded for her efforts. Too many times we think about the work but we don't know how to translate to tangible values. Most of society is already programmed to consume art in small manageable pieces so while seeing a painting in an alley might be exciting, it might not speak to a buyer or get a buyer to come out to the alley to begin with.

Paula answered that it probably wouldn't be a money-making ploy but the alley would complement her painting. Although it would be for a short time, I had to agree. So we started brainstorming on how she could further the visibility of her paintings and who her potential clients were. This is what I suggested researching.

Corporate collections

Although many have been dissolved over the years, corporate art collections were and still are a barometer of a corporations success. The historical, educational and sophistication level of a curator's choices can communicate a vast number of nuances to a client. Some focus on specific topics relevant to the company but most are diverse and worth millions of dollars. I suggested to Paula to research any collections that were still active in the southeast Michigan area and send a professional letter and images to those that collect contemporary.

Art Fairs

From creating enough inventory to sell to the logistics of travel to getting into the fair itself, the career of a professional artist is a tough one when you're traveling cross country to sell your wares. But I know some very successful artists that make a living of this and they love what they do. Research each market, figure your costs (including booth fees, lodging, food, airfare/gas, insurance, shipping if needed) and try out a local one to see if you like the art fair circuit culture.

Representation

The art dealing culture has changed drastically over the last decade. Gone are the days of sending slides and lugging heavy portfolios to the gallery. While it may still stand as the pinnacle of an artist's I've made it moment, getting representation is getting harder and harder each day as galleries downsize and restructure what it is to be in a gallery's stable of artists. Now there are an infinite number of online galleries and stores to sell your work. Besides the ever popular Etsy, there's also Big Cartel, a foolproof store that handles your art sales and monetary transactions safely.

If you are interested in going the traditional route of being represented by a dealer, read the instructions carefully and make sure you include everything they ask for and nothing they do not. Use the best materials you can afford and have friends or colleagues proof all text. Also, do not send unsolicited packages. I used to be an American art dealer (known impressionism, modern and contemporary works) and would receive numerous packets from artists. Had they taken the time to research the website, they would have seen that I generally worked with museums and collectors to sell paintings by deceased and market-established artists. Vet your galleries carefully and save yourself the postage!

If nothing else, having a website is a must. Take clear, well-lit photos of your art work and make sure your site is easily navigable and concise. Include an artists statement and any information that will intrigue your clients. Branding yourself properly is probably the most important tool of all.

Public and Temporary spaces

Like Paula's idea to show in the alley, outdoor spaces garner attention from people that might not normally see art. It's exciting, fresh and enlivens a space if it's installed properly. Remember to consider the logistics of transporting the piece, whether you need electricity, if it's safe from the elements, if you'll need a lock or security overnight and whether you need to insure it for potential loss or damage. All these things considered, public art is also a great excuse to garner publicity...

Publicity

Getting in front of a buyer is difficult without a dealer or gallery. That said, there are many perks to representing yourself, namely not having to pay a share to the middle man. But that means you have to know how to talk about your work and how to publicize it. I always tell students and artists to learn to write a press release. It's one page, has all the relevant information a magazine, newspaper or TV would need to cover your story. But make sure it's newsworthy before you send it. It's also important to make rounds at the art fairs, openings and museum circuit. Learn not only to talk about your work but art and design history in general.

There are tons of details that go into the success of an artist and these are just a few starter tips. Sometimes it's just a matter of knowing the right person, being at the right place at the right time...but I like to believe that forethought, planning and talent matter too. Good luck!

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Emerging Artist: Paula Shubatis + How to Price Student Work

The last couple months have been a wonderful blur. We went on maternity + paternity leave and have spent some much deserved time at home with out little one. It's an amazing adventure and it's bittersweet to return to the real world after a long hibernation. But it feels good to be back. One of the few trips that have led me out of the studio recently was a trip to meet Paula Shubatis, a senior at The University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. She was having trouble figuring out how to price her works. When I arrived at her studio, I was in awe of the caliber and scale of her handstretched oil paintings. Not only were they superbly executed, the content of decaying architecture and complementing organic forms required real investigation.

Sous Bois

The following are thoughts from Paula about how she found her way as an artist and painter, what her process is and how she sees her career in the future.

I’ve always been a maker.  Whether it was drawing on the walls, or making my own iteration of the Sistine chapel on the underside my mother’s mahogany coffee table, I’ve felt the constant need to make and do throughout my whole life.  But, it was not until high school that I was able to get a better technical knowledge of making through art classes.  After taking AP art in high school, I knew that I wanted to go to art school.  I came to art school under the false pretenses that I would go into something practical like graphic design, but secretly always knew that I wanted to be a painter.  Experiences with design only affirmed that I was awful at it, and it gave me great anxiety.  Through this rejection of design, I found my love of physicality of craft, in the realms of painting and fiber arts.  Once I found my genuine love and passion for making, I not only knew that I wanted to be a studio artist, but I had to be one, because I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t.  

f. The Dance of the Arcadians

"Foraging a Vernacular Identity" is inspired by my curiosity of the mysteries which lie in the ordinary places which surround me.  I have a strong fascination with how systems of math and science are at play to create the poetry of a space, but could never hope to understand them.  I find myself drawn to painting nature and architecture because of their inherent relationships to math and science.  My paintings are a series of experiments through which I break down shapes, colors and forms of spaces into modular units, and reassemble them to try to figure out how they work.   I like to manipulate different variables like scale, directionality of marks and orientation to play with how the viewer might perceive a space. I often combine different variables of multiple spaces to create one hybridized space.  This process of experimentation and analysis becomes deeply introspective, and I find that I project myself onto spaces which I paint.  I convey my own sense of a fractured reality and disjuncture with the world though a dialogue between degenerate architecture and nature.          

Painting requires one to operate within a very peculiar state of being.  It asks one to be conscious, alert, and responsive at all times, and maintain a dichotomy between an idea, and how that idea actually translates into paint.  Painting asks one to suspend disbelief, and allow one’s self to become immersed in the surface.  Immersing one’s self in a surface demands a full commitment to the surface, and coping with the inevitable possibility of failure.  The surfaces which I grapple with aren’t just fictitious worlds, but they are also my own selfish spaces where I discover and share my most intimate secrets.  It can be very difficult to reveal the truths which I find within my paintings to both the viewer and myself.  It takes just the right mix of self-doubt and brazen confidence to have both the courage and motivation to make new discoveries.  

SnaggletoothPainting will always be something, which I always do, even if I had to dig up cadmium from the earth.  I see painting as a mode of visual communication.  I hope to share this mode of visual communication with others through making and outreach as a teaching artist, and also as a gallery artist.  As long as I have the means to do these things, I will be happy.  While the life and career of a studio artist might be more turbulent than those of other professions, the joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment which it gives me are well worth it.

It's evident that Paula has a clear understanding of her work and how to talk about it, which is a great portion of an artist's ability to sell their work. Her concern of striking a balance between asking too much and too little (since she is after all, a "student artist") is a common one among the art school set. But here I was, staring at eight foot tall works that in any retail setting would go for tens of thousands of dollars or more and yet, I had to tell her something that would appeal to a collector, perhaps visiting the senior show with or without an intent to buy. There are two areas to consider when you're selling your work: practical and sentimental.

The Prodigal Daughter

Practical

How much time did you spend on the piece?

How much did your materials cost?

Is this a special medium/something rarely seen?

What's the market like in your area? (this may be a non-issue if you're selling your work nationwide or on the internet)

Sentimental

How much are you willing to let it go for?

Are you just trying to make a first sale?

If money was not an issue, what would you pay for it?

Once you've considered these factors, you should have a clearer picture in your mind of what you're willing to let a work go for. One issue that Paula brought up was her status as a student and how that may affect a buyer. There are plenty of talented graduates that go on to show and sell work immediately out of college and I don't believe they should be shortchanged just because of their newness in the industry. That said, I encourage young artists to coin themselves "emerging" or "contemporary" to get away from the stigma of a "student artist." Because yes, starving art students should make a dollar but it should be a fair amount that they feel is respectable.

On a side note, I want to address those that don't want to sell. At some point, you'll create a work and think, I'll never produce something this good ever again. This is the best work I've ever done and I can't sell it. But consider this - if you don't sell it, then what's the point? I see "NFS" (not for sale) on pieces at shows and that negates every reason to create work in the first place. If you document it with great photos and remember the process, believe me, you'll create something even better in the future. Better to have a collector enjoy than to hold onto something so precious because you think you won't obtain a higher standard of craft than where you are now. That's silly, isn't it?

e. Ponte d' Chaos

You may be wondering if I gave Paula a concrete set of numbers to work with. And yes, ultimately, I did. For the large ones that stood about 8 feet by 6 feet, I recommended a range of $8,000-10,000. For the smaller ones $4,000-6000. I took into account the number of hours, the polished nature of her work, the content and the overall feeling of her paintings. They're truly monoliths, worthy of a large space such as a corporate lobby or a collector's living room, somewhere with high ceilings. A few of Paula's pieces will be for sale at the Senior Show coming up on April 19th and I'll be anxious to hear the feedback she receives and give any pointers I can to facilitate selling her works.

The next post will be about how to sell the works and get publicity in the local market. Feel free to add to the conversation or post questions. We're all in this together.

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