Thursday, July 28, 2016

the politically inclined experiment



Last night I attended the late July Takoma Park city council meeting as part of the "Politically Inclined" project, inviting artists who are currently on exhibit at the Takoma Park Community Center's "Stylized Notions" art exhibit, featuring works from local, DC-area cartoonists and comic artists who participated in the Cartoonists Draw Blood blood drive events. In addition to myself, Bill Brown, Art Hondros, and Eric Gordon participated. Unlike Eric, Art, and Bill, all residents of Takoma Park, I drove out from Sterling, VA, and it was interesting to participate in some small way, and contribute something to the democratic process that is a City Council meeting - something I've never done before. In addition to being in good company, and hanging out with some great fellow artists for a little bit, I also wanted to try something slightly new and different with my Splotch Monster art. You can read more about it HERE, in the meantime!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

monster mash 2016 remix


While I scanned and submitted the original version of this drawing for the upcoming Magic Bullet 13 newspaper, I decided to play around with the image, inverting it and tilting it sideways, to the right to create a horizontal, rather than vertical format. Essentially it's kind of like a remix for a music track or a song, only in visual form. Take a close look and see just how many monsters you can find. No apps necessary. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

a visit to the kluge-ruhe aboriginal art collection


Some time ago, while doing some research for an art lesson focusing on the work of the Australian Aboriginal people, I learned that there was a museum which housed the largest collection of Aboriginal art in the United States, essentially in my own back yard! The Kluge-Rhue, was named after its founder John W. Kluge, an American businessman and avid collector, and Professor Edward L. Ruhe, whose own collection and archives were purchased by Kluge in 1993. The museum itself is located on the scenic University of Virginia campus, in Charlottesville, VA. 


As our third and final big stop in the Charlottesville, VA area, Kris and I were excited to explore the Kluge-Ruhe and its current exhibits, as this was something I had been looking forward to for quite a while now. The building itself is a beautiful, large white house, with plenty of space and natural and track-lighting for displaying a wide variety of art forms. As part of the UVA campus, a visit to the museum is also free to the public, while donations are accepted. The current exhibits displayed both contemporary and more traditional styles of Australian Aboriginal art.


The first exhibit we encountered was a selection of works from the Kluge-Rhue's permanent collection, called Art and Country. The overall theme of the exhibit focused on the artists and their connection to the land and their people, through their work. There was a wide array of styles and approaches to the theme on display, from photography and sculpture, to lino-cuts, as well as more traditional drawings and paintings, drawing from artistic approaches both modern and ancient, and somewhere in-between. The exhibit will last through the summer.






Another exhibit at the Kluge-Rhue featured the works of one of Australia's oldest living contemporary artists, Loongkoonan, who at the age of 95, began her artistic journey by painting at an arts workshop in Derby. At 105 years old, Loongkoonan's work has received numerous prestigious awards and is housed in quite a few collections, including the Australian Parliament House, and the Department of Indigenous Affairs in Canberra. Loongkoonan's paintings are alive with bright, vivid color and layers of patterns, both raw and sophisticated, capturing and reflecting her love of the land in which she grew up in. Her work is a testimony to the spirit and resilience of the Aboriginal people, and proof that it's never too late to make one's mark on the world. 








Upon examining the work of some of Australia's contemporary, living Aboriginal artists throughout some of the museum's halls, there was a brief but powerful downpour outside, forcing Kris and I to spend some quality time exploring the Kluge-Rhue's library study and archives. It was such a peaceful place to be, and I could have spent all day in this room. My only regret was forgetting to bring a sketchbook and some pens. 




Throughout there grounds, there is also the newly displayed Yarning History Exhibition. Due to the rain and heat, we didn't get much of a chance to look at this as closely as we wanted to. The good news is, the Yarning will remain up through mid-September. 


It was so good to finally get to see the treasure of art that is the Kluge-Rhue in person, and it still amazes me that something this special is only a short day-trip away! The photos in this post only capture a small portion of what's going on at the Kluge-Rhue, and it is highly recommended that any art-lovers make the trip out to see this amazing collection in person. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

a visit to nichols gallery & studio


Upon leaving the Barboursville Vineyards, in the village of Barboursville, Orange County, Virginia, Kris and I noticed some art galleries near the railroad tracks. One of them had an unassuming store front look to it, with a sign saying "Nichols Gallery & Studio, OPEN". In the parking lot there were a couple of folks, so we were glad to see some signs of life, in hopes of seeing what the gallery had on display. It just so happened that the folks in the parking lot were Frederick Nichols (the in-house artist) and his wife Beth. Little did Kris and I know, we were in for a real treat, as we were invited inside and given a full studio tour. What we didn't expect was seeing such amazing work in the middle of nowhere! 



Frederick, who has been a working artist for over forty years now, focuses on the local landscape, creating vividly-colored oils, acrylics, woodcuts and silk-screened prints. He starts with the photographs he's taken on his walks in the woods, and projects them onto canvases, painting directly from the photographed subject matter. From there, the landscapes take on a whole new life, and the artist incorporates his own personal style and interpretation of color into the work. 




Upon entrance of the building, which at one time was a general store, you'll find a beautifully lit gallery space, showcasing the broad range of works, both large and small, by Nichols. Behind the gallery space is the artist's surprisingly expansive studio and library. It was amazing seeing some of the process behind his pieces, and hearing about some of the history of the work. 




Upon talking with Fred, it was interesting to note that he was influenced by more modern artists like Warhol, as well as by more traditional landscape painters. Earning an MFA at the Pratt Institute, he experienced what it was like working as an artist in NYC in the 1970's, drawing inspiration from all the fresh new art and movements happening at the time. Still, he was pulled back to his roots in the mountains and landscapes of Virginia, and began focusing on the natural surroundings he grew up with, while injecting a unique and modern personal style into his prints and paintings. 




I have to admit, finding the Nichols Gallery and Studio, getting a personal tour of the place, and hanging out with Fred and Beth, who were so kind and accommodating, was an unexpected highlight of the day. In fact, Kris and I even went home with a piece purchased right there at the gallery, which we absolutely love. If you're in the area, please don't hesitate to drop by and discover the work of one of the area's most accomplished (and humble) artists. Kris and I were lucky to be passing by when Fred and Beth had just returned from a visit to the gym, so be sure to check the website for hours, and call to pay a visit. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

a visit to barboursville vineyards



Earlier in the week, Kris and I took a day trip out to the Charlottesville, Virginia area, which is roughly a two-hour drive from our home in Sterling, VA. We left home around 9am, shortly after the rush-hour traffic began to die down some, and hit the road on what turned out to be a truly pleasant drive, with regards to both the traffic and the weather. 


While the main motivation for me was to check out some art, a visit to a vineyard or two was in store as well, and thankfully Kris is more knowledgeable about wineries than I, and suggested we visit Barboursville Vineyards. There are quite a few wineries and vineyards in this area, some rustic and cozy, others resembling something painfully similar to a mega-shopping mall, and one, and only one resembling something you might find nestled in the scenic Italian countryside. That one would be Barboursville Vineyards. 


In my opinion, the view and the ambience of a vineyard or winery is half the battle. We've been to some where the wine tasted just ok, but the landscape compensated for the overall experience. We've also been to some where the location wasn't so great, but the wine more than made up for it. What we discovered with Barboursville Winery was a win-win situation, as the location was gorgeous and the wine more than lived up to its reputation. 



It is not surprising to discover the winery as having a rich heritage with roots in Italy, thanks in no small part to their owner Gianni Zonin, who acquired the land, once the property of Thomas Jefferson, in 1976, with the vision of making it into a winery. Barboursville's longtime winemaker, Luca Paschina, who started learning how to make wine from his father in Italy, at the young age of fourteen, brought his knowledge and expertise to the winery over a quarter century ago,  contributing to the great success and reputation of Barboursville Vineyards. 


Much of the knowledge we learned of the winery's history, as well as of the wine itself can be attributed to our wonderful server, Bill, who obviously loved working at such a beautiful place. If you want to know more about Barboursville Winery and it's fascinating story, you can explore their website.  However, the best way to experience anything, is to be there in person. Just a few miles off of US 29, it's well worth the trip, and there's plenty to do and see nearby. Kris and I are looking forward to driving out again this fall!