Thursday, December 28, 2017

new art website!

I finally got a newly updated art website for my non-Splotch Monster work! Updating these things, unlike the blogs, has never been easy, but it's getting easier. For now, I'm keeping it simple and clean. Hope you can pay a visit! 

Friday, December 22, 2017

endangered kingdom exhibit flyers and thoughts

Yesterday I stopped by the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery to pick up the postcards for my Endangered Kingdom solo art exhibit, in January. Somehow, seeing these postcards makes it all the more real - the fact that my pieces will be hanging in one of my favorite galleries, all together in a solo show, makes me happy beyond words. 

A friend of mine, who was there during my humble beginnings as an exhibiting artist, nearly a decade ago, mentioned how this show was a long way in the making, and I was just telling my dad the same thing, while talking to him on the phone last night. The truth is, it really was, and so many tiny baby steps occurred, from my first little coffee house show in Leesburg, VA, to now, and everything in between. 

With so many things in life, I would fall in the late-bloomer category, and I'm finding out that this is not necessarily a bad thing. If you would have told me that I'd be having a solo art exhibit in an amazing art gallery in Washington, DC, displaying a remarkable and cohesive body of work, fifteen years ago, I'd shake my head in disbelief and tell you you're crazy. Yet, there was always this nagging urge to not only work actively as an artist, but to also get my work out there, in some way or another. I almost feel, and have felt it was simply the right thing to do - if I am to ask my students to produce quality work, and display their art, then I must absolutely practice what I preach in my own life, outside the classroom, and treat the world as my classroom, and never stop being curious and learning, and pursuing what I'm genuinely interested in. 

One thing I've learned, and am reminded of time and again, is that you can never underestimate the help of others along the way - their kindness and generosity, and a willingness to take some time to get to know you, guide you, and take a chance on you. I've written about this before, and I never take this for granted - looking back at how one small step forward affected another, and so on and so forth. I think back to some twenty years ago, when things seemed somewhat hopeless - trying to find work in my field of study, and the idea of making and showing my art to the public was a faint glimmer in my mind, as I'd frequent galleries and museums and try to visually consume and digest as much art as possible, from as many genres and styles and approaches as possible. When I got out of college as an art education major, it was a far different world, as the internet was just beginning to be a thing - social media hardly existed, at least as we know it currently, and perhaps that was a good thing, allowing things to unfold slowly and organically. As an art ed major, and later a professional art educator, I took the straight and narrow, willing to sacrifice all my own time and energy trying to find a job in Pennsylvania, and subsequently becoming an art teacher in Virginia. My first couple of years as a professional teacher was consumed by developing lesson and unit plans, and visuals, etc, yet in the back of my mind there was a constant and consistent nagging to embark on my own creative journey as well. I'm glad to have listened to that nagging, and have the courage and good sense to acknowledge it and put the wheels in motion. 

This show is going to be very special to me, as I feel I've come full circle and returned to my childhood love of wildlife, and the practice of drawing and making art pertaining to the animal kingdom -an extension of my love for and curiosity about the unique and diverse multitude of life on Earth. If anything, I hope to spark some kind of interest and curiosity in others as well, when they see my work, and hope that people will have the ability and intelligence to develop a sense of empathy for nonhuman species, and yet see the similarities and the humanity we, in many ways, share. Who knows where my path as an artist will lead me next? Surely there will be some lulls and bumps in the road, as there will also be sparks of inspiration and springs of action. For now, however, I'm going to try to simply enjoy the present, and stay a while in the place I currently find myself. In the meantime, if you're in the Washington, DC area, I hope you can join me on Friday night, January 26th, from 7-9pm, for the Endangered Kingdom opening reception at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

merry little monsters

Throughout the month of December, I've been working on daily Holiday and Christmas-themed Splotch Monsters, on the usual 7" x 5" watercolor paper. The ones pictured above, in this post are some of my more recent ones. Check out my Splotch Monster art blog for more, in the meantime!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

grump, 2017 roundup!

GRUMP at Crystal City, 2017 was a great success! Read more about the event at the Splotch Monster Island blog!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

kris loya art on display at cascades library, sterling, va, through december 2017!

Stop by the Cascades Library in Sterling, Virginia during the month of December to see fifteen original, framed giclee prints from Kris Loya! It was amazing how many people had smiles and kind things to say about the work on display. One man, who was an artist as well, couldn’t stop looking at the work, saying how the colors completely elevated his mood. There are also some folks interested in purchasing work already! The exhibit runs until the end of the month, so if you’re in the area, be sure to drop by and take a look! 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

splotch monster happenings coming your way soon!

For the month of November, I’ve been focusing on making Splotch Monster faces from paint splotches at Splotch Monster Island .There are some great events coming up in the next couple of weeks, involving the Splotch Monster Island gang of merry misfits, including the first Monster Drawing Rally at the Greater Reston Arts Center, and the 2017 Grump arts and crafts fair in Crystal City. Make sure to check out the Splotch Monster Island blog for more information soon! 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

cartoonists draw blood exhibit at recreative spaces

I was fortunate to get a glimpse of the Cartoonists Draw Blood exhibit yesterday at Recreative Spaces, before doing a Splotch Monster-making workshop. I'm so happy to be a part of this exhibit and project, and want to give a big shout out to Eric Gordon, Carolyn Belefski, Troy-Jeffrey Allen and the Recreative Spaces crew and fellow DC artist friends for making this happen. If you're in the Mount Rainier, MD/DC area the evening of Saturday, December 2, stop by for our official book signing event!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

fifteen years of art enables!

Kris and I had a blast at the Art Enables “Spark” event last night! It was so good to see so many good people turn out this evening. This place has a special place in my heart, so here’s to another fifteen years and beyond! In the meantime, a big thanks goes out to Grey Carter (Grey Carter Objects of Art) for inviting us out. Grey has been a tireless advocate, collector and dealer of outsider, raw, folk and visionary art for half a century, and a big supporter of Art Enables, and I highly recommend scheduling a visit to his home and gallery in McLean, VA

Friday, November 3, 2017

endangered kingdom visits the cascades library during the month of november, 2017

If you visit the Cascades Library from now, through the end of November, you can get a sneak peek at a little over half of the Endangered Kingdom series. While I’m saving the original pieces for an exhibit in DC in early 2018, these giclee prints are the next best thing. A big thanks goes out the the Loudoun County Public Library system, and the Loudoun Arts Council for inviting me to show my work, and also to my wife Kris, for helping me with everything! Look out for Kris’ art to go on display at Cascades in December, btw.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

framing in progress...

Sometimes taking on the role of "artist" can be a tedious, laborious endeavor, especially if one chooses to get their work out into the world. On one hand, it is incredibly exciting to know your work is valued and acknowledged by others, to the point where they want to exhibit and even purchase it. This is not something I dare take for granted, ever. On the other hand, the non-art-making part can initially be expensive and always end up as time-consuming. Take buying frames, and framing your own work, for instance. As anyone knows, this is never an enjoyable way to pass one's time, especially when it involves multiple pieces. Just the process of driving out, searching for and choosing the frames can be a royal pain. All whining aside, the upside is seeing how beautiful your work looks when matted and framed. A nice frame can can definitely elevate the overall appearance and presence of an artist's work. I'm personally drawn to more modern, minimalist frames - nothing too fancy as to distract and detract from the art, but simple and elegant enough to add importance to an image. This is the dilemma for artists who work on paper and aren't represented by a gallery, who can take care of all the framing and costs, etc. I highly recommend a visit to Ikea for artists looking for quality without having to go broke. Less expensive, but attractive framing also allows me to keep the price of my art relatively affordable, and buyers can always have the work  professionally framed, and find a style more to their liking, if they choose to do so. As a collector of works on paper myself, I've had a lot of luck with my local AC Moore framing department. They offer museum quality, UV proof glass, which I always choose, have always been very helpful, and usually have excellent deals. Another good option is a visit to Blick Arts, who sell their own affordable brand of frames with UV proof glass, as well, and you can buy them in-store, right off the shelf. 

Over the weekend, my wife Kris helped me print out thirty Endangered Kingdom portraits (out of fifty) to be exhibited at the Cascades Library, in Sterling, Virginia. Investing in a fairly expensive, high-quality Epson allows us the freedom to print out gorgeous giclee prints made to last a lifetime, and I chose not to use any of my original pieces for the Cascades exhibit in November, since all fifty of those will be on display at a solo show at a gallery in Washington, DC, in January, 2018. I'll make sure to post more about that as the date draws near. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to giving folks and local friends a sneak peek at the Endangered Kingdom series at the Cascades Library throughout the entire month of November, 2017. On a side note, Kris is slated to display her art at Cascades in December, 2017. Stay tuned for more information soon!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

inktober 2017, with the splotch monsters (so far)!

Inktober 2017 is in full swing at my sister blog Splotch Monster Island. This year, I decided to draw a number with India ink and brush for each day of October, and transform each number into a Splotch Monster, using pen and marker. Also, I made sure to stick to a strictly black and white (and gray) color scheme. So far I’m over 2/3 of the way finished, with only ten more to go. Eventually these will be compiled into a mini-book, and I invite you to follow Splotch Monster Island for more Inktober adventures, and beyond! 

Monday, October 9, 2017

shows in the works for the endangered kingdom series!

Fall is here, October's been chugging along (though it still feels a lot like summer), and some great things have been in the works for a project I started during spring, 2016, and finished in the summer of 2017. Just completing this project, where I chose, researched and drew fifty portraits of endangered animal species over the course of a little over a year, was rewarding enough, then I was approached by a local library and an amazing art gallery in DC to exhibit these pieces, in the very near future. This kind of thing is the icing on the cake, and it feels like some real validation for all the hard work, time and effort that went into this labor of love. I'll post more specific details about these shows soon, so please stay tuned!

Friday, September 22, 2017

happy first day of autumn!

Cheers to the first day of my favorite season of the year, here in Northern Virginia! Growing up a Pennsylvania boy, Autumn was always special, with the changing of colors in the leaves of the trees, the crisp, cool air, and all things pumpkinee (is that even a word?), I'm glad to say that hasn't changed much since moving to a new state almost seventeen years ago. There was so much I had wanted to post from the summer, here at the blog, but time was not on my side. I'm thrilled to say that there's plenty of artful goodness in store in the coming months, and into the new year, with regards to my art, which will be written about soon enough. Thinking about it brings feelings of excitement and a little anxiety as well, but that's to be expected. In the meantime, grab your favorite pumpkin-flavored beverage of choice, cold, hot, or somewhere in-between, and take a moment to check out what I've been up to over at the Splotch Monster Island blog. Make sure to save a sip or two for some of my friends over there, while you're at it. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

mr. squibly sneak peek

It's always inspiring to see what artist friends are up to, in person, whether it's a studio visit, a look at works in progress, or a peek into somebody's sketchbook. Such is the case last Sunday when DC Creeper and Vinyl Vagabond extraordinaire Eric Gordon dropped by my place before heading out for a big screen viewing of Robocop at the Alamo Drafthouse. Eric is always up to some type of creative mischief, always working on something new and interesting. Sometimes I wonder if the guy ever sleeps.  One of the things that completely blew me away was his reworking of his underground comic, Mr. Squibly - a sort of sci-fi, existential adventure series that has shown up in zine-form, as well as some issues of DC's premier comics newspaper, Magic Bullet. As I poured over the intricately-detailed hand-drawn imagery, Eric explained to me how happy he was to finally see this project through, and wasn't concerned about how popular it became , or how many people saw it, etc. It was the sheer love of creating this comic - the drawing, the storytelling, etc., that motivated him to keep at it. Isn't that how it should always be when taking on creative endeavors? Anyhow, hope he gets it finished and self-published by the time SPX rolls around any day now, and personally, I can't wait to get my hands on some copies myself. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

collage 4

One track that I kept returning to on the mix that Eric Gordon made for me, was the song "Lesson from the Darkness" by The Faint. I'm weary of these newer alternative rock bands, as many of them sound like severely watered-down versions of their predecessors from the 80's. That's not the case with The Faint, or at least with this particular song, that really got my blood pumping. As for the collage, I went quite stream-of-conscious when selecting imagery, just going through (mostly) National Geographic magazines like a mad-man, cutting things out that grabbed my attention, then gluing things down, regardless of the absurdity of the imagery. Despite all this, as with the previous collages, there is a carefulness, and fair amount of planning before deciding what to use, and when and where things go. I'll definitely have to check out more material from The Faint, in the meantime. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

collage 3

This one's a much more literal interpretation of the song "Turning into Betty" by Lisa Germano. This was an interesting song, as the lyrics were sparse, not really spelling things out or telling the listener any type of story. The lyrics "Oh, sad little girl" spoke to me the most, and conveyed the mood of this song. Sometimes, I find the word "interesting" insulting, when referring to music or art, but truth be told, this song was another fantastic highlight from Eric's mix, and made me want to explore more music by Lisa Germano. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

collage 2

Here's the second in a series of a mix tape-inspired collage collab with myself and Eric Gordon. This one is based on the song "Distorting a Code" by the band, Spinnerette. I really loved this song, as it has a nice balance of rock experimentation, and pop sensibility, in a somewhat updated post-punk style. The lyrics "all I need is a riddle, and some visionary hope", and "how do I find my way back home" influenced everything in this collage. Ultimately I zeroed in on the word "vision" and the hands offering it (vision), in a hopeful way. Still, while I want to use lyrics, I'd also like to keep things somewhat vague. While I'm not completely satisfied with this, or the previous collage, I at least got to discover and enjoy some great music that I might have never heard before, if I had not agreed to participate in this project with Eric. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

new collage work/collage 1

This collage is part of a series inspired by a mix-tape exchange between myself and friend, Eric Gordon (DC Creepers, Vinyl Vagabonds), where I made a music mix, and Eric made a music mix, of which we exchanged with each other, and created a collage based on a song each month. This one, pictured above was inspired by the song "It's Obvious What's Happening Here" by the band Sound Team. It's a soaring, spacey instrumental, with some nice retro sounds going on. It's been a while since I've done collage, and this is the first. In a way, it could then, in turn become the cover of a new mix tape. 

While we both love music, and listen to and collect a lot, we both have very different tastes, despite an attraction to more underground and obscure sounds, so it's been fun listening closely to stuff I'm not too familiar with, and trying to interpret the sounds, visually. This takes me back to days when I made dozens of mixes on both CD and cassette tape, as well as digging through record store bins, seeing album covers and wondering what the music might sound like. Unfortunately, this kind of thing - this discovery has been replaced by convenience, which is good to an extent, but mostly not, for too many reasons to write about here. Anyhow, in the meantime, I'm looking forward to making and posting more soon. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

cartoonists draw blood anthology 1, out soon!

New book to premiere at SPX 2017 - America's Premier Indie Comics Festival this year "Cartoonists Draw Blood: Trick or Treat" our first anthology! 10% of each book's proceeds have already been donated to American Red Cross. Cover illustration by Teresa Roberts Logan and I developed a new CDB logo design and did the ToT type treatment. Hope you can pick up the book at Small Press Expo, Baltimore Comic-Con 2017, or New York Comic Con this fall. We will also have "CDB: ToT" at our blood drive on October 21!

Stories by: Joe Sutliff, Joe Carabao, Teresa Roberts Logan, Steven George Artley, Carolyn Belefski, Eric Gordon, Art Honduras, Mal Jones, Steve Loya

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

a splotch monster a day, returns

Here's a work-in-progress shot of a Splotch Monster piece I've been working on this evening. I recently got back to making one per day, almost accidentally, in response to a commission. In a sense, I've returned to my Splotch Monster-making roots by doing one a day, and it's a good feeling - like art therapy, almost. Anyhow, if you want to see how this one eventually turned out, as well as some of the others, you're welcome to follow my Splotch Monster-making adventures where it all began, on Splotch Monster Island!

Monday, August 14, 2017

fish and the sea exhibit, now showing at the franklin park arts center

A big thanks goes out to the Franklin Park Arts Center for doing a fantastic job with the Fish and the Sea exhibit and opening reception last night. If you're in the Western Loudoun County area, make sure to stop by to see the art!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

endangered kingdom portrait series recap

Last month I completed a year-long challenge to draw a portrait of one endangered animal species a week. My purpose was to educate myself, and viewers, about our planet's vanishing animal species through art. I was greatly inspired by Warhol's series of ten giant screen prints, also focusing on endangered animal species, eschewing his more common practice of aggrandizing celebrities and "important" people, to draw attention to matters that were truly important. I added an extra element to the challenge by designing a crown for each animal to wear on its head, which in some way said something about each animal's physical characteristics, geographic location, or cultural significance. This in turn, inspired a project that I explored with my fourth-grade art students, during the school year. A few months into the project, I decided to add a sister element to the challenge, by also rendering each endangered animal in a composition with my Splotch Monster creations, which can be seen HERE in a group shot. As a result, the challenge lasted an extra two months, and I decided to round things off at fifty of each - fifty portraits, and fifty Splotch Monster works, resulting in a hundred new pieces of art, produced in fourteen months. 

As a result of this challenge, I learned so much. I learned about animals I never knew existed. I acquired a greater artistic vocabulary by rendering each animal carefully, and I forced myself to do lots of independent research on each one. I learned to discipline myself, and skip the TV, or a nap, or even going out, when a deadline was looming. So much good has come out of this project, and I plan on taking it further, with some upcoming art exhibits, as well as prints and books in the making. In the meantime, I'm going to give myself a little downtime, allowing my mind to rest and wander a little, until the creative engines fire up again soon. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

hello, august!

Not sure where the time has gone, but I can't believe it's already August! Anyhow, its been a while since I posted, but I'll be getting caught up soon. After doing a little road-trippin', and teaching art camps to some awesome, creative young people all summer, I was also able to wrap up work on  some pages for a trick-or-treat-themed comic book to be released this Halloween. It'll be part of a black-and-white anthology compiling work as part of the Cartoonists Draw Blood project, started by Carolyn Belefski, of Curls Studio fame. It's a great project that will help the American Red Cross, and I'm so happy to be a part of it! I posted a little sneak peek here at the blog (above image), and look forward to posting more about it soon, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 17, 2017

art and the animal, and jim costello exhibits happening now, at the museum of the shenandoah valley

I recently paid a visit to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to see the Art and the Animal exhibit. The work in this show is pretty astounding, representing a wide range of media, from oil, acrylic, and watercolor painting, to collage and bronze sculpture, mostly falling under the realism-side of the spectrum. It was all pretty astounding, and both my wife Kris and I look forward to getting another look, before it comes down in early September. There were no photos permitted, and it should be seen in person anyway! That said, another great show was happening at the museum, featuring the work of a lesser-known local artist named Jim Costello. His paintings lean towards abstraction, and are alive with rich, vivid color, unified by vibrant blues, yellows, and earthy greens and browns, as well as white. It was a pleasant surprise seeing Jim Costello's art exhibit, called "Dynamics of Desire", which provided a good balance, and contrast to the mostly extremely precise, hyper-realistic work in the rooms next-door. You can read the artists' fascinating story in the final photo, however if you're in the Winchester, Virginia area, make sure to see both spectacular exhibits in person, before they come down soon!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

marion cole paintings, on view now at the cascades library, sterling, virginia

Here are several great paintings by Marion Cole at the Cascades Library in Sterling, Virginia. I stumbled upon her work unexpectedly the other day, and am an instant fan. There's something so unique and intuitive about her work, like from a beautiful, peaceful dream.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"as you like it" currently on exhibit at tryst gallery, leesburg, virginia

Another stellar show is currently happening at Tryst Gallery in Leesburg, Virginia right now. My wife Kris and I have work in this show, called "As You Like It", which will continue to be on exhibit through July, 2017. Plan a visit and make a day of it, exploring the gallery, touring The Marshall House, and having an excellent cold beverage at Loudoun Brewing!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

endangered kingdom series, 48: ili pika

See the Splotch Monster Island version HERE.  Also, some good food for thought can be found in an article regarding the Endangered Species Act, written for National Geographic, can be found HERE.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

endangered kingdom series, 47: giant panda

See the Splotch Monster Island version HERE. Also, a great article and showcase feature art that promotes animal welfare can be found HERE, thanks to Hi-Fructose Magazine. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

"untitled" solo exhibit by alex bay, currently on view at haley fine art, sperryville, virginia

A recent visit to Sperryville, Virginia led to a tip to stop by Haley Fine Art, just down the street from the Middle Street Gallery. Like much of Sperryville, what's inside the quaint, unassuming, historic architecture can be a real surprise, as is the case with local sculptor Alex Bay's "Untitled" exhibit. Upon entering the gallery's front door, Kris and I were greeted by a room showcasing an enormous, complex, horizontally configured rectangular structure called "Rudy's Garage". This giant kinetic masterpiece moves and makes sounds, even music, in a musique concrete sort of way.  Seeing this magnificent and complex work was only the beginning of experiencing an exhibit that completely took my wife and I by surprise, as we had no idea what we were in for.

While "Rudy's Garage" was definitely the show stealer, Bay's smaller works had an intimate quality to them that was equally powerful and intricate, inviting the viewer to lean in and take a closer look around, and perhaps get lost a little. 

I think of the inventiveness of Alexander Calder's work, and the resourceful approach Louise Nevelson took to sculpture, yet Bay's art stands in a world all it's own, utilizing found objects and sound, even, playing with light and shadow, each sculpture a universe unto itself. 

Sperryville, as I have found, is a place where it's more than meets the eye, and Haley Fine Art, and the current Alex Bay exhibit is one fine example of such a claim. This is definitely a show not to miss!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"landscapes of the mind', currently on exhibit at the franklin park arts center

The Franklin Park Arts Center, located in Purcellville, Virginia continues to bring some of the finest in local talent to the public, this time with their current art exhibit, "Landscapes of the Mind". I'm happy to have a piece in this show, along with some of my favorite local artists, including Wayne Paige, Brian Kirk, and many more. It's such a beautiful and varied show, with so much to take in, with artists interpreting the theme in every way imaginable. Don't miss this exhibit if you're in the area!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

wayne paige: around the edge, on exhibit at middle street gallery, sperryville, virginia through 6/18/2017

Last weekend, Kris and I trekked out to Sperryville, Virginia for the first time, mainly because I wanted to see Wayne Paige's solo art exhibit, "Around the Edge", currently on display at the Middle Street Gallery. Sperryville was a treat in itself, but that's for another post. Wayne's show, was a delight to see, in person, as the black and white pen and ink drawings had so much minute detail, so eloquently packed onto such small pieces of paper. Ever since finding out about Wayne's work on the 2014 Western Loudoun Artists' Studio Tour, I've made an effort to stay up to date with his shows and art. 

Some words from Wayne, from the Middle Street site: 

"Since 1997 I have retreated to a life inside the inkwell- a black and white world of duality sprinkled with social commentary and Dreamscape imagery.  In the current exhibition “Around the edge” a three-dimensional format is explored with each pen and ink drawing wrapped around a canvas and secured in a shadow box frame. Portrayed within is an imaginary landscape of mountains, waterways and woodlands populated by featureless beings. Many are cliff dwellers seeking escape while others are just engaging in daily activities.  Events unfold as a celestial armada encroaches their environment- causing consternation and portending everlasting change.  All takes place under a moonlit sky around and over the edge.

The Digital Age has brought upon us a binary kaleidoscope fog and this fog has blanketed both perception and reality.  I think of my art as beyond the fog evolving instead at the bottom of an inkwell.  In only working with the traditional media of pencils, pens and paper, my inspiration derives from personal perceptions of contemporary life and the reality of encroachment. Conflict, dreams and humor are often woven within."

The gallery itself is located in a beautifully transformed house built in the 1800's, and features and array of exceptional local talent. Below the gallery, in the same building, is a wonderful coffee house and cafe - again, for another post. 

In the meantime, don't hesitate to stop by Middle Street Gallery to see "Around the Edge", on exhibit only through Sunday, June 18. Also, Wayne will be doing an artist talk this Friday, on June 16, at the gallery! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

"totems to the imagined and unimagined world" on exhibit at the gallery on madison through june 29

Recently, my wife Kris and I visited Middleburg,Virginia to see some work by one of her favorite local artists. We ended up exploring the town, on what turned out to be a mild, slightly overcast afternoon, when we stumbled upon a little art gallery on South Madison Street. To our delight, the Gallery on Madison was open to the public, and there were no images of horses, foxes, or men on horses hunting foxes, to be found. Instead, we were greeted by an array of elegant, earthy yet thoroughly modern three-dimensional forms, from what looked to be visitors from another dimension.  As otherworldly as these sculptures appeared to be, they were once tree branches and fallen sticks in a previous life, reborn as serene yet lively totemic figures, thanks to artist, designer and inventor Tim Maloney, who had collected the twigs, sticks and branches while hiking along the Tuscarora Trail in the mountains of northwestern Virginia.

Throughout the gallery, there were several paintings by Tim, all abstract in nature, much like the sculptures, and taking on an equally sublime presence. The paintings, whose imagery hinted at the presence of earthly lifeforms, also seemed to present the viewer with a glimpse into the artist's subconscious, and like the sculptures, seemed to have been confidently executed, simply saying what they need to say beyond the realm of verbal language.

What is always so fascinating about art of a more abstract nature, is how much it can be open to interpretation by the viewer. Upon walking into the gallery and getting an initial glimpse of Tim Maloney's work, I felt a sense of peace and calm, and was reminded of the more spiritually-influenced shapes, forms and symbolism found in the work of pioneering abstract painter Hilma af Klint, who felt her abstract paintings, created in the early 1900's, would not be ready for public consumption until forty years after she died. Strangely enough, the works shown at the Gallery on Madison by Tim Maloney, were his first to be presented to the public, in over four decades. And despite the peace and calm I felt upon viewing the works in "Totems to the Imagined and Unimagined World", there is an inventive, innovative and inquisitive burning fire within the artist that led to their creation, conceived of during the recent U.S. election, as the paintings and sculptures are infused with multiple layers of meaning, touching upon questions pertaining to our world's energy crisis and global warming, and concerns regarding who our land belongs to and how we go about claiming it and caring for it. 

It's important to note that Kris and I were fortunate enough to talk with Mr. Maloney, who you'd never know played quite a prominent role in the creation of solar energy, or that he consulted the Lakota Sioux on energy efficient housing and education, or that he was is an award-winning architect whose work can be found regionally and nationally. Humble in demeanor and more than willing to take the time to talk with you, Tim Maloney and his highly prolific life work is the living embodiment of the current STEAM-based learning that is slowly but surely gaining momentum throughout the nation's public school systems. 

Tim Maloney's "Totems to the Imagined and Unimagined World", presented by Un Stable Art, will be on display to the public at the Gallery on Madison, in Middleburg, Virginia, through June 29, 2017.