A Conversation with Sally Kauffman

A Conversation with Sally Kauffman

Chill Out: Paintings by Sally Kauffman
Artist Talks: November 20, 2019, 5-7PM

Forum Gallery: Schlesinger Arts Center
Northern Virginia Community College – Alexandria Campus

When did you know that you were an artist?

As a child I would sequester myself in a secret spot and draw for hours.

Was there a particular experience that inspired your decision to pursue art?

My grandmother taught me to draw and paint as a young girl. One of my favorite memories is sitting by her side watching her paint with watercolors. Her life inspired my own. She was a magical, mystical woman who entertained her family with lavish meals during holidays, especially at Christmas when she dressed as Mrs. Klaus.

She owned and operated a therapeutic spa for women as well as an art practice. She painted wonderful images of nature and people. She taught me that I could be whatever I wanted to be.

Are there particular artists or art movements that are an inspiration to you?

Movements and painters amongst the many that influenced my practice from early on include Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, Venetian School painters Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, Les Nabis artists Bonnard and Vuillard and Fauvist Matisse. Abstract Expressionism was and remains a major influence. De Kooning, Frankenthaler, Rothko, Pollock, Raushenberg, Johns, Twombly, Mitchell, Krasner, I can’t think of any who did not influence my work. Bay Area Figurative painter Diebenkorn was a revelation to me. Contemporary movements and artists that I currently look at are the YBA (Young British Artists) Cecily Brown, Jenny Saville, Rachel Whiteread and Tracey Emin among many others as well as South African artist Marlene Dumas.

Can you describe your artistic process?

To create the series “Relaxed States” which includes the exhibition “Chill Out”, I discreetly captured images of groups of people lounging and relaxing together using my phone camera. I create digital sketches from the photos by collaging elements and enhancing the color to create a visually dense image. The saturated digital color informs my palette. I mix oil paint and oil painting mediums into a fluid, smooth consistency in small jars, then brush blocks of transparent color directly on the canvas building up multiple layers that afford me flexibility in defining the position and form of the elements. As the forms evolve I respond to the images on the canvas and only reference the digital sketch if I find the need for the original images to inform my own.

Can you talk about how you use visual technologies (computers and software) with your artistic process?

I limit the use of software tools in my creative process to my iPhone and image processing software including Preview, iPhoto and Gimp, all free or shipped with my Mac even though I used many sophisticated tools for 25 years in the tech industry as a user experience designer, graphic designer and art & design director. I’ve resisted integrating digital technology into my art even though I am still fascinated by it, I’m seeking an escape from designing simulated environments and want to live again in the physical world using tangible tools. A good day is when I come home from the studio with paint in my hair and on my face and hands. I use digital tools to create digital sketches in the conceptual phase using snapshots with my iPhone and manipulating the images on the computer. I print the sketches and use them as a reference. The final artwork is produced by hand with paint and canvas.

You have four paintings in the exhibition that were inspired by the summer jazz concerts at the National Gallery in Washington DC. Can you tell us about that experience and what made you want to explore the experience in paint?

The long answer: after a 20 year hiatus from painting while I worked in the tech industry, I needed inspiration as I resumed my painting practice so I enrolled in a class called “Painting in a Series” at the Corcoran taught by Judy Southerland. Judy reviewed my work and asked me what I was going to paint. I did not know so she gave me a written exercise titled “What Matters” in which you described an activity you care about and how it affects you and others, a social system that interests you and your stance in relation to this system and a condition or question that interests you. I filled it out but still it was unclear to me. So I turned to my private life. My husband and I love to cook and entertain our friends so I started photographing and painting my dinner parties. Out of this grew a series of work centered on groups of people sharing food, swimming and listening to music.

The paintings in the exhibition were inspired by evenings spent sitting in the National Sculpture garden listening to jazz surrounded by the fascinating people who live in DC. I wanted the paintings to celebrate and exude the kind of energy and pleasure that you would find in Manet’s “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe” and Titian’s painting “The Bacchanal of the Andrians”.

What about your strolls through Porto inspired you? The color and light in the two series of works is very different. How do you use color and light to create the atmosphere in your paintings?

I visited the Passeio Das Virtudes during the “golden hour” which is the first or last hour of sunlight in a day when the light is soft and warm and the shadows long. This combination of warm colors contrasted with darker cool color defines my typical palette and explains my attraction to the scene.

The paintings inspired from the “Jazz in the Garden” depict the warmer light just before the golden hour. I’m fascinated by paintings that create drama using chiaroscuro, the strong contrast of light or lack of it to define volume in form. Diebenkorn and Hopper’s use of chiaroscuro in their paintings is a good example of this and of course, Caravaggio was the master.

What is that you would like the viewer to take away from their experience of seeing this exhibition?

A collector of a painting in this series recently wrote to me “every time we look at your piece of art we are more delighted.” That is one of the most satisfying aspects of my art practice.

Is there any advice that you would give students as they have made the decision to pursue art?

Define what you want your art practice to be and treat your practice as a profession. This can and will change over time as you mature as an artist and a person. Schedule time for your practice and stick to it even if it involves sitting in your studio and staring at the walls, this is critical to your development. Build a network of your peers by attending local exhibitions and introducing yourself to the artists and gallery owners. Once you have built up that network support your artist friends by attending their art events. Define a social media strategy for yourself. Attend the free lectures at the Smithsonian. Read Art/Work = Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career. Rent a studio that hosts open studios and will expose you to other artists and collectors.

To kickstart my art practice after a long hiatus, I studied at the Corcoran in the evenings for 3 years with Judy Southerland who become a mentor for me. (find a mentor) The artists I met in her class are now my peers. I rented studios through which I met different groups of artist friends. I also joined the Studio Gallery, the longest running artist coops in DC, while I had another full-time job. Scheduled annual shows taught me how to prepare and install an exhibit. I learned that I needed to paint when I really didn’t have time or feel like it and how to market my work. I served on the board and learned how to run a gallery. And made more artist friends. I applied for and attended an artist residency at Vermont Studio Center and met an international group of artists. Your network is going to be very important to you. They will expose you to new opportunities and will enrich your practice and life.

What can we expect from your work in the future?

I’m embarking on a big adventure in January. I’m moving to Rome for a year. There are so many things I want to do while I’m there, I’ll be taking workshops, spending lots of time in the museums and galleries and soaking it all in. I’m hoping it will take my work in new directions.

November 20, 2019 5-7PM Exhibition Walk Tour Kauffman, Hirons, Abramson

Please join us next Weds evening for a walking tour of our current solo exhibitions with the artist Sally Kauffman, Cathy Abramson and Jean Hirons. They will reach be talking about the work in their solo shows.

CHILL OUT: Paintings by Sally Kauffman

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Light: Pastels by Jean Hirons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams of the Underground: Paintings by Cathy Abramson

October 19, 2019 2-4PM Art Opening – Sally Kauffman, Jean Hirons, Cathy Abramson and Veronica Szcalus

Please join us on Saturday afternoon  October 19, 2019 from 2-4PM  for the Final 2019 art openings at the Fisher and Schlesinger Center Art Galleries. We will be celebrating the work of four talented local artists. The artist are Sally Kauffman in the Forum Gallery, Jean Hirons in the Passage Gallery and Cathy Abramson in the Margaret W. & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery.

Forum Gallery

Chill Out: Paintings by Sally Kauffman

October 12, 2019 – December 23, 2019

Kauffman is best known for her abstract yet allusory large-scale paintings that celebrate and exude pleasure. Her gestural brushwork and sensual application of paint reference the figure in landscape. Kauffman draws on personal experiences as a source for her images; Friday Jazz in the Garden concerts at the NGA and recent strolls through Porto provide the setting for the series “Chill Out”. Kauffman captures moments in snapshots and digitally manipulates the composition and intensity of color. The dense, saturated images become the source for the paintings. Almost human scale figures painted in saturated, flowing oil color on large format canvas entice the viewer to engage in their own narrative.


Passage Gallery

Winter Light: Pastels by Jean Hirons

October 12, 2019 – December 23, 2019 

Jean Hirons has spent 20 years specializing in the art of soft pastel. Jean’s passion is for the landscape, particularly buildings in the landscape. She began by painting New England houses and rural farms. Since 2015, she has focused on various areas of Washington, DC: Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Chinatown, and Dupont Circle. She finds this subject matter both challenging and satisfying. Composition is always the starting point in any of her paintings and she often looks for abstract shapes. For color, she may use what she sees but, more often, uses color from her imagination. She wants color to be real enough, but not necessarily what was there! Jean also loves complex, broken color and finds pastel to be a perfect medium for achieving this effect.

The Passage Gallery exhibit, “Winter Light” displays 6 pastels capturing the moments of one day in winter on the C&O Canal in Washington DC.


Margaret W. & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery

Dreams of the Underground: Oil Paintings by Cathy Abramson

Cathy Abramson’s oil paintings investigate the stories of the city. These representational paintings examine the emotional subtext of change; the connections or estrangement of people in transitional neighborhoods. She sees moments of poetry in the ordinary. Although she paints particular people and scenes, these paintings about daily life in Washington, DC resonate with everyone. Cathy spent two years investigating and painting the neighborhood and people around Kennedy Street, NW. She recorded scenes that are about recent history, change, nostalgia and social struggle; the joys and frustrations of contemporary urban life.


 

 

September 7th, 2019 2-4PM, Fall Solo Artist Reception

You are invite to attend a free public art exhibit reception Saturday afternoon, September 7th from 2-4PM.

Our early fall exhibitions are on display now and will run through October 7th, 2019.

Forum Gallery

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Paintings by Andrea Limauro

Passage Gallery
Occupational Hazards: Multi Media by Aziza Claudia Gibson-Hunter

Margaret W & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery
Milagros in My Pocketbook: Work by Alexandra N Sherman

June 22nd, 2019 2-4PM Solo Art Reception: Steve Wanna, Sunhee Kim Jung

Summer exhibition solo receptions will be held on Saturday afternoon, June 22nd, 2019 from 2-4PM at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center. The address is 4915 East Campus Drive, Alexandria, VA 22311 on the Northern Virginia Community College – Alexandria Campus.

The One: Work by Sunhee Kim Jung will be on display in the Passage and the Forum Gallery at the Rachel M.Schlesinger Concert Hall and Art Center.

Sunhee Kim Jung is a Korean-born American Artist. She is known as a painter of lush landscapes that express provocative ideas, beliefs, and feelings about life and death, loss and rebirth.

Jung earned her BFA in painting from Corcoran College of Art & Design and her MFA in painting from American University in Washington DC.  She is the Vice President of the US-Korea Arts Foundation in Washington D.C. whose mission as an organization is to introduce Korean culture and arts to America by working with the community, government, museums and international organizations.

 

The Eternity of an Instant: Mixed Media on Steve Wanna will be on display in the Margaret W. & Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery.  Steve Wanna is a multi-disciplinary sound and visual artist whose work includes music, sound design for dance collaborations, sculpture, installation, photography, and works for mixed media. Born and raised in Lebanon, he immigrated to the United States with his family as a teenager, eventually receiving a doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Maryland in 2004. Wanna’s work is driven by his belief that under the right conditions, beauty can emerge without the need for direct intervention. He creates abstract, experimental fixed works and installations in a variety of mediums and formats that include sound, 2-D work, sculpture, video, and photography. His work is informed by the principle of emergence as defined in systems theory and Buddhism.

April 16th, 2019 6:30-8:30PM Confluence: Two Rivers, One City

During the last week of “Coming to Light, Encaustics by Angela White” and “NOMAD, The Art of Alonzo Davis“,  the Schlesinger Art Galleries is hosting a special public presentation of Confluence 2019, the DC region’s annual publication of critical writing on the visual arts on Tuesday evening from 6:30pm The speaker is Phil Hutinet, the publisher of East City Art.

CONFLUENCE: Two Rivers One City Public Presentation

 East City Art, DC’s visual arts publication of record, has released its second annual anthology of critical writing titled CONFLUENCE: Two Rivers One City.  The 30 essays of the anthology present some of East City Art’s most compelling writing and document the DC region’s most prominent influences on regional visual arts culture.

The title of the anthology alludes to the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers which flow through the region affectionately known as the “DMV” (DC, Maryland and Virginia).

CONFLUENCE 2019 offers insight into DC’s art world with in-depth critical writing and full color photographs of work by local, national and international artists displayed at regional galleries, museums and art spaces.

“The dedication of the East City Art writing staff to publish serious art criticism has never been stronger. Articles with ample discussion make ECA an alternative to the condensed and often superficial reviews offered elsewhere of gallery exhibits,” explains Editor-at-Large and Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D.

Publisher Phil Hutinet will present an overview of the reviews in CONFLUENCE 2019 while highlighting examples of work by local artists published in the anthology. During and after the presentation, audience members will have the opportunity to participate in the discussion and ask questions.

Speaker Biography

Phil Hutinet, a third generation Capitol Hill resident, is the publisher of East City Art, DC’s Visual Arts publication of record, which he began in 2010. In 2012-2013, his consultancy work east of the river yielded the Anacostia Playhouse, Craig Kraft Studios, the Anacostia Arts Center and the 2012-2013 LUMEN8ANACOSTIA festivals. In 2015, 2018 and 2019 he acted as the Gateway Open Studio Tour coordinator. From 2013-2018, he produced EMULSION, East City Art’s regional juried show and has produced over 150 local exhibitions in his career as a gallery owner and director. Currently, he oversees the ECA Foundation’s Critical Arts Writing and Research Program which produces an annual anthology titled CONFLUENCE: Two Rivers One City. Hutinet has been interviewed by or has made appearances on the BBC, Capital Community News, Euronews, Washingtonian Magazine, Washington City Paper, The Washington Post, WJLA ABC News Channel 7/Channel 8, WTOP and other local, national and international media.”

 

 

 

March 16th, 2019 2-4PM: Artist Receptions for Alonzo Davis and Angela White

We are very pleased to announce our early spring exhibitions and invite you to the opening receptions.  We will have two new solo exhibitions opening on March 9th, 2019,  Saturday afternoon 2-4PM.

NOMAD: The Art of Alonzo Davis
Forum Gallery and the Margaret W. & Joseph L.  Fisher Art Gallery
We pleased to present work from two of Alonzo Davis’s recent series, the Navigation Series and the Migrant Series. The Navigation Series is inspired by Alonzo’s long-time fascination with Micronesian navigation stick charts. Once used by the Marshall Islanders of Micronesia, the charts, studies of Pacific swell patterns and island locations, helped mariners navigate the waters in and around the region by canoe. The “Migrant Series” is a body of works that express our need for national and world concern of peoples having to leave their homeland because of inhumane conditions.The work in the series are approximately 14″w x 16″h x 5″d; each containing encaustic boats made of bamboo on a mixed media collage painting, with encaustic wax on board with burned and painted bamboo.

To learn more about Alonzo’s work, visit his About the Artist page.

COMING TO LIGHT: The Encaustics of Angela White
Passage Gallery
Angela White is a fine artist inspired by physical, spiritual and emotional memories that create the visual depth and density of her work. Abstracts and seascapes compose the majority of her compositions. Natural and sensual materials such as oils and encaustic paint allow the blending of edges to create visual depth. By superimposing layers of media, the varied themes and processes of her work are exposed.

To learn more about Angela, please visit her About the Artist Page.

November 17th, 2018 2-4PM Art Reception for Childers, Noble and Pinney

We are very pleased to announce the exhibition receptions and final solo exhibtions for 2018. You are invited to join us this Saturday November 17th, 2018 2-4PM for Travis Childers, Lisa Noble and Matthew Pinney.

 

Accumulations: Mixed Media works by Travis Childers is in the Fisher Art Gallery. Travis begins with everyday objects – newspaper clippings, staplers, pen tips and tops and transforms them into provocative objects that evoke the readymades of Duchamp and the process of the Dada movement of the 20th century.

 

 

 

Memories of Home: Paintings by Lisa Noble is in the Passage Gallery.  The interior in Lisa’s paintings are places of her past and personal history. They represent her efforts to visually map out the context of her childhood and early history.

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden: Paintings by Matt Pinney is in the Forum Gallery. Matt Pinney is an assistant professor of studio art at the Northern Virginia Community College at the Manassas Campus.  Matt’s paintings employ personal myths, reinterpretations of history, and investigation of cultural assigned roles to creative narratives that are unbound by time.

Questions and Answers : A Profile with Saya Behnam

Saya BenhamSay Behnam’s solo exhibition of paintings, Capturing the Vibrant, Transient and Eternal NOW is on display through November 4, 2018. We will be hosting a demonstration of the process that Saya uses to create her paints from plants, flowers, spices as well as stones and minerals next Tuesday October 30 12am – 2PM in the Forum Gallery of the Schlesinger Arts Center.

Please learn more Saya’s process with the Q&A profile below and plan to join us next Tuesday afternoon – 12am -2PM.

  1. At what point in your life did you realize that you were an artist?

From 13 or 14 years old. When I got so happy when copied an image from a cover magazine with a cheap watercolor box I had. I resisted considering fine art as a profession till many years after. I thought that cannot be considered as a real job.

  1. Was there a particular teacher that influenced you during your studies?

I had a teacher at age 18 who as my father cousin. His character influenced me a lot.

  1. Are there art historical influences that are particularly important to you?

Yes- I always was so impressed by the colors of Persian rugs and Kilims and miniatures was wondering how they produced the natural colors.

  1. What is the starting point for your process?

For using natural colors: it was a total accident. One day drinking a hibiscus tea and by accident I split it on my white paper. I kept looking at the colors and how those were changing. I decided to give it a try at my studio . That was the starting point.

  1. You call your work co-creating with nature. Can you talk a little bit more about how you are co-creating with nature?

I believe all the colors I use are existing in even one flower or plant I use. I am just a transformer. Some one who knows how to take them out and arrange them on the paper. Most of the time when mix or apply the colors on the top of each other I get a new color that is not what it was before. I believe I am not the only creator of my work. It is already in the nature and we co-create it.

  1. Is there a particular color that speaks to you over other colors?

I am very attracted to shades of red to purple and blues.

7. When did you first start creating your own colors and what was your inspiration?

Since my work is abstract, my goal was how the colors I create compose, interact and work together as a whole.

  1. The surface that you are painting on with the natural colors feels important. Can you tell us more about the quality of the surface you paint on – i.e. the silk, cotton and handmade paper?

I realized natural colors prefer natural surface rather than chemically primed.

For example natural silk and cotton and paper are the best. I normally use them instead of primed canvas.

  1. Do other art forms such as literature or music influence you?

I love poetry. I do write poems from famous Persian poets  like Khayam, Hafiz and Rumi in my art  . Listening to music is a big part of my day. I daydream with it. I get inspiration, become happy, sad and calm.

  1. What advice would you give to a young artist that is just starting out?

If you feel art is a big part of your soul, don’t afraid going after it and follow it professionally. It won’t be easy, but since artists’ reward is internal you can hang out there even when you don’t get result immediately.

Thank you for your time and please see additional works from Saya at her website at https://www.sbehnam.com/

September 22, 2018 2-4PM Art Reception Antone, Behnam and Jarzynski

We are very excited about our Fall Visual Art Receptions and we are looking forward to seeing you this Saturday, September 22nd from 2-4PM.

We have three solo exhibitions where each artists has a distinctive response to the natural world.

Hibiscus flower tea, with ink on paper created a beatuiful variation of purple to blue and red colors, with writing in Farsi says: “I am”, “ I am alive”, “ I live”, and using gold leaves

Capturing the Vibrant, Transient and Eternal Now: Paintings by Saya Behnam 

In the Forum, we are welcoming Saya Behnam with her paintings made from natural colors and painted on silk and paper.

 

The Home Inside: Sculptures by John D. Antone.

In the Fisher Art Gallery,  John D. Antone will be showing is delicate and inspiring scupltures created in bronze and ebony.

 

The Inscape of my Landscape: Paintings by Teresa Jarzynski

In the Passage Gallery, we are so very excited to be showcasing the oil landscape paintings of Teresa Jarzynski. Influenced by Luminism and the work of Corot, the are a lovely tribute to the natural world.