Artist + Curator Interviews, Event Photos, and News
In honor of our upcoming show Heavy Metal Lover, here is a chance to get familiar with the artists. All are members of The PRISMA Collective which is a hand selected group of 30 international artists led by painter and curator, Kaspian Shore. Since the group formed in 2011, they have been regularly showing work at various galleries and exhibition spaces around the world. We are proud to welcome the artists of PRISMA at Modern Eden this April and hope you will join us for the opening reception on Saturday April 1st from 6 pm–9 pm.
All artwork shown is representative of the artist's work in general. Different works will be on display for the show.
(Founder of PRISMA Collective and Curator of Heavy Metal Lover)
Kaspian Shore is a self-taught artist born in 1983. He has been painting and drawing in various mediums, such as gouache, ink, oil, acrylic washes, coloured pencil, watercolour, graphite, and charcoal powder. His work is concerned with themes of gender identity, androgyny, youth, and decay. His recurring characters of gentle, melancholy boys tell stories of longing and loss for a past that could have been but never was. In November 2011, Kaspian founded the PRISMA Collective, a large group of international artists that he has been curating a great number of shows for. His own work has been exhibited at galleries across the United States, the UK, and Australia.
Audrey was born in Detroit, Michigan in the summer of 1979 and was raised in the Mexicantown area of southwest Detroit. A self taught painter, Audrey is constantly working to hone and refine her craft. "I believe art should be attainable to everyone, visually or mentally. This is something I strive for in my work. Art should be a viewing experience. I love when I can look at a painting and be entranced by it, in awe of its application or just the wonder of it."
Kelly McKernan is a fine artist and illustrator currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. Kelly obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kennesaw State University, with a concentration in drawing and painting. At its core, Kelly’s work always revolves around two forces: A woman and a world. Whether in harmony or posed against one another, the two are always clearly delineated. Her subjects are often found staring into all that exists outside themselves—rights and wrongs, friends and foes, full and empty spaces—seeing them distilled into a single essence to contend with as she may. Kelly strives to create through exploration, leaving a trail which anyone might follow with the very same sense of discovery. She has been exhibiting her work with numerous galleries since 2009.
Kelsey Beckett is a Michigan native and an Illustration graduate of College for Creative Studies. She is a freelance illustrator and fine artist who has shown work in numerous galleries across the country. She Works mainly in acrylic and oil. Her work has been featured by Juxtapoz and Supersonic Art, as well as published in “Spectrum #20” and "Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art."
Caitlin grew up on the northern coast of California, between the cold Pacific ocean and the redwood forests. She received a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY, with a specialty in Drawing in 2009. Her work is primarily done in ballpoint pen, colored pencil, and watercolor. "Mirroring ancient myths of transformation in often grotesque ways, we find in contemporary times that animals are being transformed biologically due to interactions with human pollutants; there are frogs with triplicate legs and blind eyes, cows with shriveled sets of legs growing out of their backs, two faced piglets being born on factory farms and radioactive fish rotting from the inside in poisoned seas, the list goes on. I am interested in the power of these mutations both for their mythological allusions as well as their dire environmental implications. I hope to remind those who view my artwork that we too are animals, embedded in this fragile world even as we poison it."
N.C. Winters works as an artist constantly drawing, painting, or creating something daily. Winters creates art exploring the subconscious both as method for creation, and subject of his various works which often have a strong emphasis on the figure and identity in general. He works from his home studio in sunny San Diego, California.
Ling Ly is a Los Angeles-based artist with a BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Ling mostly focuses on oil painting and graphite drawing, with a focus on portraits and nature. Her painterly style blends elements of graphic realism to showcase her impeccable technical skills.
Kelly Vivanco was born and raised in front of a sketchpad and a box of colors in Southern California where she later received her BFA with honors from LCAD. Kelly enjoys setting whimsy to work in many mediums and pulls inspiration from the natural and imagined world, vintage photographs, children's literature and the oddness of her dreams. In 2004 Kelly opened a space in the Distinction building in Escondido, California, and currently maintains a working studio there. Her work is held in collections across the U.S. and abroad.
Sarah Joncas was born in 1986 and grew up in both Hamilton and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Her interest in the visual arts developed at an early age, starting with the dedicated drawings of dinosaurs and lizards. Eventually the study and enjoyment of working from existing images stirred up the need in Sarah to create images of her own; ones that could reflect the world, yet also appease the personal feelings/ideas that she maintained. With this, her direction changed gradually from the world of animation, towards a path in fine art. Sarah graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design’s BFA program. She currently resides and works out of Toronto, Canada.
Alex Louisa is a Brisbane-based artist who worked as a graphic artist for eight years. She has been exhibiting within Australia since 2007, and internationally since 2012. Endlessly inspired by nature, she loves to pair highly detailed subjects next to unexpected backgrounds, such as splashy abstracts, experimental textures, crisp geometric patterns, or the sheer beauty of untouched woodgrain. Often experimenting with mixed media, Alex mainly works with oils, acrylic, PanPastel and charcoal, currently with a shift towards larger works. She focuses on elements of the natural world that grab her attention - discovering the intricacies of a leaf or flower, or trying to capture an animal's individual personality, especially those of the avian kind.
Bec Winnel enjoys creating beautiful and detailed portraits of imaginary women in imaginary worlds that celebrate the feminine spirit. Her 'girls' are often accompanied by elements of nature, fantasy and items from bygone eras. The colour palette is mostly soft, subdued pastels, and mediums include pencil, pastel, watercolour and acrylic. To further enhance the mystery, her girls are often fading into or out of the background, as if they are nearly there, speaking to you from a distant place. Whilst she loves creating these girls, she also enjoying experimenting in all creative forms including abstract painting, exploring color, texture, pattern and various subject matters.
Since graduating in 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Auckland University of Technology, Henrietta has steadily built up a name for herself as a solid New Zealand artist. She has skillfully hand-drawn hands, faces, brains, glaciers and more which have appeared in shows all over New Zealand, Australia, London and New York, on t-shirts, on record covers and in fine print publications. Her paintings often involved portraiture with a departure into the surreal with faces skillfully obscured and misplaced by the clean sweep of a brushstroke. She primarily works with watercolor paint on paper.
Nom, originally from the Norfolk countryside, studied Fine Art at Norwich School of Art and Design, going on to be based in Melbourne, Brighton, London, and Varese, Italy. Nom now paints from her studio back in the flatlands of Norfolk in the fine city of Norwich. Gathering inspiration from found objects and her surroundings, she works in oils and pastels to create imaginary female portraits. The subjects are girls who roam from town to town in a patchwork old fashioned never-world, where rusty melodies trail their steps and their curious behavior is shadowed by sweet melancholy. She has been influenced, from a young age, by her father's love of the impressionists, magical realism in literature, film, and folklore from around the world. Nom has been filling her notebooks throughout the years with her solitary wanderers.
Nicole Gustafsson is the creator behind NIMASPROUT. Nicole works as a full time illustrator, specializing in traditional media paintings featuring everything from woodland characters and environments, to pop culture based projects for Gallery 1988, Gallery Nucleus and more. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and pet kids. Nicole's artwork is available at select galleries around the country and online.
Christina Mrozik has spent the majority of her life observing the natural world and the types of relationships that form within it. Having grown up on the Grand River in Michigan, she was inspired by it’s habitats at an early age. Blending the external world with her own understanding of the human condition has led to her distinct style, in which flora and fauna stand in, representing the simultaneous and often opposing matters of the human heart. She often draws with ink and marker on paper, adding bursts of color with watercolor and high pigmented acrylics. She enjoys working with arts education nonprofit groups, working collaboratively and reading other peoples favorite books. She is currently based in Portland, Oregon, though always midwestern at heart.
Lilly Piri was born on the east coast of Australia in 1985 and lived their her entire life until recently moving to Germany to be with her new husband and fellow artist Heiko Windisch this past fall ’07. Piri studied with the Arts Academy in Brisbane. Piri draws and paints with acrylics, oils and watercolor, but her favorite and most employed medium is color pencil. Her work has been published in DPI, Black + White, Empty, Frankie, Hotpress, Marmalade, Voiceworks, Harper’s Bazaar, Semi-Permanent books, Curvy books, Faest and Ruby Mag and her list of illustration clients include the Yes Men and Saatchi & Saatchi.
Helice Wen was born in Shenzhen, China where her interest in art began at the age of 5 when she first started copying children’s book illustrations. After graduating from the Academy of Art University San Francisco in 2009, she began working as a children’s book illustrator. After leaving her illustration job a few years ago, Wen is now focused on creating gallery works. She has exhibited in New York, Florida, Melbourne, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She currently resides in San Francisco, working as a full time artist.
(other PRISMA collective members not featured in this show: Ana Bagayan • Tom Bagshaw • Lindsey Carr • Chrystal Chan • Hsiao-Ron Cheng • JAW Cooper • Daria Hlazatova • Jeremy Hush • Kit Lane • Edith Lebeau • Jen Mann • Soey Milk • Zach Montoya • Michael Shapcott • Allison Sommers • Vahge • Casey Weldon)
Sheri DeBow celebrated her newest collection of expressive dolls for Return of the Bubblegum Princess last Friday, March 3rd alongside friends and family. Here are some photos from the opening reception! Work is on view until March 25th.
From anime to hairdressing, she tells us about the experiences that inspire her and the process of bringing her imagination to life.
Sarah Joncas is a Toronto based artist who has been showing in galleries since she was 16 years old. Her work has matured into a fine combination of highly skilled realism and whimsically graphic beauty. The following interview delves into her process, perfectionism, and continuous growth. Be sure to stop by the gallery to see her current show "Suburban Surreal" before February 25th, if you are in San Francisco.
"..In places where nature has mostly been tamed and controlled, I like the idea of it becoming this ghost-like entity slowly taking over our familiar world.."
JV: Your new show, "Suburban Surreal" is so beautiful in its imagery as well as technique. Can you talk a little, in general, about the concept behind this series?
SJ: Thanks for the kind words! I hadn't gone into the work with an exact idea of where I wanted to go originally, but kind of felt my way through the themes I would eventually adhere to. I've found, over the years, that my work works better if I give in to intuition rather than forcing an overarching objective. In a vague sense however, I knew I wanted the show to be about the strange emerging from the ordinary. Our everyday landscapes giving way to something more magical. In the end I adopted nature as the main way of expressing that sense, using it to illuminate my characters inner psyche or present an imagination stirring amongst the familiar scenes of suburban/urban communities. In places where nature has mostly been tamed and controlled, I like the idea of it becoming this ghost-like entity slowly taking over our familiar world, in ways that also seem very private and intimate to the characters themselves.
JV: That is such an intriguing description. I'd also love to know a bit about your process. How long before the show did you begin the paintings?
SJ: For big shows like this I often start my work nearly a year before, this one was eight months previous to the opening. I'm conscious of time management and cautious about getting stuck, close to a show, with a ton of work to accomplish. I was the same way in school, finished everything early with time to spare. It can take many months to finish a piece, and alongside these big shows I'm also producing paintings for group exhibitions, so it's a bit of a balancing act. I'll work on about eight paintings at a time too, switching it up each day in between drying layers.
JV: Which did you start with and which was the last?
SJ: I started with the show card image actually, "Street Beats". That painting, in particular, was a lot of fun for me and inspired me to experiment more with an acrylic and oil combo for the show (the paint used separately in different areas, of course, not combined). The last work to finish was "Atropa Belladonna". I had a little time to spare and had this image in mind, so I went for it! Glad I did, the friends whose opinions I sought about the show seemed to really like that one.
JV: Is there anything significant behind the one piece that is clearly a self portrait?
SJ: I didn't intend that one to be a self portrait initially. I just really needed a model at the time and I was a convenient body! The lighting wasn't my usual choice so I couldn't just make it up without possibly compromising it in some way. For me the image was about nature lighting our path, like a lantern in the darkness.
There's also something about the bottling of it in the image as well, this taming and manipulation that happens between people and the world. The painting has both a positive and critical lining when I look at it.
JV: Interesting. Now I am wanting to revisit that image! What do you think you've learned and improved on the most since you started painting?
SJ: Technique over time, in the realness of my figures. It has taken a lot of time for me, no doubt. The characters have changed frequently in their proportions and rendering. I started out doing more strictly cartoon-like characters with some form, but over time I've started using photographic reference and visual aids to help me get better with realism. My work certainly still contains illustrative characteristics though I don't think it's something I'd ever really wish to abandon. It's too much fun.
JV: How long ago was it that you first started showing in galleries?
SJ: I was 16 when I started showing my work. I thought I wanted to go to school for animation or illustration, but then after I started painting and working on canvas for the first time, I got really into it and into the independence of it. I had a little community show in my hometown at the time and actually sold most of the work. After that, I had done some local news interviews and another town nearby caught wind so they invited me out their way and it all went on from there. I switched to studying Fine Art at OCAD rather than illustration.
JV: Some of the paintings in this show include a more graphic technique than others. Was it intentional to vary this piece by piece or just a result of experimentation?
SJ: I was trying to play with that more for this show. I also played more with using acrylics in the background rather than entirely oil. I would like to get better with my acrylic rendering because they're less toxic and help me move along faster with my work, but I also like how they change up the mood. I don't think I could ever give up on oils for rendering skin and figures though, I love the smoothness and blending too much, but overall I feel the graphic elements just allow me more freedom and experimentation with my imagery.
JV: I completely agree about the smoothness of oil for figures. Your depiction of hands and skin in general is quite amazing. Does it take you longer to do components like that?
SJ: Yes, I spend most of my time rendering the figures. I can be a little obsessive about smoothness and blending! Sometimes I think maybe my work is sometimes too clean? I do find that process meditative for me though.
JV: No, I personally think the cleanness is beautiful! What is your absolute favorite thing to paint?
SJ: Portraits. Maybe that's easy to tell? haha. I like painting the facial features more than anything and pretty much always start my work by rendering that, despite my old art professors telling me to work with background first.
JV: The lighting on your subjects is painted so beautifully. Can you talk a little about how you source references? And do you light your own subjects?
SJ: It varies from work to work. Lately I've been using myself to help correct proportions though, or get lighting right, but I'll use friends when they're available as well. I'll also cobble together things from the net in photoshop, like if I need a striped button up shirt and don't have one myself, I'll find one I like and manipulate it for my own figures. I've stolen facial features from random celebrities and models too, say if I need a different kind of nose or eyes, I'll cut them out to use as reference. Some of the characters are completely made up too (though I'll try using some kind of visual aid just to know how shadow correctly casts upon a face). I can share a couple pictures where I used myself as reference, just not of my friends for the sake of their privacy.
JV: Great, thank you. That's fun to see. Lastly, do you feel like working on murals has influenced your more recent paintings in any way?
SJ: Two of the works I made for this show were actually directly based upon murals I did this summer with POW!WOW! and the LBMA. "Night Life" and my drawing "Fish Bowl". I really haven't had a lot of experience with murals, but it was an incredible experience participating in those events last July in Long Beach. Enough fun that I wanted to translate those murals into my more traditional approach.
Sarah Joncas' show Suburban Surreal is on display here until February 25, 2017. Pop in anytime Wednesday through Saturday from 12pm - 6 pm.
Event photos from the opening reception of Crystal Morey's Delicate Dependencies and Emilio Villalba's Talk to Me on October 14, 2016. Thanks to everyone who made it out last Friday to celebrate, support, and take in all the incredible art by these two top Bay-Area contemporary artists. Both shows run through October 29 and can be viewed at the links above.
Crystal Morey is an Oakland based sculptor with a pristine and evocative new series called "Delicate Dependencies" opening tomorrow at Modern Eden. We are delighted to have had the chance to gain a glimpse into her studio process and the enlightening depth behind the work that she creates.
Interview by Jessica Violetta
JV: “Delicate Dependencies” is a new body of work for you, can you tell us where the ideas for these sculptures began? Tell us about the imagery you chose to include.
CM: In Delicate Dependencies, I wanted to create a dreamlike, captivating space; one filled with emotive hybrid creatures, here to warn us of our current trajectory toward environmental downfall. These figures are meant to show the sinuous connections between all living creatures, and the balance that must excites, in a healthy natural world.
I like to research animals that I find relatable in their actions and intriguing visually. In “Delicate Dependencies” I decided to focus on animals from the western United States, creatures that have an interesting history or trajectory, ones closely affected by human expansion.
I am interested in what we consider to be “fringe” or “indicator” species. These creatures are often the first indicators and casualties of environmental change, and are often found at both ends of the food chain – small creatures being susceptible to minute habitat changes and larger creatures affected by disruptions in a long food chain. These interests led me to include creatures such as a brown bear, red fox, peregrine falcon, mountain lion and California bighorn to name a few.
JV: There seems to be new, natural elements in your sculptures, can you tell us about the use of leaves and what they mean visually?
CM: The leaves are a completely new addition and one I am really fond of. I have been thinking about adaptation, natural evolution, and human driven environmental change and the addition of plant life into my work became the next step. Human and animal relationships have been very important in my work and thinking about the entire biosphere led me to this inclusion. I am interested in a chain of elements, of all living things being interconnected and dependent on each other for long-term viability.
I also find that the leaves speak to the delicacy and balance of our rapidly changing environment. They represent the inescapable cycle of growth, fullness and decent, a theme I am very interested in exploring.
JV: I love the phrase that you use when describing part of your influence as “human interdependence with the land and animals around us”. Is it possible for you to elaborate on how exactly this influences you?
CM: So much of what we see and hear about the state of our world is very upsetting. With humanitarian crises, natural habitat destruction, and wildlife devastation at the forefront, I think we can become desensitized, making us unable or unwilling to take in more information. For these reasons I choose a different method. I see “beauty” and “emotion” as having a power to reach people, to share a poignant, delicate and human moment. My hope is to create empathy for our environment and the creatures that live within it. I hope to stir a curiosity rooted in our relationship to plants and animals around us, and that we are here to share this planet together.
JV: You mention in your biography that you had an “alternative upbringing” and I can only assume that, by this, you are referring to being raised in the Sierra Nevada's, can you explain?
CM: Many of my inspirations and interests in the natural world stem from an alternative upbringing, one I closely connected to the landscape around me. For much of my early childhood we lived in unique dwellings without modern amenities such and electricity or pluming and chose not to indulge in television or mainstream radio. This lifestyle allowed for plenty of time to explore the forests, lakes and river canyons of the area, creating a strong relationship in the way I saw myself as a tiny component in vast sea of natural landscape.
As I have become older, with new life experiences, now living in an urban city, my perspective has changed and the world doesn’t feel as large, wild and free. Through living in an urban environment, manipulated and controlled by humans, the fragile quality of the natural world has become more apparent to me. I no longer see natural landscape as an expansive, never-ending space, I see it as a finite, irreplaceable space we must nurture and protect.
Nostalgia, memory and longing also play a distinct role in my work. I often find myself wishing I could return to the naïve child I was, engulfed in the magical wood, filled with imagination and wonderment, unburdened by the realities of today. And yet, I choose to live in the city of Oakland because I don’t want to ignore modern life. I want to be part of the art culture and environmental conversation about what is happening now, and how we as artists can use our voices to encourage ideas to change.
JV: About how long does is take for you to create one of your pieces? Is there a part to the process that you enjoy the most and/or least?
CM: I build all of my sculptures by hand, using porcelain clay. I start with a composition and gesture in my mind, I then visualize the piece with the emotion and thoughts I would like to convey. From there, I source photographic references for human and animal components to reference as I sculpt. I usually start by sculpting the legs, then move to the torso, the head and onto the arms and hands. Once all of the elements are in place, I then work up layers of detail. I love the intricate details like toes, horns feathers, fur, teeth, and the gestural composition I can create in the arms, hand and fingers. Porcelain is a very delicate material that takes time to set up and dry, this means I can often work on multiple pieces during the same time period. Once a piece has been sculpted, it must completely dry before being fired to roughly 2200° F in a ceramic kiln. From start to finish, including drying time, a piece can take about two months. Creating sculptures with porcelain can be very challenging, but I love the history associated with material and the delicacy and translucency I am able to achieve.
JV: Your current work is so gentle and provocative and we are so excited to see it in person. Any ideas of where your art will take you next?
CM: As a full time studio artist, I am continually trying to challenge myself with new projects. I find it important to deepen my interest, themes and concepts while also pushing my abilities. Through this new collection of work, I have enjoyed the new addition of trees, leaves, leading me to new adaptations of plant and animal. In the next year I hope to continue to expand on these ideas and can’t wait to see where I end up!
I really appreciate your time and interest in my work and I am so happy to share my thoughts and work with you! For more information, please visit my website at www.crystalmorey.com or follow my work on Instagram @cmorey! Thank you!
Delicate Dependencies is on display from October 14–29, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco.
Tracy Lewis is another fantastic artist among many who are currently on display for the “Femme to Femme Fatale” Beautiful Bizarre group show this month. Known for her delicate yet evocative watercolors, Tracy’s art has understandably become highly sought after in galleries and the homes of her admirers. She graciously extends her knowledge to those interested via workshops in California, where she lives, as well as vacation destinations.
Interview by Jessica Violetta.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Omniscient by Tracy Lewis
On view through October 8, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco for Femme to Femme Fatale curated by beautiful.bizarre Magazine.