Gallery Blog

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.

Kaspian Shore

(Founder of PRISMA Collective and Curator of Heavy Metal Lover)

Kaspian Shore

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 Pongracz

Audrey Pongracz

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

Kelly McKernan

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 J. Beckett

Kelsey Beckett

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 Hackett

Caitlin Hackett

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

N.C. Winters

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

Ling Ly

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

Kelly Vivanco

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

Sarah Joncas

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

Alex Louisa

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

Bec Winnel

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.

 

Henrietta Harris

Henrietta Harris

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 Kinnear King

Nom Kinnear King

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

Nicole Gustafsson

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

Christina Mrozik

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

Lilly Piri

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

Helice Wen

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.

Sheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess Opening ReceptionSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess Opening ReceptionSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess OpeningSheri DeBow Return of the Bubblegum Princess Opening

Sheri DeBow has graced our gallery once again for her show Return of the Bubblegum Princess. Her dolls are intricately crafted with the same love and passion that is seen when looking at them. Sheri draws great inspiration from the love and joy that her family brings to her life and the fabulous eccentricity that makes her who she is.


"Dolls are a tiny vehicle that mark history....mostly, I hope that people are moved."

From anime to hairdressing, she tells us about the experiences that inspire her and the process of bringing her imagination to life.

 Sheri DeBow Artist Interview

JV: This is your third solo exhibition with Modern Eden. How does it feel to have had such success with your work at this gallery?

SD: It's feels amazing that Bradley & Kim have not only made a place for & encouraged my work but also that they believed in me from the start. They are so professional and show so much great work at Modern Eden that it pushed me to really want to finesse my dolls and sculptures to another level!

JV: Can you talk a bit about the theme or concept behind this show, "Return of the Bubblegum Princess"?

SD: I have been wanting to work on this theme "Return of the Bubblegum Princess" for a while. I think the idea of "rites of passage" and the change of a girl into womanhood is a story easily told with dolls. I find a great power in feminine sexuality and this show is about the girls that hold that power and the innocence of the ones that haven't found it yet. I grew up loving comics, anime, the "Manga" girls and had a huge collection of dolls that were always so delicate and intricately beautiful to me. For me this show is a natural progression from all the childhood dolls & art I had loved to my own interpretation of how I view dolls today & the story they can tell at the fingertips of an artist.

 

Sheri DeBow Artist InterviewSheri DeBow Artist InterviewSheri DeBow Artist Interview

JV: I am so intrigued by the titles of your dolls. How do you come up with them?

SD: Choosing the titles for my pieces is a really fun process. Sometimes it starts with a line in a book I have read or the theme of a song. The title can be a twist on a well known saying like, in this show, "Two Hearts Are Better than One" of course comes from "Two Heads Are Better Than One". Since I always seem to come back to the theme of Love and what a huge role it plays in life many of my pieces come from that inspiration. As well, many of the titles stem from my own dealings with love in life as well as experiences I have either had with my kids or watched them have, from their triumphs to their heartbreaks. All the titles are very personal for me.

JV: That is really touching, thank you for sharing. Do you feel that your collectors influence the direction of the work you make?

SD: I love my collectors and I do want them to appreciate and connect with the work especially if I head in a new direction. But because I have such a strong vision about what I'm trying to say with my dolls I don't think the collectors influence the work. If I did commissions then maybe, but generally I have a story I'm trying to convey with a new collection and I just jump in and hope they will love it when it comes to life.

JV: That makes sense. It'd be great to hear a bit about your process. About how long does it take to make a doll from start to finish?

SD: It's difficult to say a set time period of how long each piece takes as I generally work on a collection at a time. So it's generally ten dolls or more almost assembly line style starting with wire armature laid out, then wrapped, sculpted, sanded, painted, glazed, clothes & wigged last! Each stage is done together in groups. I worked on this show creating 24 new pieces starting at the very end of December and ended the last week in February . And that was dolls & sculptures together in a two month period.

Sheri DeBow Artist InterviewSheri DeBow Artist InterviewJV: Amazing that you were able to get so much done in only two months! Do you have a designated studio space or is it something you work on all around the house?

SD: My poor family has to endure me everywhere in my house. I did start with a designated "Studio" space years ago but I'm super social & love to be with everyone so my artwork has pretty much melted into every space of my home. I honestly can't believe how patient my family is with my art & dolly messes, I guess they love me! ;)

Sheri DeBow Artist InterviewSheri DeBow Artist InterviewJV: It is clear that they do very much! What is your favorite part of the creation process?

SD: I love the initial process of making the wire armature because it's exciting knowing something new is coming. The sculpting starts giving them character. The painting creates their personalities with the expressions. These are all the parts I love. And then the sewing has to happen - I love it when it's done but it is torture and tedious while it's happening. I have a love/hate relationship with the sewing process. And finally the hairdos bring them to life. Since I spent 25 years being a hairdresser, old habits die hard so I definitely enjoy that part.

JV: Can you talk a bit about everyday things that inspire your work?

SD: I am inspired by everything from movies that visually grab me to all the life that is always happening around me with all my kids. I am inspired by books I've read but even fabric can inspire me. Especially vintage fabric because I think of where it's been and the stories it could tell.

Sheri DeBow Artist InterviewJV: Super interesting. What kind of message, if any, would you hope that your dolls are putting back out into the world?

SD: I truly hope that people feel love & joy from my creations. Even if a character has a sad face, I want people to know I poured so much love into that piece to get the perfect somber expression. Dolls are a tiny vehicle that mark history. They convey, fashion wise, a statement of the past or something current. They can speak love & comfort or they can also freak people out which is hilarious too. So, mostly, I hope people are moved.

Sheri DeBow Artist InterviewJV: Do you have a favorite or favorites in this current collection?

SD: In this collection I have a really hard time picking a favorite because there are different reasons that I love each piece. They are all incredibly personal and I have been considering this theme for so long I truly love them all!
***

Sheri DeBow's show Return of the Bubblegum Princess will be on display until March 25th here in San Francisco. Swing by the gallery Wed-Sat between 12 and 6pm to see her love and craftsmanship in person!

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.."

 Sarah Joncas

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Sarah Joncas Suburban Surreal

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.

Edith Lebeau's solo show When The Light Goes Out. Here, the Canadian artist opens up to us about what she calls her most personal work to date, soothing serious issues with serene pastel palettes and symbolic imagery. Below, she explains a thorough glimpse into her painting process as well as a list of current working artists whose faces you may notice in the series! Swing by the gallery soon to see the work up close. Read More
Sandra Yagi is a surrealist painter working out of her San Francisco studio to create highly informed works inspired by the dramatic realities of ecological dynamics. Here, Sandra has had the graciousness to share very thought-provoking statistics about modern wildlife and the human influence along with a glimpse into how she translates those discoveries into works of art. Read More
Emilio Villalba is a modern San Francisco based artist with an iconic painting style. His new series, Talk to Me features experimental portraiture rich in texture and distinctly muted palettes. Below, we were able to learn more about his investigative approach and the motives behind the work that he creates. Read More

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 at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryErika Sanada - Calvin Ma - Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryModern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba and Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at the opening reception at Modern EdenCrystal Morey Sculptures at Modern edenCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern EdenWorks on view by Emilio VillalbaCrystal Morey and Emilio Villalba Opening Reception at Modern Eden Gallery, SFArt viewing with Emilio VillalbaCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryLeilani and Jay BustamanteNew Works by Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey and crew at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey and Emilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryMonty Guy at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryOpening Night at Modern Eden October 14Crystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryPacked house at the galleryEmilio Villalba Talk to Me at Modern Eden GalleryModern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryJessica Violetta at Modern EdenCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio Villalba New Works on view at Modern Eden SFCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryOutside view at Modern Eden GalleryGallery view at the opening reception of Crystal Morey's Delicate DependenciesSide view, opening night at Modern Edenart watching with Emilio VillalbaCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryCrystal Morey at Modern Eden GalleryEmilio VillalbaCrystal Morey at Modern Eden Gallery

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.

Tracy Lewis in studio

JV: Tracy, it is great to speak with you again and in a bit more depth than we could at the opening for “Verdant” where you had a lovely piece in the group show here. As you know, I am a huge admirer of the way you have mastered watercolor painting in all of its unforgiving nature. What originally drew you to working with this medium?
TL: Thank you Jessica! Yes, it can be a somewhat unforgiving medium, but that’s one of the things I love about it. The challenge to get it right the first time. I love the transparency and luminosity you can get with watercolors by letting the colors mingle on the paper and by using thin glazes and letting the light of the paper show through. 
I first fell in love with watercolor when I saw some of Jeannie Vodden’s paintings at a county fair. They were so rich in color, yet delicate and dreamy…I had never seen watercolors like that before and I was hooked! At the time I was china painting, and even though that medium is oil based and has to be fired in a kiln, the visual qualities are similar, so it felt like a natural progression for me. I was fortunate enough to take watercolor lessons with Jeannie and then studied with Gary Pruner at American River College in Sacramento. They are both amazingly talented and generous teachers and really gave me a solid foundation with watercolor. 

I also find watercolor to be very meditative and I love juxtaposing the soft colors with somewhat darker themes and intensity. It’s a wonderful contrast that continues to fascinate me.
Tracy Lewis Watercolor Process
JV: In your bio, you mention a tendency to portray “beautiful contemporary women that are intense and a little mysterious”. This is interestingly specific. Is there any depth behind choosing this specific characteristic? Perhaps a personal resonance? 
TL: It has always been so hard for me to describe my portraits. I think I’m figuring them out as keep painting them. There was never really been a message that I consciously tried to portray, but as I keep painting them I’m listening to what they're trying to tell me. I’ve always been drawn to an intense look, mystery and melancholy. I just love silent movies and how the actors had to say things without words, one piercing look said it all. 
I’ve noticed over time that my woman are in a kind of contradiction of disquiet and harmony, they long to draw you near, yet keep you at arms length. I feel like they are fierce protectors of and at oneness with nature.
 
I guess in a way they are all self portraits, not physically… most of them are actually my daughter, but what they are trying to say. The fragility of our environment and the innocent souls that are harmed every day with no regard is always heavy on my mind. At the same time there so much beauty and joy in the world that it is sometimes wonderfully overwhelming. I think my paintings convey some of that feeling.  
Tracy Lewis in Studio
JV: It seems there was a bit of a stylistic transition for you in which you dropped the heavy (ink?) outline you had been using and began working entirely in lovely watercolor. Was this intentional and/or what made you choose to do it?
TL: I’ve always enjoyed working in ink. In high school I did a ton of pen and ink copies of Mucha’s and other Art Nouveau illustration. It was fun and gave me a real feel for organic line. When I started painting in watercolor I mainly worked with it alone, but I could see that the two mediums would give me a lovely contrast of hard line and soft watercolor washes, so I’ve gone back and forth. I still like to work this way occasionally. Some ideas just seem like they where made for the pairing.
Tracy Lewis Original Artwork
JV: Watercolor paintings seem to typically be on the smaller side (than, say, oil paintings). What is the largest size painting you have ever made or sold? I have always thought it would be super cool to see your work in a large size!
TL: The largest watercolors I’ve done have been 22”x30”. That’s a standard full sheet of watercolor paper. I generally work smaller than that, about half that size or less. They do make larger sheets of watercolor paper and even huge rolls. Actually, you might see some larger work from me soon! I did a large floral commission the first of the year and it was fun, made me want to more that size or bigger.
Tracy Lewis Workshop
JV: It is fantastic that you have made workshops available to those interested in learning from you. Do you have any pointers you can share with us for watercolor beginners?
TL: I think the main thing is to get a feel for the medium before trying to create a finished product. Watercolor can be frustrating if you try too hard to control it. Learn what it wants to do and let it happen, then you can use it to it’s full advantage. Take classes or watch online tutorials, there are a ton of them out there. If you end up really enjoying working with watercolor do yourself a favor and get professional quality supplies. You don’t need a ton of colors, as they can be mixed, even just a few of the right pigments can give you a full range of color. Most of my paintings are a very limited palette. I get a lot of watercolor questions on my Instagram page, so I’m setting up a new page just for watercolor tips and mini tutorials ~ TracyLewisArtStudio. 
Tracy Lewis Watercolor Studio
JV: We are so glad to have you here again this month for the group show. Can you tell us a little about the piece you have on display and how you were inspired by the theme?
TL: I’m thrilled to be a part of such an amazing show and had a great time at the opening! The idea of “Femme to Femme Fatale” has been recurring theme for me and one that just fits so perfectly in my body of work. I wanted to portray with subtle symbolism a woman that is both of these contradicting natures. My painting “Omniscient” represents the quintessential female. She is a balance of the nurturing feminine and the seductive femme fatale. With her lush blossoms and impending thorns, attracting bees and ladybirds, she is self-reliant, yet nurtures community. She is secretive, intuitive and filled with eternal love.
***

 

Omniscient by Tracy Lewis

  • Watercolor 
  • 10.5 x 13.5 in.
  • © 2016

On view through October 8, 2016 at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco for Femme to Femme Fatale curated by beautiful.bizarre Magazine.

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