Archive for the ‘Featured Artists’ Category

Tea Is Not Just For Grandma Anymore

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Tea is often associated with the elderly, or maybe royal family, drinking hot tea while sitting in a rocking chair in a robe and slippers.  However artists have been taking the teapot, and thus the image of a “tea drinker” to the next level.  One such artist is Gerard Justin Ferrari, who created a series of rather unusual teapots called Orphaned Teapots (2003-present).  Working in terra cotta, Ferrari created “an amalgamation of biology, mechanics, and technology”, which was influenced by the question of how life will be seen in the future.  The current relationship between humanity and technology is recognized and and further dissected.  Tromp-l’oeil rusted surfaces develop nature’s reclaiming of the objects which humanity has thrown away, or orphaned.  Below are some his creations, for more go to

Peter Foucault at the Richmond Art Center

Monday, November 24th, 2008

The role of technology in art is rapidly increasing, even at Mary Washington.
Recently, many would say, professors have been fusing digital media and traditional media in the assignments they give to their students’ and the use other technologies, including blogs, have become increasingly important components of the classroom experience. In that spirit, I’d like to take a moment to encourage everyone to swing on down to the Richmond Art Center for Peter Foucault’s exciting exhibition, External Influences. The artist uses small robots in tandem with other artists from the Bay Area of California to create drawings. Check out the images below or follow this link: for more information. I have yet to see the exhibit myself but look forward to seeing it soon.

Featured Artist of the Week- Shōji Hamada

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Shōji Hamada was a Japanese potter born in Mizonokuchi, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1894. He had a significant influence on studio pottery in the 20th century and was a major part of the mingei movement. Hamada attended the Tokyo Institute of Technology where he studied ceramics and eventually set up his workshop in Mashiko, which he established as a world renowned pottery center. Hamada is internationally recognized as the classic “Oriental potter” and has his work in museums all over the world. His work is known for it’s simple use of materials and basic designs and was influenced by a variety of folk ceramics, such as English medieval pottery, Korean pottery, and Okinawan stonewares. Mingei (or “folk arts”) was a Japanese folk art movement in the late 1920s and 1930s founded by Yanagi Sōetsu. Sōetsu believed that because of the industrialization taking place, the human touch and spirit was lost in the process of making everyday items. The idea behind mingei work was that it was hand crafted art of ordinary people. Those that participated in the movement believed that utilitarian objects made by common people were “beyond beauty and ugliness.” Criteria of mingei arts included that it was made by anonymous people, produced by hand, inexpensive, used by the masses, functional in daily life and representative of the regions in which they were produced. Because of his huge influence not only in Japan, but also the United States and the United Kingdom, the Japanese government declared Hamada a “Living National Treasure” in 1955. Even after his 1978 death, his work continues to be sought after by art collectors.


Pouring Vessel, Stoneware                                                        Lidded Bowl, Stoneware


Not Titled, wax resist and overglaze enamels              Not Titled, glazed stoneware


Friday, November 21st, 2008

Miquel Barcelo, a native from the Spanish Island of Majorca, recently completed his execution of the ceiling in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilisations Chamber in the U.N. near Lake Geneva. Barcelo has turned the dome of the chamber in to a cave-like atmosphere complete with stalagtites of multiple colors. The project was meant to represent our known world with all its complexities, richness and diversity. His inspiration derived from a hot day in the Sahel region in Africa saying “I remember with the vividness of a mirage the image of the world dripping towards the sky”. The project was said to have used hundreds of tons of paint in order to complete it. Despite the beauty that the finished ceiling holds, the methods for completion have come in to play through controversy. Once it became better know that the price of the project took on a whopping 25.25 million dollars, U.N. authorities became rather coy. The large sum of money was given to Barcelo from a couple sources, one being the ONUART foundation, and the other contribution came from the Spanish government. “The Spanish Government’s contribution drew partly on its development aid budget which lead politicians to wonder whether the money could have been better spent helping the sick and hungry.” For me the project raises issues of how far an artist should go to get their ideas created, and more importantly if it is ever that necessary for that amount of money to be spent on the creation of something non-functional.

Featured Artist of the Week- Shelia Hicks

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Sheila Hicks is an American textile artist whose work is a mixture of sculpture and tapestry. After receiving her BFA and MFA from Yale University, Hicks started her career painting in Chile on a Fulbright scholarship. It was during this time when her interest in working with fibers began. Hicks’ work is known for its distinctive colors and different scales- from miniature to gigantic. Materials used to create her designs include cotton, wool, linen, silk, goat hair, alpaca fur, paper, leather, stainless steel and found objects. Hicks’ has founded workshops in Mexico, Chile, and South America that use traditional methods to produce commercial textiles. Over the past 50 years, she has produced several large art commissions, the most known being the hanging for the conference room of the Ford Foundation in New York. Her work is exhibited permanently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Nebraska Art, the Museo de Bellas Artes in Chile and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Nantes.


Linen Lean-to, linen tapestry bas-relief                                    Hastings Visit to the Great Plains, linen,



Rus des Marronniers, Alpaca and silk                   Six Soft Stones, silk, wool, linen, monofilament,

                                                                                      mohair, nylon, cotton, garments- wrapped

The Drip Drops of Heide Trepanier

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Expanding upon Pollock’s method of thrown paint, artist Heide Trepanier creates intriguing new atmospheres out of controlled dripped paint.  Trepanier’s works begin as simple paint drops, however, using a fine-tipped tool, the artist carefully drags the drips across the canvas, creating delicate visual stimulations.  Each painting, although abstracted in essence, has a strong pervasive mood.  While some lines and blobs put forth a youthful air, others reek of stranger, perhaps more sinister elements.  Visit her website!  These slightly Seussical forms are colorful and intricate, inviting viewers to explore all regions of the canvas–perhaps exposing too, a darker side of fun.

Featured Artist of the Week- Stanley William Hayter

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Stanley William Hayter was a British painter and printmaker. His work is associated with Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. Hayter is known as one of the most significant printmakers of the 20th century and studied at the Academie Julian. After meeting printmaker Joseph Hect, Hayter was introduced to copper engraving and acquired a press for starting a printmaking studio. He founded the Aterlier 17 (renamed Atelier Contrepoint after Hayter’s death in 1988) studio in Paris, which was for artists young and old, experienced and inexperienced, to work together in exploring the engraving medium. During World War II, Atelier 17 moved to New York City but moved back to Paris in 1950. Hayter did not forget about painting though, and became an innovator in the Abstract Expressionism movement. His work has been influence to Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Mark Rothko, among others.


Allegro (Peace Portfolio I)                                                             Ixion

Screenprint                                                                                       Etching


Falling Figure                                                              Untitled 1976

Engraving, soft ground etching, scorper,              Watercolor, graphite, tempera



Untitled 1941                                                                     About Boats

Oil on Board                                                                      Color Engraving

A Whole New Spin…And Speed…On Art

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Sometimes people believe that masterpieces take time, patience, and detail.  However, this is not always the case.  Art and masterpieces come in all shapes, sizes, forms, and speeds.  Take a look at this video of Denny Dent painting Jimi Hendrix on a wall in what seems to be an alley-way type location.  Watch, and appreciate the diversity of art. Jimi Hendrix live painting by Denny Dent

Are you intrigued and want to know more about the artist known as the “rock and roll painter”?

Armed with three brushes in each hand, Dent paints a portrait of a musician during a short selection of one of his or her songs.  His unique painting ways and “Two-Fisted Art Attacks”, as they are called, have reached not only the music world, but the sports and even political world as well.  While Dent died in 2004, his face and impact on the art and music world is unforgettable.  Perhaps the one quote which sums up Dent as an artist and person is this:

“It’s not what you do, it’s the way you do it that makes you an artist. Whatever you do… do it with all your heart. Be what you are… Be creative!”


Featured Artist of the Week- Niki de Saint Phalle

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Niki de Saint Phalle is a French sculpture and painter. As a teen fashion model, Niki began teaching herself how to paint. After moving to Spain years later, she was inspired by Antonio Gaudi, who opened her eyes to using diverse material as structural elements in sculpture. de Saint Phalle became known for her “shooting paintings,” in which she would lay paint containers onto a wooden base board and then cover them in plaster. She would then shoot at the paint containers with a rifle, hitting the containers and causing them to spill their contents. de Saint Phalle traveled the world demonstrating this new “painting style.” In 1963, she stopped making “shooting paintings,” and began making “Nanas.” Nanas were freely posed forms, made of papier-mache, yarn and cloth and explored the various roles of woman. de Saint Phalle has many of her large sculptures in public places and in museums around the world.


Nanas, In Hanover                                                La Sirene, In Paris


Shooting Picture,1961        de Saint Phalle demonstrating her shooting painting

Lester Van Winkle

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
what a guy!

what a guy!

Here’s to Lester Van Winkle, amazing artist, inspiring professor (winner of the prestigious CAA Distinguished Teaching of Art Award and 2003 VCU Convocation Honoree), and dear friend.  Though he has retired there is much to continue learning from this “scooter” and I share some with you in this post:

“I just finished reading ‘Seabiscuit,'” said Professor Lester Van Winkle, referring to the story of jockey Red Pollard and the racehorse Seabiscuit, which has recently been made into a movie. “I’m a better man for it.”

That’s how Van Winkle frames the value of art in our lives. “Without Monument Avenue, Richmond would be just another town,” he says by way of another example. “And it doesn’t cost you anything to enjoy it.”

Professor Van Winkle, however, would rather talk about the “kids” – VCU’s sculpture students. “They are a magical lot with a compulsion to make things,” he said. “They are aggressive. They want to get ahead, and their curiosity is palpable.

“Most of them succeed in anything they try after college, whether it’s medicine or cooking or writing or art,” he continues. “They’re multitalented.”

And these students have a tendency to fill the seats of the best graduate schools in the country. “Our kids have been in every major graduate school. We’ve had two senior classes where every single student who applied got into the graduate program of their first choice,” Van Winkle said. “Other graduate schools are always soliciting us for our students,” he adds, although he said there is a rumor going around that the Chicago Art Institute has decided to accept only one VCU sculpture graduate per year because they are dominating the program.

The goal of the sculpture faculty is to leave students “with something in their head and something in their hand,” Professor Van Winkle said. Moreover, in a class devoted to a creative subject, there are no right or wrong answers, only “better or worse answers.”

That explains why the critique is so essential to teaching art. VCU’s critiques are “legendary,” Professor Van Winkle said. “Get a group of alumni together, and what they’ll talk about are critiques.” Among the most legendary are Lester Van Winkle’s. He is known for what his colleagues and students call “Lester’s Laws.” Examples include “Never let your story be more interesting than your art”; “There is nothing negative about space”; and “Always assume the viewer is more informed than you are.” Not for nothing are Professor Van Winkle’s critiques considered “condensed and diagnostic” according to his colleagues.

To him, effective teaching is about bringing out the best in all students, not just those with the most obvious talent. “Chuck Rennick once told me that any jerk can get by with the best work of his best students,” he said, referring to the late Professor Rennick who was chair of sculpture in 1969 when Professor Van Winkle joined VCU. “But those who really teach bring the back of the class up.”

In fact, the traits he admires most in his students are less about talent and more about their commitment to discipline. “A lot of people think art school is about sitting around emoting,” Professor Van Winkle said. “Actually, it’s a lot of hard work.”

His dedication to helping students persevere in translating their vision into an object is a reason he is regarded as the quintessential studio teacher, particularly in the wood shop and the foundry. There, commented one of his colleagues, “students directly confront the battle between artistic intent and the laws of nature. Of all the visual arts, the discipline of sculpture is most critically poised against gravity, material imperative and entropy.”

After he completed his bachelor’s degree in art with a minor in history (another lifelong interest of his, particularly the writings of Douglas Southall Freeman), he went on to the University of Kentucky for his master’s degree. “I entered college in 1963 and never left.”

Professor Van Winkle easily could have made his mark on the strength of his art alone. During the past three decades, he has built up an extraordinary body of work that has been exhibited in galleries in Richmond, Washington, D.C., New York City, Ankara SP, Turkey, and Lima, Peru, among other cities. His work can be found in the public collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the National Collection of American Arts, to name only two, as well as in 70 private collections, including those of Sydney and Frances Lewis and retired White House correspondent Helen Thomas.

But he likes being in higher education. “Universities are places of adventure,” he said. “Why would I want to be anywhere else?” From serving on the College Art Association’s Excellence in Teaching Art Committee to the thousands of dollars in grants he has attracted, Professor Van Winkle’s involvement in art has come mostly out of the university setting.

He is uncomfortable taking credit for the Distinguished Teaching Award, noting that it really is about his colleagues and what they have built over the past three decades and more. “We knew, back in 1969, that Yale wasn’t that much better than us, and that we had the tools to become quite special,” he said.

Yale’s sculpture program is still highly regarded, ranked second by U.S. News & World Report – right behind VCU. He credits the faculty and their own perseverance, generous spirit and belief in common goals over the years to building the number one ranked sculpture program in the country.

And there is another factor: the new School of the Arts Building on Broad Street. In 1969 sculpture classes were conducted in carriage houses, garages and basements all across the Academic Campus. “Thank God for President Trani,” he says about the new building that brings sculpture, crafts, and painting and printmaking students together in one location – “in a place they can call home,” he said.

What is most important to Professor Van Winkle is the fate of his students. “When they’re successful, when they get shows, when they get a piece in the Whitney Museum – that’s what makes my day. That’s validation.”


The following I circulate at popular request and with serious misgivings
that they might be ?mistook.?  These advisories or faux‑rules were first
instituted in 1974.  They were applied to a class of sophomores whose
insistence on repetitious inanities, like solutions and non‑thinking was
awe inspiring.  Out of desperation these notions were circulated to insure
some modest degree of creativity, or possibly a small revolution in a
class of really comfortable underachievers.  Although I intended them only
as beginners? guidelines, they have become known as Lester?s Laws.  These
?Laws? have been widely circulated at popular request and which edition
this is, is not known.

1.  Do not arrive on time for this class.  Be early and appear busy.
Punctuality and thrift precede cleanliness in the eyes of ?You Know Who.?

2.  Have ideas in your work.  Mere personal expression is unavoidable,
highly overrated, and can be sloppily self‑indulgent.

3.  If you have no ideas, check your pulse.

4.  If you have an idea (one) you are in trouble.

5.   If you steal ideas, cover your tracks.  Be the master thief.  Do the
perfect crime.  Or don?t.  Be a postmodern, deconstructivist, conceptual
appropriationist.  Plagiarism is in fashion.  Fashion is vicious and

6.  Remember that in our game an idea is no better than its articulation.

7.  Speak up in critiques.  Ye shall be known by your words.

8.  In critiques do not say, ?I like.?  For obvious reasons, like you’re
talking mostly about yourself . . . or whatever.

9.  If you believe that criticism is only personal opinion, quit school
now.  Save your money.  Personal opinions are absolutely free and in infinite
supply on the street.

10.Beware of art jargon.  No one knows what words like balance and
rhythm mean.

11. Believe me, there is nothing negative about space.  The
constructivists considered space a tangible material.

12. Never let your story be more interesting than your art.

13. Never explain your choices by what you did not want.  What you did
not want or intend is an infinite set.

14. Do not let American industry make the color, surface, image,
proportional or scale choices in your work.

15. High tech, avant‑garde or expensive traditional materials will not
improve bad ideas.

16. Simple repetition never doesn?t work.  Repetition, like contrast,
is a visual phenomenon, not a conceptual issue.

17. Do not make things the same size without good reason.  MODERN
REVISION:  No, do not make things the same size.

18. Do not center or divide things in the middle.  The middle is such
a swell place; it should always be reserved for special occasions.

19. Do not use obvious proportion ratios.  1:1, 2:1, 2:4 etc.

20. Avoid bilateral symmetry and 90 degree angles.  (See special

21. Do not arrange things that ?lead? your eye in a circle, square,
rectangle, triangle, cube, cone, etc.

22. If you want to use black, white, or gray, see me first.

23. Always make primary colors secondary choices.

24. Give color significant jobs to do in your work.

25. Paint all carvings, particularly stone carvings.

26. Find significant terminations for three‑dimensional lines.

27. Always radically modify or rectify found objects.

28. Remove source references from found objects.

29. Make weird things.  It is an artist?s job to do so.

30. Remember that all things in the same context relate.  Any further
similarities, connections, parallels, vectors, or threads only compound an
already existing relationship.

31.The only thing worse than a bad piece of sculpture is a big, bad
piece of sculpture.  Even worse is a big, bad, red piece of sculpture.

32.Trust your instincts.  Trust your intuition.  They are your best