Happy Valentine’s Day from Quirk!

Emeralds N' Coral

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Quirk! We know today isn’t for everyone and that all that goes along with Valentine’s Day can be a little polarizing. It is, however, one of our favorite days of the year. It’s a reason to celebrate love in all forms. You may take today to share love with the family you were born into or with the friend family you’ve built over the years. You may have a special way of celebrating with your spouse, partner, or significant other. Today’s also a great day to indulge in candy, buy yourself flowers, or splurge on dinner. Maybe you’d rather just protest the celebration of Valentine’s Day and celebrate love after the 14th. No matter how you spend today, don’t forget about all the ways you can continue to show your love to those who are special to you. Whether you’re celebrating solo or sharing some love with the ones you’re with, there’s always room for romance. Here’s our input on a few of the things we think are romantic.

 

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In the ultimate expression of love, we’ve made a mix for you to enjoy! Check out some of our favorite Valentine’s themed songs as well as a few of the songs that make us happy. We’ve been playing these tunes all day and we’re really feeling the love!

 

Brenna Wilson: An Introduction to the Artist Behind Our Next Workshop

Join us Wednesday, November 30th at 6 PM for our Winter Workshop! Strawberry Fields will provide everything you’ll need to create a beautiful terrarium. Brenna Wilson of Strawberry Fields will teach you step by step the process of making a one of a kind and easy to care for holiday centerpiece. Invite a friend or loved one to make a night of it and take home a terrarium! 

 

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Quirk Gallery: Can you tell us a little about you?

Brenna Wilson: Originally from Arizona, I am a transplant Virginian with a love for the outdoors. I adore plant life; cacti, succulents, ferns, moss, trees and especially flowers! I graduated from VCU with the intention of becoming a Visual Artist or Urban Designer and stumbled upon Floral Design. In my spare time I am an aspiring photographer and traveler.

img_5981 20150515_165231                                            Images by Wilson of the Arizona that inspired her love of succulents, cacti and more.

Q: What brought you to Strawberry Fields and what is your role there?

B: I was a frequent Strawberry Fields customer before working there.

Strawberry Fields is a small local business with a small staff. To keep things running smoothly everyone is in charge of quite a few things and like to get creative with our job titles.  I am the plant manager, social-media-lite, head of photography, happiness supervisor, chief of workshops and a floral designer. Officially…I am the shop manager.

Q: When did your interest in floral design begin?

B: Floral design has always been something that I admired, both artistically and visually. Flowers have been important to me as long as I can remember but I never thought I would have the opportunity to work in the field. It is a dream job, a lot like becoming an astronaut or a photographer for National Geographic. I am so grateful to work with nature in a creative way.

Q: Other than working at Strawberry Fields and teaching workshops locally- what are ways you work creatively?

B: Outside of Strawberry Fields I do freelance and experimental photography. I love to photograph people- weddings, engagements, head shots, families…. anything really. My favorite creative venture is traveling and photographing with Polaroids. I have two old Polaroid cameras that only use reinvented or expired film.  I love experimenting with them. It is truly magical and inspiring.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-4-19-07-pmBrenna’s photography set up when traveling

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            A beautiful bouquet by Strawberry Fields 

Q: Our terrarium workshop with you will have whites, greens and pink- connecting to how Quirk celebrates the season. Can you tell us about these terrariums?

B: Quirk has clean crisps whites, pops of pinks and lots of life! In this workshop we will create a wintery terrarium inspired by Quirk and the holiday season. We will construct our terrariums using only white sand and rocks, dusty green-/blue succulents and of course- PINK crystals!

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             The terrarium for our workshop!

GUARD N FLAGS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ARTISTS BEHIND OUR NEXT WORKSHOP

Elisa Rios and Emma Barnes are the creative duo behind Guard n Flags, a business that has been creating custom flags since 2014. The two have been working together creating pieces for businesses, events and locals to express personalized messages in the form of a flag. This week they will be doing a screen printing workshop at Quirk. Make a garden flag with them and consider themes of growth, care, friendship and love. Emma and Elisa will provide the flag, ink and screens to teach printing techniques to those who register. Everyone will go home with their very own garden flag and a copy of the zine they put together for the workshop! I took some time to go to their studio and talk to them about their lives and their business.

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Quirk Gallery: How did you meet? Can you tell us a little bit about both of your backgrounds?

Guard n Flags: We were both painting and printmaking students, but met through our work as interns at Studio Two Three. It is funny though, we can’t really remember how we met– it sort of just happened and it clicked. We also bonded over our queer cinema class with Liz Canfield!

When did you start screen printing together?

We took on a lot of print projects together as interns like flyers, bookmarks, and t-shirts. We also helped teach workshops and did live printing at events like the street art festival together.

When did your interest in making become something you both wanted to do for a living? Your business Guard n Flags began in May of 2014 – What was happening then for both of you?

We both admired the way Studio Two Three functioned, our involvement in it and the people who were and still are a part of it. Ashley Hawkins, the executive director of  Studio Two Three has inspired us immensely by creating a space intended to help artists do their own work — a space that was created to make artistic practices more accessible. We want to reflect that idea by collaboration with others. Through our commission work we offer a space for others to express their own ideas, and make their ideas become more tangible. From our experience as interns & involvement with Studio Two Three, we realized that our love for making could be practical, profitable and eventually become what we decided to do for a living.

In 2014, when we decided to begin our work as Guard n Flags we were transitioning out of interning and started taking on small commissions together. Our first flag was made for Verdalina on Broad Street.

After our first few commissions, we realized we wanted to find this line between something that can feel like “fine art” but be accessible and affordable. We wanted to break down the hierarchy of business and art. Which is why we want to make flags for shops, and help locals represent themselves. We recently made a logo and flag for Tiny Space in Churchill and we’re really excited about what they’re about.

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Anna Vanneman holds a custom Tiny Space flag sporting the logo Emma and Elisa created for the shop. Tiny Space is a retail establishment that prides itself on handmade and handpicked items.

Let’s talk about the process – with custom work how much back and forth is there? Are the flags all handmade as well as screen printed?

We do a lot of emailing with custom orders to communicate with clients about what will best fit their vision or idea. Usually the custom ordered flags are custom sewn and always screen printed.

We’ve always been drawn towards fabric. Paper is overly precious and it easily gets messed up, fabric can be washed, it can be folded up – it’s more versatile and we really like that.

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This Moonage Daydream flag was composed for Catalyst Wedding Company in 2014. “By basing our flags and banners around our client’s personal expression, we work to emphasize the individual in a way that redefines what a wedding should feel or look like. “

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                                 A Zodiac flag folded up and ready to go. This one if from a series of many featuring all of the Zodiac signs. 

I know you’ve talked about the tradition of flags, how flags act as a way to make the personal political, to declare your own history and re-present yourself – how did you decide flag making was the way to express this?

Well as our mission states, we became interested in flags because they are objects that have historically expressed pride, power, and tradition. As individuals we have the ability to take ownership of our histories and representations. Through the declarative act of flag making, Guard n Flags highlights how the personal is political. Agency in representation is very important to us. Claiming space for self representation is an important  political act for people.

We feel that claiming your own space is an act of self care. Flags can be a marker to claim that space. Traditionally flags have represented bodies of people, and places in a general way. We try to make flags more specific by helping individual people create objects that represent themselves, their family, or their interests.

Richmond Zine Fest Flag- 9th Annual Zine Festival

Guard n Flags made this custom flag for the annual Richmond Zine Festival in 2015! This flag was created for the 9th Festival and declares an open space with an emphasis on consideration and care for all who attend. 

Music and text seem deeply embedded in your identities as makers. This is reflected in your exhibition work, your flags etc. Who are some writers, poets and musicians that are most relevant to your work today?

Music is political! It has the ability to represent narratives and reach a broad audience. It’s accessibility and ability to deeply connect is important.

Artists who inspire us and do this:

Erykah Badu

Kendrick Lamar

bell hooks

Rupi Kaur

Audre Lorde

Lauryn Hill

Nikki Minaj

Angel Olsen

Julie Karr

Gloria Anzaldúa

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Continuing to talk about text – There is a lot of wordplay starting with your business name and the name for your workshop with us at Quirk “Garden Flags with Guard n Flags”, there is a sense of duality in meaning and in identity. Can you talk about how you use text and why it is important to you both?

We like to play around with text because sometimes it can feel more accessible, but it can also build a lot of duality and leave things open for readers. Words can carry different identities, meanings, complexities and we like opening that up. We like to revisit dictionary definitions of words and re-write re-work what they can be. This relates back to how people represent themselves. People are complex and changing, we aren’t limited or boxed into these identities society has placed on us.

guard
noun : a person whose job or duty is to watch and protect someone or something
verb : to take up a protective or defensive stance (over something)
transitive verb : to protect an edge with an ornamental border
: to tend to carefully: preserve, protect

flag
noun : a piece of cloth, varying in size, shape, color and design, usually attached at one edge to a staff or cord, and used as a symbol of a nation, state, or organization, as a means of signaling
verb : to mark (a page in a book, file card, etc.) for attention
: to communicate (information) by or as if by a flag

An example of Guard n Flags using definitions to reveal the different meanings behind their word choices, specifically their business name. 

Friendship Garden 2015

All flags for the workshop will be a red vinyl with varying options for color of ink, text and image design. This garden flag was made in 2015.

Below is the Zine Emma and Elisa created for the workshop, an interactive and open piece that gives insight into their thought process and discussions relevant for our Garden Flags workshop.  

 

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Spring: a playlist curated by Brian McDaniel

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We’ve fallen a little behind on our mixtapes lately but we hope you’ll enjoy the latest curated by Brian McDaniel—one of our all-time favorite Richmonders. Brian did make this for us in anticipation of spring but these selections still work for a chill summer day.

 

Quirk’s Vintage Valentine Mixtape

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It’s probably no surprise that Valentine’s Day is Quirk’s favorite holiday—pink, hearts, flowers, chocolate, cards, presents—how can you go wrong? We’re also a couple of suckers for a good love song. Sara Gossett, a favorite Richmond artist and one of the greatest people you will ever meet, put together this terrific playlist of groovy love songs just for us. Sara has the most amazing taste in music and we’ve been lucky enough to have her DJ a few events for us at Quirk. If you’re spending the weekend in RVA, Sara and her partners, Eliza and Mary will be playing records at Balliceaux this Saturday night (https://www.facebook.com/events/1591786987733922/). Thanks for the tunes, Sara and Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! XOXO, Quirk.

 

Quirk Gallery’s Best of 2014 Mixtape

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Hope 2014 was as good a year for you as it was for us. While we’re looking ahead to our own bright future in 2015, we can’t help but reflect on the great things about this past year: we started work on a new home, got a new puppy, made some new friends, exhibited some amazing artwork, and had an awful lot of fun throughout. Here are some of the songs that scored 2014 and will always remind us about the good times!

FUTURE PRIMITIVE MIXTAPE

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Jason Mazzola took over this months mixtape! A talented dude both in art and music, he has done design work / shirts for Strike Anywhere, Midnight, Rival Schools, Praise, and fliers for Vinyl Conflict…. let alone being in RVA’s own band Cloak/Dagger. The inspiration for this mixtape is said best in his own words:

“I went with a past, present and future theme with some songs that got me into punk and hardcore that I heard on skate videos at a young age, some songs that have stayed favorites of mine over the years and some potential favorites from newer releases. 

I think it’s important to take from the past, live in the now and look forward to the future as far as music goes since there are so many good bands, people and so much creative energy that goes into making music.  

Sadness, anger, late night drives, long walks at night, early morning coffee overseas all memories with a soundtrack. Through the good times and the bad music is always there at the right time. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the songs that made me fall in love with music and remind me in the future it will be there to fall in love with all over again. 

Some of these songs were passed down by a friend’s mix tape that passed away at age 14 and those songs still hit my heart just as hard as when I first heard them back then. I had a piece of paper with the song titles written on them as a treasure map to the world of music that is out there to enjoy. Some of which are records I never found. “

Hope you enjoy!

Significance of Stuff

by Lucy

Quirk loves stuff.  We love art, objects, trinkets, knick-knacks, tchotchkes, and the unspoken stories told by inanimate things and collections.  Recently we had the pleasure of hearing venerated artist Mark Dion, another great appreciator of “stuff,” speak about his prolific body of work at the University of Richmond.  Dion is widely recognized for his use of context and juxtaposition to create large installations that rebuff an audience’s expectations while also piquing their curiosity.

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Dion during his epic 1999 Tate Thames Dig project, a 2008 wunderkammer titled “Travels of William Bartrand – Reconsidered”

His spaces and pieces initiate intimate interaction with viewers who find all senses stimulated by Dion’s attention to detail and environment.  Listening to Dion speak about his body of work brought to mind another artist loved by Quirk for his appreciation of nuance and whimsy, filmmaker Wes Anderson.  

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Part of Dion’s “The Marvelous Museum: A Mark Dion Project” 2010, still from Anderson’s 2007 short film “Hotel Chevalier”

Known for his creation of “self-contained worlds” within the movies he spearheads, Anderson’s visual style depends heavily on context to further an unspoken tale, much as the spaces created by Dion do.  Anderson and Dion both use narrative tools to create “versions” of our world to encourage viewer interaction and inquisitiveness, much in the same way that we do at Quirk when installing exhibitions and arranging the shop. 

 

Dion and Anderson both rely on the biographical nature of a person’s belongings to articulate intangible ideas to their audience.  In Anderson’s projects the figure is still present in their surroundings, whereas often in Dion’s work the figure has just stepped off of the scene.  The popularity of Anderson’s movies depends heavily on the appearance of their sets, like the meticulously detailed multi-level townhouse of the Tenenbaum clan, or the mid-20th century magnificence of the “Grand Budapest Hotel.”

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Stills from “The Royal Tenenbaums,” the lobby of the “Grand Budapest Hotel”

The sets of these movies are tributes to their characters, much as many of Dion’s pieces are a tribute to their location or an absent protagonist.  His piece “The Curator’s Office” is based upon the office of non-fictional Barton Kestle, original curator of the Minneapolis Museum of Art, whose mysterious disappearance 1954 left his office unopened for decades.

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“The Curator’s Office” 2013

Once opened in 2013, Dion used Kestle’s office to create his own idea of Kestle and then “The Curator’s Office.”  The books on the shelf, cigarette butts in the ashtray, and watermarks on the floor from where the Curator would’ve removed his rain boots act as Dion’s faceless portrait of Kestle.

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detail from “The Curator’s Office”

 

“Oceanomania” by Dion, installed at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, tells of Prince Albert I of Monaco and his passion for ocean exploration through Dion’s creation of the “largest ever curiosity cabinet of the sea.”

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“Oceanomania” 2011

Viewers of the piece are encouraged to visually move through its space from afar, as quadrants of the cabinet are unreachable.

Mark Dion OCEANOMANIA – Souvenirs des Mers Mystérieuses, de l’expédition à l’aquarium. Cabinet de curiosités pour le Musée Océanographique de Monaco, 2011 © Michel Dagnino

Detail of “Oceanomania”

At Quirk we encourage this type of interactive observation when installing exhibitions.  Viewers traveled through Andras Bality’s January 2014 show as they would a road-trip through the state of Virginia, beginning with paintings inspired by the eastern coast of the state and culminating in the state’s mountainous western region.  Tyler Thomas’ 2013 Vault show immersed guests with its jam packed inclusion of artwork and objects that, combined, formed a pseudo-autobiography of the artist himself.

 

Audience interaction is essential to Dion and Anderson’s work and how they invite intimate viewer involvement.  Dion’s site-based and gallery installations provoke audiences to explore the pieces with all their senses.  In his piece “Society for Amateur Ornithologists” Dion urges visitors to relax and touch the space’s contents, something often frowned upon in conventional gallery settings.

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Exterior and interior views of “The Society for Amateur Ornithologists” 2010

Dion even offers visitors liquor in “Society for Amateur Ornithologists,” activating their sense of taste, but only from fowl-themed brands such as Grey Goose and Wild Turkey (a whimsical touch that would not be out of place in a film of Anderson’s).  Although Dion’s noteworthy museum-installed Wunderkammers have working drawers for gallery-goers to open and explore, he denies their expectations by organizing the contents of the cabinets in non-traditional ways or by hiding certain collections in labeled boxes.  In this way Dion maintains a curiosity within participants of his work, a desire for more information than what he has explicitly given them.

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One of Dion’s characteristic red and blue sketches, details from his archaeology inspired work

Like Dion’s installations, Quirk’s shop is curated with a interactive aesthetic, where surprising textures, shapes and smells coalesce to create an immersive experience for visitors.  The shop acts as a sensual invitation to guests who can touch and smell a particularly delightful Library of Flowers soap or No. 311 candle, and are encouraged to try on fine jewelry made of traditional and nontraditional materials.

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Soaps and odds-and-ends sold by Quirk

Conversely, Anderson keeps the viewer as a surveyor of intimate interactions between characters, rather than allowing them to be a player in the scene.  Movie watchers of Anderson’s films find fascinating detail in their sets and appearance, but are unable to cross the threshold of reality into the movie.  They become mentally engaged in the appearance of the film as much as they are the plot, but are left without the physical collaboration inherent in Dion’s work. 

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Characters in Anderson’s “Bottle Rocket” 1996, “The Royal Tenenbaums” 2001

 

Part of the appeal of Dion and Anderson’s productions is their use of in-expertise and ambiguity to create their own versions of a fantasy-peppered reality.  Dion is a self-described “Martian archaeologist,” at times approaching the individual components of his installations with both honest and feigned ignorance of their original use.  This dilettante approach to science and archaeology has become one of the trademarks of Dion’s work.  Rather than presenting his finds during his epic 1999 Tate Thames Dig project by chronology or material as a trained archaeologist might, Dion implemented non-literal and unexpected organization methods in the work’s central Wunderkammer.  Blurring the lines further between science and art is Dion’s piece “Neukom Vivarium,” a structure built for and containing a 60 foot Western Hemlock nurse tree in Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture park.  Part greenhouse-part-living diorama, “Neukom Vivarium’s” oxygen-tent-like surroundings turn the nurse tree into a capsule of the forest ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest.

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Exterior and interior views of “Neukom Vivarium” in Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture park, 2006

 

Similarly, Anderson has discussed his own movies as “self-contained worlds” that act as narrative tributes to his characters.  Many of his films are set in unspecified time periods, allowing viewers to mentally interact with the movie by connecting visual clues.  WIth this manipulation of context and audience expectations Anderson was able to set “The Royal Tenenbaums” in New York City without ever including the words “New York City” in the film.  By not defining time period or location Anderson emphasizes that the worlds of his movies are his version of the world, no matter how similar they may seem to our reality.

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Richie’s gallery in the Tenenbaum house, Elizabeth Coffey’s October 2014 Vault show

 

Quirk uses the same narrative tools as Mark Dion and Wes Anderson to establish renditions of reality for participant exploration and to inspire curiosity.  Every aspect of the gallery and shop is considered to create a completely immersive moment for gallery goers and shoppers alike.  We love our stuff, but more than that we love it when visitors love our stuff.  Whether it’s a painting in the gallery, an Aggie Zed ceramic figure, or a pair of sunglasses, the smallest things can have the most significance.

 

Mark Dion is part of a group show called “Forecast,” on view at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Anderson Gallery through December 7th, 2014. 

BONNIE’S TAKE OVER

This month, we asked our friend Bonnie Staley to take over the mix-tape! She was the perfect lady to ask, an amazing singer/ songwriter/ guitarist performing in bands and solo acts around town. Ranging from old country to new progressive rock – this girl has serious talent. Her playlist has been on repeat for days! Enjoy!

Artwork  for ‘Bonnie’s Takeover’ by: Penelope Umbrico

Beer Can Hanging Planter

This quick and cute project works with any type of aluminum drink can, we just happened to have these delightful beer cans on hand after a recent opening.

WHAT YOU NEED

WHAT YOU NEED

1.  aluminum drink can
2.  can opener
3.  hole punch
4.  string or twine
5.  pebbles
6.  potting soil
7.  plant (mine is in great need of some TLC)

02_and_03_can-openerUse the can opener to remove the top of the can.  If it takes a couple go-rounds with the can opener do not dismay, some cans are easier to do this to than others!  As you’re removing the top of the can with the can opener it’s also folding down the sharp edge it leaves, making the lip of the can finger friendly.

04_and_05_hole-punch-and-stringsUse a standard hole punch to make the holes for the planter’s strings.  We’ve found that three strands of twine is a good amount to hang this size planter from, more than that looks excessive and aren’t necessary for stability.

06_putting-rocks-in-canTo allow the soil to drain when watering my plant I put pebbles in the bottom of the can.  If using rocks collected outside it’s a good idea to rinse them with water and a mild soap.  Holes poked in the bottom of the can will serve the same purpose, but have a higher potential for drippiness during watering.

07_putting-dirt-in-canAfter placing rocks in the bottom of the planter it’s time to add the soil.  We used a generic potting mix.  Almost finished!

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Once the can is mostly filled with dirty it’s time to add the plant, adding more dirt around it after placing it in the can.  This little guy is the only survivor from a terrarium I made at Quirk event this spring–hopefully his new digs will bring him back to life!

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And voila!  Happily planted!

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Have fun using different cans, plants, and types of string for your planters.  Some of these are succulents, some are climbing vines, and some are mystery plants that have been floating around Quirk needing a cute new home.  Enjoy emptying your cans and craft away!

 

 

 

 

From the desk of: Barbara Iobst

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Barbara Iobst works in tin, paper and fabric.  Her pieces cut from printed tin were featured on Quirk’s shop walls in February 2013 and in the archives.  For the fall she created block printed fabric owls, plus bats and crows, for our front window.  This April and May, her soft-sculpture snails of fabric and found objects are bringing spring to Quirk’s front window.  (Plus some block printed bunny banners and funky fabric vegetables.)  Barbara grew up on a farm where she drew pictures and wrote stories about the many animals with whom she spent her days.  After college she had corporate careers, then got her MFA in Creative Writing at VCU and taught for seven years before falling back into the big beautiful world of visual art.  We asked Barbara to be the first in a series of profiles of some of our favorite artists and their work spaces.  She shared a little bit with us about the studio in which she creates her unique and whimsical pieces.  She happily obliged and told us how she uses the space, what she surrounds herself with for inspiration, and also introduced us to some friends that do their part to make her studio feel more like home.

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“I LOVE my studio.  When I got serious about making art in my forties, I took over the large spare bedroom in the house I share with my husband Jerry and our four dogs, three cats and two parakeets.  Last year the house began renovation to repair and update all the walls, windows, doors and ceilings, and thanks to my husband Jerry and his work partner Chris Green, my studio got a total transformation.  I now have a 13-foot worktable space that stretches from one corner window to the other!  Am I lucky or what?  It is awesome.  I also have shelved closets in both my studio and the bedroom next door.  My tins are so space-consuming they’re in a shed outside.  In addition, my nephew gave me a kick-ass stereo system with six speakers, so I can plug in my I-pod and indulge completely when I’m at work.

On my center worktable, the shelf unit of little jars was made by my late father.  It sat on his workbench for many years and held nails and screws and stuff for woodworking.  He was an amazing furniture maker.  I am blessed to have his only free-form sculptures made from scraps of wood.  That handsome fellow in the Navy uniform is my dad in his 20s.  My tendency to create with what’s at hand must be hereditary.  My parents married during World War II  when silk was hard to come by.  My father, who was a Navy airplane navigator, sent my mother a silk flare parachute, and her mother and grandmother turned it into her beautiful wedding dress.  My mother, who will be 90 this year and is still going strong, is a maker, too, of anything and everything.  She taught me how to sew, and we’ve made some fun things together, including a frog bride and groom caketopper for my niece’s wedding.

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My father died in 2004.  A while after that, I felt what seemed like an infusion of imagination and creativity, and it felt so right, I began to really get serious about my art.  I am amazed to feel like I will never run out of ideas.  Because of its timing, I wondered if that boost of creative juice came from him, like a passing on of that energy.

 The other handsome face there is my dog Big as a pup, leftover from some collage.  There’s a quote taped there by American Visionary Art Museum artist Clarence Schmidt: “Would you believe I done all this?”  On the top shelf is part of my collection of 3D animal creations.  Some wooden insects dancing and conducting, a vintage Steiff tiger puppet, a little bobbing-head dragon from World of Mirth, and from some of my favorite Etsy artists, a papier-mache bird by Kathy Baggett and The Detective dog is by the artist Evgeniya.  The big whimsical cat in front is by artist Amanda Katzenmeyer.

Live animals appear in my studio, too.  Orca the cat, alias Schmorkel or Meathead, likes to supervise from his falling-apart box behind my sewing machine. His brother Moki often joins him.  19-year-old Scoopy cat often comes in yowling for attention. One or more of the four dogs, Big, Stella, Ki and Homey, can usually be found on the couch behind my tables.  Usually their interruptions are welcome and delightful.  Occasionally 70-pound hound Stella decides she has to get in my lap NOW and she’s muddy and wet, or Big’s incessant pestering for lunch or dinner at least an hour before they’re due is unusually distracting!

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99.9% percent of my subject matter and inspiration is animals.  I am spellbound by their shapes, personalities, textures, colors, behavior.  I study them constantly.  I also love children’s picture books and seeing other artists’ depictions of animals, 2- and 3-dimensional.  I love how whimsy and silliness and beauty can all come together into something amazing.

 I am also inspired by materials.  I love turning one thing into something else, whether it’s a rug, a tin can, a yogurt cup, an old pair of corduroys….  I love seeing things come to life from some throwaway no one would believe could turn into THAT.  For instance, the faces on my wall made from printed tin containers.  Who would’ve thought a Danish butter cookie tin could become a kudu’s antlers?  Or a dented antique toy “Mike Mulligan” pail a goat’s ears?  Some of my bats at Quirk in the fall had wings made from a tool apron, a folding fan, and a sport kite. Currently at Quirk are my soft-sculpture snails made of fabric and found objects, such as a baskety handbag I held onto for something like 30 years, a lampshade, a straw hat brim, tiny suede roof shingles from an old lederhosen.  This stuff inspires me.”

Adam Juresko, (When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream

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Adam Juresko is a prolific artist with a distinct voice and style that any Richmonder will recognize from seeing his artwork in galleries and restaurants throughout the area.  His reach certainly extends beyond RVA through the sale and distribution of his popular movie posters.  Adam re-imagines the graphics and adds vivid colors and typography for a result that is often more dynamic and evocative than the original.  You can see some of these same ideas used in his artwork.  For his current Shop Show at Quirk, Adam has created 36 brand new pieces that incorporate graphic wallpaper with portraits and images manipulated through a copying process that helps achieve the stylized picture quality.  His opening at the beginning of this month was a huge success and we’re so thrilled Adam is spending more time in Richmond after calling Philadelphia home for the past few years.  In advance of his Shop Show, Adam obliged us by answering a few questions about himself and his new body of work.

Quirk Gallery: How do you decide on the content of your work?  What is it that inspires the combination/juxtaposition of the images you use?

Adam Juresko: I’ll arrange for a gaggle of magazines to show up at my house very late in the night.  Like, 4,5 a.m.  As they parade themselves in through my doorway I’ll jump out and just really give them a good scare.  Whatever pages come flapping out of them as they shake in pure terror I’ll snatch up like one of those contestants in a money booth.  I’ll use those images.

QG: Is there something about your work that you hope viewers will recognize?  What do you hope they’ll take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?

AJ: Oh, I don’t know.  I suppose they are pretty open to interpretation, or flat out mockery.  I can’t imagine anything I do as having any profound affect on anyone so I really don’t think about that side of it when I’m working.

QG: What’s next for you?  Are you working on any other projects?

AJ: I have a music project named DECADES/FAILURES that I spend an embarrassing amount of time on.  Writing music, recording music, that’s really important to me.  I don’t really have anything else going on.

QG: Are there things about Richmond, specifically, that you find artistically inspiring?

AJ: There are so many great artists here and it just makes me want to do better.  The work ethic here is really what inspires me and in a way I’m just trying to keep up.  You see these incredible people really putting in the effort, perfecting their craft and it makes you want to step up and do the same.  I appreciate that to no end.

QG: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do or favorite places to go?

AJ: I have an incredibly hard time leaving my room or relaxing so I guess I’m always trying to work on something.  I do like getting out to the movies, or even just riding around on the bus is kinda nice.  I was in the Kroger closest to campus a few days ago and this woman was in front of me actually factually crying on the phone to her mother saying repeatedly how she didn’t know how to do this and she was fully having a breakdown in front of me.  I assumed she was just talking about having to shop for groceries by herself but if she was talking about life in general I was like, yeah, I know what you mean.

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Adam Juresko’s Shop Show, “(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream” continues at Quirk Gallery through Saturday, April 26.  His work can be seen along with the work of Amy Rice (Main Gallery) and Arlie Trowbridge (The Vault).

Arlie Trowbridge

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Since graduating from VCU’s School of the Arts in 2010, Arlie Trowbridge has become a seriously accomplished artist creating wearable glass pieces and producing work for her jewelry line, Urban Revisions. You may have seen her signature glass cluster rings and necklaces or her shredded scarves in Quirk’s shop over the years.  Her work has been featured in Real Simple, Nylon, Ready Made, Good Housekeeping, and is the April issue of Southern Living.  For her current Vault Show at Quirk, Arlie created a large body of  brand new pieces that are absolutely stunning.  After her opening earlier this month, Arlie answered a few questions for us from her home and studio in Asheville, North Carolina.

Quirk Gallery: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?  Where did you grow up?  How did your artistic pursuits begin?

Arlie Trowbridge: I was born in Richmond and grew up in a few different areas of Virginia including Ashland and Norfolk. I spent all my time making art as a kid, so attending VCU art school was a no brainer. I loooved art school. Exploring so many different mediums in Art Foundation was heaven to me! I chose Photography & Film as my major but discovered glass while fulfilling an elective credit during my senior year. At the time, I was receiving the VMFA undergrad fellowship for my work in photography and was able to quit my part time job lifeguarding and start an online shop under the name Urban Revisions to sell my creations. Things really took off shortly after I graduated in 2010 and I have been giving Urban Revisions my full time attention ever since. I made the move to Asheville about two years ago. A lot of friends were migrating here and everytime I visited I felt a sort of ease and charm that I hadn’t found anywhere else. I love living on mountain time. People are rarely in a rush but they work hard and get things done. It’s a nice pace for my studio practice and the scenery in Asheville is gorgeous!

QG: What is it that inspires your work?  How did your glass jewelry develop and evolve?

AT: I am inspired by natural forms and how light can affect any given moment.  My style of glass jewelry evolved by experimentation. The first year I spent on the torch, I worked solely with clear glass and focused most of my time building textures and watching how the light would react within a piece.  I have always been a ring kind of gal. I’ll never forget the day I created my glass cluster ring design. I had just picked it up from the kiln at the VCU crafts studio and was riding in my friends car… I held my hand out the window in the bright sunlight and knew wearable glass was my true love! I have been experimenting with the clusters for four years now and I never get bored.

QG: Is there something about the work exhibited at Quirk that you hope viewers will recognize?  What do you hope they’ll take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?

AT: I hope people will gain some sense of awe and bewilderment when viewing my new crystal pieces. I get an overwhelming sense of excitement watching my textures evolve while flameworking. It’s very similar to how I feel while standing in my favorite crystal shop. It’s hard to believe these beautiful forms exist! When I discovered I could facet glass to look so similar to quartz or amethyst, I couldn’t believe that was real either.

QG: What’s next for you and your future work?  Are you working on any other projects?

AT: Along with growing my jewelry line under Urban Revisions, I am hoping to create bigger glass pieces this coming summer. I have been dabbling in some sculptural ideas that will live and move in windows.

QG: How do you find artistic inspiration?  How do you stay motivated?

AT: These days, I stay motivated and inspired by working. Even when I don’t feel like it, even if I’m in an awful mood, if I force myself behind the torch and start melting glass, something clicks and my mind and hands are so happy! Make, make, make! It’s incredibly satisfying.

QG: We know Asheville is home for you now but you did spend some time in Richmond.  Do you think RVA has changed since you left?  In what ways? 

AT: Absolutely and it’s amazing to me everything that’s happened in just a few years. The murals around town are incredible and all the little independent shops and studios popping up! It seems like a very healthy growth. 

 QG: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do or places to go?

AT: My boyfriend and real true love (glass is second, I suppose) Stephen and I enjoy over indulging at the amazing breweries and restaurants in Asheville. We often travel to camp out music festivals in the summer and have a crazy good time! We recently went on a trip to Costa Rica and I can’t wait to go back.

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Arlie Trowbridge’s Vault exhibition at Quirk continues through April 26.  Her work can be seen along with Amy Rice’s Main Gallery exhibition and Adam Juresko’s Shop Show.

Photos courtesy of Arlie Trowbridge and Urban Revisions.

Mixtape Takeover

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After a busy installation week, the opening reception for Adam Juresko’s Shop Show and Arlie Trowbridge’s Vault Show, followed by a really great First Friday we’re working on getting back to normal and reorganized here at the gallery.  We’ve decided to follow our opening weekend with a new mix tape each month and we hoped you enjoyed our SPRANG BREAK ’14 playlist we posted back in March.  Today would normally be the day we’d compile that list but since the ladies of Quirk are away from the gallery on other business, I’m cranking up some of my favorite tracks and making a playlist of my own!  I usually get lambasted for my “old man” taste in music (which is definitely represented) but I’ve also picked some of my favorite summer songs (The Sonics, stellastarr*, The Animals) to combat these bad weather blues.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Shovels and Rope lately and I really like the music recommendations I’ve received from friends and coworkers (Haim, Tune-Yards).  I love finding out about new music all the time and Spotify’s great for that (Mapei, Gin Wigmore) but some of the songs in heavy rotation lately (“Breakaway,” “Wild!” and “Hitch Hike”) have been ones I’ve heard played by DJs Sara Gossett, Eliza Childress, and Mary Silcox (Bump In The Night)—they have such great taste in music and I really look forward to their monthly gigs at Balliceaux.  This playlist is definitely all over the place but so far it’s been a great soundtrack for cleaning, putting shelves together, and forgetting about this lousy weather.

 

Sarah Hand “heart’s desire”

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Sarah Hand is an artist who works in many disciplines including drawing, painting, and sculpting.  Her pieces always seems to inspire happiness and optimism and we’re more than happy to welcome her back to Quirk.  The work she’s created for her current Shop Show, “heart’s desire” features 16 delicate paintings on plaster panels.  They hint at brighter, warmer days to come this spring and these small pieces are helping to cure our winter blues in a big way.  When she isn’t creating her own work, Sarah teaches classes at the Visual Arts Center here in Richmond.  She took a minute to answer a few questions for us about how she spends her time in Richmond and to tell us a bit about what inspires her beautiful work.

 

Quirk Gallery: Would you tell us about your background? How did your interest in art develop? What brought you to Richmond?

Sarah Hand: My dad was in the Navy, so I was lucky enough to live in some cool places in the world – Germany was my very favorite. My mom is an artist, and we always went to museums during our travels, and she encouraged me to be creative by always having lots of supplies around. I’ve always been a maker! I have lived in Richmond for about 15 years. I moved here to be closer to family, among other things. Richmond has just been getting better and more interesting the longer I’m here.

 

QG: How do you decide on the content of your work? What is it that inspires the images you use in your drawings and paintings?

SH: I’m inspired by people – faces and expressions, color, and emotion. Wonder and marvel drive me, and those are pretty positive qualities, but I think they can be slightly melancholy, too. I like that combination and expressing it with simple lines and images.

 

QG: We know you’re an artist and teacher who has a background in everything from drawing and painting to sculpture. Is there one medium you prefer?

SH: I love to explore materials. My favorite thing of late has been papier mache. I’ve made lots of sculptures and shadow boxes. I’ve been exploring working on plaster, too, and love it – scratching into it is so satisfying.

 

QG: Is there something about the work you’ve created for this Shop Show that you hope viewers will recognize? What do you hope they’ll take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?

SH: I hope that people who look at my work will feel delight and wonder. I generally think of my art as happy, and when people react happily to it, I feel good.

 

QG: What’s next for you? Are you working on any other projects?

SH: Next up, I’m working some more plaster paintings. And I’m always doing something with papier mache. I have an etsy shop that needs a bit of updating and stocking, so that is keeping me busy! And, of course, teaching.

 

QG: Are there things about Richmond that you find artistically inspiring?

SH: Richmond inspires me in so many ways: happenings, food, art, creative people. The street art is totally inspiring, of course. And the river, which changes constantly. The Visual Arts Center, where I teach, has inspired me to keep learning and experimenting.

 

QG: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do or places to go?

SH: Favorite places: the VMFA, of course. And Lamplighter Coffee. South of the James Farmer’s Market. Mekong….

 

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Sarah Hand’s Shop Show, “heart’s desire” will run through March 29.  Her work is being exhibited alongside Amy Rice (Main Gallery) and Aimee Joyaux (The Vault).

Aimee Joyaux

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We are so pleased to welcome Petersburg artist, Aimee Joyaux back to Quirk after her simultaneous Shop Show and Vault exhibits last fall.  Her current Vault show features six new large scale drawings in oil pastel, acrylic paint and pencil on paper.  Aimee has established herself as a prolific and popular artist working in a variety of mediums and disciplines and serves as an instructor at Richard Bland College.  She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us and told us about her journey from a student criss-crossing the country to a passionate artist who is deeply influenced and inspired by the world around her.

Quirk: Can you tell us a bit about your background?  How did you start your career as an artist?  How did you and your husband, Alain end up making your home in Petersburg?

Aimee Joyaux: I was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, lived in Michigan for a few years but spend my “formative years” in Hawaii (grades 3-12). I was very fortunate to get a scholarship to a good high school because a great teacher recognized that I was heading in the wrong direction. This school was focused on college prep but in my last semester, I took a painting class and it just changed everything for me. I felt at home in art in a way I didn’t feel anywhere else. So I made up my mind to be an art major in college and never looked back. I went to college in Oregon and discovered skiing, mountaineering, river rafting, mountain biking, and generally screwing off in nature to my great joy. I learned to teach skiing and did that for 15 years in Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and Argentina. I also worked as a fire fighter for the Forest Service in a couple of the off seasons. That was all very exciting and beautiful but I missed art and the serious meandering conversations that it inspires. So, I went back to school and got an MFA in Visual Communications (aka Photography) from the University of Oregon.  I chose photography, in large part, because I thought it was a marketable skill but I always wanted to return to teaching. I got a teaching job right out of grad school at Ball State University in Indiana, which is where I met my husband – who was then the Director of the Art Museum. I persuaded him to jump ship and find a big warehouse in a warmer climate where we could work in a more entrepreneurial fashion. We found Petersburg on the internet and there was a SPE Conference in Richmond, so we came out and looked around and fell in love with the town. We owned our building for a year before we moved here and were able to gather a lot of building materials in advance and designed the space around what we had. I have two incredible studios which are supporting some great experimentation and a lot of fun.

 

Q: We’ve been lucky enough to exhibit a lot of your work at Quirk over the years; sculpture, drawings, paintings—you work in a lot of different mediums and disciplines.  Is there one that you prefer? What is it that inspires the work you create and how does the content of your work develop?

AJ: If I had to pick one medium, I would pick drawing. It’s the most immediate for me, it’s flexible, it can be done cheaply, and I just love it. I find inspiration everywhere. I am inspired by the world around me — current events, politics, education, business. I’m inspired by the great themes of art — passion, fear, love, hate, jealousy, gratitude, beauty, redemption. I’m inspired by the history of art as a story of humanity and politics and money and materials and ideas. I love art materials. I’m inspired by executing on the elements and principles of design to create something from something else — to use color and shape and form in a way that elicits a response, a feeling, a thought. I want to connect to humanity through art. I want to be part of that conversation.

 

Q: Your work always has such a powerful energy to it and the drawings you’re exhibiting in The Vault this month are certainly no exception.  Is there something that you hope viewers will recognize or take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?

AJ: I hope there is beauty in my work. I hope people see something that gets them to look more closely. Art can suspend us, it can alter our tempo and can be such a lovely reprieve . I would hope to lull the viewer into this reverie with color and form and draw them into further with lines or text. But, I’m also trying to bring a lot of energy into these drawings. Sometimes I do panic, even if only symbolically because I am afraid of things I don’t understand or trust or can’t fix like mortgage derivatives, the age of the universe, black holes, plate tectonics, and mono culture. The work at Quirk is inspired in part by immigration reform, gang culture, comets, and orphans….. Too much news cycle, but at least art gives me a way to explore and express these concerns and perhaps find a larger audience – it all goes back to connection.

 

Q: We know you have a Photo Show coming up in April at Studio 23. Are there any other projects you’re working on?

AJ: I’m always kind of working, but I am looking forward to the spring. With warmer weather I can get into my print shop (Cornmeal Press) and I’m ready to make some nice big posters with my salvaged farm animal plates. Expect to see some “Grown Close to Home” posters out and about. Let me know if you’re growing something close to home — maybe we can make a poster? Free range creativity . . . I barter.

 

Q: You’ve had so many unique experiences living in different parts of the country.  Are there things about our area, Richmond and Petersburg specifically, that you find artistically inspiring?

AJ: I was immediately drawn to the early architecture and the remnants of buildings on the sides of other buildings, like a patchwork quilt, the rooftops are all skewed and crooked. Matches the Appalachia music perfectly. The southern folklore is very interesting to me — poems and slang , crafts culture, I feel that somehow in my bones. Richmond is a thriving, energized city in part because it is filled with contradiction. So many factions and they all have a voice somehow; not an equal voice but there is a lot of talking, a lot of expression, lots of noise. The South is kind of noisy, maybe not compared to NYC, but compared to the Midwest. People there are pretty restrained. I like the chatter around here. And, I’ve met so many amazing people, my heart got bigger in Richmond. I love living in Petersburg. It has such a powerful history. I have great friends, a National Park, a river, and a big building – all of which I find very inspiring.

 

Q: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do?  Where are your favorite places to go?

AJ: I love to read well written fiction, blogs, tumblr (it’s the new reading…), I love to walk my dog (preferably in our very own National Park), I enjoy kayaking and an activity we like to call “porching”. I love to travel and I love art museums (and natural history museums). And I love to eat but not to cook. How about you?

 

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Amy Rice, “be attitudes”

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Quirk’s Main Gallery exhibit for the months of March and April features the mixed media work of Minneapolis artist, Amy Rice. “Beginning with not-so-traditional print making methods (hand cut stencils and a Japanese Gocco printmaking toy) [Rice] makes original, one-of-kind pieces by additionally employing acrylic, gouache, ink and collage. Her ‘canvases’ range from weathered wood panels and found objects to antique envelopes, age-worn love letters, and found journal pages yellowed with time. Rice draws inspiration for her work from childhood memories, both real and imagined (or just slightly exaggerated with time), the urban community in which she lives, vintage botanical prints, her dog Pumpkin, bicycles, street art, gardening, random found objects, collective endeavors that challenge hierarchy, acts of compassion, downright silliness and things with wings.”  Amy was kind enough to answer a few questions we had about herself, the beautiful work she’s made for this exhibit, and to tell us a little bit about what’s next for her.
Quirk: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Amy Rice: I grew up in rural Wisconsin; I came to Minneapolis for college (I have a BA in Sociology) and never really left. I have made art my entire life but I didn’t see it as a plausible career choice—it was an enjoyable hobby and I was satisfied with that. About 13 years ago I set about to make a complete body of work, document it and see if I could get a show in a local pizza joint. It worked and things took off from there. I’m still astonished at the opportunities I have had since that first exhibit.
Q: Your mixed media work incorporates so many different images, colors, textures, themes, etc.  How do your pieces develop?
A: My work develops organically, inspired by my day-to-day life activities, by the objects and material I come across and the mood I am in the day a piece gets created. I often try to take a more disciplined approach, pick out a palette in advance or attempt to tighten up a theme, sometimes that works out but mostly any advanced planning is abandoned for spontaneity.
Q: Is there something about the work exhibited at Quirk that you hope viewers will take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?
A: My favorite part about the body of work I made for the Quirk show is that every piece has some element of another’s handiwork or hand…antique embroidery and antique handwritten letters. I hope that the viewers’ imagination is sparked by this collaboration.
Q: What’s next for you and your future work?  Are you working on any other projects?
A: My sweetheart and I bought 23 acres in rural Minnesota late last fall. We have big plans but they are mostly long-term. For the time-being I have started a project where I am identifying and documenting in print art every single plant species on our property. It will most likely take me my entire life. There are 2 paintings in the Quirk show that incorporate the first 2 plants/prints—“Goldenrod” and “Milkweed and Honey”. Additionally, I am revamping a 1970’s ice-fishing tent into a Russian folk style shelter to serve as our base-camp this first summer. That made it into a small painting in the Quirk show as well, “A Possible Future Scenario”.  I also received a 2014 Minnesota State Art Board Grant for a new body of work based on the fundraising tradition of the cakewalk. So, there will be lots of cake and art about cake made—this year is going to be delicious!
Q: How do you find artistic inspiration?  How do you stay motivated?
A: I am fortunate in that I never run out of artistic inspiration. Never. I have far more art that I want to make than I could possibly make in a lifetime. People enjoying my work keeps me motivated, but even if the only people who liked my work were me and my Grandma, I would still be making it.
Q: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do or places to go?
A: I love to garden. I share a large vegetable garden with my boyfriend and some of his family in the country and I have a flower garden at my house in the heart of the city of Minneapolis. I enjoy time with friends and family, I have an awesome mixed-breed dog named Pumpkin who is my heart on a leash. I am an avid bicyclist and I am learning to sew.
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Amy Rice’s “be attitudes” will be on view in Quirk’s Main Gallery through April 26.  Her work can be seen along with Sarah Hand’s small works on plaster panels in the Shop Show and Aimee Joyaux’s drawings in oil pastel, acrylic paint and pencil on paper in The Vault.

 

 

Style to Admire: the photographs of Slim Aarons

sa1Slim Aarons is a name synonymous with style, elegance, and class.  You may have seen several of his portrait subjects in the display cases in our shop dressed with Quirk jewelry or maybe you’ve thumbed through a few of the Aarons books we’ve had on our shelves.  We love the quality of light and color used in his photographs and the way he captures a lifestyle most of us can only dream about: truly care-free, opulent, indulgent, and sometimes completely over-the-top.

 

George Allen Aarons (nicknamed “Slim” because of his trim 6 ft. 4 in. frame) began his career as a military photographer at West Point and then in combat during WWII.  After his service, Aarons moved to California and began shooting pictures for Life, Holiday, Town & Country, Vogue, Travel & Leisure, Harper’s Bazaar and other popular magazines of the day.  On his transition as a photographer of  soldiers at war to celebrities and poolside beauties, Slim said, “I let it be known that the only beach I was interested in landing on was one decorated with beautiful, seminude girls tanning in tranquil sun.”

 

 

Aarons’ images do give us a glimpse into how “the other half” lives.  In his own words, Slim made a career of “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.”  The lives of jet-setters and globe-trotters, socialites and movie stars, gangsters and aristocrats—they’re lives we’ve all fantasized about at one point or another and all set against the backdrop of the world’s most beautiful places.  There are photos from far-off locales like Monaco, Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez, Courchevel, Verbier, Gstaad, Venice, Tuscany, Capri, Kenya, and Ibiza as well as state-side paradises like Palm Beach, Aspen, Beverly Hills, and Palm Springs.  These photographs have a broader appeal too.  We don’t just like them because they represent the lifestyles of the rich and powerful or the ultimate fantasy.  Aarons’ pictures are taken at a time when people took great care to look their very best no matter what they were doing.  Appearance and presentation were always of the utmost importance whether sitting by the pool, having a picnic, dining out at a restaurant, or taking a walk through a garden.  Going from one point to another wasn’t a chore or a means to an end.  There was an art to it all, a finesse to it.  It was an excuse to wear a different outfit, don a specific pair of shoes, show off your luggage.  Traveling, vacationing, and relaxing were things that were truly special and it didn’t matter who you were or where you went.  The people and places in Aarons’ portfolio just happen to be pushing those ideas and notions to the hilt and Slim was there to capture it all on film.  “He brought to his portraits of them a freshness, a directness, and a certain elan that his subjects appreciated.  He could be relied upon to make them look good.  And he was nice to have around….Without a stylist or makeup artist and using only the available light, Slim portrayed them as they would present themselves” (from Slim Aarons: A Place In The Sun).

YEAR END MIXTAPE 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, we’re thinking about all the things that made this year great and, more specifically, all the music that helped define it.  Katie, Mary, Adam, Lucy, and Michael-Birch have each picked a few of the tunes that scored the moments we’ll never forget.

Molly Anne Bishop, “You You You + Me”

molly copyWe’ve been long-time fans of Molly Anne Bishop and seized the opportunity to exhibit her work before she leaves Richmond for Montana next month.  Her ceramics are always touching and truly inspired and she’s created a brand new series of pieces specifically for her exhibit in The Vault.  To see Ms. Bishop’s new work with it’s unique characters and poignant sentiments leaves viewers wanting to know more.  We asked Molly about how she decides on the images and themes that she uses, how her time in Richmond has influenced her, and about what her bright future might have in store.

Q: Tell us a bit about your background and how you developed an interest in ceramics.

MAB: I grew up with an appreciation for art, but was also very interested in biology.  I spent a year in college studying bio, but I spent more time drawing than studying chemistry so I decided to take a risk and transfer to VCU with my eye on the craft/material studies program.  I fell in love with clay thanks to some really great teachers.

Q: The images and text you use in your pieces are so distinctive and unique.  How do you decide on their content?

MAB: I spend a lot of time drawing in my sketchbook.  My drawings are mostly of animals.  I love field guides and older books about biology.  I also use my sketchbooks as a kind of diary; writing one-liners describing how I feel at the moment.  In the studio, after I have built a piece and covered it with slip, I pull out my sketchbooks and decide what to put on them.  Lately I have been really interested in sports so my work now incorporates that.  For the record, I don’t really know anything about sports.  I just like the uniforms and the dedication that I see in photographs of players.

Q: Is there something about your work that you hope viewers will take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?

MAB: I guess mostly I want to talk about the universality of feelings.  As people, we all have the same basic desires.  I think a lot of people feel confused or sad and maybe don’t talk about it.  So I try to put it out in the open, on a plate holding your dinner. I want them to be funny and maybe a little uncomfortable.

Q: What’s next for you and your future work?

MAB: I am headed to a residency at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana.   I have some ideas for developing my work, and I’ll have a whole year to focus completely on clay.

Q:  Are there things about Richmond, specifically, that you find artistically inspiring?

MAB: Of course!  Mostly the people.  There are a ton of creative people in [this] town.  Also, we are so lucky to have so many free and beautiful spaces like the VMFA, Maymont, and Hollywood Cemetery.

Q: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do/places to go?

MAB: I work at a restaurant and then try to maintain something of a regular studio practice so I don’t have a ton of free time.  But when I do, I love going out to eat.  It’s a problem, because I need to be saving money.  I don’t know when I’ll be back in Richmond so I’m trying to soak up as much of it and my friends as I can. I’m also on a quest for the perfect frozen margarita.

Molly Anne Bishop’s work will be on view in The Vault through August 31.  She joins Main Gallery artist, Robey Clark and Shop Show artist, Sara Gossett as exhibitors this summer at Quirk.  An artist’s reception will be held on Thursday, August 1 followed by the RVA First Fridays event on August 2.

Robey Clark

robey2Robey Clark’s Main Gallery show at Quirk is filled with large-scale, colorful screen prints that are perfect for summer.  His current exhibit also features wheat paste pieces on wood panels and black and white prints on panel and paper that are covered with a variety of bold textures and energetic details.  Mr. Clark, who grew up in Richmond, now calls Los Angeles home.  We were happy to welcome him back to the east coast for bit and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his recent work, growing up in Virginia, and how he’s succumbing to the California lifestyle.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you began your artistic pursuits.

RC: I was born in Rochester, NY and lived there until I was six. Then in Richmond until college (studying graphic design at RISD) then New York/LA/Richmond back and forth a few times. I don’t know if I started drawing particularly early, but when I did start it was pretty incessant, which is not so unusual a way for a kid to pass the time I guess. But my kindergarten art teacher met with my parents and urged them to encourage my artistic pursuits. And I’m fortunate because they did. In fact to this day, without much coaxing, my mom will speak at length about one particular drawing of a bird I did when I was 2 that, at least for her, made a strong case that I had artistic aptitude. I owe a lot to that bird because as it turns out my math and science skills were not so exciting.

Q: What took you from Richmond to Los Angeles?  Is there anything that Richmond offers that LA doesn’t?  Is there anything you ever miss by living on the west coast?

RC: I got into the Beach Boys when I was a little kid and the songs imparted a deep fascination with the Southern California mythos. Plus to a graphic designer it’s heaven on earth; the signage and commercial architecture out there is totally bonkers, really amazing. Sometimes it feels like urban sprawl, but then other times it feels like some kind of bizarre theme park that was converted into a city. I feel very at home there. There’s plenty to miss about Virginia; profound natural beauty, a deeply intriguing history and a contemporary culture that is bubbling over. But as unique and fascinating a place as Richmond is, I think I’m still in the honeymoon period with LA. Then again I’ve only lived there for 3 and a half years. Ask me again in another three and a half, maybe the 7-year itch will have set in.

Q: Your pieces are pretty large scale, really colorful, and full of interesting shapes and textures.  How do you decide on the content of your work?

RC: For quite a while I was blocked pretty badly. I imagine that living in the information age and having content so readily available can make choosing a direction and sticking with it just a tad trickier than it had been in simpler times. Plus in college I studied graphic design, the cardinal rule of which is to let the content guide your process, so that all of your aesthetic decisions are in service of strengthening the message of your project. Some designers are less married to this ideal than others, but I try to take it to heart; every project deserves its own approach. Sometimes you start with a photograph, sometimes an illustration, sometimes it’s simply typographic, whatever best solves the problem. You can apply this discipline to fine art by letting a concept thoroughly dictate the development of a work, and some artists do so with great success. But ultimately I realized if I was going to get going I would have to suspend that ideology for my personal work. By a long process of trial and error I realized I was happiest exploring what happens when printing goes wrong; how a print can go off the rails and become unique and something more like a painting. I had an aunt who was a graphic designer and instead of wrapping paper she would send us presents wrapped in ‘make readies,’ which are essentially just pieces of paper that had been run through the press many, many times in order to clean off the rollers or make adjustments to the registration. This process creates absurdly intricate prints; the blue ink from one image overlayed with the yellow from another and the gold from a third and so on and so forth until you’re left with a pileup of completely unrelated imagery that is all smooshed together and that creates these fields of form and color built out of completely random imagery. They just absolutely blew me away. And still do. I love printmaking and making a perfect edition is thrilling, but also awfully tense. And the seconds (prints that don’t make the cut) have their own beauty that is completely unique and oftentimes transcends the standard edition. In my work I try to find that.

Q: Is there something about your work that you hope viewers will recognize or that they’ll take away from the experience of viewing your pieces?

RC: A lot of the cracks you hear about modern art refer to abstraction and I, to a certain degree, can empathize with someone who’s not into it and how it must feel from the outside looking into that world. Especially the high end of it where hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are paid for work that, at least superficially, seems haphazard or simplistic. It makes me anxious, no doubt. But it’s only reasonable that an artist who has worked with a set of materials for years or decades is bound to see something there that’s not obvious to someone who hasn’t. How boring would it be for painters if the trajectory of the visual arts just went further and further down the rabbit hole or representationalism? My sense of art history is not what it should be, but I imagine that once the camera came along, painters had a real problem to contend with; you can’t represent a tree with paint more realistically than you can with a camera. But paint has it’s own inherent beauty, and markmaking has it’s own language of form. Throw a little of them in the mix and you’ve got impressionism. Take it to the Nth degree and you’ve got abstract expressionism. I imagine anyone who spent 30 years painting could appreciate the experience of looking at your palette or the surface of a work table and being more excited by what’s going on there than what’s going on in the actual painting. The goal is to make that case for someone no matter what their relationship to the materials is.

Q: What’s next for you and your future work?  Are you working on any other projects?

RC: I’m co-owner of a bookstore, Pop-Hop Books & Print, that has a screenprinting studio in back. We’ve only been open a little over a year, so I’m still working to organize the workflow and get the studio to run more efficiently. At the same time I make merchandise for the store; tote bags, stationary, T-shirts, posters for events etc. That work is never done. For instance it’s July and I’m already feeling the weight of the upcoming holiday season. So to be able to use the studio for anything personal is a huge luxury that I’m really grateful for. I have at least another show of my own work coming up next year at a boutique/gallery called Velouria in Seattle that’s run by one of my RISD classmates, but until then it’s Pop-Hop stuff all day, every day.

Q: When you aren’t working, what are your favorite things to do/places to go?

RC: Right now I’m always working. And when I’m not working I feel guilty for it. I would like to go camping and experience nature more often. My dream is to have a studio in the wilderness. Being in a big city helps to compel me to join the cultural dialogue, but ultimately there’s nothing as beautiful as the natural world.

 

Robey Clark’s Main Gallery show continues through August 31.  Robey joins Shop Show artist, Sara Gossett and Vault artist, Molly Anne Bishop for Quirk’s summer exhibits.  An artist’s reception will be held Thursday, August 1 preceding the RVA First Friday event on August 2.

Sara Gossett, “Dream Threads”

sg11 copyQuirk is thrilled to be exhibiting the vibrant work of Richmond artist, Sara Gossett in her Shop Show “Dream Threads: Imagined Textiles in Watercolor.”  Ms. Gossett’s hand-drawn geometric designs and patterns filled with bright, bold colors are perfect for a fresh summer exhibit.  So enamored with her work, we asked Sara a few questions to find out more about the genesis of the pieces she’s created for her show, what inspires her unique aesthetic, and how living in Richmond contributes to her work as an artist.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.

SG: I was born and raised in Texas and made my way up to Virginia to attend college at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, studying art history. When graduation came I just wasn’t ready yet to leave Virginia, so without having any other plans, [I] moved down to Richmond with one of my best friends in the fall of 2006… and here I am! Art is one of those things that I’ve been doing as far back as I can remember, in one way or another. And though I don’t have an academic background in studio art, it’s impossible to imagine my life without it being involved somehow. It definitely took me a long time to gain the confidence to start putting things out there in a more serious way and believe I could include myself under the category of “artist” (still working on that), but with time it’s become easier to remember that everyone’s personal vision is unique and valid, and that it’s important to trust your own.

Q: What is it that inspires your paintings?

SG: Though it sounds a bit cliché to say that inspiration is everywhere, it really is! I love vintage clothing, textiles, design, color, illustration – the list goes on and on. So, dreaming and daydreaming about projecting the visual inspiration from all these beautiful things into a new creation is really at the heart.

Q: Is there something distinctive about your work that you hope viewers will recognize?

SG: While style evolves over time and can sometimes change quite dramatically, I hope that the quality of line in most of my work would be at least somewhat recognizable. Regardless of whether pieces are filled with color or not, I imagine some attention to the line won’t be going away anytime soon because I’ve just always loved drawing so much. These paintings were so much fun to do because they fulfilled a compulsion to make a lot of those controlled lines right alongside bright color. My intention was mainly that I wanted to create a collection of pieces that would be beautiful to look at and make viewers feel good; a whole wall filled with color as the summer sun shines in!

Q: What’s up next for you and your future work?  Are you working on any other projects?

SG: I love patterns and vibrant color, and I’d like to keep going with them in future work. But as for specific projects (though this happens not to involve either), right now I’m working on a small series of hand-painted bookplates and am in the process of printing and packaging them in sets.

Q: Are there things about Richmond, specifically, that you find artistically inspiring?

SG: One of the best things about Richmond is the amount of talented people that live and work here. People are constantly making and doing, and to call that inspirational is an understatement. The size of this city makes it possible to both feel part of overlapping small circles of community and yet still feel as though there is plenty left to be discovered, like something new could be just around the corner. The rich history of the city, while filled with a lot of darkness, is very palpable. For someone who finds that old things, stories, past eras, etc. really capture the imagination – what a place to be!

Q: When you aren’t painting, what are your favorite things to do?

SG: In addition to artwork, I DJ about once a month at Balliceaux (Bump In The Night with Mary Silcox and Eliza Childress) and just started playing flute with the band Palindrone! Richmond is great when it comes to record stores, with Steady Sounds and Deep Groove as the newest additions – you can always find something cool. Halcyon and Cold Harbor Antiques for great vintage finds, and the best vegetarian food at Ipanema Cafe.

 

Sara Gossett’s watercolors are being exhibited along with the screen prints of Robey Clark (Main Gallery) and ceramics by Molly Anne Bishop (The Vault).  These three exhibits continue through August 31.  An artist’s reception will be held on Thursday, August 1 preceding the RVA First Fridays event on August 2.

FASHION AND HIS PRINCESS

mbp-princess

Michael-Birch, aka Fashion, brought his little princess Aurora into work on Friday. So basically, we were all busy fawning over this cutie … I mean, we were working… working really, really hard. Aurora who?