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Monday, December 07, 2009

Pete Cosenza - Still Point Art Gallery Artist of Distinction

Still Point Art Gallery recently opened its latest exhibition: The Serious and Playful Sides of Light. The idea of the show is to explore the many ways that artists understand and use light in their work. Photography is all about light, something which Pete Cosenza, one of three Artists of Distinction in the show, makes very clear in the three photographs he submitted for the exhibition.

Landscape 2, Landscape 1, Landscape 5

Looking at and thinking about Cosenza's images, and being a photographer myself, I realize that I missed something when I titled this exhibition - the challenge that light presents for an artist! For example, when outdoors, a photographer has to worry about the intensity of the light, placement of light, effects of shadowing, and how to use one's camera and other tools to manage the lighting conditions to obtain the intended image. When shooting indoors or in the studio, a photographer has a similar set of issues to worry about, but in addition indoor light has to be generated and manipulated, and that itself can be quite a huge task. Lighting is very complicated and challenging for a photographer, and I have no reason to doubt that it is complicated and challenging for a painter as well, though in a different way.

Knowing the challenges, I see what Cosenza has accomplished in his three landscape photographs. He has managed to work masterfully with light and shadow to create images that are alive with color, line, texture, contrast, and rhythm. Landscape 2 and Landscape 5 show water reflecting the beautiful purple of the sky. In Landscape 2, the reflection is broken up by pylons as well as the movement of the water, and in Landscape 5, the reflection is broken up by the water's movement. This "breaking up" action creates the fabulous interplay of light and shadow that Cosenza captures so well. The fact that this interplay of texture and contrast is working within the framework of the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines that Cosenza has found are what make these two images such wonderful creations. Plus, in Landscape 2, he managed to get a little bird to pose for the photograph. Landscape 1 is quite different. Here one sees a beach that is clean and clear of clutter, and the surface of the sand is smooth. The beach seems a bit dark, especially in contrast to the shoreline and some offshore rocks, appearing at the top and top right corner of the photograph, which are brightly glowing from sunlight. The viewer's eye is immediately drawn up towards that lovely light. But then, as one's view enlarges, one sees a lone figure walking along the beach. Of great interest in the photograph, the figure casts a very, very long shadow. The sunny shoreline and the long shadow are essentially two lines in the photograph - a line of light and a line of dark, and the two lines are nearly perpendicular to one another in the photograph. The use of light in the creation of these two lines impacts the compositional quality of this photograph in a really remarkable way. Cosenza's work shows us many things in the way he has used light in his photographs.

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I asked Pete some questions about his work...

Christine Cote: This exhibition is about the artist's use of light. Photographers have to think about light in so many different ways. Could you say a bit about the factors related to light that you had to consider to capture the images in this exhibition? From where do you draw inspiration for your work? What inspired the pieces in this exhibition?

Pete Cosenza: As a photographer I learned to think of "light" as how it would transmit to film...dimly lit objects needed more time or a wider opening. For "bright, sunshiney days" we were taught that to "properly expose the film" we needed 1/ASA at f16...so with tri x...that equated to 1/400 at f16 to get the correct amount of light to the film. Not so bright...open up the lens or set the shutter to be open for a longer time, etc.

Many exposures are set as to what is simplest. As a photographer, we know faster shutter speeds will stop action, and wider aperatures will be less depth of field...along with a bunch of other tricks and technical/artistic sorts of ways to capture the light and put it on film...

In retrospect I see that a lot of my work is framed by water...not something that I even tried to accomplish...except when factoring in that I grew up on the coastline of Southern California...spent summers body surfing and water skiing...got to sail in the Sierra, and chased waterfalls in Shasta...then found the camera. So in that respect I was totally enthralled by the beauty of the ocean and water, and the light that surrounds it...the inspiration that brought me into art...probably the memories and the amazement when I saw what a camera could do.

What inspired these three pieces? In trying to capture strikingly beautiful scenes...I used to call it Calendar Art...I became obsessed...beauty and clarity (sharpness and color) were always a motivating force.

The abstract piece (Landscape 5) was taken just after a storm...and most of that session was spent chasing a sunset and allowing myself to become involved with it. It's an available light shot, taken with a longer time exposure than normal in order to get some depth of field...late in the day...hand held and taken without much thought...again just allowing the light and the beauty to lead the way.

The other two images (Landscape 1 and Landscape 2) are sort of a theme I seem to fall into...solitary images (or even couples, or groups of similar items) against incredibly striking backgrounds. You can't beat mother nature in that regard. If you try and set up and pose people...or birds...it usually doesn't work as well as the impromptu random scene.

Maybe my eyes are trained, but I guess my brain still drives the bus, and probably always has. Most artists, I think, allow it to happen and as a photographer it helps to pay attention...and I'm always looking for my next image.

Back to Still Point Art Gallery

Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
December 6, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Exhibit Opens - The Serious and Playful Sides of Light

I am very pleased to announce the opening of Still Point Art Gallery's exhibition - The Serious and Playful Sides of Light.



Artists were asked to respond to the
following theme:


Think about light. We need light to see, to find our way in the dark, to brighten our day, to cast hope upon despair. Think about light again. Consider the fun of bouncing the light from a flashlight around a room or using your hands to make shadowy characters in front of a bright light projected against a screen or white wall. Isn't it exciting to light candles on someone's birthday cake and watch the birthday girl's or boy's eyes light up too? Light. There is always such joy to realize that the shortest day of the year has come and gone and there will be more daylight in the coming weeks.

Artists think about light...a lot. Artists work with light...study light...appreciate light...play with light. This exhibition is intended to explore the many ways that artists show their understanding and use of light...the serious and playful sides of light.


Artists responded with fabulous submissions. Some of the art works in this exhibition will amaze you, some will warm your heart, some will surprise you, and some will bring a smile to your face. Light has such power...such importance, and it takes a very skilled and attentive artist to present light in ways that are true to its nature. You will meet such artists in this exhibition.

The online exhibition opens today, December 2, and continues as a featured exhibition through February 9, 2010. Be sure to visit!

Art work shown above:
Gatherings by Joe Krawczyk, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 18, $995
Boy at Window by Gary Paul Stutler, Not for Sale
Christmas in Boston by Joan F. Dromey, Soft Pastel, 9 x 12, $650
The Silence by Frances Seward, Photography, 30 x 28, $450

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Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery

December 2, 2009

Gary Paul Stutler - Still Point Art Gallery Artist of Distinction

Sunlight, moonlight, starlight, daylight, lamplight. The current exhibition at Still Point Art Gallery looks at light, specifically how artists understand and use light in their compositions. The exhibition is titled The Serious and Playful Sides of Light.

Boy at Window, Pool at Night, Day Street

Artist Gary Stutler has six wonderful paintings in the exhibition, three of which are shown above. Together they illustrate why Stutler was named one of three Artists of Distinction in this exhibition. Boy at Window is a beautiful piece in so many ways. Stutler presents a touching scene in the midst of a lovely room. The young boy, seemingly alone in the room, looks out a large window. Is he waiting for someone? Has he been waiting a long time? Does he wish he could go outside to play? Is he ill? The room is illuminated only with the natural sunlight coming through the large windows, so the scene feels somber and quiet. Yet at the same time, the light beautifully shines on the wall, the floor, the bureau, and the young boy. The light brightens the painting, just as it serves to lift and brighten what might otherwise be a sad situation for the little boy as he stands at the window being bathed in beautiful light. Light completes the composition, and Stutler handles the light and the shadowing and the color changes caused by light and shadow with perfection. Day Street is a wonderful example of the playful side of light. Light shines in and shadows are created by window blinds - light and shadow thus play together on a wall. We see it all the time, but here Stutler helps us to really see and enjoy it. Finally, in Pool at Night, we see the effects of moonlight and starlight - long, dark shadows, but also the glow of the moon where it shines the brightest.

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I asked Gary a few questions about his work:

Christine Cote: What led you to become an artist?

Gary Stutler: Drawing and later painting led me to become an artist. Some form of drawing or painting was always part of my education from primary school onwards, as well as in my home upbringing. I am forever grateful to my parents and schools for that. As a child, my reception and expression of experience was always primarily visual and physical. The contemplation and creating of images remains for me the most comfortable language to communicate whatever sensitivity and intelligence I possess.

CC: This exhibition is about the artist’s use of light. Could you say a bit about how you approach the painting of light? In particular, how did you approach the painting of light in the pieces that are in this exhibition?

GS: (The pieces I am using will be: Stoplights; Pool at Night; Moon; Interior Sunset; Day Street; Boy at Window.) Light is important because it is the actual and symbolic container and unifier in my paintings. In Stoplights, the streaks of time-lapsed light created by a snapshot of a passing car are intended to contrast and interact with the comparatively static lamplight coming from within the non-photo referenced house. The supreme contrast is made by placing these artificial, human lights beneath the immensity of the time and space created by the stars. Pool at Night has something similar going on, though its contrasts have more to do with the varying colors of light, reflected off the different subjects, than with the relative distances we intuit by defining the origins of the light. Moon is the most conscious juxtaposition of the artificial and the natural, more purely in terms of subject matter. The human and natural structures are ultimately unified by the overall intensity of color reflected from the paint surface itself. It departs more than the other paintings from naturalism by using exaggerated color contrast as much (or more) than light and dark contrast. Interior Sunset, Boy at Window and Day Street represent direct studies of the behavior of daylight as it screams or whispers into lovingly constructed human enclosures. Natural light is more conveniently scrutinized as scientifically observed phenomena within the safe, controlled and predictable confines of home --- however paradoxical that objective goal, within the subjective environment, sounds.

CC: How would you describe your artistic style? How has your style developed over time?

GS: I have never thought much about style. I was never interested in making a consciously distorted reference to what I was seeing. To this day, I do not know how to willfully summon invention as I work. I am attracted to certain images and objects as they introduce themselves to my eyes, imagination and memory. I also strongly identify with certain materials. My paintings are realistic, yet more circumscribed and hermetically iconic than a direct translation. They are predominantly paintings that happen to be "of" something. Over time, I would say that my appreciation of the materials and processes I am using, and the deliberate adjustments (especially of color and depth of field) at my disposal, have led to a more recognizable interest in the patterns of energy embedded in subject matter and my own movements. The ultimate abstractness in the parts and the whole of a painting are always in my thoughts now.

CC: From where do you draw inspiration for your work? What inspired the pieces in this exhibition?

GS: I inevitably draw inspiration from the visual feast around me. I still vividly recall, from my days in the first grade, several beautiful drawings hanging in the high-ceilinged hallway of my old school building. I clearly remember wanting to “do that.” My mother drew with me at home, but although none of my friends or other acquaintances (until I got to 7th grade) knew how to draw, I could tell that they instinctively respected the ability. Even after photography and all the other advances in image making, there remains a literal power in being able to literally translate the world around me by directly utilizing body, brain and paint. Somewhere between wanting to achieve the verisimilitude of a perfect hologram, and recognizing the inherent, ghostly powers of obviously-painted objects, I do what I can, hope for expansion and growth, and keep working. Vermeer, Hopper, Kollwitz, A. Neel and L. Freud inspire me. I naturally love galleries and museums. There are dozens of other inspiring artists too numerous to mention. When I look at others’ work though, it can get to be too much of a good thing and I get off my own path. I have my own itch to scratch.

CC: Is there anything you want people to know about you or your work?

GS: There are, for lack of a better word, aesthetic moments practically everyone has in this life. You feel suddenly and (probably temporarily) smarter. As an artist, I want to invite as many of those moments as possible and commit them to memory for as long as possible.

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Gary Paul Stutler - Artist Statement

Every living thing exhibits pattern in either growth or habit. Any subject is acceptable for study, any technique or material acceptable for making a new form.

In the tremendous flux of experiences, there is only one thing which has ever brought me a moment of peace – drawing and painting from life.

I have never been able (because my work is so categorically realistic) to reject recognizable subject matter. As much as the process of manipulating materials creates the actual work, an emotional or intellectual homage to subject persists in me. There is undoubtedly a narrative, but I specialize in making marks on a surface rather than words on a page.

Having said all this, the ironic truth is that the most satisfying pictures I make are as inscrutable as the subjects that inspire them.


Gary Paul Stutler - Brief Profile

Contemporary realist, Gary Stutler, is a native of Galesburg, Illinois, and an MFA graduate from the University of California, Davis. He currently teaches painting and drawing at Napa Valley College, and has his studio at his home in nearby Vallejo, California. His work has been exhibited widely in numerous parts of the United States as well as around the world. Gary has won many awards and honors for his artistic achievements.
Return to Still Point Art Gallery

Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Joe Krawczyk - Still Point Art Gallery Artist of Distinction

Perhaps there is a spot in your home where beautiful light comes in at certain times of the year - perhaps early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The light slowly crawls into the room, slowly bringing with it a feeling of warmth, a soft glow, and playful designs as the light moves in and around the various objects in the room. Bring this image to mind and then look at the stunning paintings of Joe Krawczyk that are showing in the current exhibition of Still Point Art Gallery. Krawczyk was named one of three Artists of Distinction for his contributions to this exhibition - The Serious and Playful Sides of Light.


Awaiting the Mail, Gatherings, Ready to Gather

The idea of the exhibition is to show the many ways that artists understand and use light in their compositions. It is clear from Krawczyk's work that he has been attentive to and has studied the way that light filters into a room and plays with the objects in a room. His skill has allowed him to perfectly recreate what he sees. But there is so much more in his work than attentiveness and skill. Krawczyk has titled his pieces Awaiting the Mail, Gatherings, and Ready to Gather - focusing on what the baskets are doing, even though the baskets are really doing nothing. By focusing on what they are doing, the artist is focusing on their purpose and thus their emptiness. The basket is awaiting the mail, but there is no mail yet. The basket is ready to gather, but nothing is gathered yet. The emptiness of the baskets gives these paintings a sense of utter simplicity, but it also allows the viewer to focus on another important subject in the paintings - light. In turn the light allows emphasis on the emptiness of the baskets. Light and emptiness are the subjects of these paintings, but they are inseparable. One relies on the other to create the inseparable whole of the composition.

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I asked Joe Krawczyk some questions about his work:

Christine Cote: What led you to become an artist?

Joe Krawczyk: I was born an artist. I have been drawing, painting, carving, building and creating as long as I can remember.

CC: This exhibition is about the artist’s use of light. Could you say a bit about how you approach the painting of light? In particular, how did you approach the painting of light in the pieces that are in this exhibition?

JK: I have been a student of light since my studies at the Art Institute of Boston. My major was Advertising Design. One of my painting teachers said “If you want to starve, become a fine artist.” I pretty much enjoyed eating, so advertising was the road I followed. Having worked as a commercial artist for over 40 years, I honed a lot of my skill and understanding of light, conceptualizing and directing photo shoots. I especially enjoyed directing product photography. Spending hours in a dark studio playing with light, I learned that with the right use of light, almost any product could look like jewelry. All this experience has been translated into my paintings. I first paint all my canvases dark using a 3 color combination. I then draw my subject using a white drawing pencil. After that, I begin to paint the light, layering the color to reach the intensity I want. I prefer to paint in the evening when it’s dark. I illuminate my canvas with one light to get me in the mood of my subject matter. I love creating visual drama through the contrast between the highlights and shadows (which are actually the original background color).

CC: How would you describe your artistic style? How has your style developed over time?

JK: I would describe my style as contemporary realism. I have only seriously been painting for a few years. I started painting still life using pretty standard fruit, vegetables and such. One day while exploring subject matter, I illuminated one of my wife’s baskets from her collection. The thing that grabbed me the most wasn’t the basket, but the light speckled shadow it created. That was it, from then on, all the paintings I’ve created are of baskets. Some from our own collection, some borrowed, some purchased.

CC: From where do you draw inspiration for your work? What inspired the pieces in this exhibition?

JK: I draw inspiration from everywhere. A lot of my paintings are from places in my own house, both inside and out. I have also imposed on my friends and neighbors if I see something at their homes that looks like a good spot for a basket. As an artist, I believe we see things differently than most people. I guess that’s how ordinary objects become works of art.

CC: Is there anything you want people to know about you or your work?

JK: When I finish a painting, I feel that I’m leaving a real piece of myself behind, because art has always been such an integral part of my life. So even when I’m gone, my art will live on.

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Joe Krawczyk - Artist Statement
It's all about the light and the high drama that can be created. The subjects I choose to illustrate this dramatic light are baskets. It's a single theme, but every subject is different. The light beautifully illuminates the basket, then passes through it to create a never ending array of light speckled shadows. By always painting them as empty vessels, I allow the viewer to mentally fill the basket with whatever they choose.

Joe Krawczyk - Profile

For close to 40 years Joe Krawczyk has been an award-winning graphic designer. During that time he has seen the industry go from linotype and magic markers to having virtually all graphic design created on computer. "I successfully made the transition to the computer age, but I began to long for some hands-on art. I decided to get back to painting, a fine art I hadn't practiced for many year. So now along with my advertising design firm, I have a part of my office dedicated as a painting studio."

Joe describes his still life paintings as contemporary realism, and his medium is acrylics on canvas. His paintings are created in a tenebrist style. Both tenebroso (Italian) and its English equivalent, tenebrism, refer to a style of painting characterized by high contrast between light and shade. Frequently the main subjects of tenebrist paintings are illuminated by a single source of light, as if a spotlight shone upon them, leaving other areas in darkness. In order to achieve this dramatic lighting effect, Joe first paints the canvas dark, and then begins to paint the light areas of his subject, allowing the dark background to become the shadow areas. These dramatic paintings of baskets in the tenebrist style have become his trademark.

Joe first exhibited his paintings at the 2008 Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival where he received 3 Patron Awards. He won Best of Show at the 2008 Windermere Art Festival and a Merit Award at the 2008 Maitland Rotary Art Festival. He won an Honorable Mention in the 2009 Atlanta Arts League National Juried Exhibition and Third Place in the Infinity Art Gallery Fall Expo 2009 International Juried Show. His work was recently accepted into the International Association of Acrylic Painters 2nd Annual International Online Show. He won an Honorable Mention at the 2009 Winter Park Autumn Art Festival and has been exhibited at The Northlight Gallery, Kennebunkport, Maine.
Return to Still Point Art Gallery

Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
December 2, 2009