Curated

Ann Wood

In these gray days of January, a beautiful meadow ushers forth from the studio of artisan Ann Wood.  Ann creates fine, mixed media artwork from paper and wire of flowers and feathers, butterflies  and leaves.

 Her work is extremely delicate.  She manipulates the paper and wire, with drawing and by making very fine cuts with small embroidery scissors.  

Ann then hand sews her creations to wool and velvet backgrounds, framing her compositions in vintage frame stock. 

Ann's exquisitely detailed work is fanciful, yet realistic.  She explains that she is directly inspired by historical botanicals, and long ago craftsmanship.  

When I first saw her art, I was instantly reminded of the glorious botanicals created in the 18th century by Mary Delany:  

Delany also fashioned her flowers from paper using small embroidery scissors. While Delany's depiction of botanical specimens was scientifically accurate down to the precise color, size, leaf,  and stamen, Ann imagines a more dreamlike garden.

How wonderful that we can turn to the artwork of Ann Wood and find a perpetual spring, even in the depth of winter. 

IMAGE CREDITS // All images of Ann Wood's artwork from her website.   Image of Mary Delany's artwork from the book Mrs Delaney, Her life and Her Flowers by Ruth Hayden.

Flora Crockett

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

That last name sounds familiar.  We associate it with a man who had an adventurous and independent spirit: Davy Crockett.  Turns out that Davy's trailblazing qualities have traveled the generations and were imbued in his ancestor, artist Flora Crockett.

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

Never heard of Flora Crockett?   Well it's time you did.  The paintings by this forgotten artist were recently lauded by leading art critic, Roberta Smith, for the  New York Times as " a body of work that could hold its own in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art or the Museum of Modern Art and in the history of abstract painting." Roberta's "first sighting" of this extraordinary work took place at  an exhibition mounted by Meredith Ward at her New York City gallery.  The very day Roberta published her discovery, I hurried uptown to see the works for myself. 

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

My first hand view did not disappoint.  Crockett's paintings are sparkling.  Her color sense  is joyous.  Hues of complimentary colors of orange and blue, red and mint green, yellow and lavender are brushed on loosely in biomorphic and  geometric shapes.  

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

In later works, Crockett further defines shapes, and speaks to negative space, by delineating her canvases with bright, tangled lines.

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

Crockett paints with a knowing hand.  One can see the influence of famous artists like Leger, Miro, and Kandinsky. But Crockett has a signature, crisp, beaming color palette and her free-flowing compositions are unique.  Take a look at this painting by Crockett on the left and  Kandinsky on the right to compare:

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

Crockett's artwork also reflects the time that it was painted.  This body of work was completed between 1965 to 1973 when Crockett was in her seventies.  It was just after the Color Field paintings of artists such as Rothko and Frankenthaler re-invigorated the use of color by making it the point of their work. This painting by Crockett in particular recalls the blocks of color employed by those artists.

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

By now, you are likely wondering why you never heard of Flora Crockett before.  It is a classic tale of a struggling artist working hard to support herself while trying to save money so she could take time off to paint.  Sadly the pressures of putting food on the table seemed to impinge on Crockett's artistic creation.  A graduate of Oberlin College with a major in art and mathematics,   Crockett was employed in the fields of art education, design, sales and engineering during her life.  This left time for only 3 solo art shows in her lifetime, the last one in 1946.  

Yet her efforts to further her own art education show that her art remained very important to her.  In 1918, she married an Italian sculptor and, in 1924, they moved to Paris.  There, Crockett found work directing a school for orphans.  Somehow she also was able to continue her education at the Sorbonne, the Louvre and Leger's  Acadamie Moderne, where she eventually became the director.  

After her marriage failed, she returned to New York in 1937, and in 1940, she rented an apartment on 14th street. She lived and painted there for the rest of her life, holding down a variety of jobs to make ends meet. Her last art show was a group exhibition in New York's Overseas Press Club of America in 1965 when Crockett was 73.  Interestingly, all of the paintings so celebrated by the New York Times  (and seen in this post), were painted after that show. 

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

What sparked this late-in-life creative explosion?  Meredith Ward explained to me that by the time Crockett reached her seventies, she was able to retire and finally could devote her days to her passion, ushering in her most productive artistic period.  Flora Crockett painted solely for her own pleasure, in her little 14th street apartment, which, in part, explains the paintings' modest size (most are only 24" wide).  According to Meredith, at this stage Crockett would not even let her family see her work, turning canvases around to face the wall whenever someone came to the apartment.  It's fascinating.  Given the freedom of leisure, Crockett's creative genius finally and exuberantly burst forth.  And, with the confidence of age,  she kept it all to herself, not needing the affirmation of others.

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

After Crockett's death in 1979, her nephew, Austin Hart Emery, inherited her paintings.  He stored them in a barn in Albany.  Meredith Ward told me she heard of the works through a friend, who then introduced Meredith to Emery's daughter Mary Emery Lacoursiere, an artist and designer living in Nantucket.  

When Meredith Ward saw photographs of the paintings, she was immediately intrigued by this forgotten artist and began the process of cleaning the paintings and mounting the current exhibition.  She hinted that there may be more works by Crockett still in storage. How fabulous.  

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

Will the Whitney or MOMA heed Roberta Smith's advice and purchase a Flora Crockett? I hope so.  It would be sad if these dynamic and happy paintings were hidden away in private collections.  The world should finally be able to appreciate the art of Flora Crockett.

CLOTH & KIND // Curated, Introducing Must-Know Artist Flora Crockett

Photo Credits // Except for the painting by Kandinsky from Bloomberg.com, and the image of Flora Crockett from Meredith Ward, all images of paintings by Flora Crockett are by Lynn Byrne.

 

 

 

Alison Causer

Emerging artist Alison Causer spends all day in a room without a window. But she is not hemmed in. 

When asked what we need to know about her,  Alison rapidly responds, "I love yellow."  The sun shines in Alison's studio (which also serves as her living room).  With her bold abstract paintings, baring evocative titles such as "Self Portrait" and "What I see When I Close My Eyes," it's clear that windows are unnecessary for this artist.

On a recent visit, soft jazz is playing in the background, calming me in preparation for the onslaught of vibrant hues covering the 4 walls of Alison's studio.  Alison says she finds color "irresistible" and that is as obvious as the color wheel on her mood board. 

Canvases are everywhere.  Alison explains that she creates her very gestural, colorful abstract art quickly.  Since she paints in oil, which takes ample drying time, she works on multiple pieces at once.  This allows her to employ the layering technique that gives her paintings such great depth. 

Alison likens her paintings to a puzzle, and each day she searches for the key.  When the code is cracked, the piece is done.  It's not surprising that this artist begins each work day with a 15 minute meditation.  In those quiet moments, she reaches deep inside to the root of her creativity, explaining that in essence, painting is an "awareness of yourself."

Meditation often is followed by Alison rapidly executing small studies that serve as a warm up for her larger works.  Charmingly, these small studies are painted on the 8"x 8" paint swatches supplied by house paint company Benjamin Moore, quite familiar to most interior designers. 

This very visual person also turns to the correspondence of Vincent Van Gogh when in need of inspiration.  Alison urges us to "forget the rumors," adding that Van Gogh's letters prove that there was a "real human behind every stroke of his art."

Alison was trained at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) in Columbus Ohio, but she has been an artist ever since she can remember.  She fondly recalls a gift at age 7 or 8 from her parents of a flip top desk with compartments along the side to hold paint brushes and watercolors.  Once, as a youngster, she executed a painting on a piece of bark.  She still beams today when she remembers how impressed her father was at the time, and how they both gloried in her "pure enjoyment of creation."

Alison's training at CCAD was quite formal and focused on realism.  While she has mastered the techniques needed to produce still lifes, landscapes and the like, non-pictorial, conceptual works are what come from within her.  Color, and the ability to forge different emotions by combining various shades, are her motivating force.  Though she is an an abstract artist, she loves Impressionism, and the artists Matisse, Monet and Van Gogh, citing their masterful use of color as the reason they appeal to her. 

After art school, Alison first became an interior designer (Aha! That's where she got the idea to use the Ben Moore color swatches for her works on paper.)  But soon she missed her art, and left Ohio to come to New York "for an adventure." At the time, she only had one friend there. 

She is now happily ensconced in Brooklyn with her partner Michael, spending her time painting, teaching art and doing a bit of interior styling "to help pay the bills."  Her goal this year is to paint full time.  And while Alison and Michael's living room-cum-studio may lack a window, it certainly does not lack in views. 

Find Alison on Instagram and on her website where she maintains an online shop, mostly stocked with her small studies.  Alison urges you to contact her directly if you are interested in a larger work. Right now her paintings are very accessible.  Best hurry up. 

Image Credits // Header image, first three images of  artwork and image of Alison painting, courtesy of Alison Causer.   All other photographs by Lynn Byrne of Decor Arts Now.

Sally King Benedict

Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay Artist Sally King Benedict creates works that are a beautiful confluence of drawing and painting and that speak graphically in a visual language of color washes, abstract forms and intersecting lines. When creating, she does so unselfconsciously, with obvious freedom and spontaneity, and with a palpable openness, even when being observed. There is a purity to her work that is deeply rich and playful.There is no serious staring at the canvas or paper, no long contemplative moments before maker and medium meet. She glides effortlessly between several different works in progress, instinctive in her movements, dripping paint on this one, crushing charcoal on another, enjoying the fresh air on the back patio of her Atlanta studio where the light is dappled and the surrounding garden is lush and dreamy. She works with multiple brushes in hand at once, her cache of Japanese calligraphy brushes equally at home beside her hardware store bristle brushes that have been trashed by repeated scrubbings across her canvases. Like waves lapping the shore, she is easy come and go with her process, in a comfortable creative rhythm. If there is tension there, it is hidden behind her inherent effervescence of spirit, a quick and contagious Cheshire cat-like smile and fairy laugh.

Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

MOSS, 40 x 40, 2013 | Hidell Brooks Gallery

Benedict’s creative roots run deep, back to her childhood in Atlanta, GA, where she cut her milk teeth in a home that firmly encouraged all manner of creative ilke. “I have been painting and drawing and making sculpture ever since I can remember,” she said. “It always came naturally to me.” It didn't hurt that she was literally submerged in world of modern art by her parents, whose collection included works by Todd Murphy and Dennis Paul Williams. “My mom worked for her good friend Doug Macon who owned a contemporary art gallery in Atlanta in the 90s,” she said, “and Doug was always encouraging me to be creative.” It was this type of upbringing, one that relished whimsy and creative wit, that encouraged Benedict’s color outside the lines approach to self-expression and helped map the course to her current vocation.

Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

She went on to study studio art and painting at the College of Charleston in South Carolina under Cliff Peacock as well as printmaking under Barbara Duval. “This duo shaped my practice as an artist for sure,” Benedict said. “I learned something important from every bit of criticism they handed me.” After college, Benedict stayed in Charleston for several years, met and married her husband George, and enjoyed storied success as an artist, her paintings snatched up by collectors and gracing the pages of national and regional magazines. A phenomenal selection of her works are currently for sale at Hidell Brooks Gallery in Charlotte, NC, but if you can't make it there, good things come to those who shop online. Her website has an enviable bevy of new works up for grabs in her studio. Benedict has also recently collaborated with Serena & Lily and you can expect to see her original works on paper and canvas as well as signed limited edition fine art prints of her work through their Art Collection, which will be available in May. Stay posted and we'll let you know as soon as they are available so you can make haste and break out your plastic. In the meantime, enjoy an exclusive sneak peek of three works that will be offered by Serena & Lily in their Art Collection.

Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND... Available in Serena & Lily's Art Collection starting in May 2013!
Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND... Available in Serena & Lily's Art Collection starting in May 2013!
Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND... Available in Serena & Lily's Art Collection starting in May 2013!

TOP | Brown Edge Paper, 10 x 13, paper, 2013 MIDDLE | Aquatint, limited edition print, 2013 BOTTOM | Abstract Gold, 20 x 24, canvas, 2013 All three, and others, will be available exclusively through Serena & Lily's Art Collection starting in May 2013

Admittedly, Benedict has been largely influenced by Abstract Expressionists like the great Helen Frankenthaler, a pioneer in Color Field painting, and Richard Diebenkorn, arguably one of the most influential and prolific American modern artists of the 20th century, as well as Pablo Picasso, Joan Mitchell and David Hockney. As such, she dallies part in figurative and geometric abstraction but there is something uniquely fresh and singular about her eye, her particular spin on abstract imagery. Her color sense is recognizably Benedict, her use of flax Belgian linen panels washed in her favorite hues of black, blue and white are a trademark and highly collectable. The subjects in her face paintings are partly abstraction and cubism, but again, in signature Benedict style, often appear well fed, cherubic, and echo Ziggy Stardust with geometric cheeks, blocky neon eyebrows and noses out of joint.

Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

GREEN BROW, 12 x 16, 2010 | guache and oil pastel on linen board

Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

SWEET CHEEKS, 24 x 24, 2013 | acrylic, gouache, ink, charcoal and oil pastel on linen 

Her sumi ink paintings are an altogether different subject. Historically, Japanese sumi ink painting verges on the mystical and is believed to capture the unseen with an indelible inked brush stroke, one that cannot be changed or altered—you know, like deep metaphors for life. Let’s just say Benedict’s sumi ink works are rooted in more of a I've got noidea how this is going to end up kind ofmysticism. She starts by moistening the Arches Rives BFKpaper with water, loads her Japanese calligraphy brush with sumi ink and then, in a series of instinctive, broad strokes, water and ink react resulting in a crazy radial ripple effect, a squid ink like plume of subtle shading and tonal variation, that morphs and changes continually until the paper dries. Then for good measure Benedict grabs some charcoal and random pastels, crushes them into small bits and throws all that on the moistened paper. It’s this kind of approach to art that really excites Benedict. “I love seeing how different liquids and pigments take to different surfaces,” she said. ”It's a constant science project in my studio!”

Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

And speaking of fairies again, Benedict has an endearing lightness of being, much like Peter Pan, who knew that the real trick to happiness was to keep the best of the child you were at heart, without forgetting when you grow up.  Is it her lightness of constitution, her ebullience, that drives her creative vision and makes her art so desirable and lust worthy?  At the very least, it certainly lends itself to her emphatic embrace of motherhood to her nine month old son River. Benedict has most definitely grown up but it has only sweetened the deal for her artistically. “My entire being is better with a baby,” she said. “I no longer take time in the studio for granted. I feel like he has turned a light on within in me that I never knew I had.” That said, her days are delightfully filled with lots of painting, laughing and playing with her family. Her perfect day?  “Sunny, 75 degrees....road tripping with my husband and baby boy.....final destination: Duryea's Lobster Deck, Montauk.” My guess is that wherever she is, Benedict is always at play in the color field of her making, picking flowers and making daisy chains with a mischievous grin on her face.

Curated: Sally King Benedict | Guest Edited by Tami Ramsay | CLOTH & KIND

IMAGE CREDITS | Artwork images provided courtesy of Sally King Benedict. All other photography by Tami Ramsay, shot on location at the studio of Sally King Benedict in Atlanta, GA.

Susan Hable

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Guest edited by Tami Ramsay

Artist and textile designer Susan Hable spent her formative years in a microcosm of creative support. Encouraged from an early age by her parents, Hable studied art in various mediums and methods with two talented and local female artists in her small hometown of Corsicana, Texas. Greatly inspired and largely influenced by these experiences, her eye for color and form were coaxed into life and, in many ways, set the tone for what was to come. Formally trained as a graphic designer with a minor in art history, her focus has always included a blend of fine art and design, specifically painting and sculpture. With stints in Florence, Italy to study jewelry design with Betony Vernon and mixed media work with the Fuji Studio, as well as studies at Parsons in New York City in fashion accessory design, Hable’s particular brew of art has strong and deep roots in the power of form and seduction of hue but her path to painting simply for the sake of art has been a winding one. The journey initially started in the fashion accessories industry which ultimately led to textile design and the founding of Hable Construction in 1999 in Brooklyn with her sister and business partner, Katharine Hable Sweeney, a company aptly named after their great grandfather’s twentieth century road construction business. “We used textiles to get my art into the commercial world,” she said. This shift into the world of interior design, screen printed fabric and home accessories production provided a different platform for Hable’s designs and marked the beginning of a successful career as a textile artist.

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Her unique spin on design has landed Hable Construction multiple collaborations including creating products for Garnet HillBarneys New York and Neiman Marcus, as well as exclusive fabric lines with S. Harris, LoomSource and Hickory Chair. Additionally, because of her expertise in the nuances of color and hue, Hable serves as a committee member on the Color Association of the United States, whose members split hairs to create a concise color palette that is agreed to be representative of the major influences, trends, and directions for upcoming seasons. Her whimsical designs can be also found in their newly launched project Gosluck, where you can find playful, fanciful and practical products, like the bullseye watercolor dartboard above.

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But life will have its way, and Hable found herself beckoned at an interesting crossroads. Tagged by Didi Dunphy, curator for The Gallery at Hotel Indigo, to contribute a few of her textile designs as art for an exhibit, and encouraged by Hickory Chair creative director Ron Fiore to include some of her paintings in the decoration of their showroom at High Point Market, Hable's art was front and center. In both cases, her work created a buzz and several of her paintings sold on the spot with requests for commissions to follow. “It really ignited something in me,” she said, “and I realized I hadn’t tapped into this part of myself and it was time.”

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Hable hit the sweet spot though when she and her husband Peter moved two 1918 tin mill village houses, snatched up at $400 a pop since they were slated to be burned down, from Eatonton, Georgia, into the backyard of their home in Athens. Reconfigured and refurbished as her art studio, “I told myself that I would repay the cost of it one painting at a time,” she said. Having moved from New York City to Athens four years ago, her studio now is a sun flooded creative respite. “It has been such a huge part of my painting. Just having the space for the large paper, plus the beautiful northern light, the quiet and no distractions,” she said. “It is one of the most important things that Athens has given me for my art.” Plus, the history of the tin mill houses is the stuff of legend. “People would come from the train tracks behind the mill houses and say that their great-grandmother died in the front room or that their family lived there for 50 years,” she explained. Although the closets were absent any skeletons, the walls were full of relics from the past. "We found, among some other odds things, a huge skeleton key, a baby shoe, a child’s toy top, an old spoon, and a magnet,” she said, all of which are now at home in the new studio.

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Hable now finds herself an artist, in her own right, creating original works of art that are bold, fluid and honest. Her draughtsmanship is part abstraction, part minimalism but unmistakably Susan Hable. Her distinctive quality of line and unassuming technique of hand is everywhere evident, equally in her art as it is in her textile designs. Whether working solely with india ink or with bleeding pools of Hydrus liquid watercolors, her work is a graphic study of free floating flora and fauna, an interpretive color story of her keen observations and inspirations. “In my world, whimsical forms are combined with a unique color palette inspired by nature and beauty, rather than trends,” she said. “My design process begins with the most mundane of moments.” Humble beginnings though they may be, the resultant work is nothing short of a beautiful confluence of graphic shapes, unabashed color and negative space.

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IMAGE CREDITS | Photography by Tami Ramsay at the art studio of Susan Hable; Gallery wall vignette image photographed at Bungalow Classic, an interior design retailer of Susan Hable's artwork in Atlanta, Georgia.

paper-cut-project

Welcome to Curated. A new column featuring the art & artists of our time, guest edited by Tami Ramsay. I'm nothing short of totally blown away by the creative output from her first subjects, Nikki Nye and Amy Flurry of the paper-cut-project, and am certain you will be too...KRISTA

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Evolution of talent is such a beautiful spectacle, albeit wrought with a myriad of growing pains and phoenix rising versions before landing at the right place at the right time. Timing helps for sure, but raw talent backed by sheer will and a completely unique spin, really seals the deal. This is especially evident in the case of Nikki Nye and Amy Flurry, the creative duo tour de force behind paper-cut-project.

Creating jaw-dropping art from paper is what these partners do, with unparalleled precision and vision. For those new to their handiwork, Nye, as lead designer, and her creative partner Flurry, create custom-made paper installations and sculptures that are fueled by a love of fashion and an appreciation for the grace and nuance of this humble material.

Build it and they will come has never been more true than in the case of Atlanta-based paper-cut project. Requests for custom, runway and private collections and installations have since come rolling in from the likes of Hermes, Cartier, Christie’s, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Jeffery, The Bay,Kate Spade, and Jen Kao. In their most recent project, Nye and Flurry created intricate wigs for mannequins as well as animal and nature scenes for REDValentino’s new flagship boutique on Corso Venezia in Milan. At once girly and fanciful, with a wink and nod to Victorian era aplomb, Nye and Flurry’s paper creations helped create a dreamy world of fairy tales for showcasing the Winter 2012/Spring 2013 fashion collection.

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“This was certainly a "pinch me" moment,” Flurry said of she and Nye working with the creative team of a storied brand like REDValentino. “The inspiration that drove the fashion collection, characters frolicking in this dreamlike kingdom straddling reality and fantasy, was the same story they used to convey the direction for the wigs.” Getting from inspiration to final creation is quite a process though. “The pot of notions that needed to be stirred into one collection was quite full!” according to Nye. “The collection was meant to hearken a bit back to older Victorian-esque styles, though it had to be modern. There also needed to be a feminine aspect that was soft but also bold and adventurous.”  As you can see from the images in this post, just a few of my favorites from the REDValentino project, Nye and Flurry nailed it. Be sure to check out the entire series here as well as images of the boutique installation here.

I love the finished product but nothing thrills me more than a glimpse of how inspiration and concept, that alchemy of creativity, becomes a work of art. Because clients often come to paper-cut-project with a concept that is not fully fleshed out, “one thing we do understand is that our clients are looking for our interpretation of their idea, which is determined, in part, by the material we work with and by our particular point of view,” Flurry said. “We both bring to this project backgrounds in fashion.” Always though, the creative process begins with Nye sketching. “We iron out a final design with the client and, once that is approved, I as the lead artist will figure out how it needs to be constructed, from the base to the outer, finishing details, and will work on designs and elements that Amy and I can then both work on,” Nye explained.

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These images share an intimate look at how Nye and Flurry work, the delicate nature of the material they work with, and the beauty of that process as captured by photographer Rinne Allen. Also, be at the ready for limited edition prints of their paper creations, available through paper-cut-project, in the very near future.

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And since the world is their oyster, what other creative jaunts would this dream team like to see on their radar? On Nye’s list would be an installation for the Barneys New York holiday windows. For Amy, “We've long talked of doing a jewelry line - casting the paper pieces in precious metal - as guest designers for an existing fashion house. These situations do exist, right?!”

No matter how they slice it, paper-cut-project does it right. Eat your heart out Edward Scissorhands.

IMAGE CREDITS | REDValentino paper wig and animalia images courtesy of paper-cut-project | paper-cut-project process images courtesy of photographer Rinne Allen