Artist Q&A with Gena Milanesi

Gena Milanesi is a self-taught painter whose work reflects a remastered reality through intense brushstrokes & movement. Her bold layers of paint function to achieve a distinct energy with oil, acrylic & other mixed mediums. As a dual-citizen of the United States and United Kingdom, she constantly retracts to her roots as a source of inspiration. Her work presents a simultaneous exploration of the contemporary that reoccurs showing concepts of newness & practices of the past. Her figurative works interpret various imagery using monochromatic hues to underscore juxtaposed content in a straightforward manner. As of 2020, Milanesi has been creating a series of abstract pieces with her continued stylized layers and mixed media.

 “The Second Portal”, oil, acrylic, spray paint, and graphite on canvas, 60 x 86 in | 152 x 218 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

This is a difficult question. There’s simply too many. I’d have to say Van Gogh or Turner, if I could own one.

How did you become a professional artist?

I am self-taught, but I have been creating for as long as I can remember. Painting was always a fascination of mine, and a craft that consumed me. Art school was out of the question so I had to make this all work and keep learning through uncharted waters. Most of the time, you must start something without the answers and navigate the uncertainty. 

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

Texture.

Gena Milanesi, portrait by Alanna Durkee.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

I don’t really take this into account. I strive to keep my work honest and evoke a reaction, good or bad, because I want the viewer to feel something. With these objectives as driving forces, … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Sajal Sarkar

As an artist of Indian diaspora in the US, Sajal Sarkar has stepped out of his comfort zone and began exploring uncharted avenues. Embracing fresh ideas by casting aside over-saturated ones is part of his nature, but he had not indulged in it enough in the middle phase of life in Baroda. Human figuration dominated his visual thinking, hardly allowing any other experimental possibilities. In fact, a couple of years before moving to the US, he fully recognized the stagnancy in his thinking and creative output, which was devoid of anything fresh and provocative.

“Beyond Life 1”, pen and India ink on Nepalese Lokta paper, 24 x 24 in | 61 x 61 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

It’s the most difficult question to answer as my art career passed through three distinct chapters and in each chapter, there is some great artist’s name I can remember who is still as significant as thirty years ago. In the initial stage after my undergraduate studies in Kolkata, two Indian artists, both from my homeland Bengal named Somenath Hore and Ramkinkar Baij, and two European artists named Kathe Kollwitz and Egon Schiele were my most favorite. After my move to the Western region of India to study printmaking in Baroda, my interest turned towards the work of Bhupen Khakkar, Nasreen Mohamedi, Zarina Hasmi, and Krishna Reddy. All four of them made a mark internationally for their unique quality of work. After migrating to the USA my new favorites became Sol Lewitt, James Turrell, and Louise Bourgeois, Alberto Giacometti to name a few. 

How did you become a professional artist?

My parents were the ones responsible for my artistic life and it’s a blessing to have such parents. Though my father, who had a small … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Paula Cahill

Paula Cahill is a contemporary American artist. She is known for her dark blue paintings composed with a single, continuous line reminiscent of the bioluminescent light that emanates from sea-life at deep, dark depths. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Paula relocated to the Northeast where she received merit and academic scholarships while pursuing an education in the arts. She holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a BFA from Tyler School of Art and Architecture. She also studied at the Art Students League of New York and Parsons School of Design as a transfer student.

“Awry”, oil on panel, 24 x 24 in | 61 x 61 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

I have so many favorite artists, but if I could have one famous painting, it would be a van Gogh.

How did you become a professional artist?

I attended art school later in life. After graduation I spent several years experimenting with abstraction. In 2017, I created a body of work that I felt comfortable with and began to seek out opportunities to exhibit and offer my work to the public.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

Line.

Paula Cahill, self-portrait.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

My work is composed with a single line that changes color and often connects back to itself seamlessly. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I haven’t seen any paintings quite like the current work.

When is a piece finished for you?

When I’m satisfied with the composition and examined every inch of the surface to make sure that the edges are clean, the colors are right, and the paint application is correct. It’s a very labor intense process.

What’s different

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Artist Q&A with Augustus Goertz

Augustus Goertz was born in 1948 and raised together with two sisters in an artistic/bohemian household by artist parents, Esther Meyer Goertz, and August Goertz, in Greenwich Village, New York City. He received his education at LaGuardia High School in NYC, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, and earned his BFA in Viusal Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, CA, where he studied with Bruce Nauman, Jay Defeo, and Wally Hedrick. 

“Blue Blood Force Field II”, mixed media on canvas, 16 x 14 in | 41 x 36 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

Either a nameless cave painter or that productive bad boy of all time Pablo Picasso.

How did you become a professional artist?

Among my very first memories are those of making art. Both my parents were artists. My father was a painter and my mother did mostly woodcuts. I grew up playing with their materials and never stopped.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

Jay Defeo said to me, “You are already an artist. Why are you in art school?” Bruce Nauman said to me, “You are the best sculptor who is actually a painter.” Roy Lichtenstein said to me in his kitchen, “You always have to go over everything yourself, if you want it done right.” Tom Akawie, who taught me spray painting, is also a major influence in my work.

Augustus Goertz

How is your work different than everything else out there?

I think my work is very philosophical. In my view, art is philosophy made manifest. Conceptually, I have a lifelong interest in our place in the universe. The big perspective. Because of this, I developed an interest in the ramifications of quantum theory. Another interest has … Click here to read more

Bonnie Richards Becker sat down with artist David Kastner and spoke with him about growing up in the Midwest, his constant experimentations of materials of the course of his life’s work, and his current phase that has a renewed focus on color and the process of painting.

“Finding that moment when the human mind is free, but before conscious activity develops consecutive thought, was a difficult mental space to understand, exist in, and use for the creative moment of expression..”
– David Kastner
David Kastner, photo by Gale Richards.

My first real recollection of art came from the Art Institute in Chicago. My mother took me to the Museum when I was about five years old. Seeing the various paintings, sculptures, and other media left a deep impression that persists in my life today. Before that, I only knew of my own love for making and building things. But there I first felt the effects of the many great artists who left their ideas for others to see. Without really knowing what the creative process meant, I knew I wanted to create.

While it is possible to reflect on early childhood development, attempting to identify when and how the creative process came into being in one person’s life, it is likely there is a more general creative essence in that person’s life, rather than a singular epiphany. For me, I knew early on that I liked making things. This meant piling sticks, digging, and making marks in mud, etc. These early renderings were a precursor for more complex mark making that became the pursuit of my life’s work to date.

In elementary school we had art class with pencils, paints, and clay – and all the other materials a small child needs to build their first artistic masterpieces. Inspired by … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Geoffrey Dorfman

In a time when the centrality of painting has been questioned and abstraction appears to have exhausted its possibilities, Dorfman maintains his commitment to oil and brush on canvas. For him, the Abstract Expressionists were a starting point, not an ending point.

Dorfman’s approach is not goal-oriented movement toward some idea or vision. Rather, it is an identification with with the properties of paint, understanding what it can do, and from there to the painting. For Dorfman, the edges of the painting are very important, and his works tend to move out beyond the canvas. At the same time, he puts small “stop signs” in his works, so as the eye pauses and contemplates before it continues on and outward. His strokes tend to “flutter,” in a way similar to the Impressionists, further generating movement and at the same time, anchoring the eye in the moment.

“Zoroaster”, oil on canvas, 42 x 46 in | 107 x 117 cm, 2020. Courtesy of Lawrence Fine Art.

How did you become a professional artist?

Most artists are ex-art students or teachers. They’re still practicing the lessons they learned or else they get diverted into something peripheral, but call it art anyway. I myself didn’t know any different. I had been working summers in the movies as an electrician. I had an ‘in’ through my mother’s brother. In the late 1960’s I worked on several commercials and a few features, including Midnight Cowboy. (I and one other guy lit the set for Sylvia Miles’ bedroom.) Anyway, in 1971 there were openings in the scenic design union. You had to take a test and there was a $2,000 entrance fee. My uncle, who always drove a new Cadillac El Dorado, told my parents he’d front the money and … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Bobbie Moline-Kramer

Bobbie Moline-Kramer was born in Fort Madison, Iowa, in 1946, and is now based in California. She traces her interest in art to a course she took at a local community college with Conceptual art pioneer John Baldessari, and to assistant work she did with Allan Kaprow, the originator of “Happenings.” As a painter, Moline-Kramer has pioneered a unique fusion of hyperrealism and gestural abstraction; she has also worked in mixed media. Drawing on personal narrative alongside art-historical reference, she has produced several distinct series while maintaining a deliberate compositional heterogeneity. Moline-Kramer teaches oil painting and is an adjunct professor at California State University, Long Beach.

“American Shunga, Zen Sensual”, oil paint, colored gesso, graphite on handmade Japanese paper, 40 x 60 in | 102 x 152 cm, 2018

How did you become a professional artist?

 Initially I became an artist because I was good at it, thus getting lots of praise from assorted adults. Then as I became older, I magically fell in love with both the concepts and the processes of making art. To this day, facing a blank surface still excites me with its unlimited possibilities.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

My latest series American Shunga celebrates both life and love. 2020’s lockdown was for me a time of paring the extemporaneous with a rediscovery of the essence of living…love.  Of the importance of the combination of love and spirituality in trying to achieve the ultimate in love, a Greek/Christian concept called agape. Agape love is a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love which I think I captured in a delicate piece that’s part Tales of Adjusted Desire online at Robert Berry Gallery.

Bobbie Moline-Kramer, photo by Tim Janssens.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

Since being an artist doesn’t pay the bills, … Click here to read more

Lily Kostrzewa speaks with Aurora Robson

Aurora Robson is a multi-media artist known predominantly for her meditative work intercepting the plastic waste stream. Her practice is about subjugating negativity and shifting trajectories. Her work is a formal meditation on recurring nightmares she had as a child which she hybridizes with forms found in nature. Robson was born in Toronto in 1972 and grew up in Hawaii. She lived and worked in New York City for over two decades during which time she studied art history and visual arts at Columbia University. Recently, Robson moved to the Hudson Valley to raise her two daughters with her husband Marshall Coles.

Installation view of Remnant Romance Environmental Works: Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson.
Courtesy of Hollis Taggart.

Because of my personal interest in female artists, I took the opportunity to interview the environmental artist Aurora Robson regarding her recent two-person exhibition at Hollis Taggart Gallery with her collaborator the late environmental realistic painter Idelle Weber (1932-2020).  Aurora Robson uses mostly plastic waste debris as her main medium to create her artworks. For her, plastic waste materials’ effect on the environment is of crucial concern. This concern is evidenced by her powerful and often colorful artistic representations. 

As a recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts grant, she worked at Penn State University to develop an exhibition with plastic waste debris. Her work there solidified in her what I call the four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink. 

One might wonder what plastic waste debris has to do with fine art. Well, as it almost always happens, artistic representations are a most powerful form of education. For me, Aurora’s Creations are impactful yet attractive. 

As I talked with her, I started with her making process. She first explained that color was important … Click here to read more

Art and Nature: A Collaboration

It is late one night, and you are out in nature, far away from the city, with your eye pressed up to the lens of a telescope. Distant planets and galaxies appear to be within the reach of your arm. But what would it look like, if the vastness of the universe were encapsulated in the palm of your hand? The answer lies in Ken Cro-Ken’s macro/micro paintings. These mini paintings, which are no larger than the palm of your hand, are nestled within larger paintings, offering alternative perspectives of the same slice of the multiverse. In his own words: “It is for the viewer to determine whether it is a microscope zooming-in for a closer look or a telescope that reveals the greater body from a distance. Which painting is the macro and which is the micro?” Cro-Ken’s playful relationship with the macro and micro forces of Nature is evident in all of his work – whether painting, sculpture, or video. 

The work of Ken Cro-Ken, self-ascribed ecosystem painter and environmentalist videographer, is currently on view at PS109 El Barrio’s Artspace in New York City, presented by WhiteBox in collaboration with 2B&2C. The one-man show, entitled Ken Cro-Ken: The Conduct of Paint invites the viewer into conversation with Nature, through exuberant improvisational paintings that simultaneously capture the great expanse of the universe and the delicate intricacies of time in motion. 

Image courtesy of WhiteBox Harlem

Working at the intersection of the microscopic and macroscopic, Cro-Ken considered himself a conduit for Nature’s expressivity, co-creating in concert with seasonal and elemental forces. Cro-Ken used chemical catalysts – what he called “Speed Elements” – to set his paintings in motion, and to reveal the invisible “push-pull” forces of Nature. These durational paint experiments were conducted in a … Click here to read more