Artist Q&A with Ben Weiner

Ben Charles Weiner lives and works in Queens, New York. Weiner studied painting under José Lazcarro Toquero at La Universidad de las Americas (Mexico), before completing his BA at Wesleyan University (CT). His work has been exhibited widely within the US and internationally, at institutions including The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, The Tarble Art Center, and The Carnegie Art Museum. Recent gallery exhibitions include “Notebook” at 56 Henry, “Dropout” at Super Dutchess, and “Gel Variations” at Mark Moore Gallery. His work is represented in various public collections, including Microsoft, Sammlung, Progressive Insurance, and The Frederick R. Weisman Collection. His work has been featured in publications including Artforum, Artnews, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, W Magazine, Interview Magazine, Artsy, and Vogue.

“Crazy Quilt”, oil on canvas, 14 x 18 in | 36 x 46 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

If I had to choose one it might be Lynda Benglis. But Audrey Flack, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jack Whitten, and Brice Marsden are all artists to whom I frequently look for answers. 

How did you become a professional artist?

I’ve been obsessed with making art for as long as I can remember and have pursued it for my entire life. When I was younger I always had notebooks filled with drawings and made comics and zines. Then in college I was studying abroad at La Universidad de las Americas in Mexico when I studied painting for the first time with Jose Lascarro Toquero, a protege of the great muralist Ruffino Tamayo. That was when I decided I wanted to be a painter. I traveled all over Mexico to seek out the work of the muralists there. Their scale, material experimentation, symbolism, and futurism inspired me to want to make … Click here to read more

White Noise at WhiteBox

A skinny, disheveled Asian man spins on a pile of empty cans, screaming and waving his bare arms and legs while strangers throw more cans on him, producing a deafening noise. The man is Chin Chih Yang, a New York-based Taiwanese artist who is a familiar character at WhiteBox’s performative events. His act closes the second day of the fifth edition of White Noise, a series devoted to sound and multimedia visual performance art.   

Organized by WhiteBox, an alternative art space currently located in Harlem, White Noise was first started in 2005 in the organization’s original gallery in Chelsea. Now it moves around the city and its latest installment has been taking place in the New York neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, hosted in a 19th-century mansion made available by Georgian artist Eteri Chkadua who lives here with her brother Gotcha, also an artist.

For White Noise, the curator and artistic director Juan Puntes assembles a diverse group of international artists that create an engaging and unpredictable soireè. At these events, a musical performance can follow a video projection, a poetry reading can accompany a multimedia installation and an occasional dancer can make an appearance –an eclectic bunch with one common denominator, exploration and experimentation. 

White Noise V. Matt Sullivan and Beatrice A. Martino.

On Saturday, October 16th a packed living room was the setting for a gripping succession of performances including videos by transmedia artist Eva Petrič, and a live reading and screening of a graphic novel by indie-rocker and social critic,Jeffrey Lewis. Throughout the night, Mr. Puntes made sure that the artists had a proper platform to present their work and that the audience had an opportunity to connect and engage with the artists and explore the hosting space. He was clearly in his natural habitat, … Click here to read more

Through COVID cocoon, acclaimed Japanese artist Ogino brings a new perspective to NYC

“My painting is so to say an accumulation of questions about different elements, forming many layers.” – Yuna Ogino

Artist Yuna Ogino is one of the most acclaimed artists of the new generation of Japanese artists. By developing a distinctively striking style, her works have been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Yuna Ogino (born 1982, Tokyo, Japan) lives and works in Tokyo. Besides traditional medium, the multi-talented artist has also expanded her boundaries beyond painting by expressing artistic value into textiles, books, and performances. Yuna’s innovative style has been awarded and praised in public collections and spaces. With inspirations from ikebana flower arrangements and Japanese gardens, she weaves lights and colors onto the blank canvas, bringing to life her thoughts and memories. If you have followed her work, you know her painting technique is full of joyful color and intriguing lines that represent both the strength and vulnerability of plants and insects. She turns metaphorical representation to maternal richness with a refined design that continues a gorgeous tradition of Japanese decorative society. 

Installation view of Yuna Ogina’s “RELATE” . Courtesey of Mizuma & Kips.

But the COVID-19 imprisoning experience was turning Ogino to a new dimension and forcing her to see human struggle in the whole. The outbreak forced her stay at home life to become a central focus, with little emotional connection to allow her to see humanity and suffering without gender, age, and race. This newfound understanding of we (the whole world) are all suffering under the pandemic changed her palette and inspired her to produce figurative oil paintings in a 7-foot-high canvas. They are debuted at Mizuma & Kips Gallery (324 Grand Street, New York, NY, November 10th – December 7th, … Click here to read more

“Shape, color, and organic form”

Leah Guadagnoli’s “Love Lies Bleeding” is her first solo show with Hollis Taggart since joining the gallery in 2020. Her three-dimensional wall sculptures are bold, organic, and tantalizing. Taking place from October 14th– November 13th, 2021, the show offers nine new works all created this year.
The artist lives and works in New York’s Hudson Valley town Hillsdale. Obtaining her BFA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her MFA at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, she already has an impressive exhibition list under her belt including solo shows at the conceptually focused Asya Geisberg Gallery and the influential Victori + Mo (now Dinner Gallery), and collective exhibitions at leading galleries Freight and Volume and White Columns. In addition to her painting practice, she currently teaches at the University at Albany.

Installation view of Leah Guadagnoli’s “Love Lies Bleeding”. Courtesy of Hollis Taggart

Featuring nine new works drawing heavily on their physicality, materials used include acrylic, canvas, polyurethane foam, and insulation board to create innovated new compositions that test the boundaries of conventional painting. Once the viewer examines her objects from all vantage points, to view the sides and also tops of the pieces, they will notice the organic and flowy shapes, painted with pastel inspired colors in acrylic paint. They must physically move around the paintings to really understand the artist’s intent. The idea of connecting the viewer to the painting seems to be the most crucial element in these new works.

This concept uses the notion from sculpture, and also Frank Stella’s view that a painting is an object, often created with an understanding of geometry. An artwork must be encountered, not just offer visual stimulation, and Guadagnoli is more than confirming this … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with William Conger

William Conger’s paintings blend fascinating arrangements of color and form, some geometrically precise, others smoothly haunting. His works combine technique, complexity and abstract brilliance. Conger’s themes range from the fanfare of Chinatown parades to the collective souls within cemeteries, to the vast socio-economic-industrial energy of Chicago itself.

William Conger received his MFA from the University of Chicago and his BFA from the University of New Mexico, where he worked closely with abstract painters Raymond Jonson and Elaine de Kooning. He taught at Northwestern University along with his friend Ed Paschke. He is Professor Emeritus at the Northwestern University. 

“Boomer”, oil on linen, 36 x 36 in | 91 x 91 cm, 2019

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

I have a large number of favorite artists in art history. I admire them in different contexts or for differing reasons. Yet I have probably admired Picasso more consistently and for more reasons during my career. I first encountered his work during my childhood visits to museums and was immediately struck by its painterly force and inventiveness. I still experience a shock when I see his art, even after a lifetime of acquaintance with it. 

How did you become a professional artist?

As a youngster who was very serious about becoming an artist even in the first years of grammar school, I didn’t distinguish between professional and other, except I was never interested in being an amateur artist, (if that’s the opposite of professional). From my first efforts beyond childish scribbles and sun-and-stick figures and the like, I was very conscious of trying to draw and copy the images of paintings I saw in books or museum postcards. A family friend supplied me with stacks of ArtNews which gave me a visual sense of what art and … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Kathleen Shaver

Kathleen Shaver is an abstract painter who studied at Moore College of Art & Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) with teachers and mentors including Bill Richards, Chuck Fahlen, and Thomas Chimes. Her work has been included in a major survey of contemporary Philadelphia artists at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in exhibits at PAFA, Woodmere Art Museum, the James A. Michener Art Museum, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Attleboro Arts Museum and Moore. In addition to the Rodger LaPelle Galleries and 3rd Street Gallery in Philadelphia, Shaver has exhibited in galleries located in Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Texas. Her work is included in both private and corporate collections.

“Just Human”, oil on canvas, 56 x 48 in | 142 x 122 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

That’s a tough question because time is speeding along and nothing remains the same. I remember seeing paintings by Goya and Velasquez in a book as a kid. I grew up loving the magic of Walt Disney movies. As an art student, Jasper Johns had a huge impact on me as did Eva Hesse, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, Marisol, Jim Dine, Joseph Cornell, and Lucas Samaras. The first time I saw works of Van Gogh in the flesh I was blown away by the physical presence of his paint. Today, I’d walk a mile to see work by Angel Ortiz, Rachel Jones, Rita Ackermann, or Daniel Crews Chubb.  I feel that Willem de Kooning is in my bones so he must be my favorite.

How did you become a professional artist?

By overcoming a deep conflict. I started out in art college after high school. After figuring out I did not want to study … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Joyce Pommer

Joyce’s paintings evolve out of her subconscious in a free flowing intuitive process. They do not start with a preconceived idea or plan; the art is her reflection.  The work she creates makes people feel good, and instills positive emotions and harmony. The work frees the mind and spirit. Inspired by the early Abstract Expressionists, the artist seeks the emotion and spirit of the painting by way of the unconscious and spiritual.

“Adventurers”, mixed media on canvas, 15 x 15 in | 38 x 38 cm 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

Giorgio Morandi. His transformation of simple objects into beautiful imagery are affecting. The contrast of strong to fragile, and still life to abstract, have always spoken to me from the time I discovered his work. Serene and quiet with subtle use of color, his play on positive & negative space are powerful.

How did you become a professional artist?

I attended art school in San Francisco and Boston, but when I moved to NYC I concentrated on having a studio and persisted in exhibiting my work wherever I could. Although I had another job (as a nurse) for many years, I had the flexibility and financial support to continue on this journey, always maintaining a studio and becoming more selective with exhibitions, and eventually becoming a full time artist.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

My inspiration is in the process and use of diverse materials. I am always in search of different textures and how I can put them all together to make the connections coexist especially when alien to one another. My work has a spontaneous and intuitive start, but I always love the element of surprise that happens when working. There are many references … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Andrew Hockenberry

Andrew began painting in 2002, after moving to Denver, Colorado. A self taught artist, he learned to build frames and stretch canvas, an important part of his process. He manipulates and repurposes traditional and alternative materials to create balance in his abstract paintings. While working from his subconscious, every mark is deliberate and applied to the rhythm of music. Having moved to New York City to pursue his art professionally, Andrew continues to explore the boundaries of materials and marks.  

“Untitled”, oil on canvas, 60 x 84 in | 152 x 213 cm, 2020

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

I don’t think it is an artist as much of a genre, the style of the regalia of the Native American People. Growing up participating in a Native American community, I was influenced by the color patterns, attention to detail, bead and feather work and the authentic use of everything including porcupine quill. It all comes together to make something beautiful.

How did you become a professional artist?

I don’t really see myself as a professional artist versus other artists that might be signed to galleries with professional management. Everything that I do is made in house, all my advertisements, promotion, shows, everything is done by the artist for the artist for the past 19 years. I feel it’s just been a part of me being an abstract artist, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.
I see myself as an artist that’s prolific but original starting from building my own frames stretching canvas, teaching myself how to do that, and experimenting with
colors to create authentic artwork in my own style. I spend a lot of time educating myself by looking at art whenever the opportunity presents itself at openings, museums, pop up … Click here to read more

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