Teaching Life Skills and Art Curation: Eliot Lable

Eliot Lable, Artist

"People in Gear" - A Collaboration with Eliot LableEliot Lable, who explores the tough subjects of violence, evil and intolerance in his art, has for the past seven years run NURTUREart‘s Education Outreach program in Brooklyn high schools that teaches underserved students in the New York area how to curate art and also how to work cooperatively with others. NURTUREart’s education program gives students the opportunity to meet and learn from professional artists and curators who expose them to contemporary art and teach them skills that can lead to future careers.

The program runs throughout the school year and culminates in an exhibition at the NURTUREart Gallery. It teaches students art handling, installation, press and marketing and preparing for an opening reception. Students are given the opportunity to visit studios of area artists, go to art galleries and art institutions, and to learn to write about and critique art.

Lable started the program in 2005 with then art teacher Sarah Hervert, who is now a middle school assistant principal. Their goal was to involve the many artists who have studios in their area, and it has grown to include multiple schools. In 2010, NURTUREart added an education coordinator to help expand the program and to develop new partnerships. The organization is a non-profit that’s received support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, NYCulture, WNYC, The Greenwall Foundation, The Leibovitz Foundation, and The New York State Council on the Arts.

According to Lable, “the best part of program is that it reinforces what students learn and teaches them how to work with each other through curating a show. It gives them a purpose and also improves their writing, editing and other skills”.

In talking about his own work as an artist and educator, Lable says, “As a complex person, there is an artist side of me and an art educator side. The art work that I create in my studio is typically connected to a subject that I find personally captivating. The challenge then is to convert this idea into a visual entity that truly represents the initial captivation. I feel that another part of me wants to share with students the immense joy of making art work.  Also a part of me believes that the process of making art can be a stepping stone for learning”.

Eliot Lable’s work, which explores the subjects of violence, evil, torture, death, intolerance, fear and aging, has been exhibited in many solo and group shows, including in Finland and Costa Rica.  He’s received numerous grants, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Finland; and two Council for Basic Education Grants, which were sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and Time Warner. His work is in the collections of the Museo de Arte Costarricense in Costa Rica, and in Helsinki, Finland, the City Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as in private and corporate collections.  A permanent sculpture, commissioned by Public Art for Public Schools (PAPS), can be seen at the entrance of the School of Cooperative Education in New York City.

Anyone interested in learning more about NURTUREart or Eliot Lable’s work is invited to contact him at info@eliotlable.com or 718.706.8622.

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Documenting Protest: Granny Peace Brigade Art

Regina Silvers, Visual Artist and Art Organizer

I draw, paint, and have been exhibiting my work since the ‘70s. Right now I’m engrossed in the most exciting art project of my career: The Granny Peace Brigade series.

In 2005 a friend of mine was arrested, along with a small group of older women– all members of various Peace groups like Code Pink and the Gray Panthers— for demonstrating at the Army Recruitment station in Times Square. They were cuffed, jailed, and eventually tried and acquitted.  Out of this experience they formed The Granny Peace Brigade. I’ve been a supporter and ardent admirer since then.

I drew them during their trial and later began to photograph them while I marched and demonstrated with them. After a while, I began using these photos as source material for new work.

Much of my previous work of the past 20-odd years had focused on nature-based motifs. Working from sketches made while hiking upstate NY, I created large close-ups of the rocks, weeds, waterfalls, and woodlands, drawing attention to their “ordinary” beauty and vitality.  At the same time – initially because I am devoted to drawing the figure – I created the ”Placard” series: paintings and drawings derived from images of protesters I found in newspapers. This however was a different matter.

As an older woman, and an activist since the days I marched with the Women Strike for Peace against the Vietnam War, this project is more personal and vital.  It gives me an opportunity to merge my aesthetic, political and social concerns, through personally meaningful, timely, subject matter. It’s been challenging and exhilarating.

It’s been said that “…the eye witnesses, the hand records.” As an artist I am following a long roster of artists who “bear witness” (think Goya, Kathe Kollwitz, Picasso, Ben Shahn, Leon Golub). While I’m not intent on painting a political polemic, I do want to pay homage to these feisty peace activists, and transmit their message that “Democracy is not a Spectator Sport”.

As I participate in documenting this piece of our history, I  show, close-up, what it’s like to be in the midst of the energetic Grannies, visually expressing the view that older women are concerned, and can have an active voice in our society.

To make a piece of art that conveys the energy, immediacy, and spirit of the narrative, I work quickly, making many large pieces for each motif, varying the composition, the approach, and the materials. The works range from 20 x 30” to 36 x 72”, in pastel, charcoal, acrylic, and/or oil paint. Some become finished “products”, others remain studies. I feel privileged to be able to hone my approach to making art while visually expressing something of such importance to me, and hopefully supporting the efforts of these heroic women.

I will be exhibiting this work in a one-person exhibition at Saint Peter’s Church (Citicorp) NYC in May, 2013.


Regina Silvers has been involved with fine art for her whole adult life- as a visual artist and an art organizer. Originally trained as a NYC art teacher, her varied career includes jewelry designer, gallery director, curator, art consultant, museum publicity/advertising manager, and always, practicing artist.

She was a founder and President of TOAST, the TriBeCa Open Artist Studio Tour (2000 to 2010), and co-founder and Director of the Gallery at Hastings on Hudson (1976-84).

Silvers has maintained a studio in TriBeCa for more than 20 years and, until recently, a studio in Woodstock, NY. Her work appears in corporate and private collections throughout the United States, and she has participated in more than 40 exhibitions nationally.

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How to Storyboard for Hollywood and TV: Robert Castillo

Robert Castillo, Award-winning Director, Animator, Storyboard Artist

I was born with a pencil in my hand, or so the story goes!  Ever since I can remember drawing has been a vital part of my life.  It’s something I have been doing all my life. Drawing was the tool which helped me communicate with others. In 1977 when I stepped off the plane from Santo Domingo, I knew not a word of English and drawing was how I communicated.  I was born here in the United States, but was raised in the island of Santo Domingo and did not speak English.

My family has stories of me drawing on walls; on the furniture and doodling on my father’s college books.  In school, I was constantly in hot water because all I wanted to do was draw.

Today, I still draw. I am a Storyboard Artist. My job is to take a script and a story and illustrate it and bring it to life! I meet with the director and try to see what is in his head. A storyboard is similar to a Comic Book, where you have sequential images that tell a story. I love movies and I love to draw so I am very happy doing what I do.

For people interested in doing Storyboards, the first thing I would suggest is putting up an easy-to-navigate website that shows your best storyboard work. If you do not have any professional experience yet, just put up any samples that you do have. When a client calls, be honest with them if they ask you what project the sample work is from. If it is not from an actual job, then just say so. Do not let your lack of experience become an issue. Try to promote yourself and find an agent if you can. There are agencies like Storyboards Inc. or Famous Frames that are always looking for new talent. Storyboard agents are not absolutely necessary. It depends on what city you live in. If you are in a smaller market town, you may want to have an agent to see if it works for you.

Professional storyboard artists charge $600 per day and higher. It is up to you to know the value of your work. Rates are listed in The Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. It is published every year by the Graphic Artists Guild. When a client contacts you about your rates, get all the details you can and be able to tell the client how many frames you are able to do in a day or how long it will take you to complete the project. Negotiating the rate is something that you will have to get a personal feel for, and finally you have to draw well, so whenever you get a chance practice your story boarding skills. There are many books and videos out there full of useful information. Many DVDs also have special features, and of course the web is full of resources and examples.

Robert Castillo is a Storyboard Artist who lives in New Jersey and works in New York City. He graduated with honors from The Art Institute of Boston and has a Master’s Degree in Computer Arts from The School of Visual Arts.

As a storyboard artist, Robert has created boards for films including Lee Daniel’s “Precious”, the Christopher Reeve’s directed animation Everyone’s Hero, Queen Latifahs “The Cookout” and “Perfect Holiday” and the award-winning cable television programs  The Sopranos, and Smash.

 He has also done music videos for Alicia Keys, Ja Rule, Kid Rock, Lauren Hill and Don Omar; commercials for Phat Farm, Adidas, And 1; as well as promo work and music videos for MTV, Nickelodeon’s Ironman, Fuse, VH1, Court TV and ESPN.

His talent has been recognized with various awards and honors, including L. Ron Hubbard’s Illustrators of the Future and The Student Academy Awards in 2004 for his short film S.P.I.C. The Storyboard of My Life which has screened in fourteen festivals including Cannes and The Museum of Modern Art.  In 2005, S.P.I.C. had a special screening at TIME Magazine in New York and at Walt Disney Studios.  Robert has also lectured on “The Art of Storyboards” at NYU Tisch and Jersey City University.

Robert has given back by auctioning his artwork for The John Starks Foundation as well as Project Sunshine.   He also volunteers his time with The Ghetto Film School in the Bronx,  Mount Sinai Hospital and The Automotive High School of  Brooklyn.

Pursuing sculpture in clay, metal and glass: Immi Storrs

Immi Storrs, Sculptor and Glass Artist

What advice do you have for beginning sculptors?

I learned many years ago about working in clay was that water-based clay is a much more tactile, but loses some of its spontaneity because it needs to be kept wet. Plasticine has an odor that I don’t like, and people will find it doesn’t take thumbprints like water-based clay, but it does not need to be kept wet. And those clays need to be put in a more permanent medium, unless they are hollow without an armature, and can be fired. The other material that is interesting is plaster. It can be slathered over an armature and then chiseled or rasped away. The plaster when done takes very interesting patinas. I use water-based colors for that.

What was the biggest challenge in marketing yourself as a sculptor at the start?

The biggest challenge in marketing myself early on was finding a gallery. As my work is cast in bronze, which is very expensive, and that made my work expensive. Not many galleries are willing to take on new artists whose work is expensive because the market is not there. Galleries, at least here in New York, have enormous costs and they need to be able to sell their artists.

How have you differentiated yourself?

My work is different because I do mostly animals. You can tell what they are, whether it’s a horse or cow or bird, but the horse may have four heads and four tails. And my animals are all generic, though you can tell whether my bird is a water bird or a raptor, You don’t know what kind of water bird or raptor.

My new work is on glass. Having had multiple hand and wrist injuries, I needed to change my technique as clay was much too difficult. I use a paint on multiple panes to create a 3-D effect that some people find disturbing, so I guess my technique works. I think of my new work as both painting and sculpture.

How do you work with glass?

The technique I’ve developed, which is to work with a series (usually six or seven) stacked glass panels that I’ve painted on and sometimes etched, allows me to create dimensionality and to look as though the subject is encased in the glass – in fact, some people have asked how I got the wasp or bird in there. What I’ve actually done is to design, for example with the eagle, so that the front wing is on the first pane and the other wing is on the last pane with body parts in between to make the piece look three-dimensional. It’s challenging because when I make a change on one pane, I have to look at how it impacts all the others, so I’m forever moving the panes around to line them up in a particular way. I use special glass paint, and I also did finally find out that I can get a type of seamed glass, which means that the edges are sanded down and smooth, so now I’m not cutting myself on the ragged edges.

Immi Storrs is an award-winning sculptor, whose work is in museums and corporate collections, including The National Museum for Women in the Arts, The National Academy Museum, and The Herbert Johnson Museum at Cornell. She recently completed eleven sculptures for Japan Airlines, and she’s a member of  The Century Association and The Sculptors Guild.

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Painting Asian Watercolor: Protecting Your Work

 Judith Kingsley, Contemporary Asian Watercolor and Oil Paint Artist

1. What drew you to doing Asian Art on rice paper?

I enjoy doing Asian Watercolor on rice paper ever since I studied with Frederick Wong, a Japanese teacher at the Arts Students League in New York City and author of Oriental Watercolor Techniques: for Contemporary Painting, who combined the principles of Asian painting with the principles of Western art. The process I learned was the crushed paper technique, a method that inspires one to expand their thought process and be freer with the technique of painting. The method allows the artist to explore all creative possibilities while painting as it develops. Instead of capturing every detail, as in traditional Western water color, I strive to capture the essence. One doesn’t have to employ the use of proper perspective, nor follow certain rules as in Western water color, therefore Asian Art allows a greater form of self-expression, driven by one’s own confidence and experience. I consider myself a colorist, an inborn gift, so therefore, the use of color and its combinations, plays an important role, not only in my works on rice paper, but my oil paintings on canvas as well. My oil paintings are also influenced by the techniques employed in Asian art.

2. Do you put a lot of time into marketing, and where do you concentrate your efforts?

I realize the importance of marketing, and therefore have recently expanded my website www.Judithkingsleyart.com. However, I need to plan to spend more time on marketing, which involves a great deal of promotion. It is difficult to find the balance between painting and marketing, as both are important. My manner of producing an original painting takes an excessive amount of time, as there is no pre planning, and my work progresses as I go along. In other words, my painting involves a considerable amount of exploration and experimentation, which sometimes can be frustrating, yet very gratifying when I feel that it is finally complete.

As of eight years ago, I have been producing high-end greeting cards of my paintings, which are often embellished with various components, depending on the order. Because of the price bracket, they are sold wholesale to quality stores throughout the country, as well as to Museum Shops. At present my cards are in the shops at the New Mexico Museum of Art, as they have been for many years, as well as the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

3. Which institutions have played an ongoing role in your work as an artist?

There are many institutions that have played an important role in my work. I was inspired to paint when I was 15 years old, at which time I traveled for an hour to study at weekend classes at Parsons School of Design. I then studied at Syracuse University, Crouse College of Fine Art, and from then on, because I lived in New York City, I was fortunate to study with well-known and respected individual teachers and at prestigious Art Schools.

The New Mexico Museum of Art Foundation, as well as the prestigious new Albuquerque Cancer Center have requested of my lawyer that I bequest the remainder of my paintings to them. I consider this an honor.

4. At what point should an artist consider getting involved with Artist’s Equity?

When I lived in New York, I was a member of the board of Artist’s Equity, an organization that includes thousands of artists. Artists Equity has been an important force in protecting artists’ rights for over forty years. It serves as a resource network and a support group regarding all legalities involved in the business of Art. I first became a member when I had exhibited almost thirty paintings in a gallery in Palm Beach, Florida. Two weeks after a very splendid one person opening, the gallery went bankrupt, and according to Florida Law, they were allowed to keep my paintings. I had to buy my paintings back at a percentage, but there were many artists represented by that gallery who could not afford a lawyer, and lost their work to the gallery. There was a law in Florida, as well as in eight other states that if the artist did not sign this Uniform Commercial Code form (which was not shown to us) that the gallery had the right to keep the paintings.

There are many unscrupulous gallery owners, as well as owners of other various businesses, and an artist has to read a contract very carefully before signing. I then contacted Artists Equity and because of the injustice of this law in Florida, as well as other states, numerous members went to Washington to protest this law, resulting in banishing this law in Florida as well as the other states involved. Therefore, I recommend that all artists become a member of this important organization, which exists in most states, in order to have their rights protected. I had written a letter which I named ”Artists Beware” which was circulated and published in almost every art magazine and newspaper in the United States as well as Europe. In it I stated that we have to be hard-nosed business people. That is not easy for most artists who themselves are trusting and trustworthy.

Judith Kingsley has been represented in galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria. She’s listed in “Who’s Who in the World”, “Who’s Who in America”, “Who’s Who of American Women”, and “Who’s Who in the South and Southwest”.

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Using Art to Help Kids at Risk: Jami Taback

Jami Taback, Artist and Founder/Director of Kids at Risk: Adventures in Printmaking

Flowers of Fire; World Trade Center; Storm Warning

 

With arts education facing funding cuts in many schools, what can artists do to make a difference in their communities?

It is difficult to get into a school program without a not-for-profit status because it validates the program. Funding has been cut drastically and the schools and shelters have not been able to write these programs into the grants they receive. Speaking with your local representatives helps to get them acquainted with you and the program and sometimes a discretionary fund is set up. I tell everyone I know what I do and ask them if they know teachers or school officials for an introduction. I always feel that once they meet me and hear about the Kids at Risk: Adventures in Printmaking program, they are at ease and willing to help.

How has teaching informed your own work as an artist?

This is a powerful question in that first I introduce the children to a process with my own idea in mind, however, in turn; they create artwork from their own interpretation which is often exciting and inspirational for me. This is the beauty of the work I do. I am constantly affected by their work, the way they absorb the mission of the program and interpret it in their own art making. It reminds me every day to preserve the creative force of my inner child in order to keep my work fresh and interesting.

Are there organizations you recommend getting involved with to make connections in this area?

Many of my connections have come from people I know. When I am involved in a program, I call the local paper and ask for a writer to come with a camera to document the experience.

This includes donations of art materials from stores.

I also have a separate website for the program I offer that is exclusively for donations. In return for the donation, artwork is available for different levels of donations. This approach requires an email list, sent out to inform everyone you know about this worthwhile cause. There is a video where I talk about the program.

What techniques are you exploring in your own work, and has digital played a part in your art?

I am currently attending an Artist in Residence Program at The Lower East Side Print Shop in NYC. In this atmosphere I am able to explore different techniques in the hopes that a new process will emerge from me, a new way to express myself while staying within the scope of printmaking which is my favorite medium these days. From the prints dealing with a specific subject matter, I can move to painting, drawing and digital explorations. Digital processes have played a part in printmaking. I do incorporate this imagery very carefully and sparingly in aspects of my work.

I once listened to a terrific talk by the artist Claes Oldenburg. He said that an artist need not search for new ideas and that one good idea can last a lifetime. I often think of this when wondering about where my next idea will be. I was showing someone the kids’ prints dealing with Crystals and Gems. After looking at them I decided to explore this subject further in my own work. This is what I am working on at the residence.

 The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best. —John James Audubon

Jami Taback is an artist who produces artwork through a unique process of creative collaboration with children. She visits alternative, public and private schools, shelters and foster homes using art to establish meaningful connections with children. The activity of making art serves to gain their interest, involvement and trust. She says, “I use my creative talent and sensitivity as a printmaker and painter to forge these connections. To date, I have taught and interacted with over 500 children in the last few years. This program is based on an intensive mentoring relationship with youth, particularly those with behavioral problems and special education needs. Through learning about the art of Printmaking and its history rooted in ancient civilization as a tool for communication, students immerse themselves for several weeks in the arts and education. A printmaking studio with a portable table press is set up at the school for the duration of the project where the youth visit for several hours each week to learn about and produce their own work which is then incorporated into a museum quality mural, a public installation at their school. Sometimes, it’s just to engage the kids in something creative, to think about things differently, to meet an artist, but sometimes it sparks an interest, and they find out that they are artists too.”

Donations to Kids at Risk: Adventures in Printmaking, are used to help to fund art supplies such as ink, paper and various printmaking tools for kids.

 

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