Shop talk, answers to your FAQs, and a peek behind the scenes of an artist-run fine art gallery in Park Slope
Artists have always treasured the opportunity to travel to new locations to make their art. As a way to grow artistically, many of us seek the stimulation of a new environment as a way to step outside of one’s comfort zone. The usual benefits of travel—meeting people from different backgrounds, gaining a new perspective, and the escape from day-to-day responsibilities—surely apply. For the artist, travel is a way to bring these insights back home, either immediately or over time, in the concrete form of artistic expression. As Nancy Lunsford says, “Most of the pivotal changes in my art practice have been out of the result of traveling outside my studio.”
It is no secret that 440 Gallery artists love to travel and many of us take advantage of residency programs, art immersion trips, and our own ingenuity to make art and find inspiration while on the road.
∧ Susan Greenstein’s current exhibition at the gallery, through May 21, 2017, is aptly titled Painted Travels. This collection of plein air watercolors and sketchbooks come from Greenstein’s travels to places such as Portland, ME, North Carolina and Cape May, NJ. When travelling, Susan dedicates a good portion of her time to painting and working in sketchbooks while on location. She says that the experience of working on-site and in the moment is essential to her process. “Everything that happens around me becomes part of the work—honking cars, the feeling of the sun and wind, bits and pieces of conversation. All of these external elements differ from place to place yet find a way of weaving themselves into the painting.” She’s recently returned from a trip to Barcelona, Spain and brought back the excitement of her trip, as well as many images in her camera, to work on back in her Brooklyn studio.
∧ In February 2017, Tricia Townes attended the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT as a resident artist. During this residency, Townes found her much-needed focus to work on projects that she had in mind for some time. Several pieces took form during this time. She planned and began Chinese American 1, pictured above, and completed it back in Brooklyn. Townes selected the Vermont Studio Center based on the center’s isolated, yet lovely setting, with a reputation as a nurturing place attended by good people—including both artists and writers. Tricia also got a break from everyday activities of cooking and cleaning. Tricia has attended residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1998, and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA in 2002-2003.
∧ In December 2016, Fred Bendheim traveled to Berlin, Germany for a residency at Institut für Alles Mögliche. The only drawback to traveling to this residency, Bendheim says, is that he arrived and had difficulty finding someone to let him into his building. It got better after that and it was a worthwhile experience. In addition to devoting time for his artwork, Bendheim explored Berlin’s great museums and sites, and here he is by a portion of the Berlin Wall.
∧ In July 2016, Joy Makon traveled with Denis Ponsot Art Workshops Abroad to the Brittany Coast of France for a week’s worth of watercolor painting and exploring historic sites. Makon enjoyed the group dynamics—stops to look at a vista or shoot photographs were expected and encouraged, as were discussions about art history and everything else under the sun. Trip organizer Denis Ponsot provided daily opportunities to paint and draw at interesting locations and demonstrated techniques chosen for the subject and interest level of the artists. Shown above is a plein-air watercolor she did from her hotel balcony at the Citadelle Vauban in Le Palais, France. Joy came home with hundreds of photographs and several became the basis for paintings back in her studio. This summer she’s going back with the workshop, to the Alsace region of France.