jenny zeller

Mixed Media

Feature: The Value of Being Knocked Off Your Axis

Panoramic shot of the Pairellels exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Panoramic shot of the Pairellels exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Complacency is the enemy of creativity. The very real and honest expression that authentic artists require of themselves demands challenge and occasionally it is important to upset the apple cart a little bit in order to rediscover the muse.

Curator & Artist, Stacey Reason

Curator & Artist, Stacey Reason

A 2013 exhibit at The Patio Gallery in the Jewish Community Center illustrated the idea in pointed fashion. As curated by Stacey Reason, the show, which was titled Pairallels, was described as a “collaborative exchange” in its prospectus materials, a sharing of work in the form of a hand-off from one artist to another, with virtually no restriction on what the second artist would bring to the effort. The prospectus used the word “subtract” to suggest what might be allowable for one artist to do with another artist’s unfinished work, and what resulted in some instances was a complete deconstruction of the original piece, as well as a sharp lesson in how two different generations of artists tend to define the word collaboration.

Artists who contributed to Pairallels were Brandon Bass, Andy Cozzens, Sarah Duncan, Mallorie Embry, Linda Erzinger, Meghan Greenwell, Brandon Harder, Phillip High, Mary Dennis Kannapell, Shohei Katayama, Keith Kleespies, Sally Labaugh, Kathy Loomis, Kacie Miller, Karisssa Moll, Jacque Parsley, CJ Pressma, Kelly Rains, Lelia Rechtin, Alli Wiles, Jenny Zeller and Suzi Zimmerer.

Ms. Reason is a founding member of The Louisville Artist’s Syndicate, an ad hoc group of young and primarily visual artists whose mission is to inspire and promote networking between what they felt was a disparate collection of painters, sculptors, filmmakers, musicians and writers, all working in the Louisville area but lacking the connectivity necessary to accomplish greater things. The group, active at the time, has become dormant in the years since.

Dead Machine, Jenny Zeller & Mallorie Embry, digital photography printed on mulberry paper dipped in encaustic wax, vellum, sewing patterns, thread, canvas, nails, paper, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Dead Machine, Jenny Zeller & Mallorie Embry, digital photography printed on mulberry paper dipped in encaustic wax, vellum, sewing patterns, thread, canvas, nails, paper, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

By contrast, an older generation of Louisville artists, many of them members of the informal “Artists’ Breakfast Group”, had for many years enjoyed a camaradarie and interconnectivity that might be a model of what the Syndicate hoped to foster among its core constituency: a flow of energy and understanding that makes it easier for creative individuals to support each other. The Patio Gallery’s director at the time, Bette Levy, had been a long-standing member of this group and invited Reason to mount her exhibit there.

In today’s creative culture, it is more difficult than ever to characterize any group of artists collectively as having a shared sensibility, but the more prominent members of the Syndicate were preoccupied with art that is of the moment: ephemeral, fluid, and at times limited in its concern for archival survival. Another exhibit that year at Spalding University’s Huff Gallery featured two Syndicate members, Andrew Cozzens and Brandon Harder, whose bold sculptural forms relied on the effect of the elements and the passage of time for their full impact. Some of the pieces, for all intensive purposes, existed only during the duration of the opening reception. A delicate assemblage of wires frozen in pieces of ice and suspended on string, for example, were allowed to slowly descend off of the string while they melted. What remained for the subsequent run of the exhibit were the underwhelming remnants of wire and string that lighted onto the gallery shelf beneath. What interests these artists is the specific process of change and deterioration, not a final, marketable, objet d' art. The approach is fascinating but it risks occupying the same place in the cultural memory as a good joke badly-retold: I guess you had to be there.

C.J. Pressma & Kelly Rains discuss the project in front of their piece. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

C.J. Pressma & Kelly Rains discuss the project in front of their piece. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Whereas the breakfast group, for the most part, makes art in a more traditional context, paintings, prints, and sculptures created, at least in part, with an eye on the marketplace. Most have been doing this for many years, and their body of work can often define them in very specific terms, a signature style that might be immediately recognizable when you enter a gallery. Jacque Parsley's assemblages and C.J. Pressma’s photographic quilts are but two examples of art that is sought after by collectors and marketed at premium prices, reflecting the quality of the work and the esteem in which these artists are held.

Both are valid perspectives, but once artists from both pools were drawn into the Pairallels project, perhaps it was inevitable that some level of disagreement would follow. "My idea was to let the art speak for itself," explains Reason. "It was supposed to be about the object, but it wound up being entirely about the artist."  By design, there was no input between the individuals sharing the work, and apparently none of the artists saw the final results before the opening reception in June.

Grocery Store Mandala II, Kathy Loomis & Kelly Rains, grocery packaging, paper, chili peppers, found objects, fabric, wire, panel, paper, ink, acrylic, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Grocery Store Mandala II, Kathy Loomis & Kelly Rains, grocery packaging, paper, chili peppers, found objects, fabric, wire, panel, paper, ink, acrylic, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Among the breakfast group there were mixed reactions, including shock and outrage from a small number at what must have seemed a violation of their personal artistic integrity. In a few instances the piece from the first stage was physically deconstructed and enough parts discarded to render the source nearly unrecognizable. Elements were identifiable but the hand of the receiving artist might be said to have obliterated the original creative intent. Some tempers flared and some heads were scratched, mostly from within the breakfast group.

When, a few weeks later, there was an opportunity to sit down and talk it out, what was interesting was how much the conflict had turned into an opportunity for most of the participants. Creative types often like to indulge in a certain amount of denial that there is any gap between artists owing to generational differences, yet the reality of two distinct mind-sets about how visual artists approach their careers was obvious. During a meeting at one of the artist’s studios, the outrage was absent, replaced by an admission of recalcitrance from some, an expansion of perspective from others, and, arguably, enlightment all around. Some of the younger members spoke of the lack of attachment to the objects that they had fashioned and how they were sometimes excited to see the drastic alterations that had been employed once they passed off their work, while some in the breakfast group emphasized how they had chosen to dive into the project because, “...doing the same thing I had been doing”, wasn't good enough.

Synthesized Fang, Shohei Katayama & Alli Wiles, enamel, snake skin, beer cans, hot glue, wood, black primer, polyurethane, tracing paper, ink, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Synthesized Fang, Shohei Katayama & Alli Wiles, enamel, snake skin, beer cans, hot glue, wood, black primer, polyurethane, tracing paper, ink, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Coming away from the experience, the lessons may be as varied as the individual sensibilities that populate both groups of artists. Breakfast members had come together out of an attraction to build a social context for like-minded artists who were rarely critical but always supportive of each other, while the Syndicate reinforced an aesthetic that embraces the notion that being knocked a little bit off your axis is sometimes a healthy thing.

Four years later, Reason reflects back on Pairallels: “The project was a great learning experience for everyone involved, myself included. I had no idea what kinds of outcomes to expect, and what happened was far more than what I could have anticipated. The dialog that was created surrounding the project was very productive - it gave a fresh look at individual studio practices, reminded us all of our potentials, and pushed everyone out of their comfort zone, which invariably made us all more comfortable in our individual practices. It was very rewarding to serve as the catalyst of this conversation that I think is still being carried out today in some form or another. If nothing else, it brought together two important groups/generations of artists in Louisville that hadn't intersected before.”

Pairallels was on display June 16 through July 16, 2013, in The Patio Gallery at the Jewish Community Center, Louisville, KY.

Stacey Reason is now the Director of the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Kentucky.

"Localized Cosmic Reactions (snapshots of the universe)" by Karissa Moll & Philip High. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

"Localized Cosmic Reactions (snapshots of the universe)" by Karissa Moll & Philip High. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Time and Space, Sarah Duncan & Jacque Parsley, photography, fabric, lace, trim, found objects, clock, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

Time and Space, Sarah Duncan & Jacque Parsley, photography, fabric, lace, trim, found objects, clock, Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Rains.)

"Orbit" by Mallorie Embry & Shohei Katayama. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Philip High)

"Orbit" by Mallorie Embry & Shohei Katayama. Price not available. (Photo courtesy of Philip High)

"Untitled", 12x20in, collage and gold paint on acrylic plastic. Price not available (Photo courtesy Kelly Rains)

"Untitled", 12x20in, collage and gold paint on acrylic plastic. Price not available (Photo courtesy Kelly Rains)


This Feature article was written by Keith Waits.
In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, www.Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.


Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Keith Waits. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Are you interested in being on Artebella?  Click here  to learn more.

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click here to learn more.

Photography

Vignette: Mitch Eckert


Art ,“born out of frustration,” — Mitch Eckert


Like many artists, Mitch Eckert works in several different veins. Here we examine some examples from his Translations series. Eckert explains that he has been exploring the genre of still life for 25 years, and in these images we see him emulating the lighting in Flemish paintings. At one point Eckert had sought to discard the project and placed the work prints in a recycle bin – a purging action more common than the lay person might assume, but familiar enough to working artists. Eckert explains the process in his own words:

“Still Life with Cherries and Blue Bowl” by Mitch Eckert, 30x49in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $1200 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Cherries and Blue Bowl” by Mitch Eckert, 30x49in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $1200 | BUY NOW

“Still Life with Two Nectarines” by Mitch Eckert, 38x26in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $850 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Two Nectarines” by Mitch Eckert, 38x26in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $850 | BUY NOW

“The Translations series was born out of frustration. I wanted to participate in a dialogue with the rich tradition of the Dutch masters of still life painting so I set out to learn compositional strategies of creating still lifes in that manner. I set up the floral arrangements (my wife made the bouquets from our garden flowers) and using natural light made probably 300 photographs of different still life. After printing them all on an inexpensive inkjet printer to pin them on my wall and contemplate, I came to the realization that perhaps they were too commercial, too pretty. As a student in the heyday of Postmodernism (1980's) I became anxious and nervous about making work that was too pretty. I didn't know how to talk about them. I didn't want to make commercial work.”

“Out of frustration I wadded up the prints and threw them into the recycle bin. After a couple weeks had gone by I was getting ready to set the crumpled photographs into the alley for the recycle to be picked up. I unraveled one of the balls of photographs and to my surprise there was an immediate visceral reaction of delight when my eyes looked at the creases, folds, and torn edges of the photographic paper. In an effort to preserve the image I scanned the crumpled still life with a flatbed scanner and then, using a large format printer, made enlargements on a wonderful printmaking paper that wonderfully complimented the aged wrinkles.”

“Still Life with June Bouquet, Cherries and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $450 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with June Bouquet, Cherries and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $450 | BUY NOW

The results blur the lines of the medium by removing the slick surface and detail of photography and exchanging them for a distressed visual texture. Without intending to do it, Eckert brought his images even closer to the aged and brittle tactile reality of their inspiration.

Examples of this series can currently be seen in Altered Perceptions, an LVA Photo-Biennial Exhibit at Metro Hall, which runs through January 12, 2018. Some of the images we see here are featured in that show, which also includes work from C.J. Pressma and Jenny Zeller.

The artist currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is an associate professor or art in the Hite Institute at the University of Louisville. His work can be found in permanent collections of 21c Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Photographic Archives at the University of Louisville, and Swope Museum of Art.

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Education: BFA, Photography & Sculpture, Herron School of Art; MFA, Photography, Printmaking, Art History, Ohio University
Website: http://www.mitcheckert.com

“Still Life with Hydrangea (in blue)” by Mitch Eckert, 30x28in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $750 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Hydrangea (in blue)” by Mitch Eckert, 30x28in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $750 | BUY NOW

“Still Life with Lily and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $500 |  BUY NOW

“Still Life with Lily and Figs” by Mitch Eckert, 24x18in, Archival Pigment Print (2006), $500 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Are you interested in being on Artebella?  Click here  to learn more.

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click here to learn more.

Mixed Media, Photography

Vignette: C.J. Pressma

"Dangerous Passage" by CJ Pressma,   quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Dangerous Passage" by CJ Pressma, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine $1800 | BUY NOW

It is the hope of the individual artist to make work that speaks to their time, to influence the world around them. C.J. Pressma has done that – maybe enough for several artists, through his personal work, certainly, but also by operating the Center for Photographic Studies - an alternative school of creative photography, in Louisville in the early 1970’s.

When he founded the Center for Photographic Studies in 1970, Pressma’s initiative was part of what can now be seen halcyon period in Louisville’s creative life. Although open only eight years, the Center’s influence is still felt nearly forty years later. Nearly every photographer above a certain age working in this town seems to have spent time studying there, connecting local commercial and artist photographers with national names in the field such as Henry Horenstein, currently a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design.

"Nightmare in the City" by CJ Pressma,   quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine, $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Nightmare in the City" by CJ Pressma, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine, $1800 | BUY NOW

On his website, Pressma explains: “The Center provided a learning experience for those seeking to explore photography as creative expression. During its existence the center attracted students from over 35 states and foreign countries to its full-time resident program and provided part-time instruction and darkroom access for hundreds of students in the Louisville metropolitan area. Its two galleries provided monthly photographic exhibits featuring the works of local, regional, and internationally acclaimed photographic artists including Ansel Adams and Minor White.”

Pressma’s work can be currently be seen in Altered Perceptions, an LVA Photo-Biennial Exhibit at Metro Hall, which runs July 17 through January 12, 2018. Some of the images we see here are featured in that show, which also includes work from Mitch Eckert and Jenny Zeller. There are certainly many facets to this artist’s work, but here we view pieces from a period when he printed photographic images and digital graphics onto fabric, allowing him to incorporate them into quilts; a non-traditional photographic presentation tied to a form steeped in tradition.  

Pressma enjoyed a highly successful career as a multimedia producer and marketing communications specialist. In 1984, his seven part series Witness to the Holocaust, was released in the U.S. and Canada where it remains in distribution today. Witness to the Holocaust is one of the first productions to use survivor interviews as the exclusive content to tell the story of the Holocaust, and has received numerous national awards.

"Beware" by CJ Pressma, $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Beware" by CJ Pressma, $1800 | BUY NOW

Pressma has been recognized nationally:

1978 - National Endowment Fellowship in Photography.

1997  - American Advertising Federation’s prestigious Silver Medal Award for “outstanding contributions to advertising and furthering the industry’s standards, creative excellence, and responsibility in areas of social concern.”

2001 - Fellowship by the Kentucky Arts Council.

C.J. Pressma is a graduate of Antioch College and holds an MFA. in Photography from Indiana University. He studied as a special graduate student with Minor White at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and with Henry Holmes Smith at Indiana University.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 72
Education: BA, Antioch College; MFA, Indiana University
Gallery Representative:  Pyro Gallery (Louisville)
Website: http://cjpressma.com

"Cartoon Weave" by CJ Pressma, 74x76.5in, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2008), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Cartoon Weave" by CJ Pressma, 74x76.5in, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2008), $1800 | BUY NOW

"Cumberland Burial Site" by CJ Pressma, 79x81in,   quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2006), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Cumberland Burial Site" by CJ Pressma, 79x81in, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2006), $1800 | BUY NOW

"Bull & Friends" by CJ Pressma, 72x78in (2008), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Bull & Friends" by CJ Pressma, 72x78in (2008), $1800 | BUY NOW

"Secrets" by CJ Pressma, 94x68in, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2011), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Secrets" by CJ Pressma, 94x68in, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2011), $1800 | BUY NOW

"Great Snakes Alive" by CJ Pressma,   88x77.5in,   quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2008), $1800 |  BUY NOW

"Great Snakes Alive" by CJ Pressma, 88x77.5in, quilt - photographic collage printed on cotton and quilted on a long arm machine (2008), $1800 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Are you interested in being on Artebella?  Click here  to learn more.

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click here to learn more.

Photography, Mixed Media

Vignette: Jenny Zeller


“I continually look to the past to process the present.” – Jenny Zeller


"Suckle" by Jenny Zeller, 8.5x8.5in, digital photograph, encaustic and modeling impasto waxes, oil pastels and image transfer on board

"Suckle" by Jenny Zeller, 8.5x8.5in, digital photograph, encaustic and modeling impasto waxes, oil pastels and image transfer on board

Jenny Zeller is the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest’s first recipient of a ‘Regional Artist in Residence’ award, part of their Arts in Nature program, which includes residencies for artists from around the world.

On her website, Zeller expresses enthusiasm for the opportunity: “Bernheim is providing me a stipend and temporary living quarters in exchange for a work of art to be left to the Bergheim Foundation. This particular residency is also unique in that I have access to all horticulture and operations departments, as well as ecologists, scientists, naturalists and forest managers. I am also allowed admittance to most scheduled hikes and eco classes offered throughout the calendar year. I have literally been invited to become part of the entire ecosystem at this amazing place and I love how this program enhances the visitor experience through arts interaction.”

Zeller, who is primarily a photographer, spent the month of April at Bernheim, working at Lake Nevins Studio and shooting images for a planned multi-panel photography installation to be installed on the Bergheim grounds. Thursday July 6th, she will be speaking about her experiences at Bernheim at the Wildlands Social Club, an event hosted by Kentucky Natural Lands Trust at 21c Louisville, 6-9pm.

"Through the Trees Comes Autumn" by Jenny Zeller, 30x40in, digital image transfers and oil paint on custom made aluminum substrate

"Through the Trees Comes Autumn" by Jenny Zeller, 30x40in, digital image transfers and oil paint on custom made aluminum substrate

In 2017, Zeller was also awarded an Artist Professional Development Grant from the Great Meadows Foundation. The travel grant allowed her to attend CONTACT, the world’s largest photography festival, held in Toronto Canada each May.

Zeller has also been the Education Coordinator for the Louisville Photo Biennial since 2015, and is currently teaching a class at Zoom Groups' Studio Works in partnership with the Biennial, a 12-week course that will result in a Studio Works exhibition for the Louisville Photo Biennial in October.

The 2017 Louisville Photo Biennial is a regional festival occurring in over 60 venues throughout the Louisville, Lexington, and Southern Indiana area from September 22-November 11. Through exhibits, receptions, workshops and educational opportunities, the Biennial celebrates the medium of photography in all of its richness and variety, and its ability to touch and enrich our lives.

"New (found) Harmony" by Jenny Zeller, 24x24in, dye sublimanation print on aluminum

"New (found) Harmony" by Jenny Zeller, 24x24in, dye sublimanation print on aluminum

As an exhibiting artist, Zeller’s work will be seen in two 2017 Louisville Photo Biennial. The first, Altered Perceptions, an LVA Photo-Biennial Exhibit at Metro Hall, runs July 17 through January 12, 2018. Some of the images we see here are featured in that show, many shot using an iPhone with a macro lens. Zeller investigates nature as an explorer, introducing her full-size human self into a world of significantly smaller scale, momentarily shrinking her sensibilities to the task.

Then she will have a solo exhibition at Swanson Contemporary entitled Aluminature, which will run September 27th- October 28th, with an Artist’s reception the evening of October 6th, 2017.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 44
Education: BA in Art Administration, University of Kentucky; attended photography classes, Florida Keys Community College
Website: http://www.jennyzeller.com/

"Fallen" by Jenny Zeller, 8.5x8.5in, digital photograph, encaustic and modeling impasto waxes, oil pastels and image transfer on board

"Fallen" by Jenny Zeller, 8.5x8.5in, digital photograph, encaustic and modeling impasto waxes, oil pastels and image transfer on board

"Florida Reflected" by Jenny Zeller, 30.5x31.5in, digital image transfers and oil paint on custom made aluminum substrate

"Florida Reflected" by Jenny Zeller, 30.5x31.5in, digital image transfers and oil paint on custom made aluminum substrate

"HerLand" by Jenny Zeller, 24x24in, dye sublimanation print on aluminum

"HerLand" by Jenny Zeller, 24x24in, dye sublimanation print on aluminum

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

Are you interested in being on Artebella?  Click here  to learn more.

Are you interested in being on Artebella? Click here to learn more.