Monday, June 25, 2012

A Look at Sculptor David Smith

We are into the last week of June and that means that this week will be Budding Artists last children's art workshop at the London Farmer's Market. We love our space and hope to return in the fall. If you haven't had a chance to attend previous art workshops, this weekend is a must! Workshops are held Saturdays at 10:30am and 1pm, running 90 minutes of fun and creativity. Children learn about the featured artist, discover a little art history, and get the chance to create some take-home artwork in the style of said artist. The kids always leave happy and you parents get a break for 90 minutes to do whatever you need or want to do! Register today! And as far as next year goes, you will certainly be the first to hear about what we have planned for the 2012/2013 Budding Artists schedule!

September might seem like an awfully long wait to keep your kids interested in art though. If you are worried about how to keep your children entertained this summer, note that Budding Artists will be hosting two week-long summer art camps this year. Back by popular demand, Maria Calleja and Nancy Clarke will be inspiring your children to reach to the stars with their artistic endeavours. Barb McGill will also be joining the Budding Artists team to add a little musical inspiration to the weeks. The summer camps run the weeks of July 23-27 and August 27-31, 2012, between the hours 9am-4pm. This year the camps will be held at the Wesley Knox Church at 91 Askin St., so contact Budding Artists today to secure your child's spot.

Ah, but we haven't mentioned who our featured master artist will be for this weekend's Children's Art Workshop yet! I will keep you in the dark no longer. This week, sculptor David Smith will grace your children with his influence, as they discover his many metal works. A man of little formal training, he still managed to climb his way to the top of the art world and is now considered one the most important sculptors of his generation. And it all began on March 9th, 1906 in Decatur, Indiana.

Reclining Figure - 1933
Smith entered the world with nothing earth-shattering to inspire his artistic creativity. His mother was a teacher and his father managed a telephone company, while on the side fashioned himself an amateur inventor. He moved with his family to Ohio in 1921, where he graduated from high school. He attended Ohio University in 1924-25, but dropped out of the University of Notre Dame the following year after only two weeks, due to the lack of any art classes. He spent the summer working at the Studebaker automobile factory, getting exposed to the materials that he would ultimately come to use most during his later artistic career. That career got its foothold when he moved to New York in 1926.

Head - 1938
Where art had always held an interest for Smith, it wasn't until he settled into life in New York that he was able to fully explore this medium. He became a member of the Art Students League of New York, where he met his soon to be wife Dorothy Dehner. He studied painting and drawing from artists John Sloan and Jan Matulka. It was through these painters that he was introduced to the artwork of Julio González, Willem de Kooning, Mondrian, Kandinsky and most notably, Picasso. While he never received any formalized education in sculpting, Smith absorbed all that he was taught and took the leap to realize that the only difference between sculpture and painting was the third dimension. It was this leap that he now took, when he began to forge sculptures out of metal and other found materials.

Hudson River Landscape - 1951
In 1929, Smith and his wife bought a run-down farm in Bolton Landing. A small art community there had enchanted them and by 1932, Smith had bought a forge and anvil for the studio at their summer home. Around the same time, he began renting out a space in a Brooklyn welding shop (Terminal Iron Works), where he began creating relief plaques and increasingly abstract sculptures. In 1938, he was honoured with his first one-man show of his drawings and sculptures at Marian Willard's East River Gallery. By 1940, he had tired of the New York art scene, so permanently relocated to Bolton Landing and renamed his studio after the welding shop he had left behind. Ironically, it was at this time that his artwork began to receive more notice, as he had a travelling exhibit featured by the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The outbreak of World War II found him neglecting his new found art though, as he took a job welding at the American Locomotive Company.

Cubi XVIII, Cubi XVII, Cubi XIX - 1963-64
With the war over, Smith had an outpouring of creativity. He took the skills he had learned welding, and devoted himself full-time to his art. His stint at teaching with the Sarah Lawrence College gained him the further respect he desired. That was followed by the Guggenheim awarding him two Fellowships, which meant that he could financially continue to focus whole-heartedly on his artwork.

During the '50s, with his increased recognition and financial means, his artwork began to grow in scale. He experimented with new drawing techniques and began to construct numbered series that continued til the end of his life. Sadly, his was a life cut short, as he died in a car accident in 1965. Over his 59 years though, he managed to create a new style of art through his metal- work that took Cubism and Surrealism to a new height. Never before had any American artists created work like his, but that legacy did not die with him (Artist Anthony Caro was directly influenced by Smith's work). In fact, exhibitions of his work are still on display around the world. And of course Budding Artists will be resurrecting him this weekend as well at our last children's art workshop of this session. Please join us!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Spotlight on Alexander Calder

How about a spotlight on an artist with a slightly different take on art? Let's take a look at Alexander Calder and his claim to fame; his sculptures and mobiles. He was born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania on July 22, 1898 to artistic parents; his father was a sculptor and mother a painter. With parents like that, it is no wonder that young Calder ended up falling into the art world himself. And that he did from a young age. From the age of eight, he was always provided with a workshop in the family home. He rewarded this encouragement by presenting his parents with his first sculpture in 1909. A 3-D brass dog and duck was their Christmas present that year.

Despite his early interest in art, Calder originally decided to go into engineering. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology and spent the next few years dabbling in various jobs related to the field. It wasn't until 1923 that he decided to return to the world of art. He moved to New York and enrolled in the Arts Student League. In 1926, he took his interest in art a step further and moved to Paris, where he enrolled in the Académie de la Grand Chaumière. It was there that he began to further develop his skills and tinker with kinetic art. One of his earliest experiments with kinetic art was in his creation of his Cirque Calder (inspired from a two-week stint spent researching the Ringling Brother Circus for the National Police Gazette in 1925), which he designed and performed for people throughout France and the US, as seen here.

Lobster Trap & Fish Tail - 1939
While Paris was good to Calder, introducing him to the likes of Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian and his future wife, Louisa James, he decided to return to the United States in 1933. He brought back with him his "mobiles" and continued to show them, but he also began to experiment with larger outdoor sculptures. While they would eventually turn into more significant pieces, these first sculptures were nicknamed "stabiles", to differentiate them from the mobiles that could gently twist in a puff of air. 

Man - 1967
As Calder's artwork got bigger, so too did his scope of work. He designed jewellery, toys, tapestries, made drawings, paintings and eventually was commissioned to create several public sculptures around the world (like "Man", that was commissioned for Expo in Montreal, QC, 1967). His pieces were often a monotone of colour (mostly black, but with occasional reds and other primary colours) and certainly abstract in nature, but by the time he died in 1976, they were sought after the world over. The Whitney Museum has one of his largest collections of works, but MOMA in New York, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and of course the Calder Foundation all have permanent exhibits from this master artist.

While Budding Artists cannot boast to have any of his stabiles or mobiles, we are honouring Alexander Calder's life and works this Saturday, June 23, 2012 during the weekly children's art workshop at the London Farmer's Market. Register your kids today and bring the world of kinetic art alive for them in 90 minutes of fun and adventure through the eyes of this master artist. Workshops are held at 10:30am and 1pm, with the cost of materials included in the price. They will thrill at the experience of creating their very own kinetic art and you will too, when you see that spark of creativity come alive. See you Saturday!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spotlight on Vincent Van Gogh

Self-Portrait - 1889
Ears, shmears! Who needs them when you can paint?! Vincent Van Gogh certainly didn't. Well, at least he felt that he could do without part of his left ear, but what he could do with a paint brush was miraculous. This Post-Impressionistic painter is certainly one of the world's finest Master Artists and is the focus of this week's Budding Artists children's art workshop at the London Farmer's Market. The workshops are 90 minutes of fun, art history and a few lessons in technique in the vein of the master himself - Van Gogh. Let's take a look at what Van Gogh accomplished in his short 37 years.

Windmills at Montmartre - 1877
Vincent Van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, the Netherlands on March 30, 1853. He was the son of a pastor, and hailed from a long line of artists and art dealers. He became interested in art at an early age, and flourished in Middle school when he received lessons in drawing from a successful artist there. By the time he was 20 years old, he had obtained a job as an art dealer in London, with the help from an uncle. One of the happiest periods of his short life, he sketched and drew in his extra time, when he wasn't dealing in Art. After being transferred to Paris in 1875, he fell on the outs with Goupil & Cie, the company he had been working for, and left them to return to London.

Coalmine in the Borinage - 1879
Disillusioned with the world of art dealers, Van Gogh turned to religion. He had always had a strong religious faith, but by 1876, he felt the urge to devote himself to the Church. He entered the school of theology in Amsterdam, but it quickly became apparent that he would not flourish in this path. He dropped out of school, then failed an admission test to enter a mission school in Laeken. Undeterred, he applied to a missionary post in Borinage and tried his hand at bringing religion to the people there. While his zeal was almost fanatical, the powers that be were not impressed. After only six months, they dismissed him from his post. Despite this, Van Gogh remained in the area for over a year, trying to help the residents of the impoverished area and himself, both living a life of poverty. Ultimately, via suggestions by his brother Theo, he left Borinage behind. With a failed marriage proposal to his recently-widowed cousin, he also left his religious faith as well.

Woman Sewing,
With a Girl - 1883
It was at this point that Van Gogh reacquainted himself with his cousin Anton Mauve. Mauve introduced him to the world of watercolours and oils and ignited in him a new passion. With a career as Artist in sight, Van Gogh flung himself into this new occupation. It was at this time that he also met Clasina "Sien" Hoornik. An alcoholic, pregnant prostitute with a young daughter in tow, Van Gogh fell in love with his dear Sien. Their rocky relationship was marred by poverty and much fighting, but he was devoted to her children and often used Sien as a model. Van Gogh's family was not impressed though and they demanded he leave her. After spending three weeks in hospital, due to a case of syphilis and gonorrhea that he contracted from Sien, he was finally swayed.Van Gogh left her in 1883, after spending just over a tumultuous year together.

The Potato Eaters - 1885
Disheartened by another love lost, Van Gogh returned to his family's home in Nuenen and devoted himself once more to drawing and painting. He spent two years there, often-times sketching peasants. It was during this time that he painted one of his most famous works "The Potato Eaters", although it wasn't until long after his death that it received public attention. Struggling emotionally, financially, and artistically, he decided to move to Antwerp and studied the works of Peter Paul Rubens, as well as Japanese artwork. While his exploration of colour theory helped to broaden his colour palette, his locale only served to deteriorate his health. By 1886, Paris beckoned and Van Gogh moved in with his brother Theo.

Starry Night - 1889
The last few years of this troubled artist's life were incredibly productive, but also fraught with much strife. He lived with his brother Theo for most of the two years he was in Paris and during that time met the likes of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and of course Paul Gauguin. The bright colours that were rampant in the Impressionist movement influenced Van Gogh's own palette and suddenly his dark pieces disappeared, replaced by the bright colours that he is most famous for. The break from excess (drink, smoke, poor diet) that he hoped to achieve with a move to Arles, sadly did not improve Van Gogh's lot. While he continued to paint and draw, his health spiralled out of control. He committed himself to an asylum, but even that respite was not enough to save him. On July 27, 1890, the world lost an incredible artist, when Van Gogh shot himself in the chest. Two days later he was dead, from complications during his treatment. Despite the mental and physical illnesses that he struggled with throughout his life, he left behind a legacy of art behind. He painted nearly a thousand paintings, over a thousand drawings and sketches, as well as enough letters (mostly to his brother Theo) to document his incredible journey through life. While he only sold one painting during his lifetime, they now go for upwards of $100 million. Quite the feat, and one that has influenced a myriad of artists since then.

Perhaps its time that your child discovers the magic of this tragic master artist. See you June 16th!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Louise Nevelson: Sculpting Her Vision of Art

"I believe in my work and the joy of it. You have to be with the work and the work has to be with you. It absorbs you totally and you absorb it totally. Everything must fall by the wayside by comparison." ~ Louise Nevelson

And in this vein Louise Nevelson led her life. Over the 88 years that she walked the earth, she worked at creating her own unique version of artwork and was absorbed by it every step of the way. Born September 23, 1899 near Kiev, Russia, Nevelson's life began in a rocky way. Her father Isaac emigrated to the United States in 1902, leaving young Nevelson and the rest of the family behind. Once he had established himself in the lumber industry in Rockland, Maine, the rest of the family relocated in 1905 to join him in the USA. While these stresses brought the family closer together in some ways, they did not make for an easy beginning for Nevelson. That was not enough to keep this up-and-coming artist down though.

Untitled - 1950
When Nevelson came across a plaster cast of Joan of Arc in the Rockland Public Library at the age of nine, she knew that art would be a part of her life forevermore. She began her art career by studying drawing in high school. In 1920, she married Charles Nevelson and moved to New York, where she further studied painting, drawing, singing, acting and dancing. From 1929-30, she studied at the Arts Student League under Kenneth Hayes Miller and Kimon Nicolaides. When her husband moved the family out of the city, she became disillusioned with marital bliss and by 1932 she separated from her husband. Recognizing the importance of this focus on herself, Nevelson flew to Europe to further explore different styles of art. While there, she studied under Hans Hofmann in Munich, as well as worked as an extra in films in Vienna and Berlin.
Sky Cathedral - 1958

Nevelson returned to the US in 1932, where she once again studied with Hofmann. She was introduced to Cubism and collage, which influenced her greatly throughout her career. The following year she met Diego Rivera and worked as an assistant to him on his "Portrait of America" murals. The further she delved into the art scene, the more she embraced a style that was all her own. She began to teach mural painting at the Works Progress Administration in 1935. Despite this, money was tight. Perhaps because of this, the materials she collected for her sculptures were often found pieces, like castoff lumber.

Royal Tide 1 - 1960
It wasn't until 1941 that Nevelson had her first solo exhibition, held at the Nierendorf Gallery. While this helped to bring attention to her Modernist sculptures, success was still slow in coming to her. By the 50s, her reputation had grown and the Museum of Modern Art purchased one of her Sky Cathedral pieces. She travelled to Latin America and the Mayan artwork she came across was soon evident in her newest creations as the decade came to an end, with gold and white taking over from her previous all black pieces.

Dawn's Landscape XXIV - 1975
Finally achieving the fame she sought, the size of her pieces grew into monumental displays. Nevelson's name became synonymous with sculpture, but she also became a figurehead in women's art as a whole. She  challenged the idea that only men could become great artists. The fact that her estate was worth over $100 million when she died in 1988, seems to support the fact that women too could crack that gender bias.