Archives for posts with tag: abstract art

Contemplating Water is a new gallery added to Sassamatt’s webpage. It features a series of photographs made on Chesterman Beach/Tofino, BC, focussing on water in its dynamic state.

Ever-moving water is ephemeral and transcendental. As it swirls, sputters, rises and falls, it returns to where it began. I look at water the way Alfred Steiglitz looks at clouds, contemplating how “to hold a moment, how to record something so completely, that all who see will relive an equivalent of what has been expressed.”

View Contemplating Water (here). 

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Artists by nature are not hard-wired to boost, promote, or sell their work. Buyers usually want to know more about the works that attract their attention and perhaps purchase. That more can be the backstory, the technique or inspiration, and it is often said that it is not the work that is sold but the story that is bought. For some artists, that conversation is difficult. In my own artist practice, all of this is the case. If I could bring that story to life in conversation, there would be no need for me to make a drawing, photograph, artist book or ceramic sculpture. I came to value (and now miss dearly) art school critiques because I learned how to speak more confidently about the backstory, techniques and inspiration in my artist practice. Having said that, this blog feels somewhat like shameless self-promotion, but it could also be a year end summary about where my work can be found, where this work can be purchased.

South Main Gallery (279 East 6th Avenue, Vancouver) now represents my work, particularly More Illuminations, featured in Vancouver’s Capture Photography Festival (2016).

Cityscapes Art Rentals (335 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver) holds a small collection of my work for rent, rent-to-own, and purchase. A selection of my work will be in the 2017 Art Rental Show (opening 12 January through 04 February 2017).

The Brooklyn Art Library (28 Frost Street, Brooklyn, NY)/ Sketchbook Project now sells high quality prints of pages from nine of my sketchbooks in their collection. Sketchbook Collection

Gifting is an art form in its own right, and in this season of gift giving, a gift of art is a double gift because it gifts the artist as well. More about my photography continues at http://www.sassamatt.com

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Frozen

Frozen

I’ve been gifted this review of my current series: Salton Sea Eco-Disaster — I cannot look away.

 

The Salton Sea Eco-Disaster – I cannot look away
One of the most provocative and insightful bodies of artwork in the Telling Stories: a visual art exhibition is a series of photographs by Phyllis Schwartz. Although a great deal of her work is more abstract in nature and rooted in the historical techniques of photographic image making, this series is a departure for her. The images are very monochromatic and stark as well as being rivetingly close to their subject matter.

What has caused this departure, especially when the work has been simmering since the winter of 2011? Having witnessed the ecological destruction on the shores of the Salton Sea, California’s largest body of water, the images were just too graphic and unworldly. How does a visual artist work with a set of images that seem implausible, yet at the same time so captivating? What are the implications of creating a series around these images that wander between a work of art, a statement of witnessing and a political commentary on our economically driven ecological disasters?

Vacant

Vacant

In the end one cannot really look away, as Phyllis Schwartz expresses in her subtitle, without becoming even more complicit than one already is creating these images. To look away is to do what is so often done, to pretend we are not part of the problem. We are collectively the authors of this series; even in Vancouver, the food grown in this area that flows 15,000 tons of phosphorus and nitrogen into this landlocked sea is the food we shop for on our grocery shelves. The cars we drive that are made in Mexico in the maquiladoras just across the border, emit a toxic stew mixed with sewage, and this flows down hill across the border into the Salton Sea. This artificial river is now the most toxic waterway in North America, we should not be looking away.

Schwartz’s images are simple yet draw in the viewer; they are micro-compositions of areas no larger than a dessert plate. Abstract in presentation and mostly black and white with hints of colour, one can not help but think of Edward Weston’s work and the intimacy he expressed with the objects he photographed. Yet the images are not as subtitle, and unlike Weston, the images are much less rooted in the post modern culture that favours irony while making allusions to knowledge. It also seems to lash out at the pseudo-modern world of around us where iPhones and social media often gives the impression that one is immersed when often one is overtaken or swallowed up.

Desiccated

Desiccated

As the viewer moves from one image to another, one begins to feel that something is amiss. What is the magnitude of the dead barnacles beach? Why are the fish mostly unconsumed by the other wild life in the area? Why have they not been cleaned up by local inhabitants? Having chosen to work at such an intimate range, the work hints at the extent of the problem without graphically showing the masses of dead fish that actually litter the shoreline. The artist here is reflecting our tendency to minimize and reduce things down so we do not see the scale of the problem. One cannot look away, but one does not want to see the scale, a scale might prove too challenging. The softness and almost abstract forms allow one to at momentarily escape before the mind lurches back to what is being presented. It moves the viewer to search out the subtext and the footnotes of this ecological metaphor of our current age.

Edward Peck (15 November 2015)

Edward Peck

On the Wall Series, photographed in Germany in 2015, will be part of the Telling Stories:a visual art exhibition opening on the 7th of November 2015. The exhibition will include photography, painting, sculpture, fibre art and other installations. It will feature the following nine artists: Alison Keenan, Phyllis Schwartz, Jim Friesen, Daphne Harwood, Sophi Liang, Colette Lisoway, Edward Peck, Debra Sloan and June Yun.

This is the BestB4 Collective’s latest exhibition, and it is graciously hosted by the Chinese Cultural Centre in their On-Tak Cheung Exhibition Gallery.

Opening: Saturday, November 7, 2015

Location: 555 Columbia Street

Regular Hours: 11:am – 5pm (Tue-Sat), Nov 7th – Dec 19

For Special Hours and Events see BestB4Collective’s Blog

For more information please go to the BestB4 Collective’s events page:
http://bestb4collective.blogspot.ca/p/events.html )

A Brief Word About the Series

My artist practice has always been about teaching myself to see. While walking around Berlin and Hamburg, I noticed that…

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I am writing this blog so I can learn to spell and understand pareidolia. In the 70s, I read an article in Scientific American that explained how the eye-brain constructed recognizable shapes from ambiguity. That information gave me insight into how visual art that compelled caused me to look again, and I was sure I would remember that word. I reached for that word many times, talking around it and hoped someone could fill in the gap in my knowledge. That gap was filled in conversation following one of my Facebook posts during  the  Black and White Photo challenge this September. Now in a time when access to this kind of information is only a few keystrokes away, I am able to fill in that gap.

Pareiolia explains why we see the man in the moon, dragons in clouds, faces (especially eyes) in tree bark and projected imagery in reflective surfaces. This rediscovery of this word and this phenomenon gives both an explanation for my fascination with abstract Lumen Print compositions and a context for my artist process. Artwork, music and literature that offer multiple valid readings have always attracted me;  my favourites continue to invite another layer of meaning. My Lumen Prints that render smaller ambiguous pareidoltric artifacts engage my viewers and often spark interesting conversation. I look again.

Bladderwrack and Rainwater (2010)

Bladderwrack and Rainwater (2010)

One of my most enduring compositions, Mother and Child, was an early starting point in my Lumen Print artist practice. When I look at this Lumen Print, I see a goat like figure and a playful calf nuzzling up affectionately to a protective figure, a mother to my way of looking at it; I want to see a Mother and Child, and a reach into the photograph for more imagery to complete that story. Others might see darkened outlines of familiar seaweed shapes: bladderwrack, sea lettuce and the potassium deposits made by sheets of Lamenaria left out in the rain. My early Lumen Print work was essentially creative botanical documentation. I discovered the X-Ray like marks in Lumen Prints  yield more information than in botanical drawings; these Lumen Print documents simultaneously photograph the interior and exterior of the specimen. When I freed these materials from their orthodox portraiture and used these materials in the markmaking process,  then landscapes and narratives emerged. Instead of Lamenaria and Bladderwrack resting on photosensitive surfaces for a portrait, they were telling stories.

Sea Shells and Rainwater (lumen lith printed from a handmade negative, 2010)

Sea Shells and Rainwater (lumen lith printed from a handmade negative, 2010)

Wanting to go beyond the discoveries of the botanists who were among the first to discover a photographic process for recording visual information in their notations, I turned to an exploration of the capacity of sheet film in Lumen Printing.  A 4 x 5 inch block of sheet film does not leave much space for composition, a challenge when I was composing organic material on photo paper that measured 16 x 20 inches. I was curious to find out how much detail sheet film would record for printing and projecting in large format. Sea Shells and Rainwater was my first handmade negative; I positioned a small handful of crushed seashells on sheet film and exposed it to an afternoon of hazy light. This negative was digitized and developed much the way I worked in an analogue darkroom: amplifying light and tonal values. I worked on this image until it came to life: when a pair of eyes appear and a life form took shape on a green colour field. In digital format, I am able to show X-Ray layers in much the same way they appear in analogue Lumen Prints.

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Recent Lumen Prints, both analogue and digital, tell pareidolic stories: Caribou posing for a portrait, momento mori in What Remains from gathering foliage in New York, possible life forms Among Cherry Blossoms, a portrait emerging from Chesterman Beach sea tangles. And more at Sassamatt Images.

Winter Salon 2014 opens Thursday, 27th November ( 7 – 10:30 pm) at PhotoHaus Gallery (14 West 7th Avenue) with an exciting collection of work that includes three Lumen Prints that were recently exhibited at die Bedürfnisanstalt in Hamburg Germany in September.

MisSummer Spanish Bank Impressions is my current analogue Lumen Print Series. On a parched summer day, I gathered materials from what had been deposited on the beach at high tide. In my work, I am always curious to discover what emerges from the footprints and shadows of my compositions on photosensitive materials. This summer’s pareidolic gift offered images of caribou, bears and canine forms, including one that received Honourable Mention from the Cascadia exhibition jury.

My current series of Digital Lumen Prints, Illuminations and Impressions,  are made from materials gathered from the Ocean Shores (Washington) foreshore. These images are made from handmade negatives using a Lumen Printing process and then digitized. These new plant forms have made new forms that trace the footprint and capture the shadows on photosensitive materials. Their luminescence invite the viewer to imagine motion and drama in what remains.

This Autumn’s exhibition at die Bedürfnisanstalt featured a selection of New York analogue Lumen prints that were exhibited in Tree — literal and figurative (On-Tak Gallery, Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre) and premiered MidSummer Spanish Banks Impressions. A selection of digital Lumen Prints were previously showcased at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum as well as new works made at Ocean Shores, Washington.

Caribou Portrait, Ocean Shores Impressions 1, Serious Caribou

Caribou Portrait, Ocean Shores Impressions 1, Serious Caribou

Winter Salon 2014 continues through December. Check hours and address at PhotoHaus Gallery’s website. http://photohausgallery.com/upcoming/

Shelter Island             Illuminations 
Edward Peck        Phyllis Schwartz 

Die Bedürfnisanstalt, Bleickenallee 26a, Hamburg 22763

Vernissage: Sa: 13.09.2014 12-17 Uhr
Öffnungszeiten
So., 14.09.2014, 14 – 18 Uhr
Mo., 15.09.2014, 16 – 20 Uhr
Sa., 20.09.2014, 14 – 18 Uhr
So., 21.09.2014, 14 – 18 Uhr
Lumen Print Workshop/Vorführung [auf Englisch]
Di., 23.09.2014, 14 – 18 Uhr
Neue Fotoarbeiten
Mi., 24.09.2014, 18 – 23 Uhr
Do., 25.09.2014, 15 – 19 Uhr
Finissage: Fr., 26.09.2014, 16 – 20 Uhr

Sassamatt presents the European premier of new work by Phyllis Schwartz and Edward Peck. These Canadian experimental visual artists work in photographic medium. Schwartz is one of the few contemporary artists making artwork using the lumen print process. These hybrid prints are made by a contact and printing process photosensitive surfaces that are digitized. Peck with multi-disciplinary background is using a multiple exposure photographic hybrid digital development process to create abstract works from concrete objects.

Sassamatt, a Canadian based artist collective, presents work by Edward Peck and Phyllis Schwartz for exhibition in Bedürfnisanstalt between 13 and 26 September. These two photo-based artists use the details located in their immediate environment as inspiration for innovative image making. Their exhibition, Sassamatt Presents, is the European premier of their latest work. The exhibition will be held in Die Bedürfnisanstalt, a unique gallery exhibition space in Hamburg’s Altona community. They will also be open for visitors to watch their work in progress. There will also be a workshop demonstration of the lumen process and both artist will be available to discuss their work and artist processes.

Edward Peck is an experimental digital photographer with multi-disciplinary background that includes painting, watercolour and printmaking. Much of his current source material is drawn from weathered and sea battered boats, some of which are in the process of returning to their elemental state, bringing the aging process of these boats to life by through an abstract exploration of form, colour and texture. His bold compositions are colour fields confidently sectored by elementary materials that are caught in the act of transformation. These transformations become abstract landscapes.

Phyllis Schwartz is an experimental photographer. Her x-ray like images penetrate the surface of her subject material and produce secondary images discovered only in the development stage of her printmaking. Plant enzymes and atmospheric conditions also interact with the surface to produce unexpected results on the surface of the paper or sheet film, leaving x-ray like marks of both their shapes and interiors. These illuminations of New York foliage and British Columbia  marine plant life hover on the cusp of abstract imagery and poetry.

Addition information on these two artists can be found on the Sassamatt Images website www.sassamatt.com .

Check out my new work at two openings on Friday, 25 January. One of my New York street shots is in Bikes Inside, a group exhibition at Hot Art Wet City. Five of my abstracts are showing in Abstract Expressionism, a group exhibition at Photohaus Gallery.

Ninth Avenue Cyclist II is part of a series inspired by Diane Evans and Kristina Kreber; it is a photograph created across the street from B and H Photos in New York (Ninth Avenue and 34th Street). Current work showing in Abstract Expressionism is from a new series of work that continues my lumen printing experimentation; these hybrid prints made from handmade negatives on 4 x 5 sheet film that are digitized.

More exhibition and opening night details below.

Abstract Expressionism
Photohaus Gallery, 14 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver
January 25 – 14 February
Opening: 25 January, 7 – 10 pm
Gallery catalogue available
http://photohausgallery.com
Bikes Inside
Hot Art Wet City Pop Up Gallery, 752 East Broadway, Vancouver
25 January – 13 February
Opening: 25 January, 7 – 11 pm
http://hotartwetcity.com/bikes-inside/

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Learn more about Sassamatt Images http://about.me/phyllisSchwartz

And, if you are at the  Queen Elizabeth Theatre before 18 February 2013, check out In Camera: the working dancer, an exhibition of my photographs and Alison Keenan’s paintings, a body of work made in cooperation with Ballet BC. It is showing in the Mezzanine Gallery and my ceramic sculptures on the top floor. Let me know what you think.

My current project: five small experimental images in a CARFAC pop-up fundraising show and sale. One day only: Friday, 22 June (10 AM – 7PM) in W2 Community Media Arts Gallery (above Woodward’s Atrium, #250 – 111 West Hastings). Reception with treats to eat: 5 – 7 PM. Good Prices/Good Cause. Bring your friends! See you there! http://wishyouwereherefundraiser.weebly.com/index.html

Preview http://wishyouwereherefundraiser.weebly.com/photography.html

Wish You Were Here: Friday, 22 June, 10 AM – 7PM, W2 Media Gallery, Woodwards, 111 W. Hastings. Reception 5 – 7 PM

 

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Join my Tumbler http://sassamattimages.tumblr.com/

and follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/queenofmidnight

 http://about.me/phyllisschwartz

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Lumen liths are a hybrid variant of lumen prints. Made by  a contact printing process using organic materials that leave traces and shadows on photosensitive surfaces. In this process, the photosensitive surface is sheet film of varying ages, types and sizes. Once processed, these transparencies can be projected or scanned.

The scanner has several settings that can transform the imagery on the negative. Once scanned as JPG or TIFF, all sorts of digital magic is possible. The images showing at Argyle Fine Arts in Halifax are a series of five such images (http://www.behance.net/sassamatt). For the past six weeks, I have been an ArtsStarts artist-in-residence at Kitsilano High School demonstrating my lumen printing techniques and guiding students through the process of making their own lumen prints.

Using aged 8×10 sheet film, I have made a series of four lumen liths that have been transformed into various digital iterations. This is a new direction that goes beyond the unique photograms of Anna Atkins and Jerry Burchfield forges a new hybrid form of photo-printmaking. http://sassamatt.com/sass/lumenprints/index.html

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