Beautiful Portraits, Stunning Landscapes

An article by Annie O’Neill
Originally seen in the Gardiner Gazette

John A. Varriano and Marsha Massih embody the truths that creative people strive for. He is an accomplished portrait painter; she, a still life artist and landscapist. Some artists talk the talk, but these two live to paint and, happily, now paint to live!

Sunny Tuscan Hills by Marsha Massih

Sunny Tuscan Hills by Marsha Massih

They met at the age of 29, at New York City’s famed Art Students League, after pursuing very different career paths. Marsha, raised in Iowa, came to Manhattan for Columbia’s graduate School of International Affairs, but soon felt lost on this path, finding her real solace in art classes. After completing her masters, she realized that art had hovered over her life since her junior year in Paris, when the Louvre helped change her perception of the world. At the Art Students League, she stud- ied with very traditional instructors in an environment where fascinating artists were treated as equal explorers.

Sunday at Split Rock by John Varriano 

Sunday at Split Rock by John Varriano 

John is a first-generation American who was president of the Art Students League for two years and is a regular workshop instructor there. He was exposed early in life to the craftsmanship of masonry, bricklaying, stone and marble work by his Italian grandfather and father who came to Queens, NY, in l955.  Even though at age seven he was more interested in reading about Michelangelo and Leonardo than comic books, and was copying his grandfather’s ornamental renderings, he became an electrical engineer. Although a trip to Italy before college was a water projects and park restoration. This job afforded him time to finally study painting. After five years at Parks, the pull of painting was so great, he left his job to pursue art fulltime.

Marsha Massih

Marsha Massih

Fast forward to the Art Students League and two twenty-nine year olds; they knew they had to live artist’s lives, and they knew that they had to do this together. Their solid traditional training gave them the skills to grind pig- ments into paint and to prepare panels in the Renaissance style, but added to that was their ability to also landscape and be as resourceful as possible to support the lives of artists while bringing up their two daughters. They came to Gardiner for the landscape, but stayed for the people!

John A. Varriano

John A. Varriano

On the grounds of their impeccably restored, art-filled stone house they hold workshops for painters and novices alike in a large studio with all the aromatics of an imagined Renaissance world. Marsha also teaches children in New Paltz and Gardiner. They are both GOST artists (Gar- diner Open Studio Tour) and their work can next be seen during the Spring GOST tour.

If you can’t wait to get acquainted with these consummate artists, or you have always wanted to work in oils, contact them at (845) 255-1228.

 

Leonie Lacouette: Time is in her hands

 Esteemed clockmaker Leonie Lacouette’s grandfather, a Frenchman who fought in World War I as cook on the front lines, came to America in the 1930s. By 1937 the family had discovered Tillson Lake in Gardiner and, shortly after, bought the perfect property on what is today Lacouette Lane - a location close enough to walk through the woods to the lake from. Imagine that?

Leonie’s father was an artist and set designer; his wife, an actress. They came week- ends to the property from Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, where Leonie spent her teenage years attending the High School of Art and De- sign. The weekend home be- came permanent, and Leonie eventually attended SUNY New Paltz where she studied ceramics.

It was a time of artistic discovery and exploration and in 1981 she met her husband Bruce Pileggi, a builder, local actor and artist. He helped her set up her first studio. Her “ah-ha” moment came when she saw an ad for clock movements. She was hooked; her first clocks were ceramic, but at SUNY she had also pursued metalsmithing, painting and sculpture, all of which she now incorporates in her con- temporary, innovative clocks.

She is a master of invention. Her work has evolved from “kitschy” playful pieces to sleek, sophisticated de- sign-oriented and timely wall sculptures. Patintated copper is her signature look, while employing highly stylized geometric shapes. Her current studio, meticulously designed by Pileggi, intrigues artists, machinists and technicians alike.

Her clocks are all hand assembled of components such as metal, clockworks, pendulums and a wide variety of altered surface materials. Each clock requires cutting, drilling, polishing and patinated metal surfaces combined with faux-finshed wood, stainless, and copper, cherry veneer and barnwood.

She has become a master of surface decoration. 

Leonie works with her longtime assistant, "Gardinerite" Lesley Rokjer. The creativity involved in any clock by Leonie is astonishing. She has tackled the age-old dilemma of time in a totally unique way. Locally, her work is at the Mark Gruber Gallery in New Paltz and sweet-heart Gallery in Woodstock. In the wider world she is represented at over 150 galleries and shops across the United States, Canada and the Virgin Islands.

Don’t you think it is high time to visit her website, LeonieTime.com? You will clock up a most unique experience.

Painting as Dance

An article by Annie O'neill
Originally seen in the Gardiner Gazette, Summer 2014 Issue

Sleuthing around Gardiner in Sherlock Holmes mode, I pondered the elegant lady with paint-encrusted shoes. That was my first encounter with lo- cal artist Marilyn Perry, who started painting at sixty-two!

Her first hands-on steps towards art were in class with Gardiner artist Pattie Eakin. Marilyn was still a commuter from Manhattan—an accomplished art historian with a University of Lon- don PhD in 16th Century Italian Renaissance art.

This expertise transitioned to a full-time job in cultural philanthropy as president of the Kress Foundation and chairman of the World Monuments Fund. She has traveled worldwide, lived in Venice and had a hand in the preservation of many European projects—Vivaldi’s church in Venice; Aphrodisias in Turkey; and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, are examples.

After a lifetime of looking and thinking about art, it never occurred to her that a creative-artistic bent was locked up inside. When it hit, there was no turning back! Marilyn discovered that at heart she was “self-teaching,” and the joy of art is about discovering the hidden narratives spontaneously revealed as she “plays” with paint on canvas.

She pours, scrapes, and pushes paint around with palette knives, fingers and self-created tools. Painting for her is “a dance that flows and is all about movement.” To achieve her seascapes, water vistas, clouds and fiery semi-abstract landscapes she uses intense and vibrant acrylic inks, fluid acrylics and encaustic waxes.

The floor in her studio feels like a seascape, and there is an overwhelming sense of abundance and joy in the air and on the walls. There is a feeling of “full-out adventure” in her approach to the visual world. She is not methodical or patient, but continually engrossed in self discovery. Marilyn says “paint flows the way water does and con- stantly changes.”

In 2007, after a serious bout with Lyme disease, she created her Black Hawk Trail studio and launched a new and intense trajectory. Her first exhibits were in New York City, where she was written about by the Wall St. Journal and was selected to show a piece at the National Academy of design. Locally she has shown at the Ulster Savings Bank, is part of the Gardiner Open Studio Tour, and is scheduled for a Gardiner Library show. This summer a painting of hers will be exhibited at the Millbrook Vineyard and Winery in competition for a label on an award-winning wine.

You can view her paintings at www.marilynperryart.com and visit her studio in October on the next Gardiner Open Studio Tour (GOSTart. com).

Follow her in her paint-encrusted shoes! 

Fearless as Folk

An article originally in Dirt Magazine by Melissa Shaw

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Annie O’Neill lives in the same boarding house under the Shawangunk Mountains that she stayed in as a child. It has its original 1950’s stove and curtains, but the biggest surprise is the carefully curated collection of Mexican folk art: dolls, paintings, woodcuts, ceramics. Intermingled with these treasures are Annie’s own painted ceramic bowls and plates, and animals sculpted out of clay, or incised and hammered steel.

O’Neill is an adventurous soul. She has lived in Mexico, traveled extensively, and rock climbed for years. This same fearlessness shows up in her work. Intrigued by transforming a material into something else, she learned to cut steel using an acetylene torch. It was like “drawing with fire,” she explains.

On trips to Mexico in the 1960’s and 70’s, O’Neill honed her appreciation of Mexican folk art, often traveling to remote villages to watch craftspeople at work. She opened a store in New York City, thinking that others might be intrigued by the art she collected. She was right.

Eventually, O’Neill was drawn to the medium of clay. “When I dream about art, I always think of clay—people, figures. It’s almost as if I’m trying to channel a Mexican folk artist.”

O’Neill’s workroom is small but charming with windows looking out to the woods. Listening to hypnotic early chamber music, she uses a special paintbrush that she bought from a Mexican bark painter to swirl snail shell patterns around the edge of a plate. “I treat glaze like paint . . . I think clay and metal are forgiving, unlike paper.” She picks up a pin tool to etch away black glaze, revealing the scales of a fish.

Inspired by the colors and textures she sees on her daily walks, O’Neill’s subjects are mostly birds, fish, and otherworldly animals. Her figurative pieces are male, and they intertwine with the animals, as though a fierce dialogue is going on. “If it looks too structured I make some mark that messes it up—a freeing gesture. I always like to work from my mistakes and incorporate them into what I’m doing.”

The art brought back from her travels is also a constant source of inspiration. “I never think anything is my idea—we just create amalgams.” Wherever she finds her muse, she’s still as excited as a child to see what comes out of the kiln after the glazes have been fired. 

Signs of Spring: GOST 2016

The banners are going up around town.  GOST Doors won't be far behind.

GOST sign at the NYS Thruway Exit in New Paltz, NY. Find our Artist Guide and Studio Tour Map Brochures in many local stores and online at www.GOSTartists.org.

Gardiner NY is the home of the #GOSTartists and #GOSTdoors. Join the tour at the end of this month. April 30 & May 1, 2016.

Look for the #GOSTdoors to be on display this weekend in Gardiner and around the area after that. The GOSTdoors are artist painted doors placed in and around the local landscape, and they stand weirdly in the absence of anything that needs a door to enter. But the GOSTdoors allow you to enter the world of art without having to go to the museum, or a gallery. They are meant to be playful and fun and inviting.

Then at the end of April, "Go Behind the Doors," by taking the Gardiner Open Studio Tour. It's a free self-guided art studio tour of the studios of 22 artists in Gardiner. Though the tour used to be twice a year, it's now only one time per year, in the Spring. So don't miss your only chance this year to see what's happening here in the art studios of the GOSTartists.

GOST Arts

GOST Artists Profile: Marcia Cole - Encaustics and Painting

18 SHOWS IN 18 MONTHS

By Chaya Lakhiani

Marcia has always been an artist, both teaching and working in a wide variety of media. She holds many accolades for her art teaching over the years including an Art Travelship Award to France where she painted in the footsteps of Cezanne. During the past 18 months she has established a studio at Woodrock Studios in Gardiner, N.Y. Since then she's been on a roll with a solo show and work in 18 shows in the Hudson Valley. Her work with encaustic monotype was published in the book Authentic Visual Voices, by Catherine Nash, and last year the Middletown Art Society recognized her Encaustic Monotypes with an Award Of Excellence. This will be her second year as a member of The Gardiner Open Studio Tour, and she is delighted to announce that she has also joined Roost Studios in New Paltz, New York, where she will have a solo show running through August and September of this year.

“Mainly, I just love paint, all kinds of it! I’ve taught nearly every process to students from 3 to 73. I love seeing it, using brushes, pouring and printing with it, dragging paper and cloth through it, additive and subtractive processes, and the brainwork of harnessing it to express a concept that’s important to me.”

Marcia tends to work in series, exploring each media deeply and pushing her materials to achieve the desired effects. Currently, she is working with encaustic paint and watercolor, often incorporating gold and silver leaf into her works as well.

CHANTS 

In this year’s GOST TOUR she is featuring her Chants series. These are distinctive in shape – some are in square format to be arranged - that is hung or stacked, according to the owner’s preference - and some are tall, narrow and intimate pieces. They are spiritually inspired celebrations of color and nuance that vibrate with their own sense of energy. The inspiration for this work came from Marcia’s own more spiritual explorations, and from the sound of a dear friend’s chanting. In reaction to the attention they have received, Marcia has made more Chants in sizes ranging from 24” to 48”. It is her desire to make these works varied and unique, so that they can lend their energy to any setting and any space.

VISITORS AND CHANT OWNERS SAY:

“The colors are earthy, yet they resonate with a deep saturation that is very beautiful to behold. They remind me of buried treasures. Layer upon layer of richly textured civilizations, one builds on the other, creating a rhythm that is meditative. – Marcy Bernstein of Roost Studios

Visitors to the studio have commented:

“The tiny, detailed effects of the paint and trails of molten wax and gold and silver leaf catch the eye, begging you to slow down and linger.”

“They seem to resonate and enrich the space or setting in a personal way over time.” “They are like music for the eyes”.

For more information about the artist:

Marcia Cole
Woodrock Studios
Gardiner, N.Y. 

 

Ulster Savings Bank Showcases #GOST Artists

GOST Artists kick off a series of events leading up to the Spring 2016 Gardiner Open Studio Tour at the end of April.


This event was the first of two group shows and openings for the GOSTartists this Spring as leadin's to the Spring 2016 GOST. The next show will be at The Bakery in New Paltz beginning April 15, 2016, with a Paint-Out/Opening tentatively planned for April 23rd. Stay tuned.

The Ulster Savings Bank Exhibition Opening was held this past Friday with many of the GOSTartists in attendance as well as other visitors, friends and bank customers. Ulster Savings  has been a long time GOST sponsor and supporter.

The show continues through May 12, 2016. Eighteen works are on display at the bank throughout the public spaces. Some highlights include a fabulous mural sized painting by Meadow, show below, which brings a dynamic sense of pizzazz to the otherwise drab bank conference room, an eye catching piece by Marilyn Perry that hangs behind the teller's counter, and wonderful print by internationally collected artist, Lady Pink, which is near the bank manager's desk.

As in all the prior shows, the diversity of the #GOSTartists group is easy to see in this show, but thanks to curation efforts by Lady Pink and Roger Smith, who hung the show, there is a sense of cohesiveness, and upbeat enthusiasm that the pieces all convey. The show's theme of "Creation" seems to have been taken to mean both the creation of art work and and "creation" as in, all the wild and wondrous energy of the world, which this selection of pieces seems to be channelling.

The show is open to the public during bank hours. Art is available for purchase. Simply contact the artist of your choice--their contact information is available in the Show Bio Book on the table in the Bank Conference Room, or you can also find contact information for individual artists on the group's website: www.GOSTartists.org.


Many thanks to Jared Cole and the staff of the Ulster Savings Bank for hosting the opening and supporting the GOSTartists and the Tour.

Finally, don't miss the upcoming Gardiner Open Studio Tour, Apr. 30 & May 1, 2016. More info on the website, or pickup a brochure at Ulster Savings and many other area locations.

JP

When You're a Muralist, It Takes a Village!

Muralists always need something to paint on.

The #GOSTartists were drawn together by a desire to express ourselves in our community. When we got started thinking about the diverse array of talented and creative folks who lived unobtrusively here among us, we began to realize that there really were a lot of artists here in Gardiner. Wouldnt it be great if we could just draw them out. We first began meeting in 2012 and considering what we could do to promote the arts in our town. Back then, before the first tour, before the first #GOSTdoors were painted and displayed, before our first group show, we had no inkling of our future impact.

Over the years our efforts have been embraced by many residents in the village and throughout our area. This is particularly noticeable in that there are now four large murals painted by members of the GOSTartists right in Gardiner, NY.

The murals mentioned in the attached article from the Gardiner Gazette were painted by Lady Pink, and Annie O'Neill in the Spring of 2015, and they are on Arch Street opposite Pasquales Pizza in the very center of town.

Mural by Stacie Flint, Gardiner, NY Fall 2015

Mural by Stacie Flint, Gardiner, NY Fall 2015

Stacie Flint's mural in Gardiner was not mentioned in this article from last summer because it had not yet been painted, early Fall of 2015. It was painted in anticipation of the Fall 2015 GOST on the side of a tool shed facing Main Street  (Rte. 44-55) a few streets North of Arch Street. All three of these works are quite different in style and in expression and yet they all convey a fresh and lively feel which is adding pizzaz to our town as it develops and grows more art and visitor friendly.

More recently another mural was painted at the Gardiner Recycling Center at the very end of Steve's Lane, by Roger Smith, another member of the GOSTartists.

These works are a direct result of the work of members of the GOSTartists to engage the community and put art out in the world. That is a very important part of the mission of the Gardiner Open Studio Tour. To bring people to art and to bring art to people.

Which is also why the #GOSTdoors will be back in town this year. Keep an eye out. Lady Pink Queen of Doors is working hard to see that we have lots of new doors this year to share with one and all.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  In the Gardiner Gazette Article, it is mentioned that The Gardiner Open Studio Tour is held each Spring and Fall. While that was correct at the time of the writing of the article, it is no longer the case. There will only be one Open Studio event each year, so don't miss it. The GOST will be held each Spring on the First Weekend in May. However, the GOSTartists will be doing other things throughout the year.

JP

Keeping Up with Meadow!

It’s my privilege to provide a brief GOST artist narrative for Meadow, as a representative of Kiss My Face (a GOST sponsor), sharing what I’ve come to know of Meadow’s artistic history & prowess as a tenant of 3 1/2 years at her Woodrock Studios complex.

Meadow is one of those unique artists who is always great at any art media she touches! Which is a good thing since, as a mixed-media artist, she switches gears often! She is frequently found working on multiple two-dimensional and three-dimensional projects at the same time. Claiming to get bored or stale if she stays with one medium to long, she relishes in the challenge of something new. She says, “It keeps me excited and my blood flowing... I love the angst of a blank slate.”

Meadow usually produces her art in a series. She’ll work a particular idea through within one medium, constructing anywhere from 6-20 pieces before she feels like she’s producing a product or just repeating herself. For Meadow, switching mediums or being asked to participate in a new themed show is like stepping up to the batter’s plate... “You never know what will come at you or what the results will be!”

Meadow does sometimes return to explore past series to create a new work. However, the new work always has a little different slant and tone... be that an updated version, or an extension of the precious thematic work. Clay is a medium within which Meadow has worked for almost 60 years. Her work ranges significantly from eight-foot sculptures to two inch “Little Littles” and everything in between. She always seems to return to it as she finds it to be very grounding and forgiving... “You can make almost anything with clay.”

A recent revival from the past is her production of two large Wood Spirit Series installations for the Samuel Dorsky Museum “Hudson Valley Artist’s Show.” For this artistic endeavor, Meadow used the wood from a black walnut tree she had to take down, as it was too close to her house. She was able to use up most of the tiny limbs, small branches and logs that would normally just become firewood. In her reincarnation of the tree, she was honoring her passionate feelings and connection to trees... and particularly that tree that has graced the grounds of Woodrock for over 25 years.

Meadow has lots of “next batter-up artistic activities planned and underway. First up will be using her Boid Series to create a painted door, that will be displayed in Gardiner, as part of the live-advertising for the upcoming Gardiner Open Studio Tour, (GOST)... followed by new pieces from her Heritage Ceramics Series, also for the GOST event coming up at the end of April.

And right after that, she’ll be installing a large piece from the Written Word Series for the Hebrew Museum, as a featured artist in their new exhibition “Numbers”. In between all this she is mounting a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to self-publish the children’s books she has been writing for years. There seems to be no end to the creative ability and stamina that Meadow is able to sustain. It’s pretty amazing! You go Girl!!