As Published in Artifacts Magazine
By Kate Hall
Most birds use their natural plumage to attract their mates. Not so with the bowerbirds. They strike a different chord, relying on their wits as creators instead. They are the steampunk renegades of the avian world. Bowerbird males rely on their keen sense of style and arrangement as they construct intricate twig structures called bowers. Once the bowers are built, they switch modes and conduct themselves as the most obsessive masters of design. They scour their surroundings for objects of color and textural interest. Pieces, both old and new, found treasures and items discarded, colors and textures are woven together to form a display designed to woo the object of their affections. As their collection is amassed, the treasures are grouped together according to color and their unique preferences. No effort is spared to make sure every adornment is meticulously arranged. The whole is greater than the mere sum of its parts. So it is with bowerbird artist.
Cheryl Dossey of Cheryl Dossey Art on Bay Street in Lakeland is one such artist. Dossey, like the bowerbird, focuses her creative efforts on assemblage. “I love to mix the old with the new. Old books, paper, letters, stamps and found objects with a past will usually find new life in a piece of my artwork.” Dossey weaves her own doodles into the mix seeking to craft a work rich in texture, depth and storytelling. Each work is a complex maze that invites the viewer to unravel its elements, sorting origins from embellishment. Self-described as lighthearted and whimsical, the works are designed with simple messages of positivity.
When asked what drove her towards art, Dossey suggests that it was always omnipresent in her life. “I have been creating as long as I can remember. I have family members in creative fields. Art has been a continuous theme throughout my life and career. I can’t imagine my world without it.” Dossey’s roots are steeped in small town Florida. She pursued art throughout her childhood education and went on to study at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. From there, she opened a framing shop and enjoyed success in the industry for 25years.
Over those years, Dossey confesses that her creative spirit went on hiatus. When she started offering part of her framing shop as a gallery to showcase other local artists, reawakening came. “I was feeling rejuvenated and excited again to create my work. “ In 2011 Dossey began taking her work more seriously. She locally entered her first judged exhibition, Arts on the Park. Her efforts were rewarded with a merit award and the sale of her work. “That experience was the encouragement I needed to further develop and pursue my art.”
Dossey’s work has been warmly received and continues to win awards and notoriety in the press. Recently celebrated were the publications of her work in the Winter 2016 issues of both Somerset Life and Somerset Studio. The publications followed her acceptance of a third place award for her entry, “Dream”, in the Fall 2015 Lakeland Art Guild Show. How does it feel? “Like most artists, having your work recognized or appreciated is very rewarding. However, what I enjoy most is being able to share, teach and encourage others on their creative journey.” When asked about her plans for the future, “In five years, I would like to be teaching on a much bigger scale. My vision is to be part of a creative group that travels around the country to varied art retreats.” And just like that, the Bowerbird Artist is off in search of the next great assemblage.
Helge Duemmel, The Geometric Artist
By Kate Hall
Published in Art*i*facts Magazine Winter Issue 2015
Sets, their unions and intersections all conjure up frustrating lessons from school days past. Rays, lines and segments are close cousins to algebra, the dreaded mathematical study that is thought to have little use outside of academia. Lessons are learned for a time and disregarded for life. Not so with the geometric artist, Helge Duemmel.
Duemmel’s recently won Best of Show for his geometric abstract piece “Europa Lilies” at the current exhibit featured at the Lakeland Center through February. Being abstract in nature, each member of the audience is free to interpret the painting with their own unique perspective. I am no different. I look at the organic shapes and try to discern a flora theme, as the name implies. Graceful, devoid of brush strokes, transparencies and opacities are weaved throughout. Art is a method of communication. The question is, what is the artist trying to say?
The inspiration for the creation of Duemmel’s Europa Lilies is unexpected to say the least. When asked about his piece, Duemmel offers, “it is part of my new series of ‘Blooming Moons.’ This series focuses on using organic shapes to capture extra-terrestrial landscapes.’” He went on to describe the moons of our solar system as influential and offered a sneaking insight to his upcoming work will reflect “global warming and Mother Earth’s face of tears.”
Being a German immigrant, Duemmel shares with me a history of uncertainty and repression. He was inspired as a child by the illustrations of Grimm’s fairytales. He shares, “there was no time for art in my childhood. It was about survival and relocation.” After serving in the German Navy, Duemmel relocated to the United States in the 70’s. He had studied art at Clark University, but like so many artists, needed the reliable income that he found as a teacher of Geometry. While teaching art, he began to dabble in art, mostly in watercolors and with a sense of realism, which is quite removed from his style today. In truth, Duemmel has been keeping geometry alive in his art works.
Duemmel began his progression towards hardline abstract art when he was introduced to silk screen printing by a friend and fellow artist. He describes it as, “very, very nitpicky! Right up my alley.” This explanation makes sense because one of the self-imposed goal of his works, “I try to eliminate all evidence of brush strokes.” He first began to receive acceptance and approval for his work in SoHo in the 80’s. Duemmel sets a high standard for himself. “It is most rewarding when I have a flawless piece, well-done and near perfection.” He goes on to say that he remains detached from his works and they are not difficult for him to part with. Apparently this serves him well, as most of his past works have sold in shows related to his teaching career, and in the galleries in Massachusetts where he displayed his work for years.
A resident of Lakeland for the past 13years, Duemmel continues to find new avenues for his art. Being primarily encouraged by his wife, Linda, who he jokes about being his agent, he says, “I can now focus on art in my retirement.” For more information on this other worldly artist, please visit his website at www.helgeduemmel.com
or visit his current exhibit at The Lakeland Center.
Published Art*i*facts Magazine
By Kate Hall
The morning light bursts forth banishing the shadows. Like curtains pulled back in a playhouse, the mountain mist recedes. Coolness on a summer morning refreshes the body and the beauty surrounding, feeds the soul. A new day begins and “there is always something to inspire and learn.” These wise words belong to the joyful artist, Jane Bryant. Bryant summers in North Carolina, but has called Lakeland, FL home since the 1970’s. Originally from Alabama, Bryant brings a lifetime of experience and skill with her wherever she may wander.
A gracefully seasoned woman of slight build, Bryant is easily the most radiant artist I’ve ever met. Privileged to interview her in her home studio, her warmth, style and elegance were woven together like tapestry and evidenced throughout her home, gardens and studios. Tasteful antiques speak to the years she spent as interior designer, studying furniture design in Paris, and antiquing around Europe. What a treat! We settle in to talk and the real story begins, at the beginning of course.
Bryant first realized her natural inclination towards painting with direction of her art teacher in 7th & 8th grade. Perhaps she inherited intuition and inspiration from her mother, a skilled artist. A lifelong love affair with art was born and nurtured. “I paint for the joy of it.” Pattern, line and form became the elements of Jane Bryant, the daughter, the artist, interior designer, the wife, mother, and grandmother. The truth is she’s been keeping the collector’s gaze for a long time, ever growing and broadening her artistic range.
Bryant’s works are varied in style and medium, though she prefers oil, watercolor and pen. Her studios are divided and perfectly suited to host creative genius at a moment’s notice. Her works are prolific; an eye for detail is the common thread that runs throughout. A collection of ornate church drawings are cataloged from a lifetime of journeys. ‘En plein air’ landscapes meet impressionistic photo-realism. Striking stills, done in a high contrast chiaroscuro, evoke a reference to the Renaissance and Rocco masters; her European experiences clearly bubble up. Having studied at Florida Southern University, and privately under countless nationally recognized artist, has richly rewarded Bryant’s devotion. Bryant’s work has won her numerous awards and recognition nationally. She belongs to many guilds and associations, spreading her joyful exuberance in fabulous style.
Jane Bryant regularly exhibits her work with the Lakeland Art Guild as well as the Bartow Art Guild. She was award a 2nd place for her painting in her recent exhibit at The Lakeland Center. More information about her works can be found at www.janebryantpaintings.blogspot.com
Drawing Parallels: Gregory Jones
As Published in Art*i*facts Magazine Volume 17 Number 5
By Kate Hall
It is often said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Along the journey of life, many experience their own brand of irrefutable proof that there is indeed a force larger than one’s self. For the devout artist, imitation draws a parallel between The Creator and the creative that is the very fulfillment of a soul’s longing. Gregory Jones is one such spiritual creative who is quick to acknowledge Divine influence among his life and work.
At first glance, Jones’ work appears complex in thought and most curious in content. Self-described as serious and seldom playful, Jones’ work is his avenue of expression. Being a mixed media artist his works include painting, assemblage and everything in between. The artist’s use of mundane objects often creates an air of controversy while drawing parallels to life experiences. Most striking is his affinity for layering and contrasting cold industrial textures with softer fibers. Jones develops a dynamic paradox with his use of transparent and opaque materials which create fields of view like a guided path for the eyes to wander.
One’s early childhood memories often resonate deeply into one’s being, ever reaching, like ripples in a pool. Jones’ work is reflective of this truth. When asked about his use of bottles and cans, a common theme throughout much of his collection, Jones recalled a memory from his childhood chore list when he burned excess trash in the family fire pit. Sometimes the bottles and cans would be left charred and smoky, but otherwise steadfast in their original form. Jones was fascinated by their transformation and often fished the smoky remains from the ashes. Like a phoenix rising, these humble vessels would form the basis for his award winning works.
When asked how he came to discover his artistic calling, Jones replied ironically, “It (art) discovered me in high school.” Art has since become the driving force. Jones has continued to captivate national audiences with his complex pairings. Jones has achieved a much coveted level of success and his awards number over one thousand. Among those lauding his excellence, is Robert Hughes, art critic for Time Magazine, as well as the curators and directors of the Guggenheim, N.Y. C. and Smithsonian in Washington D. C. Despite the many accolades from some of the art world’s biggest A-listers, he has maintained an air of humble relatability that compliments his spiritual nature and his stratified creations. “I owe so much to my wife, Janet, for her many years of support”
The ripples continue reaching. In his simple studio bathed in natural light, Jones often compares his creative process to his childhood strolls through the Virginia woods. First the conscious decision to create is made and then the first steps are taken. From there, creativity never fails to join him on the journey like a faithful friend there to guide the way.
Gregory Jones regularly exhibits through the Lakeland Art Guild showcasing at the Lakeland Center. Jones also participates in the Ridge Art Association of Winter Haven. For more information on Jones, his work and where you can see his exhibited works, please contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I usually write about myself on this blog, but I thought it might be nice to share some of my interviews with other artists. This article was written by Kate Hall (Me!) for the Lakeland Art Guild and Published by Artifacts Magazine Summer Edition. After taking some time off from writing, it was fun to see my work published again. Next article should have my Byline. Enjoy!
The preservation of life is carried out by tiniest of winged pollinators. The Grand Canyon is defined by the rushing waters of the Colorado. Forces of nature forge a path of beauty and inspiration and so it is with the creative naturalist. Acclaimed wildlife artist, Wayne Chunat, first realized biology as his muse in the seventh grade. Throughout college and his civilian career with Cleveland Metroparks, Chunat continued to chase his muse. Through both career and canvas he knew his purpose. “I was to instill a sense of wonder and our relationship to the natural world.”
Chunat majored in biological sciences, and art was developed as a secondary priority.
Careful consideration was taken to study that which would enhance his creative development while providing a stable income. Primarily a self- taught artist, Chunat explored workshops on both local and national levels. Influencing artists include Don Altemus, Arleta Pech, Robert Bateman, John Seere Lester, Hiner Hertling, John Banovich, Fred Leach, George Wervey, and David Rankin. ”Now, forty plus years later, I am still searching for and developing new techniques & methods.” Truly, achievers never stop acquiring knowledge.
Well versed in a variety of mediums, acrylics are preferred. Classified as representational, Chunat prefers to disregard photorealism and allow the audience perspective license. The process often begins as a sketch, mapping out possibilities. Painting requires intimate familiarity. True vision is prized; knowing the subject and its relation to surroundings is essential. Chunat shares his secret ingredient for successful painting, ”When you add the rhythm of life you will touch the emotions, engage the viewer, they will become involved and attached.”
Validation and recognition for one’s art are every artist’s dream. He has been fortunate in that regard as his work has amassed accolades and delighted collectors for decades. Chunat belongs to a number of posh associations, including the Artists for Cider Painters of America, Miniature Art Society of Florida, and most recently, the Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Engravers Association, Washington DC. Memberships in such international groups are often restrictive and serve as a pinnacle of achievement.
When asked about his studio, Chunat romanced an ideology that many creatives share. “I like to think that the real studio is in the wild; the unexpected encounters, imaginative thinking, digital photos, and field sketches with notations.” His actual home studio is encompassed by a humble 10 x 12 room, carefully lit and made lively by the presence of his beloved pets. Containment has become more fluid, “I now paint to minimize size, brush and pigment. Most of my works are now 11x14” to 3x5”. The works themselves may be miniature, but as the saying goes: dynamite comes in small packages.
Chunat continues to forge his way as a newly fulltime Florida resident. Together with his wife they plan to explore every element of nature Florida has to offer. Chunat hopes to produce a body of works depicting their experiences, in addition to pursuing ways to using his arwork to benefit charities local to and surrounding Polk County. His works are locally on exhibit at the Lakeland Center through the Lakeland Art Guild and through the Woodbrook Arts Community. Learn more or contact the artist by visiting www.natureartists.com/wayne_chunat.asp
When I interview an artist for an article, my favorite question to ask is: What is the most controversial piece that you've created? They laugh and a good story generally follows.
Personally, my most "controversial" ironically mild. "Status Update" settles in my mind. She's a painting that I intended to represent the classics transitioning into the future through our cultural convergence with social media. My mysterious subject had meticulous rows of glass beads for hair, crystal adornments and foil pigments in her dress. Her creation was a branching out with my mixed media repertoire.
There's just something about her. She has cause to update her status. Where had she been? What news was she about to share? That's the direction that I anticipated my audience to take. Simple right? Apparently not!
"Statues Update" stirred people up! She invited debate. She was viewed as a period piece with the unthinkable: a laptop! Why on earth would I create a visual mash up of things that don't go together? Holy dichotomy! The mischievous muse answers with a smile, "Why not?"
Being an artist it's all about communication. Our creative product (artwork, performance, and or photography...) is an avenue of communication. It's the product of our experience and the voice through which we invite our viewers to share in our experiences. Sometimes this is a challenge, but the challenge is how we grow. We embrace it; we strive for it. We both love and hate it. Sometimes we even lose the trail.
If I'm honest, I have to admit I'm guilty of getting so wrapped up in exploring new concepts, postures, forms, and trying new techniques that I forget about creating a piece that really speaks to my audience; that makes them ask questions. Sometimes we lose the trail of our muse. Or perhaps we need to shift to a new perspective to recapture her sight...Cheers to that most elusive muse, the one I'm happy to stumble after.
Rolling hills and mountains create a cool respite from the Florida heat. Tucked in a mountainside wilderness the pace slows down a little. Time is made to listen, think, feel, and heal. Rejection is part of life. Rarely is this truer than for the creative. Our works are on constant display and therefore we open ourselves up to receive the thoughts of others. While feedback is crucial to honing our skills, it is not always easy to accept. It is a breath of fulfillment to hear thoughtful and affirming feedback, but can be a test of character to field the harsh word, flippantly given. As much as we might like to deny it, all of it affects our sensitive souls.
Over the years, I have benefited by the opportunity to receive wise counsel and mentor-ship. The biggest truths I have had to learn were to consider the source of unsolicited advice and to know who I want to reach with my art. Most of what a person perceives in a work of art is a reflection of their own inner thoughts. A person’s experience, perspective and personality always color the way they process information as illustrated by the Rorschach ink blot test. The ink blot test takes a random smudge of ink and asks for interpretation; what do you see? The answers piece together information about the audience and not the creator of the ink smudge, his intention, or the level of expertise. It has nothing to do with the creator!
While I believe that art is for everyone, not everyone will like what I create and that is okay. It can be a struggle as everyone, on some level, desires acceptance. Rejection is never fun. Standing tall and remaining confident is an accomplishment in itself. It is important to understand the purpose of my work is to uplift, inspire and encourage. That means I am not called to reach people who seek political depictions, or dark, tortured art. Instead, my strengths are revealed when I choose to focus on reaching those who need what I have to offer: art that makes you smile.
I don’t always hit the mark, but it has been invaluable in learning which rebukes to shake off and which to heed. When the rebuke comes from someone I consider to have wisdom, experience and education that exceed mine, it gives me pause for consideration and elevation. Iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another. The wise are discerning.
Vacations are the stuff most of us look forward to all year. Escaping the daily grind in search of some new inspiration or adventures. I've always considered vacations to be a source of refreshment for the mind, body, soul and even my creative muse. Many new series have been conceived while traveling. Sometimes it's something as simple as a magnificent sunset or the rushing waters of a cool river that inspires a future series, or offers depth of experience to my work. Some destinations are more exotic than others, but no matter where I end up, my muse always finds a way to whisper in my ear.
Each year I look forward to the escape, one thing I've learned to accept: there will suddenly be an urgent demand for art while I'm away. I love to connect with clients and I seldom turn away new commissions. That means working while I'm "on vacation." Sometimes it's a deadline for an article I am freelancing. Sometimes it's a destination photoshoot. Other times, it's logo work for a launching business.
This year I have the honor of editing wedding photos, profiling an artist for an upcoming article, and creating a logo for a new business. This year is especially hectic, since our trip includes lots of friends and family, I am enjoying the few minutes of solace that I steal away each day to work. I love to socialize. I love to travel. I love to experience new things. Creating is the way that I share my experience with others. So steal away time to create I must; It is the Artistic Adventurer's way :)