Getting to know Jack Dale

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
I have been and continue to be influenced by many well know abstract expressionist artist. Trombly, Diebenkorn, De Kooning, and Pollock to name a few.

But the most influencial person was my long term friend and artist, Dan Kainess. Dan sadly passed away a few years ago but he was a great mentor and my pipeline to the art world here in Minnesota. The most talented creative person I have ever known and a wonderful guy.

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?
Don’t think I can answer that question. I guess I feel that I am always striving to do a better painting and so to be completely satisfied in one seems a little presumptious.

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
That would have to be near the town of Barnum, Minnesota. We owned a small lake lot on Park Lake where the beauty was so amazing that it has always been an inspiration for my work. I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than nature. The water, sky, trees and of course the light. Early morning fishing on calm water as the fog rises off the water. Breathtaking every time.

What is your creative process like? 
My process is one of spontaneity . and intuition. It is dynamic in it’s ever changing visuality. I seldom start with a preconceived idea. I just start putting paint on the canvas. From then on it is a series of brush strokes, scrapes, rollers, smears, layers and color combinations until I feel the work is finished.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don’t know?
Most of my life I have wanted to be able to sing or play a musical instrument. So 5 1/2 years ago I bought a trumpet and enlisted a trumpet teacher.

So now, even though I’m still a beginner, I’m able to sit in at a jazz workshop once a week. I have really enjoyed this and my friends, especially those who are aware of my athletic background, are kind of dumb founded. Don’t know if that constitutes quirky but at least a little unusual.

 How has your practice changed over time?
Well, for many years I was a landscape painter. More in an impressionist style that changed over time to more expressionistic as they became more moody and I was experimenting with my palette. I liked these paintings a lot but one day about twelve years ago I decided to throw caution to the wind and dove completely into total abstract expressionism. I am so glad that I did because now I never stand in front of a clean canvas wondering what to paint. 


Getting to know Alyce Gottesman

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
An important early influence on my approach to art is Wassily Kandinsky. When I first began to paint, I had read his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art and it became a guiding force in my creative process. My strong connections with both music and the spiritual aspects of nature were reflected in his discussions about creativity and his thoughts on abstraction made clear to me how to go about making art that reflected my creative energies. I am also really inspired by Frank Stella’s work, particularly the way he evolves in his art through the use of a variety of processes and materials that keeps expanding on his vocabulary. I have a propensity to do the same!

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?
Over the years, my art-making process has included painting and drawing with oils, acrylics, encaustic paint, ink and gouache, graphite and charcoal. Each materials expresses a different energy and feeling. I have my favorites but it would be impossible to name just one.
 

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
I have lived in California and since that time, I have made it like a second home. Each year I spend a couple of months in Northern California near the coast to experience the beautiful light and energy of the place. My work becomes infused with what I absorb there.
 

What is your creative process like? 
My creativity is best expressed when I work on multiple paintings at any given time. In my yearly body of work, several series emerge, with each one reflecting a different thread and varying materials. I like to experiment to see what happens each time I begin something new. In my painting, I like to drip, pour, brush and throw paint onto the surface of canvas, board, aluminum or paper. I draw into the painting, roll images into the paint, scrape, and layer to create depth, overlapping color and to generally allow the painting to reveal itself to me. 

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don’t know?
I was a metal smithing major in art school, and began painting near the end of my time in college. I am just now beginning to design jewelry again.
 

How has your practice changed over time?
Over the years, I have learned to work on many paintings at once in order to maintain a freshness in the work. My penchant to integrate new materials into my repertoire has increased over time. I listen to the creative impulses that come to me when I am in the studio more carefully now and allow them to manifest in whatever manner they need to become visible.


Getting to know Eleanor McGough

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
I would have to choose my father for the creative environment he designed for our family. He was an architect who created a one of a kind Pacific Northwest "mid-century modern" house that was built on the perfect site for a kid like me.  It was surrounded by 2 plus acres of volcanic rock outcroppings, natural areas, woods, and unique gardens. I spent my days outside from dawn to dusk collecting bugs and building things with rocks. Inside the house, my parents had a great art collection, and they surrounded us with so much culture -- a book and record collection to die for, and both of my parents loved collecting things from the outdoors like rocks, and dried plants. To this day, I feel that so much of my visual language was formed there.

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?
This is always an excruciating question, as it is nearly impossible for me to answer. Honestly, I have to say that my favorite work is the thing I haven't made yet, the illusive image that as an artist I am always chasing and never quite catching up with. It's shadow always turns the corner just before I get there. Each time I start something new it is such an exciting moment because there is so much promise, possibility, and excitement. Starting a new work probably gives me the same adrenaline rush that a gambler gets sitting down to the roulette wheel.

That being said, there are many paintings that I hold close in my heart because they were such a particular joy to make, or others that I love because I almost lost faith in them and considered throwing them out, but hung in there through the rough spell to realize that they turned out well.

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
I have to answer this with two places. 
Firstly, Seward, Alaska where I went on a boat trip into the glacial Kenai Fjords. Such rugged and awe inspiring beauty, and the kind of massive scale in nature that makes one feel so tiny. I loved the sense of vastness.
The second place that really fed my senses was Belize. The bursting forth of so much life... lush vegetation (a million shades of green), fascinating insects, birds, blooms.  Seeing Leaf Cutter Ants and Army Ants in action was amazing!

What is your creative process like?
Like a monkey trying to repair a spaghetti machine! - No, just kidding (sort of). At times there is this almost out of control, "teetering on the brink" quality to trying to pull a painting to the finish line. I work in a reactive way with materials while holding the vaguest of notions in my head of what the image may be.  I have said before, that I would not start a painting if I knew exactly what it was going to be. I love to make discoveries by pushing paint to it's physical limits, and bringing gravity, water, and odd tools of application in to the painting process.  I like thinking of that Susan Sontag quote:  "It is always good to start something new by breaking a rule."

In contrast with that reactive and chance paint application, I combine my love of detail and line, and these elements of the paintings are the much more cerebral and controlled creative moments.

I tend to work in series, honing in on a theme and expanding it. Beautiful Calamities, Flight Patterns, Flight Vestments, Swamps/Thickets/Marshes, and The Paper Cut-Outs have all been recent series that I have developed and sustained.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don’t know?
All my life I have drawn silly and absurd cartoons. I have never shared them with the art world, but my friends and loved ones find them entertaining. I love the work of R. Crumb and Lynda Barry.

How has your practice changed over time?
The evolution of my process/practice seems so incremental that it is hard to define the changes - sort of like taking a long walk with each stride changing your location slightly, but in a way that is hard to articulate. I hope my process will always hold on to this sense of wonder, and a sense of never being done.

Getting to know Juliane Shibata

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
Most recently, Sakai Hōitsu, a Japanese painter from the early 19th century who was influenced by the style of Ogata Kōrin. I am drawn to his compositions and how he references flowers and the changing of seasons; the symbolism is understated yet powerful.

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?
I have a fondness for Moonrise, violets & irises. The piece pays homage to my grandmothers, who loved flowers. Leona, my maternal grandmother, decorated her home in Lombard, Illinois with violets, the state flower and a symbol of modesty and humility. Toshi, my Japanese American grandmother, favored irises; although she repeatedly tried to grow irises in her garden in Gallup, New Mexico, the climate was too dry. By forming the irises out of porcelain, I give them a permanence that eluded Toshi, and evoke ideas of home and family, both actual and left behind.

Moonlight, violets & irises

Moonlight, violets & irises

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
I especially love hiking high in the mountains of Switzerland above a small village in the Rhone Valley. One immediately senses of the expansiveness of the Alps, but can also take in the smaller details, like the wildflowers, butterflies, streams, and colorful lichens covering the rocks. I’m able to fully absorb what I see for hours on end without any other distractions.

What is your creative process like?
When developing a new body of work, I usually create several small- to medium-scale pieces or installations to explore a variety of compositions and concepts. When dealing with larger work, I often generate hundreds of porcelain components that become part of the whole. It takes a lot of time to develop the pieces for a big installation, but I’m attracted to the rhythm generated when forms recur and energize the space around them.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don’t know?
Two things I haven’t yet crossed off my bucket list are to buy a nice pair of cowboy boots and fly in a hot air balloon.

How has your practice changed over time?
Since traveling to Jingdezhen in 2011, I have incorporated painting with underglazes into my studio practice. I have also experimented with how to display my multiples more effectively; placing porcelain components on a larger ceramic or wood backing has opened up new possibilities for installation.

 

Getting to know John Torina

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?
I think those great souls that have faced the beauty, danger and mystery of nature head-on. Whether they are scientist or painters the path is tough but rewarding. The painters that have led the way for me are George Inness, Turner, Constable, Homer and lots more. They, through direct observation, have been gifted to see the reality beyond.

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?
Mmmm as of late I did a small work that spoke to my future in painting. It was like looking back in  time and seeing the simple way farming has been done for many many years.The mountainsides of Costa Rica are so steep that tractors and such will not work. The crops are so beautiful as they  rise and hug the contour of the terrain. Another very large work that I did in Minnesota was quite a experience and challenge. It was on my friends land near Zumbro Falls. I painted it from life which was very unusual for a 6'x8' canvas.  

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?
Hard question. I've lived and worked in twenty or so countries for the last 40 yrs. Portugal I found to be so beautiful and hope to return there in the near future. Of all the countries that I've been to, Costa Rica has kept me coming back. I've painted in many special spots and now with Carmen my wife, who knows the area like the back of her hand, I have been totally inspired and very productive exploring all the different eco systems.

What is your creative process like?
My process is time tested, passed down by many artist. After a gestation period, I stand before nature, lay out my equipment and begin to observe the track the sun, record a solid composition, study and record the values and the color planes. If I can capture the essence the details are often provided by the viewers mind.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don’t know?
Now that I'm in Costa Rica I have given up driving. My poor wife is like Mario Andretti and can handle this wild place. I do drive on the highways in the states which she finds boring. Together we make our way!

How has your practiced changed over time?
Actually, I have been able over the last year to show and explore my free form studio painting and also produce a colouring book called ''Legends and Traditions'' which is now on Amazon. It has 33 pages and takes the viewer on a trip around the world and back in time celebrating the artistic heritage and customs of the world.

What is life like living in Costa Rica?
Living here is very dream-like for me even though I've been here a solid two years now. The different seasons, earthquakes, the scent of nature and rich colors all keep me very amazed. The people are very kind, and the family values and faith are very similar to the Italian neighbourhood I grew up in.
I am very content and happy with my family life.




Getting to know Valerie Grondin

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?

I remember the first time I saw a Rothko, it was a shock, a huge artistic emotion. I also like Franz Kline, Cy Twombly or the Expressionism movement with Nolde, Heckel, Kirchner, Van Dongen or Jawlensky. I don’t know if they have an influence on my art but I appreciate the energy and strength expressed in thier work. 

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?

Each painting is unique and reminds of me of a particular moment IN my life: light, music, atmosphere, mood….  a condensed recollection of a specific time.

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?

23 years ago, I spent two months in Berlin where I had an artistic « revelation ». I started to paint with watercolors and black ink. I like the energy and artistic freedom in Berlin.

What is your creative process like?

There are two phases in my painting: during the preparation phase I work on the floor with acrylic and mixed medium on paper. then comes the construction phase when apply selected strips of prepared painted and torn paper to the canvas on the wall. I am looking for the tension between what is hidden and what is not. 

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don’t know?

I have another field of research using creation in a therapeutic practice with people who are dying. 

How has your practice changed over time?

I am much freer and courageous than I used to be, I take more risks with materials and scale. Also, I have much more fun.

 



Getting to know Kei Gratton

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?

My father, a man of many talents, instilled in me an appreciation and curiosity for the subtle nuances in nature and seeing beyond the surface. Our family spent summers camping and later cabin life in the northern woods of Wisconsin. Paddling the canoe, hiking through swamp land, sitting by the campfire — these were perfect opportunities to direct my eye to the dragonfly sitting on the lily pad, the vibrancy of a simple stone under water and the vastness of a starry night. On our annual road trips though the US and Canada his Nikon was his constant companion, capturing minute detail in the tiniest flower inviting me to do the same. At home he spent long hours in his workshop refinishing furniture “finds” — it was my job to feel the silky surface and nod my head in disbelief that a knot in a piece of mahogany could be so lovely. He’s a funny man shaking his head in bewilderment that his now adult kids are so artistic, “Where did it come from?“

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?

There’s an untitled self-portrait hanging above my fire mantel — my version of "Olympia” by Manet. At one point it hung in the front entrance of our home and friends of my then young daughters would giggle at the embellished nipples while some parents actually ducked their heads in disbelief. I saw it as a celebration of my divine femininity created shortly after I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and subsequent hysterectomy. I love that art can trigger buttons and break the boundaries of what some may or may not consider taboo.

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?

In 2006 I travelled with my young girls and husband to Crete, the birthplace of western civilization. We lived in the mountains for two weeks in a tiny village of 12 homes looking over a wooded valley. A place or archaic feminine symbolism — full of mysticism. At the time my work had an archaic quality drawing on the timeless connection of all things, I felt very drawn to the matriarch ruins and stories of this prehistoric island.

What is your creative process like?

I sip my morning tea, meditate, take Boden, my Tibetan, for a walk around Lake Harriet, make a green smoothie, change into my studio clothes and prepare another mug of green tea patiently finding my way up the stairs of my attic studio. I sit on the floor in silence before works in progress surrounded by sketch book and drawings. Boden lays close by. I ask the Universe to work through me and find gratefulness in the moment. Then I crank on the music and dive in. Canvases lean against walls or lay on the floor.  I rarely use a paint brush, using my hands and fingers to manipulate the paint so I am constantly washing my hands, stepping back, contemplating, peeling away layers, adding layers eventually getting more detailed with imagery and other materials. A good day is 4-6 hours. A good week is every day.

What is something quirky or unexpected about you that most people don’t know?

I am a Reiki 1 practitioner, so intentionally most of my painting get a little Reiki too.

How has your practiced changed over time?

While living in Germany in the early 90’s I worked primarily as a sculptor working with handmade paper and plaster over long-legged house shaped structures made from wood or steel. I also created installations for a Hamburg dance studio and other local businesses. Any paintings tended to be mixed-media on paper. After I moved back to the United States and entered motherhood I needed the satisfaction of completing any form of art within a very short period — I casted plaster in small boxes creating relief paintings satisfying my desire to make two and three dimensional forms of art. In 2005 we built out our attic into an artist studio allowing me to explore larger works on canvas. Today my paintings are varying sizes, usually no bigger than what I can carry. I continue to work on small plaster pieces and some day I intend to revisit my passion for three demential works in the form of sculpture and installation.

 

Getting to know Alain Ballereau

Who is, or has been, the biggest influence on your art?

To tell the truth, and as far as I am concerned, I don’t believe in “inspiration”. Inspiration comes from the act of painting- this is where I find mine. Each painting inspires the next, with new ideas, new discoveries. But of course, like most other painters, I have admiration for some great painters such as Max Ernest when I was a teenager, then later on Dubuffet, Tapies, Rothko, and so many more....

Which of your works is your personal favorite and why?

 With each series, there is always at least one painting that triggers inspiration for the next series. I really enjoy working with Kraft paper because it gives me the ability to work  on a larger scale which I love. It is also for me a “living” medium that gives such a dramatic character to my work with its unique texture.

Of all your travels, which city or place inspires you the most? Why?

I am not a big traveller, geographically speaking. I want to say that my most beautiful travels are the ones I experience when I am in my studio. However, the beautiful landscapes from Tarn et Garonne where I live and work, that I see every day through my studio’s window is of great inspiration to me.

What is your creative process like?

It is a big question!!! For the larger formats, I work on the floor. Generally with Kraft paper layers I mount together, it is called “marouflage”. It forms layers of paper which creates a surface I call “ecorce”, which means “bark”. I use mate acrylic paint. I often start with a coat of solid color, then I use a spatula to spread the “acrylic juices” on the textured surface.

I stay vigilant yet spontaneous to control the surface and the layering. I always work with several paintings at one time, to keep the inspiration going with  fresh and deliberate motions and strokes.Then, I leave the “acrylic juices” to evaporate and I do it again and again like a ritual dance. At the end, I try to keep a balance between light and shadow, until I reach the right vibrancy. The hardest thing is to know when to stop!