Artist Spotlight: Victoria V. Nunley

Each artwork by Victoria Nunley starts with a story or memory from her adolescent years growing up in a rural part of New Jersey. Sometimes the story is specifically drawn from her childhood and other times it’s a familiar feeling like having to peel off a band-aid when you have hairy arms or going to the beach and not wanting to show skin.

Gouaches and drawings hanging in Nunley's studio.

Gouaches and drawings hanging in Nunley's studio.

Nunley’s paintings begin with a drawing of her concept which develops into a small gouache painting. While she plans 80 percent of the artwork, Nunley noted that it is hard to predict the end result of a larger painting: “When something gets scaled up so big, suddenly there’s room for even more things to happen— intensifying color, compressing or pushing space, jokes. That’s why scaling up and doing a bigger painting can be so exciting.”

V.V’s flat, cartoonish visual style speaks to her themes of the life and times of her generation. Her aesthetic pulls in the audiences; sprinkling idioms the majority of people can pick up on, which solidifies her humor in a very authentic manner. Nunley uses her experiences, both first and second hand, as anchor points for her work. She often reminisces with her best friends, who grew up with her, about their past. They find humor in times during the teenage years that seemed as if the world was falling apart. They recollect on first kisses, spreading and hearing gossip, bad advice columns in magazines, each remembering the story slightly different from each other. Nunley reflects on these moments, emphasizing that “these stories only exist through verbal retelling, and through my work”. 

In her work HOT GOSSIP, the viewer witnesses the exact moment a friend bursts into the other’s home, catching the other completely off guard and startling her. Phone in hand, blurting out the latest gossip, Nunley says the inspiration was drawn from moments of her friends rushing into her home, saying things like “Did you hear Hannah wants to fight Jen because of Tommy?!”  or, “Did you hear Dawn drove her car into someone’s house?!” Upon closer examination, the details of the poor advice magazine, hair barrettes, clothing and nail polish subconsciously inform us of the subjects age.

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While at first glance the viewers may laugh at the dramatic scenes and exaggerated expressions, Nunley wants her subjects to be taken seriously. Just like real teenagers, they are completely genuine in their feelings. Rather than the viewers oversimplifying or brushing off the subject’s emotions, Nunley emphasizing that these adolescents do not have the hindsight that the viewers do.

A MFA candidate at Boston University, Nunley's desire to be an artist predates her memory. Drawing inspiration genres such as manga, anime and cartoons, she also cites the work of artists like Mark Thomas Gibson, Sanya Kantarovsky and Jane Corrigan, among other influencers. 

Join us on January 21st for a live painting by Victoria V. Nunley from 11 - 4 pm. More details available here!

Artist Spotlight: Tony "Pronzy" Perez

Tony Perez’s artwork incorporates imagery, poetry and sound, meant to overwhelm and enthrall the viewer’s senses. Perez was born in Boston, MA and spent many of his formative years in Brockton, MA. The oldest of 14, Perez draws from his life experiences growing up as Afro-Latino. 

Pronzy_Perez

While receiving his BFA in Illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Tony felt restricted within the confines of traditional mediums. Focusing on his artist statement as a way to push the boundaries of agency, his ideas soon formed into contextual poems. Perez then began collaborating with his brother to create soundscapes to further influence the viewer's experience.

Starting each work with a poem that captivates the human experience, Perez matches the essence of the poem with that of a person in his life. By creating the poem first, he is focusing on substance of the story rather than the physical outcome. Perez makes it known, “I am really process oriented so I live a very, ‘process before aesthetic’ lifestyle.” For Perez, it feels more authentic that way.

After completing the poem, Perez writes an abstract composition for what eventually becomes the soundscape, which he and his brother fine tune throughout the artistic process. He then begins creating the imagery for the portrait. First, Perez creates mass values by using graphite powder and sponge brushes on paper. He then brings out highlights and darken shadows using electric erasers and ebony pencils. The final outcome of his drawings remains true to his model, he places heavy emphasis on capturing their energy.

Tony "Pronzy" Perez, "Rebecca," 32 x 23.5 in. Graphite on paper

Tony "Pronzy" Perez, "Rebecca," 32 x 23.5 in. Graphite on paper

His artwork seeks to offer opportunities for the viewers to explore and converse on the complex relationships between the African, Indigenous, and European diasporas. Placing the viewer in an immersive artistic experience, Perez strives to create an environment that starts conversation about complexities within issues. His work acts as a catalyst for discussions around police brutality, rape culture, racism both internal and institutional, the importance of present parenthood and various forms of systemic oppression.

The people in Perez’s life play a major role in his motivations, influence, and his ability to work as an artist. Some of his favorite artistic inspirations come more in the form of movements rather than specific people, for this reason Hip-hop, Jazz, and Blues are key informers to his work. When asked to pick his top five individual artists to credit with inspiration, he cites Kanye West for vision innovation and craft, Kendrick Lamar for lyrical potency, Stephen Hamilton for cultural and social reflection, his brother Joshua Jackson (AKA Leo the Kind) for his collaborative nature and willingness for self-exploration and improvement, the fifth place he keeps reserved for future inspiration.

Tony Perez’s artwork, Rasheed, will be on view during The Salon Show through January 28, 2018.

Artist Spotlight: Caron Tabb

Hollow Through My Core (2015) Acrylic and charcoal on canvas 48 × 30 in

Hollow Through My Core (2015)
Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
48 × 30 in

Caron Tabb’s paintings are born from a continuous stream of energy, flowing from her emotional core, through her body, and onto the canvas. Each piece is a series of choices—technique, material, color, line—which come together in an emotive composition that elicits a unique visceral response from each viewer

Tabb sees the canvas is a fluctuating, enduring surface. She compares it to the hair she lost in overcoming cancer as a teenager: something that can be regrown, reimagined, and reclaimed again and again as she paints. Her canvas has the ability to take in everything she throws at it, and transform her raw feelings into something productive and beautiful.

Having studied fashion design, Tabb brings an openness to alternative materials into her work. She explores a number of techniques, many of which incorporate natural, eco-friendly materials. She has been recently experimenting with rust dyeing, a technique in which the oxidization of rust transfers over to paper or fabric using tannins. Tea, wine, vinegar, even ocean water, can all be used to transfer rust in unexpected ways, imparting the soft, earthy colors of patina.

“I have a great appreciation for what elements do to materials,” Tabb explained. “The wind, the water, the rain, rust—you almost capture a moment in time. You never know what you’re going to find.”

Window of Tolerance Pastel, acrylic and charcoal on paper

Window of Tolerance
Pastel, acrylic and charcoal on paper

Tabb’s paintings all, in a way, carry that theme of capture. She works with her canvas on the floor, moving around it with her entire body to make bold marks. She captures movement, time, and above all, the mental and emotional state of the artist at that specific time—something that she will never experience in quite the same way again. That is the part of the magnetism of her work: it draws something out of its audience that is familiar, and yet impossible to experience again in any other context.

Many of her pieces have specific context for herself as well. “Window of Tolerance”, for instance, is everything about a loved one who was suffering from severe depression several years ago, and the process they went through together in coping with it. It refers to the psychological term “window of tolerance”, which teaches people who suffer from deep-seated negative thinking to expand their capacity to tolerate such feelings. Instead of being consumed, they work through these thoughts—expand their window of tolerance for them.

To Tabb, this open conversation about mental and emotional health is important in her work. She allows her paintings to display these concerns in plain sight to be understood and accepted. As these concerns evolve, and her relationship with them shifts, her paintings change along with it.

“He’s doing great by the way,” Tabb breaks a smile after this difficult conversation. “Which, by the way, is the reason why there’s so much more color in my work now.”

Caron Tabb's studio in Newton, MA

Caron Tabb's studio in Newton, MA

Caron Tabb’s work is above all, about being fearless. Fearless about her techniques and her materials, fearless about where her process will take her and what she will discover along the way, and fearless about how much of herself is laid out within it. This assertive approach is what allows her to create identifiable work that the viewer can respond to.

“There’s no downside to being bold. I just go, and there’s something very liberating about that. I feel like I’m just getting going, like I’ve just begun to peel away from the surface.”

Be sure to experience Caron Tabb’s recent work in Abigail Ogilvy Gallery’s summer group show, The Tides, opening Thursday, July 14, 2016.

 

Wednesday, June 22: Puloma Ghosh

Artist Spotlight: Julia S. Powell

Julia S. Powell’s oil paintings, teeming with lively brushstrokes and mottled with vibrant color, depict scenes that can’t be found anywhere on Earth, but carry the essence of the natural world within them.

Julia Powell in studio working on Birch series

Julia Powell in studio working on Birch series

Powell lives in Maine for one month every year, enveloped in New England’s rich wilderness. She passes her time exploring, taking pictures, and absorbing the imagery around her. The elements which are essential to her work are also essential to the Northeastern landscape: wood and water.

Powell paints many iterations of her chosen subjects, experimenting with composition and colors each time. Birch and Ironbound are examples of such work, each series comprised of ten or more approaches to the focal theme. Over time, she plans to paint hundreds of paintings of the same subject, spanning many years of study and capturing the evolution of her technique.

Yet rather than trying to create realistic renditions of these subjects, Powell is more concerned about conveying the feelings she experiences when surrounded by nature. “As soon as you enter the piece, you are transported to some kind of place outside, in nature,” she explains. “I try to navigate a line between realism, abstraction, and impressionism, because I think a realistic painting doesn’t actually transport people the way this mixture does.”

While there is a place in Maine called Ironbound, where a series of rock formations meet the sea, there is no place along its coast that provides the vistas of Powell’s Ironbound series. Maine’s Ironbound has black rocks that meet the dark greens of the north Atlantic. Powell’s Ironbound have coves of clear blue water reflecting brilliant rock faces of misty white-gray, gold, pink, and rich cobalt.

Ironbound 3 (2016) Oil on canvas 30 x 40 in

Ironbound 3 (2016)
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 in

Ironbound 3 departs from her fondness of thick, layered paint, and form cliffs where the paint is scraped away and etched by palette knife, the white of her first coat peeking through. The effect reveals rock formations reminiscent of the bark in her Birch series. Meanwhile, Ironbound 6 features a sun-kissed cliff face that appears almost jeweled. Inspired by the warm hues of the Grand Canyon, Powell juxtaposes the fiery western desert with lush forestation and deep blue waters of the Eastern coast.

Ironbound 6 (2016) Oil on canvas 30 x 40 in

Ironbound 6 (2016)
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 in

Powell’s work seeks to highlight environmental issues without overly politicizing the subject. From her perspective, among modern world conflicts, environmental concerns take a backseat in our everyday attention. Meanwhile, the planet is melting. By contemporizing landscape painting, Powell brings the subject of nature into modern appreciation, in hopes of capturing the viewer’s attention long enough to consider what we may have to lose in the world we inhabit.

Ultimately, Powell wants to create a connection between the viewer and nature that can’t be accessed through any other perspective—not even our own eyes. Through her paintings we can experience not only a representation of its beautiful features, but also the emotional experience of being surrounded by nature, lost somewhere between the sea and the sky.

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016: Puloma Ghosh