Artist Spotlight: Daniel Herr

Daniel Herr, White Nights, Oil, chalk pastel, and collage on canvas, 56 x 56 in. Image courtesy of Lindsay Comstock.

Daniel Herr is an abstract painter whose expressive brushstrokes and vibrant colors combine to create dynamic landscape imagery. Originally from California, Herr has done numerous residencies internationally, completed his MFA at Boston University, and is currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY. His nomadic lifestyle lends itself to his artwork’s focus on place, where one comes from, and where one feels at home. His memories and experiences with places provide reference to his work. This is specifically visible in his piece, White Nights, currently on view at Abigail Ogilvy gallery until October 28th.

Herr reflects back to when he created the painting, “There was a bridge I used to walk across at night to my apartment in Cambridge from my studio in grad school. I loved the idea that I could wake up, walk over the river to go to work, walk back at night.” The nighttime view was mostly mundane institutional buildings, but at night they seemed to have a magic to them. The river was frozen solid all winter, and as he passed over the bridge Herr kept thinking about Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh, and the idea of creating his own personal version of the painting.

Daniel Herr. Brooklyn, NY. Image courtesy of Lindsay Comstock.

In regards to titling his pieces, he adds whimsy to his work by using what he describes as “absurd phrases”.  These phrases usually have a narrative quality to them, mirroring the story like aspects of his pieces. He explains, “I like the idea that the picture can tell a story, even if not a beginning, middle, and end. It's more like a title to a poem: it references something specific that the poem isn't saying directly.” Indeed, his art is a visual poetry: expressive, emotional, and sometimes ambiguous. Embracing this ambiguity, he describes his paintings as similar to multiple exposures, superimposed on top of each other.

He continues to expand on the energetic feeling of his paintings in what he is currently working on by creating a series of medium-scale paintings based on watercolor and quick sketches.

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Daniel Herr received his MFA from Boston University in 2011 and his BA from the University of California, Davis in 2004. Herr has completed artist residencies around the world including the Molten Capital residency at Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile, Estudio Nónmada in Barcelona, Spain, and the Artist Colony residency at the Inside–Out Art Museum in Beijing, China. Herr’s work is now apart of the Inside–Out Art Museum’s permanent collection as well as having been exhibited in the United States and Chile. Daniel Herr lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Herr is currently part of a group exhibition at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Nocturne, on view from 10/3 to 10/28.

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. 

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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.