Shades of Blue for a Beacon Hill Brownstone

THE STORY - These past 6 months we have had the pleasure of working on a commission with a couple located in Beacon Hill. They came into the gallery during our Collected Stories exhibition and by chance had the opportunity to meet Holly Harrison, one of our represented artists who was on view.

THE ARTIST - Holly Harrison’s latest work, Color Fields, relates sections of color with elements of mixed media. In this new series, the bands of color serve as the subject, contrasting with her previous work that was mostly image-based. A crucial element to Harrison’s work is the mixed media component, giving each artwork texture, depth and most importantly: an imbedded story. Often the layers include old shopping lists, vintage comics, book and magazine pages, printed papers, junk mail, her daughter’s early doodles, and pieces of her husband’s works on paper. These components are covered with a wash of paint, joining the disparate pieces together while also obscuring their content. After discussing their shared love for comic books and New York City, the couple decided to commission two artworks by Holly for their dual fire places.  

COMMISSION PROCESS –  For this project, Harrison wanted to ensure the work was a perfect balance of her artistic expression and a representation of the clients’ lives and family. She spent time getting to know them, looking at selections from their vintage comic book collection as well as drawings and homework samples by their children that the couple had assembled for her to use. She also searched online and in vintage shops for antique prescription bottle labels and old medical illustrations of the brain as an ode to the clients’ careers in medicine. In additional to the personalized collage elements, the clients also hoped the finished works would aesthetically match their home in shades of blue.  

For every commission there is a conversation between the artist and clients where the artist gets a sense of the client’s preferred style, size, and scope of the project. Once the artist is about 75% complete with the artwork, they share progress photos with the clients which allows one or two rounds of feedback (or they say they love the progress and have no changes!). From there, the artist finishes the work and we set up delivery and installation. 

OUR ADVICE - Commissions are a wonderful way to acquire an artwork specifically customized for your space. If you love a certain piece, but it isn’t quite the right size for your home - always ask the gallery if there is the option to create a new work in the size you need. 

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Announcement: Wilhelm Neusser at Rijksmuseum Museum

Wilhelm Neusser, Woods (1530), 2015/2018, Oil on linen. 24 x 32 in.

We are thrilled to announce that Woods (2015/18) by Wilhelm Neusser has been selected for Long Live Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The exhibition showcases Rembrandt's impact on artists today across all media, genres and styles. Rembrandt remains best known for his mastery of the human figure, not just in his stunning self-portraits, but also in biblical scenes and those depicting bourgeois life.

Painters of the Dutch Golden Age are a constant source of inspiration for Neusser as he envisions contemporary landscape. Rembrandt’s The Stone Bridge, held by the Rijksmuseum, has hung for years as a postcard in Neusser’s studio. “Not in order to copy or imitate what Rembrandt was able to do with paint on panel (I couldn’t),” said Neusser, “but in order to draw from his incredible play with dark and light, the sublime mood and atmosphere in this painting.”

Around the time Neusser began painting Woods, he became enamored of a series of online lectures on Rembrandt by John Walsh, especially the art historian's emphasis on the Dutch master's technique and surface treatment. The forest landscape in Woods was determined by the nature of the painting material itself. According to Neusser, “the topography of the subject matter and the canvas became one.” 

Long Live Rembrandt: On view July 15, 2019 to September 15, 2019, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Landscape with a Stone Bridge, Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1638 oil on panel, h 29.5cm × w 42.5cm × d 5.5cm Image Courtesy of Rijksmuseum

Summer Preview: 5 Must-See Boston Exhibitions

Untitled, 2017 by Deborah Roberts, mixed media on paper, 30 x 22 inches. Photo Credit: Philip Roger. Image courtesy of  MASS MoCA

Untitled, 2017 by Deborah Roberts, mixed media on paper, 30 x 22 inches.
Photo Credit: Philip Roger. Image courtesy of MASS MoCA

1.     Still I Rise at MASS MoCA
On view from June 15, 2019 
1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

MASS MoCA draws influence from Maya Angelou for its current summer exhibition, Still I Rise. The museum showcases various portraits of women of color, ranging from different ethnicities and backgrounds throughout history. The five featured artists include artists Deborah Roberts, Genevieve Gaignard,  E2 – Kleinveld & Julien, Gustave Blache III, and Tim Okamura. These selected artists have created their artworks through various forms media, ranging from photography, painting, collage, and installation. Throughout Western culture, the typical sitter for portraits would be that of a white woman, and in reaction to this common depiction, Still I Rise aims to incorporate the lacking portrayal of women of color throughout history.

2.     Ericka Beckman: Double Reverse at MIT List Visual Arts Center

May 24, 2019 - July 28, 2019
20 Ames St, Cambridge, MA 02142

Catch it before it closes; the MIT List Visual Arts Center is providing its visitors with a sensory experience through the mixed media works by Ericka Beckman. Taking concepts from her previous installations, Ericka mixes clips from various films and photography, with that of light and color. The artist’s interest in gambling and games, particularly with the video game Pokémon, are depicted in this exhibition - containing underlying social and political meaning. 

Switch Center  (still), 2003 16mm film, transferred to HD video, color, sound, 12 min. Photo credit: Ericka Beckman. Image courtesy of  MIT List

Switch Center (still), 2003
16mm film, transferred to HD video, color, sound, 12 min.
Photo credit: Ericka Beckman. Image courtesy of MIT List


3.   
2019 James and Audrey Foster Prize at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
August 21 – December 31, 2019
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA 02210

Studio image of works in progress from Lavaughan Jenkins’ studio.

Studio image of works in progress from Lavaughan Jenkins’ studio.

This year, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston will hold its biannual James and Audrey Foster Prize exhibition. The museum has selected to feature works from four different artists: Rashin Fahandej, Josephine Halvorson, Lavaughan Jenkins, and Helga Roht Poznanski. Each artist will display their newly created works that range from sculpture, painting, video, and film. The purpose of this showcase is to emphasize the influence of contemporary art and to highlight local talent from the Boston arts community. Check out their website for their upcoming summer events and free admission days!

Interested in visiting Lavaughan Jenkins’ South End studio? Email us to schedule a visit! info@abigailogilvy.com

Nicole Eisenman,  Sketch for a Fountain , 2017.  Photo: Henning Rogge. Image courtesy of  Artforum

Nicole Eisenman, Sketch for a Fountain, 2017. Photo: Henning Rogge. Image courtesy of Artforum

4.  Nicole Eisenman: Grouping of Works from Fountain at the redeveloped 401 Park building in Fenway
On view starting June 2, 2019
401 Park, Fenway

Nicole Eisenman’s sculptural installation is now permanently on view at Boston’s 401 park, located in the heart of Fenway. Like her previous showcase from 2017 in Skulptur Projekte Münster, this set up reveals multiple large scale figures with missing facial features. Eisenman’s work is a lovely addition to the acre of greenery next to the recently developed office building which was bought and renovated by one of Boston’s local firms, Samuel & Associates. Her installation provides an interactive space for any of those who pass by. Additionally, her sculptures breathe contemporary life into the hustle and bustle of the cityscape that surrounds it, further encouraging people to pause and enjoy the artwork. 

5.    A Seat at the Table at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute
June 12th, 2019 - Spring 2020
210 Morrissey Blvd, Boston, MA 02125

Twenty artists have been selected to interpret and create their own seats for trailblazing women throughout history. These feminine influencers range from both the past and present. Our represented artist, Kristina McComb, has been chosen for this project and was given the task to create a bench in honor of Barbara Mikulski, the United State’s longest serving congresswoman. Come take a seat and learn about some of our states most powerful female leaders! 

Image taken by  Kristina McComb  of her bench from A Seat at the Table exhibition

Image taken by Kristina McComb of her bench from A Seat at the Table exhibition

Artist Spotlight: Mishael Coggeshall-Burr

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery loves promoting dialogue with our artists to get to a better understanding of the story behind the work. We had the chance to hear from Mishael Coggeshall-Burr about how his studio practice draws on inspiration found in his travels, photography, and even in the routine of tending to his gardens:

Mishael Coggeshall-Burr and his youngest son, Nazar, in front of his latest work,  Gare du Nord.  Photo courtesy of the artist, 2019.

Mishael Coggeshall-Burr and his youngest son, Nazar, in front of his latest work, Gare du Nord. Photo courtesy of the artist, 2019.

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery: What made you want to be a painter over another medium?

Mishael Coggeshall-Burr: It is the best way I have found to express how I see the world, to let my experience of the world flow through me into something new. The act of drawing while simultaneously creating color and form, the control and the freedom of creating from basic ingredients. Oil paint is the best medium I have found to translate the rich tones, colors and contrasts of life from photographs into something so real and yet so strikingly new.  I like to work wet-in-wet, mixing color on the canvas; oils generally have a long working or open time, and they continue to look wet when dry which makes the painting more alive and fresh, and easier to work on over an extended period.  Oils also have a unique smell/flavor/creaminess rooted in antiquity, a romance and history that I am drawn to.

AOG: Which came first for you: film photography or painting?

MCB: They gradually grew alongside each other.  As a student, painting was taught to me in the studio by observation, but I felt drawn to the outdoors: what was happening outside the studio, real life.  Photography was a way to step into the role of artist-in-the-wild, snatching up glimpses of reality that would then launch longer studio experimentation. I started to take blurry, cinematic photographs to capture moments in time in a way that mirrored a memory.  I noticed how light effects in a blurred photo had shapes that reminded me of brushstrokes, so combining photography and painting into one process felt like a natural step.

AOG: We are suddenly in this age where the photo has such a strong presence in painting. How important is it, for you, to take your own reference photos?

MCB: Essential.  I have to have been there, have my own memories of that experience, that is crucial.  My creative process is rooted in that sense of adventure you get exploring on foot with a camera, poking into back streets and alleys, country roads and thickets.  Each photo becomes a memory, defined by both its physical existence as an image and the emotion it stirs when you see it. Each photo is a coiled spring of ideas, a present to be opened in the studio.  I might shoot a hundred frames of one moment and just one might carry the essence of that moment within it--the light, movement, even sounds and smells.

AOG: What is the significance of using the blur to break down these familiar spaces?

Mishael Coggeshall-Burr, Pompidou Graffiti, Oil on canvas, 30 x 48 in., 2019; On view in PICNIC at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery June-August 2019

MCB: For me, a blurred image concentrates the act of seeing into a kind of “key”, a thumbnail for that experience of seeing that can be saved, carried, put away and rediscovered.  The process of painting from that “key” is a reawakening or reanimation of the experience of being there. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know,” (Diane Arbus).  A blurred image, (and the subsequent painting) might be viewed as a greater secret still; but it is this same loss of detail that makes the image more relatable, induces a sense of déjà vu, so the experience ends up being more like sharing a secret, which I think is fantastic.  Blur, like dreams, lends itself to interpretation.  Sometimes people say things like “I feel like I’ve been there before” even though they have never physically been in that location.

AOG: After you've taken the photos, how do you pick which ones will become paintings?

MCB: Out of a few hundred images I might print two or three photographs with the right balance: inky blacks to near whites, a sea of chromatic grays with flecks of tantalizing color, a dynamic composition.  I like to work from the physical object of a 4x6 photograph, almost like a talisman with some mystical quality beyond the chemistry and paper. Like a visual memory, it should be an optical play on reality, indistinct, flawed, and compressed--but beautiful, like a human thought.  I love the process of painting from an imperfect image—a translucent layer-cake of memory preserved inside that smooth glossy paper—into something made with my own hands, something with distinct marks that show process but retains the original spirit of the photograph. Working from the defocused photograph is intriguing, challenging.  I don’t always know exactly what the objects are that I am painting. Separated by time from the experience the photograph records, I may know it is a scene outdoors, or some sky peeking through trees, but I may not be sure if it’s a leaf, or a person, or even a building. Forms separated in three dimensions have been brought together in two, their forms carved and blended by the lens.  Painting in this way takes a degree of faith: it can be a very abstract process until the very end of the work.

AOG: Your work seems heavily influenced by your travels. Does the location of your subject influence the way each painting is made?

MCB: It does during the photography stage.  Arriving in a city--for example, Hong Kong--I look for interesting angles to capture the buildings, the light falling or bouncing between them, the city folk going about their day; but this is also a south Asian city built on a rock island, so I look for the intermingling of nature in the nooks and crannies, a mini rainforest in a forgotten alley, a lichen covered buddha unobtrusively placed, bamboo scaffolding, architecture or forms that signal “this is where you are” without giving too much else away.  With nature scenes I look for a more diffused feeling: touches of bright color you have to hunt for amongst browns and greens, occasional man-made objects standing out with their orderliness and symmetries, the interesting visual mingling of the wild and the manmade. I majored in physics as well as painting, and my science side loves the camera work, but also the philosophical implications of the blur, the ephemerality of matter, the function of memory. Back in the studio, I approach the photos all the same as my inner critic emerges to examine the treasures I’ve collected.  This temporary detachment lets me begin by seeing the images purely as promising visual starting points. Then as I switch back into a fully creative mode and work the paint, it slowly grows on the canvas and in my mind into something different and bigger.

AOG: Do you have a favorite place you have traveled to?

MCB: I grew up in a stilt house built by back-to-the-land parents in a New Hampshire forest; we had no running water, no electricity.  The differences with my peers I felt growing up are mirrored when I am traveling--of not belonging, but seeing clearly.  Perhaps travel is natural for some artists, those that see the world in that new way that others do only when they step beyond their borders.  For me, the most worthwhile travel involves a sense of being off the grid, offline, both vulnerable to--and guided by--serendipity. Walking down the miles of snowy no man’s land road between border outposts of Tibet and Nepal; exploring hollow cement ruins in a Caribbean island jungle; walking the length of Broadway or across Paris in a day.  Travel brings out an awareness of details in the mundane, the contrasts and signature elements of a place, a perspective that helps to frame the scenes I am out to capture.  

AOG: On average, how much time do you spend on one painting? Do you work on more than one at a time?

MCB: I work on one piece at a time, usually spending anywhere from 10 to 30 hours depending on its size.  Once I have started painting a piece it has an energy, a momentum that I do not want to disturb. There is a wonderful quote by Alfred Sisley, “Every picture shows a spot with which the artist himself has fallen in love.”  I prefer this, to focus completely, to let the painting take over.

AOG: What do you do when you're not painting?  

MCB: My wife and I are raising four young children, renovating an old farmhouse, and tending the gardens, all of which makes life quite full.  I also support a college physics department, troubleshooting experiments and building demonstrations: work that I find complements and supports my time in the studio.

View Mishael Coggeshall-Burr’s work at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery on view through August 18th, 2019.

Blog credit: Sigourney Schultz, June 2019

Mishael Coggeshall-Burr in his studio. Photo courtesy of the artist, 2019.