Ever wish you could be a fly on the wall of your favorite artist's studio so you could watch them create their work? The 78th Street Studios is providing that opportunity with their new lineup of Watch It Wednesdays, a monthly program that brings residents and invited creatives together on the first floor of the complex. There, the public can gather and witness sculptors, painters and performance artists do their thing. This whole deal is different from the Third Fridays event we've come to know and love, where one walks through the artists' studios and galleries when work is already up for view. On a recent visit to Watch It, the entire first floor smelled like a studio and it was as if we were transported back to art school.
Interior designer Susie Frazier was busy in her studio working on a wall piece for a client commission. Frazier is renowned for her use of natural found objects that, once honed and assembled, exude a beautiful calmness. The particular piece she was working on was being created using salvaged driftwood, which she was composing into what will be its final form before taking it to her craft people who would create joints and articulations to bring the wall piece to final fruition.
Frazier was joined by Pittsburgh-based artist Brenda Stumpf, who was steadily working on two assemblages using sandpaper, weights and found wood. The hallmark of Stumpf's work is her choice of unorthodox materials to create monumental sculptures, as well as small artworks that evoke mystery and tell stories. Although we've been familiar with Stumpf's work going back to the early 2000s, and had the opportunity to work with her during the Rooms to Let installation, this was a great opportunity to watch these pieces evolve in person.
Speaking of work evolving before our eyes, what a wonderful thing to witness the stellar sculptor Charmaine Spencer create her ever mysterious and brilliant work out of what seemed to be thin air, using curled, varnished wood strips.
Stepping into Bruce Buchanan's studio, we listened to the artist as he demonstrated his technique for creating stained glass structures. Back in the open area, Hilary Gent was pouring paint on two large canvases that she had laid flat on the ground. Gent offered up some intel to a visitor about her trials in creating a thick surface to translate what she was experiencing and seeing in the water and landscapes she paints. Eventually she decided to move from oils to house paint after a visit with fellow artist Justin Brennan, which gives the pow! factor to her work. It's both proof that one can utilize any material to create fantastic artworks, and information that one wouldn't normally receive when visiting an exhibition of the completed work.
Another visiting artist to the eleven2 Gallery, Tessa LeBaron, was in the process of creating one of her high-impact and vibrantly colored paintings, as Rich Cihlar worked on the Artifact dispenser that will be headed to the Sandusky Cultural Center for a show opening on April 15. The refurbished cigarette machine will hold 20 cigarette pack-sized artworks by 22 artists priced at a flat rate of $10 each.
Finally, we were able to check out what's happening at Cleveland West Art League, finding the Six in Studio artists hard at work on their installations. Interactivity seems to be the underlying theme with this round of creatives, curated by artist Nico Pico Train. Oil painter Gibby "uses the concept of Jungian Shadow Surrealism" by overlapping cast shadows on canvas and developing portraits from that point forward. Transdimensional artist, designer and multimedia producer Ross Bochnek has created a highly promising installation that will certainly blow your mind. Christina Ripley has invited the public to contribute lyrics in order to create a song that she will perform in her space of the gallery. Performance artist Charmaine Renee invites folks to choose actions from a list she has created that they can take part in with her at her kitchen table. Surfer and sculptor extraordinaire Steve Simmons was found among his translucent fiberglass artworks that play on light, including "Wave," a piece that visitors were having a blast taking their photos with.
While Third Fridays is an amazing experience, there's a certain element of understanding and education available when watching, and interacting with, artists mid-process that isn't afforded by simply viewing a finished work. And it's an experience you shouldn't miss.