Nadia Martinez

Nadia MartinezArtists take risks in their materials but Nadia Martinez and her work with computer parts must deal with a larger array of potentially unhealthy materials. And yet, her sculptures, constructed with these discarded parts hold a certain poignancy and presence. She says, "El Bosque de Qualtron (Qualtron’s forest). - Qualtron was the name of a computer parts manufacturing company that went bankrupt after 20 years in business. I found an inherent beauty in the abandoned parts and created a forest out of the 100% man-made materials giving them a second life. Every sculpture represents something from nature, an animal, a tree, water, etc. or a memories from Honduras."

Her work has taken her to the Museum of Art and Design  in New York City where she is an artist in residence every Friday until mid 2016. The museum notes that --

Nadia Martinez works in a variety of mediums, with her work reflecting on daily encounters and experiences that are often difficult to express in words.  Martinez strives to make statements that are positive and uplifting and draws from her background in architecture to explore the interaction between humans and nature and the qualities that shape our faith and values today.

At MAD, Martinez will use computer parts to create sculptures and jewelry that respond to the inherent beauty in abandoned materials by giving them “second lives.”  She uses assemblage techniques, along with mold making and casting methods.  Martinez is also interested in visitor response, namely, visitors’ reactions to her work and how their insights and thoughts can inform her process.

Martinez studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras and received a certificate in fine arts and a diploma from the National Academy School of Fine Arts, NY.  Martinez exhibits in New York and internationally. For more information please visit her website: www.nadiamartinez.com.

Gil Batle

Gil batleGil Batle was born and raised in San Francisco to Filipino parents, in and out of five different California prisons over 20 years for fraud and forgery, now living on a small island in the Philippines. Batle’s self-taught drawing ability evolved behind bars into sophisticated and clandestine tattooing skills that protected him from murderous gang violence in prisons such as San Quentin, Chuckawalla, and Jamestown—"Gladiator School,” as it’s known to the unfortunate cognoscenti. Where Bloods, Crips, and Aryan Brotherhood gang-bangers in racially segregated cell-blocks rule with intimidation and threat, Batle’s facility for drawing was considered magic by the murderers, drug dealers, and armed robbers whose stories he now recounts in minutely carved detail on fragile ostrich egg shells. With only the men’s names, as he says, “changed to protect the guilty.”

Gil batle-1Almost one out of every hundred Americans is now in prison, the largest percentage of any developed country in the world. The other 99 percent of us have little inkling of the ferocity of life inside. Articles about prison abuse appear weekly in the press, but are mere snapshots of the hard truth chronicled in Gil Batle’s orb-like relief carvings; each with an architecture of pictorial panels supported and separated by a fine lattice of chain-link fencing, razor-wire, or carved hand-cuffs. The violent men he knew, the sad mistakes that sometimes led to the incarceration of regular guys, the terrifying events he witnessed, and the bonds formed under the worst conditions, all appear with precise detail on pristine eggshells, nature’s most perfect creation and manifestation of life and birth. - Norman Brosterman

Mark Seidenfeld

Park Walk - Mark Seidenfeld photoMark Seidenfeld is an artistic polymath, working in paint, collage, sculpture and photography. But it is his photography that mesmerizes.Work from around the world capture a dramatic essence and beauty from even the most disturbing and exotic subjects.

He says, "I am a storyteller by nature. My work is the way I move forward, with each new artwork being the culmination of every artistic gesture, experiment, and statement that I had made previously. For me, creative expression is the path into the future. Not only does a deeply rooted place of clarity enable me to create these works, but they, in turn, open new doors of perception for me. The process of creating each one is a transformation accelerator, taking my understanding to both new heights and new depths. So I am hooked on the act of creation, which is a rocketship, taking me on a journey into the universe that lies beyond the waking mind. These artworks are my philosophy in action."

Jeanne Silverthorne

Jeanne Silverthorne Sharon Mizota writes that "rubber can be a funny material. It's bouncy and used to make things like whoopee cushions and rubber chickens. Jeanne Silverthorne takes advantage of these associations to poke fun at artistic genius by reproducing its hallowed site -- the studio -- almost entirely out of rubber. At Shoshana Wayne Gallery , the installation includes a faux-wood patterned rubber chair and easel, a trash can full of rubber light bulbs, several rubber shipping crates and of course, rubber plants, complete with ambitious rubber ants.

Silverthorne seems to exhort us not to take art so seriously, but her pliant studio artifacts are also laced with signs of decay and disease. There are dying flowers, tiny flies and candles shaped like DNA sequences for mental afflictions like depression and panic (also all made of rubber). The quiet charm of the exhibition emerges as it uses this dark sense of humor to buoy the inevitable doubts and failures of artistic practice.

The objects function on several different levels, one of which is simply that they are made from an unexpected medium. The chair, easel and crates look like wood but are made of rubber, which turns them into a species of cartoon prop that one imagines might go bouncing or shimmying around the room.

But then there are objects like the trash can of light bulbs studded with flies, which could be just that, but might also be a metaphor for discarded, rotten ideas. Also of indeterminate status are the DNA candles, which could be artworks, but might also be read as novelties or a darkly humorous statement about artistic practice fueled by mental disorder. This multivalent approach allows the pieces' goofy humor to surface alongside their more macabre implications, cleverly defusing some of the drama we normally associate with the depths of creativity."

For many years now, Silverthorne has taken the studio as her subject.  The physical site of her creativity is also the inspirational probe of her art.  Her studio in a 19th-century, unrenovated building . . . with visible wiring, creaky floors, exposed ceiling pipes, bare light bulbs supplies all the images she needs.  Her subjects surround and envelope her.  sometimes she works directly with her space.  She will make a mold, for example, of her studio floor and then infuse it with symbols of gothic decadence of ruin and collapse, such as dandelions and weeds growing between the floorboards.  It is a vision of one’s environment that is existentialist in its portrayal of the absurd and the fleetingness of existence.  These are metaphors for the inevitability of age and decay, but tempered with humor , hope and humanity.

Although the artist says she looks at her studio as an archaeological site, it is more than just the excavation of a physical place.  The excavation uncovers an emotional place as well, where the viewer recognizes the darker aspects of the human condition and identifies with them in these works.  Starting from her particular site silverthorne creates another, more universal place where we have all been.


Matthew Oates

Matthew OatesPainter and sculptor Matthew Oates focuses on warped and accidental personas that are scavenged, affected by random events or influenced by their audience. Formed by the exterior of the individual with the interior turned inside out, Oates's subjects are inspired by people he encountered growing up in a small town in Maine and from the heavy metal and punk rock subcultures that influenced him.



As Oates's images develop, his subjects begin to take on an unexpected identity and Oates becomes aware of the makeup of a personality and interested in warping their characteristics. The individuals depicted in Half Sung Face are impervious in their specificity and ask to be considered regardless of their idiosyncrasies.



Matthew Oates has had a solo show at 57Delle Project Space/Floft Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts and he has been in numerous group shows in the Boston area at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, The Distillery, John Stone Gallery, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Limner Gallery and The Boston Center for Psychoanalysis. 



Oates is the recipient of several awards including the Lawrence Kupferman Memorial Award, the George Nick Prize 2012 and the Rob Moore Memorial Grant. His work has been published in Direct Art Magazine and his band Phantom Glue was nominated for best new metal act at the Boston Music Awards and the band recently recorded a new album. 


James Prez

Jim Prez's 'book-tures' (sculptures comprised of a book base with found objects artfully fastened atop) make inspired use of thrift store bric-a-brac and second-hand books.

Booktures and book reserves

What is your background in art-making?

I have been making things since grade school but very early on I took to photography and worked on making photographs for many years. I don't have an art degree from college but I did get an MFA in Photographic Studies from Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. Much of my background in art comes from looking at books from libraries in the various cities that I have lived in. I have tried to make at least one thing every day since 1977.

What was the inspiration for the idea of creating these booktures?

I was visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art and noticed that there were more people waiting in line to have their pictures taken with the Rocky Statue than were going to the museum. I figured that I could make more interesting works for people to visit and be photograhed in front of than the Rocky bronze so I started working on maquettes for monumental sculptures. The "booktures" came directly from that idea.

Who are some of your artistic (or other) influences?

I try not to be influenced by other artists' work but I surely do love looking at other artists' work. There are so many that it would be difficult to name them all. Of course I would have to list Vincent van Gogh, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Mitchell, Georgia O'Keefe, Lee Krasner, Yayoi Kusama, Howard Finster, James Castle and Richard Tuttle. I have been fascinated by the work of Suzanne Goldenberg for the past few years. Her work is pure magic. I love artists who make work but aren't concerned with selling, showing or getting reviewed. Work that comes from the heart and soul.

Does the title of the book play any role in what gets put on top of it?

The title of the book rarely plays a role in the book. I wish I was smarter and more clever in that regard. The book, however, is the point of departure for the work. I play off its shape, size and color.

Bookture and Book Display

Where do you find your found art?

I spent a year looking for the raw materials, for my booktures, in thrift stores, junk stores, and at the Salvation Army, garage sales, church sales, library sales, stoop sales and on the street.

I also visited the Strand two or three times a week during that year. I took another two years to assemble and photograph the booktures. There are approximately 250 of them. I stopped making them but did make three new ones for the Mulberry Library show.

Obviously your work includes books—was this your motivation for displaying work in libraries?

Yes, absolutely. The library is free and open to all. I like that idea very much!

Where else do you show your work?

I show my work in galleries, museums, artist spaces and on the street.

I like to post things on Facebook also. Printed Matter has been selling my bookverks since 1988. I will have had 25 years of bookmaking and finished my 500th book by the year's end. (2013)

Petro Wodkins

Petro wodkinsSome artists are also provocateurs. Some add performance to their static art. Petro Wodkins is one of there artists.

He says, "Many people ask themselves what 'art' is. Lately the definition seem to be that art is what an educated artist creates. That's a funny definition. Compare it to 'shoes is whatever a shoemaker creates'. In truth, art has grown into a small club of people repeating what people did 40 years ago. Thereby art has almost lost it's place in society. But the evolution is dangerous. In a free thinking society art is one of the most important parts. Art's role has always been to provoke and force people into seeing new perspectives. Therefore art must be anarchistic. Art must question power and money. Art must oxide by it's own rules. Only it's own rules."

Q&A with the artist:

Who are you?

I'm an artist and a performer. I look best on stage, especially from my left side.

What is your background?

Since I was born I have mainly been occupied with my dog and revolutionizing the global art-scene. Before that I was a sort of businessman.

Why are you questioning the established art scene?

To be an artist today is more about the right cultural middle-class background than about telling stories from the world. It's more about excluding and less about inviting. Or to put it another way: most artist cannot dance.

What are your plans for the future?

I will be very surprised if you don't find out.

You also sing, is that a part of your art?

You could as well ask if my art is part of my singing. The music always comes first.

Could you tell us about your sources of inspiration?

God has always been a great source of inspiration. And of course my own looks. Apart from that I like Petro Wodkins, the russian artist from early 20th century, and some of George Bush's art, even though his work got sloppy towards the end.

Marcelino Vicente

Mexican potteryIn the rural Mexican state of Michoacán, devils, mermaids, saints, sun gods, and drunks can all be found mixing it up and having a great time. Each of these characters, and many more, inhabit the strange universe depicted in sculptures produced in the tiny town of Ocumicho.

These bizarre pottery tableaux feature hybrid scenes from everyday life, religious allegories, and native folklore, all borne from the mind of a unique young man named Marcelino Vicente. Resembling Hieronymus Bosch’s nightmarish landscapes from the 1500s, but with a Catholic-folk art twist, these ceramic fantasies are found nowhere else. Yet during the 1960s, Vicente’s eccentric lifestyle was perceived as a threat to the town’s social hierarchy, which ultimately destroyed him for being different.

Don Lewis, an artist and collector of Mexican folk art, says the strangeness of Ocumicho pottery first caught his eye in a Santa Fe antiques shop nearly 20 years ago. “Just the life in it, the colors, the craziness of it,” says Lewis. Before he knew it, Lewis was purchasing Ocumicho pieces to decorate his home.

“The first one I ever bought was very simple, nothing too weird about it. It was just two people—a woman and a man—out in an agave field, picking agave to make tequila. The second one was like a man in the moon, but it’s more of a sun face with really sharp teeth. Then another one came along, and I started noticing the devils.” These miniature devil figures, or diablitos, are a particularly striking element of Ocumicho sculptures.


El Anatsui

IMG_0287 IMG_0287There is something wonderful, mystical and very satisfying about the sculputral work of El Anatsui who uses found objects and throwaway trash to construct is ever flowing and changing sculptures.

El Anatsui was born in Anyanko, Ghana in 1944. Many of Anatsui’s sculptures are mutable in form, conceived to be so free and flexible that they can be shaped in any way and altered in appearance for each installation. Working with wood, clay, metal, and—most recently—the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art. The colorful and densely patterned fields of the works assembled from discarded liquor-bottle caps also trace a broader story of colonial and postcolonial economic and cultural exchange in Africa, told in the history of cast-off materials. The sculptures in wood and ceramics introduce ideas about the function of objects (their destruction, transformation, and regeneration) in everyday life, and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols.

El Anatsui received a BA from the College of Art, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (1969) and since 1975 has taught at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His works are in the public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Indianapolis Museum of Art; British Museum, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among many others. Major exhibitions of his work have appeared at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown (2011); Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2010); National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka (2010); Rice University Art Gallery, Houston (2010); Venice Biennale (2007); and the Biennale of African Art, Senegal (2006). El Anatsui lives and works in Nsukka, Nigeria.

TJ Volonis

VolonisTJ Volonis' intricate sculptures and objects deal with the physical and intangible interconnectivity of the world we live in. His work focuses on the dependent relationship between the whole and the segment and the fragile balance between order and disorder. In particular he work with patterns and structures--portraying them simply and in their entirety, or through the prism of a larger pattern. In this way he can focus on specific elements of dependency within the pattern that produces a seemingly chaotic effect. For example, a piece that appears to have a stable logic will also expose the chaos that binds it together. Conversely, in other pieces which are more deliberately chaotic, the underlying order that renders it viable is exposed.

Email Volonis for information on all of his openings - such as the Nov 1, 2012 solo show in Gowanus Brooklyn.  advolonis@yahoo.com