My Abstract Heart Fell in Love!

Tri City News

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Shari Epstein. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

When I first saw Shari Epstein’s work my abstract heart fell in love! Shari and her mixed-media collages have been on my radar for several years. However, I had never met her until preparing for this article. Shari’s artwork is elegant and refined, yet edgy and contemporary. Right now, the series that Shari is working on is a bird series, called, “Avian”. She acquired a beautiful set of fine paper napkins which became the main star of the collages. Once those napkins are gone though, that series is done and she will move on to a new series of fabulous work.


Steve Solop

triCityNews

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Steve Solop. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Steve Solop - King Neptune
Steve Solop - Cocktails
Steve Solop - Sammy

Art can sometimes get very serious, controversial, complicated and deep. Other times, it is just pure and simple fun! That brings me to the art of Highlands artist, Steve Solop. Steve has had an impressive career in the fashion business and after a life-changing medical emergency, combined with quarantine and a global pandemic, he started making quick, whimsical drawings on his phone that he started posting daily. I first saw one of his digi-drawings in an art show that I had my work in also at the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council. His “Poochie Poochie Poo” was so damn cute! After the virtual opening, I looked him up on Instagram and loved his pictures! Seeing them on my feed each morning was (and still is) a pure visual treat!

Tell me about your art background?

I don’t have any schooling or course study in the arts. I have a design background. In high school when everyone wanted to play like Hendrix, I wanted to dress like him, once I got this thought into my head, I couldn’t let it go. I asked the sewing arts teacher to help me make a shirt. It was a great success! That summer I made 13 shirts. I then pitched to the Principal what a great idea it would be to let me take the sewing class. My wish was granted and this amazing un-square life of mine commenced! The word got out and The New York Times published an article referencing my shirt-making which caught the eye of a private design school Headmaster, Joe Cybick. He sent me information about the school and I enrolled after graduating college (I attended FIT and Villanova as well).

Located in Gramercy Park, it was few blocks away from my favorite NYC hang, Max’s Kansas City. I ate a late lunch there every day, sometimes lunch would last into the evening. Max’s was the home of all the moving stars, hangers-on and wannabe’s. It was a comfortable hang, a visual and audio smorgasbord. Max’s was the Algonquin Round Table of our generation. This was 1978, a pivotal year, a cultural and generational turning point.

Eventually, I went to work at Brooks Brothers where I managed the shirt factory, I was then recruited by Perry Ellis. Perry was a petri dish of creativity and fastidious intellect, the best of the best – Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, the amazing illustrator, Richard Haines.

What brought you to create the art that you make?

I suffered a massive heart attack on Memorial Day 2019, the kind no one really survives. I was fading fast for what I thought were my final moments. Once you realize you are rendered helpless, you stop the struggle to survive, a very easy exit, stuff races through your head pretty quick and you think about all you left on the table. It happened fast and unexpectedly. My life has been very different since that day. This would be the beginning of removing constraints, restrictions and discovering what has been locked away, resulting in my quick digital snippets.

How did the quarantine/Covid-19 affect you as an artist?

When the city went on lock-down and coming to the realization that my businesses of 20 years were probably no longer, as I always do, I kept a positive outlook. I continued to doodle and post with no agenda or preconceived notions. The daily postings were the perfect therapy for my social media friends and myself. We became this huge support group. I received tons of notes saying that they looked forward to seeing my daily drawings and how uplifting they were. What a lovely surprise that my sloppy doodles made such an impact. Moreover, it has encouraged others to step out of their comfort zone and start doing daily doodles. Patty, my wife, continues to look at me with bewilderment and amazement as this evolves. This is a gift I am grateful for and do not take for granted.

Where do you work out of?

I can work almost anywhere, I create on my smart phone, which is a Samsung Note 8, it’s with me all the time. My brick and mortar design studio and custom dress shirt shop are located near Sandy Hook.

How often can you create?

With my smart phone, any time I have a spare moment or an idea, that’s the beauty of it. I pull the stylus out and start hacking away. It lets me be spontaneous to my thoughts and observations. I post daily to my social media accounts and I will soon offer NFTs.


Aaron by HoTTea

HoTTea

For the second time in three years, artist Eric Rieger, who works professionally as HoTTea, created a site-specific installation with thousands of strands of colorful yarn in the Casino breezeway. The work is part of the Wooden Walls project that has produced the murals along the boardwalk and in the Carousel Building.


Sea.Hear.Now.

The third annual Sea.Hear.Now Festival will take place on September 18th and 19th hosting more than 25 bands on its three stages at North Beach and Bradley Park.  Surfing, yoga and art will also be incorporated into the festival. (September 18-19, 2021)


Scrappyboy

triCityNews

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Scrappyboy. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Scrappyboy - Mannequin
Scrappyboy - Ballerina
Scrappyboy - Ship

Christopher Lopa, a.k.a., Scrappyboy, has been creating collages for over 40 years. His collages have been on album covers, printed in art books, and swapped with fellow artists from around the world. Visiting Scrappyboy’s studio is like entering his brain, which is a warm, wild, fun, dark, yet colorful place to be!

What brought you to create the art that you make?

In 1975, I created a 3×4’collage of Linda Blair based on her character in The Exorcist. I also used to create my own calendars and would write daily what I did and what punk shows I went to. I then started adding things to them like ticket stubs, pictures, all these scraps of my life. That was the beginning of my collaging. I couldn’t paint or draw and collage materials were readily available. You’re only as good as the materials you use. Your imagination should not have limitations, I used what I had around me – newspapers, magazines, markers, scissors.

Tell me about your art and your process?

I use an X-Acto knife and books that I pick up at flea markets and thrift shops. They are older, dated photography books, art books, children’s picture books and anything visually interesting. I look through the images in the books for a background and most always find the most outrageous exact opposite of whatever the background may be, or vice versa. If I find a pretty flower, I want to put it in a war theme. If I find a cool graveyard background, I’ll probably put two people dancing over it. I like extremes. I have visions, I see collages before they’re actually put together and things just fall into place. I don’t dawdle over a collage, I create them in like 10 or 15 minutes. Nothing sits for days. I put it down before I have a chance to obsess about it, then it’s done and too late for me to do anything about it.

Where do you work out of?

I have a studio (I call it his “Collage Cave”) in my basement in Neptune City. When my husband and I lived in a loft in the city, he being a photographer, created these giant black foam core backdrop “walls”. We then used them to create our bedroom in our loft. I didn’t want to look at the black walls, so and I naturally started to collage them. I tacked up band pictures, band posters, magazine ads, and all kinds of fun crap. They moved with me over the years and a couple decades and now are the walls of my art room. I add new photos and ephemera and move things around to keep them alive and interesting.

What do you listen to when you create?

Oh, my punk rock, of course! Some days it’s GBH, Anti-Nowhere League, Killing Joke. I also love 70’s disco, I love Donna Summer, I love Frank Sinatra, I love The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees. It depends on my mood.

As a collage artist myself, I have a collection of flea market finds as well. Being a book lover, I find that I can’t cut up books to use in collages, like defacing a beloved book is going to land me in “Library Hell”! How do you feel about that? Well, I used to feel that way too, but remember, I use old books that are one step away from a landfill. So, I’d rather give them some love and new life as art. When I find a new book, I get energized and excited flipping through it and “seeing” all the collages I can make from it. I feel it’s better than having the books sitting on a shelf for years until someone throws them away! (This point of view inspired me to use my books, thank you SB!)

You can find Scrappyboy’s collages on his website: scrappyboy.blogspot.com and
IG: scrappyboys_salon


AP Dance Festival

Asbury Park Dance Festival

The second annual Asbury Park Dance Festival brings world renowned dancers and companies to the Jersey Shore for performances and master classes to support ARTSEDNJ and their mission to make arts education available to every child, every day, every school. (September 25, 2021)


Campbell Grade

triCityNews

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Campbell Grade. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Campbell Grade - Losing Brain Cells to Linseed Oil
Campbell Grade - Painter's Tape is my Favorite Invention
Painter's Tape is my Favorite Invention - Wheaties for Breakfast

Now that we have stretched out, shed the “athleisure wear” and got vaxed, how exciting is it to see the world opening up again and adding things to our weekend calendars?! I for one, am stoked to be able to see some live music and go to art openings again! One Opening I am looking forward to is at ChaShaMa in Matawan. ChaShaMa offers 11 artist studio spaces and an exhibition space steps from the Matawan train station. It’s run by my dear friend and Asbury local, Donna Kessinger. The Opening is this Friday, June 25th from 6-8 pm with live music being performed by Johnny Nameless. This dual show called, “Headspace”, will be featuring the art of Kelly Benning and Campbell Grade. I follow Campbell’s art page on Instagram and contacted her about her art and this upcoming show.

What is your background, are you self-taught or did you go to art school?

I went to Elmira College and majored in Studio Arts. I took classes in a lot of different media: digital, sculpture, printmaking, and I pretty much sucked at everything that wasn’t painting so it makes sense that painting is what I continued to enjoy after school. I love painting because it’s tactile and mushing paint onto a canvas just feels good. Oil paints are even better because I can still push them around a week later because they take ages to dry.

Tell me about the art your exhibiting in the “Headspace” show.

I created this series because I had done some 10″x10″s, 4″x4″s and eventually found 2″x2″ canvases. I really enjoyed the challenge of working on something that small, but also with my limited attention span, they were projects that I could easily finish. When I was making these paintings, there was always leftover paint on my palette which I hated to throw away. My solution was to scoop it all up with a big brush and plop it onto the small canvas. It just developed from there. I like to see how much paint I can get on there and the different strokes I can make with a brush that’s the same size as the canvas while still maintaining separate colors and layers.

How often do you create?

I really try to sit down and make something every week, even if it’s just a small study of one of my plants. Life can become so hectic and if you don’t make the time for art then it quickly stops being a priority. Like I said, I have a limited attention span, so I usually have multiple projects going at once.

If or when you get lost in an “art funk” (like writer’s block for artists), what helps you get back to creating?

I did not do well with creating last summer during Covid. Not going to work and not having a social life made it very difficult to do anything. I had zero motivation. I do work better in isolation, but since everyone else in the house was also home because of the “lockdown,” I felt unable to paint even when I wanted to. However, this show was supposed to happen last year, and I would not have completed 100 paintings in time if everything didn’t close down.

As a Monmouth County resident, how do you think the community can better
support their artists?

It would be nice if there were more opportunities for artists who are just starting out. ChaShaMa is great because it gives artists the space they need to develop their work and it’s created a community in and of itself. A lot of young artists need more than just a month-long show to launch their careers, they need resources to create and they need opportunities to learn how to market themselves and make connections so that they can continue showing their artwork after their exhibition. A lot of artists have to figure out how to navigate this on their own and I would like to see a nurturing art community helping and guiding the young artists.

See more of Campbell’s work on her website: https://campbellpaints.wixsite.com/home
& Instagram: @campbell.paints

ChaShaMa on Instagram: @chamatawangalleryandstudio

Email Donna ideas for shows at: Donna@chashama.org


City of Asbury Park Summer 2021 Mural Art Project

Tri City News

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events covers the City of Asbury Park Summer 2021 Mural Art Project.

The City of Asbury Park’s Public Art Commission, with support from Monmouth Arts, hosted a three-day mural art project where 13 artists created installations along Cookman Avenue and in Springwood Park.  The artists were selected from a pool of 60 submissions, which included local and regional, professional and amateur artists.

Learn more at CityofAsburyPark.com


Michael Johnson

triCityNews

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Michael Johnson. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Michael Johnson - Studio Portrait
Michael Johnson - Future Suspended Between Air and Air
Michael Johnson - Studio Portrait

Meet Michael Johnson. Michael is an artist who lives and creates in Asbury Park. Michael is a spiritually deep dude. His paintings are about a state of mind. He feels that, “Beauty is felt with the body, known in the mind, understood by the spirit”. He uses the study of philosophy, theology and poetry in his practice. A recurring theme in his paintings are a relation between geometry and the natural world.

What brought you to create the art that you make?

The early inspiration for an approach to painting grew out of a desire to embody a practice. I wanted to train my ability to focus and use my attention in a way the would require a repetitive returning to patience and presence. I drove to an art store and bought the biggest canvas they had and the smallest brush. I then gridded out the canvas into tiny spaces and painted the spaces one by one in hues of white and light blues. I had the simple idea going into it that if I paint every day, at some point the painting will be complete. So, I got into the process, and painted every day, sometimes just a few minutes, sometimes for hours. The ability to hold the painting in mind when I was at work and having it as something to return to brought me solace during difficult hours. After about a year the painting was done.

If or when you get lost in an “art funk” (like writer’s block for artists), what helps you get back to creating?

I’ll occasionally hit periods of exhaustion. When that happens, I just try and do all the right things to rebuild myself. Diet, exercise, meditation. I love walking, I love the woods too. I’ve gotten better at keeping the long-term vision in place, the whole arc of life, and not working myself into exhaustion because of short term goals, learning to keep my balance and stay consistent.

Sometimes a cloud of doubt arrives and makes me question if it’s worth making art, but in the end, I always come back to the belief that making art is among the most beautiful modes to occupy while being alive.

What do you listen to when you create? Music, podcasts?

Lately, I’ve been really enjoying listening to Michael Singer, he gives talks every Sunday, Monday and Thursday on a site called, Temple of the Universe. He’s a spiritual teacher, integrating the lessons of the Tao, Buddha, Jesus… It’s very Zen. I also love listening to very heavy metal, death metal, black metal. My favorite album from the past year is by Ulcerate, “Stare into Death and Be Still”.

How do you think the community can better support their artists?

Generally, I’m grateful to live in such a supportive arts community and hesitant to ask for it to be better. Maybe it’s just about choosing to talk to each other about art, choosing to spend time thinking about art. I believe in the power of collective imagination.

What would you like to see happen in the Monmouth County art community?

Jenn Hampton and I were talking a few months back about turning the AP Casino into an art museum, something that could be open to the public with permanent installations and rotating shows. Jenn would be the perfect person for this and the space is perfect too and so beautiful. It’s basically empty right now and seems like a very a possible thing to achieve with the right funding. I also like the idea of having work spaces there for artist residencies. It would be a way to attract a flow of artistic energy, build community and connection.

You can view Michael’s art at Parlor Gallery, Asbury Park, Sapphire Holistic Center, Bradley
Beach and Elan Hair Studio in Wall.
Website: michaeljohnson.studio
Instagram: @michaeljohnson.studio


Kate Eggleston

triCityNews

Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Kate Eggleston. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Kate Eggleston - untitled drawing-22x19
Kate Eggleston - Change in Gravity
Kate Eggleston - When Ever We Go Out the People Never Shout

Wouldn’t it be nice when viewing art, to have an instant download about the art you’re viewing? I know that I connect better with a work of art after hearing its story. As an artist, you hope people will take the time to read your bio, so they will have a better understanding of your story and the art you create, but they usually don’t. I can’t blame them, I just hope that after reading this article, viewers might take the time to ask an artist or gallerist, “What’s the story behind this piece?” I have seen Kate Eggleston’s work a few times over the years, but never knew the story about what she created and why.

What brought you to create the art that you make?

I concentrated on charcoal drawings and printmaking in undergrad. In 2011, I began hand dyeing textiles and creating soft sculptures. At this time, my husband and I began planning my future pregnancy. I was so worried about losing my identity to impending motherhood that I threw myself into art making. Like a lot of soon-to-be mothers, the subject matter in my work shifted to pregnancy, motherhood, and traditional female roles.

How does your current work play into the theme of motherhood?

The current imagery I’m playing with is that of an amorphous mounded form, which I use interchangeably as figurative and as part of the landscape. I have started to call them “pods”. I like the mark making aspect of developing this new visual language through these pods. They seem to be listening and waiting for something, a calm stillness about the forms. There is definitely a mothering aspect to the larger pods, who seem to be watchful of the smaller ones. Some of my previous soft sculptural work included stuffed, spiked shapes, so these drawn pods feel like a natural progression from 3-D to 2-D. Just like their textile cousins, these pods are tall and imposing but non-threatening. During the pandemic, I took a break from sewing. I had primarily worked with textiles for the last 10 years. The newer work I’m producing is largely 2-D paint, pen, and marker on paper and wood panel.

The pods seem to have a stitch-like feel to them, is that intentional?

Yes, I’m so glad you noticed this! The marks drawn inside of each pod is meant to reference my stitch work. I also sometimes add cobwebs dangling down from the top of scenes which are also like dangling threads.

How do you think the community can better support their artists?

There are so many wonderful local venues, arts organizations and other arts/culture opportunities available to Monmouth County artists and art lovers. If the county is able to offer more grants to artists and art lovers who are able to set up shop somewhere and contribute to community-building with activities, shows, and arts education, I’m also a big proponent of mini grants for artists, particularly artists who are parents with young children.

You can find Kate’s work at: kateeggs.com and on Instagram @kate.eggleston