Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Studio Spaces: Behind the Scenes with Sarah Elyse Granetz

One of the things we love most about our artists is that no two are exactly the same. Whether in style, technique, or medium, Agora artists all have their own unique characteristics that make their art their own. One such artist is Sarah Elyse Granetz, whose show at Agora Gallery just closed in early July. Sarah received her B.A. in Fine Arts from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. During this time, she spent a semester in Paris, France. What began as a “self-portrait” assignment has transformed into a meditative series on the female form through literal impressions of the artist’s actual body.

Sarah Elyse Granetz in her studio

Sarah Elyse Granetz applies paint to her body like a paintbrush, using her limbs to create unique pieces of art.

“Through this series, I have been able to explore the controversial and complicated theme of one’s body and one’s gaze upon it while respecting the ‘truth’ of my own. Through these works, I have found peace.”

We talked more with Sarah about her unique painting style. Read on to learn more about her techniques, artistic choices, and how she works through her process!

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Art Outside the Gallery: Making Murals with James Chisholm

Massachusetts-based artist James Chisholm has been with Agora Gallery since the beginning of 2013. We’ve had the pleasure of not only exhibiting and promoting his own beautiful paintings but also watching as he uses his passion to transform the lives of the young artists around him. James teaches numerous classes to artists of all ages (we spoke with him regarding his experiences teaching students that art can actually turn into a career for the 34th volume of ARTisSpectrum Magazine) and is always working on new projects that allow his students to experiment with their own styles of expression. However, one of James’ most successful projects has been an annual mural that is completed by the entire group of students from his drawing class at the North Shore Community College. Each year introduces a new inspiration, and stories about his mural projects have been written up locally).

James Chisholm and students from his NSCC drawing class working on the mural

James Chisholm and students from his NSCC drawing class working on the mural; source: Owen O’Rourke from Itemlive.com

We spoke with James to get a more intimate look into the journey from conception to creation to finished mural!

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Color and Chaos: The Art of Bimbi Larraburu

Some artists find a blank white canvas to be daunting. With limitless possibilities to be explored, how can you know if what you’re doing is the best thing? Bimbi Larraburu sees her canvas not as a challenge, but as an open space to express her inner self through color, line, and shape. Bimbi’s works give way to a chaotic visual effect, one that simultaneously excites and soothes any viewer. The colors are vibrant and the composition is random, and yet everything works together to create perfectly balanced abstract pieces.

Bimbi has lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for her whole life, and continues to work there today. She was always interested in the arts from a very young age, but was encouraged to pursue a traditional university career, causing her to study Architecture and Advertising, elements of which she continues to bring into her art. Bimbi also studied under the Argentinian abstract painter Heriberto Zorrilla and learned the ways of the “Esencialismo” movement. In addition to her art, Bimbi loves to travel and manages a family real estate business in Argentina and the US.
Bimbi Larraburu

Bimbi Larraburu painting in her studio in Buenos Aires

Being from Argentina, Bimbi answered some questions we had for her in her native Spanish language as well as in English. We have transcribed the interview in both languages here for all to enjoy! Read on to learn more about Bimbi’s story, as well as her techniques and inspiration.

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Body, Art, and Soul: An Interview with Painter Oliwia Biela

With a passion for art from a very young age, Oliwia Biela has always found a way to express herself through her paintings. She feels the impulse to put all her positive feelings on canvas without thinking, to just express her emotions in the moment. She continues to paint spontaneous and emotion-filled abstract paintings using a variety of materials and techniques, choosing whatever method works best with her mood at the time.

Oliwia Biela in her studio

Oliwia Biela in her studio

Outside of her artwork, Oliwia loves ballet, jazz music, and traveling. She is interested in learning all that she can about the world and loves all that is alive.

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Talking Hospitality and Business with David Stanley Hewett

These days, art is not limited – not in style, medium, technique, and certainly not in where it can be shown and enjoyed. Many of Agora Gallery’s artists have taken full advantage of the various opportunities available to contemporary artists, and we wanted to learn a little more about pursuing unique projects and how to use those connections to further your artistic career.

In our first post of the series, we’re speaking with New York-born, Japan-based artist David Stanley Hewett, one of the most well-known foreign artists in Japan. Having held major exhibitions in Japan, Singapore, and the United States, Hewett is known in particular for his abstract works with strong influences from the Samurai code of Bushido and the Japanese Shinto Religion. His works can be seen at The Imperial Hotel, The Okura Hotel, The Peninsula Hotel, Mitsui Trading, and numerous other collections around the world. Having created a large network in the hospitality industry as well as among other businesses, Hewett is always doing something big and new, and we were able to pick his brain and learn his secrets.

David Stanley Hewett with one of his works in the first floor lobby at The Oakwood Premier Tokyo

David Stanley Hewett with one of his works in the first-floor lobby at The Oakwood Premier Tokyo

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Exploring the Social Persona: The Figurative Portraiture of Fanny Horowitz

Fanny Horowitz‘s figurative paintings focus on the social persona that women take on in their every day lives. Using technical skills and a love of color, Fanny creates intimate and mysterious worlds in which the viewer can take part.

Leaving the context for her subjects vague, Fanny invites us all to interpret each piece in our own way. While one person might see a woman checking herself out in a mirror, another person may see someone with insecurities, making sure that her makeup or clothes are perfectly in place. “For me, painting is setting out on an adventure. I choose to paint simple and unassuming motifs from the world around me,” says the artist.

Fanny Horowitz in her studio

Fanny Horowitz in her studio

Fanny draws inspiration from the Impressionist movement and the intense colors of Fauvism. Her works are drenched with color, with subtle but firm depictions of light and shadow. She uses vivid oil colors and mixes endless shades and sub-shades for each piece. These methods generate a sense of mystery, prompting the viewer’s imagination to form a unique, individual experience.

Those moments of grace that she creates are an escape from a noisy, outside world to a place that is tranquil, allowing the viewer to dive into the depths until they lose their sense of external time and place, entering and observing inner emotional worlds and landscapes, and searching for a lock that opens a door to spiritual sustenance.

We had the chance to sit down with Fanny and discuss her work and process, and we were far from disappointed. Read on to learn more about this fascinating artist!

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Art for Photography Lovers: New to ARTmine

“In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz

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Fine art photography is different from rivaling art forms in terms of the fact that unlike other mediums, which have been practiced and developed since the beginning of human time, it’s a very recent new art development.  Every two minutes, the amount of photos taken around the world is the same as the amount of photos produced during the entire 19th century. Introducing photography as a new medium transcended the art world and brought countless new possibilities and new criteria to classify and critique artwork. Throughout the past century, photography has been developed and expanded to incorporate the elements it has today. Each of these Agora Gallery artists goes beyond photography’s boundaries, exploring the medium and breaking tradition.

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The Language of Color: Art Through the Eyes of Chris Brandell

Using her personal experiences and a social perspective, artist Chris Brandell seeks to “interpret the complexity of the human dynamic” while also expressing her passion for color. Hue, intensity, texture, and composition are all crucial to her artistic practice that she uses to invoke emotion in her audience. From a young age, Chris experienced color differently from those around her. “It’s safe to say that my color awareness is similar to my other senses – it’s tangible. I feel I can literally communicate an experience through color in a way that I cannot through words.” Her technique involves a lot of movement and little use of brushes, favoring the affects of large knives and trowels instead.

Chris Brandell

Chris Brandell in her studio

Chris has been working in the business world for many years and is also a juried member of the National Association of Women Artists. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and is housed in several private collections. After climbing the corporate ladder in a male-dominated industry and becoming a partner in her own company, Chris is ready to take on the art world and pursue art as a career.

We had the chance to talk with Chris about her art, her practice, and how her artistic self is affected by the other aspects of her life. Read on to learn more!

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From CEO to Artist: The Emotional Journey of Kelley Millet

A Manhattan CEO-turned-artist is not something you hear about very often, but that is the story of Kelley Millet. After working in the business community for over 30 years, Millet discovered his passion for art as a way to express himself and the emotions he has held onto throughout his life, such as anger, joy, regret, passion, denial, and hope. His contrasting techniques stem from this variety of emotions, inspiring him to create in a wide range of styles and mediums. Millet uses his art to show the world that he is more than just a suit, but a man with emotions, a husband, a father, a musician, and an artist. He proves that what you do does not define who you are, something that many people can relate to.

Millet graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts with a degree in Economics, though he often found himself at art museums and taking frequent trips to NYC to visit the Met, MoMA, and different art galleries. Difficult family obstacles in his youth, such as the early death of his mother, not only brought him closer to his two older brothers, with whom he remains close to this day but also helped fuel the emotions that inspire him to create.

"Explode" by Kelley Millet

“Explode,” Acrylic on Canvas, 32″ x 32″

Beyond his art career, Millet is on the Board of Directors for the New York Red Cross and is a Co-Chair for the Grace Outreach Program, which works to get women out of the South Bronx and get their GED to prepare them for work or college. These experiences humble and inspire him to pursue his art and create beautiful, abstract pieces.

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Banjerd Lekkong: Creating Stories with Sculpture

In Thai, the name “Banjerd” means creativity, and “Lekkong” means durable metal. “I believe I was born to be an artist who creates “Lekkong” art,” says sculptor Banjerd Lekkong. He was born in the Phimai district, Nakhon Ratchasima, which is where the Ramayana sculpture is located, chosen by UNESCO as an archaeological world heritage site. These sculptures, the rocks of Phimai historical park, Thai architecture, Thai art and so on have all influenced the artist since he was young. His first artisan teacher was his father, who taught Lekkong, since he was eight years old, about steel and the different methods in steel-making, such as steel-turning and metal welding. When Lekkong grew up, he used this knowledge and his creative abilities as an inspiration for his creations.

Artist Banjerd Lekkong with "Ravana's Standing," Iron, 80" x 80" x 20"

Artist Banjerd Lekkong with “Ravana’s Standing,” Iron, 80″ x 80″ x 20″

“I would like to create artwork that extends beyond the imagination, and also reflects unexpected inverse feelings,” he says. “I aim to transform this solid material into something lively and emotional with wavering proportion and posture.” All of Lekkong’s ideas are new but based on Asian tradition and culture. His artworks reflect his identity. Using whatever materials he has available, his sculptures are meant to present his ideas in ways that are unexpected and imaginative; each sculpture is one of a kind.

Each work shows emotion and feeling through posture and expression of the eyes. Using solid metal to make something beautiful soft, and tender, Lekkong creates many things: an exclusive piece of art, a unique creation, and a piece of sensation. We went to the depths of the artist’s mind to learn more about these masterpieces eternal from the hands Banjerd Lekkong.

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