We’ve Moved!

Hello, ProWax Journal Readers–

We’ve switched platforms. There’s a brand-new Issue 16 waiting for you over at Blogger. Here’s the new URL: http://www.prowaxjournal2.blogspot.com. The quick link is here. Please follow us by email (look for the sign-up widget on the sidebar of the new website) so that you don’t miss a single quarterly issue. As always, we’re free to the encaustic community and beyond. Enjoy!

PWJ editors

Welcome to the 15th Issue of PWJ

It’s always interesting to look back at our younger selves. In this issue’s lead article, Life Before Wax, we visit 23 artists from our community before they found encaustic. We may have, ahem, matured but we are still energized by the same creative energy. Certainly the work we did then—in clay, metal, fiber, oil, acrylic, photography, even on the stage—has informed what we are doing now.

img025Yes, this is me in 1978 when I was drawing with thread on paper. I’d made my first encaustic painting 10 years earlier in art school but didn’t return to wax until the mid-Eighties

The rest of this issue is focused on the present. In Q&A Nancy Natale talks to Lorrie Fredette, whose installations are equal parts ethereal and uncomfortable–which is exactly the way she likes it. Deborah Winiarski has curated a feature on artists who integrate photography and wax (no, we don’t call it “photo encaustic”). In Essential Questions Jane Guthridge focuses on the importance of community. Paula Fava takes us into Maritza Ruiz-Kim’s Martinez, California, studio. Debra Claffey features the work of two artists, Kim Bruce and Paul Rinaldi, in her In Five Words feature. In Open Call Pamela Blum marks the end of R&F’s fabled gallery with a look back as well as a panorama of the current and last show. As always we’ve got listings for Exhibitions and Workshops by our ProWax members. The Sidebar spotlights more of what’s in the issue. I hope you’ll spend some time with all of it.– J.M.


Life Before Wax

By Joanne Mattera

Unlike Athena, who legend has it sprang full grown from the head of Zeus, artists require years to reach their mature selves. The sepia photograph you see here of a young Lisa Pressman at the potter’s wheel inspired an inquiry into the evolution of our creative lives.  This lighthearted throwback to our early work nonetheless underscores the oft-noted idea that our contemporary artmaking comes with a personal history of techniques learned, materials mastered, and ideas explored..

Lisa Pressman, 1978

1. Lisa Pressman 1977 - Copy

Lisa at the wheel,
with a vessel from the same period, below

2. Lisa

“I began doing ceramics in high school and continued the studies in college starting in 1979. Clay offered so many possibilities to me in its ability to transform and cycle through various states. In graduate school . . . I focused on painting with oil (adding wax for texture and body). After seeing the show Waxing Poetic at the Montclair Art Museum [in 1998], I decided to try encaustic. The materiality and transformative qualities of wax feel connected to my past experience with clay.”
. . .

Joan Stuart Ross, 1971

4. Portrait and Self Portrait 1s

“Here I am in my first Seattle studio, where I painted myself painting myself. Oil paint’s viscosity, impasto, and the intense eye contact required to commit to oneself in the mirror is similar to the visual acuity I needed to work with the luminosity of wax. This myopic ‘look’ led me to connect and bond with encaustic painting 25 years later.”
. . .

Paula Roland, 1983


Primal Garden (acrylic on canvas, 41 x 69 inches) was made in my first semester of grad school and was included in the International Women’s Exhibition at the World’s Fair Exposition in New Orleans, 1984. In this early work I interpreted landscape through the senses. Sounds were made visible—mosquitos buzzing and lizards leaping. The large scale allowed my body movements to be captured in the saturated color. The piece spoke to me of primal energies. With this work, I began to aim for ideas, materials, and aesthetics that are deeply integrated. I was able to access intuition because the basics of drawing and painting were ingrained through years of practice.”
. . .

Dan Addington, 1988

3. addingtonstudio882

Here’s a look at “some young dude painting in his studio.” Dan was painting in oil in grad school in Jonesboro, Arkansas

. . .

Deborah Kapoor, 1994

5. Through

“This is an oil painting that is seven by seven feet square. I built the stretcher and painted it in my 600-square-foot [Chicago] studio only to discover I couldn’t get it out the door!  I had to take it apart and rebuild it to show it.”
. . .

Howard Hersh, 1984

6. Santa Fe, 1984   6. 1987

“At 36 years old, after a divorce, I decided to move to Santa Fe to dedicate my life to artmaking.  Not at all confident that this would actually work out, I nevertheless dove into my work.  I was a confirmed oil painter, but acquired a growing interest in texture.  (Three years later, in 1987, I saw encaustic paintings at the Chicago Art Fair, and decided to give it a try.)”
. . .

Lynette Haggard, 2007

7. LynetteHaggardStudio
“For many years I painted plein air landscape, and eventually the work became non- representational abstraction. Here’s a studio shot with a wall of work in oil. I also worked with oil monotypes and gouache.”
. . .

Lynda Ray, 1988

self-site-hiber 1988 Boston - Copy
Lynda in her studio in Boston’s South End with Hiber, oil on shaped panel, 60 x 48 inches, on the wall and completed, below

02 Hiber oil on wood, 60x48in 1988

“For this painting  I drew on the wall with my paintbrush. When I got the right shape, I used found wood and cut, shaped, and manipulated the materials, adding and subtracting paint until I had the right color-shape relationship. I used a palette knife and added Dorland’s wax to  create the edges you see here.”
. . .

Elise Wagner, 1993

8. 540861_10151768779673626_1458967466_n

In-progress views of Three Months Without Sun, oil and collage on panel, 32 x 96 inches

9. 377378_10151768779573626_421106075_n-4

“These pictures were taken at a transitional time in my work. I was looking for ways to attain transparency, build layers and use alternate forms of applying the paint. Having been deeply influenced by Joan Mitchell, my early paintings took on an all-over approach to composition and color. I wanted to layer and elicit atmosphere through brisk, active movement and part of that relied upon what I chose to move the paint. I wanted less control, not more, so the extension of something like a broom really suited my intentions. The broom painting lasted well through the Nineties and was even used in some pieces up until about 2008.”
. . . .

Deborah Winiarski, 2007

10. Winiarski_Before_Wax_Pic

Deborah in the studio; below: Arabesque, 2007; acrylic, paper, sand on canvas; 60 x 60 x 3 inches

10. Winiarski_Arabesque_2007

“Before I found my way to encaustic, I painted with acrylic. I would lay the stretchers flat and apply layer upon layer of light washes, soaking the canvas.  My imagery was created with kozo paper which would become soaked as well. As the paint slowly dried, the pigment would settle at the edges of the paper where there had been puddles. I loved how the veils of monochromatic color layered to create a field of depth.  Some papers I would leave in the work and some I would tear off. I had been thinking about how to push the of depth of field idea when I ‘found’ wax. I’m completely self-taught.  I worked in both mediums for about a year before switching my studio over entirely to encaustic.”
. . .

Beverly Rippel, 1994

11. 4Rippel _FFT beginnings oil     12. 5Rippel__Food For Thought_final oil_64 x 42

Food for Thought, oil on linen, in progress, left, and the completed painting, 64 x 42 inches

“Through the years I have gone back to drawing, especially with charcoal or pencil, and find that it is such an immediate medium. One’s thoughts can come down the arm directly onto the paper without stopping to decide on color. After college and the birth of my two sons, I went back to a studio practice when time permitted. I used drawing as a primary medium, but also as a preliminary process for sketching up an idea. Eventually I branched out to a painting practice. Then in 2001, while trying to find a way to paint ‘a veil between now and then,’ I discovered encaustic. Today, I explore many mediums and often combine oil and/or encaustic painting and drawing.”
. . .

Jeff Schaller, 1992


Jeff and friends at dinner; below: Dinner, latex on canvas, 48 x 60 inches


“This is my senior thesis in painting for Beaver College, now Arcadia University, in Pennsylvania. I covered myself and some friends with paint. I ordered Chinese food and painted the bottom of the containers and the bottom of our plates, so as we passed food and put it down, it left a mark. Our arms on the table left a mark. I was all into Fluxus and the happenings movement. The idea of capturing time intrigued me. So here is a picture of me ‘painting’ and the final painting.”
. . .

Catherine Nash, 1987

Nash1 - Copy

Catherine in Japan; below: Shrine, 1989, an environmental installation [first] shown at the Franklin Furnace Gallery in New York City

Nash 2 - Copy

“The top photo is me in March of 1987 learning to make paper in the Japanese method. I’d been making paper for about five years and realized that I needed to study in Japan. The experience altered my life on diverse levels.”
. . .

Kay Hartung, 1986

15. KHartung_ WovenPainting
“In the Eighties my work was based on an ongoing exploration of ordered systems. The Woven Paintings used hand-manipulated techniques of construction with the basic structures derived from the simplest forms of weaving. I painted on large sheets of tar paper, cut them into strips and wove them together. The painted patterns were restructured and combined with added elements collaged into the woven surface.”

On the wall: Woven Painting with Diverging Rectangles, 1986; tar paper, acrylic paint, aluminum, wood; 35 x 60 inches. Photo: David Caras
Below: Woven Collage with Red Grid from the same period

. . .

Joanne Mattera, 1979

16. Mattera.1979

Me in my Beverly, Mass., studio; below: a recently framed work from the series I made then

16. photo - Copy

I was making grid-based drawings with thread on paper. I enjoyed the meditative process of hand stitching and loved the materiality and dimension of the line. Initially I called this body of work “fiber drawings,” but while they were getting into fiber shows, they were not getting any traction in the larger art world. I dropped  “fiber” from the description, identified them as “drawings” or “works on paper,” and they started to get the attention I wanted for them.
. . .

Susan Lasch Krevitt, 1979

FullSizeRender - Copy

“This image was taken in Chicago in 1979, possibly early 1980. I’m leaning against a wall outside the foundry at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I was an undergrad. I worked for Joan Flasch at the school store during the week, made thin, chased gold and silver rings that sold well, and waitressed on the weekends. It was my last semester before receiving my BFA. Both of the large mixed-media pieces you see were made with wood, cotton batting, Rhoplex, and black acrylic paint. The components were created in my storefront live/work studio and transported to school in my 1974 VW Bug (on an angle through front and back  windows!). The grids were bound and assembled on site. Smaller work was made with found branches, cotton batting, and Rhoplex, sometimes pigmented with small amounts of acrylic paint and embedded with found elements.”
. . .

Nancy Natale, 1985

14. NN with Penis of Patriarchy - Copy (2)
“This is me with The Penis of Patriarchy on the roof of a building at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. This was the freshman challenge where we were given a list of materials to use in our piece. The object was to throw the work off the roof and have it land without breaking a whole egg that was contained in it somewhere. I put my egg right in the tip because I wanted it to break—and, sure enough, it did.”
. . .

Anna Wagner-Ott, 1995

Ott duo.PNG

Anna with her sculpture, left, and the sculpture on pedestal

“From the Eighties until 2012, I created sculptures that were influenced by feminist theories. For many years I worked on the Womandala series. Those figurative sculptures were angst- ridden and personal. I used acrylic to paint the plaster surfaces of the bodies.”
. . .

Pat Spainhour, 1978


“I used to be a potter— well, at least during college. Here I was teaching high school art. The photo is from a demonstration on how to throw a pot. It was important to me as a teacher that every advanced-level art student experience the potter’s wheel. Students were required to make at least one pot on the wheel, while I coached them and sometimes held their hands. During my teaching career, I taught all forms of art: drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, fibers.”
. . .

Jane Nodine, 1980

19.Before wax

Jane at the workbench; below: Neckpiece with articulated brass and electroformed copper


“In the photo, I was making a wax model for casting a ring. At that time I was operating a commercial jewelry design studio and teaching metals and design at the Greenville Museum School of Art. In this shot I am wearing several of my designs. Much of my work was fabricated in metal (constructed from sheet and rod) and also castings using the historical lost-wax process. I was trained in metalsmithing to use heat for working the metal–welding, soldering, cutting, and forming. It never occurred to me that I would one day use wax as the medium and not just a byproduct.”
. . .

Helen De Ramus, 1993


Helen on the beach with her 4×5 camera in Savannah, Georgia; below: The Argument, a platinum print

H.DeRamus_The Argument_1990

Art history was my major. I taught school for a short time, then started a commercial photography business since my dad was a photographer. I used my off time to work on platinum photographic prints. Those photographs led to a desire for more flexibility with image making so I started studying painting. The transition took time, but in 1993 I found a studio where I could teach and paint. Oil paint had been my primary medium until I discovered oil sticks and encaustic paint at the time I found my studio. Photographs with encaustic have reemerged from time to time.
. . .

Elena De La Ville, 1970s

21. edlv
“I was a young photographer working with the local music scene in Caracas, Venezuela, and this photo was taken at one of the venues. I photographed musicians for the monthly Mermeladas/Jams.  (Concerts were billed as a “psychedelic experience.”)

Below: Numero #122

22. Numero 122. . .

David A. Clark, 1987

23. DAC at La Scala
“I was an actor from the time I was eight years old until well into my thirties. One of my first big international jobs was performing in Robert Wilson’s production of Richard Strauss’s Salome at La Scala in Milan. This photo is from one of the very, very long lighting rehearsals. I’m pictured there, in the back, long hair dangling, wearing a costume custom made for me by Gianni Versace. My main task in the production was to walk across the stage, from one wing to the other, moving at a snail’s pace while carrying a giant boulder on my back. It would take me almost 30 minutes from stage right to left. Opening night was my 21st birthday and the audience booed us off the stage. It is still, 30 years later, hands down, one of the greatest moments of my professional career.”

. . .

We opened with a potter at the wheel and end with a performance of a long, slow trek with a heavy load. Both images offer apt references to our journey, with plenty in between. Clay, fiber, paper, and metal offered us physical, sometimes visceral, engagement with material and process, but so did conventional painting in oil or acrylic. Ever seeking, we painted with brooms and constructed paintings from industrial detritus found on the street. We etched and printed. We photographed. We beat pulp into paper. Life changes affected our decisions. Feminism influenced our expression. There were many paths to wax. As for the Sisyphean slog, who among us—no matter how successful—cannot relate?

In Five Words: Kim Henigman Bruce

Curated by Debra Claffey

In Five Words is a regular feature of ProWax Journal in which we go literal, lyrical, and poetic. Visual art does not exist in a vacuum, it sings along with poetry and prose, music and rhythm. Each issue we ask our feature artist to comment on one of their works with five single words, chosen to add meaning and highlight intent.

, Kim Bruce, 6th String Missing, 2016, encaustic medium, string, furniture tacks on a book, 5.5 x 2.5 x 1.25 inches

6th String Missing, 2016, encaustic medium, string, furniture tacks on a book,
5.5 x 2.5 x 1.25 inches


Q & A


With Lorrie Fredette

By Nancy Natale

Above the cloud view of The Great Silence at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, Massachusetts, 2011

Above the cloud view of The Great Silence at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, Massachusetts, 2011

I remember seeing Lorrie Fredette’s installation, The Great Silence, in the main gallery at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in 2011. It consisted of a massive 36-foot-long canopy of wax-painted muslin forms suspended from a metal grid under the room’s huge skylight. The light from above illuminated them and emphasized their hollow, irregular shapes. In the room’s air currents, individual elements drifted slowly and silently in almost imperceptible movements, small vessels within the vast cloud formation. Above the canopy, a glistening veil of nylon lines supported individual elements below at slightly varying heights.

Installation view of The Great Silence, Cape Cod Museum of Art, 6 feet 2 inches x 36 feet 9 inches x 5 feet 8 inches, suspended 8 feet 6 inches above the floor

Installation view of The Great Silence, Cape Cod Museum of Art, 6 feet 2 inches x 36 feet 9 inches x 5 feet 8 inches, suspended 8 feet 6 inches above the floor

What was the meaning behind this installation, I wondered. Was it all about the beauty of these light-filled objects or did the artist intend more with this powerful and labor-intensive work? My interview with Lorrie Fredette allowed me to explore the meaning and method of her extraordinary work.

Studio portrait of Lorrie Fredette

Studio portrait of Lorrie Fredette

If you are unfamiliar with Lorrie Fredette’s work, it helps to know that she creates site-specific installations, sculptures, and drawings inspired by medical and environmental stories. At the core of all of her work is her interest in repetition, many small parts coming together to create a larger whole.

Nancy Natale: Do you have a name for the wax-covered muslin pieces that you make?

Lorrie Fredette: Though I most often refer to the pieces as pods or elements, they have also been referred to as components, pieces, units, and ingredients. As a single member, each is important. However, it is their aggregation that has the most visual forcefulness.

Identifying names for the installed collective whole varies by concept, site and assemblage. For example, I refer to The Great Silence, a site-responsive installation for the Cape Cod Museum of Art, as an undulating canopy. Complex Interplay, a site-responsive installation, for the Islip Art Museum, is referred to as clusters.

NN: Would you describe your process of making these elements?

LF: I handcraft each element from the armature to the painting. On occasion, I hire assistants to help with aspects of the making.
A brass wire armature is hand formed and soldered. Though there is no mold or physical pattern, each frame is created with a specified length of wire in order to retain some size consistency.

Closeup showing variety of pod shapes as well as line and shadow, Situational Variables, Herron School of Art + Design, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2016

Closeup showing variety of pod shapes as well as line and shadow, Situational Variables, Herron School of Art + Design, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2016

Unbleached cotton muslin is fitted to each frame and sewn by hand, assuring a tight painting surface. It is in this part of the making that I bring in studio support because it is the most time consuming part of the process.

Every pod is painted individually with a minimum of five coats of beeswax and tree resin (encaustic medium). Often the painting layers exceed nine but five is the absolute minimum density.

NN: How do you decide on the shapes and the variety of shapes in an installation?

LF: The variety of shapes and sizes for each installation is determined by multiple factors and these considerations are richly intertwined. My work is activated though research, which often includes geographical area of the hosting venue; who is the hosting venue; current and historical news of the area including environmental, medical, social, and political (these are often already intertwined); microscopic imagery of bacteria and viruses; the measurable impact of a disease (morbidity and mortality, food supply, as well as other economic losses); and the physical attributes (square footage, height and special features) of the space.

By collecting, comprehending and culling through the data, the facts and the falsehoods, shapes, sizes and configurations come into focus. One aspect of the process is to create renderings reflecting my interpretations.

NN: How closely does your scientific research influence the objects that you make and the form of the installations?

LF: It would be false for me to suggest the research doesn’t hold some authority. However, the foundation of my making is drawing. I attempt to translate the language-based research into drawings and any image findings into my own handwork.

For example, when I create the very first sketch of a microscopic image such as smallpox virus, the drawing is as literal as I possibly can make it. The sketching of this one particular finding doesn’t stop there. It’s actually the beginning of my visual note taking. The drawing process is repeated with only the previous drawing as my source. Because of this process, I’ve created my own evolution over this one image; drawing #20 of the smallpox virus shows noteworthy differences from drawing #1 and from drawing #50. And, yes, there can easily be 50 drawings. I see the relationship of each visual translation to its predecessor as linear, orderly, and progressive, but should you view a sampling of these drawings, you might not see them as sequential.

NN: How much of your research do you want to share with your audience?

LF: If any of the research is to be shared, I’m only interested in it appearing as statements, press releases, and conversations. I’m interested in creating spaces visitors that find approachable, inviting and, dare I say it, beautiful. Because the work is boldly attractive, I see it as a conscious lure ushering each person into the space and toward, into, and under the installation. Once I have them involved, many people will seek out the supporting statement. So, it’s the art first, the science second.

Implementation of Adaptation, Garrison Art Center, Garrison, New York, 2013, 6 feet 1 inch x 36 feet x 12 feet, suspended 40 inches above the floor

Implementation of Adaptation, Garrison Art Center, Garrison, New York, 2013, 6 feet 1 inch x 36 feet x 12 feet, suspended 40 inches above the floor

I want to be clear that I’m not a scientist. I’m an artist interested in science. My research is motivated by my interest, and I am mindful that it can become convoluted. I’d never suggest the majority of my research findings as facts, though when I write about the work for venues or am speaking about the work, I make sure I have the recent facts to share.

However, I’ve noticed a recent pattern has developed within the arrangement of the installations. It is the number of individual elements. They now typically reference some factual statistic. For example, the installation Implementation of Adaptation included 574 individual elements referencing the number of reported outbreaks by the New York State Department of Health for yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria, and West Nile virus during a specific range of time.

While I do wish for people to consider the science at some point, I’d be making different work if the science was the most important aspect or even equally important as the art.

NN: Do you consider yourself a sculptor who does installations or an installation artist who installs objects? That is, how important are the individual objects that you make? Are you thinking of them as a group of multiples or as individual objects that you combine together?

LF: I believe my response is going to surprise you. I consider myself a painter. I paint portraits and landscapes — molecular portraits and the landscape of the body. I simply manifest them as larger dimensional objects intervening in architecturally defined spaces.

The individual object and the whole have equal importance. There are several parallels we can reference. Medically, one person sneezing will eject and distribute millions of fluid droplets covering a room in seconds and hovering in the air for some time. A second reference is the importance of an individual vote. It is in their totality that political determinations are made, but without the individual there is no aggregation.

NN: What influences the installation height for hanging work? (i.e. I’m thinking of The Great Silence installed at three different heights in three different locations)

LF: Simply put, it’s the level of engagement I’m interested in obtaining from the visitor.

The Great Silence, Morean Art Center, St. Petersburg, Florida, 2012, 6 feet 2 inches x 16 feet 4 inches x 5 feet 8 inches, suspended 40 inches above the floor

The Great Silence, Morean Art Center, St. Petersburg, Florida, 2012, 6 feet 2 inches x 16 feet 4 inches x 5 feet 8 inches, suspended 40 inches above the floor

Each venue offers a complex and unique set of variables. As a choreographer–and I do actively participate in this role—my attention turns toward encounter. The study of disease transmission (such as person to person or airborne), the internal traffic patterns of the hosting venue and the gallery’s architectural features are a few components I use to inform the hanging height.

You’ve mentioned The Great Silence. The installation was specifically created for The Cape Cod Museum of Art. The best presentation for the work was creating an undulating canopy for people to walk under because it would be the most inviting in this space. The gallery is largish and the majority of shows are painting, drawing, and other work on the walls. Obviously, I was directing and moving people to the middle of the room. The installation’s pod-like forms were suspended just above visitors’ heads by 24 to 36 inches, depending on the visitor’s height.

The Great Silence, Bank of America Headquarters, Charlotte, North Carolina, 2012, 6 feet 2 inches x 16 feet 4 inches x 5 feet 8 inches, suspended approximately 24 feet above the first floor

The Great Silence, Bank of America Headquarters, Charlotte, North Carolina, 2012, 6 feet 2 inches x 16 feet 4 inches x 5 feet 8 inches, suspended approximately 24 feet above the first floor

One of the other locations for The Great Silence was at the Bank of America. It was an abbreviated version suspended at the second-story level in their atrium. The idea was to provide a distant viewing so that no matter the vantage point of viewers walking under it, in the ground-floor lobby or in the perimeter of the second story corridor, they would always be at a safe distance from the work.

On a technical note, I always find a work-around to any structural concerns. It’s an opportunity to expand my abilities and that of my installation crew.

NN: How much does the architecture of the gallery influence your installation? I’m thinking of the comparison between Complex Interplay at the Islip Museum and Imperfect Distribution at the Hunterdon Museum of Art – neither one in a white box gallery. To my eye there were some similarities in that the installations seemed particularly graceful and curving. Of course I wouldn’t use the word “decorative,” but they did not seem like they referred to scientific research. How wrong am I?

LF: Islip and Hunterdon are environments where seeing the work in person has a stronger impact. The photographers I hire are very good but they cannot translate the experience and can’t replace the actual environment.

Imperfect Distribution, Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey, 2015, 8 feet 6 inches x 21 feet 2 inches x 35 feet

Imperfect Distribution, Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey, 2015, 8 feet 6 inches x 21 feet 2 inches x 35 feet

The title I give each installation is to provide an entry point for the viewer. I’ll reference just one of the installations to respond.

Complex Interplay, exhibited at the Islip Art Museum, references the space— the building as body and host for the work. There is a “complex interplay” between a virus and its victim including where it enters the body, the type of cells in which it can reproduce and whether it can then escape to reach another human.

The Islip Art Museum’s main artery hosted Complex Interplay. I was thinking of the building as a vessel that acts as a container of people and objects. Within this repository, corridors serve as a distribution vehicle offering people a pathway to their intended (or not so intended) destinations.

Complex Interplay, Islip Art Museum, East Islip, New York, 2014, 14 feet x 9 feet 8 inches x 34 feet 6 inches

Complex Interplay, Islip Art Museum, East Islip, New York, 2014, 14 feet x 9 feet 8 inches x 34 feet 6 inches

Using these symbolic references of vessel and corridor, the architecture serves as “host” of an unknown contagion where the interchange of virus (the art) and victim (the building) reproduce and escape to reach its next target (the viewer).

The Islip Art Museum installation didn’t have an “it’s this disease” identity; it did have “this is how disease can spread.”

NN: The porcelain installation, Proper Limits, that you did at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in 2015 and at Rutgers in 2016 seemed to move your work in a different direction because of the material that you used, the way it was installed, and the sound component. You created a whole environment for the work. It had a really creepy feel and I thought it evoked more of an emotional response than your other installations. Would you comment on this? And can we expect more immersive installations like it?

LF: The “creepy” response was certainly intentional. Thank you. I take it as a compliment.

I have a background in theater. I worked as a Properties Artisan in regional repertory a few years after graduating from college. In this theater, the production staff worked closely with the director and the designers. Because of this, I gleaned my initial knowledge of blocking (space usage), interplay with objects (props), lighting, and sound.

Therefore, each installation is all encompassing, though I believe the Visual Art Center of New Jersey provided a unique experience because of the space it offered. The gallery size, the low drop-ceiling, as well as having just one way to enter or leave the gallery enhanced viewers’ visceral response. The gallery truly expressed itself as a habitat where these serpentine-like forms claimed ownership.

Proper Limits, Visual Art Center of New Jersey, Summit, New Jersey, 2015, 18 feet 3.5 inches x 17 feet 10.5 inches x 8 feet

Proper Limits, Visual Art Center of New Jersey, Summit, New Jersey, 2015, 18 feet 3.5 inches x 17 feet 10.5 inches x 8 feet

There were a number of alterations or enhancements made to the space to elicit reactions in the installation. The floor was transformed from blonde wood to white linoleum and that change was critical. It produced the necessary experience of separation from the “outside world.” More than a third of the drop-ceiling tiles were changed out, allowing me to introduce tiles with the porcelain elements already attached.

The materials I select for my work are always in service to the concept and not just my personal interest. In choosing porcelain for the elements of Proper Limits, a few of my reasons were because it is “of the earth,” because the symbolically white color is associated with purity, and because the sheer number of components was not as immediately visible on the white gallery walls.

The introduction of sound in Proper Limits was used to push many visitors to their edge. It was a risk on my part (and that of the VACNJ) to show such a piece because a percentage of visitors refused to engage with the piece, meaning they would not enter the gallery. Of course, this was also a response I wanted. If you did enter the space and you were alone, you would hear a faint undertone. The sound associations were routed in facts associated with Lyme disease—neighborhood noises, rustling trees, wind sounds, and hospital noises. [You can view a video of the installation here.]

As I’ve grown and my knowledge expands, so does the way I present my work. Viewers most certainly may anticipate more saturated and involved experiences.

Based in the Hudson River Valley in New York, Lorrie Fredette gravitates toward the iconography and material sensibility of the Postminimal Art Movement, specifically in dimensional form.

Lorrie Fredette’s next exhibition, Iterations, is a solo at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, in Jacksonville, Florida, opening April 8, 2017.

Encaustic and the Photographic Image

By Deborah Winiarski

In its infancy, photography was compared, often unfavorably, with painting and was viewed as a shortcut to art. Early creative photographers such as Gertrude Käsebier approached the camera as a tool, manipulating  images to reach an artistic vision, while those such as Paul Strand valued ‘straight’ rather than manipulated photographic printing, valuing the formal qualities of light, shadow and sharp focus that are unique to photography. A champion of photography as a fine art form in its entire range of expression was Alfred Stieglitz, who was responsible for first introducing photography into museum collections.

The artists whose works are shown here bring the rich histories of encaustic and photography together in unique and intriguing ways. Whether using vintage photographs, digital images, remote capturing, or cyanotype, these artists have found their distinctive visual expressions in the combination of encaustic and the photographic image.

Jill Skupin Burkholder

Jill Skupin Burkholder, Fisher, Hidden Catskills, 2014; encaustic, charcoal and image from a trail camera on birch panel; 24 x 24 x 3 inches

“A motion-sensitive trail camera records and instantly transmits surveillance-style snapshots to an iPhone. These ‘photo texts’ from the animals are triggered by chance creating random, intimate compositions uniting the world of the seen with the unseen. We become joined for an instant through the mystical window of technology.”

Elena De La Ville

delaville_torso_trees-3Elena De La Ville, Torso/Trees, 2015; photography, wax, resin; 24 x 24 inches

“In the Torso series I deal with the change and transformation as we grow and age. I photograph the human body and capture earth images, merging them to show our interconnectedness and dependency on the physical world. Through ephemeral materials, paint and wax, I address sensuality, ageing, and transience.”

Heidi F. Beal

beal_talking-to-god-behind-the-indian-wall_3Heidi F. Beal, Talking To God Behind The Indian Wall, 2015; mixed media with encaustic and photography on panel; 13 x 13 inches

“I often use one photographic image repeatedly in my work to explore a theme from different perspectives. The female form in this piece is an example of this practice. She ‘talks to God’ with her back to a sacred garden setting.”

Jeri Eisenberg

eisenberg_momiji-no14_3Jeri Eisenberg, Momiji No.14, 2014; archival ink on Kozo paper Infused with encaustic medium;
triptych, 36 x 34 inches

“As a photo-based artist, my work is indisputably tied to the real world; but I de-emphasize photography’s representational or reporting qualities, and stress instead its expressive nature. I want to convey an essence and provide a visceral connection. The various techniques I use, including encaustic, help to achieve this.”

Fran Forman

forman_portrait2Fran Forman, Portrait No.2, 2015; photograph, photo montage, rice paper, oil paints, gold leaf, encaustic on birch panel; 12 x 12 inches

“My photographic images and mixed media works blur the boundaries between the real and the unreal. These visual narratives evoke a sense of transience, longing, memory, and dislocation. My process is an act of intuition and investigation. I construct dreamy visions and altered habitats with found or borrowed disparate sources.”

Marybeth Rothman

rothman_laurali_2Marybeth Rothman, Laurali, 2015; photo collage, encaustic and mixed media; 40 x 48 x 2 inches

“The photo collage in this series consists of my photographs, vintage photographs and ephemera that have been digitally altered, combined and repurposed to add narrative texture to the Mermaid’s bodies and garments.”

Wayne Montecalvo

montecalvo_three-out-of-four_2Wayne Montecalvo, Three Out of Four, 2016; stained paper, ink, acrylic paint, silkscreen prints layered on wax, wax on panel; 29 x 64 inches

“I am working with the idea of a photograph being more than representation. Staining the paper gives me more to work with, and allows the unpredictable. I want the observer to view the image as a whole composition and see more than only subject matter.”

Susan Lasch Krevitt

laschkrevitt_indoor-cowgirl_1Susan Lasch Krevitt, Indoor Cowgirl, 2015; cyanotype, cotton textiles and encaustic on birch panel; 6 x 12 x 2 inches. Photo: M.M. Krevitt

“This new series of work reaches back to explore the shadows of memory. I use encaustic and the cyanotype process to transform both images and three-dimensional objects. This is a step out of my sculptural comfort zone and into a more planar surface.”

Essential Questions

Do you feel it is important to be part of a community of artists?

Edited by Jane Guthridge

I’ve been thinking about the importance of community among artists. Our group, ProWax, and the International Encaustic Conference are communities I’m involved in. They provide information, lift me up when I’m down, and share in my success. Through networking and curating they are responsible for many of the good things happening in my career. I am not alone. We are not alone. Our members tell their stories here, but I hope anyone reading will use the Comments section to share their own experiences about community.

Dorothy Cochran I have always felt like an outsider with my intense focus on art. I have been involved with the arts as an educator and curator my whole life, but while this was wonderful in many ways, it did not lend itself to sharing on a deep level my own work. I loved graduate school intimacy and community, but that did not last. The community where I lived for 40 years was enriching in many ways but not in the visual arts. While raising two daughters, I painted, printed and roamed New York City’s art scene, but in isolation. Since becoming involved with the artists of the International Encaustic Conference, I have developed strong friendships and feel I have found the tribe I belong to. I have found colleagues who share my enthusiasms, challenges and work ethic. It has changed my life and brought me into a circle of trust that makes a difference every day.

pwj-issue15-pullquote-miller_rightAnna Wagner-Ott I live in a place where the population is 1000 and I am the only one making non-representational art. I feel like an outsider. At this point, I have not found [an artistic] community where I live. On the other hand, I have attended the Conference and met like-minded individuals and continued conversations in the virtual world. I joined the Raising the Bar Facebook group, and feel connected with the world. I don’t feel isolated anymore. Each year in June, I connect [in person] with my Facebook friends and have lots of talks about art. It is amazing, really, that one can get a sense of community through emails and on Facebook. It is very important that I have a community of artists where I can express my ideas and share my work, even if those discussions are through the internet.

Rae Miller The communities of artists available to me via the internet, and in person at the Conference, have made my life as an expat artist in Mexico not only doable, but more successful. Without the support of these people and groups, I would not have been able to move my career forward as successfully. I have learned untold volumes of information through various online forums and the International Encaustic Conference particularly. I learned how to function better in the business side of art, as well as [upgrade] technical aspects of art making. I also became a better teacher. Looking back, I feel that my recent solo exhibition at El Nigromante Bellas Artes, a prominent cultural center in San Miguel de Allende, would not have happened without the input and guidance I’ve received through community.

Kathy Cantwell I’ve been an isolated painter without a community for a great deal of my life. I had maybe one artist friend, not very supportive. In the last six years that has turned around. Connectivity via iPhone with Facebook and the Conference has given me a community where I’ve met and become friends with hundreds of artists. It’s been life changing. We encourage, motivate, and offer opportunities when they come up. What I’ve accomplished since that first iPhone is unbelievable to me.

David A. Clark I work in relative isolation and I had hoped moving to a more public studio would change that somewhat. It has changed the sense of loneliness, but social media cures something different. It cures my cultural loneliness. I love where I live, and it has great cultural events, but there aren’t many professionals here to dialogue with. Social media is a necessary touchstone for me. I enjoy reading all of the posts. I enjoy everyone’s triumphs and I feel all of the collective pain and frustration. It helps me keep everything a bit more in perspective.

Joanne Mattera One of the wonderful things about our encaustic community is the way it branches out. While many relationships have come about as a result the International Encaustic Conference, they continue regionally in person. When artists from the community travel for openings, for instance, they reach out to artists from that city or region. Also, we have recommended others from our cohort for exhibitions or gallery representation.

But I think it’s important to be part of other communities in the art world. I suspect many of you feel this, too. For instance, there are a number of artists I find myself showing with fairly regularly in New York City. We’ve gotten to know each other from these group shows, but I attend their other openings and they, mine. For me, it’s a chance to step away from encaustic. That wax mantle can be heavy, don’t you think?

pwj-issue15-pullquote-cochran_leftDebra Claffey I serve on the board of an art group working for gender equity and connect with others over landcare and eco-sustainability.

Leslie Sobel I have started an activist artist group rooted in the real world, not just social media. We’re primarily local but not just. The community is like-minded politics based rather than aesthetics or commonality of art-making approaches.

Jane Guthridge I enjoy the global expanse of this group, but I have also made a concerted effort to meet and be part of an artistic community in Denver. At one point I knew more artists around the world than in my own town. I have reached out to get to know more than just artists but gallerists, arts writers, curators, museum professionals and others involved in the arts. I curated several shows. Through this experience I was able to get to know the other artists. I remember being afraid to ask them to be in my exhibition, thinking why would they do this, they don’t know me. It turned out to be a wonderful thing and a great way to connect with other artists.

This summer I was invited to be in the exhibition, Colorado Women in Abstraction. One of the unexpected results of being in this show was how many of the other artists I was able to meet and start to get to know. We have talked about continuing the conversation and showing together in other venues and places. Creating friendships through community has enriched my life.

Nancy Natale Making initial connections around the medium of encaustic does not mean that is our only involvement, but just the bridge to more community. Having the opportunity to meet people at the Conference year after year and then share thoughts and ideas on FB leads to a much different kind of relationship. I think in many ways that it’s sometimes deeper than what is possible in face-to-face art friendships, because over time we have the kinds of conversations that are not usually possible when artists get to know each other through physical proximity.

pwj-issue15-pullquote-natale_rightI’ve lived in places where I’ve been very involved in organizing shows and open studios, showing together with people, and working on arts councils. Those relationships were centered around projects or activities, rather than establishing bonds and sharing thoughts and views over long periods of time. While we are mainly focused on work in encaustic here in ProWax, we are not chained to that medium. We are also aware of and appreciative of artists and shows that have nothing to do with medium.

I really appreciate the opportunity to share information and ideas about art and feel that our community extends across the country and even around the world. For all the faults of Facebook and the pokes we take at it, the community that it has let us establish is a rare phenomenon made possible by the internet. This is one of the joys of our time (as well as one of the banes.)

Krista Svalbonas I love Facebook and Instagram but social media only gets me so far. I find it a great way to keep up with people I know personally (some I don’t) who live away from me, but real human connection always feels necessary. I’ve always felt the need to be connected to my local community wherever I am. Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes not so much. I still find the best conversations are the ones had in person over a glass of wine or coffee and with real artwork in front of you!


Studio Visit

Maritza Ruiz-Kim: Martinez, California

Edited by Paula Fava

“In one year I went from having a small area in a shared artists’ studio to having my own brick-and-mortar space and launching an artist-run gallery,” says Maritza-Ruiz Kim. “It wasn’t something I set out to do. But when presented with a set of problems and a criteria of needs for my studio practice, that’s exactly what happened.”

The Studio Mind, Maritza Ruiz-Kim's new gallery/studio

The Studio Mind, Maritza Ruiz-Kim’s new gallery/studio

“I was comfortable in my well-managed Oakland studio in the back of The Compound Gallery in Fall 2015. Then life happened. I became homebound caring for my nine-year-old son. I made a space in my bedroom for a makeshift studio. I did as much as I could, but even that bit of artmaking became impossible. Eventually, my son was diagnosed with autism. After a lot of creative and legal energy, my husband and I connected him with the school resources he needed. Six months passed since I’d been to my studio.

“The first day he returned to school, I started to look for a new space closer to home.  Large commercial rentals posed problems: Overhead. Huge square-footage. Business park aesthetic. Alienation from the art community. Could I create something of my own? Imitate the business plan of the studio I was leaving, which was a place that had community, access to tools, three gallery spaces, a retail shop, and more? I only had to think about it briefly to know I couldn’t. Could I build a non-profit community space instead? I considered what would benefit people most, how I could work with grants to support that work, and how I would keep my art practice while managing the non-profit. I knew it was impossible.

“These are the kinds of questions that undergird the work of artists: Where can I make my work? How can I have enough space? How can I afford the rent, the materials, the supporting equipment, and my life? How can I have time? How can I be a part of a community, or exhibit what I make? How do I make my best work? How do I not just pack it all up and quit?

A picture taken the first day I found the space

A direct view of the storefront, taken the first day I found the space

A view from the garden path

A view from the street. The garden path leads to The Studio Mind.

“The answers to these questions are what brought me back to a place I saw on the first day I began my search:  a 700-square-foot space in an old reinforced brick building in downtown Martinez, 25 miles northeast of Oakland but just six miles from my home. I didn’t have a firm long-term plan to pay for the overhead, but I had the finances to get started. I made a business plan with financial goals. I brainstormed income-generating ideas, examined the realities of my schedule, and plotted the layout of my studio. I dreamt about the possibilities. I negotiated with the landlord by sharing my intention to use the space to serve the community with art. Then I signed the three year lease.


Before & After: from office space to gallery/studio

“I paid a contractor to do the heavy work of removing the cheap stained carpet, which exposed motley concrete flooring underneath. He painted the walls a bright white. The rest of it was on me. It took a full month in the heat of summer to move my studio from Oakland. I found free furniture on Craigslist. I thought about what the studio would look like and what might happen there, and I researched similar places I liked so I could have a starting point. Since it would be public and not private, I used a branding process to consistently present my space to the world. I considered my logo, website, and printed materials alongside the arrangement of acquired furniture, signage, and window displays. I wanted to keep it authentic to me as an artist even as I wanted it to be a place for others to have a deep inquiry into art. I made a list of descriptive words to capture the heart of what I wanted. These words guided every decision. I named the space The Studio Mind.

Behind the curtain: a space for my studio practice

Behind the curtain: space for my studio practice

“I set the floor plan, branded the space to the extent I could, and held a grand opening reception with a show of my recent work, which give me time to build a quarterly exhibition calendar. My hope is that the Bay Area artists whose work I exhibit will prompt an engaging discourse between the local community and contemporary art. The inaugural exhibition will open in mid-February. I set a schedule of hours for the gallery to match the busiest foot-traffic time in the downtown area, which pushes me to maintain a regular in-studio schedule (my worktables and materials are in the back). Having my studio behind the gallery also allows me to share my artwork with local business owners, art advocates, the art curious, and even just passers-by who want to know, “what is this place?” The storefront has provided the physical room to work freely with plenty of wall space to hang my work, and it’s even made new partnerships possible. I recently signed a contract to design a new art curriculum and teach it to children. I’ve had more community connections than I could have had otherwise, some of which have brought income I needed for overhead costs.

“As doors closed to working in one place, I opened a new door to my own artist-run gallery. For a long time I questioned if I was serious about being an artist. But here I am, whether there is interest in what I make or not, still doing what I do, finding ways to share it, and exhibiting other artists’ work too. It turns out that’s all the proof of seriousness I need.” — Maritza Ruiz-Kim


Open Call

End of an Era: The Gallery at R&F Handmade paints, 1995-2016

By Pamela Blum

The original R&F gallery was in an entry and hallway leading to the factory at the shop’s location on Broadway in Kingston, New York. On left wall: Cynthia Winika; in hallway: Rachel Friedberg (in distance), Nancy Azara, Timothy McDowell

The original R&F gallery was in an entry and hallway leading to the factory at the shop’s location on Broadway in Kingston, New York. On left wall: Cynthia Winika; in hallway: Rachel Friedberg (in distance), Nancy Azara, Timothy McDowell

In its 21 years of existence, the gallery at R&F Handmade Paints in Kingston, New York, has made significant contributions to artists who work in encaustic and oil sticks, as well as to galleries and viewers wanting an understanding of the encaustic medium. From its humble beginning in 1995 in the narrow hallway leading from the entrance to the factory, the gallery developed into an expanded, dedicated space when R&F bought and moved into its own building in 2006. During that time, the gallery has served as a focal place for discussing and understanding voices in encaustic and has provided a wonderful showcase for inspired artists’ work.

Now that R&F has expanded its product line, more manufacturing space is required. This means that reluctantly R&F is phasing out the gallery in its current location. However, its commitment to promoting the work of artists who use encaustic will continue in other forms. This article considers the gallery’s history and contributions.

At its “grand opening” in December 1995, marking R&F’s move to Kingston, the gallery invited 25 artists from the area to display their work. The first solo shows, beginning in the spring of 1996, drew from R&F’s staff which, at the time, was comprised entirely of artists. These included Jim Haskin, later R&F partner, and Darin Seim, now R&F’s president. Subsequent early shows included other artists who used encaustic, including Wayne Montecalvo, Laura Moriarty, Tracy Spadafora, and Cynthia Winika, who have all made careers teaching workshops on encaustic and oil sticks and showing their work.

Clockwise from top left: Nancy Graves, 2010; Barbara Ellman, 2010; Pamela Blum presenting bouquet to Laura Moriarty at the opening of the final show, November 2016; Gregory Wright, 2013

Clockwise from top left: Nancy Graves, 2010; Barbara Ellman, 2010; Pamela Blum presenting bouquet to Laura Moriarty at the opening of the final show, November 2016; Gregory Wright, 2013

In 1998 Laura Moriarty became gallery director. Laura dedicated the gallery to showing how various uses of encaustic and pigment sticks [R&F’s term for is highly pigmented version of the oil stick—ed.] had developed. She frequently chose artists who, in conjunction with their shows, taught workshops at R&F, among them David A. Clark, Lorraine Glessner, Alexandre Masino, Lisa Pressman, and Gregory Wright. There were also shows of historical importance. In 2005 the gallery showed the paintings of Rifka Angel, perhaps the first artist in the United States to work consistently in the medium of encaustic, from the early 1930s until her death in 1988. In 2010, the gallery, in collaboration with the Nancy Graves Foundation, exhibited nine large works showing  Graves’ exploration of encaustic.

Blurring and crossing borders, R&F exhibitions expanded the pool of information about artists’ use of encaustic alone and with mixed media—papermaking, photography, sculpture, collage, drawing, and printmaking—the latter including monotypes and encaustic combined with traditional printmaking. The gallery showcased people who had invented and mastered these diverse methods. A few examples include Paula Roland’s monotypes; Rick Purdy’s encaustic inlay; Laura Moriarty’s layering and folding; Alexandre Masino’s and Cynthia Winika’s artists books; Lorraine Glessner’s meticulous collages; as well as Kevin Frank’s and Leigh Palmer’s painterly representational work. Staff shows featured R&F employees who not only make the paints but are skilled artists in their own right. R&F Founder Richard Frumess exhibited his encaustic tests panels, which look remarkably like art.

At the same time that the gallery at R&F was mounting innovative shows, other venues and enterprises were exhibiting and moving forward work in encaustic. The pivotal year for works in encaustic was 1999. Waxing Poetic, the Montclair Museum exhibit, raised expectations for quality and range of encaustic work. Joanne Mattera was researching artwork for her seminal text, The Art of Encaustic Painting, Watson-Guptill, 2001, for which she made use of R&F’s growing image library. By 2007 Joanne had organized the First International Encaustic Conference, an opportunity for artists to come together to explore encaustic work through seminars, demonstrations, workshops and exhibitions.

In 1997, R&F held its first Biennial Exhibition with gallerist Stephen Haller as its juror. Subsequent jurors included curator Tracy Bashkoff, and artists Judy Pfaff, Mia Westerlund Roosen, Joan Snyder, Heather Hutchison, Joanne Mattera, and Michelle Stuart. Several of these exhibits were held in the galleries of Ulster Community College, Marist College, and the College of New Rochelle in New York State’s Hudson Valley; and Ball State University in Indiana. In 2005, the biennial was taken over by the Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz to celebrate R&F’s influence on encaustic painting in the Hudson Valley. Karl Willers and Beth E. Wilson, the museum’s curator and director, respectively, curated that exhibition.
“Biennials provided a way of trying to track the development of encaustic by showing concepts and technical skills framed by each juror’s particular perceptions. These exhibits educated artists about what they could do with encaustic paint,” Laura Moriarty noted in a recent interview with me. The most recent R&F Biennials, Encaustic Works 2012 and Encaustic Works: Nuance 2014, were represented as exhibitions in print, a project Laura organized.

In 2013 Laura left R&F to pursue full-time artmaking. During the following two years, I curated shows featuring stellar work by Lisa Pressman, Lynette Haggard, Natalie Abrams, Lori Van Houten, and Marina Thompson. The final show, running through mid-January 2017, features Carol Bajen-Gahm’s mixed media paintings and my own encaustic wall sculptures.

A panorama of the gallery’s final show: paintings by Carol Bajen-Gahm and sculpture by Pamela Blum; below: closer view of work by Blum and Bajen-Gahm, also visible at far right in the panorama

A panorama of the gallery’s final show: paintings by Carol Bajen-Gahm and sculpture by Pamela Blum; below: closer view of work by Blum and Bajen-Gahm, also visible at far right in the panorama


As Laura has aptly said, “The most important part of learning [about encaustic content and technique] is actually seeing the work.” This will continue as opportunities present themselves. In the last few years R&F has been heavily involved in developing the Midtown Arts District in Kingston. That district, along with multiple venues crisscrossing this and other continents, opens up many opportunities that go far beyond the humble hallway where the gallery at R&F started.

The author would like to acknowledge and thank Richard Frumess, Laura Moriarty and Darin Seim for sharing information about the development of the Gallery at R&F. R&F plans to put online a full archive of exhibitions and exhibitors