Monday, January 19, 2015

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Sunday, February 23, 2014


I made very cold and brisk visit to Chicago a few weeks ago, for the Women's Caucus for Art Conference and the College Art Association annual conference.  I'm currently serving as President of the NH chapter of WCA, and this was an opportunity to connect with artists from all over the country that I met more than a few years ago while serving on the National Board of WCA and to make some new connections.

We arrived early and spent the first day exploring downtown Chicago. First order of business--a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, which happily was right near the hotel. My friend wanted to visit the Thorne Miniature Rooms collection, which she remembered from a family visit when she was eight years old. It was delightful. The detail was extraordinary, especially the views through miniature windows that showed additional carefully crafted gardens and bedrooms.

Still, I was there to see art, to visit paintings and drawings and sculpture, so we headed back upstairs. We discovered an exhibition titled "Dreams and Echoes: Drawings and Sculpture in the David and Celia Hilliard Collection".  This was a really beautiful show of sculpture and works on paper from the 16th to the late 20th century. Drawings, etchings, lithographs by my favorites, Degas, Gauguin, Redon, Kollwitz. There is just something luscious about those limitless deep blacks in etchings and lithographs.  Unfortunately, I was too engrossed to take pictures. Still don't have the knack to be there and to document.

But I did take a closeup of Chagall stained glass window.  From Elliott Beazley's 2010 article: "Chagall gave the deep cobalt blue windows to the Art Institute in 1977 to commemorate the American Bicentennial in honor of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley who died in 1976. The work is a nod to Chicago's support of public art in the '60s and '70s and features six panels depicting freedom of expression."

Marc Chagall, America Windows

I've done some stained glass myself, and always appreciate the delicate dance of insert lead lines that balance the structural needs of the glass with the graphic design of the image. These were beautiful.

And, for my artist friends who use encaustic, a snap of a portrait done in wax:

Mummy Portrait of a Man, Roman Period, (2nd century A.D.)
Wood, wax, pigment and gold

Visually spent after visiting nearly every gallery in the museum, we wandered back out into the cold, visited the "Bean" and the Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park, and then went looking for tea. To be continued...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Breaking Boundaries Exhibtion at Fountain Street Fine Art

I'm pleased to have a painting included in the juried exhibition, Breaking Boundaries, which will be at Fountain Street Fine Art, 59 Fountain Street, in Framingham, MA. The show will run from January 2 - 26, 2014. It was juried by Lauren O’Neal, Director of the Lamont Gallery at Phillips Exeter Academy and a faculty member in Boston University’s Graduate Arts Administration Program, and Sara Zela, Gallery Manager at the Lamont Gallery.

Breaking Boundaries is about surpassing expectations of message, meaning, metaphor, or materiality. Encaustic, painting with molten wax and pigment, often needs to be broken out of its own materiality, its beauty, in order to say something new and personal.  Each of the New England Wax member artists chosen for this show, pushed their own boundaries of comfort and usual practice.

My piece is titled Leaf Edge. It was made during and after a workshop in which I was using new techniques of laying down color and line. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I'm happy with the result.

Leaf Edge, encaustic and mixed media, 24"x24",
©2012Debra Claffey

Breaking Boundaries at Fountain Street Fine Art

If you're in New England, check this out:
All day encaustic events Saturday, January 11, 11am-5pm

Panel Discussion with Kim Bernard Pamela Dorris DeJong, Patricia M. Gerkin, Beverly Rippel, & Charyl Weissbach

Encaustic demonstrations: Kellie Weeks, basic techniques, Jeanne Borofsky: hotbox demo, and Jeanne Griffin: use of tjaps (copper printing tools)

Sunday January 26, 1-2pm Artist talk by Sue Katz: "What's the Big Idea"

— at 59 Fountain Street, Framingham, MA.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Three days on Star Island in the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of Rye, NH. I was there for a Creative and Professional Practices Retreat, run by painter and sculptor Kim Bernard. I was hoping to hone my writing skills, tune up my resume, artist statement, and biography, and generally knock my artist business skills up to the next level from someone who knew what they were talking about, who "walked the walk".

I wasn't disappointed. Eleven other visual artists worked steadily through the holiday weekend, with long walk breaks, cookie, breaks, and yoga breaks.  With several clever exercises, Kim helped us articulate our dreams and identify our obstacles. We then rewrote our artist statement, that little piece of writing most visual artists hate to write. Kim helped us see it as an opportunity to bring viewers in, clarify, and make your work more easily accessible.  The irony is that writing a good artist statement can help the artist even more than your viewers. It can make your work truer to your intention or original vision. It can help you see whether you are making the art you think you are.

Kim shared her experience with galleries and museums and the best way to put yourself forward in the art world. There is so much to do beside make your work. We edited and formatted our resumes. We talked about image processing and submitting to juried exhibitions. Where do you want to show your work. How do you match your work to a commercial gallery? Or maybe you don't. How many other avenues are available?  Public art grants, residencies, teaching, nonprofit venues---the list is huge, and each  needs a slightly different approach.

The bottom line is that that are as many ways to succeed as an artist as there are artists. And the secret, (not a secret, really, is it?) is that you must know what you want, want you really want, before you'll get it.

So, a cool ferry ride, fun in an ancient hotel, a beautiful landscape, a hundred photos, new friends, and lots of homework to do.

Friday, August 9, 2013


A six day whirlwind in Provincetown this June: the 7th International Encaustic Conference, my curated exhibition, Natura Viva: Flora, Fauna & Us, hosted by Artcurrent Gallery, a post-conference workshop with Paula Roland and Jennie Frederick, Provincetown, friends and colleagues, and marvelous weather. I haven't mastered being there and blogging just yet, I can barely keep up with photographing, but I'll recap the week in the next few posts. Got to go find my photos....

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hotel Fair

Each year, for several years now, there is an event at the 7th International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown called the Hotel Fair. The idea behind the Fair is that the artists who attend the three-day conference can share their own art by exhibiting from their hotel room.  These exhibits are impromptu, informal, often cleverly designed, and immediate. The artists show recent work, trade business cards, share techniques, and arrange for sales.  For the first session, one-half of the group gets to host and the other half visits. In the second session, the visitors become the hosts. It's a delightful way to meet other artists and see what everyone else is doing in their studio.

Here are pictures from the 2013 Hotel Fair. I couldn't get to every room (and didn't get every artist's name), so can't show you every artist's display, but I'll share what I did get to photograph:

My corner

Marilyn Banner

Marilyn Banner

Pamela Wallace

Tracy Spadafora

Lelia Weinstein

Deborah Landry (right)

Lynnette Haggard

Anne Mavor

Anne Mavor

Marie-Claude Allen

Marie-Claude Allen

Marie-Claude Allen

Amy Hannum

Paige Berg Rizvi

Patricia Spainhour

Lisa Zukowski

Susan Delgavis

Sarah Brayman

Judy Edwards

Lisa Pressman

Cherie Mittenthal

Lisa Pressman

Lisa Pressman

Cherie Mittenthal

Cherie Mittenthal

Maura Joy Lustig

Amelia Kraemer

Karen Freedman

Heidi Sussman

Francesca Azzara

Sherry Posternak

Dawna Bemis

Susan Lasch Krevitt

Judy Klich

Cheryl McClure

Jane Guthridge

Nancy Natale

Binnie Birstein

Deborah Kapoor

Wayne Montecalvo

Howard Hersh

Sandi Miot

Joan Stuart Ross

Sarah Rehmer

Graceann Warn

Mitchell Visoky

Susanne Arnold

Linda Ray

David Clark

Paula Roland

Tracey Linden Adams

Kathleen Cosgrove

Annette Lieblein

Deborah Winiarski

Ahavani Mullen

Michele Thrane

Catherine Weber

Kay Hartung

Christine Aaron

Linda Cordner

Lorraine Glessner

Donna Hamil Talman

Dorothy Cochran