Creative Conversations, September 15 at Roost!
Sunday, September 15th was the latest installment of the Creative Conversations series held at The Roost Studios and Gallery at 69 Main Street in New Paltz. This evening we had a wonderfully diverse group of artists, including Bruce Pileggi, Tom Nolan, and surprise guest, Emma Hines! (me). The night was full of exciting interpretations and wonderful feedback as the community gathered to discuss those who showed their work.
Bruce Pileggi received his panting BFA from SUNY New Paltz and resides in Gardiner, New York where he creates stunning abstract pieces inspired by the complex and balanced aesthetics of the world around him. Pileggi wears many hats, as he is an actor, playwright and producer of documentary films and other videos. Pileggi showed a number of his paintings that he describes as ‘romantic landscapes’ some from his series ‘Heaven and Earth.’ These complex and balanced paintings allude to the complicated relationship between what we know as the Earth and beyond in grounded, thoughtful pieces.
One thing that people commented on with great frequency and enthusiasm was the repeated design element of a blank line that broke up an otherwise cohesive picture plane. This disruption created a moment of pause as the viewers eye floated across the piece, and immediately spurred questions and personal narratives. The conversation wandered from ideas of finding a moment of order amidst chaos to interpretations of the placement of the line referring to moments in life when we are forced to pause and make decisions, acknowledgments, and then carry on. One viewer expressed that the break reminded him of looking through a window, where the subject matter lies in the periphery while the line resides in the immediate view, quietly obstructing a small space allowing your mind to fill in the gaps.
Audience members enjoyed the various shapes created within the single frame and explored various possibilities of meaning, which is exactly what the artist wanted. When asked about his inspiration and purpose, Bruce was delighted to inform us that we did exactly what he wanted, which was to create a narrative that was personal and profound, no matter what he originally had in mind for the piece. Bruce Pileggi uses art as a problem solving tool, with problems all around us and our capacity for solving them being the conversations we have and the artwork we create.
Tom Nolan is a talented photographer, writer and actor whose passion for photography arose from as unsuspecting place. Nolan’s time spent serving his country in the Air Force allowed him unrestricted access to darkrooms and x-rays, this combined with an early fascination with photos gave this artist the tools he needed to pursue photography. Seeing Tom’s work was refreshing in its cohesiveness, appearing at first to be simple moments skillfully captured. However, I was enlightened by the observations of others who pointed out the impressive balance between the figure and ground. Nolan’s subject matter seamlessly coexisted with its surroundings, even when very different types of objects and textures were presented together they made sense together.
Tom’s real talent lies in his ability to find seemingly ordinary moments, ones that we have all experienced and maybe never thought twice about, and exposing the magic that resides in the smallest details. One of my favorite shots was ‘Friday Night Lights’ where he captured the setting sun as it disappeared behind the clouds, reflecting peachy rays onto the back of a pickup truck while the empty scoreboard of the football game waited patiently like the rest of us. It wasn’t a shot that was something bizarre or new, but it showed a kind of nostalgia and love that is incredibly relatable. His eye for intimate softness amid this hard life brings me peace. The works were captivating in the moods they encompassed and have the ability to transport the viewer to any emotional space, a very powerful skill for any artist. It was a pleasure to take a close look at Tom Nolan’s work and I am pleased that it will remain hanging in The Roost for a few more weeks.
Emma Hines is a third year visual arts student at SUNY New Paltz. I also happen to be Emma Hines. This evening was a very special opportunity for me to take my art out of the studios at the university and experience seeing my work hang in a gallery, open to interpretation and criticism. I was very pleased at the unexpected feelings my drawings elicited, with many people noting a strong feminine energy as well as a great deal of movement. My use of chalk pastel lends itself to smooth gradations of color that I use to create a sense of swaying as well as intense optimism due to the rich colors.
Being that I am a young artist, my work has been subject to extreme change and development as I continue to find my own voice in the loud and thoughtful world around me. I began cutting my paper into unique shapes and slicing entire pieces out of the composition altogether as a way to challenge the uniformity of rectangular canvases, and while it was more successful in some pieces than others, I gained great feedback and inspiration from those who enjoyed seeing something that felt more organic. I appreciated when people noticed the lack of perfection in my free-hand geometric shapes, a very conscious decision for my more geometric works.
While there is a place for precision and clean lines, I never want to lose the feeling that my hand made those marks and shapes, and I want my viewers to experience that. I also loved the perceptiveness of the audience to my exploration of the depth (or lack thereof) in the picture plane and their interpretations of how and why I approach my drawings the way I do. It was a truly special experience having my work seen by a room of thoughtful art lovers and I am grateful for this platform to express thanks to all those who attended the evening.