October 18, 2017

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription


In this issue:

A speed painter finds her passion, guides others
The Spray Can Slam -- welcoming graffiti, loitering and the like
Norwin graduate uses faith, paint to make a difference
The National Gallery's Art Materials Collection
Local morticians prove art isn't dead
Artistic motivation: State Street teacher using art to inspire student learning
When the Dallas Museum of Art Lost Out on a $100 Million da Vinci Painting
Beyond arts and crafts: Karen Pence preaches art therapy

 

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A speed painter finds her passion, guides others

TRAVERSE CITY, MI: A few quick turns of a rotating canvas, some rapid hand painting, and about six minutes is all Martina Hahn, 48, needs to create detailed five-by-five paintings of animals, celebrities, children’s book characters and scenery.

She is a performance artist and motivational speaker who travels the country speed painting and speaking to groups about art, creativity, and finding a passion. Hahn did not call herself an artist for most of her life, despite her current career success.

A set of twin babies after college sent the painter off on a series of odd jobs and side hustles to support her family until she moved to Boyne Falls in 1993.

Hahn immigrated to the United States from Germany at 19 and traveled across the county before going to school.

“I was discouraged by my parents to pursue art,” said Hahn. They feared their daughter would develop a starving artist syndrome.

“Don’t get me wrong, I did for a while,” joked Hahn.

A chance opportunity to paint 13 murals inside the original B.C. Pizzeria in Boyne City put Hahn on her artistic path. She said she began to learn that being an artist was a lot like running a business.

“As opportunities arose, I took them, just kind of hoping it would work out,” said Hahn.

Painting is now Hahn’s full-time job. Every performance takes around 40 hours of preparation and taxing physical labor to set up and paint quickly.

Hahn will perform Oct. 5 at one of the inaugural events for Draw NoMi, a month-long arts event that promotes creativity in northern Michigan.

I’ll be doing a program geared towards families,” said Hahn. “The idea is to inspire anyone to do art.”

Though her shows aren’t necessarily about art, Hahn said she uses her story to inspire others to find their passions and escape their fear of creativity.

“You can’t do anything wrong. If you want a purple tree with pink leaves, that’s your purple tree,” said Hahn. “Art takes the fear away.”

Hahn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. She said it was a scary diagnosis, especially with a 3-year-old at home.

“I inadvertently used art as a therapy without realizing,” said Hahn. “I used it to go through a healing process.”

Luncheons, dinners, and fundraising events were some of Hahn’s biggest speed painting performances. She has grossed over a quarter million dollars in donations from paintings auctioned at events. Another chance opportunity changed all that in 2009.

Hahn was invited to speed paint at a luncheon for the McLaren Foundation in Flint a few years after she beat cancer.

“It was for cancer survivors and I was hired to paint. When they found out I survived cancer, they made me a keynote speaker,” said Hahn.

She said she was terrified at first, but tried it anyway. Motivational speaking is now her favorite part of performing.

She said the ability to share her passion for art is a way to get others to think unconventionally and see things in a different light.

“I want to break out of the perception that art is conventional and boring,” Hahn said. “Art can be anything that anyone wants it to be.” Traverse City Record Eagle

 

The Spray Can Slam -- welcoming graffiti, loitering and the like

It isn’t every day graffiti artists, or “writers,” are encouraged to paint whatever they like outside a business in daylight hours, but that’s exactly what local business owner Jeff Holmes has done. For the last 10 years, he’s held a free annual event that welcomes these artists – young and old – and gives them a place to express themselves.

The Spray Can Slam is held outside of Holmes’ businesses on California Boulevard – Napa Valley Art Supplies and Cartons and Crates. This year’s event just happened to fall on one of his customer’s birthdays.

“He and his dad came for the event last year and just found his calling,” Holmes said of 11-year-old Jesse Westin.

Jesse discovered his love for graffiti art last year and has been spray painting ever since. His artwork can be seen outside the family’s home on Eggleston Street because, as his dad Aaron says, “He likes his stuff to be seen not hidden in the backyard.”

“It’s really fun to me,” Jesse said. “It’s a very nice style of art.”

Jesse typically writes names or letters using spray paint but the art medium can be used in other ways, too.

Daniel Alcazar, 22, of Fairfield used a combination of spray paint and oil paints to create ethereal trees. This is the third time he’s attended the event, but he’s been shopping at Holmes’ store since he was a teenager.

“This is the only event that I know of like this,” Alcazar said Saturday.

Several artists at the event came from Fairfield while others came from places like Vallejo and Oakland.

“You never see this,” said Manny Morales, 17, of Fairfield. Graffiti isn’t typically something that businesses are open to, he said, so events like the Spray Can Slam, where artists are provided with a free wall and inexpensive materials, are rare. “Graffiti is looked down upon even though it’s an amazing art.”

Holmes tries to add something different to the event each year. This year it was the addition of a piano from PopUp Pianos.

“To have the piano here has just been a blessing because every day people are riding their bicycles by, walking by, and they see a piano and they’re gravitated to it – it’s like a magnet,” Holmes said. “I’ll be in my office or helping customers and I’ll hear the piano start playing and I just love it.”

The piano has been at the store for a little less than a month and, for the last two weeks, local artist Neil Coates has been painting it.

Coates was working on the piano, which he’s painting scenes from Alice and Wonderland on, during the Spray Can Slam. It wasn’t the first time he’s been to the event, though, usually he’s using spray paint.

“I’ve been coming here to buy art supplies since I was in high school,” Coates said. Nowadays he does more than graffiti art, but it is how he got into art, he said.

“I have a big graffiti background,” he said, but “if you want to grow as an artist, you gotta grow with the world.”

Coates has nearly been taken to jail for his graffiti art, but says that it’s not worth it.

“Graffiti nowadays is not a game; you can literally lose your life,” he said. He has friends who’ve been fined thousands of dollars for expressing themselves in graffiti, he said.

For young artists trying to get into the graffiti scene, he said, don’t risk your life. Find ways to do your art legally – like at events like the Spray Can Slam, practice all the time, and always wear a mask.

The event has filled a need in the art community, according to Holmes. Not only do these artists get a place to express themselves, but people get to see the process, he said.

“To showcase it like this to where people can watch ‘em and see it evolve, it’s really neat,” Holmes said. “Hardly anybody paints like another ... they’re all different styles.” Napa Valley Register

 

Norwin graduate uses faith, paint to make a difference

Cody Sabol of North Huntingdon mixes his vocation as a preacher with his passion as an artist to create portraits, dipping his hands into paint jars to make his masterpieces.

“I've got an affinity for art. I've always been drawing,” the 22-year-old said shortly after painting, in just a few minutes, a portrait of Pittsburgh Steelers legend Joe Greene.

Sabol is a speed artist, who, in his words, “would rather do it (painting) in front of the people” than in the confines of his studio.

And so it was that Sabol, a 2013 Norwin High School graduate, recently painted the NFL Hall of Famer in front of a crowd at Norwin High School's homecoming.

Starting with a blank, 3-by-4-foot black canvas, he covered his fingers — no brushes here — with acrylic paint and applied it to the canvas, with no penciled outline as a guide.

Sabol started painting the portrait — he didn't let the audience in on who his subject was — without a picture at his side for reference. He was born 13 years after Greene ended his career in 1981, so he never saw him play.

“I study the picture. I visualize it. It stays in your mind,” Sabol said.

He quickly formed the image of a football player: helmet, shoulder pads, then Greene's iconic face and beard. As a finishing touch, he created blue haze swirling around Greene's face, indicating the steam coming off his body on a cold winter day at his stomping grounds, Three Rivers Stadium.

In less than five minutes, Sabol is finished, wiping his paint-smeared hands on the inexpensive pants he wore rather than a rag.

His website is filled with his paintings, mostly sports celebrities in Pittsburgh — Ben Roethlisberger, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Roberto Clemente — as well as Jesus.

Sabol credits Norwin High art teacher Christine Satterfield for helping to inspire his art.

He took various drawing and painting classes over his four years in high school and in Advanced Placement studio art in his senior year, Satterfield said.

“Cody was a very creative, talented and dedicated artist. I was very impressed when I saw him paint at our recent assembly,” Satterfield said. “Listening to his story, realizing his accomplishments and seeing what a wonderful person he has grown into, made me very proud.”

He started speed painting while a student at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Ky., where he graduated in 2017 after studying preaching ministry and biblical studies. It was there, he said, where he felt God's presence while covering a canvas with paint, or more accurately, tossing paint onto the canvas.

Sabol has used his skills as a painter to raise about $15,000 for charities, benefiting people in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. He has painted at numerous fundraisers, including the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational in September.

Chris Swope of Murrysville, a classmate of Sabol's at Norwin and Kentucky Christian, said Sabol is determined to make a difference in the world through his art.

“More and more opportunities are being presented and, God willing, he will continue to make the biggest difference he can to the best of his ability. He's truly an extraordinary guy,” Swope said.

While he paints in his spare time, Sabol is the director of student ministry and sports at The Bible Chapel, a nondenominational church in Robinson Township. He is the founder of Revelations 5:5 ministries.

As he explains on his website, Sabol wants to show through his speed painting that Jesus Christ is still here and still working. He believes God has opened the doors for him to continue to grow as an artist and pastor.

“I want to show the Love of Jesus and start a revival right here in Pittsburgh,” Sabol states on his website. TribLIVE

 

The National Gallery's Art Materials Collection
The institution is sitting on a goldmine of 18,000 paints, varnishes, pigments and primers preserved for posterity.

One of the lesser known collections at the National Gallery of Art lies behind an unmarked door in the employees-only section, where conservationists have amassed an unrivaled horde of 18,000 paints, varnishes, pigments and primers.

Neatly sorted inside rows of ordinary looking file boxes sits a near comprehensive snapshot of four decades of commercial art store offerings. This painterly treasure vault is officially known as the Art Materials Collection and Study Center, and it’s the largest of its type in the world.

The collection is impressive not only in its scope, but also for its institutional foresight. Nothing like this has been attempted in the past, and it will no doubt be a goldmine for conservation researchers in the decades and centuries ahead. The collection has already proved itself prescient, as numerous items are no longer in production, or they exist on the market with different chemical formulations.

The effort was launched back in 1978 by Zora Pinney, who owned an art supplies store in Santa Monica. As Pinney saw various beloved lines and brands drop off the market she began to sock away her own Noah’s Ark of paints. Pinney wasn’t planning on ever using the tubes of paint, but as a skilled conservator she knew the research value in maintaining access the the precise materials used by artists at the time.

In 1994 Pinney donated her collection of 6,000 materials to the National Gallery on the condition that they keep them available to researchers and provide an intern to do the cataloging. Over the intervening years, the collection swelled to its current 18,000 count through strategic acquisitions by Michael Skalka of the National Gallery and Mark Gottsegen of ASTM International. Today, Skalsa says that “Nearly every major international manufacturer is represented.”

Interestingly, the need for material collections is largely a self-inflicted wound of industrial manufacturing processes. Historically, artists had to paint with colors derived from the natural world—plucked from exotic plants, animals, bugs, and minerals. Some of these colors tended to be extremely stable over time, but others were not. Ever since the introduction of tubed paint in 19th century, paint manufacturing has grown increasingly industrialized, and scales of efficiency combined with the exhaustion of consistent natural earth colors have moved us towards an organic-synthetic pigment world.

“A paint manufacturer wants consistency,” says Skalka. “Reliance of inconsistent earth colors causes problems. They don’t want the brown to look reddish this time, greenish the next time, and orangish the time after that.” Collecting both old and new pigments provides future researchers with documented benchmarks to understand a period of time when traditional inorganic pigments and natural earth colors transitioned to organic-synthetic replacements.

The introduction of a variety of exotic mediums combining oils, resins and metallic driers posed serious problems for artists. Their use impacted a generation of British painters who were associated with the Royal Academy in London and witnessed their pieces deteriorating within their lifespans. A poor understanding of the chemistry at the time, and the introduction of new materials as a result of the Industrial Revolution has kept conservators busy ever since.

“Conservation is essentially about understanding the basis of art materials, techniques, and how these things age over time,” says Skalka. Luckily, when the current generation of art begins to age, there will be no guess work about what they were working with. Atlas Obscura

 

Local morticians prove art isn't dead

GREAT FALLS, MT: What do morticians do in their off hours?

It sounds like the start of a joke, but the answer for one Great Falls couple is no laughing matter. On Sundays, Jane and Dwight Cushman dress for the weather, gather up their supplies and head outdoors to make some serious art.

The Cushmans, who work for Croxford Funeral Home, moved to town from Washington in July. By August, they were already laying the groundwork for Sunday Painter, a group of folks who meet every Sunday and produce art without pressure.

Sunday Painter is not a class. No one is there to provide critique. No one is comparing their work to yours.

"We're trying to create a space where there's no instruction, no competition," said Dwight. "It lets the fun come out in the work."

During the spring and summer months, artists bring their own supplies and work outdoors in sessions the Cushmans call “paint-outs.” The idea is to get artists out of their studios and into a social group of like-minded people for plein air painting, sketching and other forms of art.

Dwight Cushman has been making art his whole life, and Jane has been an artist for 15 years. They went to school for mortuary science together, and they have learned over the years to look for the art in everything.

"I think mortuary work is sort of an art," said Dwight. "You make people presentable in order to be said goodbye to."

Sunday was the final outdoor session of Sunday Painter, and the Cushmans braved 40-degree temperatures, precipitation and, of course, Montana winds to visit the old Highland Calvary Cemetery to capture a historic vista where man meets nature.

“We thought it was fun because being October, people are thinking about fall and death and the end,” said Dwight on the location choice.

“Plus, we’re morticians,” he added with a chuckle.

Since Sept. 10, the Sunday Painters have created art at the Great Falls International Airport’s Air Park, Rainbow Scenic Overlook, Giant Springs State Park and the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park. The group will now move indoors to a generous space inside the Great Falls Public Library for the winter.

The Cushmans seemed destined to land in the Electric City. A few months before relocating, Dwight saw a group of Charlie Russell reproductions in a Salvation Army store and snatched them up.

“I started getting really Russell crazy,” Dwight said.

When they were looking at Great Falls, the flourishing arts community was a good sign. Then Dwight discovered that Croxford Funeral Home was just a few blocks from the C.M. Russell Museum.

“We were very impressed when we saw what Great Falls had to offer,” said Jane.

The couple even settled in old Charlie’s neighborhood, finding a place to rent by chance after talking to a person walking a dog near the Russell Museum.

Sunday Painter came into being shortly thereafter, when the Cushmans took something that they weren’t seeing in Great Falls and made it happen.

Jane, who is currently expecting her first child, encourages parents to load up some supplies and bring their kids.

During the Giant Springs session, Jane said, “We had a lot of kids that stopped and wanted to make art.”

So far, Sunday Painter sessions have been well-received and well-attended by artists of all ages, and the whole idea is to add camaraderie and fun to the creative process. The Cushmans believe this sort of environment encourages attendees to keep their art dynamic, get inspired by each other and enjoy the companionship, support and safety of painting together.

“This isn’t your grandma’s paint-out,” said Dwight.

“But we welcome your grandma, too,” finished Jane.

The next session of Sunday Painter starts a new feature of the club: using local volunteers as models for portrait painting. On Oct. 15, participants get to paint “The Biker” based on a female model from Great Falls.

The library is even allowing the model to bring her Harley-Davidson motorcycle into the building’s basement especially for the session.

Artists should bring their own supplies to Sunday Painter sessions, even if it’s just a sketch pad and a pencil. In general, there are no fees involved in the sessions, although there may be special premium paint-outs or workshops that include an admission cost, room rental or model fee.

Sunday Painter times, locations and special events can be found on their website, sundaypainter.org, or their Facebook page.

In the future, the Cushmans hope to continue exploring many more local and regional spots for outdoor painting, including farmlands, mountain ranges, waterways, forests and historic destinations.

Ultimately, their goal is to build a network of painters who go out and make art together throughout Montana by partnering with other artists who wish to host paint-outs. As the numbers of paint-out groups grow, they envision bringing artists together for larger paint-outs semi-annually. Great Falls Tribune

 

Artistic motivation: State Street teacher using art to inspire student learning

WESTERLY, RI: Abraham LaFountain was recently tasked with drawing a picture of his house in art class.

The kindergarten student at State Street Elementary School was ecstatic — he even added a few aesthetic touches.

“A tree and a rainbow — rainbows are over our house sometimes,” the 5-year-old said. “I love that I get to put whatever stuff in it.

That’s the thing about art, State Street art teacher Christine Lonergan said — it gets children excited about learning.

“I love the energy, and they always think it’s great, no matter what they’re doing,” said Lonergan, who has been with the Westerly Public Schools since 2016. “Whether they’re drawing pictures of their house, doing self-portraits or learning about color wheels, they love to incorporate their own ideas.”

Lonergan helped create and implement an elementary art curriculum for Westerly’s youngest students, and the Rhode Island Art Education Association named her the New Art Educator of the Year earlier this fall.

The 28-year-old will receive her award at a ceremony in Providence on Nov. 3, and State Street’s staff recognized her in September with a bouquet of art supplies.

“I was humbled,” she said. “I’ve always loved art. My poor parents — I made everything. I remember when I was a little kid my mom let me fill a carriage up with art supplies for my birthday. I was always into art and music.”

Since graduating from Rhode Island College with bachelor’s degrees in painting and art education in 2011, Lonergan has helped create art curriculums for elementary and middle school students in several districts across the state.

For two years she worked at Royal Gallery in Providence, where she curated exhibitions, selected hung and framed artwork and communicated with artists.

“It was one of the best experiences,” Lonergan, who produces oil paintings and has taken private lessons to hone her skills, said. “When you work in a gallery you get to see the other side of the business.”

This past weekend, Lonergan, who lives with her husband, Eric, in North Kingstown, flew to Chicago to engage in another of her passions: running.

She runs 10 miles every Sunday, and this past Sunday she participated in the Chicago Marathon.

“Both art and running are just so relaxing,” she said. “If you’re grappling with things, they’re just huge blessings.”

At State Street, her students spend 40 minutes a week in her classroom. If there’s time, she allows them to “free draw.” Art, she said, allows students to work on their gross motor skills, creativity and problem-solving.

Abraham used his artwork of his house to solve a problem at home.

“I wrote my name really big on my picture,” he said. “So my sister knows it’s not hers.” The Westerly Sun

 

When the Dallas Museum of Art Lost Out on a $100 Million da Vinci Painting
In 2012, the DMA tried to buy the long lost Leonardo, but fell short. The rare painting is back on the auction block with an eye-popping price tag.

A Leonardo da Vinci painting heralded as one of the century’s biggest artistic rediscoveries is expected to go for a whopping $100 million in auction this November. Salvator Mundi, a depiction of Jesus Christ that was painted around the same time and bears several similarities to the Mona Lisa, was revealed Tuesday morning as one of two big-time consignments for the upcoming sale at Christie’s New York. (The other is Andy Warhol’s Sixty Last Suppers.)

The da Vinci took an unusual route to this particular auction block, but its most interesting detour came in 2012, when it arrived at the Dallas Museum of Art while the museum tried to drum up the wads of cash it would have taken to buy the only privately held work by the Renaissance master. We’ll get there, but first, clips from the long strange journey: Salvator Mundi was painted sometime around 1500, and circulated among European royalty for a couple centuries before falling off the map for 140 years. It resurfaced in 1958, and, then thought to be an imitation by one of da Vinci’s followers, went for less than $100 at a Sotheby’s auction. It pulled another vanishing act before being rediscovered in the early 2000s, kicking off an art world fervor at last in 2011 when it was authenticated as a da Vinci.

Which takes us back to Dallas, where in 2012, the price tag being bandied about was close to $200 million. This did not deter then-DMA director Maxwell Anderson, who saw the opportunity to make a splash by adding to the museum’s, at the time, essentially nonexistent collection of work by Old Masters with a masterpiece by the biggest Old Master of them all. The museum has since beefed up its stash of paintings by long-dead Europeans. For Salvator Mundi and Dallas, however, it wasn’t meant to be.

DMA staff, curators, trustees, and the deep-pocketed donors Anderson was buttering up five years ago got the chance to see the da Vinci in person. No one else here did. The museum’s bid — the offer wasn’t made public, but “tens of millions of dollars” were on deck — was turned down, and the painting in 2013 reportedly was sold for about $75 million in a private deal.

Now here we are, given the opportunity to engage in one of our greatest pastimes, dredging up the past and wondering what could have been. Would the DMA acquiring Salvator Mundi have made Dallas an international art destination, as some boosters claimed? Would it have instead been a colossal waste of money, as others argued? What kind of art should the DMA seek to buy in the first place? While we’re at it, how do we determine the value of art in the 21st century? How are you doing today, really? D Magazine

 

Beyond arts and crafts: Karen Pence preaches art therapy

WASHINGTON,DC: When Karen Pence found out that an art therapist in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico couldn't afford the clay her clients needed, she sprang into action.

A trained watercolor artist and advocate of the little-known mental health profession, Vice President Mike Pence's wife went to the Virginia art supply store she frequented when they lived in the state during his tenure in Congress, bought 120 pounds of self-drying clay and packed it aboard Air Force Two for their flight down to survey the damage.

"She cleaned him out," the vice president said of the store's owner.

Mrs. Pence made art therapy her cause ever since she first learned about it more than a decade ago. She has visited numerous art therapy programs, both in the U.S. and abroad, and on Wednesday in Florida, nine months into the administration, she planned to formally announce the goals for her art therapy initiative.

She wants to help people understand the difference between art therapy and arts and crafts, and to grasp that art therapy is a viable option for treating trauma, injury and other life experiences. She also wants to encourage young people to choose art therapy as a career.

"I don't think that a lot of people understand the difference between therapeutic art and art therapy," Mrs. Pence, a trained watercolor artist, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview before the announcement at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The school has an art therapy program she described as "tremendous."

Blabbing to a girlfriend can be therapeutic, she explained, but it is not the same as art therapy, which has three elements: a client, a trained therapist and art.

As passionate as she is about raising art therapy's profile, other issues help make Karen Pence tick, too.

One of them is helping military families, especially spouses. Her only son, Michael, is in the Marines.

There's also her interest in honeybees. Mrs. Pence installed a beehive on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, where the vice president's official residence is located, to help call attention to a decline in managed bee colonies that officials say could negatively affect U.S. agricultural production. She had a beehive at the Indiana governor's residence for the same reason.

Now 60 and married to the vice president since 1985, Mrs. Pence has long been viewed as one of her husband's most trusted political advisers. They're often together on trips, at the White House, or at the observatory, almost always holding hands.

Since returning to Washington in January (the family lived in the area when her husband served in Congress), she has accompanied the vice president on goodwill tours of Europe, Asia and Latin America, as well as trips to survey recent hurricane damage in Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She tries to visit art therapy programs wherever she goes. Journalists who travel with Pence often keep an eye out for his wife; she often brings them cookies when he ventures back to the press cabin for small talk.

She's even done a little campaigning, urging Virginians to vote next month for Ed Gillespie in what's viewed as a tight gubernatorial race.

"It really makes a difference, I can tell you. Nobody thought that we were going to win," she said, an apparent reference to the Trump-Pence ticket.

The vice president often refers to his wife as the family's "prayer captain." She has led congregations in prayer during their hurricane-damage trips.

"We're people of faith so we just try and approach everything with prayer," Mrs. Pence said from her sunny, second-floor office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, where she and her staff enjoy coveted views of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. Art therapy drawings given as gifts adorn the outer office.

She proudly displayed several of her paintings, including of the Capitol dome, the vice president's residence, a Ball canning jar-turned-flower vase, a cardinal bird and a pink peony. She turns many of her watercolors into prints and boxed notecards that she gifts to art therapists she meets.

Except for myriad pets, including two cats, a dog and a rabbit named Marlon Bundo, the Pences are empty nesters. Their son and two adult daughters are off on their own.

"I think for us this is a good time in our life for this role because our kids are out of college. They're living their own lives," Mrs. Pence said.

She's also launching a blog in conjunction with Wednesday's announcement to chronicle her visits to art therapy programs. Houston Chronicle