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Danielle Voight: Finding Balance Between Minimalism and Expressionism

Danielle Voight
Suchness, 2014
[DV.16]
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 30 x 40 in.

*This painting is currently on view at the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Ave., NYC.

This oil painting, entitled Suchness, was painted in 2014 by Danielle Voight. As a young artist, Voight was hesitant to share her work with others, not allowing even friends or family to view her artwork. This time spent in solitude allowed her to develop her own personal take on minimalism unhindered by the pressures of sales or the unwelcomed input of critics. What emerged from this period was a fully mature style of painting that reflects her time spent alone.

Danielle Voight
Suchness, 2014
(Detail 1 of 4)

Danielle works primarily during the nighttime. Even when she works with a warm or bright palette, the influence of night manifests itself in the quiet calmness that pervades all of her paintings. The broad swathes of muted color remind one of the desolate emptiness of evening, with contained bursts of color and texture seeking to express, as Danielle describes, “…a sigh, a release, a realization of ‘you’re ok’…”

Over the years, Danielle has learned to allow her paintings to take on a life of their own while she is in the process of creating them. This process enables her work to evolve organically, aided by her brushes and palette knives as she reacts fluidly to the unique direction taken by each individual piece. By doing so, she invites the viewer to discover the beautiful subtleties in her artwork in the same way she uncovered those same aspects while painting.

Danielle Voight
Suchness, 2014
(Detail 2 of 4)

Danielle’s brushstrokes, sometimes cool and intangible, other times frenzied and immediate, act as a physical manifestation of her inner self. By making her unspoken emotions visible, she renders herself intensely vulnerable to the viewer in a way that is both disarming and intriguing. This process is capable of forging an intense connection between her paintings and its viewer, rendering her artwork deeply personal.

Danielle Voight
Suchness, 2014
(Detail 3 of 4)

Suchness was painted in 2014 after Danielle Voight had exited a particularly trying time in her adult life. The painting reflects the calmness and contentment that she previously had not experienced for several years. At the same time, however, there are the interruptions of expressive brushstrokes one might consider anxious, or even threatening. These, perhaps, may be read as memories of a harder time, not quite completely consumed by the peace of this new era.

Danielle Voight
Suchness, 2014
(Detail 4 of 4)

Danielle believes that titles play an important role in the viewer’s interaction with her work. The title, “Suchness” refers to the Buddhist concept of the mind resting simply in its own state of being. Suchness is a state of simplicity and contentment, best revealed in the seemingly meaningless like the scent of the forest or the sound of the ocean. In her own words, Danielle has said that “This painting entirely represents that moment. That moment of suchness. I have learned you can access it whenever you need to.”

To view this work at the New York Design Center or to learn more about the artist, contact: info@bicyclefineart.com

‘All the Good Things Will Be Yours’ : An Insight to Eric Lee’s Connection with Superior

Eric Lee
All the Good Things Will Be Yours, 2014
[EL.01]
Oil and explosives on four panels
Dimensions: 84 x 48 in.

All The Good Things Will Be Yours is about wanting. Wanting something unattainable; and this because it doesn’t want me in return. To some extent it’s about rejection and not knowing it’s for good reason. What’s shown is a city on a hill, but one that is overgrown and neglected and assembled in an almost childish way. This is a highly personalized vantage point from which I, without realizing it, superimpose my immediate surroundings, the surroundings I want to escape, onto a distant hill because I can’t imagine anything better. I drag my buildings one at a time to this new place, this new life and new potential, never thinking to do anything different. Any good I get is lost on me, so I rebuild the same city. This inability to see or define this better-ness means all wanting is illusory and just a projection of myself, just more of the same. So I suppose it’s about cycles.”

Eric Lee
All the Good Things Will Be Yours, 2014
(Detail 1 of 6)

“Imagine looking at a place and wanting to be there very much, because it’s better than where you are. Then imagine that you’re looking at this place, but what you see are the same buildings and streets, the same feelings that surround you everyday. Then try to see yourself realizing this. That’s what’s happened here.”

Eric Lee
All the Good Things Will Be Yours, 2014
(Detail 2 of 6)

“One of my grandpa’s many expressions was “no matter where you go, there you are”. Once I saw past the humor of it and realized what it meant, I didn’t like it. It’s a sort of inevitability, that you’re stuck with yourself. I used to look across a bay at a city that was much more beautiful than the one I lived in. It was better in every way. But it turns out I lived in my city for a reason, and I’d drag it with me if I tried going over there.”

Eric Lee
All the Good Things Will Be Yours, 2014
(Detail 3 of 6)

“The buildings on this panel are taken largely from Ogden Ave. in Superior, Wisconsin, where I lived above a discount grocery store that sold dented cans of soup and cereal with torn boxes for half-price. I could see a huge coal dock from my window, and beyond that and in stark contrast the beautiful Duluth lights and all they meant. This set the tone for the next 20 years, and this painting in its own very  particular way faces up to that.”

Eric Lee
All the Good Things Will Be Yours, 2014
(Detail 4 of 6)

“I’ve never liked sunny days or blue skies. I like cloudy days, especially when the clouds are really close. One day a terrific storm pounded the Twin Ports of Duluth-Superior. I was working in a tourist trap restaurant prepping food I couldn’t afford when the power went out and three funnels were sited in the harbor. We’d just heard Frank Sinatra died. It was the one day I truly loved being in Duluth.”

Eric Lee
All the Good Things Will Be Yours, 2014
(Detail 5 of 6)

“This is a combination of ignited gunpowder and fire on panel. I was asked by an art history professor why I didn’t just paint these things, or use charcoal for a sooty effect. I didn’t understand the question at all. It wasn’t until later that I realized why:  I wasn’t doing it for effect, though I like how it looks. I was doing it out of a connection to the process. Later still I saw it as lending itself directly to what it is I continue to try to say. In other words, I identify with it.”

Eric Lee
All the Good Things Will Be Yours, 2014
(Detail 6 of 6)

“The use of fire in my paintings has sustained my interest for years. It’s chaotic and yet an element of control or direction exists. It’s stood for many things: life cycles, destruction, death and rebirth, heaven, hell and the turmoil of this life. It’s elusive yet powerful in its presence. It’s immediate but leaves an undeniable history. It’s not done with me yet.”

From Coastlines to Canvas: Introducing the Work of Matthew Bielen

Bicycle Fine Art artist Matthew Bielen in his studio in Springfield, MA.

Bicycle Fine Art is thrilled to begin working with Massachusetts artist, Matthew Bielen and introduce his work to New York City. Matthew’s paintings are as imaginative as they are organic, finding a beautiful play between colors found in nature and “man-made” creations. The works evoke Matthew’s love of turbulent seas, wild coastlines, and moody weather, but they also illustrate a human role in these settings; perhaps even his own place in these landscapes, drawing comparisons between his personal life and his practice. We met with Matthew to discuss his paintings with him, how he is experimenting today with his process, the path that led him to this practice, and where he draws his inspiration.

Matthew works with acrylic paint, pouring it on his canvas fluidly into puddles. The high viscosity of the paint creates full pools of color, that he adds to every day after each layer has dried. He works on more than one painting at a time, tending each one as he surveys which canvases are reaching the end of the pouring cycle. Only then does he bring in his brush, applying white paint to the areas he wishes to “edit out.” While pooling paint is a well-practiced medium, Matthew likes to explore ways that he can uniquely alter the course of the work. Speaking of his practice, he says, “I wanted to take it a step further, covering the puddles, cutting them in half or starting them over.”

Matthew Bielen
Slowly Beyond the Bar, 2017
[MB.08]
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 12 x 12 in.

*Currently on display at the New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Ave., 10th Floor, NYC.

Matthew likes the beach best in the rain. Growing up, he and his family used to vacation at Hampton Beach, along the coast of New Hampshire, but it wasn’t until he visited Cape Cod in 2003 that he discovered a secret longing for more rugged terrains. In Cape Cod the water was cold. These weren’t the glamorous or sunny vistas of LA; they had character, and a real, hearty climate. The weather didn’t always allow for swimming, or picnicking, or a lot of human interference. As a way to spend more family time together, after the passing of Matthew’s mother when Matthew was seventeen, his aunt rented a summer cottage in Truro. The idyllic town was originally a central port for fishing, whaling and shipbuilding and the site of the first lighthouse, Highland Light, in Cape Cod. As Matthew and his cousins grew older and his family stopped renting the house, Matthew continued to visit every year on his own.

As he matured, the relationship between the natural world and the human one began to play out in his work. In his paintings, Matthew notes, “I use a range of colors that may be seen every day at the beach or perhaps only seasonally, depending on weather or other meteorological events. A mixture of ultramarine blue and white can easily remind me of most any day on the beach during any season, whereas when this same blue is placed next to a fiery red-orange, I can honestly feel the warmth that only a summer sunset over Cape Cod Bay can give you.” It was in Cape Cod that he developed his love for the wildness of the beach, and what it looked like without real estate corrupting it. He explores the symbiotic relationship in his pieces, showing what he calls the “non-organic forms mixing with organic forms.” He doesn’t try to hide his “non-organic” manipulations of the pooling paint. You can see the lines and cuts Matthew has made to the canvas. Matthew notes, “often, these rhythmic, organic colors become punctuated when I inject a very heavy-handed, man-made, shape using white or fluorescent paint. This aesthetic power struggle brings to mind the relationship between man and nature.” Matthew’s love for Cape Cod is even rooted in the history of the area. His readings about the coast guards of the island, whose jobs were to walk along the shore and survey the coastline for shipwrecks and smaller boats in trouble, particularly struck a chord in him. The coast guards’ families would come and meet them in some of the small cabins on the coast, but it was otherwise a very solitary life. They spent most of their days with storms and rough ocean and rocky terrain, and it is their complex relationship that Matthew finds fascinating. As Matthew says, “I love reading about revolutionary people and events throughout history, especially those in New England. The Pilgrims’ first landing in Provincetown, the courage of deep sea fishermen, the bravery of the first U.S. Lifesaving Service, the founding of America’s first art colony, all the way up to modern day artists who have taken huge risks in totally different ways. These ideas all inspire me to keep working. All of these accomplishments and detriments were achieved by battling different elements.”

When he was young, Matthew was much more interested in drawing than in painting, and it is still in drawing where his comfort zone resides. As a sketch artist, he was obsessed with realism which led to his first forays in painting into concentrating on photorealism. His childhood schooling was what you might call restrictive. From an early age he was in Catholic school and in classes that didn’t understand his need for expression. He cultivated an attachment to Van Gogh, and the post-impressionists, but the nudes he mimicked were met with disapproval. It wasn’t until college, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, that he discovered new techniques and styles that opened up his own artistic view. While there, he had a drawing professor named Billy Flynn, who changed the course of his work, encouraging him not to focus on the model in the room during his drawing class, but what surrounded them. Matthew says, “ It was liberating to not be stuck on just a nude model, instead finding something within the room itself, the people within the room itself, and what accommodates you that day…[to] figure out why and what you want to do with it. No one had told me anything like that before.” Moving away from realism and even drawing, he became less figurative. Flynn taught him what seems to have become a lifelong mantra of, as he puts it, the “freedom to experiment, and do something wrong, and try again.”

Matthew Bielen - Fog at Long Point - MB.09

Matthew Bielen
Fog at Long Point, 2017
[MB.09]
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 20 x 18 in.

*Currently on display at the New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Ave., 10th Floor, NYC.

In 2012, Matthew started experimenting with pouring the paint directly onto the canvas, which was a new process to him. As a consequence, the figurative faces in his work have taken on new forms. Now, they are lighthouses, towers, and obelisks, murky structures that only pure examination can bring to light. Fog at Long Point, in particular, he envisioned as a green light from a lighthouse blinking in the fog. The piece is vibrant but mysterious; you can see waves and soft shadows playing across the canvas, but there are evident lines and shapes that interrupt the entirely natural flow of the paint. Bursts of color come through with watery transparency, almost as if at that moment beads of liquid were released on the surface. Taken as a whole, the work appears like a colorful peninsula delicately poised out in a white sea. Talking about his objective when painting these pieces, Matthew says, “In my work, I welcome unnerving surprise as my art changes from day to day, along with the land, climate, and tide. The ebb and flow of ocean waters, the herrings’ annual migration, and the nesting of sea fowl are all lessons on life and art, as well as the pursuit of happiness. Each day brings a new seasonality and every instant is vulnerable to the design of sea and air, much like the dripping and drying of wet paint. The push and pull of the tide decides how a vast sandbar will appear from day to day, just as the push and pull of the universe decides what we are able to accomplish in art.”

Matthew Bielen - Sparrow-Hawk - MB.11

Matthew Bielen
Sparrow-Hawk, 2017
[MB.11]
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 16 x 20 in.

*Currently on display at the New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Ave., 10th Floor, NYC.

Sparrow-Hawk is even more abstract, and has a decidedly playful bent. The juxtaposition of the bands of solid color ground the painting. The organic shapes here appear almost craggy, but contain brilliantly marbled movements. Although there is a similar pallet in Fog at Long Point, this work has a much wilder, fantastical effect that mixes natural color and invented pigment.

You can see the influence of Robert Motherwell’s lyrical abstraction cropping up in Matthew’s geometric colors, and even the parallel of Motherwell’s love for Cape Cod. Yet, Matthew’s style is entirely new, and entirely himself. While he draws bits and pieces of influence from the world around him, you can see a beautiful transparency in his love for color and for mixing almost earth-tone blues and greens with vibrant touches. His work adds spark, playfulness, and fascinating color and ambience to spaces. Although they are small in size, they flood a room with their inventiveness and imagination, vacillating from delicate and mysterious, to powerful and vivacious.

Matthew Bielen - Stinging Cells MB.07

Matthew Bielen
Stinging Cells, 2017
[MB.07]
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 12 x 12 in.

*Currently on display at the New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Ave., 10th Floor, NYC.

For more information about these paintings or to view these works in person at the New York Design Center, contact: info@bicyclefineart.com or call 347.405.8488.

Walnut Veneer Relief Drawings: Building a New Series, A Look at Neal Perbix’s Latest Edition

Bicycle Fine Art is pleased to present a beautiful, new and exclusive, limited edition of relief drawings made from walnut veneer wood by Minneapolis artist Neal Perbix. The relief drawings, like the rest of Neal’s art work, incorporate the mundane materials he encounters during his day job as a remodeler, that he miraculously transforms into sophisticated, monumental pieces. Pushing himself to greater and greater challenges, he uses demanding tools with an adept hand, tackling unpredictability in his process while producing entirely polished, precise creations. This purposeful tomfoolery leaves you guessing “how did he do that?” With the veneer pieces, and other more recent series, he explores new possibilities in this daring balance between chaos and perfection, drawing together years of experimentation with different techniques that have been under development in works throughout his artistic career.

Bicycle Fine Art - Neal Perbix

Neal Perbix
Untitled, 2017
[NP.32]
Walnut Veneer Drawing mounted on 4-ply acid free rag mat
Custom maple wood frame available in black satin or white wash finish
Limited Edition of 10
Framed: 35.75 x 25.75 in.
This Limited Edition is being sold exclusively through Bicycle Fine Art.

Neal’s artistic process doesn’t take place in the studio, it’s more of a mental process that springs from his professional career. Neal graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BFA in sculpture and furniture design, and has worked as an art handler in high profile galleries. Now, as a contractor, he is constantly in contact with building materials, and whether he is renovating a kitchen, tiling a floor, or building furniture, his mind is on how he can incorporate those tools into his art. Neal notes, “I’m in the trade and I’ve always been interested in more industrial ways of the process.” This is not to say that he isn’t focused on his work –he has developed an adroit hand and it is his high attention to detail professionally that translates to his personal compositions. As Neal says, “As a builder, I aim for precision..I take a great deal of pride in that. But I also work against that idea.” Neal’s work is finished, sheer, smooth, very close to utter perfection in his clean lines and calculated markings. However, Neal works with materials and tools that tend toward chaos, and he relishes the prospect of glossing over the chaotic power of a table saw or a laser.

Neal Perbix
Untitled Diptych, 2015
[NP.15]
Tape drawing on 4ply archival rag paper mounted on Masonite and bass wood
Each panel: 48 x 48 in.
Display Dimensions: 48 x 98 in.

Each new project Neal takes on builds off of the last, as he challenges himself to work with more complicated materials. He began the arc of his artistic career with his renowned industrial tape drawings, the pieces that launched the circling style so prevalent in his practice. The loops refer to the monotonous images, meaningless conversations, and general online inanity that a person encounters every day. “The circling is the mundane, that we all feel,” says Neal. “At the end of the day I’m left with this numb meaningless attitude to all I just did…Maybe [it is] a way to document the mundane passing of time.”

NP.19 & NP.18

Two original sumi paintings on linen and canvas, [NP.19 & NP.18] by Bicycle Fine Art artist Neal Perbix, featured at DIFFA’S 20th Annual DINING BY DESIGN as part of the 200LEX NEW YORK DESIGN CENTER room presented by FAIR and Brad Ford ID March 2017.

From these works sprung the sumi ink pieces, meditative bullseye studies of acrylic, ink, and water color. The process mimics the zen buddhist daily circle “enso” drawings, a discipline-based creative practice which frees the mind through the uninhibited expression of the body. The sumi ink is viscous, which makes the pieces long lasting, yet the immediacy of the work is created in an “americanized” way. Neal’s table saw drawings too, that use the saw blade as a paintbrush of sorts, are reminiscent of ageless and contemplative Japanese ink wash drawings. Neal says, “coming from a technical background…still not being able to really truly abandon it, but not trying to pigeonhole it or coddle it. Ultimately it has to evolve and these [works] are all the little transitions that are the latest versions or episodes. These have been the last couple versions of that process.”

Neal Perbix
Untitled (Set of 8), 2014
[NP.05]
Table saw drawing series: gesso on masonite
Dimensions: 20 x 20 in. each

Neal Perbix’s ‘Untitled Diptych‘ was selected by 1stdibs at the New York Design Center to be featured for the Seventh Annual, ‘What’s New, What’s Next‘ at 200LEX in the lounge styled by, acclaimed Designer, Anthony Barzilay Freund, September 2015.

He hopes to bring all of the techniques together with the newer router drawings and veneer works. In these pieces, says Neal, “I was combining all of my processes that I’ve been working on.” The diptych drawings, which are inverse mirrors of one another, lie somewhere between printmaking and drawing. It is in these drawings, and new works like the walnut veneer relief drawings that Neal performs the careful push and pull in his practice: a veritable balancing act between turmoil and precision. In the diptychs, Neal developed his process of creating the positive inverse of his router pieces but hand cutting the positive relief from paper. The walnut veneer relief drawings, unlike past works, are monumental, etched forever on the smooth surface of the wood. They are precise and yet have an immediacy in their creation process, which comes from his use of laser cutting, where he is able to repeat the delicate webbing in the editions. They border on sculptural in their three dimensional feeling as their playful nature pushes beyond the two-dimensional surface.

Building off of his incredible foundation in furniture making and remodeling, Neal’s works have a monumental timelessness. They are statements in stateliness. True, they are meditative, but they have an agelessness in their precision and perfection, that shows the masterful hand of a reflective and expert in technique. The simplicity of the tones paired with the complexity of the process behind the work, leave a viewer forever contemplating how the piece, so neatly suspended, was made.  Works such as the Untitled walnut veneer drawing, which is currently on view at the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Ave., add a dignified touch to any space where they are hung.

Neal Perbix - Bicycle Fine Art

Neal Perbix in front of one his tape drawings, commissioned for the Schmidt Artist Lofts, St. Paul, MN. 
Untitled Triptych, 2014
[NP.01]
Tape drawings on 3 panels.
Dimensions: 96 x 144 in.

Photo Credit: Graham Tolbert

All works for sale are available for viewing with Bicycle Fine Art at the New York Design Center by appointment.  To see more pieces by Neal Perbix, or to inquire about commissioning a custom piece, please contact:  info@bicyclefineart.com or call 347.405.8488

From Sculptural Glass, Sketches Emerge: A New Body of Work by Chad Fonfara

Chad Fonfara in his studio in Omaha, NE.

Native Nebraskan Chad Fonfara is largely known for his captivating glass blown, inspired by the inexplicable event in 2011 when thousands of dead red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky, littering the streets in the suburban town of Beebe, Arkansas. Chad became transfixed with dead birds when he encountered the Arkansas news story because of the buzz created around the birds. The event created a consuming fascination with the possibilities of forms in the bird’s post mortem gestures.The event has since launched new developments in Chad’s practice: begun as a simple method for documenting the glass creations, his delightfully stark digital sketches, sold exclusively through Bicycle Fine Art, have become a beautiful body of work on their own. With this growing collection in mind, we had the chance to talk to Chad about his history with glass blowing, the transition from this medium to his digital sketches, and the inspiration for his work.

Chad’s sculptural glass blown works in his studio.

Chad was raised on carpentry, and spent much of his early career as a practicing wood sculptor. It wasn’t until 2006, when Chad was assigned to teach a glass blowing course at the University of Nebraska without any previous training in the field, that he was first introduced to glass blowing. He had to teach himself the intricacies of venetian glass at hyperspeed, learning the techniques from class to class, almost in tandem with his students. This accelerated learning is no small feat if you consider the tradition of glassblowing in Mirano, Italy, and the generations of families who take a whole lifetime of patient skill-honing to become masters in the field. Chad, who frequently likens his approach to the dedication of a trained musician, notes “it’s a material that demands attentive and continual practice in order to develop [it], like playing or practicing a piece of music for 2 to 3 hours at a sitting.” As Chad attests, “It can take hundreds of forms just to arrive at that [one] I had in my mind’s’ eye when I first conceived of the idea/concept. This is mostly due to the process of working glass –it is a linear progression that is physically hard, near impossible really, to reverse or dramatically change. Once the glass is pulled, pushed, stretch or marked that move is now imbued in the medium and the chance to change it will come in the next piece.”

As his glass practice matured, Chad discovered a new wave generation in glass blowing, called the “studio glass movement.” Begun in the 1950s and 60s by Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino, “the movement” developed a method for glass blowing that didn’t just take place within a factory setting. Breaking from the purists’ focus on vessels, they, as Chad notes, “approached it from a purely sculptural medium. No rules.” Chad’s work is a beautiful result of this free form approach, and he revels in exploring the sculptural practice and the multitude of forms and shapes that are possible, with apparent influences shining through from studio students such as acclaimed sculptural glass artist Martin Janecky. 

While glass blowing remains Chad’s foundation, his sketches have emerged as a close second, where  the bird form becomes translated, and, really, transformed. To make the sketches, Chad spends hours working on the 3D sculptural forms in his studio, chooses the ones with the best shape, and then works out their arrangement together, finding how they might most gracefully lie side-by-side. Afterwards, he photographs the collection to capture this configuration. He focuses on the shapes, the balance between them, and how the gestures of the birds resonate and call for meaning. The meaning for him has everything to do with their form: the birds on the street evoked an emotion out of me, that was an overlooked fascination with the bird form. Some of them were physically broken…The forms reverted to material. Their bodies lay limp with some feathers disheveled. Internal weight, bone and flesh made tangibly visible beneath the plume. As their bodies were no longer defying gravity their slack forms revealed their complexity. This made a visceral connection to the shared physical attributes of our bodies and a fragile living state.” He notes, “I usually work best when I am not trying to follow an exact sketch….I allow myself to do the idea of the bird, being more concerned with what is happening in the process.” According to Chad, he likes to focus on “just pure form and the interplay of those relationships.” To achieve this, he visually blocks out anything that may distract the viewer from the shape of the bird. Discussing the process, he says, “I try to reduce the colors down, the colors of the birds are solid anyway. But with the print I try to flatten it out even more to get rid of the 3D. I make the shadows and the colors flat.”  

Chad Fonfara
Empty Prophets
[CF.11]
Museum quality giclée print on paper
Limited Edition
Paper Dimensions: 13.5 x 9.25 in.
Framed Dimensions: 17.5 x 13.25
Available 1:4 scale

“Empty Prophets,” for example, is modest, subtle, and eloquent –evocative of something familiar but still striking. The focus plays with a limited set of neutral tones that are dark and almost black. Set against an entirely white background, you see the forms less as outlines of bird bodies and something closer to abstract shapes. The white background makes the sketch airy, and opens up the number of places that it could be hung. All of the sketches are a beautiful contrast to a vibrant room, and yet also complement neutral tones. They are complex without being dark. 

Chad Fonfara
Quelled
[CF.17]
Museum quality giclée print on paper
Limited Edition
Paper Dimensions: 12.5 x 22.5 in.
Framed Dimensions: 16.5 x 26.75 in.
Available 1:4 scale

Recent works like “Repercussions” and “Quelled” display Chad’s most masterful, and divergent, explorations to-date. In “Repercussions”, Chad shows a new ease in creating the “fantastical,” as he puts it, dispersing the figures throughout the frame and creating resonant, almost sinister, creatures from his usually melancholy birds. In the “Quelled” sketches, Chad plays with scale and depth by shifting and layering bird silhouettes, illuminating a more sophisticated pathos. The birds’ necks appear bent, as though they were tired, or looking to something beyond the frame. The piece suggests an endless number of birds, huddled together, with what looks to be mournful camaraderie enveloping the mass. Their gestures are human, engendering an overwhelming sense of solidarity between observer and subject — a theme Chad has been developing since his glass work began. Chad’s plan is to investigate these experiments into the mystical and humanoid further in adventurous spatial relationships between the birds. At the end, as Chad says, his objective is simple: “The touchstone for these pieces, is the outright vulnerability of these forms.”

Chad Fonfara
Repercussions
[CF.21]
Museum quality giclée print on paper
Limited Edition
Paper Dimensions: 12 x 21.5 in.
Framed Dimensions: 16 x 25.5 in.
Available 1:4 scale

To view a selection of other images from this series, click gallery below or contact: info@bicylcefineart.com to see the full portfolio with pricing.

Suminagashi: Under the Microscope with Eric Lee

Eric Lee in his Wisconsin studio.

“I am the furthest thing from a systematic thinker,” says Bicycle Fine Art artist Eric Lee, introducing his new series of elegant and enigmatic black and white paint works on paper. The series, so far intentionally left untitled, embraces a new level of conscious uncertainty in Lee’s process, harnessing a quiet chaos in their stately form.

Eric Lee Untitled, No. 1, 2016 [EL.18] Industrial paint and ink on paper Framed: 16.5 x 13 in.

Eric Lee
Untitled, No. 1, 2016
[EL.18]
Industrial paint and ink on paper
Framed: 16.5 x 13 in.

As with all of Eric’s work, the process itself is fascinating in its blend of tradition with experimentation. “People use marbling interchangeably with suminagashi… [and] I don’t like marbling,” he says. Untitled 1-6 uses a twist on suminagashi, the ancient Japanese form of floating pigment on water and then capturing an image from that surface. Other cultures have claimed similar forms of aqueous artworks, throughout East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

Eric Lee
Untitled, No. 4, 2016
[EL.21]
Industrial paint and ink on paper
Framed: 19.25 x 15.25 in.

Eric Lee
Untitled, No 5, 2016
[EL.22]
Industrial paint and ink on paper
Framed: 17.25 x 15.25 in.

Eric was drawn to the medium first in 2006 because it played on the unexpected, and the artistic ability to read and react –to channel the spontaneity in a way. “I was really into monotype. Any kind of mono work,” Eric says of the works on paper, “In the past I was using pressure. I like the effects of what it does. I was working with all kinds of things done with pressure. Running things over with your car.” These different experiments crafted the work into what it is today, and vision on what it represents. “I personally think it’s more akin to photography, because you’re capturing [something] that’s right there. It’s a snapshot,” he notes.

For the pieces, Eric uses leftover industrial paint he discovered at his house after the last tenant moved away. These materials have become the basis of his suminagashi works, and Eric is fascinated by the completely unexpected way each can of paint responds to water. The pigments all react uniquely, and a gloss from one company works wildly different than a mask from the same one. “Capturing a chemical reaction,” is how Eric describes the process.

Eric Lee Untitled, No.  6, 2016 [EL.23] Industrial paint and ink on paper Framed: 15.25 x 15.25 in. Br>  

Eric Lee
Untitled, No.  6, 2016
[EL.23]
Industrial paint and ink on paper
Framed: 15.25 x 15.25 in.

What interests me most about this process is how I came to think of it; what began purely as experimentation became a search for specifics and, ultimately, about the physical realities of situations and the intimacy that breeds.” – Eric Lee

The free form washes of pigment are almost unrecognizable as part repertoire of Eric’s work when you look at them alongside his meticulous sculptural paintings. The sculptural pieces have a narrative with a focused intent, and a hyperaware attention to detail. The black and white pieces are, by contrast, organic and loose, displaying forms of life without a story, that are no less fascinating. In comparison to the sculptural paintings, Eric says: “I was trying to find a way to fragment stuff. My goal has been to try to get it to act in ways I haven’t seen. These little cellular things happen. They look like slides [under a microscope]…you get clusters of things going on. They look like little colonies of something.”

 

Eric Lee Untitled, No. 3, 2016 [EL.20] Industrial paint and ink on paper Framed: 15.25 x 19.25 in.

Eric Lee
Untitled, No. 3, 2016
[EL.20]
Industrial paint and ink on paper
Framed: 15.25 x 19.25 in.

Eric Lee Untitled, No. 2, 2016 [EL.19] Industrial paint and ink on paper Framed: 15.25 x 19.25 in.

Eric Lee
Untitled, No. 2, 2016
[EL.19]
Industrial paint and ink on paper
Framed: 15.25 x 19.25 in.

 

Some of Eric’s larger scale works created in this style have been commissioned by companies around the Eau Claire, Wisconsin area. This Untitled series, featured individually or in a set, each on their own, with soft gradations, contours, and crisp dark color would contrast beautifully in both a vibrant or coolly painted room and will undoubtedly be a wonderful edition to any home with an eye on design.

For more information about these paintings, contact: info@bicyclefineart.com

Bird Sketches: A Holiday Tradition Revealed

Bicycle Fine Art

Chad Fonfara, Bicycle Fine Art

Chad Fonfara
Quelled
[CF.17]
Museum quality archival giclée print
on heavy stock watercolor paper with deckled edges
Edition of 100
Paper Dimensions: 12.5 x 22.5 in.
Framed Dimensions: 16.5 x 26.75 in.
Available 1:4 scale

With the holiday season upon us, Bicycle Fine Art caught up with artist Chad Fonfara, to discuss his Condemnation print series, depicting groups of deceased birds. At times shown huddled together in a vague mass of bird bodies, or laid out in a row, the prints are inspired by a real-live event in Arkansas, where thousands of red-wing blackbirds fell inexplicably to their deaths. The “digital sketches,” as Fonfara refers to them, are based off of his own beautiful glass-blown sculptural dead birds, which he uses as models for the prints.

While at first the Condemnation works may seem a peculiar pairing with joyful festivities, historically, dead birds have been a staple of Christmas card decoration. Victorian Christmas missives often featured daintily colored vignettes with a bird, frequently robins but sparrows and wrens as well, peaceful in post mortem on their front. Theories on the back-story behind these cards vary; some say they were part of a good-luck ritual killing of birds around the solstice, some that they played on Victorian cultural sensibilities to pity and tenderness, and others, that the images were meant to remind both the sender and receiver of their own mortality.

The last explanation finds a correlation in Fonfara’s prints. Condemnation isn’t fueled by morbidity, but by the implication that the disaster has on human frailty. “I think what it came down to is that it shows the fragility of them, the mortality of them. I found it affirming to see the fragility of them,” Fonfara notes. Like the Victorian depictions, the pieces are emotive and mysterious, but their bursts of bold black, red, and yellow, make them a real statement.  They are stark, wonderfully contrasted, and do not tiptoe around their complexity.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Bicycle Fine Art!

Chad Fonfara, Bicycle Fine Art

Chad Fonfara
Empty Prophets II
[CF.14]
Museum quality archival giclée print
on heavy stock watercolor paper with deckled edges
Edition of 100
Paper Dimensions: 9 x 15 in.
Framed Dimensions: 13 x 19 in.
Available 1:4 scale

A full interview with Fonfara on the digital sketches, his glass blowing practice, and further first-hand insights into the focus of his work will be released later in the spring.

For information and pricing about this print or to see other images from this series, contact: info@bicyclefineart.com

 

Through the Window and the Lens: Christopher Saunders’ Artistic Explorations

Christopher Saunders studio visit with Bicycle Fine Art

New York artist Christopher Saunders’s studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

On a warm day in summer, Brooklyn artist Christopher Saunders welcomed us into his converted warehouse studio space in Greenpoint to share his current body of work, along with the history of his path to New York and to landscape painting, his long-running relationship with photography, and the changing view of the world through his studio window.

Christopher started his career with earning a BFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University, whose painting and printmaking program has an almost unparalleled national reputation, and moved on to receive a MFA from the prestigious Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. His undergraduate years focused on studies outside the applied arts, but transitioned from his art history classes into his own expert practice. His paintings reflect this impressive educational background. While his practice is far from mimicry, it does, in the theory and thought behind it, constantly reference the work of artists as abstractly related as Tony Cragg’s sediment layer sculptures, to as strong and clear an influence as the disquieting landscapes of Turner. Throughout his secondary education, Christopher was primarily trained in figure painting and printmaking, but saw what was, for him, limitations in those arenas. After school and a rigorous academic entré into the arts, Christopher knew that there was “little about the human body or the figure that [he] wanted to talk about.”

Artist Christopher Saunders and Bicycle Fine Art’s Art Advisor & Curator Lisa-Thi Beskar inspect a piece from Christopher’s works-on-paper series.

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Christopher’s small works-on-paper paper series.

In a kind of recession from formal painting, Christopher found photography. For two years after graduate school, he documented all the places that he knew as a child that were now in a state of transformation, capturing the changing landscape in film and polaroids. The drive was partly fueled by the enforced habit as a child of seeing his surroundings through the frame of a car window, watching the world go by through a set lens. From there, his interest in photography turned into a life-long passion, which, according to Christopher, lasted for 20 years. He began to take note of photographers like Sally Mann, whose photographs of southern landscape and sites of violence, through the myth of southern mysticism, spoke more about society’s history than people could. From there, he discovered Gerhard Richter‘s patchwork collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and sketches in Richter’s work Atlas; an encounter Christopher described as “life-changing.”

Christopher built some of his original landscape paintings from these photographs, establishing his methodology in the process and working out an information system for himself. The work was not yet focused on the heavy skies you so often see in his canvases, and instead took the form of collage with what Christopher describes as a “realistic, architectural fragment.” He highlights inspirational similarities in the collages of John Baldessari, with Baldessari’s intersecting landscapes –which find points of contact in barren roads, desolate fields, or endless seas. Today, Christopher’s photo documentation varies from straight-forward shots of landscape, not in process so much as in his selection of the product. In a culling of both original images and scouring sites like flickr, he has amassed an enormous collection of images from which he finds inspiration. With a hard drive filled with what Christopher quotes as somewhere around “20,000 pictures,” his favorites are the “bad photographs –the very exposed, and the very underexposed. They were never taken with the idea that I was going to exhibit them.” He loves capturing the “mistakes.”

christopher_saunders

Brooklyn artist Christopher Saunders.

Credit: Erin Williams Photography

The move to New York caused a major shift in his work and as Christopher says, “no matter where you’re from, you aren’t prepared for the city.” He was continuing collage, set-up in a kind of ante-chamber in his current studio, that had no natural light. “When I moved in here [the windowed side of the split studio] in 2007, that’s when a few things clicked because the light was so robust and I could see the painting more clearly.” It was during this time that Christopher shifted from collage to painting, bringing fundamental processes from this former practice into his current work. Questions came to him like: “How can I make traditional easel paintings composed essentially by notions of light ? How can I do that and bring in contemporary concerns and make old vernacular new again? Within this approach can I also make something intelligent, rigorous and compelling that doesn’t require a textbook’s worth of explanation?  Can the painting stand on its own with the viewer?”

In this second room of his studio, where light seeps in through his windows, despite (or perhaps enhanced by?) the additional filter of New York grime, his sombre landscapes sprung from the change. Christopher notes, “I’ve been in this room for many years. I’ve watched a lot of meteorological events: storms, sunrises, star shifts.” These celestial travels abstractly relate to his paintings’ focus, in reflections on the “dark times” currently impacting our world –from terrorism, to epic natural disasters, and isolation caused by social media.

Christopher Saunders Far Nearer Tomorrow, 2012-2013 [CS.01] Oil on linen 60 x 66 in.

Christopher Saunders
Far Nearer Tomorrow, 2012-2013
[CS.01]
Oil on Linen
60 x 61 in.

The colors that are engendered from these introspections are mesmerizing, profound, and draw you further and further into the extending recesses of the work. Although they are focused on horizons, they really have none of their own. They open out to the viewer like an un-ending passage into a thought and experience, that metaphorically manifests in an illusory space. As with Christopher’s painting, Far Nearer Tomorrow, the colors bring a spaciousness to the room, playing off the natural light and picking up blue hues or tones otherwise unseen in a white-walled setting. His paintings have a cool, finished look to them, that incidentally photographs beautifully, and brings an ordered serenity to a work that is at the same time unbelievably complex.

img_5596

Christopher’s Greenpoint studio.

Even more striking, while all the imagery is of natural landscapes, implying sea or sky or stretches of land, Christopher finds his color palettes from digital light and images he finds on the web. They are in fact “colors that aren’t found in nature,” he says. He becomes infatuated with these series of colors and seeing to what extent he can “push them in a certain way to create a tone or an ambient feeling.” The obsession with Christopher’s selected color spectrum is entirely mutual for the viewer. Although brooding and sometimes ominous, the vibrancy of the palette is incredible and brightens even an artist’s somewhat ascetic studio.

The finished, glossy, almost photo-quality of each piece is equally compelling and conceals a meticulous process of reworking that can take many trials for Christopher to complete. Works like Far Nearer Tomorrow were initiated by Christopher’s instinct that the painted sky should overpower the land, but the imagery of the painting changed a dozen times before this balance was complete. The paintings are, according to Christopher, “months of work into one take.”

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Untitled work-in-progress by Christopher Saunders.

“This is my white whale,” Christopher says pointing at his beautifully promising (and still untitled) Work-In-Progress in his studio.“There are dozens of paintings and untold hours under that surface, I’ve lived multiple lives through it. Now this is the orientation…I think. All of the weight rests at the bottom and the light is rising from behind. We’ll see how it ends.”

To view more images and available works by this artist, contact: info@bicyclefineart.com

 

David Donovan Jensen: The Recordings of an Artist

LTB_Logo_Black_Opaque_whitebg-copyBicycle Fine Art artist, David Donovan Jensen is a painter, but he may be more accurately described as a sculptor of space. His environment seeps into the canvas, reflecting sounds, songs, moods, and the physicality of the outside world – diffused smoothly and soothingly within his work. Paintings, such as Snow Hymn, have a stillness that portray a quiet movement in them, a cool color that drifts in, calmly, like the first days of winter.

But David’s practice is anything but calm. In an artistic process that takes up every square inch of his surroundings, David begins on the floor where he lays his raw canvases flat on the ground. While horizontal, a series of acrylic washes are laid down. He uses a power sander to uncover the textures and undulations of the surface behind the canvases; a phase of the production that he himself equates to a massive leaf rubbing. You can see this effect in his piece Wave Hymn, which, if you didn’t know it was created on canvas, could be mistaken for a gorgeously worn cut of painted wood. At this point the piece has moved to a wall, another bit of floor, a different stretch of wall, and so on, until David feels the work is done.

Bicycle Fine Art - David Donovan Jensen, Snow Hymn

David Donovan Jensen
Snow Hymn, 2015

[DDJ.17]

Acrylic, pastel, and spray paint on canvas
78 x 68 in.

Looking at works like Wave Hymn or Grey Hymn, you can see the difference in the surfaces that David used. Wave Hymn (aptly named by David who has likened himself to a surfer “lurking around for the perfect wave”) has broader strokes, the rises and falls are longer and thinner, with little divots hidden within the sweeping strides. Grey Hymn, on the other hand, is more decisively layered and dense, with knots tucked in, as though looking out on a densely populated horizon through a thick, mysterious fog.

Bicycle Fine Art - David Donovan Jensen - Wave Hymn

David Donovan Jensen
Wave Hymn, 2015

[DDJ.14]

Acrylic, pastel, and spray paint on canvas
48 x 48 in.

Bicycle Fine Art - David Donovan Jensen - Grey Hymn

David Donovan Jensen
Grey Hymn, 2015

 [DDJ.15]

Acrylic, pastel, and spray paint on canvas
48 x 48 in.

 

“I’ve always been interested in work spaces and [with this new body of work] my paintings have started to look more like the space where the work was done. I feel that now I’m just recording these spaces where I work.”

Currently, the space that David is recording is an old-carriage-house-turned-studio in Northeast, Minneapolis. It was an art studio twice before (formerly occupied by artists of the Walker Museum) and before that, it was a carrier pigeon house –leading to a worn surface and rich creative space that feeds David’s work.

The Ocean Hymn paintings No. 1, 2, and 3, David’s newest series on paper, perhaps best bring to light, the original surface from which he draws inspiration. According to David, “the pattern comes up much faster” on paper and the movements across its surface are much more limited, dictated by the thinness of the material. The immediate relationship between the paint and the surface produces a notably intense difference in the blend and color. There are active divisions between the reds, blues, and pale greens in all three pieces, conveying a confidence on the part of the artist, who must make divisive decisions when handling the reactive materials. In a departure from his usual works on canvas, these paper paintings are slightly smaller in scale than the rest of his Hymn series –and the concentration in size allow him to play with powerful punches of color and texture.

Bicycle Fine Art - David Donovan Jensen - Ocean Hymn paintings 1 & 2

David Donovan Jensen
Ocean Hymn, No. 1, 2016 & Ocean Hymn, No.2, 2016
[DDJ.19] & [DDJ.20]
Acrylic and pastel on paper
Paper dimensions: 29.5 x 22.25 in.
Framed: 32 x 24.5 in.
* On view at Lucca & Co., New York, NY

David Donovan Jensen - Bicycle Fine Art - Wave Hymn No 3

David Donovan Jensen
Ocean Hymn, No. 3, 2016
[DDJ.21]
Acrylic and pastel on paper
Paper dimensions: 19.75 x 15.75 in.
Framed: 21 7/8 x 17 7/8 in.

 

Beyond the physical space around him, music has also figured prominently in David Donovan Jensen’s paintings. For many years, he listened to very dark synth tunes, reflected in the somberness of his past work in both color and tone. He has recently moved away from this style, which marks a distinct uptick in the warm, light, and inviting colors he has introduced to his palette. One painting in particular that stands out, detailed with flecks of silver that bring a playful vibrancy to the whole canvas is All The Moons Are Your Moons. The size of the piece is impressive, and can stand both as a complex work of art and, with its placid tones, as a piece that warms any room that its hung.

Music influences David’s titling as well. While creating his newest body of work, the “Hymn” series, David had been listening to recordings of a Russian children’s choir on a phonograph. Listening led him to the question: “What does a hymn mean?” From there, his Hymn pieces took shape, where in each individual work, he is “singing out to one idea.” Focusing on the singular message in the odes, he transferred this sentiment to the canvas. With this whole collection, David feels that each pieces conveys “a hymn for a body, or a wave, or a snowfall.” They are each, by themselves, a study and celebration of a theme. In Body Hymn, for example, David examines the warmth of flesh-tones, producing a painting that almost breathes. Each piece in the series can stand on its own; like children in a choir, every one singing out their own unique, but harmonious song.

Bicycle Fine Art - David Donovan Jensen - All the moons are your moons

David Donovan Jensen
All the Moons Are Your Moons, 2015

[DDJ.13]

Acrylic, pastel, and spray paint on canvas
68 x 78 in.

For a period of time, David moved away from painting and turned his attention to video work and making music videos. Being able to collaborate with performance artists such as Bon Iver, Colin Stetson, and Poliça, his artistic vision began to take place. A particular favorite of the projects he worked on was with fellow videographer, Isaac Gale. The pair wove together a somewhat abstract, loose narrative about aliens who had come to earth to collect bark and soil samples, and record an unknown natural world. His role as one of the videographers, was in essence, acting as a voyeur of this work. It was at this point he realized, “I was interested in doing the recording and I missed painting. I feel that I’m doing the recording now.”

When David first started working on video, he approached it as a way to create large-scale environments. Essentially, he would use the medium as a way to carve out a space and visually “cast” it through video documentation –an act very close to a sculptor’s practice. He created smoke sculptures in the forest at night for some of these projects. “I thought of it as building these huge spaces…that would then be suspended in the forest.”

This wrangling of spontaneous materials still figures in his process and work. There is a fluidity to the process that cannot be dictated. Nor does David want it to be either. Every time he does a wash or lays down a new coat, it’s a calculated risk. “You say to yourself ‘I may never get this back.’ You never really know exactly what to expect with each, very different, woodgrain cut.” This unpredictability in the process is the ideal apogee to David’s body of work that so strongly absorbs and represents the artist’s experience.

Bicycle Fine Art - David Donovan Jensen - Body Hymn

David Donovan Jensen
Body Hymn, 2015

 [DDJ.11]

Acrylic, pastel, and spray paint on canvas
48 x 48 in.

To view more images from this series contact: info@bicyclefineart.com

The Art of Art Selection for Interior Design

Bicycle Fine Art artist, Danielle Voight, is a nocturnal painter. This practice may lend a hand in her painting style – which, although light and warm, focuses on a kind of quiet calm, as though you were standing at night in an open field and spotted a brilliant star. In her painting, such as Dissolve into Everywhere, she leaves a good deal of the canvas monochrome, open, and uncluttered, with concentrated areas of hushed color and activity. These are peaceful bursts and they are introspective and meditative in their focus.

Danielle Voight, Dissolve into Everywhere, 2011 [DV.06] Oil on Canvas, 32 x 48 in.

This is exactly what drew Flora Angela Brama, Principal and Senior Designer of REVELRY STUDIO in Minneapolis, MN, to Danielle’s work. In their collaboration together on Flora’s just-sold www.4620chowenaves.com property, you can see this thoughtful concept of space and tone take shape. The unity between the interior design and artwork selection when staging and presenting a home on the market is so vitally important because it sets the mood of the entire house. These are connections that Bicycle Fine Art always works to forge between artists and designers.

Flora Angela Brama Principal, Senior Designer, Realtor® REVELRY STUDIO LLC.

Flora Angela Brama Principal, Senior Designer, Realtor® REVELRY STUDIO LLC.

Flora rebuilt the Chowen property from practically nothing. When she first came across the house, there was very little that was redeemable of the old structure and the project turned into a real “labor of love,” with every inch designed and crafted by her and her partner, Nick. Once completed, Flora set down to the task of staging the house, where she had to take into account the texture and surface of each room and what pieces would stand out and compliment her vision.

As this vision developed, Danielle’s paintings became more and more of a clear and natural choice. Flora notes, the “soft, tonal abstraction drew me to her work. Danielle shows so well with a lot of natural light; and with the openness of the space, her works fit right in. Their rarity, depth, and monochromatic coloration also functioned in a non-compete way in the house.” Flora placed some of the pieces in the entryway because of their welcoming, open quality. “They played so nicely off the materials and I thought, really added a sophistication.”

The Crow's Air by Bicycle Fine Art Artist Danielle Voight.

Danielle Voight The Crow’s Air, 2014 [DV.17] Oil on Canvas, 30 x 24 in.

Image of 4620 Chowen Ave.

Image of The Crow’s Air at the 4620 Chowen Ave. residence. Photo by Spacecrafting. Property website 4620chowenaves.com, Revelry-studio.com.

Bicycle Fine Art artist, Danielle Voight at the 4620 Chowen Ave. property.
Photo by Tucker Jaymes Gerrick.

For many years, Danielle was secretive about her work and hesitant to share it, even with her friends or family. Her time in an artistic, if not literal, solitude has given her space to fully mature into a style that accepts the volume of meaning that minimalism can convey. While she has always been interested in minimalism, she has “learned to be more comfortable in the negative space [of the canvas]” and to “be forgiving and fluid and let the piece evolve itself.” Beyond concept, Danielle’s ever-evolving process is apparent in the way she mixes her oil paints, finding the perfect color for a given piece in each layer and pigment she folds in to the work.

This fluidity, it seems, perfectly characterizes the pair’s collaboration. As Danielle says:

“One thing I was thinking about specifically with Flora’s design and my work, was that I felt we both moved together perfectly in the space. It’s all so, so open and simply done in the touches; and then with the minimal style that she designed the space with, it allowed for both our effects to work very well together. The art shined brightly but never overpowered or took away from the house and both were really allowed to shine.”

 

More images of Danielle’s paintings installed at 4620 Chowen Ave.  Photos by Tucker Jaymes Gerrick:

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