Every month, we pose questions to artists about their work and their lives as creative individuals. What with the generous spirit of the season, we thought it might make sense, this month, to ask artists to… Go local! Share a local artist (or several) whose work excites you.
Part One of a two-part post.
Mary O’Malley, visual artist
The paintings of Nicole Duennebier simultaneously seduce and disgust. Oozing and dripping with lush overgrowths of berries, fruits, fungi, and all kinds of other, unidentified matter, they draw the viewer in with their dark beauty. But upon closer inspection, one begins to question what they are seeing. Are those really berries, or something far more grotesque and frightening? Gaudy piles of pearls mingle with mold spores, and masses of what resemble lacey Renaissance neck ruffs threaten to choke their wearer. Underwater creatures morph into delicate lace-like structures teaming with insects, while swarms of pests come to life before our eyes. Yet nothing in these paintings are exactly what they seem, as they are part of Duennebier’s constructed world that operates on a logic all its own. The paintings’ rich, glossy surfaces are built up with transparent layers and delicate line, adding to the work’s mysterious presence. Be sure to check out Nicole’s solo show, Low-Light, at 13 Forest Gallery in Arlington, MA, opening in January 2014.
Susan Stinson, writer
These artists all live in Northampton. Annie Bissett has created a fantastic series of woodblock prints, We Are Pilgrims, which reflects the theology of the Pilgrims in vast, starry skies and a text-filled sea as figures evoke stories of a woman overboard, men punished for sexual contact between them, two Native American students at Harvard in the class of 1665, and others. Sally Bellerose (a long-time writing companion of mine) is hard at work on a second novel about old women behaving badly. The Girls Club, her first, is set in Chicopee, MA. It is the story of three working-class, Catholic girls growing up in the seventies. There is great insight about illness here. The book is funny, sexy, ferocious and full of the gorgeous mess of family love. Kelly Link was the editor and, with Gavin Grant, publisher of my latest novel at Small Beer Press. She is also writes fiction that rises from worlds I know and puts words to shapes that I’m afraid to admit I might recognize. Her short stories are weird, extraordinary delights. Her books include Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners (soon to be reissued), and Get In Trouble, coming in 2015.
Lorraine Chapman, choreographer
I am finding it extremely difficult to narrow down my list of local artists whose work excites me as I am a fan of so many! I am always deeply moved by the gorgeous solo dances choreographed by Marcus Schulkind and by the gentle beauty of the Prometheus Elders. Diane Arvanites and Tommy Neblett weave such intimate and essential dances for them. With the sweep of an arm gesture, a turn of the head and a knowing glace towards the audience, each and every Elder generously offers us their wisdom, their entire story, and their heart. As a young dancer growing up here I had the extreme fortune of training with Samuel Kurkjian and Leo Guerard to the otherworldly accompaniment of pianist Stephen LaRoche, all three now passed on. I know they are conducting ballet classes in heaven for some very lucky angels. Before Sam and Leo I trained with an incredible dance artist, Frances Kotelly, who still owns and operates The Ballet Academy. She gave me the technical base of my dancing that I carry with me to this day. I am in awe of the artistic talent of my nephew Danny Chapman who will graduate from Mass Art in the spring.
Read Part Two of Go Local, featuring the recommendations of a painter, a theater artist, and a photographer.
Mary O’Malley is exhibiting in 13 Forest Gallery’s 6th Annual Holiday Show, Plenty (thru 1/10/14). She’ll be taking part in Open Studios at Porter Mills in Beverly (12/14, 10 AM-4 PM). She’ll be in the December Holiday show Off the Grid at Artstream Studios in Dover, NH, and she’s one of the artists in Still Life Lives! at Fitchburg Art Museum (thru 1/12/14).
Susan Stinson is a writer, poet, editor, and Writer-in-Residence at Forbes Library (learn more). Her most recent novel is Spider in a Tree, and events are upcoming at Bloom Readers in NYC (12/15, 5 PM), Food For Thought Books in Amherst (12/19) and Odyssey Bookstore in South Hadley (Open Fiction Book Group, 2/17, 7 PM).
Image: Nicole Duennebier, TURQUOISE FLEECE WASH, acryllic on panel, 37×48 in.