1+1=1 Gallery > Studio Visit

Category: Studio Visit

Studio visits and interviews with featured artists represented by the gallery, along with other artists across Montana

Ever had times when you feel like you’ve lost your mojo?

Hi you guys, it’s been awhile since I’ve written much on the gallery blog. I want to talk about being stuck, which is exactly how I feel right now. Most of the artists I know have had at least one time when they’ve felt really stuck. How about a huge interruption in your life that just seems to take the wind out of your artist-sails? Like, 6 months and counting?

That’s what happened to me

I haven’t pulled a print since an accident in September, when our sweet (large) dog, Shadow, knocked me over on a steep trail and I injured my knee.

 

Skip the next paragraphs if you’re in a hurry:

After a repair-arthroscopy and 7 weeks of rehab, we discovered that I had a hidden slow-growing infection inside the knee capsule that suddenly reached a critical point and made itself known with excruciating pain. A second surgery to wash out the bacteria in the knee, then hospitalization, and intravenous daily antibiotics left me bed-ridden at home for a week. During that time my health took a sharp turn for the worse. Tim and I both thought all of my symptoms were just from the infection.

It was only by luck that I was in the hospital getting an antibiotic infusion on the weekend, when the attending doc noticed my gray skin and admitted me. Turns out I had developed large blood clots in my leg while lying in bed at home and a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Another hospitalization. Blood thinners. More antibiotics. Very scary.

Now, many months later I am walking (more like lurching) with a cane or single crutch, waiting until I can have the whole knee replaced. I have to wait til August or September. Meantime I have weekly labs, physical therapy, water therapy and ongoing antibiotics dominating my daily life. It will have been an entire year of dealing with this complications from that hiking injury! Sigh.

Needless to say, after all of that, I haven’t been in my studio — as in, worked in my studio — since September 2019. 

Last fall, before my injury, I had a few drypoint plates ready to print. Where the heck is my mojo now? I’m just not up to it yet. I kinda feel stuck. My knee is so sore, my leg muscles have atrophied into noodles and it’s hard to stand for longer than 5 minutes. The printmaking studio is set up for standing and walking between paper soaking area to press to inking table to press to drying rack … Not much sitting allowed!

But. How to get unstuck? How to chase that mojo and get going again? 

I do have a plan. I have to go slowly. I’ve tried in the last few weeks to spend more time in my studio, teaching my art students. Trouble is, after two or three hours, my body hurts and my energy level is somewhere near rock bottom. I know I have to ease into full days … little baby steps. Right now, I have to actually be in the studio to feel inspired. I have to get out my boxes and bins of scraps to feel inspired. I have a large flat box where I store pressed plant parts to use in my monoprints. Get those out!

flattened marguerites

 

Another flat box is full of shapes I use over and over in my monoprints. Certain motifs seem to show up frequently in my dreams and imaginings. Spirals, eggs, birds, clouds, zigzags and waves. These have printing ink on them – ink that takes forever to dry on the coated papers and card stock I use. I love the unpredictable nature of reusing shapes that have bits of printing and color on them.

monoprint plate with paper cutouts and pressed sage, ready to run through the press.

Then, there is a handful of larger boxes that hold piles of paper scraps for chine colle´ and collage. The colors and textures get my juicy brain going.

oh, just some yummy papers and a little bird

 

an assortment of ferns and lichens gives me color inspiration

 

wild rose stems and leaves placed on an inked drypoint plate make a lovely embossed image.

I just need to put all the plates I want to use out where I can see them. Get my supplies ready (it’s important to make a bit of a mess) and sort through the boxes for some delicious enticing papers and shapes. Then it’s time to PLAY – no pressure! The petals hit the metal now. Heh

Here’s an assortment of botanicals, papers and cardboard shapes to feast your eyes on. This is where I am going to try to find my mojo again. Do you keep your art stuff put away in boxes or is it usually out where you can always see it?

Tina Garrick Albro, Printmaker

written by Claire Bachofner

First thing’s first

“Color drives everything I do,” explains Tina Garrick Albro when describing her passion for printmaking. Upon arriving at her shared studio in Seattle, Washington, she takes her time, methodically lining out her materials. “It’s a nice doorway into the work. I’d say I spend about an hour or so dinking around.” Most artists can relate. It’s much less daunting to conquer the practical, dipping one toe at a time into the pool of creativity then it is diving in head first.

Albro chuckles as she explains that one of the 30 artists she shares the (Pratt Fine Arts Center) studio with is an avid rollerblader and, therefore, also an avid disco fan. With, say, Saturday Night Fever pumping in the background, Albro begins her day by carefully selecting a pair of rubber gloves and laying them down in a particular spot. She chooses exactly 4 cotton rags; folding and stacking them neatly. She measures out her non-toxic cleaners, vegetable oil and simple green, and sets them within reach.

Onto her favorite part- ink mixing. Albro rarely uses colors straight from the bottle. She slows down and takes her sweet time concocting and blending until the colors before her match the colors of her imagination exactly. Depending on how many colors are involved in a piece this step alone may take her 30 minutes to an hour. Finally, Albro soaks her cotton rag paper which softens it and allows for maximum absorbency. When all of this is complete, she rewards herself with a little break, stepping back to survey the scene, think of where she left off the day before and take stock of her current body of work. Then, it’s go time.

Endless possibilites, one strong voice

Tina’s prints vary in size, subject, medium, and technique. Among them: vividly colored collographs of overlapping pine boughs and other foliage, bright prints of glowing owls, quirky but classic city busses and vintage airplanes, vibrant and lively abstract pliage monoprints and a handful of encaustics. Albro is a master with color, often combining bright, almost neon, hues with softer, more vintage pastels. The contrast in every piece is stunning and mimics dramatic movements, like the shattering of a glass or the quiet stillness of a perched owl. Texture comes into play, especially in her abstracts, adding an edginess that just really works.

Prior to her career as a printmaker, Albro worked in hybridized concrete and glass mosaic. “Concrete is so hard and heavy and glass is so sharp!” When she discovered collage and printmaking, she was hooked. “Print was all I wanted to do. It is so varied and the possibilities seem endless.”

Interestingly, traces of her mosaic past still seem to come through in her recent work, especially the abstracts. Colors are fragmented and divided, resembling broken glass. They seem to expand and explode outward like sparks of a fire or rays of light. Also, Albro makes powerful use of white space in her pieces. The white spaces are often the unsung heroes, much like the cement or concrete between bits of glass in a mosaic. They help tell the whole story and add drama and richness to the brighter colors.

Albro recalls that, even as a child, she’d spend hours arranging picked flowers and pieces of nature, “I’ve always been very inspired by my environment and continue to draw a lot from that…I think I’ve been looking for the creative possibilities in everything, my whole life,” she explains.

Tina Garrick Albro Studio
City hustle, country ease

Dividing her studio time between city (Seattle) and country (Walla Walla) has definite benefits. When working in her space at the Pratt Fine Arts Center printmaking studio (photo above), Albro really has to focus, clean up after herself and “try not to hog the press”. There’s also a lot of “cross-pollination” that goes on and her fellow artists offer feedback and help spark new ideas. On the other hand, time is more limited and she has to be ever mindful of cleaning up her space and tools, careful to be respectful of others’ space. In her solo studio in Walla Walla (below), on the other hand, she is free to work and rework a piece until it is complete. “It’s a real luxury to be able to just spread out and take my time with an idea and fully see it through.”

Nature plays a huge role in Albro’s artwork. Her studio in Walla Walla is situated among the golden graininess of their wheat farm and many of her pieces take on the tone of this expansive place. Yellow hay bail hues coupled with vibrant blue skies, barn owls and feathered friends.

In contrast, her city-inspired pieces are more definitely more urban, but still remain lighthearted and playful. Cityscapes and colorful buses. Old fashioned airplanes. Abstract, vibrantly textured collages.

A rich inheritance

Because she has become the family photograph repository, Albro cleverly weaves in pieces of her family’s past and brings them to life in her prints. Her grandfather was a photographer and she has been fortunate to inherit his large collection of negatives from the early 1900’s. Not only have his photographs become some of the main subjects of Albro’s work, they’ve also influenced the lens through which she views the world; she is more able to recognize beauty and glory in life’s simplicities.

Beyond the studio

Outside of printmaking, Albro is an avid volunteer, a mother of three, a bookworm, a gardener (and farmer), and a very enthusiastic art collector. She is a person who lives intentionally- investing her time into things that make the world a better and more whole place. You’ll find her cooking at the homeless shelter, pitching in at the food bank, creating a beautifully hearty garden in a bustling city, taking time to cultivate wheat and connect with the land in Walla Walla. She values the impact and significance of art work (her home is filled with pieces that speak to her every time she looks at them,) and devotes herself to relationships that are nourishing and supportive.

After interacting with Tina, whether it be by phone, in person, or through viewing her artwork, you’ll feel her joy, playfulness, curiosity and sense of adventure coming through. You’ll be reminded that meeting someone who has chosen to do what they truly love is always inspiring. You’ll likely feel a sense of uplift and hope that something as simple as a resting bird or a  towering haystack could contain within them so much beauty and personality. Who knows, if you hold your ear up to the piece, you might even hear the steady beat of your favorite disco tune.

We are delighted to represent Tina Garrick Albro in Montana at 1+1=1 Gallery. Every time we visit Seattle, we make sure to stop by the Columbia City Gallery, where Tina shows her work, and last year, Maureen was able to see the printmaking studio at Pratt, where Tina is lucky enough to work.

View some of TINA’S Work

 

Carol Montgomery

Carol Montgomery in her studio, Winter 2018.
Art flows through her

Carol Montgomery is a conduitStories, experiences, places, and events flow through her freely- spark, bloom, and burst onto the paper through press or brush, text or image. She is utterly humble, completely curious and extremely allowing. In approaching her artwork this way, each piece is unique and she often shatters standard conventions, steps back, and shrugs as if she had little to say in the matter. Almost as if to say, I don’t know, the story just wanted out, and it wanted out in this way. So, I let it out and kept working until it felt right.

Now Dance ©by Carol Montgomery

Both teacher and student

Carol is a well-known teacher here in Helena and has encouraged and inspired many local artists. When she speaks about her experiences as a teacher it is evident that Carol considers herself a lifelong student and continues to learn from her students just as much as they learn from her. Because Carol remains intensely curious, she is constantly willing to be shaped by all she encounters. Whether it be vividly colored cactus flowers found in the desert or her high-school students’ fascination with comic books, Carol welcomes all considerations into her perspective and allows them to inform her and, ultimately, shape her work.

Pages from one of Montgomery’s handmade books, inspired by comic strip formatting.

The result is work that often takes unexpected turns — perhaps the images need to unfold in a handmade book that alternates between text and image, much like a comic strip (above) or maybe the registration is slightly misaligned, giving the colors more movement which perfectly captures the flapping of wings. Carol is just as surprised as anyone when these serendipities take place. Yet she trusts the process; ever faithful to where the piece wants to go.

Fluent in Art

A couple of years ago, Carol suffered a stroke and she worked hard to regain her ability to speak and connect her thoughts with words. The artistic part of her brain, however, was unaffected and, since then, Carol relies on her artwork almost like a language all its own. Teaching became too tiresome since it requires so much language articulation, but Carol is more content than ever working in her studio for hours on end, speaking what feels like her first language. It is quiet, full of solace and provides a space of focus and retreat.

Sketchbooks full of “scritchy-scratchy” stacked around the house, ideas just waiting to be chosen and brought to life in paint or ink.
Path to professionalism

All artists somehow find their way to their craft and Carol looks back on her own path, in a very matter-of-fact way. She was drawn to art as a child and visited an art museum in Chicago at the age of 18, where she discovered the prints of Kathe Kollwitz. She knew, in that very moment, that she wanted to pursue printmaking and went on to attend classes at Scripps College, The San Francisco Art Institute, The University of Montana. Carol served as an adjunct professor at Cerro Coso Community College in Bishop, California and is a highly respected member of the California Printmakers Association. Carol’s work has been featured in various solo and group shows across the United States.

Grasshopper Song All Summer Long ©by Carol Montgomery

We are honored to represent Carol Montgomery in Montana at 1+1=1 Gallery. Come in to see her boldly beautiful work in person anytime, but especially in our upcoming exhibit: Hand-Plucked opening February 25, 2018. And, in September, Off the Press– Printmakers’ Showcase.

View Carol’s Work

 

Susan Mattson an art activist

Susan Mattson is perhaps the most considerate person I have met. She deeply considers the ways in which various pieces of the world, herself included, influence and impact each other. Through her sculptures, Susan works out unresolved issues; both interior and exterior. While sculpting and carving, she allows her mind wander freely, reminiscing and following the flow of memories, regrets, projections, relationships.

 

Originally from Bozeman, Montana, Susan has traveled the world, taking a solo bike tour across the country at the age of 25. Every experience she has had, every place she has been, is still very alive within her.  The past is carved into her psyche in a powerful way. She is a vessel of lessons.

Susan carries out her intentions through action. She remodeled a house in Butte to rescue it from demolition. She uses the pulp from her fresh juices to bake scones, because, even pulp can be useful. She works in mental health. Every decision Susan makes is preceded by the question, “what would happen if every person on the planet did this?”

She is a steady and humble activist; her art is a demonstration of her deeply held beliefs.  But, she also has a goofy side.  Let’s just say she’s spent a decent amount of time on testing the limits of the face-swapping app.

Driven by curiosity, Susan researches her subjects exhaustively which translates into unparalleled originality in her pieces. For example, her current piece, Nacho Scapegoat, led her on a quest to discover how goats have taken on the burdens of humans throughout history in many, many ways. Susan never just randomly selects a subject, they all have a story behind them, they are thickly layered with meaning.

Susan is pretty much the MacGyver of art galleries. She’ll improve mopping methods, solve temperature and lighting issues with nothing but a bed sheet and a clothespin and conquer mounting dilemmas in the craftiest of ways.

Something to keep in mind when experiencing Susan’s work: every face is made separately with tiny ceramic and dental tools, then pressed onto the body of the sculpture. This requires massive focus, determination, and patience; every sculpture takes many, many hours.

So, come.  Plant yourself in front of one of Susan’s sculptures. Let it speak to you. Let it lead you down new path, or remind you of another time. Open up, lean in, listen.

 

Trudy Skari, minimalist at heart

Trudy Skari is one of those rare people you meet who naturally balances the complexities and simplicities of life. A minimalist at heart, she focuses attentively on only a few things at a time in order to truly appreciate all they have to offer.

Embracing her strong Estonian background, Trudy derives rich meaning and imagery from dreams and the landscape around her. Very early on, she learned to tend to her own needs, overcome obstacles, and use what she had at hand to thrive. It was a basic and simple upbringing. Creativity has always played a key role in how Trudy positions herself in the world.

Trudy owned her first book at the age of 5, The Lonely Doll, by Dare Wright. It sparked her fascination with relationships between humans and animals and offered a new way to tell a story. The music of Allan Sherman really developed Trudy’s humor and wit which is still very alive and evident in her sculptures.

From the moment she visited her first clay studio, Trudy was captivated by the immediacy of translating an image in her mind to a physical form in front of her eyes. From there, she fashioned a former ice-house into her own studio/bunker on a farm where art was not valued, settled in behind 18 inch thick concrete walls to carve out time to create.

A champion of resourcefulness, Trudy is known to use clay scraps that most ceramicists would discard. When sculpting, you might find her sipping cold lemonade and listening to Tango music. Trudy doesn’t like to get too hung up on details.  The vision is there, it wants out, she just opens the door and allows her pieces to emerge in a natural way.

Come to the gallery and view Trudy’s incredible sculptures.  They are full of texture and pizazz; just begging to be held, touched, looked in the eye. One of them may even ask to come home with you, you just never know.

 

Gregg Edelen, artist of essence

For Gregg Edelen, pottery is medicine.

A retired sheriff’s deputy from Butte, Montana, Gregg has witnessed some pretty tough scenes. Gregg has used art to actively heal. He finds beauty and solace working with clay. He pursues joy; you can hear it in his chuckle and see it in his smile. From forming wet clay to tending a wood-fired kiln all night long, to driving from Butte to Helena to teach, deliver or create, Gregg takes truly embraces all his creative process has to offer.

 

Gregg fishes, but doesn’t so much care about catching fish. He cares about camaraderie, long-time friendships, laughter by a campfire, the sound of a fish slurping a topwater fly. He hunts but doesn’t care about the harvest. He cares about the absolute love he has for his hunting dogs, their dedication, loyalty and affection. He cares about breathing in the landscape and having the freedom to roam. Gregg is a lover of process, a person of essence. He chooses to create but really feels that, in many ways, the drive to create chose him.

 

 

Woven into Gregg’s platters, cups and vases, are elements of his passions. You’ll find subtle landscapes within the design, flies he has tied for fishing adventures, imprints of tails and fins, glaze patterns that resemble rainbow trout. Gregg surrenders his pieces, at times, to a wood-fired kiln, which requires 18-hour stretches of constant attention and re-loading of wood. It requires loyal dedication and trust between the elements and the artists. When finished, each vessel has been kissed by the heat and is one of a kind.

Gregg is a Montana native, a family man, a teacher, a photographer, a music lover, and insists that any tie-dyed t-shirt he wears be handmade. His favorite drink is a Virgin Mary, he drinks exactly one beer a month (with pizza) but never drinks coffee or eats potatoes. Ever. He loves sunsets over water, visiting forgotten towns and telling corny jokes to kids.

Come in to catch the broad scope of Gregg’s work featured in our current exhibit for just a few more days.