Signe & Genna Grushovenko

Call for 80s Pics!

Signe Grushovenko
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Alright people. I said this day would never come, but here it is. 

 

We’ve progressed through images from the Victorian era through the 1970s and now we’re knocking at the 80s’ door. The 80s are calling me in a louder and louder voice but I am not yet finding the right imagery. Do you have some to share? Here’s what I want:

 

·     Your legit 1980s yearbook pics. Bonus points if you have those super tall bangs or are wearing ‘twist-a-beads’.

·     You and your friends looking bleak and listening to The Cure

·     You standing in front of your first car

·     Family pics, full body if possible

·     Cool dudes with mullets on bmx bikes.

·     Women in jackets with giant shoulder pads, a la ‘Working Girl’

·     A little kid riding a Big Wheel

·     You and your girlfriends at the pool in your high thigh bikinis

·     You in legwarmers

·     You’re on a cruise with your family and you’re wearing Umbros.

·     You’re in your room surrounded by giant posters of hair bands.

 

You got any of that? What else you got? If you’re willing to be immortalized, please send me your pics. You can message us on Facebook, post them on instagram tagged #grushovenko80sproject, or email them to sgrushovenko@gmail.com. If I select your photo to use as reference for one of our paintings, I’ll give you right of first refusal, a 10% discount, free shipping, and my gratitude forever. If you share your pics, you are giving us permission to use your image in our work and to share your pic on our social media.

The Power of Art Collecting

Signe Grushovenko
  Vintage dolls in our dining room admiring Cora Waterhouse's 'Henrietta's Millions'.

Vintage dolls in our dining room admiring Cora Waterhouse's 'Henrietta's Millions'.

A single girlfriend recently told me that she'd looked around her home and realized that all or her art featured single ladies. They were happy ladies and powerful ladies and beautiful, lovely, glorious ladies, but they were all solitary. As a prompt to her subconscious she was planning to add some images of couples to her collection. During that weekend, she acquired a piece from a mutual artist friend called 'The Suitors'. The piece featured three handsome gents all offering up platters of cake to a woman who stood above.

Weeks later, a friend of Genna's was coming to visit. I thought, 'Hmm. Cute single boy.' I called up my friend and invited her to join us all for the weekend. They hit it off. The only problem was that she had already begun a nice flirtation with another friend-of-a-friend and was feeling a little conflicted. Days later we were dissecting the situation over the phone when I yelled 'ROCHELLE!' (that's not really her name, but you get the idea.) 'ROCHELLE! I wonder when you're going to hear from your third suitor?!' She laughed it off with a 'God forbid!' but the next morning I got the text: "Well, the third suitor has arrived, WTH?!' She had received a ping from an excellent prospect on match.com. I won't tell you the end of the story in case you know us and you've figured out who 'Rochelle' is, but we'll just say she made her choice and things are shaping up quite nicely.

This story did not surprise me. Collecting and living with art is a powerful practice. It's like a super powered version of a vision board. With a vision board, we're taking a moment to tape tasty visions to a poster board that will receive random glances in our home office or inside a closet door...with our art collections we're hunting out objects into which artists have poured hours and days of their own loving energy, making carefully discerned choices between them, and committing real money and space to items we will spotlight in our choicest spots and gaze upon for years. The art we live with can't help but influence our minds and hearts.

  A Dolan Geiman bird diorama, one of Genna's wire wrapped pots, and a slice of our dining room.

A Dolan Geiman bird diorama, one of Genna's wire wrapped pots, and a slice of our dining room.

Looking around our own home at our own copious collection, we have images of nature, travel, whimsy, family gatherings, girlfriends, tin cup robots, happy couples, dreamers, girls flashing sock monkeys in the snow, birds, birds, birds, birds, and birds. Truly, what is the bird thing about? I'm counting at least a few dozen birds. I'm in my living room now being watched over by a large scale photograph by Mark MacKInnon of a couple strolling on a stoney beach. We'll be walking on that beach this coming April.

That's the work we live with. The work we make is 100% aspiration. It's close family, connection, communion, warmth, marriage, friendship...all presented in open ended narrative form to leave room for viewer participation. It is beyond an honor to have our work taken into the homes of others and absorbed into the fabric of their daily lives.

What is your collection saying to you?

  Kent Ambler's 'Tree of Life' woodblock print, a tiny Linda Lewis sculpture (we have 8!), and a peek into my studio.

Kent Ambler's 'Tree of Life' woodblock print, a tiny Linda Lewis sculpture (we have 8!), and a peek into my studio.

Saudade

Signe Grushovenko
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We recently received an email from a client who was interested in our painting "The Way Back". The  entire message was lovely and thought provoking but one particular line stood out to me.  It said "The saudade of your work is palpable and intoxicating."  This stood out mostly because not only did I have no idea what it meant but I had never even seen that word before.  Google defines it as:

'a Portuguese and Galician word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. 

Saudade was once described as "the love that remains" after someone is gone.  Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again.'

Wow.  While this is a shade darker than we generally intend, it is a mood that we've always reached for.  The definition goes on to describe a feeling that is 'happy and sad at once', missing that which is gone but joyous that it was experienced at all.

Bless you, emailer, for adding to my vocabulary and giving me a deeper sense of what our work means.

Blink.

Signe Grushovenko
 But what does it mean!?

But what does it mean!?

I debate often, with others and with myself, the benefits and detriments of artist self representation vs. gallery or dealer representation.  While Genna and I do both, the plusses of self representation far outweigh the detriments in our personal equation.  No one is more motivated to represent us than us.  Not having a middle man between us and our collectors helps us keep our prices at a reasonable level.  Travel.  The glamour of sweaty, windy, panicky booth assembly.  Oh, sorry, that goes on the other side of the equation.  But the biggest benefit by far is the constant feedback we receive from viewers as we sit for hours, looking at our paintings, hearing what they have to say, and discussing the work.  I believe I have learned as much about our work from others as I have from actually participating in making it.

 

I had a particularly interesting conversation with a young man recently in The Woodlands, TX.  He was of an age that I now consider ‘a kid’…probably somewhere in his early twenties…and was intensely chatty.  He was poking me mercilessly to reveal more and more about what our work means, what our motivations are, what are the themes, why is this this color, why is that painted like that.  He was very sweet and I was doing my best to answer his questions but was struggling as most of what he was asking had no verbal answer.  Finally I said something to the effect of “painting is a visual media.  If I could communicate everything I wanted to communicate in words, I’d be a writer.”  I promise I didn’t mean this in a smart ass way.  It’s just true.  And more than not having a clear answer in my own mind to many of his questions, I felt that to manufacture answers would minimize the work, make it about one thing when thing when truly it’s about everything and/or anything  I think this is why you’ll often find artists much more interested in discussing their medium and physical processes than their themes.  I can talk all day about how Genna and I make our work but tend to gloss over the ‘why’ with broad strokes…family, community, nostalgia, the quality of memory, the beauty of the everyday.

 

I wound up having a really great conversation with that kid about art in general and the contrast between visual and verbal art that had me charged up for the rest of the day.  Like I said, perks of the business.  Then last week I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Blink’ which is about the power of and mechanism behind snap decisions.  Around page 119 there’s this:

 

Let me give you a very simple example.  Picture, in your mind, the face of the waiter who served you the last time you ate at a restaurant, or the person who sat next to you on the bus today.  Any stranger whom you’ve seen recently will do.  Now, if I were to ask you to pick that person out of a police lineup, could you do it? I suspect you could.  Recognizing someone’s face is a classic example of unconscious cognition.  We don’t have to think about it.  Faces just pop into our minds.  But suppose I were to ask you to take a pen and paper and write down in as much detail as you can what your person looks like.  Describe her face.  What color was her hair?  What was she wearing? Was she wearing any jewelry? Believe it or not, you will NOW DO A LOT WORSE AT PICKING THAT FACE OUT OF A LINEUP.  THIS IS BECAUSE THE ACT OF DESCRIBING A FACE HAS THE EFFECT OF IMAIRING YOUR OTHERWISE EFFORTLESS ABILITY TO SUBSEQUESNTLY RECOGNIZE THAT FACE.

            The psychologist Jonathan W. Schooler, who pioneered research on this effect, calls it VERBAL OVERSHADOWING.  Your brain has a part (the left hemisphere) that thinks in words, and a part (the right hemisphere) that thinks in pictures, and what happened when you described the face in words was that your actual visual memory WAS DISPLACED.  Your thinking was bumped from the right to the left hemisphere.  When you were faced with the lineup the second time around, what you were drawing on was your memory of what you said the waitress looked like, not your memory of what you saw she looked like.”

 

(I apologize for the shouting…the caps were mine, not Mr. Gladwell’s).  SO…aha.  We all have a visual, instinctive, magical place in our minds that is not only not enhanced by a verbal overlay of an experience but actually subverted by it.

 

Does this mean we shouldn’t talk about art?  Absolutely not.  We should all be pleased to share our experiences of art.  This interaction enriches the art exponentially.  What we should not do, however, is ask artists to give to us in words what they have already given us whole heartedly, freely in paint, clay, song, pixels, metal, wool, troll doll assemblage, photography, peep collage…

Bayou City Feature

Signe Grushovenko

Genna and I are THRILLED to have been chosen as the featured artists for the Bayou City Memorial Park Art Festival in Houston next month.  This is one of our favorite festivals in one of our favorite cities.  They selected our 'Spin' and 'Pendleton Pegasus' for use on the billboards and commemorative posters for the show.

 "Spin", 30" sq oil on linen, $1950

"Spin", 30" sq oil on linen, $1950

Here's a sweet little piece that they wrote for their February, Valentine's Day themed newsletter:

 

Signe and Genna Grushovenko have a lifestyle where collaboration is key. Partners in both art and life, the married featured artists have been creating art together for nearly ten years. 


"I think the things that make our marriage successful are the same things that make our collaboration successful," said Signe. "Genna and I are different in many ways but those differences complement one another." 

 

After viewing any of the Grushovenko work, it's apparent that these differences influence their artwork and help to make it even more unique. While creating a piece, Genna begins the process with tonal underpaintings of acrylic and oil pigments. After his work dries, Signe takes over and uses vintage photos as references for oil pastel drawings and then finishes the work with painting in oil.

 

"In our work, Genna lays down the rich, spontaneous foundation and I tame that wildness with my figures," said Signe. "The results are both paintings and a lifestyle that neither of us could have created on our own."

 

Together the artists find harmony in both art and their relationship. Genna says the couple's marriage is the foundation from which their artwork grows. Because of this they are able to dodge the battle of egos that could come from two artists working together on one piece. 

 

"No matter who is the star in a particular piece, in the end 100% of the praise and the profits all come home," Genna said.

 

The fact that the Grushovenko's art is created with love and collaboration makes it even more special. Though each layer is unique to Signe or Genna, the final product is a beautiful, harmonious piece, much like their relationship.

 

For more information on Signe and Genna, the featured "art couple," please visit the Bayou City Art Festival website or the Grushovenko's website.  

 

Greenville Open Studios

Signe Grushovenko

Hi all! This weekend is our very first 'Greenville Open Studios' weekend. We are incredibly excited to be a part of this fantastic event. Our visit here for the 2010 show was the clincher in our decision to make the move to the upstate. Over 100 artists are opening their studios and homes this weekend for the public to come in and see their work and their process.

Here are a few pictures of our space, featuring 30 new pieces from myself and Genna, new paintings by Steve Frenkel and Melinda Clair, and fabric art by our Nastiya.

Hoping to see everyone!

1203 Pendleton Street, Greenville SC 29611
Saturday 10-6
Sunday 12-6

Grushovenko Gallery

Signe Grushovenko

Hi everybody! We're two weeks open at Grushovenko Gallery and I finally got around to taking a few photos. They start from the outside and proceed more or less from the font to the back. Genna built the wall just inside the front door facing out that has the bathing girls painting on it. It's on casters so it can be moved around the room and also provides storage for our extra pieces (Genna is a genius). The last few pics are of our neighbor Joey and his studio. Our spaces connect through the west wall. 

Pics are clickable. 

Grushovenko Gallery is open every Friday and Saturday from 10-5 and every first Friday of the month from 6-9. We're at 1203 Pendelton Street, Greenville. 

Engine # 6

Signe Grushovenko
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Every once in a blue moon, we make something that I step back and see and say "that's exactly what I had hoped to do". I finished a piece this week that was one of those. She's called 'Steam Engine' (oil on linen, 36" x 48"). Mine and Genna's layers married just right here and I think additionally I broke some new ground with my treatment of the foliage in the upper right quadrant. It's also a lot of intricate work that I think reads as easy and whole. Yay!

I just looked up how often a blue moon is and it says approximately once in 3 1/2 years. So, maybe I make something that really tickles me two or three times in a blue moon!

Here's the last piece that made me really happy:
 

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'New Truck', oil on linen, 36" x 36"

I made it about a year ago and have it hoarded up hanging in my living room.

"Memento" at Wynn Bone

Signe Grushovenko
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Big thanks to gallerist Wynn Bone who is hosting our solo show "Memento" through the end of this month. Wynn's gallery is a lovely, light-filled, second floor space on Main Street in downtown Annapolis. If you're in the area and looking for the show, you'll find it above the fine jewelry shop 'Casa Nova'. 

Wynn did a beautiful job installing the show, giving each piece plenty of room to breathe. My favorite part of the show was the treatment of the small works. Due to the tiny amount of real estate we're used to having at festivals, I'm used to seeing my little babies in clusters of as many as 15 at a time. Wynn hung only 3 of the 6 or 7 small pieces we brought, giving each one plenty of elbow room. I loved the effect of this...making each little piece seem like a jewel.

We've been working with Wynn for over a year but this was our first time at the gallery. I was really taken with the stable of artists he has put together. Each artist seemed entirely different on first glance, yet there was a strong connection amongst them. It's hard to say exactly how to name this connection, but I think it has to do with technique and surface quality. Each artist (figurative, abstract, landscape) had a unique process for layering a lush, deep surface that hooks you into long-time-looking.

Building a strong 'artist family' at a gallery has to be in the top 3 most important jobs of a gallerist. Several clients at the show mentioned to us that they collect from almost all of Wynn's artists and that they trust Wynn to bring the goods every show. Check out his artist catalog online at www.wynnbonegallery.com.

Kudos, Wynn. 

P.S. I loved his dog.
 

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Art Closet

Signe Grushovenko

I've made about 8 mid to large sized paintings in my new studio...'fondly' referred to as my 'art closet' due to it's massive size...and the jury is still out. The former owner of our house was an accountant who worked from home and the studio was her office. Counter tops wrap around the room on three walls leaving only about 4 or 5 feet of floor space in width. This means that I have to stand with my canvas parallel to the long side of the room and re-orient the canvas over and over to get out of the room or to step back and see what I'm up to.

If you're a painter, you understand how important the stepping back is. Its almost impossible to see what you're up to if you can't get 10-15 feet back from a large piece. I think if we rip out all of the counters and take off the studio door I'll be able to get enough distance by stepping out into the hall. That's all on my to-do list but might have to wait until winter!

Here's a peek at my art closet. And yes, if you look hard enough you'll see Oprah, Hank Hill, and the Cake Boss.

 

An oldy... hopefully goody.

Signe GrushovenkoComment

I think I've mentioned before that sometimes as my 'artist skillset' evolves, I don't only gain things but often lose things, too. I look back at drawings from my highschool days and long for the laser focus I could hold for hours on end, rendering scenes with photographic precision. Nastiya still has this skill in spades, so maybe that has something to do with stage of life.

Before Genna and I began collaborating, I was creating texture and interest in my work with heavy 'impasto' style brushwork. As Genna brought me increasingly complex and nuanced 'start points', my painting style became increasingly flat and broad. This shift made images that used to be no brainers a huge challenge for me. I revisited one such image last week with "Logsled". Here is a 'pre-Genna' version, circa 2003:

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(Logsled, oil on canvas, 85" x 65")

Each log end is a single, heavy brushstroke where the brush was loaded with multiple variations of the taupe color. The edges of some strokes are ragged and stuttering, a technique I have completed abandoned for now.

Here we are circa 2006. Simplification had begun but the underpainting process had not fully matured:

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(Logsled, 40" x 30" oil on canvas)

And here's the current version, circa last week:

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("Logsled", oil on linen with metallic acrylic underpainting, $2600)

Different, no? Check back in five years and I'll make it again!

Genna knows best.

Signe Grushovenko

Genna nearly never tells me what to do...in our art and in our life..so when he does I pretty much have to do it. 

He's been pressuring me lately to make some more images in our "Yearbook" series. These are images created from old yearbook contact sheets from the 1950's. For some reason, I just was not feeling it; probably because I'm lazy and they're a bit more work than our other series. I finally broke down and began one late last week and am SO GLAD I did. I think I sparked something new here and am already headed on to another. 

Here is "Pete and Repeat Class Portrait: Soft Plaid", oil on linen, 60" x 48":

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"Long Tall Drive" - in process

Signe Grushovenko

After a tricky week in the studio (I'm not going to show you what I made as I don't want to prejudice anyone against my 'problem children'), I think I'm finally on a roll again. I haven't done a post showing the stages of a painting recently, so I decided I would today. Then I forgot what I was doing...so the first half of the piece wasn't documented. 

Oh well! Here is "Long Tall Drive", 60" x 36":

 

"The Art of Love"

Signe Grushovenko
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We had a great conversation with Columbus Ledger Enquirer reporter Annie McCallum a while back (between Magic City and Brookside...whenever that was!) and the resulting article ran on the cover of last Sunday's Living section. I thought she captured perfectly the nature of our collaboration (so much so that I had to cry a little bit when I read it. Then I went back into the Barnes and Noble, bought all remaining copies of the Sunday paper, and bragged to the cashier). Here's the link to the article:

The Art of Love, Columbus Ledger Enquirer, Sunday May 16, 2010

I'm not sure how long that link will work, so here's the text just in case:

Sunday, May. 16, 2010

LaGrange’s Signe and Genna Grushovenko create together


By ANNIE MCCALLUM - amccallum@ledger- enquirer.com

LAGRANGE, Ga. — LaGrange artists Signe and Genna Grushovenko describe themselves as “partners in both life and art.”

How Signe (originally from Michigan) and Genna (from the Ukraine) met, married and made art could be described as kismet.

Genna, who got a job in the United States at the LaGrange Mall, met a contractor there. The contractor was one of the original Artists in Residence gallery partners. LaGrange College grad Signe was also a co-founder of the downtown LaGrange gallery. 

The two met at the gallery’s opening (where Signe recalled telling her mother that Genna was cute) and later married there. [Signe's note...my mother actually told me that Genna was way too young for me, which stung as he's actually about 6 years older.]
Now, almost 12 years later, their time together has influenced their artwork and, in turn, their careers.

Most recently they have been collaborating on paintings that depict old photos with blocks of color laid over detailed, multi-colored underpaintings. The paintings, which the couple have been creating for the past five years, have been wildly popular.

Recently the works were featured in the Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham, Ala. where they won the Award of Merit and Atlanta’s Dogwood Festival where the couple earned Best in Category. The festivals mark the beginning of one of the couple’s rigorous travel seasons, which happen in the spring and fall.

The work created by the two is better experienced than explained. But if someone were to articulate how they create their works, it would go something like this:

Genna creates the underpaintings on his own by applying oil pigment and mineral spirits onto the canvas standing. Then it’s rotated and more layers are added. 

Once Genna is finished, the pieces dry and then they’re in Signe’s hands. She selects an underpainting and then chooses an image that will “mesh well.” Referencing that image, Signe begins to draw in oil pastel and later completes the painting in oil.

And voila. The finished product. Only it wasn’t always that purposeful, the couple said.

“It’s not like we decided to do that,” Signe said, later adding it was a gradual process that linked their skills together.

Signe, who always preferred to work on a colored canvas, said Genna was initially just helping her out but soon what he was doing crept into her work.

“The underpaintings became more and more complicated until it became part of the finished piece,” she said.

Though the evolution of their collaboration hasn’t been all smooth sailing. And really what married couple works together perfectly without a few bumps in the road?

“It took some tweaking,” Genna said. “She tried to manage me.”

Joked Signe: “I try and tell everyone what to do.”

Seriously though, Signe said, partnering with her husband has changed her work.

“Because what Genna does is so meaty and visceral and rich, it has pushed my style in the other direction. It’s very blocky, flat plains of color,” Signe said. “It was never anything I intended or happened in the front of my mind.”

The two said the result has been recognizable, popular work. Although, they said some people question why there are no faces depicted in the works. They explained the faces are nondescript so people can bring their own history and reaction to the pieces. It allows people to make a connection with the work.

“They’re almost like a brain puzzle, a social puzzle. Who might that have been? A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I have a photograph just like that,’ ” Genna said.

On the other hand, the couple has also gotten a different reaction.

“People say, ‘Look at those; those are creepy,’ ” Genna said.

The two smile and joke inside Signe’s studio at the Artists in Residence facility. Completed underpaintings fill the hallway between Signe’s work space and Genna’s.

Working together has made careers as artists viable for the couple. They are able to travel, sell works and make money. Gone are the days of children’s paint-your-own-pottery birthday parties at Artists in Residence.

In fact, last fall Kia commissioned Genna to do some ceramics work. He was tasked with creating 1,000 pots that were later used as corporate gifts.

“It turned out to really be a career changing job for us,” Signe said, quickly joking, 

Signe helped to package and mail all the pots and wound up cooking for the team that helped her husband.

Strangely, the couple explained, just how Kia found them was all happenstance. Signe said Kia execs up Googled Georgia potters, found Genna and sent them an e-mail.

“I guess it was kismet,” Signe, said, “just meant to be.”

Bennett Gallery Installation

Signe Grushovenko
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Here are a few shots of our exhibition at Bennett Galleries in Knoxville. They have a great, HUGE space there full of fine work. Its definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. Our show, "Americana", alongside painter Charlotte Terrell will be up through the end of May.

Big thanks to our Bennett contact Ginger and all the rest of the Bennett gallery family for taking such wonderful care of us and our work!

West Georgia Health Systems Commission

Signe Grushovenko

I was approached in January of this year by Allison Davis, head of marketing at West Georgia Health Systems here in LaGrange. WGHS is at the tail end of completing a major addition ("In addition to providing a new “front door” to health system, the four-story South Tower will include expansions of West Georgia Health System’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Cardiovascular Services, Labor and Delivery and the Emergency Departments"). To honor the architect of the expansion plan, hospital president and CEO Jerry Fulks, Allison and the executive board were interested in commissioning a large public work for the new lobby.

After lots of back and forth concerning image, size, placement, etc., our work was installed this week, just in time for the South Tower grand opening. The image is "Groundbreaking", oil on linen, 48" x 72" and will hang on the second floor of the new lobby, looking down onto the ground floor. CEO Fulks is the figure standing the farthest forward in the darkest suit.

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While I wasn't originally super excited about the reference photo we used...

WGHS Groundbrk.jpg

...a longer look brought me alot to get excited about. While each of the figures is basically upright, there is lots of great 'physical personality' here from man to man. I also love the slightly shifting repetition of the hands, shovel handles, and hard hats which create a quirky, stuttering rhythm across the composition. We used the plaid underpainting as a tongue-in-cheek reference to men's suiting material. All in all I'm very excited about how it turned out.

We were honored to take on this project and honored further still by the artists we will be hanging beside in the hospital. WGHS has gone out of its way to feature original art, mostly by local and regional artists, in the new wing. We will be sharing walls with Guthrie KillebrewMelinda ClairMaragaret Reneke, Lamar Dodd, Keith Rasmussen, Vee Brown, Terri Codlin, and many more. In addition to purchasing local work and presenting works from the hospital's own coffers, they will be partnering with the LaGrange Art Museum to feature works from their permanent collection. While some states require that a certain percentage of the cost of new public building should go toward art, Georgia is not one of those. Kudos to WGHS and Ellerbe Beckett for going above and beyond.

Back in the saddle...

Signe Grushovenko

Finally...finally today I had the stamina to get in a full day of painting. I don't know how long this is for other artists, but for me its around four hours. That sounds kind of wimpy when I say it out loud, don't tell my parents.

So, I'm pleased to report that I was able to reconnoiter my 'fig tree confidential' diptych to my satisfaction. As I mentioned in my last post, I thought I was finished with the diptych on Friday but was not happy with the results. 

The layering process that Genna and I use doesn't allow for a lot of 'adjustments'. If I lay down an image and it doesn't work, I generally have to re-gesso the canvas and start over. Foggy as I was, I didn't think to photograph my 'disappointment diptych', so here's the verbal gist: I booh-boohed the composition by making up a bunch of shapes in the left hand piece to mirror the forms in the right hand corner of the right hand panel. It was super boring. The beauty of the inspiration photo was in the dramatic amorphous mass of leaves behind the couples. 

I considered scrapping the left hand panel altogether and finishing off the right one as an independent work, but Genna suggested 're-underpainting' the background of the left piece and going again. So that's what I did. Here it is re-underpainted,

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And here it is completely finished:

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I hope I've done Mr. Buchanan's original image justice. My homage is "Fig Tree Diptych", two panels each 36" square oil on linen framed in black, $3500.

Amish-y sexy

Signe Grushovenko
diptych2.jpg

Hi all. After a week long struggle with a nasty chest cold, I'm kinda sorta halfway back in the studio. My energy level is around a 5, but I'm level 10 excited about my newest project. 

I'm embarking on my third diptych which I'm calling 'Amish Sexy Diptych' in my mind but will actually probably be "Fig Tree Diptych". The inspiration image shown above is from the fabulous book "The Picture Man", edited by my friend and fellow artist Ann Hawthorne. Ann is a talented and much respected photographer who researched and then befriended NC itinerant photographer Paul Buchanan before his death. She obtained permission to reprint his beautiful photos from their original negatives and has put together a stunning book and several traveling exhibitions with the results. Mr. Buchanan traveled throughout rural North Carolina from the 1920's through the early '50s photographing locals for a little money or for barter. While they were not meant at the time to be art photos, their art is undeniable.

Anywho. I find this particular image wonderfully sensual. It's two embracing couples, but they're also posed in front of this mass of fig leaves, mimicing their entwined arms. I google image searched 'fig leaves' and all kinds of sexy stuff popped up...twisted branches and leaves, cut figs (ahem.), naked statue's covered up privates, and for some reason a bunch of ladies in lingerie. But these folks are dressed from head to toe, so 'amish sexy'. 

If I can hold it together for a few more hours today, hopefully I'll have the progession of the right hand work for you tommorrow. I wonder why I always start with the right one?

Favorite. Commission. Ever.

Signe Grushovenko
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No offense to anyone else for whom I've made custom work, but I recently completed my favorite commission project ever. 

My friend, client, and fellow artist Debbie Bruce came to me this past spring with a request to make paintings for her son Taylor's fall wedding. The idea was that there would be a small painting on each table at the wedding supper and that afterward, they would all go together as an 'installation' at the new couple's home. The images I made were of photos from the bride's and groom's childhoods. Sweetest thing ever, right? In addition to it just being a really lovely concept, her son Taylor is a good friend, as well as a writer who penned our Southern Living Feature. It was doubly an honor to be able to do this for him.

So, there are twenty pieces in the set, but I'm showing here 4 of my favorites..."Swiss Family" of the bride (henceforth known as Robin...cause that's her name) and her family on vacation, "Buff Boys" of Taylor and his friends as pre-teens, "Beach Beauty" of little Robin in her swimsuit, and "Dock" of little Taylor with a fishing pole.

I think I've listed them in backward order, but I'm sure you can figure it out. Enjoy!

Cochran Gallery

Signe Grushovenko

Last Friday night was the opening reception of "Reaction", new works by the Visual Artists Alliance of LaGrange created in reaction to a work of art by a favorite artist.

Each artist's work (20 artists, 40 works in paint, glass, collage, clay) was accompanied by a small reproduction of the inspiration piece and a statement explaining their inspiration.

The show is taking place at the Cochran Gallery on Lafayette Square, downtown LaGrange. The gallery usually showcases the collection of local collectors Wes & Missy Cochran, who have a world class collection of graphics (focused heavily on Andy Warhol) and works by African-American artists. My favorite of their collection is a fantastic 1975 aquatint/photoetching by my American Idol, Romare Bearden, entitled The Family. Here it is:
 

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The Cochrans graciously agreed to allow me to hang the Bearden next to my offering for the show, Alfresco, Family Table...

 

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She is an oil on canvas, 55" x 72". I made her in collaboration with Genna. My thought process was that the juxstaposition of Genna's flowing style and my broad, crisp panes of color create a similar feeling to Bearden's collaged (or in this case, collage like) images.

If you're planning to be in the LaGrange area, you can see the show Wednesday-Saturday from 1-5pm at the Cochran Gallery, E. Lafayette Square until July 2nd.