Tag Archives: features

In the Studio w/ Guillermo Guardia

[CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO]

A couple of months ago, I interviewed ceramic sculptor Guillermo Guardia about his artwork. I was so inspired by his story and how he overcame the challenges of sculpting a perfect human body by sculpting bodies made of puzzle pieces. The new subject was symbolic of his journey.

When we finished the interview, Guillermo extended an open invitation for me to visit his studio and try the craft for myself. How could I pass up an opportunity to see a talented artist in action and learn hands-on about his process?

I couldn’t.

As the arts and entertainment reporter for the Herald, I often speak to artists about their inspiration and process. But after the interview, I’m always left craving something more. And this was it — my missing piece. I needed to see the artist in action.

And after much planning, I’m excited to present the first episode of “In the Studio,” a monthly Web series where we take you in the studio with area artists to show you a behind-the-scenes look at their craft and workspace.

Each month, we’ll visit another artist’s workspace, and I’ll share my hands-on experience with the new art form.

Since Guillermo’s offer sparked the idea, I thought it would only make sense for him to be the first artist.

Working with clay

Sitting in Muddy Waters Clay Center, Guillermo handed me a wad of clay. It was tough, damp and intimidating.He said we would make a dog and a llama, and I tried to convince myself that it couldn’t be too difficult.

I reminded myself that Guillermo typically taught children, so it couldn’t be too difficult, right?

Wrong.

I circled clumps of clay in my hand trying to form two round balls — one for the head and one for the body. While Guillermo made his effortlessly, I struggled to smooth out the lumps. As soon as I had smoothed one side, I’d pushed the opposite side out of whack. I laughed. I didn’t have time to get it right. I set aside my uneven pieces and moved on to the legs.

Rolling a slab of clay between my hand and the table, I thought back to making snakes out of Play-doh as a kid. “Why couldn’t we make snakes,” I thought. “I could handle that.”

I wondered how this long snake-like piece would become legs, but Guillermo quickly explained. We tore the long piece into four even parts. That was the goal anyhow; mine were all different sizes. Turns out, I’m not too great with dimensions.

I started putting my lopsided dog together. Again, I struggled while Guillermo worked with ease. We made two flat pancake-like circles for floppy ears and a little nub for a tail. When it all came together, I laughed and tried to see the dog in my jumbled cluster.

Next, we tackled the llama. “Great,” I thought, “even more pieces to struggle with.”

But, with one animal under my belt, the llama came together more smoothly.

The pieces were similar to that of the dog, except slightly different in size. I tried attaching the legs, but they weren’t stable. Guillermo offered to help, and I watched his hands as he worked. His fingers molded the clay proficiently.

Sculpting was second nature to Guillermo. He didn’t think; he just let his hands move and transform the clay.

He handed me my llama and with his kind heart he assured me that it was fine. I finished the face and tail. Then, we used a small sculpting tool to poke holes for the eyes and make lines along the body for the fur.

This time when we finished, I saw a llama, albeit slightly disfigured. I was proud of my little guy. We also made a tiny penguin with big eyes and angry eye brows, which turned out quite cute. With each piece we made, I gained more confidence, and I was able to relax and enjoy the process.

Despite my inability to form accurately proportioned smooth shapes, I had fun molding the clay and learning from Guillermo.

If we had more time, we could have fired the figures in the ceramic kiln and painted them. But, Guillermo said if I let them dry they would last forever as long as they weren’t knocked over. So, I thanked Guillermo for the tour and the lesson, grabbed my little figures and made my way back to the office.

The puppy fell apart in my hands. But, my surviving llama, Fernando, and penguin, Frankie, sit on my desk reminding me that art is not about perfection — it’s about experience.

First published in the Grand Forks Herald, Jan. 17.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mathieu Nicklay at Blue Door Gallery

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the opening of Mathieu Nicklay’s first art exhibit ever, which took place at the Blue Door Gallery in downtown Grand Forks. Nicklay started painting last March. All his friends were artists and he thought I think I can do that. So, he tried, and he succeeded.

IMG_6908

Nicklay’s first exhibit is a collection of multimedia abstract and symbolic pieces, which incorporate everything from scrap pieces of wood and old doors, to paint and chalk, to a melted iron. While some pieces are very minimal and symbolic, leaving the interpretation up to the viewer, others scream a strong message.

I love how Nicklay jumped into the art scene and wasn’t afraid to push boundaries and go somewhere unknown. In conservative North Dakota, Nicklay took a chance creating and displaying his abstract artwork that to some might seem a little “out there” and “nonsensical.” I just hope people will open up their minds and just “feel” the artwork and let it speak to them in one way or another.

Nicklay will be one of three artists in the second episode of “In the Artist’s Studio,” my monthly web series which premieres this Friday. For the second episode, I will be going to Blue Door Gallery to create a piece of work with artists Mathieu Nicklay, Kathryn Fink and Matthew Borgerson. I’m not sure what we’ll make, but I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to see these young artists in action.

As I mentioned, “In the Artist’s Studio” will premiere this Friday on GrandForksHerald.com. It’s been in the works for a long time, and I’m overjoyed to finally see it all come together. I think this is going to be a great monthly video feature, and I really hope you all enjoy it.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Here, there and everywhere

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my stories on the blog, but I’ve been doing a lot of fun things lately. I figured it was time for a quick update, so here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to in no particular order:

  • I visited Altru Hospital and met a couple caring nurses who were trying their best to make the holidays a cheerful time for their patients. Melissa, the childlife specialist, took on a little project with the ever-so-popular Elf on the Shelf. She refused to take credit for the little elf named Elfie. “He just showed up,” she said, creating some holiday magic for the children in the pediatrics unit. To read more about their efforts, click here.
  • I chatted with Steven Grant Douglas about his journey from The Empire in Grand Forks to Broadway. The talented actor from Stephen, Minn., landed a lead role in the nationally touring production of “Ghost the Musical” right after performing “Avenue Q” in Grand Forks. We talked about his role, the tour and adjusting to the much larger audiences and life on the road. Read more here.
  • I visited with Rachael Hammarback, owner of RH Standard, about the best choices in winter work wear. We talked tights, boots and leggings. Yes, leggings as pants for work. More here.
  • I joined a group of charitable carolers as they sang holiday favorites to neighbors and friends for Caroling for Warmth. They raised money for people in need of warm clothes such as sweaters and long sleeve shirts. More here.
  • I talked to Ashok Bhatia, of India, and Omar Alomar, of Iraq, about how they celebrate the holidays and how their traditions differ from American traditions. To read more, view the full article here.
  • I visited with several boutique owners about the best New Year’s Eve fashion accessories. We discussed statement necklaces, sequins blazers and cocktail rings. More here.
  • I joined a group of regular trivia-goers for a night at El Roco. While there I met “the king of trivia” and learned about the history of the game in Grand Forks. More here.
  • I reviewed a ton of apps such as 99 Dresses, Lift and Circle.
  • And I met a couple stylish people along the way to do quick Q&A’s with for my weekly Street Style.

This month, I’m excited to share my first episode of my new video series “In the Artist’s Studio.” I’ll be back with more on that later.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vintage love

I haven’t always had a love for vintage, but after meeting and interviewing some vintage collectors, researching vintage items and actually doing my own hunting, I’ve developed a great love for the old.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Michel Starnes, a self-proclaimed natural born picker. Starnes lives between her two homes in North Dakota and Florida, which she’s packed full of vintage finds from auctions, garage sales and estate sales.

Ever since Starnes was a little girl she’s been attending auctions, flea markets and sales. First, it was to please her parents. Then, it was out of need to furnish her apartment. Now, she does it purely out of love. When she came to the Herald for her interview she brought a few of her smaller items for the photo shoot. The items included some awesome binoculars, some vintage glasses, a metal toy airplane and sewing machines drawers which she’d fastened together to make hanging shelves.

Starnes and her husband are interested in old home decor and aeronautical pieces. She said when she sees something interesting she gets complete tunnel vision. Some of the items she keeps for herself; others she sells on her Etsy shop. She said someday she hopes to open a little storefront full of old vintage items and cool ’80s pieces, along with some pastries and coffee.

To hear more about her favorite finds and dreams for the future, read the full article at gfherald.com.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: