One works in large-scale charcoal, another pointillism in watercolor and gouache. The third in a technique he’d never done before, thick acrylics and a palette knife.
For two women and a man, “Three’s Company” for these artist friends who for one night — New Year’s Eve — will unveil their unique visions.
Visiting assistant professor of drawing and art studio technician at Wesleyan University Kate Ten Eyck of Middletown was asked by the organizers of to exhibit her work. She invited the other two, of Middletown and of Durham, to join her.
“We wouldn’t ordinarily do this much work for one night. But we figured we’d see more people that day than we’d see at a show over a month’s time,” Ten Eyck explained.
There’s a medieval or primordial feel to her giant charcoal renderings, which she terms “gestural drawing.”
One is a giant spiral, another, a furry tentacle. A plant? It’s evocative of John Gardner’s Grendel and could be a close-up of hair fibers or a strange tangle of rainforest greenery. Ten Eyck laughs. “It reminds me of those characters in 'The Lorax,'” by Dr. Seuss.
“A lot of my stuff ends up being like that,” Ten Eyck acknowledges, “macro or micro.”
The latter, she says, is different from the others. “It’s more alive, reminiscent of things like fiddleheads or octopus. I just finished yesterday.”
The canvas, heavy-duty paper, Ten Eyck says, “has to be big. I make arm movements all over the page. Basically what I do in my studio is take a very large sheet of paper, tack it to the wall. I have a movement or a general idea in mind.”
But the artist never knows what will manifest itself on the page.
“I like to see things develop, come from somewhere. It’s very intuitive,” she says.
“I enjoy that I am always surprised by what happens.”
Ten Eyck has four pieces hung for Saturday night. They are untitled. “I have a hard time naming them,” she says.
Zemelsky knows exactly who each one of her pointillist portraits represents. Only she’s not telling.
“They’re usually done from a variety of photographs of people I know.” People very close to her — children and elderly people.
“I don’t know what I call it,” Zemelsky says, referring to the style. But it’s very much like work by French Post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat.
“I’ve been taking this approach for a couple of years,” she explains. Close up, these tightly cropped faces are just a colorful dot matrix — like looking close up at a television screen or a newspaper photograph. The illusion occurs when the viewer stands back. Suddenly, faces form.
“I deal with different spatial work in contrast together,” Zemelsky says. Thus the dot matrix and the portrait as a whole.
“The two together I hope become more than them individually themselves.” Which is exactly what impression she’s hoping viewers will approach her work — and come away with.
“I have found over the years I work in a place of perception,” she says.
Another type of macro work can be found in the brilliant acrylic work of Schulz. Normally a fine arts painter, he was inspired six months ago to turn photographs he had taken of what many would consider ugly and uninspiring into gorgeously rich canvasses.
During the big late-winter snowstorm, Schulz was driving by an old building on Mill Street near Marino Crane. His eye was drawn to a stunning site.
“It was all these panels of rusting metal nailed up to create this wall. I’d driven by many times and in my set-design mind I said, ‘wow! It’s a great set, but I’m certainly not going to move it anywhere,’” Schulz says.
Then with the weight of all that snow, “the roof collapsed and the whole thing came crashing down. I went in the spring and took photos of the debris.”
A friend in California encouraged him to paint from the shots. So with acrylics, he used a very small, sharp palette knife to build up layers to give a sense of texture.
The paint had to be really thick to transfer from knife to canvass. “It was almost like frosting a cake,” Schulz says. “A texture I found lovely.”
What resulted is the contrast of rusty brown iron beams against a cerulean sky with strokes of white from the building. It wasn’t easy to get the photographs. The first time Schulz took them, the sun was in the wrong place. It was too low and the colors were bleached out. The second time, he got up early and visited when the sun was behind him. “All of this,” he gestures to the wall, “was done in the morning sun.”
Meet the artists during the show hours Saturday: Zemelsky, 3-6 p.m., Ten Eyck, 6-9 p.m., and Schulz, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.