Artists at Work in “A Different Frame of Mind”

Janett Pulido at work in the USFCAM gallery studio
Janett Pulido at work in the USFCAM gallery studio

Hello this is Keesha Jimenez reporting back on the progress of A Different Frame of Mind. From June 16 to June 24, 2014, I have the privilege of working with Mike Covello, Ariel Baron-Robbins, Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki, David Gabbard, Janett Pulido, and Sam Robinson documenting their progress and asking questions about their process. It is not every day that one is able to enter an artist’s studio and interact with the artist as they create art. I enjoy capturing their progress through the camera lens because it mirrors the dedication that the artists contribute to their final products. Each day they work in USFCAM, I observe them as they contemplate the steps needed to complete the creative process. I ask questions when I feel it is appropriate and won’t unintentionally interrupt the creative flow. I am learning so much from them during this experience.

This exhibition is so unique that it almost surreal, the makeshift studio space is open to the public; anyone can come and watch with me as the artist’s create new works. As viewers enter the studio space, they stand in the middle of the gallery overwhelmed by the amount of work the artists are producing before their eyes. Some are almost afraid to enter until the artists welcome them into their space and talk them about their progress. Mike, Ariel, and Janett mentioned that they were normally used to the solitude of their own studios this show breaks that limitation for the public and the artists. A Different Frame of Mind does not only refer to the break of tradition from the frame, but includes the break between the viewer and an artist’s studio, thought, and process.

Mike Covello in the USFCAM gallery studio
Mike Covello in the USFCAM gallery studio

Weeks before the artists began working on their artwork, USFCAM set up a camera high onto the wall in the West Gallery to capture a time-lapse video of the entire process from the frame selection to the completion of their works. In addiction to the time lapse I captured stills of the artists at work. I followed them around as they began their day and ended shooting approximately five in the afternoon. The way the artists create their work is evidently different when you look at it, but they focus primarily on major decisions that would make or break their work.

Janett mixes colors to large proportions and spreads the color of choice gently to thin the paint carefully and mix the color further. Once the consistency begins to harden, she lets it sit for three to four days (depending on the size) to cure. After it cures, she pulls the paint from the edges, lifting it from the surface that it laid on. The paint looks and feels like rubber, so it is rather flexible to shape into any form Janett desired. She experiments with the placement of the paint onto the frames before making her final decision and gluing it into position with a liquid adhesive. On the wall sits a frame that comes forward with green and yellow enamel paint. The way I would perceive this piece is the window to our personal heavens. The frame sticks out at the top right edge, which suggests the position of the heavenly realm while the colors bring us to the earthly realm. It is the spontaneous impulse that helps Janett complete a work in which begins with the color process. All the artists have to come prepared with a “plan” for the given space as a starting point but there are always changes that can enhance their work.

A great example of this change is Mike’s installation. From the beginning of the process, I watched his artwork transform beautifully. I asked him in the beginning if he knew what he wanted to do for this project and he responded, “Let’s see how this comes out.” Honestly, his spontaneity is a strong aspect to his work, Mike lets his hands do the talking, which is similar to the way I like to work. Working through the creative process he steps back to contemplate if the space had met the requirements well enough to have some consistency based on his choice of composition and color. The application of painter’s tape gives clean-cut lines and a base of his composition with overlapping and placement of his paintings, which he composes on the walls, ground, and pedestal.

Ariel Baron-Robbins in the USFCAM gallery studio
Ariel Baron-Robbins in the USFCAM gallery studio

Ariel has a different connection to her artwork than the other artists I have touched on so far. Using the frames USFCAM supplied to her for the exhibition, she encased her body within the frames at three different locations in the Tampa Bay area. Although I was not able to be present at the locations, when Ariel returned I was able to view a few of the thousands of images she captured. In her studio space, she preferred solitude as she framed herself with her back towards us, but she was quite approachable when people entered her space as they questioned Ariel about her body of work. From the thousands that she shot, she narrowed her best shots to ten. She would print test prints and write little notes next to any issues with the image, and then make the necessary adjustments. From a distance I observed Ariel trying to further narrow her selection a seemingly difficult task at times. All the images she taped to the wall conveyed a different mood. From the four that she finally selected, she saw the change of emotion seeping from the print: excitement and happiness to exhausted and bruised. These emotions made the prints even stronger, which helped Ariel to select the two best prints for the exhibition. Ariel is excited about the show and the response that viewers will have when they see her forty-eight by sixty-four by inch prints. To compliment the two prints Ariel captured a video at the beach, which conveys the calmness of the waves and still reflection of the sun hitting the horizon.

Finally, the complexity of Derek and Jennifer’s work is beyond words. They built an app to record information of an artist’s financialization and the investments patrons have to the art’s value. They are stationed in Buffalo, New York; therefore, neither Vincent Kral nor I had the luxury to view their progress except through photos. However, the shots they provided us did not disappoint our expectations. The app includes a candlestick chart of the information they provided for their work. They also built a structure with the frames to house the tablet and the app.

This week was a productive week for the artists in their temporary studio spaces at USFCAM. It was a huge success in getting people into the studio space to relate with artists as they carried on with their work. I am proud to be part of this operation, documenting the whole process from June 16, 2014 to June 23, 2014 and giving the artists my perspective of their work. It was such a wonderful experience to be appreciated by artists who have been working so hard to make art a profession. I hope that USFCAM does another interactive exhibition so patrons of the arts can observe contemporary art on site, and then return the following week to view the completed works.

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