Monday, April 30, 2012

Jill Van Sickle - Painter

Fire Flower - MIxed Media
Jill Van Sickle

Name: Jill Van Sickle
City/State: Minneapolis MN
Website: profile: Jill Van Sickle
Facebook page:
Twitter: @jillvansickle


Born in Northfield, MN and raised in the Twin Cities, Jill earned her degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis in textiles at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls.  She was a resident at the Tilsner Artist Co op in St Paul for six years, and has since relocated to Minneapolis and works from her home studio.  Jill currently works full time as a painter and exhibits her work online and at galleries around the Midwest.

Garden Splash - Mixed Media

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Without a lot of warning, my work has recently taken a turn towards the abstract.  Traditionally I tend to paint images that are botanical in nature with abstract tendencies.  These new pieces are looser, bolder, and maybe a bit more challenging to the eye.  Undoubtedly I will return to botanicals, but for now this has been an exciting change.

Why will you undoubtedly return to botanicals?

I know a lot of artists paint botanicals, but my reasons for doing so are deeply rooted in my Dutch heritage.  My grandparents immigrated to MN after WWII.  They brought with them both great knowledge and love for growing things.  Some of my very earliest memories are of their vast tulip beds.  I'll never tire of the subject of plants.

Happy, Happy - Mixed Media

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

Phthalo Pond - Mixed Media

I know that it is fashionable in the art world to have some deep, seemingly profound meaning and message to one's art.  Sometimes even if it takes precedent over the actual work, craft, and time put into the piece itself.  That sort of work is not what I am interested in.  My work is incredibly personal.  I was being told at a very, very young age that I would be an artist someday.  I almost resent that sometimes.  

Logically I would much prefer to be genetically designed to be a lawyer or doctor, rather than an artist!  So for me, I'm quite sure I'm doing what I was meant to, whether I like it or not. Hence, my work is for me, no one else.  I feel very lucky buyers seem to find joy in my work as I do!  It really is that simple.  I find that life is scary and difficult a lot of the time.  Art is a great escape for me, and I hope people who look at my work can find a minute or two of escape themselves.  

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

Don't paint what others think you should.  Paint what is right for you. 

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.

My work space is a hilarious disaster of splashed paint on the walls and floor, unorganized supplies and paint bottles and canvases of all sizes scattered about. There is a small tv in the corner with Star Wars DVDs sitting on top, and two dogs sleeping amongst the clutter.  Though the rest of my living space is quite tidy, my creative realm is a crazy mess.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy? 

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

I'm more of a hermit than I like to admit, so looking at artwork, for me, is often online.  Obviously is a good one, but I also like to visit:  

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

This spring I plan to participate in Art A Whirl at the Bottling House in NE Mpls, and the Edina Art Fair, in addition to showing at local galleries.  And as always, I am constantly selling online on both my website and my facebook artist page:

Jill Van Sickle

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nate Burbeck - Painter

Lakeville, Minn., Oil on Canvas, 24 x 72 inches

Name: Nate Burbeck
City/State: Robbinsdale, MN
Facebook page:
Twitter: @nburbeck

I graduated with a B.A. in Studio Art from St. John's University (Collegeville, MN) in 2009.  Since then I've had my work featured in a few local and regional exhibitions as well as a couple of art blogs.  In 2010 I participated in the Summer Artist Residency Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and subsequently during the following summer of 2011 participated in a group exhibition called "Condition X" at SVA's Westside Gallery.  During the second half of 2011 I was part of a collaborative artist group that created a site specific installation which was featured at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in an exhibition entitled "Intersections".  Later this year in May, 2012 I will be part of a group exhibition at Rosalux Gallery in Minneapolis, and will also have my work featured in the upcoming Spring edition of Studio Visit Magazine.

American Decadence (Codington Co. South Dakota), Oil on Canvas, 24 x 64 inches

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

My paintings consist of large scale panoramic landscapes derived from photographs I've taken in various places.  Within these landscapes I usually will place figures to help create a visual narrative within the composition.  Additionally (in more recent work) I will also add some sort of fantastical, unreal element or occurrence to the narrative, often with a surreal or supernatural bend.  I think this recent "surrealist" development comes from my interest in artists like Gregory Crewdson, Beth Hoeckel, MichaĆ«l Borremans and Ryan Mrozowski.  Probably also from watching lots of movies by directors like David Lynch.  Actually the panoramic orientation of my canvases does come from my interest in film so there's definitely a link there.  Whereas in college and through 2010 I was interested in attributing symbolic meaning to the various motifs I was painting, I think now it's become a more generic, psychological malaise.  I'm interested in the undercurrents of American society and how through this type of work I might be able to comment on those conditions.

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

I guess I'd hope that my work connects with people, either on a personal or psychological level, and maybe that it would heighten some sense they have of themselves and their surroundings.

Jerome Ave (Bronx, NY), Oil on Canvas, 24 x 48 inches

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

One of the more memorable bits of advice came when I did the 2010 Summer Residency Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York.  I attended a lecture/pep-talk by Jerry Saltz (New York Magazine art critic and all around swell guy).  In one part of his talk he was giving examples of the angst that can come with the constant failures in an artist's career, "fighting your inner demons" as he put it.  As he was doing this he made an arm motion as if he was mimicking a gas meter gauge, moving his arm back towards empty with each negative thought.  "You say 'I didn't go to the right school' ", he said "I'm not a good schmoozer, I'm not in enough shows, no one gets my art.." and so on.  Then he says, "And at your darkest moment of despair you tell yourself, 'But I'm a fucking genius!!' ", as he swings his arm over to the other side.  I think the point he was making is that as an artist you have to be passionate about what you do and you must be confident in yourself.  Of course too much confidence can be negative, you could become an egotistic jerk but if you don't take yourself seriously no one else will.  Come to think of it I'm pretty sure most of the great artists were/are narcissistic assholes anyway, so maybe that's actually okay.

Another similar bit of advice I've picked up is to be true to yourself.  As an artist you have to be honest with yourself, and at times self-critical.

Seeking out the advice of others and having critiques are also very valuable.  You don't want to live too much in your own head.

Culberson, Texas, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 68 inches

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.

Because my paintings are based on landscape photos much of my process begins with a "photo-hunting" or "location scouting" trip.  Sometimes I have a specific place in mind, other times just a general idea of the type of location I'm looking for.  Google's street view feature has been very helpful with this.  I've also made a map with pin drops on the spots I've photographed for paintings I've done, plus many, many other spots that could work for future paintings.  I generally look for landscapes or settings, whether urban cityscape, park, suburban neighborhood, or rural landscape, that have a generic specificity.  This is also a good excuse to travel different parts of the country, and on various road trips I will stake out specific places along the way to use for possible paintings.  Recently though I've only been able to get out to closer, regional destinations.

Once I have the location photos I compile them into groups and see which compositions interest me, or what could work with the idea I have in mind.  I'll also sketch out my ideas and different compositional arrangements.  From here I can figure out what sort of composition I can do and what models or figures I'll need.  When available I've taken photos of friends or co-workers who can pose for me, other times I've just used online sources and other reference material.

And after all of this I start the painting process, which is your normal canvas building, under-drawing, painting late at night sort of operation.  I have a small, one room studio space at home.  It's very convenient but also filling up with canvases now.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Andrea Carlson

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Funny you should ask since I don't really get out too much to see shows.  But if I did more often I'd check out:
Walker Art Center
Rosalux Gallery
Midway Contemporary
Franklin Art Works
The Soap Factory

We'd most likely try to find some really heady and conceptual stuff that we would be fascinated about and try to understand.  Later we'd realize we only had a vague notion of what we saw, explaining what we thought it meant in generic terms, and in all honesty would be totally lost and confused.  But at least we'd look smart and sophisticated to the general public.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

I'm always looking online for new artists and have a ton of files on my harddrive of artists and projects I'm inspired by.

Sighting Near Scipio, Utah, Oil on Canvas, 28 x 64 inches

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Yes, actually.  I have a group show coming up in May at Rosalux Gallery (1400 Van Buren St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413).  The opening reception is scheduled for May 4, from 7-10 pm.  Several of my paintings will be featured along with work by Chloe BriggsBrent Erickson and Jennica Kruse.

Also, if this counts as an exhibition, my paintings will be featured in one of the upcoming Spring volumes of Studio Visit Magazine.  That should be coming out sometime in early May.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pamela Valfer - Drawing

Landscape Simulation: Gordale Scar, North Yorkshire England/Checkpoint   
     Charlie, Berlin, Germany, 2011, Graphite on Paper, 10.5" x 14"
Pamela Valfer

Name: Pamela Valfer  
City/State: St. Paul, MN
Website: profile

Pamela Valfer has exhibited at many national and international venues. Selected exhibitions include: Burren College of Art (Ireland), Space Shower Gallery (Japan), Dante's Upstairs (Australia), CUBE Center for the Urban Built Environment (England), GrayDuck Gallery (Austin, TX) and Art of This! (Minneapolis, MN). She has received both a Minnesota State Arts Board - Artist Initiative Grant and Bush Education Grant, and is included in the Drawing Center's (NY) curated Artist Registry.  Pamela received her BFA from Minneapolis College Art and Design and her MFA from the University of Minnesota. She is currently teaching at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and College of Visual Arts.

 Landscape Simulation: Wisconsin Dells (The Sugar Bowl)/Brownshill Dolmen, County Carlow, Ireland, 2012, 
Graphite on Paper, 19" x 28"

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
I am currently working on the idea of a “contemporary landscape”. I am also interested in questioning what is “an original” experience in visual imagery, [or exploring what is a “copy”]. These interests have articulated themselves in a few bodies of work that I am developing.

One series I am working on is my “Landscape Simulation” series. These are detailed drawings of hybridized landscapes created from a pastiche of movie, television and “actual” landscape spaces.

I am also playing with photography in some newer work that I call my “Drosscape” series. In these works I am generating collages created from found photos, magazines, collected Xeroxes, etc.– a general flotsam and jetsam of visual source materials. I am then re-photographing the finished collages to create a new visual vernacular. The photography tends to gel the images as well as raise the question of originality.

I have also been playing around in the studio with a few new ideas. I have been exploring the idea of the “ruin” through drawings of models of classical ruins (i.e the Pergamon) or implied historical architecture (i.e Hearst castle).

There has also been some large scale drawing-esque installations that I have been interested in – so much stuff – so little time…..

Landscape Simulation: Planet of the Apes/ Tatooine/ County Clare, Ireland
     2011, Graphite on Paper, 19" x 28"

How did you decide to become an artist?
I have always vacillated between art and music and have spent many years focusing on my musical endeavors over my visual art. Well, now the pendulum has swung and I’ve been mainly focusing on my visual art.

As far as, has there been a “light bulb moment” where I knew I would be an artist??  - I can’t say I had one. It seemed to be the only path that fit. It was never really a choice.

 Drosscape #1, 2012 Inkjet photograph

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
Show up. I think that is the singular best advice I have received, as well as the advice I give my students. The biggest hurdle is to just show up to the studio. It is not easy but you have to remain committed to being in that space, even if you are just reading a book or starting at a blank wall. You need to work that time in your life as important – which is difficult when other pressures in your life demand your attention.

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?
I sell work in different ways. I have sold work through my website, through galleries, and directly out of my studio. As far as marketing, I think social media is a huge component of marketing yourself these days, having a website, tumblr page – all these things are the new “postcard”. You have to be savvy to all the technological and non-technological outlets.

Drosscape #2, 2012 Inkjet photograph

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Allen Brewer
Rich Barlow
Scott Stulen
Nicole Killian
John Fleischer
Brittany Nelson
Andy Ducett
Chris Zerendow 
Paula McCartney
Alison Hiltner      
Aaron Dysart     
Pricilla Briggs     

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
Midway Contemporary Gallery
Dressing Room           
Art of This!                  
Walker Art Center       
MAEP Program at MIA
Soap Factory              

Landscape Simulation: Little House on the Prairie/Good Times (Cabrini
      Green), 2011, Graphite on Paper, 16.5" x 17.5"

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

Art Info                 
The Brooklyn Rail
Jerry Saltz – critic               

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future? (2012)
April 19th – May 20th    The Critics Show – Hopkins Center for the Arts 
                                         (Reception Thursday 4/26/12 6-8pm)
May 31 – June 30th     “Common Place”, Occupy Space, Limerick Ireland
Sept 2012                      Burnett Art Gallery at Le Meridien Chambers Hotel, Minneapolis

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Amber White - Book Artist

Inside a Shell
Handmade book with Snapping Turtle Shell
Amber White
Altered Esthetics Featured Artist
"Formed by Nature"
May 2012

Name:  Amber White
City/State: Shoreview, MN
Email: tangledantlers[at]gmail[dot]com
 My early years were spent in central Minnesota, surrounded by nature and people who know how to live off the land. With a family history encompassing farming, hunting, fishing, trapping, and physical labor, I grew up with a healthy respect for the natural world and took to working with my hands. My first sort of creative training took place somewhere between the ages of 8 and 10 in my dad’s garage, where he and my uncle bravely allowed me to raid their tool chests for my experimental bird houses. This was around the same age I became adept at filleting fish, around the same age I encountered Jana Sterbak’s Meat Dress and Chuck Close’s cigarette-smoking Self-Portrait at the Walker Art Center during an elementary school field trip.

These experiences fueled a desire to learn more about art and to continue creating with my hands. Wanting more than fish fries and birdhouses (though I still love both), I left my hometown to attend the University of Minnesota Morris, where renewability and sustainability are core values. I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Studio Art and Art History, with a focus in photography and book arts.

These days I live and work in the Twin Cities, though I still find time to escape and venture farther north. A local non-profit art gallery, Altered Esthetics, has been my main roost for the past few years. After completing an Assistant Gallery Director internship in 2010, I applied to join the board of directors as the Director of Group Exhibitions. Since January of 2011 I have managed over a dozen diversely themed group exhibitions. Altered Esthetics believes in art for art’s sake and provides opportunities for a wide range of creative types from students to emerging artists to working professionals.

 Moose Journal

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Currently I am producing handmade & hand bound journals for artists and writers. This differs from many of my past projects in that my main undergraduate concentration was photography. Since I no longer have regular darkroom access, I do sometimes shoot digitally, but I find that bookmaking satisfies my need for hands-on interaction with paper and repetitive processes. I sell these books in my Etsy shop “TangledAntlers” and I have been known to take up personal requests such as a natural wedding guest book and a Tanzanian kitenge-covered travel journal. My favorite materials to use are old dictionary pages and paper wasp hives.

In the past my photographic work has focused on family and rural tensions between man and animal. I have often incorporated natural or animal materials into mixed media pieces and book art pieces as a way to salvage and upcycle the waste or scraps forgotten by my family members who hunt and trap. I collect and reuse what I can so that the animal is used to its fullest potential and can live on somehow through art. 

Hand-bound Journal with Wasp Hive Cover

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

Wait!! Going back to that “What is Art?” question, I can tell you what art is not. Art is not limited to what museum curators or wealthy collectors consider to be art. Art is everywhere, in all communities, for all people.  As far as my book art goes, I simply hope that the audience takes away a curiosity for the natural world, and a little more love for the handmade.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

The advice given to me from other artists and colleagues can be boiled down to a few key points: Be persistent. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from creating, the way it stops so many others. We all have dry spells and times of rumination and that is perfectly okay. Always talk about your ideas or work with others, take yourself seriously and others will follow. Do what you know you can do, do it often, and do it well.

Dad and Uncle Rick in the Garage, Silver Gelatin Print

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.

I am thankful for my father-in-law allowing me to take over his former wood shop next to his basement utility room. There I am able to store all my “stuff” and keep things lying out on a table where I can return and work as needed without the interruption of packing things up and putting away. I do most of my binding and gluing there, which is great because it allows me to keep things in a separate space away from my dog, his fur, and other disturbances.  

Book binding very much has to be done in stages, so I will spend days just tearing paper, some days just sewing, and some days gluing or waiting for glue to dry.  After all the steps are completed and I have several books done, I set up my camera and photograph them all.

 Storage and workspace 

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Jess Larson has been an instructor, mentor, and friend of mine since 2005. She creates subversive embroideries that reinterpret domestic objects and social messages directed towards women.

Margaret Gamache has been a friend of Altered Esthetics I believe since the very first years. She is a mixed media artist, a good soul, and I always appreciate her sharing of family history.

A photographer who lived and worked in Minnesota for many years, Celeste Nelms photographs and interacts with discarded objects. 

Judy Onofrio’s bone sculptures celebrate the organic beauty in life & death.

Erin Hernsberger’s gorgeously printed photographs combine fascination and repulsion. I especially enjoy the series Dissect. 

The women of Cave Paper are doing some incredible things with paper!

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
MN Center for Book Arts
North House Folk School Grand Marais
Altered Esthetics
Northtrup King Building

Pheasant feathers, wheat, and wasp hive paper on handmade coyote fur & tea paper

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

Local Artist Interviews, of course!
I also love MN Artists
Northeast Minneapolis Arts District
NPR News Arts & Life

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
This May (2012) I am the featured artist for “Formed by Nature” at Altered Esthetics [], and you can expect to see many more exhibitions curated by myself and the awesome curatorial intern team at AE until the end of 2013 when my board term is complete. In August of 2013 I will be guest curating a group exhibition featuring Twin Cities’ artists at HFA Gallery on campus at U of M Morris.

When I have time off from managing exhibitions, I plan to continue my own work in binding books and potentially creating a line of other handmade paper products. In the future I also hope to have a small studio to provide portfolio documentation services to other artists.

Amber White