Thursday, January 15, 2015

the power of art collecting

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 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.

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.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

small business saturday, 2014!

What business could be smaller than an independent artist? If you're looking for a great gift for the art lovers in your life, may I suggest a few of my favorites?

Here's a delightful little knob twisting robot by Tennessee artist Mr. Hooper. This is an original painting available on Mr. Hooper's etsy page, one of more than 50 available one-of-a-kind pieces.

A glorious trio of driftwood angels by Michigan artist Amy Lansburg. Each angel is under 20" tall, $85 each plus shipping. Private message Amy through her Facebook page.

Free shipping through the end of 2014 with the code 'FREESHIP14' on our friend Michele Friedman's etsy page. Michele's 'skinny rectangle multicolor' earrings are my go-tos.

Holy cow look at this beauty from Chicago artist Dolan Geiman. I received a similar piece from Genna for my 40th birthday this year (the first in the series, thank you very much) and it immediately rocketed to favorite status in my collection. Dolan has pieces available for all budgets at

'Bitzen' fobot by NC artist Amy Flynn. This little guy + tons of other great fobots (found object robots) available on Amy's bigcartel page.

Bite sized photos from CA artist Audrey Heller. I gifted these to my god children last Christmas and they were a huge hit.

And, of course, if you really love someone you should give them a Grushovenko. We'll be posting a new, small, specially priced piece on our Facebook page every morning December 1st-12th. These pieces will be available ONLY THROUGH FACEBOOK. First private message for each piece wins. The one shown above is 'The Cabin', a 9" x 12" oil on masonite, framed in black, shipping included for $250 (regularly $350). Other available pieces online at

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE! If you have any other recommendations for great art buying opportunities, please post them in the comments section.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


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…

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

bayou city feature!

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

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.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

share with us?

Genna and I are looking to expand our collection of images from the 50's, 60's and 70's and hope you can help.  Are there photos in your family albums that would make a great Grushovenko?  If so, please go to our artist page on facebook and post them there.  If you're going to post, please read to the end! If we choose one of your images to make a painting, we will:

1.  Send you something.  I'm not sure what it is yet.  At the very least you'll receive a box of notecards featuring one of our paintings.  What we may do is make a limited number of cards from each piece chosen, in which case you'll get those :)

2.  Give you right of first refussal on the painting made from your photo.  There is absolutely no pressure to buy your piece, but we won't let anyone else have it if you want it.

3.  Make a book from the images and give you one.  Every piece created from a submitted photo will be professionally photographed and put together in a catalog to be produced and distributed to all participants next winter.

4.  Say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We've done variations on this idea twice before and several 'all stars' from our image collection came from there...including the 'Boy Line, Bike Tangle' image entered by Ralph & Nita Howard and the 'Soft Bather' entered by Susie Brown, both from the LaGrange GA show.



Primarily exterior shots.  Interior shots need some interesting background (architecture, Christmas tree, patterned wallpaper, cool furniture).  Sports, family groups, dining scenes, airplanes, palm trees, suitcases, embraces, beach scenes, action, attitude, dancing, cool shoes, suits, pegged jeans, good hair, motorcycles, cool cars, roller skates, candid wedding, bell bottoms, poolside, bikinis, converse sneakers, rvs, camping, boy scouts, girl scouts, greasers, golf.

Our work is mostly faceless, so we're looking for images that are strong on physical personality.


Professional portraits, facial close-ups, posed wedding pictures, posed class pictures.

If you are submitting in hopes of purchasing your painting if chosen, please send us a private message when you post your images telling us what size range you would be interested in and which images on our website have a color pallette that appeals to you.

Common sizes, price:

9" x 12"    $375
12" x 16"  $450
16" x 20"  $600
20" x 20"  $800
24" x 36"  $1500
30" x 40"  $1950
36" x 36"  $2400
36" x 48"  $2800
36" x 60"  $3250
48" x 60"  $4800

NOT A FACEBOOKER?  Email me your images directly.

Please scan your pictures at a photo quality, color rich setting, even if they are black and white.

the fine print:

IF YOU SUBMIT, please understand that you are giving us permission to make and sell a painting from your photo.  The painting may be photographed and submitted for entry in exhibitions.  While we do not make any prints of our work for sale (giclees, etc.), we may print the image as postcards or notecards to use as client gifts or for promotion of future exhibitions.  If we love your image, we may create more than one painting from it.  SUBMITTING A PHOTO SIGNIFIES THAT YOU AGREE WITH THESE TERMS.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me before submitting.

Friday, January 4, 2013

28 day dance party

'Spin' 30" square oil on linen, $1500

Our budding experiments with capturing movement have blossomed!  The '28 day dance party' launches tonight at Art & Light gallery, 4 Aberdeen Drive, Greenville SC from 6pm-9pm.  Come join us for some moving and shaking in the New Year!

Big thanks are in order to A&L gallerist Teresa Roche who envisioned this series and gently prodded us into tackling it for the last year or so.  Teresa is a boudless source of energy and enthusiam and I hope we have captured even a fraction of her energy in this show.

The exhibition opened for sales this morning at 9am.  This series is available exclusively through Art & Light through the month of January.  To see the series and for purchasing info, visit our website at

'Orange Crush', 16" x 12" oil on masonite, $450