Sunday, December 12, 2010

signe's holiday wish list!

Genna and I are not exchanging gifts this year since we're buying each other a house (although I secretly ordered myself a gift of new china today...shhh!). We're also scaling back on gift giving with family.

We've always been crazy Christmas gift givers with a full-on orgy of presents on Christmas Eve and Santa bringing gifts for ALL, young and old, on Christmas morning. This year we've gone to 'kids only' and I unfortunately don't qualify at 36 (our 20 year old Nastiya made it just under the wire, lucky girl).

So, my December spending bonanza has been brutally curtailed and I'm suffering from a little shopping withdrawal. Looking for relief from the retail d.t.'s today I decided I'd do some online searching of my favorite artists and share with you what I would be asking for if I was asking.


This is the 'birthday suit candy dish' by one of my new art idols Jenny Mendes. I found Jenny at the Kentuck festival in Tuscaloosa and bought her quirky, sweet, subversive little bowls for all of my studio co-op partners. She has scads of new pieces in her etsy store that have all my chakras spinning.

"Wallflower" (24" square) is my most recent fave by Kathrine Allen-Coleman. I love every piece from this series, but this one also hearkens back to my 70's childhood wardrobe. One of you should snap this up to save me from myself...if I run across it in person at one more festival I'm going to have to bring it home. Kathrine wrote about this particular piece on her blog.

"Midnight Gathering" by Kent Ambler. I have a thing about black birds, bare branches, and smoky teal, so this is ticking all the boxes.

"Bottles" from Greg Turco's 'Ruins' series. I have 3 or 4 of Greg's beautiful photos that I've never had room to hang. Maybe they'll finally make it out of storage in our new place.

Mmmmmmm. My friend Scott Coleman posts a beautifully rendered little cupcake painting every day. This one is from back in October but there are also lots of great holiday ones to choose from.

"Knack" in Greenville specializes in re-contextualized furniture and 'found goodness', but they had me at 'moose head made out of old newspapers'. I discovered Knack through my new friend Theresa at Art & Light gallery in Greenville. Theresa is an excellent gallerist and curator who always has a fantastic collection of artists and mid century mod furniture on display.

OK, my eyes are tired now. Maybe more wish list later. Anyone else want to share their holiday handmade gift dreams?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last. Mini. Ever.

I spent this weekend with my last ever batch of minis...a set of eight little couples, each six inches square and framed in black. Why no more minis? They're a pain in my ass. Each one takes easily as much time and effort as a piece nine times it's size, plus I have to hold my breath with each stroke to keep the brush steady enough for such tiny strokes.

All that said, these are some charming little buggers! Regularly priced at $150, these are $120 each through February with our 20% moving sale discount. Shipping is free as always. See the whole series plus a dozen new small pieces at

"Moving Sale" works are going fast with nearly a dozen pieces sold since we started it yesterday so check it out quick!

Monday, November 29, 2010

on the move!

Genna and I are just back from Gerton, NC where we spent a lovely week on the side of Bearwallow Mountain with my folks for Thanksgiving. On our way there, we stopped in Greenville, SC and BOUGHT A HOUSE! Here we are in front of our new place:

We're closing in mid-January and beginning our move in early February. We are both excited ane terrified. For those of you who don't know us well, Genna and I have been partners in a co-operative gallery and studio facility in downtown LaGrange GA for more than 12 years. Our artist partners have become like our second family and we've all grown together in our lives and careers. Upon our move to Greenville, we'll be working from home. Anyone out there who works from home and has advice for me on how to make this transition, my ears are open.

We'll be making an effort to whittle down our personal art collection through adopting out some of our babies and our art inventory by way of a big moving sale, so stay tuned!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

an oldy...hopefully goody

I think I've mentioned before that sometimes as my 'artist skillset' evolves, I don't only gain things but often lose things, too. I look back at drawings from my highschool days and long for the laser focus I could hold for hours on end, rendering scenes with photographic precision. Nastiya still has this skill in spades, so maybe that has something to do with stage of life.

Before Genna and I began collaborating, I was creating texture and interest in my work with heavy 'impasto' style brushwork. As Genna brought me increasingly complex and nuanced 'start points', my painting style became increasingly flat and broad. This shift made images that used to be no brainers a huge challenge for me. I revisited one such image last week with "Logsled". Here is a 'pre-Genna' version, circa 2003:

(Logsled, oil on canvas, 85" x 65")

Each log end is a single, heavy brushstroke where the brush was loaded with multiple variations of the taupe color. The edges of some strokes are ragged and stuttering, a technique I have completed abandoned for now.

Here we are circa 2006. Simplification had begun but the underpainting process had not fully matured:

(Logsled, 40" x 30" oil on canvas)

And here's the current version, circa last week:

("Logsled", oil on linen with metallic acrylic underpainting, $2600)

Different, no? Check back in five years and I'll make it again!

Monday, November 8, 2010

my new favorite things

Last month I met ceramic artist Jenny Mendes at the Kentuck Art Fest in Tuscaloosa. I had seen her work there the year before and had despared at having not purchased any of her lovely, strange, sensitive little bowls then. Jenny had probably 100 of these enchanting little guys on view at the show and then further confused me by bringing me behind her booth to sift through a box of probably 100 more.

Her intimately sized creations would make lovely holiday gifts! Check her out at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

gia miminoshvili

This is a sculpture by our winter 'artist in residence' Gia that was completed while he and Genna were working together in Ukraine. I'm not sure what type of work Gia will be making while he's with us as he is both potter and painter. Please see the previous post if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

two month catchup

It's been so long I don't even know what to tell you! Our fall schedule is nearly over and we're delighted to be back home. Our shows were all great (well, maybe more like 3 out of five!) and we took second place overall at the Bayou City show in Houston. Bayou City spring and fall have been consistently strong shows for us for three years and our win means that we're jury exempt for both installments in 2011/2012. What a relief to know at least one show we'll be in next year! To attend 15 shows in a year we generally apply to 30 or so.

Sausalito was FANTASTIC. I've never spent so much money to do a show before and it was absolutely terrifying but ultimately worth it. Genna was right about the big class portrait paintings. We brought two 4' x 5' versions and found new homes for both of them.

I came home thinking about the three months unfurling ahead of me with nothing to do but whatever I feel like. That lasted about a week before I hear from Genna that his good friend Gia Miminoshvilli got approved for a visa to come visit. Gia was one of Genna's early artistic mentors in Ukraine who helped him learn his craft as a potter. Originally from soviet Georgia, Gia now lives in Kiev (where Genna's from). Gia will be here at least a month, living and making art with us. At the end of his visit we'll be launching a show for him somewhere. Somewhere. Then Gia wants us to come to Georgia (the soviet one) to do a three man show with him there. Oh, and Genna's mom is going to come visit for two months this winter. The unfurling of my boundless free time has halted and begun refurling! [If you're reading this, Gia, we're totally stoked that you're coming...I just enjoy complaining.]

Here's Gia and Genna outside Gia's Kiev studio in 2006:

and in the studio, doing what they do in the studio (shooting vodka):

and with him and Genna's brothers Sasha and Costya once the singing started!

That's what our studio will look like through December!

Monday, August 16, 2010

feeling strangely fine

We're about two weeks away from launching our fall travel schedule...7 shows in two months. We've done it before, 7 shows in 7 weeks last fall, but all things considered this is definitely the most we've ever had at stake. First up is the Sausalito Art Festival in early September. Just getting ourselves and all of our goodies there and back is one of the trickiest (and priciest) numbers we've ever taken on. Shortly after that will come The Plaza in Kansas City which we've been shooting for for years. At the very end of the season will come Savannah, which has been our best of the year two of the last three years.

What work I complete by next Thursday will be all we have for the fall season as we won't have time between shows to create new inventory.

Am I freaking out? I'm totally not! or maybe just a little bit. I have enough work to fill at least four booths, but I always worry I don't have exactly the right thing. The right combination of work so that it presents cohesively, the right type of work for the area we're traveling to, the right balance of large and small, the right color for the moment, yikes.

I'm trying to practice my 'allowing' and be OK with what I have. I'm going to post all of the new work next week before we hit the road, be sure to check out the sneak preview!

(Ya, that's me with a big shark. I thought it would be a good metaphor, like me taming the savage beast that is my fear of inadequacy. I actually have a painting I want to show you, but maybe I'll get around to that tomorrow.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

genna knows best

Genna nearly never tells me what to our art and in our when he does I pretty much have to do it.

He's been pressuring me lately to make some more images in our "Yearbook" series. These are images created from old yearbook contact sheets from the 1950's. For some reason, I just was not feeling it; probably because I'm lazy and they're a bit more work than our other series. I finally broke down and began one late last week and am SO GLAD I did. I think I sparked something new here and am already headed on to another.

Here is "Pete and Repeat Class Portrait: Soft Plaid", oil on linen, 60" x 48":

Thursday, July 22, 2010

long tall drive, finished

As promised, here is the completed "Long Tall Drive", 60" x 36".

Also hot off the presses, one of my new favorites, "Five Lounging", 24" x 48".

These and two other newbies just posted on the website.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

long tall drive, in process

After a tricky week in the studio (I'm not going to show you what I made as I don't want to prejudice anyone against my 'problem children'), I think I'm finally on a roll again. I haven't done a post showing the stages of a painting recently, so I decided I would today. Then I forgot what I was the first half of the piece wasn't documented.

Oh well! Here is "Long Tall Drive", 60" x 36":

I'll post a better photo of it was soon as we have a day with good light.

Have a great day, everybody!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

the lacuna


Check it 'bathroom to be' has floor joists...

and a floor!

Here's my hard working man in our 30' dumpster full of old room,

and if you look behind him here you can see a little of the 'archaeology' of our house:

What I don't have pictures of (because it's too depressing) is the damage we found upon our return from Wisconsin from the leaking plumbing in the ceiling of ONE OF THE TWO ROOMS IN OUR HOUSE THAT ARE ACTUALLY FINISHED. Or it was finished. Now it has a full corner (including walls/ceiling/floor) that needs repairs.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

des moinesian progress

Executing a move that could now arguably be called 'pulling a Signe', I brought us to Iowa for the Des Moines Art Festival a full week ahead of schedule. Now I think it's maybe a tiny bit funny, but the moment of discovery was truly horrible. I'm not a careless person by nature...I never miss a deadline and am rarely late...but I'm HORRIBLE with dates. I couldn't tell you right now when my anniversary is (don't tell Genna).

I told Genna this could have happened for a reason (meaning, like, karmically) and he said "Ya, because you're a crappy organizer." Two-shay. Luckily for me, it's World Cup time, and Genna forgave me as soon as he figured out how much soccer he was going to get to watch.

Since we hadn't made it ALL the way to Des Moines, we cooled our heels in lovely downtown Peoria IL FOR A WEEK. Here's Genna and Jerky at the riverfront...

and Jerky and me in the same spot:

That is a festival behind me, but we weren't in it for once.

Here is our Des Moines booth (a week later):

Nice, right? And here's my view of the newly opened John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park from the back of our booth:

Genna behind the booth with his nice new haircut (thanks to the JCPenney salon at the Peoria Mall), next to my current drug of choice, the Diet MtnDew...

...and here's me:

Here's the backside:

Sunday morning we decided to switch it up and change to a big wall of smalls in the front:

Next time I take show pictures, I'll show you more of the 'ugly truth' part instead of the 'dressed up pretty' part shown here. Des Moines had more of the 'ugly truth' part than most shows. Weather during the first two days was scorching. Friday and Saturday ran to 10pm, by which time crazy grumpiness had set it. Overnight both Fri. and Sat. there were terrible, windy storms that had us awake and wondering if our work would be there the next day. Saturday morning brought a pulled apart booth, complete with nearly top-less tent and wet work. Sunday was windy enough to give me stomach pains. Ah, the care-free life of the artist!

So, two more weeks (I think. Maybe I should check?) and we'll be headed to Wisconsin. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 14, 2010

what Genna's doing

See that giant hole Genna's standing in? That's my house!

We (read: Genna) are/is in the process of renovating our Nastiya's bedroom and our second bath. The giant lacuna he's standing in used to be the bathroom and hall, through the wall behind him is Nastiya's room. As usual, the demolition stage went quite a bit farther than we had planned. When the rotten bathroom floor was removed, the joists underneath looked like they had been cobbled together from junk found on the side of the road. Also, we could see that the foundation was not level and needed extra support in some areas.

He has about three work weeks available before Nastiya arrives for the summer, so wish us luck!

Friday, June 4, 2010

ordering chaos

After leaving nearly my entire inventory of work at Bennett Galleries a month ago, I've been double-timing it in the studio. This is fairly standard practise for me as we are on the road in 'seasons' where I might not hold a paintbrush for months. It's always exciting to see what happens after a solid three or four weeks at the easel. I think I passed my 10,000 hour mark (Outliers, anybody?) a few years back and since then haven't felt like I was starting over each time I've been away, but it still takes me that month or so of intensive work to reach what feels like a new step in development.

All that to say that I've stepped into something new in the last few work days. I'm finding myself drawn to increasingly complex images, many of which include machinery (which I've never liked working with before). I'm employing a gridding system in order to get the most accurate possible drawing before beginning the paintings. Like this...

Here's that finished piece:

What's exciting me most about this is the challenge of creating a cohesive structure with many elements atop Genna's chaotic, free form underpaintings that still has a solid composition.

Wonder what's coming next week?!

(top image: "Smithy Fishers", oil on linen, 36" x 48", $2200
bottom image: "New Truck", oil on linen, 36" x 36", $1800)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

artist a day

Check it out! We were featured today on the artist a day website that can be selected as a daily google homepage offering.

I was a little scared to be featured as some regular readers tend to be a little harsh with their critiques, but I must say this was an energizing experience. Not nearly as painful as expected. Here's an idea of the range:

Frightening images of America. Amid signs of prosperity the faces are blank! No one home!

Comment by herb — May 22, 2010

I truly love her work of art the paintings are simply beautiful The family is the most precious thing anyone can own and longs for deep in the persons soul. Whether one is single or married it is the beginning we all started somewhere family crosses all cultures and speaks all languages. And the paintings of the girls makes me feel like I am back to my roots Pennsylvania my love for my people. I would like to meet her someday.

Comment by Anonymous — May 22, 2010

I love that our work is open enough to invite both of these comments!

Please go vote me a 5 to drive up my score and protect my fragile ego.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"the art of love"

We had a great conversation with Columbus Ledger Enquirer reporter Annie McCallum a while back (between Magic City and Brookside...whenever that was!) and the resulting article ran on the cover of last Sunday's Living section. I thought she captured perfectly the nature of our collaboration (so much so that I had to cry a little bit when I read it. Then I went back into the Barnes and Noble, bought all remaining copies of the Sunday paper, and bragged to the cashier). Here's the link to the article:

The Art of Love, Columbus Ledger Enquirer, Sunday May 16, 2010

I'm not sure how long that link will work, so here's the text just in case:

Sunday, May. 16, 2010

LaGrange’s Signe and Genna Grushovenko create together

By ANNIE MCCALLUM - amccallum@ledger-

LAGRANGE, Ga. — LaGrange artists Signe and Genna Grushovenko describe themselves as “partners in both life and art.”

How Signe (originally from Michigan) and Genna (from the Ukraine) met, married and made art could be described as kismet.

Genna, who got a job in the United States at the LaGrange Mall, met a contractor there. The contractor was one of the original Artists in Residence gallery partners. LaGrange College grad Signe was also a co-founder of the downtown LaGrange gallery.

The two met at the gallery’s opening (where Signe recalled telling her mother that Genna was cute) and later married there. [Signe's mother actually told me that Genna was way too young for me, which stung as he's actually about 6 years older.]
Now, almost 12 years later, their time together has influenced their artwork and, in turn, their careers.

Most recently they have been collaborating on paintings that depict old photos with blocks of color laid over detailed, multi-colored underpaintings. The paintings, which the couple have been creating for the past five years, have been wildly popular.

Recently the works were featured in the Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham, Ala. where they won the Award of Merit and Atlanta’s Dogwood Festival where the couple earned Best in Category. The festivals mark the beginning of one of the couple’s rigorous travel seasons, which happen in the spring and fall.

The work created by the two is better experienced than explained. But if someone were to articulate how they create their works, it would go something like this:

Genna creates the underpaintings on his own by applying oil pigment and mineral spirits onto the canvas standing. Then it’s rotated and more layers are added.

Once Genna is finished, the pieces dry and then they’re in Signe’s hands. She selects an underpainting and then chooses an image that will “mesh well.” Referencing that image, Signe begins to draw in oil pastel and later completes the painting in oil.

And voila. The finished product. Only it wasn’t always that purposeful, the couple said.

“It’s not like we decided to do that,” Signe said, later adding it was a gradual process that linked their skills together.

Signe, who always preferred to work on a colored canvas, said Genna was initially just helping her out but soon what he was doing crept into her work.

“The underpaintings became more and more complicated until it became part of the finished piece,” she said.

Though the evolution of their collaboration hasn’t been all smooth sailing. And really what married couple works together perfectly without a few bumps in the road?

“It took some tweaking,” Genna said. “She tried to manage me.”

Joked Signe: “I try and tell everyone what to do.”

Seriously though, Signe said, partnering with her husband has changed her work.

“Because what Genna does is so meaty and visceral and rich, it has pushed my style in the other direction. It’s very blocky, flat plains of color,” Signe said. “It was never anything I intended or happened in the front of my mind.”

The two said the result has been recognizable, popular work. Although, they said some people question why there are no faces depicted in the works. They explained the faces are nondescript so people can bring their own history and reaction to the pieces. It allows people to make a connection with the work.

“They’re almost like a brain puzzle, a social puzzle. Who might that have been? A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I have a photograph just like that,’ ” Genna said.

On the other hand, the couple has also gotten a different reaction.

“People say, ‘Look at those; those are creepy,’ ” Genna said.

The two smile and joke inside Signe’s studio at the Artists in Residence facility. Completed underpaintings fill the hallway between Signe’s work space and Genna’s.

Working together has made careers as artists viable for the couple. They are able to travel, sell works and make money. Gone are the days of children’s paint-your-own-pottery birthday parties at Artists in Residence.

In fact, last fall Kia commissioned Genna to do some ceramics work. He was tasked with creating 1,000 pots that were later used as corporate gifts.

“It turned out to really be a career changing job for us,” Signe said, quickly joking,

Signe helped to package and mail all the pots and wound up cooking for the team that helped her husband.

Strangely, the couple explained, just how Kia found them was all happenstance. Signe said Kia execs up Googled Georgia potters, found Genna and sent them an e-mail.

“I guess it was kismet,” Signe, said, “just meant to be.”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

accidental vacations

While Genna and I are on the road almost constantly, we rarely vacation. We're gone so much that I tend to want to stay put when I can. Genna will say, "Let's take a break and go on a trip." and I say "I'm too tired to go anywhere, let's just stay home and not work for a week."

Obviously, this is a flawed plan. I go in to the studio for this or that little reason and the next thing I know I've worked another full day...or there's cleaning to do at home...or somebody's calling for VAAL business that needs attention.

So, the only way I actually take vacation time is if the universe interveens for me. Last year, we pulled up to the show site for the Port Clinton Art Fest in suburban Chicago to find that the show was to be the following weekend. Oh oh. Genna was in the middle of his huge Kia project, so he had to fly home for the week. Nastiya and I got the accidental vay-kay...we drove to my grandmother's in Michigan and had a blissfully peaceful FULL WEEK away from the studio. My mother flew in and took us on a canoe ride down the AuSable River (she grew up in a canoe livery on said river). It was the very best trip...lots of girl talk, bonding, sharing, make-overs, pillow fights. I hope Genna isn't reading this because he had to go home and work the whole week and still might be just a little mad.

The reason I've brought this up now is that the universe just handed me an even better accidental vacation. Genna was waiting online for Nastiya to get home(home to her Ukranian home)on Thursday so they could have their weekly Skype chat. While waiting, he decided to check in with a high school friend whose kids were waiting for work and travel visas for this summer. Turns out that their visas had come through just the day before and they were on their way from Kiev to Atlanta the next day.

Long story short (too late, right?), Genna offered to pick them up at the airport and drive them to Destin, Fl. Voila, week at the beach here we come!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

exhibition installation photos

Here are a few shots of our exhibition at Bennett Galleries in Knoxville. They have a great, HUGE space there full of fine work. Its definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. Our show, "Americana", alongside painter Charlotte Terrell will be up through the end of May.

Big thanks to our Bennett contact Ginger and all the rest of the Bennett gallery family for taking such wonderful care of us and our work!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

i think i can talk about this now...

I've repeatedly referenced my 'secret commission' project recently in an effort to keep you all on the edge of your seats. You don't know what I'm talking about do you? Oh well, hold on to your socks 'cause I'm breaking my silence...

I was approached in January of this year by Allison Davis, head of marketing at West Georgia Health Systems here in LaGrange. WGHS is at the tail end of completing a major addition ("In addition to providing a new “front door” to health system, the four-story South Tower will include expansions of West Georgia Health System’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Cardiovascular Services, Labor and Delivery and the Emergency Departments"). To honor the architect of the expansion plan, hospital president and CEO Jerry Fulks, Allison and the executive board were interested in commissioning a large public work for the new lobby.

After lots of back and forth concerning image, size, placement, etc., our work was installed this week, just in time for the South Tower grand opening. The image is "Groundbreaking", oil on linen, 48" x 72" and will hang on the second floor of the new lobby, looking down onto the ground floor. CEO Fulks is the figure standing the farthest forward in the darkest suit.

While I wasn't originally super excited about the reference photo we used...

...a longer look brought me alot to get excited about. While each of the figures is basically upright, there is lots of great 'physical personality' here from man to man. I also love the slightly shifting repetition of the hands, shovel handles, and hard hats which create a quirky, stuttering rhythm across the composition. We used the plaid underpainting as a tongue-in-cheek reference to men's suiting material. All in all I'm very excited about how it turned out.

We were honored to take on this project and honored further still by the artists we will be hanging beside in the hospital. WGHS has gone out of its way to feature original art, mostly by local and regional artists, in the new wing. We will be sharing walls with Guthrie Killebrew, Melinda Clair, Maragaret Reneke, Lamar Dodd, Keith Rasmussen, Vee Brown, Terri Codlin, and many more. In addition to purchasing local work and presenting works from the hospital's own coffers, they will be partnering with the LaGrange Art Museum to feature works from their permanent collection. While some states require that a certain percentage of the cost of new public building should go toward art, Georgia is not one of those. Kudos to WGHS and Ellerbe Beckett for going above and beyond.