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.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

gallery opening, Knoxville

Our show with Bennett Galleries in Knoxville TN opens tomorrow night, Friday from 5-8pm. We'll be exhibiting our newest work alongside painter Charlotte Terrell.

Shown above is our "Side Yard Garden" (oil on canvas, 65" x 85")and a piece of Charlotte's I lifted from somehwere on the internet! Those of you super familiar with our work know that this is not a new piece for us, but it's definitely a favorite of mine. The image was taken form a beautiful photo of Genna's father Peter in Ukraine when he was a young man. When I saw Charlotte's work, I knew I wanted to show this piece alongside hers as it's a better fit for her more subtle pallette. (I promise everything else is new!)

Hoping to see some of you there. Genna and I are splitting our 'couple' so that he can travel to Jackson GA to set up for our Saturday show, so I'd love to see some friendly and familiar faces. I'll be meeting Genna in Jackson on Saturday where the show runs until 3 pm. Details on the Jackson show can be found on the website of the show promoters/artists Scott and Kathrine Allen-Coleman.