The world of contemporary art is a competitive arena full of unique personalities who strive to create, inspire and communicate through their art practice. As participants in the observation and appreciation of these works, we tend to look for pieces that not only move us, but that may also serve as a valuable addition to our personal collections. What's the best way to find these gems? Try to spot talent early on at student art sales, small galleries or through word of mouth. Look for originality, a profound voice, technical excellence, social and political relevance and try to follow the careers of the artists that you're interested in. Make sure to check in regularly to see how often their work is being seen by the public and that the value is increasing. Above all else, strive to find work that you love and feature it in your space with pride.
To kick off our Art Week feature on Ava Living, we’ve outlined eight artists below who work in a variety of mediums that you should keep an eye out for in 2010.
Clockwise from top left: Wendy Ball and Dara Albanese;
examples of interior, still life, and travel photography work
Ball & Albanese, Brooklyn, New York
This travel photography team is comprised of Wendy Ball, who holds a BA in art and photography from San Francisco State University, and Dara Albanese who holds a MFA in filmmaking from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and undergraduate degrees in journalism and political science from Ohio State University.
The team shoots for various travel and luxury publications that include Condé Nast Traveller UK, Travel + Leisure and Manhattan magazine. Their work has also been featured in print as well as a group exhibition by Photo District News (PDN) as one of 30 new and emerging photography teams to watch for in 2009. This year, their work can be found in a feature in Travel + Leisure’s February issue (where they photographed the Amangiri Hotel in Utah).
In their own words:
As travel photographers, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to shoot many different subjects: people, food, interiors, architecture, and landscape. It's perfect for two people with a variety of interests. Ultimately, the goal is to tell a story, especially on assignment. As a team, we try to push one another's boundaries to this end. While we can save time by shooting simultaneously when needed, we prefer to set up each of our shots together. We find that together, we bring a relentless attention to detail. When time and subject allow, we have as much fun styling the shot as we do composing or lighting it within the frame.
The duo are open to commission work, and can be contacted at:
Phone: (718) 755-1976
Clockwise from top left: David M. Robinson; Cedar log, 3-piece cast porcelain log set;
Skeleton Plates, 16th century anatomical images on porcelain with gold and platinum lustre overlay;
Adam and Steve, porcelain salt and pepper set
David M. Robinson, DMR Ceramics, Vancouver, B.C.
David M. Robinson is about to complete his BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design with a focus on ceramics. His work has been featured in the One-Of-A-Kind Art Show and Sale, Gallery of B.C. Ceramics, The Doctor Vigari Gallery, IDS West and the Art of Food Exhibition.
The DMR Ceramics website is in the works and will be completed this year, so be sure to check for the lastest updates at the address listed in the contact information below.
In his own words:
I am interested in taking mundane or common objects from the every day like toys and objects from nature, and re-contextualizing them not only through transference in material, but also through context. It is incredibly empowering to shift the manner in which a person views a particular object. I feel that this helps to open up our rigid systems of interpretation to something beyond the obvious.
DMR Ceramics is open to commission work, and often creates multiples of his pieces during the holiday season. He can be contacted at:
Phone: (604) 773-2656
Clockwise from top left: Diane Espiritu; tufted ceramic headboard;
upholstered ottoman; porcelain drinking glasses
Diane Espiritu, Vancouver, B.C.
Diane Espiritu is about to complete her Bachelor of Industrial Design from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, was awarded the IDSA Junior Merit Award in 2009, and also holds a Bachelor of Sciences from the University of Manitoba. She creates sublime ceramic, furniture, and soft product design pieces that have been featured in the One-Of-A-Kind Art Show and Sale, East Side Cultural Crawl, the Emily Carr University Studioshop, Style at Home magazine and the Emily Carr Student Art Sale.
In her own words:
Affection for elegant simplicity in design, architecture, and nature, and a shared sense of community are the elements that fuel my passion to create. As a student of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, I am pursuing my personal legend in the direction of Industrial Design.
My strengths are optimism, creative problem solving, meticulous attention to detail, as well as ceramic, soft product, and furniture design. With a working knowledge of various
tools and mediums, I allow each to become
an extension of sight and hand.
Diane Espiritu is open to commission work, and can be contacted at:
Phone: (604) 338-5570
Clockwise from top left: Heidi Maddess; To Reduce Mortality And Improve Growth;
A Different Kind of Baptism; There Are Treasures Here, But They Are Buried In Stinking Muck
Heidi Maddess, Vernon, B.C.
Heidi Maddess holds a MFA, with honors, from the San Francisco Art Institute, a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and also attended Okanagan College and the Edinburgh College of Art. Heidi works with mixed media and her work has been featured at the Canadian Embassy of Iceland, City of Salmon Arm, and in private collections throughout Canada, USA, Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Scotland and France. This year, she has two exhibitions at the Conrad Wilde Gallery and the North Vancouver Community Arts Council.
I am exploring how personal demons – shadows – thread themselves through sensibilities of physiological, emotional and psychological landscapes. During two artist residencies, I was initiated into the mythologies and landscape of my Icelandic heritage, in which mythical forces are believed to have a real physical presence.
Formal elements used to support this idea include using traditional drawing materials of graphite, charcoal and ink for variation of line, occasional photo collage, as well as ink/graphite washes, and watercolors — all of which are scanned at various stages and composed to be printed digitally on archival rag paper.
During my struggles with illness, all assumptions of self have been stripped away. Demons occupy spaces of peripheral vision and are at times tricksters purposefully keeping me off balance. At other times, they are beacons for reintegrating dissociated fragments of self. If you dream about wrestling with the devil, it may only be yourself you are wrestling with.
Heidi Maddess is open to commission work, and can be contacted at:
Clockwise from top left: Kristi Malakoff; $100 Cabin; Maibaum; The Glade
Kristi Malakoff, Nelson, B.C.
Working mainly with sculpture and installations, Kristi holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and Chelsea College of Art and Design. Her work has been featured at Vancouver Art Gallery, Richmond Art Gallery, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Peterborough, superbien!, Kunstfabrik, Museo Regional de Querétaro, le gallery, Stride Gallery, Alternator Gallery, Art Gallery of the South Okanagan, Aqua Art Miami, Red Bull Projects, Wilde Gallery, Art Gallery of Calgary, Artspeak Gallery, gallery rdf, CoCA Seattle, Kamloops Art Gallery, 291 Gallery.
Keep an eye out for her work this year at Peel Gallery, UBC Graduate Symposium, Kelowna Art Gallery, Proekt Fabrika, Touchstones Museum, Latitude 53, and Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
The notion of fantasy is the umbrella over much of my installation and sculptural work. This idea has expanded to include man-made sites of culture and celebration — manufactured escapism. In particular, those sites in which dreams, desires, and destruction collide intrigue me. As such, my practice is about dichotomies. I often look for and create unexpected relationships between concepts, ideas, and materials. In my personal life, I frequently bounce between living in major urban centers and extreme rural communities — my practice is frequently exploring the contrasts and connections between these two ways of being. The urban manipulation of nature is a theme in my work. The concept of “spectacle“ features prominently, both in the common and Debordian senses of the term.
Taking 2-dimensional mass-produced materials, I often transform them back into unique objects, or back to their pre-representational, 3-D state. By removing these materials from their intended context and placing them in new situations, I aim to both surprise the viewer and to create a new, multi-layered conversation. To this end, I work with photographic images, cereal boxes, stamps, paper currency, and wallpaper. Through my installation work, I am interested in creating immersive and transformative environments. I have long been fascinated with ideas of swarm intelligence and the behavior of self-regulating communities. These works are often trompe l’oeil. As I am intrigued by the idea of the stage set and movie magic, much of my work is consciously one-sided—perfect vs. not perfect, real vs. not real.
Kristi Malakoff is open to the possibility of commission work, and can be contacted at:
Clockwise from top left: Lucien Shapiro; Gypsy Princess; Bury What We Found; Acorn Princess
Lucien Shapiro, Santa Rosa, CA
With a BFA in sculpture, this mixed media artist has had work featured in galleries in London, New York, California, Boston, Berlin, Nevada, Oregon and Texas, as well as publications such as REFUSED magazine, XFUNS magazine and the Taipei Museum. His work will be featured in two exhibitions in Oakland, CA in March, and he continues to book future dates.
My art dances between life and death. My pieces are built from the beauty of objects that are no longer being used for their original purpose, may it be a collection of bones, a found antique or a discarded object. I create sculptural pieces using objects left behind from lives past, and use them to build new forms of life. I am obsessed with the process of turning objects that some view as ugly or useless into hidden treasures filled with beauty. I enjoy incorporating my sculptures in installations, bringing an outside world to the inside, and placing the viewer in a world from my imagination. Through my installations, people can experience the fantasy that I see everywhere. I create to build dreams for the non-dreamers. Each piece brings me one step closer to myself, and in turn, brings the viewer one step closer to the fantasies which rest within them.
Lucien Shapiro is open to commission work, and can be contacted at:
Phone: (415) 307-0760
Clockwise from top left: Shaan Syed; Untitled; Stage Right; Untitled
Shaan Syed, London, UK
Shaan Syed holds a MFA from Goldsmiths College, and his paintings have been featured in a solo shows at Galerie Michael Janssen, Brown Gallery, along with group shows at Bloomberg Space, S1 Art Space and the International Biennale of Contemporary Art Prague. His work can be found this year at Domo Baal Gallery, as well as a solo show at Brown Gallery in the late spring.
I’m interested in the failure of abstraction and representation, and the collapse of picture-making in general. After spending a long time painting real people and things, I became increasingly dissatisfied with my paintings. I had enough of illusions, so after abandoning figuration and picking up the pieces, I find myself both configuring and breaking down a space somewhere between the landscapes of Turner and the prosaic flatness of South Park.
My paintings merge abstract and representational elements and play with the depthless space of the printed image, the non-space of the computer screen, and the physical space of the painted object. I use process-based methods that are both optical and physical, such as layering, stenciling, impasto, and collage. I’ll often set up a situation or use an over-killed visual trope in order to find a way of canceling it out even more. My paintings are heavily layered with paint, and sometimes with objects such as jewelry, string, or ribbons that are incorporated into the composition. The idea is to confuse the painted space, and to tease the eye with the fiction of picture making. I like the idea of objectifying a flat surface — I’m interested in making everything that happens on the surface of my paintings happen on the surface of my paintings. I’ve been looking at stages and those elements of stage design that attempt to describe a fictional depth such as the stage leg or proscenium. I see a parallel with the relationship that the stage sets up between the audience and spectacle, to how we see and look at painting.
Shaan Syed is open to the possibility of commission work, and can be contacted at:
Clockwise from top left: Taralee Guild; Globetrotter 1964; Unknown Airstream; Airstream 1961
Taralee Guild, Vancouver, B.C.
Taralee Guild is about to complete her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and her paintings have been featured at the JEM Gallery Cordova and the Eastside Culture Crawl. This year, her work will be featured at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design Grad Exhibition and The Whip Restaurant Gallery.
For the last 6 months I’ve been working on a series of paintings that are based on polished Airstream trailers from the mid-20th century. Each painting emphasizes the distortion that is visible in the highly reflective metal of the surface. The paintings were inspired by amateur photographs taken by Airstream enthusiasts. When the images are translated with paint, the contorted reflection takes on a new dimension, bringing up the historic painting discourse of abstraction vs. realism. These compositions create an object-ground relationship similar to animal mimicry, where the trailer hides in its surroundings by through reflection. The metallic surface becomes an arena for hallucinatory paint forms that given the degree of reflective distortion, slip away from recognizability. The viewer is presented with the imaginary pictorial space behind them. Either the perceived vantage point is from an odd disembodied gaze, or the visible mirrored body is faceless, elongated, and in a precarious environment co-habited with the unknown.
Taralee Guild is open to commission work, and can be contacted at:
Phone: (778) 891-2854
Written by Ehren Seeland