Artist Profile: Daniel Anthonisen

divination

Divination, a 36 x 24 casein on gesso panel, is part of Home, Recent Work by Daniel Anthonisen, opening Oct. 5 at Travis Gallery in Solebury Township. The work is already sold.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Two women ground the composition. In standing bow pose, a yoga move said to increase blood flow to the heart, the women point toward a birdhouse symbol on the base of a larger-than-life candelabra. Their realism is echoed in the lacy underwire and boy shorts of the woman above. Her legs dig deep into the candlestick, with one of her two sets of hands she waters stag-horn sumac branches watched over by stags dancing on urns. Her other hands lift to the sky, her glowing eye sockets, sycamore leaf headdress, and dual spicebush swallowtail butterflies.

Stay with me, I know there’s a lot going on. In a world of shortening attention spans, this painting requires awareness. Above the goddess in lovely lingerie hang two urn-shaped plumb lines suspended from diving rods, within a clock face dappled by snowflakes. At the top is a version of Buer. The five-legged (deer in this version, not lion to match his head) demon glows as bright as the stars on trees inside homes during the time Buer is said to appear (when the sun is in Sagittarius — November and December).

The painting, by Bucks County artist Daniel Anthonisen, embraces nature, particularly local species. It reflects Christianity, Judaism, Shamanism, Hinduism, Alchemy and more religious thought. It grows from intellectual study and quiet contemplation. A journey to find meaning.

“It’s a celebration of finding the newness of life that’s in us and around us,” says Anthonisen.

“People seem concerned at times in acknowledging the value of things by measuring with what is ‘practical.’ I actually see a wonderful combination possible, of merging the so-called ‘irrational’ with the practical self-knowledge that our lives frequently more resemble a literary novel than a series of scientific facts or experiments.”

Anthonisen tells me he is interested in the “adventure of fluidity, not knowing what is around the corner is to embark on a path of learning.”

He believes in the visual poetry of painting, but feels accountable to acknowledge a path of learning in his work. Although he isn’t fond of audio descriptions of works in museums, he rejects the “great taboo in employing verbal language to compliment a visual structure.”

daniels studio

Works in progress in the Carversville studio of Daniel Anthonisen.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

I’d first written about Anthonisen more than 10 years ago. At the time he was a dedicated plein air artist, capturing the soothing essence of the Delaware River, the hills and vales of Bucks County. In the years since, he’s shown at the Woodmere and Michener museums, among other impressive venues. With a B.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University, Anthonisen is no slouch. Not to mention his famous sculptor-father, George Anthonisen.

Daniel Anthonisen has a solo show opening October 5 at Travis Gallery in Solebury Township. I wondered how he was faring. We’d lost touch, with only an occasional email to connect the years.

I’d mentioned while setting up our meeting that I no longer earn my living writing about art and artists, that instead I clock hours in a corporate compound, with nice people but not doing work that inspires me in any way. He responded that he’s glad he has been able to avoid having to take on such uncreative employment, that he is grateful he can devote himself to his art, although it is a struggle to develop financial security.

I meet Anthonisen on a stiflingly humid morning, just up the road from a scarecrow of sorts fashioned from flowerpots sitting outside of Kinsman Company, a garden supply store in Point Pleasant. It is an imagine I will see later.

Save for a few gray hairs, little tells of the passing decade. He’s lost a few pounds. I’ve found them. When we last met he was that emboldening age of 30-something. The thirties, in my opinion, are when you first feel fully adult. Empowered, Anthonisen seized his spot among the New Hope School of Impressionists.

heading home

Now, in his early 40s, the artist is exploring the concept of home. A 2006 oil on linen, Heading Home captures Anthonisen’s quintessential ideal of home; the back of his father’s head in the bow of a small fishing boat on the Delaware River.

Anthonisen’s new work breaks from this classic concept and delves deeper. He addresses all that home embraces: his family home, where he now dwells, the river and towns he’s known since childhood. All are his inspirational muse.

“At the heart of a creative home is the access to a creative space of incubation…something everyone in the world needs,” Anthonisen writes to me. “My art experiments with expressing creative spaces of incubation whether they are riverscapes, flowerpot people or otherwise.”

daniel w kinsman

Daniel Anthonisen in front of one of his Kinsman of the Earth paintings.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

His home, a carriage house high above the river, is consumed by his art. Completed pieces hang on the walls. Canvases and boards in various states of completion are stacked on every surface not covered with paints, books and items appearing in his work.

Anthonisen’s easel — a long-ago gift from his supportive parents — commands valuable floor space in the center of the room. This is home, a place that serves his creativity, his art, his passion.

The upcoming show is titled “Home: Recent Work by Daniel Anthonisen.” His Point Pleasant home is a place of reflection and introspection, as well as inspiration. His nearby Carversville studio is an extension of his home. He can often be found on the Tohickon Creek, Delaware River, or Ralph Stover State Park, sketching, painting.

Still moved by the beauty around him, Anthonisen has found new insight in the writings of Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now), Jiddu Krishnamurti (The Flame of Attention) and others.

“Our society is based on the structure of time,” Anthonisen says. A long devotee of what he calls “rivertime, where there is a pronounced sense of the past, present and future simultaneously surrounding the moment,” Anthonisen has created for himself an existence that respects and ignores time — especially with a show deadline looming.

I ask how many of the 30 pieces that he plans to show in October are completed. He tells me none. I see them. I see them as fulfilled. I remember the perfectionist I once met. He’s still there. And a lot more.

— Jodi Thompson

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Artist Profile: Miriam Carpenter

feather in hand

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The anatomy of the feather is delicate. Each barb delineated as together they form both striated vanes radiating from the center. She grasps its fragile splendor by the calamus to avoid crushing the downy barbs. A single gust, a gentle breeze, seems capable of launching it skyward. Yet, however airy it appears, if her hold loosened, the feather would drop to the ground. It is wooden.

Artist Miriam Carpenter has carved the feather from white oak. Yes, she’s heard the jokes: her name is carpenter and she works with wood — Meta Miriam. This rather young and wholly exquisite artisan creates such beauty from wood, that she was hired by George Nakashima Studio more than six years ago, only a year out from her studies of Industrial Design at Rhode Island School of Design.

At George Nakashima Woodworker, Carpenter is assistant designer to Mira Nakashima. Already, the Carpenter Coffee Table will debut, among 25 other Nakashima works, September 20 at Moderne Gallery in Philadelphia. The eponymous piece is the first named for her, but she has signed other pieces for which she has had a strong input.

dovetailing

Miriam Carpenter shows some intricate dovetailing work she has done.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Beyond the work she does at the prominent design studio, she is constantly exploring wood on her own. Even if that exploration involves a chainsaw, which she recently took to a 6-foot sassafras limb brought down by Hurricane Sandy. “The chainsaw was too slow. It wasn’t as aggressive as I thought it would be.”

Yes, this is the same long-limbed beauty who sings in a motet group with her parents and practices yoga complaining that a chainsaw isn’t aggressive enough. The same woodworker who double-turns bowls so flowing one is reminded of the sea. The same artist, who with Zen-based calmness, carves delicate feathers from blocks of wood.

feathers in box

Wooden feathers carved by Miriam Carpenter.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Yet, surprisingly, Carpenter only carved her first feather in June of last year. Except for a block print, she had never even carved before. Her paternal grandfather, known for carving decoys from wood, (Yes, even Grandpa Carpenter was meta.) passed away in 2012. The family bestowed the young Carpenter with his workbench and carving tools.

miriam at workbench

The woodworker sits in front of the workbench and carving tools that once belonged to her paternal grandfather.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Carpenter was invited to show at the 2012 EMMA International Collaboration in Canada, a biennial event bringing together 100 artists from around the world. The show theme was “Decoy.” Her grandfather had carved decoys.

miriam with decoy

Miriam Carpenter admires a decoy carved by her late grandfather.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

“I was thinking decoy, duck, duck, decoy,” Carpenter says. “Maybe I’ll just carve a feather.” She used a mallard feather for muse and a block of white oak with well demarcated medullary rays. She explains how the pattern between the late and early growth act like the warp and weft of woven fabric.

“The structure of each piece of wood is more fascinating to me than the subject,” says Carpenter. And she rushes to get a piece of white oak to pencil out how she’d find the feather in it.

pencil and block

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

She says people often ask why she carves the curve of the feather and doesn’t steam-bend it. “That would defeat the whole purpose,” she exclaims. “Exposing the pores and the structure is the whole process.”

Perhaps born under an auspicious star, her initial attempt worked. “I was lucky because I did everything right,” she says of her first feather effort. “The second one took me a lot longer.” She positioned it wrong, causing tear out.

She also struggled with a piece of pine, a soft wood that didn’t lend itself to the lovely filigree effect of oak. Lacewood did work, however.

It’s somehow soothing to hear she has struggled. She seems so successful for such a young person. And yet she hasn’t made any effort to market her accomplishment. She has absolutely no online presence. Still she succeeds.

miriam in thought

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

She has scored herself a two-month residency at Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia in the summer of 2014. “I’m ecstatic,” she says with authenticity. “I feel unworthy.”

Her modesty is almost annoying, considering her substantial talent — not to mention youth and attractiveness — but she is able to dismiss any irritation with her slightly geeky zeal for new technology. She slides into a description of quantum dots and nanocrystals with ease. She launches into a mini-tirade about permaculture, which she has studied, and why it isn’t being done more when the research is there.

Permaculture design, music, yoga, quantum dots and nanacrystals! She admits her interests are varied. “I’m all over the place with what I’m doing,” Carpenter adds. But it is wood that ultimately woos her.

“I just love wood,” Carpenter says. “There are so many layers, so no matter how long you work with it, you discover something new.”

— Jodi Thompson

Artist Profile: Kathie Jankauskas

Artist Profile: Kathie Jankauskas

easel and computer monitor

Easel and computer enjoy equal space and time in the home office/studio of Kathie Jankauskas.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Artist Kathie Jankauskas will put to rest any ridiculous notions you have about “right brain/left brain.” She utilizes both hemispheres fully. She is equal parts civil engineer and artist, graphic artist as much as computer coder, as involved in business as in the arts. She never made what Mae Jemison, astronaut, doctor, art collector and dancer, would call a “foolish choice” between the arts and science. Jemison’s 2002 TED Talk imploring educators to reconcile science and the arts is a superb addition to any playlist, except for Jankauskas, perhaps. She’s got this.

“In high school it was either art or math,” Jankauskas says. “What parent wouldn’t want math?” So her parents pushed her to study math, which morphed into civil engineering at Lafayette College. As fate would have it, her first boss, Narendra Amin, was an artist and coaxed his mentee to explore that side of her creativity as well.

When Jankauskas had a son and, two years later, twins, she discovered they needed more time than she realized. “I liked staying home,” she says. “I didn’t want to go back to engineering.” A brush with serious illness brought clarity. “I didn’t want to wait until I retired to do art.”

She took art classes at Bucks County Community College, where the instructor recommended a class in PhotoShop. Her sister, a graphic designer, suggested graphic design as a career move, one compatible with being a stay-at-home mom.

kathie poster

Kathie Jankauskas designed several years of First Night Newtown posters, websites and collateral. Her first website for the family friendly New Year’s event earned Jankauskas an award.
The piece over her right shoulder is by her first boss, a retired engineer now volunteering as a docent at Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Jankauskas built a career for herself, two, actually — on two separate websites, one for fine art, one for graphic design and web developing. She utilizes both sides of her brain in one office/studio, with an easel set up across from two large computer monitors, custom-made drapes that block the sun glare on the screens or lift to allow natural light to pour in.

Her fine art is no more restricted than her career path. She cut her teeth on watercolors, but that didn’t stop her from delving into oils. “I’d always wanted to oil paint, so I made time for it. If you don’t make time for something, you won’t do it.”

Representational pieces are the bulk of her work, with influence from Impressionism and Cubism. She loves to play with color. She paints en plein air and still life with friends (“We call ourselves the Painters Collective.”) on a regular basis but also used several photographs to create a holiday card. (“We weren’t all skating [on her parents’ pond] in one photo.”) She’ll sell a painting that hung in her family room for so long that her husband and grown children were perturbed when told it wouldn’t return. (“People like pigs. It was a happy pig.”) Yet, promises other pieces hanging in their Middletown Township home won’t be sold. (Indicating a colorful Cubist-style sun with ample attitude hanging over the family room fireplace, her husband, Joe, says: “She also threatened to sell that one, too.”)

kathie flowers

For a change of pace, Jankauskas painted these flowers “just out of my head.”
This piece was featured in Bucks County Designer House & Gardens. Jankauskas has had pieces in Artists of Yardley, Ellarslie, New Hope Art League Juried Show, and Phillips Mill Art Exhibition recently, many selling.
“I had a good spring,” Jankauskas says.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.


She shares a sly smile at her perceived dichotomy, because in her mind, there is none. “I love doing [computer graphics and web design]. It’s not like work,” she says in nearly the same breath as “I couldn’t not paint.”

Jemison would understand. As the astronaut/dancer says: “science provides an understanding of a universal experience” and “arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience.” Says Jemison, “They’re all part of us, all part of a continuum.”

Jankauskas is a perfect illustration of that theory.

— Jodi Thompson

Art in Nature: Silvere Boureau

silvere cosmo

Silvere Boureau melds reality with the magical, capturing the tinest shadow on this cosmo in a sunny field.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

It never hurts to be reminded of the beauty of nature that surrounds us. From pocket parks to land preserves, we have ample opportunity to be outdoors. Occasionally, however, we need prompting to see the natural world’s wonder and healing power. Few do that as well as Yardley artist Silvere Boureau.

Walking Five Mile Woods, hiking Baldpate Mountain, canoeing the Pine Barrens or combing the sands of Island Beach State Park, you are apt to find Boureau. Either with sketchbook in hand or seated at his French easel, he seizes the splendor before him.

We’ve all read the studies correlating the power of nature to soothe, not necessarily to cure, but definitely to heal. His landscapes and studies encapsulate that power. Boureau even adopts pharmaceutical lingo when referring to his favorite outdoor spots.

“Tohickon Creek above Point Pleasant,” he adds. “A good dose of nature.”

Yet even the earth’s glory can be deadly, which inspired Dangerous Blossoms, an exhibition of works at D&R Greenway Land Trust through July 19. Boureau has three pieces in the show. One is a study of deadly nightshade, also known as bella dona for its ability to dilate the pupils, making women more beautiful, and ill.

“I wouldn’t advise you try that,” Boureau jokes. “It could be deadly.”

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

He also painted foxglove, that tall, regal flower that gave us digitalis, a name of both the plant and heart medication derived from it.

Boureau’s porcelain vines piece in the show has sold to an anonymous buyer. The highly invasive plant has berries that birds love. Its deadly traits are limited to the native species it can choke out.

silvere porcelain vine

An anonymous buyer bought the original oil painting of this deliciously detailed porcelain vine.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

“I just can’t get rid of them,” Boureau says of the vine growing in his own yard. “But they are amazingly beautiful.”

If you get a chance to take in Deadly Blossoms, don’t forget to enjoy some time in the 17, 200 acres preserved by D&R Greenway Land Trust. Take a hike, volunteer to help build a trail, or stop by their Native Plant Nursery for indigenous flora to plant in your own garden.

silvere studio

Boureau in his Lower Makefield home studio.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Out among the beautiful old-growth forests and along many a trail you may run across an artist sketching or painting en plein air. Perhaps even Boureau.

“I take any occasion to be out in wilderness and nature.”

— Jodi Thompson

Artist Profile: Lexi Logan

Artist Lexi Logan would make Sheryl Sandberg proud: Logan leans in to her life with confidence. What may baffle the Facebook COO-cum-self-help author would be that there is nary a corporation in sight of the Buckingham farm where Logan works and lives.

logan painting on wood

Artist Lexi Logan with one of her works
on a George Nakashima wood piece.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Logan has not chosen to use her talents to rise to the top tiers of a firm, or to increase a stock price. She is, instead, leaning in to nourish the soul with art while nourishing her three children. All on a Bucks County farm that once grew food to nourish the body.

Logan, her husband, artist Andrew Logan, and their three young children live on what was once Stover’s Farm Market. The barns, silos and outbuildings that once housed livestock and farm machinery now harbor artists’ studios, where members of the Bucks County Art Barn paint, photograph, weld, sculpt, carve, design and more.

The New York University grad has adapted her art career to suit her life raising a daughter, age 7, and two sons, ages 10 and 5. She put herself on the “mommy track” of the art world, and perhaps unlike that of the corporate world, it works well for her.

“Being a mother and being an artist has been such a beautiful challenge,” Logan says. “Balancing being a mother and what it takes, that level of care” causes her to sometimes feel guilty while she’s in the studio. Yet she also has the pressure of helping to provide for her family. “It’s an expensive world with three children.”

Logan has had more than 10 years to perfect the struggle of “making a living versus making what you want,” which doesn’t only exist for parents. There was a time when her work was darker, “creepier.” Although people liked it, they perhaps didn’t want to live with it. Not simply motherhood, but also maturity helped her “rein it in.”

works

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The imagery in her vintage-inspired pieces began even before she had children. The figures evoke reading primers of decades past. This is not the Dick and Jane of oldsters’ childhood, but Dick and Jane with a secret.

Beyond the pinafores and Mary Janes, there is something slightly unsettling about an oversized little girl about to burn her finger on the Statue of Liberty’s torch. There is social commentary in a piece titled Arm Candy. The little boy passionately embraces a dog, while the girl aloofly walks by, holding a book under her arm.

Logan admits, “There’s a sadness to it. I’m not trying to make my work cute. I’m digging underneath this perfect shell, this symbol of perfection.”

It’s an excavation of nostalgia and all that it entails. Logan paints her images on worn wooden sleds and tagged wood pieces from George Nakashima‘s collection.

“It adds another layer to my pieces,” she says.

logan in barn

Now that photography no longer requires the perils of a child-unfriendly darkroom, it fits well into the mother of three’s lifestyle. Lexi Logan is creating a photography studio in her magnificent post-and-beam barn, which “offers clients this crazy, shabby chic, wonderfully rich backdrop.”
She does extensive portraiture work and is venturing into vintage portraits, which would include not only costumes and processes, but also such inspired endeavors as merging old family photos of grandparents with photos of grandchildren into one piece of work.
“It delves deeper into the child’s character and the family’s character” than traditional portraiture, she says.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

She scours flea markets and yard sales. “Old postcards, from 1932 or so, all tell a story and I continue the story with my little drawings.”

She enjoys reviving old pieces, bringing them to life and sending them out into the world on their own journey.

Logan paints on the postcards, even co-opts some of the imagery for other pieces, aligning the stars of a collective reminiscence to a time before age 7, before the age of self-consciousness. This magical time is “when we feel larger than life, bigger than the world, heading for adventure.”

“We’ve all had these memories,” she says. “It connects us all.”

— Jodi Thompson

Artist Profile: Miranda Leiggi

Miranda Leiggi headshotI admire gumption and artist Miranda Leiggi has plenty of it. Last July Leiggi traveled to Comic-Con International: San Diego, but not to stroll the convention center with some 130,000 comic fans, many dressed as Wolverine, Wonder Woman, and other various pop culture icons. The Wrightstown resident crossed the country with a purpose.

Artists can put their name in the hat of graphic novel companies where they might like to work. If their name is drawn, the company will look at their portfolio. It’s a huge crap shoot.

Leiggi’s name was pulled by only one company: Arch Enemy Entertainment. It was months before she heard from them. In February they hired her to be a colorist on their new comic, Game Boys.

Game Boys

Game Boys is available at USA Today.
Scroll to the bottom of the article to view the comic. Three new pages are added each Tuesday.

Arch Enemy gives her the creative freedom to color in the graphics as she sees fit. The only assigned hues are those for the hair of a couple of characters and the school colors. (The comic takes place in a high school.) Leiggi receives three new pages to color each week, which keeps her busy but won’t pay all the bills. Her goal is to one day make comic books her day job.

For now, the young Drew University grad works in administration at Bucks County Community College, but spends plenty of time putting her theater degree and talent to use. In addition her colorist work, she works front of house (box office, concessions) at Bucks County Playhouse a couple of days a month.

Additionally, Leiggi has done special effects make up for Newtown Arts Company – she will facilitate a session at NAC’s kids’ camp this July, “probably doing zombie makeup.”

She is also cast manager and make-up artist for Midnight Productions, which performs Jesus Christ Superstar at the Keswick, in addition to a haunted house venue each autumn.

“It’s nice to be involved in local theater in some way,” she says. “I like to stay busy.”

gsw to the head make up

During an FBI and SWAT training exercise, Leiggi was last to be evacuated from the building.
“Too be fair,” she says, “clearly I was dead.”

She has a history of industry. While at Drew, the FBI contacted the university looking for actors to perform in preparedness drills. Leiggi’s professor asked the FBI if they’d like special effects make-up to add to the drama. For four years, Leiggi not only performed as a “victim,” but also used her make-up skills with the FBI and Madison, N.J.’s SWAT.

Gashes, broken bones, contusions – Leiggi excels at producing them with make-up. She amps up the gore factor each fall for Midnight Productions House in the Hollow, the haunted house venue on the same property as Sleepy Hollow Hayrides.

“We were an asylum for a while,” she says with glee. “I had a lot of fun then.” She wasn’t cast manager at the time, just an actor, an actor bent on producing insomnia.

zombie hand

Zombie hand.

“I like the more subtle creepy that gives them nightmares instead of a sudden scare.”

Oh, and did she tell you that she used to work as a vet technician. “I know what the inside of a cat looks like.”

Ewww, cat guts. And I thought Wolverine and Wonder Woman were scary.

— Jodi Thompson