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: 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

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