Tales of inspiration and creativity, behind-the-scenes glimpses at art-making, in-depth arts features, and narrative portraits of LAL artists.
Artist Charles Boyd, a native of New York, is drawn to photographing landscapes and architecture though is not limited to just that. Though he started by working in commercial photography, he felt that retiring to become an independent photographer better suited him.
Growing up in New York, Boyd was captivated by the passing of time and the ever-changing development of the city. This inspiration draws him to photograph subjects that bring out emotion on a more personal level for both him and his viewers.
Boyd's piece, Easter Parade, is an archival digital print of one person at the annual Easter Parade in St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Lexington Art League (LAL): What drew you to capture this photo?
Charles Boyd (CB): Rarely have I seen someone as striking as this man. A lot of thought and care went into the making of the dress, the makeup and the very unique bonnet; alongside the fun and raucousness of the event itself, to me, there is also a dreamlike, ominous, in-your-face quality about this person. I also sense a vulnerability present under the outrageousness.
LAL: Would you say you have a certain theme in what you photograph? If so, what would that be?
CB: I photograph things that interest me and which I think exemplify the situation I am in. Street photography can be, but for me rarely is, analytic - it is intuitive: more about a feeling or recognition. In this case, the act of making the photograph was instantaneous and I took only this one shot and then moved on - at the time though, I knew it was a good photograph.
LAL: While looking at this photo, it was almost if a story was being told about this person. When photographing, do you connect with the people you are photographing and what draws you to photograph these certain people?
CB: Sometimes I make a connection and spend time with people I am photographing, other times the fluidity of the moment requires taking a grab-shot. So the situation often dictates the approach. On this day, so many people were clamoring for this guy’s attention and focus that it was just a quick moment that he and I had within which to interact - he was there to be photographed and I was there to photograph; the personal connection, although very brief, was there for that instant.
LAL: If you had to choose, what would you say is the most rewarding things to photograph? People or places?
CB: I do both street and landscape photography and each is rewarding in its own right. Happily, I do not have to choose.
LAL: What is the main message you would like your viewer to take away from Easter Parade?
CB: There is no message I want a viewer to take away - everyone brings their own set of experiences, ideas and expectations to an image and, to some degree, this determines how they will interact with it.
LAL: In your opinion, what makes the best photograph? More so, how do you select certain photos for your collection?
CB: I think a photograph must appeal on several levels: emotional, graphic and human. It should bring something to the viewer that is recognizable on these levels. In my work, I look for photographs that contain those elements.
LAL: Where was Easter Parade taken and what significance does it have to you?
CB: It was taken at the annual Easter Parade outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. I think this photograph caught the mood and flavor of the event.
LAL: What process do you go to in order to capture the perfect shot?
CB: There is never a perfect shot - you just keep working to see how it all will evolve. For me, it is about personal growth, improving my vision and avoiding repetitive subject matter and images.
Check out Charles' website: www.chboyd.com
Bill Fletcher is building quite a reputation in Kentucky for his landscapes and still life's. Southwest Art, International Artist, and Keeneland Magazine have all featured his beautiful work. It is clear from his work that he has a love for the land. Through his art, he wants to help others develop a positive relationship with their desire to create.
Bill's love for art started through his early training from several of his amazing public school teachers he had throughout his early life. He learned basic elements of art and from that his ability and love grew. While trying to pursue his passion for drawing, Fletcher both studied and worked in Toxicology. In 1996, he furthered his talents by starting to paint in oils, studying with local artists, and attending workshops.
LAL (Lexington Art League): Toxicology and art don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. When did you start making the transition from chemistry over to art? What inspired this transition?
BF (Bill Fletcher): About 2/3rds of my way through graduate school (working towards a Ph. D in Toxicology) I became disenchanted with science as a career for myself. I could do it, but my heart wasn’t in it, and I did not relish the idea of spending my life on a path like that. I noticed that a small percentage of people in my field excelled because they loved what they did, so I decided to find a path on which I might find excellence through passion inspired motivation.
LAL: Why did you choose this piece to be featured in Here and Now?
BF: A painting like this best reflects who I am; a hiker, an advocate for the spiritual value Nature, and a person with great reverence for the land. My highest hope is that my best art might inspire a sense of reverence for and connection to Nature in others.
LAL: What inspired you to create this particular piece?
BF: Good art evokes an emotional response in the viewer. If an artist paints what they sincerely care about, I believe it has a better chance of evoking an emotional response in a viewer. That’s why I almost always paint “what speaks to me” and the Red River Gorge in Autumn is one of Kentucky’s most amazing “crown jewels”.
LAL: How do you find a good balance between discipline and passion in your work?
BF: They don’t seem so separate to me. To be productive, to improve, and to be successful as an artist I have no choice but to impose a certain amount of intentional structure on my process: my study, exercises, productivity goals, etc. Yet at the same time I understand that I am most successful when I give myself time to follow inspiration and experiment in the right measure. Quoting Kahlil Gibran… “reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.” So I understand that passion and discipline are not mutually exclusive and are in fact “symbiotic”. My work, my passion, and my discipline are all really just parts of the same thing to me.
LAL: What advice would you give to new artists?
“I enjoy geometry and creating geometric artwork because it gives me a sense of symmetry, balance and order, in an unsymmetrical, unbalanced and out of order world.”
Bob Carden is a self-taught artist who has been creating and exhibiting his work for over 20 years. Most of his artwork consists of ink works which are all mathematical in nature. His pieces Zero, Zero, Zero #12 and Topsy Turvy #22 are featured in the Here and Now exhibition.
LAL (Lexington Art League): What choices or influences in your life have led you to pursue a career as an artist?
BC (Bob Carden): I just have the need to try to be creative. And growing up I was influenced by the repeating images in Andy Warhol's artwork.
LAL: Where did your love of geometry and mathematics come from? Has it always been an interest of yours?
BC: I have always been interested in Mathematics. That interest came from the encouragement of my parents, grandparents, and my High School Math and Geometry teacher.
LAL: What got you started in working with this medium?
BC: The first medium I used in creating my mathematical artwork was collage. And then it was paint. And then later I discovered that I liked the simplicity and purity of using pen and ink in black and white artwork.
LAL: Can you remember the first piece you created?
BC:I used to like to build sculptures with Popsicle sticks.
LAL: Have you ever been interested in trying other mediums?
BC: I have thought about using different colored ink or even doing geometric sculptures. But at the same time I feel like there is so much more for me to do using just black and white.
LAL: What is something you would want viewers to take away from these pieces?
BC: I hope my artwork gives people a better appreciation for symmetry, mathematics and artwork. And I hope they enjoyed looking at the artwork and the rest of the art show.
Dell Rosa has been painting and drawing for all his life. His main focus in his art is architecture set in a fantasy-like setting, such as castles, palaces, temples, and cathedrals.
Dell's main purpose is to paint pictures that he enjoys as well as share his imaginary world with others.
Dell loves painting mountains, water, waterfalls, trees, forests, cliffs, clouds, and reflections. Through these scenic elements, he uses different, challenging perspectives to give "the viewer a precarious footing when looking into the picture."
LAL (Lexington Art League): You seem to gravitate towards using acrylic on canvas and illustration boards, why do use that specific medium instead of something else?
DR (Dell Rosa): I started my painting career on canvas and so it's a familiar substrate. I also learned to paint on illustration board at the Blair School of art in SC. So I've started using that substrate. However, the specific illustration board is no longer available so I may move to another material. I'm considering aluminum sign blanks as a possibility.
LAL: All of your paintings have a fantastical and mystical quality about them, how do you choose the theme of your paintings?
DR: I love the fantasy milieu. I also like science fiction and fantastical landscapes. I paint the things that I enjoy looking at.
LAL: What is your ultimate goal in creating these paintings?
DR: I see so many neat places in my head that don't really exist, and I wish to share them with other people. Sometimes they're places I wish existed. Sometimes they're places I wish I could visit. But, ultimately I want to capture them so I can keep them and look at them again and again.
LAL: What sort of reactions do you want from your audience?
DR: I want my audience to feel the same sense of wonder and awe that I do when I dream some of these things up. I do hide things in my paintings and I hope that they can serve as something to study and come to appreciate beyond a single viewing. The one reaction I've chased now for many years is for people to think my work is a photograph. To me it adds a level of realism to something wholly unreal.
LAL: What is the most important part of your creative process?
DR: Inspiration. If I don't have it, I don't progress. Sometimes inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient of times. I try to keep a sketch book handy to capture ideas and save them for future development. After that, it's discipline. Which I need more of, frankly. The time and determination to stick with a project until it's finished, can be a hard thing to come by.
LAL: What inspired 'The Glacier Castle Ruins'?
DR: I didn't know where this painting was going when I started it. In fact, I completely repainted the sky and horizon after the first round because I didn't like what I had. From there I kept moving forward (down the canvas) and adding ranges of mountains and things. I wanted this to be an icy world but not completely cold. More like it was thawing out.
LAL: Did you come up with this landscape from pure imagination, is it reminiscent of a real place or imaginary place?
DR: I visited Glacier Bay in Alaska some years ago, and the retreat of the glaciers and global warming were definitely on my mind as I made this piece. The foreground cliffs and waves were inspired by pulpit rock. But, with all my paintings, I like to put castles or some other fantasy element in, so this painting got an ancient ruin that was inspired by Mayan ruins.
LAL: What were your biggest challenges in creating 'The Glacier Castle Ruins'?
DR: Painting on canvas limits my airbrush techniques and I struggle to get the level of detail and subtlety that I like. Thankfully, I can bring a lot of traditional brush work to the table as well and capture some things in that way. The other big challenge was to get the lighting right on the fog and waves. I struggled with that for many months.
LAL: What is your advice to someone who would want to become a full time artist?
DR: Unless you're a prodigy, pursue another parallel career for your day job. Like a graphic artist or something. This way you'll have income to live on. Don't give up your dream though. The day may come when your art will pay your bills and when it does - then jump in full time.
Visit Dell Rosa's website: www.dellrosa.com
Jack Girard is a flourishing artist based in Lexington, Kentucky where he is able to combine his passion for art and teaching as a Professor of Art and the Fine Arts Division Chair at Transylvania University. He teaches various classes such as multi-level drawing, painting, printmaking, and upper-level studios.
His contextually driven work is inspired by personal experiences, reflections on his own life and interactions with others. Girard's work has been exhibited in many corporate, institutional, and private collections in the United States as well as overseas.
LAL (Lexington Art League): What is the name of the piece you selected for Here and Now?
JG (Jack Girard): The piece is titled “Balers,” a collage/mixed media work on Rives paper.
LAL: What inspired you to create this piece?
JG: When I was in graduate school I lived with a 4’ Chinese goose named Struedel. I frequently return to bird images when I am feeling nostalgic or confused by human behaviors.
LAL: What was the process for creating this piece? How did you know when it was “finished”?
JG: I started with a central image—an old photograph of field slaves baling cotton procured when passing briefly through South Carolina—and built the work in response to that initial choice. I knew it was finished when I stopped learning from it.
LAL: Not only do you have a love for art, but also you have a love for teaching art. What is your favorite thing about teaching?
JG: Stirring up enthusiasm for what I love and do.
LAL: What is the most important thing you want your students to take away from your classes?
JG: A deep and meaningful sense of accomplishment.
LAL: Have you ever been inspired by a student or multiple students? If so, how?
JG: Always. Students nurture my humility.
LAL: Are there any artists that inspire you? What about their work inspires you?
JG: My tastes and interests are extremely broad. I’m not sure I attribute my real inspirations to artists other than to say that some allowed me the courage to address some rather delicate issues in my work. Ed and Nancy Kienholz, Norman Keller, Naum June Paik, and Cy Twombly were probably the most influential visual artists I looked at. Robert Rauschenberg as well, although he more or less influenced everyone in the field to some degree.
LAL: What is one thing you want viewers to take away from your piece?
JG: It’s never one thing…but maybe something, or anything. Once the piece is finished, I’m fairly detached from it and the viewing process.
LAL: Do you have any memorable instances of people reacting positively to your work or people feeling like they can relate to a piece on a personal level?
JG: I remember most a viewer’s negative reaction to a collage work of mine that featured hydrocephalic babies. I was trying to share my sensitivity (and fear) to those moments when expectant parents worry about having a less-than-perfect child. The woman at this opening dressed me down quite publicly and without any filters. As she turned and left, I noticed that she was pregnant. All I could do was say thank you. It wasn’t the response I expected, but I later realized that it was the response I wanted.
LAL: What advice would you give to your students/new artists?
JG: Art is like religion—you can’t ‘kind of’ do it. You’re either in or you should stay out. Dabblers tire me. Some have teased me for being an art snob. I can live with that.
Dan is second career artist who enjoys the outdoors, hiking and canoeing, and Plein Aire painting. Twentieth Century British and American landscape painters have been influences to McGrath, especially David Sawyer, Marc Hanson, Michael Alexander, Edward Seago, and Scott Christensen.
He has studied with Mary Neely, Kevin Menck, Booth Malone, Bill Fletcher, Jay Moore, and Yvonne Todd. He is the founder of the Plein Air Painters of the Bluegrass and a member of the Oil Painters of America and the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen. He has a studio in Artist's Attic Studios and Gallery on Main Street in Lexington, Kentucky.
LAL (Lexington Art League): What choices or influences in your life inspired you to become an artist?
DM: (Dan McGrath): My mother occasionally sketched animals when I was young and was supportive of my drawing.
LAL: What are your motives for creating new art?
DM: I love the outdoors and became a plein air painter to capture the landscape. It's both challenging and relaxing, but also hard work. I try to stretch myself and continually improve
LAL: What media do you typically work in? What appeals to you the most about those media?
DM: Oil: it's easy to correct mistakes, I like the texture of oil paint, the ability to create various edges (lost and found).
LAL: What inspired the creation of Late Summer Fields?
DM: Taking a road trip in eastern Fayette county looking for landscapes. I love trees and fields and hay bales. This composition had good eye travel through the view/painting.
LAL: What went into the creation of Late Summer Fields for the Here and Now: Selections from the Artist Archive?
DM: I didn't create it specifically for Here and Now, but it's representative of my work as a landscape painter and Kentucky resident and artist.
LAL: Where do you feel Late Summer Fields stands among your other works?
DM: In complexity, subject matter, composition, and color it's a good representative of my work the past few years; I'm working of looser, more atmospheric compositions of late and enjoying this change.
LAL: What goal do you typically have in mind whenever you create a new work?
DM: Good drawing and composition first of all, then light, shadows, and color.
LAL: Do you have any artists that inspire you? What about their works inspires you?
DM: Zillions of contemporary American and British artists: Kami Mendlik, Scott Christensen, Clyde Aspevig, David Curtis, Kenn Backhaus, Matt Smith and Bill Fletcher of Kentucky!
LAL: Are there any pieces of art that you are most proud of?
DM: Seascapes I've done this summer after a trip to Myrtle Beach.
LAL: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
DM: Develop good drawing skills, analyze the paintings of other artists whose work is appealing- figure out why it appeals to you. Take workshops, read.
Visit his website: danmcgrathstudio.com
Public Gallery Hours
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Viewings also available by appointment
The Loudoun House
209 Castlewood Dr.
Lexington, Ky. 40505
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All Lexington Art League programs are made possible through the generous support of LexArts. LexArts allocation of $50,000 represents the largest single donation to the operations of the Lexington Art League.
The Kentucky Arts Council, a state arts agency, provides operating support to the Lexington Art League with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by Lexington Parks & Recreation.