Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
What artistic mediums do you work in?
I am primarily a painter, currently working in acrylic on both canvas and wood. I have also experimented with collage, photography, video and printmaking.
Where were you trained as an artist, art school, mentor, classes, self-taught?
I studied art at the University of Georgia, earning a BFA in graphic design. While there, I took painting classes with Wadsworth Jarrell, a co-founder of the group African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AFRICOBRA). After moving to Washington DC, I continued my education at the Torpedo Factory under painter Carol Dupré, taking classes in which we read and discussed books such as Jeremy Gilbert Rolfe’s Beyond Piety. From there, I went on to acquire an MFA in painting at Catholic University, studying with Tom Nakashima, John Winslow and John Figura. More recent classes have included encaustic painting at Montpelier Arts Center under the auspices of Pyramid Atlantic, as well as collage and encaustic workshops with Katie Dell Kauffman. She’s a terrific teacher.
What does it mean to you to be an “artist”?
At its best, to be an artist is to display the generosity of the human spirit. By that definition, we are all capable of being artists, to some degree.
Having never had an experience like this before, I was honored to be chosen as artist-in-residence at Gateway. One of the chief benefits of the experience was the opportunity to focus in a way that I am not ordinarily able to, as my studio is in my home. While that situation has its advantages, there are always distractions. Driving to the Gateway studio was like going to the office, making the creative act more like a profession than a pastime, hobby or leisure activity. It was eye-opening to meet the other studio artists and to see how they operate: Laurie Breen’s business handling; Liz Saint Rain’s industrious paper-making in her Milkweed Studio. Always an interesting conversation there. I also was grateful to soak up Margaret Boozer’s supportive energy by attending some of her Red Dirt Studio Seminars. I was even invited to tag along with them for a field trip to Glenstone. It was nice to feel part of a group.
Gallery-sitting at the 39th Street Gallery on weekends was a great way to meet other artists, such as Genna Watson, whose sculpture I have long admired.
In short, the artist-in-residence program lent my artistic practice a kind of clarity of purpose, along with a sense of belonging. Exposure is two way street. The residency brought my work to the attention of others, but it also introduced me to a new community of artists.
The creative process is unique to each artist, what is your favorite part of your process?
I take a special delight in starting the process — just making marks on a blank surface.
I know I am not alone in saying this; many other painters have expressed the same thing: At a certain point, some of those marks and passages can seem complete and whole — you don’t want to loose them, so you paint around them in an effort to preserve them. Occasionally, it becomes necessary to paint over them in order to resolve the composition. My biggest challenge: When is a painting finished?
The Gateway Community Development Corporation (CDC) offers artists the opportunity to work in the 39th Street A.I.R studio, Gateway Arts Center, while interacting with the culture and the art community in the Gateway Arts District bordering Washington D.C.
The Gateway CDC seeks artists in all visual arts disciplines, and in any media, who desire a chance to create their work in a community art center environment. The A.I.R program is by invitation/and by calls for entry applications. (Due to the community aspect of the AIR studio, chemicals used, and working methods will be considered in choosing the visiting artist participants) For more information email John Paradiso at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Artist in Residence Studio is located at the Gateway Arts Center, 3901 Rhode Island Ave., Brentwood MD, 20722. Three residencies of 4 months each will be offered annually.
Mailing address is the Gateway CDC Office, 4102 Webster Street, North Brentwood, MD