Creative Chain: Connecting creatives one link at a time, week 9

[Emily Potts] This chain is moving like a freight train through new creative territories every week. To see the full chain, click the link at the bottom — you won’t believe how this has evolved over the past nine weeks. Today, we start the chain with person who inspires Ryan Kapp, in his own words.

Greta Van Campen
Greta Van Campen (Thomaston, Maine) is a painter who recently embarked on a mission to paint all 50 states between March 2011 and summer 2012. It’s been fun to watch her project evolve from the seed of an idea into a full-fledged adventure with a life of its own. She taps into the traditions of American landscape painting and love of the road, and mixes the subject with a simplified graphic style that not-so-subtly hints at ’80s nostalgia. I have been more focused on printmaking in my own work as of late, and her new body of paintings makes me want to pick up the brushes and get back to the easel to kick up some dust!

Monument Valley, Utah, 2011, acrylic on board, 24 x 48 in.
I admire when an artist doesn’t shy away from subject matter that is so popular they risk turning it into trite rehashes of what has been done before. Even more admirable is when an artist successfully handles the subject matter in her own unique way. In her painting of Monument Valley, I think Greta has done a beautiful job freshening up an iconic western landscape.

Penobscot Bay, 2011, acrylic on board, 24 x 24 in.
Like a really good Alex Katz painting. Greta perfectly distills a classic East coast scene. Love the blues and how that dark patch of trees sets off the sails.

Greta Van Campen is inspired by …

Jesse Gillespie
Jesse Gillespie is a fellow Maine artist (Camden), whose work reflects an inspiring amount of focus, dedication and attention to detail. He uses found materials and interacts with them to create sensitive, thought-provoking pieces.

Untitled Relief, 2010, 6 x 10 in.
This is a good example of Jesse’s exceptional skill with color. I love how the subtle changes between warm and cool help to create even more depth within the relief.

Untitled Relief, 2011, 15 x 30 in.
Bird? Fish? Alien? Reminiscent of fossils in a Natural History museum, this piece intrigues me and keeps me guessing. It is hard to build such a natural yet curious form.

Jesse Gillespie is inspired by …

Simon van der Ven
Simon van der Ven — Siem for short — is a maker. He is a potter, carpenter, furniture maker, cook, teacher, husband and father, among many other things, in Lincolnville, Maine. Siem does not separate these various parts of his life. He made his house, made the dining table that sits inside the house, made the cups, bowls and plates that go on the table, and makes the food that his cups, bowls and plates hold. He gives this food to his family, which he also made. He does it all well. One of his qualifications for a good piece of art is whether or not he would want to live with it in his home.

Double Illuminated Vase
Many of Siem’s pieces dissolve as much as they materialize. Often, a piece comes about through its near destruction. How much more clay could this piece stand to lose in its development before it crumbles? Building by subtraction, his work is paradox.

Teardrop Cups
Siem often says of a successful piece, “It feels good,” or, “It’s almost like I meant to do it.”  When a piece like this works, I think it’s because Siem’s body, more than his mind, brought him to it. These cups feel right when you hold them. I suspect that viewers’ bodies “get” Siem’s work before their minds do. His work brings people around to the understanding that pottery isn’t necessarily a delicate form of art. These are delicate, yes, but also muscular.

Tune in next Wednesday to see who inspires Simon van der Ven.

Take a look at the complete chain any time.

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