emerging artist

VOLTA NY Emerging Artists: Julian Lorber and Anna Navasardian

At VOLTA NY there were two artists that caught my eye and drew me back to their temporary gallery spaces. This pair of artists are extremely different and grabbed my attention for specific reasons. It was a pleasure to meet both artists in person at the show and their fiercely loyal curators who were clearly passionate about both young artists.

Julian Lorber

The first artist that made an imprint on my tour of VOLTA NY's exhibitors was Julian Lorber. Working out of a studio in Brooklyn, Lorber's most recent works are textured beauties that feature intricate layering and color fusing. Lorber explores the dirtying of the urban landscape by delicately spraying acrylic paint over urethane resin applied to wood panels. A favorite of both the artist and myself, Fracking Lilacs displays the dark side of our manual manipulation of the environment through his own manipulation of textures, shadow, and color. In the painting, periwinkle slowly muddies into soot black while clashing yet melding with the raised rectangles that fall down the panel. Other spectacular pieces capturing similar themes and emotions included: Coverup Bronzer YellowBruised Script and Makeup Dirt. Julian Lorber provides a serious exploration of  our changing landscape through intense work that goes beyond a thoughtful color story through his unique use of automotive spray paint application and structural elements.

Volta NY 1

Volta NY 2

Anna Navasardian 

The final knockout artist featured at VOLTA NY was Anna Navasardian a 26 year old Armenian artist whose energetic portraits capture life and the beauty of human physicality exceptionally. Navasardian's paintings Black SeaRope II, and Nude I feature detailed brushstrokes that capture human movement incredibly accurately. Her painting creates shadows that capture tendons, muscles and even the intensity of different facial expressions. Navasardian's color palette, achieved by her use of both acrylic and charcoal  is also immaculate. Her scenes are very alive while remaining soft, locking a sense of realism in her portraiture.

Anna Navasardian 1

Bringing the Art from NY to DC for you,

Mica Hartman

2014 SwatchRoom Salon Emerging Artist: Fawna Xiao

Between splitting her time at her day job and selling out handmade prints faster than she can print them, Fawna Xiao is the definition of an emerging artist quickly on the rise. Xiao has shown at Tabula Rasa in Eastern Market, Hillyer Art Space and many more solo and group shows where almost all her pieces have gone home with a happy collector. In her salable works, Xiao plays with geometric objects, ombre effect color technique and transparency to create prints that are exceptionally bold and graphic while still feeling light and organic. She explores the natural world, examining forests, glaciers, boulders, etc. with a graceful hand creating shadows and playing with light using a rich, crisp palette. 

ArtSee had the opportunity to sit down with Fawna Xiao, a good friend of ours, and ask her a few questions regarding the upcoming Salon Party and her work process. We particularly loved the advice Xiao had for aspiring artists and believe the SwatchRoom Salon celebrates artists with this great mentality. 

ArtSee: What's the most indispensable item in your studio? 
Fawna Xiao: There’s this adorable tiny squeegee. I cannot imagine life without it. 

AS: And where is is that you currently work?
FX: I print out of Open Studio DC. It’s incredible! Carolyn Hartmann runs it and she is a gem in this city. 

AS: What are some invaluable lessons or words of wisdom you have for new artists?
FX: Treat it like a business- as much as we all wish it wasn’t, it is. And treat it like the gym – just go and do it even when you don’t want to. So much of being a successful artist is showing up and trying. Oh, and say yes to everything. 

AS: What are you most excited for at the Salon Party?
FX: All the beautiful people.

Take a look at Fawna Xiao's work on her site.

The SwatchRoom Salon is a three-day celebration of local and emerging artists, designers, and collaborations and giving back. 

Bringing the Art in DC to You,

Mica Hartman

2014 SwatchRoom Salon Artist: Donna K. McGee

Artist Donna K. McGee creates richly saturated paintings, primarily traditional and minimalist abstracts that trap a powerful, nostalgic quality inside them. McGee uses muted colors that make you feel as if you are watching a fading scene, that is slowly moving away from you.

In her talks with ArtSee, McGee really honed in on the ideas of mentorship, inspiration, and evolution that were critical in her success as a painter.

These are probably three of the most important facets an aspiring artist can seek out or experience and we are so fortunate that McGee shared with us. 

ArtSee: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met/know in the DC art scene? Why?
Donna K. McGee: The most interesting person has to be my mentor of twelve years, Helen Corning [McGee's favorite artist as well]. She was an abstract artist and instructor at the Yellow Barn at Glen Echo.  She died three years ago at the age of ninety. She taught classes and had a solo in Maine the last year of her life.  She was able to help every student in her class to find their own artistic self.  Each of us are are abstract students today, and each of use have a different style of painting. 

A.S: What is the biggest inspiration for your art?  
D.M: The total aesthetic awareness of nature inspires me.  There is every color and texture imaginable in nature.  When I  paint I delve into the images that color and textures create on the canvas.  It becomes a magical experience.

A.S:  Speaking of colors, what is your favorite color?
D.M: That is a difficult question to answer.  I use lot of blue in my work, but sometimes I like to concentrate on one color and see how far I can go with it.  Bronze, gold, red, white...it becomes alive and pops when one color is juxtaposed to the next.  They all become a favorite.

A.S: What do you think has changed in your art career and your work since the beginning of your career?
D.M: I am braver. It is a very scary thing to put your work out there for others to judge. In the beginning I was more aware of "what the viewer would say" or "what would sell", instead of making it totally my creation. I am far more adventurous with color and texture.  I discovered, that as  I continue to stretch to new levels, those who have purchased my paintings continue to support my work. I have to be true to my self and continue to stretch to the next level.   

A.S: Lastly, what are you most excited for at the Salon Party?
D.M: I'm excited to be part of this opening where I have the opportunity to show my work to a new audience, and to meet others who are interested in local artists.

The SwatchRoom Salon is a three-day celebration of local and emerging artists, designers, and collaborations and giving back. 

Bringing the Art in DC to You

Mica Hartman

2014 SwatchRoom Salon Emerging Artist: Leah Appel

Photography is going to be well represented at ArtSee's Swatchroom Salon and photographer Leah Appel is showing her pension for colorful, graphic, saturated photographs that play with shot balance and depth of field.

Appel loves taking advantage of all the government supported art institutions in DC.

The latest show she visited that inspired her was at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition "American Cool" was adored by Appel, "I loved it! I loved seeing all the original photos that you see in magazines and in books but up close. You can really see how masterfully each one is printed by the worlds greatest photographers. So many great iconic photographs".

Appel also likes to visit the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran. Some of Appel's favorite smaller galleries around the city are Transformer and Hillyer Art Space. 

Appel is also very excited to see works from other local artists at the Salon Party and works in different mediums. "I love seeing what artists in the DC area are working on and coming up with creatively. I get inspired by seeing artwork of all kinds". 

See what Leah Appel is all about on her website

Bringing the Art in DC to You

Mica Hartman

(e)merge: ArtSee's Picks

Unfortunately, the (e)merge Art Fair is over. But that doesn't mean the conversation (and mild obsession...) has to stop just yet! Below are a few of our favorite artists, now colloquially known as ArtSee Picks. 

Elizabeth Grazioli, ArtSee Founder and Creative Operations Director

David Brown, Goya Contemporary, 2nd Floor:  

The large red forms and fish-like shapes of Baltimore-based David Brown’s artworks were of instant intrigue.  Brown had two bodies of work being shown. The first, a smaller series of black-and-silver ink on paper numbers are made using a directional shift in what Brown calls his "eye motif." His interest in the numbers involves their form and how his "eyes" can make this form appear by simply changing the way he draws them. In contrast, the "Red Eye" series (pictured) consists of skeletal forms that do not entirely fill the page. I was captivated by the empty space Brown leaves around the shapes, opening room to imagine what could be there, while at the same time appreciating the strange form that exists. Brown uses x-rays of vertebrae to find his image but enjoys the imperfection in creating that image out of his tiny "eyes." The red is a deliberate nod to the human body and the blood that connects it, similar to the way the spine functions as a connector. What really struck me about Brown's work was what was not shown at (e)merge. Brown has a series of these "eye motifs" on panel that take different forms. One such piece hangs on the corner of two walls in the home of Amy Eva Raehse, Goya Contemporary curator and executive director. I hope to see more of Brown’s work soon and maybe one day, find a place in my home for one too! 

Si Jae Byun, Washington Project for the Arts, 2nd Floor:

It didn't take long being in the WPA room to realize the talent in Si Jae Byun.  Immediately making the connection to her powerful work from her past show at Arlington Arts Center (AAC), I has instantly connected. What proved to be even more impressive was her process for her silk works WPA presented this year. As explained by Samantha May of WPA, each piece is layered with 4-5 layers of silk with paint and ink applied over it to reveal forms of how architecture and nature intersect.  What stood out most to me are the way Byun's colors pop. They create a wonderful composition of her imagination. 
Si Jae Byun also won the Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize.  

Shira Karsen, ArtSee Creative Assistant

Jeremy Dean, Aureus Contemporary, 2nd Floor:

Native New Yorker Jeremy Dean explores the American dream in sculptural and definitive ways; a presidential face pasted on American printed dollars, the dichotomy between rich and poor, superwoman versus the business man. But the pieces that struck me the most at (e)merge are some of his most current works. "Owe and Own" and "Buy and Sell" are two Chinese-centered pieces a museum in Shanghai commissioned Dean to create. These pieces are deconstructed tourist flags, broken down thread for thread and divided between the horizontal and vertical strands. Dean then reconstructs the flags from that one singular flag, making one out the horizontal and one from the vertical, implanting them onto a board with a needle for each thread. Behind the Chinese flags are the English words, "owe" and "own", a commentary about how the Chinese are owned by the Americans and want to own American goods. Likewise, behind the American flags are the Chinese characters "buy" and "sell". These pieces are so deeply detailed, aesthetically striking and of course, highly political, it would be difficult for me not to admire them.

 Lennox Campello, Alida Anderson Art Projects, 2nd Floor:

A member of the DC-based Alida Anderson Art Projects, Lenny Campello is a seriously energetic and frenetic artist. The works that caught my eye were hanging on the wall, plugged into an outlet. These pieces are original charcoal and graphite drawings that display Campello’s impeccable figure drawing skill with an added 2.0 techy twist: each one has a cut out with a digitally produced image peeking through. They are quirky, fun and totally modern. One of my personal favorites is "Frida Kahol: An Homage to Bloch." Campello is of interest to ArtSee for not only his technical skill, but also his unbelievably smart, savvy and cheap marketing. For a mere $75, a buyer can own an original 8 x 10 inch charcoal drawing, and for $125, the admirer can have it framed and matted by the talented hands of Campello. How do I know this? I bought one myself.

Roxanne Goldberg, ArtSee Creative Writer

Larry Cook, Shanti Grumbine, and Alan Turner, Present Company, 2nd Floor:

Brooklyn-based exhibition, performance and social space Present Company exhibited three uniquely dynamic artists who explore taboo pieces of American culture and who together, revealed a darker side of American society. Curators Brian Balderston, Chad Stayrook, and José Ruiz used cardboard to line the walls of the hotel room and installed additional lighting to create a sleek, clean, curated exhibition space. The extra effort successfully converted the hotel room into an art gallery that highlighted the excellent quality of Larry Cook’s photographs, Alan Turner’s graphite and colored pencil drawings, and Shanti Grumbine’s screen prints. Cook’s striking portraits examining issues of race and racism challenged the viewer with a sense of sincerity and confrontation, while Turner’s “box house” works inserted the viewer within vacated buildings around New York City, begging her to consider economic disparities. Grumbine’s broken horizontal lines reminiscent of a broken television screen were set against a glittered background and hung between the social and economic concerns of Cook and Turner, effectively questioning American media culture and its relation to the issues presented by the other two artists.

 Carol Jackson, Benjamin Bellas, slow, 2nd Floor:

Chicago-based alternative contemporary art venue, slow, presented dark, contemplative, and undeniably humorous conceptual art works that innovatively utilized the fully-furnished hotel room. Walking into the booth, the viewer was greeted by the beautiful script of Carol Jackson. The last words of condemned criminals, so elegantly composed in old-world calligraphy, caused the viewer to alternate between emotions of disgust and contempt, sympathetic compassion, and disturbed hilarity. Humor continued throughout the space, ending under the bed. Crouching near the floor with a flashlight in hand, artist Benjamin Bellas encouraged viewers to crane their necks and lie on the floor in an attempt to see and identify sugar ball constellations. The installation was fun and brilliant for the way in which it engaged the viewer, encouraging a curious audience, and also played with the childhood fear of finding monsters under the bed. Leaving slow’s booth, one could not help but to be affected with a peculiar smile and inquisitive thought. 

Naomi Minkoff, ArtSee Intern


Ali Miller exhibited many works from her collection bad habits. However, a few small, vibrant pieces stood out to me. These incorporated crystals stuck into the paint. They added a three dimensionally of light and pulled in the viewer's imagination. In her works, Miller takes an ordinary scene from everyday life and departs from it into a fanciful, imagined view of reality. She explores the psyche and the crazy, unexpected directions in which our minds take us. 

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 

The ArtSee Team

Leah Appel at Tabula Rasa

Opening on July 11, 2013, ArtSee will open the third artist showcase at Tabula Rasa on 8th St SE to feature the work of photographer Leah Appel. The exhibition will run through July 29th, 2013. ArtSee is partnering with Tabula Rasa to bring local emerging artists in to their modern, flexible space in Eastern Market. Tabula Rasa is a new event space and meeting place located in the heart of 8th St SE. The unique space lends itself perfectly to a non-traditional gallery. Leah Appel, the third artist in the showcase, was chosen because of her bright, thrilling and abstract take on photography. For more information click here