A curated survey of this month’s “TOP TEN ARTISTS NYC NOW” from our Art 511 Magazine digital artist database. Coming soon, top featured artists from Los Angeles, San Francisco and more! Submit your work to be considered.
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Born 1989 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Growing up in the Midwest, Leah’s grandmother would take her to museums and always encouraged her to take full command of her creativity. “I’ve always love making things,” says Leah. In high school, her art teacher wouldn’t write her college letter of recommendation unless she studied Art. “I feel so lucky that I was able to find my passion at such an early age and spend my life cultivating my desire to create. It was and is because of the tremendous support of others that I knew being an artist was even a possibility.” Working across many media, the artist works with acrylic, pumice stone, molding paste, fiber paste, canvas, aluminum panel, insulation board, upholstery foam, and shredded tire to make what she terms “Sculptural paintings.” Working out of an old, haunted church in the Upper Hudson Valley (Hillsdale, NY) during the week, Guadagnoli works as a Development and Communications Associate at the Bogliasco Foundation in NYC. “Being an artist, though, is much more than just being in the studio,” she confides. Having a penchant for making work late into the night, she often feels exhausted or turns into “a total anti-social vampire.” Her advice? Get out of the studio and support your fellow community of artists. “Do studio visits, see art, go to openings, give work to benefits, teach, mentor, be inclusive. If you are alone and surrounded by those four walls all day, then what’s the point?” says Leah, advocating for balance in all aspects of art-making and life. Her show at Asya Geisberg gallery, “Soft Violence,” an exhibition of sculptural paintings, is up through February 16th. Inspired initially by the logo of a local diner, musing on the way in which the Greek diner might “masquerade as High Art,” the works included in “Soft Violence” approach a more neutral form of design. Abstracted gender binaries as hard lines softened by color gradients, pastel candy colors and plush curves fuel the play of opposites. Her pieces approach functionality but fail, what the show’s press release describes as “thwarting connection” and an “emasculating pejorative,” against the male-power structure.
See Leah Guadagnoli, “Soft Violence”
Asya Geisberg Gallery
537B West 23rd Street
Born 1992 in Mandeville, Jamaica
Having immigrated into the United States very young, the artist lived between DMV and NYC, and after a short stint in Staten Island, settled recently in New Jersey. Art has always been a fun outlet for AllTheseFlows, technically the brand name that stemmed from a songwriting e-book the artist began in 2013. Having forayed into digital mediums around 2009 when he interned at a Digital Art Studio called “The STUDIO” in Manhattan, his work evolved to primarily digital at that time. As more visuals were needed to match the feel of the emerging brand, a more digitally-inclined practice took shape and form. Creativity feels like “second nature” for AllTheseFlows. “I love digital because I can re-purpose the assets easily, throw it on a shirt or anywhere, scale it easily, animate it, etc. I still appreciate oil and acrylic painting, but I feel like I don’t have as much time to do it, and the time to wait. I also like that I can easily fix my mistakes working digitally.” Today, in addition to taking commissions on instagram, AllTheseFlows also does brand ambassador work, largely for food brands, among other design projects including bags and apparel. Eventually, he’d like to try his hand at furniture design and texturing. He’s looking to showcase the 2-D work he makes in a gallery setting. “Since the majority of my work is digital, I feel like it’s hard to break into the art scene,” says the artist. With a growing following online, AllTheseFlows is looking to move his vision into the IRL space of the gallery.
Follow the artist on Instagram @alltheseflowsxx
JP-Anne Judy Giera
Born 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio
JP-Anne Judy Giera’s work became visual in scope in 2016, when she began experimenting with collage, painting and drawing. “Growing up, I had quite a thorough art education; however I never felt I was ‘good enough’ to be a professional artist,” reflects JP-Anne Judy. After studying theatre and dance in undergraduate, she went on to complete an MFA in Theatre from the prestigious Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University (of Inside the Actors Studio on Bravo TV fame). She spent a subsequent year studying in the graduate Performance & Performance Studies program at Pratt Institute. During this time, JP-Anne’s work veered toward largely visual mediums. “It was the combination of studying artists who defined themselves as ‘interdisciplinary’ and being in an art school environment, as well as an internship with the Franklin Furnace Archive, that made me realize my work could be interdisciplinary, and that I was truly an artist in every meaning of the word. This realization is why I became an artist…I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. Art is my love, my refuse, my joy, and my expression.” Educating herself around art theory, from Lucy Lippard to Walter Benjamin, art became the vehicle through which a deep core need began to have an outlet of expression. JP-Anne’s work explores conceptually the artist’s nascent femininity, corporeal entity, and lived experiences as a queer, transgender woman. Her interdisciplinary work could take the form of paintings, drawings, collage, installation, zines/books or performances/videos. Like gender identity itself, she intends that the works exist in and create liminal places. “There is an overarching theme to my work, which is the ephemerality and fleeting quality that both queerness and gender seem to dictate.” Although her paintings and drawings often feel most at home in the world of collage & assemblage, there is a performative quality to all of the work. “Sewing is a key element in most of my 2d work,” says JP-Anne, who thinks about sewing as “performative mark-making” and “drawing in an extended field.” Being a trans woman, the act of sewing also feels “reminiscent of my own medical transition as a transgender woman,” with needles being at once an instrument of sewing and a tool by which one can inject bi-weekly estrogen, or “sew my skin after a gender-affirming surgical procedure. The act of puncturing the surface of the work then becomes very important. Not to mention the feminine connotation of the art of sewing!” Currently working from her studio in the Bronx and from home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, some of her greatest artistic challenges include battles with anxiety and mental health, as well as generally beginning to “reckon my gender identity with my work.” On the larger scale of things, she is working on a 14-foot tall installation comprised of drawing, painting and found material titled nature calling, which explores the liberating feeling JP-Anne Judy feels when she is able to safely use her choice restroom (the women’s) in public as a transgender woman as well as the all-too-common violence perpetuated against trans folks. Checkout the final piece at Listen: Cis And Trans Women, and Gender Non-Conforming Trans Artists Respond to Politics Today, at the Bronx Art Space from February 27th to April 6th, curated by Deborah Yasinksy. JP-Anne Judy will perform “a ritual for trans affirmation” live for the opening reception February 27th at 7pm. Looking forward, the artist is engaged in a 4-month-long project undergoing Facial Feminization Surgery at the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital. Other than that, JP-Anne is completing her second masters degree, an MFA in Studio Art at Lehman College/CUNY, studying under amazing artists such as Dannielle Tegeder, Melissa Brown, Jonathan Ehrenberg and Sean McCarthy.
Follow JP-Anne Judy Giera on Instagram @theartsandcrapsstudio
Born in North Carolina
“I was born to a long line of makers, movers, queers and freaks who were somehow skilled, brave-hearted, and safe enough to pass their magic on to me,” begins Susannah. Born of an artist father and mother mastermind of home and cultivated environments of transcendence, Susannah recalls telling her father around age five she wanted to be an artist, an actress, and a writer. Making came super naturally to Susannah, and despite some family tumult, her parents were generally supportive of her creative efforts. Art “was always where I found the most excitement and peace. Art was both my mooring, and my rudder, the place where I realized that I could transform and improve certain parts of my course, even if the currents were beyond my control. I could make things I wanted to see come into being, and that felt pretty radical.” Although many know her as a performance artist, her practice is multi-disciplinary by nature. Currently, Susannah is evolving some of her performance pieces into film. “My desire is to free people, in a way that is both ideological and sensual, to say ‘Who you are is ok,’” says Simpson, whose art practice encourages and supports this unfolding, granting permission and exploring its physiological response. “The seed that most deeply feeds me is remembering that as humxn beings we are literally phenomena of Nature,” explains Susannah. “It is our right and responsibility to learn, honor, and enjoy the vessels we were given to live in.” When the artist fell asleep the night of Trump’s inauguration while reading Audre Lorde poems, she woke up with a scroll running through her head that said, “SELF-PLEASURE IS AN ACT OF REVOLUTION.” Susannah urges people to know and celebrate the fullness of their being-hood. “As a queer and non-binary womxn, accepting and listening to the magic and intelligence of my body has been integral to my healing, un/re-learning and empowerment.” While Simpson rehearses her dance and performance art pieces at Otion Front Studio in Bushwick, she does the majority of her writing in bed. She also tends to “make, record, move, and experiment” a lot in her bedroom. Home space has always been very important to her process of creation. In her practice, Simpson works hard to “establish living zones that also serve as breeding grounds for other sorts of creativity and magic.” In the age of extreme social media phenomenology, the culture of “compare and despair” is something the artist constantly checks her conditioning around. Psychic stress, fear of failure and the notoriously underpaid field of performance art and dance pose real challenges as well. “I believe that capitalism is fundamentally anti-body (i.e., Earth), so it feels very fitting that this is the way the economy around embodied artwork pans out. Because of our conditioning, and the intense imposition and romanticization of the ‘starving artist’ archetype, it is inherently uncomfortable to talk about money, and especially to demand for more. And yet, part of the revolution I am working on using my privilege to embody is demanding that we are paid our worth.” Currently, Susannah is reworking her piece “THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION HURT,” for a performance at the Judson Memorial Church on March 11th. She also continuously works on her reoccurring eco-pornography video series examining erotic connection through an eco-feminist lens. “I feel the field of erotica is in dire need of forms and perspectives that are more inclusive, connective and supportive of all that sex and sexuality can be,” says Susannah. Meanwhile, she’s working on a collection of essays and looking forward, she’s looking to realize a performance piece that has been sitting in her heart called “MOTHER MEN,” about the “male” relationship to pregnancy and fertility. Another project, a short film called “Mary,” characterizes the Virgin Mary experiencing herself, her body and earthly pleasure/divinity on her own terms – a continuation of the “THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION HURT” piece themes.
Follow Susannah on instagram @queenhannasus
Born in New York
“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making or creating things,” says Mertz, who began training in the dance world as a toddler. “I was always painting and choreographing and making sculptures out of materials I found around the house,” says the artist. Today, the artist is well-versed in various media, working with light, sound, technology, photography, sculpture, works on paper, and beyond. In most cases, the media is project-based; within the piece, there is an exploration of different media “as a way of deconstructing/reconstructing the specific concept or project.” The work itself integrates spatial, visual, and movement structures through the incorporation of light, sound, technology, photography, and other forms. Drawing on formal training as a dancer and choreographer, Mertz’s installations, images and other site-specific works re-imagine architectural, environmental and other types of spaces. “My work is also informed by the process of seeing, and how audiences experience space. I am interested in the physical and psychological effects of spatial elements, as well as the interplay between digital and analog structures. I use light, technology, hijacked equipment, and other forms to amplify and reinforce the elements of a space and to expose the choreography inherent in a specific environment or structure.” Currently working out of her studio in Bushwick, the artist tends to do a lot of processing while walking around the city or in nature. Something about “moving through space” is not only a motif of her work, but a way in which the artist is able to crystallize specific ideas into form. Working so naturally at such a large scale always poses challenges, be they financial or otherwise. “I have a running list of super-large projects that I keep on the lookout for the right venue or space, so if anyone has a mountainside, a carrier ship or an entire city block that they want to turn into an art venue, please contact me!” says Mertz. As one who tends to be highly engaged by architectural spaces, Mertz professes to have “crushes” on a number of buildings including The Avon/Solow building. Currently, the artist has the solo exhibition Here, Data at SL Gallery, running through March 22nd. She also has an artist’s book and some smaller digital/sound series of works in process. Moving forward, she’s planning on sleeping (a lot) and spending much-needed time with friends and family to recoup after her solo exhibition. She might eventually form an art band/make an art rock album.
Follow the artist on Instagram @gabriellemertz
HERE, DATA at SL Gallery
Jan 30-March 22, 2019
Born 1977 in St. Andrews, Scotland
“I think I couldn’t not be an artist. I always made things and drew things, compulsively. I just kept heading towards it,” says Scottish artist Kirsty Whiten. Known for her detailed pencil and watercolor drawings and life-sized paintings on canvas, Whiten’s approach to image-making merges a lush sense of spaciousness with provocative, uncanny detail. Physically speaking, Whiten loves to embrace new materials and challenge her working rhythm on the material level. “Solving the problems of a new material gives space for the story in the work to unfold.” Humans and humanity are her subject matter, what often takes the form of figuration, albeit warped and always at the periphery of the real. Probing human behavior, psychology, sexuality and societal mores, her imagery tells stories and delivers deeper meanings around identity construction, gender roles and embodied freedom. “I look for a raw and honest quality, a shameless physicality, a challenge to the viewer,” says Whiten. In a sense, her works lure viewers in with a certain pleasure in looking, therein, Whiten inserts some more difficult or challenging themes to offer her perspective and provoke shifts in our normative ways of thinking about human identity. Working out of her home studio in Fife, Scotland, the artist feels inspired by the beautiful rural landscape with little woods and the beckoning coastline. “I can walk out to the woods or the hill from my door, but I often feel isolated for the company of other artists, and I have learned I need to travel to refresh myself and make these connections.” In this vein, sometimes she finds it challenging to really step out into the world, pushing through introversion to fully and authentically put the work out there. Balancing her creative practice with life as a mother also poses a challenge at times. She finds that it is important “to keep shifting focus to each precious part of my life to care for the whole, and to feed myself with ideas and connections in art.” As a painter, she is prone to long stretches of solitude in the studio, but her recent stint of traveling, including a residency at The Mothership in New York, and a trip to Tromsø in Norway to work with a group of artists led by Marita Isobel Solberg, proved revitalizing in many ways. Coming back home with new inspiration, including experience collaborating with a few New York artists on some ritual performances, turned a new leaf for the artist, who prior to that had made work about rather than engaged within ritual practice. Currently, she’s channeling these new experiences into drawings and paintings, including a collaboration with three artist-mothers and their young ones (Katie Cercone, Jana Astanov and Laura Kimmel). This project, titled ‘mother as an island’ explores the animality of motherhood, “where a woman is the home-place of her baby in a very physical, elemental way. I want to explore the threshold of new mothering, the nature connection in that raw place, and a sense of the sacred,” explains Whiten.
Follow Kirsty on Instagram @kirstywhitenstudio
Born 1975 in Brooklyn, New York
“From a young age, I felt most confident and content when I was engaged in a creative process. I was determined to express myself creatively in any medium I came across. I enjoyed the act of investigating, trying new processes and watching as my ideas materialized,” begins the story of Wolert’s artistic journey. Raised by parents who grew up in farming communities of Poland and had little understanding of contemporary art, Bea pursued art despite her parents’ wish for her to find a “more practical” career. After getting her BA in Design and dabbling in some unfulfilling commercial work, she would go on to receive her Masters in Painting from Pratt. With no specific chosen medium, she works variably in ink; acrylic, oil and household paints; fiber, stones, crystals, ceramics, found objects, concrete, plexiglass; industrial spools of thread, zippers; bra hooks, eye extenders and carpet tufting, to name a few. “I like there to be an openess and unpredictability in my chosen medium and materials. Initially, there is an attraction to a color, material, texture—and an impulse to attain it without always a clear vision of what may become of it at that moment.” Sometimes, a gestation period up to a decade long might ensue before Bea harnesses the potential of a particular material. During that period, it might live at the periphery of her studio or home, in a relationship with the artist, trust slowly established. “I am almost waiting for the material to grant over permission to be used,” explains Bea. She is influenced strongly by her maternal Grandmother, who came from Poland to live with Bea’s family when the artist was just four months old. Her Grandmother’s use of her hands and sense of doing — whether making crochet, pierogi or chopping purple cabbage while singing — made an impact on Bea. “She worked with her hands until the point she no longer could and that was difficult for me to watch.” In “Attempt at a Memory: Grandma Cuts Cabbage,” Bea recounts her memory of her Grandmother cutting cabbage in the kitchen, slicing an industrial spool of thread — the same color as the cabbage — to its core. From this piece came the Sliced Thread series. In work that explores material culture, ephemerality, beauty in the everyday, the blurring between art and life; the personification of material; the subversion of the intended or prescribed use of material; and the individual and the collective — Wolert views materials as “snapshots of a society at any given moment.” Called an inventor, experimenter, bricoleur and alchemist, “I work intuitively and actively practice making space in order to maximize ways of tapping into that creative place. I honor moments when seemingly incongruous materials want to come together.” Increasing the viewer’s awareness around materials one might engage with on a daily basis can be a compelling result of the work. Conversations around beauty, longing, materiality, spirituality, art, craft, meaning, value and function are central. As a mother, partner and Deputy Director at CUE Art Foundation, maintaining a studio practice takes a lot of strategic prioritization. Wolert uses daily meditation to open space, remain aware and increase clarity. Working out of her studio in Greenpoint, her home, the outdoors and wherever her travels take her also prove suitable working environments at times. Once, when headed to a retreat in Vermont, she compulsively toted along a 100-foot roll of silver reflective mylar. Rolling it out at sunset, Bea zoned in on the material’s inherent reflective properties. It naturally moved like water playing with the sunlight. The results of such a piece “would not be possible without the attraction, the foresight and openness to change,” explains Bea. Recently filling triangle-shaped cake decorating piping bags with paint for a drip piece for the altar at Park Church Co-op, part of her ongoing series “Offering,” this site-specific piece was designed to match the iconic Church Co-op’s stained glass windows and pierced weekly as an ongoing, ephemeral and ritual act. Currently, Wolert is working on her Pierogi Project. Inspired by pleasant childhood memories making pierogi with Grandma, her participatory, community-based project involves collecting and archiving photos, audio stories, written stories, and other ephemera around the tradition of pierogi-making as well as ceramic clay pierogis capturing the shape of each individual maker’s hand. “This project signifies a changing neighborhood and the loss of Polish traditions in Greenpoint. Like the materials I use, the memories of this place are ephemeral. This project aims to memorialize that ephemerality.” Ultimately, Wolert intends to create an archive, publication and exhibition of the ceramic pierogi.
Follow the artist on Instagram @beawolert
Born 1995 in New York, NY
Born and raised in the Bronx-Brooklyn areas, Dolo has been making art for as long as he can remember. Initially drawn to drawing, the artist later transitioned to paint — first watercolor and then oil. “Didn’t even bother to give acrylic a chance due to the inability to blend colors as smooth as oil,” says Dolo, speaking of his favorite and primary medium. Initially, he was calling his art “Creative Expansion,” which eventually became Dolo Art. “When 2016 hit, I started to take things a lot more seriously moving towards the life, lifestyle and massive success that I want for myself from this industry.” A self-taught artist, Dolo considers himself a “natural” at certain techniques which he picked up without so much as one class. A helpful mentor once told him “if you can draw, you can paint.” Inspired by himself, the artist is extremely driven with a hard and smart work ethic. His paintings invoke both realism and expressionism. An animal lover with lots of energy to mobilize into his practice, music typically helps Dolo get in the zone. Artists that have had impact and influence in Dolo’s life include Migos, Fredo Santana, Chief Keef and a few NYC-based music artists. “These artists are highly relatable to what most people in slums, hoods, and other forms of middle and lower-class residences and/or neighborhoods went through and go through even in present day; it’s about being able to come up and get wealthy off of your talent,” says Dolo.
Born 1978 in London
“For as long as I can remember, I have spent most of my time drawing, painting and making things. At school, I was the artist. It wasn’t like I had a choice. Everybody told me I was an artist,” remembers Claire Zakiewicz, who spent her childhood creating elaborate board games, painting, drawing, making clothes, music and jewelry with friends and kin. Nowadays, Zakiewicz is a Multi-media Artist and DJ. Her main focus is Art, drawing in particular. Post-college brought a bit of a low emotionally, a time when it felt impossible to “make money without compromising my creativity – selling out, as I saw it.” Having been warned by faculty to go into illustration or fashion design, she stubbornly clung to Fine Art. “For many years, I worked extremely hard developing my ability to be resourceful, so that I could gradually reduce the number of hours I worked for money,” says Claire about taking on work as a teacher, gallery assistant, website designer, saxophonist and DJ, while still being a painter that both exhibited and sold paintings. During her Masters, she became more experimental with her work, performing with composers, improvisers, dancers and theatre artists. Likewise, painting, performance, improvised and composed sonic works, animation and writing are important components of her current practice. “My work is about the processes and materials of drawing itself – it’s about perception, observation, focus, movement, theories of time, space and energy.” Currently, the artist is looking at improvisation and composition as well as the relationships between sound and drawing. Working both solo and collaborative at times, her inter-disciplinary ensemble made up of dancers, musicians, poets and visual artists is called Assembly. Working out of her studio in London, the artist also keeps a storage unit in New York and is there often. In the coming months, she has a studio at Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York, which provides both studio space and a forum for the development of artistic practices. “When traveling, my sketchbook becomes my studio,” confides Claire. One of her greatest artistic challenges is knowing when a work is finished. “Resolution is part of an artistic process. My biggest challenge is working with the tension between struggle and resolution.” Right now, she’s working on multiple projects, including collaborations with various musicians, physicists, and actors to continue research into the relationships between sound, movement and drawing as integrated modalities. Her forthcoming written essay The Aesthetics of Imperfection, edited by Andy Hamilton, will be published this March by Bloomsbury. Another writing project in collaboration with poet Dannie-Lu Carr, for a book called Open, explores the dialogue between word and drawing and will be presented as a series of spoken word and live drawing performances in New York, Venice and London at the time of publication. Artwork wise, she’s in the midst of a new series about the tension between failure and perfection, which will be exhibited at Arti511 in Venice during the opening of the Biennale. The Aesthetics of Failure opens in May at Arti3160, Venice during the opening weeks of the Venice Biennale. The full exhibition will include performances by Assembly, featuring musicians Gavin Starks, Lenna Pierce, poet Dannie-Lu Carr and dancers Mariana Alvierez, Pierre Guilbault, and Anna Chirescu.
Born 2000 in New York City
Art is a form of expression artist Kush D harnesses as a means of “creating singular, resonant experiences for others.” Working primarily in Music and the Visual Arts, his current practice centers around the struggle to find identity and “coping with who you are through what you create.” Currently a student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Kush is well aware that having the funds to create everything he wants is not always possible. Meanwhile, he is able to self-finance his projects to a large degree. “I want to do so much artistically, and I don’t know if my ambitions will outlast my time,” remarks Kush. In addition to visual projects, the artist is producing and mixing tracks for other popular NYC music artists such as Deem Spencer, doing creative work for the new music platform Treble, and writing and directing a film this summer. “I’m planning on creating a grander visual experience for my next music project — something that no one else has ever done,” says the artist.