Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tony Mastromatteo lecture this Thursday 3/5!

Anthony Mastromatteo, Ideal, 2013, oil on linen on board, 15in. x 20in.
We are excited to announce that artist Anthony Mastromatteo is following up his January talk “Creative Waiting: Beyond the Technical” this Thursday, March 5th. Please join us for a fascinating discussion. 

"The Virtue of Art & What It Means To Be Done Well”

Mastromatteo will host a lecture and discussion centered on an historical understanding of the term "art", specifically as it was understood in the intellectual tradition codified by Aristotle and continued by Thomas Aquinas. Further discussion will explore the implications of this tradition on contemporary art-making. 

This event will be held in GCA's gallery space Eleventh Street ArtsRefreshments will be served!

Address: 46-06 11th St, Long Island City, NY 11101
Date: Thursday, March 5th
Time: 5:15-6:30 pm
Free and open to the public

Friday, February 27, 2015

Queens Chronicle Features Ai Fiori and GCA

Check out the latest press about our new studio and Eleventh Street Arts!

Studio Teaching Classical Techniques Blossoms
by Cristina Schreil, qboro edito

Flowers, anyone?
In a pocket of 11th Street in Long Island City, among a network of forward-thinking institutions reinforcing the neighborhood’s modern art reputation, one studio reaches back to the 19th century, acting as a temple to mastering the classical discipline.
Grand Central Atelier — once known as Water Street Atelier and located on 44th Street in Manhattan — moved to Queens last year. Behind its unassuming entrance, instructors aim to create a structured workspace for artists aspiring to creating drawings, sculpture and paintings from life.
And, as it happens, the studio’s gallery, Eleventh Street Arts, which displays selected works from portraits to still lifes to landscapes, also offers a burst of color with a temporary exhibit of flower paintings.
Until March 20, the first day of spring, a radiant collection of more than 20 flower paintings created by apprentices, graduates and instructors graces the walls. Resplendent renditions of flora such as sunflowers to peonies to roses to crimson asters to quince blossoms to tulips to birds of paradise seemingly sprout from the walls, pulling viewers into stunning little worlds.
While the pieces are not reality-recording photographs or even glossier, hyper-photorealistic paintings, the works are clearly drawn from life.
“These kinds of paintings, they’re so charming,” Patrick Byrnes, gallery manager and painter, said. “They’re easy, I think, to interface with.”
The pieces were painted in the back studio space over a period of one to four days, based on flowers brought in from a nearby Queens florist. Byrnes said the painters had to work quickly with the delicate freshly cut blooms before they wilted.
Although all apprentices undergo the same rigorous, meticulous instruction, adhering to the methods of ateliers of yore, the gallery reveals a refreshing range of voices, styles, flavors and interpretations. One piece depicting dried flowers, “Winter’s bouquet,” by Katie Whipple, employs a silvery palette and unusually thick texture, Byrnes pointed out. Tiny, complex details abound in Whipple’s interpretation of a bouquet of dried flowers — the only dried ones featured in the exhibit. In another, “Roses in a mason jar,” by Rodrigo Mateo, a thinly painted, muted background suggests a simpler approach, but the roses pop toward viewers, appearing to have velvety petals people can reach out and touch.
“The birds of paradise,” by Sam Hung, is rendered crisply and smoothly as it captures summery sunlight hitting the tropical bulbs in one radiant moment. Tiny rubber ducks are scattered around the bouquet and look so real within the painting’s world.
In “Flower study,” by Emilie Lee, some roses appear to slump with fatigue. Presenting the blossoms in the state in which most people see flowers evokes the feeling that Lee painted a slice of everyday life.
The exhibit quickly invites a deep affection for the pieces and for the discipline of capturing life.
But in an age when snapping photos is the go-to way of preserving memories, the studio’s return to a painting-from-life approach also comes against some artists’ and art critics’ views that the discipline is retroactive or reactionary, Byrnes said. Especially as many art programs stress artistic message over perfecting the craft, he said, Grand Central Atelier has lured many artists who crave honing their techniques.
The gallery’s regular exhibit showcases landscapes, still lifes, portraits and sculptures.
“This is so much more than a photo — it’s Sam’s way of processing information in front of him,” Byrnes said of one still life in the main exhibit space.
He pointed out the glints of light on bottles and the brightness of a strip of paper in the scene, reinforcing how the paintings unveil how each artist scrutinizes the world. “The camera flattens so many beautiful moments,” Byrnes said.
Ai Fiori: The Alla Prima Floral Sketch
When: By appointment, until March 20
Where: Eleventh Street Arts, 46-06 11 St., LIC

Thursday, February 5, 2015

On a Winter's Day...

Winter roars by our cozy red brick studio in LIC! Inside, January's pose makes way for February's.

Downstairs Studios, Upstairs Lounge & Office

Audrey Rodriguez

By Audrey Rodriguez

Grant Perry (fueled by the most exquisitely brewed espresso)

By Grant Perry

Jessica Artman

By Jessica Artman

By Katie Engberg (life-sized)

By Mariana Hernandez-Rivera

By Rebecca Gray

Rebecca Gray on a hot cocoa break
Thank you to Mariana Hernandez-Rivera for the great photographs!

Ateliér: Building the Visual Arts Studios of the 21st Century

Tony Winters, a 2014 Hudson River Fellow, practicing architect, and a familiar face at GCA on weekends, has just published a book about the design of art studios titled ATELIÉR: Building the Visual Arts Studios of the 21st Century, available on Amazon.  He talks about this unusual project in the following post:

This book started out as research for my architectural practice. Back when I first started designing art studio buildings for schools, I discovered there wasn’t a lot of published information describing the functions and requirements of this building type in a way that architects could use. When I started investigating on my own, by interviewing people who ran art schools, it became obvious pretty soon that many new studios weren’t very well designed. The users were unhappy with how the spaces functioned. They felt the designers hadn’t understood their needs or how art studios are supposed to work. That’s when I realized there might be a need for a book like this. So I set out to find the best studios and identify what made them work.
GCA cast hall at 44th Street studios, with instructor Justin Wood at the easel
Naturally, one of the studios featured in the book is GCA’s cast hall from the 44th Street studio. I was especially interested in studios designed for more traditional art practices including the academic techniques taught at GCA. We’re all aware of how many art skills and traditions were sort of lost sight of when modernism took over art education and de-emphasized drawing from life. Unfortunately, a by-product of this was that their architects lost familiarity with this type of studio design too. So I wanted to recapture that nearly lost knowledge. 

Atelier of Jacques-Louis David, 1804, drawing by Jean-Henri Cless
Best painting studio ever? Atelier of Ary Scheffer, 1830s, painting by Arie-Johannes Lamme. Rolling ceiling panel shutters the overhead skylights, controlled by pull chain hanging down at right.
Marc Dalessio studio, Florence, Italy
Then it was also a key goal of mine to describe the best contemporary methods for studio lighting, including a discussion of electric lighting from a technical point of view that is still accessible enough that artists can use it, not just engineers. Still, some of the most interesting ideas came from historical sources, from the times before electric lighting was invented. For example, in the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci wrote extensively about studio lighting in his journals. Many historic artworks illustrate daylit studios and show how they made use of drapes and movable ceiling panels to regulate the light’s direction and how tightly the beam was focused. These methods are not in keeping with current daylighting theory used by architects and therefore are little used in contemporary building design. So I’m proud the book could showcase some of these techniques once again.

Drawing Studios at Kyoto Seika University
One of the fun parts of  writing the book was the chance to visit so many different kinds of art schools. Though the book focuses on traditional painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking studios, I also investigated new media studios of several kinds. For example, Seika University has Japan’s largest school of manga comic book production and they built this wonderful new building in Kyoto to house their drawing studios. The architect was Kiyokazu Arai. My wife (who is a writer and college professor) and I travelled to art schools, and I spent time interviewing the art department deans at places like Yale, Glasgow School of Art, and Tokyo National University of Art.

Tenth Street Studio Building, New York. Architect: Richard Morris Hunt (first American architect to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris)
In addition, there is a special section on landscape painters’ studios, historical and contemporary. Here’s a photo of the Tenth Street Studio building in New York (opened in 1855) where America’s greatest painters all had studios next door to each other including Fredric Church, John F. Kensett, Sanford Gifford, Jervis McEntee, Worthington Whittredge, Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt and many others, all under one roof. How amazing it must have been to walk from studio to studio in those days, to follow the progress of America’s greatest landscape painters from week to week!

Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq studio, Jackson, New Hampshire
Ed Mell studio, Phoenix, Arizona
Below is the art studio building that I designed for Sewanee—The University of the South, in Tennessee.
Nabit Art Building, Sewanee, Tennessee
Sculpture Studio, Nabit Art Building
The building embodies many of the ideas I’ve learned about studio design such as combining controlled natural light with high-efficiency adjustable electric lighting fixtures.
Also, while working on the book, I had artist friends ask me for advice and cost-effective tips on designing their studios, and I kept my friends in mind while writing. Given New York real estate costs, artists often can’t afford to build their “dream studios,” though I do address the dream studio idea in the book. It turns out there is a rich history of artists who, coming into money after years of working in poverty, spend it on a dream studio that in fact winds up disrupting their whole art practice. Successful artists from Fredric Church and Albert Bierstadt to Willem DeKooning and Robert Motherwell embarked on extravagant studio projects that ran wildly over budget and corresponded with temporary or permanent downturns in the artists' productivity and success. Read the book and don't repeat their mistakes!
Glasgow School of Art, 1910, front entry. Architect: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Glasgow School of Art, 1910. Architect: Charles Rennie Mackintosh
One last thing I’ve found is the most common mistake people make when designing studios. They leave out important “non-creative” functions because they think they don’t have room or can’t afford them, thereby wrecking the studio’s functionality. For example, places to eat and relax are often omitted. Ways to reach the wider community, like exhibit space or meeting/lecture rooms are really essential for helping a school build its base of students, patrons and collaborators. A studio building should not only accommodate visitors—it should become a major fund-raising asset for the program. Visitors should immediately feel the excitement and promise the program offers, a feeling enhanced by the building design as well as the work on the walls. There’s certainly a lot to take into account when designing this building type. I’ve found in my practice, that a well-designed art studio does a lot to enhance not only the artist’s comfort and productivity, but also helps the artist share work with friends and collectors.

About the Author
Tony Winters is an architect and painter who designs studios for artists, schools and arts organizations. His firm, Pentastudio Architecture, New York, is a professional firm focused on design for creative environments such as fine arts studios, galleries, rehearsal and performing-arts spaces. He is a landscape painter and was selected for the 2014 Hudson River Fellowship.
For more on Pentastudio Architecture see web site:
For more on Tony Winters Studio see web site:
Publication Information
ATELIÉR: Building the Visual Arts Studios of the 21st Century
Tiber & Hudson Publications
ISBN-13: 978-0692318584 ISBN-10: 0692318585


Monday, February 2, 2015

Portrait sketches galore!

From the past three Monday afternoon sessions... We were fortunate to have the legendary John pose two Mondays in a row, then beautiful Natalie graced us today with her presence. Check out the results!

painting by Patrick Byrnes
painting by Mary Jane Ward

drawing by Addison Xu

drawing by Savannah Tate Cuff

painting by Patrick Byrnes

painting by Sandra Sanchez

drawing by Dale Zinkowski

painting by Kevin Müller Cisneros

painting by Liz Beard
drawing by Mackenzie Swenson

painting by Patrick Byrnes

drawing by Addison Xu

painting by Mary Jane Ward

drawing by Rie Mukai

drawing by Sandra Sanchez

drawing by Savannah Tate Cuff

drawing by Brendan Johnston

drawing by Liz Beard