Tag Archives: art

Profile: Melissa Aldana

Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana will perform at the Jefferson Center on February 17 at 7 pm and again at 9 pm. A rising tenor saxophone star, Aldana recently released her second trio album (and fourth as a leader). “Back Home” unveils a powerful musical creation by Aldana and her illustrious bandmates. Not so much reminiscent of a specific place, “Back Home” evokes something a little deeper for Aldana.

“Back Home is a tribute to Sonny Rollins, who has been a huge influence on me since I was ten years old,” she explains. “It makes a reference to the first time I heard him playing back home in Chile. I completely fell in love with the sound of his tenor. He is organic and funny. Those are some of the most important elements in music. It’s like he’s having a conversation with you, and you can hear how he’s taking risks and trying new things. Those are the elements I want to have in my own playing.”

Aldana describes her relationship with the tenor saxophone as a lifelong commitment. The journey with the instrument has allowed her to mature as an artist, and her dedication to it remains. From New York to Montreal (and around the world), she carries that pivotal moment when she first heard Sonny Rollins play with her in addition to the lessons she has learned from other artistic influences. In this way, she can allow the music she creates to tell the story of her travels, experiences, and personal growth.

On “Back Home” she includes a track called “Time” that is a “meditation on her life since departing Chile.” She has described the nostalgic track as a reflection of the last nine years of her life. As the tenor saxophone carries the listener through the ups and downs of the accumulated time, it is not hard to give over the memories of one’s own adventures. This is exactly the impact Aldana hopes to have with her work.

“I hope [the audience] has fun and goes on a trip with the music. Also, I hope they enjoy it as much as I did when I recorded the album,” she adds.

Joining Aldana for her February 17 show are Sam Harris on the piano, Thomas Crane on the drums, and Pablo Menares on the bass. Together, they project an “uncommonly full orchestral sound, rich in spiritual intensity, all in the absence of a harmony instrument.” The experience is one that Roanoke audiences are unlikely to forget, and Aldana is excited to introduce both new and returning fans to her new music.

To purchase tickets, visit www.jeffcenter.org. For more information on Melissa Aldana and how to purchase her music, go to www.melissaaldana.com.

Art by Sharell

Sharell Whipple graduated in 2010 with a degree in animal biology. Soon after, she began a petsitting business.

“I took really nice photos of the pets and left them for the owners to find when they came back. One day, I took one of the photos, painted it, and gave it to the family as a Christmas gift,” Sharell recalls. “That was the first time I experimented with painting, and I fell in love with it.”

After her first piece was complete, Sharell continued painting pets, and eventually expanded into nature scenes, keeping her vibrant, colorful feel.

“I think painting on wood adds that extra element of nature. Also, a lot of the wood I paint on is extra smooth and sanded. It doesn’t have that texture that canvas has, so I can blend differently on wood,” she explains.

Many of Sharell’s nature pieces are influenced by her adventures with her husband. One of her early works was a Blue Ridge Mountain scene. At the time, she was living in California. She painted the landscape with acrylic paint, and added the quotation from John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” It’s the one piece that she has never sold because she loves it so much, and it now hangs on her bedroom wall.

Sharell can often be found creating art in the bay window her red brick home surrounded by a quiet neighborhood in those same Blue Ridge Mountains she painted just a few years ago. There, she can see deer walking through her front yard. She can hear the creek trickling right outside her window. It provides a connection to nature that translates gracefully into her art. However, sometimes she needs to step outside her peaceful home to spark creativity.

“I feel most inspired to create pieces when I’m away from my studio. When I’m out backpacking in the middle of nowhere and it’s quiet, the fireflies are glowing, and the total tranquility of beautiful sunsets surrounds me. I’ll go back to my studio, and I may not paint the sunset, but I’ll use the colors to paint a completely different subject matter,” she says.

You can find Sharell’s work at The Big Latch on Roanoke at Roanoke College on August 5, Riot Rooster on November 17-18, and locally at Kozy Comfort Kountry Store in Hardy. If you can’t make it to any of these locations, please check out her work on her website, www.artbysharell.com.

Open Studios: Gina Louthian-Stanley

Gina Louthian-Stanley has been a creative person since she was born. In the first grade, she won her first art award for her visual narrative of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” She continued taking as many art classes as possible throughout school. While she learned techniques in college, most of what she does today is a combination of those techniques used in a totally new and different way.
“Formal training has brought its rewards,” Gina says, “but self-exploration has produced the greatest results. By taking all of the insights  that my teachers have taught me, I’ve been able to merge them to create my own artistic style or styles. Experimental art has always fascinated me.”
Which may be why Gina uses a variety of mediums including cold wax, encaustic, watercolor, oil, monotype and intaglio printmaking, pastel and ink drawing, pottery, and jewelry making. She even mixes the medium at times to “push the limit” of what the medium can do to convey the ethereal atmospheric landscape that she loves.

Which is your favorite medium, and why?
I have two passions at the moment, working in wax and printmaking. I have been a printmaker since the 70s, and working in hot and cold wax at least ten years. With the encaustic mediums, I can utilize photography, printmaking, and painting. I have also been introducing encaustic mediums into jewelry pieces. I am attracted to the natural elements of the damar resin and beeswax. 

What/who are your inspirations?
All of my inspirations come primarily from the earth and nature. I am influenced by artists and writers who are intrigued by nature and natural elements. I am also inspired by music and always have it playing in my studio. 

Would you say that any of your work is a reflection of living in Roanoke? 
Most certainly. I have lived in Roanoke all of my life and have always been inspired by the landscape here. I have a particular piece, Bent Mountain Marsh, that was created from a memory of a place. I was there on a clear blue day and the reflected blues of the sky in the glass-clear water against the textured brown grasses on the bank etched in my mind. I had to paint it. 
For me, driving to work and seeing a heavy mist rising just above the earth in the early morning sunlight–that moment, you take a deep breath and all is right in the world.

Gina’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Gina and participating artists!

 

Open Studios Artist: Jamie Nervo

Jamie Nervo’s need for art started when she was a child. Her father was in the military, and she is the oldest of seven children who spent their early years moving around a lot. The joy to create art was the one thing that followed her throughout her travels.

“My work depicts life’s everyday events with a twist, masking the harsh realities of life and focusing instead on the positive and lighthearted issues we encounter each day,” she explains. “We are bombarded with negative imagery and events that echo over and over in our minds. My colorful abstractions shut out those unsavory events and look at life in a patchwork of pleasant ideas and color.”

How long have you been involved with Open Studios?
It has been about 10 years. I’ve been showing up with the same great group of artists for a while: Winn Ballenger, Barry Wolfe, and Nan Mahone. We all set up in Barry’s driveway and peddle our art. I’ll show up with them until they kick me out of the group. Rain or shine, it’s always worth doing the show.

What are your inspirations?
Attending museums or visiting galleries, travel, and studying people. Looking at other art excites me, and I can’t wait to get to the studio downstairs in my house to paint. I get all charged up and the energy builds. A couple cups of tea helps too! My landscapes are definitely a reflection of living on Bent Mountain. The view is mighty fine. Changing cloud formation, color, and shadows keep me inspired to paint.

Can you tell us a little about your creative process?
Without much thought, I usually just go for it. What I create is raw and immediate, using an open mind. I don’t second guess things, I just put down strokes of paint and add color. Sometimes I create ugly messes, but out the mess there is always beauty or something interesting. Discovering the unknown and pushing the envelope always feels good. There are a lot of times when I say to myself, “This looks like crap.” But I keep going, and then the painting either evolves, or it doesn’t. There are also the safe paintings that are within the bounds of the familiar like chickens and dogs. These are abstract realism with a twist.

What impression do you hope to leave with your work?
My work is upbeat and happy. When I’m not feeling it, I usually don’t paint. There is enough sadness and destruction in the world. I hope they bring a little happy chuckle to everyone.

Jamie’s work will be available alongside participating artists through Open Studios Roanoke, beginning on April 29-30. She will offer primarily oil paintings, but will also have a few encaustic paintings available for purchase. Visit www.openstudiostourroanoke.com for more information on Jamie and participating artists!

Spring Happenings!

As the weather gets warmer, your schedule should begin to look a little brighter. With fun events happening locally throughout March, there will be something for the whole family. Check out our favorites below:

McDonald’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Shamrock Festival
Don’t miss the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday, March 11, beginning at 11 am in Downtown Roanoke. This is a great event for families with two free McDonald’s Kid’s Zone locations available from 12 to 5pm. Children can enjoy games, inflatables, face painting, and more in front of the Taubman Museum of Art on Salem Avenue and in Market Square. Corned Beef & Co. will host a Celtic Celebration from 10 am to 5 pm, and Martin’s St. Pats Block Party will open at 11 am. Visit www.downtownroanoke.org for more information.

American Impressionism in the Garden at the Taubman Museum of Art
The American Impressionism in the Garden exhibit at the Taubman Museum of Art includes several new loans from major institutions across the United States. During the late 19th century, many American Impressionist artists studied alongside their French counterparts in Paris and Giverny to capture light’s fleeting effects by painting en plein air, or outside. They distinguished themselves by depicting uniquely American subjects—notably, the garden. This exhibition explores that era, breathing in the fresh aroma of a world in bloom. It will be on view until May 14. Go to www.taubmanmuseum.org for information.

Just Stevii Presents: Experience!
A free event to encourage women to empower themselves and reach their full potential is a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month. That’s why we are so excited that Just Stevii Presents: Experience! will take place at the Kirk Family YMCA on Friday, March 17 from 5 to 9 pm. Roanoke is one of four stops on Stevii Aisha Mills’ cross-country tour. Stevii is a motivational speaker with a goal to help women who are dedicated to pushing past their past to loudly (and proudly!) declare, “I love my life!” Her event will feature several fantastic vendors, including The Purposeful Speaker and Total Life Changes. Visit www.stevii.com/experience to learn more.

 

The Gift: The Art of Giving Back

“Imagine a time and place in which giving is not just for the holidays.”

"Mercy All Out" by Dreama Kattenbraker
“Mercy All Out” by Dreama Kattenbraker

Fleda A Ring Artworks is preparing for the giving season in the best way yet. An art exhibit, “The Gift,” featuring artists, Ann Trinkle, Brian Counihan, Christopher Cobb, Dave Stein, Dreams Kattenbraker, Heath Nevergold, and Mary Beth Lee is opening this Friday, December 2nd from 6-10 P.M. The exhibit is to stay open until January 27th, 2017.

The Gift is an art exhibit featuring a number of artists with the proceeds going towards Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. With the season of giving, what better way to celebrate the holidays than supporting local artists and a good cause? The show extends an entire 26 days past the holidays so if this season is just a busy time you have almost the entirety of January to stop by and make a difference!

Written by Nicole Brobston

The Craftsmen’s Fall Classic!

What’s better than Feeding America? Feeding America while attending one of the country’s highest ranked craft festivals for free! The Craftsmen’s Fall Classic is a Roanoke favorite and is celebrating its 29th annual show. This event is a top 20 national qualifier for one of the best classic and contemporary craft shows. It has also been named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. The Craftsmen’s Fall Classic chooses instead of charging admission to only ask for a food donation, because of these efforts this event has become the second-largest food drive that Feeding America South West Virginia put on. In 2015 the event pulled in 25,000 pounds of food! This year they are hoping to even surpass that. Monetary donations are also welcome.

ajanaku_obayana_31There’s hundreds of artists that participate in the event every year from 20 states. Of course, there’s the event favorites, but each year the event brings in many new artists. Items from baskets, to pottery, to fine art, and wood-work; from classic to contemporary styles there are thousands of pieces just waiting to be purchased. If the “big box” retail store items are not your taste this event is perfect for you! Each item being sold are made by the craftsmen participating. That makes these truly unique pieces for your collection. The styles vary widely so it is unlikely you walk away from the event without finding something just your taste. Many of the artists welcome custom work.

img_1205Not only can you find a special piece for your home or the perfect gift for that one aunt that is terribly difficult to shop for, you will be contributing to a great cause! This year the event falls on October 14, 15, and 16. Friday from 10 am to 8 pm., Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm., and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.

Admission is free with a food donation! Let’s all help Feed America this weekend at The Berglund Center!

Written by Nicole Brobston

“A Sense of Place” with local artist Clara Heaton

Photo credit : Kirsten McBride

At Bella, we are lucky to work in close proximity with some amazing artists in our community, like Clara Heaton. Clara is a prolific painter in her own right, but she also does a lot to support other artists in Roanoke and the surrounding counties. She recently completed her BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in painting at Radford University. Through a strong mentorship with one of her professors, Dr. Halide Salam, and a passion for creativity, Clara is emerging with grace and tenacity into Roanoke’s flourishing arts community.

The passion in Clara’s paintings speaks volumes. It is a beautiful abstract culmination of her thoughts, how she interprets the beauty of her own personal experiences, and ultimately the world around her.

Dr. Salam and Clara. Photo credit : Kirsten McBride
Dr. Salam and Clara.
Photo credit : Kirsten McBride

After becoming Salam’s personal assistant, Clara saw her work for the first time. She immediately noticed connections in their work. Shortly thereafter, she also began a friendship with one of Salam’s graduate mentees, Kevin Kwon.

“Before I met Kevin, we were in a juried show together. One of my pieces was placed next to Kevin’s, and my dad pulled me aside and showed it to me,” Clara explains. “My work was very linear, and Kevin’s was incredibly organic.”

Both pieces were the start of something new for them as artists. Kevin and Clara were fascinated that, without having ever met one another, their two bodies of work had the exact same color scheme and such a cohesive presence in the room.

Months later, Kevin asked her if she would like to do a show together and Clara immediately said yes. She also suggested the include their mentor, Salam.

As serendipitous as this all may appear, the truth is, Clara’s dedication, courage, and love for art propels her forward as she pursues these opportunities.

DSC_0125
Photo credit: Kirsten McBride

“The cool thing about art and artists is that you cannot become a powerful artist by relying on your talent,” says Clara. “You have to start dedicating hard work to it. You have to say, ‘I’m going to set time aside for this.’ If you can’t get over your ego, then you won’t ever grow.”

Opening night for “A Sense of Place,” in which Clara, Kevin, and Salam will showcase their work, will take place in the Aurora Lightwell Gallery on September 2 at 5 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Together, the three artists from three different cultural backgrounds and levels of academic training, will respond to the feelings and perception of places unique to themselves through the discipline and practice of painting.

Visitors can also tour the gallery and view their work on weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm until September 30. For more information, visit www.aurorastudiocenter.com.