Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Impressionistic - realistic art of Susie Gách Peelle

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Painter Susie Gách Peelle, granddaughter of Hungarian sculptor Steven Gach (Gách István) and daughter of Hungarian/American sculptor/painter George Gach (Gách György) might have been born with a paint brush in her hand. She was surrounded by artistic work ever since she could remember. She was drawing at 5, painting at 12. She posed for her father, observed his lessons, demos, and outdoor classes. She was commissioned to do 20x24 oil portraits of her schoolmates while still in high school.

Photo by Susie Gách Peelle
Though her father was an academically trained artist he did not insist on a strict early training for his daughter. Susie was allowed to observe, experiment, and follow her own developmental path. She was encouraged to study works of great masters, she is still doing it today. In due course, Susie obtained her BA from C.W. Post, NY, and then her MFA from Instituto Allende/Universidad de Guanajuato in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Throughout her career she attended various classes in search of techniques and forms of expression.

Photo by Susie Gách Peelle
Susie's good fortune was that she started drawing so early and appreciated the importance of it. Drawing is a basis of every work in every medium, it allows the pieces to retain a sense of proportion and perspective. Susie no longer has to think and measure distances much, most of her drawing comes naturally. This is a result of an innate talent and a constant practice.

Susie works almost every day. Her work time is very intense, she often paints alla prima where a great discipline is required in the name of freshness. I had the pleasure to witness an alla prima oil painting demo by Susie, she completed a painting in about 40 minutes. She worked uninterrupted, started by drawing color and shade outline, then covered the canvas with quick, decided, measured brush strokes, from dark to light. Susie likes the speed and the intensity, she is known to have drawn 42 pencil portrait sketches in 2 hours at a children's party. Her quick strokes came in handy when she was engaged as a courtroom illustrator by one of the major tv stations.

Photo by Susie Gách Peelle
Her subjects vary greatly. Susie frequently explores a theme and paints or draws similar scenes in different media, in varied sizes and tonal variations. She executes portraits, nudes, landscapes, beach scenes, architecture, street scenes, animals, teddy bears, flowers, still lifes, paintings on silk and ceramics, book illustrations, and greeting cards. She works in oil, acrylic, pastel, lead, conté, ink, gouache, graphics, and mosaic.

Susie has great fun with framing as a significant part of the overall presentation. Her studio is full of frames ready for a perfect match. She also uses custom framing as the sizes of her pieces are frequently non-standard.

Photos by Susie Gách Peelle

Photo by Susie Gách Peelle
Susie's work graced the walls of galleries in US and overseas. She entertained numerous portrait commissions of luminaries of art, commerce, politics, and academia. Her portrait of Grace Bumbry, great American soprano, was picked by the singer herself from among the works of students of Oskar Kokoschka School of Seeing in Salzburg, Austria, which Susie was attending at the time. Once, while painting en plein air she was approached by a passerby who bought the painting, a beach scene, on the spot and commissioned a matching winter scene.

Susie Gach Peelle was born in Budapest, Hungary, spent 5 years of her early childhood in Lebanon before her parents moved to US, eventually settling on Long Island. Susie and her husband live in Locust Valley. The youngest of the couple's four sons, Evan, inherited the artistic talent, thus extending the creative line to the fourth generation.

Susie enjoys traveling. No matter what destintation, she takes her work with her wherever she goes. She frequently teaches on cruises. She is also an active teacher while in New York;  she gives private lessons and teaches at the Art League of Long Island. Susie can be contacted at 1.516.676.7011.

Please see Susie introduce her work at her studio.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beads by Gea Hines, color and fire

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
The dazzling lampwork beads by Gea Hines, artist bead maker, look like pure color caught in glass. By fire.

Lampwork bead making is an ancient art. There is something magical in the idea of taking solid glass, firing it to a liquid, malleable state, and transforming it into an artistic object.

Gea Hines started her adventure in bead making in a rather mundane way. A stay-at-home mom, she was looking for something she could do at home to occupy her time and supplement the family income. Jewelry was her first choice, then she realized that instead of buying ready made beads she could create her own. Her first bead was just a blob of glass, a far cry from what she had imagined. Gea did not give up; she practiced and practiced until she developed solid skills. She continued learning about glass and its properties. She experimented with tools and eventually set up a workshop in her basement/den where she can work in comfort while watching over the activities of her growing children.

Gea, born and raised in Netherlands, does not come from an artistic family. She found she enjoyed art classes in high school. Somewhat against the advice of her parents she attended a fashion design school in Amsterdam. Then, occasional painting or drawing excepted, her artistic interests took a rest; she has not seriously exercised her creative powers until she picked up bead making.

Now she enjoys the fulfillment which comes from working with colors (blue is her favorite) and shapes. The art is precise and the artist must stay focused, playing with a torch is a dangerous employment after all. Gea's concentration is greatly helped by the fact that she also happens to be a yoga teacher.

Think Long Island First is very happy to carry her beads, bracelets, and earrings. Her hand made beads match Pandora bracelets. Gea has her own website under her company name Dinky Beads, she shows her work at fairs and craft shows. She will be present at the Long Island Bead Festival on April 10th, at Marriott Islandia.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Historical Long Island bottles in the collections of George William Fisher

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
George William Fisher - bird watcher, poet, historian, civil servant, volunteer, photographer, collector, music lover. The list is hardly complete, George is quite a Renaissance man. We have already written about George's involvement in the Nassau County Photo Archives. In this article we will concentrate on his activities revolving around collecting and cataloging historical Long Island bottles.

Throughout the years George built two distinct collections: one of Long Island medicine bottles dated c. 1830-1920 and another of Long Island beverage bottles dated 1840-1970.

George first started collecting Long Island bottles of any kind, but was always drawn to Art Deco soda bottles. Then his interests expanded to earlier years. Through trades, purchases (eBay opened new horizons for bottle collectors), or donations George managed to enlarge his collection and to focus it on the two areas listed above.

George's medicine bottle collection is a completely unique undertaking. It is worth mentioning here that George collects embossed medicine bottles as opposed to generic medicine bottles where only a (paper) label distinguished a product of one pharmacy from another. Of the 175 known Long Island medicine bottles roughly 80% are in George's possession, including nearly all known pontil bottles. George published a book 'Long Island Medicine Bottles: Patent Medicines, Bitters, Sarsaparillas, Hair Products & Citrates' on the subject.

Photo by George Fisher
George's beverage bottle collection is remarkable for its breadth. Most collectors were originally not interested in bottles past 1900. Since George started with Art Deco bottles he covered later years and then expanded the collection to include bottles from 1840 - 1970. The beverage collection contains about 1,000 objects which he successively donates to the Nassau County Museum Division. About half of his collection is now under the county's care.

George is not only a collector, he is also involved in the cataloging and dissemination of knowledge in the area. Together with Donald H. Weinhardt he is an author of the authoritative compendium 'A Historical Guide to Long Island: Soda, Beer & Mineral Water Bottles & Bottling Companies 1840-1970'. The 4th Edition of the guide was just released in an electronic version. With its 800 pages and 500 photographs it is a true font of information.

Tracing of bottles and their history frequently feels like a detective work, one has to ferret information in various historical sources. George cross references advertisements, newspaper articles, business directories and documents to narrow down the operating dates of the 806 geographic Long Island (including current Brooklyn and Queens) bottling companies which marketed nearly 3,000 various beverage bottles, and over the years employed thousand of Long Islanders. His goal is to collect bottles from all 130 or so Long Island communities as almost each one had at least one bottling facility. In addition, many large hotels bottled soda, beer, and mineral water for their guests to take on the road or to pack into a picnic basket.

The beverage collection reflects changes in tastes and technological advancements from first crude, low production hand blown pontiled bottles and bottles made in snap molds to standardized bottles mass produced using the Automatic Bottle Machine. The transformation of bottling was marked by changes to the shape of bottles, method of glass production, color and chemical contents of glass, type of enclosure, and marketing approach.

Let us present some of the bottles from George's collection. Please see the excerpts from 'A Historical Guide to Long Island: Soda, Beer & Mineral Water Bottles & Bottling Companies 1840-1970' with the catalog descriptions of the first two bottles listed below.

A beautiful Deer Park L.I. pontil bottle.

There are 17 recorded remaining bottles.
Did not appear in auctions in over 10 years.

Photo by George Fisher
L.S. Sammis, Hempstead L.I..

Scarce as teal color was not that frequently used at the times.

Photo by George Fisher
Hutchinson style bottle from L.O. Wilson, Oyster Bay.

Seal was kept wet by storing bottles upside down. Bottle was opened by pushing the top inside.
Outlawed as unhygienic by 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.

Photo by George Fisher

George is available for lectures and appraisals. Please contact him directly at 516.375.9410 to make arrangements or to purchase any of his publications.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Instructive morning with three Long Island wood carvers

Three local wood carvers, Don Daily from Huntington Station, Mike Denaro from Oyster Bay, and Bob Schiff from Great Neck displayed their work, spoke about their inspirations, very different techniques, and occasional injuries, presented their preferred tools and materials at an Introduction to Wood Carving event at the store last Saturday.

It was a very instructive and fun morning. All three speakers were generous with their advice in the true spirit of the craft. All three have met with supportive fellow carvers in the past and now like to share their knowledge and experiences.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bob Schiff, wood carver

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Bob Schiff, wood carver from Great Neck, first encountered wood carving at Alley Pond Environmental Center where he attended a three day carving course. He liked it so much he decided to pursue it further. He joined a carving club, a supportive group of carvers in possession of passion, talent, and a great library. He worked with the club for many years and was at one point its president.

Bob does not come from an artistic background, but is very open to ideas. When his daughter, who did indeed graduate from an art school, tried different art techniques, Bob followed. He experimented with stone and clay sculpture, made objects of papier-mâché.

He now concentrates his creative powers just on carving as his time is already filled to a brim. Bob, a supercharged retiree, is a biking enthusiast, he bikes 30-40 miles a day. He plays tennis and roller-blades. Until recently he was an avid skier. Bob volunteers for the Big Apple Greeters organization where he meets tourists from all over the world and helps them discover New York.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Originally Bob carved mostly birds - he is a bird watcher, keeps well stocked bird feeders in his backyard and a handy pair of binoculars. Bob likes to carve local birds, they are frequent companions in his garden, but had carved tropical birds, as well. With time Bob branched out to other subjects: he immortalized friends' pets, has done commissioned work, carved other animals, figures, and walking sticks for his family members.

For his painted (acrylic is his paint of choice) wood carvings Bob uses tupelo, basswood, or yellow poplar. For the natural wood pieces he prefers cedar, mahogany, black walnut, and most tropical woods. He purchases his wood at shows, exchanges it with his club members, receives chunks from friends and family. Another great source happens to be discarded wood from Steinway piano factory.

90% of his work is done with electric tools, many of them dental instruments, Bob before his retirement used to be a dentist, 10% is done manually.

Bob does not like parting with some of his pieces. Once a potential customer asked Bob for a carving of a blue heron. Bob happened to have one ready, he gave a rather high price for the piece to discourage the buyer. To his surprise the enthusiastic customer whipped up a check book and bought the piece. Bob made another carving of the blue heron, priceless, just for himself to keep.

Bob will be one of the presenters at the Introduction to Wood Carving event on Saturday, March 12th, between 10 am and 12:30 pm.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Introduction to Wood Carving

Saturday, March 12th, 10 am - 12:30 pm

Do you know what veiner, fluter, or sloyd? You may have your chance to learn or to show off whichever the case might be.

Three local wood carvers - Don Dailey from Huntington Station, Mike Denaro from Oyster Bay, and Bob Schiff from Great Neck will conduct an Introduction to Wood Carving session at Think Long Island First on Saturday, March 12th, starting at 10 am.

Come join us and learn about the carving materials, tools, and varnishes. Bring your completed or ongoing projects to discuss with Don, Mike, and Bob.

This is a free event open to the public.

Sand pipers by Don DaileyIce fishing decoys by Mike Denaro

Mike Denaro, wood carver

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Mike Denaro of Oyster Bay considers himself a folk artist. Carving is not his only artistic form of expression; Mike also does floor cloth, stained glass, and plays fiddle in his free time.

Mike, a second grade teacher, is a trained horticulturalist and confirmed nature lover. He walks in the woods at least once a week; couple of times a year he joins the organized trips of the Appalachian Mountain Club, the oldest conservation club in America, as a backpack leader.

An avid fishermen, he was not willing to shell out a large amounts of money on fishing decoys; got himself a piece of wood and a knife and carved his first decoy. Eventually his ice fishing decoys won prizes at juried shows. There is a science to making ice fishing decoys - lead is inserted into the belly to keep the wooden decoy fully immersed; it must sit in water horizontally like a live fish would.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
In the years that followed Mike's subjects varied from Americana, Christmas ornaments, fiddles to walking sticks.

He uses mostly basswood, but also butternut, dogwood, mountain laurel, and Eastern red cedar if he finds it during his rambles. He likes wormy wood, he feels it has more character. Mike applies colors rather sparingly and washes it out a lot to allow the grain to show a bit. The final coat is of floor wax, clearer or darker depending on the piece. In general, he prefers matted look; shine on the handles of his walking sticks comes from buffing the wax.

With the exception of a band saw to cut wood, all carving is done by hand. Mike prefers to work with knives over gouges which, technically speaking, makes his art whittling and not carving. Whatever the technicalities, the end results are captivating.

You will get a chance to meet Mike at the store on Saturday, March 12th, between 10 am and 12:30 pm, when he will be one of the instructors at the Introduction to Wood Carving event.