Impressions on the Midwest Artist Studios Project

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IMG_4418Here are the thoughts of a high school freshman on the Midwest Artist Studios Project. This project has a bigger impact on students who have been exposed to this project that I would have ever imagined. I was impressed on how this student was engaged in this process. – Frank Juarez, founder.
 
I was fortunate to get a chance to work with him during our freshmen art class. I thought that the program that he has created at home is a great way to get high school kids involved with the arts. Usually when I think of art and artists, as I’m sure is common with most people, I think of two types of people. I think of the tortured artists, like Van Gogh. The other type of artist would be the classic painter, who always seems to have died before appreciation for their art developed.
 
Previous to the discussion with Mr. Juarez, I would not really think of being an accomplished artist as something attainable for people today. It seems as though we see accomplishment for artists as something that can only be attained after death. Mr. Juarez helped me see that success in art is not limited to past generations, but there are actually many successful artists who create masterpieces in my own community.—Ursula, class of 2019
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Midwest Artist Studios Project in Ojai, California

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This spring break MAS founder and art educator, Frank Juarez, is participating in a visiting artist program at The Thacher School in Ojai, California. He will be working with Mrs. Liz Mahoney’s beginning to advanced art students. He will be introducing students to the Midwest Artist Studios Project through a series of art lessons, which highlights artists living in the Midwest. In addition, he will be Skyping the artists into the classroom so that they can have the opportunity to interact with them via a critique and/or Q & A.

Some of the artists introduced are Year 1: Todd Mrozinski (WI) and Jane Ryder (IA) as well as Year 2: Jessica Anderson (IL) and Jenniffer Omaitz (OH). 

Timeline:

Please note – images will be added each day of the residency. 

On March 25th, he spent the day getting to know the art students. Mrs. Mahoney’s students are fabulous, talented, and eager to learn more about art.

Day 1

On March 28th Advanced Art students and Intro Art students were  introduced their respective artists, process, and media. Artists discussed were MAS artists, Jenniffer Omaitz (OH) and Todd Mrozinski (WI). After the presentation, students began to either set up their still life for Folded Gestures: Playing with Form and Space lesson or deciding what the subject matter would be for their Shadows: Enter the Light lesson, respectively.

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Day 2

On March 29th, Studio Art students were introduced to the work of MAS artist, Jane Ryder (IA) followed by planning out their composition on paper. They are asked to create their own ecosystem based on observation, personal ideas, and using technology. The Intro Art students began working on their shadow paintings. Colors chosen consisted of a limited color palette with a dark tone, mid tone, and highlight of their choosing. 

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Day 3

On March 30th students continued to work on their assigned projects. Some students used today to catch up while others began to add color to their projects. It is interesting to see how they take the information presented and make the work their very own with their own ideas and interpretation. 

 

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Day 4

On March 31st, the art students had its first Skype session. Intro art students had the opportunity to talk to MAS artist, Todd Mrozinski (WI) about his work, process, and a brief critique/ Q&A with the students. Below is an excerpt from their session. 

 

About Todd’s work

The shadow series started on the one year anniversary of my father’s death. Wanting to connect with him, Mrozinski started to paint his portrait based off of a black and white photo from when he was a young priest. He had not painted a traditional portrait in years and soon was frustrated. Disgruntled, he laid on the couch until his wife entered the studio. She saw the large amount of dark acrylic paint mixed on the palette and asked if she could cover the canvas so it would not go to waste. He agreed and took a nap. When he woke up, he noticed the warm light coming in through the front door. He looked out at the tree shadows and realized, in that instant, what he needed to paint. He took the dark canvas off the working wall, laid it on the ground, knelt down and traced the tree shadow directly onto the canvas. He realized as life is to light, death is to shadows, one cannot be without the other. His dad was showing himself in a different form and he felt his presence profoundly. The shadow series began.

Mrozinski’s work is a record of what is going on around him in the present moment. His subject matter is his family, friends, house and yard which he records and adorse on a daily basis. The beauty and power of shadows, the mysterious and ever changing light that creates them and their ambiguity and implied meaning continue to inspire me and infuse my work. Each painting begins by tracing the object’s cast shadow directly onto the canvas and is an actual size record of time and space. He is constantly amazed how a single outline can capture a gesture, mood and personality and how color and edge can create space, focus and mood. Each painting becomes a light infused container that preserves a moment, painted directly though the malleable and flowing medium of oil paint. Through drips, skeins and piles of paint, the surface becomes activated and glows with a light from within.

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Day 5 (Final Day)

On April 1st, the week concluded with Studio Art students skyping with MAS artist, Jane Ryder (IA). Students asked about the artist’s approach to her chosen medium (gouache), ways to stay motivated, artist’s current work, a brief critique between students and artist and a Q & A. The Advanced Art students kept working on their project, “Folded Gestures: Playing with Form and Space”.  I can’t wait to see the final outcome from the Intro Art, Studio Art, and Advanced Studio art students. I would like to end this post with a huge thanks to Mrs. Mahoney (art teacher) and The Thacher School for having me and for their hospitality. This experience was fabulous and memorable. 

About Jane’s work

Jane’s paintings are a right-brained approach to observing, dissecting, and recording the objective subject matter found in the lakes, rivers, prairies, and forests of south central Iowa. As her intimacy with the land surrounding her evolves, so does her approaches for depicting the complexities of varying terrains and the plants and animals that occupy them.

Each of her gouache paintings is a fictitious ecosystem that has been broken down into a series of vignettes. Each vignette describes the decay, growth, and interaction between the flora and fauna of that imagined place. Although bold colors, re- peating patterns, and flattened space make the paintings appear fantastic in nature, each scene is based off an observation.

She is constantly inspired by the complexities of the natural world. Her work is an ever evolving narrative about the interconnectedness of all things and the functions of an organism in a community of plants and animals.

Libations Series by Todd Mrozinski: the MAS Team

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On Friday, August 8th, the MAS Team stopped by MAS artist, Todd Mrozinski, to talk about the origins of his shadow paintings before heading to his Riverwest studio at the Nut Factory in Milwaukee. Prior to our visit I knew of Todd’s work focusing on shadows. I found it fascinating how something like a shadow that we create daily can easily be overlooked or under appreciated for its organic shape or exaggerated size. 

In his backyard he pulled out four canvasses and asked if we wanted to be a part of his “Libations” series. How could we say no? 

It was neat to witness how he positioned his canvas to obtain the perfect composition within the 16×20″ canvas. He was very patient as we sat with a drink in our hand (with the exception of our photographer, Pat Ryan). The entire sketching process only lasted a few minutes.

I could not resist posting these paintings for you to see.

The results are fabulous.

MAS TEAM

If you are in Milwaukee today (August 15th) stop by the Gallerie M inside the Intercontinental Hotel for Todd’s closing reception from 6pm-8pm. Gallerie M is located at 139 E Kilbourn Avenue, MilwaukeeWI 53202.

To read about Todd and his solo show, “Shadows” click here.

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.

Written by Frank Juarez.

Todd Mrozinski – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Today we head back to our home state to visit Todd Mrozinski at his studio inside the Nut Factory in Milwaukee. Visit toddmrozinski.com to check out his shadows series. 

Working Wall with Collard Green 2013“Butades, a potter of Sicyon, was the first who invented, at Corinth, the art of modeling portraits in the earth which he used in his trade. It was through his daughter that he made the discovery; who, being deeply in love with a young man about to depart on a long journey, traced the profile of his face, as thrown upon the wall by the light of the lamp. Upon seeing this, her father filled in the outline, by compressing clay upon the surface, and so made a face in relief, which he then hardened by fire along with other articles of pottery.”

-Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (circa 77–79AD)

The shadow series started on the one year anniversary of my father’s death. Wanting to connect with him, Mrozinski started to paint his portrait based off of a black and white photo from when he was a young priest. He had not painted a traditional portrait in years and soon was frustrated. Disgruntled, he laid on the couch until his wife entered the studio. She saw the large amount of dark acrylic paint mixed on the palette and asked if she could cover the canvas so it would not go to waste. He agreed and took a nap. When he woke up, he noticed the warm light coming in through the front door. He looked out at the tree shadows and realized, in that instant, what he needed to paint. He took the dark canvas off the working wall, laid it on the ground, knelt down and traced the tree shadow directly onto the canvas. He realized as life is to light, death is to shadows, one cannot be without the other. His dad was showing himself in a different form and he felt his presence profoundly. The shadow series began.

Mrozinski’s work is a record of what is going on around him in the present moment. His subject matter is his family, friends, house and yard which he records and adorse on a daily basis. The beauty and power of shadows, the mysterious and ever changing light that creates them and their ambiguity and implied meaning continue to inspire me and infuse my work. Each painting begins by tracing the object’s cast shadow directly onto the canvas and is an actual size record of time and space. He is constantly amazed how a single outline can capture a gesture, mood and personality and how color and edge can create space, focus and mood. Each painting becomes a light infused container that preserves a moment, painted directly though the malleable and flowing medium of oil paint. Through drips, skeins and piles of paint, the surface becomes activated and glows with a light from within.

These are paintings of gratitude, joy and love that I feel for my family, home and loved ones and the light that infuses our lives. Intimate views of contemplation, interaction and everyday life are recorded during a specific time, conveying a universal feeling. He never knows what the next day will bring, it is a constant treasure hunt where the jewels are always right under my nose.

About

Born in Rensselaer, IN in 1974, Todd Mrozinski has loved to paint for as long as he can remember. He acquired his BFA in painting from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 1997 and in 1996 attended The New York Studio Program. He has been in solo and group exhibitions nationwide and his work is in various public and private collections. By focusing on two main areas, shadows and clothing, he explores the power of a subject’s presence through its absence. Meditation and contemplation as well as following inspiration and free flowing expression are essential to his working practice. Todd sees and shares the beauty and illumination of light and personality through drips and skeins and piles of paint. He and his wife, Renee Bebeau, have a studio in The Nut Factory, Riverwest, WI, where they offer art classes and workshops. He is currently represented by Woodman/Shimko Gallery, Palm Springs, CA.                                                      

All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.