Stacey’s artwork is on view in our juried exhibition “Small Works 2016”.
I started teaching myself how to paint while on a family vacation during the summer between eighth and ninth grade. I primarily painted landscapes on canvas in acrylic, but occasionally dabbled with oils and painting on other surfaces. While I always took art classes in school, the class times were never long enough to really get into a project. So, I wound up doing a lot of painting outside of class at my kitchen table and out in the garage during summer months.
I grew up in Liverpool, New York (just outside of Syracuse), and moved to Rochester to attend school at Nazareth College, where I was a studio art major and psychology minor. During my freshman year, I contemplated switching my major to English, which is pretty ironic considering that the bulk of what I do today is working as a writer and independent marketing consultant. At that time, I had no interest in teaching art or English, so my mother (a former third grade teacher) encouraged me to stick with the art therapy career plan. I concentrated my art efforts in painting, illustration, and printmaking and then entered what is now Nazareth’s Creative Arts Therapy graduate program immediately after finishing my undergraduate degree.
While in my first year of graduate school, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away a year later – about a month before graduation. I surprisingly managed to finish my thesis and graduate on time, which is what she wanted. Since she was one of my biggest supporters, I really struggled with painting after she died. I entered one show later that year, and other than a couple of craft projects (mostly unfinished), I basically took a hiatus for almost fifteen years and focused on other things, including making a career change from art therapy to marketing and public relations.
In 2015, there was an opportunity to present work at Rochester Contemporary Arts Center for a Rochester Advertising Federation show called On the Side Expo. I had quite a few older paintings in storage, but for the first time in years, I had a strong desire to create new work. Worried that I would likely be rusty, I still managed to pull off three new paintings and even sold one of them a couple months later. These paintings were very similar to the style I developed in college studying under Kathleen Calderwood, where I focused on color, symbolism, Jungian archetypes, and mythology. I’d say my style is very influenced by the Expressionists, but I’ve also been a longtime fan of Klimt, Matisse, Kahlo, and Warhol.
I’ve always had an interest in juxtaposing everyday life with fantasy – giving animals or inanimate objects humorous and human-like qualities. The end result is often surreal and the scenes are laden with symbolism. I get much of my inspiration from my own life events, notable places and people, and pop culture. Some of the old characters (like the cheeky monkeys) have reappeared in my newer works; and a new, temperamental critter named Snappy emerged and gained some traction. Buoyed by the positive response, I decided to keep it going.
While Snappy the turtle continues to pop up in my larger works, I’ve spent the past year exploring something more “pop art” influenced – the Pantone Series. What started as a 6×6 exhibit piece featuring the Instagram-famous The Fat Jewish evolved into a series of other famous people. Each is positioned against a Pantone chip backdrop in a color that represents something about that person. Two of these pieces are currently in the Small Works show at Main Street Arts. Most recently, I was asked to complete something holiday-themed for Cohber Printing based on the blue color they use in their logo and branding guidelines: Pantone 300 C. Naturally, I chose to depict Elvis Presley in “Pantone 300 C Blue Christmas.” The image will eventually be turned into holiday cards. In the series of pictures below, you can see how I go about creating one of these pieces.
I think the most challenging part of creating art is finding the time and space to do it, particularly when you have another occupation and aren’t a full-time “working artist” in a studio. Much like in my younger years, I still paint out of my kitchen – some things just never change! In the same vein, I don’t think my style has changed that much despite the fifteen-year break, but I’m probably focusing on different ideas than those of my “twenty-something” self. I feel very fortunate and grateful that I’m back doing something I’m passionate about and that I’ve been given these opportunities to show my work and meet other artists and makers in the community.
Stop by Main Street Arts to see Stacey’s work in our current exhibition “Small Works 2016” (juried by Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of RoCo; exhibition runs through January 6th). Visit her website at www.staceyrowe.com