Tag Archive | "joe altwer"

Holiday Show Brings Newcomers and Returning Artists to Grenning Gallery

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"Antique Grasshopper Weathervane" by Sarah Lamb, 2011

“Antique Grasshopper Weathervane” by Sarah Lamb, 2011

By Tessa Raebeck

Some 20 years ago, Maryann Lucas brought her two young toddlers to visit Laura Grenning at the Grenning Gallery, then located next to the Corner Bar on Sag Harbor’s Main Street.

“I’ll never forget,” said Lucas, flanked by materials and colorful oil paintings in her new studio behind the Romany Kramoris Gallery in the Carruthers Alleyway off Main Street. “When I walked into her gallery for the first time and thought, ‘Some day.’”

Over two decades later, ‘some day’ has arrived; Lucas will join seven other artists in the Holiday Show at the Grenning Gallery this Saturday. Celebrating the gallery’s most successful year since its 1997 opening, the Holiday Show features a range of carefully selected artists, coming from as far away as Sweden and as close by as Lucas’ studio. While Lucas is showing her work for the first time, headliner Sarah Lamb is returning to the gallery after years of success.

Grenning gave Lamb her first show in 1998, when the artist was in her early 20s. After showing with Grenning for a little over two years, Lamb entered into an exclusive deal with the Spanierman Gallery in New York City. The Spanierman Gallery, which is still open today and continues to show Lamb’s work, no longer has an exclusive deal with the artist, allowing her to show with Grenning once more.

“I’ve been calling her every six months for five or six years now,” Grenning said Monday. “I have clients that want her work.”

After years of waiting, Grenning is excited to exhibit ten new works by Lamb in the Holiday Show.

“What she’s doing is she does these amazing still lives,” said the gallerist. “She’s very prolific. The thing she spends most of the time on is setting them up and deciding the composition. She’s got an excellent eye for design.”

Lamb puts more time into designing her work through the composition than she does with the actual execution, which Grenning says usually takes just a day or two.

“The irony of the classical realist movement,” says Grenning, “is the classical realists paint but they don’t extract themselves to remember why they’re painting and what they’re painting. They don’t think of the composition too much – the abstract design of the painting.”

Since the early days of the gallery, when Lamb was a recent art school graduate looking for a break, she has grown tremendously as an artist. In her first show at Grenning, her works sold for $6,000 tops. This weekend, they will sell for up to $25,000.

"Wherelwork" by

“Wherelwork” by Joe Altwer, 2013

As evidenced by the Holiday Show line-up, Grenning excels at finding and mentoring new artists. She found Joe Altwer when he was an assistant to Mark Dalessio, one of her gallery’s featured artists.

“He actually came to his first opening here on a skateboard,” she recalls of the young Altwer, adding that his paintings in the show are “very beautiful, very well done, very bright light…It’s all about the light reflecting around the room, it’s not so much about describing the objects in the room.”

"River View" by Daniel Graves

“River View” by Daniel Graves, 2013

In the Holiday Show, Daniel Graves will exhibit four new landscapes “inspired by the most lyrical and relaxed tonalists.” Work by Michael Kotasek, who has been likened to the prominent realist painter Andrew Wyeth but is, according to Grenning, “a lot more refined as a painter,” will also be displayed.

The show will feature a “very beautiful” piece of a glass of beer and a musical instrument by Kevin McEvoy, paintings of farmhouses at twilight and a moonrise by Kevin Sanders and an original nocturne of Sag Harbor by Greg Horwich.

And then, of course, there’s Lucas.

“I didn’t realize all the times I was talking with her that she was an avid artist,” said Grenning. As Lucas’s talent developed, she began bringing her oil paintings to the gallery for Grenning to critique.

“I find when Laura critiques my work,” said Lucas. “I really come away with clarity of how to make it better and at the same time, she makes you feel really good about what’s right – she’s a wonderful mentor.”

"Duck Walk" by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“Duck Walk” by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“I, for whatever reason, tell people exactly what I think of their paintings,” said Grenning. “Unless you’re really open to a serious critique it can be unpleasant. She took every observation that I had and responded like an unbelievable student. She had talent but she kind of reorganized herself aesthetically. It’s kind of exciting and apparently this is a longtime goal for her.”

Apparently. After bringing her work to Grenning last spring, Lucas made some changes, landing herself a spot in the Holiday Show, her first exhibit.

“I used to say to my daughters, we would say, ‘Do you think this painting is Grenning worthy’,” said Lucas. “Being in her gallery, this is my first – I guess it’s like a wish list…I’m thrilled and excited for the opportunity.”

The opening reception for the Holiday Show will be held at the Grenning Gallery, 17 Washington Street, on Saturday, November 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 725-8469 or visit Grenning Gallery.

Sharing a Studio, Sharing A Show

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Leo_Painting_inthe_Studio_19.5x23.5inches_500 by Joe Altwer
Leo Painting in the Studio by Joe Altwer


By Annette Hinkle

As artists, Leo Mancini-Hresko and Joe Altwer share a studio space with Marc Dalessio in Florence, Italy where they perfect their talents by painting still lifes, portraits and landscapes. Both artists are former students of the Florence Academy, a school which trains artists to work in the mode of classical realism.

This week, the work of the two young artists will hang side by side in Sag Harbor at the Grenning Gallery as part of “Studio Tour 2011” a show that highlights both the tried and true as well as up and coming talent that can be found in the studios of artists now working in Florence. The show opens this Saturday, May 14 with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and according to Grenning Gallery manager Cindy Neuendorf, the work represents the latest coming out of the artists’ studios.

“Every winter we go to Florence at the end of January – we want to set our schedule for the season,” explains Neuendorf who travels with gallery owner, Laura Grenning. “Marc Dalessio is our main artist and we’ll most likely always have a solo show with him as long as he is producing new work.”

“But we’ll also be invited to see the work of new artists,” she adds. “We’d often hear these names from other artists when they come to work in Sag Harbor in the summer. So we put them on the list of people to see.”

This past January, it was Leo Mancini-Hresko and Joe Altwer whose work caught the eye of Neuendorf and Grenning on their annual Florence foray to see Dalessio’s work. This will be the first significant show for the two artists at the Grenning Gallery.

“Leo had a wall full of paintings and we picked those that spoke to us,” says Neuendorf, who notes she and Grenning also had the opportunity to see Altwer’s current work in the same space, and were impressed by what they saw. “We went to about 10 studios. You can like everything, but when you come back and process it and look at the hundreds of images we took, those stand out. That’s when it comes down to the quality.

“These guys get the tools from their classical training, but from there, they’re able to tap into other abilities,” she adds.

Leo Mancini-Hresko is a Boston native, but he has lived in Florence for 11 years — ever since finding the Florence Academy while on a study abroad program. His offerings in this show include a vibrant mix of portraiture, and colorful landscapes of the European countryside — including Italy, Spain, France and Greece.

“I think the only thing I don’t have is American scenes,” jokes Mancini-Hresko who will be coming to Sag Harbor this July and is looking forward to spending time painting in his native northeast using the skills he has learned over the last decade in Florence.

Mancini-Hresko’s evolution as an artist mirrors that of many artists who eventually find their way to the Florence Academy. He had been drawing and painting since he was a child and always had his sights set on being an artist. Mancini-Hresko notes that while his parents were supportive — providing him with classes at the art museum in Boston and even enrolling him in a summer program at the prestigious RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) he felt strongly there was still something lacking in the technique he was being taught.

“I couldn’t find teachers that could teach me to draw the way I wanted to,” says Mancini-Hresko. “There’s a real swing back to realistic looking work and now there are certainly many more places to learn the technique. But 10 years ago it was hard to find.”

Mancini-Hresko eventually found what he was looking for in the Florence Academy while he was on a study abroad program — and it came about by accident.

“I just happened to walk by the academy and it seemed to be more what I was looking for and they encouraged me to stay,” he says.

So Mancini-Hresko began the evolution that continues to inform his technique to this day.

“Obviously when we train we try to keep things tight and limited in color. The program is extremely drawing based,” says Mancini-Hresko. “Because of that, my older work is less colorful and to me, a lot less interesting. I’m striving now to use more color and impressionistic lighting effects with more traditional realism.”

“I’ve started working with a much brighter palette,” he adds. “Before I would lean toward a very dark surface to make it look more moody. I’m now focused on light canvas and light shining through. I’ve also been concentrating on landscape. The more you paint and work from life the more beauty you see everywhere.”

“It’s an important evolution in painting, learning to paint all different sorts of things – and seeing beauty in many subjects,” says Mancini-Hresko.

“I’m painting things now I wouldn’t have a few years ago,” adds Mancini-Hresko who points to his 2007 portrait “Ranier” as one representing a turning point in his artistic evolution.

“That’s when my painting started loosening up and I stopped being so academic and started branching out,” he says. “I can’t choose or force the direction it goes in. I’m along for the ride. Whatever we have in us to create it takes over. But it’s exciting. I really like the work here.”

Being studio-mates not only provides the artists in this show an opportunity to bounce ideas off their peers, it also provides inspiration. One of Joe Altwer’s major paintings in this Grenning exhibition is a portrait of Mancini-Hresko at work on his own canvas, surrounded by his completed paintings. Altwer, 27, a native of California, is the youngest of the Grenning Gallery’s artists and he seems to be able to find inspiration everywhere he looks.

“More recently, my work has been about daily life — the cup of coffee,” he says. “Or I’ll notice something that looks really interesting and bring it into the studio or paint at home.

“I really love doing portraits, but doing landscapes always offers variety and I like working outside,” says Altwer who’s offerings include a snow scene painted in-situ in the French Alps. “It’s a little bit of a challenge. You set up your easel and paints and just when you’re ready to make the first mark, the paint is frozen. So then you have to add turpentine. But the views are actually incredible in the snow.”

Altwer has been living in Florence for four years and also studied at the Florence Academy. Like Mancini-Hresko, Altwer found the academy by complete chance while enrolled in a study abroad program.

Art wasn’t an initial interest for him as a child. Growing up in Half Moon Bay, California, Altwer admits he didn’t tap into his artistic interests until the very end of his high school career.

“I was mostly into skateboarding until then,” he says.

After realizing his passion for art, Altwer set out to pursue a degree in the field, but was left wanting more from the programs he found.

“I couldn’t find the strong drawing and painting program in the U.S. So I studied abroad and came to Florence, where I met Leo,” says Altwer who then enrolled at the Florence Academy. “The Academy teaches the strong drawing values. You don’t even pick up a brush until after two years.”

Now that Altwer has perfected his classical technique in Europe, he’s been having fun using it on scenes of his native California. There are paintings in this show of the coastline which he painted while on a visit to his home state this past February — ironically while Neuendorf and Grenning were visiting his studio in Florence.

“The quality of light in Italy is amazing. In Florence, you’re in the middle of the country,” he says. “But in California, the coastline is constantly changing between fog and tides.”

“Ever since I left home for Florence, now when I go back to California, I see these views I’ve never noticed before,” says Altwer. “It’s really fun to see.”

One thing that hasn’t left Altwer during his time in Italy is his love of skateboarding. After he’s done in the studio, he often grabs his skateboard and heads out to the streets of Florence to hang out with an entirely different crowd.

“I go skateboarding with the Italians,” he says. “I can get by. It’s a little community with everyone speaking English and I pick up a little Italian.”

“Studio Tour 2011” also features paintings by Daniela Astone and Nelson White. The opening reception at Grenning Gallery (17 Washington Street, Sag Harbor) is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. this Saturday May 14. The exhibit will run through June 12. For details, call 725-8469.