Welcome to RE // new artists & their work

I launched the Romanoff Elements site 6 months ago, wanting to share some of the talented artists who I have come to know and work with. Recently, I updated the site to include several new artists as well as adding new pieces to existing collections. The RE site is a beginning - there is much more to look at, and to talk about regarding each artist who is represented. I am drawn to their work, to their stories and want to follow and share the progress of their art as it evolves.

Andrea Bonfils is a very creative and multi-talented artist.  She works with and explores various media;  from painting, to encaustic wax, photography and mixed media.

Regardless of medium, Andrea's artwork all begins with nature.  She renders interesting compositions from what she sees and experiences around her. Her colors are rich and layered and the final work is always textural and beautiful.  I have blogged about Andrea before, when Nest Inspired Home exhibited her work in April.

I was recently re-connected to Tracy Burtz, we hadn't seen each other for many years. Tracy is an accomplished artist and teacher who has exhibited extensively.  She works from life; she creates still lifes in oil, charcoal drawings and oils of women, pastels of seascapes and summer life.  I blogged about Tracy as we prepared an exhibition of her work at Table D'Hote recently.

The depth and range of Tracy's colors are beautiful, whether she's painting a floral arrangement or a portrait. We spoke about her varied subject matter, and the thread through her work is always the same, regardless of the subject, it's "...all about picture-making, and what makes a great painting; composition, color, darks, lights, value, line and texture.”

I first saw Elena Lyakir’s work at ABC Kitchen, the Jean-Georges restaurant in ABC Home in NYC.  I loved the ethereal quality and compostion of Elena’s naturally - inspired work and how it enhanced the farm-to-table restaurant's decor.  I met Elena shortly after that and saw the variety and depth of her work.

Each image, whether birds, foliage or landscape, evokes a quiet, a calm - that I find simple, serene and beautiful.

A mutual friend introduced me to Christine Wexler, wanting me to see her Bramasole photography, but also knowing we had similar backgrounds as textile designers. Turns out Christine and I sat down for coffee that could have lasted for many hours as we talked about how and where our creative interests began and the paths we have taken.

I share Christine’s love of the ocean, particularly Montauk. Her photos taken on the Eastern end of Long Island, throughout the Hamptons and other beautiful spots, in California, Mexico and in Italy, capture the natural beauty of the ocean - you can feel and sense summer life in her images.  Christina has exhibited in various venues in the Hamptons. It's the perfect time of year to introduce her photographs to RE and we'll be bringing a collection of her work to exhibit in Westchester at Nest Inspired Home in Rye in June.

More work from each of these artist is on the RE site.  I'll be showing a selection of new work by some of the original RE artists in my next post.

Tracy Burtz // An Artist's Exploration of Women

I was recently re-introduced to Tracy Burtz, a mutual friend suggested we meet.  As I read the email introduction, Tracy's name and face appeared from the past, bringing back memories of high school art class. Tracy and I knew each other from our early art training. I looked forward to meeting at her studio, especially after visiting her website and seeing what an accomplished artist she became since those initial art days.

This painting, La Sposa, has stayed with me since first seeing it.  It's a more recent work and filled with all that Tracy expresses as an artist.

We reminisced about Mr. Blackburn and Mrs. Sperber, our art teachers at New Rochelle High School, that we both had spent a summer at RISD and how that began to shape the creative directions we both took.

From the early years exploring drawing and painting, Tracy never stopped.  She studied at Boston University School of Fine Arts and followed with an MFA at Queens College.

Her drawings reflect her incedible skills of composition, line and form

After grad school, Tracy left NY for 5 years in Paris, She studied with a variety of artists, Elaine DeKooning, James Weeks, Leland Bell and more, and describes these years as “fascinating and bohemian”. The influence of those years are evident in her work.

Back in NY, Tracy started teaching and showing her work, in NYC at Hoorn-Ashby on Madison Ave , and assorted galleries in Chelsea, Westchester and CT and exhibitions in Taos and Paris.

Her subjects are varied; portraits of women, couples, still lifes and seascapes.  We spoke about the themes that tie it together - the traditional training emerges,  it’s “all about picture-making, and what makes a great painting; composition, color, darks, lights, value, line and texture.”

You can’t help but feel Tracy’s love of women - her life is filled with 3 sisters, a daughter, Milena Corin, who has been the artist's favorite model throughout her life, and many women friends. She explores their beauty, their sexuality and their everyday lives.

Tracy’ s work is extremely personal. Talking and walking through Tracy’s home and studio (a picture-perfect Victorian barn, c.1850's, with 20' ceilings and fabulous light in South Salem, NY) is like passing through different moments in her life, each piece tells a story, about herself, about her models and their connection, about motherhood, marriage, divorce and the moments and emotions in between them all.

Time spent in Nantucket, Hawaii, Morrocco are expressed in small beautifully executed oil pastels.

and classic Still Life's express simple moments; the kitchen table filled with fresh flowers, coffee, cookies and chocolates

Each piece brings you to a different part of Tracy’s life, and the stories about them.  Color is what strikes me the most about Tracy's work, and why I come back to La Sposa, it's quieter than most of her work - but in it's subtlety is depth of color, expression, form and line - all the traditional components that Tracy focuses on.

and then another favorite, Blue Girl, about color and yoga - a part of Tracy's life and also how we re-met, through Linda Kreisberg, our mutual friend and yoga teacher.

de Kooning at MoMA // on a Saturday afternoon

MoMA on a Saturday?  I wasn't so sure I was up to weekend crowds. Alexis, my daughter and I had been wanting to see the much talked about Wm. de Kooning Restrospective since it opened in Sept.  She and I often explore musems and galleries together, but this week, my son Brett, uncharacteristically offered to join us...so Saturday it had to be. The Museum of Modern Art exhibit is the largest retrospective of deKooning’s work.  de Kooning, an Abstract Expressionist, is considered among the most important and prolific of the 20th century. The show spans his early work after arriving in NY from the Netherlands in 1926 through his more recognized abstract paintings in the 80’s. An exhibition of this breadth gives the opportunity to follow an artist as they evolve and transition from one stage to another. Since the exhibit opened, I have read and talked about it.  Exhibitions of this significance inspire those from the art and design worlds, from interiors to fashion. I’ve discussed de Kooning’s work with several painters I presently work with. Each artist has their unique style;  Anne Raymond's nature-inspired color studies. Tracy Burtz's beautifully executed figurative women and Janet Mait's bold color statements. Each spoke about how this exhibit was inspiring to them,  how wonderful it is to see the colors and compositions of de Kooning's original works.

Interiorconnector, a site for "haute home furnishings", wrote that, "de Kooning's work not only incites us to experiment more with color and shape in our homes, but the paintings themselves inspire us to go bolder with the artwork we purchase", and goes on to make recommendations for art and furnishings that will provide a touch of de Kooning's "spirit and attitude".

Interiorconnector, The Spirit of deKoooning Lives at MoMA

The perspective of my two children and the conversation added yet another dimension to the art, as we walked the exhibit. Alexis commented on this still life, done when he was just 14 years old. The composition is similar to those done by all young art students, including herself, and today would be part of a college portfolio.

In the early abstracted works, he often mixed figurative imagery and abstraction, mixing both within one composition.

The black and white compositions in the late 40’’s were the first of his exploration of little or no color. de Kooning played with color, as well as the compositons, putting many elements into many of these paintings. “I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting,” de Kooning said in a 1951 New York Times interview. “I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it: drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space.”

de Kooning returned to figure paintings, mostly women, at different times, painting them both figuratively and abstract throughout his career. Brett, not having the patience to read the wall tags, went to his phone as he’s accustomed to, to deKooning’s Wikipedia page to read and learn about the artist and his art. He wanted the facts - he was Dutch, 1907-1997.  At auction, Pink Lady sold at Sotheby’s in 1987 for $3.6 million, the value of his works have increased. Steven A. Cohen recently bought Woman lll from David Geffen for $137 million.

In the mid-50s, he painted abstracted urban and pastoral landscapes. Once outside of the city, these paintings were lighter, warmer, more color...both strong and pastel. We drive on the Merritt Parkway often, so to see what deKooning reduced the familiar landscape to led us to a good discussion about form and color.

The same thing with L.I. - there were several Montauk paintings in the 40s and again later on when de Kooning, along with Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner and other Abstract Expressionsists lived and worked in the Springs in East Hampton

We walked the galleries talking about the different period of his life, color, and the changes in de Kooning’s work as he transitioned from a loft on West 22nd st in 1937 drawing figuratively.

loft on West 22nd St., 1937

to a studio in the Springs on L.I. in the 80’s surrounded by bold and colorful and accomplished abstract canvases.

Studio with Late Abstract Paintings, Springs, 1981

We ended our visit in the Architecture and Design Exhibit, where there was something for each of us. Alexis, an art director at a digital agency, was interested in the Gotham exhibit - a visual display and description of one of the most successful new typefaces, created in 2000 by Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. The font is inspired by NYC urban signage. It was the font used in President Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign and also the identity of the new One World Trade Center.

and Brett found new folding chairs to add some modern style to his tailgates at the NY Jets football games, Meeting Chairs by Lauence Humier.

and for me, it was a great day finally seeing the de Kooning Retrospective and walking through MoMA with my two kids on a Saturday afternoon.