The Artisan Review column has not quite yet seen a full year in the family of columns at Connotation Press, but it has seen a year filled with extraordinary artistic talent. As I sit in my office, listening to the squirrels having a territorial match on the roof overhead, I think of Craig Tracy and his painted bodies, and the ladies at The Makerie Studio and their meticulously crafted paper peacocks, and I wonder where to begin this astounding year in review issue, and, consequently, where to end it.
I want to delight in what it is that I’ve, by luck or by fate, happened upon in a mere year; all of these people who create things from their brains and fingertips to make something that you can see and smell and touch. Taste, even, especially in the case of Chef Cantu’s delicious work (although I don’t think that Craig Tracy’s models would want to be tasted, or perhaps they would, if I’m going to be cheeky, but paint is not very palatable either way).
It is July. It is raining. It is seventy degrees outside, and things seem a bit strange. But who doesn’t love a bit of strangeness from time to time? So many of the artists I’ve pursued over the last several months have embraced putting a bit of the strange and the beautiful straight into their work. With that said, I’ve decided that I must include in this particular issue all of the artisans that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with. After all, there are only 9 of them, and it would be a damn shame to leave a single one of them out.
As a lover of the naked form, I couldn’t pass up the first opportunity I had at an interview with Craig Tracy. He was the first artisan that I contacted and, to my surprise, the first one to actually respond. Why is this incredible man wasting his time with me, an unestablished peon? Me? Editor? Ha! Who knows how this column will turn out! were some of the thoughts running through my head. And why did I pick nudity as my first editing venture? Honestly, my logic on the matter was that boobies + art = success. Even the most modest woman must admit that the female body is a handsome thing, and Mr. Tracy paints it gorgeously for a living so what’s not to love? Either way, the launch of the Artisan column went off without a hitch, with a ton of winsome photos to boot. Tracy has been still painting away since we last spoke, producing countless new pieces, each one a perfect contrast to the one that came before it.
If a person painting on people wasn’t strange and beautiful enough, how would horses painting abstract art fit on the scale of bizarre to commonplace? Jill Starr of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue was the feature of my January issue, even though she wasn’t exactly the artist in query. The trouble is that the horses just wouldn’t answer my questions, no matter how hard I tried. Starr provided them a voice, and an in-depth look at the pains and pleasures of horse rescue. She is currently helping out at Zuya Wild Horse Sanctuary, doing what she does best, and the horses thank her for it.
Julie and Joy from The Makerie Studio were the first artists I had my eye on after being told that I could head up the Artisan Review column. I had known of their work, sculpting by using rare and exotic papers, for quite some time at that point. I was stunned by these women, by their artistic visions, and by the intricacy of their craft.
When I heard that I was going to be able to interview Chef Cantu, I was star-struck. I mean, this was the man that I had been watching on television for seven years, cooking up his famous molecular gastronomy meals in such a way that made my mouth water. Since the feature outlining some of his most decadent dishes, Chef Cantu has been getting on great. I even saw his Miracle Berries on the now popular shopping site, Fab.com. I smiled and looked back fondly on that special feature, and then I hungered for something to eat, preferably from his Chicago restaurant, but that would have to wait. It was certainly a delicious issue.
Dana Wilson was the perfect artist to pursue when I wanted to lighten my column with a dose of cute. The interview I did with her was light-hearted and casual, as well as very informative about the popular Japanese culture infusion of the average American cosplayer. Her adorable artwork was a breath of fresh air, and brought precisely the right amount of sweetness to the Artisan Review column.
After so long, I was once again on a search for something to spice up my column, and Ardra Neala’s trippy ASMR videos provided just that peppering that I needed. Her transitory videos took the spotlight in the month of June, as well as some of her paintings. Her talents know no boundaries, and I was delighted to find out how multifaceted she is. Her interview also provided a deeper look into the life of someone suffering the effects of Lyme disease, and how to better cope with the ailment. It was an eye-opening issue.
Maximo Riera’s extravagant furnishings were an interesting focus during the earlier months of the column. He was another artist that I had known about for years and had a perfect reason to finally contact. His chairs, sculpted from the finest materials to resemble real, in-the-flesh animals have mystified me for the longest time, and I was so glad to be another voice to share his work.
Gigi Rose Gray is an artist that I met either by fate or by accident when I had one of my first stories published on the Internet. She did the artwork that accompanied my story, “The Goblin Palisade” that launched on Paper Darts in 2012. Her illustrations were so bizarre and whimsical that I had to offer her a slot in my monthly lineup. I feel that her artwork brought a wonderful, down-to-earth feel to the column. She has been doing some lovely illustrations since then, some that I wish I could go back in time and include in her feature.
If you didn’t believe I loved nudity before, you might have after reading my most recent issue featuring the Nicholson’s blown glass Torso series. I don’t know what it is about a naked body that draws me in, but I suppose that it is the ultimate work of art, beauty that exists in nature. The Nicholsons do much more than just blown glass busts. Their work is seen in businesses and museums across the country. Their work is colorful, unique, fabulous.
I am so very proud of every one of these amazing artists and the creative work they shared with me, and with you, dear readers.