By Michelle Trauring
At first, they were a half-dozen strangers with one common connection. Now, they’re “The Eclectic 6,” a group of artists organized by Adrienne Pizzolato that will present their inaugural show this weekend at Ashawagh Hall in Springs.
“I put us together thinking we are so different, it would be an interesting show — painters, potters, jewelry, wood and photography,” she said. “We draw from such different mediums.”
Joining Pizzolato, who is a painter and clay worker herself, are painter Richard Mothes, Liliandra Vivolo, who makes jewelry, digital photography and paints, potters and painters Rosario Varela and Pauline Fink, and photographer Bruce Milne, who caught up with the Express News Group ahead of their exhibition.
“This pandemic is an interesting time for artists. We all are responding in different ways, and going deeper into our art,” Pizzolato said. “Coming together and sharing our work — at a safe distance, of course, is meaningful.”
The Express News Group: What have the past seven months been like for you during this pandemic, both artistically and personally?
Richard Mothes: Professionally, I work in an essential business so my day job has continued continuously through the pandemic. Artistically it’s been a motivational force to spend the extra time at home working on creative projects. It’s also allowed more time for study and reflection. I’ve begun looking more into how identities form and affect culture.
Adrienne Pizzolato: I’m retired, so not that much different. We don’t go out for dinner, friends shop for us, I’ve been working on a painting of a sunset in Greece, the largest painting yet for me — 30 inches by 40 inches.
Rosario Varela: Like most people, I figured this virus thing was a matter of a couple of weeks before we could resume “life as usual.” Then, things took a turn for the worse and I found myself unable to motivate in the studio. I turned to yoga, meditation and other types of creative output, like the paper “web” I made for the “Art Apart” event. This led to an invitation from Guild Hall to expand it as an outdoor installation, coming mid-October. Slowly I returned to my pottery studio and have been working daily on various projects, both sculptural and functional.
Liliandra Vivolo: Personally and artistically, this time has been full of growth. I feel as though I’ve been my most creative these past seven months. This pandemic has helped me to get to know deeper levels of myself and, in return, has been fuel for inspiration in every aspect of my life, which directly affects me artistically.
Pauline Fink: The past half a year has been a huge growing experience for me. It has helped me see what is truly important. Artistically, I have created more than ever before, and it has helped get through some really trying personal situations.
Bruce Milne: These months have revealed themselves as an opportunity to pause and reflect on the value of life, and to cherish what it means to be a member of the human community. We are undeniably sharing a profound experience, which has great potential to awaken our sense of commonality. Art is just another form of sharing that.
Tell me about a favorite piece of yours in the show.
Mothes: My favorite and, I believe, most successful piece so far is about 75 percent complete. The results on my 23andMe DNA test came in a few weeks ago. The current painting is a visual representation of its findings. The hands are joined together saying “unity” in sign language.
Pizzolato: I like the picture of the golden retriever hanging out of the moving car window with sunglasses on. It’s oil on canvas, and I so enjoyed painting it.
Varela: For this show, I’m including both painting and ceramics. One of my favorites is this work on paper. It’s several years old and it reminds me of one of my periods of “stuckness” when it came to making art. All I had to do was grab a brush, some paint, lots of water and begin making circles. I always come back to this simple, honest, beginner’s mind-type approach.
Vivolo: Hard to pick a favorite, I like them all in different ways for different reasons, but the painting ”Reflections” resonates with me the most at this time. I started this painting at the beginning of the summer, going back and forth with it for a while. The painting process reflects how this time has been for me.
Fink: About six months ago, I made my first lip-shaped ashtray. I had always thought of art as a hobby that made me happy, but for the first time, I thought I had something quirky, fun and useful, and that other people may enjoy too. From there I couldn’t stop creating.
Milne: The photograph entitled “Depth of Enchantment” captures for me the feeling of being among beings, of joining our arboreal counterparts in an all-inclusive wild space, of age and vitality in constant growth and regrowth.
What do you think about this varied group of artists coming together?
Mothes: I love that we are all bringing different disciplines to a show. It’s great having a variety of work together in one place. I see it as a microcosm of what our society is: a group of individuals from different backgrounds with varying expertise coming together to create something beautiful.
Pizzolato: I think we’re a great mix and should go on tour.
Varela: My friend and “clay mate” Adrienne Pizzolato invited me to participate in this show about a year ago. I’m not too familiar with the other artist’s work, so I’m really excited to see and learn more about them.
Vivolo: I think anytime a group of artists comes together, no matter how different their styles and mediums are, it makes way for new creative connections through not only the art itself, but artist to artist, human to human.
Fink: It is exciting to have a group of people with different talents coming together. There should be something for everyone!
Milne: I love a variety of artists coming together side by side, the different processes and perspectives joining in a conversation about the myriad ways to see and feel this extraordinary phenomenon of life.
Why is this exhibition important, during these times?
Mothes: A lot of people are struggling right now in one way or another. Artistic expression is something that dates back centuries as an outlet for many to voice their feelings and ideas.
Pizzolato: Art is an escape from daily stress we are all under. To see our different mediums and how we use them is so creative.
Varela: I think that we could all use some healthy distractions, if nothing else! But mainly, it’s important to move forward and try and inspire others to do the same in their own unique expressions. Nothing like the love of a supportive community.
Vivolo: Coming together to show/express/unite works that we have given care, time, and love to is what it’s all about and why this exhibition is important during these times.
Fink: Handmade is more important now than ever. Supporting small and local is more important than ever. Showing your love for your community is more important than ever. But so is staying safe. Wear a mask and show some love.
Milne: We all suffer in some way from this necessary but difficult limitation of our social lives. Coming together as a community is essential to our social animal selves, consoling and reassuring and affirming.
What are you working on now?
Mothes: Right now, I’m working on the hands and an installation piece. But you’ll have to visit the show or our Instagram account next weekend to see it.
Pizzolato: An oil painting of a scene in Greece. It is a very serene landscape.
Varela: Among other things, I’m working on a large ceramic wall piece for a client. It’s requiring a tremendous amount of patience since it keeps getting damaged in the kiln and I have to start over. It’s a blessing that I enjoy the process as much as I do!
Vivolo: I’m currently focusing on goldsmithing and jewelry design, as well as exploring different styles of painting.
Fink: I just started a series of larger-scale vases. They are different than anything I have for the show, but I’m excited about the direction that the series is going.
Milne: I have built an old-school darkroom to present my personal view of life and space through another, older process.
And lastly, what is the most eclectic thing about you?
Mothes: I have a lot of interests and hobbies. Focusing on one subject all of the time tends to get repetitive, so it’s great exploring new ways of learning and creative expression.
Pizzolato: I have had a few different careers: physical education teacher, retail storeowner for 40 years, financial advisor and now artist. That’s eclectic.
Varela: In terms of aesthetics, although I very much like harmony, I have always mixed and matched when it came to decor, clothing, and art materials. I’m led more by instinct than by the rules of design.
Vivolo: Being myself.
Fink: I’m consistently inconsistent.
Milne: A couple of years ago, I went to Paris and was reminded how important Art Nouveau has been to my aesthetic of design and structure. So when I got home, I built a chest of drawers as an homage. My point is that I find all, any efforts at creating beauty joyful and interesting. They are the gifts we give each other, and the world.
“The Eclectic 6” will present a show of recent work from Friday, September 25, through Sunday, September 27, at Ashawagh Hall in Springs. Gallery hours are Friday from 12 to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Masks indoors are mandatory. For more information, call 631-267-6554 or visit ashawagh-hall.org.