Bessesdotter’s Studio at ArtsQuest during Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
I soak watercolor paper in a tub of cool clean water for 2-3 minutes, remove the paper and press between 2 clean bath towels. Working on a flat surface with large squirrel mop brush I begin with loose watercolor washes. I do not work the a lot, but I continue to add and push the paint with either brushes or my fingers. This is an integral part of the work for me, once dried the fingerprints are like landmarks. Rarely I will use a blotter, but occasionally I will do so with a rough rag to create texture. Additionally, I use found objects placed in the paint and left to dry so as to draw paint to those areas. Other times, I might use harmless natural resists like castile soap, oatmeal or salt to obtain depth in the work.
At this point I usually allow the work to dry. Once dry, I can re-wet and add more paint and texture or move on to ink in the large areas. Inking is done with smaller brushes and pens. There is no planning or completion of inking at this time, the piece is open to re-working or starting collage in an inked area or adding paint. The inking is the mind engaging part where I can get lost for hours, allowing ideas to form, transcending the hum-drum-slow-rattle brain chatter and get some peace.
A conceptual art group is being let loose shortly in Allentown, PA – the New Bridge Group. NBG has arisen out of the need to bridge artists and community together.
Allentown and the surrounding area have generated groups of artists and like all groups they go through changes. In 2008, The Chen Arts group was started to provide a place for local visual and performing artists to meet, network and collaborate. The intention was to have open group shows. For a time that worked—artists drifted in and out. In autumn of 2011 a buzz was heard about the future of Chen—changing from the unstructured open format to a more structured organization. In the meantime, the city embraced some serious structural changes and altered the landscape to provide for an arena and remove some older buildings—one is the House of Chen restaurant where Chen Arts group based its name.
Members E.A. Kafkalas and Alison Bessesdotter of the Chen Arts group ran head-long one winter evening into a local sculptor Steven Condra. Alison and E.A. invited Steven to exhibit with the Metamorphosis show. They explained that the next Chen show would be themed Bridges Outside the Box, representing a change that was needed to start a new movement in town. Steven was intrigued—because he had also formed an idea about bridging artists together—snapping together the free thinking 20th century German expressionists with a modern twist called The New Bridge Group. Synchronicity was in full force; it was the mash-up of their concepts about building bridges between artists and the community. The intent would be to create and maintain a vibrant and productive artist group in Allentown with a tribal feel. When asked what that means, Alison explains that the tribal concept is about creating genuine relationships with true freedom of information, and a future of limitless potential bound only by their imagination. Audacious—it may well be, but the New Bridge Group/Chen Arts wants to change the world view of art and the relationship to earth and community. Alison says “The time is right for this, the core is in place and the only thing we need more of is you.”
The 2012 Metamorphosis show was organized by E.A. Kafkalas who is quick to explain, “the success of the Metamorphosis show was truly an effort of everyone involved in the production—it was not the effort of one person.” The show opened with the sale of 9 pieces of work from a diverse group of artists at the 2 week event in January 2012.
Today The New Bridge Group/Chen Arts are planning the next show Bridges Outside the Box. The show runs from May 27th through June 10th at the community room of the Allentown Art Museum. For information on becoming a member or just to see what all the fuss is about, see the NBGArtists Facebook page or http://www.nbgartists.org/ to find our next event.