Part III: CWE-based artists create during the pandemic

Nancy Exarhu/Studio Escargot

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles
Exharu, whose studio is located in the CWE, said that “During this really challenging period I am keeping my sanity devoting my time to two artistic disciplines, ceramics and writing.”

“Both disciplines require isolation and concentration. As for my writing, I write in Greek, my native language. I am part of a group of Greek writers overseas and we have been meeting once a week regularly all this time, over Skype. It is a way to keep me going and feeling less isolated. These past months I have had my stories published in Greek magazines.”Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles  “Working with clay is soothing and therapeutic. It is also challenging since I can no longer use the studio I used to glaze and fire my work. So I take the challenge and I explore new venues and ways of creating. I work with porcelain that I treat as a non-precious surface. I treat it rather as a paper (my ceramics are very thin) where I lay my mark. It is an interesting hybrid between ceramics and printmaking.”

For now I am accumulating the ceramics in my CWE studio, focusing on production and waiting for the day when I can open my studio doors and have shows and sales.  But now is a time for making art.”

Visit Nancy Exarhu’s website and on Instagram for more information.

Junko EcclesNicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles

Long time CWEnder Eccles emailed:  “As a cancer survivor I have been super careful during the pandemic, I almost never go out. A friend cooks for me and delivers weekly to my place. When I need fresh air, I go up to (the late) Marjorie (Hoetzel’s) rooftop (top photo), she is still in my mind. (Hoetzel and Eccles shared an art studio.)

During the pandemic Eccles has been practicing calligraphy, copying 1000 year-old poems  in Chinese, left above, and Japanese, right, on Japanese rice paper.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles

“In order not to waste any of the rice paper, which is very expensive, I then use it to make collages I call ‘recycled paintings,’ Eccles said. Above: Recycled #1, acrylic on rice paper.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles

Recycle #3, acrylic on rice paper.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles

Eccles’ self-described sidekick Susan L’Engle, above right, Professor Emerita, Saint Louis University, reached out when she heard I was doing this post: “I recently moved to Lakewood, Ohio, but keep in touch with Junko every Sunday on Zoom. Junko wanted me to send you some pictures of what I have been doing with her practice calligraphy papers–she gave me bundles of them to use as packing material during my move.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles

“The calligraphy is so vivid and pictorial that I decided to recycle all the packing papers, smoothed them out and used them for various projects in my new apartment.” The projects include the stuning lampshade and cylindrical container she uses for storing papers.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles

Former CWEnder Stan Jones

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Susan L'Engle Stan Jones Nancy Exarhu Junko Eccles

Jones’ reaction to “being quarantined and going stir-crazy since March” was to paint a 20″ x 16″ abstract oil painting he named Joe. It depicts the view from his 3rd floor studio overlooking the Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s Richard Serra sculpture Joe (named after Joseph Pulitzer), and the view south on Spring Avenue toward SLU’s campus.

For more info, stanjones3733@gmail.com

I’ll be posting more artists and their work soon.

Part II: CWE-based artists’ work during the pandemic

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Sarah Blumenfeld Carson Foard Carla Dawson

Since the start of the pandemic Carson Foard says she’s found more time to complete projects that have been languishing for a while, “plus I’m reviewing some previous efforts with fresh eyes. Being able to use this sad situation to some advantage has been a blessing for me.”

A little background on this CWEnder: While Foard was working in the New York advertising world in the 1980’s, she took evening classes at the National Academy of Art. She later worked as a financial manager for TWA and moved to the Central West End when the airline relocated to St. Louis. After TWA’s collapse she continued her art education earning an MFA from Fontbonne University’s Fine Arts Department in 2012.

Foard is shown with some of her work including a charcoal and chalk drawing from an anatomy class at Fontbonne University;  left, Mississippi River, Louisiana, Missouri, oil on canvas, 12″ x 18;” and right, Kayaks at Rest, Boat House Cafe, Forest Park, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Sarah Blumenfeld Carson Foard Carla Dawson

Foard says she spends time looking at her brushes and paints thinking “maybe this one…no, that one….OK, ok, this one…I’m not a graceful painter.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Sarah Blumenfeld Carson Foard Carla Dawson

Foard’s Victoria Water Lily, Jewel Box, Forest Park, oil on canvas, 36″x 48.”

“I’m primarily interested in the contrasts and reflections created by landscapes and objects when they are drenched in light, sometimes with elements of structural design contrasted with natural forms. My inspiration is sunlight and color, they make me want to pick up a brush and not let any of it get away.”

For more information, contact Carson Foard via snail mail (a website is in the works), 4814 Washington Ave., Suite 308, St. Louis 63108.

Carla Dawson

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Sarah Blumenfeld Carson Foard Carla Dawson

CWEnder Carla Dawson confided that she had a very hard time starting a new piece when the pandemic began. “It was hard to find beauty in a stressful time—I’ve found I’ve been much less productive this year,” she added, “because I’m an artist who doesn’t look for inspiration, I catch it on the fly.”

In photo above: Peaceful Pond, inspired by a photo taken a few years ago in Colorado, and beneath: Storm Coming In, from a photo of an approaching storm.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Sarah Blumenfeld Carson Foard Carla Dawson

Dawson’s current work incorporates boarding passes from the last few trips she and her husband Dennis had taken before the pandemic set in. “At first I didn’t know what I’d do with them but am now featuring them in my latest work as an homage to those days when we could travel,” she said. “We used to stay in colorful adobe buildings with big blocks of bold color which are shown in this painting. Times are so weird now,” she continued, “I’m feeling so isolated and homebound. Travel seems far-fetched.”

For more information about Carla Dawson, visit an earlier post here.

Sarah Blumenfeld

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Sarah Blumenfeld Carson Foard Carla Dawson

Sarah Blumenfeld said that she’s been inviting friends to paint with her outside, using a live model. “So hopefully the nice weather will last a while longer. Since I can’t be with my regular gang now, it’s important to share and critique and support each other on social media.”

For more information on Blumenfeld’s oil paintings, contact her at blumensarah@gmail.com.

Next up: More artists and their pandemic art

CWE-based artists share what’s on their drawing boards during the pandemic

This is a first in a series of posts exploring how CWE-based artists are faring during the pandemic. I wondered if the coronavirus has altered their approach or influenced their work. While some say they have not experienced a difference (creating art is usually a solitary pursuit, for instance) others have incorporated imagery or titles into their art that speak to these difficult times.

You’ll find contact information in most sections.

Nancy Newman Rice

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich

“The pandemic has not changed the way I work, I am usually in my studio (on the 3rd floor of her CWE residence) 8 hrs a day. The imagery I typically use is based upon architectural imagery. But, as I look at the work I have produced since March, the architectural elements have disappeared as if destroyed by an external force leaving vague references to what once was or might have been.”Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich
Covid Isolation I, above, oil on canvas on contra, 32″ x 32.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich  Rice’s Covid Isolation 3, above, oil on canvas on cintra, 32″ x 32.”

Judith Shaw

Clayton resident Judith Shaw steals away to her studio in the CWE when construction behind her condo gets to be too much. Shaw turned her frustration over the sprawling Centene corporate expansion project into what she calls fault lines, “tire track art,” a print and photographic series that was recently exhibited at the St. Louis Artist’s Guild.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich

“Clearly Covid has stopped us all in our tracks”, Shaw said. “It has given us a chance to look at ourselves in a new way, to consider how we see things, how we do things, notice the other, learn from each other, and have empathy for others rather than anger towards them.”

“The Centene job site hummed (or should I say hammered and blasted) along during the shut down without interference from high volume car traffic…As a result, I had more interaction with the workers in what I called my “live, interactive studio.” Covid gave me the time and space to become more experimental with my process and collaborate more with the workers.”

“Some of the tire marks embed deeply, others barely skim the surface. We are all asked to consider today: what’s our imprint on earth?  How lightly do we tread?”

George Nikolajevich

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich

Architect George Nikolajevich started painting 3 years ago, a year before he retired as Design Principal at Cannon Design.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich  Above, A Street in Sayulita

In an email Nikolajevich said: “I have always been interested in form and color. When I was practicing architecture, I would use pen and ink, and sometimes watercolor. But now I am painting in oils.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich  A Street in Quebec CityNicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich  Nikolajevich’s oil painting of Mahalia Jackson.

Milo Duke

“I’ve been working on several projects; one that I call ‘Plague Paintings’ is inspired by the figure of the medieval plague doctor, whose bizarre costume was actually supposed to protect them–the PPE of the day. I see us all as “plague doctors,” some of us just trying to survive, others busily “doctoring,” effectively or not. I’ve used the MAGA thing ironically or hopefully, the viewer can decide.”Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich
Plague doctors sheltering in place and practicing social distancing, oil on panel, 16″ x 20.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich

Plague doctors on Capitol Hill, oil on panel, 26″ x 26.”Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich

Wall Street plague doctors, oil on panel, 16″ x 20.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture  Nancy Newman Rice Milo Duke Judith Shaw George Nikolajevich

Plague doctors reopening, oil on panel, 24″ x 24.”

Contact Duke for more information, milotwduke@gmail.com

Next up: Artists and the pandemic, Part II