Meet the Artist: Kirsten McElfresh

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If you’ve ever strolled through the University Village, you’ve probably seen Kirsten McElfresh’s work. Since 2009, Kirsten has decked out dress forms and display windows for the bustling center’s Anthroplogie location. A departure from her day-to-day work, Kirsten chooses a different creative outlet in her free time: Painting. Currently on display in our SODO café, Kirsten’s work highlights nature’s organic beauty.

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Take us through your creative process.

My latest work has been paintings and drawings of plants that have inspired me from my ventures in gardening and foraging. I like to play with the paint color in my backgrounds and will often paint multiple layers and even sand it down again and again before it feels right.

Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist?

Art has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I used to draw still lifes of my stuffed animals when I was a kid, and I loved doing crafts with my grandmother. It was never a decision I had to make; it’s just who I am.

Where do you find inspiration?

I spend a lot of my free time working in my garden. Otherwise I am out hiking the woods with my husband and dog, foraging for mushrooms or other choice edibles. I find inspiration in the unique individuality and subtle flaws of each plant, and I try to highlight that in my work.

If you could enjoy a meal with three artists, who would you choose?

In college I had three friends [who] majored in studio art with me. We were the ones that would stick around the art building all hours of the night just making work and debating about art. We were art nerds. I would definitely want to have a meal with them; having a community to discuss and debate art really helps you grow and improve.

How did you decide to show your work at Macrina? 

I feel that the subject matter of my art works well with a restaurant. It’s so nice that art is not restricted to galleries alone and that many businesses help the arts. By showing in alternative spaces, we are exposing people to artwork that would otherwise not have seen it.

Look for Kirsten’s pieces in our SODO café through the end of September and then at our Belltown café for the month of October.

Meet the Artist: Mickey Williams

The Aristocrat

Although, Mickey Williams has always fancied himself an artist, it wasn’t until he started taking portraits that he knew he had found his medium. Mickey has since fine-tuned his craft into something much more than photography. His work is where graphics and fine art meet, creating an intriguing blend.

“It sounds cliché, but I see things everywhere,” Mickey explains of his inspiration. “The ideas will come to me at times while I am talking to somebody and they are expressing their own style or mannerisms. Sometimes it’s just that I came across a prop that I am drawn too and then I start thinking about the people that could work with it.”

From there, he sets up the scene, stockpiling props to build his vision along the way. Once he has the shot, he pulls the image apart and laces it back together, adding layers of lacquer – sometimes even objects – bringing the image to life.

Mickey’s cryptic portraits and spellbinding, documentary-style photographs display eerily intimate moments. Adorned subjects stare out from their frames as if held there in captivity. Sometimes he uses professional models, but for the most part, Mickey prefers photographing “everyday people.”

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Well, there are a handful of characters he would love to place into one of his illuminated worlds: Isabella Rossellini for her amazing beauty, Mick Jagger’s early years, and Frida Kahlo, an inspiration. Mickey wistfully talks about the pull to photograph his children and the heartbreak of seeing time pass so quickly by doing so; a feeling that conceivably gets funneled into his work.

After a hiatus from the camera, Mickey is getting back into photography again. Upon a suggestion of a friend, he is showing his work in our SODO café this month. And he is already dreaming up his next show.

“I am working on having a solo show that would be hung out in the woods in a Seattle park in late September. It would have all the typical aspects of a gallery show, with music and food, but be out under the stars. Could be amazing or a travesty, but that’s half the excitement.”

Meet the Artist: Rachel Brumer

Beloved Quilt

1997, Quilts Series, Arlette Montelmarcher 2/11/41, 91 x 91 inches

Growing up in a “hyper-verbal” family and feeling that she could never keep up with their loquacious nature, Rachel Brumer found other ways of expressing herself. This is what brought about her eclectic work history, which includes a brief dancing stint with Ringling Brothers Circus, and eventually led to her career as a studio artist. As the latest artist to show her work in our SODO café, Rachel shares about her unique approach to creating a series.

“I have a strong belief in the power of alternate forms of language,” explains Rachel. “For me, they are so involving that sometimes when I am working I am actually not thinking in English but some kind of kinesthetic and visual language.”

Mourning the loss of her good friend Daniel who passed away in 1990, Rachel made a quilt to pay tribute to him. This memorial was the genesis for her latest career. Since then she’s created an entire series of quilts to honor children who perished during the Holocaust as well as many other series of work. An avid reader, Rachel’s most recent collection called “Movable Type” combines her love for the shape, design, and feel of books.

Drawing upon her past professions as a modern dancer and American Sign Language interpreter and her collaboration with other artists, Rachel’s work conveys a powerful message.

“I worked with Bill Evans, Dan Wagoner, Mark Morris, Lucinda Childs, and one of the most important experiences in my professional life was working on the opera ‘Einstein on the Beach’ with Philip Glass and Robert Wilson,” remembers Rachel. “I saw amazing works by Llory Wilson, Pat Graney, and Wade Madsen in Seattle; and Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch, and many others in New York.”

You can find her work in our café through the end of July, and then at Sun Valley’s Friesen Gallery through August 25. In the meantime, she is preparing for a different sort of exchange.

“I’ll be showing work at Anchor Art Space in Anacortes along with a wonderful group of other artists. My work there will be completely different than what you see [at SODO],” Rachel adds, referring to the “Drawn In” exhibit from August 2 through September 15. “It also has a trading component. If you contribute a small work on paper, you can take home a small work of mine.”

Think of it as just another form of communication.

Meet the Artist: Jim Olson

Jim Olson Artwork

Some of the pieces available at our SODO location. Image courtesy of Jim Olson.

Jim Olson’s beautifully offbeat pieces on display in our SODO Café are tangible products of his rich imagination. Described as “hammered assemblages” by Narthex Gallery Curator Scott Ward, Jim’s work breathes new life into abandoned objects.

“I create art from salvaged material,” Jim explains. “Weathered wood and hammered metal create a rough, heavily textured style that is the signature feature of my work. Repurposing materials keeps them from ending up in the scrap heap. There was a day when you could freely roam the junkyard and take home whatever caught your eye.”

Now, Jim combs construction sites, millwork and metalwork shops as well as the occasional dumpster for treasures to repurpose into works of art. Hearing his fans describe the pleasure his work brings them fuels his passion and inspires his creativity. While art has not always been his trade, Jim’s inventive imagination and creative spirit came in handy in his former 42-year career as a salesman for a series of Wall Street firms.

“I used a technique called ‘Story Selling,’ which involves weaving a perceived interest of the prospective client around your product or service. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it bored a prospect to tears. The same is true of my art, a bond is created or it isn’t.”

His technique has certainly captured Seattle’s attention. Jim’s work will be on display at our SODO Café through the end of June. He will then show his pieces at The Elliott Bay Book Company in for the entire month of July. You can also find his work at NuBe Green in Capitol Hill.

Meet the Artist: Adrian Freuen

Adrian Freuen is the artist behind the beautiful work on display at our SODO location. Adrian came to Macrina with the idea that his art would naturally blend into conversation and capture people’s attention as they mingled with friends over breakfast or lunch.

“I wanted the viewer to live with my work,” says Adrian. “Showing in a cafe as opposed to a gallery allows the viewer to appreciate the art in a relaxed, authentic setting.”

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Born into a family of doctors and artists, Adrian grew up listening to his father tell stories of the day’s surgical procedures at the dinner table. While many people would react in disgust to these sometimes-repugnant tales, Adrian found the stories inspiring. But, instead of following in his father’s footsteps, Adrian used his inherited knowledge of scientific hypotheses and methods to fuel his artistic drive. Although Adrian uses a mixed media to produce each piece, a landscape viewed through a scientific lens is unmistakeable in his work.

“I usually change the technique, because I see that it can offer a particular aesthetic,” explains Adrian of his creative process. “The technique becomes a tool as to what I want to achieve at that particular moment. Once I come to a spot where I am satisfied and feel that the work is conveying a particular observation I stop.”

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Having first realized his artistic aspirations as a high school student, it’s fitting that Adrian currently teaches art at Archbishop Murphy High School and Everett Community College. For him, teaching and creating go hand in hand.

You can view Adrian’s work at our SODO location through the end of May, and then at our McGraw café for the entire month of June.

Meet the Artist: Jo Moniz

 

Jo Moniz, Aero, 2012, Mixed Encaustic on rice paper, 72 x 62 inches

Jo Moniz, a Pacific Northwest based artist, is currently exhibiting her work at our McGraw café. According to Jo, the featured work was influenced by “aerial views of flattened lands with distant horizons illuminated by the clear eastern sky.” Jo recently shared with us about unearthing inspiration, communing with her favorite artists, and creating in the kitchen.

How did you decide to show your work at Macrina Bakery? 

When I was showing at the Shift [Collaborative Studio] in Pioneer Square I met another artist, Ellen Hochberg, who said that Macrina was curating artists to show at their locations. I have always been a Macrina fan and have been making cakes and other goodies from my Macrina cookbook for years, so I thought it would be fun to show with you.

On your website, you talk about finding inspiration for your work in the world around you. How has this inspiration evolved throughout your career?  

I think that the biggest shift in my inspiration has actually just come from trusting my instincts more as I grow more confident. I let ideas come to the surface instead of thinking about whether they are worthy or not.

Is there a place that inspires you the most?  

I really don’t find that I am necessarily inspired to make art by a “place.” Any place that I find myself in a happy frame of mind is inspiring. It’s really internal for me.

In addition to drawing, painting, and sculpture, you have a background in architecture. What’s your favorite medium?  

I have been concentrating on encaustic medium right now. I find it just endlessly capable of new applications in my work. I love layering the paint and seeing what happens to the texture and color. I use architectural shapes in my paintings and actually use my triangles and rulers to etch lines into the surface.

What’s your creative process?  

I typically make some very general sketches quickly and go right to the panel and start drawing in graphite. I really don’t worry too much about the final colors at the beginning. Every color and shape changes the adjacent ones, so its like one giant puzzle which I try to solve. I think about the texture and the color of each segment of the drawing. I don’t like my paintings to look like they were time consuming; I like them to feel fresh, even if a painting takes me weeks.

If you could enjoy a meal with three artists, living or deceased, who would they be?

That’s a tough one and hard to narrow down, but if I can’t have a banquet table with more artists for a meal, I would choose Jaume Plensa, because I am really drawn to his sculpture for its bravery and beautiful forms. [Paul] Gauguin would be at the table for his free spirit and his love of color and nature. Ai Weiwei would fill the last spot for his ability to think so clearly and freely about his art.

Is there anything else you would like share with our readers?  

If you can’t make it into your neighborhood Macrina, make Leslie Mackie’s Lemon-Sour Cherry Coffee Cake. You won’t be sorry!

You can find Jo’s work at our McGraw café through the end of May. Jo is preparing for a two-person show with artist Jane Richlovsky at Seattle Art Museum’s TASTE Restaurant in June.