Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Texture Gardens" Closing Salon!

A final chat with our Greenpoint Greenthumb, Carla E. Reyes whose exhibition, “Texture Gardens”, is on extended view through October 19th at Urban Alchemist Design Collective, 343 5th Street, Brooklyn.

1) Your work reflects quite a few international motifs. Can you explain the role of "travel" in your work?

The art I make is driven by interpretations of nature, highly textural materials, and a very process oriented hands-on approach to art making. Outside of that, my themes and motifs are varied and quite diverse. With regard to multiculturalism, I am very inspired by the richness and uniqueness of different cultures. Particularly, so-called “primitive” or “folk” art forms, across cultures. I am moved by the directness and purity of ancient god and goddess figures, and the materials and textures incorporated into these depictions. Although I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I would like, having family from, and an interest in Central and South America; I have visited Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico. I have always been very inspired by their traditional folk art and craft forms in particular, and expose myself as much as I can through reading, research, museum and gallery visits, film and media.

I have also been creating a variety of artistic interpretations of Japanese Rock Gardens. As a yoga practitioner with a meditation practice, I find these carefully crafted man-made landscapes both beautiful and contemplative. I seek to capture the essence of peace and serenity created by these gardens and encapsulate them in time, within a work of art. Although I have not been to the Far East, I have visited many of these gardens locally, and depicted one in particular where I spent time with my best friend in Portland, Oregon, in this work entitled Portland Zen Garden.

2) Do you view your "day job" as an extension of your artistry? How has it informed the "Texture Gardens" installation?

Absolutely! My day job involves designing custom color and textured surfaces for interior designers and architects. It involves a great deal of creative experimentation and hands-on artistic application. I work with a variety of media including paints, glazes, plasters, tinted cement, and even dyed fibers. I am often asked to create a “faux” finish - to make a surface in an artistic medium that realistically recreates the look and feel of another material such as stone, marble, wood grain, etc. This is challenging and hones the artistic eye and color skills. It requires mastery of a variety of media. In the past, I have also worked painting theater backdrops and sets, as well as restoring and refinishing decorative objects and surfaces. Being exposed to this kind of work gave my art a new direction and inspired a fascination with textures and unconventional materials.

For the Texture Gardens installation in particular, because of the unique space presented to me in a window display being viewed from various angles, I was able to utilize many of the skills I’ve acquired working in interiors and decorative finishing. Each of the “towers” that displayed the paintings on view, I finished using a wide variety of decorative techniques and materials used in interiors today, from polished lime based Venetian plasters, to metallic waxes, to faux glazed wood grain. I was able to create an environment for the art to live in, which was reminiscent of my scenic art experience as well, and was a lot of fun!

3) Given your fascination with gardens and earthy motifs, do you ever think about working with outdoor gardens or landscaping in general?

Being a city girl, encountering insects or worms of any kind would render me useless in any serious garden environment! I enjoy flower arranging and designing with dried flowers and plant material. My artwork brings nature into my world - which is a predominantly urban existence, though I do make time for walks in the park and exploring natural environments to recharge and rejuvenate whenever I can.

4) Name 3 artists who have influenced you.

Frida Kahlo is a huge influence on so many levels, mainly for her honest and direct way of painting, her references to nature and traditional art forms, and her use of color. I am influenced and inspired by different artists at different times, depending on what I am working on. I tend to like artists that work in a very textural and visceral way- like Louise Bourgeois or Kiki Smith.

5) Who is an artist working today whom you admire and why?

Anselm Kiefer is an artist whose work I admire. He works in such a physical way and uses such a multitude of media such as straw, ash, clay, lead… I recently saw an exhibition at the Hudson Valley Contemporary Art Center called Origins which really inspired me. It was focused on how artists of today approach the use of primal materials such as clay, fiber, wood, aluminum, stone, and soil; all mediums with so much tradition attached to them. It included about 30 major artists, as well as a few I have mentioned.

6) What is your next big project, event, etc. after the closing of Texture Gardens?

I recently moved into a new art studio complex in Greenpoint, Brooklyn after a tragic collapsed staircase accident injured a fellow artist and friend at Crane Street Studios, in Long Island City, Queens, where I used to paint, and we were all forced to vacate. Many of the artists from Crane Street have taken up the spaces in this new building, and we are hosting our first Open Studio event on Friday, November 6, from 6-9pm and Saturday, November 7, from 1-6pm. There are about thirty professional artists working in a variety of media, many will be present at the event, and original works of art will be available for purchase just in time for the holiday season. It should be a great event! Those that are interested can visit the studio blogsite at:

I am also featured in a group exhibition at Raandesk Gallery of Art, NYC, called ART2GIFT, which features original works of affordable art under $500. It will be on view from November 6, 2009 – January 8, 2010.

With regard to new work, I am working on a few different series at the moment. The first is called Miscommunications, and it is a series of mixed media, low relief, painted collages on canvas that resemble archaeological remnants containing messages written using unfamiliar alphabets, symbols, or pictorial languages. These works represent the human need and struggle to express ourselves, be understood by others, and to comprehend our world with respect to the messages we receive through others; directly or indirectly.

I also just completed the second piece in my Microbes series, at an annual outdoor live painting event in Tompkins Square Park, NYC. It is becoming a yearly ritual for me. Art Around the Park is part of the Howl Festival weekend event, and involves a 900 foot canvas wrapped around the perimeter of the park with artists painting live outdoors and interacting with the public.

All these new paintings will be on view at the Brooklyn Art Studios Open Studio event, so I hope the G-Train Salon audience will continue their journey and make their next stop Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn!

Thanks so much to the G-Train Salon and Urban Alchemist for the opportunity to share my work!

1 comment:

  1. My friends and I were in Park Slope over the weekend. We're always looking for new artwork to examine and were very impressed with Ms. Reyes work. We really enjoyed the 'complicated simplicity' (as we called it) and the care that she put into the entire ensemble. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of work in Brooklyn and the city. ~Matthew