Students share gallery space with pros


Young aspiring artists in the North Shore are learning first-hand what it means to share wall space and the curatorial attention of seasoned artists from the New York City art world, thanks to an ambitious new exhibition at the Project Space Gallery of the Teaching Studios of Art.

The show, which has received much attention, is titled “All The Ages You Were Before.” The intergenerational exhibit showcases artists that include elements of feminine naivete in their works of sculpture, fashion, prints and paintings in oil, watercolor, gouache and ink.

Organizers are excited by the intergenerational nature of the show, saying it is a key element in the studio’s program of providing a professional experience to its young students.

“Seeing your work in a professional gallery space is so important for any artist, but especially a young aspiring artist,” said Abigail Tulis, curator of the show. ”You are creating work not just for mom, but for a gallery, and a gallery audience. It encourages you to work bigger.”

Over the past 10 years, it is innovative thinking like this which has contributed to Teaching Studios growth in size and reputation, noted director Robert Zeller, attracting artists of all ages and skill levels on the North Shore of Long Island and the greater Tri-State area.

“We are an art school devoted to teaching traditional techniques to artists of all ages and skill levels,” Zeller explained. “These techniques have been proven over centuries to be the most effective at helping people become better artists and make beautiful work. The instructors who work for us are professional, working artists who have achieved a level of competence in their own work that qualifies them to teach others. And the quality of the education we provide speaks for itself in the work of our students.”

In fact, the school has garnered national publicity since opening in 2009, with articles profiling its success in American Artist and Studio magazines, and there’s lots of buzz among fellow art schools.

The show features the work of 17 artists that include: Julia Blasius, Amelia Criscuola, Femail Forever, Olivia Funk, Catherine Freudenberg, Rebecca Geiger, Patrik Graham, Elelenore Han, Chaya Hassine-Werner, Kate Kilpatrick, Kate Kun, Celine Liu, Bryn McConnell, Izzy Raba, Waverely Shenoy, Robyn Tang, and Abigail Tulis.

The show’s title was inspired by the poem “All The Ages You Were Before,” by Taylor Engle, noted Zeller, which urges that we reintroduce ourselves to the “electric sense of possibility.”

Too often, the poet declares, connection to that sense of possibility is threatened by the expectations of adulthood when as adults, “we will always be all the ages we were before,” and have the capacity to reconnect to those ages.

Through Tulis’s careful curatorial judgement, the exhibition deftly accomplishes that, bridging the gap between age and skill levels, finding commonalities between works and space-specific organic connections that are fun to experience and empower the young students at the studios.

For example, Elelenore Han, a student at the Teaching Studios of Art, has been creating copies of old master paintings. She has a painting in the show which builds on a work by Botticelli.

“She loves looking at these paintings to get the colors, get the effect,” said Tulis. “So, in this work we see her having a conversation with Botticelli. That’s very, very cool.”

Han is also in conversation with Manhattan artist Bryn McConnell, whose landscape, featuring round hills in front of each other with a small figure of a dancing woman on each hill, is paired with Han’s work.

“Bryn displays her love of the sense of movement in the painting, and I felt the piece had resonance with Elelenore’s,” Tulis said.

Some works straightforwardly speak to the show’s title like Patrick Graham’s piece, which presented an image of a woman and her skewed reflection in a mirror.

Of interest is a long roll of butcher paper which spans much of the lower wall space of the gallery, about shin-high, painted on by local students. “I told them to do graffiti, to be open and loose,” said Tulis. “That was it, initially. But then I shaped it some, by putting some of my own studies, in order to help it work with the other materials on display.”

Then there’s a small sculpture by Julia Blasius, entitled, “Chapel for Ants,” paired in arresting fashion with a small painting of drapery by Kate Kilpatrick.

The curator’s aim in pairing the work of these two students? “They are both rather gentle pieces,” explained Tulis. “I liked how the image of the fabric echoed what was happening on the walls, in a conceptual, around the sculpture stand.” 

“All The Ages You Were Before” is on view through Dec 15. There will be a closing reception on Dec. 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the school’s new gallery, at 98 Audrey St., next to the municipal parking lot and across the street from Billy Joel’s famed motorcycle shop. This is the Teaching Studios of Art’s second show in its new gallery space.