Thursday, April 27, 2017


Memorable Earth Day Celebration: WCAGA Drawing Marathon at Blue Heron Nature Preserve Creates a Wall -April 22, 2017
By Flora Rosefsky
Photos by Sally Epstein
The hinged panels/the Drawing Marathon wall at the BHNP - before
becoming works of art!

Creating work outdoors conjures up visions of new challenges for any artist who normally works in their studio space with a roof over their head, properly set thermostats, and having little concern about the weather outside one’s window. Earth Day, on April 22, 2017 became an opportunity for a few WCAGA member artists to celebrate being stewards of our planet Earth, as part of the popular WCAGA “Drawing Marathon” program held at various locations throughout the year with this particular program being  located outdoors at the beginning of the Woodland Loop Trail at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve on Roswell Road in the City of Atlanta. . Under the leadership of Sally Eppstein, artists who chose to participate,  were given 4x4’ wood panels, hinged together to form one long wall where back to back, the artwork could be easily seen by anyone passing by the installation. 
Mother  Nature cooperated with giving us sunshine, holding off the prediction of rain until the following Sunday. Along with bringing  acrylic and LATEX paints, assorted brushes, plastic containers, some preliminary sketches, I included cans of bug repellent spray. Thankfully, that level of being prepared never got used. Although each artist worked alone on her panel, one could feel the camaraderie while seeing each other’s works in progress. We sometimes took liberties with initial concepts to refine them along the way.  The focus for this particular Drawing Marathon incorporated the WCAGA’s  ART+ACTIVISM topic of “TreesSpeak for Keeping Atlanta the City in the Forest”. Artists were asked to think about a favorite tree in the state of Georgia, encouraged to reveal how animals and the natural world interconnected with the trees to keep the delicate balance of nature in its proper  rhythm of life. 

Helen Deremus working on her Earth Day panel. Around the back looking at
the other panel art are Barb Rehg, Drawing Marathon Committee Chair and Tim
Hunter, featured artist at the BHNP art gallery.

Helen DeRamus brought infusions of light into her longleaf pine tree and its blossoms while birds found the shelter and food they needed. Helen’s completed painting within a few hours, had passerbys stopping often to appreciate the ephemeral beauty of her work.  Callahan McDonough used some collage in her art, making stunning repetitive patterns of Southern Magnolia leaves that became a unique border for a circle of life,  manifesting those animals, butterflies and more who were all connected to this majestic tree. My own interpretation of the same tree, “Magnolia grandiflora” used a more literal approach. Equally imporant to the actual development of my work, was the total immersion of educating myself about how the tree was so closely connected to animals like the quail, squirrel, opossum, wild turkey , and beetles. Jenny Bell took her tree and its patterns of crossing branches to create an arresting composition while Barb Rehg used a bold  black and white graphic design of the wood rings of trees to impart an educational message. As a work in progress, Maria Ramos’s persimmon tree of bare light tan branches took on its life as soon as she added her detailed cut out illustration drawings of the wide variety of animal life that became an integral part of that tree. Her scientific research accuracy authenticated the completed work . 
Jenny Bell painting her tree branches. Callahan McDonough's Southern
Magnolia panel on the left.

Why wait until there is an Earth Day to celebrate nature? Visit the BHNP – see the WCAGA Drawing Marathon Wall up through June 2nd  
Tree that supports a  multitude of wildlife by artist Maria Ramos

Enjoy the show, ICONS, featuring the work of artist Tim Hunter in the BHNP art gallery and when taking a hike throughout the nature preserve, notice some of the permanent art installations surrounding you. In particular, I highly recommend you check out the large mural, “The Giving Tree” and the oversized hanging nest with two eggs. The mural features an expansive Southern Live Oak, Georgia’s state tree and all the wildlife the oak supports. This mural was the result of a BHNP fundraising effort on GA Gives Day.  The title of the  oversized nest with eggs, fabricated by artist Maria Ramons, was “Feed That Which Feeds You!” Both installations are right near the WCAGA Earth Day Drawing Marathon wall located at the Woodland Loop Trail. 
For more information:

Detail of one of the paper cutout illustrations of a wildlife
animal,(raccoon) as part of the tree painted by Maria Ramos.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beginning a Visual Conversation: The work of Maxine Hess

“Hidden in Plain Sight,” Hathaway Contemporary Gallery, Atlanta, March 18 – April 15, 2017

By Flora Rosefsky

Installation: The Reading Room, by Maxine Hess

Maxine Hess’s show, “Hidden in Plain Sight” and her artist talk occurred one day after the bridge collapse on I-85, which is not only disrupting the traffic and lives of over 250,000 people each day until repaired, but which also points out the tragic issues of homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, and a sub-culture living under the bridges of our interstates without much hope for a better life. Do we take responsibility and make it our personal concern to do something about these people’s lives? Or do we get the bridge fixed, get back into our one-driver cars, and keep the reality hidden, as is gun violence, and other issues Maxine is raising with her art?

Artist Maxine Hess with Blue Guns

Maxine’s installation, “The Reading Room” at first glance reveals wallpaper, pretty enough to purchase for one’s home. Look again, and notice the block printed semi-automatic guns perfectly aligned, camouflaged by the traditional baroque design of the red wallpaper. A comfortable wingback chair, draped with a writing-embroidered cloth, provokes questions about what the artist is trying to tell us, or rather, what does she want us to say or think after sitting in that chair with magazines and books nearby with titles like “Guns Safety?” 

As in this installation, all of Maxine’s work encourages an authentic dialogue about important social justice issues including gun violence, sex and human trafficking, women’s and human rights around the world, and perceptions of physical beauty of girls and women. 

Anne Weems, Maxine Hess and Laura Hathaway 
with Maxine's repurposed quilt entitled:
Dedicated to the missing/murdered women on the US/Mexico Border

Maxine brings sincere sensibilities to her art: its intrinsic beauty of color, design and texture, and a certain whimsy within some of the work brighten the otherwise serious subject matter.  The framed monoprints of wallpaper patterns superimposed with printed guns echo the themes of this unique show. Maxine’s delicate embroidery and sewing skills repurpose found materials such as a large Texas star quilt upon which she’s added outlined shapes of women and girl’s bodies. Without personalizing details, the figures appear innocent and beautiful in the warm and happy colors of the quilt, yet there is a disquieting message when you take the time to look carefully, making up your own interpretation. 

As part of her artist’s talk, Maxine read a thoughtful poem by her husband, William “George” Hess, which reveals  a lot about how she approaches her work. 

Maxine Creates

I’ve seen you
Take a scrap of cloth from a sometimes creaking drawer
Lay it flat, but not iron out the wrinkles or smooth the edges nor clip loose threads
As it may become a tear or a drop of blood, or a leaf or a spider’s strand.

I’ve seen how you
Let the world see how you paint with cloth and thread
Stitches loosely made and some in a pattern of purpose
Only you know when your work is finished and ready for someone’s wall.

Perhaps artists can become the conduits of starting a real dialogue for social issues to make the changes needed to improve our communities. To help save one person is to save the world. Let us start with one person or one cause. Thank you Maxine Hess for your part to begin this conversation.