Open Studio Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Sidney Rouse

“I am a photographer, painter, sculptor, and filmmaker living here in Athens, GA. At the Lyndon House, I’m currently focused on printing new photographs in the darkroom.

As a general rule, I enjoy creating all imagery in-camera and without the use of any digital manipulation. My earliest photographs explored altered reflections and I spent years combining bodies and flowers exclusively with homemade mirrors. Newer work is still emerging, but is strongly influenced by the iconography and rituals I experienced within the Mormon temple as a child.

Creating artwork has always been a very natural and soothing practice for me. I recently visited my parents who had my old school notebooks and I laughed upon seeing all the columns filled with little doodles and sketches for ideas. Seems the compulsion has always been there.

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Over time, I’ve grown more interested in expressing myself through art and it’s now my primary focus. My photography interest surprisingly started with a roommate asking if I wanted one of his point and shoot cameras before he threw it away. Ever since then, I’ve been deeply fascinated by the medium and simply try to keep moving forward without over-analyzing the source of it all too much.

My current goal is to share my work with others a bit more. Left to my own devices, I typically create and create, but never frame the work or show to more than a few close friends. The last few years, however, I’ve tried to do better in this regard. I attended Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY for my first artist residency, directed music videos for of Montreal, and have recently been acquired by my first gallery. Going forward, I’d like to continue this momentum, connecting with fellow art lovers and collectors. I would also like to publish a book of my work someday.

I am incredibly grateful for the Lyndon House. It is walking distance from my home and in many ways feels like a year-round artist residency. I’ve spent most of my creative life feeling I lacked the appropriate resources to create at the level I desired. Now, I’m able to focus more on the work itself and less about trying to purchase every piece of equipment I need. My girlfriend is also glad to no longer have darkroom prints rinsing in the bathtub and drying in the living room.” - Sidney Rouse

OPEN STUDIOS MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Lotta Milde

“My main medium is clay. I’ve been making hand-built and altered vases made by stacking and connecting objects that I throw on the wheel.

I inherited a strong urge to make things and I've dabbled in all sorts of mediums. It took a good amount of detours and interest in other materials, but after studying stage and costume design in Germany for a couple of years I found my way back to ceramics while studying in Lithuania. There is a deep respect and appreciation for classic art forms like mosaics, glass and printmaking in Lithuania and it really strengthened my belief that learning the technical skills of these ancient mediums can open up your mind to opportunities for contemporary work.

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My goal as an artist is to become established enough to be able to focus just on my work. That would allow me to really dig into bigger ideas for ceramic works like pieces of furniture, large mosaics or installations. Clay really is so versatile, there seem to be no limits, especially because it can be so easily combined with other amazing mediums like metal and glass. Maybe I'll eventually be able to create entire rooms or set designs made completely by hand. Those are the big goals, but we're starting small: My boyfriend Chris is an amazing potter and this March we're starting our own webshop Atelier96 to display and sell our work. We've been planning and working towards this goal for a long time and though it might seem like a small step for some, we hope it will open up a door for our work to really grow and evolve.

The Lyndon House is an absolutely crucial step for me as an artist as it's given me the opportunity to continue my work after graduating from art school and moving to the US. Practicing art, especially ceramics, can be prohibitively expensive if you aren't already part of an art school and being able to independently use not only the studios at the Lyndon House but also receive guidance and a network of art professionals is so important.

Though so far I'm a bit consumed by ceramics I'm really looking forward to utilizing the other studios as well: printmaking is on the top of my list, but I'll probably get back into developing my own film in the photo lab first. I'm hoping I can take a woodworking class soon as well so I can start working on some wood/ceramic furniture pieces. Overall it's just been a great experience to have so many different options and studios readily available and I'm so thankful that Athens has a place like this.”

OPEN STUDIOS MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Anna Bighta
 
“I make oil paintings – portraits and still lifes, mostly. As a child, I was often drawing on whatever paper was around the house. When Bob Ross appeared on PBS, I would either watch, engrossed, or immediately try to replicate his landscapes with my little set of Crayola watercolors. In college, I took an art history survey course, which opened up the concept of the Fine Arts to me. I was especially captivated by 17th – 19th century Western European art movements like the Baroque, Neoclassicism, and Realism. The oil painters’ strive for (what I thought of as) crisp representation inspired me. I finally took a grisaille oil painting course at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation around 2010. The class was out of my league, but I didn’t care: I loved the kinesthetic experience of painting with oils. As time and opportunity allowed in 2018, I took more painting and drawing courses – this time at the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts in Tallahassee. My art teacher, Joe Roache, was a great encourager. His own portraits were inspirational. He motivated me to keep going. And so I did when I moved to Florence Alabama, and still do now that I’m back in Athens!
 
Technically, I need to work on getting objects to look more 3-dimensional. I also need to work on developing my own voice is as a figurative artist. While working in the realist mode (and this may sound kind of odd), I feel like my greater goal is similar to that of several British novelists of the 19th century: to incite people’s appreciation of the mundane, and maybe the strange, in this world. To reintroduce them to their present.
The Open Studio membership that the Arts Center offers has allowed for space and the resources to grow my skills. What’s more is that my colleagues at the Arts Center proactively encourage me to feature my work! Such encouragement is helping me reimagine myself as someone deserving of the title of “artist,” rather than someone just toying around with a hobby. Finally, despite the pandemic, the Arts Center introduced me to a small network of fellow artists who help me feel integrated in the art world. It is an incomparable and untradeable experience to develop with my peers right inside an art museum! I have much gratitude for the Lyndon House Arts Center.” –Anna Bighta
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OPEN STUDIOS MEMBER SPOTLIGHT:
 
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The Open Studio Membership Program is delighted to highlight a member working in the Arts Center’s Studios.  We want to share the member’s story, what they are working on here and what art and the creative community means to them as well as encourage further development in their careers.

"I am focusing on making jewelry these days. I studied metals and enamels with William Harper in the early eighties which was a huge honor and privilege. I am mostly retired and finally have time to follow a longtime passion!  Finding the Lyndon House Arts Center and the Open Studio membership program has been just unbelievable. I wasn’t sure that enameling was really going to be my thing and the setup for a private studio was not something I could do lightly. The space at Lyndon House has been delightful. They have EVERYTHING with just the right amount of camaraderie.  They are extremely knowledgeable and supportive but let you do your own thing. I have also used the Fibers Studio to make banners for my son’s wedding. Again just an amazing space and perfect facility. I have been a member of other artist co-ops and was the Director of a Visual Arts Center and later a Children’s Science Center. I am very impressed with Athens vision at the Lyndon House. It WORKS and I know how much that takes!" - Linda Macbeth 

 

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OPEN STUDIOS MENBER SPOTLIGHT: Carrie Pucko

 

“I make all kinds of things out of clay, whatever I'm feeling on a particular day. Sometimes I throw on the wheel, sometimes I like to hand build pots and cups, sometimes I make little clay gnomes and fairy houses. I have done some mosaic tile work too. Basically, I like to explore and not wind up with too much of the same thing in my house.  While there is something uniquely therapeutic and satisfying working with clay, I'm a collector of hobbies and crafty pursuits, so I make jewelry, paper cut cards, wood burned picture frames, lamp shades, quilts and today I took a Japanese book binding class online!

 

I suppose I started messing around with ceramics at summer camp as a kid and in high school art classes, but after that I really didn't get back into it until I went to graduate school. I went to the University of Vermont for forest ecology and they had a student pottery co-op that allowed me to attend workshops and use the ceramics studio. When I needed a break from research and statistics homework, one of the best ways for me to relax and use a different part of my brain was to spend a few hours with my hands in some clay. After school, I continued taking classes at community centers mostly, including at Lyndon House Arts Center, which allowed me to pick up enough basic skills and know-how to utilize the open studio. 

 

I use art as a way to feel balanced and just have fun being creative. I like to challenge myself to make new things or try out new techniques. In normal times, I have also found that creative people are just so much fun to hang out with and talk to in classes or just working in the studio. I think in terms of actual goals, mine are small. I'd like to make all my Christmas presents this year, and to make enough coffee mugs that I never have to buy another one at the store.


I am blown away by the number of opportunities here at Lyndon House. Before moving to Athens, I took all kinds of craft classes from silk screening to mosaic tiling, to jewelry making at community centers or for-profit studios. Here, all those different things happen in one place! I'm excited to try out some of the other studios and classes here eventually. I would love to learn about weaving and soldering/welding. During COVID days, I'm so happy to be able to spend some creative energy at the studio. The schedule of open studio hours make it possible to be productive and flexible and the staff is tremendously helpful when it comes to firing pieces and giving helpful advice.” – Carrie Pucko

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Open Studios Member Spotlight: Harlo Petoskey

Harlo works in the Sculpture Studio.

What do you make? I make furniture and objects for the home from wood.

How did you get your start making things? I am a User Experience designer for the web and mobile apps. After a career of digital design, I needed to get back to creating objects that need something more than a delete key to destroy them. My father is a woodworker and I spent many weekend mornings watching him build cabinetry, tables, and other pieces of furniture for the house. It is the perfect antidote to the impermanence inherent in my day job.

What are your goals as an artist? Most of my goals are in the making itself. I am more compelled by learning new techniques and simply spending time in the shop. Sure, I like finishing a new desk or cabinet—but I’m much more interested in the time spent making.

How has the Arts Center been beneficial to you as an artist? The facilities and access at Lyndon House have been instrumental in allowing me to pursue my craft. In woodwork as in many other disciplines the equipment and space to work make starting an artistic pursuit overwhelmingly difficult. Having these spaces and tools at hand makes taking on a new artistic endeavor much more achievable.

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Each month, the Open Studio Membership Program is delighted to highlight a member working in the Arts Center’s Studios.  We want to share the member’s story, what they are working on here and what art and the creative community means to them as well as encourage further development in their careers.

Open Studios Member Spotlight: Lola Gazda

Lola attends the weekly Open Studios group Painting with Charles Warnock and works in the Painting Studio.

I was born in Badalona (7 kilometers from Barcelona). My first language is Catalonian, then Spanish, Italian, French, and English. My parents and I immigrated to Venezuela when I was 17 when Venezuela was a real paradise. There I married an English man in 1954, Alan Kipping and came to the USA in the late 1950’s.

What do you make?  Right now, I’m painting a screen for the hall of my home here in Athens. I have done a number of paintings and I love to paint!

How did you get your start making things? I started painting in Miami, FL in the 70’s when some good friends of ours showed up at my door insisting that I join them at the studio of Robert Martinez in South Miami where they were going every Saturday…at the time I had four boys and a full-time job! My husband Alan passed away in 1963. I came to Athens when I married George Gazda in 1999, the year the new addition to Lyndon House was completed. What a blessing that was, it has become my second home! I joined the Athens Art Association where I found wonderful friends that help me in my painting endeavors. I also quilt and belong to the Cotton Patch Quilters and make Bobbin Lace with the Athens Lace Association.

What are your goals as an artist? I really have no goals. I paint for the peace and pleasure that it brings me.

How has the Arts Center been beneficial to you as an artist? It’s been a joy to be able to use the studio at the Lyndon House Arts Center, as at home there are too many interruptions to be able to concentrate on what I’m doing.

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LESLIE GROVE

Artist Leslie Grove, one of our Open Studios Members, has been busy in the jewelry studio working on her brand new line. We are thrilled to have her here and are curious to learn more about her practice.

How did you get your start making things?
I’ve enjoyed arts and crafts as long as I can remember and there are several artists in my family. In 2010 I discovered the assemblage/jewelry artist Susan Lenart Kazmer through her “Industrial Chic” collection of charms and components sold at Michaels. The work looked both vintage and edgy and I was inspired to dig through my electronics toolbox, disassemble adding machines, gather leather scraps – all sorts of things became wearable art. I took a beginning metalsmithing class with Barbara Mann to learn fabrication and I was completely hooked!

What are your goals as an artist?
Perfecting the techniques I enjoy most and creating designs that express a unique voice, yet remain simple and wearable. I’m looking forward to continuing my education and starting to work with gold! Also, I plan to retire early and make jewelry full time.

How has the LH Arts Center been beneficial to you as an artist? 
It’s been essential! The jewelry studio has a safe place to solder and all the tools I need. I recently took an intermediate jewelry class with Jane Ritchie and enjoyed a little printmaking class with Amanda Burk. The Lyndon House is full of activity, art, and inspiring people.

Open Studio Members pay a monthly fee for access to the Arts Center’s 7 fully equipped artists studios. This is a great opportunity to develop a new body of work, get a jump start on a project and to have access to power and specialized tools, printing presses, a darkroom, kilns and more! For more info or to schedule a tour contact nicholas.daglis@accgov.com

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