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Imagine & Wonder

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

We began the week with ART YARD Advanced Studio celebrating the Vernal Equinox with Teaching Artist Hawley Hussey.

Ed Rath, Ostara

Hawley summarizes: “I opened with a gorgeous visualization for the group to center our inspiration on the turning of the wheel of the year to OSTARA/Spring Equinox. I let everyone know that as soon as I begin they can begin art making or just close eyes and take a journey:

Pagan Seasonal Wheel

I then shared a story, Ostara and the White Hare told by a favorite story teller Carl Gough. What is so fabulous about this story teller is he edits in countless ancient and contemporary art images of this story. I was so happy to hear how much everyone enjoyed this really interesting tale while making gorgeous work on their own.

I also shared many images of favorite recipes I like to make on OSTARA:

Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Kay Clark; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Looking at the pagan seasonal wheel, I shared our focus was on Strength and the budding of new ideas and projects. I also mentioned that the group has worked with 3 cycles in the year! With Beltaine coming we will be expanding into our potential! During the visualization I shared images from around the world celebrating the Goddess Ostara and the symbolism of her inspirations and comrades the HARE and the EGG.

Painting by Amanda Clark

John Tenniel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I was stunned by what was created during this time. Thoughtful and thought provoking. I was drawn to each artwork and found I really wished for even more time to hear about everyone's thoughts and feelings and practice as they took this journey with me. How I look forward to BELTAINE! The generosity of this group is remarkable. Their process is so unique. I'm grateful to each person in this lesson for the thoughtful compliments and feedback.”

Delphine Levenson, Ostara

Hawley Hussey, In the Studio, in progress at Ostara

Vera Tineo, Ostara

Meridith McNeal, Ostara (in situ on the mantle)

Zeke Brokaw, Ostara

Karla describes her collage made from recycled photo album page, leaves, old floral wrapping paper, handmade paper and colored pencil. “Ostara - Winter to Spring is made from dried leaves over the dark of winter and bare branches. The equator transitions to early spring with anticipation of flowering plants and green. Under earth’s surface roots begin to nourish new growth and change.”

Karla Prickett, Ostara


We started a new cycle at ART YARD Art Matters at BNS after school program! Filling in for Dennis, Fatima Traore was on-site ART YARD Administrator working with Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau for the session.

Evelyn tells us: Fatima and I were happy to see a couple familiar faces and plenty of new faces around the tables. We began a mixed media project which takes into greater depth a project that students worked on in the last cycle. In our Surrealist-inspired Eyes: Envisioning Spring project, students will combine drawing and collage to create finished pieces inspired by Rene Magritte's The False Mirror.

This week, students discussed Surrealism, a new vocabulary word for many, and noticed how example images by Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, and Man Ray (in that order below) have multiple interpretations and cause us to ask questions.

We embarked on the first element of the collage. Each student received or cut out a piece of paper shaped like the iris of an eye. Students brainstormed ideas and drew an image related to what they're excited for, planning, or hopeful for this spring--imagery included flowers, butterflies, scenes from Star Wars, birthday parties, and birds. They used colored pencils, watercolor, or a combination to add color to their images.

BNS artists hard at work

During critique, students noticed contrasts between the quality of shading resulting from the use of watercolor and colored pencil, respectively. They mentioned similarities between styles of shading of different drawings, as well as several works that spoke to each other due to a vibrant use of color. Several students admired Fatima's beautiful drawing of flowers, trees, and a cocoon.”

Critique at BNS


On Tuesday, ART YARD Advanced Studio went to see Teaching Artist Rachael Wren’s solo show “Still It Grows” at Rick Wester Fine Art in Chelsea. Rachael described her work, ideas, and process as the class looked around the gallery. She explained that her paintings combine elements of landscape and geometric abstraction, which she sees as two ways of navigating both art-making and life. Geometry, which is connected to drawing, references the ordered, the rational, and the intellectual. Landscape, which informs and inspires the color in her paintings, speaks to the random, the emotional, and the intuitive. The richness comes from bringing the two together.

Rachael Wren, Double Bind, 2021, Oil on canvas

Drawing from Rachael's work at Rick Wester Fine Art

Students looked closely at each painting and asked Rachael questions about color, layering, her process in the studio, and her inspirations. Next, Rachael asked each person to choose a painting to draw from. They could either sketch the entire piece, or focus on one square of the grid in a painting. Rachael wanted them to pay attention to the different kinds of brush marks in each piece as well as the color interactions. Finally, if they had time, Rachael encouraged the students to think of a place that has significance for them and try to represent it abstractly.

Rachael expounds: “The gallery was quiet as everyone focused and worked, and it was exciting to see the results in critique.

Vera made an animation with sound that captured what she saw as the somber mood of a 6x6 foot gray and brown painting, called “Thicket”,

Vera Tineo, responding to Rachael Wren "Thicket"

Ed drew from the other 6x6 foot piece in the gallery “Already There”, capturing the sense of space in a small pencil sketch and then zooming in closer to explore the individual marks and shapes that compose the painting.

Ed Rath, responding to Rachael Wren "Already There"

Meridith used markers to depict “Vale” from her vantage point at the gallery door. She continued working on the close up on her subway ride home!

Meridith McNeal, responding to Rachael Wren "Vale"

Elizabeth drew one grid square of a painting, combining crayon and sharpie to create interesting color combinations. She also created an abstract drawing related to a memory of cherry blossoms in spring.

Elizabeth Morales, Responding to Rachael Wren in close up and Cherry Blossoms in abstraction

Robin and Nayarit both focused on layering color and shape, making drawings that referenced Rachael’s work, while also becoming their own unique compositions.

Robin Grant, Responding to Rachael Wren and Brooklyn Block in abstraction

Nayarit Tineo, Responding to Rachael Wren (without glasses!)

I loved seeing everyone’s interpretations of my paintings, and I thank the class for making the trip to visit my show!”

Robin adds: “I would like to thank Rachael for a very informative night. I appreciated viewing her paintings. The elements that she used to develop her techniques helped me to plan my latest painting, which is part of my Subway Series. Through observation of her work I was able to apply layering in my painting.

I appreciate all the classes! I am able to take what I have learned and apply it to my own practice. This is important to me! Through education, I am working towards placement/view that will bring my work into the main stream. This is my main objective as an artist. Thanks to ART YARD for helping me achieve my aim!”

Robin Grant, Subway Series, Utica


It was an exciting art-filled day ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6 in Jersey City. Managing Director Dennis Buonagura enthuses: “In her multi leveled lesson plan, Teaching Artist Vera Tineo included a layer of patterns and texture to the mask project this week.

Vera presents her PowerPoint

Revolving around the theme of community (as healing), students at our partnership school, PS 6 in Jersey City, created their own patterns to add to their collaged and/or drawn masks.

Family = Community

Vera showed examples of natural/organic patterns and some which were “unnatural”. Discussions involving real rainbows vs. drawn rainbow patterns (and cheetah print and the like) became hot topics.

Vera's example from her PowerPoint

As the St. Peter’s Peacocks (Jersey City basketball team) just celebrated a victory (Go Team!!), the peacock pattern joined - proudly - into the mix.

Vera and I also learned from several students that the peacock is the national bird of India. In 1951, Oscar Hammerstein wrote “by your pupils you’ll be taught” … and was he ever right!

The finished products are terrific. Lots of overlapping collages, brightly colored patterns, representations of communities and their activities, and happy PS 6 students.

Overlapping collage

4th grade collage mask

Student showing off his Looney Tunes mask

Netra at work

Vera summarizes her experience: “Teaching this cycle at PS6 was an amazing opportunity to build community as the students created masks about community!

We really enjoyed each other’s company, I got to learn so much from the students. It was fun to hear about what they like to eat, what they like to do with their family members as we discussed the lesson concepts.

The finishing process on our mask project was an exploration of patterning – the delightful repetition all around us – both man-made and in nature which add to the beauty of our world. When I look at the wonderful artworks made by these kids, I see the visual manifestation of our successful exploration of the topic of healing our community as well as evidence of superb student learning of art making skills!”

The Wakeman Owl - the school’s mascot

Harlequin Mask

Dennis sorts thru work - photo by Vera - pug tote by Marie Roberts (2013)


Other Art News

ART YARD Artist Karla Prickett reports from Kansas: “I enjoyed visiting The Rice Gallery of Fine Art to view Meridith’s work included in the exhibition City Life - Night & Day!

The gallery usually focuses on traditional landscape, so this was “stepping out” a bit for them. There were some very nice pieces in the show, and the quality and presentation were good. It is a small space, but they utilized it well. I liked the perspective and the mood of Meridith’s piece Inside Outside Eye (Red Hook, Brooklyn) and especially the framing of a narrative you peer into! The invitation to climb over/into the metal-like curtain frame and walk toward the eye drew me to imagine the experience and wonder about these environs.”

Meridith McNeal, Inside Outside Eye (Red Hook, Brooklyn) and David Copper, Wired in City Life – Night and Day.


ART YARD Artist Marilyn August reports from San Francisco: “After you told us about the Alice Neel exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, I was excited to learn that Alice Neel: People Come First it was headed to De Young Museum in San Francisco. I went on March 15th and thoroughly enjoyed it. Through the exhibition, I learned a great deal about Alice Neel and her fascinating life story, and enjoyed her style. There was so much vitality and personality in her portraits; humor, too. Also loved her still lifes and street scenes.

Marylin at the exhibition and some of her favorite paintings on view in Alice Neel: People Come First:

Then we went to see the Patrick Kelly exhibit of fashions from his collection from 1984 to 1990. "Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love". (Also at the De Young) He was so talented and the exhibition was great fun! Born in the Mississippi, he moved to NY and then on to Paris where his career took off. He was the first American and the first Black designer to be voted into the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, the prestigious French association for ready-to-wear designers. The show was as exuberant as he was known to be—with music, films and memorabilia in addition to his fashions.

Marilyn shares some photos of the Patrick Kelly exhibition:

Marilyn continues: “The week before I went to Lands End the exhibit you told me about that was featured in Hyperallergic—at San Francisco’s Cliff House, which was a popular and iconic restaurant that sits high above the Pacific Ocean affording spectacular views. The restaurant closed during the pandemic, and the For-Site Foundation organized a fantastic exhibit with art works produced by artists from around the world.

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada (b. 1966, Cuba) Forest Focus, Gülnur Özdaglar (b. 1962, Turkey) The Last Reef, Daniel Beltrá (b. 1964, Spain) Oil Spill #12

Although tickets were completely booked for the entire run, I wrote to the foundation supporting the show and was told that we could try turning up mid-day in case there were some no-shows. Well, we lucked out and got in!

I loved the exhibit—they used the entire restaurant space—3 levels and every nook and cranny. Many pieces were made just for the show—all having to do with the environment, climate change, and more works included photography, paintings, film, sculpture, vintage surfboards, found objects.”

Carsten Höller (b.1961, Belgium) Octopus (with fab view of the Pacific Ocean)


Highflying visionary bad boys of funk-n-roll whose early flash and promise crash-landed on various temptations and whose last decades found the, caught in the cycles of ruin and momentary rejuvenation, bobbing or vanishing beneath their own sea of troubles.” ~ Greg Tate, “Gil Scott-Heron, R.I.P.”, Village Voice, 2011

This Bad Boy, my new painting, is complete:

Meridith McNeal, Inside Outside Recovery, Bad (LES, Manhattan), 2022, watercolor on paper, 76x55"



Grab your sketchbooks and drawing supplies, then head on over to FiveMyles (558 St. Johns, Crown Heights, Brooklyn) on Saturday, April 2, 7-8:30pm to participate in Observation/Transformation, a lively evening of life drawing and spontaneous tableaux vivants with improvised movement organized by Edward Monovich, with music and guest performers Cassandre Charles, Ronnie Terrell Thomas, Thomas Mackie, Robert Monovich, Rachel Taylor, Viola Monovich, Edward Monovich.


Happy Spring!

🥚 🐇 🌷

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