Tag Archives: Agni Zotis

Newtown is your town. Newtown is everyone’s town. Moving forward with balance…

balance: 1. a state in which opposing forces harmonize; equilibrium.  2. mental equilibrium; mental health; calmness, a state of remaining clear-headed and unperturbed. 3.  awareness of both viewpoints or matters; neutrality; rationality; objectivity.

Simplicity is Complex Series-Agni Zotis
Simplicity is Complex Series-Agni Zotis

Some of the most complex pieces of artwork have balance – arranging elements so that no one part of a work overpowers, or seems heavier than any other part.

I live in Newtown, CT.  My three young daughters attend school in another district, in another state. When I talked to them about what happened in Newtown and why it happened, one word came to mind. It wasn’t evil.  It was balance – the importance of living our lives with balance. Balancing family, relationships, our jobs, careers, school, education, our physical and mental health, politics, religion and our environment….oh and some play time.

All of us, whether we’re a parent or not, live in Newtown or not, were greatly affected by what happened December 14, 2012. Yes, the community of Newtown has risen and rallied in model form.  They are labeled and seen as “strong.”  But Newtown is no different from your community.  If your community experienced a similar tragedy, you too would develop a volunteer task force, attend vigils and have the police forces of surrounding towns cover the Christmas shift for the emotionally and physically drained police officers forced to see this life-changing event up-close-and-personal.  Your town is Newtown and Newtown is everyone’s town.

Was the individual responsible for this abominable tragedy  living a balanced life?  Are you living a balanced life? I struggle every day. Most of us do. How can we learn from this tragedy?

Get a small piece of paper and a pencil. At the bottom of that piece of paper, write “balance.” Then emotionally put yourself in the shoes and in the house of aBalance surviving parent, brother, sister, friend, classmate or neighbor of a fallen Newtown soul.  Draw how that makes you feel. Aesthetics do not matter.  It can be a simple star, a cross, torn and ripped from the pressure of your pencil…doesn’t matter.  Put that piece of paper where you can see it every day. Put it on your dashboard, your bathroom mirror, your desk or next to your bed.   It’s a strong trigger and a poignant reminder of the importance of balance.

Lastly, whether you’re a chef, auto mechanic, artist or surgeon.  It’s all about having the right tool. It can mean the difference between success and failure.  If you ask a US Marine what a gun is, he/she may look confused because he/she doesn’t use a gun as a tool; they use a “weapon.” If a Marine uses the term “gun,” they may find themselves doing 50 pushups with three Sergeants on their back.  An assault rifle is a weapon…not a gun.  A gun is what is used to hunt for food….sport. Is there sport in an assault weapon?  By design, none. Nor should it be.  It’s a specific tool, designed for a specific task, for a specific user.

As a young adult, eager to get my driver’s license, I can still remember that sobering moment when my father stated while I buckled my seat belt, ready for my first lesson.  “You’re in control of a two-ton weapon.” he said.  I suddenly lost my smile and quickly took my hands off the wheel.  I was required to take guided lessons, practice, classes, register and pass tests.  Although I passed, it was not a guarantee that I would not be injured or cause injury.  But I felt better, my father felt better and the car in front of me and behind probably felt better….safer.

Balance is the answer. But we need patience. It’s a process. We can’t transform ourselves overnight.  That would be like trying to run a marathon without Central Park-Paul Shampinetraining.  As humans, we resist change. Change takes work. A lot of work. It requires self-awareness, acknowledgement, desire and most importantly, patience.   That’s why we often get discouraged, quit and give up.  We regress back to our years of conditioned lives….years.  We’re trying to change years of long-lived repetitive behavior.   Adding to the struggle and challenge, we’re a society where immediate gratification just isn’t quick enough.  Ok, so there are two answers…patience and balance.

Healing Newtown Through the Power of the Arts is lead by a strong team – Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, who is supported by the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut and the Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA). To learn how you can help: http://www.healingnewtown.org

Thank you.
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine
“Living Life with Balance”

Fountain Arts Fair – NYC, March 9-11, 2012

In anticipation of this weekend’s (March 9-11) NYC Fountain Art Fair, I asked participant and past Arts PR Group interviewee Agni Zotis  her thoughts.  Also, a  short chat with  Santa Monica artist Kathleen O’Connell Kaller.

Getting ready for an exhibit, solo or joint, can be its own reality TV Agni Zotisshow….the diverse mix of personalities, stress of deadlines and production issues.  Can you share a personal experience with Fountain?  Art fairs and the art world in general are reality tv dramas, entertainment should be inevitable. This year the Fountain Art Fair is at the 69th Regiment Armory, 68 Lexington Avenue  @ 25th Street, the very first exhibition space for the Armory Show in 1913.

I was invited by my friend, sculptor Bernard Klevickas, that had the idea for a Bernard Klevickasband of artists to come together and present in a salon style exhibition, 72 artists including some friends, in booth E212 producing artwork right now in NYC. It’s an opportunity to show work, collaborate, see art, friends, parties, represent a part of the NYC art energy I am, as the world pours in to experience it.  As an active artist I have the ability to create my experience.

 I’m showing “In Haiti Kids are Eating Mud Cookies What Heels Should I Wear” at the curators request and also the painting  “Liquify Earth” the idea of the being, the self, consuming the globe, unifying, becoming one with all,   Universal Consciousness.

Thanks Agni.  From the FAF folks…the “Fair is an exhibition of avant-garde artwork founded to leverage support for smaller independent galleries to gain access to larger collectors and critics. In addition to cutting-edge art, visitors to the fair can enjoy signature elements such as on-site performance art, a major street art installation, and musical performances that Fountain has become known for integrating into the art fair experience. From presenting just 3 local exhibitors at its first fair in 2006, Fountain has grown to represent over 30 international exhibitors and independent artist projects…

Paul ShampineBuy discounted tickets online or for more info:  http://www.fountainartfair.com
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine

Jumping to the West Coast, our interviews continue with Stanta Monica artist Kathleen Kaller.

Kathleen O’Connell Kaller
Kathleen Kaller-Luminous Tide

When did you first discover your creative talents? My mother introduced me to creativity as a young child.  Getting crafty on school projects and painting on shells. However the first time I realized I actually had a talent for it was in a high school art class.  One of our first projects was to sketch and draw with charcoal.  We were assigned to draw and shade an image of our hands and then turn it into something.  I drew my hand and then turned my arm into a snake! It was quite fierce now that I look back.  Having studied Hindu mythology recently, I now know snakes represents the life force, strength and rebirth. But I suppose the point of the story is that after seeing what I had created I was a little in shock that I could make something so detailed and I also felt proud. Like I found what  I was good at.  The images were displayed in a glass case near the cafeteria and I got really good feedback from other students. I guess it was at that moment! Having pride as I walked to the lunch room everyday.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  Every time I sell something is memorable moment! It really reinforces the fact that I can live and prosper as an artist.  I refuse to believe in the myth of the struggling artist.  But the very first art show I had was pretty memorable.  I didn’t know what to expect!  I had sold a few pieces to friends and family along the way but to sell to someone you don’t really know means alot to me.  It means you reached an audience.  After my first show I sold a piece called “Letting Go”.  It was one of my first abstract paintings were I literally let go when I was painting it.  I had been creating more impressionistic work and at this point I was wanting to be more free and abstract. In addition my client  that bought the work commissioned me to create 2 more paintings to add to  “Letting Go” creating an original Triptych for her.  This was one of my first sales and commissions at the same time.  This was a very exciting moment for me.

Favorite museum? Any museum I walk into is my favorite! Since I was little I loved going to museums on school trips.  There is an energy that is palpable, inspiring and divine.  Its quiet, meditative, and the life of each painting vibrates Sam Francis - Norton Simon Museumoff the walls and into your psyche.  One of my favorites in California is The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.  There hangs one of my all-time favorite mural paintings by Sam Francis.  It takes up an entire wall hanging 13 x 20 feet. It’s drippy, vibrant  and has emotional impact at first glance.  This work has been an influential in the way I create art. 

If you were to give a room full of emerging artists one bit of advice, what would that be? Your studio is sacred space.  Get weird as much as possible.  Be grateful for everything.  Little prayers to the universe work.  If there is something or someone that speaks to you have a conversation, there is something you need to hear. When the going gets tough keep creating.

If you were to receive an “Artist of the Year Award,” who would be the first person you would thank and why? My family and for all those teachers along the way. My husband especially. When I left a decent-paid job Revelation-Kathleen Kallerto paint my husband was 100% supportive. As an artist himself he realizes the importance of the creative process. He has infused my work with encouragement and love. He also gives me really good criticism on my work and he is the only person I may alter a painting for after hearing his commentary. My mother has also been really helpful in the process as she is a painter too and has great tips. I truly feel blessed to have the resources to be an artist. It is a magical profession.

Who are your favorite artists? These artists continue to inspire, mentor and influence my work and journey as an artist. SACO (Susan Ann Christiana O’Connell), Sam Francis, Vibul Wonprasat, Francoise Gilot, Saule Piktys, Sage Vaughn, Trudy Montgomery, Darren Waterston, Picasso, William de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Benzo Theodore, Laura Amazzone, Elaine de Kooning, and Mary Addison Hackett.

Artist: Kathleen O’Connell Kaller
Title: Luminous Tide
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 40”x40”
Website: http://www.kathleenkaller.com

Paul ShampinePaul Shampine

Agni Zotis and the Agni Gallery, Interview with an Artist

As most know, the Northeast has experienced below average temperatures and above average snowfall.  Normally not really an issue for me, but this year I’m heating my domicile with a wood stove.  Yes, it’s as nice as it sounds, but it has its challenges.

Glacial FruitThrough waist-deep snow, I trek to my studio, dig out the door that has been unopened since the Winter Solstice to fetch chains to strap to the wheels of a snow-locked 4WD sculpture/recycling/loan-to-friend/move-that-stuff/wood truck. Mixed emotions struck hard when I broke the seal to my sanctuary and moved past half sculptures, new-found rocks from the Fall and the scent of metal.  Yes, I can smell metal.

While relocating a 1/2 cord of wood from the edge of the property, movement and muscle use were reminiscent of those warm summer sculpting days.  Feeling Paul Shampinea bit of a void and some artistic melancholy, I hear muffled chimes from my Blackblerry.  It’s Agni Zotis.  We chat a bit about her interview and my artistic soul is lift again.  Thanks Agni.  The interviews continue…

Agni Zotis, NYC

When did you first discover your creative talents? I knew art was my thing when I was very young and I could express my self clearly through sketches at school.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. At 19 I was commissioned to paint a mural in a kids room,  got $1500 for a couple of days and I loved the fact kids would be playing and sleeping under my heavenly sky.

Who are your favorite artists? In my youth I was interested in Bosch, Caravaggio, Picasso, Dali, Pollock and now Marina A since her performance at the MOMA.

Looking for love in all the wrong places-Agni Zotis“Looking for love in all the wrong places” is one of my favorite paintings.  Can you give some personal perspective on this piece?Looking for love in all the wrong places” is the first painting from a series called “Exploration of Love” in 2004-05 exploring the emotions of falling in love. this painting examines the need for a lover to devour, engulf their loved one consumed by passion. Falling in love is a feeding frenzy of the soul.

What drew you to Byzantine Iconography? Interested in mysticism in art of ancient worlds, after graduating Hunter in 1993,  I apprenticed with a Serbian monk Makarios, in church in Astoria NYC where I learned Byzantine Iconography and fresco painting using ancient techniques.  All artists should have technique and the ability to paint what they wish without technical limitations. I chose one of the oldest as it has been around for 2000 years, I still use similar methods with pigments, gold leafs and layering, I just make it contemporary and relevant to now, modernize traditions.

Recalling your international travels, what three countries had the most influence on your work and why?

1). NYC because I grew up, live and always have my studios here, the rhythm and vibe of my city is an essential part of my thought process, influences and work.

2). Greece because it’s my roots, I’m interested in philosophy, mythology, movement of knowledge within a culture.

3).  India because it showed me life and death in one spectrum.  I learned about mortality and immortality, living and process of it. It’s where I touched lepers, broke bread with tribal and dined with kings alike.

What’s the history of the Agni Gallery? Agni Gallery was an organic evolution of my world in a special spot in the LES community. Ginsberg lived upstairs when he wrote the Howl, a storefront, transparent, raw with a sign reading “RATED R FOR RANDOM”  Both an exhibition space and my studio, I painted bodies of work with my doorsAgni Zotis open, spilling into the NYC street.  It was a creative underground hot spot for artists, intellectuals, poets, musicians from local and international, established and emerging, an important cultural movement in the art world, allowing people to connect (this is before Facebook and the virtual movement). I hosted and curated many exhibitions and events, giving opportunity to showcase artists, lots of process, I learned and lots and lots of fun. The Factory as some called it. Now I m involved with various projects in other spaces in NYC and internationally. Agni Gallery is a constantly evolving processes in progress and I work with great people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purification-Agni Zotis
Purification

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite gallery? I don’t have a favorite gallery although I like some much more than others.

Favorite museum? My favorite museum is RMA, I love the vibe in there.

If you were to give a room full of emerging artists one bit of advice, what would that be? To all artists, be honest and work from your depths.

If you were to receive an “Artist of the Year Award,” who would be the first person you would thank and why? I thank my mom and son, my greatest supporters and critics, keeping me in the light of what is real.

Agni’s Website: http://www.agnizotis.com