Firelei Baez's work is so uniquely regal that it instantly transports you to another world when you view it. Her unconventional usage of objects like hairy fur and flowers to fill familiar silhouettes creates a nostalgic environment that would otherwise not exist. We recently framed one of her massive pieces and we were amazed by her meticulous style.
Erick with the completed Firelei Baez.
We floated this piece using Japanese paper hinges and rice paste over acid free museum board backing. Next we chose a custom gold gothic moulding and finished off with museum glass for the glazing. The gold and yellow tones complemented each other perfectly.
Man Without a Country (aka anthropophagist wading in the Artibonite River) 2012
As a Dominican-American artist, Firelei does make allusions to the immigrant experience in the US. However, her otherworldly aesthetic takes center stage with an explosion of soft translucent colors, flower filled skin and full womanly bodies that carry an air of warm elegance. She creates her multi-genre pieces on paper, often mixing paint washes with hand drawn images. In an Artsy editorial, writer Jared Quinton summarizes one of her many diaspora allusions; "Báez channels the long history of ornamentation and fashion as acts of resistance among women of the African Diaspora. She embodies this connection quite literally through her intensive artistic labor, uniting their struggles with those of today."
Her emphasis on vehicles of femininity and beauty are clean, moving and refreshing for the viewer. Firelei received her BFA from Cooper Union, her MFA from Hunter College and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2008. She had a solo show called Bloodlines at PAMM and is currently showing Bloodlines at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. Recently, she also had an installation for the Future Generation Art Prize. Currently, Firelei is represented by the Lyle O'Reitzel Gallery in New York City. To see more of her work check out her Instagram and Artsy. To see what else we're working on, follow us on Instagram or stop by the shop for a quote.
This year's Whitney Biennial lands at a controversial time in the US. Occupy Museums, a group borne out of the Occupy Wall Street decided to focus on debt as a theme this biennial. They had a call for Debt Fair art submissions that culminated in choosing 30 artists to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial. Included in their debt theme was a special call for Puerto Rican artists affected by the Puerto Rican debt crisis. The selected artists were:
Occupy Museums's mission is to call out economic and social injustice propagated by institutions of art and culture. They aim to reinforce the idea that art is not a luxury. The 2016 announcement of Puerto Rico's inability to pay back it's debt was not a total surprise, as unemployment and foreclosures had been rising on the Island. However, the citizens are left with most of the consequences for the debt. For the Debt Fair, Occupy Museums talks about the number of American artists who gradate from MFA programs in debt and what that means for the future of art. To learn more about the artists included, check out their links above. For further information about the Puerto Rican Debt Crisis this Huffington Post article is a good place to start.
Rodrigo Luff creates ethereal, nature influenced art with women and animals as central features. We recently bought a piece from Rodrigo and customized a frame to match the artwork. Due to the theme of the piece, we wanted every aspect customized to Rodrigo's artwork. It is a closed-corner, hand carved 22 carat gold gilded frame.
The completed frame design.
Closed corner or finished corner framing is one of the founding techniques of framing. It's an old European method that entails finishing a frame after joining the corners as opposed to before. Most modern frames are built from moldings that are pre-finished and chopped into one long length then joined. This is done to save on cost and to speed up efficiency since it is quicker. Often high end frames with carvings are closed cornered so that the patterns are symmetrical and match perfectly. Since Rodrigo's frame is hand carved, closed corners were ideal.
Close up of the hand carved finish on the Rodrigo Luff custom frame.
Hand carving first showed up in framing around the 12th or 13th century. It began to be used mainly in churches before becoming a feature that could be seen in art framed outside of religious use. With the progression of technology, ornate carved frames are more accessible, however hand carved works are still considered a luxury. Gilding is a technique that has a close history with carving. After the joining and carving process, gesso or an oil base is applied to the frame followed by the gold leaf powder. Viewing the completed frame with Rodrigo's artwork was a magical experience.
An original art piece by Rodrigo Luff.
Born in El Salvador, Rodrigo and his mother moved to Australia when he was three years old. He then went on to attended Ashton Art School in Sydney. After graduating he received multiple opportunities for solo shows in the US, so he quit his job in Australia to focus on fine art full time. Since then his career has really taken off. He co-curates the annual "The MoleSkine Project" for Spoke Gallery and is represented by ThinkSpace Art Gallery. The mission of the MoleSkine Project is to share artist notebooks from all genres with the public. He is currently based in Sydney and continues to travel the world exhibiting his art. For more info about Rodrigo, check out his website or Instagram. To view our latest framing projects follow us on Instagram or stop by for a quote.
Original art by Rodrigo Luff.
Jose Luis Vargas is a Puerto Rican artist who creates with the supernatural in mind. We recently got to stretch one of his massive early works and the results were eerily outstanding. The canvas, dated and signed in 2001, was so huge that it would not fit in our workshop! We ended up building the custom hardwood stretcher and stretching the canvas outside before it was delivered by Art Delivery Van.
Vargas's career began at the Art Students League in Old San Juan. After completing two years of study there, he attended Pratt Institute, graduating with a BA in Painting. Subsequently, he attended the Royal College of London earning an MA. He has taught workshops all over the US, England and Puerto Rico throughout his career. Since 2000, he's taken a serious interest in community radio and continues to contribute to the art space in the audio medium. Vargas's radio interests also led him to Mexico City to study sound art. Besides teaching classes at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, he also founded The Museum of Supernatural History. The Museum of Supernatural History is a multi-genre performance project that brings together artists of different disciplines.
Some distinguishing features of Vargas's artwork include humor and allusions to the supernatural. He frequently uses comic book inspired dialogue bubbles to convey light messages from the monsters that frequently grace his work. “In mythology, monsters rise when there’s a crisis." Vargas stated in a 2015 interview. His work is full of monstrous creatures with mythological overtones and mysterious suggestions. He utilizes strong storytelling and fantastical allusions to convey his views with an accessibility that is hard to find. We were excited to stretch this Jose Luis Vargas canvas and hope to do more in the future. Currently he is represented by Roberto Paradise. To see more of his work, check out his page on Roberto Paradise's website. For our day to day happenings and to see what we're framing next, follow us on Instagram. For a quote or to check out our framing selection, stop by the workshop for a visit!
Another original Jose Luis Vargas print.
Matt Gondek's work can be described as explosive, colorful and memorable. He takes familiar characters from cartoons and comic books and adds his own twist. Matt's art came into our workshop when a collector needed an original canvas stretched over a custom hardwood stretcher. His Homer Simpson and Wolverine canvas was so full of interesting details that we kept noticing different things throughout the stretching process.
Yvette with the completed Matt Gondek canvas.
Matt Gondek is from Pittsburgh, PA and he began his career as a freelance illustrator for bands around Pittsburgh. After sitting inside on his computer all day got old, he began teaching himself how to paint on canvas. He wasn't always painting exploding cartoon characters. As a matter of fact, Matt's early career started with him creating little monsters and creatures. The monster route ended up opening doors for snowboard and skateboard collaborations as well as other product launches. After running a t-shirt company with a friend he met through his band illustration gigs it was time for a change. Matt ended up moving to Los Angeles, and his mural painting took off. He's painted murals all over the US with Secret Walls, Outer Space Project, as well as completing a painting tour with Patch Whiskey and GhostBeard. Furthermore, for one of his solo canvas shows in Los Angeles, he painted a few murals around the city including a melting Donald Trump. Recently, Matt just returned from Hong Kong where he painted a mural and acted as a judge for Secret Walls.
Matt Gondek working on an exploding Simpsons mural.
We built a custom hardwood stretcher to stretch Matt's colorful canvas. The end result was nothing short of amazing. This was a great project to work on and we're psyched to work with more multi-medium artists in the future. To catch up with Matt and keep up with his latest projects, check out his Instagram. You can also follow us on Instagram to see our newest framing projects.
Matt Gondek's melting Donald Trump mural in Los Angeles.
As framing experts, we are committed to constantly expanding our services offered. One of these services is tapestry framing. Lately at Frames and Stretchers, we've received quite a few textile projects including some aged tapestries that required delicate care. We immediately thought of Stascia, our framer who is also a skilled seamstress. The framing order involving the antique required us to mount and frame the woven art. The challenge was in the fringe. We needed to find a conservation method to keep the fringe from falling victim to gravity and hanging downward. Stascia came up with a tapestry framing technique that involved using a catch stitch. We interviewed her about the piece and her methods. See below for the interview and more pictures.
A close up of Stascia sewing a tapestry order.
Q: What techniques did you use to sew the tapestry?
A: I used a whip stitch for the edges of the rug. For the fringe I used a variation of a catch stitch so that you would not see an obvious straight line of stitches to create the illusion the fringe threads were suspended.
Q: When did you find out that you had a knack for sewing?
A: I have been sewing since I was ten years old. My mother had me do only hand stitching, including needlepoint and cross stitch for about four years before I began using a sewing machine.
Q: Is sewing a hobby or a serious endeavor?
A: It is definitely both to me! I do it for myself because I enjoy the challenge of working with fabric for a wide range of purposes including: custom tailor suits and coats; bridal wear; custom slipcovers; custom window treatments; costume design; quilting and my artwork is canvas sculptures sewn onto a canvas.
Stascia using her sewing skills on another textile framing order.
Q: What are some important things to remember when sewing a more delicate work of art?
A: You have to be familiar with the personality of different fabrics in order to choose the right thread, needle and stitch. You also have to keep in mind the age of the fabric and its fragility when handling and choosing how to display and preserve it.
To see more images of Stascia's detailed work and our day to day framing projects, follow us on Instagram.
Christopher Porche-West's alluring photographs arrived at our workshop a few weeks ago. With the arrival, we were introduced to a side of New Orleanian culture that we had never seen. Porche-West is an accomplished photographer who has been documenting New Orleans and it's residents for the past 30 years. We designed a custom frame for his black and white photo with a black gothic moulding, museum board, and 99% UV museum glass for optimal clarity.
A Porche-West portrait framed with a gothic moulding and museum board.
Porche-West is an accomplished photographer originally from California. He made his first trip to New Orleans in the late 1970s with the goal of researching people of color. The vibrant, diverse culture of the city intrigued him and he began to visit more often to document it through photographs. After traveling between the two places for over a decade, he moved to New Orleans permanently in 1995. Throughout the late 90s Porche-West continued to take photographs and eventually began experimenting with sculpture using scrap metal he found around the city. Some of the most celebrated portraits of his career were of the Mardi Gras Indians which eventually led to the publishing of the book, "Eyes of Eagles New Orleans' Black Mardi Gras Indians."
The famous Mardi Gras Black Indians framed with rustic moulding and museum glass.
Porche-West has also documented other populations of people of color throughout the Caribbean. He has traveled to Haiti several times due to his relationship with the American Haitian Development Association. Additionally, he also traveled to Cuba in 2004 for their carnival and took many portraits there as well. His strength lies in his unique skill of capturing emotion and every day moments in an intimate way. Inspiration and further information can be found on his website and Instagram. To keep up with us and our daily framing projects follow us on Instagram or like our Facebook page. If you need a quote on a framing project you can always visit us in person at the Clemente!
A photo taken by Christopher Porche-West in Haiti.
A Cuban man during carnival.
A Cuban girl dancing during carnival.