NATURE JOURNALINGPosted on May 20, 2022
In these stressful times, I stay focused on nature. With watercolor, gouche, colored pencils or any other media needed, I record the change of seasons, the flow of water, the growth of plants and the movements of all the creatures surviving around us. Sometimes I can work on location but often, depending on weather and quick moving subjects, I take photos on my phone to study later. Painting forces me to meditate on what is real.
THE PLASTIC MUSKIEPosted on April 21, 2022
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) provided Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper with funding for a Marine Debris Removal Grant. I was offered the chance to create a piece of public art to highlight the issue of plastics in our waterways. Here is my "Plastic Muskie" portrait of the native Muskellunge fish, created out of plastics salvaged by volunteers during the 2021 "Shoreline Sweep." It is installed at the Buffalo Zoo in the corridor leading to the Gorilla habitat. I am thrilled that thousands of people pass by and that when they get up close, they will see the insane variety of debris in our waters.
Our House is On FirePosted on April 18, 2020
I entered this painting into the Buffalo Society of Artists Spring 2020 Exhibition. I titled it “Our House is On Fire” after the rallying cry from climate activist, Greta Thunberg.
The exhibit was scheduled to be hosted by the Carnegie Art Center in North Tonawanda. Like so many other art events in this time of Covid-19, the reception was cancelled and the Carnegie was shuttered. Fortunately the Buffalo Society of Artists adapted it into its first ever cyber exhibition!
You can view all of the work at www.bsacalls.com (up until May 7th).
Our House is On Fire
Oil on Fabriano Paper
'DISCARDED ANCESTORS'Posted on April 16, 2020
My new book, ‘DISCARDED ANCESTORS’ officially launched on Friday, March 1st, at the Canisius College Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library. This was so fitting because that’s where the family secret was discovered (and you can discover it yourself when you read the book!)
So many people were involved in this creative project. I am so thankful to Kathleen Delaney and Lisa Sullivan of Canisius for their research that led to the discovery of the mysterious Eleanor. Thanks also to Marti Gorman and Linda Prinzi of City of Light Publishing for their expertise and enthusiasm.
We were expecting a large shipment of books from Asia but everything was put on hold due to Covid-19. I thought books would be in all the bookstores and on Amazon by now. Several book signings had to be cancelled. But fortunately in the meantime, copies are available at City of Light Publishing in Buffalo, NY. You can order your copy on their website:
My studio is a 900 sq. ft space on the fifth floor of Buffalo’s TriMain Center. Built in 1917 as a Ford Model-T factory, the TriMain, like the city itself, has gone through economic upheavals. Now considered a ‘mixed-use business center,’ this huge hulk of a building rises at 2495 Main Street and dominates the landscape around it. Main Street has historically been the dividing line between the decaying Eastside and the redeveloped Westside neighborhoods of Buffalo. The TriMain attracts a diverse population from both sides of the city and gives me the opportunity to meet and work with them. At the same time, I can close my doors and retreat into my own quiet, creative space.
The surrounding neighborhoods are an extension of my studio. As I walk out of the building, I find treasure close by. Abandoned toys, old photographs, hunks of rusty metal thrown out to the curb, pieces of wood encrusted with layer upon layer of paint – a riot of intense textures. It’s startling and intriguing to see what others have left behind. The leftovers from this post-industrial city have become my raw material. Exploring and photographing abandoned houses and factories, collecting and combining pieces into assemblage have become steps in my process. Sanding surfaces lets me reveal layers of time. Painting portraits and framing them with old wood is another part of my method. I don’t think I would have found such meaning and direction for my work if not for my TriMain studio.
- From the new book “Creative Spaces, The Western New York Artist Studio Project”
by Richard W. Christian and Steve H. Siegel
SIGNING SEASONPosted on January 6, 2018
The two months leading up to the holidays are prime time for book fairs and book signings. This year I was honored to be included in many events. From the KIDS EXPO at the Buffalo Convention Center, to INDIE AUTHOR DAY at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library to the first LE3 EVENT at Barnes & Noble and several more. Each one is an opportunity to meet other authors, talk shop and make new friends. Each event is totally unique with different levels of event planning. Best of all, I got to meet people who actually buy my books and kids who read them. Thank you to everyone who stopped to say hi and a special thanks to the people who bought Buffalo Snow as a present to send out to children who don’t get to see snow. Some destinations fans told me about this year were Australia, Florida, Scotland, and California.
KEEPING SECRETSPosted on December 7, 2017
Yesterday Time magazine announced it's "Person of the Year 2017 - The Silence Breakers." For me, the recognition of women who refused to be shamed and silenced is a liberating and encouraging moment. I truly believe that the world cannot be saved without women rising up and speaking truth to power.
In 2007, I completed this 'domestic' self-portrait in pastel. It is actually based on a dream of my mother who suffered much abuse in her life and kept her silence. Her greatest secret was that her own mother, suffering from post-partum depression, had been committed to an asylum. That was back in the day when a husband could get rid of a difficult wife and never have her set free.
The painting became part of the Ovenden Contemporary 'SELF' exhibition in Cambridgeshire, England.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN THE TIME OF TRUMPPosted on December 1, 2017
"INCIVILITY: A VISUAL RESPONSE"
Opening December 1st at El Museo Gallery is a group show of challenging art in support of the International Institute of Buffalo for their efforts to aid Buffalo Refugees. The show is up until December 9th with a closing reception and call for winter clothing donations. El Museo is at 91 Allen Street, Buffalo.
My entry is a large mixed media drawing of figures in a borderland setting. The composition grew out of my feelings on the plight of women and girls around the world.
The president’s negative stance on immigrants has caused distress for many. One vulnerable group affected by the ban that hasn’t gotten as much attention as others is the victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking is essentially a form of modern slavery, in which people are coerced, lured or kidnapped into unpaid or underpaid labor (including, but not limited to, sex work). It is estimated that some 50,000 women and girls are brought into the U.S. each year.
In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was designed to combat human trafficking, as well as to extend a helping hand to victims in the U.S. Under these laws, if you can prove that you’re a victim of human trafficking, you can be entitled to a number of benefits, including a visa to stay in the U.S., not only for yourself, but also potentially for your spouse and children. So if you’re a foreign-born trafficking victim who has escaped your situation, you can work to prosecute your traffickers in U.S. courts, thereby preventing them from victimizing other people.
Now under Trump’s executive order, trafficking victims are fearful of being considered criminals rather than victims when they reach out for help. One of the most effective tools that traffickers use to maintain control over someone and make them fearful of seeking help–besides violence–is the threat of the legal system, of law enforcement, or the threat of deportation back to the country they fear. Trump has created a climate where people in trafficking situations are even more powerless.
All are welcome to tonight's opening reception from 7 - 9 pm. All feedback is welcome!
NO BIGGER THAN A PIE BOXPosted on July 9, 2017
On Wednesday July 13, ArtReach will host their fundraiser “no bigger than a pie box” – small works (less than 9” square) small enough to fit into a pie box. ArtReach is a group of Buffalo ‘like-minded’ women, Karen Eckert, Maria Pabico LaRotonda, Beth Smith and Emily Tucker, who have banded together in support of our common humanity and our democracy. This silent auction will benefit Pride Center of WNY, Planned Parenthood and the YWCA, groups at risk of losing funding in this political climate.
I have submitted 3 pieces to the event – all from my “endangered creatures” series. Each is a 6”x 6” portrait in spray paint and acrylic on canvas. On the side panel is a different butterfly at risk of extinction. I wonder how many species these children will see go extinct as the EPA is destroyed.
From left to right are:
Karner Blue (Plebejus melissa samuelis)
Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus)
Dotted Skipper (Hesperia attalus)
The silent auction runs from 5:30 – 7:30 at 500 Seneca Street in Buffalo, NY. Pre-sale tickets to the event are $20 for individual tickets and $30 per pair through July 10. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20 a piece or online. On behalf of ArtReach, thank you for your support!
FATHER’S DAYPosted on June 17, 2017
Today I am remembering my father, Richard MacLean. Born of an immigrant mother, he was a child of the depression. He grew up strong in the CC Camps and fought in the Pacific in World War II. After the war he returned to Boston, married Marjory Foss and had two kids. He worked installing burglar alarms all around Boston until retirement. Richard kept the same job and same wife and retired a happy and loyal man. In his retirement years, he enjoyed recycling old tools. We would go to garage sales with him, looking for junk that he could turn into treasure. He taught me to respect what’s been left behind or thrown away and his values have certainly influenced my artwork.
Here is Dad in the cellar looking over his “collection”.
A few years back I did a portrait of him, entitled “Who Will Build the City Up Each Time?” I used spray paint and acrylic on canvas and then framed it in recycled wood. The letters and numbers reference his initials and social security number. As a soldier and a worker, Richard was often seen as just a 'number.' The piece was in the “The Artists Among Us” exhibit at the Burchfield Penney in 2012. Dad got to see himself in a museum – a highlight for both of us! Dad passed away in January 2015. I miss and honor him today.