“Sketchbooks are a companion to me,” said artist Amie Ziner. “I always have a sketchbook with me.”
Light streamed through the windows of Ziner’s dining room, illuminating the artifacts, handcrafts, and artwork that enliven her arts-infused life.
Of special note were the stacks of small sketchbooks she has been filling for the better part of four decades — elements of which are now on display for a limited, one-week exhibition at 101 Threads, the gallery at 118 Court St.. The show opened on Sept. 19 and will move a few streets over to The Happiness Lab, at 756 Chapel St., at the end of the week.
Although the bound volumes contain sketches, many composed of typical, multiple-view studies, they also contain finely elaborated paintings, renderings, and multimedia musings, evidence of the skilled hand of someone not only making art, but living it.
Along with samples of her actual sketchbooks are two 3’ x 10’ murals with images culled and reproduced from those sketchbooks. They are dense montages that reveal only an aspect of Ziner’s creative output.
A visual scan of the murals reveals a deft and confident facility for rendering the things she sees, feels, and experiences. Figurative and primarily representational, Ziner’s imagery shows her connection to people and nature, subjects she often combines to great effect.
“I find Amie’s work to be deep, rich and vibrant, with a range that matches her character,” said 101 Threads owner Brian Monahan. A mini slide show extends the number of images on view, but still represents only a fraction of her overall body of work.
The exhibit also includes examples of Ziner illustrations. Two published books on display touch upon her capacity for whimsical humor with imagination-capturing appeal. The proverbial line between illustration and fine art is often blurred, if nonexistent.
“It’s all poetry” Ziner said.
Several stations around the gallery display Ziner’s forays into various mediums — stone, wood, and wire sculpture including 3D printed sculptural replicas created in various sizes of their originals. A small sign encourages viewers to hold and examine the reproductions.
At the opening, visitors were invited to make their own creative statements at a large drawing table. Those who took up this interactive opportunity seemed to delight in the stuffed boxes of available Crayola crayons and markers.
A collection of around a dozen Ziner oil paintings on display also hint at her versatility and breadth of skill. Dramatic light and color harmonies are part of her visual currency, supported by solid compositional awareness. In “Mike in Edgewood Park,” shards of dappled light draw us to a young child. Alone and engrossed in his personal musings, the warm and cool color interplay strikes a soothing balance creating a magical refuge.
“Botanica,” a symphony of plant forms and curving lines, basks in a warm, orange glow, inviting the viewer to explore dense layering punctuated with complementary colored blue florets.
An avid gardener and lover of nature, Ziner often used raw materials from nature to create baskets, weavings, and wood carvings. In addition to teaching several weekly classes in science at Woodruff Family WMCA in Milford, and occasional drawing sketch classes at 101 Threads called Sip and Sketch, Ziner has just landed a dream job as a part-time ranger at Ansonia Nature Center that will make use of her many talents in all areas of the center’s operations.
At The Grove To broaden her understanding of presenting art, Ziner recently took on the role of curator with a current exhibition entitled People in Nature at the Grove Gallery, which will run for eight weeks though Nov. 6. In the exhibit, Ziner has curated the work of six international artists from three continents, including one of her own pieces, a large, painterly, pastel landscape drawing.
Ziner has curated before, but said she greatly benefited from a program taught by Grove Gallery’s curator, Art Interstice‘s Elinor Slomba. The program, called “Open your Curatorial Eye,” is designed to train people from varying professional backgrounds in arts curation.
During her training, Ziner said she learned to develop a subjective sensibility about the artwork. This let her find commonalities among the images, bringing them together and helping viewers understand the artists’ intent, but also exploring aspects of the art that the artists themselves may never have considered.
The show’s title, People in Nature, refers to the intimate relationships of people to the places they work and live. “The show pays homage to their country’s landscapes, plants and animals, and to the human spirit, both as made evident, and implied” according to an exhibition statement.
The exhibit includes traditional media and digital images of original works that provide a window on the art being created by the group of international artists. Acrylic and gouache paintings, digital prints of 3D objects, digitally created coloring books, and Sumi ink paintings on handmade paper come together. Ziner has embraced technology as an affordable way to share art, in effect democratizing access to the art for viewers and the artists’ abilities to share their work internationally. The artists include David Sandum from Norway, Harry Stooshinoff from Canada, Linda Cato from the United States, and Florence M’Bilampassi Virginie Loukoula “Ma Flo” (above) and M’Bilampassi Tonda Judith Armel, both from the Republic of Congo.
Mitchell Library Exhibit Ziner’s embrace of technology is on full display with yet another show at the meeting room gallery of the Mitchell branch of the New Haven Free Public Library. The show features 15 digital prints by Ziner created on an iPad, and also features several works by iPad Procreate App specialist Raheem Nelson. Ziner’s love of nature, the landscape, portraiture, and cartooning are all featured in the exhibit. Watching her draw in real time using the iPad, often at special events, leaves no doubt that technology has become another tool in her formidable skill set. The show runs through Oct. 15.
Ziner said a quote by the musician John Cage has become her motto for many years: “my life is art.” She said she sees art not as a commodity, but as an integral part of everyday life.
“Like the people who made Stonehenge, or that carved the beautiful figurines of gods and goddesses, and created baskets, poetry and pottery; all these expressions of creativity were not divorced from a spiritual life… they were part of their spiritual life,” she said.
Ziner will be exhibiting at the Goffe Street Armory during the upcoming City Wide Open Studios. Check the website for details.
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 22, 2015 4:10pm
I love the tin can Elephant.
Who is the artist, and why is the picture not captioned to identify him?
If you are going to report on the arts, you really need to give credit where credit is due. (or did I miss it?)
There is a focus on the curators here that muddies the arts coverage.
posted by: pwpwpw on September 23, 2015 10:35am
In response to Bill Saunders- The artist who created the elephant is a woman. Also, the curating focus does not muddle the arts coverage, it is an integral part of it!! This is a beautifully written article about an incredible artist with amazing versatility. Why are your comments always so negative?
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 23, 2015 12:55pm
If the picture had been properly captioned, I would have known the gender of the artist, as well as her name, and the name of the piece.
This is a pretty basic standard for reporting on art and artists, that NHI continues to blow.
By wanting the artist to get her due in the press, how is that being negative—I think that is being PRO-ARTIST.
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 23, 2015 3:05pm
Thank you for the correction.
But I am still a little confused— is “Ma Flo” part of the exhibit, or is it just the Digital Print.
See how incomplete coverage can be misleading????
Also, as both an artist and curator, I understand the two distinct roles, and it is standard practice for Curators to NOT show their own art in shows that they curate.
I have nothing against Ms. Ziner—in fact, I was at the opening, and found her oil painting of a Magician with Nude girls quite compelling. But, with all of the other opportunities afforded her, it seems a small piece of humility to stand back from the exhibit you curate to hold up the artists you are introducing to the community.
posted by: pwpwpw on September 23, 2015 6:17pm
Bill-here’s the problem…you simply missed the forest for the trees…There were three separate exhibits and lots of info provided, yet you chose to make an issue over one element. Maybe if you had looked at the photo more carefully, you would have seen that it was a woman. Her name was mentioned in the article. Perhaps there should have been a caption, but the fact that you focused on that one thing, rather than all the positive aspects of the article, does reflect negativity on your part. However, it was your comment “focus on curators muddles the art coverage” that I was referring to as negative—and you conveniently left that out of your response to me. The comment was unfounded and unnecessary.
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 23, 2015 7:34pm
I know there were three different exhibits. I made compliments about the art in two of them, and as result of my initial comment, an artist’s work was properly attributed. It was impossible to connect the dots in the manner you suggest. It is the job of the press to not play ‘hide the monkey’ with people’s artwork, this is someone’s personal passion after all, not just photo filler .
I also told you one of my problems about the curation of one of the shows.
I also read about a course for to teach people about curation, but all that seems a little contrived given my first observation.
What else can I say?
The fact that one artist is featured in all three curations just seems strange to me….
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 23, 2015 9:56pm
Also, not to belabor this point, but, who is the I-Pad Artist that created the gorgeously surreal SweateredFox/Tri-Eyed Octopus/Minotaurus?
Nelson or Ziner?
Having seen some of each of their work, I Can’t Tell.
posted by: aziner on September 24, 2015 2:57pm
@Bill Saunders, I didn’t do a picture of a magician and nudes. I’m not sure what you are referring to there.
The shows at 101 Threads, and The Grove were all put together by myself, and in the case of the Mitchell Branch, by Raheem Nelson and myself (our third collaboration). I paid for the excellent training of the curating class, the printing and mounting of the International Art show at the Grove, and the murals at 101 Threads. Nothing too secretive there, lol!
The cost of making and showing art is a real one- and some artists find participating as a group (like at 101 Threads or at CWOS) to be good way to extend their ability to exhibit without a huge outlay of cost. I encourage all artists that want some exposure locally to contact 101 Threads; Brian Monahan is a kind, skillful gallery co-owner.
Do you think that makes the art any less from the heart? I think it’s worth the effort and cost to try and improve, to make your art available to a wider audience, to collaborate! I have found this period of my life very productive and happy.
I guess you are a traditionalist when it comes to art shows and curators - I prefer sharing art to sticking to the Rules. :) There’s no subterfuge here, just people enjoying art and getting pleasure from working together.
The show at The Grove (27pcs) includes1 image of mine, a print of a pastel I did while in France in June. I thought it fit the theme of international art - of course, when you have a show, you put in what you like too, don’t you? It made me happy to share it. So, I’m not a traditionalist when it comes to curating or showing work. Life moves forward, and I like to try new things - I’m an artist, we all enjoy being creative!
I hope sharing your art brings you joy. It’s been wonderful for me to share my work, and that of some of my favorite artists. I hope to see some of your shows publicized in the New Haven area - it’s a tremendous investment of time and effort, but really worthwhile, don’t you agree?
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 24, 2015 5:39pm
You know the piece I am talking about—the one you did from a drawing you made at Dr. Sketchy, in NYC. It is a very strong painting, as is the I-Pad illustration. As a fellow artist, I really think your figural work is your strong suit, and I would like to see more of it.
Over the years, I have had plenty of opportunities to show my work, and I have provided even more opportunities for others, free of charge, often out of my own pocket, because I believe in the power of connection that art has with people, especially with ignored and underserved populations. I am always surprised at the genuine reactions homeless people on the green have to me walking around with my art, as opposed to the bustling masses of Chapel Street, one block away. I am always surprised by what is in some shy kids sketchbook.
Afterall, creative expression is something we all share as humans (this message board being creative outlet as well). It’s what makes us different from all other animals.
Also, when I see this type of saturation with one artist’s work, it is a flag, especially within the limited resources of our small artistic community. It generally signals that someone has some internal connections, and is being promoted from within. Either that, or they are just overly ambitious.
I am sure we will be seeing and hearing more from you, though.
From what I hear on ‘the scene’, you have recently appeared, and are showing up everywhere.
So, Welcome to New Haven!
and btw, when I curate an art show, it is never about me or my work—it is about promoting others in a way that engages the audience beyond the individual artists strengths in support of a unified theme.
When I run shows that are open participation from the community at large, I will participate, and follow the same rules as everybody else.
These are important philosophical points/differences. Curation just can’t be another word for self-promotion.
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 25, 2015 1:28am
Story Buried in the archives so soon? I must have said something.
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 25, 2015 3:51am
When I think of true curators in New Haven, I think of Paul Clabby of the embattled John Slade Ely House, a humble soul who has curated an uncountable number of artists works.
So, let’s sleep on that notion before commoditize the art of curating.