To honor the sculptures produced by the recipients of the 2016 Artist Residency in Carrara, New York Academy of Art students, Jiannan Wu and Brice Esso, ABC Stone held a celebration in its colorful Brooklyn warehouse.
As aerial acrobats entertained guests with their graceful maneuvers overhead, below were enjoyed dozens of new sculptures, from the hyperrealist sculptor Robin Antar, Stephen Shaheen, Barbara Segal, Alasdair Thomson, Michael Kukla, and Barry X Ball among others.
Brice Esso is a perfect example of a contemporary Renaissance Man. Born in Cote d’Ivoire in 1991, his childhood was filled with experiences that helped shape his sensibility for art and culture. Although his family had different expectations for him, he decided to travel abroad to pursue his college degree in America. While completing a Bachelor’s degree in business, Brice reconnected with his passion for visual arts. It is at New York Academy of Art that Brice continues to develop his skills as a sculptor.
Jiannan Wu is celebrated as a young artist specializing in sculpture and drawing. Born in 1990 in Dalian, China, Jiannan started to learn painting and drawing at the age of seven. From 2009 to 2014 he studied sculpture at the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, and graduated with a BFA. He works in both sculpture and drawing, and is interested in the relationship between image and sculpture. In his creative approach, he uses the combination of two-dimensional images and three-dimensional sculptures—the perspective effect of pictures is utilized in his sculptures.
ABC is honored to have had the opportunity to further the education of these promising young artists. It is our belief that deepening the awareness of stone commensurately widens respect for this venerable medium and millennia-old tradition of transforming it through highly skilled craft.
Entertainment provided: Adair Moran Aerialists
Lighting: Ken Farmer & Kyle Garner of Wild Dogs International
Music provided: DJ Leecy T
Photography: Elliot Goldstein
Culinary delights: Halcyon Gourmet
Photobooth fun: Mashbooths
Have any pictures of the event? Upload and tag @ABCStone or #LiveYourLifeInStone.
This year’s Ball, subtitled A Magical Menagerie, honored Will Cotton. Will trained at NYAA in the 1980s and is an unwavering protagonist of the academy’s mission. He teaches Master Classes, serves as a Senior Critic, and hosts an Artists’ Drawing Party fundraiser every fall. He is represented by Mary Boone, and known for his surreal, colorful portraits. Will has exhibited in major group and solo shows the world over, including at the National Portrait Gallery, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Triennale di Milano.
The event’s décor plunged guests into the aforementioned “menagerie,” with six floors of fantastical animal-themed installations inspired by Van Cleef and Arpels’ latest jewelry collection, L’Arche de Noé.
Starting in the lobby guests were regaled by the sounds of the Spiros Exaras Trio, and moving on to the upper floors they explored artists’ studios, an installation of prints by current NYAA students, and live drawing by alumni, among many other fanciful attractions.
Event Chairs included Alain Bernard, Christina Di Donna, Brooke Shields and Naomi Watts.
Support of the ball directly impacts the Academy’s scholarships and educational programming, allowing it to fulfill its mission of training the most talented emerging artists in the skills and techniques essential to the creation of vital contemporary art.
For more coverage of the Ball: Vogue, Avenue Magazine, Women’s Wear Daily.
Your support will directly impact the Academy’s scholarships and educational programming, allowing it to fulfill its mission of training the most talented emerging artists in the skills and techniques essential to the creation of vital contemporary art.
For tickets visit: tribecaball.com.
After familiarizing himself with the particular species of duck endemic to the area in which the finished sculpture would be displayed, observing and taking thousands of photographs of the bird, and consulting with duck hunters, Ross set to work on his project. Using both CNC technology and traditional sculpting tools, he produced his sculpture: Peregrine’s Plate.
The density and integrity of ABC’s marble was up to the challenge of what might be regarded as a “pushing” of the material: the finished weight of the sculpture is four-hundred pounds, but it is exquisitely finely wrought and delicate. “After it was complete,” says Ross, “when I tapped lightly on each open wing of the central bird in the composition with my finger, they rang like bells! There was even a beautiful harmonic resonance between the two. Fortunately, everyone else had the wisdom not to even get close to touching those wings!”
We recently had a chance to speak with Ross about Peregrine’s Plate, his career as a sculptor, his creative process, and how he came to select ABC’s Belgian Black marble for this project. (Read to the very end for an amazing photo gallery documenting the process by which Ross created his sculpture!)
ABC Stone: How would you describe yourself?
Ross Matteson: I like to think of myself as a community builder, often using visual art to help bring people together around shared values. I am fearless about addressing big issues (social equality; politics; religion; education; the environment; agriculture) and seeking originality, beauty and potential where others may not.
ABC: When did you begin making sculptures?
RM: From childhood. Full-time, professionally: from 1987.
ABC: How did you determine the size and density of the block you would need, and how did you decide upon the material Belgian Black?
RM: A finished, quality piece of this marble can look like black glass, only with an organic lifelike warmth about it. It is a rare, beautiful and prestigious material. The site specific requirements of this particular indoor entryway sculpture dictated the dimensions. I was blessed with clear renderings of an exquisite architectural setting along with an intelligent plan to place a sculptural focal point just inside the doorway on a predetermined round table. I knew that the table would be seven feet in diameter, allowing for me to propose a centered, relatively delicate “subject relevant” concept of a smaller diameter to the broker and client. The line of sight through the building from the front door looks out onto a beautiful landscape, including a large migratory duck pond. The logical subject, in this context, was three ring-necked ducks in a flooded corn field where much of the collector’s duck hunting occurs.
The narrative in the visually active composition that I imagined is that these ducks are panicking and moving in response to a natural predator. I decided that this unseen predator was to be a peregrine falcon since, as a falconer, I hunt ducks with peregrine falcons and am familiar with the defense behavior of ducks when falcons are above them. One of my ducks had to be taking flight with his wings up to add drama to my story while still honoring, and not blocking, the beautiful view through the glass walls to the pond and landscape. I knew that to carve thin wings of a duck, on the upstroke, would necessitate a very dense and reliable block of stone, and a lot of removed stone. The challenge was that I didn’t know if this larger block of stone that would be required was available, or if it even existed. My proposal was contingent on finding a supplier with a very high level of confidence and integrity.
ABC: How long did it take to create the sculpture?
RM: This is always a difficult question and some sculptors I know give their age, when asked! I was first approached with this opportunity in February of 2016. A contract was finalized in April. My custom quarried and cut stone was ordered in May, arrived in September and the finished piece was delivered in December. I would have preferred a year of carving time, but this is true for all my pieces.
ABC: How did you learn about ABC Stone?
RM: I did an exhaustive internet search for existing Belgian Black marble blocks of the desired size, without success. An intern of mine asked Jonathan LaFarge, her former instructor at the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland, Vermont, for ideas. He referred me to ABC Worldwide Stone, and you, fortunately, have direct access to the Belgian Black quarry.
When I first got involved with the possibility of buying this really expressive piece of stone, I was pretty uncomfortable. If the stone hadn’t proved to be the right density and integrity for my purposes, this would have been a huge liability. My daughter happened to be in New York at the time and I sent her to meet Ken at ABC after he and I began to correspond. She attended one of your events and was treated very nicely and, frankly, this was an important part of me doing business with ABC Stone. (*laughs*)
ABC: Why do you feel that your sculpture constituted a “pushing” of the material?
RM: Belgian Black is hard, brittle and expensive. A poorly chosen stone has been described by one of my colleagues as “downright explosive.” It just so happens that the meaning and “action” in my piece is explosive/ panicked/moving — but not in pieces on the floor! Bringing visual motion to a cohesive inanimate object is a simple idea but difficult goal. One of the ways I approach visual motion in the poses and lyricism of my compositions is by staying alert to the difference between “potential motion” and “frozen motion.” I think that many artists would agree that elegance can require a high level of craftsmanship. There was no room for error in executing this piece given some of the thin, polished and unsupported forms.
Much of my carving time was spent in thought or in conducting tests. I had to pre-engineer what tools to use along the sequence of cutting and polishing my stone. Open wings and extended heads all had posts or bridges of stone connected to them until the very last part of the carving process. In addition, an elaborate device was invented for lifting the finished sculpture.
ABC: Would you give us a rundown of your creative process.
RM: Most of what I really do when carving a sculpture is to stare at both the material and reference and just think. I am always learning about the vastness of a three-dimensional surface. I am not satisfied easily and my self-critique is brutal, but usually very internal and private. Memories sometimes help synthesize a needed refinement or satisfaction with what is there. In other words, I trust a memory of how an escaping duck made me feel more than a video, photograph, or taxidermied reference. The reason is simple: a feather is not a piece of marble. Everything needs to work with the time, materials, tools, lighting and experience at hand. Being around people such as Ken, the art broker, architect, or collector on this project, who are passionate about a subject, material, or tool that I am working with, is a crucial part of the community responsible for helping bring my original ideas to light. On a piece like Peregrine’s Plate, I initially sculpt a maquette as reference. In this project, it was very helpful to create a life-sized model.
I work to understand the potential of each material I use and, as I mentioned, also enjoy support from family, a rich network of colleagues, subcontractors, and suppliers that rally around unique ideas worthy of community support. Distracted, childlike observations of the world around me continually spawn metaphors. One example is an intersecting wave pattern in front of a swimming Bufflehead duck resulting in a sculpture titled Ripple Effect. Another example, in Peregrine’s Plate, is the drakes opening wings thoughtlessly knocking the hen’s head to the side in the panic of the escape. I think that such metaphors, often inspired by the natural world, come to light because I care about their relevance to humanity. I love making site-specific art that may be sensitive to design factors in a commission, but that is also inspiring to me, relevant over time and draws from a wide choice of incredibly rich and diverse permanent media available. Of course, making anything to last for centuries, (let alone, to be cared about by generations of owners) is a pretty good challenge!
“Enduring Grace” is a signature goal of mine. It transcends cliché art categories such as “Wildlife Artist,” or “Contemporary Artist,” and can better represent any art that is unique, but meaningful across both time and culture. Over many centuries, Belgian Black marble has already proved its cross-cultural appeal. In the finished sculpture, Peregrine’s Plate, it was structurally and aesthetically foundational to my goal of expressing what I hope will be considered relevant, beautiful, and graceful over many years.
Peregrine’s Plate (2016)
by Ross Matteson
Belgian Black marble
37” diameter by 14” high
photos courtesy of Matteson Sculpture studio
by Ross Matteson
Belgian Black marble
37” diameter by 14” high
photos courtesy of Matteson Sculpture studio
Transitioning from the music recording industry, which was his first career path after graduating from the Evergreen State College, Ross has been practicing sculpture for the last twenty-seven years and has had his work appear in over 150 shows. His sculptures are in the permanent collections or have been exhibited in such museums as the Woodson Art Museum (Wausau, WI), the National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson, WY), the Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa, OK), the Natural History Museum (London, United Kingdom), the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, OK), the Bennington Center for the Arts (Bennington, VT), other museums around the country for shows sponsored by the “Society of Animal Artists” (New York, NY), and in numerous commercial galleries, private, corporate and public collections around the world.
To learn more about Ross, and his work, visit mattesonsculpture.com.
Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Ripe Art Gallery
1028 Park Avenue
Huntington, NY 11743
The show will feature diverse female artists from around the country including Kat Ryalls, Rondi Casey, Dorothy A. Holmes, Yvonne O’Gara, Caitlin Clifford, Sherry Dooley, Tracy Wisehart-Plaisance, Maria Kramer, Eden Folwell, Dominique Steffens, Laura Shuran Meseroll and McKayla Lankau. More artists and details to come…
On April 20th, The Carrara Residency celebration and unveiling was held at ABC Stone’s Brooklyn showroom and warehouse to honor the 2015 recipients of the Merit Award, Marco Palli and Joshua Henderson.
Trained in Civil Engineering and Business administration, Marco Palli has always seen the world in a mathematical way. A multidisciplinary artist, Marco found his way to sculpture after pursuing in-depth explorations into music and literature. Palli describes his creative process as “Meditating about happiness.” At this year’s celebration, Marco unveiled his sculpture Transparent to transcendence, which he characterizes as a conceptual self-portrait. “The piece revisits my own culture,” he says, “exposes my roots as a Catholic man who has perhaps lost his own identity.”
Joshua Henderson was born in 1986 as one of seven siblings, in a small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. After studying art at Southern Utah University, and receiving his BFA in 2013, he attended the New York Academy of Art, where he received an MFA with a focus on sculpture. He is a two-time recipient of the Carrara Residency Merit Award. 1st Witness, which was unveiled at the celebration, is part of a series of ten stone carvings which he describes as, “expressing the two-sided nature of things that brings us comfort.”
Other esteemed artists on view included Barry X Ball, Stephen Shaheen, Barbara Segal, Michael Kukla, and Alasdair Thomson.
We would like to thank Wild Dogs International (www.wilddogsinternational.com) for the spectacular projections and lighting they provided, the band ZS (www.zzzsss.com) for the stellar performance and DJ set, Elliot Goldstein (www.elliotgoldstein.net) for perfectly capturing the festivities with immense style and aplomb, and our amazing wine sponsor for the second year running, Maison Belle Clare (www.maisonbelleclaire.com).
ABC proprietor Jonathan Tibett, who is also an NYAA board member, describes the evening as “a wonderful way to celebrate art and life while raising money for a terrific school.” Over $900,000 was raised to held fund NYAA scholarships and programming.
See some of the extraordinary pieces from the evening below…
Architects and Artisans spoke to two-time Merit Award recipient Joshua Henderson about his experiences with art, life, and Carrara.
Click here for the full story.