Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Building Your Collection: Art Star Philly

In addition to 20x200, there are several online galleries I regularly visit on the hunt for interesting artists.

Art Star is a relatively young, brick-and-mortar gallery devoted to craft and innovative art.  They are open every day, but Mondays, in the Northern Liberties (NoLibs) neighborhood of downtown Philadelphia… just north of Center City.  Art Star often collaborates with other institutions, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and their Craft Bazaar, held each spring, has grown into a regional event and influenced similar markets throughout the nation.  Art Star also maintains a great website where you can peruse their curated collections of housewares, jewelry, clothing, stationery, and of course, original art.

I discovered Eleanor Grosch and Julianna Swaney, several years ago, through Art Star.

Eleanor Grosch is an artist and illustrator based in Philadelphia.  She has designed everything from concert posters, exhibition materials and book covers to messenger bags, bed linens and Keds.  You can ask her to develop an identity for your new business or a “save-the-date” invite for your special day.
Eleanor worked with the American Museum of Natural History
to create materials for their current Creatures of Light exhibit.
But Eleanor is perhaps best known for her images of animals and birds.  And her work is often compared with bird illustrations by American modernist Charley Harper.
Eleanor's Owl Birches notecard
I’m a big fan of her series from Aesop’s Fables.  These are hand-pulled silkscreens on heavy-duty rag paper.  And while the images may look rather slick here, they definitely have a hand-crafted feel.  The colors are thick but slightly muted and remind me of traditional textiles like Hawaiian sleeping kapa and quilts.  I especially like the intricate, retro-Regency or -Chinoiserie silhouettes she adds to create depth and a sense of movement, transparency and whimsy.
The Crow and Vase

The Fox and Stork
Are the polka dot patterns in her new Australian prints inspired by Aboriginal bark and rock paintings?
Eleanor’s silkscreens are signed and numbered and amazingly affordable.  I own two myself and have given two as gifts.
Eleanor's work in my friend's son's nursery.
You can order Eleanor’s greeting cards and mugs from Art Star or shop for original prints, t-shirts and accessories directly from Eleanor.
Gingko Green notecard
Julianna Swaney now lives in Portland, Oregon.  But she grew up in the woods of the Upper Midwest and her art and illustrations seem drawn, literally, from these memories and her own early imaginings of folk stories and fairy tales.
Night Migrations
Delicate, nostalgic and slightly surreal, Julianna’s pen drawings with watercolor are reminiscent of faded, antique embroidery and pressed flowers.  They are like grown-up versions of the pictures of my childhood, especially Garth Williams’ illustrations for the Little House books, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web.

Light in the Woods
Like Eleanor, Julianna does a lot of commission work.  And you can request that she create a logo, sign or specialty announcement for your personal endeavor.  She also reproduces some of her original pieces as giclee prints and postcards.  Original or replicated, her work is reasonably priced to give as presents to others or yourself!
Set of Julianna's "Winter" Postcards
You can purchase Julianna’s card sets, prints and jewelry from Art Star or the same, plus original drawings and wonderfully Victorian brooches, from Julianna’s online shop Oh My Cavalier!
Two Rabbits Necklace from Art Star

Chickadee Brooch with brown, velvet ribbon
Art Star also represents popular artists Kurt Halsey Frederiksen, who usually just goes by Kurt Halsey, Jen Corace and Laura “George” Berger.  If you’re in Philadelphia sometime soon, definitely check out their gallery in person.  But you can visit them electronically any time, any day.

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