Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sherry Wolf Studio Assistant

My name is Connor Rensimer and I am a senior General Fine Arts major. During the Fall semester of 2014, I was a studio assistant for Sherry Wolf, a figurative realist painter. Late in July of last Summer, in the process of learning to prepare traditional gesso, I set out to accrue the basic implements necessary to melt rabbit skin glue in order to combine it with marble dust. In the search for a double boiler, the most important tool for the process, I happened to find a craigslist post for a modest double boiler being sold within ten miles of my apartment, so I called the seller, who seemed ecstatic to have found a buyer. Through her inquiry regarding my purpose for her cherished pot, she discovered that I am a MICA student, and was curious to see my work, thus I shared my website with her. When I arrived at her home half an hour later, she expressed how impressed she was with my work and then proceeded to share the work of her friend, Sherry. I was astonished at the level of skill and craft in Sherry’s paintings, and even more so stricken when the lady offered an apprenticeship opportunity, to which I gladly accepted.

After a week had passed, upon returning from the opening reception of the Heart of Wires group show at Arch Enemy Arts, and a subsequent tour through New York with my parents, I promptly contacted Sherry’s friend and arranged a time to meet with Sherry for the first time at her home; you could call it an informal interview. It was immediately apparent that Sherry and I corresponded well with each other, hence we established a natural rapport.

Sherry Wolf, b.1949, just months before my own father, has been been drawing and painting with fervent purpose and desire since she was tutored personally by the renowned instructor of Old Master techniques, Joseph Sheppherd, at the age of 16. She went on to study Art History at the University of Maryland, immediately taking on work as a professional illustrator for large television networks in the 70’s. As a highly acclaimed kitsch technician, she displayed widely in satiric opposition to abstract expressionism, object art, and Op-art rampant from the 70’s to 90’s. I immediately respected and resonated with what she has done, being a light-hearted classically technician embedded in a de-skilled art world. I hoped in interning with her that the exposure to her process and palette would broaden my horizon and inform my senses.

My responsibilities in and out of Sherry’s studio included: accruing raw supplies for building surfaces, stretching and gessoing large canvases, collecting source materials from which I would sketch designs for finalized photoshop mockups, and of course, assisting in drawing and painting the art objects themselves.

I am most proud of helping Sherry expand her visual language and referential repertoire with formal and stylistic considerations significant to me as an artist. I feel that our rapport led to the development of visual ideas that might have gone unseen had I not found her friend’s craigslist post.

I am grateful for my experience with Sherry because it expanded my toolset as an painter and illuminated what practices I wish to follow or avoid in my own work. One I wish to avoid for my own satisfaction is absolute commercial compromise with gallerists and curators. They are to painters what art directors are to illustrators, and that conflicts with artists freely responding to and shaping culture.

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