TimeOpen Saturdays 11-1 and DAILY with a text or telephone call: please wait for confirmation.
Mid-Winter Art Show: Four Artists
MID WINTER SHOW to OPEN MARCH 4 at Art Garage Cooperstown, NY — The Art Garage invites area residents and visitors to the Mid-Winter Show that celebrates four area artists’ lively works. Self-taught Lucia Phillips, Hartwick, and mid-career Amy Leigh McKinnon, New Lisbon, offer striking work seldom on view locally. Two established luminaries, Elizabeth Nields and Marcus Villagran, of Otego and Gilbertsville, offer dynamic highly-original ceramic sculpture and wall pieces. The Art Garage celebrates the diversity of approaches to art-making represented in the show, and our good-fortune that such artists move to the area to make it an even more vibrant place to live.
LUCIA PHILLIPS farms part-time, paints all winter and lives “a quiet life in the hills of Hartwick, where life can be pretty sweet.” She will share an array of subjects: dogs, iconic vintage advertising, compelling figures, forests, subjects abstracted into simplified shapes “…painting is a great way to process emotions and memories and dreams,” she noted. Her largest painting combines “all the houses I’ve ever lived in.” A seventh-generation Texan, Phillips now lives on a farm with lumberman husband, Bruce Phillips. They produce garlic and maple syrup and raise their own food. “We are super busy during the growing season,” Phillips noted, “but in the winter there is a lot of time indoors…my little hobby…has consumed every inch of space in our home and a huge amount of my time. I derive a huge amount of pleasure and joy from creating new images.” She developed her distinctive voice with almost no formal training: “I am still just a beginner after 20 years of dabbling.” For years she worked as an assistant or posed for figure drawing classes. One day when posing for artist, Elizabeth Nields, she suddenly realized she wanted to create art rather than pose. Phillips’ first show in a gallery was in 2019 at the Art Garage, previously she exhibited at a few local restaurants. Most of her work is privately acquired by a single Texas collector.
AMY LEIGH MCKINNON, like Lucia, manages to paint on a regular basis despite the demands of syrup production. She co-manages Mill Hollow Maple, a vast 10,000-tap maple syrup operation in New Lisbon with her husband Brian Ryther. Amy not only taps and boils sap but also designs all the packaging and visual material for the company. She has always been involved with art, as an art restoration and conservation professional, a professor of drawing and painting, a muralist, a graphic designer, an illustrator — and, most recently, as a materials and techniques expert for Williamsburg Oil Colors and Golden Artist Colors, an international company based in South New Berlin, A midcareer artist, McKinnon earned her BFA from Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia with a double-major in painting and ceramics and an MFA in painting from Tulane University, New Orleans, She sees the still life objects in her art as “evidence of our humanity…a mirror of humankind.” For the Mid-Winter Show she presents exquisite, brooding large-scale oil paintings that feature her latest body of work and current focus: the life cycle of Queen Anne’s Lace. She noted that this ubiquitous wild flower, “the un-evolved ancestor to the modern-day carrot, is evidence of our hand in nature…and also reminiscent of the female form, loaded and guarded, delicate yet stoic, as strong as a wild carrot.” McKinnon grew up in Pennsylvania and other places before settling down in Otsego County with husband, Brian, and their dog, Awesome.
MARCUS VILLAGRAN, also an Otsego County transplanted artist, is well-established in Gilbertsville in partnership with the other established artist in the show, Elizabeth Nields. A Californian for much of his life, his skills in two- and three-dimensional art were recognized when young and in high-school he took Saturday classes. Los Angeles County Museum exhibited his ceramics in the 1950s. A juror, the legendary Peter Voulkos, awarded him Best of Show in sculpture at the Sacramento Art and Crafts. More recently he won Best of Show, Contemporary Clay, Western Regional Juried Exhibition, Grand Junction, Colorado. When he served in the Navy, he was San Diego station artist. Following that, with the support of the G.I. Bill, he studied at the Chouinard Art Institute—now part of CalArts– then worked in production pottery. He studied at Otis Institute, CA initially as a Scholarship Lab Assistant and went on to earn BFA and MFA at Otis, while also teaching and exhibiting at many venues. He engaged in partnerships with myriad entities — production facilities, private art schools, city and state colleges — studying and teaching and exhibiting his work. He moved Upstate in 2012 — “smitten with the goddess of clay of the East Coast” — and has been working with Elizabeth Nields at her preeminent Gilbertsville Studio. He noted he was “determined to promote [Elizabeth’s] unique sculpture and find my own sculptural visions in clay.” He has exhibited his work locally at The Smithy, Cooperstown and SUNY Oneonta and CANO Galleries, Oneonta, among others.
ELIZABETH NIELDS’ remarkable work is in the collections of designer Mary McFadden and the Patrick Lannon Foundation Museum, Florida. An avid student of Egyptian archeological treasures, she is known for creating outdoor monumental pieces that suggest the mysteries of an ancient civilization. Also an inspired teacher, Nields works with artists of all ages enrolled in her legendary Clay Workshops at her studio. Always imaginative, her acclaimed month-long August workshops conclude with a potluck feast: “…we imagine a banquet and each person makes a set of dishes for what we will serve or a big bowl or platter to serve it on.” When not teaching, Nields makes her own work, expertly and abundantly. She balances a passion for “mysterious projects that I only barely understand myself” with “work on bowls and plates and cups that I can really use or other people can really use. Somehow that is comforting,” she noted. She has a B.A. cum laude from Radcliffe College. She studied ceramics at Baldwin Pottery, NYC, Danske Selskab, Greenwich House Pottery, Penland School of Crafts, and Brookfield Craft Center. She studied drawing and sculpture at New School for Social Research, Columbia University, Boston Museum School, and Adelphi University. She has taught at Baldwin Pottery, Adelphi University, Montclair State College, at SUNY Oneonta, Hartwick College and Hofstra. Locally her work can be found at the Smithy, Cooperstown and CANO, Oneonta. In honor of her generosity and influence on so many artists over the years, she gets a shout out from the Art Garage for Women’s History Month (March).
The Mid-Winter show will be on view through April 5. The gallery will be open Saturdays, 11AM-1PM, starting March 5, and all day seven days a week with a text or telephone call to establish a viewing time. Tel.: 607-547-5327; text 315-941-9607. Images will be available on FBArtGarageCooperstown or Instagram: CooperstownArtGarage. #wearecooperstown #thisiscopperstown