Rae Wade Trimmier

Rae Trimmier attended The University of Alabama, where she studied painting with Al Sella. After graduation, she was a high school art teacher in the Tuscaloosa school system. Trimmier is primarily known for her colorful abstract paintings. In recent years, she has returned to her love of ceramics, incorporating black-and-white sculpted clay flowers into her paintings. Her father’s rose garden was an important part of her childhood in Mobile, Alabama. Perhaps that is why she has been attracted to using them in her work.  She uses a Cassius Basaltic clay for most of her ceramics, which has a deep and rich black body to it.

One of Trimmier’s earliest influences was her childhood neighbor, a painter, who she would visit regularly. She also says her parents were supportive of her pursuit in art at the university. Beyond her immediate influences, she has looked to Louise Nevelson, an American sculptor who explored found and industrial materials in large sculptural pieces imbued with the foundations of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Nevelson changed the way Trimmier looked at objects, making her think in a different way about how she incorporates materials in her painting. Besides Trimmier's return to clay, she has been exploring the layering of tissue paper, plexiglass, and other everyday objects.

Trimmier does not use much color in her own work, preferring to stick with only three or four colors in a piece. However, she still finds herself pulled to the color use of the Impressionist painters. Working with color is something she has been trying, in order to stretch herself and develop her skills. She has also been known to keep a photo of her former professor, Al Sella, in her studio, as a reminder to push herself.

Trimmier recently moved her studio space from the third floor of the 21st Street Studios to the first floor just behind the Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery.  Trimmier took a studio away from home only a few years ago when she had “a certain birthday” and decided it was time to really focus on her art.  She finds having a studio away from home allows her to leave one world and enter another. She also treats her studio as a job, where she can focus without distractions. Trimmier immerses herself in music while working, to keep her creative focus.

What Trimmer likes most about having a studio in a building of artists is the safe environment it creates, where people can be experimental with their work and get honest feedback and encouragement.

Her work is included in private collections in Alabama, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, and New York.

Tara Stallworth Lee

Within the last year Tara Stallworth Lee has made big jumps in life: joining Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery and taking on a studio space, building a darkroom studio on family land, and leaving her job at Space One Eleven to pursue her career as an artist, and taking on a job with a portrait photographer on the side. She is a self-taught photographer who is still finding her voice and looking to get feedback on her work from being part of communal studio group and having a regular venue in which to exhibit.

Lee was raised in the rural community of Beatrice, Alabama, and she is rooted to the south. She once thought she could not identify as a southerner. Wanting to be around creative artist types, she ran-away to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she considered starting the Art Therapy program at The University of New Mexico. In New Mexico, Lee took her first film-based photography class and became hooked on the medium.  She has since embraced her southern roots and finds inspiration and kindred understanding with other southern-rooted artists like Sally Mann.  

Lee, who works in both film and digital photography, sees the conflict some artists have over what is real photography as a non-argument. For her, there are two different mediums; related but separately their own, both with their own merits and limitations. Besides photography, Lee has been making paper and doing bookbinding for over 20 years. One of her recent projects, a sculptural self-portrait, includes paper-making elements and old love letters folded into paper cranes.

One of the projects that excites Lee is her endeavor into a portraiture series. Lee worked with portraits while living in Raleigh, North Carolina. There, she got the opportunity to interview and photograph women from the United Nations through the Raleigh chapter of the Soroptimist International, who were hosting an event on women’s empowerment. What she found in that project was the story and life of the person Lee was interviewing and photographing became part of the photograph, and that portraits reveal a very intimate and connected look at a person.

Lee’s pieces have been on display at Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery this past August and December. She has also recently shown in the past year at White Flowers Gallery in Homewood and Arts Revive in Selma. Currently she is one of three artists showing in Ground Floor Contemporary’s current show, Back In Time, which is up until March 26th. Also included in the show are Martha Jean Shaw and Ashley Wingo.

 

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound

2017
ink on tissue paper, dried ginger lilies and beeswax on wood board
4"x4"

Missy M Litton

Missy M. Litton is an Alabama transplant. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, she came to Birmingham to study at Birmingham-Southern College, where she recently got her Bachelors of Fine Art. She now calls Birmingham home. Since graduation, she had a group show with fellow artists Elaine Kinnaird and Celeste Pfau at Alabama School of Fine Arts in the fall of 2015. Litton is a relative new comer to the 21st Street Studios. After her group show, she realized she needed a dedicated space to work on her art. Shortly after she had moved into her studio space the chance to join the Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery came along and she was thrilled to get an opportunity to exhibit her work with the other artists in a dedicated gallery space on a regular basis.

Litton has been working at a large scale and with installation pieces for much of her time; these pieces invade a space and cause the viewer to engage with them. Recently, she has been exploring smaller works, realizing that the smaller scale of a piece encourages an intimate interaction and reflection for the viewer. She is lured to natural materials, a fact easily seen when looking around her studio, which is filled with bags of unprocessed Icelandic sheep’s wool, branches and twigs, twine, sinew, wax, and gut. The origin of these materials and the direction of her sculptural works go back to her time as a study abroad student in Glasgow, Scotland. Taking an archeology class there, she found herself amazed by how the human hand can mold a landscape, and years later one can still see how the land has been shaped. “It was just amazing to me to be looking at these cup and ring marks made by people years ago and be standing in a field with sheep all around,” said Litton of the experience.

She pulls influence and inspiration from both Truman Lowe and Hannah Lamb: Lowe, for his focus on landscape and archeology combined with identity and heritage; and Lamb, for the tactile nature of her pieces, particularly her bundled works mapping walks within a landscape. Litton's work is also driven by the ritual of making. The repetitive nature of the process is important to her work, and many of her pieces are made up of smaller elements. Working with her hands on knitting, tapestry weaving, and embroidery have also been ways for Litton to think about her work while doing a task that has a repetitive process by its nature.

Litton’s pieces have been on display at the Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery’s August and December 2016 shows and her work is currently up for the February 2017 show. Litton will next be showing in the gallery in a two person installation based show this upcoming September with fellow artist Elaine Kinnaird.

Barbara Hirschowitz

Barbara Hirschowitz has had a studio in the 21st Street Studios almost from the beginning. Many of her early works are large abstract canvas pieces, 50” x 50” or larger. The skill with which she applies and builds up heavy layers on the surfaces of her canvases has lead people to mistake her medium to be oils, rather than acrylics. Hirschowitz rarely visualizes her work in advance, preferring to work from instinct and get the paint on in a manner that is appealing to her.

Hirschowitz first started painting in college as part of her training as an occupational therapist. When her late husband’s work brought them to Alabama, Hirschowitz studied painting under Al Sella and Edith Frohock. Under Frohock’s tutelage, Hirschowitz learned to stretch her thinking and skills. While being influenced by renowned Alabama-based artists Sella and Frohock, Hirschowitz has, in turn, influenced her own her children. One daughter works as a visual artist after a career as an attorney, and another daughter is a skilled goldsmith.

For the last three years, she hasn’t had much time to get into town to paint in the studio. Instead, she has been working in her home studio on smaller scale pieces. These new works which are on heavy French handmade paper, can be displayed individually. But, when grouped together in simple white frames, they can fill a wall with a bold matrix of color and shape, thus grabbing the viewer’s attention.

Hirschowitz has been showing in group and solo shows for years in the Birmingham area. Fifteen years ago, she had a solo exhibit at The Hoover Public Library Theater Arts Gallery, called “Reflections 01 and 02,” based on her personal refections of the September 11 attacks. Her works were described in a news article by James R. Nelson as “offer[ing] just enough visual imagery to identify and trigger viewer response in a reflective way.” She was included in a show called “Current and Past Conversations” at the 21st Street Studios last year, curated by Peter Prinz, CEO and co-founder of Space One Eleven.

Barbara Hirschowitz’s work was part of the inaugural show at Ground Floor Contemporary on July 14th 2016.  Hirschowitz is currently part of the “resolution” show currently up in the gallery until January 29th 2017. To see more examples of her work, visit the Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery’s artist pages.

Barbara Hirschowitz looks over some of her large paintings stored in her studio.

YOU CAN'T RAIN ON OUR PARADE.

Last Thursday’s inaugural show for The Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery had a rocky start. Heavy rain, thunder, and lightning set an ominous tone for the reception. However, any fears of a low turnout were quickly swept away, as a steady flow of about 150 guests passed through the event, keeping the space full and lively all evening long. This first show included works on paper by Barbara Hirschowitz, sculptural clay works by Rae Trimmier, paintings and sculptures by Madeline Evans, paintings by Elizabeth Marie Farr, and mixed media and works on paper by Ashley Wingo.

Guests responded with cheer and excitement that Birmingham now has another venue to showcase some of the many skilled artists in the area. Multiple pieces were sold, and the stacks of business cards by the guestbook rapidly disappeared. The exhibit will be up until August 13th, and if you missed the opening reception, contact us for a viewing appointment by emailing groundfloorcontemporary@gmail.com

MADELINE EVANS

Madeline Evans is a recent graduate of The Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta where she majored in painting. Occupying a studio on the first floor of the 21st Street Studios gives her immediate access to the gallery space, where she is helping Lindsey Christina as the gallery’s intern. Prior to the first exhibit, she has been working hard prepping the walls and painting the floors. She hopes her role and participation in the gallery will provide her with the opportunity to show her work and continue to use a studio space.

Evans doesn’t plan to go directly into graduate school. Instead, she hopes to take a few years to grow and mature her work before considering her next step. She is attracted to the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a British sculptor and installation artist, with whom she feels a kinship. She alsofeels an affinity with Georgia O’Keeffe, Jean-Michel Basquiet, and Elizabeth Murray, whose works are bold, colorful, and somewhat playful.

Evans says time spent journaling helps with her work. She has discovered that her art is based on her reflections, and, in some ways, her paintings are a form of visual journaling, superseding expression through words. Although Evens claims she doesn't focus on the meaning of her work, and spends more time reacting to the marks, aesthetics, and color of her compositions, her pieces hold a distinct feeling of the body and self. Her preferred surface to work on is panel, and she also creates her works on paper, canvas, and wood surfaces.

Evans’ prints also reflect the same feeling of intertwining line work that can be found in her paintings, though in a more illustrative manner. Her paintings have also taken on a three dimensional embodiment in the form of pipe cleaners, faux flowers, and other found materials.  

In her current body of work, Evans has been exploring the mixed use of acrylics, spray paint, and nail polish. Of the nail polish she is using, she is taken with the medium’s glossy enamel qualities and superficial texture.

 

Elizabeth Marie Farr

Elizabeth Marie Farr has a studio on the second floor of the 21st Street Studios, and has been pushing the artist group to have a dedicated studio space that would be open to the public. Her persistence, along with the that of other artists, has resulted in fulfilling her dream, with the creation of Ground Floor Contemporary. In addition, Farr will be exhibiting in the inaugural show.

Farr is an abstract artist who works in acrylic paint. She is influenced by the Color Field and Abstract Expressionism painters of the 1940s and 1950s. She greatly admires, and is inspired by, the works of Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaller. When starting a work, she has a basic idea of the colors she will use, and then she works out from there how to create her pieces.

Farr works predominantly with acrylics, which she manipulates and moves around her canvases with whatever tool will accomplish her end goal. Her tools of choice go beyond the typical brush or palate knife, and she uses various unexpected household tools, or simply works with her hands directly on the canvas.

Farr prefers to work on a larger scale, claiming that smaller scale works are harder for her to execute, but you’d be hard-pressed to think that her smaller works had been a problem for her. From large to small, her works hold a constant style which is unique to Farr, who possesses a sensitivity to color that only the experience of over 20 years of painting can bring.

 

Ashley Wingo

Ashley Wingo shares her studio space at 21st Street Studios with three other artists, two of whom are also in the membership of the Ground Floor Gallery Contemporary. 

Fellow artists and patrons of the arts may know Wingo for more than her artwork, including her role as the artist coordinator for both the Magic City Arts Connection and Moss Rock Arts Festival, two of the area’s biggest art festivals. She fell into the job when she met with Eileen Kunzman to talk about what art opportunities she might find around Birmingham. After her meeting with Kunzman, Wingo was asked if she would like to volunteer with Magic City and Moss Rock. Shortly after joining the team, the artist coordinator position opened up, and Wingo was hired into the position. She enjoys the connections it provides her with other area artists, and while the time leading up to the festivals is busy and hectic, the year-round part-time nature of the job allows Wingo the freedom to spend time in her studio creating.

It may seem obvious that Wingo would have come to visual arts, but for her the choice was not so evident a path to take. Wingo grew up surrounded by art, as her mother is an art teacher, and her mother’s side of the family is full of artists and people in the creative field.

Wingo, an Alabama native, went to Auburn University, where she got her BA in Art in 2011. When she first arrived, she thought she was going to focus on Graphic Design, but she soon found that the field was too limiting for her interests, and although she finds a strong interest in arranging objects and in the layout of her work, she found Graphic Design to be too technical and limiting for her interests. So she followed a more general study of art, exposing herself to as many processes and mediums as she could. She still hopes to further her knowledge by exploring silkscreen again melding it into some of her mixed media works. She also hoped to start exploring some three dimensional assemblage pieces after having discovered the art of Joseph Cornell.

One of her most influential professors during her time at Auburn University was Zdenko Kritic(http://www.zdenkokrtic.com/), who first introduced Wingo to encaustics. Encaustics show up regularly in Wingo’s work along with a rich and earthy pallet of colors. Wingo readily admits she jumps around from medium to medium in her work, working on wood surfaces, paper, and old silkscreens like a canvas.  Working from whatever strikes her at the moment, she doesn't plan out themes in her pieces, but notices the emergence of patterns and themes in her art that come from her subconscious.

Wingo's studio practice is broken up by her job as the artist coordinator for the art festivals in town, allowing her to make art in small doses and not burnout from too much studio time.  She finds not setting a rigid studio schedule removes the pressure of being a professional artist and keeps her work fresh and not forced.

Wingo joined the Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery membership as an artist member when she received an email that went out to the artists in the 21st Street Studios. She modestly says, “I was asked by default, because I have a studio here.” Besides being a member artist, she will be helping the gallery on the technical side of things by running email mailing lists.

You can see more of Ashley Wingo’s work on her personal website http://www.ashleywingo.com/

So Many Good Things Happen When....

There’s a whisper of excitement growing amongst some of the visual artists in Birmingham!

A new artist-run gallery, Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery, will open its doors to the public for its first show on July 14th at the 21st Street Studios building. The 21st Street Studios has been a haven for creative individuals for over 30 years. Bought by artist Sara Garden Armstrong in 1979, much of the space was opened up in 1982 as studios for area artists. Since then over 90 artists have taken advantage of the opportunity to make and create in the facility.

The new gallery is on the first floor on the site of a former beauty parlor, behind which more studios have been added, making the whole building fully dedicated to the creation of art. As building owner, visual artist, and gallery member Armstrong says of the gallery space, “I have thought about it because I have wanted the building to be completely art for a very long time, since art is really what I care about so much.”

Fellow artist Elizabeth Marie Farr will tell you quickly that she suggested the first floor gallery idea three years ago, but persuading building owner Armstrong took a few more suggestions and nudges from other studio artists. Once the idea was formed the process of creating the gallery began with the gusto and energy that only artists can bring to a project. The planning of the gallery had begun with a meeting in the first floor space while it was still a beauty parlor. Armstrong met with Lindsey Christina, Elisabeth Marie Farr, and Rae Trimmer to discuss the logistics of making the gallery and additional studio spaces work. With the departure of the beauty salon, enthusiasm grew for the new vision of the gallery. In quick succession walls went up and were painted.

The entrance to the Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery is located at 111 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. and is right next to the new Rotary Trail close to Railroad Park. With the area around it becoming more pedestrian friendly and the growth of weekend crowds, the gallery should see a fair amount of foot traffic. There will be monthly group shows to keep the exhibits on its walls fresh and new to the public. All members have the opportunity to show at least twice a year in addition to a full membership show every December.

The first meeting of the gallery members was held in the new space on April 10th, where several artists met each other for the first time and others got to reconnect with those they hadn’t seen in a while. Not all members of the gallery have studio space in the building, though most do. There is a diverse group of artists ranging from recent BFA graduates to those who graduated from UAB in the mid 1980s, and everyone works in a variety of mediums and styles. Some are full-time artists, while others balance additional careers, or are retired and following a second career path.

Artist member Anna Zoladz says of the gallery "I am so excited to start making work for Ground Floor.  I know that it will motivate me to enter new territory and experiment with new approaches towards existing ideas.  And I can't help but be so excited that we are all female artists!  It is like a budding sisterhood of some sort.  So many good things happen when you are working with other women--it is such a positive and fun dynamic.

The first show opening on July 14th will include artists Madeline Evans, Elizabeth Marie Farr, Barbra Hirschowitz, Rae Trimmier, and Ashley Wingo. The Ground Floor Contemporary Gallery will have a monthly rotation of artists with opening receptions on Thursday evenings.

Gallery Director and member artist Lindsey Christina, who was brought into the project early on, says of the gallery “It will become a place for Birmingham artists to be creative, show work, and build a strong community.” Christina will also curate two Director’s Shows each year where she will invite a guest artist or artists to exhibit, providing professional opportunities in the Birmingham area to other contemporary artists.

(As the July 14th opening date approaches we will introduce you to the individual artists who will be showing at the gallery throughout the year)