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Studio Visit: John Udvardy April 16, 2010

Posted by claralieu in artists, sculpture, studio visits.
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As Gallery Director, I’m constantly looking around for potential artists, themes, and ideas that can be assembled and brought together to form future exhibitions and events at the gallery.  I look specifically for artists who I think would be a good fit for the intellect, diversity, and range of ideas in the Wellesley College community, especially in terms of crossing fields and disciplines.   One of the most exciting and stimulating parts of this process is doing studio visits with artists.  Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to visit John Udvardy’s studio in Warren, RI.  Udvardy taught Three-dimensional Design in the Division of Foundation Studies at RISD for 34 years, and retired from teaching in 2008.  Since then, he’s been working steadily on his sculptures in a space that used to be an auto repair shop that he’s converted into his studio space.

John Udvardy's Studio

Put simply, Udvardy’s studio represented a lifetime of collecting objects:  Udvardy explained that he’s on a constant search to find and collect objects for his “palette”. What astounded me was the incredible range and quantity of objects in his studio, and his choices and selections.   Many of the objects were clearly recognizable:  a gourd, a spoon, the leg of an old table, a piece of scrap wood, part of a fence, a branch, etc. What especially intrigued me were the objects that were not instantly recognizable, that ask you to question what their original purpose was and what kind of history they visually demonstrated.  At several points during the visit, I would pick out an object and ask Udvardy what it was, to which he would reply that he had no idea. As diverse as all of the objects were, it was clear that they all demonstrated a passion for surface, texture, and form which was beautiful, subtle, and bold. I was amazed at what Udvary saw in each object, that in a piece of old broken rusted metal that most of us would toss into the trash, Udvardy saw a form ripe for placement in one of his sculptures.

John Udvardy's Studio

Seeing Udvardy’s tools was a wonderful way to get insight into his work process, which is driven almost entirely by the use of manual tools.  Looking at his collection of tools, it seemed that every possible tool or adhesive that one could possibly harness was available to him. The enormous range of materials and objects that he works with requires him to be very innovative and creative in terms of the putting the sculptures together.  In his tools and sculpture, it was clear the profound understanding and sensitivity to materials and tools Udvardy commands in creating his work.

John Udvardy's Studio

One room was entirely dedicated to cast iron objects that Udvardy has collected over the years.  The cast iron works are done separately from the other objects because they have to be welded together.  Udvardy has welding equipment that he uses outdoors to create cast iron sculptures.

John Udvardy's Studio

Cast iron objects, waiting to be assembled into a sculpture.

John Udvardy's Studio

To view more images from my studio visit with Udvardy, visit the Jewett Art Gallery’s Flickr page. For more information about John Udvardy and his work, visit his website at www.johnudvardy.com

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Studio Visit with Anthony Crudelle-Janello December 21, 2009

Posted by claralieu in artists, photography, sculpture, studio visits.
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This past Friday afternoon I drove to Rhode Island for a studio visit with Anthony Crudelle-Janello, (more widely known as Tony Janello) who will be one of the four artists exhibiting in the upcoming show “Transformations” in March 2010.  We first met in 1998 when I was a student in his painting class in the Illustration Department at RISD during my senior year.  I now teach Drawing at RISD in Foundation Studies and he’s continued to teach Painting and Drawing in the Illustration Department since then.  We’ve kept in touch over the years since I graduated, and it was very exciting to visit his studio and get some insight on his thoughts and creative process.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Crudelle-Janello’s process involves many phases and transformations in a range of media. He creates essentially paper mache sculptures which are then lit and photographed, with the sculpture as a means to the photography. The role of photography as the final result allows him tremendous visual flexibility with the sculptures that he would otherwise not have. I was impressed by how much his photographs looked like paintings; they had an incredible atmosphere and depth that transcended the sculptures themselves.

What is astonishing about these sculptures is how low-tech they are in terms of construction and materials. For the interior structures of the sculptures, he uses sonotubes, which are extremely strong cardboard tubes that are used in construction for pouring concrete columns.  You can see in the photo below on the sculpture on the far left an example of one of the sonotubes that he’s sawed into a ring to hold the sculpture up. On top of the sonotube structure, he uses paper towels dipped in elmer’s glue to sculpt the heads into more detail. These materials also allow the sculptures to be highly durable, yet lightweight at the same time.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Below is an example of how Crudelle-Janello uses backgrounds and creates sets for his sculptures.  The backgrounds are created from thin sheets of plywood which are then painted to reflect surface, texture, and writing. Several of his backgrounds feature the visual look of a chalkboard which has writing layered over itself continuously.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Below are some experiments for adding yet another phase in his process: after he photographed the sculptures, he drew on the digital prints using crayons.  In this series below, there is a progression in the images where he is “healing” the “injury” in the sculpture’s head by drawing with cross-hatched marks on the images with crayon. Crudelle-Janello was a portrait painter for many years , and it seems like this is a perfect way to work in his experience in drawing into his current work.  These pieces above are still very early in their development, but we discussed the possibility of creating works with this process for the “Transformations” show.

Anthony Janello's Studio

The back of this sculpture seen in the photo below reveals the interior structure of the sculptures, created from sawed up strips of sonotubes.

Anthony Janello's Studio

Below is a close up view of one of his sculpture heads, where the painting process and surface texture of the sculptures is apparent. For more information about Crudelle-Janello’s work, you can visit this previous blog post which features his artist statement.

Anthony Janello's Studio