Action in the Manicure; An Interview with upcoming Ringling Underground Artists

For the past seven years Ringling Underground has been bringing a mix of exhibition and live music to Sarasota. This Thursday, March 2nd, Ringling returns with its second Underground of this year, featuring an exhibit in the Ringling Courtyard titled: Action in the Manicure: Works by Nail Pop LLC & Porn Nail$. This exhibit features two regional artists, Rosemarie Romero and Erin Hart.

Romero is the founder of Porn Nail$ Salon, a mobile interactive installation and performance piece that doubles as a queer-feminist nail salon. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Miami, Romero’s art incorporates kitschy Latinx Caribbean themes that interlace with a desire to celebrate diversity, sexuality, and the human connection.

Hart is the founder of Nail Pop, a radical nail art company that focuses on community collaboration and working with local artists to make everything from nail decals, to stylish dust masks for the nail artists themselves. They’ve worked with many independent and local brands, their most recent collaboration being with Care Bears, celebrating the brand’s 35th anniversary.

Nail art has exploded in popularity in recent years. While single-color paint jobs and the ever-classic French Tip manicure never really went out of style; bold, bright, and blingy nails of the 80’s and 90’s, primarily birthed out of communities of color seemed to be on their way out in the 2000’s in favor of a more natural style. However, celebrities, and the rise of social media in the past five years have changed all that. Platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, and Youtube have allowed artists to share their work, while sites like Etsy and Kickstarter create spaces for new artists to sell their products and raise money for projects. Suddenly nail art that might have once been considered crazy, or even tacky, is everywhere and for everyone.

Leading up to Action in the Manicure, we sat down with both artists to hear more about the exhibit, their background in nail art, and what this art form- once relegated to the shadows and mystery of the salon- mean to them.

What first got you interested in nail art?

Rose: When I was doing my MFA in Creative Photography at UF (University of Florida) I was doing a lot of collages and paintings that focused on the female nude and femininity. So that sort of technical overlapping and focus on femininity led me to start doing simple nail art designs, very basic stuff. But I found that there was something really intimate and connective about doing nails and the space that is created in a salon between the artist and clients and I decided I really wanted to pursue it.

Erin: I’ve drawn and painted ever since I was little, so I’ve always drawn on everything, including my nails. I’d do them for different holidays and sometimes my mom would pay me to paint hers, too. In 2006, I went to school and got licensed to do nails as a full specialist. I didn’t start really developing my nail art until after I had heart surgery in 2010. I needed an outlet and I needed my friends while I recovered, so I’d invite them over and paint their nails.

Both of you started out with mobile salons, and Rose the mobility of your salon is central to your project. What appeals to you about the idea of a mobile salon?

E: I’m still primarily mobile, but I spend more and more time in my studio experimenting and doing editorial work. I started out working in stick and mortar salons/spas, but I really like having control over my schedule and clients by having a mobile salon.

R: Porn Nail$ is inherently an interventionist project. Part of the idea of it is to invade space and bring the experience and intimacy of being in a salon to people who might not ever walk into one. But it’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine to think about having a stick and mortar salon. If it ever were to be, I’d love it to be a multi-purpose community space for performance, shows, stuff like that.

Speaking of intimacy Rose, you speak about Porn Nail$ and salons in general being a space where juicy gossip and intimacy emerge over the encounter. Erin, you talk a lot about building community in your work. How do you feel nail art can build intimacy and bring people together?

R: I feel like salons, and in the same way barbershops are a space where people come to share their personal stories and engage in cultural exchange. There is an intimate connection that happens in salons when you are working on someone and they are sharing with you about their lives. And I feel like salons in particular are places where historically women have and still do feel free to engage in conversations that are more raunchy, more free, more sexually explicit and to just, make jokes and have a good time. That’s part of what I’m trying to do with Porn Nail$, to make people feel more comfortable with their sexuality and sex in general.

E: Rose is definitely right about nail salons being a place for guests and artists to experience a closeness that I’ve never experienced doing other services. You’re face to face the entire time, holding their hands and taking care of them. Receiving a nail service can be a very disarming experience, so it’s important to be a good listener. Most of my clients are other artists that I collaborate with in the community here in Tampa. Anytime I find a local artist I like, I’ll offer them work designing decals. I think giving people work and a platform to express themselves is a great way to build community.

How do you see nail art empowering others? What empowers you as the artist about nail art?

R: With Porn Nail$ I feel like so many people have been able to experience this intimate salon setting. Porn Nail$ has been a way to bring people together and show them this [nail art] is for everyone. I’ve had boys come with their fathers to get their nails done, men who have never had their hands touched like this or nails done who were willing to come in and explore something and felt safe to express that with me. Because of the mobility and pop-up nature of the salon, it turns something that is hidden away into something with no walls and no barriers; it demystifies the salon experience. People come and feel like they can play with gender, play with the signifiers, and express themselves in a way they might not feel comfortable elsewhere.

E: For me, nail art allows me to be self employed, I get to choose my hours and my clients, there aren’t many jobs where you get to maintain that kind of control while still being creative and making money. I’m very lucky to be doing this for a living.

Both of you describe your projects as feminist. How do you see nail art as a feminist expression?

E: It’s probably one of the most diverse industries and we’re all here to make a living with our art. Giving that sort of autonomy and agency to people is feminist to me.

R: Outside from what I’ve said before about the salon being a place where people feel free to open up and express themselves, there’s this expression in Miami called Chusmeira, which basically means like radical shamelessness. And it’s this word that’s used when women sort of break traditional gender roles and norms of how they should behave and present themselves. It’s used a lot in the Latinx Caribbean community when, for example, a woman dresses too flamboyantly or acts a certain way. So it’s something that is put onto women from outside them and something stigmatized and with nail art and the space that’s created for women in a salon to express themselves however they’d like…it’s not quite an inversion of the word, but pushing these boundaries is something I keep in mind.

What’s your favorite kind of nail art to do?

R: I am all about glitter and rhinestones. I love sparkle, give it to me! I also like doing more eccentric stuff, nail piercings, things like that. And I really love using this Latinx concept in my work called “Mal de Ojo” and basically it’s like when someone looks at you with jealousy or like maliciousness and so to ward off this evil people wear eye designs called “nazars” and I love using these eye designs in my work.

E: Anything extremely intricate or ornate, the kind of nails few people have the patience to sit for!

Can you describe a little bit of what we can expect from the exhibit at Ringling Underground?

E: This year I’m collaborating with Care Bears, so you’ll see them included throughout the pieces. Each set of nails displayed is it’s own tiny universe to explore. Rose and I will be offering nail art manicures to the guests on a first come first serve basis. It’s going to be really cool.

R: As Erin said, we’ll both be doing nails in the courtyard, first come, first serve. We’ll also both be doing custom nail sets that will be on display and mine will definitely be playing off of the architecture of the building itself. I’ll also be bringing my Porn Nail$ aesthetic with me, rose garlands and Rococo objects decorating the courtyard.

Thanks so much for talking to us! We can’t wait to see the show!

E: Thank you so much!

R: Thanks!

Ringling Underground will be held this Thursday, March 2nd at 8:30PM. For more information visit their website: https://www.ringling.org/events/ringling-underground.

Interview conducted and written by Ashley Phelps

Cheyenne Rudolph at Ringling Underground

In recent years, functional ceramics, a medium often shunted into the category of craft, has been accepted into the vast world of contemporary art. The February Ringling Underground features three artists living in Florida and exploring the medium of clay. Jenn Ryan Miller, Sharon Norwood, and Cheyenne Rudolph use ceramics to explore various themes. Their diversity will provide the Ringling Underground audience with a multi-faceted view of contemporary ceramics being produced in Florida at current.

For the first installment of Ringling Underground on February 4, 2016, Cheyenne Rudolph will be performing Lemon-Aider. Cheyenne, who received her MFA in 2014 from University of Florida, is both a ceramicist and performance artist. Her performances utilize subversive functional ceramics to explore childlike assumptions about domesticity and cultural expectations. Cheyenne graciously agreed to participate in an interview to provide the Ringling Underground audience with context about her performance, Lemon-Aider.

Cheyenne Rudolph performing "Lemon-Aider"
Cheyenne Rudolph performing Lemon-Aider

Please describe the piece you will be performing at Ringling Underground on February 4.

The Lemon-Aider is an interactive mobile beverage cart, designed as a traveling performance piece to challenge the collective assumptions surrounding gender identity for women. A nostalgic lemonade stand, the Lemon-Aider is a operated by a caricatured retro housewife, whose good intentions are peppered with indecorous insinuations brought on by the mechanics of operating the juicing device. This is not your childhood lemonade stand.

Citrus Juicer Stand and Cup
Citrus Juicer Stand and Cup

Why did you choose this piece to perform, and what are you hoping from the Ringling Underground audience in terms of participation?

The Lemon-Aider is a friendly piece, highly approachable, and participants come away with a more intimate encounter. The piece is mobile and flexible in how I perform it, as I make lemonade from scratch for one individual at a time. It is more like a conversation with a character than a timed performance in front of a live studio audience. Participants may watch as I demonstrate, or they may interact with me as I make lemonade.

When did you begin combining your ceramics with performance art?

I have a background in theatre, studying it briefly in high school and undergraduate school. As the art objects I made became increasingly ambiguous and absurd in their functions, it was necessary to explain their use. The element of control is important in how I design the work, so it was natural for me to demonstrate, and to essentially take over the use of the objects, so that now, I am the only user. It has blossomed into an engaging way to design and make work.

Saturday Apron
Saturday Apron

Where does a piece begin, the ceramics or the concept for the performance?

Definitely the concept is primary. As I have learned to design for my own engagement, I am liberated from making pedestrian-friendly functional objects, so I think of them as actors or overstated props in the performance. I think about whether I will be performing live or through video, which helps in how I design the work. I also think about the installation and visual context of the piece; because it will be informed by its surroundings and my own interaction, the object no longer has to carry the full weight of the concept. I can, in a sense, magnify my visual concept to installation proportions, letting the backdrop, the video editing, or my own script, bring in subtext. I then make the object with my preliminary performance idea in mind. After the object is complete, the performance may go through a series of trials and refinements, and at times, I need to remake the object to better suit the performance needs.

Lemon-Aider in action
Lemon-Aider in action

What is the relationship between the ceramics and the performance elements of your art?

The objects instigate, or provide the implications of the performance, yet in their complicated design and retro aesthetic, they draw the viewer in. They are designed to be appealing, as is my own costume, yet while in use, they become a source of absurd subversion. I am picking apart and drawing attention to the expectations placed on me, personally, and on women of a particular type.

What type of influences motivate your art practice?

1950s/1960s kitchen products, Chindogu and infomercials of the 90s/00s, parodies and satire, old SNL skits, calling attention to conventionally accepted, yet unjust paradigms. Lucille Ball, Amy Sedaris, drag performers, theatre scenic design techniques and methods.

 


Ringling Underground is series of one night only events combining live music and experiential artworks in the Courtyard. The artwork is curated by Natalya Swanson and Shannon Fortner organizes the musical performances.

Ringling Underground is always free for college students with a valid college ID. It is an extension of the Art After 5 program held on Thursdays after 5 p.m. After hours discounted admission is $10 for adults; $5 for children 6-17, children 5 and under and Museum Members are free.

Cash bar provided by Modern Events at The Ringling.

Ringling Underground is a rain or shine event.
Share your Underground experiences on social media using the hashtag:#RinglingUnderground

Ringling Underground: April 2, 2015

The visitors to the final Ringling Underground of the Spring 2015 season will encounter a range of mediums including an interactive performance piece with Vincent Kral, paintings by Laine Nixon, sculpture by Matthew Drennan Wicks, and a site-specific installation by Michael Covello. Artists will visually transform the courtyard by challenging the spectator’s perception.

Michael Covello
Michael Covello

“My practice expresses itself through an idiomatic language of hybridized abstraction, where diverse formal elements contradict and complete each other. The spaces I depict within a painting or installation are densely layered and at times antagonistic in their composure; with shallow fields of clashing images, patterns, and color palettes. I am not interested in making work that is easy to view- instead I strive for a language of excess, where a maximalist non- representational vocabulary creates a challenging space for the viewer to inhabit. By provoking my audience to re-evaluate their methods for viewing, I am confronting the typical relationship we have to image, architecture, and environment. The motifs of assembly, demolition, accumulation, and containment are common throughout my work, and highlight the temporal process of creation. For instance, through masking, over-painting, and removal, compositional elements undergo continuous cycles of emerging, shifting, and concealment. Thus, as I work on a piece, attempts to organize a space are constantly being folded back in on themselves as the process evolves. As an artist exploring and reacting to this unsteady terrain, I see my artistic process as a suspension between remembering, forgetting, and rebuilding.” –Michael Covello

 

Matthew Drennan Wicks
Matthew Drennan Wicks’

“My current studio practice is a process-based exploration of traditional craft in a contemporary context that highlights specific domestic materials and the intrinsic properties of clay. This often leads to the transformation of materials through specific craft-based processes. While notions of beauty, kitsch and class all bubble under the surface of my work, I strive to challenge the viewer’s perceptions of familiar materials and forms and their pre-loaded content.” –Matthew Drennan Wicks

Vincent Kral
Vincent Kral

I will be performing a piece called the Return of the Ink Panther, before the event starts I will set out pink colored Easter eggs all around the space with clues or about the other artists participating and possible hint at some imagined mystery. During the event I will appear as Inspector Clouseau and engage the visitors in character and ask them if they have found any clues. The piece is about enjoying art having fun and interacting with the artists and asking questions. The Eggs can be returned or kept by visitors.” –Vincent Kral

Laine Nixon
Laine Nixon

“I pursue my work through a studio practice, developing non-objective paintings that subtly embody the conflict between visual perception and the physical object. Zuhanden, a series of 4’ x 4’ non-representational paintings, are responsive works where I embed thinned washes, pours or otherwise watery paint within a heavy-bodied, textured acrylic gradation. The first layers are applied thin and wet – they tend to run, dart, bleed, and are generally unpredictable. In contrast, the gradation is a highly organized and repetitive exercise, where I slowly string small beads of paint together increasing the pigment in one-step increments. The process allows me to first experience the thrill and uneasiness of the unknown, and then to enjoy a deep retreat into a slow, meditative period of organizing the initial chaos. The formal challenge that I have issued myself is to see if I can reverse the typical salient and recessive properties of transparent and opaque marks in order to provoke a subtle sense of confusion, a moment of uncertainty.

In my explorations, one constant is that my work must highlight the tension between the painting (the illusion) and what is actually there (the physical object) – or between thought and thing. For me, there is no definitive hierarchy between the two; if asked, I would encourage the viewer to oscillate back and forth in order to experience both realities. I tend to enjoy this ambiguity as a path to refuge which in turn leads me to all kinds of other good things such as understanding, perspective, mystery, or even peace and joy. These are the aspects I wish to share by sharing my work.” –Laine Nixon


 

Musical entertainment for the evening includes Lady and Gentleman, Maximino, and Young Rapids. Additional details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1612258982341793/

Ringling Underground is always free for college students with a valid college ID. It is an extension of the Art After 5 program held on Thursdays after 5 p.m. After hours discounted admission is $10 for adults; $5 for children 6-17, children 5 and under and Museum Members are free.

Ringling Underground is a rain or shine event. Food and refreshments are available for purchase. Share your Underground experiences on social media using the hashtag:
#RinglingUnderground


 

For additional details about exhibiting at Ringling Underground, please contact the Artist Liaison, Natalya Swanson at nswanson3@gmail.com

Ringling Underground: March 5, 2015

Attendees of the March Ringling Underground will encounter three contemporary artists: Emily Elliott, Dustin Juengel, and Zach Gilliland. Artist Liaison Natalya Swanson spoke to each of them about their artwork and process:

 

Zach Gilliland: 

4thsculpture.elementsfompreviousinstal
Zach Gilliland

 

“I am constantly tinkering in the studio, trying new things, making new forms, honing my skills and dreaming up the impossible.  When I have an idea, I try it.  Not all approaches work, but I attempt everything and eventually the dots begin to connect.  The key, for me, is to simply be working.  As Picasso said, “inspiration exists but it has to find you working”.

I search for the simple and the organic as a jumping off point.  Then I find the subtle complexities that give the piece depth.  Once a project begins to take shape I send it to the moon and back, building it up and ripping it back apart.   This process is extremely important for me to filter out unnecessary information.
My work appears simple at first glance, but upon further inspection questions begin to arise.  Thats where, I feel, the magic lies.  My ultimate goal is to pull the viewer in from a distance, keep them looking up close and then leave them wondering when they turn away.”

Dustin Juengel:

Juengel, 2014 04 01 (abstract 01) 57-x57-
Dustin Juengel

 

“Painting offers a space to engage with different interests and negotiate experiences. I am not aware of an overarching agenda for my paintings, it’s too complex, I think it’s more of a search.

My recent works include grisaille oil paintings based on photographs. The limited palette allows me to focus on other aspects of technique, for example: modeling of form, economy of paint handling, and scale. The effects of light and the surrounding environment become more apparent on the gray surfaces, creating tension between the illusion of the depiction and the painting as an object in a specific location. I want the viewer to be able to enter into the painting and simultaneously become self-aware of standing in a place looking at this thing.”

Emily Elliott:

Emily Elliott
Emily Elliott

“My work is an exploration of emotional and psychological responses to human interaction and the desire for intimacy. I use the body as a metaphorical

battleground where the struggles of the mind take on a physical form. The figures are infected and transformed in reaction to their trauma. Each bump, scar, or mutation represents the fractured sense of self, torn between the desire to connect and need to protect oneself. I am interested in complicating those instincts, creating a dynamic energy between the push and pull of the psyche. This piece captures the moment before separation, where there is no clear victim or perpetrator. Instead they are both at once for and against each other.”

 

Ringling Underground: November 6, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014
Ringling Museum of Art

Ringling Underground featuring artists in the courtyard are Liz Gibson, Craig Hanson, Jacqueline Flavio, Samantha Robinson, and Shawn Pettersen.

Thursday, November 6, 2014
Ringling Museum of Art
8:00pm – 11:00pm

Ringling Underground captivates audiences with contemporary music and art of Sarasota’s up-and-coming Millennials, engaging the community with both the prodigious art of the Ringling museum and the innovativeness of local artists.

“In the third installment of this season’s Ringling Underground held on November 6, visitors will engage with contemporary art by artists Liz Gibson, Craig Hanson, Jacqueline Flavio, Samantha Robinson, and Shawn Pettersen. Each will exhibit brightly colored installations that relate to the artist’s connection with their immediate environments, whether it be nature, their studio, or an imaginary social landscape.”

-Natalya Swanson, Artist Liaison, 2014

THIS MONTH’S FEATURING ARTISTS:

Robinson_1a-web
Samantha Robinson

As a native Florida resident, I synthesize pop culture, domesticity and a penchant for multiples into physical critiques of America and her citizens as cultural texts. My process is largely research-based, as I consult both formally recorded History and community storytelling alike. Materials are often sourced from garage sales deep within suburbia, craigslist and eBay, bringing into play an overt sense of uneasy familiarity – pervasive in contrast to the feeling of safety associated with nostalgia. Ideas about multiplicity blanket my body of work, alluding to the sinister nature of consumerism and the meditative quality of repetitive object-making.”
Samantha Robinson, 2014

Samantha Robinson will soon be graduating with her BFA in Studio Art, concentrating in Sculpture, with a minor in American Studies. During her time at the University of South Florida, she has exhibited both nationally (coast to coast) and internationally (with Saatchi Gallery’s SAATCHI SCREEN project). Her full body of work can be viewed at www.samrob.com, and she invites Ringling Underground attendees to follow along on Instagram (@s4mrob) as the installation of her newest work takes place.

Liz-Gibson-Cherries-and-Unicorn-1
Liz Gibson

Deformity, adversity, and empowerment- these are the themes of my work. Having been born with seven fingers total, (five fingers on my left-hand and two fingers on my right-hand) as an artist, I have chosen to take this unique personal experience and transform it into a shared experience with my audiences.”
-Liz Gibson, 2014

Liz Gibson has been an artist for thirteen years. She works in painting, sculpture, video, installation, performance and storytelling. Her art has been presented and exhibited in galleries and museums including an evening of solo performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville in 2011. Gibson was selected to receive one of eight Individual Artist Fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs for 2014. She also received a grant from the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida for 2013, and she recently received a 2014 Spark Grant sponsored by Florida Blue through the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. She received her MFA in Performance Art from Florida State University in 2011. She is based in Jacksonville, Florida with her partner Jeff Whipple at MetaCusp Studios. Liz teaches at the University of North Florida and with VSA Arts for Special Education in Duval and Leon County Public Schools.

www.deformanceart.com

CraigHanson Sixthirty
Craig Hanson

“Perceptive sensitivity is necessary to recognize and acknowledge the subtleties in an experience.  In subtleties is where poetry lives. It is where our need to be human is reinforced.  Our bodies provide a holistic sensory experience, senses perceive in symphony and our mind understands our perception through knowledge gained over time from all of the senses. Working in my studio with the same sensitivity, with all senses in tune, a focused holistic understanding, I orchestrate materials with gravity, friction, and movement.  My work is a fossil or remnant of materials interacting with each other through the filter of my action.”
-Craig Hanson, 2014

Craig Hanson (b. 1987 Monterey, California) is the recipient of numerous academic awards and scholarships including the Jose Puig Award, the James Bradford Scholarship, and the Carolyn M Wilson Scholarship. He received his BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University where he studied Sculpture and Extended Media at the #1 ranked program among public and private universities. Upon graduating he worked as a studio assistant for various artists in Richmond, Virginia. Craig is currently a graduate student at the University of South Florida studying for his MFA in Studio Art. He is the recipient of a University Graduate Fellowship at USF where he teaches an intermediate sculpture course. He will be graduating in May 2016.

http://craighansonstudio.com/

1
Jacqueline Flavio

“Exploiting the use of foregrounded elements within a painted space reveals how the human mind recalls nature as a collection of things, of objects; representing the wild as an overwhelming oasis of raw material. It is not wrong or right, but merely an observation. As lookers we objectify that of which is being looked upon with reverence and wonder. With pure intentions I want to understand my own attachment to the wild, to my artificial idea of the natural. Within this exploration I aspire to visualize what Edward Abbey writes is “a sense of form, enough to let thought and feeling range from here to the end of the world and back; the discovery of something intimate – though impossible to name – in the remote.”
-Jacqueline Flavio, 2014

Jacqueline Flavio is an emerging contemporary artist living and working in Tampa, Florida. She recently received her BFA in painting from the University of South Florida and plans to pursue her MFA in the near future. Jacqueline’s work is comprised of large paintings inspired by her method of collage. Her process begins by developing a composition with collaged imagery and drawings on a much smaller scale which are then transferred onto canvas and transformed through color and the materiality of the paint medium. The subject matter reveals her apparent love for the natural world but also serves as a commentary on the painted image itself. By dissecting and manipulating space, objectifying the very idea of ‘natural things’, viewers are asked to question the meaning of natural as it is translated into something seemingly artificial; relying on color to sustain life.

Shawn Pettersen
Shawn Pettersen

“Much of my work deliberately eschews references to other contemporary visual modes such as the internet, mass advertising, and fashion. I take their omnipresence as a given at this point and choose to skirt the discussion of their intentions and social ramifications. I prefer to present an alternative versed in a more remote tense; something prodding at the romantic, tragic, antiquated, and occasionally silly. I mingle references to natural disasters, geological history, biblical stories, and American biography and myth in order to pose a very specific sense of loss and longing. In doing so I hope to suggest the relationship between that epic yet detached historical loss and a confusing, personal, contemporary displacement.”
-Shawn Pettersen, 2014

Shawn Pettersen received his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Montclair State University in 2005, and his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ringling College in 2003. His work is primarily based in sculpture and drawing, and often surrounds themes of displacement, memory, and being lost. Shawn has worked as a graphic designer, creative director, adjunct professor, jeweler, and artist’s assistant for several prominent artists in New York. His work has been shown regionally and nationally. Shawn is currently the Fine Arts Technician at Ringling College of Art & Design.

The evening’s live music entertainment includes:

BLACK TAXI [ NYC]
www.facebook.com/blacktaxi

METEOREYES [ Sarasota,FL ]
www.facebook.com/meteoreyes

ARK [ Orlando,FL ]
soundcloud.com/ark_music

Visit the Ringling Underground’s event page at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/512894525510046/