Wednesday, April 27, 2011

She's Electric! In The Studio With Lively {and lovely} New Orleans Artist, Anastasia Pelias

Pin It
Last weekend, I took off on a last minute road trip to New Orleans. It doesn't take much to get me to the city and when my galpal Gwen  said "New Orleans en bicyclette?" I couldn't say "YES" fast enough. 

Unbeknownst to myself, Anastasia or Gwen, was this strange trifecta of connectivity we all had in common and it aligned seamlessly last Saturday in Uptown, New Orleans. I met Anastasia at Gwen's birthday party, held at our favorite live music spot. We exchanged contact info and have had an email courtship for the past few months. Anastasia, not knowing Gwen, or even knowing that she attended Gwen's party, hired her to photograph her recent exhibit at Acadiana Center for the Arts. {A must see when you visit Lafayette!}

Follow that? I know. Small world. 

So it begins. We rode our bikes the two block distance from our place to Anastasia's studio, where we were met with nothing but southern (or Greek!) hospitality. 

 Born and raised in New Orleans, Anastasia lives, works and plays in the city to this day. In fact, the studio was at one time her father's law office, a space that they once shared together––she, the young artist with a closet sized workspace and he, the attorney, with a bustling business and run of the rest of the space. Anastasia told me of her father's great character, a man who served as a constant source of encouragement and fostered diligent commitment to her craft throughout her career. 
{How wonderful!}

Not long after our arrival,  Robin Atkinson, Anastasia's wonderful assistant and young curator, breezed through the door. Just five minutes before she sprinted over, she was leisurely soaking up some rays at the pool and thinking "Wow! We should get the studio professionally photographed. I should tell Anastasia about that." As soon as the words "Photographer will be here in five minutes" leapt out of Anastasia's mouth, Robin leapt into her poolside threads and made the timely appearance. 

{She's SO adorable!}

Anastasia is surrounded by not only the spritely Robin on a daily basis, but  these two cuties, too.

Anastasia's greatest extravagance is simply the scent of her favorite incense, which she burns in this beautiful vessel.

"I beg my relatives to send me rose incense from Greece and burn it in my studio every morning – it seems to work well with the smell of turpentine, which I also love!"

She primarily works with oils and oil sticks. While her body of work is mostly paintings, she does like to give herself "permission to explore {new mediums}." A notion that I find refreshing, not to mention, integral to the evolution of an artists work. 

  Anastasia on her process:
"I work on 2 or 3 canvases at the same time allowing the paintings to inform each other and me. I’ve been working on a body of work, “Washed,” where I build the surface of the painting with multiple washes of oil paint, turpentine and a special concoction that I mix up, creating a level of saturation and luminosity that can only happen through this layering process. So much of the paint ends up on the floor…"

She mentioned that of all the art housed in the studio, these two are by far the best and most valuable.
Created by her two daughters, Artemis and Athena when they were children, they are her most treasured. {sniffsniff!}

She glides so effortlessly throughout the studio that I knew instantly she must have had a ballet lesson in her past. 

My suspicions were confirmed! Of course she paints in what else but––ballet flats. She was indeed a student of ballet for many years. She told me that in many of her paintings, she will reference the 
eight-count in dance. The energy and rhythmic nature of her work certainly captures the essence of an allegro movement, don't you agree? 

I fell even more enamored with this woman after laying eyes on her musical selections.  These three albums have been in my perpetual rotation since my pre-teen years! 
(Mazzy Star is on the left if you are not familiar--get that album, sugars!)

Anastasia works in "big bursts of energy."  Her work, being quite visceral and emotion driven, is a daily proactive endeavor in which she has integrated within the space of the house. She gives herself time to reflect and become absorbed by what she sees on the canvas until she knows precisely how to calculate her next stroke. 

As much a fan of Anastasia's painterly pursuits as I am, there were other details throughout the studio that commanded my full and complete attention. I became entirely captivated by these wasp nests and small boxes that Anastasia created in what she called her 'red phase'

More from Anastasia's Automatics series. So chroma-rich it's intoxicating.

On fire! A detail shot of a painting in her Linked series. 

I asked Anastasia who or what has influenced her art in the greatest capacity. Her response was entirely moving and spoken with such conviction and confidence. 

 "My undergrad professor at Newcomb College, Hal Carney, was the single most significant influence on me as an artist. His intensity, his seriousness about art and what it means to be an artist resonates with me always. Also, my father’s dedication to his “life’s work,” his translation of the complete odes of Ancient Greek lyric poet, Pindar, and his unwavering commitment to his daily work practice inspires me every day! They both, in their own ways, understood me and supported me as an artist whose work is driven by strong emotion. That is powerful."

The idea of "life's work" is one that I'm not sure we think of too often these days, but the gravity of that one single statement beckons me to print it out in huge letters just to remind myself daily of how truly grounded a perspective those words create. 

"I am convinced that art is indispensable"
––Anastasia Pelias

Her website is fantastic so please look over her wonderful {and large} body of work. Quite impressive. 

If you would like to see her pieces in person {truly a sight to behold}, Anastasia is represented by Heriard Cimino Gallery on Julia Street in New Orleans which has a great inventory of contemporary art.  be sure to visit the website today and the gallery next time you visit. 

*And if you are in New Orleans during the summertime and want to see great art, White Linen Night is a really fantastic event. Check back on in the coming months for the date. 
***Anastasia just informed me that she is hosting an open studio event on May 22nd. I will post the details tomorrow! I am most definitely going to try my best to attend!


Brittany O'Neal said...

Beautiful. I saw the pictures but, your comments makes them so much better! Thanks for sharing!

Kelle Dame said...

Coolness all around!! Thanks for sharing your friendly visits, they are always so inspiring!!

D.K. said...

Beautiful treatment of a beautiful artist making beautiful art. Thanks!


quintessence said...

What a fabulous introduction to such a truly gifted artist!! Her work has such movement and intesity!

All The Trappings said...

Thank you, everyone, for the lovely comments!

Anastasia and Gwen are two solidly talented women whom I admire and enjoy the company of tremendously. I was so thrilled to do this post and am tickled that you all loved it as much as I!



Anonymous said...

I love New Orleans. It looks like you got some great pictures of beautiful art work.
Happy Wednesday!
E + J