Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seven Minutes with Painter Melanie Sternberg

I first noticed Melanie Sternberg's work at Hanabi, a local restaurant serving Japanese cuisine in Downtown Duluth. Her engaging, vividly colorful paintings looked right at home there. A month later, at the Play Ground, she displayed several new pieces in conjunction with a performance titled "Radiance" by the Avalon Dance Troupe. Last weekend, Sternberg showed another group of paintings that Limbo Gallery curated in conjunction with the opening of the Zstudio for their Grand Opening last week which included works by John Heino, Jeffrey Woolverton, Eris Vafias, Ed Newman & Lesley Lipke (on display through the end of January.) Sternberg's energy is fully plugged in and it translates well into the paintings she creates.

Ennyman: When did you first take an interest in art?

MS: It all started with home art projects growing up. Painting ceramic ornaments, flocked posters, light brights, homemade Barbie clothes, carving pumpkins-- basically anything having to do with colors and some sort of process inspired me. My first painting was in kindergarten head start with the love of my life by my side – ‘Jerry'-- or like we used to call him -- 'spike'. We finger painted with purple and red,-- I have since refrained from creating paintings with love interests. I think our relationship ended at the water fountain.

E: Who have been your biggest influences as a painter?

MS: Words are inspiring to me, writers like Bertrand Russell, John Ruskin, anything about iconology/iconography, different art movements and periods or historical record -- it all inspires me. I imagine them -- how they created the works we study, and how the works shaped the world consciousness. Artists like the Lourembourg Brothers, Kandinsky, Rothko, -- way to many to name from history. Presently I love all fashion and patterns and people -- everything inspires me. I can’t even focus while answering this. Music is huge! My professors and peers along with my family have always influenced my work, whether it be painting, photography, drawing, collage, coloring, or just singing around. I’m making art… I just breathe art.

E: Do you have a name for your style of painting and what are you striving to accomplish with your work?

MS: I have never tried to define my style with one word or a title. I don’t know if the idea applies to my work as my work is dictated by spontaneous intuitive responses and the simple placement of parts. I do not know what I do, so I don't feel like I can tell you for sure one thing. I can tell you many things, stories, show you colors and imagery that has risen from me. I can show you calculated works and master copies that I have made, too -- on the opposite spectrum, but they are not expressive of my artistic nature or ideas about 'where' art is going. Art is going everywhere -- it is a constant explosion into all directions. If art were linear and directed it would lack the freedom from definition that is necessary for an individual to have a 'semi-natural' response (semi-natural because we know it is literally impossible for any person to have a reaction void of stimuli.) My 'intention' is to create a response in my viewer, just like every artist is, I believe.

E: What kind of music do you listen to when you're painting?

MS: I love music -- which is obvious looking at my work, full of patterned colorful parts or notes or shades -- however you like. But I listen to a variety of music while working. (So no people -- I cannot tell you what 'song' this painting is about because it took me over a year to finish -- and I did not hit repeat.) I can tell you that I am currently listening to Florence and the Machine, Adele, India Arie, anything blues, folk, rock 'n roll, a little country and the good stuff, Patsy Cline, both Hanks, Cash of course... I love cowboys, so that sums it up. This list could go on forever, too. I enjoy upbeat music mainly. I love live music and being serenaded.

E: What do you see yourself doing in five or ten years?

MS: I think I may still be here in Duluth, there is no telling. Hopefully still working within the arts and still making art as well. I never know the answer to this question. I am everywhere all the time.

E: Where can we see more of your work, both in the Twin Ports and online?

MS: Right now I have two shows. I have work hanging at Hanabi Japanese Cuisine, a second showing of 'Duluth Colors.' You can find the album on my Facebook -- via my page “The Painted Lady.” You can view all of shows there. Duluth Colors hangs until Feb 18. The second show I had the pleasure of being part of was at the super cool new ZStudio dance studio located under the Electric Fetus. The show hangs until the end of February as well.

E: Where can we see more of your work, both in the Twin Ports and online?

MS: Right now I have two shows. I have work hanging at Hanabi Japanese Cuisine, a second showing of 'Duluth Colors.' You can find the album on my Facebook -- via my page “The Painted Lady.” You can view all of shows there. Duluth Colors hangs until Feb 18. The second show I had the pleasure of being part of was at the super cool new ZStudio dance studio located under the Electric Fetus. The show hangs until the end of February as well.

Click images to enlarge.

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