SPOTLIGHT: Norman Rockwell and Ruby Bridges

Norman Rockwell and Ruby Bridges

In 1963, Norman Rockwell confronted the issue of prejudice head-on with one of his most powerful paintings, The Problem We All Live With.  At the time editorial policies governed the placement of minorities in his illustrations (restricting them to service industry positions only). The painting was a clear indicator that Rockwell was supporting equality and tolerance.

I’ve heard it said that Norman Rockwell was safe because he strayed away from depicting any direct social commentary in his work — his painting of a six-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted to school amidst the chaos of protestors that didn’t agree with the United States Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education says otherwise. That unpopular ruling that declared the state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional, that could not be more frankly expressed than in this emotional tribute to courage.

*“The Problem We All Live With,” Norman Rockwell, 1963 Oil on canvas, 36” x 58” Illustration for “Look,” January 14, 1964 Licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing, Niles, IL. From the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum*

Learn More:

Learn more about that landmark United States Supreme Court case at PBS/The Supreme Court — Expanding Civil Rights.

Thomas Robson: Collision Art


The absurd defacing of classic portraits juxtaposed with pixelations and thick strokes of pigmented color draw you into British artist Thomas Robson’s amplified work – a modern appropriation of old narratives colliding with a new visually provocative story in hyperbolic color.

His work edges along often dramatic boundaries of graphic and fine art, confronting the viewer with a new contextualization.



Collsion Art, Yellow on old grounds

Collsion Art, Yellow on old grounds

Collsion Art Landscape

Collsion Art Landscape


collision art; interventions; Thomas Robson;

collision art; interventions; Thomas Robson;


Andrea Heimer’s Suburban Mythology

As if the suburbs didn’t have a bad enough rap, Andrea Heimer goes and takes a delightfully sardonic jab at the lives of its residents with her upcoming solo show: Suburban Mythology.

Her cheery small scale paintings are humorously dark while undressing the facade of normal white-picket fence wholesomeness in a perverse and yet strangely appealing way. With long painting titles that read like the opening lines of a David Sedaris essay it’s not hard to believe that her therapist checks her website for new work before sessions. Or that her story-boarded strange tales that deal in adult topics  –  told in childlike tones is attracting collectors like Paul Simon.



“The Sunshine Cult Used The Patterson’s Den For A Meeting Room And Spent A Lot Of Time Redecorating Because Its 31 Members Had A Hard Time Agreeing On Anything”

HM: It’s so crazy that you got in touch with us to cover your solo show because during the Juried Show at Parlor Gallery this past November I was checking out your work. There are so many fun elements in the details of your paintings. I was saying to a friend of mine,“Couldn’t you see these paintings hanging in one of the rooms on that show GIRLS?”

AH: You are the second person to say that.

HM: They would be so perfect! Knowing the personality of those characters – I think they would be drawn to work that carried a sarcastic response to where someone grew up.

AH: Especially the Montana stuff, right? They are extra weird.


“We Found The Boy Drinking Mr. Patterson’s Pool Water. The Boy Was Covered In Hair And Howled Like A Wolf So We Think He Came Down From The Mountains. We Never Caught Him.”

Heimer is referring to the paintings that depict memories of her childhood spent in Great Falls, Montana. A time she recalls being “mostly unhappy”, “disconnected from family and feeling like an alien resident in my own community.” She spent most of her time riding her bike around the neighborhood observing others and collecting stories that she would later use as inspiration for this series.

HM: Your paintings have long, matter-of-a fact titles; are these based on experiences that you’ve had living in the burbs?

AH: I’m inspired by real things that happened, something a friend told me or things I went through. In my neighborhood, there were people having affairs, people who believed in UFO’s. It’s a little bit real, a little bit hyperbole, a little bit my own neurosis. Sometimes it’s a little memory of something weird my family said or did. I have to see the picture very clearly in my head before I begin to paint.

I’ve had people come up to me and say “I know that street” or “I know those people.” So suburbia must be weird universally.

HM: Is this the style that you think defines you?

AH: I think this is it. Before I started painting I was messing around with screen printing – pop arty things. But I never felt like they were mine or what I was trying to say. A lot of the paintings do deal with dark themes, so I try to find something humorous about the situation then mesh them together. I love that people forgive me for not being able to paint perspective, animals, and a straight line…”

HM: Perfection would be wrong for paintings about stories that are so gratifyingly imperfect. I’d love to know the backstory of the painting where you depict a guy running over a half-naked woman.

AH: That one is called, “Otto Johnson’s Car Was A Chick Magnet”.  She’s not being run over, she’s making out with the car – if you look on the ground there is a little tiny condom next to her and her panties are off.

HM: She’s really going for it.

AH: Yeah. When I felt really trapped in my environment I could not wait to get a driver’s license. Since then I’ve been really into cars and the guys driving them…it’s about freedom. I love that painting, it was the first time I got to paint a tiny vagina. I got really excited about how it turned out.



“In The Summer Of 1989 Mr. McManus Cut Down A Rosebush That Was Growing Directly On The Border Between The McManus’s Back Yard And The Black’s Back Yard. The Resulting Donnybrook Was The Most Brutal Thing Us Kids Had Ever Seen In Real Life. Years Later I Figured Out The Fight Wasn’t Really About Roses.”


“Winter Séance With Two Ghosts”

HM: Were you sitting by your paintings during the Juried show?

AH: Yes. Wait…why? Did you just ignore me?

HM: Ignore is such an awful word. I thought it might have been you, but then embarrassment took over. There was no adult way to introduce myself after I’d stood there for so long laughing with a friend while pointing at those tiny vagina’s.

AH: Aw, you should have. No need to be embarrassed, I still get excited about painting little penis’s – because they’re sooo tiny.

HM: That being said – who do you imagine is buying your paintings?

AH: People with really good taste.

*Suburban Mythology opens at Parlor Gallery on February 1st until March 8th, 2014


“The Space Man Would Not Let Her Come With Him, Nor Would He Stay”


“The Fire: Good Riddance on Maple Street”



The Mystical Realm of Hannah Yata

I stumbled onto New York based Artist, Hannah Yata‘s work at Asbury Park’s Parlor Gallery – I knew immediately I didn’t want to sum up her work with my words. I needed to reach out to her, I needed to know what thoughts could conceivably be swimming around in her head. What lurks in the mind of someone creating worlds where women lay about with heads of fish.

HM: My first encounter with your work was at the juried show at Parlor Gallery. I stood there so amazingly and majestically disturbed and elated by your work.

I’m not quite sure what to say about my artwork. If you were coming to see a show of mine I would tell you to approach it with a sense of humor. I suppose it’s quite tongue in cheek… many times with the paintings and the titles playing off one another. However, I build my ideas and work on serious concepts a things that matter a lot to me: environmentalism, feminism, psychology…. so there’s a lot of juxtapositions going on. I find that each piece has its own personality so I tend to leave a lot of interpretation open to the viewer. Trying to explain all of them tends to sand down the corners and close them down… they are each laden with their own explanations both from universal and personal points of view.

Maybe I should explain a specific piece to kind of let you know what I mean:


“Throwing Up the Children.”

I get a lot of questions about the painting “Throwing Up the Children.”  This one is pretty heavy for me. Sure, we could talk about it in terms of abortion, and women’s rights over their own bodies. I could talk about in terms of my very alienated relationship with my mother and family and their choices to no longer be apart of my life.  I thought about it first and foremost in terms of nature, Mother Earth, whatever you want to call it- and her right to “throw up” her children- in this case, us. On one hand, one must reproduce and go on, but when that reproduction is counter intuitive to survival at what point do you draw the line? … and what of those children and their rights? Our world is incredibly overpopulated and we keep gorging ourselves on the last remaining resources.. at what point will Earth stop supporting human life? I think maybe I’m posing more questions than really putting answers out there. I’m on a search for a lot of things so I’m sorry if I’m not very clear.

I’ve got a new painting you can throw in… it’s the first one in a long time without a fish head for a protagonist.

HM: The new work you sent me – very primal. What made you use a new protagonist in the pieces…why the stray away from fish heads?

Yes. I suppose it could be a gamble straying away from the fish heads as a protagonist… But as an artist I’m constantly trying to set new challenges for myself. When I start to feel that something is getting over played or I’m backing myself into a corner I have to mix it up. The fish will never be gone entirely I’m sure- I’m attached to them on a very deep level. However, I don’t want to over use them to the point where they become kitsch and predictable. Lately, I’ve become fascinated with these hairless cats (or “Sphinx”) I found their odd beauty strange, unnatural, off-putting and beguiling. I think finding new things and what they mean to me and seeing how others react to them helps me grow. I find excitement in learning and exploring. I think my journey in finding a vision and voice in my artwork would be woefully cut short if I chose a lone protagonist for the rest of my life’s work. I think the fish-heads were one personality. However, I want to explore more- I want to add more dimensions and characters… I think that is when the beauty in your artwork transforms from a solo to a symphony.

HM: I know you made mention of posing more questions than really putting answers out there – which makes me think that you are creating quandaries and questions for yourself that you try to resolve within the painting.  Can you explore what questions pop into your head as you’re painting? What do you think the viewer walks away pondering after seeing your work?

I think more so with the hairless cats I began to question “is this offensive?… And if its offensive is it a “good” offensive?” I think sometimes it’s hard to strike that balance of making someone uncomfortable with revealing and unfortunate truth and just being rude. I try not to be rude… but I definitely work for a strong statement.

I think a big part of my work is trying to speak to people and hoping something resonates with them somewhere. I try not to “preach” one specific idea too much, I have personally experienced how annoying that can be even if you agree with the idea. It is my hope to tap into a deeper level on consciousness- in my own surreal language i hope the work could some how spark a jolt of awareness in lives filled with distractions and many times superficial concerns.



Ho Ryon Lee

I can’t tell you how much I’m digging these overlapping oil paintings. After taking a series of photographs of the model in motion, Lee then replicates that on canvas.

They touch the edge of provocativeness, giving the illusion of motion and that excites me in a way I just can’t put my finger on (oh, that just sounded wrong). That’s just it, they feel a little bit nice and a little bit naughty – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

You can check out more of his work here.


It’s early and while I’m waiting for the coffee to kick in I stumble across these paintings. Now maybe I’m still in a daze or maybe it’s the still life counteracting the caffeine high that’s starting. But these are just wafting all sorts of tranquility over me…the lull of light color palette he uses for these vintage items against the creamy white backdrops…can you feel it?

Check out his site, here.

xx Editor

*images via Christopher Scott website


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Still Life: Mary Jane Ansell

Do you ever wonder what it might be like to be the subject of a painting? Would you be content to let the artist interpret you as you are or would you try to clothe yourself in your own chosen persona? The subjects in the paintings of UK artist Mary Jane Ansell seem to be playing dress-up, yet we are left to wonder, is this who they are or who they wish to be?


Girl in a Cocked Hat II, oil on panel, 19.8x 19.8



Girl in a Naval Cap, oil on panel, 10.6×14.1

In these quiet paintings, we are offered a glimpse into a moment, a fleeting feeling, a pause in the life of the subject, the life of the artist and one of our own.


Anima Animus, oil on panel, 48×60


The Loved One, oil on panel, 99×99 cm


Girl Reflected, oil on board, 42×30 cm

They are quiet, contemplative portrayals, yet within each is a sense of anticipation. The stillness and peace that comes just before we discover something amazing. Perhaps it might be within ourselves that we find the revelation.


To see more of Mary Jane Ansell’s work, please visit her website.

All images are via the artist’s representing gallery, Fairfax Contemporary.

Article by Lesly Frenz of …

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Abject Extraction: Jen Garrido

For many artists, the act of creation isn’t just about projecting an image onto a canvas.  Artists like Jen Garrido understand that often, it’s more about pulling a hidden entity out of the mist.


Garrido’s images straddle the line between abstraction and representation, which creates a beautiful tension in her work.  With their stark and white, yet heavily textured backgrounds, the colors and lines feel like the emergence of spring after a long winter.



The way she molds shapes and textures together leave her paintings with a sculptural quality, bringing them to life in a way that makes them seem almost alive.


To see more of Jen Garrido’s work, be sure to check out her website.

Artist found via Anthropologie.  All images are via the artist’s website.

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Alien Nation: Fidencio Martinez

Clandestino, acrylic paint and newspaper, 12×12

Clandestino, acrylic paint and newspaper, 12×12

Living the way we do, Mr. Forager and I are no strangers to feeling like outsiders in a new place.  We try to make a new town home every three months.  I can only imagine how difficult it must be to move to a completely new country, where perhaps you don’t even speak the language or where you noticeably stand out due to the color of your skin.  The work of Mexican-born Memphis artist Fidencio Martinez deals with such feelings of social alienation, assimilation and isolation.

Although Martinez’s figures tend to be Latino or indigenous, we’ve all likely experienced some level of isolation.  Yet do we really have any idea what it might be like to be live in a place fraught with danger, one you flee in order to be able to live your life free of fear?

A Coup Beneath Meek Flores, mixed media, 12×12

A Coup Beneath Meek Flores, mixed media, 12×12

Nos Caimos Como Balas, mixed media, 12×12

Nos Caimos Como Balas, mixed media, 12×12

What if, when all you wanted was to be able to live a quiet, happy life in your new world, you were constantly met with hate and prejudice?  Would you be able to accept such treatment with a sanguine attitude?

La Cosecha de Su Vida, mixed media, 24×36

La Cosecha de Su Vida, mixed media, 24×36

Can you relate to Martinez’s work?  When do you feel like an outsider?  You can see more of Fidencio’s work on his website and be sure to check out his Etsy shop for his available work for sale!

Artist found via Clair Hartmann.  Featured image is Teal Fields in Skin Seas, mixed media, 12×12.  All images are via the artist’s website.

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Contemporary Muses: Hope Gangloff

There are certain times, especially when he lays on the floor for a power nap, that I long to break out my charcoal and sketch my husband. I’m moved to capture the beauty of his face and his peaceful position. As I’ve mentioned, figure drawing took me a while to master but once I did I truly began to see the magic in the body of each person. Our expressions, our posture, our countenance is all unique to who we are. The paintings of Hope Gangloff capture every day moments of ordinary people, rendering them in an extraordinarily beautiful way.


Her figures in repose, bear stylistic resemblance to masters such as Schiele, Matisse, Cassatt and Toulouse-Lautrec.


But these are contemporary muses, this is the way we live now. Friends come over and take their shoes off and relax with us, the parlor has been replaced by the kitchen and the patio. Conversations remain unchanged– we talk politics, relationships, art and music.


Gangloff’s figures are familiar. They are our friends, our neighbors, our world. To see more of Hope Gangloff’s work, please visit her website.


Artist found via Booooooom. All images are via the artist’s website.

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Article by, Lesley Frenz of Artsy Forager.

Featured Artist – Marie-Claude Marquis


Marie-Claude Marquis Talks about Painting her Generation and Stripping Down.


Image: Marie-Claude Marquis, I am not hiding

Montreal based artist Marie-Claude Marquis is causing a stir with her paintings – gritty interpretations of everyday occurrences that capture the heart of the subcultures evolving around her.  We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about what influences her work and what she jams to in her studio.

HAHA MAG: Your paintings have some very unusual titles. Which comes first for you, the title or the piece?

Marie-Claude Marquis: It is totally the piece. The title comes at the end, depending on the final result. Usually, I want my titles to guide the spectator without saying too much.

HM: What’s really striking about them is the crazy color palette going on. I read somewhere that you used to study makeup. Does that at all influence your choice in color?

MCM: I don’t think my makeup studies really influenced my color palette. I have always drawn and painted very colorfully. In fact, it is a lot more difficult for me to have a more selective color palette. I have difficulty choosing between all the pretty colors, so often I put them all on.

HM: While we’re on the topic of color, what is the significance, if any, of the blue eyes in most of your people in each piece?

MCM: There isn’t really any specific meaning. I think it’s mostly because shades of blue and green pop more. It seems like lighter eyes have a little more expression in them, but brown eyes are pretty too!


Image: Marie-Claude Marquis, Trash la vie

HM: Since 2005, you’ve had several solo shows.  What would you say has evolved about your work from then until now? Is there a specific focus to each piece?

MCM: My work has definitely evolved since 2005, mostly on a technical level. I still portrait some of the same subjects but I try to go outside the box a lot more now. I try to create more contrasts with different techniques, like more gestural backgrounds and more realistic characters.

HM: The settings for your characters are often scene stealers. Where does your imagery come from?

MCM: My work is an account of the everyday world in which I live. It illustrates the lifestyle and the imagination of people of my generation and especially of those that evolve around me. My work questions human responses, the intimacy of daily life and the uniqueness of each individual. Painting allows me to play with characters and locations to create familiar scenes in which we can identify ourselves. By creating stagings through photo montages, I create each of my projects on the computer, and then I do it manually on the canvas. This way of working is, for me, a right balance between technology and traditional. We can find in my works references to the people of my generation, fashion, illustration, advertising, design, to the city, graffiti, tattooing, etc.

HM: Some of your pieces peer into such intimate moments; are we meant to be voyeurs of the lifestyles reflected or of the reactions of your subjects?

MCM: These days, I think we are more voyeuristic. We watch reality shows, we look at a person’s Facebook profile even if we don’t really talk them, etc. So, yes this sense of voyeurism could be applied to my paintings, mostly those about a couple’s interactions, but in general I think it’s more about showing those awkward situations in the everyday life that will make you smile rather than those that will make you blush and cringe.


 Image: Marie-Claude Marquis, I can see through you

HM: You recently had a photo exhibition called ‘Tandem’ in which you and your boyfriend examined life as a couple by recreating daily scenes. You’d set up a scene, and then both take a series of photos. He turned the images into a photographic series, while you transformed your shots into paintings. What’s interesting is that very ordinary things are being displayed here – making out, doing laundry, arguing – yet you both express a very different take on the moment. Your work seems to have this prevailing theme of peeking into the life of others. Was this collaboration a natural evolution from looking into your subjects’ lives to some introspection of your own?


MCM: This exhibition was really a representation of a couple’s life in general. To get to those images, we both looked at our own experience or the experience of those around us. The models were not necessarily couples in real life, but actors for our project.

HM: Did you find one medium stronger than the other?

MCM: I think both mediums have different reasons for being there, but I think the paintings were a little more dominant because of the close-ups and the exaggerated expressions of the characters. As for the photos, they were impressive because of the general ambiance in them.


Image: Marie-Claude Marquis, First Date


HM: I’m always interested to know who artists think buys their pieces. What type of person do you think purchases your work?

MCM: The majority of buyers are people in their twenties or thirties. I think more often then not, it’s people who are similar to me, but I’m sure there are exceptions. One of my paintings was bought by a gentleman in his fifties who thought the background of the painting resembled the acres of his land. Clearly, my artwork speaks to everyone differently.

HM: Let’s get a bit voyeuristic. When you’re painting, what type of vibe do you create for yourself? Do you work in silence? Are you rocking out to your favorite band?

MCM: I love this question! Honestly, it’s different each day. Most of the time I like working in silence and thinking, but sometimes I need to go a little bit crazy and put on some music. I’m really not a glamorous artist when I’m painting. I’m in my underwear or pajamas (it depends if my neighbor is on his balcony or not) with dirty hair and paint on my forehead.