Westchester’s Own Art Beat
Brush up on our thriving local art scene with a look at the work of eight innovative and exciting talents.
Chelsea, Schmelsea! There’s no need to trek into New York City in search of great paintings, photographs, and sculptures when you can find some of the most groundbreaking artwork being created today right here in Westchester. Top-notch galleries and museums, serious collectors, and a supportive cultural community all have helped make our county a hotbed for local talent, with both emerging and established artists working and exhibiting here. We’ve discovered eight of Westchester’s most innovative, creative and exciting artists and artisans to bring to your attention.
mosaic artist |waccabuc
the artist: Cathleen Newsham’s center of operation is the basement of her Waccabuc home, where bins of shimmering glass, mirror, and ceramic tiles in every color of the rainbow fill her studio. Newsham, a former broadcast designer who ran her own firm specializing in cable television promotion and branding, closed up shop in 1999 to focus on her children and to renovate her home. She started by designing and installing her own mosaic glass powder room sink and has now grown her talent into a burgeoning business called Modern Mosaics.
the work: Assembled from tiny, hand-cut pieces of art glass, Newsham’s sinks are lit from below, creating what she calls a “sanctuary of light” in the powder rooms and bathrooms she works on. Her mirrors, made of bits of glass, mirror, and ceramic, frequently incorporate small personal mementos from clients, such as figurines, buttons, or coins. Her mosaic work also extends to vases, frames, and lamps, as well as kitchen backsplashes and floors.
the inspiration: Newsham has traveled the globe extensively, visiting large-scale contemporary mosaic projects in Barcelona and Tuscany, along with the ancient mosaics of Pompeii. While she mentions the influences of artists Gustav Klimt and Antoni Gaudi, Newsham says, “I’m inspired by simple things—the colors of a leaf, the shimmering blue ocean surrounding Greece’s Santorini, even a piece of a shopping bag or a scrap of fabric.”
why people love it: Bedford Hills resident Katie Davis, a children’s book author and illustrator, says she admires Newsham’s work because “she’s got an incredible sense of design and color.” And adds: “Her attitude about life comes through in her art in that it’s whimsical and it’s got balance.”
what it costs: Sinks start at $1,000 and can go up to $4,000, depending on the level of complexity and customization in the project. A 12-inch-high vase featuring a random geometric glass pattern costs $120, and prices can reach $2,600 for a four-foot-high vessel adorned with large blue lilies. Mirrors range from $225 to $2,500, and a backsplash can cost up to $20,000.
where to buy it: Newsham suggests shopping online at www.glassartistsgallery.com or www.gardenofglass.com. You also can see the works in person by calling 917-796-6086 and setting up an appointment to visit her Waccabuc studio.
the artist: Painting since she was old enough to hold a brush, artist GG Kopilak learned the fundamentals of color, line, and shape from her teacher, realist artist Bill Kautz, and expanded her skills while studying at the School of Visual Arts in Urbino, Italy. Her work is in more demand then ever, with her oil paintings showcased at museums and galleries across the tri-state area and featured in collections internationally.
the work: Some of Kopilak’s most striking oil paintings are from her Reredos (the wall behind an altar) series, which places highly-detailed, realistic images against abstract backgrounds. This thread of abstraction continues into her recent landscapes, which were inspired by her travels to Ireland, Scotland, and Italy and “capture the spirit of the place—not a photo-like representation but what you feel when you’re there,” says Kopilak.
why people love it: Sheila Herzog, manager of Gallery Yellow in Cross River who frequently exhibits Kopilak’s work, calls her landscapes “luminous. They have a masterful composition with a play of light and shadow that evokes a sense of serene.”
what it costs: Prices start at $850 for small pieces, such as an eight-by-10-inch Hudson River landscape infused with soft light. On the higher end are paintings from her Reredos Series, e.g., With Open Arms, which costs $7,000 and is four-feet high by three-feet wide with an altar-like wooden frame.
where to buy it: If you want to add one of Kopilak’s paintings to your collection, head to Gallery Yellow or pay a visit to the Virginia Barrett Gallery, located in Greenwich. You can check out her artwork on the web at http://mysite.verizon.net/ggkopilak.
➤ martin kremer
glass artist | pound ridge
the artist: Martin Kremer started experimenting with glass more than 25 years ago while pursuing a career in medical technology. “Glass eventually took over, evolving from a hobby to a spare-time business to a full-time obsession,” he says. The award-winning artist has studied blown and fused glass at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Urbanglass in Brooklyn, and the Corning Museum of Glass Studio.
the work: Since 1998, Kremer has focused on the technique of glass fusing, in which he assembles hundreds of strips and pattern bars of colorful glass and melds them together in a 1,500-degree kiln. As a finishing touch, he sandblasts his pieces to strip off the gloss and create a silky smooth, matte surface. The end result is striking, beautifully patterned bowls, platters, and masks as well as the artist’s new, architecturally inspired “Paredes” sculptures.
why people love it: Edgemont residents Barry Goldenberg and Cheryl Kantor have five pieces by Kremer. Cheryl, who discovered the artist’s work five years ago at a Park Avenue craft show, says, “I have never seen fused glass with that many colors and thatmuch detail.”
what it costs: Prices start at $500 for a multi-colored, nine-inch round bowl and can go up to $18,000 for a piece like Labyrinth, a 21-inch-tall model for a proposed installation piece that is made of 64 translucent glass bars.
where to buy it: A great local place to see a wide selection of Kremer’s work is Ironwood Gallery in Ridgefield, Connecticut. In addition, Kremer frequently exhibits at the annual Westchester Craft Show at the County Center. You can also order pieces through The Guild, which has a catalog called The Artful Home and a website at www.guild.com. Another option is to visit the artist’s website at www.kremerglass.com or set up an appointment to visit his Pound Ridge studio.
➤ al landzberg
sculptor | yorktown heights
the artist:Al Landzberg started experimenting with welded steel sculptures in the early 1970s, but it wasn’t until the engineering manager retired from IBM in 1993 that he was able to devote full time to his artwork. Museums and galleries quickly took notice, and Landzberg was soon asked to exhibit at such local institutions as the Hudson River Museum and the Westchester Arts Council gallery. The sculptor now plans to extend his work into the public art arena with major installations proposed for the Manhattan waterfront on the East River as well as the Hudson River at Croton Point.
the work: In his recent pieces, Landzberg welds together strips of burnished stainless steel, aluminum, and bronze to create towering upright forms that crane skyward—some up to 17 feet. The sculptures range from geometric to curvy in form, and, while some represent elements from nature, others are ambiguously abstract.
why people love it: Garrison residents Lloyd and Lisa Zeiderman had to practically beg Landzberg to sell them the 17-foot high, stainless-steel Moon Ladder, which the artist had created for his children and had set by his backyard pool. The piece, which now sits by the Zeidermans' pool, fits in perfectly with the couple’s collection of 25 outdoor sculptures, which, Lloyd says, "are made up of very powerful and dynamic pieces of steel and granite.”
what it costs: Prices range from $1,800 for smaller, earlier works like Freeport Morning, a polychrome painted steel wall sculpture from the artist’s Window Series, to $5,000 for a larger, recent work such as Sapling, an eight-foot tall, slender and flexible stainless steel piece that sways in the breeze.
where to buy it: Visitors are welcome to set up an appointment to visit Landzberg’s Yorktown Heights studio as well as his adjacent sculpture garden, where you can view his outdoor works in a country setting. Another option is to check out his website at www.sculpture-landzbergstudio.com.
➤ sviatoslav makarenko
iconographer and church design artist | yonkers
the artist: Born in Philadelphia to Ukrainian immigrant parents, Sviatoslav Makarenko was helping his father paint and restore church interiors by the time he was eight years old. In the mid 1970s, the father-and-son team brought their talents to Westchester, where they opened up a Yonkers studio specializing in all forms of ecclesiastical art. Now one of the nation’s leading artists in traditional Orthodox iconography, you can find Makarenko’s murals, mosaics, and stained-glass works in churches throughout the United States and Canada (including St. Gabriel’s in New Rochelle and St. Michael’s in Yonkers).
the work: Makarenko’s icons, created with both egg-yolk tempera and oil paint, radiate with brilliant blues, vivid reds, and that all-important gold, which reflects the light and adds a shimmering, spiritual aura to his art. While he doesn’t sign his work, you can tell one of his Virgin Marys in an instant by the style of her über-wide, doe-like eyes, elongated nose, and tiny, delicate, pursed lips.
why people love his work: Janet Langsam, executive director of the Westchester Arts Council, discovered Makarenko through the organization’s Folk Arts Program, which aims to present the diverse cultural traditions of our county. “His work both catches the eye and moves the spirit with its strong sense of shape and color and its references to his Ukrainian heritage,” Langsam says.
what it costs: Makarenko’s smaller works, such as eight-by-11-inch icon paintings that are often purchased as wedding or housewarming gifts, start at $500. On the more costly side, his complete church renovations run upwards of a million dollars.
where to buy it: In the market for an icon? You can set up an appointment to view the artist’s work at Makarenko Studios by calling (914) 968-7673.
➤ don penny
photographer | briarcliff manor
the artist: Growing up in LA, Don Penny remembers taking pictures with his Brownie box camera at the San Diego Zoo when he was 10 years old. Now an award-winning freelance and fine art photographer, his works have graced the walls of Manhattan’s prestigious International Center for Photography and have appeared in such national publications as Elle and In Style. Passing on his expertise to the next generation of photographers, Penny is an adjunct professor at the Steinhardt School of Education and Art at NYU, where he received his Master of Studio Arts.
the work: Penny employs large format, digital printing to create big and bold images that range up to three-and-one-half-feet high and 16 feet wide. Executed in both color and black and white, his fine art photographs feature ever-changing subject matter that ranges from giant-sized, neon gummy worms and multi-colored rubber bands in his Black Light/White Light Series to kaleidoscope-like geometric building design elements in his latest Architectural Series/Where We Live.
why people love it: Rick Biedel, president of the design firm Studio XL in Manhattan, was introduced to Penny’s fine art through his commercial work. Obsessed with art design, and specifically photography, Biedel now owns several of Penny’s pieces and says what draws him to the prints is the powerful pull of the artist’s “simple, iconic, graphic images.”
what it costs: The artist’s photographs range in price from $1,500 for a two-by-three-foot, black-and-white Manhattan cityscape on newsprint to $5,000 for a limited edition, eight-foot high, brilliantly colored photograph of a rooster’s head.
where to buy it: If you want to own one of Penny’s works, the best thing to do is check them out at www.tornadoeditions.com or set up an appointment to see them in person at Penny’s Briarcliff studio.
➤ susan schrott
quilter | mount kisco
the artist: Art quilter Susan Schrott learned her craft from her two grandmothers—her Nana Mollie, who taught her the technical skills of working with a needle and thread, and her Grandma Rose, who passed on the “hand-to-heart” notion of infusing her work with emotion. While this five-time “A World of Quilts” award-winner is devoted to her textile designs, Schrott also is a dedicated clinical social worker specializing in treating women and teens with eating disorders.
the work: Schrott’s subject matter is essentially about women who are joyful and deeply connected to their environments and their own personal histories. Utilizing mostly hand-dyed fabrics in vibrant colors ranging from fuchsia to lime green, Schrott employs a sewing machine to piece her quilts together and embellishes them with a technique she calls thread painting. “Similar to brushstrokes with paint, I do ‘threadstrokes’ with thread,” she says. The artist then finishes her quilts by painting on faces and adding hand-sewn embellishments such as beads, bells, sequins, and Swarovski crystals.
why people love it: Friend and colleague Judy Scheel, who has one of Schrott’s quilts in her Chappaqua home and another in her Mount Kisco psychotherapy office, says she admires the artist’s work because it focuses on the “fullness and richness of women. It’s vibrant, healthy, flowing and colorful.”
what it costs: A nice way to start off with a piece by Schrott is to buy a Tree of Life, a personalized two-by-three-foot family tree with photos of loved ones transferred onto fabric, which will cost around $400 to $600. On the higher end are large-scale, figurative quilts such as Schrott’s Autumn Gypsy Rose, a 53-inch-high by four-foot-wide portrait of her grandmother surrounded by fall leaves, which is on sale for $7,000.
where to buy it: Visit the artist’s website at www.susanschrott.com or set up an appointment to visit her at her Mount Kisco home studio.
➤ arny weinstein
kaleidoscope maker | Yonkers
the artist: Arny Weinstein spent 20 years in information technology working as a software developer before saying goodbye to his corporate job in 2000 and pursuing his second career making kaleidoscopes. Now he creates hundreds of scopes a year, all individually handcrafted, selling them at prestigious crafts fairs and more than 70 stores across the country and in Japan.
the work: Nothing run-of-the-mill, Weinstein’s kaleidoscopes are true works of art, from the “bodies” sculpted from domestic woods like Birdseye maple, walnut, cherry, and mahogany to the object cases filled with handmade, lampworked glass beads in dazzling colors that range from bright blue and yellow to pale pink and lavender. In addition, the artist fashions complex mirror systems that are assembled at precise angles to create the unique and exciting images that you see when you hold the scope up to the light.
why people love his work: Manhattan attorney Joseph Belluck, a member of the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society (made up of artists and aficionados), has more than 40 kaleidoscopes in his collection, including three by Weinstein. “Not that many artists out there can combine a nice exterior shape with such a colorful and attractive interior kaleidoscope image,” he says.
what it costs: Weinstein’s kaleidoscopes start at $120 for a five-inch-long, hand-held piece made of maple with a two-mirror system. They go up from there, topping at $3,100 for a limited-edition work, such as the 16-inch-high “Global Fusion,” a tabletop piece that is made of crafted wood from six different continents and features four mirrors producing a 3D image.
where to buy it: Weinstein frequently has a booth at both Holiday Crafts Park Avenue in Manhattan and Crafts at Lyndhurst in Tarrytown. Otherwise, you can see his works online at www.awscopes.com or set up an appointment to visit him at his Yonkers studio.
Laura Joseph Mogil is a freelance writer and art collector who lives in Briarcliff Manor. She is a frequent contributor to Westchester Magazine and Westchester Magazine's Home & Garden and has a website www.lauramogil.com.