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Richard Graham

With an architecture background and an education from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Richard Graham began his painting career later in life. Only upon retiring eight years ago did Graham start painting. “I don’t have any real art training, but as an architect, I was involved in arts a lot.” As a designer and colorist, Richard has always had a feel for 2D works. “I was designing a restaurant for a friend who had some crappy artwork on the walls and I thought, ‘I could probably do something better than that’ ”, and so began his painting career within a Miami garage.

Born in Philly and raised in New Jersey, Graham has bounced from city to city, most recently settling in Portland before relocating to Seattle just a year and a half ago. Ages ago when he had his eye on Seattle, the downtown area wasn’t yet liveable. Graham acknowledges how Seattle has really come into its own over the past ten years. He came for the hustle and bustle and stays for the music and art scene.

Although once settled in a now defunct studio under the I5 bridge, ‘57 Biscayne was too good of a counter offer for Graham to pass up. The location in Pioneer Square brings exposure to his work and is closer to that city energy he craves. What sets ‘57 Biscayne apart from the rest is truly its founder, Jane Richlovsky.

“Studios tend to be that way; they’re all kind of bottled up unless you force us to gather around, which Jane is good at making us do. I always leave my door open, I want people to walk in.” Richard is still in the process of getting to know the community, but so far greatly appreciates talking with fellow abstract artists in the building.

When I identify rigidity and structure contrasting loose twirls within his work, Richard counters: “I don’t do architectural pieces. I think that happens in the arts, you try to get away from what you’re familiar with. That’s the great thing about panting; for the first time, I didn’t have to please anybody but me.”

As far as technique, Richard treats acrylics almost like watercolor. By thinning the paint down, he pours the mixture around the canvas, letting gravity take its course. When he paints, Graham oscillates between working on canvases on the wall, up on an easel, or on the table; depending on the day. Inspired by Jackson Pollock, Graham believes that each drip of paint was Pollock’s soul coming out in art form. “That’s the trick with painting, you willingly give up all control; that’s so free. You let the paint do its thing.”

We paw through canvases as if digging through crates of vinyl records. Richard points out one of his very first paintings, hanging on the wall behind the stacks. “I haven’t progressed much!”, he laughs, pointing out the shape of a face among the organic pushing and pulling of paint in various forms of liquidity.

When the subject of cost came up, Richard explains, “People love that they can buy a huge painting for $300, $500.” However, galleries have encouraged him to up prices near $3,000. “I think the art market is so distorted by ‘high art’ to collectors who aren’t necessarily interested in art, but are interested in investments. It’s like buying stock, it’s crazy!” He believes local people who like art shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on it.

“I’m painting for myself. I’m painting for me. And I don’t really care if anyone else likes it or not.”

For a great conversation on music or the state of the world, you can find Richard in his studio, with the door always open.

Molly Ray

As I enter the room, I immediately notice how pristine Molly Ray’s studio is; there are pressed white lab coats hanging by the door and alphabetized vials of aromatic elixirs lined neatly into rows.

“The space seemed meant for me. I don’t know if there’s another studio with a sink, dishwasher, and room for a fridge.” Upon moving in last November, Ray acknowledges how flawless the course of moving in became. The timing was ideal, the space was perfect, the price was good, and it “just felt right.” Knowing the history of the third floor, I start to recognize this studio was once a kitchen for a corporate office. However, Molly loves its intact character. “It has these delicious imperfections”, she says, as she gestures delightedly toward the flooring and exposed brick.

Not only does she have everything she needs within her studio, but she maintains kinship among fellow artists along the floor. Molly describes a sense of safety and camaraderie despite such differing disciplines of art. “Nobody bugs you, but you feel comfortable enough to say; ‘Hey, I’m expecting a package. Do you mind looking out for it?’”

Ray has always been into fragrance; she even grew up traveling to Europe with her mother and appreciating the culture around perfumery. For Europeans, she says, “It’s not a question of ‘Do you wear perfume?’ it’s ‘What do you wear?’ and ‘Which is your favorite?'” Everyone has a connection to fragrance. For example, vanilla, cedar, and so forth can all be connected to scent memory. Upon smelling such scents, one has the ability to unlock synapses into a really powerful experience.

“Perfumery is the perfect mix of art and science.”

In addition to bringing personalization and detail into her craft, Ray also focuses on the environmental sustainability of the industry. However, she warns consumers to beware of “greenwashing”, i.e., when a company over-emphasizes their environmental efforts as a marketing tactic. “I try not to lead with that, I want you to love my stuff FIRST and then I can say, oh by the way…” She believes it’s not only important to have a sexy brand, but have a tight sustainability commitment to boot.

Her studio has also allowed a space for mentoring and educational workshops. With the help of an apprentice and an intern, Molly approaches her work with a holistic team. Despite only being in the fragrance industry about three and a half years, she prides herself in her craft and has limitless possibilities before her.

“I really try to make art in what I’m doing. I want someone to see themselves in a fragrance.”

With her excess materials, Ray donates to local women’s shelter, Mary’s Place. She recognizes how fragrance can restore a sense of dignity and is a luxury item that is otherwise forgotten among donations.

If you’re looking for an intimate, customized fragrance experience, Molly welcomes visitors and students alike. I recommend you keep an eye on this artist as I expect she’ll continue to push the boundaries of where fragrance can take you. I’ll give you a hint: there might be wine!

100 under $100 and the Sweet Suite 300 opens JUNE 6!

Thursday, June 6th marks the sixth annual show of affordable local art at ’57 Biscayne. Running from 5:30-9:00pm, two floors will be filled the to brim with opportunities to mingle with artists, enjoy refreshments, and take home a beautiful piece of art or two or three.

By supporting local artists, almost anyone can use their purchasing power to help preserve Seattle’s cultural economy.

Offerings include original drawings, small paintings, photographs, lithographs, mixed media constructions, collages, and more. The two floors of ’57 Biscayne studios house 28 artists, some of the most diverse and eclectic in Pioneer Square, so there’s no shortage of unique finds to unearth in this show and in the surrounding open studios. The Good Arts Arcade (downstairs) will have more shows and open studios, too—and you can sneak down the secret stairs to grab a cocktail  at Bad Bishop Bar

Curated by Jane Richlovsky and Dara Solliday, 100 under $100 (what’s left of it) will remain on display through its closing party on Wednesday, July 17th (5-7 PM)

Our youngest artist, whose work always sells out.

….and our oldest, Amy Nikaitani, who will be here in spirit (and whose work also sells out). At last year’s show, with artist Michelle Kumata.

Happy collectors!

Cristina Martinez

Bringing her motherhood into her work, she gestures toward a large canvas boasting bold swatches of color. It’s a collaboration with her four year old daughter, who often plays and creates in the studio with her mother. 

Upon starting a fashion degree which she left unfinished, Cristina Martinez felt less connected to trends and mass production and was instead drawn to the illustrative side of the industry. “I find so much joy in painting that I don’t currently find in garment construction.” She began painting things that she loves and admires, drawing much of her inspiration from the power and beauty of women.

“I always wanted to be a painter; I didn’t know growing up that it was a career I could have. Now that I am a painter, I can pay all my bills and support myself and two human beings like this.”

 

Cristina began her creative process when resuming her position as a medical assistant. Each day she sketched self portraits on post-it notes in order to stay sane at a job she felt so disconnected from. She long kept these images hidden due to their personal nature. However, once revealed, her signature aesthetic took the internet by storm. Nearly fifty people now have her designs permanently embellished on their skin, and others buy up her merch faster than she can produce it. “Self Care” is scrawled next to a rendition of Cristina’s face on a T Shirt, folded and packaged neatly in a stack of many others on her studio floor. This relatable wording and imagery is universally validating, which is what her vast following finds solace in.

Speaking about how her life influenced her art, Martinez recalls, “I realized there is a cycle of blooming, wilting, growing, and remembering to take care of yourself.”

People are drawn to art that is genuine. After having only shown her work for about two years, art enthusiasts near and far are hungry for tender, emotional imagery such as Cristina’s. It was at a local show called ‘The Feels’ where she first debuted her collection which has since escalated into her current success.

When discussing her discovery of ’57 Biscayne, she describes how comparable spaces in the area didn’t feel quite right. Upon meeting Jane Richlovsky, Martinez affirms, “Right away, I knew that this was the environment that I needed to create in. I knew that’s what it was gonna be like.” Feeling an immediate comfort and trust with Jane and the studio, she went home that night unable to stop thinking about it. Martinez describes ’57 Biscayne as comfortable, safe, and “One vibe during the day, and another at night.” She loves the fact that she can connect with other artists working late at night in solidarity. “You can tell that Jane goes off of feeling and finding good people for the collective. It’s so great to be in a collaborative space with other creatives… I love it.”

Looking ahead, Cristina hopes to incorporate her passion for painting with her knack for sewing for a new June & Mars experience. Expect more wearable art and collaborations with her kids from this artist in the future.

Peggy Foy

At first glance, Peggy Foy’s studio is your typical maker space. You see a display case in the front window and rows of shelving tucked into the rafters above. We reflect on how the building’s history has come full circle. Billboards in old photographs once boasted silversmiths working within this very space in decades past. Foy finds solace in continuing their legacy.

Relocating from Atlanta to Seattle, Foy was in search of new horizons. Knowing there was a thriving metals community, especially in the Pioneer Square arts district, Foy explains “It’s really kind of a dream I ended up in this building. This is what I moved to Seattle to do.” She’s been in the space since its inception in 2011.

“The great thing about Seattle is that there’s art everywhere; whether it’s public art and sculpture, or just passing by storefront windows.”

Peggy enjoys the small pleasures of huge windows and high ceilings in her space. Being in the middle of a neighborhood with vibrant urban life adds to her experience as an artist in the ‘57 Biscayne. She enthuses about her great neighbors and the team spirit among the artists, cheering each other on. With the addition of new jewelers in the building, Peggy looks forward to opportunities of collaboration and bringing more community spirit into the space. Her favorite part about being in the ‘57 Biscayne space is its frequent art walks. Usually involving live music, she notes how the expansion of the third floor has created an element of critical mass; making more space and art for guests to explore.

Metals truly are Foy’s life work. For years she was active in the Seattle Metals Guild, serving as its president for a stretch. In addition to this, she teaches, saying ““I’m a big advocate of the arts, everyone should be doing their thing. That’s why I teach.” She took the most recent opportunity of being laid off from her day job to immerse herself in another attempt at full time artistry.

Peggy explains, “It’s been a rocky road, but I don’t know anyone who’s had it easy. I think that’s part of being an artist.”

Foy’s designs are influenced by the art of pre-Christian Europe, the medieval, and the occult. She gushes, “I love it when people wear my jewelry all the time, that’s the best thing.” Aesthetics aside, she designs with balance, making pieces which lack sharp edges and are meticulously crafted to last. My work is about having meaning. Wearing jewelry is having something like a talisman. The embedded symbolism is an ancient approach to the way we make jewelry.” Adornment is deep in our psyches, such as the way you present yourself to the world. This is where Peggy draws inspiration for her work.

Look out for Foy’s upcoming bridal/engagement line on the horizon, using ethically sourced pieces that are unique to her style.