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Maria Calandra: Pencil In The Studio

A huge thanks to the wonderful, Maria Calandra, for spending the day with me in my studio. As part of her on-going series, "Pencil In The Studio", Maria documents the insides of artists' creative spaces. Making lush painterly drawings and building community simultaneously, her project is exactly what the art world needs more of.

Below is the amazing drawing she made of my studio right before my paintings shipped off to Detroit, and her write-up of the visit:

"For centuries traditional storytelling has used animals in place of humans. From Aesop's fables to George Orwell's Animal Farm, our furrier counterparts direct our moral compasses while exhibiting humanistic traits. Kimia Ferdowsi Kline's studio in Fort Greene was stacked with juicy marked up oil paintings of jackals, cats, horses, and fish all inspired by the ancient Persian book “Kalila and Dimna,” a collection of interrelated animal fables in verse and prose. The jackals, Kalila and Dimna, who narrate the story, sat upright and bright in the foreground of one of Kimia's canvases, illuminating the room as we spent the day working alongside one another in the breeziness of early spring.

I am hooked on the verve a studio has just before a body of work is completed. Kimia's studio was overflowing with it, only a few days away from shipping her new suite of paintings to Detroit, Michigan for a solo show at the Elaine. L. Jacob Gallery, a part of Wayne University. The large stellar painting that she worked on while I was there went from a vibrant red to black to white; the silhouettes of previous coats being saved along the way and seen riffling through her layers. A flock of birds was scattered across her dining room table, as though en route to Detroit. Kimia and I talked over the possible background colors she would use to accentuate their soar when she installed them in the gallery. The playfulness of the neon colors and varied feather patterns gave each of them their own story to tell. On one canvas a woman wearing a startlingly blue jumpsuit stretches a marmalade cat, who takes the focus of the painting, across her arms. The cat's expression fills in for the missing face of the figure and reminded me of the anthropomorphized felines in Persian mythology. I delighted in recapturing these creatures' whimsical and luscious qualities, but even more so in the spontaneity of the painter's imagination.

In the afternoon Kimia whipped us up a blueberry smoothie and we took a break from our work to talk about her other work, curating for the Wythe Hotel. Artists make fantastic curators. With 70 rooms to fill, her project takes her to a lot of studios, and like myself, she gets great joy from it. To see more of her work go here and if you happen to be in Detroit please see her show "As Above, So Below" at Elaine. L. Jacob Gallery up until June 24th."

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