” I quote from Paul Auster and I say: You find the painting where you work on it; that is the adventure. I love the challenge of collage, and the possibilities that are opened up in front of me, the work of the torn paper, crumpled or ripped and glued up piece of paper. Additionally, I like the intimate act. The superposition of different material and paint highlight the theme of concealment and transparency with mixed media like acrylic, ink and pens…
UNTITLED. 100 X 80 MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS 2015
I add the necessities of drawing and graphics, I also meditate at length the nature and I try to learn more. I try to be as simple as I can, I like this movement on the surfaces of doors and walls, and I like to pass on my painting.
Inspiration is everywhere, and the artist must start from what is local to transcend it, travelling beyond and reaching what is global and universal. Like Naguib Mahfouz, one must start from “where I am.” The Urban scenery is a rich material that I exploit. A contemporary artist must draw on contemporary subjects.
IN THE STUDIO
Technical capability should guide the artist in the development of his work, pleasant warmth or a wild and sour chilliness. These elements are reminder of my childhood, which I spent in an open air. There, I learned to become familiar with the surroundings and tried to tame the wildness of this space. In my later works, I’ve chosen to intervene on pre-worked supports, fully or partially, like calendars, catalogs, or collage of paper and cardboard paper trying to go beyond what has already been created ».
ABDELLAH EL HAITOUT ,SALÉ (MOROCCO), 2016
ABDELLAH EL HAITOUT IS A SIGNIFICANT ABSTRACT PAINTER WHO IS CURRENTLY CREATING WORKS OF GREAT NOTE. HIS ENERGETIC ORGANIC SHAPES AND TEXTURES COLLIDE WITH EXUBERANCE AND DEPTH IN AN OCEAN OF LAYERS OF CASCADING PAINT.
Primarily a painter, my creative process combines a mixture of media and collage, including acrylic, pastel, colored pencil & Photoshop, Sumi-E Ink and Japanese Rice paper.
“The Great Horse Race” by Janis Kirstein
I love making these collages. Action painting is my joy for more than 30 years and continues to this day, today, with Sumi-E ink and a haiki brush. I add Japanese rice paper torn scraps, and combine a variety of media including paint, watercolor, graphite, ink, colored pencil, even glitter, all to make a free flowing capture of the creative energy that surrounds me at any given moment. All this has somehow landed on a stretched canvas diptych measuring 32″ in width and 20″ in height. Right now I am creating this series of paintings in my basement. Well actually, RIGHT NOW I am telling you about me doing it! Clarification. I will be continuing this process upon completing this epistle and I will keep you updated on my progress!
To achieve the atmospheric abstraction seen in my work, I especially make use of transparent layering. The scale of my pieces can range from my use of the Nano image to images of outer space. My canvases and paper works range in size from small ,5″ x 6″, to medium 20″ x 32″ to large 4′ x 8.’That means all realities are visible simultaneously, which creates a paradox or sense perceptive omnipotence within you, the perceiver. It’s much like being able to see all dimensions of reality within one gaze.
I invite all of you to join in my creative parade and journey. Get front row seats and join me in this exhilarating endeavor! Thanks for joining me! I love having you come with me by coming to my new website on Patreon.
Here you will have the opportunity to make a small financial donation to help sustain my creative endeavor. You can make a pledge and receive all kinds of various goodies and discounts as a reward for your patronage. I am still compiling my list of rewards and placing them on the website, so check back in a few days to see additional rewards that will be added.
Close up view. Collage by Janis Kirstein
I greatly appreciate and value your contribution to my journey as a creative artist. With your generous support, via my new membership with Patreon. If you wish to follow and participate in my ever expanding creative road of discovery you can make a small donation of support on my Patreon website here. With your help, we can ride this creative journey together! Thanks so much!
Thinking about renovating or even restructuring your office, or office space? Check out this story about the restructure at Artsy, and check out the visual art suggested by Kirsteinfineart! Here are a few favorites to give you some inspiration for your staff.
Photograph by Nava Waxman
Photograph by Gary Bibb
Painting by Nancy Hillis
Art to stimulate and inspire any work environment from the Kirsteinfineart Blog.
Writing By Sean Roland, Associate Director of Experience & Operations from Artsy Blog
At Artsy, the Experience team’s mission is to envision, build, and maintain the physical and operational infrastructure as an extension and manifestation of our online brand and product. Some might ask why investing resources into creating a high quality Experience matters. My general answer is that creating impactful environments is always worthwhile as an art form, because it moves people, creates the opportunity for shared experience, and helps galvanize community.
Creating artful, innovative, and positive Experience at Artsy matters because it’s essential to achieving our mission. In order to “make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an internet connection,” Artsy must become a powerful and positive force in the art world, which is no small feat in a highly competitive and critical landscape. The art, design, and hospitality worlds are closely aligned and constantly collaborating, so by demonstrating that we’re thinking and actively contributing to a creative discourse in all aspects of our brand, and not just our online presence, we will build trust and credibility within the world we hope to work and collaborate within.
Our company values state that that we value “Quality Worthy of Art,” we believe that “People are Paramount,” and we strive to embody “Openness” and “Positive Energy.” We’re also constantly exploring the nexus of “Art x Science.” I believe that our physical spaces can embody these values, in much the same way our products, organizational structure, and communication style should. Intentional spatial and aesthetic decisions made with a strong point of view can provide the literal, concrete example of what our company strives to achieve in the digital world. In the past, Artsy hasn’t prioritized these elements, which makes sense. As a startup we’ve had to prioritize and allocate resources and time to where they most mattered — into our core products. But as we grow in size and visibility, our actions across diverse parts of the company will increasingly inform our social capital, and therefore our success.
To align the Experience of visiting or working at Artsy with our aesthetically and functionally mature online platform, our team is adopting an art- and hospitality-focused approach to Experience. We’ve partnered with design furniture company Hem to bring modern, fresh, and relevant design to our offices. We’ve begun designing and implementing a wellness-focused Food and Beverage program because we want to be part of a global dialog around healthy, ethical sustenance. And we’ve begun to add depth and variety to our internal events programming, so that we’re able to better create spaces and experiences that speak to the growing diversity of our team.
We decided on the above approach by first reflecting on the state of our affairs of operations and Experience at Artsy. We asked ourselves hard questions; what we were doing well, what could we do better, and where were we failing? We knew that Experience at Artsy wasn’t measuring up to the products we were putting out into the world, but we needed to tease out why. Our brainstorming yielded some big potential opportunities for improvement, so we built and ran a team-wide survey (with an 87% engagement rate), which helped us determine whether teammates agreed with our hypothesis and ultimately guided our priority setting process:
Optimization of systems, spaces, vendors, and information
Infrastructural improvements and interior design and curation
Diversifying our social event planning and execution
Building a wellness and ethically-focused Food & Beverage program
1. Optimization of systems, spaces, vendors, and information
PICK LOW-HANGING FRUIT
Our survey results showed that first and foremost, we needed to tighten our ship. Our small team (4) was barely staying above water managing the huge array of company-wide support responsibilities — from onboarding logistics, to company-wide procurement of supplies and IT resources, to managing facilities, to food and beverage sourcing and programming. So we divided and conquered the challenges we faced, systematically addressing the failures in communication or process that were costing us time and money and keeping us from more effectively supporting the team at large.
CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSETS
Throwing away unnecessary baggage can really help reboot an Operations team. Our closets were literally full of broken furniture and forgotten projects, because no one felt empowered to ditch them. So we did, and then we bought nice storage shelves and a ton of labeling tape. Now we have room to store supplies, which has allowed us to shift our buying habits to be more efficient and cost-effective. Figuratively, our team was also storing some skeletons of projects and proposals that hadn’t come to fruition, so there was a hint of “can’t do” instead of “let’s try it” in the air. We ditched our hangups, and reset expectations that any good idea is worth exploring and pitching to each other and leadership.
OPTIMIZE SYSTEMS, THEN GO VENDOR SHOPPING
We were constantly running out of office and food supplies. After we solved the storage issue, we built inventory and ordering systems. We trimmed the variety of things we buy, and created pars (standardized consumption data) based on observation of consumption over a period of weeks. Now that we’ve reached a steady state, meaning the basics are covered week after week, we’ve begun shopping for better vendors who will offer us wholesale relationships. This will help us simplify ordering and allow us to provide better amenities at the same cost. We no longer feel beholden to vendors who don’t want to work with us on pricing, because we now have the bandwidth to shop around. For example, we were working with a startup cleaning company with a cool interface that “spoke” our language. But our floors were filthy, so we traded them in for a more traditional company, with good results and great cost savings.
GET COZY WITH FINANCE
We spend the money, and Finance pays the bills, so it seems natural that we would constantly be in communication. But we weren’t, so important bills (like our internet!) weren’t getting paid. A little digging revealed that transitions on both our teams had put us at a distance, and we needed to reestablish clear processes by which to communicate effectively to ensure we were fulfilling our responsibilities. Now that we’ve repaired the broken communication, we’ve naturally begun collaborating on creating reporting tools to help us make smart budgeting and decisions, which is especially important given the volume of transactions that flow through our team.
LISTEN TO YOUR TEAM, AND GET CREATIVE WITH SOLUTIONS
One of the most notable results from our first survey was that team members felt unhappy about the lack of color and art in our office. We brainstormed an exciting long-term project called “Art at Artsy” with our Special Projects team. We’ve begun planning, but in the meantime we wanted to show immediate results. So we went out and bought plants. A ton of plants. A jungle. Overnight we went from a white box to a tropical haven. Everyday my team gets thanked for bringing color to the office. Never underestimate the power of affordable but impactful purchases.
We’ve taken our first steps on a long path to transform Experience at Artsy. We hope it will become something extraordinary that parallels the journey you might take in an amazing restaurant, or at an incredible art installation. It’s an approach that is challenging yet actually pretty simple; shift your team away from a reactive, need-filling mentality to an intuiting, experience-creating mindset. Cover the basic needs and automate them whenever possible, so you can spend more time creating impactful experiences that move beyond the everyday and push your team to engage in a collaborative discourse with other parts of the company and the creative disciplines.
Courtesy of Newark Museum Collage Program, New Jersey, and Aroha Philanthropies Seeding Vitality Arts U.S. Initiative.
On a recent Thursday evening in Brooklyn, a handful of older adults clustered around artist Ebenezer Singh in the basement of Williamsburg’s Leonard Library. They watched intently as he deposited several dollops of paint onto a palette, picking up his brush to mix Indian yellow and sepia with a few droplets of water. “See how much water I’m using?” he asked, his small audience nodding affirmatively.
Singh dabbed the resulting golden-yellow wash onto the paper as a base layer, leaving strategic swatches unpainted to mark a tree and the bank of a pond. “Let the paint and the paper breathe,” he counseled. Soon, he deemed his class ready to select their own landscapes to paint from a stack of glossy printouts.
In summary, it was a typical amateur watercolor course. But it’s also part of a quiet revolution helping to redefine how we grow old.
Singh’s class at the Brooklyn library falls under the umbrella of “creative aging,” defined by executive director of the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), Jennie Smith-Peers, as “any opportunity for an older adult to be engaged in a meaningful opportunity to express themselves through art.” It isn’t limited to the visual arts; creative aging encompasses theater, dance, music, poetry, and more.
Courtesy of Aroha Philanthropies Seeding Vitality Arts U.S. Initiative.
The key element is that the classes teach a skill, rather than simply asking someone to construct a pre-made kit; they push for mastery instead of busywork. Sonia Lopes, one of Singh’s students at Leonard Library, echoed this sentiment. “He teaches like an artist, not like it’s arts and crafts,” the 56-year-old told me.
As recently as 20 years ago, this would have been considered a novel approach. “Historically, both science and culture in Western societies have focused exclusively on the negative sides of aging and ignored the positive,” wrote Gene D. Cohen, a pioneering geriatric psychiatrist, in the introduction to his 2005 book The Mature Mind. The prevailing belief was that getting older meant a decline in brain function and an inability to learn new things.
Cohen, however, challenged these assumptions with a series of groundbreaking experiments. In 2001, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to study 150 adults in Washington, D.C., aged 65 or over. The “arts group” met weekly for much of the year, participating in something akin to a college arts course that incorporated at-home practice and a final project; the control group did not take part in such a program.
After two years, the arts group reported better health, made fewer visits to the doctor, used fewer medications, felt less lonely and depressed, had higher morale, and were more socially active. Experiments conducted in Brooklyn and San Francisco showed similar results.
Courtesy of Space One Eleven Drawing Program, Birmingham, AL, and Aroha Philanthropies Seeding Vitality Arts U.S. Initiative.
These findings, published in 2006, laid the groundwork for the nascent field. Soon after, Maura O’Malley, a caregiver with a background in arts education, was asked to join a committee considering how creative aging might be implemented in New York’s Westchester County. While there, O’Malley reconnected with a previous acquaintance, Ed Friedman, then-deputy director of the Bronx Council on the Arts. Together, they identified a major issue: “There was essentially no infrastructure for developing and delivering arts programming for older adults,” explained O’Malley. It was difficult to find trained teaching artists, and even existing programs displayed ageism by assuming “that older adults are not creative or learners,” she noted.
So the pair founded Lifetime Arts in 2008, with O’Malley serving as CEO and Friedman as executive director. Today, they provide practical training and support that has allowed a wide range of community organizations to build up their own independent creative aging programs. But in their early years, they worked primarily with libraries, piggybacking off a system that already offered free resources to local communities. Most library programming for older adults at that time focused on topics like navigating credit cards or understanding Medicaid, said O’Malley—“all very important end-of-life issues,” she acknowledged. “But there was very little, if any, programming around learning or creativity or engagement, aside from the sort of one-shot deal, passive entertainment. You know, your macaroni-on-cardboard kind of stuff.”
Lifetime Arts also began to train teaching artists to work specifically with older adults. “The majority of teaching artists across the country are working in the K-12 arena, and have been for the past 40 years,” O’Malley said. (Singh, a longtime teaching artist, said he works primarily with children through Agnes Gund’s Studio in a School program.)
In fact, O’Malley points to children’s programming in libraries as a prototype for the creative aging movement. “Thirty to forty years ago, librarians weren’t particularly interested in having kids running around libraries,” she said. “And now, every library in the United States has storytime many times a week, and there is an enormous amount of professional development and program funding and advocacy around early literacy and public libraries.”
The Brooklyn Public Library’s creative aging program—of which Singh’s watercolor class was part—came about through a collaboration with Lifetime Arts that began in 2011. The program is now independently funded, making it “a kind of a model exemplar of the work that we want people to be able to do,” said O’Malley.
Courtesy of Grafton County Senior Citizens Council Multimedia Program, New Hampshire, and Aroha Philanthropies Seeding Vitality Arts U.S. Initiative.
The NCCA also offers training and resources for those institutions ready to embrace the benefits of creative aging. “We’re seeing it become more and more a part of the culture of community centers, of long-term care facilities,” Smith-Peers, the executive director, said. “It’s no longer an afterthought. The arts are what make these places for older adults a more interesting, meaningful place to engage in and to live in.”
A program called EngAGE is perhaps one of the most high-profile examples. Tim Carpenter, EngAGE’s founder and CEO, collaborated with Meta Housing to build several “artist colonies” across Southern California. These affordable apartment complexes feature a robust slate of art courses for residents, as well as dedicated studio and theater facilities.
Creative aging programs, O’Malley noted, can be roughly divided between those that focus on “lifelong learning” and those dedicated to therapeutic work. (Lifetime Arts focuses solely on learning.) Therapeutic work includes programs for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Museums are often involved in this work—Meet Me at MoMA, for example, has invited caregivers and dementia patients to the Museum of Modern Art in New York for tours, and has led to measurable benefits for participants.
Although the field of creative aging has undoubtedly grown since the early 2000s, both Smith-Peers and O’Malley noted that it’s still quite small. To keep up with the rapidly aging generation of baby boomers—between 2005 and 2030, the number of adults aged 65 and older will practically double, jumping from 37 million to 72 million—they will need more hands on deck.
While there have been additional studies since Cohen’s original experiment, a 2013 report from the NEA identified problems with the academic literature. Samples are often “too small, nonrandom, and poorly defined,” there’s often no adequate control group, and it can be difficult to replicate the experiments.
“When you look at other fields, like expressive arts therapy, they’ve done a really good job at building a critical mass around their work and why it’s important and what it affects. I think we still have a little ways to go before we get to that space,” said Smith-Peers. “We need more research in the community wellness space and the public health space. How does our work affect the social determinants of health?”
But she’s certainly seen the benefits of these programs first-hand. During one of her first jobs in creative aging, with the Brooklyn-based program Elders Share the Arts, Smith-Peers recalls participants saying, “I can’t take that class, I have nothing to offer.”
“I would encourage them to try it once,” she said. “And then I would watch them come back the next week, and by the end, they stuck it out 12 weeks and had a portfolio of art and called themselves an artist.”
“I don’t think that that’s a singular event,” she continued. “So much of our world tells older people they can’t. And it’s not just in the arts. I think there’s so much ageism and isolation that when you walk into a space that says, ‘Yes, you can—and we’re going to show you how,’ it’s a breath of fresh air.”