Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gallery and Coffee Hopping: a Day Out on Orchard Street

Cup of the Day #118
Reconfigured Cup by Gwyneth Leech
India ink, white ink and Encaustic
on used paper coffee cup

This winter just doesn't quit! Who can remember so many snow storms and icy days in Manhattan? Certainly not my children, aged 18 and 10, as they trudge off to school through yet another blizzard. 
I have been pretty much in hibernation since the New Year, not really venturing further from home than my art studio on West 39th Street, 8 blocks away. Actually, this studio-bound period has been a boon, resulting in a push forward into new ideas, tying some cup artworks back to paintings even as I open others up and reconfigure them into sculptural forms. Are they maquettes for monumental works to come, or will they exist as the kind of small scale artwork that draws the viewer close and fills a whole field of vision?
Paintings and Reconfigured Cups by Gwyneth Leech
Oil paint, colored and white ink and 
Encaustic on used paper coffee cups
and oil paint on wood panel

Painted and Reconfigured Cups by Gwyneth Leech
Mixed media and Encaustic on used paper coffee cups

Finally last week, a break in the weather inspired me to head by subway to what is, hands down, my favorite art destination in Manhattan: Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Orchard Street has traditionally been known as a place to buy coats or men's hats, but it has been in transition for years now. You can still get the coat, or even work uniforms, but from Canal to Houston Street it has become a mecca for those in search of intriguing art exhibitions and awesome coffee. 

On this particular day, I hopped between coffee bars and galleries the length of the street and had some great conversations along the way. Lesley Heller, of Lesley Heller Workspace at #54, talked to me for some time about Deborah Brown's exciting and vibrant new painting show, "Outer Limits", These riveting reinterpretations of classic French portraits executed in an explosive abstracting tangle of deft lines are so recent that many came into the gallery with the paint still wet. Lesley also made some excellent coffee suggestions: Lost Weekend at #45 for bracing, locally roasted coffee, as well as Roasting Plant, #81. She proposed I check out Whynot, a new open at #175, which was to be my last stop of the day. 

At #55, McKenzie Fine Art, I was thrilled with Lori Ellison's current exhibition, which runs for just a few more days, through Sunday February 16th. I have been a fan for a number of years. As well as the mesmerizing pen and notebook paper drawings and small paintings lining the walls, owner Valerie McKenzie opened the flat files at the back to let me study several dozen additional works. I was delighted to add the blue circle drawing pictured below to my personal art collection, in one of my intermittent breathless moments of artist buying art.
At #83, Muriel Guepin Gallery, I was pleased to see several works by Iviva Olenick, whose quirky narrative embroideries are effectively displayed as light boxes. In this gallery, the main spaces are currently given over to the exquisite artwork of Esther Taugot in a show called "Nurtured Nature". The artist has adorned a wide range of small natural objects with seamless, crocheted encasements of yellow cotton thread or bamboo yarn. I was awed by an installation called "Huddle", of found honey bees, each one belted in golden yellow. This extraordinary and beautiful show is up through March 9th. These truly are the kind of small-scale artworks that draw you in and become monumental in effect, despite or because of their small size! 

 Hardy coffee drinker in the snow on
Orchard Street, Lower East Side.

 Mac, barrista at Lost Weekend New York, #45 Orchard Street.
A surfer-themed coffee bar, book store and art gallery.
Coffee roasted in Brooklyn.

Drawings with ballpoint pen on notebook paper
by Lori Ellison in her current inspirational show 
at McKenzie Fine Art, #55 Orchard Street.


Irving Farm,  #88 Orchard Street, 
offers a rustic coffee bar atmosphere. 
An urban outpost for this coffee roaster from Millerton, NY.

Tête (Cardinal), oil on canvas, 30" x 30", 2014 
in "Outer Limits", recent paintings by Deborah Brown.

Lesley Heller in front of 
"Tête (Mariana of Austria)" 2013
oil on canvas 48" X 48"
in "Outer Limits", recent paintings by Deborah Brown
Lesley Heller Workspace, #54 Orchard Street.

  "Seed Dome", Acorns and cotton thread, by Esther Traugot.

"Huddle", Found Honey bees and cotton thread, by Esther Traugot
 in "Nurtured Nature" at Muriel Guepin Gallery
#83 Orchard Street.

Narrative embroideries by Iviva Olenick,
also on view at Muriel Guepin.

Admittedly, three latttes in one day is a lot.
But who can pass up Blue Bottle coffee,
also roasted in Brooklyn, served at 
Whynot coffee bar, #175 Orchard Street.
And it is an art gallery too!

Lori Ellison, at McKenzie Fine Art, 55 Orchard Street, through February 16.
Deborah Brown, "Outer Limits", at Lesley Heller Workspace, 54 Orchard Street, through March 9.
Esther Traugot, "Nurtured Nature", at  Muriel Guepin, 83 Orchard Street, through March 9.

For more about Gwyneth Leech Cup Art:
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Greetings from the Full Brew

 Cup of the Day #117 - Winter City
Watercolor and White Ink 
on Upcycled Coffee Cup

With All Good Wishes
for a Happy and Prosperous 2014! 
Warm Regards,
Gwyneth Leech

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Cups Take Off At Anthropologie Harvard Square

Cups of the Day #115
Mixed Media on Upcycled Paper Coffee Cups
by Gwyneth Leech

From November 21st - 23rd, I had great fun in residence in the window of Anthroplogie's store at 48 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. This event launched my porcelain cup line in the USA, with an installation of 365 of the original hand-drawn and painted cups and three days of live art-making. Here are my favorite photos of the drawing sessions - two during the day and one in the evening. I was pleased to meet up with old friends there and to make new ones of all ages. The denizens of Cambridge ask great questions! 

365 - A year in Cups - an installation of hand drawn and painted cups, plus the artist, Gwyneth Leech, who was at work in the window of Anthropologie Harvard Square from November 21st-23rd.

I am thrilled that the porcelain cups are now available for purchase from Anthropologie stores around the USA! 
I recommend you phone your local store before you go to make sure they are in stock.  
You can also purchase easily online at this link (click on the colors to see all eight designs).

The porcelain cups on display in the store. Loved how they look with the white espresso-maker.

Next adventure: Miami for art fair week. I will be drawing on cups at various locations around the fairs. I promise to post a full report here when I get back. In the meantime, I will be revealing my coordinates daily on Twitter #gwynethleech), Instagram (#gwynethleech) and Facebook pages. 
Follow me there, or catch up with me if you are in Miami this week!

Anthropologie Harvard Square. The stage is set.

November 21st. Live Art Exhibition, Day One.

Taking a seat in the window on Day 1. I selected the aqua velvet arm chair from the store. 
Very comfortable!

Soon I had friends to draw with.

Appreciative passersby.

The cups at dusk. What amazing colors, between the wall and the sky!

November 22nd. Day 2 is an evening session. 


Explaining the Process

Looking for the Best Shot.

 November 23rd, the final Day. Quick! Sketch this one before he walks on!

I had some fun with drawing a cup of cups. Meta!

 Watching the artist draw

 Friends came to visit.

 And to shop for cups!

To order the porcelain cups from Anthropologie online click here.
For the Anthropologie store locator click here.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Indian Summer + Boston Bound

  Cup of the Day #114
"Indian Summer Taxis" view 1
 By Gwyneth Leech
India Ink on Upcycled Paper Coffee Cup

Indian Summer has enveloped New York City, with golden trees brilliant against blue skies. I captured this season on a cup about a year ago, and it was fun to see the imagery reiterated as I walked through the West Village yesterday. Click here to read the original story. As chance would have it, this Indian Summer cup is one of the eight reproduced in a limited edition by Anthropologie, and it will be on sale in the their stores soon. To read about the preview of the cups during the London Design Festival this past September click here and here.

Fall foliage still lights up Cornelia Street and 
7th Avenue, mid-November in the West Village, NYC

Later today I am heading by train to Boston, carrying with me a large duffel containing 365 cup artworks to be installed in the window of Anthropologie's store in Cambridge, at 48 Brattle Street, just off Harvard Square. I will be on site Wednesday through Saturday this week, first hanging the cups and then drawing in public for three days. See the schedule and read the official press release below.

Please join me if you are in the Boston area, or share with friends. And watch this space for updates and photos!

Anthropologie Cambridge to Host Live Art Exhibition

Event Details:

48 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA

November 21st, 12 – 3 pm
November 22nd, 4 – 7 pm
November 23rd, 12 -3 pm

The window exhibition will be on view 24/7 from November 21st – 30th

Anthropologie is pleased to announce a special live art event and window exhibition to celebrate the work of fine artist Gwyneth Leech. The artist will be on site November 21st, 22nd and 23rd drawing in the window of our Cambridge location. The exhibition, which will remain on view through November 30th, will showcase her passion for public art and her love of drawing and painting on paper coffee cups.

Leech’s expressive artwork will delight and inspire all those passing by. The process behind her hand-drawn cups is highly personal and observational, imparting new meaning and value on what is considered a disposable  object. She explains, "I like my hot coffee or tea in a paper take-out cup, like millions of my fellow New Yorkers. Even better than the contents, I like the used cup as a surface on which to draw and paint. And before I begin, I write on the bottom the date, location, occasion and the beverage consumed so that every cup becomes the record of a social moment.”

Leech began working in this uncommon way while attending meetings over coffee in 2009. Quickly consumed by the practice, she soon created enough cup artworks to display in public art spaces and galleries around New York City. Her largest installation, at the Sprint Flatiron Prow Artspace in New York City in 2012, featured more than 850 of her pieces. Leech’s most recent exhibition, in Anthropologie’s Regent Street location during the London Design Festival in September 2013, garnered public and critical acclaim, including coverage in Selvedge, The Financial Times, The Observer and The Telegraph.

Anthropologie has partnered with Leech to transform her artwork into ceramic versions that can be enjoyed by a larger audience. The eight designs, in limited edition reproductions, are inspired by her life in New York and capture everyday moments, from taking a walk in Central Park to rushing through the city in a rain shower. They will be available just in time for the holidays on Anthropologie’s website and in all store locations.

For a video of the artist at work, click here.
For recent reviews and articles click here.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

The Cups in London: Highlights from the Window

Cup of the Day #127
London Umbrellas by Gwyneth Leech - four views
Mixed media on used paper coffee cup

My regular New York City life has resumed, but recently I have been enjoying again the photos taken while I was drawing in public for the 2013 London Design Festival in September. A riot of umbrellas dominates the scene, as does the parade of red double-decker buses and a constant throng of international visitors engaging me though the plate glass windows of Anthropologie's Regent Street store. It is an additional pleasure to see the faces of friends from other UK cities who came to London and surprised me as I worked! I savor anew the several spectacular afternoon teas I manged to squeeze in, most notably at the Dorcehster and the Charlotte Street Hotel. Many thanks to the friends who braved those multi-tiered cake trays with me!!
My line of porcelain cups, produced in collaboration with Anthropologie and previewed at the London Design Festival, is due to come out in the USA in just a few short weeks. Launch date and details of some special events will follow shortly! I the meantime, one more look at London...

 The first evening - cups are installed and the rain comes on.

View from inside the store - raining cups at dusk.

Into the window to draw. This was my temporary studio for five days.

As soon as I begin, the crowds gather.

 Visitors from all over the world stroll the length 
of Regent Street. Outside, are the daughters of an art collector 
from Kuwait who stepped in to purchase an original cup drawing.

 People are surprised and delighted to see a live artist at work in the window.

I am happy to engage them through the plate glass
and converse with everyone who comes into the store.
Photo credit: Sarah Kerens
Cup drawings from London: Red double-decker buses

 People racing through torrents of rain.

And yet more rain!

 My subject matter driving by.

And a portrait of a girl through the window.

 Finally the sun comes out!

 I have tea with Alice Sykes in the window.

Am delighted by a sumptuous afternoon tea at the Dorchester. 
Note the raspberries tipped with gold!

And on another afternoon, take tea with friends at the Charlotte Street Hotel.
Mine is a "Bloomsbury tea", hence the amazing color of the cakes.
And no, I can't finish it all!!

Back at Anthropologie, the reproduction cups were selling briskly.
And I meet some of the purchasers. Here is Rosalba visiting from Rome.

On my last afternoon, as a viewer puzzles over the cups, I enjoy the reflection 
of Regent Street curving down towards Picadilly Circus. 

All too soon, the week was over. I was very sorry to vacate my chair and leave the window studio behind. The cup installation stayed up for several more weeks after the end of the Design Festival, but is now safely back in my NYC studio awaiting the next exhibition!

For additional photos and cup videos visit me on instagram and twitter(@gwynethleech) or follow me on  Facebook.

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