Featured Artist Amy Oestreicher

Amy Festreicher 2015Amy Oestreicher is a mixed media artist who lives in Westport, CT.

Amy Oestreicher is a 28-year-old artist, musician, teacher, actress  composer, dancer, writer,yogi, foodie, and general lover of life. 

Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.

Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and dozens of solo art shows.


CAGCT: Did you study art?

AO: I learned art accidentally on my way to healing and don’t have much formal art training.

However, I plan on studying more of the technical aspects of art, such as figure drawing, to have a wider range in my work.

Being a self taught artist, the idea of drawing the human body always has intimidated me – we all have an inner critic! However, I used figures in my work over and over again throughout the years in order to process what I was feeling after nearly 30 life AND body-altering surgeries.

   Amy Oestreicher 2015 trees

After every surgery, I would wake up with a new anatomy – a bag here, no belly button here, this missing, that added. It was very dissociating and made me feel like an alien to myself. I drew the figure to find wholeness with my body again, to accept it, to show the different “selves” of me, to love it as my own.

Now, I am very fascinated with the figure in how it relates to the world, nature, and the flesh. Seeing my “figures” look more and more body-like reassures me – it lets me know that I am starting to feel human, starting to accept my body for what it has been through, and call it my own.

CAGCT: Who has influenced your work?

AO: Originally, painting… was an amazing way for me to express what was too overwhelming, frustrating and scary for words. Whatever distress I was feeling, whatever uncertainty I wrestled with, once I put my brush to the canvas, something felt released – my sadness was still there, but at least I could feel it. And so for a long while, my sadness inspired my painting. YET, it would transform my painting. …

… Of course, my latest inspiration has been … my fiancé – who will become my husband in a few weeks. Basically, life inspires me – the fact that life always gives us second chances – that it’s never too late to grow, learn, evolve, and continually change.

Now that I’ve learned more in the art world, I find my romantic whimsy in Chagall, the art therapy part of my work portrayed in Frida Kahlo, the collage part in Matisse, and the abstractions in Kandinsky.

Artist Amy Oestreicher 2015_X

CAGCT: Where do you work?

AO: I work in a studio in my basement that used to be an old storage room.  I tend to work with a lot of layering and mixed media materials – anything from tissue paper to fabric, buttons, papers, or toilet paper (I created much art in hospitals and was very limited with materials!).

The process really depends on what I am sensing within. I love playing with textures, colors and shapes and allowing them to form the sadness, frustration, joy, or whatever inspiration I am feeling at that moment. I love acrylic painting, mixed media art, collage, clay sculpting – anything that I can fully immerse myself in and grasp a sense of who I have become, and discover my interior world.

The best thing about my studio is how it envelopes me – the space is relatively small, and there are shelves on every side, so the shelves of supplies form a circle around me, like my copic markers, stamps, cigar boxes and paints are all surrounding me with love and support, giving me a big bear hug. If I turn around, myself, in a complete circle, all I see are my art supplies. No windows, nothing but art. I always feel like a kid in a candy store when I’m down there.

Amy Oestreicher_Kid Today

CAGCT: How has your work changed over time?

AO: As a self taught artist, I first started to paint to express what I was feeling. It was deeply personal, unstructured, free form, and uninhibited. Now, it is still abstract and personal, but more artistically refined as I have discovered my artistic voice and learned new techniques.

Only lately have I started making my passion a business. I started blogging daily just as a way to document all of the painting I was doing. Soon, I amassed a large social media following, and now have people waiting to see what I’ve created every day! I just opened my first Etsy storefront and am selling motivational prints of a painting that I first made in the hospital, with plans to donate some to foundations and hospitals. I’m also selling cards of my work and mixed media pins – I do sell my originals though it’s sentimentally difficult for me! My art is currently in seven galleries in the area, with the latest in a museum that I always loved as a child.

Amy Oest_2015

 

Visit Amy online at Etsyher website, and Facebook.

A good look at “Barnwood”

Erin & Vin Scimeca of Barnwood & Bangles

At our June meeting, we got an up close and personal look at our members, Erin and Vin Scimeca’s work. They are the owners of “Barnwood and Bangles,” a custom furniture and home decor company, with items made from reclaimed wood and other beautiful recycled items.

Upcycled furniture vintage Connecticut

Erin and Vin both have “day” jobs, but you can see they are really dedicated to the work they are doing “on the side”… it’s visible in everything they have done in their own house.

The wooden flooring in the kitchen is gorgeous and completely redone with recycled palette wood.

They hosted a holiday pop-up shop in their space with great success.

They’ve built a beautiful seating area in their Lordship-area backyard, including a “stargazer”… reclaimed from their daughter Kate’s old bunkbed.

Brand and Bangles Stargazer converted Bunkbed Arts Guild
You have to take a good, close look at just about everything in their family room… because it’s probably been handcrafted by the couple: everything from the bar to the long table and bench, from the reclaimed wood coatrack. In fact, the whole, amazingly beautiful room was once a garage!

Erin and Vin will be bringing Barnwood and Bangles to our August show Artists & Artisans in Paradise, but I’d recommend you connect with them soon. Their work is sure to be big demand before you know it.

Fire and Paint: The Art of John Houle

John Houle Burnt Offerings 2015

A first place winner at the Elements of Nature Art Show, John Houle’s pyrography is instantly recognizable for it texture and technique.

“I believe art should … make a statement about who we are and about our passions. Pyrography, scrimshaw on wood or woodburning, as an art form is timeless and yet very unique. Our ancestors used burnt wood (charcoal) to depict their everyday lives on cave walls before there were other media.”

John Houle Timber Wolves

John Houle, the artist behind “Burnt Offerings,” depicts animals active in nature, as well as familiar markers of a natural landscapes, such as mills, lighthouses, and trees in his work. The subject matter and the media are intricately intertwined.

“The use of Birch wood with its tight grain, allows for intricate and extensive detail and texture. The marriage of the two mediums, pyrography and acrylic wash, greatly enhance the creation allowing you to touch the scales of a bass striking a plug, feel the plumage of a preening bird or touch the rocks beneath a wave washed lighthouse.”

Houle’s work will be available this weekend at Artists and Artisans in Paradise, August 30th at Paradise Green.

Stonehill industrial decor influenced by family

Stonehill Design: Cylindrical Honeycomb Light
Stonehill Design’s Cylindrical Honeycomb Light

Fairfield-based designer and artist Jason Aleska of Stonehill Design has mechanical handiwork in his genes.

“My grandfather owned a tool and die shop which eventually evolved in my father’s business, Advance Heat Treating Co. in Fairfield, CT.

I was always fascinated by the amazing machines they had in the shop, like the Bridgeport Milling Machine, a relic we still have to this day…”

Aleska gives old items a new lease on life, upcycling rustic and vintage industrial pieces such as fans, rotary phones, radios, space heaters and more.

The new items become fanciful, mechanical and are, in fact, still useful. They are also one-of-a-kind lighting and decor, fabricated by hand in his workshop.

“These men, using these tools were able to provide for 3 generations of our family. They instilled in me an appreciation for quality workmanship and a respect for the time it takes to do something yourself.”

Come and meet Aleska and see his beautifully crafted work Sunday, May 3rd at the Baldwin Center in Stratford.

 

Alicia Nicole Designs and those Stunning Handbags

Alicia Nicole Designs: Green Floral Clutch
Green Floral Clutch by Alicia Nicole Designs

At the CAGCT’s Spring Arts & Crafts Market you can meet Alicia Meredith, the craftswoman behind the simply stunning, original handbags, pocketbooks, scarves and clutches.

Although there seems to always be a wild rush for a designer name, the next step up from “must-have” is “one-of-a-kind.”

These handbags and accessories are individual pieces of art. We are thrilled to have Alicia back for this show and can’t wait to see her newest work.

Want to know more? You can RSVP for the show here.