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Taryn Alessandro Image for Maui Made

While reviewing pictures from this spring’s Maui Open Studios event at Maui Tropical Plantation, I was struck by the images of one artist in particular. The more I looked at the paintings by Taryn Alessandro, the more I had to see, until I had checked out each and every painting on her website.  But now, I need to see them in person.  These aren’t your typical paintings.  Taryn, a classically trained artist, has been internationally recognized for her innovative use of upcycled materials and avant-garde approach to traditional fine art. She incorporates aluminum cans, sand, fabrics, glass, cardboard, jewelry and more to create a visual experience unlike any other.

Taryn has been featured twice in the annual editions of American Art Collector, has been twice named the Best Local Visual Artist by Maui Time Weekly, was the Official Inaugural Artist of the Wailea Food and Wine Festival, and was named one of the ‘Top 25 Kickstarter Projects’ by Complex Magazine.

And it was this Kickstarter project that brings us to this weekend’s event:

It all started with the vague idea of a running a “kickstarter” to create a short inspirational film on her process. Little did she realize, Taryn was creating one of the top 25 kickstarters ever, as voted by Complex Magazine. After an overwhelming response & in collaboration with MTVn Producer, Katie Shesh, they recruited filmmakers, sound technicians, & crew to follow Taryn “on the job” for two weeks in Maui and her hometown of Mystic, CT, to capture a glimpse of what Taryn calls “Sensationism”. This exclusive film premiere is the first public viewing of this short documentary.  Be prepared to laugh, learn, and get inspired, as you get a intimate view into the life of Taryn’s art.

  • Event: Sensation Film Premiere and Exhibition by Artist Taryn Alessandro
  • Where:  Turnbull Fine Art – 137 Hana Highway, Paia, Maui
  • When: Saturday, July 20, 2013
  • – Show and Reception: 5-8PM
  • – Film Premieres:  6:30PM
  • Who: Open to the public – FREE ADMISSION!

Taryn was nice enough to take some time from her busy schedule to answer some of our questions!

Taryn holds a paintbrush in her mouth

Maui Made: How did you get to Maui? 

Taryn Alessandro: 5 years ago I flew out to Maui to visit my college (Boston University) girlfriends who had moved here. Much like a lot of people who move here, after 2 weeks, I went home, packed my bags again and came back to live for 6 months…which has now turned into 5 years ;).

MM: What is it about Maui that inspires you? 

TA:  I’ve always been intrigued by the ocean- I can never get enough of it. Here I can have it everywhere I look. The expansive views truly make me feel like the world is my oyster- so much to explore. The collection of people here inspires me as well- Nowhere else have I experienced a collective culture with such appreciation for the land and general gratefulness for the opportunity to call this home. People are happy here ;). and lets not forget the obvious- its 80 & sunny everyday….but a brisk cold sunset on the mountains, a walk through a redwood forest, and a rain shower in the jungle are always only a short drive away.

MM: Are there any challenges to living on Maui?  

TA: Um, YES. Lets start with not having an art store, and then move on to shipping. Its near impossible to get supplies shipped here for less than a fortune if at all and even harder when your needed supplies are flammable or heavy… But without challenges we can’t make breakthroughs- When I couldn’t get panels shipped here in the sizes i wanted, i started building my own. Now we’ve perfected our own brand of painting panels and there’s honestly nothing I’d rather paint on- they are perfect for me. Also- when I moved here I had very few painting supplies- which forced me to think outside the box and evolved into me using unconventional materials that were readily available and abundant here- sand, seaglass, driftwood, aluminum tabs, palm fibers, etc.

Wine and Spirit Art Painting by Maui Artist Taryn Alessandro

Wine and Spirit was the featured artwork for the Wailea Food and Wine Festival

MM: You are from Connecticut, do you miss the seasons? How about the city? 

TA: I miss the fall on the east coast and the bustle of New York City tremendously. Maui’s geographical location presents another challenge for me- its hard to be able to visit my family and friends as much as I’d like to even just because of how much travel time is involved. I still try and make it back a couple of times a year, and I always take a trip back in the fall for a “fix.” The city is a huge source of inspiration for me- it literally makes my heart beat faster…in a good way 😉 I love that theres a huge eclectic collection of people from all around the world who are there to make things happen- the possibilities are endless. That energy feels even stronger in the fall- it feels like a fresh start ramped with renewed motivation to achieve goals and turn dreams into reality.

MM: Where can people view your work in person? 

TA:

MM: Tell me about your mixed media process – 

TA: The first step is collecting and gathering materials. Every time I see something interesting that I could potentially use in a painting I grab it- sometimes its years before I figure out what for. When I design a composition I often make painting studies, collages, or take a lot of photographs to plan a “blueprint” for my piece. Because I use such a wide variety of materials, its best to have somewhat of a plan before I start to properly plan the layering and each materials compatibility with another. I never have an exact formula for the way I make my originals & I always leave room for experimentation but usually it goes something like this: I sketch out my piece with acrylic paint, then I start integrating the different materials, layer by layer. When adhesives and sculpting pastes, etc are dry and materials are secure and in place, I finish with a refined oil painting. When that is dry I incorporate marine resin to seal it all in. Sometimes I reverse that order ;).

MM: What are some of your latest original pieces?

TA: Island Heat, Hula Break, & Serenity

MM: And I see that you also offer reproductions – how does that work? 

TA: They are reproduced as giclees (prints on canvas, or metal) first. Then I recreate each piece by adding back a lot of the mixed materials that make them special- sand, metallic leaf, texture, aluminum tabs, resin, etc. Each piece is unique & slightly different- they truly become originals again. Because they are each re-created with a lot of time and love, I do a very small edition of only 26. Its important for me to do my reproductions this way because my work is so much about texture & light reflection.

MM: Which are your most popular limited editions?

TA: Reflections, Only in Maui, Wine & Spirit, Island Secret, Beach Boss

MM: And you mentioned you make your own panels – what are those made of? 

TA: Panels are the hard surfaces I build to paint on- the face is usually made with masonite or birch and there’s a deep wood frame so I can continue the painting to the sides, giving them a sculptural effect & allowing the viewer to interact with the piece from all sides instead of just one. I use panels primarily instead of canvas because they offer a more structural support for my collection of materials. I can really  “build” my imagery onto them.

MM: Where can people meet you?  Will you do Maui Open Studios again in 2014? 

TA: I will be doing Open Studios again, and you can usually find me at Sargents Fine Art on Friday nights from 6-9.

MM: Which artists are you inspired by? 

TA: I am inspired by the expressive and romantic nature of Egon Schiele’s figure drawings and Edgar Degas’ ballerina paintings. Gustav Klimt has influenced the use of gold leaf and pattern in my work, and I have drawn inspiration from Wayne Thibaud and Edward Hopper’s bold colors and use of line.

MM: What’s next for you?  

TA: Making more originals! I’ve begun collecting industrial inspired materials for a new experimental series I’m really excited to begin…..they are going to be very sculptural and explore a whole new range of techniques….thats all I will “leak” about that ;).

I’ve also been presented with some very exciting opportunities on a national level and some licensing agreements, etc. I try not to predict what exactly will happen and stay open to an infinite realm of possibility, but its always most important to me to nurture my current endeavors first. It’s easy to spread ourselves too thin, and like in any business, a solid foundation is crucial before expanding.  Right now my focus is on staying inspired & keeping up with a steady flow of exciting new pieces to provide my collectors and galleries.

Mahalo to Taryn, and best of luck at your film premiere- hope everyone can come out and see you this Saturday night! 

 

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