Saturday, October 6, 2018

Welcome to Issue 21 of ProWax Journal

With this issue it is my pleasure to note that we mark five years as a more-or-less quarterly publication. Thanks to the internet, the PWJ staff has from the beginning met online and produced ProWax Journal electronically. We are immensely proud of every issue. As the editor in chief, it is also my responsibility to let you know that this issue is our last. (Well, for now. Maybe.) But focusing first on the positive, let's look at what Number 21 holds.    —Joanne Mattera

In this issue

In her Q&A feature, always an inspirational reveal into
an artist's thinking, Nancy Natale visits with 
Christine Shannon Aaron, whose aesthetic development, 
slow and steady, recently exploded into a frenzy of 
brilliantly conceived art and ideas.

Writes Nancy: "Our recent experience together in the small 
group of friends organizing Binnie Birstein's retrospective show and sale made me aware of Christine's sensitivity and 
depth of character. I wanted to learn more about the development of her work and the thoughts driving her explorations."

Christine Aaron in her studio

I report on a show that took place at the Met Breuer this past summer, Like Life: Color, Sculpture, and the Body, focusing on the exhibition's work in wax. I went as a viewer, but surprised at the extensive presence of wax in the show,  pulled out my iPhone and began to shoot. In some ways, this is the museum version of the brilliant article, Ephemeral Figures in Wax, which Susanne K. Arnold produced for PWJ in Issue 19.

Kiki Smith sculpture 
  at the Met Breuer's Like Life:
 Color, Sculpture, and the Body

In a round-up feature, we look at the many shows that took place around the 12th International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown and Truro. The exhibitions ranged from a curated museum show to gallery invitationals to a juried exhibitionthe largest including 46 artists; the smallest, two. These various kinds of shows extended exhibition opportunities to some 80 artists from the Conference community, many included in more than one show. 

From the East End of Commercial Street to the West End: Organic to Geometric at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum; The Blues at the Adam Peck Gallerywith a lot in between 

As always the regular features offer short takes on artists and solid professional advice. With Paula Fava editing, we’ve got three Studio Visits this issue that couldn’t be more different from one another. Jeff Schaller’s cozy building is nestled in the Pennsylvania woods, a short walk from his home.  Dietland Vander Schaaf's loft studio in downtown Portland, Maine, overlooks 19th century brick architecture. Jodi Reeb's urban studio is part of an artists' co-op building in Minneapolis.

A peek inside Jeff Schaller's studio in Downington, Pennsylvania

We have two articles that consider our professional practice. With Essential Questions, Jane Guthridge asks Who’s Curating and Why? The answers range from "creating opportunities for other artists"  to "engaging a conversation" to "taking control." Certainly curating allows us to expand out vision and our practice. In Somebody’s Deciding Your Future, I pull back the curtain a bit to understand why we get rejected and how to turn that around. There’s more, including two In Five Words features, Pat Spainhour's In Residence experience, and a plethora of Exhibition and Workshop Listings. If you choose not to scroll from article to article, the Table of Contents lets you prioritize how you spend your reading time. 

Finally, we remember Binnie Birstein. So outgoing and energetic, Binnie got a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer last year at about this time. By May she was gone. Friends rallied round her. Lynette Haggard started a Scholarship fund in Binnie’s name at her beloved Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, Connecticut; Cherie Mittenthal started one at Castle Hill for a Conference scholarship.  Numerous friends, spearheaded by Jen Greeley, Binnie’s mentee, catalogued her life’s work, put it on display at Firing Circuits, Binnie's gallery building, and offered it for sale to benefit her children. 

Binnie with David A. Clark, who shared some recollections

A goodbye and some acknowledgments

ProWax Journal started with Maritza Ruiz Kim’s question, “What if we had a publication that spoke to the issues of professional artists working with wax and encaustic?” That query resulted in the first issue of  PWJ in September 2013, with Maritza as editor in chief and a number of artists from our ProWax group as editors and writers. Finally, a publication that dealt with issues in our community! Issue 13 was Maritza’s last issue, after which she stepped down to consulting editor and I took the job. I have loved expanding this online magazine with more articles and broader ideas. But I have come to the end of my tenure. It’s a ton of work to produce a magazine like this, an unpaid job that has had to be shoehorned into my “spare time.”

With no takers for the editorial job—Hours of work for no pay? Yeah, watch the line form here
ProWax Journal has ceased publication on any kind of regular basis. We’ve talked about an annual volume. We’ll see. It has been an honor to produce ProWax Journal for the encaustic community. Many others deserve heaps of credit for their contributions: Nancy Natale, who has served as Executive Editor and produced her Q&A features as well as Back of the Panel; Debra Claffey who has served as Senior Editor and produced two In Five Words features each issue; and our small-but-mighty clutch of editor/writers who have produced their regular features, columns, and listings: Corina Alvarezdelugo, Dawna Bemis, Hylla Evans, Paula Fava, Milisa Galazzi, Jane Guthridge, Cheryl D. McClure, and Deborah Winiarski. 

There have been many contributors over the past few years as well: Susanne K. Arnold, Heidi Beal, Pamela Blum, Elena De La Ville, Shelley Gilchrist, Susan Lasch Krevitt, Winston Lee Mascarenhas, RaƩ Miller, Joan Stuart Ross, Leslie Sobel, Krista Svalbonas, Anna Wagner-Ott, and Pamela W. Wallace. And, of course, Maritza, without whose hard work ProWax Journal would have remained just a good idea. (Read a bit about everyone here.)

We’ll still be here in cyberspace

While there won’t be any forthcoming issues of PWJ, at least for the time being, all the issues issues, including this one, will remain right here online. A list with links to every issue is here. As a group, ProWax—which consists now of 168 members from throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe—has in every way worked to raise the bar in our encaustic community: advocating for professional presentation; for non-restrictive language (we are artists, not "encaustic artists”); for responsible teaching, and equally, for responsible learning; and for maintaining archival standards while remaining inquisitive and creative. All of those ideas are in our 21 issues. I hope you’ll refer to them often and share them with your colleagues and students.