Press-Republican

April 8, 2013

Sweet dreams are made of this

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — NEW YORK CITY — If New York City is in the stars, a visit to the Salmagundi Club is a worthwhile itinerary addition — and, right now, it’s a chance to see a local woman shine.

Through April 21, the club features the 146th American Watercolor Society International Exhibition in its main gallery.

This year, 10 new “Signature Members” among the esteemed ranks of artists, and Mina Angelos of Cumberland Head is one of them.

‘HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER’

Acceptance into the American Watercolor Society is measured in years, if at all, for most artists.

Angelos’s watercolors of interiors of breakfast vignettes were her calling card into the prestigious society, founded in 1866. Former members include artists of the ilk of Winslow Homer, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Gladys Rockmore Davis.

In 2009, Angelos’s “Breakfast Time” was accepted and subsequently followed by “Set for Breakfast” in 2012 and “The Breakfast Table” this year.

Of signature members, American Watercolor Society President James McFarlane writes: “This is a highly sought after and honored level of membership. It can only be earned … Elected Signature Members are the only artists allowed to use the society’s coveted ‘AWS’ initials after their signatures.

“To become a Signature Member, an artist must be accepted into two AWS annual exhibitions. There is no time limit, and the acceptances need not be consecutive. Once the two acceptances have been earned, the artist must inform the AWS and is then invited to enter two pictures in the next exhibition.”

EXCITING DAY

Angelos and her husband, Pete, their offspring, friends and extended family, including New Jersey cousins, were among the throngs at the exhibition’s recent opening reception.

“Our daughter Anna and her husband, Tor, Tostenson, and their daughter, Helen, came from New Hampshire. One of our sons, John, came from Davis, Calif. Two of our nieces (Susan Borden and Barbara Boolukos) were there. One was from Manhattan and other Maryland. It was a very exciting day.”

Angelos’s interiors were inspired by the ambiance of Rock Gardens Inn, located in Sebasco Estates, Maine.

“It’s on the coast. You go to Bath and head down to the point,” she said. “For the most part, they (paintings) are totally done using a mouth atomizer. It’s a very rudimentary kind of air brush. You don’t use it with power but you blow it (paint) on.”

ARTISTIC PROCESS

Her process begins with stretched hot-pressed paper, which is a very smooth watercolor paper. She sketches out her image beforehand.

“I put it on a full-size tracing paper. I have the image on tracing paper with heavy graphite. Then, a material that is similar to contact paper called Frisket Film, just like contact paper, you take off the backing and lay it on the tracing paper and rub it. The tracing paper has to be taped down. When you rub where your pencil lines are and pull off the film, your image is now on the film. It has picked it up from the tracing paper.”

The Frisket Film is placed on hot-pressed paper.

“Now, my image is on what will be the painting. Then, I start cutting out with an X-Acto knife what will be the darkest value, and I start blowing the paint on, mainly primary colors because if you combine them, you will get a gray or black if you keep going.”

From the darkest value, successive lighter values are cut out.

“Obviously, it has to dry in between.”

She learned the technique from artist Mark Mehaffey, from the Michigan area.

“I took a workshop with him both in Plattsburgh, quite a few years ago, and the Kanuga Workshops in Hendersonville, NC.”

‘REALLY HONORED’

American Watercolor Society jurors, only five or six and never the same, select approximately 140 paintings from a field of 2,000.

“It’s very selective,” Angelos said. “You never know who they are going to pick. I feel really, very honored.”

Like all the artists/exhibitors at the opening, she wore a ribbon.

“People ask you, ‘Where is your painting?’ There are lots congratulations all around. I feel really honored. I can hardly believe it.”

Now, when she signs a painting, she can write: Mina Angelos, AWS.

Former Plattsburgh resident Phillis Freedman joined Angelos in NYC, as did friend/former teacher Judi Betts from Baton Rouge, La.

“Judi was just excited,” Angelos said. “She’s been in AWS for many years. Judi said people try for many years to get in, and they never get in, so I feel very fortunate.”

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

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IF YOU GO

▶ WHAT: 146th American Watercolor Society International Exhibition.

▶ WHERE: Main Gallery, Salmagundi Club, Forty-seven Fifth Ave., New York City.

▶ WHEN: Through April 21.

▶ HOURS: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.

▶ PHONE: (212) 255-7740.

▶ EMAIL: info @salmangundi.org