Round Table Discussion: Artists Who Marry Artists

Round Table Discussion: Artists Who Marry Artists

Thursday, September 20, 2007
6:30pm at Bert Gallery

Part of Gallery Night Providence &
the 2007 Taking a Look Series

Artists as couples pose one of the most complex of human psychological drama. They make Freud’s Oedipus complex seem like child’s play. Just think of international Abstract Expressionist artist couples such as Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner or Elaine and Willem de Kooning. Both couples are well recognized for their individual achievements but their personal and professional lives read like a Marilyn Monroe biography. Bert Gallery will exhibit two twentieth century artists couples in the September/October show Artists Who Marry Artists and explore the competitive, yet successful pairings of Rhode Island artist couples, Florence Leif (1913-1968) and Gordon Peers (1909-1988) along with Percy Albee (1883-1959) and Grace Albee (1890-1985). How did they negotiate home life and the world of art? Did they exhibit together or paint together? Does one artist dominate or influence the other? Visit the exhibition, look at their art and resumes to decide for yourself.

What about artist couples today? A September program will ask artist couples practicing in Rhode Island today to comment on their lives together. Artist couples include – Kenn Speiser, sculptor and Constance Brown, photographer; Jonathan Bonner, sculptor and painter Jacqueline Ott; and Craig Masten and Gail Armstrong, painters. All have been married many years and negotiated two careers in one household. Moderator, John Tessitore will lead a discussion among the couples about their successful marriages.

The program is in conjunction with the Bert Gallery exhibit, Artists who Marry Artists, on view September 4th through October 26th, 2007. Bert Gallery is located along the Providence waterfront at Corliss Landing, 540 South Water Street in Providence, Rhode Island. Open Gallery Night September 20th. Gallery Hours are Tuesday – Friday from 11am–5pm, Saturdays 12-4pm or by appointment. Exhibits are free and open to the public.

About the Moderator & Panelists
John Tessitore is Executive Editor of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (New York City), and a Communications Consultant to the United Nations Development Programme and other UN agencies worldwide. From 1986 to 2001 he served as Executive Director of Communications of the United Nations Association, where he worked with the international media and diplomatic community. In 1995 he was Executive Producer of the feature documentary film “In Search of Peace: 50 Years of the U.S. in the U.N.,” narrated by Paul Newman and shown on over 600 Turner broadcasting stations nationwide. A native of Rhode Island (LaSalle ’69), John returned to his home state in 2002, where he appears as an “occasional contributor” to the editorial pages of the Providence Journal.

Kenn Speiser (married to Constance Brown) Born in New York City, Kenn Speiser has had a thirty-five year career living and working as an artist, sculptor, and printmaker in Providence, Rhode Island. With a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, Speiser has an extensive background working on commissioned projects for corporations and public institutions from Miami, Florida to Boston, Massachusetts, and as far away as Finland. As an artist, Speiser’s primary interests lie in the discovery, alchemy and process, of transforming generally ignored and overlook common objects and materials into something thought provoking and beautiful. Kenn Speiser is currently working on a design project with a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts:

Constance Brown (married to Kenn Speiser) After studying painting at Lake Erie College, Constance discovered the camera and never looked back. More importantly she discovered that there was a way to make a good living with the cameras that was still creative and challenging. Commercial photography. After attending the Art Center of Design in Los Angeles to further develop her skills and portfolio and a brief fling with Film and Hollywood (where she worked on two documentary shorts nominated for academy awards and one nominated for an Emmy) she came back and set up her own studio in 1977. Since then she had worked producing Executive portraits for many of the leaders of this community, annual report images, capability brochures and public relations work. She has developed a niche specialty working with politicians and in a political year is often “on the road” photographing various politicians during their campaigns including the last two Presidential Elections.

Jonathan Bonner (married to Jacqueline Ott) Jonathan Bonner has had over 40 solo shows and is represented in many public and private collections throughout the United States. The work includes sculpture, installation and works on paper. Bonner has also completed many large-scale site-specific commissions. Recently he has installed work at Nashua Street Park in Boston, the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and the Rhode Island School of Design Campus.

Jacqueline Ott (married to Jonathan Bonner) received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She has exhibited extensively in the Northeast, participating in recent shows at the Miller Block Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts; the Danforth Museum of Art, Danforth, Massachusetts; risd/works, Providence, Rhode Island; and the Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts among many others. She has received grants from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts (Painting Fellowship, 2000; Artist Project Grant, 1991), the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work is in numerous collections, including those of the Newport Art Museum and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

Craig Masten (married to Gail Armstrong) is an award winning artist member of the Providence Art Club, Rhode Island Watercolor Society, Wickford Art Association, South County Art Association, Cape Cod Art Association, Newport Art Guild and Newport Art Museum. He has shown his work in numerous juried shows and exhibitions at these organizations, as well as at the DeCordova Museum, the Warwick Art Museum, the Newport Art Museum, BFA Studioworks Gallery, and Spring Bull Gallery.

Gail Armstrong (married to Craig Masten) received a Master’s from Rhode Island School of Design in 1980 and a BFA from Hartford Art School in 1972. She taught art for over thirty years, mainly at North Kingstown High School in R.I. Memberships include the R.I. Watercolor Society, Providence Art Club, Wickford and South County Art Associations, the Newport Art Museum, Newport Artists’ Guild and the Cape Cod Art Association. Gail has exhibited and received awards in numerous open juried shows, including “Best of Show” in “Scenes of R.I.-2005”, an exhibit sponsored by Governor Carcieri and the R.I. State Council on the Arts.