Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Change is in the Air

Blank canvas in studio

The first blank canvas in my new studio space in Knoxville, Tennessee.
I am super excited to be able to paint in this gorgeous space.


As I write, the snow is flying sideways on a howling, cold wind outside my window. We're now past mid-April, but Mother Nature does not seem to have received the memo that winter should be finished and spring on its way. I know that central Pennsylvania is not the only place suffering under the burden of January the 131st. Nonetheless, even if spring is not yet in the air, then change is.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I purchased a new home in Knoxville, Tennessee. Or maybe it would be more accurate to call it a new old home. We found a beautiful place that was built in 1927 and whose history includes a change of ownership via auction following the stock market crash of 1929.

Its most recent former owners were also artists. They did a jaw-dropping renovation to the upstairs area, where I will soon set up my art studio. To say that I'm excited about this totally new and different space would be the understatement of the year. I've already started to move some of my materials to our new address. Within the next month, we anticipate moving to Knoxville permanently.

But for now, my studio and my creative mind straddle two very different places and it's been an extremely busy time for me. I never appreciated how difficult it is to "stage" and sell a house until this interstate move (HGTV, I'm looking askance at you!), and I hope not to have to do it again for many, many years. It was very challenging given that my husband and I both work from our home and we have two large dogs. But we're on our way now, and I'm excited.

Stay tuned for a series of new paintings inspired by my new home in Tennessee as we get into summer. Until then, I'm off to pack some more boxes. Uff dah.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

New Year, New Home

Sarah Pollock Studio is moving to a new home later this year!

My husband accepted a new position as the Haslam Chair Chair of Business and Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We'll move to Knoxville, Tennessee this summer after he completes his semester at Penn State.

It's a bittersweet decision for both of us because we've grown to truly love the landscape and history of Pennsylvania. Yet at the same time, we feel now is a good time to shake things up. We've always grown personally and professionally with each new home and we look forward to this next adventure. Eastern Tennessee offers the Smoky Mountains within close reach, so we know that we can find beautiful scenery there, too. And we're both ready to live in a larger community with more amenities.

Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee with the
restored Tennessee theater located along Gay Street

I visited Knoxville for the first time a few weeks ago. It strikes me as a "mini Pittsburgh," an old industrial town on the rebound from tough economic times. Everyone we spoke to was upbeat and described a renaissance within the city that has taken hold over the past 10-15 years, kicked off by -- of all things -- a central farmer's market in the downtown square that features over a 100 different vendors. Now, new businesses, residents, and visitors are returning to downtown and the "Scruffy City," derisively named by the Wall Street Journal after it hosted the 1982 World's Fair, is embracing an upbeat spin on its nickname.

The Old City district of Knoxville, Tennessee during a rainy evening.
I think I see a painting in here somewhere...

Knoxville is named for one of my favorite historical figures, Henry Knox. Henry Knox was a twenty-five-year-old bookseller from Boston when he met General George Washington just three days after Washington took command of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. It was Knox who marshalled untold manpower and eighty yoke of oxen to retrieve the artillery from Fort Ticonderoga in New York and move all of it to Boston in freezing, icy conditions during the winter of 1775-76.

Knoxville's historical legacy grew during the Civil War, when the city shifted between Union and Confederate control and reflected the larger split within Tennessee about where to cast its allegiance. Following the Civil War, the city became a manufacturing hub for textiles and iron works.

I'm looking forward to milder winters, more restaurants, and new landscapes for painting and bicycling. After I get resettled and set up my studio again, I'm also planning to continue exhibiting at various outdoor art shows along the East Coast. Stay tuned...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Braving the Elements

After a busy summer and fall art show season, the closing months of this year mean that it's time for me to turn my focus to preparing for 2018. An important element of my preparation for the year ahead is to gather source material and inspiration during these quieter months when I'm not in the midst of a packed show schedule.

I just returned from a brief trip to Chicago, where I delivered a large cityscape painting to a collector, visited family, and then slipped into downtown for a day to browse the Art Institute of Chicago and snap some reference photos. These opportunities to prowl the city and look at beautiful artwork while also gathering ideas are absolutely essential to sustaining my creative energy during my busy exhibition season.

Futago Islands, Matsushima by Kawase Hasui, 1933

With apologies for my reflection in the photo, this is
Futago Islands, Matsushima by Kawase Hasui, 1933

The Art Institute had a fantastic exhibition of Japanese prints on display. It was right up my alley: "City and Country: Prints from Early 20th Century Japan." Thanks to my past visits to the Freer Museum of Art in Washington, DC, where they specialize in Asian artwork, I've gained a great admiration for Japanese woodblock prints.

A rain-soaked view below the elevated train
platform in downtown Chicago

After spending some time at the museum, I ventured out into the downtown area of Chicago. A cold rain descended not too long after I stepped outside. While it made things challenging (digital cameras are not built for wind-driven rainfall), I was able to find several interesting subjects that will become the basis for upcoming cityscape paintings in the coming months.

This change of scene from nearby East Coast cities, such as Philadelphia and New York, is so vital for me. I love the different energy and subjects in new venues, so it makes braving the elements worthwhile. Besides, Chicagoans are so polite that they won't even step in front of me when I line up to take a photo. Not only is the city full of interesting architecture and cool vistas, the people are nice, too! Stay tuned in the coming months for the fruits of this labor.