“I have fun with personification as well as improbabilities of scale,” says artist Olive Ayhens. “I’m constantly renewed visually by everything around me, a feeling of the uniqueness of each environment in which I find myself.”
I’ve been a long-time admirer of Ayhens’ work, which has been featured on Gwarlingo before. Olive has the ability to capture cityscapes and architectural interiors like no one else I know. Her neo-expressionist pen and ink and watercolor drawings are playful, idiosyncratic, and deliberately unruly.
When Olive offered to donate an art work to the Gwarlingo fundraiser, I jumped at the chance to offer one of her beautiful pieces to a lucky Gwarlingo donor. This hand-colored etching is being offered for $800, less than a third of the gallery price. Your donation also includes a Member Profile and shipping and handling.
I Love New YorkAhens is inspired by place. She works on location and is probably best known for her acclaimed drawings of New York City. Recently, she was commissioned to create new art celebrating the 100th year anniversary of Grand Central Station. Grand Central: Inside/Outside, a mixed-media work on paper by Ayhens, was selected by New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority as part of its Arts for Transit and Urban Design program, and was shown as a poster in subways and train stations throughout the city.
“My work is grounded in abstraction,” Ayhens says, “and I continue to push this further in a cotemporary landscape sense, inside outside, play with spatial exaggerations. It’s exciting where this is taking my work.”
New DirectionsAyhens’ paintings and drawings of New York City are favorites amongst readers of The New Yorker and Harper’s, but recently she has turned her artistic eye to new locations, such as computer labs (a series she calls “Extreme Interiors”) and Spanish cathedrals.
By incorporating multiple focal points into her artworks, she suspends us high above the scene, offering a unique and original perspective on her subject.
Ayhens has been exploring new mediums too, as in the case of this one-of-a-kind, hand-tinted etching Moorish Architecture. The piece started with Ayhens drawing on a wax-covered, metal plate. The plate was then put in acid. Where the plate was exposed to the acid, lines, or grooves, were created. The plate was then inked. When the ink was wiped off the surface, the ink remained in the etched lines. The plate was then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of archival paper. Once the etching was printed, Olive proceeded to hand-tint each print. Her choice of watercolor combinations is what makes each piece unique.
For the Love of the Paint ItselfMy painting frequently evolves from a special sense of place, and transformation of environments in my own quirky ways,” says Olive. “Sometimes [there is] a political or ecological subtext,” but most important is “the love of the paint itself — layering it, exploring color relationships, building textures, etc.” There is a vigorous, sensual beauty to Ayhens’ art works.
Ayhens is a frequent traveler and has had many residencies, including stays at Ucross, Yaddo, VCCA, the Lower Manhattan Culture Council, Malta, The MacDowell Colony, Djerassi, Blue Mountain, Saltonstall, and the Millay Colony. But it was a residency at Fundación Valparaíso in Spain that inspired Ayhens to explore the subject of Moorish architecture. Antonio Gaudi was also a big influence on this new series.
“These interior themes can be very broad,” according to Olive. “The boundaries between inside and outside spaces become blurred with images intruding into and overlapping one another. I am continuing with paintings of landscape in interiors and landscape as architecture, including animals within the structures.”
Olive Ayhens has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Joan Mitchell fellowship, two Pollack-Krasner Awards, and the Adolph and Ester Gottlieb Foundation individual support grant.
She has had recent shows at the Lori Bookstein Gallery, the Transit Museum in Grand Central, Electronic Labyrinth, the New York State Museum, at Adam Baumgold, and at the Institute Franco-America in Rennes, France.
Your Investment in Olive Ayhens’ Work Is an Investment in GwarlingoOlive is offering Moorish Architecture to only one Gwarlingo donor for $800 (shipping and handling included), which is less than a third of what the print sells for at her gallery. (Another version of Moorish Architecture recently sold for $1700 in an auction benefiting the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.)
The entire artwork measures 30″ wide by 22″ tall. When framing, Olive recommends matting the print to approximately 23″ x 18″, leaving some space around the image so that the signature, date, etc. are visible. There are some light drops of watercolor paint near the edges of the print, revealing the hand of the artist (see above photo). The watercolor droplets will not be visible, however, once the painting is matted and framed.
The $800 you invest in Olive’s print, or on any of the fine offerings available when you donate and become a member, keeps Gwarlingo free from advertising and provides some small compensation for the countless hours I pour into this site. Your donations also pay for a new, faster, more reliable web server for the site, improved email newsletter service, and other fees that are part of running an online arts journal. (You can learn more about where your donation goes in this video.)
A Membership Profile and shipping and handling are also included with your donation.A special thanks to Olive for generously donating this art work and making it available exclusively to Gwarlingo readers.
Purchase Moorish Architecture by Olive Ayhens Here:
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