Art Saint Louis Q&A Series Three

Art Saint Louis is pleased to present our third round of our ASL Q&A weekly series highlighting our artist members, focusing on what inspires them--both in their own work as well as work by other artists. We encourage you to connect with the featured artists through their websites and/or social media accounts, all hyperlinked in this post.

Our continued gratitude to the participating artists to ASL Staffers Roxanne Phillips and Robin Hirsch-Steinhoff for their work on the blog.

This week we are featuring nine artists Ruth Andre, Ann K. Aurbach, Amy Bautz, Lisa Crisman, Jo Jasper Dean, John DenHouter, Dina Fachin, Gaye Gambell-Peterson, and Ken Konchel.

Please stay tuned & visit again next week for more ASL Q&A!


Ann K. Aurbach. Snowy Contemplation, 2013. Digital Photographic Print, 18"x22".

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Ann: To pick my favorite art that I have made is really hard. I love a lot of my art but my most popular, is probably Snowy Contemplation - it has appeared in at least one solo show, maybe two.
Snowy Contemplation was captured on a snowy March day in 2013. To this day, I have no idea who was under that umbrella, but I can only assume it was another 'crazy' photographer like me who was trying to capture the beauty of the heavy late-spring snowfall. To me, photography is about freezing a moment in time and sharing what I see with others. The snow is beautiful but that rainbow umbrella just up-leveled the capture for me to bring a splash of color to an otherwise monochrome scene.

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?
Ann: Probably one of my favorite artists is St. Louis painter Carol Carter - growing up, we have two of her pieces in my parents’ house and I commissioned her for a third of one of our pups who is no longer with us.
Probably one of my favorite works of hers is Firefly from 2012 - 30"x 22" and was actually a Crate and Barrel print as well. I'm sad to have not been able to secure one when it was for sale. I love her use of color and she is so talented with watercolors that it just leaves me speechless. I love the crazy amount of detail and her use of color. I've been a big fan of her for many many years!
I love her use of color - she's been really knocking some out of the park during quarantine and I've loved them as well.

Learn more about Ann K. Aurbach's work: and

Amy Bautz. Cowboy. 2014. Oil on Canvas, 42"x36".

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Amy: Cowboy is an oil on canvas painting of mine from 2014, 42"x36" approximately. I don't usually paint humans, so maybe that's why this piece is a favorite.

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Amy: When I was in Toronto last summer I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario, where I saw a multi-room exhibit of paintings by the Group of Seven, Canadian impressionists. They were completely new to me and I was bowled over by their riotous color and gloppy paint. It was hard for me to pick a favorite, but this gouache study for a landscape by Tom Thomson is pretty great.

John DenHouter. Headhunter. 2005. Oil on Canvas, 56”x40”.

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
John: This painting depicts the mechanical pitching machine that belonged to my youth baseball coach and used by our team to practice batting. In this image, I was not only interested in recording the machine’s interesting abstract shape, but also its metaphorical potential. In 2002, my old coach, who was a real character and “sharp as a tack”, tragically died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. His death inspired me to use the machine as a stand in for his figure in this painting. By placing the top of the machine in an encroaching ominous “fog” I metaphorically illustrated how his mind was destroyed by this illness. The title has a double meaning as Headhunter refers to a baseball pitcher who throws at a batter’s head and how Alzheimer’s attacks a person’s mental faculties. I feel this image has a conceptual parallel with Winslow Homer’s Fog Warning, the master work I chose.

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?

John: Fog Warning (1885. 30"x48") is typical of Winslow Homer’s longtime theme of “man against nature” and in particular the peril fishermen faced on the open sea prior to global positioning satellites. I admire the sophisticated pictorial balance in this work and the subtle use of the symbol of this fisherman’s catch of fish. It represents how this man is provided sustenance by the ocean, yet his life can be easily taken by it as well if he can’t reach the safety of the distant schooner before it is enveloped by the incoming fog bank. A masterful work!

Dina Fachin. A Family of Tree (Fragments of Storm Vaia series). 2020. Ink and Watercolor on Cold Press Paper, 16”x20”.

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Dina: This piece is part of a larger, ongoing project "Fragments of Storm Vaia: the Aftermath," about climate change and natural disasters. Storm Vaia hit my home region in Northern Italy in October 2018, destroying wide areas of ancient forests as well as some urban areas. This natural disaster, however, also taught us the impermanence of beauty, of all living beings.
A Family of Tree examines the idea of a disrupted nativity scene, where the trunk of the “child” at the center, the symbol of the future, has been severed. This idea of fragmentation is also emphasized by the areas intentionally left in white, which, at the same time, allow for a moment of silence and recollection too. Similarly, in-between the thin cracks filled with gold that run through the surface of the painting, we may find a space to grow, reflect and make wiser choices, thus putting the pieces together again, as in Japanese wabi-sabi pottery.

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?
Dina: One of my favorite artworks is Guernica (1937. Oil on Canvas, 11'6"x25'x6") by Pablo Picasso. Indeed, this was a powerful source of inspiration and ideas for my current project on climate change. The human tragedy and the sense of desperation and hopelessness depicted in this masterpiece made me reflect on the extent to which the animals and plants of my region might have felt and responded to this natural disaster. Picasso's monochromatic use of colors (gray, black and white), also inspired me to explore the potentials of a limited palette to convey the urgency of the message more directly and powerfully.

Ken Konchel. Arrangement. 2005. Large-format, Silver Gelatin Photograph, 16”x20”.

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Ken: In the right foreground, a portion of Joe, Richard Serra's torqued spiral sculpture at the Pulitzer Foundation, by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando, 2001; in the left background, a portion of the eastern exterior of the St. Louis Contemporary Museum, by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works of Portland, OR, 2003; and in between the fence that separates the buildings.

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?
Ken: I'm drawn to this Charles Sheeler’s painting Skyscrapers (1922. Oil on Canvas, 50.8"x33") because it captures architecture in an abstract, graphic way. Sheeler provocatively captures these buildings in an abstract graphic way that keenly interests me. He has made a compelling painting that removes the context and distills architecture to nothing buy relationships of shape, line, form, pattern, detail and tone.

Gaye Gambell-Peterson. Storyteller. 2017. Paper and Lace Collage on Canvas Board, 14"x11".

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Gaye: Asking me to name the favorite from the artworks I have created is akin to asking me to name my favorite child. I love each one of them (although there are times I fail to understand them). So. Let's say my favorite is storyteller—and I choose it only because I am a storyteller. I've been an artist all my life and a poet for the last two decades. Everything I see, read, touch, imagine is laced within every collage I layer together. I scissor and rip and rearrange until some cohesive facet of me is exposed within the confines of the canvas. Here I am, blackbird and fruit in hand, my cloak a mere scrim over my inspirations. I am calm. I am open. I am all women. For this one moment, my face is not revealing my every thought. I might be caged but the cage door is open.

Gaye Gambell-Peterson with the print I have no idea by Bruce Holwerda that she purchased in 2008

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?
Gaye: Most might say a favorite artwork is something classic. My favorite is by a working artist that is maintaining his stride even during this quarantine phase of life. In 2008, Bruce Holwerda (Hoover, Alabama) sold me a print titled I have no idea. It depicts a female improbably balancing on the toes of one foot, her other leg crossing thigh-high, elbows tucked to her belly, hands splayed under her quizzical face. I was in the midst of treatment for two auto-immune conditions. She was me—with no idea. She was more than me—my meds temporarily destroyed my balance. She still gives me permission to Not Know. Sadly, this particular print is no longer on his website. So, then, since I love all his art, let's say my favorite is Catnip (recent) Limited Edition Fine Art Reproduction, 16"x20". [This is] also me. Leaning into the future! Steering, or not. With one's inscrutable muse considering the past with composure.
Ah! So!

Learn more about Gaye Gambell-Peterson:

Lisa Crisman. Sunset on the Beach. 2017. Pastel on Sanded Paper, 9”x12”.

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Lisa: One of my favorite paintings is Sunset on the Beach. I love it because of the emotions attached with it. The painting was done from a trip to Cancun with one of my daughters. Every evening on the beach we would marvel at the gorgeous sunsets. With my art I have so much fun adding crazy vibrant color, and in Sunset on the Beach it reflects the wonderful feelings of our trip. The colors make the painting "feel" even more tropical and lush than the actual colors of the scene. When I look at this painting, it takes me right back to the beach with my daughter, where I can feel the sand between my toes, hear the constant rush of the waves, and feel the warmth of the sun.

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?
Lisa: I cannot choose one favorite artwork of another artist. There are so many that I love. One of my favorites is M.C. Escher’s The Encounter. 1944, Lithograph, 13 7/16”x18 5/16”. At an early age I was drawn to Escher's work. I loved drawing and I found Escher's work to be amazing, dynamic and complex. This piece The Encounter completely intrigues me. It is exciting and full of possibility.


Jo Jasper Dean. Plaza Blanca. 2019. Oil on Canvas, 24”x24”.

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Jo: My favorite painting is Plaza Blanca. It depicts a place I often visit while in Santa Fe. The area is named Plaza Blanca and is outside of Abiquiu not far from Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio. There are abundant jagged rock outcroppings formed during seismic events. Many richly textured layers of sediment create a fascinating variety of surfaces on these formations. Standing among these giants one feels slight and humbled by their beauty, scale, and energy. I enjoyed translating my favorite of the outcroppings in my color palette and painting style because it exudes the joy, energy, and exuberance I feel when I am there.

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?
Jo: One of my favorite contemporary artists is Erin Hanson. Like many of us she is inspired by nature. She can take even the simplest of scenes and transform it into an animated kaleidoscope of electric colors. She applies rich jewel toned colors in a pattern of strokes that sparkle with life and light. In her painting Zion Cottonwoods (2020. Oil on Canvas, 36”x48”) she expertly captures the wonderfully gnarly growth and movement of the cottonwoods.

Learn more about Jo Jasper Dean:

Ruth Andre. Home Sweet Home I. Oil, Wax on Paper, 4.5”x4.5”.

Ruth Andre. Home Sweet Home II. Oil, Wax on Paper, 4.5”x4.5”.

Ruth Andre. Home Sweet Home III. Oil, Wax on Paper, 4.5”x4.5”.

Ruth Andre. Home Sweet Home IV. Oil, Wax on Paper, 4.5”x4.5”.

Roxanne: What is your favorite piece of art that you have made and why?
Ruth: I have been asked to talk about a favorite art work that I painted myself. Painting is my personal journey and it seems the painting just completed is my favorite. With that said, I like painting in a series so one painting is part of a whole group of paintings. I have painted a series titled, Water Works and another, Sound of the Drums and yet another titled, Nests.

One summer I challenged myself to paint 100 small paintings on paper. I wanted to see how working daily completing two to three small 4.5"x4.5" paintings would influence my work. The project taught me to enjoy the painting process and try new colors and textures. Painting small works gave me the courage to paint quickly and intuitively. I would say the goal and the actual act of painting 100 paintings represents my favorite work.
When asked what my favorite art work is that I have painted myself I am afraid I came up with many thoughts but not one painting. It seems I remember the why of the painting or the where the painting was painted more than one particular painting.

Artist Ruth Andre in her studio.

Roxanne: What is your favorite artwork by another artist and why?
Ruth: Sean Scully is the artist I have chosen as my favorite artist. He is a painter, sculptor and photographer. Sean’s work and philosophy feel real to me. He has chosen his life’s work to represent what is found in the landscape that surrounds him, whether it be a vineyard in France or a building facade in Italy. He is influenced by what he sees, what he breaths in and the people that are a part of his life.

Sean Scully’s paintings represent the man himself. They are large and bold but hold a depth and organic softness that shows itself more and more as you view his paintings. Each piece of art is grounded in the landscape, architecture and found forms such as rock fencing. He has stayed the course finding sameness in what surrounds him There are many interviews to be found on YouTube where Sean Scully talks about his life, his love of life, and his love of art. It is as if art rages inside him begging to be put out for the world to see. He seems to know when to control the process in his work and when to let go. He has a way of taking a project using all that is in him and then letting it go to fend for itself in the real world.