"This Moment" Artist Q&A Series Six

By Roxanne Phillips

We are pleased to offer another with interviews featuring artists whose works were featured in our recent virtual exhibit, "This Moment" (August 15-September 15, 2020). You can see all of the featured artworks and learn about the artists in our exhibition Facebook album here.

We are pleased to present interviews with artists Dina Fachin, Lee Pierce. and Jeff Boehlow, Sandra Illian, and Susie Tenzer.

Featured in Art Saint Louis’ “This Moment” virtual exhibit: Dina Fachin, St. Louis, MO. “Thresholds: Been Here Before.” July 2020. Graphite, Lead Block, Ink Marker, Watercolor on Paper, 18”x24” unframed. $450.
Artist’s statement: “Been Here Before” is part of a series of works revolving around the idea of a fluid threshold that moves along with the lives of people who, for centuries, have been facing pandemics, violence, racism, sexual and economic discrimination. I dedicate it to their strength and resilience, especially in this time of human history.”

About the artist: Dina Fachin (b. 1974) was born and raised in Italy. She moved to California in 2001 where she pursued her doctoral work in Native American Studies. She started teaching at Saint Louis University in 2009. She comes from a family where art and music are like homemade bread, always on the table, fresh and nurturing. She started drawing, painting and writing when she was a child, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that she began to make art more consistently. In addition to her fond memories of home and family, her academic background and work in literature, languages and Latin American studies are a true inspiration for her work.

Dina Fachin. “Thresholds: Bird On The Wire.” 2020. Graphite, Lead Block, Ink Marker, Watercolor on Paper, 18”x24”. $450.

Roxanne Phillips: What is it about your preferred medium that you enjoy the most?

Dina Fachin: Watercolors are very versatile and nuanced, and I tend to combine them with other media such as pencil lead and ink pens. I usually work with wet-on-wet areas in my paintings because I feel that with this technique I am not in control of how and where the pigments move on the paper. This whole process, as well as the transparency and delicacy of the media, bring about a sense of freedom and spontaneity that seem boundless at times. I especially like to play with ink on some wet areas, in that besides enhancing the fluidity and movement of the watercolor basis, this added media produces unique and unexpected abstract effects.

Dina Fachin. “Thresholds: The Now.” 2020. Graphite, Ink Marker, Watercolor on Paper, 18”x24”. $450.

RP: Do you think that creativity involves putting your heart and soul into your work? Or is it more like letting your mind flow freely to witness the surprising results of your actions?
DF: For me, it is a combination of both. My mind could never flow freely during the process of making art if I went into it without my heart and soul. I like to paint, draw subjects and ideas that emotionally resonate with me (such as memories, feelings, places); they literally “speak to me” and I have no choice but to respond. As Robert Henri once put it, “the object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”

Dina Fachin's studio.

RP: Do you have a studio routine? Most creative time of day to work? Process of thinking or setting up before you begin making?
DF: I like to wake up very early in the morning, when the house is quiet and before the sun comes out. I usually put some piano music on or just immerse myself in the silence and the crickets' sound of the early hours. I begin my studio routine with some sketches and figure drawing studies before I start or continue working on a painting. I also like to write, so every once in a while I jot down some lines that will help me visualize my thoughts and define the colors, rhythm and lines of my composition.

Dina Fachin. “Figure Drawing Study 2.” 2020. Sepia Conté, Pencil on Paper, 17”x14”. NFS.

Dina Fachin. “Beata solitudo sola beatitudo.” 2020. Sepia Conté, Pencil on Paper, 11”x14”. NFS.

RP: How has Coronavirus changed your art practice?
DF: Given that I am spending more time at home and with family, I have become more disciplined in my art practice; it is, indeed, a “necessary” moment of the day in which I can recollect myself and feel grounded. It very much resembles a meditation session; I use this time to go inside, and trust my intuition. It is not surprising to me that, over the last few months, I have been dedicating most of my attention to the human figure. My new Thresholds series of mixed media paintings in ink, graphite, led and watercolor revolves precisely around “this moment” and the ways in which the human body, soul, as well as our physical, material everyday life intertwine in different ways now, riding the waves of change, hope, and impermanence.

Dina Fachin. “Figure Drawing Study 1.” 2020. Sepia Conté, Pencil on Paper, 14”x11”. NFS.

RP: What motivates you to continue making art?
DF: Imagination. We are all born with it; art is how I nurture it and give it a voice. The entire process, from feeling to conception to realization, brings about a profound and vibrant sense of fulfillment, and inner strength: it makes my life meaningful.

Artist Dina Fachin.

Learn more about Dina Fachin: www.instagram.com/dinafachin4791/ and www.facebook.com/frammentivaia and https://dinascolours.com/

Lee Pierce. “On the Way to the Sun (#400).” 2019. Acrylic on Canvas, 48”x47.75”. $3,329.

About the artist: Art helps me to be more aware of the Earth's natural environments; her wildlife, the cultures of indigenous people, and images of the visible Cosmos. As an Artist, I can express in my Abstract Expressionist paintings my perceptions of these things.
Featured in Art Saint Louis’ “This Moment” exhibit: Lee Pierce, Decatur, IL. “Meditation begins… (#478).” 2020. Acrylic on Canvas, 12”x16” unframed. $439.
Artist’s statement: “I find that Meditation helps me in daily life. I usually sit silently for 30 minutes, beginning at 4:00 am. During "THIS MOMENT" in history (i.e., Coro-virus, etc.) I cannot imagine Life without the benefits of Meditation."

Roxanne Phillips: What is it about the “This Moment” theme that speaks to you?

Lee Pierce
: The “This “Moment theme means a lot to me because my focus at this time in my life (I'm in my late 60's) is to try and live Life "in the moment" and to "face what comes -- moment by moment."

Lee Pierce. “Canyon at Dawn (#74).” 2018. Acrylic, Gouache on Strathmore Bristol Paper, Smooth Surface, 11”x17”.

RP: What are some things that ASL does for the community about which you find inspiration?
LP: I was inspired to become a member of Art Saint Louis because I appreciate "ASL's" Mission -- to provide opportunities for artists to exhibit our artworks and increase the numbers of Viewers who will enjoy and support our efforts.

Lee Pierce. “Earth’s Elements (#451).” 2020. Acrylic on Strathmore Bristol Paper, Vellum Finish, 9”x12”. $265.

RP: How has Art Saint Louis had an impact on your life and/or the lives of artists with whom you've directly worked?
LP: One of my best memories was when a married couple purchased my painting "Serendipity" at the opening reception of the "Serendipity” exhibition in August 2017. Since then, I have enjoyed attending other exhibitions with my husband. Because of Art Saint Louis, I feel that I belong to a community of Artists who live and work within 200 miles of where I live, in central Illinois.

Illinois-based artist Lee Pierce in the studio.

Lee Pierce’s Home Studio.

RP: What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring artist to doing it?
LP: My career path began in 1973 when I graduated from Northwestern University, with a major in Communications (TV & Film). For two decades I worked in Television; and, in 1991, The National Association of Television Arts & Sciences presented an honor to me for my role as film editor of an Emmy Award-winning news report, that aired on a PBS TV station.

Lee Pierce. “Red Maples (#413).” 2019. Acrylic on Grumbacher Watercolor Paper, Cold Pressed, 12”x12”. $416.

In 1995 I graduated from law school and worked for more than a decade as an Attorney. In 2004, I pursued my love of ART by enrolling in several Continuing Education Art classes at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston, MA. I benefited from classes in an Art Colony, exhibiting my paintings in Midwest Art Festivals and two family restaurants. In 2019, my paintings were exhibited in an international Art Fair in Chicago, and my painting “Pueblo” was on display at The Angad Arts Hotel & Grand Tavern, located in the art district of Saint Louis. I have always found that positive images that can be found in ART can be uplifting to the Viewer. 

Lee Pierce. “Earth’s Gems (#110).” 2018. Collage of Acrylic, Handmade Paper, Gouache on Canson Art Board, 16”x20”. $793.

My career path began in Television Programming where I filmed and edited many stories and documentaries. I used images that encouraged audiences to persevere and to help each other in daily life. The work I did as a Film Editor informs my work (today) as an Artist.

Lee Pierce. “Ethereal (#13).” 2018. Acrylic on Strathmore Paper, Linen Finish, 9”x12”. $359.

RP: When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
LP: I first realized that I am a "creative person" when I was about 8 years old. My Mother purchased a mosaic-by-number set -- of a large crane wading in a stream. I thought it was beautiful; so, I stayed up the entire night gluing the beads, baubles, and cord onto the stretched burlap support. When I finished, my Father asked if he could display it in the waiting room of his medical office. I said "sure"; and, "Oh" how nice it was for me to see my mosaic on display at his office for many, many years!

Lee Pierce. “New Age Techno (#334).” 20167. Arcylic on Linen, 9”x12”.

Learn more about Lee Pierce
: https://pierceabstracts.com and https://www.instagram.com/LP4arts/ 


Featured in Art Saint Louis’ “This Moment” virtual exhibit: Jeff Boehlow, Hazelwood, MO. “Between morning or evening Sun.” 2020. Digital Photograph on Metal, 8”x12” unframed. $350.
Aritst’s statement: “I was thinking when entering this exhibit, departure, fulfillment and return a common theme in all Mythologies. “You are one with Creation” you now have the perfect eye to see. "Dawn" will be the perfect i2c title for such a Moment, Fantastic!”
Roxanne Phillips: What is it about "This Moment" theme that speaks to you?
Jeff Boehlow: “This Moment" is the only time we have, that Eternal Moment outside time or space, the only way we can put any measure on this is through the duality  or the pair of opposites
RP: Do you think that creativity involves putting your heart and soul into your work? Or is it more like letting your mind flow freely to witness the surprising results of your actions? 
JB: Actually that is more about being aware of what is going on then capturing "That moment" when it presents itself, The Power of life and it's inflection through the actions of man

Jeff Boehlow. “Skylight.” Photograph. $350.

RP: Do you have a studio routine? Most creative time of day to work? Process of thinking or setting up before you begin making?
JB: This is a process of being and becoming this occurs at anytime and is not under my control I am a conduit for the capture when the moment presents itself it becomes the image

Jeff Boehlow. “The Forest for the Trees.” Acrylic on Strathmore Paper, 26 1/4”x15 1/4”. $1,500. 

RP: When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
JB: This became apparent to me when I got honours in art class I did not know it at the time and took about 20 years to fully realize.

Jeff Boehlow. “Winterbridge.” Photograph. $350.

RP: Why did you choose the medium you work in?
JB: When I first started working I was introduced to painting then I work on sculpture then moved to different media, I finally realized I was not choosing, the medium was choosing me.

Artist Sandra Illian.

About the artist: My penchant for creativity started in Seventh Grade when I learned to sew and realized I could design some 'very cool' clothing. Since then I have developed a lifelong love for all kinds of art and a variety of crafts. After a successful business career, I decided to focus on what I love. I am currently the Creative Arts Coordinator at an Independent Living Retirement Center where I organize classes and teach seniors painting, weaving, pottery, collage making and many other fun crafts.

When I learned Tapestry Weaving five years ago, I felt like this was my "calling". Weaving is a versatile, free-flowing art form that combines design, color and texture. I learned the basics at a class at St. Louis Community College but since then I taught myself many more stitches and how to use embellishments and mementos to highlight and show dimension. I love teaching classes in Tapestry Weaving and other art forms - it is rewarding to see others enjoy art.

Featured in Art Saint Louis’ virtual exhibit, “This Moment”: Sandra Illian, Manchester, MO. “A Path Through the Woods.” 2020. Wool, Acrylic, Cotton Yarns, Wood Hoop, 18”x25”. $185.

Roxanne Phillips: What is it about "This Moment" theme that speaks to you?
Sandra Illian
: “This Moment" reminds me to think about how grateful I am for each and every moment. We spend too much time thinking about the past, the way things could have been and/or making plans for the future. It's important to appreciate the 'here and now'.

Sandra Illian. “Beads 'n More.” 2017. Cotton, Wool, Acrylic Yarn, Beads from Mother’s Bracelet, 9”x21”. NFS.

RP: Describe your artistic process/technique:
SI: When I am inspired with an idea, I usually give it some time to develop while I ponder the best way to depict my chosen idea. Sometimes I research, sometimes I use a picture behind my warp strings to follow along but I always have the beginnings figured out in my mind before I start. After that, it takes on a life of its own, I can change colors and textures as I go while keeping with the theme. 

Sandra Illian. “Chai.” 2018. Acrylic Yarn, Silvertone Beads, 10”x21”. $60.

RP: When was the first time you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
SI: I acknowledged that I was creative in Seventh Grade when I took a Sewing Class.  After learning the basics, I began creating some very different and inventive articles of clothing, like wildly colored fabric insets on my bell bottom jeans and patchwork bolero vests. Later, while living in NYC, I took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Pattern Making and Fashion Drawing. I've used what I learned numerous times over the years in organizing many projects.

Sandra Illian. “Grapevines.” 2018. Wool, Acrylic Yarn, Roving, Beads, 9"x21”. $60.

RP: What is it about your preferred medium that you enjoy most:
SI: I love the way the weaving process is flexible. I can change colors and textures along the way as each weaving seems to evolve into a living work of art. 

Sandra Illian's studio with work in progress.

RP: What kind of music, books and movies do you listen to while making art?
SI: My first choice of background music is usually The Beatles. But I do like variety, I listen to Jazz, Oldies, Blues and sometimes even Frank Sinatra!

Sandra Illian. “Puzzled I.” 2019. Acrylic Yarn, Wood Beads, 8”x17”. $50.

RP: What do you wish someone would ask you about you or your art?
SI: I love when people ask if I teach classes on Tapestry Weaving, which I do. That means they've been inspired by the art I have created and I love being able to pass forward a learning experience and watch a new weaver develop their skills.

Sandra Illian. “Jewel Tone Sunset.” 2018. Cotton, Wool, Acrylic Yarn, Beads, 10”x23”. $65.

Learn more about Sandra Illian
: http://www.picassospalette.com/ and www.facebook.com/picassospaletteetc


Featured in Art Saint Louis’ “This Moment” virtual exhibit: Susie Tenzer, St. Louis, MO. “Melting Memories.” 2020. Colored Pencil on Drafting Film, 7”x9”, framed. $275.
Artist’s statement; “Even when the sweetness of life melts away, we remember the good moments and look forward to happier times.“

Roxanne Phillips: Describe your artistic process/technique.
Susie Tenzer: I start by taking photos. Whether it's an outdoor scene or a still life that I set up, I choose an image with a lot of light and color. Drawing with colored pencils is a lengthy process, building layer upon layer. A 16"x20" drawing, for example, can take several months to complete.

Susie Tenzer. "What's In Between.” 2020. Colored Pencil on Drafting Film, 7”x9”. $275.

RP: What is it about your preferred medium that you enjoy the most?
ST: I draw with Prismacolor colored pencils on drafting film, which is a polyester surface. The film I use is transparent, so I can draw on both sides. This creates vibrant, rich colors. Colored pencils allow me to create crisp photorealistic images, which I enjoy.

Susie Tenzer."Ice Cream For Breakfast.” Colored Pencil on Drafting Film, 7”x9”. $275.

Susie Tenzer's studio space.

RP: Describe your studio space – size, location, set up, what qualities must it have, what would you change?
ST: My home studio has a large window with plenty of light and space. I draw on a tilted drafting table. I can't live without my ergonomic chair, natural daylight light and magnifier.   

St. Louis artist Susie Tenzer.

Susie Tenzer."Get In Line.” 2020. Colored Pencil on Drafting Film, 7”x9”. $275

RP: Do you have a studio routine? Most creative time of day to work? Process of thinking or setting up before you begin making?
ST: I work in my studio everyday, for at least 8 hours. I begin each drawing by making color samples on a separate piece of drafting film, listing the colors I'll use.   

Susie Tenzer."Split Decision. 2020. Colored Pencil on Drafting Film, 7”x9”. $275

RP: What kind of music, books, and movies do you listen to while making art, if any?
ST: I listen to audio books or podcasts while I work and I often get "lost in the zone." It's a great time to tune in to my favorite cooking shows or an audio book for my book club.   

Susie Tenzer."Landslide.” 2020. Colored Pencil on Drafting Film, 7”x9”. $275

Note: The artworks featured here are drawings that are supposed to part of an exhibition of Susie's works to be presented at Serendipity Ice Cream shop - the show is currently on-hold for now because of the virus.

Susie Tenzer."Fitz’s.” 2020. Colored Pencil on Drafting Film, 7”x9”. $275

Learn more about Susie Tenzer
: www.susietenzer.com and www.instagram.com/susietenzer/ and www.facebook.com/SusieTenzerArt

Roxanne Phillips is an artist and art educator based in St. Louis since 2001. She earned a MFA in Printmaking & Drawing from Washington University in St. Louis and BFA in Painting & Drawing from University of North Texas. Roxanne is an adjunct art instructor at Washington University in St. Louis and has worked with Art Saint Louis since 2017 as Administrative Assistant and Installer. From 2018-2020 she was Master Printer for Pele Prints. Her works have been featured in numerous exhibitions throughout the St. Louis region including at Art Saint Louis, Crossroads Art Studio & Gallery, and St. Louis Artists’ Guild. Her work is currently available at Union Studio in St. Louis. She has served as exhibit Juror for several regional exhibits & art fairs. Roxanne is past Board member of St. Louis Women’s Caucus for Art.