A new exhibit, “Two the Point” Pairs Works by Joel Spector and Banjie Getsinger Nicholas At Gregory James Gallery on 93 Park Lane Rd. in New Milford is running through June 7. This show brings together two established local artists who share a passion for the medieval medium of silverpoint. Though tied together by their interest in this delicate and unforgiving art form, and the fact that they both chose to make their home in Litchfield County, the artists have disparate focal points for their work and are not limited to the medium.
Banjie Getsinger Nicholas has lived most of her life in rural northwest Connecticut, drawing inspiration from the natural landscape that surrounds her. Her art is based on her observation of birds, plants and insects and informed by her work as a licensed wild bird rehabilitator for 20 years.
In 2012, she published “Silver Linings,” a beginner’s guide to silverpoint, which requires the artist to draw a thin sterling silver wire held in a stylus across a ground that is abrasive enough to remove and hold small amounts of the silver. Nicholas prefers to work with natural materials and creates her silverpoint drawings and egg tempera paintings on traditional gesso panel, which is composed of marble dust and rabbit skin glue sanded to smooth finish. This ground has been used by egg tempera painters since the 12th century and is also ideal for silverpoint. In her book, she noted the delicate strokes produced when working in silverpoint reveal the hand of the artist. The intimacy and detail of the medium draw the viewer closer.
Joel Spector is an award-winning portraitist whose subjects range from close family and friends to CEOs and celebrities who have commissioned his work. Born in Havana, Cuba, he arrived in the United States at the age of 12 with his sister, Dorana. The two settled in New York City with an aunt and were later joined by their parents, who had manufactured women’s apparel in Cuba.
Spector knew from an early age that he wanted to be an illustrator. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and attended the Art Students League. Before he even finished his degree, he found work as an illustrator for Women’s Wear Daily, the Daily News Record and other trade journals. He also began freelancing as an illustrator for department stores and fashion designers, including Christian Dior Menswear.
While working on an advertising campaign for Bill Blass Menswear, he met his wife, Rowena, a menswear designer. The couple moved from New York to New Milford in 1990 and raised four children there. When the fashion industry shifted from illustration to photography, Spector made the natural progression to general illustrator and enjoyed a successful freelance career. In 2008, he turned his attention to portraiture. He studied under Aaron Shikler, who is perhaps best known for his iconic White House portrait of President John F. Kennedy.
A few years ago, he began working in silverpoint, which he sometimes combines with watercolor or pastel to add a tint of color to a subject’s lips, cheeks or eyes. An exacting art form, silverpoint demands confidence, especially if one is sketching a live subject, as Spector does.
The Gregory James Gallery is located at 93 Park Lane Road (Route 202) in New Milford, about 100 feet from the intersection of Route 109. For more information, please call (860) 354-3436 or visit www.gregoryjamesgallery.com. For area information www.litchfieldhills.com