When considering a title or name for this collection I asked myself what is the true meaning of collaboration and more than that, what is the guiding core principal? The answer was simple, openness, readiness, and willingness are at the core of an artist’s soul and it is through those attributes the muse is allowed in and where art is born and shared with the world.
I have always been an admirer of dance as an art form and being married to a dancer I understand the level of commitment it requires to maintain and develop the craft as expressed through the human body. As I continue my evolution as a painter I had reached a point where making work that primarily focused on still life subject matter seemed as though I wasn’t thinking big enough or challenging myself enough. To that end, the muse stepped in and the spark of inspiration was lit to illuminate the idea of showcasing RCB dancers in my work, and in doing so, highlighting Rochester’s wonderful natural, architectural and historical beauty.
Working with the RCB dancers and getting to know their individual personalities has been such a gift. I first began by watching company class prior to beginning any of the paintings and it was at that point that I began to develop scenes in my mind and cast the dancers in roles that their energy would work best with. The interesting thing is that at that point I hadn’t even spoken to any of them and was relying solely on my intuition as to who could be a partner and fellow artist to help me bring the muse to life. In each instance the dancer that I chose to work with for that setting was the perfect fit and they all brought such openness to really ‘go there’ and try new things, to get into the soul of the moment and allow that to guide them through the space.
Each time we arrived at a location for a shoot that would ultimately become the painting I would say to them “this is as much about you as it is about me, this is collaboration, if you feel something, do it”. A perfect example of this was working with Jessie Tretter at the gardens of The George Eastman House. Early on artistic director, Jamey Leverett, had shown me two stunning Japanese Kimono’s in the costume shop. Both were owned by Draper Center founder Timothy Draper and very different since one is scarlet red and the other soft white. I knew instantly they needed to be highlighted in the work and Jessie popped into my mind to be the dancer to help bring that to reality. At first it was more about her beauty with her dark hair, striking blue eyes and flawless skin but as we worked together it became deeper and more connected to internal beauty. She wore the Kimono like a queen and in the shadow of the grand Eastman House the vibrant scarlet red refused to be eclipsed and its energy combined with the muse in all of us made for total harmony.
This has happened with all the dancers in all the locations we have worked in and as we continue together with still having several ideas brewing for more paintings I look forward to discover what they, the muse and myself have to say.
To add another layer of excitement, the entire process of making this collection is being filmed by Rochester based film maker Brian Pienkoski of Pienkoski Storyteller.
Click on the Vimeo link to watch the trailer for the MUSE film http://vimeo.com/78695634#
“Brian continually shares how thankful he is that we are willing to do anything in order to help get that one perfect shot for him to paint. To tell you the truth, he provokes us to explore and give him options! He is has an eagerness that is contagious and I feel so lucky to be a part of this collaboration process. Brian Pienkoski is the man in the background quietly capturing everything. He has that same passion for this project that we all do and it is truly amazing to see so many different art forms are melding together.”-Brette Benedict
“I just want to say how amazing it is to be a part of this project. The photographs that Brian takes of you bring out something different that we don’t necessarily see in ourselves. And both Brian’s are such fantastic people that you feel relaxed and have a lot of fun working with them.” –Jessie Tretter
Please keep checking back at brianoneillstudio.com as the show unfolds and images are added as they are made leading up to his collection launch on 4.4.14.