Friday, May 10, 2013

Josette Urso

Josette Urso is a Brooklyn based artist who has been invited to come down for a residency at the Maitland Art Center.  Her residency runs from April 28 through June 2nd. This residency program has been resurrected after about a 30 year hiatus. lt was part of J. Andre Smith's vision to bring accomplished artists to Florida where they could recharge their creative batteries. Past artists of national prominence,  who were residents here included Milton Avery, Ralston Crawford, Doris Lee, Boris Margo and Teng Chiu.

Josette offered a presentation of her work in the Germaine Marvel Building on the Maitland Art Center Campus. I was one of the first people to arrive. I had been in contact with Josette because I hoped to sketch her at work and learn about her process. This talk was a perfect way to truly meet the artist. She talks with passion and excitement about her art which is accomplished and branches in multiple directions. What was most exciting was that her work has a sense of play as she experiments in various mediums.

Some of the earliest work was collage arranged in circles. Intricate images inhabited tiny squares within the over all design. They were like Madella's or kaleidoscopes with vibrant color. She collects UPC codes and these linear patterns adorned one of the circular motifs. The image she was working on was huge and she ran out of UPC codes. Most people go to their neighbors perhaps for a cup of sugar but she turned to her neighbors for codes.

When she showed her Urban drawings, I was inspired. One sketch was of a Bushwick building rooftop with a flock of pigeons moving as a dark mass above the building. She thought the pigeons would always be there but the coup was closed down. The drawing was done with a child's pen she had purchased in Taiwan. The ink is beginning to fade along with the inspiring memory of the flock. She would visit other artist's studios and sketch the amazing views.

Her paintings border on the abstract yet are grounded in direct observation. She likes to get lost in the process moving around the page and is surprised when it all lines up. One action always leads to another. Her paintings pose questions not offering just answers. Different tools inspire different images. An ink sketch can't be erased yet an oil painting can be kept in a constant state of flux. Here in Maitland she is working plein air getting her inspirations from the gardens around the museum. She admitted that the Florida sun had tapped her energy. Someone needs to bring this woman a big straw wide brimmed hat.

On Saturday, May 11, from 10 AM to 1 PM,the Art and History Museum will hold an official Plein Air Paint Day with Josette Urso. Painters from around Central Florida are encouraged to come and create alongside Urso. Guests will discover the tools and techniques Urso uses to create her widely-collected paintings, as they enjoy the beauty of the A&H’s Maitland Art Center campus. This program is FREE and the public is encouraged to attend.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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