Linda Sirow, Artist and Teacher
Linda Sirow, a city-based artist who summers in East Hampton, has found an ideal gallery for her new show. The exhibit Art Meets Fashion will be displayed in Magaschoni, the 22-year old upscale women’s clothing company that defines its elegant sportswear and knitwear collections with adjectives that could easily apply to Sirow’s colorful, often subtly hued floral and semi-abstract oil and encaustic designs. On exhibit in two of the company’s stores — in Southampton and East Hampton — Sirow’s work in the larger, East Hampton venue, nicely complements Magaschoni’s textured line and speaks to the intelligent conversation between Sirow and Magaschoni CEO Monica Belag Forman about attractive layout, especially regarding the placement of smaller works near apparel with similar colors and tactile appeal.
A shelf of a single flower paintings, each streaked with thin gouge lines made with a razor, the 10-inch-by10-inch squares, just called Simple, sit above newly arrived, like-colored cashmere sweaters. Smaller works prevail, floral designs done in encaustic, reflecting Sirow’s conversion a few years ago to this “alternative” way of working. She has not, however, given up oils and indeed, in the future, she might well find a way to accommodate both within the same painting.
Encaustic, also known as hot wax painting, constituted for Sirow an important shift in her oeuvre because of what she felt it allowed her to do with layering. An apparently uncomplicated design of a flower against a contrasting background may actually be the result of 20 layers, creating finally a “product that is luscious,” she says. Though she has taken various workshops devoted to encaustic, Sirow describes herself as basically “self-taught.” She enjoys learning how much she can, or wants to, control melted wax.
Encaustics typically involve heated beeswax, to which pigment has been added, and applying the mixture to canvas. Sirow prefers wood. Some paintings also show that she has affixed objects to the heated surface, as in the series “Quiet,” where what seem to be raised silver washers and gold nail heads create a design with a three-dimensional look.
Because working with encaustic can be challenging due to the heat, Sirow does not introduce the technique to her middle school youngsters at Dalton, where she has been teaching all manner of art (drawing, ceramics, printmaking, painting, sculpture) for close to 15 years. Working with encaustic, though, for all the caution that must be exercised, is nonetheless “safer” than working in oil because there are no toxic materials like turpentine. Though encaustic is for Sirow relatively new, it amuses her to think that “things come back” in the sense that she was ready for heated wax when she was a child because she loved to melt down crayons.
Most of the 27 works on exhibit in East Hampton bear regional or natural-world titles such as “Sag Harbor,” “The Noyak Stretch,” or “Fauna Reflection,” with a large oil painting of pastel-like colored flowers gently brushed out from their center. Another large oil painting, “Venetia” and the window display, “Azure” show Sirow’s penchant for lilac, blue, mauve. One of the pleasing surprises of the oils is how, in close up, they seem to exhibit fluid floral patterns, but from a distance compose themselves into clusters. It’s not all pastel colors, though, as the 12-inch-by-12-inch series “Summer Storm” and “Spinning” reveal, this last group of small puff balls, in dramatic color. One wonders if down the line there might be explicit textile design. Magaschoni take note.
N.B. The artist and store have arranged for 10 percent of the proceeds from sales to benefit the Child Mind Institute, a mental health care facility for children and teens, with a clinical program focusing on psychiatric and learning disorders.
In East Hampton, Magaschoni is at 2 Newton Lane; in Southampton, at 53C Jobs Lane. Pieces in the East Hampton store will remain on view through Labor Day. #
For further information on the artist visit www.Lindasirow.com. For information on the Child Mind Institute visit www.childmind.org