Artist Mary Segal opens her new rental studios

A dream Sebastian painter, printmaker and art teacher Mary SegaI has had for years is soon to become reality, thanks in no small measure to her children, grandchildren and a significant supply of elbow grease.

Together, during an intense couple of weeks in May, the family has converted the vacant half of the duplex Segal owns into an “all art space,” with exhibition area, printmaking studio and two rental studios, all expected to be available for students and fellow artists within the next month or so.

Tucked away in a quaint, wooded and artist-friendly Roseland neighborhood, which Segal calls “a little art hotspot,” the property has been her home for 20 years and is spacious and airy, inside and out, with a big back yard, sunny screened-in porch and good light.

When Segal at last felt the time was right to take the plunge with the necessary remodeling, she enlisted the aid of her family members, who gladly journeyed to Roseland to help: daughter Gurubani Khalsa from Sombrillo, NM, (adult) grandchildren Amrita Khalsa and Guru Khalsa from Portland, OR, daughter Abbie Argersinger from Austin, TX, and son Ben Riker from Westlake Village, CA.

Arriving Friday, May 9, the family spent the evening “just hanging out,” said Amrita. “It was like a family reunion,” added her mom, Gurubani. “We started the work Saturday,” said Segal. “It was a crazy pace.”

Armed with mops, pails, brooms, rags and scrub brushes, the three-generation crew spent the first few days cleaning. “There was a LOT of cleaning to do,” says Segal, with nods from Amrita and Guru.

Extensive painting followed, and the drab rooms were transformed into clean, bright spaces with dark gray floors, dove gray walls, doors of slightly deeper gray and, in the front “gallery/exhibition” room, handsome track lighting perfect for enhancing art displays. “The guys did the lights,” Segal said with pride, as Guru pointed out that Ben is an electrical engineer.

The kitchen has been transformed into Segal’s new printmaking studio, where her impressive Conrad Etching Press takes the spotlight. The ample cabinets will be used to store all the accouterments of artistic pursuits: various inks, rags, papers, solvents, brayers, rollers and printing plates.

“I don’t use toxic materials anymore,” she points out, remembering the days when many artists’ chemicals, acid baths and paints were “quite toxic.”

“I will be conducting printmaking classes and workshops, and will make the etching press available for individual use by experienced printmakers, and (indoors and out) will host exhibits (of her work and others) and other gatherings from time to time.”

The bedrooms have become rental studios, one small, one larger, both with light from windows on two sides, and with big closets.

“The rental studios can also be used as teaching and exhibiting venues,” Segal says. She names several fellow artists who live nearby, and says there is a Buddhist meditation center just down the road, as well. “There is a special energy in this area.”

Segal’s pleasant, easy-going demeanor complements her strong artistic background, education and experience. Although she works in many media, printmaking is her special love, and she’s been printmaking since college. She attended Brown University in Providence and also studied at the nearby, prominent Rhode Island School of Design (or Riz-Dee), and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany. At the Laguna Beach College of Art, Laguna Beach, CA, she studied under mentor and teacher Paul Darrow, “who is still producing and exhibiting his art,” she says with admiration, “well into his 90s.”

 The diversity of her artistic pursuits makes it challenging to briefly and concisely answer the question, “What kind of art do you do?”

“I am interested in process and work in a variety of techniques and media. Recently I have been incorporating real flowers in my acrylic paintings. I make acrylic skins and lifts, transferred images, altered photographs and altered books; On the press I make monotypes, etchings and drypoints, collagraphs, and mixed media prints.”

A question that is easy to answer, however, is “Where do you get your ideas?”

“Ideas are everywhere,” she says, adding that inspiration can and does come anytime, anywhere, often unexpected.

Segal has journaled extensively, as well, transforming her desk calendars with art and captions. For one project, in which she journaled every day for five years, she won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and her work, “The Journal Drawings,” was exhibited in many venues, including the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

“It was a time of life change. Journaling helped me to clarify, to permit myself to do art. I still journal.”

During the cooler months, she loves to work in her vegetable garden. Then, in the heat of the summer, “when the plants fall over, it is a good art-producing time for me.” She laughs about her mixed success with staying on a strict, disciplined schedule – two hours a day in the garden, two hours in the studio. Since coming to the area, Segal has taught extensively at Vero Beach’s Museum of Art and will continue to teach, much more, at last, in her own studio setting.

Standing in the center of one of the still empty studios, she says with great pleasure, “I expect the space to be well-used and to become a lively arts center here in Roseland.”

For more information: marysegal@yahoo.com or 772- 589-7759.

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