Meet Westchester's Art Stars
Explore the work of seven of the county’s most talented visual artists.
BY PAUL ADLER
Thomas Doyle doesn’t exactly follow the rules when it comes to creativity. The Katonah-based sculptor works on a far smaller scale and with a far stranger subject matter than many others.
“I sculpt in miniature, using a mix of art, construction, and modeling materials to create small narrative scenes, similar in form to dioramas,” explains Doyle. “The subject matter tends to be a bit ambiguous, surreal, and, hopefully, darkly funny.”
Doyle’s small, surreal scenes of suburban life have been featured in exhibitions stretching from Seattle to Singapore, but they have a home here, as well. “In 2016, I had a solo exhibition at the Hudson River Museum, titled If the Creek Don’t Rise,” says Doyle, who is the recipient of a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. “For that exhibition, I created a 15-foot-long model of a river that snaked across the floor.”
After living in California, Michigan, and New York City, Doyle found his ideal creative space in Katonah. “I have a studio in my home that I totally renovated a few years ago,” he says. “My work often depicts suburban homes and locations, so being in this environment on a daily basis has contributed quite a bit.”
Arnie Kastenbaum and his lauded photography have both altered and been altered by our county.
“Moving to Westchester in my early 40s led to a change in subject matter and style,” says Kastenbaum. “Shortly after moving to the county, I connected with others interested in photography and joined The Ground Glass, a Westchester-based association of fine-art photographers that has now partnered with The Rye Arts Center.”
Since he entered the local-arts scene, Kastenbaum has participated in numerous shows in Westchester galleries, including the Westchester Biennial, the Armonk Outdoor Art Show, and at ArtsWestchester. “I am currently teaching a photography course at SUNY Purchase and have taught at the Mamaroneck Center for Continuing Education,” says Kastenbaum. “The community connection has spurred me on to continue to produce work and share both my work and experiences with fellow county residents.”
Before Christine Aaron received accolades for her inventive installations, she had a long-running occupation completely unconnected to art. “Art is actually a second career. I have a master’s in social work and was a practicing social worker for years,” says Aaron. “But I’ve always been interested in and enjoyed art, and I’ve always had original art in my home.”
The Larchmont-based artist was inspired to change her vocation after a watercolor class at the Rye Arts Center. “Within a couple of years, I was involved in mixed media, and I realized that creating art was something that challenged and fed me on both an intellectual and emotional level.”
Aaron, who works out of a studio in Port Chester, says she is particularly interested in memory and how people recall events differently. Her mixed-media work tackling these subjects, The Memory Project, was funded by ArtsWestchester and can be seen at the Mamaroneck Artist Guild.
Despite a lengthy artistic career, Mitch Goldberg’s mixed-media pieces are still evolving. “I am constantly trying to improve the graphic-design qualities of my work,” shares Goldberg. “Right now, I’m concerned with creating pieces with strong abstract designs when seen from a distance, which have lots of details that are revealed only as the viewer moves toward the work.”
Goldberg, who has an upcoming show at Upstream Gallery in Hastings-on-Hudson, says his art is also becoming more introspective and increasingly focuses on issues concerning anxiety about body image and one’s sense of self. “I use a lot of classic-male-physique photography for this,” he adds.
“I am always impressed by how many highly talented people live and work here,” says the Dobbs Ferry-based artist. “My mother still lives in the Scarsdale home that my parents bought in 1960. Westchester is very deep in my roots.”
Calligrapher & Painter
Mansheng Wang’s love of art stretches back to his very earliest days coping with a difficult childhood.
“I grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a time when life was hard, pressured, and grim,” says Wang. “Art was a refuge, a place of comfort and beauty, a way to release anger, sadness, or pressure. Artwork allowed me to forget the world around me and to find some peace.”
As a product of this abiding passion, Wang developed a singular style that fuses the tenants of Chinese calligraphy with an eye toward contemporary abstract art. Wang’s works have been exhibited in both the United States and China, in such institutions as the Beijing Art Museum and The Baltimore Museum of Art.
When Wang moved from Shanghai to Dobbs Ferry in 1996, he was instantly inspired by his new surroundings. “I fell in love with the Hudson region immediately,” he says. “I continued to paint the Hudson for more than 10 years and started using the plumes from reeds in the Hudson River as brushes to paint large-scale landscapes.”
Ceramicist & Sculptor
Although it might seem unlikely, ceramics was not initially Leigh Mickelson’s medium of choice.
LURE (digitalist) cone 6, Porcelain, glaze, steel base, 12" x 12" x 55"
“For one of my school’s art requirements, I had to take either sculpture or ceramics,” says Mickelson, executive director of Port Chester's Clay Art Center. “I wanted to take sculpture, but it was full, so I regrettably signed up for ceramics. It was there I found my medium. I fell instantly in love with clay. It was as if I found out that I speak a whole other language and just didn’t realize it before.”
Since her time in college, plants and other biological forms have become Mickelson’s subject matter of choice. “I use plants as a metaphor to express human emotions and intentions, and I am fascinated by how nature repeats itself in form and in behavior, across species,” she says.
Mickelson’s work will be on show later this year at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. “Each artist was asked to create a set of bookends, based on their typical working style,” Mickelson says of the exhibit. “I am also excited about an upcoming two-week residency at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana.”
For painter Antoinette Wysocki, landing in Pleasantville after an international existence was a bit of a culture shock. “I had never stepped foot into Westchester before walking in the door of the house we purchased,” she says. “I was so afraid of the quiet at first.”
Wysocki ended up finding the home-away-from-home she was looking for at the ArtsWestchester gallery in White Plains. “A beautiful building, a great studio space, and a nice community of artists under the roof of an organization dedicated to the arts of Westchester. I couldn’t have wished for a better spot,” she shares.
Wysocki, who is currently prepping for an April exhibition at Manhattan’s Blank Space Gallery as well as a collaboration with LA-based clothing brand FAIRPLAY, creates abstract paintings “balanced with details of organic imagery and evocative symbols and text, to address overall subjective translation and perception while addressing impediments of memory association.”