04.12 Up & Coming Local Artists

One of the best parts about living in Worcester County is being able to take advantage of the increasingly vibrant and eclectic arts scene. We are lucky enough to have an impressive number of talented, established artists ~ from photographers to painters to sculptors to the more avant-garde ~ whose work appears in galleries and publications, on websites, and in outdoor venues and events. Our city is greatly enriched by their work…and it is they who have set the stage for the next generation of young artists who are busily creating ~ in their own unique styles and with their own unique methods ~ new art that brings fresh perspective and energy to the scene. We are happy to introduce you to ten up and coming artists whose work ranges from huge installation pieces to drawings of fictional creatures to photographs designed to provoke serious thought ~ and many other forms in between; in essence, we’re giving you a sneak peek into the future of Worcester County’s art scene…Enjoy!

Installation Sculptor Amanda Kidd-Schall

By Katey Khaos

They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but what about art? For Amanda, her artwork is worth a thousand looks, as the meaning of a piece might not be obvious upon first glance ~ and people’s reactions might change from one moment to the next. The more times someone views her work, she hopes, the more layers of meaning become apparent.

Amanda’s art revolves primarily around sculptures (although she does create jewelry, sometimes out of unexpected materials, as well). Her basic materials for creating her pieces are simple ~ wood, chicken wire, and fabric. However, the meaning behind her work is much more complex.

“Story telling is my subject. Installation allows me to physically engage with the process of story-telling. I can set up the setting of the story with sculpture, and I can give a hint about the plot with poetic titles, and then I can see how the audience interacts with the installation and they become the characters. Most recently my stories are about my childhood experiences, but my current work tells stories about gender and birth,” Amanda explains.

To give you an example of how her pieces go far beyond looks, take one of Amanda’s favorite pieces, “This is the tent I never built with my dad.” Says Amanda, “I used red oak because there was a red oak tree in my front yard as a child, and my dad made up stories about the tree when I was young. The canvas drop cloth chosen for the covering would have been the materials my dad and I would have used if we’d made the tent.”

If you’d like to commission Amanda, or would like to find out more information about her and her work, you can write to her at Amanda@KiddSchall.com or visit her websites: www.amandakiddschall.com and www.etsy.com/shop/SeamsAndStuff.

(top) Amanda Kidd Schall Modeling her Ice Queen Headress | Photos © Manda Rose / Time Obscured Photography
(bottom) This is the tent I never built with my dad | Photos © Greg Opperman / ShotInWorcester.com

Jewelry Designer Amanda Szczypien

By Katey Khaos

Everyone has that one outfit sitting in her closet that she wished she had matching jewelry to accessorize with ~ something more than just a silver necklace or a pair of diamond earrings.

Amanda has created a stylish solution to every girl’s dilemma ~ Practically Magic Sparking Designs. Based out of Webster, MA, PMSD focuses on creating practical and glam pieces for every occasion.

Although Amanda does not have a formal art background, looking at her exceptional pieces, you’d never know it. She’s been designing jewelry as a hobby for over six years, and she’s always researching and teaching herself new techniques in jewelry design.

Amanda’s work combines various types of mixed media ~ natural stones, crystals, glass beads ~ to create one-of-a-kind pieces.“[When creating pieces] I usually pick one natural product (like stones, beads) and find matching additional beads to go with it. I try to keep my pieces seasonal, as far as the colors and the themes go,” she says.

She’s also created her own line of jewelry which she calls her “Carnival line.” This collection of jewelry combines a large number of beads of all different sizes, shapes and colors into one piece. The result? An array of gorgeous colors which, even from a distance, conjure up the joyous hustle and bustle of a carnival.

“I love what I do! That’s really it. I love what I do. I feel like every piece I do is a piece of me. A color, a piece…part of me is reflected in each piece I create,” Amanda shares.

If you’d like to browse Amanda’s work and purchase that perfect accessory you’ve been needing for your wardrobe, please visit www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003519055173 (or just search Amanda Szczypien!).

All pieces are mixed beads, stones, etc.; All untitled.

April Kennedy: Acrylics,  Shadowboxes, and Collage

By Katey Khaos

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue ~ that’s the simplest way to describe April Kennedy’s unique art style.

It’s hard to narrow April’s work down to a “category” or “genre” ~ and that’s a good thing. Nearly everything has a label these days, so why try to categorize something that is meant to be so expressive and uninhibited?

Her pieces range from abstract paintings to multimedia shadowboxes to paper collage. She mixes various mediums including acrylic paint and gel, decorative and handmade paper, collage materials, and found antiques. “I love everything that is old, so I often have a Victorian, Gothic or so called ‘creepy’ aura to my work,” April admits.

One reason April’s art style is so unpredictable is the method she chooses when creating a new piece.  “I often start painting, simply based on a color I like, and see where the next few steps take me … I just crank some inspirational music and sit in my studio until something starts working out of me,” April explains.”

With her pieces being so unique, it must be easy to pick a favorite, right? Not quite, says April. “It’s hard to choose a favorite piece because (for fear of sounding pretentious) the process is the best part. I especially like creating things as gifts for people because the meaning of the entire piece is derived from that person and how I feel about them.”

To find out more about April’s art, toss her a line at aprillynnart@gmail.com or stop by C.C. Lowell here in Worcester and say hi while she’s at work!

(top) April Kennedy
(bottom) The Rook ~ multimedia shadowbox

Installation Artist Amy Archambault

By Tine Roycroft

For some of us, our “Ah-Ha!” moment arrives when we least expect it. Suddenly, while waiting for a traffic light to turn green, we realize that we’ve always wanted to sail around the world or go back to school. Amy Archambault, an installation artist, had her moment while strapped to a wall at a studio at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was earning her Master’s degree.

“I had started with painting but I needed something more athletic,” Archambault, 26, remembers. “I really found it necessary to find some sort of physicality that my art was lacking. Then I had a breakthrough as I was working on piece in which an architectural landscape was being taken over by a natural disaster. Half of the painting was made while I was in control, and the other half was made while I was stuck to a wall, held there by cords.”

While her fellow students were getting a kick out of her efforts, Archambault began attaching things to the canvas and manipulating them. Finally, she questioned whether she even needed an image.

“It really became more about structure and action,” she says.

And thus her interest in installation art was born.

After graduation, Archambault moved to Worcester and found herself in a home that had a great site for the installation she is currently working on ~ a falling-apart garage that had been untouched and unloved for a long time.

“I’ve always enjoyed bringing something that is very lively and colorful to a space where activity has been lacking and dust is settling on the spaces,” she explains. “And I always think about what the site does for the piece and what it does for the person who is interacting with the piece.”

According to Archambault, the installation is inspired by the structure of an attic ladder. The ladder twists and turns throughout the space. She is also incorporating objects that one would find in an attic, as well as the actual structural aspects of an attic, like insulation.

When she’s not deep involved in building and creating entirely different environments, Archambault manages to keep herself busy. At this time, she is a Studio Coordinator at College of the Holy Cross.

“I’m thrilled to be there,” Archambault says. “I’m also the lecturer of a couple of drawing courses this year. I’m really excited to get my foot in the door in terms of teaching. It’s what I want to do.”

Archambault is also excitedly awaiting opportunities to bring her installation art out into various sites in the Worcester community.

For more info on her work, go to AmyArchambault.com.

(top)  Suspensions: Self-Portrait
(bottom)  Suspensions: Site D (Installation) (2011)


Illustrator Dave Denton

By Katey Khaos

Who says monsters have to be reserved solely for nightmares and Halloween? Dave certainly disagrees ~ he creates the things that go bump in the night all year round!

Dave is currently studying Game Design at Becker College here in Worcester. When he’s not drafting up his next game concept, he scribbling away in his sketchbook, drawing creatures that most could only conjure up in their worst nightmares. His weapons of choice include pencils, inking pens, colored pencils and ~ more recently ~ a Wacom Intuos4 tablet.

“I’ve been working at this artsy stuff more in-depth since October 2010,” he says, “after a friend gave me some motivation.” Since then, Dave’s done quite a bit of drawing ~  whether it’s sitting down with an idea in mind or just letting new ideas spill onto the paper. “It’s about getting as much down on paper as possible,” Dave explains.

How does Dave come up with these awesome ideas? “New ideas just pop into my head. Sometimes I might come across a picture in a book or a gallery and find I would like to try some concepts from it, but I always seem to alter the initial idea entirely when sketching,” Dave says.

To find out more about Dave’s work, feel free to shoot him a message on Facebook at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1432613443 or e-mail him at ScribblesDenton@gmail.com.

(top) Yikurok ~ pencil, colored pencil & ink
(bottom) Pinbizir ~ pencil & ink

Painter Drake Smith

By Tine Roycroft

For much of his life, Drake Smith carried with him an emptiness that he could never fill. He had always taken great pride in being a father, but in quiet, self-reflective moments, Smith couldn’t help but feel that something important was missing.

After years of wandering and wondering, Smith picked up a brush and, quite by mistake, found his heart’s calling in painting art that he defines as divine surrealism.

“I was remodeling my house.” Smith says, “And I came to the bathroom. I wanted to paint a really dark star scene and eventually I decided on creating a galaxy. I had some old craft paints in my basement so I used them and I was really enjoying it, but it still wasn’t how I wanted it. I went to Wal-Mart and bought canvas boards and tried to transfer a picture I found online of a galaxy, down on canvas.”

He has painted each day since then and his work has taken on a deep and spiritual beauty that is twisted and mystifying.

“I am really fascinated by things with spiritual aspects ~ trying to put down on canvas the incredible connections between space and gods and humans,” he says.

Smith’s father was an art teacher, his brother received a degree in fine arts from Boston University and he says he was always inspired by the works of artists like Salvador Dali, but Smith himself was never drawn to that specific form of artistic expression before. He’d never taken any courses and jokes that even today he can’t draw a straight line. But determined to paint, this Marlborough resident didn’t concentrate on the obstacles in his way.

“I thought to myself that when humans as a species were evolving, they had no idea about how to do artwork either,” Smith says. “My first work was very primal and I love how it came out. My earliest works are sheer creativity because I didn’t know how to really do anything.”

Today, Smith creates incredible surreal scenes and enjoys working with the female form. He made a pact with himself in the beginning of 2012 that he would really perfect his ability to capture faces and bodies; he has a number of friends who model and participate in photo shoots that he then uses as a basis for his winged devil figures, angelic female creations, and many other fanciful and mythological beings.

“In the future, I see myself literally doing full portraits that look as real as photographs but having surreal settings,” Smith says. “And I’m getting there.”

For more info on Drake Smith’s art, go to divinesurreality.com.

(top) Between Heaven and Earth / There are Angels Amongst Us 2/ 2012 – 30×40 – Acrylic on Canvas
(bottom) What are little girls made of? / On being human – 24×48 acrylic on canvas March 2012.

Tattoo Artist Gerry Belmore

By Tine Roycroft

When you make the decision to get a tattoo, you pray that you choose the right artist to tackle the job. And if you visit Gerry Bellmore, tattoo artist extraordinaire at Dark World Gallery, you know you’ll be in good hands.

Bellmore, 28, has been involved in art for as long as he can remember. Inspired first by his mother, who is an acrylic painter, he took a number of private art lessons throughout the years and studied art at the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA. It was there that he started doing some of the amazing graffiti that inspired his later work.

“There was a wall available at Montserrat for spray painting,” remembers Bellmore. “And I was really inspired by artist Shepard Fairey. I took some of the aspects of graffiti ~ vibrant colors, for example ~ and applied it to my fine art.”

Bellmore eventually joined the team at Dark World Gallery and now tattoos and helps coordinate gallery shows there.

“I’m working on a black and gray sleeve right now with a lot of urban-type buildings. It’s like a kung-fu battle scene and there’s a ton of detail in it,” says Bellmore.

Typically, clients will come into the shop with a concept of what they’d like their tattoo to look like. They’ll work with Bellmore to fine-tune it. Then he’ll draw out a rough sketch, never stopping until it’s exactly what the client wants.

Bellmore is ready to accept the future with open arms. He loves the tattoo shop and wants to continue his work there, along with concentrating on his own art work and continuing to do solo shows. And if there are a few trips tossed in the mix, he won’t mind.

“I’m just hoping to travel and keep doing my thing and share my art with everybody in the world,” he says.

To see more of Bellmore’s art, go to www.facebook.com/pages/Art-by-Gerald-Bellmore/154468624946

(top) Chinese take out
(bottom) Wortown Bombshell – Erica

Nostalgic Artist Keenan Cassidy

By Alex Kantarelis

Most artists hope to get their work seen by people.  They hope they can maybe get featured in a gallery or (gasp) even have someone buy one of their pieces.  Keenan Cassidy is not most artists.  Art is in his blood, and has been since he was young.  And by young, I mean, literally since he was a child.  “[Art] came naturally to me.  I got into it at a young age, and I was obsessed with art class when I was in school,” he said.  The difference between him and most of your standard wannabe artists is that he sold his first piece when he was only in 4th grade.  It may have been for just 5 dollars, but for a happy go lucky 4th grader, that was more than enough for him to get the bug for creating art, and that was only the beginning…

Did I mention that Keenan is currently a senior in high school?  That’s right, Cassidy, who is an incredibly talented painter, is enrolled at Doherty.

He has accomplished so much that you would think that he is a seasoned veteran of the art world.  At the age of 13, when most kids are thinking about which video game they want to play, he was doing his own art show at Worcester’s most famous junk shop, HBML (Happy Birthday Mike Leslie), and last year he followed it up with another show at the Out of the Dark World tattoo shop on Grafton Street.  His style is best described as nostalgic.  “The style is eclectic, and experience based.  People walk up to it and they feel a sense of nostalgia,” he said.  One of his recent pieces incorporated Legos which were painted and glued directly to the piece.  Come on, who’s not nostalgic about Legos?

Check out Keenan’s work at www.keenancassidy.blogspot.com, and be prepared to hear about this young artist for years to come.

(top) Folk Medicine
(bottom) Psychedelic Hendrix


Mixed Media Artist Leonardo Carrasco

By Alex Kantarelis

Leo Carrasco is not your run-of-the-mill artist.  He takes mixed media to new levels by mixing elements; while his main weapon of choice is spray paint, he has combined everything from oil to sand to toys into a single piece.  He places no limits on his work, instead using elements to create what his personal creative process is calling for.  His inspiration usually comes from old forgotten things that may at one point have been considered beautiful but have since been neglected.  “I like to re-work that, and put it in an environment to consider it beautiful again,” he said.  “It is a way for me to create what I need without having restrictions of one type of element,” he said.

Leo originally called Chile home, but moved to the Worcester area in 2002, and with no formal art training, has put together quite a portfolio of work.  “I found over time [art] is really about becoming comfortable with who you are and what you have to say with your work.  That doesn’t come through one piece on its own, but it becomes a reflection of your persona,” he said.

The lack of formal training was tough at first, but Carrasco has come to terms with it.  “I thought about going to school and I looked at a few schools, but ultimately for what I wanted, as weird as it may sound, I needed the freedom…and to do what I want without having teachers influence that,” he said, adding, “It allowed me to do things that weren’t possible in any other environment.”

Check out his work at www.leonardocarrasco.com.

All pieces untitled.


“Trash” Artist Sampson Wilcox

By Alex Kantarelis

Artists seek out inspiration for their work in different ways.  Whether it is a beautiful skyline with a sunset, or a portrait of a family, or a striking model, every artist has his or her own personal inspiration.  Sampson Wilcox tends to focus his attention on things that people leave behind ~ aka trash.  But as the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and in this case, inspiration for art.  Wilcox doesn’t limit himself to any one style, but instead focuses on a little of everything.  The mixed media artist, who is a senior at Clark University, involves photography, painting, collage work, video, and sculpture in his work.  A normal day for him includes walking the streets of Worcester seeking out things that we normal people have discarded.  Any artifact that has been abandoned can turn into a piece of art for Wilcox.  His most recent body of work involves the history of Worcester and the current nature of Worcester’s decay and growth.  “My creative process is that of looking at what is left behind from humans ~ our artifacts ~ whether they are things that have fossilized, or just little plastic bags we don’t pay attention to,” he said.  Using them directly in his art pieces (whether they are sculptures, paintings, or even photographs), he tells the story of a post-industrial city that is trying to fit into modern society.  His work has appeared in the Arts Worcester Consortium for 2 years in a row and he is part of the committee of stART on the Street, Worcester’s annual arts and culture festival.

View more of Sampson’s work at www.sampsonwilcox.com.

(top) Medir