Meet & Greet – Helena

Meet & Greet - Helena Wurzel

Name:  Helena Wurzel (nickname: Lanie)

Location:  Cambridge, MA

Jobs: Artist, Painter, Teacher at Montserrat College of Art, Artist Representative for Gamblin Oil Colors and Strathmore Paper, and Independent Contractor for Kate Spade Saturday

Age:  32

Helena Wurzel Detail of Paints, Studio and Painting

(top right) In Your Face, 2012, Oil on Canvas

Wurzel’s work is bright and flat reminiscent of Alex Katz or Brian Calvin. The simple, narrative and figurative vignettes offer glimpses into femininity,  interiors, rituals and more using basic silhouettes, color theory and shadows. Wurzel’s canvas appears glowing and bold. In fact, some of the images only seem to consist of light and color. The heavily stylized paintings evoke hints of pop art.

Hot Pink Heels 2010 Oil on Canvas 16"x12"

(left) Hot Pink Heels, 2010, Oil on Canvas

Helena was kind enough to answer my EAT/SHOP/SEE/DO interview questions:

EAT: For a cheap eat, I love Sapporo Ramen in Porter Square. For a nicer meal, Orinoco, in Harvard Square is a gem and they have a great outdoor patio space.

Sapporo Ramen in Cambridge, MA

SEE: I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite building, but I love fantasy house shopping. I often take walks throughout Cambridge to look at different homes. I always find something new and surprising.

Right now, Helena’s studio is also her home. She has a large desk, a paper storage rack, a palette table on wheels, and an overflowing storage closet – plain surroundings that produce such evocative pieces.

Betrayal by HelenaWurzel

Betrayal, 2010, Oil on Canvas

The artist explains, in an interview via ArtistADay, “In the more complex scenes, the different characters are in one another’s presence, yet each is somewhat absorbed in her own quiet moment of daily living. The figures’ actions reveal the narrative. They are often caught in common private acts such as getting dressed, undressed, and looking in the mirror. I depict objects from around my home, such as my sewing machine, dress forum, and magazines to emphasize my love of fashion. I also use my own well-worn cowboy boots, sneakers, and trendy clothing to help contextualize my work in contemporary society.”

Helena Wurzel's Studio Coffeetable Books

What a well studied woman – look at that stack of coffee table books! She is fascinated by Matisse, Bonnard, Van Gogh, Morandi and, of course, Alex Katz. I even see some David Hockney influences, and Vuillard’s pattern play, in her scenes.

Dick in a Box So Amazing & Second Silence

(left) Second Silence, 2009, (right) Dick in a Box So Amazing, 2007, Oil on Canvas

The painting, above on the right, is even in the private New York City collection of Saturday Night Live cast member Andy Samberg.

SHOP: Portobello Road is my favorite boutique in the greater Boston area. They have original clothing, jewelry, and home goods. It’s a visual treat every time I go in there.

The shop is dubbed by the press as a “one-stop-shopping, boho-chic boutique for the smart set”.  Portobello Road stocks carefully selected finds from around the world. You won’t spot your purchases on everyone else in town or even, maybe, the universe.

Helena Wurzel's Favorite Shop

Helena Wurzel Thinking of You Painting and Palette Table

Thinking of You, 2012, Oil on Canvas

DO: The activities that I do the most frequently are: swim, cook, and read. I also love riding my bike all over Cambridge, MA.

This is where Helena Wurzel bikes! Helena explains that her work stems from the world directly in front of her. She takes snapshots of whatever catches her eye (from friends to the changing seasons or how light moves across a surface). She reinvents the scenes in painting. Can you see how her favorite ramen shop, storefront and neighborhood’s energy seep into her canvas? She continues, “I’m interested in using the expressive potential of color as a vehicle for creating emotionally charged moods.”

Helena Wurzel's Slideshow and Searching

(left) Slide Show, 2009, Oil on Canvas, (right) Searching, 2007, Oil on Canvas

Most recently, Helena’s ability to combine the many facets of fashion, design and lifestyle, landed her in the lap of the good, slightly off-beat folks at Kate Spade Saturday. Her work has been featured by the neo-mod brand, in the e-commerce site and Instragram channels, for its carefree attitude, and brightness. I think every brand should have their own artistic muse. Helena Wurzel’s attention to the complicated components of womanhood (including LOST DVDs, the Across the Universe Soundtrack, Sex & The City DVD, Starbucks lattes, cowboy boots, Nalgene bottles and an antiquated issue of GQ) doesn’t hurt either. 

Can you spot the meticulous details? For more, head this way.


Benton Park Prints Giveaway

Benton Park Prints AND The Walkup Giveaway

Being the Manhattan-centric, metropolitan girl that I am, when people say “the big city,” I always assume that they mean New York. But, alas, when in Missouri, the big city is St. Louis! Benton Park is a neighborhood in St. Louis and also happens to be home to Daniel Jones, graphic design and owner of Benton Park Prints. St. Louis is home to 7-Up, ice cream cones, iced tea, the Gateway Arch, the Delmar Loop, toasted raviolis and microbrews. See a pattern? The city seems quite proud of its food – Americans there consume more BBQ sauce per capita than anywhere else. How apropos then, that many of Benton Park Print’s creations would do well in your kitchen.

Benton Park Prints

Walkup Spacer Line

Daniel is inspired by random things all around him – he keeps an ongoing list in his iPhone of moments in his day that could be useful as a new print – there are hundreds of unfinished ideas.  The shop began when most of his jobs were for corporate websites and he felt that he was missing out on creativity. He explains, “Many of the early prints were thought up when I was driving a car to meet with clients.”

He tries to make prints that make people happy and get a little laugh.

Benton Park Prints

Get the family excited for breakfast with highly visual, simplistic morning choices. The shop carries modern takes on wafflesbacon, eggs, pancakes, coffee and more. Give your kitchen a nook straight from a fifties diner! 

Daniel always wants a print to look good in charcoal on a white background. If it does not look good in a basic state, than he believes it will not look good in any color. His framing advice is always to give prints a big matted area with at least two inches of molding.  He comically clarifies, “I like my prints looking like a tiny person laying in the middle of a king sized bed with white sheets.  The print needs to look comfy in its surroundings to draw a person in when looking at it.  It also helps the print, or message, pop when in this state.”
Benton Park Prints
I Am The Walrus. This Beatles inspired 8″x10″ would look great next to any record player or in any music room.

Bugging Out

Entomology (from Greek ἔντομος, entomos, “that which is cut in pieces or engraved/segmented”, and -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of insects. Insects account for more than two-thirds (2/3’s) of all known organisms on the earth. The study of insects is a form of biology, ecology,  arthropodology, specifically in zoology. That’s a lot of “ologies”. The scientific study of insects is thought to have begun around the 16th century – which accounts for the first century of the Renaissance.  As Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) wrote, “It is indeed true that art is omnipresent in nature, and the true artist is he who can bring it out.”

Christopher Marley, The Coleoptera Mosaics, each piece is signed and labeled and no two are exactly alike.

Whether we are discussing beetles (25% of all known lifeforms are in this order), bees, moths, butterflies, ants, grasshoppers, or candidas, it should be noted that most of the bugs’  exoskeletons are gorgeous. Bugs usually rely on the defense mechanism of camouflage so as not to be eaten or seen. This mechanism (through the course of evolution) has allowed bugs to have colors as variegated as tree moss, tropical birds, succulents, desert flowers, and rainforest bark. Historically, several species of bugs have been incorporated into ritual objects because of tribal religious significance. In Mexico, live beetle brooches (don’t be squeamish!) are a growing trend. Several living artists have reinvented the idea of scientific insect study and raised the pinning and conservation of insects as an art form.

Christopher Marley, “Lumens Prism”, Via.

A gallery wall featuring several Christopher Marley creations, for purchase go HERE. 

Framed insects via The Evolution Store in Soho, NY. 

Steven Kutcher works with animals far too small to hold any paintbrush!  He treats insects as living (and thus, moving) brushes in order to create his canvases. Kutcher’s bug art concept grew out of his work as an insect wrangler for Hollywood films, including “Arachnophobia” and “Spider-Man.” The inspiration came on a Hollywood set in 1985, while working on the Steven Spielberg television project “Amazing Stories.” He explains, “I’ll take a bug in my hand and, leg by leg, [and] load the paint onto each leg.”  This concept of letting animals roam free on a surface creates his “masterpieces” – sometimes with sup rising patterns and results! No insects were harmed in the making of his paintings!


 Steven Kutcher, Starry Night, Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa), with Gouache on Paper, 18 x 24 in., 2004.

Sunrise No. 1., Darkling Beetle (Eleodes sp.), With Gouache on Paper, 18 x 24 in., 2004.

Bug stationery!   102. Earth Nova, by Darkling Beetle; 103. Butterflies in the Garden No. 1,by Darkling Beetle; 70. Olympic, by Darkling Beetle;  (front row, left to right). 93. Fireworks in the Forest by Darkling Beetle; Making Tracks*byDarkling Beetle; 74. Dancing Beetle LL (Lower Left, part of a series of four paintings), by Darkling Beetle.

Bug art prints as decor, image from DesignSponge, HERE.

Bug Under Glass is an amazing online retailer that features several styles of bugs, prints, dioramas, and insects on maps! Check it out, HERE.

As a teen, Christopher Marley spent 2 years in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. As a professional photographer his assignments sent him to dozens of countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. All he saw and photographed generated a desire to produce a work that would share the awesome variety of insects world-wide. Besides insects, he also has designed items with fossils, minerals, botanicals, bones, and sea life.  If ACTUAL bugs on the wall are not your cup-of-tea, feel free to purchase this gorgeous coffee table book instead.

Or you can invest in bug prints, without using the actual insect bodies. Either way – the colors and shapes are inspiring!

Barton Lidice Benes, Bug, 2009, Mixed-media on paper , 16 x 14 inches, found HERE.