Artists At Work

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“Homage To a Scottish Grandmother” Acrylic on canvas 36”x 36” by Bruce Laird

Creativity comes in many forms. At The Art Guild of Port Washington—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides encouragement, education and a forum for the appreciation of the visual arts—there is nothing but talent on display.

“The Art Guild provides encouragement, education and a forum for the appreciation of the visual arts,” says executive director of the Art Guild Lisa Grossman. “We are an organization open to all people with a common goal to advance the visual arts. Our goal is to reach all who have never held a paint brush.”

Of the many artists who exhibit their work at the Art Guild, Mark Isaacs and Bruce Laird share what they love most about their favorite form of expression.

Mark Isaacs

Marc Isaacs

“I have wanted to do ceramics since I was very young,” says artist Marc Isaacs. “Growing up, we had a workshop, a painting studio for my mom who was a serious painter, a darkroom and the ceramics studio, not to forget the forge in the backyard.”

Isaacs grew up in Massapequa and now resides in Northport, but no matter where he is, art occupies a huge part of his everyday life. Isaacs holds an MFA degree and a teaching degree in art education. He also has his own ceramic practice, where he often collaborates with his wife, who is a Japanese flower arrangement master, by making ceramic containers for her.

“In high school, I took shop classes because using your hands and working with wood and metal was a normal function for me,” says Isaacs. “A friend of mine well on the road to ceramics said ‘let’s go buy a kiln.’ For the next three years in my father’s basement, he taught me about ceramic hand building.”

Now giving back as an instructor himself, Isaacs works with professors at LIU Post and children as young as preschool age where he teaches them how to use clay. He also teaches professional development classes at The Art Guild.

“Hope is my chief thing,” he says, adding that as an artist, he is interested in many mediums including drawing, painting, photography and sculpture. Overall, his work is about “the connection between the creator and us.” Isaacs went through an ultra-natural religious experience in his early 20s and now it seems to be where his inspiration comes from.

Isaacs’ “Superficial Monk” is on display at The Art Guild and epitomizes religious prayer in many ways. Isaacs notes that the sculpture’s head is shaped like a lens to focus on prayers and face heavenward.

“At the same time, the back of his body is a set of doors that press right through him. He’s trying to hold back their pasts and how they intrude into our present. That’s his job,” he says of his sculpture.

Bruce Laird

Bruce Laird

Having also displayed his work at The Art Guild, Bruce Laird loves to create.

The artist rents his studio space in Long Island City and usually spends three or four days during the week and one full weekend day creating there.

“Most of the time I am working on a few paintings, collages and drawings. The intersecting of all of these disciplines blends visual vocabularies and strengthens my work,” says Laird. “I use acrylic paints and enjoy how quickly they dry, which allows me to work at a faster pace.”

Currently, Laird has been working on a series of paintings of famous people from the past and family members. He says he is intrigued when he finds “small old black and white photographs of family figures.”

“Employing bolder, more contemporary colors, I enjoy enlarging and altering these images and creating a fresh new context to the figures,” he says of giving new meaning to his finds.

Laird holds a bachelors and masters degree in Fine Arts and if his schooling has taught him anything, it is that art is everywhere.

“I carry a small camera with me most of the time and try to capture anything having an interesting composition, shape, shadow, form, which may later become a painting or mix of collage and painting,” he says of where he may find inspiration.

The Art Guild is located at Elderfields Preserve, 200 Port Washington Boulevard in Manhasset. For more information, call 516-304-5797 or visit www.theartguild.org.

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Jennifer Fauci is the managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Boulevard and Anton Media Group’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of three PCLI awards.

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