Sally Hootnick of Manlius, NY, was always drawing while growing up. She took art classes in high school, but she hit a wall with her art in college. “Art wasn’t a firm way to make money, and I had to support myself,” she said. “There was no real counseling for a career in art.”
She majored in psychology and biology instead, yet art was always part of her life. While in college, she worked in the school’s craft studio, teaching people how to use table saws, make jewelry, and dye batiks.
Life and children got in the way. When her children were young, she didn’t have a lot of time outside of summer to devote to her art. When her children entered college, she began devoting more and more time to painting, mostly with oils.
But in 2014, Hootnick visited Kenise Barnes Fine Art gallery in Larchmont, NY, for a show of encaustic art by Lorraine Glessner. She was entranced.
“I was first drawn to encaustics for sensory reasons: The translucency of wax allows views into the depths of the work,” she said. “The smoothness begs to be touched, and the beeswax gives off a subtle but lovely aroma.”
Her solo exhibition, Depth Perception: The Archaeology of Wax, opens June 29, 2018, at Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn. Her encaustic paintings will be on display through August 19, 2018.
For Hootnick, encaustics offer a tactile opportunity missing in most media. “I’m always touching my encaustic pieces as I work,” she said. “I have to touch them, to see if the surface is too warm or too cold to put on another layer. I often polish them with my hands while I’m working.”
Hootnick likes to explore colors, lines, and shapes in her artwork. Her pieces Composition 1 (small photo above) and Discovery draw visitors’ eyes with their bright pinks, greens, yellows and blues. Circuitous includes markings that, from a distance, looks like writing.
Field and Pathway (at left) are wax homages to Hootnick’s previous time painting plein air landscapes. “I still love landscapes, but I’m not looking for detail or photorealism in my newer pieces,” she said. “I’m interested in the space between realism and abstraction, so I used color fields and flat shapes to represent the scene.”
While most of the pieces in her exhibition are encaustics, four are made with cold wax: Exploration, Origin, Relic 1, and Relic 7. Her process involves wax at room temperature that is applied thickly, with no heating or fusing required. Both encaustic and cold wax processes consist of applying many layers and, in Hootnick’s art, scraping away wax with a variety of tools to find the colors and artifacts hidden underneath.
“I use a variety of tools for applying wax, and many of them are from my kitchen,” Hootnick said.
One of her paintings has about 40 layers, Hootnick said, which is where she drew the inspiration for the title of her solo exhibition – Depth Perception: The Archaeology of Wax. “In most of these pieces, there’s so much down below the surface,” she said.” I’m building a history in my paintings with the layers, and then excavating to reveal bits and pieces of what came before.”
What: Depth Perception: The Archaeology of Wax
Who: Artist Sally Hootnick of Manlius, NY
Where: Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn
When: June 29 to Aug. 19, 2018
Opening: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 29, 2018
Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays
Cost: Opening is free; gallery visits are $7 per person, free for members and children 12 and under.
More information: Visit www.myartcenter.org or call 315-255-1553