The artists and writers selected as ArtAscent Gold from ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal issues.

Gold Artist of the Connection 2021 exhibition

Luan Quach

Gold Artist of the Connection 2021 exhibition

How can one reconcile the rationality of realism and the emotionality of impressions? This is what Luan Quach achieves in his paintings. His art embodies high accuracy and the freedom of imagination at the same time.

Looking at one of Luan’s artworks you can lose yourself in the minutia of detail. His portraits are almost photographic; the faces hollowed out by wrinkles, the tactile skin, the rendering of fabrics…everything seems like a faithful representation of reality. But his hyperrealism goes beyond that. Something remains unresolved, evocative, that comes to us directly from the territory of imagination. Luan creates a palpable connection between reason and feeling.

This artist manages to approach the theme of connection with delicacy. He unveils it to the viewer by showing unexpected angles. The connection becomes, for example, the bond of respect between humans and animals in Untold Past, but it can also be even more spiritual, a direct connection with universal love. This kind of relationship is detectable in I Look to You, where the protagonist is physically projected with his gaze upward, establishing eye contact with his God. I Look to You seems to be a sort of contemporary conversion, where the beam of divine light is embodied in a bright blue brushstroke. However, the connection is also what an artist may feel towards his work of art, as seen in Feeling Felt. Here again, the intimate bond with the artwork takes shape through an intense gaze. Self-satisfaction and joy: Luan’s painting tells us what it means to be an artist from an emotional point of view.

The art of this painter deserves to be observed with eyes and heart. Eyes wide open in the first place to grasp the skill and technique that distinguish his paintings. Luan creates hyper-realistic and meticulous artworks, but he evokes feelings through the use of colour. He manages to do all this with the evocative medium par excellence: watercolour. Liquid, with delicate hues and an impalpable mark, watercolour allows Luan’s imagination to run free. Stylistically, his art authentically reconciles realism and impressionism, pushing boundaries.

It is no coincidence that John Singer Sargent is one of the artist’s most beloved painters. A painter at first glance traditional but who used watercolour with grace and innovation. His works and portraits, such as those of Luan, are loaded with symbolic lights. They create connections between the figures represented.

Luan Quach is a painter to be discovered. Growing up in Southeast Asia, he approached art at an early age. His training as an engineer, however, never clashed with his passion. From engineering, he obtained the ability to analyze, which also emerges in his paintings. The art of Luan Quach is capable of authentically connect, with a spontaneous thread, left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Luan Quach is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Connections call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Connections issue.

www.luanquach.com

Gold Writer of the Connection 2021 exhibition

Karla Linn Merrifield

Dyptych: Ultimate Connectivity

I swear by my intel® Centrino® Inside™, she’s got the hots for me. I can feel it in her nimble fingers as they tap dance across my shiny quiet keyboard.

And I, a sleek new Dell Inspiron® 1520, feel likewise. She turns me on and murmurs Bertie, my Bertie, let’s do it

Imagine humanity disappearing from the earth. Our computers, smartphones, and audio-visual relics would last to echo our past. Poet Karla Linn Merrifield tells us about the intimate connection to our technological gizmos. All with a sagacious and unforgettable irony.

Numerous writers have investigated our almost addictive link with the technology of our hyperconnected world. In particular, the digital world has been a huge source of inspiration in this historic moment of emergency. Well, forget what you have read so far. How Karla talks about technology and our relationship with it is another story.

Technological devices in her poems come to life in a rhythmic and hilarious dialogue. Cyberspace becomes a terrain to be explored, to understand how we inhabit it. Karla shows what impact physical connections made of wired cables and virtual ones made of e-mail exchanges and socials have on our daily lives. And so, it happens in Diptych: Ultimate Connectivity – Wired that we can experience a real love affair with our personal computer.

A surreal and funny liaison passes through the ticking of fingers on the keyboard, in the nights spent writing before the screen. Karla wittily gives her computer the power to deliver an amorous monologue. The lovesick protagonist is in the geek dreamland now. And the computer is aware of its charm, of the compulsive addiction it creates in its user. It is not a mere connection but cyberlove. The result is a grotesque vow of love: I swear to be your sole user, your one and only named.

Karla’s writing style is striking because of its freedom of expression. Like her computer, which has a life of its own, the words she types seem to be independent. Her poems take unexpected directions, arising at the exact moment of her creative writing. The poet uses every poetic form in her writings, and her vocabulary is also extremely free. Karla uses registered trademarks, brands name, URLs and technological neologisms, such as Wired and The Shit We Go Through for Our Gizmos. It is a new and hybrid language. Hybrid as our bodies, where gizmos are like prostheses. A language as complex as our lives that are navigating in what Karla calls a techno crapola.

As Karla’s language is eclectic, she draws inspiration from equally eclectic sources. Contemporary American poets such as William Heyen, with whom she shares a passion for dialogue poems, or authors of prose-poem books such as Jericho Brown or Scot John Gerard Fagan are a reference for her, while she maintains a very strong personal identity.

Karla Linn Merrifield has 14 books to her credit and several contributions. She is currently working on a poetry collection inspired by famous guitarists and their instruments. Her poetry is connected to the world, to human beings, to their objects. It is internal to life.

Karla Linn Merrifield is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Connections call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Connections issue.

www.karlalinnmerrifield.org/

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2021 Abstract call for artists.

August Barringer

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2021 Abstract call for artists.

There is a blurring concept, constantly evolving and questioned in its abstract nature: gender. Artists such as August Barringer raise questions about gender dichotomy and challenge the binary model of mainstream society. They can do so through the power of abstract art. August’s installation Effulgence is a striking example of this.

August Barringer is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Abstract call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Abstract issue.

ArtAscent Gold Writer of the 2021 Abstract call for writers.

Alex Steiner

Humble π

If you pay attention long enough, you’ll find circles in everything. From the embryo that patterned you, to the patterns designing natures’ abstract markings. The eyes capturing this world and the planets’ spheres, lighting the distance. And, ever since I started my proof, I can’t seem to escape its circular constants. The equation never changes, only its abstract integers…

How can literature be abstract? Can a text, a piece of writing, a poem, take on an evocative appearance, tell a story without explicitly revealing itself? This is the style that distinguishes Alex Steiner’s creation. Alex writes about experiences, memories, life—and she does it through a style that could be described as creative non-fiction.

Alex Steiner is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Abstract call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Abstract issue.

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2021 Garden call for artists.

Lev. L Spiro

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2021 Garden call for artists.

Behind what appear to be blurred, obscure images, mysteries, meanings, and inner fears are hidden. Lev L. Spiro exploits the darkness in his photographs to let the light leak out.

In his photographic series Fugitive Light, Lev aims to capture glimpses of ephemeral beauty. It is not literal in its depictions of landscapes or natural elements. Instead, it grasps at the impressions nature evokes. A plant wet with dew, a staircase running through a secret garden, exotic plants shrouded in darkness; Lev’s photos offer quick snapshots of a larger and more complex scenario. The gardens immortalized in his photos seem almost like shelters, places to escape into. According to Lev, the overwhelming darkness that characterizes his images reflects his unconscious fears and desire to shape and sublimate them. Light, as the title suggests, is something fugitive, a fleeting idea, never able to completely illuminate the composition.

Conclave, Portal, and Augury are just some of the photographs from the series contributing to a forest of symbols, of imperceptible correspondences which reveal something unexpected in the dim light. Lev’s gardens are visions that take up the task of the nature of wonder, but also speak, through metaphors. As a photographer, Lev’s technique is one of waiting for the right moment and then seizing it; there is little post-manipulation of the imagery, an inclination he shares with many of the great masters, including Henri Cartier Bresson, whose photography he admires. From a conceptual point of view, Lev’s works are closer to those of photographer Minor White, sharing a mystical atmosphere, an almost abstract vision of the image to be grasped through feeling rather than thought. Lev also names as influences photographers Susan Burnstine and Eddie Soloway, with whom he studied.

An established film and television director, Lev L. Spiro has directed episodes of Orange is the New Black, The O.C, Ugly Betty, and Gilmore Girls. Now devoting all of his creative energy to his photography, he enjoys the artistic exercise of focusing on a single, necessary, inspiring image. His series Fugitive Light was selected for numerous group exhibitions around the U.S. in 2020 and 2021.

Lev. L Spiro is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Gardens call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Gardens issue.

www.levlspiro.com

ArtAscent Gardens exhibition Gold Writer

Gabriel Griffin

The summer that was, the garden that might have been

Where oleanders scrawled over the hill falling
from the ruined wasn’t a castle but could’ve been in spite
or idiot pictures splattered over the upstairs no-stair
walls and the boys didn’t do them, that’s for sure!…

An abandoned garden, the ruins once populated by human presence, and the idea of what could have been and instead was not: this is the bitter feeling that Gabriel Giffin’s poetry leaves with the reader.

It is difficult to remain indifferent to Gabriel’s descriptive and evocative The summer that was, the garden that might have been. In his verses, you can perceive the sultry heat of an Italian summer, the noisy background of cicadas and bees. You can physically imagine a garden that is anything but luxuriant, but which deeply inspired the author. The poet is fascinated by a desolate and decadent garden, its crumpled oleander petals on the ground, and its ruins. He associates this powerful natural imagery with a painful memory, the abrupt end of youth, broken by a sudden accident. The garden then becomes a metaphor for youth that could have been as vital as a garden of delights but has turned into a shady and perishable one. Reading it, you feel the cold envelop you in the torrid and light-hearted summer.

Gabriel’s poetry is a meditation on loss, but above all on the crumbling power of time that passing. The topos of transience that takes away youth, beauty, and life renders his texts into a sort of literary still life. Like a Flemish still life painting of perishing of fruit in a wicker basket, wrapped in shadow and obscurity, the poet tells of life and death through the image of nature, which regains its space and its right to decay. From a stylistic and formal point of view, Gabriel’s poetry reflects the content of his verses. He captures the urgency, the vitality, the exuberance of youth with a fast rhythm, and at the same time offering sudden ruptures, abrupt interruptions, as in the lives of those the poet describes.

The close poetic relationship with nature recalls Emily Dickinson and her backyard garden, in which insects and blooms, flowers and vegetables, were observed obsessively, embodying metaphors of life and memories. Similarly, Gabriel cites John Keats among his literary references; like the Keatsian Greek urn sanctioning the changing and doomed destiny of the human being and youth and the imperishable nature of beauty through art, themes also manifest in Gabriel’s works.

Gabriel Griffin is the only inhabitant of a small island in Lake Orta, Northern Italy, where he writes in peaceful isolation and organizes annual festivals and literature events. An award-winning poet and author, his work has been featured in several anthologies. His poetry speaks of colours stolen from a dream, and of a garden that will never be again.

Gabriel Griffin is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Gardens call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Gardens issue.

www.gabrielgriffin.org

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2021 Winter call for artists

Suzette Dushi

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2021 Winter call for artists

The silence of the streets covered with snow, the outdoor games despite the frost, flower buds that are peeking out from tree branches: looking at Suzette Dushi’s digital photographs means exploring the deepest and most emotional components of winter. Winter subtracts everything from nature: light, bright colors, vitality. Despite this, the artist brings out these qualities in her images, capturing the joyful and nostalgic aspects of this time of the year.

Suzette Dushi is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Winter call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Winter issue.

https://suzettedushiphotography.com

Gold Writer of the 2021 Winter call for writers.

Paula Bonnell

Early Morning

The lake is cold
Fog qualifies the outline of the trees–
pensées of foliage
exuded by the limbs
reveal the watery truth…

Try to imagine a lake in wintertime. A thick fog envelops the landscape, where the water, the ground, or the sky begins no longer recognizable. Paula Bonnell’s poem evokes this image. A sensation, Early Morning embodies all the mystery, the stillness, the silence of the winter season.

Paula Bonnell is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Winter call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Winter issue.

Artist Statement

Inspiration is a word that resembles inhalation and that is what moves me to write I’ve “breathed in an experience” that makes me want to create an artistic equivalent of what moved me, thereby sharing it with others. As a reader I often appreciate this gift when given to me by writers and they stimulate my desire to emulate good and even great literary work; the same was true in my photographic years.

About My Work

In any poem of mine that I value, there is always something “given” by what feels like an “other” — which is what made humans create the idea of a muse.  My part in the transaction is to take what the muse gives me — typically a first line that comes unbidden into my mind—and see if I can follow it from there and arrive somewhere. When readers respond to something I’ve written, I feel completed and happy.

www.paulabonnell.net

Gold Artist of the 2021 Portraits call for artists.

Brian McClear

Gold Artist of the 2021 Portraits call for artists.

Brian McClear’s portraits seem like a planned snapshot. Even if the depicted individual is posing, it still feels like they are caught in a moment. Some eyes look at the viewer directly, who might feel observed. Therefore the painting is reversing the situation, and suddenly the observer is the one being looked at. They create a private moment of exchange, an exchange of life stories.

Brian McClear is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Portraits call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Portraits issue.

https://www.mcclearart.com/

Gold Writer of the 2021 Portraits call for writers.

B. Fulton Jennes

Mr. Byrd

wore an eye patch to cover the black hole
left when a big buck careened over the hood
of his car one morning, its skull smashing
the windshield, its antlers gouging his eyeball…

The childhood memories are often vague, almost faded, as old photos in one’s family album. And yet, B. Fulton Jennes’s poetry demonstrates, they occur to be those tiny puzzles, which construct our identity and nourish our imagination as we grew up.

B. Fulton Jennes is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Portraits call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Portraits issue.

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2020 Animals call for artists.

Mark Edward Harris

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2020 Animals call for artists.

Mark Edward Harris began his professional photography career by photographic guests on the Merv Griffin Show. When the show ended in 1986, he embarked on a four-month voyage across the South Pacific and Asia to build a documentary/travel portfolio. The resulting images brought international attention for the first time to the now acclaimed award-winning photographer.

Mark Edward Harris is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Animals call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Animals issue.

www.MarkEdwardHarris.com

Gold Writer of the 2020 Animals exhibition

Christopher O’Meara

Tusk

Just beyond an imposing iron gate and a thicket of cascading willows, there existed an Eden of endless amusement known as Wimborne Manor.
It was there, on acres of lush emerald grass, where I grew up, running, playing croquet, rolling down fields blanketed in buttercups, and chasing fountain koi with fallen twigs…

In Christopher’s story of the Tusk, taxidermy is used to conjure up a whole world of the privileged way of life in which the main character lived until the age of 16. The scene from his father’s office, which abounds in stuffed, wall-mounted animals, is the moment in which the hero himself encounters the essence of privileged origin, which is far from the life he lives in the present.

Christopher O’Meara is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Animals call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Animals issue.

www.christopheromeara.com

Gold Artist of the 2020 Isolation call for entry

David Ondrik

Gold Artist of the 2020 Isolation call for entry

As the pandemic situation continues to affect the world, we find ourselves in a contradictory situation, where the ‘outer’ processes develop unimaginably quick, while our inner pace has slowed down significantly. David Ondrik’s photographs meditate on the challenges of self-isolation.

David Ondrik is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Isolation call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Isolation issue.

www.davidondrik.com

Gold Writer of the 2020 Isolation call for entry

Krystle Vermes

The Town and The City

As soon as she saw the first snowflake land on her coat, she knew she had to seek shelter. It would start coming down heavily soon, and she was lost.

Completely, utterly lost

The brick pathway had frozen over well before the sun went down, so she trod carefully, avoiding eye contact with other pedestrians along the way…

Krystle Vermes is a writer whose work is deeply entrenched in memory, emotion, connectivity, and reflection. With a background in journalism and copyediting, Vermes has recently begun to explore creative writing as a means of exploring past experiences.

Krystle Vermes is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Isolation call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Isolation issue.

www.krystlevermes.com

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2020 Abstract call for artists.

Shelley Hakonson

ArtAscent Gold Artist of the 2020 Abstract call for artists.

When it comes to modern art, viewers often struggle to connect to its principles, believing it to be far-fetched and detached from reality. Yet, abstract artists like Shelley Hakonson, demonstrate that representing reality isn’t about copying it, but researching the multitudes of its essense.

Shelley Hakonson is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Abstract call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Abstract issue.

Gold writer of the 2020 ArtAscent Abstract exhibition

Beatrix Koch

Alice’s Adventure in Geometry Land

I had a dream

The most confusing, scary, and surreal dream.

In my dream, I was little, as small as a tiny pencil point. The place where I lived seemed a big universe with lines, points and circles. I felt like a mouse in a trap, but this trap was anything just not an exactly defined place…

The stories of Beatrix Koch are often quirky, examine unusual feelings, and explore the world with a specific focus on fears, desires, or hidden motives. The texts are always relevant and shaped towards providing the readers with a sense of déjà vu.

Beatrix Koch is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Abstract call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Abstract issue.

https://www.beatrixkochbooks.com/

Gold artist of the 2020 Sensuality call

Sydney Paige Richardson

Gold artist of the 2020 Sensuality call

Philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau wrote, “We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bone.” Artists like Sydney Paige Richardson seek to hear and render the stories told through the plasticity of bodies. “Story” is a crucial word for understanding Sydney’s visual practice. Combining her passion for photography with a profound interest in writing, she looks for ways to enrich the formal harmony of an image with additional meanings.

Sydney Paige Richardson is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Sensuality call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Sensuality issue.

www.sydneypaigerichardson.com

Gold writer of the 2020 Sensuality collection

Leah Holbrook Sackett

Spooning

Lillian and Marvin were married for 35 fruitless years.
“It’s not like nowadays where women take drugs like cocktails and voila, twins or triplets or, heaven forbid, more,” Lillian bemoaned to Stan in June.
“In the ‘70s, you still did things the old fashion way; by time fertility clinics came on the scene. Marvin said we were too settled in our ways to add kids to the picture…

In her captivating vignette, “Spooning,” author Leah Holbrook Sackett lets her reader in on a life gone wrong and the main character lost on a journey to make sense of it all. The inspiration for this piece developed following Leah’s discovery in her own kitchen of a rogue spoon. The spoon was mismatched to any set, yet was a favourite among the utensils stashed in the drawer. This facet becomes a key hinge of the story she tells and raised intriguing questions in itself to the things that we cherish in life.

Leah Holbrook Sackett is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Sensuality call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Sensuality issue.

www.leaholbrooksackett.com/

Lee Lessem, ArtAscent Gold Artist of the Grey call for artists.

Lee Lessem

Lee Lessem, ArtAscent Gold Artist of the Grey call for artists.

Gerhard Richter, a celebrated German artist, believed grey is “equivalent for indifference, non-commitment, absence of opinion, absence of shape.” But Lee Lessem takes an opposite approach to the colour, trying to prove it to be fully charged with emotions and presence. A curious fact is that grey became extremely popular among Russian aristocracy in the 19th century.

Lee Lessem is the Gold Artist of the ArtAscent Grey call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Grey issue.

Gold writer of the 2020 Grey call for writers

Leena Nox

Her Coat of Red Roses

When I open my eyes, the world is grey. Just as it was
yesterday and the day before that day and the day
before that. It’s like I’m trapped in one of those old
black and white films, except the credits never roll…

In the brief yet explosive Her Coat of Red Roses, author Leena Nox takes her readers on a tantalizing trip into the mind of her main character and the contrasts of colour that guides that character’s life. Setting the stage for her reader in a world dominated by grey, Leena is able to compellingly use the colours of her writing to carry the narrative of her striking vignette forward.

Leena Nox is the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Grey call for writers. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Grey issue.