Mary Shindell divides her productive energies between two studios: one in her home tucked close to the mountains and the other located behind an industrial rigging field on Jackson St.
With a soft, resonating ring of wind chimes, the rustling of quail and the ever so often distant howl of coyotes at night, it's no wonder Shindell plans her projects at her peaceful home studio.
The intimate studio's open windows face a yard of aloe veras, palo verdes and other native plants and allow natural light to fill the room during the day. Drawn to landscape and botanicals, Shindell uses abstract imagery to recreate subtle moments and unique details in the desert environment, like the falling of bougainvillea on cacti. Such was the inspiration for her most recent exhibition at Five15 gallery called "Priced to move... Mary Shindell sells out" where viewers were able to purchase glowing flowerpot pieces from the exhibition on the spot.
Most of the work Shindell does in her home studio centers around drawing and printmaking -- both traditional and digital. The intermedia artist says she finds that the excitement for her right now is in the computer-generated work, though she is still rooted in her original training.
"I want line, I want volume, and I want space, but I have to achieve it in different ways," she says. "I had to take what I knew in drawing and try to learn on the computer how to make that same kind of imagery. And of course, it's never the same because it's a completely different school, but that's the interesting difference."
A perk from crafting at home is Zsa Zsa, Shindell's tubby French bulldog from a local bulldog rescue. Though Shindell originally thought Zsa Zsa might have been too energetic to be a good studio dog, the ball of cuteness keeps the artist company during long hours in the studio and makes the place that much cozier.
When Shindell gets antsy from all the planning and is ready to make what she's been working on, she says she ventures over to Jackson where she can completely immerse herself in the industrial setting. The clean lines of the drawing board, desks and former project models at home contrast the disorderly Jackson studio.
Shelves packed full of materials, tools and appliances take up most of Shindell's wall at the warehouse-esque space. Here, the gritty hands-on building happens -- including drilling and incorporation of fiber optics -- and she can focus on the large-scale digital prints and imagery.
If working on these at home, the dust and clutter that collected would pause creativity, Shindell says, but having the additional workspace allows her to unreservedly delve into her art.
"Since I've started doing installation and three-dimensional, it's been great to have an additional and larger space to work in. It's difficult to see 3-dimensional when you're in a residential space."
Though formally trained in painting and drawing, Shindell says she's done more drilling and sanding over the years. Because she had been taught to stick to her medium, she remembers being intimidated the first time she drilled, but she then began to see it as a way to push drawing out into space.
"When I first did it, I didn't let anyone see it," she says. "I would drill, pack it up, hide it, and then drill, pack it up, hide it. It was a whole 'nother area of visual vocabulary for me. You're not only using line and volume but you're also using height and space."
Sharing the massive studio with fellow artist Mitch Fry also adds a fun and interesting interactive aspect that Shindell doesn't have in her home studio. The artists respond to each other's work, and if Shindell is having trouble with a piece aesthetically or mechanically, the two can collaborate on it.
Like any good neighbor, Fry knows when to lend a hand and when to let Shindell figure out a problem on her own.
"He doesn't rush to help me. He won't help me unless I need help, and as a woman artist that's kind of important because you don't want to feel like someone wants to help you because they think you can't do it," Shindell explains. "I'd like to think I can push it as far as I possibly can on my own."
Off to the side of her workspace are wooden stands that she set her flowerpot pieces on during her last exhibition. Fry fashioned these stands out of unused crates from C & M Rigging behind the studio so that her show would have a more natural look.
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Even though her home studio is where she can brainstorm and invent her unique designs, Shindell feels her piece is closer to being free when it's in the Jackson studio.
"I'm either there or I'm here because it's a progression of the work -- the way the work goes," Shindell describes. "I design, draw and work it out (at home), and then build it at Jackson. I feel very lucky to be able to do that."