International Encaustic upcoming in Provincetown

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By Shawn Hill

The Sixth International Encaustic Conference takes place during the weekend of June 1–3 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Conference founder and director, artist Joanne Mattera, has partnered with the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, working closely with their executive director, Cherie Mittenthal, in order to combine close knowledge of the Outer Cape with planning for what has become known informally as “Wax Week” in Provincetown.

13  Gallery Ehva Good Vibrations  Lynn Basa Riven2011 oil and beeswax on panel 51x51x3 ins
 Lynn Basa, Riven, 2011.

With 250 conferees this year, the Conference has more than doubled its attendance since attracting just over 100 people in 2007. They’ve also moved from Beverly, on the north shore, to the Cape, which has allowed the conference to become a destination spot in itself. Mattera says that despite requiring an extra flight, ferry or drive, many conferees now add extra days of vacation, bringing partners and families. Some even stop in Boston en route to see museums and galleries. The partnership with Castle Hill allows for pre- and post-conference workshops that amount to eight extra days of hands-on learning, offering a potential “total of eleven days of nothing but wax.”

What’s the attraction of the medium, and why does this conference continue to grow and expand yearly? Mattera explains that “encaustic is a means for self-expression, not a magical end unto itself (though it does smell wonderful). Artists use the medium because it best allows them to express their particular vision. Wax finds its way into painting, collage, assemblage, sculpture, photography, printmaking, drawing, weaving…” Asked if there were any developing trends, Mattera identified one: encaustic monotype, which involves printing from liquid wax paint laid directly onto a warm plate.

12  Art Current Pollination  Gregory Wright Fertile Ground 2010 encaustic mixed media on panel  40x36 ins
Gregory Wright, Fertile Ground, 2010.

Mattera uses encaustic in her own work, and remains attracted to “the materiality of the medium; the depth of color; and the intensity of the process” required to work with molten wax. This year’s conference involves exhibition opportunities for some 125 similarly-inclined artists, in two conference exhibitions and twelve related shows in Provincetown galleries. Participants this year include Nancy Natale, Gregory Wright, and Milisa Galazzi. An in-house Hotel Fair at the Provincetown Inn happens on June third, and the Keynote Address by New York Dealer Edward Winkleman on Saturday night. In addition to the thirty talks, demos and panels that make up the conference, various artists will demonstrate their particular techniques across three non-stop hours of printing.

It’s this sort of energetic diversity that attracts people from thirty-five states, four Canadian provinces, Latin America, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand. Over 500 people have attended at least one conference so far, and future plans include repeat speaker Barbara O’Brien and a possible Encaustic Invitational at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis.

3  Kobalt Confluence  Karen Nielsen Fried Pond Scum Water Light 2012 encaustic on 8 joined panels 24x24 ins  1
 Karen Nielsen, Fried Pond Scum Water Light, 2012.


Shawn, Thank you for writing about The Encaustic Conference. It's a privilege to direct it. You have a standing invitation to attend. Next year I hope the magazine will assign you to cover the exhbitions, which were open to the public and, collectively, offered the most comprehensive exhibition of painting, sculpture and printmaking ever in the medium.
Posted by: Joanne Mattera    On: Jun 14, 2012 5:16 pm
Thanks for such a cogent and enthusiastic description of this wonderful event. The inimitable Joanne Mattera, along with the super-capable Cherie Mittenthal of Castle Center for the Arts and her amazing staff, have made the International Encaustic Conference an unparalled event. The fact that this year the "event" stretched out to nearly two weeks of waxy goodness this year demonstrates how treasured this experience of professional education, networking and enthusiastic fun has become to its participants. I'm glad you were able to see for youself, Shawn, just how wonderful it all is and how lucky we are to have this wonderful conference.
Posted by: Nancy Natale    On: Jun 6, 2012 4:40 am
The Conference itself is like a force of nature at this point, appropriate to its setting!
Posted by: Shawn Hill    On: Jun 5, 2012 5:15 pm
Lynn Basa's work looks like a document about a corner of Nature we haven't seen before. Lovely and thought-provoking.
Posted by: Doug vanderHoof    On: Jun 3, 2012 3:50 pm
Shawn, thank you very much for the mention of my work! This is my first time at the Encaustic conference and it has been an outstanding experience to be around most of the top artists working in this medium.
Posted by: Lynn Basa    On: Jun 2, 2012 11:57 am

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