Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gail Cunliffe: The Box of Eight Explodes!

The Shoe Factory Art Co-op presents a new art exhibit at Starry Nites Café. “Gail Cunliffe: The Box of Eight Explodes!” features new acrylic paintings on canvas by the Webster, NY artist. Whether approaching her abstract imagery with a palette knife or carefully planning an architectural retro design, Cunliffe delivers a variety of painting styles in hot, bold colors.

A Rochester native, she spent most of her adult life raising a family while teaching school; fourth grade at Rochester City School District and second grade at Holy Cross School.  Not until retirement did she venture into painting.  We interviewed the fledgling artist to gain insight into her creative life.

Shoe Factory:  When did you start creating art? 

Gail Cunliffe:   I did not start to formally create art until I retired.  What I realize now is that during my twenty years of teaching, my classroom was my canvas.  Walls were always covered with murals and other colorfully explosive displays related to various subject matter. 

"Symphony of Colors" acrylic on canvas by Gail Cunliffe

SF:  Where did you learn your craft?  GC:  Upon retirement, I took an introductory art course that absolutely changed my life.   I was always in awe of the beauty of the world around me, both outside and inside environments.  And now to be able to put my interpretation of these spaces on canvas was a gift that I had given myself.
I’ve studied with Lori Aman for two years.  She is a local artist and an art educator.  I have taken workshops from Judy Soprano, Betsy Liano, Valerie Larsen, Sandra Grana, and Jim Mott, all of whom are local artists.

"Cabo" acrylic on canvas by Gail Cunliffe
SF:  What is your art medium?  GC:  I paint with acrylics using a variety of materials such as brushes, plastic and metal scrapers, squeegies, sponges, foam brushes, rollers, etc.

How do you make your art?
  GC:  My intent is not to always create what I see.  I am thrilled by using color crashing onto canvas as my own interpretation.  For example, my southwest canyon series is painted in an abstract format.  My interiors tend towards a more realistic approach but always with an element of abstract and a touch of the whimsical.

"Gray Matters" acrylic on canvas by Gail Cunliffe

SF:  What are you currently working on?  GC:  I have begun to explore painting an enlarged single flower in an abstract, somewhat blurry format.  A constant is my use of bold color.  Colors that compliment each other and colors that clash with a lot of noise.

"Blooming Flower" acrylic on canvas by Gail Cunliffe

SF:  What or who are your influences?  GC:  My influences are artists John Nieto, Michelle Chrisman, Phyllis Kapp, and Barbara Bowles.

SF:  Have you always been a creative person?  GC:  I'm a pretty straight forward kind of person who sets herself free when I have a colorful palette and an artistic tool in my hand.

"Red Sunglasses" acrylic on canvas by Gail Cunliffe

SF:  How has being an artist changed or affected your life?  GC:  My style of art fits my wish to be less than perfect.  It allows me the freedom to "mess" with the world around me.

"Uptown" acrylic on canvas by Gail Cunliffe

SF:  What do consider some of your artistic accomplishments?  GC:  It is very encouraging to have my work validated by professionals in the field who honor me with awards at local art shows.

SF:  What is your favorite art related experience so far?  GC:  The weekend that I spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico taking a workshop from Michelle Chrisman.  Painting on the banks of the Rio Grande from a high bluff left me speechless.
"Fireworks" acrylic on canvas by Gail Cunliffe
SF:  What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
GC:  To continue having people who purchase my art come back to tell me how much they enjoy walking into their homes to be greeted by my paintings.

SF:  What are your needs as an artist in Rochester?  What would you like to see changed?  GC:  I would like to see more local artists given the privilege to create art for local facilities such as hospitals, Hillside, the Al Sigl Center, etc. I will never forget the television program that featured how art along the halls of cancer center hospital was often the catalyst towards healing as patients spent great amounts of time walking, observing, and being thrilled by the donated works of art.  I would also like to see more themed art as fundraisers, for example:  artists create a painting in their style on the face of a violin as a fundraiser for Rochester's RPO.  

Webster, NY artist Gail Cunliffe
Exhibit Location: Starry Nites Café, 696 University Ave., Rochester, NY
Show duration: January 20th-April 5th, 2014
Hours: Open daily & nightly, call (585)271-2630, free admission

While viewing Gail’s artwork, Starry Nites patrons can enjoy specialty drinks, gourmet coffees, beer and wine, homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts!

Starry Nites Cafe website:
Shoe Factory Art Co-op website:

To apply for an art show, visit the Shoe Factory website:

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! I LOVE your photo, it is as bright and cheerful as your art!