Spotlight Artists Archive

2017 Spotlight Artists

Robert Peterson

Lawton, Oklahoma | Booth S1118

Five years ago, Robert Peterson was a Goodyear production worker supporting his wife and three children. A health scare, $6 paint set and five years later, he’s emerging as one of the country’s most celebrated new artists and garnering an elite celebrity following, including Kevin Durant, Alicia Keys, and Miley Cyrus.

Known for his color-saturated, spontaneous realism celebrity portraits, Peterson has painted everyone from John Lennon and Elvis Presley to Mike Tyson and Jackie Robinson. Earlier this year, he painted a striking mural of Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook on the side of Friendly Cleaners. “I woke up one day and was like, ‘I want to do a mural of Westbrook’ and found a place to do it and just started doing it,” he says.

His most recent work includes Come as Your Are (Kurt Cobain), inspired by the life and death of one of Peterson’s favorite bands and singers. “With this painting, I wanted to show the late singer sitting on a red chair holding a water gun in a relaxed state as he stares back into the eyes of those who see the painting,” Peterson says.

Named the 2016 “Artist of the Year for Southwestern Oklahoma” by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Peterson made history by becoming the first African-American to hold that title in the state’s history. His work has been commissioned by Nike, Toni & Guy, and Sol Republic.
Contact: Robert Peterson

Shannon DeFreitas

Boynton Beach, Florida | Booth S1104

By day, Shannon DeFreitas is a Broward County, Florida, firefighter. By night, she’s the body-painting artist behind Deep in Paint. Using her love for art as a creative release from the day-to-day rigors of being a first responder, DeFreitas paints the bodies of her subjects and then collaborates with a photographer who photographs the bodies to create a unique abstract image full of color.

Inspired by the colorful murals, urban graffiti, and funky art galleries in Wynwood, one of Miami’s most happening districts, DeFreitas creates works such as Night Warriors, which features four “Deep Dolls” dipped in paint, posing on railroad tracks in the Wynwood Arts District.

DeFreitas not only sells canvas, acrylic, and photo prints of her artwork, but she also performs live interactive art shows. She also offers customized sessions where she works one on one with clients to choose the paint colors and photo shoot location and then creates a custom piece for them.

“No photo shoot is the same,” she says. “Every art piece tells its own breathtaking story through movement and color.”
Contact: Shannon DeFreitas

Thomas Wargin

Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin | Booth S1105

To view Thomas Wargin’s sculptures is to take a walk through his subconscious mind. Inspired by his imagination and childhood stories rather than specific styles and trends, Wargin creates bronze sculptures that are whimsical, unconventional, and mischievous.

Driven by a passion for engineering, fine art, and design, Wargin is an ideas man. The artist-inventor uses a blend of old and new practices, often incorporating a mixture of materials, such as wood, stone, and glass, into the final pieces. Armed with a diverse array of skill sets and ideas, Wargin harnesses the energy and creativity of his soul in pieces such as Dream Confrontation, A Mind Split, and Masquerade Dance.

Allowing his spontaneous creativity to take over when combining processes and materials, Wargin explores his medium beyond the end result. “I am a thinker, and my optimism lets me forsee beyond that which has already been seen,” he says.

Wargin hopes his sculptures engage viewers and stimulate both their mind and their visual senses. “I want the viewer to go to a place that they can only dream of or hope to be part of,” Wargin says. “My goal is to create a unique art form that shares a seamless integration between the world around me and the human spirit.”
Contact: Thomas Wargin

Paul Chang

Sunrise, Florida | Booth S823

Paul Chang started painting at a young age. Inspired by his surroundings in the luscious tropical country of Suriname, South America, Chang was only 11 years old when he won his first art competition. He went on to study at the Academy of Visual Arts and the Jan van Eyck Academy the Netherlands, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that he started exhibiting his work.

Now based in Florida, Chang is still inspired by the nature that surrounds him. Known for his abstract impressionistic paintings, Chang uses acrylic on canvas to play with organic forms and color. Pieces such as Hatching Sea Turtles and Sea Horse capture both Chang and nature’s playfulness and creativity. “When the work is finished, it should breathe the air and spirit of nature,” he says.

Chang’s most recent work includes his “Closeup” series, where he experiments with new ways to transform his emotions into ideas. “In ‘Closeup,’ I reflect on past works in pursuit of exciting new strokes and color fusions,” he says.

Winner of the prestigious First Price Award at the Society of the Four Arts with his painting Sawgrass, a work inspired by the Everglades, Chang has had his works exhibited in the Coral Springs Museum of Art; the Cornell Art Museum in Delray Beach, Florida; and The Contemporary Austin in Texas.
Contact: Paul Chang

2016 Spotlight Artists

Explore the Spectrum Miami Spotlight Artists archive. View amazing artists with outstanding talent from past show Spectrum shows!

Michele A. Utley Voigt | Contemporary Art Projects USA | Booth 315

“I paint stories of the human experience,” says Michele Utley Voigt, “the soul of life depicted by figures interacting within a realm of time, realities, and with one another. I paint that that is seen and unseen, beauty that exists often after tragedy.”

Voigt set off on her artistic journey at the age of five, when she began professional painting lessons. Her youth marked by numerous juried shows and exhibitions, countless awards, mentorship from Howard Kanovitz, and recognition from many renowned artist organizations, Voigt seemed to have a straight and speedy path towards success in the art world. She received art scholarships to art institutes and universities across the U.S., and ended up attending the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design and Parsons Art Institute in Paris, where she received her BFA.

But then Voigt’s path became blurrier. “After art school, I had a shocking revelation,” she reflects. “I thought I could change the world through art …. [but] I realized that I could not benefit people who could not access me. My influence was limited to those who participated in the visual arts.” Realizing that she’d need to work within society in order to change it, Voigt returned to school to study political science and pre-law, the beginnings of what would be a 19-year career in social services.

Voigt began teaching art to adults with developmental disabilities. Over the years, her exhibits grew to assist artists with all types of disabilities throughout the Los Angeles area. “I helped them sell their work,” Voigt recalls, immediately understanding how big an impact earning a paycheck and becoming economically independent had on their lives. She soon moved on to create employment for all restricted populations, including the mentally ill, welfare recipients, ex-felons, immigrants, refugees, and the homeless.

In 2007, Voigt moved to New York City to return to painting. Her time spent working with disadvantaged people now informed her work. “Howard [Kanovitz] patiently and consistently reminded me that I had to live life in order to paint it,” says Voigt. “My art tells the story of the human soul and experience. I paint it as I have faced it. I no longer merely paint to change the world. I am a material contribution to change, and my paints continue to tell the unheard, under-heard, and the unseen stories.”

Voigt’s artwork is currently exhibited in national and international galleries, and she participates annually in major art fairs. Many of her early works have been acquired by museums as part of their permanent collections.

Michele A. Utley Voigt
Michele A. Utley Voigt | Contemporary Art Projects USA | Booth 315

Nick Fedaeff | Nick Fedaeff Studio | Booth S909

Inspiration can come from many sources—dreams, life observations, other artists, or the esoteric creative seed randomly appearing at will. All these rich sources of influence provide Nick Fedaeff with elements that he valiantly translates to canvas. The slightly disorienting, the hallucinatory quality of a dream, the element of surprise, and the absurdity of life are cleverly layered into Fedaeff’s work referencing Surrealism and the Old Masters of the Renaissance.

Originally from Russia, Fedaeff now resides in New Zealand. He is an accomplished musician and writer, and has been painting from childhood. Using a combination of acrylics, oils, and mixed media to create his work, he interprets the relationships between men and women and explores the themes of life and death in his work, adding humor as tool of engagement. The observer is often left with the unsettling feeling that there is more to the stories than meets the eye. Fedaeff is often described as a soft-surrealist, and acknowledges Da Vinci, Dali, Bosch, and Picasso as influences on his work.

With a neverending source of creative inspiration, Fedaeff will continue to evolve as an artist as he discovers new techniques and explores different ideas. His paintings have been exhibited in collections in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and Japan.

Nick Fedaeff
Nick Fedaeff | Nick Fedaeff Studio | Booth S909

Elka Leonard Studio | Booth S818

Elka Leonard lives in Bordeaux, France, and is exhibiting at Spectrum Miami for the first time. She describes her paintings as “short movies inviting you, the spectator, into my world of fantasy and dreams.” Using bold acrylic paints to create her intensely colorful and seductive works depicting “Aristochattes,” as Leonard has dubbed them, she entices the viewer and dares them to stay awhile.

Leonard’s subjects are “business women who transform themselves to courtesans to stir the emotions of their men. Powerful women, a bit manipulative, but their goal is to delightfully give themselves over to the targets of their manipulations.” She continues, “The Aristochattes disturb and fascinate. Installed in intimate settings, they suggest stories but never impose … Leaving room for the imagination of their audience, my Aristochattes are intended as a source of inspiration for everyone … Both submissive and rebellious, in between fantasy and reality, all showing something of me … but they also convey my emotions when I’m painting.”

For Leonard, the process of unraveling the story within her painting is an ongoing one as she creates. “From the first emotion that triggers my idea of painting, images are joined by words that come naturally or with a quick search. My imagination then sets up a short film by enriching the original image. With everything set in my head, I write the title. It´s not until this moment that I can start painting. This is my framing structure. I only paint a part of the scenario. My audience will guess what happens next; what he or she would like to happen. There are many possibilities in my universe. I often end up at a different destination than the one I had originally planned, because I let myself get carried away by the scene as it appears. Each canvas is a great love story, which I create in fifteen to eighty hours of work, in daylight settings. I can´t paint several stories simultaneously, as I can´t live several stories simultaneously.”

Elka Leonard - So Chic
Elka Leonard Studio | Booth S818

Shewmaker Sculpture | Booth 110, SC-1

Born in 1953, Michael Shewmaker had loving parents and three siblings who instilled in him a strong joie de vivre, encouraging his early visual exploration. At 13, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, taking him on a lifelong physical battle and emotional journey that drove him to create, eventually resulting in his most recent sculptural output. Studying art and art history, he attained a BA from Southern Illinois University and did postgraduate work at the University of Florida and San Diego State University.

Shewmaker spent years mastering the craft of “raising”—an ancient technique for creating hollow metal vessels using only hammers and specialized anvils. Combining this love of forging with a lifelong passion for public art, he has crafted monumental abstractions that are statements of form. Aluminum, his primary material, was chosen for its ductile properties as well as its marvelous ability to reflect the moods and colors of the day. His love of the material has precluded much interest in most other metals, although he does work in bronze occasionally.

Residing in Pepeekeo on the Big Island of Hawaii, Shewmaker has recently completed a sculpture garden near his studio. Placing his work on huge stone pedestals, he has created a visual experience that is at once a celebration and a soul-baring personal statement.

Shewmaker Sculpture
Shewmaker Sculpture | Booth 110, SC-1

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