Archives for posts with tag: artists

As an artist who “paints in stone,”  Mark Krueger seeks to approach the cohesiveness found in nature, revealing clarity of geometric relationships among interconnected parts.  His chief concern is finding innovative ways to play with those relationships.  Krueger invites his collaborators  – area designers – to use onyx, marble, sandstone, and quartzite in dynamic ways to create order, surprise and delight in interior spaces.

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“Stone has important things to tell us that have not yet been said.  It’s a much more versatile and expressive medium than people think.  I pay close attention to the technical properties as well as the aesthetic possibilities latent in the different kinds of stone, so I can help people unlock them and prepare to live with them.”

He boldly challenges the dichotomous categories of form versus function that keep many artists’ careers from progressing except on a one-sided track.  “Why can’t an artist’s work serve a dual function?  Why can’t it be both art and an armoire, art and an insert in a backsplash?” To suspend judgements about artistic purity can be liberating, in Krueger’s opinion.  “I feel happy knowing someone sees my artwork every day, that it is woven into their daily routines.  Art shouldn’t just be reserved for special occasions.”


Mark Krueger’s studio is in Wallingford, Connecticut, and New Haven County is his home base.  The market for his high-end customized stone installations extends to Long Island, Manhattan, Westchester, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, where people often take great pride in their aesthetic displays.  Important sources for his materials are Onyx Stone in Woodbridge, Ele Mar Stone Distributors in New Haven and New York Stone in West Haven, CT.  He has also created an alter ego, Armando Bertoli, who represents his work in Europe:

In a world of pre-fabricated options, where creating an interior is often simply an exercise in multiple choice, Krueger says: “Make yourself available to the end users.  Lift the limitations.  Show them something more is possible.”  He wants to give people the confidence to be creative, and the assurance that each of his stone installations is the first and only one of its kind.


Designers help provide continual feedback from customers and become true creative partners.  It is through the daunting work of listening between the lines for what people really want, what might surpass their expectations, prototyping, discussing and elaborating that Krueger stays inspired to inject artfulness into what has essentially remained a rather stagnantly commercial process over the decades.

Krueger’s installations are like murals, belying his roots as a painter.  The work is realized in two-and-a-half dimensions, highly customized and site-specific.  Subtle gradations in finish, from quite rough to a smooth polish, treat the light differently.  “Some day I’ll teach people how to do it. I’d love for other people to do it, but do it by hand.”


Another innovative tactic he uses to push stone beyond sculpture and mosaic is to bond thin slices of it to glass with clear epoxy resin.  The results can be used in place of what might commonly be a freestanding glass enclosure, such as a shower door, and backlit to produce dramatic ambient effects.

“Those who choose to collaborate with me have access to a whole new palette.”  Onyx is especially suited, Krueger finds, to use as part of unique light fixtures.  Bonding a thin layer of onyx to another stone produces light variation in the underlying stone’s color.  “Shading in this way, if we need another shade of green than one we find normally occurs, we simply make it.  We can literally create new colors of stone.”

Yet, a world of infinite choice is not actually the end goal in our age of extreme complexity and uncertainty.  Krueger provokes collaborators to wonder together, “how do we thoughtfully eliminate information to make life more manageable?”  Arriving at the proper level of abstraction by bringing the information embedded in a project through several stages of reduction is, in his opinion, one of the most important design questions to resolve.  The solution is different each time, speaking to the needs, constraints and reference points that inspire each set of circumstances in which he works.


Krueger hopes in the future to take collaboration to a new level with other artists.  He notes, “on a nice, big residential project, we can create internal surfaces that have future flexibility.  One of the big unexplored spaces in homes is the ceiling.  In Europe, ceilings are really designed and thought through.  Stateside, you still see mostly white space.”

In place of this blank canvas, Krueger wants to create a system of panels which could be periodically replaced as an interchangeable design element.  An end user could have seasonal sets of ceiling panels, for instance, with different color schemes, or wish to highlight a particular thematic or design element from a particular part of the world.  “The idea is, you don’t have to live with it forever, but you don’t have to start from scratch when you want a change.”

“I want collaborating with me to be a fun form of creative expression, not overwhelming.”  To that end, Krueger invites members of the design community to have him speak about the medium of stone and its untapped capacities.  Images of work in various stages plus actual stone samples make for sensory rich, interactive experiences.  Email for scheduling.  You may also see him present live at Pechakucha New Haven on Wednesday, November 13 at Bentara Restaurant.

In the book Sleights of Mind, Macknik & Martinez-Conde make the point that professional illusionists are artists.  Their medium is not a deck of cards but rather skillful manipulation of human attention and cognition.


The authors present a few lessons learned that can be useful outside of a magic show.  Distortions in how we process information tend to fall into certain predictable patterns.

  •  Illusionists often “divide and conquer” your supply of attention.   Relaxed, serial concentration is best for gaining situational awareness and making discerning observations.
  •  “Apparent exposure” is a kind of false transparency or plausible-sounding candor, such as revealing one trick (or mistake) so that another might go unnoticed.
  • “Good continuation” means resolving pieces that are missing according to what has been seen in the past.  The brain is always filling in blanks.   SPOILER ALERT: The old bent spoon trick relies on this feature of our innate computing equipment.
  • We spend more neural energy on differences than on similarities, so contrast is the fastest trigger for capturing attention.  (Think of how much more often in Lean circles we discuss pivoting versus needing to persevere!)
  • Tension often creates a false impression that purposeful action is taking place.
  • Framing is the ability to define the container for attention.    Often what’s actually pulling the story forward is happening outside the frame.

We all have many conflicting demands on our full attention.   Becoming more aware of the cognitive distortions this creates can help us understand and perhaps better account for human fallibility and the limits of perception.

LESSONS ARE FROM: Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Deception Reveals about our Everyday Perceptions, by Stephen Macknik & Susana Martinez-Conde

Special thanks to my friend Eric Mesh,  a Connecticut-based science writer and educator, for recommending this book!

Staff and youth from The Future Project joined E. Slomba Arts Interstices for the program “Opening Your Curatorial Eye”  (see Juicy Programs tab!) at City Wide Open Studios, an annual event produced by Art Space Gallery  The Future Project helps local teens discover their passions and turn them into projects.  Dedicated staff members are called Dream Directors.


A former Erector Set factory known as Erector Square houses the personal studios of hundreds of local artists in New Haven, Connecticut.  This high-density of creators made it an especially exciting place to be during City Wide Open Studios.


Participating teens visited the studios, met with artists and selected works for an upcoming exhibit, Navigate Complexity, to open at The Grove on November 18, 2013.


Artwork pictured above (middle photo) by Jaime Kriksciun.  Studio pictured above (lower photo) is Daniel Eugene’s.

Kicking off a series of two-part posts by pairing some of my thoughts about working with artists and a client’s notes about our work together. Look for similar posts here at Artbux every other Monday, and please submit your ideas for paired perspectives on collaboration. – Elinor Slomba, CSM


CONSULTANT’S PERSPECTIVE: In my administrative career – which began in 1994 – I have chosen to work alongside highly creative people. The ongoing effort to connect their great ideas with the resources needed to help actualize them has been the gist of my professional life so far. Mostly I have done this through the written word.

I LOVE artists! I love their vulnerability and sensitivity, and the strength of their convictions. I love how they see things others don’t. And so, in my case, as Kahlil Gibran says eloquently and with more than a grain of truth, “Work is love made visible.”

When you listen for the spaces between words and help someone who’s struggling with the seed of a new idea capture a coherent structure for his/her thoughts, it’s like having a superpower. So many amazing individuals are contributing their time and talent and intelligence – their very substance – to collective vitality right now…and running experiments using models proven viable in specific fields. I am proud to function as “glue” in the arts world and across sectors among them.


I appreciate the trust it takes to put your ideas into someone else’s hands and ask for help giving them form and expression. Whether or not it’s true what Daniel Pink says about connectors and synthesizers having a special place in civilization these days, and I like to think it is, helping artists be more successful is a permanently cool gig.

Meanwhile, jumps and twirls. Here’s to every day being different, with some more different than others. This hedge against conformity – respect for difference and celebration of meaning among differences whether stark or sublimely subtle – is the main, most substantive thing artists are expert at conjuring in our midst. It is extremely valuable to business. At this point in history, artists are selling what everyone else desperately needs.


ARTIST’S PERSPECTIVE: Contributed by Helen N. Hanson

Until recently I had never experienced a truly inspirational collaboration. I took the opportunity to collaborate with Elinor Slomba.

Elinor is a storycraft consultant, and she is excellent at her job. Due to illness I have had to transfer from the medium of Acting to the medium of Collage. Same artist, different disciplines, different form of interpretation.

When I first started working with Elinor, I was a bit all over the place, scattered, and not quite sure how to move forward.

We have now worked together for several months and I am quite clear on the direction of my work, the discipline it requires to produce it, and the structuring of my time so that I work as an artist, I tend to my health, I practice meditation, and I practice Collage. Of course all at the same time, there is my family, our home, our pets, our bills, my dear and wonderful friends near and far. LIFE in big capital letters!

Elinor has introduced ideas that would not have occurred to me, she speaks better than I do, she represents me more articulately than I do and she listens well. She has consistently come up with innovative and unusual combinations that prove to be an excellent avenue of getting work out there.

We check in once a week; and in that meeting, we accomplish quite a lot of very fine work. it has been very interesting to listen to her knowledge of social media and her take on what’s a good combination of social media to drive the customer that is already looking for my work. I have learned the importance of navigating and always staying on task on the World Wide Web.

It took a bit of time to find my online limits.  It was a valuable lesson to learn. While I may have a ton of energy, my body, especially now when I am in a healing crisis, may need nothing more then rest and food/ or sleep.

It is been a true pleasure having Elinor as my storycraft consultant.  If you are an entrepreneur, an artist, a dancer, a blogger, a poet…etc., and want to take what you say and perhaps haven’t said clearly and put it out into the worldwide marketplace for thought and/or goods exchange, Elinor Slomba can assist you.


Cross-posted on Helen Hanson’s blog  –


Speed networking is a good model to adapt when the goal is to construct any live, two-sided social platform.  It provides both sets of users with a chance to quickly discover what lies between the axes of choice and chance.

Art Space in New Haven is conducting a speed networking event for artists and curators on Sunday, September 30th.  I will be participating as one of the curators.

I wanted to provide a quick way to reference “The Artistic Dividend: The Arts’ Hidden Contributions to Regional Development”  By Ann Markusen and David King out of the University of Minnesota.  In section eight (Artists’ View of Themselves as Economic Actors), the researchers took an “occupational approach, centered on understanding the economic aspirations and experiences of individual artists through interviews, [which] uncovered a significant number of cases where artists are successfully generating a satisfactory income by working entrepreneurially, often aided by an extensive network of advice and contacts with others in the region. Many do so without sacrificing quality and creative integrity. ”

However, many artists, even successful grant-winning artists, still do not think of what they do as economic activity!  The report finds that they might do well to engage in entrepreneurial skill-building and overcome tendencies to think negatively about marketing their work.

Agile (which can be summed up as a team-based technology for approaching high-value business projects at high velocity in climates of dynamic uncertainty) is such an effective way to prioritize administrative tasks and achieve business objectives – I recommend it to any artist seeking to leverage time spent on “the business end of things.”   Training and coaching discourses around Agile are still very much grounded in the world of software development, now spreading to other, related domains – see  I am working on translating the essence of Agile into an arts-friendly language…collaborators WELCOME!  I hope that this will unlock new partnerships between the arts and start-up worlds and re-interest / reinvest nonprofit arts supporters in  the core administrative operations of organizations, which can be creative and innovative in their own right.

Planning to visit Minneapolis/St. Paul in August.  Please contact me ( about other arts organizations and/or start-up companies I should visit on my northern trip cross-country.    Special thanks to arts reporter Judith H. Dobrzynski.

The Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona has established a prize to recognize and promote  “public space that is at once public (open and universally accessible) and urban.”  In highlighting the “relational and civic aspects of the typically urban space, it differs from other initiatives that are focused on the figure of the architect, and from awards given for landscape-centred projects.”

A recent discussions on the Technology in the Arts group on Linked In spurred me to explore links to a project called Rebel Cities.   It details recent work by a French sociologist building on Henri Lefebvre’s work on “the right to the city,” urban regeneration, and the shaping of social interaction through urban planning.

The topic of the discussion was “Are Virtual Worlds Dying or Evolving?”  started by Tessa Kinney-Johnson, COO & Founder of SpotOn3D in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.   I told her I see virtual worlds evolving into powerful tools dedicated to creative problem-solving, with inputs for citizens to co-dream with local officials about the shaping of their places.   The gamification of urban planning makes good sense given the shortening loop between customer feedback and innovation in other spheres of development.

I also see artists lending their skills to the design of virtual model worlds so that people who do not see themselves as “creative” can still be participants rather than spectators in crafting the design and master narratives from which their urban world(s) are constructed.  The focus is urban – because the city, with its layers of shared meanings – is psychogeographic realm set apart, a distinct kind of human invention.

These virtual worlds would, in essence, become cognitive maps or “protozones.”   That, is urban zones-in-the-making that might  exist – and even become fully-realized – in psychogeographic terms first, not by planners, but by people who then hire the planners – who maybe then need to subcontract artists – to make them occur in actual fact.

The situationists dreamed of an urban life in which public spaces were injected with new life, enriched meanings, and unscripted social interactions through participatory play.    The group PublicShape is dedicated to Winston Churchill’s notion that “we shape our public spaces, therefore our public spaces shape us.”

Welp, artists, gamers, citizens, planners…we can do that now!

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