September 8th, 2021

Fred Calleri, “Irresistible Charms,” oil, 16″ x 17″

What’s in a name? Or better yet, what’s in a title?

Have you ever found yourself leaning over an artwork to read the title of the piece? If you’re anything like us, then perhaps after reading the title, you’ve stood back a few steps and gazed at the piece with renewed appreciation. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes just a few quick words can add greater context and depth to a beloved picture.

This can come in the form of the nature-infused power of a Shawna Moore title, the poetic lyricism of a Nina Tichava title, the inspirational grace of a Bridgette Meinhold title, the mystic musing of a Stefan Heyer title, the thought-provoking narrative riddle of a Fred Calleri title, and many more.

As art history enthusiasts, we’re well accustomed to and appreciative of the classic “Untitled” art. However, in honor of our artists who put ample thought and energy into their art titles and the collectors who find greater meaning and connection with those titles, we asked a few of our artists to offer us greater insight into the process, inspiration, and importance of art titles.

 


SHAWNA MOORE

Shawna Moore, “Drop Out,” encaustic, 60″ x 60″

How do you go about titling your works?

Shawna Moore: For many years I had a big wall in my office where I would scribble down titles. It started to look like a scene from that movie, “A Beautiful Mind.” In fact it was a sign of this manic gathering and hoarding that creatives engage, albeit, hopefully in a healthy way. I would hear a song and write down a title, or read a book and write down a meaningful phrase. I listen to a lot of radio and podcasts in the studio, so if I hear something that interests me, I’ll scratch it down and then filter through these phrases or words when I am titling a group of work.

Could you give a specific example of one of your titles at Gallery MAR and how you came up with its title?

Shawna Moore: Drop Out,” was interesting because on the darker paintings with more gravitas, I give myself permission to use a title with perhaps a negative connotation. A “drop out” is usually not thought of as a good thing, but sometimes it is. I’m actually a college drop out. Plus, in surfing terms, to “drop in” means to “go for it,” so “dropping out” is interesting in an opposite way. Last year I titled a piece “Dark Matter,” which seemed kind of heavy and scientific but also described the graphite colored materials I had used to make the painting. Usually the titles relate to the work in more than one way and sometimes I don’t tell all that it means to me.

Shawna Moore, “We Float,” encaustic, 50″ x 40″

What are your greatest inspiration(s) when you title your works? 

Shawna Moore: Usually I hear something that catches my ear. The phrase “Ground Swell,” sounded powerful and I had a mental picture of a wave rising. “True North” describes finding one’s own internal compass but also relates to the Western method of finding direction. The paintin, “We Float” was titled from a PJ Harvey song that crossed my soundscape as I was creating the work. The phrase “We Float” echoes in the chorus, but it’s not only the words that struck me, but the way she sings them. It felt so hopeful and restful, like a call to the water to hold us and show us the way through. I fell in love with that song while painting, and then this free and floaty painting emerged in front of me. It seemed like the perfect title and a way to remember that song and it’s feeling forever. 

What insight do you hope to offer your viewers/collectors about your work through your titles?

Shawna Moore: I usually pick words I like and match them with the paintings. It has to feel right. So the titles are like a bit of punctuation to help the collector understand a bit more. I recently met a couple who had purchased a painting titled “Sea Breeze.” It was blue with greens and felt light and airy. It feels like an open window when I see a photo of the painting in their home. That feels like a pretty good fit. 

 


NINA TICHAVA

Nina Tichava, “You Are a Deep Spring in Me,” mixed media, 60″ x 60″

How do you go about titling your works?

Nina Tichava: Most often when I finish a new painting, I spend some time looking at the piece and considering what kind of a feeling it evokes in me, or what imagery it might remind me of. I have a long list of favorite poets and writers, and I’ll thumb through their books in my studio searching for the perfect title. Also, I listen to music in my studio and will take parts of song lyric to name a piece. Sometimes current events or posts on social media will inspire me—for example, when Senator John Lewis passed away, I chose a line from one of his speeches as a title for a painting. I find that there’s usually an intuitive connection for me, and that another artist’s words can impart deeper meaning to my abstractions.

Could you give a specific example of one of your titles at Gallery MAR and how you came up with its title?

Nina Tichava: I’ve been reading books of poetry by Pablo Neruda for years. A botanical painting currently hanging at Gallery MAR bears a line from his poem “Ode and Burgeonings” from 1952. My painting is titled “You Are a Deep Spring in Me.” This painting has lush blues and greens which make me think of deep forests and the sea, which are common themes in Neruda’s poetry.

What are your greatest inspiration(s) when you title your works? 

Nina Tichava: I’m most inspired by poetry. I actively seek out writers who have lives or experiences that are different from my own, and I try to find authors who live in other countries and write in languages other than English. I’m definitely drawn to famous, well known poets and writers—I’m a huge fan of Beat Poetry and reference that group of poets often—but I also search for young, currently working artists to expand my knowledge of contemporary prose and discover fresh voices.

What insight do you hope to offer your viewers/collectors about your work through your titles?

Nina Tichava: I think of the titles as an invitation into the work. As an abstract painter, I recognize that the genre can sometimes be a little intimidating and difficult to relate to. A title can provide a starting point for the viewer or it can act as an anchor while viewing a piece. When looking at other artists’ artwork, I like to read the titles myself. I usually engage more deeply once I read the title, especially when it’s a title that speaks to me. Because I look at artwork all the time, I’m comfortable with the classic “Untitled,”  but for my own paintings, I always hope there can be more intimacy, and the title is a powerful way to facilitate that connection. 

 


BRIDGETTE MEINHOLD

Bridgette Meinhold, “Sleeping Maiden,” encaustic, 30″ x 60″

How do you go about titling your works?

Bridgette Meinhold: When I have a show and there’s a theme behind the show, I’ll spend a day coming up with various names that are related to that theme. Then I go through my paintings after I paint them, and I’ll assign titles from that list to them. That way, all the paintings will feel similarly themed in their titles. 

Could you give a specific example of one of your titles at Gallery MAR and how you came up with its title?

Bridgette Meinhold: One of my recent paintings at Gallery MAR was titled “Sleeping Maiden” and it’s of Mount TImpanogos in Heber Valley. I had decided to look up and read the full story of Mount Timpanogos, which references the “Sleeping Maiden,” so that’s what I titled the piece.

What are your greatest inspiration(s) when you title your works? 

Bridgette Meinhold: When it’s not titling a whole body of works for a show, I usually title individual pieces based on what I’m going through personally, whether that’s a feeling I had while painting it or a song lyric that caught my attention. Sometimes I title works based on the feeling you get when you’re hiking. It’s often inspired by whatever I’m going through. It’s more personal than people may realize. 

What are your greatest inspiration(s) when you title your works? 

Bridgette Meinhold: A lot of my titles this Spring and Summer have been about taking care of yourself. It’s my way of sharing that collective feeling of what we’re all going through right now: How to take care of yourself. 

 


STEFAN HEYER

Stefan Heyer, “Raw Earth,” mixed media, 43″ x 48″

How do you go about titling your works?

Stefan Heyer: I have a concept in my head, and I start with applying images to the canvas. The starting point can be just a word or phrase. I know that, at some point, the painting has its own rules, and I go with the flow. I have no problem with the painting going in its own direction. It is always a mix between concept and chaos, space and compaction, intensity and calmness.

In every painting, I incorporate text fragments, which have a specific sound. They set a specific ambience, adding to the marks, colors, and gestures. Oftentimes, the titles repeat what is inscribed into the painting, into the oil. I used to write “Untitled” on my painting’s titles, followed by these words and sentences in parentheses. I want to be open to changing titles should my mood and thoughts on a particular piece change.

Could you give a specific example of one of your titles at Gallery MAR and how you came up with its title?

Stefan Heyer: My work, “The Raw Earth,” is from something I read that got stuck in my head. This could mean “pure,” “authentic,” or “wild” in general, but it is also the term for the minerals and metals we extract from the earth to use in our electronics. In German, the phrase is “Seltene Erden,” which translated literally means “Rare Earths.” I really like this as well. It’s different meanings allow enough space for different interpretations and inspirations, sometimes even misinterpretations. That’s what I’m looking for: something clear with a wide range of meaning.

I’m also a little obsessed with old archaic words and how our languages (English, German, French, Spanish, etc.) reflect our common roots. Another title was “Reflection on Creation and Space,” which inspired a series of paintings. It’s the title of a record by Alice Coltrane. At the time I was reading about places in Africa, where they found the oldest remains of the Homo Sapiens species. We’re always learning about our history. It’s a fluid process. I was circling that topic in my mind while painting and that record came to me. I found the title fitting, and it fueled my imagination.

What are your greatest inspiration(s) when you title your works?

Stefan Heyer: My inspiration could come from anywhere, although usually, they’re from some words from poems or song lyrics. I start with the painting, listen to music, and add other text fragments and words. I paint the world and include all of its contradictions: all the beauty and all of the chaos. At the end, it looks different than what I thought it might look like. I want to surprise myself in that way. It could be that, when I’m finished painting, there are just traces of those inspirations, covered fragments, ghosts. But it’s all there and the viewer can sense it: the aura and the energies inscribed. 

What insight do you hope to offer your viewers/collectors about your work through your titles?

Stefan Heyer: It’s important to throw an immediate hook to the viewer. A title can sometimes do that. I museums, people look as much to the small titles next to the painting as to the painting itself. I want to give hints and tracks without telling too much. A painting has its own secret, which is a beautiful thing. It is superior to a text. It goes deeper because it speaks to both the heart and the brain. My paintings want to be discovered and conquered. In my perfect world, it’s love at first sight for the viewer. Then later, when the viewer and painting get to know each other, they always discover something new and live happy ever after.

 


FRED CALLERI

Fred Calleri, “Irresistible Charms,” oil, 16″ x 17″

How do you go about titling your works?

Fred Calleri: I didn’t really understand that titling paintings meant anything when I first started to paint. I didn’t even really sign my work back then. Once I got into galleries like Gallery MAR, I needed to title my paintings so that collectors could refer to specific pieces. I didn’t really think much about titles or how they could enhance or add to the painting. To me it was just a label. At the time, I was still working at my day job. I would call over my fellow graphic designers to my cubicle and show them an image of my latest painting, and I would ask them what I should call each piece. One time, one of my fellow graphic designers came up to me and said, “oh that painting reminds me of my mom. She was so pretty.” So I titled the piece, “Mom Was So Pretty.” When I gave my new titles to my gallery, they thought they were amazing. Right then and there I understood: I could play with words and add to the painting by giving the viewer a little direction to think about. That’s how I do it now. Sometimes I title the work based on what’s going on in the picture, but other times, I just want to play. 

Could you give a specific example of one of your titles at Gallery MAR and how you came up with its title?

Fred Calleri: There’s a painting I did of my muse, Simon, where someone’s pouring tea and the tea is being spilled all over the table. I titled the painting “Irresistible Charms.” In the piece, there’s a little handkerchief on the table with a “C” on it. My partner, Simon’s mom Tina, had given me that handkerchief in the early days of our relationship, so in the painting, I’m not only indicating to the viewer that this child has irresistible charms, but I’m also giving a hidden message to Tina that she has irresistible charms. So, I think I’m the one getting the most out of my titles, but collectors enjoy that I play with it a little bit. 

I also like to use double meanings in my titles. For instance, I painted one piece for Gallery MAR of a woman hanging off a snowy cliff, powdering her nose. I called it “Fresh Powder,” relating both to the powdery snow in the painting and the woman powdering her nose. I like to play with double meanings a lot when titling my work. In the end, it’s fun for me. 

Fred Calleri, “Fresh Powder,” oil, 48″ x 30″

What are your greatest inspiration(s) when you title your works? 

Fred Calleri: I have looked for words in song lyrics. I’ll go on websites and research different meanings that will lead me on a trail to something strange and interesting. Sometimes I’ll have a piece of paper taped next to my easel, and I’ll write down things that I hear or think of that are incongruent with each other. I’ll look at that over time and grab a word from it. What I like to do is point out something in the picture that you may have overlooked. For instance, if the painting is a portrait of someone doing something important in the foreground, you may think I’m going to talk about that, but really, I’m going to say something about the cloud in the background. I’ve learned that that’s fun to do. 

What insight do you hope to offer your viewers/collectors about your work through your titles?

Fred Calleri: Through titles, I’m able to give a little direction and ask the viewer to figure out what I mean. I like to play with the viewer and steer them in a different direction just to get them thinking something new. That’s important to me. 

 


 

We would like to extend a warm thank  you to our artists Shawna Moore, Nina Tichava, Bridgette MeinholdStefan Heyer, and Fred Calleri for their insightful input on art titling.

Written by Veronica Vale