About The Artists
A native New Yorker who moved to North Carolina from Illinois in 1974, Howard Bemus had studied Bonsai styles before beginning his first tree, an endeavor that he describes as a “light bulb moment.” He said that Bonsai designs were a natural fit for the aesthetic he wanted to create and with his love of nature, a passion that began in his early years as a resident of Bemus Point, a village in Chautauqua County, New York, named for his familial predecessors.
“Some of the trees represent the stories of my life,” Bemus said. “It’s like being a blues singer; you can always make a great song about life lessons. And others come from my love of nature, and that started in Bemus Point. It is truly one of the most special places in the world.”
The Steel Forest, a name that Bemus has given to his body of work, has been featured in galleries and several purchased pieces are on permanent display at U.S. businesses. For individual clients, Bemus customizes the size of each piece for a specific space and will talk with designers and clients about the story they want to tell, always remembering the turn of events that ignited his own passion for the trees after he realized that his first career as a professional photographer was changing in a way he didn’t like.
“I saw the (film) photography industry crumbling and I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore,” Bemus said. “So I embraced the adversity and started focusing on a new idea and my own wellness. I always encourage people to never give up. Adversity can make your stronger and lead you to try harder, things you wouldn’t normally do.
“There are trees split in two, trees with broken branches, and then those like Intimate Embrace that show two trees becoming one,” Bemus said. “My trees reflect both paths — the calm and soothing and the bashed and battered.”
Julia Chandler Lawing
Julia Chandler Lawing creates contemporary paintings inspired by her life experiences, expressing her impressions in compositions of landscapes, structures and figures. Julia’s work is characterized by exciting brushmarks, knife work and reverberating color, and is as much about the interplay of paint and surface as the subject itself.
Julia was continually recognized and awarded for her artistic talent throughout her school years. Born in Atlanta, Julia relocated to St. Simons Island, Georgia, with her family at age 12. The privilege of growing up in such a beautiful location marked her with an ever-insatiable desire for nature. Julia earned a BA in Journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (’90), which she supplemented with drawing and art history courses. While employed at Savannah College of Art and Design, and later, the Charlotte Observer, she continued pursuing art through night classes in everything from stained glass and woodworking to ceramics and pastels. As a young mother, Julia’s artistic outlets included creating artwork alongside her four daughters, teaching elementary art at their school, and docenting at the Cabarrus County Arts Council. She began oil painting in 2014 under the mentorship of nationally renowned artist and teacher, Andy Braitman.
Julia paints and resides in Concord, North Carolina, with her husband Bruce, four teenage daughters, and black Labrador Lincoln, who are constantly forgiving her for not having dinner ready on time, crowding the garage with canvases, and leaving traces of paint everywhere.