BY CARDEN HEDELT
Tiny pieces of wire were everywhere.
Strings and paintbrushes and pieces of wood jutted out of cubbyholes at every turn.
Many artists could spend hours searching in vain for traditional art materials in Alexander Calder's Roxbury, Conn., studio.
But from this madness, Calder created gigantic mobile masterpieces, weighing hundreds of pounds, with multiple arms and panels.
Calder's studio didn't look much like a conventional artist's studio--and it was a far cry from Gari Melchers' pastoral studio and home overlooking the Rappahannock River.
Calder's is one of several studios featured in documentaries at the "Artists in Their Studios" film festival at Melchers' Stafford County home--along with pop artist Andy Warho's and abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock's.
"They were all innovators in their own right," said Michelle Crow-Dolby, education coordinator at Gari Melcher is Home and Studio. "They were all so cutting-edge, and their studios reflect how different they were. This exhibition highlights the differences from artist to artist."
Viewers can focus on the fascinating differences between these renowned artists' working environments: Calder's space in "Mobile," Pollock's in "Love and Death on Long Island" and Warhol's in "The Complete Picture."
Contrasting with Calder's jumbled studio in Roxbury, "The Complete Picture" takes viewers inside Andy Warhol's drug-fueled, celebrity-laden New York studio, where Warhol turned prints of Campbell's soup and Marilyn Monroe into art.
On the other end of the spectrum, "Love and Death on Long Island" takes viewers into Pollock's serene New England barn-turned-studio, where the artist, dubbed "Jack the Dripper" by Time magazine, perfected his innovative, spontaneous painting technique. He frequently worked outdoors and battled alcoholism.
None of the documentaries is rated, but mature subject matter is addressed.
"We're using this special exhibition as a jumping-off point to explore more of these artists in depth," Crow-Dolby said. "We're also using it to compare what we have here at Belmont to these artists' studios. It's interesting to see the differences, especially with these more innovative artists."
In each documentary, viewers can appreciate the uniqueness of each artist's work site, as well as Melchers' home and studio in Stafford.
"Belmont is unique because of a combination of things," Crow-Dolby said. "You have the home that's full of the Melcherses' furniture and belongings, and a studio that's located right next to the river and is surrounded by woods. That was where he created his work, and it's interesting to see where [other] artists created theirs."