Family Ties

 


Alan Singer and Anna Sears
Fall 2021


Now that I have published my 400th post to this blog, I can take a few moments to reflect on bit of family history, and before this year's end we can celebrate the people that are close to us.. I. first want to say that I owe a great deal to my wife Anna ( see above ) who has stood by me all these many years and without her support I don't know where I would be today! ..We are married for over 41 years and looking forward to so much more!



At R.I.T. my class in Botanical and Zoological Art

As I reflect on the past I can also say that this year has been a major transition after having retired from 32 years of teaching art at Rochester Institute of Technology, and I wish my students who shared so much of their talent with me all great success!  Over the last semester I was a ZOOM professor and I can say that for me looking at artwork through the lens of my computer is really not the same as being in the room with a student who expects so much good advice from their teacher... I have been so lucky to have found a great job with gifted people all around!

This year I can also  celebrate the fact that I have been exhibiting my artwork for over 50 years...
Showing what I can create is very important to me, and I look forward to feedback on my shows whenever and wherever they occur.  Hopefully I won't have ZOOM exhibitions - although I may have to!

My first New York City show came in 1971 and it was a collaboration between me and Allen Silberman.  Allen was a photographer married to Dina who was a gifted vocalist in the all woman group "The Pennywhistlers".  These women - seven ladies would rehearse in Allen and Dina's apartment in the Village and I... was just enthralled.  Later I would see them perform onstage at Carnegie Hall and they were even better!



The Pennywhistlers with Dina Silberman at far left

Allen Silberman and I had our show in the new gallery district in New York City which was called SoHo for South of Houston Street.  Our show was a "Happening" and it took place at the Flats Fixed Gallery on West Broadway.  When we had our show I was still a college student in fine art at The Cooper Union and I was trying to decide whether I wanted to be a photographer or a painter ( painting and printmaking won that argument ).  So the two of us created a happening in a darkened  gallery before an audience when we projected movies onto photographic paper and we had given out water pistols filled with developer and asked  people to pull the triggers!  Really unique images then were revealed, and we let the images dry out up on the walls of the gallery.
Alan Singer in 1971 at Yale University in Norfolk, CT

Something else I need to mention was the fact that although I was showing my art in New York City, it was hard to make the sales I needed to support myself, so I branched out and started to work as an illustrator and designer.  I had always enjoyed gardening at my parents house so I used their plants and flowers  as my subject matter.  I was also going about painting "en Plein Aire" after studying with Wolf Kahn and Paul Resika - two notable landscape painters.



My parents - Arthur and Judy Singer - at Bertel Bruun's house, 1972

My garden watercolors lead me to a job I wanted - I was working as a book illustrator and over the next two years I produced detailed watercolors for a volume published by Delacorte Press entitled: "The Total Book of House Plants". I should also note that during the day I was studying for my Master's degree at Cornell and during the night I worked on illustrating my book.



My night job was as an illustrator.. for my first book published by Delacorte Press 


How do you get a job illustrating books?  You have to impress a publisher and back it up with a great portfolio - and I was in luck because my father, Arthur Singer had been publishing his artwork for years with Golden Press and the editor there ( Lucille Ogle ) had watched my progress as  an artist and wanted to support my work!  So I would study painting during the day and at night I could do my illustrations.  I gathered a great collection of tropical plants in my apartment and there was also a stellar greenhouse on the campus at Cornell.  The fellow who was in charge of taking care of the Cornell greenhouse ended up writing the book you see above - and that was Russell Mott.  Needless to say, my graduate years at Cornell were very busy in Ithaca, New York and it was there that I met my future wife!

So you see there is much to celebrate and these were the very beginnings of my artistic ventures that have only multiplied over the years since.






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Jubilee

 


Liberty Pole Plaza is in the center of Rochester, New York
RIT City Art Space is nearby at 280 East Main Street
presenting
"Jubilee"
Art by Luvon Sheppard

Luvon Sheppard presents his solo exhibition called: "Jubilee" at the RIT City Art Space from early November through December 19th, 2021 and like a magnet I was attracted to the show by the great good spirits of the man and his art. Luvon has now been teaching at R.I.T. for FIFTY YEARS!  If you know Luvon - then you know he is the real deal, and if you haven't yet met the man - go see his show - it is by the Liberty Pole Plaza and hear his gallery talk at 6 pm on Friday, November 12th.



Alan Singer at left and Luvon Sheppard at right

Luvon and I have known each other for years - and when I first came to work at R.I.T. here in Rochester it was late in 1988 and I was given office space with Luvon - so we have shared a lot since I first arrived.  Luvon brings a sunny disposition to our conversations and perhaps that comes from the fact that he was born in Florida and as a child he moved to Rochester when he was five with his family.



" Rochester 1940" by Luvon Sheppard, watercolor

At R.I.T. once a week, Luvon and I would sit and have lunch to share ideas and go over a bit of our own history.  I had applied to teach at this university because of its reputation and moving up from New York City where things had been badly shaken by an economic recession and my jobs as a free-lance illustrator had been put on hold,  now I had a new job and a new home. 

Meanwhile, Luvon had taught in the Memorial Art Gallery; he was deeply involved in this community and as an educator and visionary who started a workshop called All Of Us, he had already inspired many students to share their love of art and practice with a sense of a higher purpose.



Admire the watercolors by Luvon Sheppard

At the RIT City Art Space there is room to breathe and you can feel peaceful looking over Luvon's watercolors where he has freedom with the medium and I have watched him give demonstrations of his technique which has evolved over the years that we have known each other.  Luvon has also been a printmaker but lately he is trying a new approach to his art.



Luvon Sheppard has a quote to consider in his new collage...

In Luvon's new collages there is a mix of photos and cut paper, and every now and then there is a bit of text to consider like this quote: "If You Want Something You Never Had, Then You Must Do Something You Have Never Done".   Like looking through a pair of binoculars we find a portrait of Frederick Douglass and profiles of faces from the neighborhood.  At the show there are also some of Luvon's new sculptures and I am not surprised that at this stage he is reaching out in new directions as experimentation comes with his experience.



Luvon uses found objects and more....

I enjoyed chatting with Luvon and his wife as gallery goers came into the opening  and there is some sense that maybe we are getting back to normal after this long period of being anxious about the pandemic.

At the show Luvon celebrates Rochester with a large watercolor he calls "Rochester 1940".  The wall label describes 1940 as important to him because that was the year that he was born!  So there are many reasons that Rochester should celebrate Luvon and his work, because he is the heart and soul of this city.  He also operates an art gallery now on Main Street called the Joy Gallery and we really get to view a diverse range of art and photography there that is representative of the culture we now can partake.



Luvon is a natural born teacher and he has been a great asset for our community!

From my perspective Luvon has brought his many gifts to the party; he has a natural gift to search for and find real value in his life and his art - certainly in the making and the doing.  His exhibition is an inspiration for. us all to behold.  Check it OUT!


 








 






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Autumn Light


"In A Different Light"
at the
Oxford Gallery, Rochester, New York

The tree leaves in my new neighborhood are fast changing colors and yet we have to deal with daylight savings time once again - Spring Ahead and Fall Behind - and the countryside gets darker earlier...   many changes to anticipate!  Also, in this season the art exhibitions are picking up pace with some new and enticing shows to visit if you are game for it! 


My "Dynamic Equilibrium" gouache on board is a work-in-progress

The important element that we are dealing with is light and it changes with the season in my studio on the fourth floor of the Hungerford Building, along the railroad yards in Rochester, New York.  I am working on a series of abstract geometric paintings - many of which have isometric angles that create illusions of three dimensional space and overlaps of volume.  Just finishing a piece I call: "Dynamic Equilibrium" and considering what comes next...
 


"Shoreline Light" print by Elizabeth Durand
from the show called: In A Different Light"

Take some time to visit the Oxford Gallery here in town for a new show called: "In A Different Light".  I have a new print in this exhibition that I call: "The Importance of Light" and it features one of my mathematical visualizations of what looks like a green light bulb which stems from my writing out a formula in a software program called: "Cinderella".  I took Jim Hall's prompt about light literally when I was invited to show my artwork in this new thematic exhibit.  Each of the artists now on view through November 27th bring their own interpretations to the topic at hand.

When I walked into the Oxford Gallery I was immediately attracted to a small print by Liz Durand which features a waterfront and some swirling golden clouds and this marks an interesting departure for this printmaker.  Nearby there is a painting by Tony Dungan that gives the impression of plunging into space with some intense colors and fragments flying.  Tony calls his piece "The Light Beneath Your Feet" and while the painting is abstract - if you take the literal meaning of the title into account the image is something of a shock!



Tony Dungan and his acrylic painting " The Light Beneath Your Feet"


Not all of the artwork in this show is so intense, as you can see in the pastels of Ray Hassard - these works feature intimate details of unmade ( recently slept in? ) beds in darkened rooms and the passages in his art are really convincing.  Materials in the hands of an artist do matter and the pastels he employs are subtle and sensitive to the situation.


"Motel Room 3AM". pastel by Ray Hassard

I was amused by the take on Rene Magritte by painter Jim Mott.  It was only a few weeks ago that we went to hear a talk he gave at The Memorial Art Gallery and I would not have expected to see this portrait of some houses in Corn Hill showing the contrasting times of day that leaves a surrealist impression.  Jim Mott is a poet in painting and has an eye for making connections and this work certainly does that!



"Corn Hill  A La Magritte" painting by Jim Mott

Talking about materials once again, look at the abstraction by Barbara Mink - and there you will find gold and acrylic mixed in a storm of color and light.  Or how about the materials employed by Barbara Page - these are old fashioned index cards that come from a library card catalog all decorated with images that reflect on the titles and content of the books that they are charged to represent.



"Golden Compass" by Barbara Mink

There are over 60 works in this new show at Oxford Gallery - and saying that there is something for everyone is not over-stating the case.  Enjoy the show and look for images you can connect with.



At Axom Gallery in the South Wedge
paintings by Lanna Pejovic

At Axom Gallery we have a beautiful show of paintings by Lanna Pejovic, and we were lucky enough to stop in when she was giving a talk about this new body of work.  I know Lanna from R.I.T. and she has had a recent showing at the Main Street Arts gallery in Clifton Springs that featured almost mural size paintings of trees in a landscape, and this current show at Axom Gallery continues with this theme.  She  treats her subject of trees in a light filled forest as almost akin to figuration.  There is wonderful interplay of brush strokes and patches of smoky color that create an ambient texture that conveys a feeling of being alone in the woods.


Lanna Pejovic at Axom Gallery

Lanna's paintings are not necessarily paintings - as they say - made "en plain aire".  These are mostly studio works which in a way relate to the structures of music and the development of compositions that are built piece by piece.

Have a look at her artwork and at Axom Gallery you can see how well her paintings work in the surrounding interior design with chairs and tables that make you feel you are right at home!  As I once wrote in her catalog for the show at Main Street Arts, Lanna is a painter's painter.  She is inspiring to listen to, but the art speaks for itself, a wonderful process to behold..














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Wide World

 


The Treman Center, Enfield, NY


Just driving back from The Treman Center near Ithaca, New York on Sunday where my classmate from Cornell University - Kumi Korf gave a performance called "Hidden Books ll".

This really unusual afternoon saw a gathering of folks from near and far in celebration for the life we share on this planet.  And the fragility of it all....Kumi is a visual artist who has struggled of late with her health and during a recent hospital stay had a vision for a gathering of people - a happening - a living artist book bash, with fashionable modern dancers and a musical score.  We witness a truly magical experience!



Wildroot Gallery by George Wegman

Right now, much closer to home there is a gallery show that features the Wildroot Group at Warren Phillips Fine & Frame in the Hungerford Building.  Who or what is the Wildroot Group?  I. gather that the Group actually had their own art gallery in the South  Wedge once upon a time in an old  barber shop.  The Group now includes five artists and they are: Nancy Holowka, William Holowka, Peter Monacelli, Robert Whiteside and George Wegman.  This artist cooperative has many diverse talents and they are on display this month.


Artwork by Robert C. Whiteside

Early in my teaching career at Rochester Institute of Technology I met with "Bob" Whiteside and "Bill" Holowka when they both worked for an outdoor signage company and they helped me and my students in illustration to develop a layout for a mural that is still in place on the walls of the parking garage under the family court building in downtown Rochester.  I didn't know at the time that they were part of this Wildroot Group and I now wonder how much their artwork has changed since I first met them.


Pen drawings by William Holowka

At Warren Phillips' gallery there are paintings by Robert C. Whiteside which seem to move and swirl with a nod to Cezanne and Abstract Expressionism.  His colleague, William Holowka has made drawings that include texts for each image and seem to have been made with a technical pen being very careful with all the lettering!  Above are two drawings - "Useless Lumber" and  "Looking for Stanley" with a certain urge to find a pattern that suits each character.




Collage and painting by George Wegman

When you walk into this gallery you come face to face with a selection of recent collage/paintings by George Wegman and it seems that much of his collage work incorporates dress patterns made of overlaps of printed paper glued onto the surface of the canvas and then painted.  Judging from the number of red dots that indicate the work has sold, George has touched people with his compositions and maybe this represents a shift for him and we can look forward to more of his painted collages!


Nancy Holowka was working at  The Memorial Art  Gallery and for many years assisted the Director, Grant Holcomb.  Now it seems she is creating a series of photos that have their roots in colorful abstractions like her print she calls: "Waterloo Blue".  Her images  bring to mind another local photographer - Pat Wilder - who passed away last year.



Peter Monacelli has hand made book images and archival prints

Peter Monacelli has a whole series of prints on view that are enlargements from the pages of smaller colorful artwork he keeps in a series of notebooks.  The originals - all 172 of them - are mostly abstract and are reflections on Asian poetry - The Mountain Poetry of StoneHouse which was translated from the writings made in the 13th century.  Peter  says that his originals are visual translations from the "Mountain Poems" and next to each print is a bit of the literature so you can see the painting Peter made and read the poem.  These are works that have an immediate and intimate setting and you can see the response that Peter has had with each poem giving each one an engaging invention, colorful and thoughtful at the same time.


Wall / Therapy with Maxx 242

On the way home I pull over to take a photo of a new wall mural that has been painted in the industrial zone just outside of the railroad yard.  Wall/Therapy is celebrating their 10th anniversary as an advocacy group for public art in our city.  I wish them well!  I did see that this wall had been freshly painted and I wondered about who Maxx 242 actually is?  The image is a bit of a muchness - the lady has horns and she has a pair of blue roses, and a butterfly heart....

 




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Back To You

 


My strawberry in the morning...haha!

The strawberry in my morning cereal was smiling and then it was sticking its tongue out at me!


This reminds me that when I last spoke with my grandchildren they were using the new Animoji that recognizes facial structure and super-imposes a moving emoji cartoon where their real face was a moment ago.  Then as if that weren’t enough, the CBS show “60 Minutes” has a segment on “Deep Fakes” where  the interviewer Bill Whitaker looks like he is thirty years younger – all using facial recognition software.  We are definitely moving into a new phase of the digital revolution!




Alan Singer's "Bird Bills"  - my transfer mono print from early this year

I am concerned about this in regard to this blog on visual art  (that I write on occasion) because it begins to look like we are handing off something important to the authors of artificial intelligence.  I have to deal with this all the time because at least half of my artwork is  constructed on my computer first, and that human touch is buried in the work product.


So, when I reason with myself, I come down to the fact that even though I use a machine ( my MacBook Pro ) to help me compose a painting or a print, I still am putting in my thoughts and feelings in and about the art as it progresses, and it HAS to meet my standard, and it has to show me something about where we are today and what is required of art and in part this may shake things up for some people.  Art always has that potential....!


Yes, I realize that we are all in a creative field and our goals are not all the same.  I can go into the studio and take up where I left off, and now that I no longer teach my classes at R.I.T. my central question revolves around how well my artwork represents who I am now.  Where do I want to be with my art and how will the artwork I make now be seen by any audience ( and in a pandemic what will that audience consist of? ).




Headlines in the Pittsford Post, October 2021

Something quite out of the ordinary has happened here in our new neighborhood.  The local newspaper, the Pittsford Post published this week’s issue with a headline about  a local art gallery and a show of artwork by an artist whose name  was not a familiar one for me, so I guess I will have to go and see what this is all about....!





Stewart Davis painted birds in flight

When I am not in my studio I may want to see what other people are  creating, and go where they are  showing.  One of my favorite places to visit is RoCo and a few weeks ago I went over to see a memorial exhibit  for Stewart Davis.  Stewart was one of those guys I really enjoyed chatting with and I was shocked to learn that he had passed away!  I know that he was a great supporter of the arts, and this memorial had artwork that he had made in recent years, and that was a surprise too because I didn’t know he practiced art making as well!




Joshua Enck and his sculptural expressions

Since I was out and about I stopped in on the last day of a show at the RIT CITY Artspace to view sculpture by Joshua Enck and Prints by Sarah Kinard.  I didn’t know Joshua or his sculpture before and it has a kind of constructivist reliance on geometric simplicity and in some of his pieces there is a flow that resonates with the prints of Sarah Kinard, who I do know. Sarah sometimes works with woodcuts – relief printmaking and she has so much energy!




Sarah Kinard, printmaker

Sarah’s graphic imagery dances before you, it does somersaults and mixes movements that have an emotional power and punch. An interesting facet of showing your work in some gallery spaces is that they frequently now have a code on each label which allows you to use your smartphone to  see more details about the artist which means  that you can watch a short video and pick up some valuable information about the artist on view.  This show had that feature!

 

I go back to the studio thinking about this and maybe wish that the imagery I am working with had some of that dance energy.  Well, I got to get back to my work. Now, and  ... Back to You.. 







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A Round Of Applause

 

         Matthew  Retzlaff,  "HUFFY" at   Burchfield Penney Art Center

Surviving the pandemic, & having some time in the studio to think about my life, I have to stand and give a shout out to the many artists whose dedication to their art and to their audience I have shared.  In our part of the country I see many outstanding paintings, prints and installations and it is hard to keep up with all this creativity!  A couple of weeks back we were in Buffalo and we stopped into the Burchfield Penney Center before driving back to Rochester, and there were many folks from our area with their art on view in this museum!  Across the street from this museum is another huge construction project at The Albright Knox Art Gallery which looks like the galleries will double in size!





Bill Stewart's " A Shaman's World"  on view at The Burchfield Penney Art Center


Let me say that the Burchfield Penney  Center  is devoted to the art of Charles Burchfield who I have written about previously on this blog.  The current exhibitions on view at this venue include groups of crafts people and individuals like the late Bill Stewart who created ceramic figures that have an impact - mixing cartoons with idol worship, so quirky that you have to laugh. 



Bill Keyser

You might want to spend more time with the survey of American crafts that brings you artists like my friend Bill Keyser who spent many years in woodworking and in this instance brings the audience a stripped down edgy piece that has a minimalist aesthetic.   Having just seen a show of paintings and drawings by Elizabeth Murray, I was surprised to see the wall mounted sculptures by Paul Brandwein.  His constructions seemed to cross what Elizabeth had pioneered with an almost scientific composition that seemed to symbolize something familiar that might appear in a dream.  And around the corner was a very large work that has the look and impact of a  window in a cathedral  topped off with a grand butterfly. 




Paul Brandwein


Big Butterfly

Christine and Paul Knoblauch have created a beautiful and delicate kind of gate (“Heaven’s Sake”) that has a decorative quality and as an installation is quite unique. There are birds and flowers in the  composition and intricate metal work in this substantial piece.  I can’t imagine how many hours were spent trying to get the forms of all these things just right!




Christine and Paul Knoblauch

Upstairs there were a number of small paintings made “At the Water’s Edge”  by Mildred C. Green ( 1874-1951).  Mildred found her specialty with the steam boats on the Great Lakes and she was a stickler for detail!  Some of her paintings remind me of Edward Hopper and his keen eye and I really enjoy the compositions that are found in this show.



Mildred C. Green ( 1874-1951 )



Joseph Piccillo


Joseph Piccillo is an artist who works with charcoal, and looking at the large scale drawings in his room, I am attracted to his big horse and the portraits hanging alongside.  I was wondering how he got the smooth effects using charcoal – it was like the values were rubbed on, or built up very slowly, the drawings had quite an effect.











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Back In Town

 


Elizabeth Murray at University of Buffalo Anderson Gallery
Buffalo, New York
thru October 3, 2021


I met her coming off the airplane at the airport in Rochester, New York, and promptly drove Elizabeth Murray over to meet with my students at Rochester Institute of Technology.  The year was 2002.  Just a few weeks earlier she had been close at hand in her studio in lower Manhattan to witness the crashes and catastrophe of 9/11.  I wondered how those days might have affected her and influenced her thinking and her artwork.  We talked about this in the car as we approached R.I.T.



Elizabeth Murray visiting my painting class at R.I.T. in 2002

Now, almost twenty years later, one could get a better picture of how Elizabeth's art had changed when viewing the show " Back in Town" that is on for the rest of this month in Buffalo, N.Y.  The artist has passed on but her artwork survives, and this show mounted at the University of Buffalo Anderson Gallery is powerful and allows one to evaluate her influence on artists since her heyday in the later part of the 20th century.


Elizabeth Murray's early work at U of B Anderson Gallery

I thought of our conversation about 9/11 when I was visiting  the Anderson Gallery and caught sight of the toppling of the Empire State Building in her early work on exhibit.  She must have had a premonition of some sort!  In this present show there are several of her earliest works that mix a kind of cartoon style with textures and nervous colors like you see here ( above ).

"Back in Town" harkens back to a period in Elizabeth Murray's career when she was a teacher in Buffalo and was just setting out her subjects and her materials.  She only stayed in Buffalo two short years and then it was on to the Big Apple!



"Flying Bye" oil on canvas by Elizabeth Murray,  1982

I had been following her work since I first found it in the early 1970s at the Paula Cooper Gallery in SoHo in lower Manhattan.  Elizabeth took her interest in abstraction and married that to imagery taken from comic books and symbolism. Ingenuity  in form and color, Elizabeth Murray's art took painting and moved it closer to a sculptural presence.



"Sandpaper Fate", oil on canvas, 1992-93

This show is on until October 3rd, 2021 and it covers the two floors of the Anderson Gallery with artwork that runs through a robust period of nearly thirty years, with drawings and prints right up to her last paintings.  If you haven't seen this show - DON"T Miss It!  I thank the curators and the family trust that holds many of these works.  I am inspired by the energy Elizabeth brought to her task, and one can follow along with her development through the inclusion of drawings for this painting above called: "Sandpaper Fate".

This artwork indeed must have gone through many stages.  Just developing the stretchers for her paintings is a challenge for a carpenter because the edges curl around giving this painting a real dimensional form that juts off the wall.



"Riverbank", oil on canvas , 1997 in the collection of The Albright Knox 

In Murray's art there is an active sense of humor and movement as maybe a coffee cup spills over, or  a face that looks like crinkled lettuce has a word or two to say.  This is an interesting engagement  that Elizabeth Murray has with her audience, she is always giving you a zetz.



Bill Alley, lithograph in several parts by Elizabeth Murray

Upstairs, at the U of B  Anderson Gallery, there is a survey of Elizabeth's artwork in printmaking.  Here the visitor is greeted with a lithograph that really circles back to the comics - trying to tell a story using form and color linked to shapes that may have a symbolic resonance.  Many of the prints on view here relate rounded shapes that can serve as suggestions for paintings that would arrive later in her life.

When I brought Elizabeth to  speak to students back in 2002, I did not know then that she had health struggles, and I also did not know that she would be given a full scale retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in 2005, just a couple of years before her death.  At least she got to participate then and I expect that her art will have greater impact on viewers as the years go by...she was a true master, and this show gives us a chance to watch her development - and see how she broke the rules and made paintings her way!









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Finger Lakes Connections

 


Shayna Kiblin  "Touch Me"  hand tufted rugs, and plywood
The Artist Invites Patrons to interact with this piece

Rochester/Finger Lakes Show

The Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York

Even during a pandemic there comes a time when - if you are feeling well - you just have to go and see for yourself and find out what is going on in the art world.  We have had our anchor down for so long, we need to allow ourselves a bit more space for our imagination to roam and ruminate.  So, I invited my brother Paul to accompany me and go out to see The Memorial Art Gallery and tour the new show that has just opened celebrating the visual arts here in the Finger Lakes.  This is the 67th Rochester/Finger Lakes juried show and it fills the central Docent Gallery in the museum now through October 17th, 2021.

Amanda Chestnut selected the artwork on view and I would say that this show strives to have something for everyone.  Margot Muto writes an introduction to Amanda Chestnut: "As a curator and artist, Chestnut's work focuses on social justice issues around race and gender identity."  Many of the 112 pieces in this show address contemporary topics and these subjects form the core of the show she has mounted at the MAG.



Zane Leo "Destructive Hope",  a cut paper collage

I like to think that a show like this one at the MAG will help in making connections between news items and our own understanding of the times we presently live in.  Maybe a piece of art will resonate with us and remain in our field of vision as a force for change or at least something to contemplate.  Please....don't rush through this show!  Give the art some time to sink in.  Take a look at a work like "Destructive Hope" by Zane Leo.  What is the significance of this ( painful ) image?  The struggle of the human hand and the dying flowers becomes a symbol, but how does this relate to the title of the work?




"Forget Me Not" by Portas
at The Rochester/Finger Lakes show

Religious imagery can often instill hope, and in the little painting from Portas, we see beetles, and bees and flowers and fruit, and it could be viewed as a passage from the Bible.  Then we can also reflect on the news that insect populations worldwide have been drastically reduced because of global environmental damage.  The title "Forget Me Not" is not only the name of a flower but also a reminder to care for the nature from which we all spring and eventually return to.



Painting of Dandelions by Emily Glass

I am acutely aware of the connections one can make between people in our community, and having been a Professor in the College of Art & Design at R.I.T. for so many years, I am pleased that the present show includes some of my teaching colleagues and very happy to see some of our students who have been selected for this new exhibition.  There is a realist work by Emily Glass who now teaches painting at R.I.T. and you can admire her ability to understand and render the effects of cool light on the dandelions in her still life ( above ).



"Burn The Binding" painting by Athesia Benjamin

Finger Lakes connections include strong portraits by artists I know like Athesia Benjamin and Unique Fair-Smith.  You have to commend their way of capturing the human presence.  These artists galvanize your attention and they are at a flexion point in their careers.  Ms. Benjamin captures a look and feeling of this moment especially in light of the social movement we have witnessed here with Black Lives Matter.  Attitudes can change and artists can help make that happen.  We have to look seriously at our own behavior and work out ways to address inequality.  This also goes for the art world which has to be ready to engage and move forward.



Painting by Unique Fair-smith at The Memorial Art Gallery


Certain works stand out for me in this show like the decorative rugs that announce "Touch Me" on the boxy sculpture by Shayna Kiblin that greets you at the  entrance.  "Touch Me" could have been the title for this show!  Artists selected for this exhibition have stories to tell.  One of the stories is about "Death in the Pressroom", a kind of installation that seems to sum up the situation for the printed newspaper in our country.


"Death in the Pressroom" 2021
at The 67th Rochester/Finger Lakes Exhibition


The physics of imagery really stands on its head in the dimensional work by Ryann Cooley.  We begin to see the lens effect at work and it must have taken some real experimentation to find the perfect spot to   mount the little glass sphere so that we can view the portrait of Rosa.



"Rosa" by Ryann Cooley
Dimensional artwork in glass, wood and digital pigment print


So my brother and I enjoyed the show and went down the hall to see some of the other features of the museum.  We stopped to look at the large painting by Jerome Within, and also saw that there is a new mural installation going on in the hall on the way out.  I wasn't familiar with the artist called Salut, and later found out this mural was by Bradd Young.  The imagery  has a bit of a children's book look to it and  I was not sure that the art was in the final form, maybe it is still in development...




Painting by Jerome Within at The Memorial Art Gallery




New Mural by Bradd Young 


Your community extends around you, and I was reminded of this by a painting I saw on the way out of the Finger Lakes  show.  My student Beverly Rafferty has a brisk landscape/seascape painting from La Jolla, California included in the show.  Several years ago I was on the walkway around that beach just  enjoying the stroll on a beautiful day, and I nod my head to Rochester's Albert Paley who passes by me.  You never know who you will meet and greet halfway across the world, and I am thankful for my Finger Lakes Connections!


The Beach at La Jolla, California, by Beverly Rafferty
at The Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York
















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Longevity and Maps for Tomorrow

 I spent some time today, here in my first month of full retirement from teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology, and lo and behold - I found my way back to the Bevier Gallery to see the show from the Arena Art Group " 70 Years In Making".  If you don't know the Bevier Gallery it is found on the ground floor of Booth Building at R.I.T.  The show closes soon, so you should get in your car and get ready to rock and roll!


Painting by Zanne Brunner of 
The Arena Art Group show
"70 Years In Making"

You have to celebrate a group that has been involved in the visual arts here in Rochester - especially a group with such longevity!  I have become familiar with many of the artists, and at the show there were many pleasant surprises.  Just for this past year the Bevier Gallery had been occupied as a studio/classroom, so it is nice to see that it has returned too its original purpose.


Paintings by Jim Thomas "Flow" and "Contain #2"

When I came to teach at R.I.T. in 1988, one of the artists I met and worked with on the faculty at R.I.T. was Jim Thomas.  Jim is represented in this new show with two large abstract paintings full of color and movement.  We actually taught a drawing class together when I first came to Rochester.  I was glad to see Jim's new pieces and happy that he is up to the challenges that we face in the studio.


Richard Harvey with his ceramic collages of "Main Dog" and "This Side Up"

When I left the New York City area to move up to Rochester, I didn't know what  I would find at R.I.T. having only been familiar with a few university programs such as the one I attended at Cornell University. I remember there that the faculty had a difficult time with one another at Cornell but I found the opposite at R.I.T.  In fact, the working environment at R.I.T. was so supportive that the faculty actually worked well with each other and this made for an enjoyable transition for me and my family.



Courtney Gruttadoria paints the "Devils Bathtub"
in Arena Art Group Show


I started out writing about art when I was living on Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY.  Back then in the early 1980s I was paid by magazines to publish my articles on art, but now in the 21st century I write this blog for free  because I get a great deal of enjoyment and connection to this community of artists here in western New York.  I like to follow the exhibitions and it is great to see the Arena Group in this present show.


Paintings by Steven W. Justice including a portrait of Greta Thunberg "I Told You So"

Artists and their artworks evolve, and some have a signature style and purpose.  Stories can be told through artwork which can show great character..  Take a look for example at the paintings by Steven Justice, or the painting that introduces this show on the postcard by Zanne Brunner.  Steve Justice paints a portrait of activist Greta Thunberg whose hair here resembles heavy chains.  Zanne Brunner mates the Horseshoe Crab with a lens on the Finger Lakes in a reminder of how precarious the natural world may seem in these days of a global pandemic.



"Orange Is The New Black" painting by Sherry Tulloch

Even seemingly abstract work such as the one painted by Sherry Tulloch we are again confronted with signs of the times.  "Orange is The New Black" is the title of her work and the painting asks you to sort out what you are seeing - are those handcuffs and restraints?  This heavily textured acrylic painting is made by an artist who was in one of my first classes that I gave at R.I.T.  It brings me satisfaction to see one of my students going on to make a really powerful statement!


The Community of artists represented in the show at the Bevier Gallery gives you some idea of how vital the arts are in our region.  The show lets us know that this group is "70 Years In Making"  from 1951 to 2021.  And to think I was only one year old when they started up!  I take my hat off to them!


Maps for Tomorrow is the name of a printed book I picked up later at Shop One on the campus at R.I.T.

I understand that the artists who made this beautiful product ( Cecily Culver, Rebecca Aloisio, and Sarah Kinard ) also staged a show of their work which unfortunately I did not know about.  I have been following the art by these three women who are painters, printmakers and sculptors and they really deserve a much larger venue for their achievement.  A local museum should take this cue and put together a new show for them that traces a new trail for art to take.  I expect to see much more from this group!





"Maps For Tomorrow" features art by Sarah Kinard, Cecily Culver and Rebecca Aloisio

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Stillness Movement Chaos

 The Print Club of Rochester at RIT City Art Space



Rachel Shelton at RIT City Art Space


The Print Club of Rochester and the RIT City Art Space host a wonderful show of artworks from printmakers here and abroad which you have to see.  It is not often that we get a chance to view the works by so many artists that  are new to this area, and all of the original art chosen for this show has been selected by a guest curator Jenny Robinson.  This show unfortunately will end soon, so try to get to the gallery which is right at the Liberty Pole in the center of Rochester.  The RIT City Art Space will be open Thursdays thru Sundays.

You can also go online to visit You Tube and hear the curator speak to you about this show.  She speaks of her process and the submissions by artists suggested a theme to her as she organized her thoughts putting this exhibition together.  You can also go around the show in person, and scan QR codes for statements from the selected artists.


QR Code for the statement from Jenny Robinson
about her selections 
for 
"Stillness Movement Chaos"

It is not often that you visit a printmaker's show to find a three dimensional work but here it is in this present show.  The print ( see above ) has an effect like that of architecture ( with windows ) and for some reason the work reminds me of  the  sculpture of Donald Judd.  Here the artist is Rachel Shelton and her work in this instance includes a shelf-like presentation with dark etchings and fine thread dangling down.


Print by Nick Ruth ( "Watch This Space" )

Many of the printmakers featured in this show are working artists and printmaking teachers including Nick Ruth from Hobart William & Smith College.  Nick has been working with this kind of imagery for a while - his print has a grouping of billboard-like sculptural elements along a severe horizon but there is no overt message to find there - you have to fill in the blanks yourself!



"Butterfly Dancer" by Linda Whitney


The Print Club of Rochester is a membership organization and you pay a modest annual fee to become a member who could then participate in their yearly shows,, and members also get an original print for their own collection.  This past year there was a great work offered by Linda Whitney, the artist above.  She has an amazing control over the mezzotint technique which is  similar in some ways to the "Butterfly Dancer" in the present exhibition.


Beth Dorsey's  80 x 42 Permutations

I found Beth Dorsey's print called  " 80 by 42 Permutations 1"  very interesting.  The image is a grid on top of another grid and this print has an unusual aspect that presents a kind of depth - though it is not in three dimensions like Rachel Shelton's work.  The title of this show: "Stillness Movement Chaos" is all about states of being.  The grid like structure suggests stillness but the depth can initiate a feeling of movement internally.


Jonathan Barcan's print "Billions and Billions"

I enjoyed Jonathan Barcan's print ( above )  titled: " Billions and Billions" with his combination of intaglio, line etching and aquatint with drypoint.  It is a fine work that exhibits a variety of printmaking techniques with an engaging subject matter that will cause you to think quite deeply!

There are many fine points to consider in this select show, so put this on your list of things to do over the weekend!








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