Remembering Printmaker Keith Howard

 



Artist and Printmaker:  Keith Howard ( 1950-2015 )

At this stage of my life, I am grateful for those individuals who have made a deep impression on me as an artist and as a friend, and it is in this manner that I honor Keith Howard.  Looking back, Keith had an impact on me and our printmaking community and his influence is felt by many to this day.  His most relevant efforts to support Non-Toxic Printmaking and to bring his knowledge and expertise to Rochester is a story to be told, and it is something one will never forget.

Keith Howard at work in his apron

How did this come about?  Years before I actually met Keith, I was getting his mailings about the workshops he held at his home turf then in Grand Prairie, up in Alberta, Canada.  I decided to take his summer class and it changed my life - and I guess that decision changed his life too - but we would not know this at that time in 1995.

By the mid 1990s I was teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology and taking night classes there to get up to speed with the latest digital technology.  I was making prints the old-fashioned way with etching plates and acid.  In the printmaking studio at R.I.T. I would leave at the end of an evening with a headache, even though I made some nice color etchings.  There had to be a better way!  I got on a plane one summer and found my way to Grand Prairie - up near the border with Alaska.


Keith Howard's book on Non-Toxic Printmaking

Keith Howard had published his first book about Non-Toxic Printmaking and it sent shock waves through the print community - slowly but surely.  It is hard to shake up this sector of the art making world, especially because the techniques artists use to make etchings and lithography are centuries old!

A couple of years after I took his summer workshop, I asked Keith if he would like to come to Rochester to give a guest lecture and after we did that R.I.T. then asked him if he would like to have a position  teaching here in the States.  His answer was positively yes, but this then tore his family apart!
Keith actually came to live with us in our home on Elmwood Avenue as he adjusted to life in the States.
Keith set up his school for Non-Toxic Printmaking at R.I.T. and started a new chapter in his life.



Keith Howard  lays out his work for us in the studio at R.I.T.


Keith travelled widely to promote his techniques, and the work he made also gradually changed although for many years it was based on photographs he would make.  Keith eventually remarried and they set up their own home in Rochester but he continued to travel and expand the reach of his research.  At some point he also had the thought to translate his visual ideas into paintings, and thus began an unusual chapter in the work of this  ground-breaking printmaker.


Keith Howard's images at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York

Keith would bring his model Michelle out on location and make panoramic photos which would then be translated into paintings.  Keith would team up with a  gifted painter in China who would take the composition through the steps of making a carefully constructed  verbatim painting of the image.

Keith would unroll the work in our living room and we would all find the artwork remarkable!  What a surprise!

Now it is more than five years since Keith suddenly passed away, and we all miss his ground breaking vision, his humor, and his expertise!  May he rest in peace!









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A Skyline By The Highline

 


Skyline By The Highline
Photo from the deck of the Whitney Museum


There comes a point when you feel that it is time to come out of your shell, and you cross the bridge to see the sites.  Due to the pandemic we have been in self-imposed lockdown for months and we needed to break the spell after our vaccines and head for New York City ( by car ).  We have made this trip many times and immediately we were in a wave of traffic going into Manhattan and because people are fearful of getting on the subway the roads are packed.


Alan and Paul Singer at The Whitney Museum, New York City

Just try to park your car around The Whitney Museum in the old meat packing neighborhood on the West Side Highway!  Once we found our timed tickets we proceeded to enter the museum and luckily there was not a long line there waiting for the elevator.  The Whitney has eight floors, and we won't have time to see everything, actually all we will do is a few shows and then it is off to Brooklyn for dinner.


Mary Frank, "Swimmer", earthenware 1978

The main reason why we are in the city is to see an exhibition by the artist Julie Mehretu.  Before we see her show we are on another floor of the museum where there is a select group of artists that represent a blend of art and craft.  Here is a work by Mary Frank in red earthenware.  I would see her work at Zabriskie Gallery years ago and my brother Paul Singer, curated an exhibition of her art for a gallery that was close by to the Central Park Zoo.

Why the split between the arts and crafts exists at all is a mystery, and one that would require a lengthy inquiry.  I respect all of the arts and the inclination to devote your life to a creative pursuit is very high in my estimation.


Betty Woodman on the pedestal

Betty Woodman was someone who I met years ago when I would circulate around the art galleries in Manhattan.  I think the painter, Helen Wilson introduced me to her.  In any case Betty Woodman for a time had her ceramic work in the entry of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and that was a major step forward.  Betty Woodman had an artistic family too with her husband the painter George Woodman ( he had a solo show at The Guggenheim Museum of Art ) and daughter photographer Francesca Woodman, and a cousin the sculptor Tim Woodman who I met when we both studied at Cornell University in the mid 1970s.

The artists in this select show use a range of materials from clay and threads to sequins and even a decorative kitchen that seems to glitter.  Liza Lou creates a statement with found objects and so much more ( seen below ) as a commentary on a woman's place in the home!!


Liza Lou, "Kitchen"  1991-96

Finally we are onto the show of Julie Mehretu, and she does  have a great  ambition!  She sweeps you up into a maelstrom of energy and movement even though some of her subject matter comes from linear studies of stable architecture.  Impressive are her large works which combine drawing with ink on canvas painted with acrylics.  She uses levels - really layers of imagery that creates depth with detail and gesture.  It is moving to see such an outpouring from  this artist!


Julie Mehretu at The Whitney Museum of Art

Julie Mehretu is a Ethiopian born artist, and her family moved to the USA from Africa when their government began to fall apart in the 1970s.  As a student of the visual arts, Julie employs printmaking techniques and drawing by hand as well as the computer, and the textures in her work develop from maps and diagrams, and even blurry photos and a fascinating amount of detail can be seen when you move in close. Don't miss her show!


Catalogue / Book for Julie Mehretu at The Whitney

Don't want to miss her show!



And now we can fight the traffic and find our dinner!  Hope to see you soon, Stay Well!







 







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What Goes Around

 



photo: Sue Weisler

Alan Singer teaching a class in Zoological and Botanical Art at Rochester Institute of Technology via ZOOM in the fall of 2020




Recently a World of Warhol in Rochester, New York

      ON  a  bright note, let us celebrate Spring, but not forget those of us who have lost a family member or relative in this pandemic.  I have had the vaccine twice ( applause ), but I know there are many who have not, or choose not to ( and I guess they have their reasons! ).  Now, I am in a transition away from being a Professor in the College of Art & Design at Rochester Institute of Technology, and I have some time to reflect on this season, as well as write about artists and their artwork again.

We are looking for inspiration as the weather trends towards warmth and daylight hangs around a bit longer.  We can still wear a mask in a public space and we hope to return to "normal" soon.  One can even allow oneself to venture into a museum or art gallery.  While I have been sequestered working on my new art book, it will soon be published under the title of: "WheelHouse", and I will have more to say about that in a future post.  Creating a book like this has been a four year project, and it will contain a selection of my paintings and prints from the last dozen years or so.



MY new art book coming soon!

Before the most recent exhibition closed at The Memorial Art Gallery, I did have the opportunity to see this show of Andy Warhol's art, as well as a special selection of work by G. Peter Jemison.  Peter is probably best known in this area for his role in establishing the Ganondagan Historic Site in its current iteration.  He is a true cultural leader of indigenous American ways of life and I have been very lucky to have had the chance to have him come and speak to my students at R.I.T.  Peter has been making art for decades, and he once worked for a time at David Davis - my favorite art supply store in New York City when I was just getting my feet wet in the artworld of the late 1960s.


                                  "AT THE BORDER"    painting by G. Peter Jemison at MAG

Curious timing of these shows at the Memorial Art Gallery.  Peter Jemison's images sometimes are on canvas but also often they are artworks presented on a paper bag.  This is also how I first came to know Peter's art - also while I was living in New York City - Peter had presented art on this form - the paper sack and I found his art to be illustrative  and capable of telling a story or presenting an idea like he does in the current show with an image on a bag that declares NO! to Fracking...  I enjoyed seeing the birds he paints and even his Skunk Cabbage seems to be speaking.



                                               
G. Peter Jemison at Memorial Art Gallery

When I first came across Andy Warhol's art he was drawing shoes in line work that had an illustrative style, so it is a kind of coincidence that I thought about when I was in the museum.  The first show I saw of Warhol's featured his Brillo boxes and Campbells Soup Cans that presents a cross-over to commercialism and consumer culture.  Warhol knew he was pressing people's buttons when he embarked on this facet of his work as a Pop Artist.




Andy Warhol at The Memorial Art Gallery

I was aware of Andy's crew - often seeing them at Max's Kansas City, the popular restaurant with the art crowd in New York City.  Not far away was  Andy's Factory where he made the editions we are seeing today on the walls of the gallery.  What a great time to be involved in all the arts - just breaking into the art scene with so  much raw talent!


Endangered Species by Andy Warhol at MAG

You can feel nostalgic looking at these Warhol prints - it is interesting that he took the silk screen method of printmaking to a new more popular dimension when he had his team making editions at the Factory.  Also it was interesting to see the collaboration between Andy and Keith Haring in the early days of graffiti art.  I would often see Keith Haring working in his studio in the Cable Building on Broadway - while I was working for a publisher next door.  Both Warhol and Keith Haring  became icons at a time when we were then experiencing another pandemic - this time of AIDS. 






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Picking Up Where We Left Off

 


                                        Photo by Sue Weisler

                                        My Class at R.I.T. drawing from life! 

                                        Birds by Wild Wings


I haven't been out-of-touch!  It is just that it took so long to adjust to the new circumstances!  This is my last semester teaching my art classes at Rochester Institute of Technology, and since I am ancient, I qualify for teaching from home, remotely.  There is so much to learn, doing ZOOM meetings all day, and then having to keep everything in order!  I am very thankful for not having to venture onto campus considering the spike in COVID cases here in Monroe County!

This new semester has been stressful for my students who are worrying about going home for Thanksgiving, after getting all their work done for the fall.  I had never given a critique before over  the computer.  I am not a big fan of having the art at arms length, much less in another  part of the country, but if that is what it takes to get the job done....


Work in progress at my studio in the Hungerford Building

I can celebrate the season with a new canvas in my studio that I have been planning for a number of months.  Earlier in November I stretched this and got started - it is like a painted quilt, all little squares of bright colors.  Hopefully the effect will be  striking!  We will see....  I am working with the notion of accumulation and a kind of colorful graph of where we stand at the present.

During my hiatus from this blog I must  acknowledge the passing of a most notable artist in our area Robert Ernst Marx who captivated this writer with his style of portrait painting that verged on editorial caricature.  

Robert Ernst Marx 

Another artist who made very attractive photographs that I have reviewed in the past, was Pat Wilder who sadly is also no longer with us.  I first came across Pat and her work  on a summer day at an art festival held at the Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, NY.  Pat had a colorful kind of minimal approach to her image making that was very refreshing.  Below is an undated photo of her in her booth at an art show; she was always on the trail of the outdoor venues, and I was always interested to hear where she planned to have her next show.


Pat Wilder and Friend

So,  looking forward, I plan to resume writing my blog, and saying a few things about our community and the kinds of art that one could go and see.  Mostly I have been doing some necessary reading and enjoying a free moment ( often at bedtime ) when I can quietly assess the scene...  In a health crisis the likes of which I have never before endured, it is something of a test!  For anyone interested in sculpture in the mid-20th century, a new book on Alexander Calder is well worth the time to read.  Jed Perl is the author who has done exhaustive research and plunged deeply into the life of his subject here.


Jed Perl's new book on Sandy Calder


Writer, Jed Perl

Like many who know Calder's work, I was attracted by Calder's Circus which could be found in the entry level of the Whitney Museum when it was located up on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.  In fact I remember seeing Calder outside of the Whitney talking to people in front of the museum one day in the 1970s.  You don't forget that sort of thing!

Jed Perl I know, having brought him upstate to do a talk at The Memorial Art Gallery - now over ten years ago!  Jed publishes his writing often in The New York Review of Books, and I have followed his writing with great interest especially now that he has chronicled Calder's development and great success  as a sculptor and artist who had a unique place in the art world of the 20th century.

This is just to say Thank You if you are reading this, and in this season of lock-downs, I will pick up where we left off and try to be informative and engaged once again!






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Black Artists Matter



Black Artists Matter

At a time when there are demonstrations  in the streets, our cultural institutions need to step up to the plate and invest their resources to correct years of neglect for African American artists here in this country.  At this juncture, it should be clear that our country is much more diverse and efforts must be made to heal the wounds of the past and present  by acknowledging the contributions of artists who have not enjoyed the support of our cultural institutions and this has got to change!


Portrait  of Cab Calloway made by my father, Arthur Singer in the 1930s

Here in our local neighborhood of Rochester, New York, I write from the birthplace of Cab Calloway - jazz star of mega-proportions - but where in town is any recognition of his star power that shines through popular music?   A proud Rochester mayor should use this knowledge to connect to a wider population and instill in a younger generation a purpose that would lift people up, give them something to celebrate!


Luvon honors the life of Frederick Douglas at RoCo

I share an office at R.I.T. with Luvon Sheppard, an artist who has made a difference in this same community.  So why isn't there one of his paintings on view at The Memorial Art Gallery for other generations to see and contemplate?  Here, in Rochester, Luvon runs the Joy Gallery on West Main Street, and he has taught legions of students at Rochester Institute of Technology - and through his efforts he has inspired so many others - and is an inspiration to me when we can share our views about life!


William T. Williams and his recent work

The art scene is diverse but artists of color have often faced hurdles that comes from an embedded bias, so it is time to acknowledge this and move forward.  Demonstrations in the streets can have helpful repercussions if we welcome the efforts and acknowledge the work of the many artists who need our support.  I was reminded of this yesterday when I listened to an online presentation from the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, Texas.  My cousin, Michael Rosenfeld has a gallery in New York City that has championed the works of artists such as William T. Williams ( above ) , and Betty Saar among many others.  Michaels' gallery let me know that the Museum of Fine Art in Houston has an important exhibition up now, and that there was going to be a online discussion featuring William T. Williams, Mel Edwards, and Fred Eversley.


William T. Williams

I myself studied with Mr. Williams at Skowhegan in the summer of 1973.  His bold abstractions pushed me into a new direction in my own painting.  His  instruction was a very personal approach that had a lot of appeal with its bold color and edgy geometry, and he was not alone.  At the Cooper Union School of Art where I studied, there were several artists of color who I studied with including the photographer Roy DeCarava, and the painter Jack Whitten.  I was recently very involved in reading Jack Whitten's " Notes From The Woodshed" , a kind of diary he kept that involved all  kinds of notes about his art productions.  Also at Cooper Union in that moment was Bob Blackburn who ran the printmaking studios.  All of these folks were very influential!



Jack Whitten
Read his "Notes from the Woodshed"


Bob Blackburn ran printmaking studios and so much more

I was very lucky to hear the online presentation this Saturday, August 1st hosted by The Museum of Fine Art, Houston with the artists William T. Williams, Fred Eversley and Mel Edwards.  Mel spoke of those times in the past when his fellow artists were just breaking into the art scene.  I remember meeting Mel Edwards once at a sculpture show that took place in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn over 30 years ago.  Since those times his art has really taken off!  His sculptures "Lynch Fragments" are very strong and evocative.  They have now become part of the fabric of our art world, our society.



Mel Edwards in his studio



Mel Edwards "Lynch Fragments"

For those who have the power and influence, it is beyond time to open the doors to the creative vision of a much more diverse population and see what new light shines on a path we have yet to take.  It is ABOUT TIME!







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Hope Springs Eternal


The sky outside my studio window
in
The Hungerford Building
Rochester, New York
July 19, 2020


I am writing this, today, and it is July 19th in Rochester, New York.  Last month on June 19th we learned about a political rally planned for Tulsa, and about a terrible event that happened there in Tulsa in 1921.  We can't undo the events of the past, but we certainly can recognize them and learn from them - and I am just puzzled as to why it has taken so long for this message to get out to the general public!  Juneteenth as it has come to be called was a staggering Catastrophe.  I can only hope that our community is strong enough to resist the forces that try to divide us as a nation, to disenfranchise citizens and deprive them of equal justice under the law.

This year, 2020, is one for the history books, AND it is still a work in progress!  During this period of lockdown and quarantine we here are still working on our own projects and for me that means unpacking because we have just moved.  I now have to deal with my inventory and trying to find a place for everything including my rather extensive library.



Work-in-progress on the studio work table...

As the hours slip away I work in the studio and I am looking forward to a time when it is safe to go to an opening or see an exhibition with a friend.!  And there are exhibitions that are beginning to happen that I am involved with including one at the Oxford Gallery in Rochester, and a Print Club show where my work will go on view later in the summer.  The Print Club is a great organization that will hold their annual exhibition at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs in August and September of this year.  My print called: "Romeo" will be on view ( see below ).


"Romeo", transfer monotype on paper by Alan Singer

My print works are hand pulled in my studio on my etching press.  Images like the one above are actually visual compositions that I have made using traditional tools and digital programs like "Cinderella"  - which is a method for mathematical visualizations on the two dimensional plane of Fabriano paper that I select for my prints.  It is really interesting that I can use geometry to tell a story, or show something new that I had not experimented with before.

In any case the studio is a haven for me - at least for a few hours each day, and then I can come back home to deal with the events of the "real" world.  I have to continue with my college teaching assignments for R.I.T., which means that I have to prepare for my classes which will be mostly online.  I hope that my ZOOM account is up to the task!  Anyway - Good Luck to you, and STAY HEALTHY, Stay Strong!..



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Engage Anew




Alan Singer Studio 432 Hungerford Building 
Wall, June 2020

Emerging from a lockdown mode is wonderful, if still a bit un-nerving! 

During this viral wave, we washed our hands frequently and donned our masks, keeping our social distance which is becoming second nature in this crisis.  Left to our own devices, we search out fresh air from the porch of our new home and marvel at the woods all around us up in the Egypt Hills.  Luckily, I have my art studio in the Hungerford Building in Rochester, so I can escape and work on a painting or a print when the time allows.

Before the pandemic hit I had the chance to send off some images to a publication called SciArt.  They have a special initiative to engage with a community of artists online and present a gallery in this new issue that is dedicated to art and algorithms.  Artists like myself are trying out new avenues to construct an artistic expression which is very liberating and also very challenging.  Take a look at this site which is a blend of science and art and see what we are up to.  Here is a link:    https://www.sciartmagazine.com


In many ways the paintings by Mondrian and the art of Ellsworth Kelly and Sol Lewitt inform me and in the studio I can build on the path they set using geometry to enter a new world of composition that stresses color and pattern.  A concept I use to construct my new work depends on the notion of a cellular automata - this started out as a mathematical construct that would show how the aggregation of  matter ( atoms or cells ) can create structure and intelligence.  In some ways it also reminds me of building blocks or Legos and the miracle of how things fit together.



"Coming  Home" Oxford Gallery
Amy McLaren, Three Women,Three Animals"
Acrylic on canvas

Another way to engage anew is to go out and find artwork to look at and enjoy.  Here, in Rochester, I have that opportunity now that some business is beginning to re-open - and in fact I went over to visit the Oxford Gallery for the first time in many months.  "Coming Home" is the name of their new show and it couldn't be more apt a title for an exhibition.  Timing is everything and I am happy to say that one of my watercolors is part of this show along with about fifty other artists and their work.

One of my students from years past - Amy McLaren has her painting ( above ) in this new show which will run into September.  Amy has painted an allegory - as a story about women and how they present themselves - so in the gallery their is her painting and you have to read the wall label!

The ideas behind the show "Coming Home" can be very different for each artist, and you will find this show very entertaining when you go.  Think about the collections of things you might have had as a kid ( I collected baseball cards and models that I built by hand ).  David Dorsey has an oil painting of a collection of monopoly tokens in a glass jar that  can remind you of your childhood and his painting has an uncanny ability to be both very abstract and very literal at the same time.



David Dorsey at Oxford Gallery

In this time of social unrest, with demonstrations in the streets, the notion of home can be really tested as it is in the  little painting by Carolyn Edlund which she titles: "When Home Won't Let You Stay".
www.sciartmagazine.com


Carolyn Edlund, oil on panel
"When Home Won't Let You Stay"



There are always surprises with a big show like this one.  For example there is Bill Keyser's unique abstract  painted blue shape and a corrugated piece of rusty metal.  Considering the title of this show "Coming Home" - how does his artwork align with the theme of the show?  Bill's art is certainly strong, and I wonder what his take is on the message this sends....?


Bill Keyser's "Long Story Short"
at Oxford Gallery

Putting a show like this together you get many kinds of art in juxtaposition.  You can play one off the other.  A gallery visitor ( I was alone in that regard ) has the freedom to make choices of a work that they could live with.  Jim Hall told me of a comment made about my painting - that a viewer thought that  "Our Home" was the best painting of a house they ever saw!  Isn't that interesting?  I can enjoy this conversation with Jim because I can learn so much more about the artists that he has invited to exhibit their work, and considering the fact that there are not too many galleries open around town, this was indeed a delight....



Left and Right =Paula Crawford with "welcome Home" and Alan Singer with "Our Home"
www.sciartmagazine.com
www.sciartmagazine.com

    Engage Anew with photos courtesy of  Jim Hall from Oxford Gallery


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Past Present


In Rochester, New York - Interstate 490
is my usual route home....


After moving into my new home in Fairport, New York, and sorting through boxes of papers, I have come to the conclusion that I must begin to document the route I took to get here.  I am not talking about the roads ( Interstate 490 ) that I take to get to my house.  I am thinking about the places I grew up in and my family, friends and acquaintances that I miss, now in this new era of the pandemic.



WATCH OUT!!....Paul Singer paints a mural for the Bronx Zoo

Growing up in a family of artists, my inclination was to watch what father, mother, and big brother did to use their skills to the best of their ability, and then see how I might create something interesting as well.  I always wanted to go in my own direction, from the time I was a little kid - and my bicycle was a tool that could take me there.  For me it was more than just good exercise, it was my way to observe the world.  What I saw down the road, became the subject matter for my art.  I used my bike to do my job as a newspaper delivery boy but also I went far and wide to scope out themes for my paintings and drawings.

I was born in New York City in 1950 at Women's Hospital on West 33rd Street, and for years I spent my childhood either in New Hyde Park, or Jericho on Long Island.  By the early 1960s my father, Arthur Singer, spent his days illustrating books and magazines with his accurate images of birds and animals.  My mom was a painter who helped organize a Long Island art club.  Both of my parents taught me a lot about art and I also learned from my brother Paul ( above ) who painted in the style  first of Utrillo, and then Winslow Homer.  He also collected antiques - armor and boat models...



Frank Blair introduces Arthur Singer on the TODAY Show on NBC


In the early 1960s, I was home and I had the chance to watch my father on TV.  He had just published a major book project ( Birds of the World ) and the folks at NBC's TODAY Show introduced Arthur Singer to a national audience.  Frank Blair interviewed Arthur in this very rare experience - certainly you didn't see bird painters often on TV.  My dad was about 45 years old at the time and his career was gaining momentum.


Arthur and Alan Singer paint the State Birds and Flowers
for the U.S. Postal Service, 1982

Since Arthur worked at home, the family had the chance to see the whole process unfold.  Mornings were often spent outdoors photographing birds, followed by hours of research and drawing for his page layouts.  Later in life I had the great good fortune working with my dad on several projects, most notably the Birds and Flowers stamps, for the U.S. Postal Service.

In  recent years, my brother Paul and I have documented the artwork my father created in our book about his career, published by RIT Press.  Our book is titled: "Arthur Singer, The Wildlife Art of An American Master", and it is filled with details of his working life starting before World War ll and running up until he passed in 1990.

Here my brother Paul and I sign copies of our book at The University Gallery on the campus of RIT here in Rochester, New York.


Alan and Paul Singer author a book about their father - Arthur Singer
and happily sign copies at R.I.T.






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Restructure



"Who On Earth"
2020
oil on linen by
Alan Singer


To my readers: HELLO!  If you are still out there!!  It seems that it is time to restructure, time to think about what we are doing in the present to prepare for the future.  The pandemic sweeping across our country is changing the parameters daily.  I don't even go into the store now to do our daily grocery shopping and that is the least of it.  I do count myself among the lucky ones, my wife and I are healthy and are moving into our new home.  I have been working on a painting in my studio when I can.  It is a circle and it is both abstract and a representation at the same time.  This is a painted quilt - a grid of squares; oil paint in vibrant colors.

Now that I have time to contemplate our situation and I am off from teaching this semester, I found a focus by reading an article published by Jerry Saltz ( who wrote the book that I just finished called: "How To Be An Artist" - that I mentioned in my last post ).  His new article is titled: "The Last Days of the Art World...and Perhaps the First Days of a New One...( life after the coronavirus will be very different ).  You can go on the web to find his new article....

The New York Times also had a cover story about artists and their plans when everything they had to look forward to goes...POOF!  Our culture has now gone into a virtual lockdown and how do you recover from that?  Galleries go dark, and the only way to meet collectors or customers is online.

This all hits home for me as I was on schedule to give a talk about my art at The Memorial Art Gallery which is now closed because of COVID-19.  Also this spring my schedule included a solo show at the Multi-Cultural Community Center which has been postponed indefinitely, so I know the kind of disruption our new reality can have.


Art by Alan Singer on view at Elmwood Avenue


We have a show of artwork spread over three floors of our home on Elmwood Avenue, and we had a plan to preview this art, and then the virus crisis hit.  You can take a look at the way we have spread artwork around the house if you follow this link, and the house is now for sale.  Here is a link you can follow:  https://www.3021elmwoodavenue.com/ 
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Reading List



"How To Be An Artist"
by Jerry Saltz
published by Riverhead Books


Due to the pandemic, I read that the initial release of this publication that was scheduled for Strand Books in New York City had to be scuttled, probably at the last moment ( sorry for Jerry Saltz! ).
I built my library  by visiting Strand Books and had I been able to, I would have loved to see how they launch a publication like this...


The author, Jerry Saltz, and his new book

So this virus crisis should allow for a lot of reading, and I can say that I enjoyed this little guide of 125 pages, mostly at the end of a very long day, unpacking all the art books I had purchased over the years in the new home we have acquired recently.  Moving is not for the faint of heart, needless to say!

Reading "How To Be An Artist" causes me to think back to what I was doing when I was younger ( I am about to turn seventy! ) and did I follow a path that Jerry Saltz lays out in his text that is broken down into several steps and 63 easy to read,  instructive chapters - some with exercises that you can do on your own schedule!  I think early in life,  I was introduced to the life of an artist through my family, as both of my parents practiced their art at our home, and I have an older brother who also followed in their steps, so art is in the genetic make-up of the Singer Family!

This is not necessarily a "How To Paint" book, more of a Self-Help Guide for the Aspiring Artist...
and it has a personal twist, especially because  the author wanted to be an artist from a young age, and has ended up being an art critic, and someone who is worth reading in this day and age.  I did find his quick little chapters a little glib at times, but I appreciate his honesty, especially in the beginning where he did share his doubts and frustrations with the reader.  One thing that must be dealt with is the amount of time that one needs to spend - alone in a work environment that is conducive to making art.  This might be pretty difficult if you are part of a big, gregarious family, or if you don't have the requisite patience to see how things turn out.

Also on my reading list for this unusual period pf time, I have completed a very finely detailed book on the art of Romare Bearden that I mentioned in my last post written by Mary Schmidt Campbell  ( see below ).


"An American Odyssey" by Mary Schmidt Campbell

From the photo on the cover to the last pages, I learned so much from reading this book.  I grew to be a fan of Romare Bearden's artwork while he was still alive, and I could relate to his struggle, and I could applaud his success.  The author takes us into the milieu of pre- and post World War ll to inform us about what life was like for an aspiring African American artist.  Along the way I had met Romare Bearden and got to shake his hand.  I realize that this is a momentary gesture, but it meant a lot to me, and that is the kind of thing that I hope people will go out and do.  Follow the work of an artist, and by chance approach the person if you can at an opening and ENGAGE!

Readers of this book will learn that it is not necessarily a straight path to greatness, and there were many roadblocks for the African American artist in mid-20th Century America!  I can count myself very fortunate to have studied the art and creative impulse guided by some of our talented folks like Roy DeCarava, and William T. Williams to name a few.  I knew even at the time I was a student,  that an African American artist might have a hard time just showing up, being part of the scene so to speak.  I am glad to see - that though it has taken most of my lifetime - things are getting better!
And anyway, I have to get back to unpacking and arranging my books, see you later.....

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