Inside Story at MAG

Josephine Tota ( 1910-1996 )
Inside the Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York
Summer, 2018

Too hot and humid to work in the studio, I made up my mind that I would be better off going over to the Memorial Art Gallery to see their new shows and hear from the curator of "The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota".  Josephine who?  How often does our museum here in Rochester - introduce us to a totally new figure - a self-taught artist who died in obscurity but left her family a copious amount of small scale paintings that tell a large story worth sharing.

Questions and answers about Josephine Tota
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Josephine Tota's art at the MAG

Jessica Marten is the Curator in Charge at the MAG and she spent part of her afternoon talking with her audience in the museum auditorium about how she first encountered the art of Josephine Tota, and how this art offered a rare opportunity to open a new chapter for these paintings which had never been seen at all by the public.  Josephine Tota had experienced psychological problems and had virtually withdrawn from her work as a seamstress but forged ahead with her art at home.  Josephine Tota probably never expected her paintings to be given such an arousing welcome as we have here at the MAG.

Josephine Tota's paintings tell stories...

Paradoxical visions...

Curious personifications...

Josephine Tota lived in Rochester, New York, so her story has resonance with an audience gathered for the opening of the show.  She could be considered a naive artist - but the sentiment and emotion expressed in her art has more of a surreal context and an illustrative quality to it.  The 90 pieces on display owe more to an earlier century of European art, especially the flattened patterns of medieval manuscript paintings that Ms. Tota so enjoyed during her life.

Grandma Moses

On this Sunday afternoon, I stay to hear Karel Ann Marling speak about Grandma Moses, another self-taught painter who was a star in her own right - I grew up looking at her artwork often published in the 1950's and 60's - which had some influence when I was a child.

Karel Ann Marling is a very interesting speaker having spent years working up her biography of Grandma Moses, and I am very taken with the images, history, and cultural effects that her paintings had, and one can wonder if Josephine Tota will have that kind of impact once her paintings become more well known.

Nancy Jurs at the MAG

Nancy Jurs is a sculptor and installation artist who is well known and respected here at the MAG.  Her show has a title: "My Life Has Gotten So Busy That It Now Takes Up All Of My Time".  Her sculptural works are mainly fired ceramics - some like the grouping installed at the Rochester Airport years ago are quite large.  In this present selection her art is often found in sequence - hanging here under a scrim - which reads almost like a filmstrip.

Model for Airport Installation by Nancy Jurs

Down the hall in the Lockhart Gallery, Larry Merrill has a selection of photos on view that he has made of classical sculpture.  Some of the sculptural pieces come from the Memorial Art Gallery permanent collection and measure only an inch or so across.  In Larry Merrill's photos the lighting gives these objects a real presence, and a viewer can take in nuance that may not be really evident when seen as a real 3D experience.  The photographer's eye captures something else, a quality often of decomposition - some of the unsettling aspects of looking at antiquities from a more analytical perspective.  We really get a sense of how the years have gone by, the depth of history, and the vulnerability even of artwork carved in stone.

Larry Merrill presents: "Wards of Time"

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Notations and State of the Art

Kristine Bouyoucos
Rundel Library, First Floor
115 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 
thru July 18, 2018

We are fortunate to live in a diverse community where access to the arts is as simple as walking into the Public Library.  This is especially true if you go over today to The Rundel Library at 115 South Avenue in Rochester and while you are there look for the artwork on exhibit from Kristine Bouyoucos.  The art comes in many forms, prints, books and more in a show she calls: "Notations: Imagery of Words and Music thru July 18th.

Kristine Bouyoucos
part of a triptych called: La Mer

Kristine Bouyoucos has been working with various forms of printmaking and in her show she presents framed prints and artists books for your enjoyment and contemplation.  Over many years you may have seen her art in Print Club shows, and exhibited at Oxford Gallery, and here the emphasis is on music and how it can intersect with visual art.  Many of her recent prints have musical notation and can be seen as her interpretations of great pieces of music like "La Mer" seen above.

Kristine Bouyoucos
limited editions of Artist's Books

Kristine is also a musician and as she says "music has been a constant in her life".  She can combine  her techniques in one work of art using what she calls: mixed media, and that can be one of a number of printmaking techniques including digital overprinting to give the final effects.  She is not afraid to tackle other subjects, and here I am thinking of her recent strategy of taking on the political climate that we find ourselves in here in the USA.  

Kristine Bouyoucos
Rondel Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester

On a really hot day we drive down to Ithaca, and take a cooling walk along the gorge and Cascadilla Creek.  Not far from the road, we find a spot that has a little pile up of rocks along the lines of Andy Goldsworthy.


Ithaca has some spots I visit regularly for their natural appeal, and then there are some places I go for the visual arts.  One spot is directly below The Commons - and that is an artist cooperative called State of the Art Gallery  at 120 West State Street.  This July there is a three person show on now and it is worth a visit if you have not been there.

State of the Art Gallery,  120 West State Street, Ithaca, NY

I know one of the artists in this current show - Stan Bowman.  When I was finishing up my studies as a painter in graduate school at Cornell University, Stan was an up-and-coming faculty member who moved into my old studio space in what is now Tjaden Hall.  The last things I saw of Stan's were digital prints over in the lobby of the CSMA Building in Ithaca so it was a bit of a surprise to see his new dimensional paintings in this new exhibition with Mary Ann Bowman and Jan Kather...

Stan Bowman with his new artwork
State of the Art Gallery

Stan Bowman's acrylic on board

Stan Bowman mentioned to me that many of the works he is showing were made in the last three months, so they all share characteristics of bright colors, textured surfaces and dimensional cut-outs that bring sculptural form to these paintings that can remind you of painters like Frank Stella and Friedl Dzubas.

In this 3 person show, I was also quite impressed with the prints of Jan Kather made on metal supports in a series called "Watermark".  Beautiful - yet subtle tones are given depth with these new pieces - the result of scanning a watercolor and printing it in a digital format.  My photo doesn't do justice to this art which has to be seen in the first person.

Jan Kather's Watermark
State of the Art Gallery

Mary Ann Bowman has character - many of them are on view in the gallery - and no doubt she has fun with these creations.  The sculptural works can sit in a chair or on a table top.  The "Lovely Chicken Leg Lady" is part ceramic with a topknot of apples - it is a hoot!  Take some time out of your day to visit the State of the Art Gallery, all you have to do is enter the door at 120 West State Street, and you will be captivated!

Mary Ann Bowman
at State of the Art Gallery
Ithaca, New York

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Political Impressions & 6 X 6

Rose Colors in my garden....

Not everything is rosy.  When I step out of my garden, and confront the political realities the images that come to my mind are dreadful.  Just thinking about the young children cut off from their families is a gut-wrenching immigration issue and that is one big scandal among many.

The Print Club of Rochester
International Printmaking Exhibition
Bevier Gallery thru August 11, 2018
Rochester Institute of Technology

The Print Club of Rochester had a very lofty goal of being the sponsor for an international exhibition of prints with a political twist.  The current show that is being held at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Bevier Gallery sits calmly on the walls under the lights, but these works of art have a hard time up against the intense battles being waged in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere around our country.

"American Carnage" , linocut by Barbara Striker

One print in this new show - a linocut by Barbara Striker called    " American Carnage" made in 2017, gets close to the current feelings of outrage - showing a line up of dead birds, drops of red blood and name tags attached to their feet that read: Disaster, Corrupt, Nasty, Bad Hombre, etc.  These words recall the presidential campaign trail, the elections and now we can see the results!

Print by Laurie Szujewska

A print - from California artist Laurie Szujewska has been made using large wood letters spelling out the word Treason, which has been redacted.  I think of all the government documents that have been blacked out - with information that we will never discover in this democracy of ours.

Kate Mariner, letterpress print

Many of the stronger works in the show are text based.  It is  found in a statement quoted from Zora Neale Hurston about racism that was the main feature in a letterpress print by Kate Mariner, and strength is found in a print from Kristine Bouyoucos she titles: "Love Trumps Hate" made with metal stencils and overprinting.

Kristine Bouyoucos at Bevier Gallery
"Political Impressions"

"Media Bias" by Collette Lucas

Collette Lucas has sent a screen print for the exhibition that she calls: "Media Bias".  This text based print is the latest mantra from the Trump Whitehouse.  

In the show at Rochester Contemporary Art Center this summer called 6 X 6, there is one little square painting that says a lot about "Political Impressions" - Elect A Clown, Get A Circus".

Rochester Contemporary Art Center
6 X 6

This year's edition of 6 X 6 as usual is bursting at the seams with art - so many artworks to choose from if you want to support the artists, and the Art Center.  I spent a fair amount of time looking over this years display.  Many styles, many subjects, but there are always a few things that stand out including Robert Marx's drawings, along with the political ones like the Trump portrait above.

Rochester Contemporary Art Center's annual  6 X 6

An art collection can begin here, on the ground floor, so to speak.  Almost anyone with a spare $20. can begin to buy artwork for themselves or as a gift for that deserving someone.  There is something for any taste, and I am happy to say that I now have a selection of these works in my collection that I look at every day and I was happy to support our Rochester Contemporary Art Center in this way.

6 X 6  Is a show that is a garden of delights, so take some time and GO THERE! You won't be disappointed.....

Rochester Contemporary Art Center
6 X 6

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Father’s Day Gallery Goings On

Alan Singer at home
Father's Day, June 17, 2018
Rochester, New York

Tales of two cities ( Ithaca and Rochester, New York..) - looking for something unusual!  Jump over to the gallery page in the paper, and go see for myself what is happening.  My father and mother took us as kids around to see the galleries around Tenth Street in Manhattan when everything was getting going back in the early 1950s.  Back then, you could walk around the art world in New York City in an afternoon.  This was way before the development of SoHo and Chelsea and the wallop of all that development money from above.

I was looking for something unusual, for example - I remember walking into the Howard Wise Gallery on 57th Street at an opening for Yayoi Kusama when there were hardly any visitors to her show - this was probably 50 years ago - and now she is a world-wide art star.  The point being - that you can find things made by artists that might have the force or change the directions that our culture responds to - and you may buy it or follow the artist's work to see what happens next.

Building Up Ithaca, NY

On the Commons in Ithaca, I had a nice chat with Robin Schwartz, a director of the CAP  ( Community Arts Partnership )  Artspace.  She said rather than have the usual wall labels for a big group show she would ask each artist to answer a single question: Why I Did It!  The resulting exhibition puts together artworks hung salon style alongside the story of what propelled each artist to make the work that they are showing. Awards were given based on a juror's recommendations as is the case here.  

Exhibition at CAP Artspace
"Why I Did It"
includes works like this photomontage by Kathy Morris called "Cat"

I did find some unusual things in the Why I Did It! group show.  Robin Schwartz said she wanted to do away with the jargon filled wall labels she finds in museums and galleries, and she said that people really stopped to read why these artists made their works just so...

Teresa Bakota Yatsko with her award winner - "Library"
an altered book

Award Winner by Susan Russell

"Why I Did It"
At Cap Artspace, Ithaca, NY

Up the way on State Street you will find the Ink Shop in and around the construction of new buildings in Ithaca that will soon shadow the earth.  The Ink Shop upstairs now has on view the new prints by Paul Van Atta that I promised to go see when I met the artist a couple of weeks ago.  Now that I see his printed works, I am surprised by the variety of substrates that he uses including pizza boxes and acetate.  His prints are filled with characters - sometimes in a crisis...

Paul Van Atta
at the Ink Shop, Ithaca, NY

Reality is balanced against a kind of cartoonish story line developed for many of these prints by this Kahn Family Fellow.  As it says on his card, "Paul uses screen printing, painting and drawing against the byproducts of retail displays that focus on his characters in a state of befuddlement or general consumer distress.

Paul Van Atta's "Constructs" at The Ink Shop

Now, I am back in Rochester, to work on my own art ( at the top of this post ) and later on I will stop in to the Bevier Gallery to see the Print Club of Rochester, and their international show called "Political Impressions".  I think this is a fine step for the Print Club - a group for which I have a strong regard.  Next post we can look at the things happening in around town, so I hope you get some free time to do the same.  Happy Father's Day!

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Sign Wave

"Now This" a show of recent art by Nick Ruth
MAKERS Gallery & Studio

Three shows constitute a kind of sign wave with each exhibition powering up and then simmering down.  One show was closing and two exhibitions were opening.  This is just another reason why our neighborhood has something unique to engage avid art addicts ( like myself ) as well as offer something to those who are "just looking".

Nick Ruth, screenprint and colored pencil

"Now This" by Nick Ruth had a fine selection of recent art by this artist who has a long association with Hobart William & Smith College at Geneva, New York.  Nick Ruth is an artist whose work I have followed ( I have one of his early pattern paintings ) and his show "Now This" had prints and mixed media works that share a common thread: Communications.  The show was held at Makers Gallery & Studio, 34 Elton Street, in Rochester.  If you haven't been there it is worth the walk up three flights of stairs to check out the latest and greatest.

Nick Ruth at makers Gallery & Studio

Ruth's art in this show ( now closed ) is of a modest size, and the imagery has a sense of humor and a touch of the surreal.  These are signs with no discernible language - maybe you are supposed to project what you think the signs should say.. or maybe the imagery is derived from all the cell towers we can see in a given landscape and the power they project of conversations flowing and an endless river of data....

Nick Ruth's "Now This #5"

Something about Nick Ruth's art reminds me of the west-coast painter Wayne Thiebaud - with his lines of cup cakes and pies.  Each one of Nick Ruth's signs has a similar form to the other signs but the details are different.  Many of the signs are viewed from the back, and that means we get to see the structure - and that is what creates meaning as opposed to seeing the information - the language or instruction that is left blank.  A meditation - Life is an open book - but this book has no text!

Shane Durgee - "Higher Plane Drifter"
paintings and prints
at Geisel Gallery

Across town in the Geisel Gallery, Shane Durgee has mounted his artwork in the long hallway of the former Bausch & Lomb headquarters.  Now, through the end of June you can find that Shane's artwork is very engaging and speaks to a younger generation through his frenetic imagery. Shane is a recent graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology where he is presently employed to manage shows in the Bevier Gallery and much more.  He can teach others and this then leaves time for him to be involved in his own art making and it seems that he is quite active in paintings and prints.

Shane Durgee's " Language of Lights, 2012

When I write that his work speaks to a younger generation - I mean that his use of cartoonish characters - not entirely unlike anime - with a bit of the grotesque thrown in to provide spice, would be consistent with the experience of growing up being exposed to video games, album covers, and all the devices that divide one's attention.

Shane Durgee, digital transfer print

I recognize some of the prints in this new show because they were made in a class that I gave at R.I.T. in digital printmaking.  The fact is Shane picked up what I was teaching really quickly and made some terrific images, worth being part of the show here.

Shane Durgee, "Untitled", 2015

So there is a burst of imagery in each painting or print that highlights the way our attention shifts and then moves on.  In some ways, Shane's artwork in this exhibition could be a commentary on the artwork I found in another exhibition that opened up this week...

Shane Durgee on view now at The Geisel Gallery, Rochester, N.Y.

I attended another opening this weekend at The Axom Gallery for the artist Carey Corea with his show " Beyond the Surface" .  Many of the paintings on view include encaustic - which is an ancient wax medium combined with pigment and the colors are rich and tactile.  We are lucky to have a local vendor - the creator of Encaustikos - here at Rochester Art Supply!  ..and he was very happy with the way his colors looked in the paintings of Carey Corea.

Carey Corea at his opening
Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

The selection of artworks make a case for late abstract expressionism, and there are some characteristics worth noting.  I asked the artist if he worked on many of these paintings at once - and he answered that he never has more than one work in progress at a time for fear of losing his focus.  I thought that since these paintings took a lot of time ( the paints have to be heated up so they reach a fluid state ) that there would be room for having many paintings in the works.

"Turn" 16" x 16" by Carey Corea

The little selection of photographs are in keeping with the structures found in his paintings.  There can be a kind of game being played - especially in the mass of similar sized works that make up a grid at one end of the large exhibition space.  In this grid of 16 inch square paintings there is a vocabulary established of textures and colors.  Carey Corea mentioned that the most recent of these compositions has an orange handle inserted into the artwork called: "Turn".

Carey Corea at Axom Gallery

Recently, I re-read essays by Clement Greenberg written in the 1950s at the height of abstract expressionism.  Greenberg comments that the painters he admired used their compositions to highlight the strengths of the two dimensional surface they worked on - a kind of critique of the art that came before that tries to mimic nature with portraits and realism and the like.  Carey Corea doesn't  mimic nature, but he sometimes applies objects directly into his compositions without any explanation and they become enigmatic.

The recent work of Carey Corea
Axom Gallery

The subtitle of the showing of Carey Corea's art  declares it all: "The Spiritual Beauty of Abstraction".  Among the most recent works are three compositions at the opposite end of the room from the grid.  Here the effects are much more subtle and resonate with late Monet and even Robert Motherwell.  An engagement with visual art is something I share with others, and one can find inspiration here, you just have to know where to look.

Carey Corea
"The Spiritual Beauty of Abstraction"
Thru July 21, 2018
Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

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Art Museum

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
on the campus of Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

Museum curators will have a tough job on their hands in the future.  How will they deal with the influx of all the different styles and points of view that are happening now?  How, and Who will make sense of it all?  There is no one style that dominates like impressionism or Pop Art... and when you go into galleries there seems to be a free-for-all.  Museum people have to make sense and they try to do so in the wall labels and other publications they issue.  I go to the museum above to see their shows and to visit with favorite works of art.

When I was a graduate student in Fine Art at Cornell University in the early 1970s, I was watching as the Johnson Museum was being built - not more than a couple of hundred yards away from my studio.  The building's bold design by I.M. Pei stands out on the campus today, and it offers wonderful collections and spectacular views of the surroundings in the Finger Lakes.

Lake Cayuga, June 5, 2018

I first find my way to the elevator and travel upstairs to visit a floor for Asian Art and also to see the marvelous view of the lake.  Here, at The Johnson Museum there is an active interest in Asian Art and collectors have donated some beautiful artwork to the collection over the years.  Recent additions  of ceramics and textiles, and paintings and much more are a thrill because we don't see much of this art in upstate New York.  A decorated head portrait of Mao caught my eye - what an unusual thing to see an old technique of relief and botanical decoration used for a portrait!

"Fashion  and Mao" by Suo Tan, 2007

Ancient Thailand Ceramics ( 300 B.C. )

Some really ancient ceramics from Thailand had a linear pattern on them and we get the added benefit of seeing how the lines may have been made.  In this exhibition case there is a little cigar shaped clay object with lines cut out of it, so this piece of fired clay could be used if you applied a little pressure to create a grooved surface on wet clay - a kind of offset printing!

Kalsang Lodoe Oshoe, Tibetan Thangka 2006

There is an interest in Tibetan Buddhism in Ithaca, and it is rumored that the Dalai Lama would like to spend some of his retirement here.  I don't know whether this is true, but the Johnson Museum has some striking Tibetan art including this painted textile.  The label for the work indicate the artist is working today, and his Thangka illustrates a diety - the bodhisattva of wisdom.  The artwork is made with opaque watercolor and gold on cloth - a wonder to behold.

A wide variety of art is on view at The Johnson Museum and  I have to keep moving.  Downstairs examples are featured from their American collection including this print from Blanche Lazzell ( 1878-1956) - she was a printmaking expert who studied in Paris and she is identified by her use of a white line that surrounds her planes of color as you can see in this flower image>  Blanche was one of the early artists to establish a presence on Cape Cod at the far end of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Blanche Lazzell

So, when I was a graduate student I could visit the museum and see artwork like this once the Johnson opened  for business.  Back then I was studying with Peter Kahn  ( Wolf Kahn's brother ).
Peter had a far ranging knowledge of contemporary art and knew Hans Hofmann - also a presence in Provincetown.  Hofmann may have had more of an influence on what and how I studied - creating my art because so many of my teachers had studied with him.   Right on cue, I found a wonderful painting by Hofmann.  There is so much to see here, I could go on and on...

Hans Hofmann at the Johnson Museum, Ithaca, New York

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Memorial EarthDay

Brooktondale, New York, May 25, 2018

A moment of silence on this Memorial Day for those troops who have served the U.S.

-Now, let us think of Earth Day.. If, we are really stardust - as the song says, at what point do these specs of dust achieve consciousness?  How would these atoms of which we speak become sentient beings?  And what would they look like?  I know it takes eons to become what we are today, so let us celebrate what great good luck we have had to appreciate the Earth on this day and in this way!

Going forward as a working artist, I look at many exhibitions and get a big boost by looking at artwork and thinking about the people who make the images.  I also teach art at my college ( R.I.T.) and I hope to inspire my students and others to be creative, and celebrate their good fortune at being alive in this moment.

June Szabo
"Artists Save The Earth"
Ithaca, New York

We start out at our little pond in Brooktondale and take in all of nature in its regal splendor before a drive into Ithaca, New York.  I am going to The Ink Shop on State Street, and when I walk into the building I find a small show in the entryway of CSMA: "Artists Save The Earth".

Craig Mains, woodcut
"One Last Load"

On the wall there is a large print by Craig Mains of a last lumber truck rolling along the little housing
project that looks like the colorful ones on Boiceville Road off Route 79.  There is a photo of cows munching on piles of garbage by Robyn Wishna ( Toxic Cow ) that is quite threatening, as well as photos of gravel pits and the like.

Robyn Wishna
"Toxic Cow"

There is a look back to a time when "Earth Art" came to my attention.  I was following what Robert Smithson wrote about, and at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum they had dedicated space to host a show that featured artists who were striking out in new directions.  Marilyn Rivchin brings us a scrap book from this time ( 1969 ) and gives us a description and documentary photos of artists like Jan Dibbets, and Hans Haacke, among others.  I remember that Hans Haacke was one of the teachers at The Cooper Union when I was there doing my undergraduate work.  Hans Haacke made his reputation digging into the dirty secrets of the art world by posing interesting questions, and then setting up circumstances that were very revealing.  I am not sure how this saves the earth but it sharpens my memory of those years when I was a student.

Marilyn Rivchin's 1969 Memorial

Upstairs, at The Ink Shop, I spoke with artist Paul Van Atta - who is a Kahn Family Fellow,  as he prepared his show called: "Molotov Cocktail".  Silk Screen prints of his reminded me of the characters of west-coast artist Barry McGee.  I will have to come back and look at Paul Van Atta's work when it opens in June.  Originally, I thought that I was going to see a show of printed poetry, with many samples from a collection at Wells College.

The Ink Shop presents:  Paul Van Atta
Opens Friday, June 1, 2018

I walked down Ithaca Commons to Artspace and there I found a show of poetry, paintings and prints by Patricia Brown and Lisa Harris.  There is a book published with their collaboration called "Traveling Through Glass" that seems to be the origin of the images on view.  Each work contains a line from a poem, and the painting or print attempts to deal with those thoughts mostly through abstraction,  Energetic and analytic at the same time, many of the images have a geometric tendency.

Patricia Brown and Lisa Harris
"5 Change"
at Artspace, Ithaca Commons, Ithaca, NY

The day was hot and dry, so I got into my air conditioned car and drove up to Clifton Springs to attend an opening at Main Street Arts for a show called: "Land and Sea".  This juried exhibition has a nice printed catalog available and the exhibit itself includes several artists from this area as well as many artists who were new to me.

"Land and Sea" at Main Street Arts
Clifton Springs, NY

June Szabo in "Land & Sea"

The spaces upstairs at Main Street Arts are reserved for artist studios in the residency program, and also for changing exhibits like the walls full of small works that make up the show of "Colorful Creations".  I also found some substantial works from past students from R.I.T. including Chad Grohman and Mike Tarantelli.  There is a lot to see here, so take your time, and enjoy!

"Colorful Creations" Student works and much more....

Chad Grohman, upstairs at Main Street Arts,
Clifton, Springs, NY

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De / Construct, Re / Construct

Werner Sun
De / Construct,  Re / Construct
The Corners Gallery, Ithaca, New York

In today's news there is a Royal Wedding and gun violence in our schools.  How to make sense of all of this?  To focus, I  return to the potential of art and share what stimulates me and gives me hope.  On a sunny day off, my wife and I ride up into Cayuga Heights, above the shores of Lake Cayuga in Ithaca, New York and go and find the Corners Gallery to see the current show.  The exhibition is called: "De / Construct, Re / Construct and it features three artists whose artwork neatly dovetails into a strong and coherent statement about forms, textures, and restrained color.  On the walls of the gallery are examples of visual art that not only would look great in our home, but also begin to stretch the boundary of what art is about.

Rebecca Aloisio, collage, 2017

The three artists in this contemporary show are: Rebecca Aloisio, Werner Sun, and Rosalyn Richards.

Rebecca recently studied printmaking with me at Rochester Institute of Technology.  I was looking forward to seeing what she has accomplished with her new printmaking skills.  She adds to this a strong concept of working with gradations of colors and abstraction and her compositions often against white backgrounds imply movement that can remind one of cubism in art by Ferdinand Leger.
I have written about Rebecca's art before on this blog, and so it was interesting to see where she is taking her work.

Rebecca Aloisio " Laser Ridge"

Rebecca Aloisio
De / Construct, Re / Construct

I have seen how Rebecca can make a print and cut it up to find new expression through collage.  She demonstrates the title of this show in her process.  The artist's methods of making the work become part of the art, even though it is difficult to predict how her work will proceed.  Compare this to Werner Sun and his installation called: " A Random Walk ".  " A Random Walk " appears much more deliberate than something randomly discovered.

Werner Sun, " A Random Walk ", cut and folded papers

Werner Sun's art reminds me of the revelation I found when Buckminster Fuller came to visit our School of Art at The Cooper Union, when I was getting my Bachelors Degree in the last century.
Fuller's geodesic domes had amazing impact on architecture, and now this concept seems to be having a new life in the artwork that Werner Sun has produced for this installation.  Mr. Sun has been taking two dimensional imagery and with some cutting and folding has begun to create an art that reflects an awareness of physical structures that create the foundations of what we can see in reality.

Werner Sun at the Corners Gallery

There is a path that opens up for the visual artist to explore, and we are talking about territory that would have been hard for the average person to contemplate without the aid of the personal computer.  We can start to appreciate the various forms - the geometric mesh of experience that we can see in many examples in Werner Sun's installation.  His constructions hang from the ceiling and project off the wall, and they are tactile and rigorous in their application and appeal.

Rosalyn Richards, "Geometry and Light"

Rosalyn Richards also stakes out new territory in paintings and prints that give the viewer an analytical approach to what and how we see.  Facets of crystals reflecting lights, and bubble forms provide some of the content for paintings that have an intimate close-up quality, and we marvel at the patience that these paintings require of the artist -  to fulfill her vision.

Rosalyn Richards

I found myself thinking about the generations of artists starting with Kandinsky who work with abstraction and their efforts to dig into the meaning and structure of what we see - and this has been essential for contemporary art.  These explorations will continue, and there is much more new territory to explore.  We were happy to explore part of this new land with these three artists.  The show runs thru May 25th at the Corners Gallery on Hanshaw Road.  Go There..

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Ode To Joy

Oxford Street and Park Avenue
Rochester, N.Y.
May, 2018

Spring has sprung, and the magnolias along the  median are in full bloom.  On a sunny afternoon I buzz the door for the Oxford Gallery and walk downstairs for a look see.  Around this time each spring the gallery calls on their artist community to take part in a group show, and this year the theme is "Ode to Joy".


"Ode to Joy"
thru June 16, 2018

I was invited to participate, so I sent in a monotype print.  I wanted to see what others had done with the theme, and was happy that they took a very diverse approach to a subject that has music and light woven into the heart of the mix.

"The First Veil of Spring", mixed media

There are over 60 works of art to take in and they range from abstract and intimate ( "Fog" by Jean K. Stephens ) to rather large and boisterous ( "Gun Control" by David Dorsey ).  I had the good fortune to be able to talk with one of the featured artists - g.a. Sheller - about her mixed media work on paper she calls: "The First Veil of Spring".  This is a two part work that includes photography, printmaking and hand painting - portraits of the first flowers - snowdrops to be exact - with marvelous details that appear almost three-dimensional with very subtle hints of green stems or leaves on a snowy morning. She must have gotten level with the ground to get such close-ups of these tiny flowers.

"Lake Effect" by Ken Townsend

"Ode to Joy" is a wonderful concept, and if you take these artists at their word - their artworks should make a real connection.  For some painters in this show, they express their joy by going straight outdoors to find their bliss.  Maybe, for Ken Townsend, it was the light catching on the bits of snow in a large tree that lifted his spirits.

"Farmer's View" by Sean Witucki

Stately trees at the edge of a field in "Farmer's View" bring joy to the artist who paints the picture, and hopefully this is transmitted to a viewer.  The quality of this realist's work certainly gives you a time of day and a very peaceful feeling as you scan this paintings surface and take in the details that this artist provides.

"Elysium's Daughter"
by William Keyser

On the other hand, it might be just the ability to bring something new into the world that brings an artist sheer happiness.  I get that from Bill Keyser's work: "Elysium's Daughter" made of laminated wood with a bright yellow paint.  Keyser's sculpture frames space in a way that both condenses and relaxes the environment creating the first beat of a proposed rhythm.  Other little abstractions can be attractive, including the meandering currents that circulate in the pen and ink drawing called " Great Circle" by Bill Stephens.

" Great Circle" by Bill Stephens

My monotype print which I call: " Comprehension" fits right in this mode.  I have been working with bright primary colors for several years now and my print has a kind of celestial starlight at the central "point of origin" with a radiance that becomes palpable.  I am using a method of  developing  qualities in my art that translates mathematics and measurement into something you can sense and see.

"Comprehension" by Alan Singer

Another artist is very circumspect about the joy they get in the process of painting.  Barbara Page is up in an airplane, surveying the scenes down below and finds a certain confluence of roads and streams and gives you the demarcation zones in her work she calls: "Three Springs".  She has been working on map paintings for a while and I would say her selection for this show takes you away from the ordinary point of view, and by taking a bird's eye view beckons you to step away from today's problems and see things from this new perspective.

"Three Springs" by Barbara Page

"Ode to Joy" could also be a party, and painter Kate Timm, is ready to celebrate.  In her still life which reminds me of the paintings by Janet Fish, there is a little bottle with a portrait of Beethoven on the label.  Kate has a table laden with candy, corn, a vase of flowers and everything is painted in a particular light, as if it could stay that way forever.

"Ode to Joy" by Kate Timm

So, time and place certainly has an effect.  The best thing is that joy can be shared.  There are so many works of art in this show that I am tempted to write about each one, but then there wouldn't be as much of a surprise for the readers of my blog, and I don't want to stop you from getting up and going to see for yourself.  Check it out and smile...

"Gun Control" by David Dorsey
at Oxford Gallery
267 Oxford Street, Rochester, New York

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Industrial Strength

industrial Strength

Albert Paley, "Genesee Passage"
in downtown Rochester, New York

Right in the circle in front of the old Bausch & Lomb Building in downtown Rochester,  there stands a wonderful monument to industry and artistic pursuit by Albert Paley.  I enjoyed looking at this post-modern work of art on a beautiful spring afternoon and  I was thankful that such a thing was commissioned for this location.

Geisel Gallery placard

Inside the building, I walked upstairs to the Geisel Gallery to view  the installation of watercolors by Leo Dodd on exhibition through May and arranged by his son, Paul Dodd.  It was just last year that I was introduced to this painter's artwork - so I went to see this new selection that includes paintings made in far flung places like Italy and even the State of Maine!

Leo Dodd paints motif 
Pemaquid Point, Maine

Leo Dodd ( 1927-2015 ) was a mechanical engineer by day - working for Kodak and he was always attracted by the human activity around building sites in Rochester and elsewhere.  As Rick Muto has written, "Leo Dodd was in the mode of painters like Thomas Hart Benton, a regionalist who had a distinct style that emphasized gesture, gravity, and movement."

Leo Dodd /  Heavy Lifting
watercolor on paper

I am sure that I am not the only one who has drawn and painted around construction sites ( my favorite thing to do when I was a young teenager ).  Leo Dodd was there too, as an observer and one who could chronicle changes to the urban landscape with a touch of his pencil and brush.  I think it would have been interesting to watch him work.  How did he decide upon which details to show and which ones to suppress?

Leo Dodd and the Occupy Movement

If you go and visit the Geisel Gallery you get a taste of what it was like to watch some of the landmarks of Rochester being built through the eyes of this artist.  Seeing these scenes - of workers doing their jobs - and then making a composition for them brings to mind the traditions found in Winslow Homers' watercolors or someone like John Singer Sargent.

Karen Frutiger
"Softly Spoken"
The Gallery at Creativ Framing and Editions Printing
510 State Street

Down the way, over to 510 State Street ( Made on State ) we have a show of collages by Karen Frutiger presented at The Gallery of Creativ Framing and Editions Printing.  Karen's show is on through June and it is worth the trip over there to see her experiments in layering color and form.  This is an art that owes a debt to her abstract expressionist forebears, and you can actually go back to the ground breaking efforts of Kurt Schwitters to find the energy that Karen Frutiger brings to her project.

Karen Frutiger collage

Having just viewed the watercolors of Leo Dodd, I couldn't help but sense some of the same contrasts and gestures in Ms. Frutiger's artwork.  I enjoyed her textures and deep contrasts, and she even has a bit of fun in a work like #11. "Rainy Day" which takes a splash of blue bubbles and makes a composition out of two grey house-like forms.

Karen Frutiger

Here once again, I am curious to know how she does what she does.  Why she selects such deep values, and how does she get her collage materials to sit so flatly?  Go see for yourself and think about how this art is made... wouldn't you like to know?

"Rainy Day" by Karen Frutiger

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