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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At Your Service

 


Across the road on the upper left
Artist David Hammons 
Installation of a ghostly sort...of sculpture


Lucky for us, we can spend some time out in the world, going to see some art now at my local museum.  It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were in New York City, and we walked into the new Whitney Museum of Art down along the west side of Manhattan.  Looking out from a top floor window of the new Whitney, I see a sculpture that is actually mounted out in the Hudson River, where old piers once stood.  The installation looks complete, but the work is like a contour drawing of one of the old warehouse buildings that once lined this section of the waterfront.  The artist in charge is David Hammons, and I wondered about the kinds of strings that had to be pulled in order for the city to allow this kind of "building" where heavy freighters once tied up along the docks.

David Hammons art is very evocative, even ghostly.  This kind of site specific work reminds me so much of what Robert Smithson would write about in his essays that would recall "monuments" of an era past.  I often walked down this stretch of road when I was a teenager, to photograph and sketch, never stopping to think what the future would hold for this place.  Now, when we come back into Manhattan I almost can't recognize the city where I was born!



Archie Rand's "613" at The Memorial Art Gallery

Closer to where we now live in upstate New York, the cases of Covid have been dropping mercifully and people can feel more apt to want to be outside and enjoy the warmer weather.  Having had a vaccination may lessen the anxiety a bit but we still don't go out to a crowded restaurant and rarely to a show.  I do wonder how a gallery can stay in business under these circumstances.  When I visited The Memorial Art Gallery recently, I did find a few people out to see the new show of Archie Rand's paintings he calls "The 613".


Archie Rand and his "613" paintings

When I go out to see contemporary artist's work, I often recognize their style from having seen a show of their's before, and that is certainly the case with Archie Rand who is a painter I have followed over my years in New York City, and I also remember that Rand was a teacher at Columbia University when we lived downstate.


"613"  is a series of paintings that illustrate more than the ten commandments

The publicity and essays about Archie Rand always mention that he is thought of as something of a renegade by not following trends in the artworld.  "The 613" follows in that regard in that the paintings 
illustrate teachings found in the Torah - a holy book which I once held open during my Bar Mitzvah!  Archie Rand's paintings are all based on the "dos" and don'ts of the Jewish faith.  When looking at this show I right away thought about my own relationship with religion and the standards that I stood for.  Beyond my 13th birthday I neglected religious teachings and sought out other avenues that I found more to my taste.  My teachers in synagogue tried to have me speak in Hebrew, but I didn't have an ear for the language and quickly forgot the letters of that alphabet!



Archie Rand: Between the Comic and the Tragic

Now, when I am faced with the Hebrew in Archie Rand's paintings at the MAG, I will admit it is a struggle!  Certainly the paintings are more than the language and they present an image that is often a kind of comic or cartoon.  I think Archie Rand tries not to be too pedantic in his interpretations of what the commandments may mean.  His style sums up in an image what might cross your mind when you can interpret the painting at all in the first place.  Some of his images stand out- or else I remember them because they are a scream - a man puts his head in a vice, or a woman has her eyes sunk deep in her head and you can see out the other side!  The paintings ( hundreds of them ) are lined up along the walls and you can take your pick of the ones that really register....



John Ahern at The Memorial Art Gallery

Once I step away from Rand's artwork and I come out into the next gallery I find a sculpture by my friend John Ahern - it is of a woman looking skyward, patiently waiting there with her hose and watering can.  This  art  features a figure cast in plaster representing a  " real person".  We get away from that feeling found in Archie Rand's paintings that are sort of funny in that they look like 1950s cartoon strips.  


Jackie Kennedy by Andy Warhol

Art can move you, and it also can bring you very much back to an enhanced reality.  We can see that for certain in the grave way Andy Warhol treats with respect the image of Jackie Kennedy mourning the passage of her husband, the President.  For me the Warhol has the kind of impact I miss with Archie Rand, though I do admit that Rand can be engaging and entertaining!

 









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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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