Monday, September 17, 2018

New York State of Art

New York State 

In Brooklyn,  I delivered my two monotypes for the show "Hand Pulled Prints" at SITE:BROOKLYN in an industrial district just west of Park Slope.  I could feel the energy of the neighborhood I used to call home.  Around the gallery the framed prints were not yet mounted on the walls, but  I can see that this is an interesting group and I think my artwork will stand out.

Alan Singer: "Importance of Light"
Monotype on Fabriano paper, 2018

This Brooklyn gallery has been open for five years, and I talked with the director, Denise Amses who is also a working artist.  We spoke about how much the neighborhood has changed since I moved out of this district in 2005.  So many new buildings in NYC!  I almost don't recognize it, as I drive around Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Taking shape:  "Hand Pulled Prints" for SITE:BROOKLYN

I won't be able to stay around downstate as I have to go back to my classroom, and teach at R.I.T.

So, I get up at sunrise to get to Rochester Institute of Technology and up in the sky is a work of art: someone was skiing in the clouds - or so it seems...

Sunrise, September 17, 2018

At the Bevier Gallery the teachers in the College of Art and Design       ( CAD ) are being presented in a faculty art show, and I can take a look around at my leisure.  From above the piece that Len Urso has on view seems very minimal in a sublime geometry of metal-work.  If this piece is formed by hammering away on the form - then that is a lot of work - also quite different than the heads that we have seen from him as of late.  The form - but not the color - reminds me of the world's largest flower  - the Rafflesia, which I think is found in Borneo.

Sculpture by Len Urso

Close by there is a tall sculptural work by Andy Buck that reminds me of art by Martin Puryear, and another sculpture being presented from Albert Paley.

Earlier Paley had sent out a letter  that detailed his interest in scaling back his operations - running huge sculpture studios and developing large public sculpture in far-flung places - it has got to be very exhausting.  

Work by Albert Paley

Dan DeLuna has some very colorful and attractive abstraction on view.  His teaching assignment here at R.I.T. is in the popular Visual Communication Design area.  I am sure that the paintings on view in this exhibition show increasing depth, and I would love to see more by this teacher.

Painting by Dan DeLuna

There is a striking portrait duo by Amy McLaren which reveals an interest in character development and also has a strong resemblance to the portraits of Robert Marx, one of Rochester's best known artists.  Amy has a lot of great energy and a real zest for her figurative pieces, that combine acute observation and a wonderful wit.

Portrait by Amy McLaren

So, I urge you to take a visit to the Bevier Gallery to check out all the artworks - too many to comment on here.  I have to go back to work - and take my students out to the Lamberton Conservatory to draw the plants for their next assignment.  On a warm grey day, we spend the afternoon studying nature - not too bad an idea!

Student at work on her drawing
at the 
Lamberton Conservatory


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Fall Semester

Lamberton Conservatory, Highland Park
Rochester, NY
September 8, 2018

The real thing takes your breath away... and this is just one visit to a local park to do some research for my class this fall semester.   I take my students to the conservatory to work on their art, and maybe paint a portrait of this hibiscus.  In my studio I am preparing new art myself - for exhibitions.. and just to see what happens.  I can invent forms, but nothing so spectacular as this flower above.

My monotype: "Tropical Radiance"

One thing I have found out, working with imagery derived from mathematical functions - there really is some strong similarity to the forms found in nature and those that are derived or rendered from a numerical matrix ( just look at the color burst in the center of the flower).

Before I go down to Brooklyn this weekend to drop off my prints for a show at SITE:BROOKLYN in Park Slope, I check out some shows in our area, including one collection of paintings by John Ruggles at The Geisel Gallery in downtown Rochester.  

I know John from R.I.T. and welcomed this opportunity to see what he has been doing lately.  It is also interesting for me because I have been reading a book by the author Leonard Shlain titled:  The Alphabet Versus The Goddess - this non fiction book published in 1998 recounts a history of the written word and how it is often in conflict with imagery.  John E. Ruggles takes letters from the Hebrew alphabet and illuminates them in his paintings, often taking the viewer on a mysterious journey. 

Pey: Mouth of Fire
by John E. Ruggles

An interesting thing about the book by Leonard Shlain is that he goes back through the history of the written language and spends some time to explain the origins of the letters that are the subjects of John Ruggles paintings.  Of course you don't have to read the book before you go and see this show, but it is a remarkable experience to see what can be done to create a painting based on calligraphic strokes and the ornamentation that is the result of a painterly manifestation of literacy.

John E. Ruggles 
Letters on the Wind

One letter per canvas is the starting point in this show, and John provides a little cheat sheet if you don't know the names of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  John writes an artist statement that begins with his orientation:  "I work in the space that exists between ideas, or objects, and the paths we forge through them".  That is the job of the visual artist as he sees it - walking through the doorway to a new set of possibilities using his paints and brushes to shed some light on this new path.

The next day I attended an opening for the artist Nate Hodge at Axom Gallery at 176 Anderson Avenue in Rochester.  His show is called: The Blues, and has examples of his latest paintings and drawings on view through October 13th, 2018.  When I think of the blues - I think of music, but when I see the artwork of Nate Hodge - I may reconsider that.  His show does have blue as a major color factor, but  I would say that this artist is in love with a kind of hand made architecture.

The installation brings his drawings to life and gives the visitor a lift.  Take a look first at the wall of intimate drawings and paintings - there is an obsession with a fine line that is  multiplied many times over as it builds upon itself.  

Nate Hodge working drawings

Nate Hodge: installation

We were prepared for this show after seeing paintings by Nate Hodge in the Hall of The Memorial Art Gallery, and also on view outdoors  in a mural he painted in 2015 for Wall/Therapy.  Stopping to chat with Nate Hodge we asked how long it took to paint the mural down the street - and we were amazed to learn that it took him ( alone ) a week to do the job.  His is a form of improvisation, paint a portion, going back to fix something, make it better and continue on, so here my thinking about music returns, because his description is very much what I feel when I listen to modern jazz - so maybe it is the return of the blues....

Nate Hodge is industrious....

Giving form to feeling is the motivation here.  The need to express oneself is important, and maybe it is carried through your life if you are an artist of some sort, and have the skills and the staying power to keep at it.  New directions are being forged, new paths are being built upon in visual arts that may not be so easy to grasp at first,  but keep trying, because it is worth the effort .

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Art Workers

Rick Muto and Roz Goldman
Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York
celebrates Cathal O'Toole

This past Saturday at the Axom Gallery, a group of folks gathered to hear from Roz Goldman and Rick Muto, Michael Thomas and Katherine Baca-Bielinis about the life and art of Cathal O'Toole ( 1904-1991 ).

On a beautiful afternoon I began to learn a lot more about the artist whose work I had admired in a fine show of paintings and prints.  The opportunity to hear from these people who had looked so  closely at the works on view in the gallery was really refreshing.  There were some surprises as Rick Muto brought out some of Cathal O'Toole's artworks that had not made it onto the walls of this particular show, including a portrait of the actress Helen Hayes ( see below ).

Cathay O'Toole's portrait of Helen Hayes

During the discussion at the gallery we learned that the artist had exhibited his paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and that sales of the art from the Axom Gallery would go to help support Cathal O'Toole's wife who is presently under care in a nursing home.  I couldn't help but think of all of the artwork this artist must have made during a lifetime, and we are only seeing what was left of his estate in this show of a very high quality.

Later in the week I spent some time watching a wonderful video  on TV about the life and work of Eva Hesse, an artist whose work I followed in New York City when I would go around to galleries as a teenager.  ART 21 is the series being  shown on PBS and this week they will broadcast a special about the art and life of Elizabeth Murray, which I am looking forward to seeing.

Elizabeth Murray visits R.I.T.

Almost fifteen years ago, I invited Elizabeth Murray to come and speak to my students in the painting studio at Rochester Institute of Technology.  She later gave a public talk about her art at The Memorial Art Gallery that was well attended.  It was only a few years after that, when Elizabeth passed away ( too soon ).  Luckily she lived long enough to see her retrospective exhibition held at The Museum Of Modern Art.  But when she was here to visit my students at R.I.T. she gave their work her full attention.

Elizabeth Murray will be featured in a video presentation
from ART 21
check your local listings

While Elizabeth Murray   ( 1940-2007 ) was alive and exhibiting often at Paula Cooper Gallery, I would go and see what she was doing, and it almost always gave me something to think about, and enjoy.  My own painting was influenced by what she accomplished, especially from the point of view of working with different shapes.  I place a very high value on the people behind the artwork, and on the way out at the airport, bringing Elizabeth Murray back to her plane to New York City, I couldn't help but be amazed by her stamina in the face of all the work she had yet to accomplish. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Art in Data

Check out the ACS magazine article first on Rebecca Aloisio.  If you didn't see it when it was first published last year, here is a chance to read what Rebecca had to say about her development as a fine artist, here is the link:

Rebecca Aloisio at Rochester Institute of Technology

"We are confronted daily with insurmountable amounts of visual information.  This influx of data quietly shrouds our sense of truth, burying it under veils of the sensational, the staged, the crude, and the hyperreal. One can never be quite certain if the image before them represents documented history or a simulated probability. Navigating this paradigm is at the core of my practice. I want to make images that speak beyond abstraction.  I want viewers to be accountable, questioning and challenging the authenticity of what it is they are seeing." - Rebecca Aloisio

art by Rebecca Aloisio
"Object" at The RIT University Gallery

With an opening reception in September, the art of Rebecca Aloisio is being featured in a solo exhibition of large scale works that defy the easy categories we have for two dimensional art. Are these paintings, prints, or collage, or all of the above?  If these works are not abstract than what do they represent?  There are bits of things that we can recognize - a texture here, or a form there, but this looks like a universe that has been put into a blender and a new context is developing to interpret these images.  There is a beauty to these compositions to be sure - a real artist has been working at her craft and now has something to show for it.

Rebecca Aloisio print in the studio

As a mentor, I had the opportunity to work with Rebecca last year in the printmaking studio, and had the chance to see how she worked at her art.  Above was a photo I made of one work  with strong color and a sense of dimension, and you can see bits of this in the new pieces  which are framed and hanging in the University Gallery in her show called "Objekt" until October 6th, 2018.

This summer I was pleased to be able to write a recommendation for Rebecca Aloisio, and she has since been awarded a Pollock-Krasner grant to further her art - needless to say she is on a roll.
It is a tribute to her strength as an artist that she has taken on a new and interesting path in her art that is confronting the barrage of digital materials that are in our lives today.  Let us see how she sorts it out.

Rebecca Aloisio 
at the RIT University Gallery

Friday, August 17, 2018

Mind Over Matter

Dan Scally and Peter J. Sucy exhibition of their art at
Geisel Gallery
One Bausch & Lomb Place, downtown Rochester, New York

Is this art in 3D or should it be in 4D?   I am writing about the show that arrived recently in the Geisel Gallery ( "Mind Over Matter in 3D " - open until August 30th, 2018 ) found on the second floor of Bausch & Lomb Place in downtown Rochester.  Why I ask this question about the art of Dan Scally and Peter J. Sucy is that their artworks on the walls of this exhibition need that extra dimension of time and space, because the work is colorful, sculptural, and needs to be viewed from different angles.  This is true for art presented on lenticular panels by Peter J. Sucy, and it is certainly true for the art of Dan Scally.

Peter J. Sucy presents images on lenticular printed screens

Dan Scally presents artworks that fall within more traditional aspects of sculpture and collage especially the so-called "found objects" that we have seen in 20th century art.  In contrast, the majority of the pieces by Peter J. Sucy rely on digital imagery presented on little lenticular display screens.  What is a lenticular panel?  In essence, it is a kind of specialized printed lens with basic backlighting that tends to give these artworks the look of real depth, it kind of fools the eye.  You may have seen this kind of thing before in cards and printed advertisement that makes the image appear to be moving - this is not the usual thing that you find in an art gallery ( maybe things are about to change! ).

Dan Scally reworks Jackson Pollock

In his idiom Dan Scally is having fun working at his art in images which can range from a rendition of a Jackson Pollock storm on a bright metallic surface to a collection of different textures of wood that make up a tactile portrait of a landscape.  Continually experimenting, Dan Scally has some very attractive works that are modestly priced and a few have already sold.  From the looks of this show I can't think of a material that would shake his confidence.  My eye was attracted to a number of his pieces including something that resembles a spiked hubcap toward the back of the exhibition.

Dan Scally has a wide variety of materials in this exhibition
Geisel Gallery
Rochester, New York

Peter J. Sucy has a deep interest in the development of 3D prints as he explains in his artist's statement.  He is a Kodak veteran who was in line to take on a difficult assignment - perfecting the lenticular printing process and it seems to work for him here.  I know from my own experience in modeling 3D environments that this is a time consuming way to create art and there is a lot to learn along the way to make objects worthy of presentation in a gallery setting.

"Mendon Drain" by Peter J. Sucy

With these lenticular screens the quality of the image is very important as is the angle from which you stand and view them.  Each work requires a steady light source, and I wonder how permanent the images are in this printing process.  There is room for invention and wit and Mr. Sucy has a very interesting viewpoint to share.  In one image, a famous painting by Edward Hopper is reworked to include a kind of flying bird/machine looking in on the skeletal folks having their coffee in the Nighthawk Cafe.

Peter J.Sucy at Geisel Gallery

Take some time to go and look at this interesting two person show.  There are many works to see and trying to follow the development of a theme here requires a patient heart.  It is worth the effort.

Peter J. Sucy ,  3D prints of Chess pieces
compliment this show
at Geisel Gallery
Rochester, New York

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Summer Chance

Tom Otterness' The Creation Myth
Goodman and University Avenue
Rochester, New York

Winding my way to the studio in the Hungerford Building the other day I noticed workers and trucks at the installation on the corner of University Avenue.  I went over to see what they have been doing and I was surprised to see that the sculpture from Tom Otterness has been switched out.  It came as a surprise because I don't remember reading anything about it in the papers.  In case you haven't been by there - this set of sculptures has become a popular destination  - and now there is a new version in metal of one of his pieces,  recently installed.  I wonder why, and how it was changed, not that anything was lost - it is just different!  Now we have one in metal and one in stone, along with many of the little versions sprinkled around the grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery. 

Tom Otterness 
The Memorial Art Gallery

A little further on my way, on College Avenue, Gallery r is closed for the summer, and will be opening in a new spot during the fall in a mid-town location.  I am sure we will have some interesting news about that to share with you soon.  The College Avenue location has served the students and faculty of R.I.T. well,  and now we will see what will happen in their new exhibition space.

If you plan to visit galleries this summer, take in a new show that is by photographer John Retallack being held at the Joy Gallery, 498 Main Street West, in Rochester.  John mentioned to me that his show called: STORY will remain at the gallery during September.  John Retallack has been involved with photography and printing for years, and he was also teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology which was where we first met.  The interesting thing about these new photo prints on view is that often John has hand written a story to go along with the image.

John Retallack
at Joy Gallery
498 Main Street West, Rochester, New York

Some of the photos in the present show go back in time; John is revisiting places he has been and telling the stories of how the photos were made.  Not all of the prints are combined with his hand writing however.  Some of the photos  are quite unique ( especially his toy truck images ) and other photos seem to come from a time when he was mainly making portraits.  In fact he published a book with Anne C. Coon of faculty portraits  at R.I.T.  ( there is an image of Scott McCarney in the present show as an example ).

Jed Perl's compendium
"Art in America" 
The Library of America, published by Penguin Random House

Summer is a time when I can catch up on my reading, and I can recommend a compendium that has been published from Jed Perl.  He collects essays from writers on American Art - going back to 1945 and ending up around 1970.  In collecting this 800 plus page  book Jed Perl writes introductions for each selection, and tells us why he made the choice of these essays - why he feels they are necessary for a better understanding of the art we see in galleries and museums.  I think this would be a good selection for anyone who is curious about what was being said about  some of the well known artists of the time including writings by some of the artists themselves including Isamu Noguchi,  Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning.  It may surprise you how eloquent some of the artists are in their communications!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Botanical Book Reviews

Looking forward to reading this review as I need books to recommend for my class in Zoological and Botanical Art set to start in two weeks!