Monday, July 16, 2018

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  Josephine Tota had experienced psychological problems and had virtually withdrawn from her work as a seamstress but forged ahead with her art at home.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"




Thursday, July 5, 2018

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.


Cascadilla

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
at
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
at
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





Saturday, June 23, 2018

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













Sunday, June 17, 2018

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!




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sign Wave



"Now This" a show of recent art by Nick Ruth
at
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
at 
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