Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Albert Paley's "Soliloquy"
   at The Memorial Art Gallery
   and North Goodman Street

It was a gorgeous morning and I was just driving by today when they were installing the latest Albert Paley sculpture titled "Soliloquy".  Now a soliloquy is often a dramatic speech where a character talks to himself ( or herself ) without necessarily acknowledging an audience.  If you listen to Albert Paley speak about this sculpture ( there was a short interview on the radio) this gets confusing - because you know that public art is there to address those who come to the museum by car or foot, and it would seem that they are the intended audience.  This  "Soliloquy" occupies its own little circle just by the new driveway to the Memorial Art Gallery on North Goodman Street.  Albert Paley has colors - many of them in this work, and they include a bright banana yellow, green leaf green and sky blue, and this work has an electricity that is very jazzy and upbeat.

This is just the icing on the cake, for Albert Paley has been on view in  a big way this summer in New York City with Paley on Park Avenue, and there is a rumor that there will also be a new sculpture installed at R.I.T. in the future.  I think you will enjoy the new art that has come to rest in the sculpture park, here in our community.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Laurie Anderson, John Gurche, and Roald Hoffman: Visiting Dignitaries of Science and Art

Laurie Anderson
  performs "Dirtday" at the State Street Theatre, Ithaca ,NY

Here, in upstate New York we have seen an influx of visiting artists with real star-power.  First, there was a visit from William Kentridge earlier in the week, and now here I am listening to Laurie Anderson giving a solo performance of her work "Dirtday" on Saturday night.

I was in Ithaca to help The Museum of the Earth celebrate it's tenth anniversary, and to bring in a new audience - they also sponsored an artist panel on Sunday to discuss the places where Art & Science mix.  On board for the talk fest was a Nobel prize winner - Roald Hoffman who is a chemistry professor, playwright and poet, also on the dais was John Gurche an artist who specializes in Paleontology and who helped visualize the movie "Jurassic Park", and there to converse with the others was performance artist Laurie Anderson.

Under a large tent just outside The Museum of the Earth, Barbara Mink introduced the guests and had questions prepared.  Barbara Mink has been with Cornell University, she is a painter, and also was the director for the "Light in Winter" festival which I played a part in one year as a guest speaker ( 2006 ).

I have always been interested in the intersection of science and art so I made it my business to listen closely.

from left:Roald Hoffman,
              John Gurche
              Laurie Anderson
              at the Museum of the Earth

Laurie Anderson started with a mention that she was NASA"s first Artist in Residence for a year, and she got to see the trials of the robot Mars Rovers when they were taken for a test drive in Pasadena, California.  It was clear from the start that NASA didn't know what to expect from the performance artist - except that Laurie Anderson will probably use the experience in one of her onstage monologues.

Roald Hoffman thought that scientists had a bad reputation because of their tendency to "dissect the soaring hawk".  Some of Roald's thoughts have been written into a play about ethics in science titled:
"Should've" which will be given a performance in Ithaca this December.

Art by John Gurche

John Gurche is an artist with an astounding ability to communicate just what the dinosaurs looked like and how they behaved way back then.  His art has been seen on U.S. Postage stamps, in the National Geographic, and in a show that is currently finishing its run at The Museum of the Earth.  John Gurche noted in his talk that people often try to simplify things, but in science ( and art ) the product is often much more complex, and that complexity is really indicated by the path of our evolution.

Barbara Page murals
  at The Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, NY

Back at the State Street Theatre, Laurie Anderson was on stage playing her electric violin and posing interesting questions about other worlds out beyond our solar system, and she also voiced her concern for people back here on Earth left out in the cold, living in tent cities     ( here in the U.S. and elsewhere ).
Ending on a poignant note about her pet dog Lolabelle, who was taught late in her dog's life to play the piano.  Her dog had the same spots as the famous RCA logo with a terrier listening to an old victrola that was used on their record label for many years.  Laurie projected a video of her pet who has since passed away, take a look:


Friday, September 20, 2013

William Kentridge: Film, Fit, and Philosophy

William Kentridge
   at the Hartnett Gallery
   University of Rochester

Ten short films projected at the Dryden Theatre in the George Eastman House make quite an impression when they are from the hand and mind of William Kentridge aka Soho Eckstein.  Soho is Kentridge's alter ego and represents in these films a most unlovable aspect of humanity, the villainous capitalist throwing food scraps to the poor.  During the show this past Wednesday there was a special magic in the air because the artist himself was sitting in the audience and we could engage with him in some Q & A after the films.

The images in these ten films seem to be tied together thematically, with one of the major characters being the place - or nonplace - where all the action emerges be it the city of Johannesburg, or a lonely room, or a road to the outback.  Many times Kentridge's images seem to want to penetrate to the core even if this is done in a diagrammatic way, or sometimes a violent visceral way - the audience is engaged and challenged at the same time.  We have to deal with expressed feelings of inequality, evil capitalism, urbanity, the fragility of life, all seen through a poetic prism of the cinema.  Then after the screening we have to hear from the author himself who says he relies too much on the black cat trope.

William Kentridge
  draws himself ( over and over ) at the U of R

The Q & A with Kentridge was most enlightening.  He volunteered that he backed into the role of filmmaker - animator ( he never studied animation ) but that is what his films are all about: movement and the duration of time exemplified by the way he semi-erases an image to indicate forward movement - and we get the partially erased ghost image as the rest of his drawing moves ahead ( this is hard to express in words - you have to see it unfold! ).

If you want to get a good sense of what Kentridge is doing - see the screening this month in the Hartnett Gallery at the University of Rochester, in the Wilson Commons - the films are being projected and even though they are on a smaller scale here than at the Dryden, they are still inspiring!
I have seen clips of many of these films with the exception of the most recent one - and his short films have been made over a period of over twenty years.  During that period he has also been involved as a printmaker, and scenic designer for opera like Mozart's "Magic Flute", and Shostakovich's "The Nose".

"Bird is the Word"
  exhibition at Ock Hee's Gallery in Honeoye Falls, NY

In Honeoye Falls I have the chance to present a little group of my early artworks at Ock Hee's Gallery - which is a wonderful old railroad building with sprawling gardens and outdoor sculpture all around.
"Bird is the Word" is a group show which includes my student Eunice Hur, along with the other artists Jerry Alonzo, Belinda Bryce, Kurt Feuerherm and my father Arthur Singer.  In the 1980's I worked with my father to produce many of the works on view as a true collaboration and the results were published in our book "State Birds" also available at the gallery.

Art by Eunice Hur
  "Bird is the Word" at Ock Hee's Gallery, Honeoye Falls, NY

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kentridge Visits Rochester

William Kentridge

I almost missed this notice, so don't you miss this!  Coming to Rochester this Wednesday and Thursday is William Kentridge - a most wanted man from the standpoint of the visual arts.  He maybe one of the most interesting artists you will ever see here.  Wednesday at the Dryden Theatre for a showing of a documentary film at 8:00 pm, and Thursday at the University of Rochester.

Here is the link:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Art & Design

Wall therapist:
  St. Monci at work

If you have been engaged by the Wall/Therapy concept, and maybe took some time to go out and look over the products by these outdoor mural activists, you may have come in contact with St. Monci at work in a neighborhood near you.  This month of September, St. Monci comes inside for a showing at 1975 Gallery called "Adventures in Technicolor", and you will see the super-graphics of a colorist and neo-constructivist.

St. Monci: "Wonder Droid"

The little gems on view are mostly paint on paper, but the medium is only part of the game here.  The art can remind one of the Russian abstractionists Malevich and El Lissitzky who a century ago broke open the notion of the artist as suprematist, a kind of radical reductionist that brought art to a common denominator of shape and color.

photo courtesy of Hannah Betts
St. Monci installation at 1975 Gallery

The walls at 1975 Gallery are color coordinated inside to meet and match the smaller artworks framed for presentation.  While Wall/Therapy is big and brash outdoors, inside the gallery these precise abstractions are stimulating - I like to follow the paths of color and the overlaps of colors creating  spatial depth - many of these paintings employ an isometric perspective that makes these works of art look like architecture - once again, bringing the outside in.

Roger Remington,
   celebrated Graphic Design professor at R.I.T.

Roger Remington was showing slides - not to his class, though some were in attendance, but to a collected audience of peers and well-wishers gathered to celebrate Roger's 50 years of dedication to teaching graphic design at R.I.T.   Roger Remington has authored a stack of books on great designers of the modernist era - these are the figures that have created a look for publications, for corporations, and for the media that we have become so familiar with over the years.  It wasn't always thus.

Roger ushered in a wave of education that honors 20th century design history, and also seeks to collect the actual physical sketches, drawings and designs for the archive at The Vignelli Design Center on the campus of R.I.T.

One marvelous image Roger had on the screen above shows designer Massimo Vignelli looking at the building named in his honor that house his collection of artifacts, signs, furniture and much more.  Over the years I have spent as a designer and illustrator I worked on projects that were set in motion because of Vignelli's designs - so I could see the aesthetic in action and the effect it had - very logical, but very intuitive at the same time.

Roger Remington has made all the difference in the world - giving acknowledgement of design as a pursuit of high purpose - and aesthetic substance that helped us form our present culture, and something worthy of respect.  Roger ended his talk with a quote from John Steinbeck:

  " I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few of them as there are any other great artists.  Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

First Friday, September 6th

Seeing:  Carl Chiarenza
  at Axom Gallery,
  and Spectrum Gallery at Lumiere Photo

I started off on my saunter through the Hungerford Building looking at art by Amy Vena and Sara Basher who share a studio overlooking the CSX railroad yard, while the halls of the building began to swell with visitors - it was First Friday Gallery Night - and there was much to look forward to...

Walking over the bridge on Goodman Street, I found a selection of recent paintings by Doug Coffey at the Arts and Cultural Council.  Doug Coffey once owned a gallery in the town of Pittsford and it was years ago that he had last exhibited a large group of his own artwork.  The paintings now on view through this month sometimes mimic the trompe-l'oeil painters of the past, but that is not all.  There are studied landscapes, a self portrait, and many realist compositions depicting corrugated cardboard boxes and a few black crows to animate the scene.

Frank Cost's
  "A Season of Festivals"

Down the block at Gallery r, Frank Cost has a unique showing - a series of panoramic photos printed on a roll of paper stretching around the gallery called "A Season of Festivals".  Frank's panoramas are composed by shooting separate "frames" and stitching them together using Photoshop to form a single wide angle image.  His plan seems to have worked, and we can visit scenes from festivals that begin in May with R.I.T.'s Imagine Festival, we can go inside the tents at The Lilac Festival, and end up in mid-September at the "Greentopia Festival".  I particularly liked the photo made in the later part of the day with the industrial background behind the Pont de Rennes pedestrian bridge - it offered lustrous details that give the gallery goer an idea of the celebrations that draw so many visitors to the Rochester region.

Here is a wonderful video that was posted recently showing the installation for Frank cost's show:

The photography of Carl Chiarenza is the subject of a two gallery presentation - so see both parts! - the first section at the Spectrum Gallery at Lumiere Photo, and the second section upstairs in the Axom Gallery.  This is a feast for the eyes and mind, and will reward prolonged viewing - to take in the textures and the scope of this art form.  The selection of prints on view at Spectrum Gallery reveals many sides to Carl Chiarenza's work.  I was drawn to the depth of the prints that have a look of lithographic plates and other more painterly materials not readily associated with photography.  All of these photos on view have a rich palette for black and white prints, some of which are in the form of triptychs.  The photos are taken of seemingly modest collage materials - torn papers, fabrics, cut ribbons of metal, etc. and they become through the hands of this master a much more engaging form of visual poetry.

Carl Chiarenza at Spectrum Gallery

At the Axom Gallery the show continues with large and medium size prints that can remind a viewer of Chinese landscape painting, or cubist art and maps of various kinds - whole ranges of topographical terrain hinted at in these beautifully produced prints - a wonder!

Downstairs I finish my gallery ramble in the studios of Steve Carpenter.  Viewing the latest products from a host of artists engaged in painting from the live figure model.   I think of how stimulating the evening has been, the wonderful conversations I have had -  and how much more there is yet to reveal...