Friday, October 28, 2016

The Print Club Edition

The Print Club of Rochester at
Tower Gallery, SUNY Brockport

This month at the Tower Gallery along on Holley Street at the campus of SUNY Brockport,  the Print Club of Rochester has landed with a new exhibition in celebration of being 85 years old as an organization.  The Tower Gallery with its' austere grey walls has been made lively with a collection of fresh prints and I was pleased to bring over a couple of my recent works for this new show.

The Print Club of Rochester is organized to promote a deepening interest and understanding of the fine art of printmaking, and from the looks of this show it is doing a good job attracting younger talent to go along with folks like me who have been involved in making prints for many years.

Alan Singer ( the author of this blog )
The Tower Gallery with The Print Club of Rochester

Creating prints by hand is a discipline that takes into  consideration the techniques, the inspiration of the artist, and the final medium that is employed to bring the art to a living place in the imagination of the gallery goer.  Printmakers have branched out from the woodcut, the lithograph, silkscreen or etching to encompass new materials like the transfer mono-prints that I exhibit in this show.  There is an ongoing discussion about new materials and techniques that are relevant to printmakers, and this process is evolving to include non-toxic forms of printmaking practiced by artists  such as the late Keith Howard who was teaching at R.I.T. for many years.

Elizabeth Durand and her print "Walking Mavis At Night"
selected as Best in Show
The Tower Gallery, SUNY Brockport

In this new show at the Tower Gallery, Cynthia Hawkins of SUNY Geneseo is the juror and she has chosen a print by Elizabeth Durand as the Best in Show.  Liz Durand's art reminds me of a full page spread in a children's book; this print is called: "Walking Mavis at Night" and it features a topographic map and a silhouette of her dog, Mavis, in a moody landscape perhaps illuminated by moonlight.  Other juror's awards go to Kathleen Sherin for her print "SOTC" which is made as an abstract "carborundum calligraphic mono print" in three tall sections, and a print from Katharine Baca-Bielinis that is all about the textures found in Antonio Gaudi's "Sagrada Familia" of Barcelona, Spain.

Kathleen Sherin's print  "SOTC"
Juror's Choice Award

If you go to see this show you will find a wide variety of images in an assortment of sizes, but for me one of the most interesting things about this show is the "Print Exchange" - this is a yearly opportunity for members of the Print Club to exchange a little portfolio of prints with each other.  The print exchange has been a way to share a vision in a most friendly way with each artist supporting the work of the other in this endeavor.

The Print Exchange
in celebration of the Print Club of Rochester

I was also attracted to the prints from Claudia Mejia Willet, and in this context they represent for me an attractive way of combining imagery with color, verve, and mystery.  I was pleased to have my two prints in this show and they represent for me a place that I have been working  towards that weaves together visualizations of data through the lens of mathematics.  I try to add a capital A to the goals of STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math ) and that adds up to STEAM.  I'm a great advocate of the STEAM initiative, and there is evidence of that in my prints.

The Print Club celebrates 85 years as an organization
promoting understanding, collecting, and creating fine art prints

Go out to see the Tower Gallery show, it is a good representation of what is being done in the printmaking arts.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dept. of Suggestive Amplification

What Are You Looking At?

Artists have a fearful power of expression that can direct your attention - as if you were listening to someone through a megaphone.  It is the bully pulpit of the arts, it is the power of suggestion, and the strength of the artist whose skills can lead you in a direction, and may affirm your beliefs or confound them.

Sometimes it is the forum to which the artist brings their wares - just to get you to look at them.  Maybe the artist feels that if you look at the things they produce, that you may want to have one for your very own.

Curtis Mann
Bevier Gallery, Rochester Institute of Technology

Two recent shows have opened that have this effect on me.  The first show that I want to discuss is now open in the Bevier Gallery, in Building 7a on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology, and it is called: "Transformational Imagemaking" - Handmade Photography Since 1960. 

Bea Nettles 
Transformational Imagemaking

Here, in the new exhibition, it is not only the power of photography - but also the manner in which the prints are made that can have such a positive effect.  This is a large group show that features some alumni of RIT, as well as faculty members from the past and present and includes well known names such as Les Krims and well-regarded artists such as Bea Nettles.

Tatana Kellner
photography on molded paper
"Eye Witness, 2001"

This new show comes to us from the CEPA Gallery in Buffalo and it has some engaging aspects for photography not often seen, including some prints on molded paper by Tatana Kellner of eyes that can stare you down ( Eye Witness, 2001 ).  I say that the artist has the power to attract your attention and give you something back in that transaction.  Maybe it could be something humorous and risqué at the same time like the photo by Les Krims of a nude with the Mickey Mouse balloons.

Les Krims

There are also the cumulative effects of seeing the use of photographic images compounded in a book form - or as in the case of a work by Scott McCarney - an accordion fold publication called: " Memory Loss" of 1988.

"Memory Loss" by Scott McCarney

Photos can have a very surreal point of view because of what you can do in the darkroom ( or today with Photoshop ) and we see that as a regular part of the program in the work of Jerry Uelsmann. There are several of his distinctive prints in the present show.

Jerry Uelsmann in the show titled 
"Transformational Imagemaking at RIT

Now, I would like to move into the realm of painting seen through the eyes of my colleague, Luvon Sheppard who is presenting a solo show in the Davison Gallery on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College in the western suburbs of Rochester.  This show called: "Forms of Content" brings together many new paintings in watercolor and acrylic and even some surprise sculptural works which Luvon has in store.  His show in many ways could be an extension of "Transformational Image-making" because he shares some of the same notions about process and suggestion in the art on view.

Luvon Sheppard talks to his audience
Roberts Wesleyan College

Luvon Sheppard spoke about his artwork at the reception for his show and he expressed his intense interest in watercolor and what the process can reveal.  As a teacher and Professor, in the School of Art at RIT he has said that he has learned as much from his students in his classes - and he has been teaching for many years ( 45 years plus ).

Luvon Sheppard's "Horses"

Luvon has a very interesting background, and his artwork has evolved to now include elements of abstraction and collage, along with his ability to tell a story in paint.  His inquisitive personality, and his kindness has won him a very strong following and I am happy to call him a friend and fellow teacher, and office mate for the past couple of decades.

Luvon Sheppard
Davison Gallery
Roberts Wesleyan College
"Forms of Content"

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Burchfield in Buffalo and Drawings by Joan Linder

Charles Burchfield 
Burchfield Penney Art Center
Buffalo, New York

Highly detailed in range and scope is this season's show of  Charles Burchfield's artwork called "Blistering Vision" at The Burchfield Penney Art Center, and it was the main draw for this viewer.  Also, Charles Burchfield, should he be alive today, would look on the drawings of Joan Linder in her show at the Albright-Knox titled: " Operation Sunshine" with a very appreciative eye.

Joan Linder at the Albright - Knox Art Gallery
"Operation Sunshine"

As I have written before, I grew up in a family of artists, and my father was a big fan of both Edward Hopper and Charles Burchfield - and I inherited that same orientation.  Both these men were great with watercolors but more than that they caught a view of America - not necessarily the hot spots - but more along the lanes and alleys in towns and countryside.  There is a very solitary aspect to Burchfield's artwork, and I can't remember a single image with a memorable person in one of his compositions.

Charles Burchfield at work in his 
Gardenville studio

Charles Burchfield's  "Roadside Stream", 1939

What the viewer can see in Charles Burchfield's art is someone who can animate nature, and someone who is in awe of it's power.  There is also a reverence for the products of an able work force, and a sense of capitalist progress in the machine age.  Burchfield was not the first to paint a picture of a steam engine or a bridge, but he may have been the first to not make them look so artsy - seeing his subjects for what they are.

Charles Burchfield's "Snow Patterns"

Not that his work is without drama, but Charles Burchfield's art stands on its own very well now, more than half a century since the paintings and drawings were made.  The gallery visitor is also given a sense of the artist's milieu through another show that accompanies "Blistering Vision"
and it features a group of artists gathered for a birthday party in August 1956.

A Community of Artists: Birthday Party, 1956 

The Burchfield Penney Center is a beautiful space, and the curators give us a thorough dose of what drove Burchfield to paint images of factories, the aftermath of storms, and a poetic documentary of life in early 20th century America.  Also, on view at this time is a curious installation by Babe Reingold called: "The Last Tree", and upstairs are large colorful cut felt sculptures by Josef Bajus made out of what looks like industrial textile discards. 

Felt sculptures by Josef Bajus

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Across the boulevard is the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and they have great paintings on view including classics from artists like Arshile Gorky ( "The Liver Is The Cock's Comb" ).  

Arshile Gorky at The Albright-Knox

Downstairs,in her first museum show are the drawings of a friend, Joan Linder.  In a way, Joan's drawings expand on the vision of Charles Burchfield, and I must say it is uncanny - because Charles Burchfield was known to design wallpaper, and I at first, upon seeing Joan's drawing in green ink of plants - thought it was wallpaper at first, but then I realized that it was really a meticulous drawing of little green plantain weeds done inch by inch - and I thought what patience she must have!

Joan Linder's sketchbooks on view 
at Albright - Knox Art Gallery

I  also felt a kinship with Joan because of her artwork, and because I am attracted to the same kinds of industrial spots, though I don't often get the chance to draw and paint them.  Joan's installation consists of 91 elements including drawings in her Moleskine sketchbooks that she makes on site with remarks including one by a state trooper telling her that it will be alright if she sits and draws at that spot, as long as no one calls in to report her.  Was she sitting at "Love Canal"?

Monday, October 10, 2016


Brandon Ballengee 
part of a five person show at
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
137 East Avenue
Rochester, NY

Having just come home from a performance of "Tristan and Isolde",  live from the Metropolitan Opera, I have been very moved thinking about love and loss and the strong ties that bind us to each other and the earth, so it was perhaps very timely that I should walk into the new exhibition simply titled: " Vanish " at Rochester Contemporary Art Center.

Just within my circle of the arts, Rochester lost Nathan Lyons recently and then just this week the writer Zena Hampson.  So, we like to project ourselves as hail and hardy but there is also the specter of our mortality behind everything we do.  Sometimes we just can't help ourselves, other times we are effected by the tides of the business world with changes of fortune or maybe the climate has an effect on us and we feel like a speck of dust lost in the universe.

Aaron Miller at RoCo

In this new show the comfortable armchair life is deeply bitten into and disturbed in the installation art of Aaron Miller.  Flakes of coal dust that were used to print the tall scrims that greet a visitor to this recently opened show create a little pile on the floor.  This installation is like a stage set, with chunks of coal and the blackened appearance of two - no longer - comfortable chairs set up in the front of the gallery.  An elegy to the passing of a way of life?  Brought to you by an artist who grew up in a coal mining region out west, and whose family worked the mines for years.

Dorene Quinn makes "HISTORY"

Dorene Quinn is a sculptor from Syracuse and she puts it quite succinctly: YROTSIH, that is - "History" - but seen from behind and below, like if you were just buried!  You can't miss the point.  Her other work is a towering lacy wall work of dirt encrusted wire that lets us know that this is the LAST.  How foreboding.  Is it a last will and testament?  

Dorene Quinn with "LAST"

Brandon Ballengee cuts into Joseph Gould's Hummingbirds


At a recent Armory Show in NYC, I got into a long discussion with the artist Brandon Ballangee
because of his use of older artist's prints which he deftly cuts into to excise the subject of his concern.  We can experience a sense of loss in a visceral way when we are at RoCo, and this becomes very obvious when looking over the selection of artwork brought to us by Mr. Ballengee.  This sense of loss translates into the reality of species gone extinct - they are gone from this earth, known only in a distant memory or in the portraits made by artists and photographers now found only in museums and in books and not outdoors in nature where they belong.  Ballengee could go on and document the insects, fish, and marine life like sponges, coral and more.  This is an art that can make you feel responsible for making the necessary changes.  Engage your representatives, and right the ship.

Yvonne Buchanan, videos at "Vanish"

Yvonne Buchanan presents videos, one of which has no moving image but a curious soundtrack of singer Mahalia Jackson and her mellifluous voice.  Other videos from Buchanan include a black man speaking to the camera, we can't hear what he is saying, rather we get thought bubbles that project images of a variety of African textiles that change as the video images progress.  Thinking in pictures - of what may be lost or is in the process of disappearing.

Peter Edlund's paintings in series at " Vanish"

In one series of paintings, Peter Edlund, builds on the use of the silhouette to highlight places, and species of birds and animals that may be on the verge of major change.  There is also a relationship being built around specific locations where native American languages are fast disappearing, and with it a history and an understanding of a culture.  Peters' paintings are mild mannered, but they also get their point across, especially if you take the time to read the wall labels at " Vanish".

Peter Edlund's paintings on view at RoCo through November 13th, 2016