Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Reading List

"You, Talking to Me"
Lessons from over a hundred interviews
by: Lawrence Grobel

Snuggle up with a good book this season.  Or at least open an intelligent magazine, and don't forget to read my blog!  Then, what are you going to do about the thousand or so e-mails on the desktop?  Don't get distracted by all those letters begging for some big buckaroos... and what about all those holiday cards you were supposed to write?  Do you have time for all this information overload?

Well, if you are like me, I seem to have a few good minutes before I go to sleep, and I have been reading some materials that I want to recommend.  These are books with stories to tell.  One book that has almost as many names as War and Peace comes from the interviewer's interviewer - and that is Lawrence Grobel's new work titled: "You, Talking to Me" published recently by HMH Press.

Arthur Singer
on the set of the "Today Show" on NBC

Larry Grobel has had interviews with all kinds of celebrities and has even included a few pages in his new book about my father, Arthur Singer, in a short chapter called: " Know Your Props".  Mr. Grobel was a neighbor of ours on Long Island,  I have been following his writings over many years and I guess from reading the section about my dad, it seems that Larry was introduced to the freelance life through exposure to the Singer household of artists.

You will enjoy the lessons he has learned in the process of conversations he has held with people you have heard of like Zsa Zsa Gabor ( who just passed away this week ) and Marlon Brando; people who you might enjoy talking with like Tony Bennett or Joyce Carol Oates, and the list goes on with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Robert DeNiro and over a hundred others.

Painter David Salle in his new book:
"How to See"

I followed reading the celebrity interviews with the writings of painter, David Salle who has recently published his new book "How to See" with W.W. Norton.  When  I was living in New York City, I would go out to David Salle's shows with Mary Boone to check out the progress he made during the art boom of the early 1980's.  Painting was having an enormous impact then, so it was interesting to read what this artist had to say about his transition from California art student to seasoned pro in Manhattan.  In this new book, he chronicles a postmodernist's career negotiating the art world by just being at the table with the trendsetters and he writes fluently about his friends and acquaintances in that uber world of Soho in boomtime.

David Salle is a little younger than I am and the people he writes about are folks whose work I have followed for years, and also some of the painters I have met in studios that I have visited.  His short chapters give the reader a definite point of view that is not too technical  by giving you a practical guide to what is being accomplished by figures such as Alex Katz, Dana Schutz and Jeff Koons.

It is really not a "how to" book but more a series of essays, and a set of insights into the mind of the artist, and we get David Salle's takeaway from all his experiences in visual art.  He doesn't write much in this book about his own progress except to stop in one place and compare his painting to that of Andy Warhol.  Salle has created a good book for people who have followed the art scene, and also for educators who may want to scan this book for clues and kernels of wisdom found to be applied to the visual arts in the 21st century.

Biography of dealer Richard Bellamy
by Judith E. Stein

Further down my reading list we get a biography of an art dealer - in this case a reluctant one - in the figure of Richard Bellamy, and the book is called: "Eye of the Sixties" by Judith E. Stein.  Here, I read with much enthusiasm about a person that I met years ago, and this person really had a strong handle on a portion of the New York City art world.

I regularly went up to see the shows he would present, and I always found interesting art on view whether it was the Hansa Gallery, the Green Gallery, or Oil and Steel on Chambers Street.  Richard Bellamy was also involved with the Barbara Flynn Gallery on Crosby Street, and that was one of my favorites of the early SoHo spaces I visited.

You will enjoy reading this personal story that Judith E. Stein has researched about the art dealer's perspective.  Richard Bellamy was deeply involved in the art he presented and as Judith Stein writes - he really transformed modern art in the 1960's and beyond.  Read this book and you will see - how and why... CHEERS!

Thursday, December 8, 2016


"Pose Please"
Transfer monoprint on paper, 2016 
Alan Singer, 
Rochester, New York

By now everyone has heard of STEM educational goals ( in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math ), but I am here to advocate for STEAM.  We must add Arts to STEM programs for the good of our children, and our country.  One of my neighbors in my studio building has a sign that reads: "EARTH Without Art is just EH", and I couldn't agree more.

Artists have to be more inclusive and look down the road to include STEAM programs in their thinking too.  We have to support each other, but also the significance of the STEAM goals will prepare us for the coming years and decades which may prove to be a real test under our new administration.  All of us have to be ready to stand up for our rights as citizens, and for artists of all stripes - we want to be included in the debates to come ( in an out of the media ).  As artists, we have to sharpen our reasoning and not get trampled in the give and take that is sure to be on the menu.

Transfer monoprint on paper, 2015
Alan Singer

In my own artwork, I see the possibilities that are meant to open new avenues of conversation especially where the STEAM goals are relevant.  My new art (above) demonstrates the facts that an artist needs an open mind when it comes to the significance of science, math, and engineering - even if we don't practice these skills everyday for ourselves.

Maybe my background provides a unique window into incorporating STEAM subjects that have often been overlooked by many when it comes to creating art.  For many years in New York City I managed a livelihood creating images for publishers on assignment based on science.  I created the illustrations for textbooks on biology, on geology, and also a very popular book on growing houseplants.  Both of my parents were artists, and my brother, Paul is a graphic designer.  My family encouraged my pursuits in art and I in turn worked with each of them on projects that were eventually published.  I am doing that again by being co-author with my brother on a forthcoming book about my father, Arthur Singer, the master wildlife artist.

9th Anniversary Issue with my cover story
written by Rebecca Rafferty

I turned to paintings and prints that celebrate the possibilities that are open to an artist using software to create imagery that renders mathematical constructs in a visual way.  This story is told in a recent interview by Rebecca Rafferty published in the new, 9th Anniversary issue of ARTVOICES, published by Terrence Sanders in Los Angeles.  If you want to read the interview, check out this link:

For the past ten years or so my artwork has incorporated imagery rendered in part by using programs such as Cinderella, 3D-Xplormath, and K- 3D-Surf.  What these programs do for the artists like myself is to suggest ways of constructing geometry that can be used in printmaking and painting ( and probably so much more..).  What I like about these programs ( aside from the fact that you download them for free ) is that they allow you to construct forms that you want using measurements and functions like sine and cosine, like square root and tangent and  you can provide detailed parameters to make the image that you have in your imagination.

Transfer monoprint on paper, 2016, 
Alan Singer

At this stage I have created hundreds, maybe thousands of images using mathematical functions and these forms have populated my art, and I continue to find this method very engaging.

The readers of this blog should know that there are other artists like me who incorporate mathematical concepts in their artwork.  I myself have been influenced by Sol Lewitt and I also found the exhibition that just opened here on M.C. Escher to be very relevant to my subject and plea for STREAM as an education model.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Co-Lab thru December 18th at Gallery r
100 College Avenue
Rochester, New York

Just being an artist doesn't necessarily mean that you belong to a group.  Today, the art world is fragmented, and there is no overpowering ism to pay attention to like there was fifty years ago with abstract expressionism or a hundred and thirty years ago when there was impressionism.  Still, there are benefits today for an aggregation of artists - they can collaborate on ideas, grow into an artist's cooperative, and then blossom as a movement.

As with other membership organizations there are dues to pay, and that can mean many years in the trenches keeping up your practice, and if you can afford it - finding ways to pay for all those art materials and a studio rent.  Sometimes artists may form a group to make a statement and maybe that group can take off and have broad impact like Wall Therapy does - here in Rochester.

"Nothing is Something" includes work by
Leena Sonbuol
Xinhao Yang
Fatma Bamashmous
Reema Aldossari

We can see the start of something like this in the show at Gallery r called: " Co-Lab" where students from the College of Imaging Arts & Sciences at R.I.T. gather their forces to make interesting imagery.  In the main room we have installations including "Nothing is Something" and its various parts reiterate the title in funny ways.  How often do you go into a gallery and see an empty picture frame, or a chair with the seat part taken out, and a book with the center of its pages cut away?

Co-Lab at Gallery r

In the next darkened room are dramatic projections on the wall and some real three dimensional forms that stop me in my tracks.  The projectors cast images that are part animation, part computer art, seen in conjunction with real sculptural aspects  ( an axe in a tree-trunk for example ).  Across the room there is a projection on an form that looks like a sharp tooth powered by a computer with a little keyboard that allows the visitor to change the imagery - very user friendly.

"Projecto Concerto"
Andrea Montealere
Sabrina Nichols

Staying engaged as a larger group, through membership - is part of what keeps alive the arts organizations and it is necessary to support institutions like Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Visual Studies Workshop and The Memorial Art Gallery.  This weekend, RoCo celebrated this partnership with local artists with the opening of its 26th Annual Members Exhibition, and I was there and the place was  PACKED!

Opening  night for the 26th Annual Members Exhibition 
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
137 East Avenue
Rochester, New York

It is great to see the community come out to support the arts, visitors to this big show can choose their favorite work on view and give it a yellow dot.  Discoveries are made, and sometimes a sale can be made on the spot.  This is the kind of show that you have to go back and see when the crowd has thinned out - so you can actually look at the artwork ( although I do love the social aspect of the opening ).

A dialog with visual art

"Driver and Mechanic"
at RoCo

Considering the craft traditions in western New York - I am surprised to not see much in this present gathering.  Sculptural works are often relegated to a table top, and they don't always work well together.  I did see a couple of funny vehicles parked inside the new show - is this a trend?  If you want to hear more about the art from the artists and makers there is a series of back-to-back artist talks at the gallery, so for more information call them at (585) 461-2222.

Painting by Tarrant Clements

The walls at RoCo are jammed with art of all kinds and styles.  Facing me as I walked in was a fine little painting by Tarrant Clements with her usual inventive abstraction whose characters talk a kind of sign language.  There are other funny pieces in the show including a droll photographic statement about toilet paper.  Whatever floats your boat - go see the show and enjoy!