Friday, July 14, 2017

Looking Ahead


Print by Tony Hexuan
My student at Rochester Institute of Technology


A special issue of Sci/Art Magazine will arrive in August and will feature an article I wrote called: "STEAM Ahead".  This short piece, which will include prints made by my art students at Rochester Institute of Technology  ( see above ) also details how I bring STEAM topics into my classroom.  If you would like to sign up for their blog, or subscribe to their magazine check out this link:http://www.sciartcenter.org

In this magazine dedicated to STEAM topics, there are many approaches but in my class I use printmaking as a vehicle to tackle this topic.  You know what STEM subjects are: ( science, technology, engineering and math ) and we add a capital A ( for Art ) to get STEAM. When I teach my class, we end up making prints that take many directions towards these topics.  Students learn a process, and they filter that through their aesthetic judgement, and come away with substantial artworks which in many cases depend on applied mathematics.



Print made by Rachel Simonson
at 
Rochester Institute of Technology


This month has been a busy one, and in the release of another magazine developed in Chicago by the editor Renee L. Rose - a series of long articles brings art from a wide cross section - to you online.  This issue has an article about my student Rebecca Aloisio who is a printmaker and painter as well as an introduction to my own artwork.  The magazine is called ACS Magazine and it is only available online from this site: http://www.acs-mag.com

Last year Renee Rose published an article about my student Lingfei Zhao who made many paintings in his hometown in China.  So we are very pleased to have this media attention and we look forward to the interest being given to our artwork as expressed in this new online medium.



The artist Rebecca Aloisio
profiled in the new issue of ACS Magazine

A little later in July I will be on the road to Waterloo, Canada, for the BRIDGES conference on Art and Mathematics.  I plan to send you, my readers some information about that - since this conference is of interest to many who follow the STEAM program that I support.

Also,  coming up in the beginning of August will be the show I have co-curated with my brother Paul Singer on the life and career of our father, the wildlife artist Arthur Singer - so stay tuned for more information on that.  We are bringing out a new book published by RIT Press which can be pre-ordered if you want it for a reduced price.  Take a look at the RIT Press website for further information if you want to order a copy.  Here is the link to RIT Press:  https://www.rit.edu/press/authors/paul-singer-and-alan-singer
  


Arthur Singer ( 1917-1990 )
Hummingbirds from his book "Birds of the World "
published in the 1960's


I have spent the last several weeks preparing an exhibition that I have co-curated with my brother and we are bringing out a new book at the same time.  Many details, but we are excited because this is the first time that a real cross-section of my father's artwork has been viewed by the public.  Arthur Singer made his career with illustrations of birds, but it doesn't stop there.  He had a very interesting life, and his work as a master of wildlife is only part of the story.

If you read my blog and you are interested in seeing the show, I will send you an invitation if you send me your e-mail address.  Here is my address: alan@singerarts.com

The University Gallery at R.I.T. is the chief sponsor of the show, and it starts on August 7th, with an official opening on September 8th from 5 pm to 7 pm.  Come and hear my introduction to the art of Arthur Singer.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Uplift


June 29, 2017
Artist Jim Sanborn unveils:
"Argentum: Double Positive
at
The Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York

Pause for a moment and think about all the activity that you read about and see around you.  On the political front it can be dispiriting but on the artistic side, your spirits will brighten.  In Rochester, at the Memorial Art Gallery a new installation is happening outside, and inside as well.  The Memorial Art Gallery is reaching out to the community, and engaging in a discussion about how they will position themselves in the coming decade/s.  There are the new projection cylinders by Jim Sanborn out front, and inside there is a mural underway - just the kind of thing to help establish a new dialog with the public in attendance.


Some of the texts cut into the cylinders by Jim Sanborn

Many were present at the moment the spotlights went down and the installation was illuminated from within.  It took a few minutes to warm up but the inaugural lighting called: "Flip the Switch" attracted a crowd on a summer night.  During the day you will see these twin cylinders with texts that have been laser cut to be read in a variety of languages.  At nightfall the lights go on to project these texts onto the ground and the side of the building, and the effect is a drapery of words - sure to start many new conversations...




Sarah Rutherford at work on
"Her Voice Carries"

Inside, along a corridor that leads to the MAG auditorium, I found Sarah Rutherford painting away on that same evening in June; and her mural is taking shape.  On the wall are monumental portraits of women from our community whose stories must be told.  Sarah's project is called: "Her Voice Carries" and it is a key part to larger goal to include murals outside the museum in locations around the city devoted to the lives of women.  This is history in the making.


Painter Sarah Rutherford

Sarah Rutherford's outdoor artwork frequently displays her skills drawing and painting birds, so this new art at MAG represents a shift of focus, and a welcome one that will engage a larger community that may want to follow up by going out to search for the related murals that will be created around the city, making this a destination.  In a way this is an outgrowth of Wall/Therapy - and it has inspired artists to think BIG when working on the sides of buildings in and around Rochester.



CASA Mural by my class at R.I.T. in the Parking Garage at The Court Building on Fitzhugh Street


I remember engaging in this kind of work myself with my class of art students at R.I.T. We received a commission from a group called CASA ( Court Appointed Special Advocates for children ) to create a mural for a downtown parking garage.  This was our first action as painters for a social cause here in the Rochester area, and there would be several more back in the mid 1990's.  A wall mural provided several challenges for my class including how it would be done, and who would design it?  The art materials were donated and the large scale drawings were made with help from a local billboard company.  It was designed and completed in the winter, and all the students in my class took  part in the production.



Allison Saar in "The Female Gaze"
at The Memorial Art Gallery

Back inside the Memorial Art Gallery before they close for the night, I visit a little show in the Lockhart Gallery of  "The Powers of The Female Gaze".  I notice a work by Allison Saar who was a neighbor of mine back in Brooklyn, and she presents a print and a knot that looks like it could be very theatrical.



Elizabeth Catlett's "Harriet" a linocut from 1975


Elsewhere in this show the artist and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett gets into the graphic nature of Harriet Tubman with her gun in hand, leading the people.  The Memorial Art Gallery is a museum that gives you a lot to think about, even if it is only to go upstairs, and contemplate the scenes from the impressionist painters.  Coming out to the museum is one welcome activity that leaves the lights on.



Paul Cezanne at The Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Beautiful Book


Arthur Singer's watercolor  self-portrait in "The Ghost Army"
circa 1944

After a short stay in New York City  ( see my previous post ), I drove back upstate to start working on the details of a new exhibition that we are preparing for The University Gallery at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Our new book ( below ) will have a roll-out along with this comprehensive exhibition of artwork that my father, Arthur Singer  (1917-1990), produced during his long career.



RIT Press introduces: "Arthur Singer, The Wildlife Art of an American Master"

With my brother, Paul Singer, I am co-author of our new illustrated biography that you see here.  My brother, Paul, designed the book, and we are very proud of the production work that RIT Press accomplished in order to bring this published book to our audience.  You might guess that it is a very wonderful challenge to put together a clear narrative for anyone's life, but our father left us a very important trove of artwork and many reviews and notes about what he accomplished.

Now our book is ready to be published and is also available for pre-order from RIT Press. Our book will also be available in Europe through our distributor. If you are curious click on this link to know more: https://www.rit.edu/press/publications/new-and-coming-soon



Arthur Singer on Audubon Avenue, N.Y.C.

I have written about my father before on this blog, but there are so many facets that I haven't had a chance to cover.  In the process of writing this new illustrated biography, I found more materials that we did not have space for.  I would start by saying that our father was a book collector and that he would have been so proud of this new volume.  In the picture above, we have a photo of a very young man in his room         ( still a teenager ) and along the walls in his bookcase are the beginnings of a collection of art books and scrap books he kept for the rest of his life.

Arthur Singer's portrait of a jaguar made at the Bronx Zoo
color pencil on paper circa 1935


People ask - How did a young man growing up on Audubon Avenue in New York City come to love drawing birds and animals?  For Arthur this started at a very young age, and he was a regular visitor to the Bronx Zoo and the Museum of Natural History on Central Park West.



Rick Beyer and Liz Sayles new book on "The Ghost Army"

Arthur Singer studied art at The Cooper Union in downtown Manhattan and later attended The Art Students League.  Arthur graduated Cooper, and was later drafted into the Army during WWll.  He became a member of "The Ghost Army" and you can read about it in our new book, or read  the story written by Rick Beyer and Liz Sayles ( above ).



Arthur Singer's paintings and text by Oliver Austin
published by Golden Press

"Birds of the World" and "Birds of North America" were two of Arthur's best selling books - taking almost ten years to produce.  The Golden Guide ( below) is still in print in the 3rd Edition now almost fifty years since it was first published.  If you are in the Rochester, New York area you can learn more about this and much more if you can come and see our show which will be open from August 7 thru October,  2017.  I would love to meet you there and take you through the show!






Sunday, June 18, 2017

Surprise Party


June 12, 2017
at
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A week before my birthday,  I drove alone down to New York City.  I had an invitation from my cousins - Diane and Arthur Abbey - who I hadn't seen in quite a while, for a big party.  The invitation was for an art opening that they were having at The Metropolitan Museum of Art!  It seems that they have been collecting Japanese baskets for some years and they were giving this collection as a gift to The MET.  These weren't just any old baskets - this was a high art form, and I had to go see it for myself.


The Guggenheim is just up the street.....

I arrived early so I took a walk up Central Park and stopped in to look at the Guggenheim, and spend a little time in their gift shop.  There is something so iconic about this museum, which I can remember when it was being built.  I have seen many shows there, but there was nothing as important as what I was going to see at The MET, so I walked back down the park.  A very hot day in New York City, I was glad to be back in the air conditioned galleries of The MET.



Funerary Customs for the  citizens of Cypress
in the classical period

The MET is so big, that you can't take it in on any given day.  I looked over the classical statuary along the main hall pausing to look at this tall sculpture from Cypress.  I consider the fact that many works of art in the middle east have been trashed in the last few years, and I am glad for places like The MET and the service they perform by protecting art from a wide variety of civilizations.



Still-life by Cezanne

There are my favorite galleries at The MET, and to visit Cezanne on this day was wonderful just to take a few minutes to observe what he had accomplished in this gorgeous still-life.  Many of my teachers were under the influence of Cezanne, and I could say that I learned the most from Cezanne's method of drawing and measuring and comparing when working up a composition.   I love the space in Cezanne, and the areas where he is directing your gaze.  There is a real tactile sense in his work that tells me that every inch in the painting is discovered and accounted for.

While I waited for the special exhibition to open I surveyed the paintings and sculpture of the 19th and early 20th century and wondered why Rodin would have spent his considerable gifts on a piece that is so close to kitsch in his "Eternal Spring" of 1907 ( see below ). 



"Eternal Spring", 1907 by Rodin

Finally, at 6:30 invitation only guests were allowed to visit the show and promised gift of Japanese Bamboo Art, in the Sackler Wing at The MET.  I was greeted at the door by my cousin, Diane Abbey, and thanked her for this wonderful occasion.  Many of these exquisite creations were made by six artists who are considered living national treasures.  The exhibition will run through February 4, 2018 so you will have ample time to see it should you wish to.  As they write in the press release, the majority of these works have never been presented to the public.



Honma Hideaki "Flowing Pattern", 2014, bamboo and rattan

A marvelous surprise party for their guests, the art that Diane and Arthur Abbey have collected is so interesting, not only for the superb craftsmanship, but also for the forms themselves like this flowing pattern that reminds me of Hokusai's "Great Wave".  Some of these bamboo creations are recent, and some go back a hundred years.  The details are mesmerizing, as some of these baskets are meant to present flowers, and others just stand by themselves as individual works of art.



Japanese Bamboo Art



On the way out of the party I met my brother,  Paul Singer,  and we rode back to Brooklyn together.
We both spoke about the high quality of the art on view, and we were both surprised about the extent of the collection.  Nice to get an invite to the show, this is the first time I had been invited to such an affair at The MET.

The following morning - on the way out of Manhattan, stuck in traffic, I had a second to make this final picture, and it represents the re-birth of New York City.  There is so much building going on in New York City that  you see new projects almost every other block.  Like the signs say, I Love New York!


The new, World Trade Center
2017


Saturday, June 17, 2017

West to East


Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
on the campus of Cornell University

June, 2017 is turning out to be a most enchanting month, and I have been on the road ( literally ) from western New York sites like Niagara Falls to the eastern metropolis of New York City.  As we stayed in Ithaca, New York overnight after a wonderful visit in the Finger Lakes region we wanted to take our Swiss visitors up to the Cornell University campus to see the panoramic view from the fifth floor of the Johnson Museum.


Olive Tjaden Hall houses Fine Arts 
as part of the 
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University

We paused for pictures outside of the museum, and I notice that the building where I earned my MFA had not changed much at all over the years.  Then we went up to the Johnson Museum and took the elevator up to see the panorama.



Our view up Lake Cayuga, from the Johnson Museum

When we got off the elevator we checked out the view and some ancient cuneiform tablets and Tibetan thangkas.  I was also attracted to art from Java: shadow puppets with intricate cut patterns and almost comic characters made out of buffalo hide and pigments.



Shadow puppets from Java, Indonesia


19th century Japanese Screen

A dramatic screen painting from Japan caught my eye, it took up most of one wall and depicted a dragon, known to live in the water - creating wind and waves.  Similar images could be found on ceramic plates and vases. On the way down we stopped to look at a painting by Roger Shimomura called: " Desert City" painted recently in 2010.  This is part of a series and this painting, made in the style of 19th century woodblock prints, presented an ideal view of an internment camp like the ones created in the U.S. for Japanese American citizens who were detained during World War ll.  This brought a dose of reality to us and prepared us for what we would see downstairs.



Roger Shimomura's "Desert City", 2010
Acrylic on canvas

Some truly striking portraits of young people who suffer from autism became a focal point for the show in the lower gallery of the Johnson Museum.  The photos were made by Amran Malik Hakim and the show features his portraits and nine other contemporary photographers.  These photographers are heavily invested in the social ramifications of their art form, and they do their best to document the family life, the people, and social consequences of when and where they live.  Amran Malik Hakim lives in Jakarta, Java, Indonesia and became interested in autism when we was working as a teacher after graduating the Jakarta Art Institute.



Portraits by Amran Malik Hakim

The art that we saw at the Johnson Museum in Ithaca was a dress rehearsal for what would follow in Manhattan for me later the next day.  I received a surprise invitation to come to an opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I would have to get dressed up to go to the show of a collection of Japanese baskets that my cousins Diane and Arthur Abbey were giving to the museum.  I was thrilled to get the invitation and find out more about this gift to The MET.



"Leda and the Swan" 
by 
Cornelis Bols   ( ca. 1540 )

Before we left for New York, we saw a collection of prints being shown at the bottom floor of The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, that took us back in time, to Europe in the 16th century.  I was interested in the Flemish print by Cornelis Bos of Leda and the Swan, and also a print of a landscape by an artist from the Netherlands - Hieronymus Cock.  It just so happens that years ago I bought a similar print by the same artist, and I was really enjoying the luck of seeing this print at the end of our day.


"Mercury with the head of Argus in His Hand"
by Hieronymus Cock
etching,  1558


In my next post, read about my journey in the museum world of Manhattan.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I Love New York


Niagara Falls, New York
June,  2017

A marvelous month now, with the start of my sabbatical from R.I.T. - I have been able to travel from one end of New York State to the other.  With our Swiss friends we happen to journey over to Niagara Falls on the most beautiful day and enjoyed mild temperatures and sunny weather.  The parkland around the falls has been improved since we last visited - with great trails; we walked everywhere.  Even though I write about visual art - the falls are in a class by themselves - and have inspired many generations of artists.  I forgot my paints, but we did some photography.



Anna and the author of this blog

I am in the middle of making preparations for a large scale exhibition of my father's artwork which will take place at The University Gallery later this summer in Rochester, at R.I.T.  It is difficult to take some time away, but on a day like this we couldn't help but be outdoors.  We are also looking forward to later in the summer becoming grandparents ( a shout out to Nathaniel and Tabi )!



Frontispiece for our new book
on the career of Arthur Singer
"The Wildlife Art of an American Master"
published later this summer by RIT Press

Before we hit the road to Niagara, another marvelous event happened - I held in my hands an advance copy of a book  that my brother Paul and I have co-authored.  I was thrilled to now have the chance to page through  and check out our project - almost two years worth of work to put it together with the help of RIT Press.  This was a labor of love, and this book will be also distributed in Europe, so if you read my blog in that part of the world, take a look for this publication.



A page from our new book
featuring our US Postage Stamps
"The Birds and Flowers of the Fifty States"

The title of this book gives only a hint of what we think is a very interesting life story.  My father was indeed a master wildlife painter, but he was so much more - in fact he had a very long career, and our book and exhibition showcase many facets of his artwork not known to the general public.  We call this an illustrated biography, and it really is a stunning art book soon available from the publisher in the middle of summer.

I am very proud of the fact that this month I was given a lifetime achievement award from the publishers of the Marquis Who's Who.  Here is a link if you want to know more about this award, and also more about my biography and why I was selected.  Here is the link: http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release-service/439176



Blowy Hill


We ended the day on top of a hill in Brooktondale, just before you get to Ithaca, New York.  We have some property in one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine in New York State.  When I get to write the next part of this blog, I talk about another unique thing that just took place in New York City - which meant that I had to dress up for an opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art - so it is on to Manhattan and the art world.....

Monday, June 5, 2017

Art Can Change Your Life



I guess I will have to admit it - I am an art addict.  For me, just the process of looking at art in a gallery or museum engages me in a deep way.  I look at the works of other artists, and it is like reading a letter that was addressed to me.  Even when the art is as plain as day, it can do the job it was sent to do.  Artists have intent, and they want to connect.



Cathleen Chaffee, PhD
at
The Memorial Art Gallery
speaking on Minimal Art

Cathleen Chaffee, PhD. gives a good lecture at The Memorial Art Gallery on the trend toward minimal art in the 1960's and 1970's.  At the top of her welcoming screen it says: "The spare and shocking developments in abstraction" and she then goes on to show examples from a series by French artist Alphonse Allais with witty titles that for a viewer in 1882 must appear like some kind of joke, except that is not how things worked out in the long run.



Kazimir Malevich, "Black Square" 1915


Malevich wasn't making a joke when he presented his all black painting to the public in 1915.  However minimal art can seem to be funny if you are not aware or involved with art at all - it can seem like the ne plus ultra of the artistic conceit - like there is no there, there!  I like to think of the trend towards minimalism as a form of meditation - and I think I remember that the late Agnes Martin said something to the effect that geometry can be seen to be in the service of the spirit.



Agnes Martin at work

Listening to a long talk on the artists associated with Minimalism, you begin to see that this is a long range trend, and we have yet to really grapple with it.  For many - it is an acquired taste, and for others it may be just right.  Some artists stress that the trend towards minimal art was a kind of political stance against vulgar commercialism.  What minimal art had were strict rules that artists seem to follow- mainly about what not to show: no anecdote, no kitsch, no model posing.. instead there were limits and repetitions.  The things that were left out of minimal art are whatever the artist thought was superfluous.  Get things down to the bare necessities and deal with it.



It is that time again!  6 x 6 , 2017
at RoCo

Right down East Avenue after the lecture, I venture into The Rochester Contemporary Art Center for my first look at 6 x 6 , 2017.  Step right up and buy some art.  Help yur local art center. At this show there is something for everyone - and the price is right.



Purchase your favorite at 6 x 6

This is truly a democratic approach to an exhibition of myriad artworks.  Probably the sculptors feel slighted as there is not much in the way of dimensional works.  Maybe there will have to be a 6 x 6 x 6 show next year.!!!



Memorial for Edith Lunt Small
She passed away recently and will be missed....

So, go over to RoCo and support your local artist, you just might come away with something that might change your life!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Contributing Artists


Alan Singer's watercolor works-in progress 
2017

After a glorious morning sitting out in the yard painting a watercolor, I took a break to go out and see what other art works.  I am going over to the University Gallery at R.I.T. to confirm my plans for an exhibition of my father's artwork coming later this summer.  When I arrive, I am totally surprised by the new show of paintings that is hanging everywhere in the gallery that is part of the Vignelli Design Center, and I get to meet the artist - Steven W. Justice!



Steven  W. Justice opens soon at the University Gallery, R.I.T.

Steven Justice is a congenial man with a terrific verbal and visual wit, and his paintings have a distinct style that is part pop and comic book, and part social critique.  He has lived in various parts of the world and he brings his social telescope with him to find unique points of view about people who become the subject of his paintings.  Looking around at all the paintings in this show it becomes clear that Steven Justice loves contemporary music.  Charlie Parker plays his sax and out pops another musician.  Duke Ellington sits at his piano and works out a composition.  Then there is so much more.  His show runs through July.



AS Above, So Below
Paintings by Steven W. Justice

After a pleasant conversation with Mr. Justice I went off to see a copy of our new book being published soon by RIT Press, and I am sure to write something on that topic soon.  Along with the new book that I worked on with my brother, Paul Singer, we are working on the exhibition that will follow in the roll out of our book.  Our show will be at the University Gallery later in the summer so stay tuned...!

Also, I want to mention an online  publication that will publish an interview with me and also Rebecca Aloisio.  Check out ACS Magazine online only for the July-August issue coming soon.



Sculpture by Albert Paley at The Hungerford Building
1115 East Main St.
Rochester, NY

At the Hungerford Building in Rochester, we visit Warren Phillips and see the new show that he has mounted with abstract art by William F. Sellers.  It is an interesting show that could be the cousin of the Minimal Mostly show that I wrote about last month.  William Sellers is an artist who has been working in this area for quite a while and his paintings include hard edged geometry, something with which I am quite familiar.  Less familiar to me is the sculptural works of Mr. Sellers made in cast metal which for the most part are in a medium grey color that look like they have been fashioned from miniature engine blocks.



Sculpture made of cast metal by William F. Sellers
at
Warren Phillips Fine Art and Frame



At The Hungerford Building
Warren Phillips is showing the paintings and sculpture of
William F. Sellers



George Wegman explains this painting by William Sellers

George Wegman was talking about the paintings with me and I found them engaging and well crafted.  I had to tell Warren and George that I just read in an e-mail about the passing of Edith Lunt Small, an artist well regarded in our city for her art and her character.  Since it was First Friday, I was on my way to another opening at The Geisel Gallery but I was happy I had the chance to see the show by William F. Sellers.


Jill Gussow at work on Scio Street, Rochester, NY

I saw that Jill Gussow was working on one of her mosaic murals when I drove by, and I had to stop and take a look at what she was in the middle of doing - putting up these large panels on the parking garage on Scio Street.  Jill and I shared a studio space when we were in college, so I have a long association with her, and watched her work for many years.  Just like me, Jill grew up in a very artistic family, and she is a seasoned pro.



Jan Agati Abbarno
Soliloquy: Recent Drawings
at
Geisel Gallery, second floor of the Legacy Tower
Rochester, NY

Down the way, Jean Geisel told me about the new show in the gallery that bears her name.  She had seen the works of Ms. Abbarno on her web site and was so impressed she arranged this exhibition.  Many people came over from Buffalo to see these intricate paintings - some of which had been sliced or torn as part of the creative impulse.  It helps to know that she calls her show: "Soliloquy: Recent Drawings", and you can imagine the discourse she has had with herself as she discovers new things in her art as her process evolves.  Here is an expressionist at work, with a poetic grasp of a delicate evolution of images that can engage the eye and mind in equal order.