Sunday, December 31, 2017

Some Of Its Parts

An Award Winner by
Kristine Bouyoucos
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
Rochester, New York

Has your year been busy as usual?  Maybe, political theatre has taken your energy and attention.  Sometimes,  I just have to turn off all the devices and have some peace and quiet.  But then, I want to be part of the discussion and I pick up where I left off, ruminating about the state of the arts.

A popular image "Cuba" by Jim Hartson
Rochester Contemporary Art Center

With so many people involved in the visual arts, questions come back around to - why do it at all?  What is to be gained from all this activity - to say nothing about the money spent on all those art supplies!  Today, there is much more being done in the way of art then there is a paying audience. So, it all comes back to the individual - what do they value? What do they have time for, and how motivated are they in pursuit of their goal?

Lydia Boddie-Rice
" Seeing Clear"

I got involved writing this blog seven years ago because I saw a paucity of coverage for the local visual arts scene to say nothing of trying to make some sense out of all this creative energy.  People were investing time and money in this work but who was there to appreciate that except maybe a group of other artists working on their own.  How do you get the word out?

Quilted fiber art from Pat Pauly

One place that draws me back for an update every year is the members show at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, and this year seems to have many strong examples of the vitality of our visual arts community.  At RoCo you also have a chance to leave your vote ( a yellow dot sticker ) for your own favorite artwork, and if you visit you will see that there is an aggregate of popular votes given to certain standouts.

"Fooling Around With Red"
Bill Keyser

I was surprised that some of my choices didn't have a single yellow dot, but certainly deserve some recognition.  There are always a few works that leave you wondering - how did that artist create that work?  You have to wonder - what is it I am looking at?  The work below is one of those - at least for me.

Sorina Susnea  at RoCo

Writing for this blog in the past I have mentioned that sculpture does not seem to do well in this circumstance and that seems to be the case again.  I am sure that there must be terrific things we are not seeing, and I wonder why there is not more follow through on the part of the membership.
I hope that you still take the time to go through the show and find things that have a strong appeal, maybe you will leave your vote, and respond to the work that you see.

Members Exhibition at RoCo

If your tastes run to something of a natural outdoor scene, you are bound to enjoy the series of small paintings that has recently opened at Axom Gallery in Rochester.  Rick Muto is the artist, and he has been painting outdoors en plein aire for many years.  You can get drawn into looking at the development of the paintings by making some comparisons.  How does Rick Muto indicate trunks of trees, how does he deal with reflections on water, how is the paint applied for rocks on a shoreline...

Axom Gallery and Rick Muto

Rick Muto is into colors and textures, he is a keen observer of light in nature, and these paintings are mostly intimate works done on the spot, so he is responding to what he sees and feels at that certain time and place.  These are postcards from the real world, and you just want to take one home and put it up on the wall.

Rick Muto "Embracing the Landscape"
thru January 13, 2018
176 Anderson Avenue, 2nd floor
Rochester, New York 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

New Sunflowers

Sunflower, 2017, Transfer print by Alan Singer

Toward the end of the year here in New York State, we who love and support the arts should be thankful and grateful to those people and institutions that celebrate culture ( rather  than tear it down ) and who also work to bring us this bounty that enriches our community in so many ways.  I am thinking about the cultural workers who behind the scenes engage in a daily basis to highlight what is happening near and far.  Galleries and museum curators and their directors are working hard, not only to attract attention to their latest offerings but who try to make sense out of a tidal wave of cultural production.  We are fortunate to live in a relatively peaceful period and locally the arts are one of the factors that make our lives so much more interesting.

Here we have a vital arts sector and there needs to be continuing support from the business world and from local news media - because the arts are necessary for many, and getting the word out is tricky.  With so many choices, it is difficult in the best of times to make a living with the arts as your main focus.  Artists have to capture your attention, and make you curious about what it is that they are offering.  Artists have their experience to share in a form that attracts and activates the senses.

During the year we have been to see many exhibitions and there are many that were missed sorry to say.  Seven years ago I was able to start up this blog with the encouragement of  Bleu Cease at RoCo and soon I will have published my 300th posting, so if you have been checking in to see what is on The Visual Artworker - Thank You!

At Warren Phillips Fine Art & Frame
Hungerford Building
1115 East Main St. Rochester, NY

Along with the artists who have a major representation on view such as Wendell Castle who has a show that will be ending soon at The Memorial Art Gallery, there are other shows to be seen including one in my studio building - The Hungerford - that houses Warren Phillips Fine Art & Frame.  This end of the year group show always has some surprises and it is attractive to collectors who want something a little different.  Below is a new painting by George Wegman which is all color and atmosphere - so what happens to those shapes?

I was happy to speak with some of the artists at the opening for this show, and I enjoy the mix of styles that are found in the gallery.  Below are some colorful images from Jill Gussow, who I once shared a studio with when we were in college together at The Cooper Union.  It really is interesting to contemplate the growth of an artist's work over many decades, and I last wrote about Jill's ceramic murals that she has been engaged with in our area ( on Scio Street ).

Sampling of works by Jill Gussow

Over the holidays and beyond if you are in the Ithaca area, and you want to get some fresh air, stop in to the Laboratory of Ornithology in Sapsucker Woods -  

Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology

You can take the path around the pond, and then stop in to see the exhibition we have mounted of my father - Arthur Singer's artwork which will be on view thru February 28th.  Check out their website for the holiday hours.  There are almost 30 works of his that we have mounted on the walls of their auditorium, and if you go - please sign our guest book, and look at the Fuertes paintings while you are there on the second floor.  The entrance inside of the LAB has great murals of birds by Jane Kim, an outstanding young artist who was a guest speaker in my class at R.I.T. last year.

All-in-all this has been a very rewarding time, I have enjoyed my sabbatical and I am looking forward in 2018 when I will be publishing a new book about my own artwork, including the image at the top of this stay tuned!  Enjoy your holidays!

Arthur Singer, The Wildlife Art of an American Master
Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology
Ithaca, New York

Friday, December 15, 2017

Back To Brooklyn

"Proof" with art by:
Sergei Eisenstein, Goya , and Robert Longo
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York

We can't leave New York City without stopping into the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway.

For years, we lived in Park Slope, so walking into the Brooklyn Museum was like coming home - only it has has gotten better!  The new entrance is expansive and the way that the museum curators have crafted their exhibitions is far more interesting now.

Etchings by Goya (1746-1828)

It is an unusual concept to pair the Spanish artist, Goya - who made some great etchings - with a film maker and a contemporary artist  who works in charcoal on paper.  There is a visual chord that is at play here and also a commitment to issues of human welfare and well-being. Another major factor that ties these works together is the black and white  nature of the present show which can be seen - now thru January 7th, 2018.

Robert Longo in the exhibition: "Proof"

When you walk into the show: "Proof" you see large screens and projections from filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, then intimate but moving graphics of Goya, and monumental drawings from Robert Longo, an artist whose work I followed from shows at Metro Pictures back in Soho days.
I learned about the films of Eisenstein when I took a class in the history of cinema and most of his works dramatized social and political issues that were a featured part of your life if you lived in the Soviet Union in the early 20th century and were part of the Bolshevik Revolution.  Eisenstein's films like "The Battleship Potemkin" and "Alexander Nevsky" are powerful in black and white, and his method of shooting sequences of dramatic action pointed out his use of montage as a guiding principle.

In the Brooklyn Museum, the curators have set up large screens and the Eisenstein films play very slowly so you can really study each composition like you would for a painting.

Goya etchings at The Brooklyn Museum

In the Goya etchings the imagination of the artist meets up with social realities and the use of poetic metaphor propels these works into our conscience. Goya is known for his dark periods ( as well as his fancy court paintings ) and the etchings on view in "Proof" have a somber even threatening point of view.

Robert Longo studies Joan Mitchell

After my visit with Goya who was working in the early 19th century we step into the large galleries that hold the monumental drawings by contemporary American artist Robert Longo.  First confronted by these large scale framed works they appear to be photographs, but when you step in really close, you can see that these are drawings in charcoal, and they stay true to their sources.  The drawing above of the refugees in their raft, and the study of the Joan Mitchell painting are awe inspiring.  How does he do it?

The Mummy Show

Downstairs we go around to look at the Animal Mummy show, and so much more.  Wall labels let the visitor know that the Egyptian people had their pets and other animals mummified.  The animal caskets are really remarkable considering when they were created was thousands of years ago.

Ibis Mummy casket

There are terrific carvings and so much history to take in at The Brooklyn Museum.  They have a wealth of material on antiquity, so if you want to know more about the customs of ancient Egypt
just look through this show, and you will learn so much ( for example there are estimated to be millions of animal mummies kept in vaults underground in parts of Egypt ).  Who knew?

Painted caskets at The Booklyn Museum

Ancient Mummy at The Bookly Museum - now thru January 21, 2018

Sunday, December 10, 2017

MET Masters

David Hockney at The MET thru February 2018

In the early 1990s, I remember staying at a friends house high up in the Hollywood Hills, and towards the top we drove past the home of David Hockney.  From the outside it looked just like it does in his many paintings.  Hockney has used his home as subject matter over many years, and that becomes evident when you take a look through the new show that has just opened at The MET.

Hockney in early 1960s

We were in New York City to see shows and have been following Hockney's work for many years and then recently I have been reading about his use of digital media and his innovations in his art, and we were eager to see the exhibition.  Hockney started to gain recognition for his art in the early 1960s fresh out of art school when his paintings were a blend of Pop Art and expressive representation.  Figurative art was not in the ascendant position that it is today, and David Hockney made his early work in the face of that opposition.

Hockney's portrait of Fred and Marcia Weisman, American Collectors
Acrylic on canvas, 1968

At The MET there are some early popish paintings that had a focus on people in his life, his patrons and friends, and Hockney became known for his portraits.  Often these people were painted in their home environment.  Colors are clear and descriptive, the compositions are balanced and confident.  Innovations would come later.

Paintings of Henry Geldzahler stand out in this show, and while not exactly photorealist they still tell you a lot about each sitter ( or stander like that one above ).  Geldzahler was a curator at The MET in charge of determining what was happening in contemporary art.  I thought it was funny that he is portrayed above surrounded by reproductions of Van Gogh, and Piero Della Francesca.

Detail of Hockney double portrait

Mid way through the present show there is a single work that could describe a turning point in Hockney's career, and surprisingly it is a photographic work - barely touched on in the show.
It is a kind of cubist photography that breaks down a panorama into individual snapshots that have been put together in a collage that re-makes the whole scene.

Hockney's cubist photography

If someone else had used photography in this way, I have not heard of it.  The example in the present show gives you an idea of the breakthrough.  The fact is that there is a whole universe of images that Hockney went on to produce, and I would say that the later part of the show at The MET is a little diffuse here especially in regards to the innovative uses he has had for digital technology.

Hockney's recent paintings

The MET was crowded and sometimes getting a good look at the paintings took some time and patience.  The later paintings employ curious distortion of space, and take a page out of the Matisse playbook, when it comes to color.

David Hockney thinks about Henri Matisse

Before we left The MET, to go over to Brooklyn, we took another look at the wonderful show that I wrote about earlier in my post called: "Surprise Party".  This was the gift of Japanese baskets and other works to The MET from my cousins, Diane and Arthur Abbey.  The powerful work at the entrance to the show is a floor to ceiling piece that has tremendous energy.  You get just a hint of that from the image below.  All in all this was a great day to be a gallery goer and The MET is a STAR.

Tanabe Chikuunsai
"The Gate"
Gift of Diane and Arthur Abbey

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Well MET

View at The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York City, New York
December 2, 2017

You simply can't miss walking into the MET Museum this season!

We were lucky and found a parking space on the street a block away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and strolled in early Saturday to see Michelangelo and David Hockney.  Both of these artists deserve the kind of full length portrait that these exhibitions give you, and they do not let you down!

Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise

Walk into the show of Michelangelo - Divine Draftsman & Designer, and make sure that you have enough time to see the artwork - because you may get pushed along by crowds who are visiting the museum on any given day.  The lights are low, and the focus is on sensitive drawings starting with the early days of Michelangelo ( 1475-1564 ) and the artwork of his mentors and students.  Going back in time you realize that to study the human form, to give a drawing proper proportion and accuracy - one would have to be familiar with anatomy - and one way was to dissect a corpse ( which was illegal at the time ).  From the looks of this exhibition Michelangelo was obsessed with the body, especially muscles and flex joints.  The drawings on view range throughout his career and include many architectural drawings and also works of the imagination.

Michelangelo studies for fresco paintings in the Vatican

There are famous portraits; scenes with multiple figures, as well as studies for the fresco paintings now in the Vatican.  This is a very rare chance to look over a body of artworks that are so substantial and that make up part of the canon of Western culture.  There are a few bizarre twists in the present exhibition.  Walking past early drawings by Ghirlandaio there is a painting made by studying a print from Schongauer.  It is said that this painting (below) was made when Michelangelo was 12 or 13 years old.

"Torment of Saint Anthony"

In the past, I have given classes in figure drawing and used some of the Michelangelo drawings in this present show as examples.  Still, it helps to see the real thing - to get close enough to see how the drawings accomplish their goals.  People are lining up to see the sensitive portrayals and the special genius of this artist at work.  One artist studies another, learning to see how the other sees.

Draw from a master

As a designer and architect, you wonder how one man had the chance and knowledge to create all this?  How does one accumulate enough know-how to be a credible architect of the Medici Chapel, or  develop the domes of the Vatican?  There is a wonderful model in wood of one of the domes that you can study in this exhibition, along with many plans for the buildings.

Michelangelo as architect of Medici Chapel

In one section of this massive show of creativity the Met has installed a replica of the ceiling fresco for the Sistine Chapel.  This allows the visitor to make some connections between drawings in the exhibition, and places where those drawings became essential for the artist as his process progressed. Fresco painting is a technique of painting into wet plaster - you don't have much time to complete your work or make a mistake, so you better plan out what you are going to do.

The ceiling at The Sistine Chapel

One of my favorite drawings in this show has Hercules struggling with a lion, and it reminds me that art can have the capacity to move the spirits of us all.  It is really interesting to contemplate how Michelangelo made his compositions, and that he retained all the knowledge of the body to be able to show what it would look like if Hercules was wrestling.

Three Labours of Hercules

So, if you are going to the MET, prepare to stay a while, there are over a hundred works in the present show.  This exhibition is mostly about drawing, and the experience is intimate.  There are a few sculptural works included, to serve as a reminder - but the impact remains.  In the second part of my post I will walk down the hall and visit the artwork of David Hockney, so stay close!

Michelangelo portrait of Mr. Quaratesi made around 1531-34

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pop Up Show

Early December, Beautiful Day, Manhattan
going to
UES Gallery, Sci / Art Center

UES is the Upper East Side, so the show put on by the Sci / Art Center was on 73rd Street - a quiet block just off of Third Avenue.  But why were there policemen on every corner?  Later, we found out that President Trump was in town, and the traffic snarled.

UES Gallery / SCi/Art Center 
"Void and Cloud"
Group Exhibition

It has been a few years since I had a work in a gallery show in Manhattan, but I welcome the chance to be part of this group exhibition hosted by the UES Gallery and the Sci / Art Center.  Get to know the Sci / Art Center and become a member.  This is a fine organization worthy of your support in part because they are creating a community and doing something new in the visual arts - this is art with and for a purpose.  Here is the link to their site:

Curators introduction and Artist's Talk
at UES Gallery

The Sci / Art Center represents an opportunity for those who are interested in the place where science, art and technology converge.  Even if you are not a practitioner, the Sci / Art Center will give you a window on some very creative activity that connects with a view towards a world that is complex, diverse and very interesting.  There are connections to things that you might know about and ways of visualizing things that can't be seen any other way, and some of these artistic expressions were on view in the "Void and Cloud"  pop up show.

Julia Buntaine and Marnie Benney were on hand to welcome visitors to the Curator and Artist talks in early December.  My wife, Anna and I arrived and settled in to a meet and greet, to hear what folks had to say about the artwork that was mostly on the walls.  This Pop Up Show is called: " Cloud and Void " and the artists involved all had a different take on this topic.

Daniel Hill talks about his work with interference patterns

Daniel Hill spoke about his meticulous work with acrylic polymer paints on a shaped support.  He described the layers of colors and the linear interference progression of lines and textures in his art from 2015.  The painting comes to represent a blend of sound waves , music, and tactile textures that can remind you in part of ripples on water.

Jonathan Feldshuh

Visitors to the show had a chance to hear about the physics of painting from Jonathan Feldshuh who brought up the way he translates and diagrams how particles behave in high energy collisions within his artwork.  In a way his art is a kind of microscope into a world that is happening all around us but is too tiny to be seen by my naked eye ( except in his paintings ).

Jonathan Feldshuh

Sarah Eagen spoke about the relationship of technology to personal relationships, and I enjoyed watching her talk and looking at her hands, and then looking at the photo on silk of the hands in her artwork.  Talk about delicate values, this work was almost supernatural.

Sarah Eagen

When it was my chance to speak, I tried to emphasize the opportunities to take a mathematical expression and give it visual weight - similar to the difference that a spoken language has with the written word.  It is more concrete, more evident, and in my case more colorful and very deliberate.
Along with the other artists, I think we treat our practice of making art as an experiment.  You get to know the conditions you set up, then you can create an interaction of those conditions in a material way and see the result.  The artist is not only driven by a process, but also adds in an emotional content and a bit of intellectual involvement in the mix, and you see what you can get.  Sometimes the results can be very surprising and can move you to a new place.

Alan Singer explains.. "Spinner"

The e-vite for Void and Cloud
at UES Gallery
208 East 73rd Street
Dec2-3, 2017