Saturday, November 10, 2018

Missing Words & Autumn Color

Autumn Colors come to my block

When I read the description that Emily Glass wrote about some of her recent paintings now on view at The Geisel Gallery, I was shocked to understand that print editions of the Oxford Junior Dictionary deleted words that relate to nature in favor of words that promote new technology.

Poster announcing paintings by Emily Glass

A strategy or a focus on deleted words for creatures like the newt, or the adder, or for plants like a fern seem hard to imagine - that a dictionary editor would deprive a younger reader of this connection to a living world!  In so doing, Emily Glass paints a picture of a drastic change in our relationship with a world of growing things.  With this feeling that our attachment to nature is under attack, one could "read" her paintings as a direct appeal for us to stop this from happening!

Emily Glass: Deleted Word "Fern"
oil on canvas

In her compositions she directs our attention to the forest floor, and the passing life that one finds there, the slow movement of a snail, the shapes of decomposing leaves, the cycle of life that we won't find when we glance down at the latest news coming out over our smart phones..

Emily Glass at Geisel Gallery
downtown Rochester, New York

Emily Glass also shows a sense of humor in her Jackson Pollock-like portrait of arugula on a sheet of paper.  In this way her paint handling reminds me of many works by Catherine Murphy - where she uses realism to mimic abstraction.

Emily Glass at Geisel Gallery

Her technique has an illustrational focus - to show us details when necessary, and also to inform the viewer of a persistent kind of abstraction in the factual nature of life.  In fact, I can remember when I was very little how abstract the entire world looked - and  there is an internal thrill in seeing that experience translated in the strokes of paint applied by Emily Glass.

Sainte Victoire by Bruno Chalifour

Rochester has a vibrant arts community and there are a variety of places to go and see what artists are doing today including the hall at the East Avenue Inn ( 384 East Avenue at Alexander Street ).  Up now is "Trio" with Howard Koft, Bruno Chalifour, and Paula Santirocco.  So, on a cold afternoon in November I went to see these three artists and immediately got drawn into the documentary details of photographs made by Bruno Chalifour.  The mountain made famous in paintings by Paul Cezanne is one focus for Bruno Chalifour, and his photographic prints have a clarity and lightness that is remarkable.

Howard Koft  at 384 East Avenue

Howard Koft works with digital tools to create images that take reality to a new plane.  Buildings can be bent, warped and given new dramatic significance.  The digital realm is something I am very familiar with, and the materials that one can use as subjects for art can really manifest themselves in unfamiliar ways - at least as fine art is concerned.  For hundreds, maybe thousands of years we have trusted our eye to comprehend our surroundings, but with the new digital tools we can transform almost anything into a new artful experience - call it augmented reality!...

Paula Santirocco - "Its a New Day", acrylic

Paula Santirocco works her abstractions with bright color and a love for her materials.  She makes it look easy, but I will bet that there is a lot of trial and error to get her paintings to look this way.  All in all the "Trio" is an interesting show - though the space at 384 East Avenue may not have been on your list of must see galleries, still it deserves your attention.

Sunday, November 4, 2018


Melinda, barn owl, along with Wild Wings volunteer
November 1, 2018

It has been raining all day, but I am inside, at my job - teaching drawing for students at R.I.T. with a special visit from two volunteers from WILD WINGS, and three wonderful birds that are in their care.  Each semester a visit from the natural world is in order, and these birds make terrific models to study and draw.  Once students get to see and hear about these birds - rehabilitated by the volunteers at WILD WINGS, they have a whole new respect for our environment.

Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs, New York

This weekend we drove over to Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs to see an exhibition by another R.I.T. faculty member who has a show of her recent paintings.  Lanna Pejovic is a prolific landscape painter and she presents"The View From Here".  I wrote a little introduction for the new catalog that was produced for this special show - and I have to say that her paintings were really worth the drive  to see them while they are still on view ( thru November 16, 2018 ).

Lanna Pejovic " Lily Fountain"

The gallery at Main Street Arts has never looked better, and the installation is very sensitive to the needs of these nearly abstract paintings.  Lanna may have had the original inspiration for this from her visits to Linwood Gardens near Pavilion, New York, but she has taken her art to a new level.

"Meditations" by Lanna Pejovic at Main Street Arts

The first things to hit me were her textures and colors..There is a sense of an overarching structure in notations that continue from painting to painting.  Some of her work verges on realism (more often in drawings) but the most satisfying works create a sensual experience - as in "Meditations".  Rather than being made strictly en plein aire these paintings are mostly finished in the studio - and like the Monet show at the Memorial Art Gallery - the art has a touch of the wild, a tactile exuberance.  Even though the catalog gives you an impression of her paintings, you really need to see them in person.
Upstairs at Main Street Arts I found a fine set of dimensional works in porcelain by Jody Selin  and a gouache that he calls: "Top of the Hill" ( that reminded me of Edward Hopper ) by another R.I.T. graduate - Chad Grohman.

Jody Selin

Chad Grohman "Top of the Hill"

This busy season takes us back to Rochester, in the Public Market where we went upstairs to The Yards Collective which has been doing things in their rugged space for seven years now.  The curator for the new show is Shane Durgee and the exhibition is called - "Into The Out Of".  He must have had fun selecting the work for the show by two other R.I.T. grads - Cecily Culver and Ashley Ludwig - because their works achieve a nice harmony in an art that is experimental and spare in many respects.

Cecily Culver has been teaching students recently at R.I.T. and I hope that they get a chance to see what their teacher has been making - her installations have a sense of humor - in part because they are minimal but also because they create a situation.  You really can see this art through her eyes, looking down between some bricks where you can see a salamander ( all part of a witty sculpture she has created ) - as if there was a hole cut in the floor of the gallery.

Cecily Culver at The Yards

Cecily took the time to tell me that the neon bird in her sculpture was resurrected for this exhibition which made me think of artists like Bruce Nauman.  Her sculpture is like a window with some irony -you don't know whether you are looking out or you are looking in!

Her exhibition partner in this show is Ashley Ludwig, who exhibits a whole wall of diamond shaped compositions that often are collages with a poetic saying, or something else that galvanizes your attention.  So if you are in the area - visiting the public market, walk upstairs and enjoy the show!

Ashley Ludwig at The Yards Collective
The Public Market, Rochester, New York

Ashley Ludwig's collage works
at The Yards Collective

Sunday, October 28, 2018


Amanda Means, "Light Bulb 00050C",  2001
currently on view at
Albright Knox , Buffalo, New York

Last week when I was in Buffalo at The Albright Knox Art Gallery, I stopped to take a close look at a photo made by my friend Amanda Means.  The centered image is simple - a light bulb as a subject - it glows fiercely in this Polaroid print made in 2001.  This image represents light and energy; maybe hope and a singular beauty.  And her photo has influenced my own work, especially on my print below - a monotype I call "Importance of Light".  My image is an expression for a form of mathematics - a kind of visual algebra that describes a plane.

Alan Singer, "Importance of Light"
Monotype, 2018

Looking deeply at a traditional artist's work, whether it is a pencil drawing or a painting, you can tell a lot about the personality behind the artwork, so the art is very revealing.  Like a handwriting analysis - artwork can reveal interesting factors, - and sometimes the idiosyncrasy of an artist - their choices that they make create a sense of style, and can be attractive to some and less so for others.

What happens when the motivation for image making is funneled through machine intelligence?  I am thinking now of what is gained and what is lost through digital art and artificial intelligence.  Today in the New York Times they employed algorithms to design Halloween costumes - does AI represent a direction that we are going to be taking in art?  I would hate to leave the task of creating art solely in the "hands" of a machine that is based on averaging out the pleasure we get that is usually found in the artist's work.

Patti Russotti  at the Geisel Gallery, Rochester, New York

I doubt that such a program would bring us an exhibition of the sort that I found this week at the Geisel Gallery.  Patti Russotti mounted her show called: " Primal Invisibilia " featuring examples of things not easily viewed and documented through the lens of her camera ( or scanner as the case may be ).

Patti Russotti  presents: Primal Invisiblia

Along with her photographic pieces were monoprints using encaustic or hot wax on paper.  This very direct method of making an image reveals an organizing principle we bring to working with color, textures, and throw in the accidental and the unintentional.

Russotti encaustic monoprint

This month, thru November 24th, 2018 there is also an inspiring group showing at the Oxford Gallery here in Rochester.  Three seasoned artists - Barbara Page, Anthony Dungan and Phyllis Bryce Ely are exhibiting paintings in a show they call: "Transformations".  Of the three artists who show here, "Tony" Dungan has the more experimental approach to his use of color and applications which have a very expressive range.  His art for this exhibition takes the figure as a primary subject and then plays with the methods of representation.

Anthony Dungan  at Oxford Gallery

The jazz that enters the paintings from "Tony" Dungan plays out in layers and transforms his imagery through his process.  Sometimes his drawing in paint can remind you of Willem DeKooning and at other times it can be be Arshile Gorky.  

In the past I have written about Barbara Page's map paintings and in the present show called: "Transformations" there are several new smaller works that are dedicated to places she has traveled to.  The map paintings may come from flights over the regional terrain, and they often have a prevailing color which may reveal the season, or what the land has been developed for.

Barbara Page at Oxford Gallery

Phyllis Bryce Ely has a studio space in the Hungerford Building, and she is also part of this new exhibition at the Oxford Gallery.  Her subjects  can be a rugged landscape or the structure of a building in downtown Rochester - she told me a story about the "Wings of Progress" - that I found to be surprising.  As a youngster growing up here, she was afraid of the building and what the wings signified for her when she would drive by.  Today, she makes it a point to paint this building in a style that seems to quote Georgia O'Keefe.  

"Wings of Progress"
Phyllis Bryce Ely
oil stick on mylar

In another part of the Oxford Gallery show, Phyllis Bryce Ely presents a grouping of "Rocks I have Known" -portraits of these keepsakes - that reveal once again things that were previously unknown to us.  Little swirls, and textures cause you to think about the forces that created these stones.  I am a rock collector too, and have a pile of similar subjects in my studio, so I will have to look again and think about what could evolve.  Maybe just enjoy the simple beauty of how things are right now...

Phyllis Bryce Ely " Rocks I have known"
encaustic on panels

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Scope It Out

Jim Mott and his  Landscape Lottery
at Lab Space
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
Rochester, New York

We are into the fall season, and holiday spirits can grab you - especially if you are interested in visual art because there is so much happening in and around Rochester (and beyond ).  Yes, I look forward to my trips to see the New York City galleries, but we have some really fine work here, right now.

Jim Mott paints on site

Now open for your enjoyment - you could sign up for an opportunity to determine where Jim Mott will set up his paints next - with the toss of the dice.  Walk into the Lab Space and sign up for a chance to give Jim the co-ordinates on a regional map - and send him out to paint a picture of what he sees when he gets there.  I have been following Jim Mott's artwork for years, and have even written before about his "Itinerant Artist Project ( IAP ) for the American Artist Magazine.

Jim Mott's Landscape Lottery show in progress....

While you are at RoCo check out their new video space, they have renovated at the back of the gallery.

Jim Mott has a fine eye for delicate hues and a direct perspective.  He doesn't shy away from a difficult moment - like the moonrise over Cobbs Hill, or the road out to the airport, or a fence full of black bird silhouettes and much more.  For years he has immersed himself in a painting project that has taken him far and wide, and I think you will enjoy the results.

Belinda Bryce presents
"Pilgrims Process" at Axom Gallery

Over at the Axom Gallery, we have a different take on nature - this time in a more symbolic vein in the paintings of Belinda Bryce.  I met Belinda years ago as she made her prints in Liz Durand's evening studio class at R.I.T.  Belinda has kept up her art practice, and she has been showing her artwork for years now in this region.  She calls her show "Pilgrim's Process" and she writes about spending some time at the Saltonstall Art residency near Ithaca, letting her roam freely over the countryside contemplating her next moves.

Belinda Bryce paintings at Axom Gallery tell a symbolic story

Belinda's paintings at Axom Gallery share a deep interest in contrasts, textures, and subtle or minimal color and graphic impact which never gets rigid.  Her perspective on nature is more of an experience, not entirely unlike what I saw in the paintings of Brad Butler over at the Mercer Gallery in MCC.  Her vision is more internal, more poetic and you just have to follow her path.

Belinda Bryce

Belinda actually has a narrative that is worth reading and it gives you a bit more background about her walks in the woods.  She tells a story about walking through the landscape and her artwork verges on the iconic - having a visceral relationship to artists like Joan Mitchell and maybe even Adolph Gottlieb.

Down in the South Wedge at 661 South Avenue to be precise we have an end of October pop-up art show curated by Erich Lehman  who has been instrumental in the Wall/Therapy initiative, and also he was owner of the 1975 Gallery for a number of years.  This new show will only be available for viewing in the next few days - so plan on being there soon!  I saw many red dots - so works are for sale and people are getting into the holiday spirit as I said earlier..

"Dearly Departed"  
661 South Avenue

Run over to see what is happening, and in conversation Erich Lehman promises to have more to show when R.I.T. opens up their new City Artspace in the new year.  The opening attracted a young audience and there is a list of seventy-five works up for your contemplation - all in the spirit of the season.

The crowd at " Dearly Departed "
hosted by Erich Lehman of the 1975 Gallery

Friday, October 19, 2018

Destination Buffalo

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo, New York

After several hours of recruiting students for my College of Art & Design at R.I.T., I left the Villa Maria for the Albright-Knox and Burchfield Penney Center over on Elmwood Avenue.  The day was cool and the sky blue, as I walked a path over to see a show at The Albright-Knox that features artists from the 1960s - the era in which I grew up.  I was not disappointed, but the Gallery was in transition as they were installing a show of their recent acquisitions.

Andy Warhol's portraits of Seymour Knox

In the museum, the show is called: "Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s.  I found many paintings and only a few sculptures - which I thought was odd.  My guess is that this show represents a certain point of view of the curators and the buying habits of Seymour Knox.  Seymour looks out at us in multiple colors in a work by Andy Warhol, and in fact there is very little evidence in "Giant Steps" of the strength of Pop Art in the 1960s.

I was teenager in the 1960s, but I never missed a week of going into the galleries of 57th Street in Manhattan and often stopped into shows at the Howard Wise Gallery on a regular basis.  I remember speaking with Yayoi Kusama at her opening there, and I remember seeing Len Lye and his artwork also in a show at that gallery.

James Rosenquist's "Nomad", 1963

The 1960s - "Giant Steps", artists like Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist are featured - but where is the art of Peter Saul, which I saw numerous times at the Allan Frumkin Gallery?  No, this exhibition features Abstraction and Op Art, and one of the standouts from this time is Victor Vasarely - for the sheer power of his geometry and work with color.  I also want to give a nod to Max Bill and Hans Hoffmann.  These are painters who had the most impact on me - then and now.

Victor Vasarely

The Albright show lacks sculpture and where are the works of artists like Robert Smithson, or David Smith?  No notice of Earthworks, or even Richard Serra who is protean.  There is a giant yellow painting by Al Held who created some powerful artwork during that period, and there are artists like Bridget Riley who dominate a certain strain of perceptual geometry that still rings true.

Hans Hofmann

Is it just me, or does this show provoke a response - like do we still think that this art will have staying power?  Certain of the artists on view in this show I had never heard of - and how do they find their way into this show of an eras' greatest hits?

If you did not live through the 1960s and this art is new to you, would you still think of this as important and relevant to the art of today?  Maybe.

A concise show - seeing is believing?

Claudio Bravo,  " Red Paper" 1969

Down the lower hallway there is a show that is called "The Swindle" - like these works are so minimal as to create a sense of wonder in the viewer - are they the artists trying to put something over on us?  When you look at this art - there main thing is that the work of the artist seems to be hiding.

Charles  Burchfield  "Trees"

Charles Burchfield ( 1893-1967 )

Across the street at The Burchfield Penney Center we are given a view of the artist's studio and his output based on his observations of trees with his own twist of style and poetry.  He tries to convey in a watercolor or drawing something of the wind and the sunlight which becomes a palpable texture in his art.

Acquisitions for their permanent collection
at the Burchfield Penney Center

Also on view at the Burchfield Center is a show called: "Ten Years In" - representing artworks that have become part of the permanent collection - and you will find it very enlightening.

Make Buffalo a destination and check out the shows.  You will see many strong works and upstairs there are special exhibitions of sculpture including some minimal wall works in ceramic by artist Anne Currier.

Ceramic art by Anne Currier

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Graphic Life

Kenneth Hiebert
University Gallery, Rochester Institute of Technology
October 11, 2018

Walking into the University Gallery at RIT one day last week, I caught the presentation by graphic designer Kenneth Hiebert that included his original posters and photos projected up on a screen for some of his designs.  Having used one of the books that he authored as a guide to design processes in my classes at RIT,  I was interested in meeting this famed designer - who once worked with Armin Hoffman in the Bauhaus tradition.  Ken Hiebert had a long association with the Philadelphia College of Art  (PCA) before it became the University of the Arts and my brother had studied graphic design with him back in the early 1960s.

Kenneth Hiebert designs for the artists - Hicks, Kane, and Pippin

Ken Hiebert's talk could have been called: "The Raw, and the Cooked" with his designs and he even had one piece that was passed around through the audience so they could touch the textures of his hand lettering.  On the gallery walls there were photo images that Ken Hiebert had printed as part of a commentary  on the monument of Stonehenge.  He joked about the notion that his designs with these ruins could by ruined further if they had  suffered from poor production, and he gave us examples.

Pamela Drix at Rochester Contemporary Art Center

A celebration of graphics seems to be the underlying principle here this month as there are shows like: "Under Pressure 2018" - a joint project for RoCo and The Print Club of Rochester.  There are four featured artists:  Pamela Drix, Joseph Scheer, Kathryn Polk, and Bob Erickson.  Joseph Sheer also has some of his prints of colorful moths at the More Fire studio at 36 Field Street this month.

Kathryn Polk lithographs at RoCo

The exhibition at RoCo is subtitled  Redefining the Multiple, and the four artists take different paths to achieve that end.  I think that Pamela Drix may have the most experimental approach to this as she creates colorful strips that create a graphic impact on the wall that is much more radical than the Victorian look of Kathryn Polk's colorful lithography.  The majority of the images from Mr. Scheer and Mr. Erickson are photo based - and they are experimental up to a point.  I found the abstractions from Mr. Erickson to be engaging and unusual - it was hard to tell what I was looking at.  The series of works from Joseph Scheer told a story of political impact  and reminded me of a school of photojournalism that found an audience in the mid-twentieth century.

Bob Ericsson 
"Under Pressure" 
Rochester Contemporary Art Center

Drive down to Honeoye Falls, at the Mill Art Center to find the Annual Print Club show  now underway.  As you walk upstairs you are greeted by an image from illustrator and printmaker Bob Conge called: "A Lobbyist for Big Tobacco" ( this is a mono print with watercolor embellishments ).  Further into the show you will find a companion piece that has a real wit called: "The Corporate Vision".

Bob Conge's "The Corporate Vision"
Annual Show for The Print Club
The Mill Art Center, Honeoye Falls, New York

You will enjoy this show because it has a real vitality in the kinds of prints that artists are making and it runs the gamut from sedate traditional landscape to colorful abstraction.  I like the big print from Michael Harris called: Celestial Navigator" seen below.

Michael Harris' Celestial Navigator

The Print Club exists to further understanding and appreciation for the printmakers and their medium. Prints also serve the needs of people who may want to collect art and want an affordable avenue towards  building  a collection or starting one.  At the Mill Art Center I found my print hung in a trio that included an image from Carol Acquilano, and a bright abstract from Kurt Pfeiffer.  Go over to see this show - you will certainly find something to like in this selection.

Prints by ( left to right ) Singer, Acquilano, and Pfeiffer
The Mill Art Center, Honeoye Falls, New York