Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day Gallery Goings On


Alan Singer at home
Father's Day, June 17, 2018
Rochester, New York


Tales of two cities ( Ithaca and Rochester, New York..) - looking for something unusual!  Jump over to the gallery page in the paper, and go see for myself what is happening.  My father and mother took us as kids around to see the galleries around Tenth Street in Manhattan when everything was getting going back in the early 1950s.  Back then, you could walk around the art world in New York City in an afternoon.  This was way before the development of SoHo and Chelsea and the wallop of all that development money from above.

I was looking for something unusual, for example - I remember walking into the Howard Wise Gallery on 57th Street at an opening for Yayoi Kusama when there were hardly any visitors to her show - this was probably 50 years ago - and now she is a world-wide art star.  The point being - that you can find things made by artists that might have the force or change the directions that our culture responds to - and you may buy it or follow the artist's work to see what happens next.



Building Up Ithaca, NY

On the Commons in Ithaca, I had a nice chat with Robin Schwartz, a director of the CAP  ( Community Arts Partnership )  Artspace.  She said rather that have the usual wall labels for a big group show she would ask each artist to answer a single question: Why I Did It!  The resulting exhibition puts together artworks hung salon style alongside the story of what propelled each artist to make the work that they are showing. Awards were given based on a juror's recommendations as is the case here.  


Exhibition at CAP Artspace
"Why I Did It"
includes works like this photomontage by Kathy Morris called "Cat"


I did find some unusual things in the Why I Did It! group show.  Robin Schwartz said she wanted to do away with the jargon filled wall labels she finds in museums and galleries, and she said that people really stopped to read why these artists made their works just so...



Teresa Bakota Yatsko with her award winner - "Library"
an altered book


Award Winner by Susan Russell


"Why I Did It"
At Cap Artspace, Ithaca, NY

Up the way on State Street you will find the Ink Shop in and around the construction of new buildings in Ithaca that will soon shadow the earth.  The Ink Shop upstairs now has on view the new prints by Paul Van Atta that I promised to go see when I met the artist a couple of weeks ago.  Now that I see his printed works, I am surprised by the variety of substrates that he uses including pizza boxes and acetate.  His prints are filled with characters - sometimes in a crisis...



Paul Van Atta
at the Ink Shop, Ithaca, NY

Reality is balanced against a kind of cartoonish story line developed for many of these prints by this Kahn Family Fellow.  As it says on his card, "Paul uses screen printing, painting and drawing against the byproducts of retail displays that focus on his characters in a state of befuddlement or general consumer distress.


Paul Van Atta's "Constructs" at The Ink Shop

Now, I am back in Rochester, to work on my own art ( at the top of this post ) and later on I will stop in to the Bevier Gallery to see the Print Club of Rochester, and their international show called "Political Impressions".  I think this is a fine step for the Print Club - a group for which I have a strong regard.  Next post we can look at the things happening in around town, so I hope you get some free time to do the same.  Happy Father's Day!




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sign Wave



"Now This" a show of recent art by Nick Ruth
at
MAKERS Gallery & Studio

Three shows constitute a kind of sign wave with each exhibition powering up and then simmering down.  One show was closing and two exhibitions were opening.  This is just another reason why our neighborhood has something unique to engage avid art addicts ( like myself ) as well as offer something to those who are "just looking".


Nick Ruth, screenprint and colored pencil

"Now This" by Nick Ruth had a fine selection of recent art by this artist who has a long association with Hobart William & Smith College at Geneva, New York.  Nick Ruth is an artist whose work I have followed ( I have one of his early pattern paintings ) and his show "Now This" had prints and mixed media works that share a common thread: Communications.  The show was held at Makers Gallery & Studio, 34 Elton Street, in Rochester.  If you haven't been there it is worth the walk up three flights of stairs to check out the latest and greatest.


Nick Ruth at makers Gallery & Studio

Ruth's art in this show ( now closed ) is of a modest size, and the imagery has a sense of humor and a touch of the surreal.  These are signs with no discernible language - maybe you are supposed to project what you think the signs should say.. or maybe the imagery is derived from all the cell towers we can see in a given landscape and the power they project of conversations flowing and an endless river of data....


Nick Ruth's "Now This #5"

Something about Nick Ruth's art reminds me of the west-coast painter Wayne Thiebaud - with his lines of cup cakes and pies.  Each one of Nick Ruth's signs has a similar form to the other signs but the details are different.  Many of the signs are viewed from the back, and that means we get to see the structure - and that is what creates meaning as opposed to seeing the information - the language or instruction that is left blank.  A meditation - Life is an open book - but this book has no text!



Shane Durgee - "Higher Plane Drifter"
paintings and prints
at Geisel Gallery

Across town in the Geisel Gallery, Shane Durgee has mounted his artwork in the long hallway of the former Bausch & Lomb headquarters.  Now, through the end of June you can find that Shane's artwork is very engaging and speaks to a younger generation through his frenetic imagery. Shane is a recent graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology where he is presently employed to manage shows in the Bevier Gallery and much more.  He can teach others and this then leaves time for him to be involved in his own art making and it seems that he is quite active in paintings and prints.



Shane Durgee's " Language of Lights, 2012

When I write that his work speaks to a younger generation - I mean that his use of cartoonish characters - not entirely unlike anime - with a bit of the grotesque thrown in to provide spice, would be consistent with the experience of growing up being exposed to video games, album covers, and all the devices that divide one's attention.


Shane Durgee, digital transfer print

I recognize some of the prints in this new show because they were made in a class that I gave at R.I.T. in digital printmaking.  The fact is Shane picked up what I was teaching really quickly and made some terrific images, worth being part of the show here.


Shane Durgee, "Untitled", 2015

So there is a burst of imagery in each painting or print that highlights the way our attention shifts and then moves on.  In some ways, Shane's artwork in this exhibition could be a commentary on the artwork I found in another exhibition that opened up this week...



Shane Durgee on view now at The Geisel Gallery, Rochester, N.Y.

I attended another opening this weekend at The Axom Gallery for the artist Carey Corea with his show " Beyond the Surface" .  Many of the paintings on view include encaustic - which is an ancient wax medium combined with pigment and the colors are rich and tactile.  We are lucky to have a local vendor - the creator of Encaustikos - here at Rochester Art Supply!  ..and he was very happy with the way his colors looked in the paintings of Carey Corea.


Carey Corea at his opening
Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

The selection of artworks make a case for late abstract expressionism, and there are some characteristics worth noting.  I asked the artist if he worked on many of these paintings at once - and he answered that he never has more than one work in progress at a time for fear of losing his focus.  I thought that since these paintings took a lot of time ( the paints have to be heated up so they reach a fluid state ) that there would be room for having many paintings in the works.


"Turn" 16" x 16" by Carey Corea

The little selection of photographs are in keeping with the structures found in his paintings.  There can be a kind of game being played - especially in the mass of similar sized works that make up a grid at one end of the large exhibition space.  In this grid of 16 inch square paintings there is a vocabulary established of textures and colors.  Carey Corea mentioned that the most recent of these compositions has an orange handle inserted into the artwork called: "Turn".




Carey Corea at Axom Gallery

Recently, I re-read essays by Clement Greenberg written in the 1950s at the height of abstract expressionism.  Greenberg comments that the painters he admired used their compositions to highlight the strengths of the two dimensional surface they worked on - a kind of critique of the art that came before that tries to mimic nature with portraits and realism and the like.  Carey Corea doesn't  mimic nature, but he sometimes applies objects directly into his compositions without any explanation and they become enigmatic.


The recent work of Carey Corea
at 
Axom Gallery

The subtitle of the showing of Carey Corea's art  declares it all: "The Spiritual Beauty of Abstraction".  Among the most recent works are three compositions at the opposite end of the room from the grid.  Here the effects are much more subtle and resonate with late Monet and even Robert Motherwell.  An engagement with visual art is something I share with others, and one can find inspiration here, you just have to know where to look.



Carey Corea
"The Spiritual Beauty of Abstraction"
Thru July 21, 2018
Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York








Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Art Museum


Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
on the campus of Cornell University
Ithaca, New York


Museum curators will have a tough job on their hands in the future.  How will they deal with the influx of all the different styles and points of view that are happening now?  How, and Who will make sense of it all?  There is no one style that dominates like impressionism or Pop Art... and when you go into galleries there seems to be a free-for-all.  Museum people have to make sense and they try to do so in the wall labels and other publications they issue.  I go to the museum above to see their shows and to visit with favorite works of art.

When I was a graduate student in Fine Art at Cornell University in the early 1970s, I was watching as the Johnson Museum was being built - not more than a couple of hundred yards away from my studio.  The building's bold design by I.M. Pei stands out on the campus today, and it offers wonderful collections and spectacular views of the surroundings in the Finger Lakes.



Lake Cayuga, June 5, 2018

I first find my way to the elevator and travel upstairs to visit a floor for Asian Art and also to see the marvelous view of the lake.  Here, at The Johnson Museum there is an active interest in Asian Art and collectors have donated some beautiful artwork to the collection over the years.  Recent additions  of ceramics and textiles, and paintings and much more are a thrill because we don't see much of this art in upstate New York.  A decorated head portrait of Mao caught my eye - what an unusual thing to see an old technique of relief and botanical decoration used for a portrait!




"Fashion  and Mao" by Suo Tan, 2007



Ancient Thailand Ceramics ( 300 B.C. )

Some really ancient ceramics from Thailand had a linear pattern on them and we get the added benefit of seeing how the lines may have been made.  In this exhibition case there is a little cigar shaped clay object with lines cut out of it, so this piece of fired clay could be used if you applied a little pressure to create a grooved surface on wet clay - a kind of offset printing!



Kalsang Lodoe Oshoe, Tibetan Thangka 2006

There is an interest in Tibetan Buddhism in Ithaca, and it is rumored that the Dalai Lama would like to spend some of his retirement here.  I don't know whether this is true, but the Johnson Museum has some striking Tibetan art including this painted textile.  The label for the work indicate the artist is working today, and his Thangka illustrates a diety - the bodhisattva of wisdom.  The artwork is made with opaque watercolor and gold on cloth - a wonder to behold.

A wide variety of art is on view at The Johnson Museum and  I have to keep moving.  Downstairs examples are featured from their American collection including this print from Blanche Lazzell ( 1878-1956) - she was a printmaking expert who studied in Paris and she is identified by her use of a white line that surrounds her planes of color as you can see in this flower image>  Blanche was one of the early artists to establish a presence on Cape Cod at the far end of Provincetown, Massachusetts.



Blanche Lazzell

So, when I was a graduate student I could visit the museum and see artwork like this once the Johnson opened  for business.  Back then I was studying with Peter Kahn  ( Wolf Kahn's brother ).
Peter had a far ranging knowledge of contemporary art and knew Hans Hofmann - also a presence in Provincetown.  Hofmann may have had more of an influence on what and how I studied - creating my art because so many of my teachers had studied with him.   Right on cue, I found a wonderful painting by Hofmann.  There is so much to see here, I could go on and on...



Hans Hofmann at the Johnson Museum, Ithaca, New York