Monday, July 16, 2018

Inside Story at MAG




Josephine Tota ( 1910-1996 )
Inside the Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York
Summer, 2018


Too hot and humid to work in the studio, I made up my mind that I would be better off going over to the Memorial Art Gallery to see their new shows and hear from the curator of "The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota".  Josephine who?  How often does our museum here in Rochester - introduce us to a totally new figure - a self-taught artist who died in obscurity but left her family a copious amount of small scale paintings that tell a large story worth sharing.



Questions and answers about Josephine Tota
Sunday, July 15, 2018


Josephine Tota's art at the MAG

Jessica Marten is the Curator in Charge at the MAG and she spent part of her afternoon talking with her audience in the museum auditorium about how she first encountered the art of Josephine Tota, and how this art offered a rare opportunity to open a new chapter for these paintings which had never been seen at all by the public.  Josephine Tota had experienced psychological problems and had virtually withdrawn from her work as a seamstress but forged ahead with her art at home.  Josephine Tota probably never expected her paintings to be given such an arousing welcome as we have here at the MAG.


Josephine Tota's paintings tell stories...


Paradoxical visions...


Curious personifications...

Josephine Tota lived in Rochester, New York, so her story has resonance with an audience gathered for the opening of the show.  She could be considered a naive artist - but the sentiment and emotion expressed in her art has more of a surreal context and an illustrative quality to it.  The 90 pieces on display owe more to an earlier century of European art, especially the flattened patterns of medieval manuscript paintings that Ms. Tota so enjoyed during her life.



Grandma Moses

On this Sunday afternoon, I stay to hear Karel Ann Marling speak about Grandma Moses, another self-taught painter who was a star in her own right - I grew up looking at her artwork often published in the 1950's and 60's - which had some influence when I was a child.

Karel Ann Marling is a very interesting speaker having spent years working up her biography of Grandma Moses, and I am very taken with the images, history, and cultural effects that her paintings had, and one can wonder if Josephine Tota will have that kind of impact once her paintings become more well known.


Nancy Jurs at the MAG

Nancy Jurs is a sculptor and installation artist who is well known and respected here at the MAG.  Her show has a title: "My Life Has Gotten So Busy That It Now Takes Up All Of My Time".  Her sculptural works are mainly fired ceramics - some like the grouping installed at the Rochester Airport years ago are quite large.  In this present selection her art is often found in sequence - hanging here under a scrim - which reads almost like a filmstrip.



Model for Airport Installation by Nancy Jurs


Down the hall in the Lockhart Gallery, Larry Merrill has a selection of photos on view that he has made of classical sculpture.  Some of the sculptural pieces come from the Memorial Art Gallery permanent collection and measure only an inch or so across.  In Larry Merrill's photos the lighting gives these objects a real presence, and a viewer can take in nuance that may not be really evident when seen as a real 3D experience.  The photographer's eye captures something else, a quality often of decomposition - some of the unsettling aspects of looking at antiquities from a more analytical perspective.  We really get a sense of how the years have gone by, the depth of history, and the vulnerability even of artwork carved in stone.



Larry Merrill presents: "Wards of Time"




Thursday, July 5, 2018

Notations and State of the Art


Kristine Bouyoucos
Rundel Library, First Floor
115 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 
thru July 18, 2018

We are fortunate to live in a diverse community where access to the arts is as simple as walking into the Public Library.  This is especially true if you go over today to The Rundel Library at 115 South Avenue in Rochester and while you are there look for the artwork on exhibit from Kristine Bouyoucos.  The art comes in many forms, prints, books and more in a show she calls: "Notations: Imagery of Words and Music thru July 18th.



Kristine Bouyoucos
part of a triptych called: La Mer

Kristine Bouyoucos has been working with various forms of printmaking and in her show she presents framed prints and artists books for your enjoyment and contemplation.  Over many years you may have seen her art in Print Club shows, and exhibited at Oxford Gallery, and here the emphasis is on music and how it can intersect with visual art.  Many of her recent prints have musical notation and can be seen as her interpretations of great pieces of music like "La Mer" seen above.



Kristine Bouyoucos
limited editions of Artist's Books

Kristine is also a musician and as she says "music has been a constant in her life".  She can combine  her techniques in one work of art using what she calls: mixed media, and that can be one of a number of printmaking techniques including digital overprinting to give the final effects.  She is not afraid to tackle other subjects, and here I am thinking of her recent strategy of taking on the political climate that we find ourselves in here in the USA.  


Kristine Bouyoucos
Rondel Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester


On a really hot day we drive down to Ithaca, and take a cooling walk along the gorge and Cascadilla Creek.  Not far from the road, we find a spot that has a little pile up of rocks along the lines of Andy Goldsworthy.


Cascadilla

Ithaca has some spots I visit regularly for their natural appeal, and then there are some places I go for the visual arts.  One spot is directly below The Commons - and that is an artist cooperative called State of the Art Gallery  at 120 West State Street.  This July there is a three person show on now and it is worth a visit if you have not been there.



State of the Art Gallery,  120 West State Street, Ithaca, NY


I know one of the artists in this current show - Stan Bowman.  When I was finishing up my studies as a painter in graduate school at Cornell University, Stan was an up-and-coming faculty member who moved into my old studio space in what is now Tjaden Hall.  The last things I saw of Stan's were digital prints over in the lobby of the CSMA Building in Ithaca so it was a bit of a surprise to see his new dimensional paintings in this new exhibition with Mary Ann Bowman and Jan Kather...


Stan Bowman with his new artwork
at
State of the Art Gallery


Stan Bowman's acrylic on board

Stan Bowman mentioned to me that many of the works he is showing were made in the last three months, so they all share characteristics of bright colors, textured surfaces and dimensional cut-outs that bring sculptural form to these paintings that can remind you of painters like Frank Stella and Friedl Dzubas.

In this 3 person show, I was also quite impressed with the prints of Jan Kather made on metal supports in a series called "Watermark".  Beautiful - yet subtle tones are given depth with these new pieces - the result of scanning a watercolor and printing it in a digital format.  My photo doesn't do justice to this art which has to be seen in the first person.


Jan Kather's Watermark
at
State of the Art Gallery

Mary Ann Bowman has character - many of them are on view in the gallery - and no doubt she has fun with these creations.  The sculptural works can sit in a chair or on a table top.  The "Lovely Chicken Leg Lady" is part ceramic with a topknot of apples - it is a hoot!  Take some time out of your day to visit the State of the Art Gallery, all you have to do is enter the door at 120 West State Street, and you will be captivated!



Mary Ann Bowman
at State of the Art Gallery
Ithaca, New York