Saturday, August 17, 2019

Educate the Artist

I am entering my 31st year teaching art at Rochester Institute of Technology, and I think of the social impact of this and understand how important it is to the person who self-selects to first try to be an artist, and then to help understand the choices and pressures it places on that student.  I grew up in a family of visual artists, so there were role models right at home.  My parents also had many friends who were in the arts, and that seemed natural - for they all supported one another and from what I could see as a youngster - they all made a pretty good living doing what they loved to do.

It is important to say that I grew up in the New York City area at a time in the 1950s when the visual arts was just coming into its own in the U.S. - and being an artist ( who could make a living ) was not always in the cards!  You had to really work at it!  So, from the time I was a young teenager I hung out in the museums and galleries, I went to openings and talked to other aspiring artists.

Yayoi Kusama at The Memorial Art Gallery

Now, when I walk into The Memorial Art Gallery here in Rochester, and look at the giant polka dot sculpture of Yayoi Kusama, my mind travels back to a time when I was at her opening at the Howard Wise Gallery on 57th Street in Manhattan when there were just a handful of people there, and I talked with the artist ( back in the 1960s ).

John Ahearn's sculpture at The MAG

I was at The Memorial Art Gallery to go back and see the Finger Lakes Juried Exhibition.  Even before i walked in to see the show, I found a life-size plaster sculpture by John Ahearn which I had never previously seen before.  John and I were students at Cornell University in the early 1970s and it has really been interesting to see what he has accomplished so far.

Sam Gilliam at the entry to the galleries at MAG

At the entry to the galleries, where the salon style hanging of portraits used to be, there is now a group of artworks by Sam Gilliam, another artist whose work I have followed for years.  In fact, I brought Sam Gilliam up to Rochester to speak to my students almost 15 years ago.  He even made a presentation to visitors in the auditorium of The Memorial Art Gallery then, so I am glad to see that his art is finding an appreciative audience now.

What I am driving at here, is the fact that we live in a social world even though the artist often spends most of their time working alone in a studio situation.  Sometimes you can feel like you are all alone on the moon!  So I encourage people who are interested in the arts to step up their education and not only learn the skills to express themselves, but also engage with other artists who have this special thing - this vision of what they can and hope to create.

Watercolors by Karal Ann Marling

Grafitti in a painting by Karal Ann Marling

Right down the hall from the Finger Lakes show is the Lockhart Gallery which is now filled with intimate watercolors by Karal Ann Marling. Her focus is the local territory she now inhabits of downtown Rochester.  She takes us on a tour of places - not the most famous landmarks, but many of the spots that you may have just passed by.  It could be a shady street, and someone's porch, or it could be a painting of the little store on the corner.  Karel Ann Marling is actually a scholar and a writer, an art historian, so these paintings come as something of a surprise...  She delights in giving us a nostalgic look at Rochester - she finds a kind of abstract collage of images that make up the subjects for each of her framed works on display.  These are paintings made with love and care and a very personal touch.

Kathryn Rehrig at Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs

Speaking of that, I was out in Clifton Springs recently at Main Street Arts, in their upstairs gallery looking over a show called: "Undercurrents" featuring landscape paintings by Angelia Salerno and photographic prints by Kathryn Rehrig.  Kathryn's artist statement could be applied to some of Karal Ann Marling's artwork too when she writes, "Architectural salvage is ripe with potential for the discovery of "Faded Beauties".  Paint peeling, rust, algae, and vessels filled with water, present a striking palette of colors and unique abstract vignettes that tease the imagination.  The images represent an evolution of nature that challenges one's perspective to see beyond the obvious".

Paintings by Angelia Salerno
at Main Street Arts
Clifton Springs, New York

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sticker Shock

"On The Great Lakes", acrylic  gouache on board
Alan Singer

I like to support our local arts institutions and in turn be supported by them.  Such is the case with organizations for which I am a member.  In this particular case, each year I join the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn because they have a yearly show called: "Made in NY".  To be selected for this show, you have to become a member and so that is what I do.  Their show is a bit like the  66th Finger Lakes Exhibition that is now on at The Memorial Art Gallery, it is a great show to be juried into.  If you travel to Auburn, drive around and look at the wonderful old houses, and enjoy the Finger Lakes.

My little painting ( above ) was accepted this year so I drove over to Auburn to deliver the goods.  In the gallery I found works from Kathy Farrell and a show of dimensional art that really packed a surprise!  The artist who is featured in the main gallery is Abraham Ferraro, and he creates works of art from cardboard boxes which he cuts and shapes, and then ships.  He sends  his boxes through the mail system with tons of stickers surrounding the packages.  It all started out with a very innocuous shaped box which was taped together as you can see below.

Art by Abraham Ferraro

Then things got a bit wild.  Here is a form of correspondence that I will bet they didn't teach you in art school!  The effect is like a zinger - the images zip across at you and you can wonder how it all fits together...  The room becomes one giant standing sculpture, and the labels or stickers serve as directions and coloration for the objects.  This is fun - and funnier when you stop to think that these things actually went through the mail, and they served a purpose - a greater purpose than the usual bills and flyers that pass each day through the same channels.

Art by Abraham Ferraro

Here is a dimensional Pop Art that will really give you sticker shock!  All of these pieces are very portable, the sum total of which must be considered a work-in-progress.  Who knows how large this idea could grow!

Abraham Ferraro goes POP

Abraham Ferraro at Schweinfurth Art Center

In the surrounding galleries, other artwork looked tame by comparison.  I stopped to look at silk screen prints made by Landon Perkins in this show called: Made and Remade: Re-Imagining Industrial Systems.    The prints by Mr. Perkins reminded me immediately of the prints by Nick Ruth that I included in our show "Process & Purpose, 2019" that I wrote about recently.  Landon Perkins  has a technological grasp with a fine technique to render the machines of the past - or maybe they are  made up to look old.  There is even a sense of humor in these images...

Landon Perkins at Schweinfurth Art Center

Silk Screen images by Landon Perkins

Another artist in the show is  Sherri Lynn Wood and her big piece hanging in the Main Gallery had a touch of the crafts from Gee's Bend that have been so popular.  There is also an echo of the paintings by Peter Halley in this art.

Sherri Lynn Wood

Peter Halley  ( not in the Schweinfurth Art Center show )

When you first walk in to the galleries at Schweinfurth Art Center, it might be easy to pass by the show of drawings by our own Kathleen Farrell.  It was just a few weeks ago that she presented black and white drawings with her friends Peter Monacelli and George Wegman that I wrote about on this blog.  This new set of drawings has more color but keeps the idiosyncratic sketch style and invention that she is known for.  Her show is called "Presence of Silence", and I can imagine that she whips out her drawing materials every time there is a lull in the action happening all around her.  

Kathy Farrell at Schweinfurth Art Center ( for the next seven days! )

Kathy Farrell has a great wit, and she is a sharp observer of humanity - and she gets it all down in this art that comes close to caricature and cartoon.  I just wonder if she would care to work in a medium that might last a bit longer..I worry about the permanence of marker rendering.

Kathleen Farrell and her characters

Later in the day I drive down to Ithaca, to our garden, and take a moment to go out in the back to smell the roses.  This has just been the busiest and most rewarding summer so far, and I am amazed that the weather is so  dramatic!  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Printmaker and Painter

"Process & Purpose, 2019"
Curated by Alan Singer
RIT City Art Space
Liberty Pole Plaza, Rochester, New York

I am a printmaker and painter and it has been a very busy time for me, - now it is August and I must begin to prepare my classes at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Before I get down to that task I can report that we had a very fine artist reception on August 2nd for a show I have curated called: "Process & Purpose, 2019".  This new exhibition is dedicated to printmakers and features eight regional artists with over thirty prints on display in this rather spacious gallery right near Liberty Pole Plaza in the heart of Rochester, New York!

"Razzle Dazzle"  by Sarah Kinard

Of the eight artists, including Eileen Bushnell, Sarah Kinard, Shane Durgee, Kumi Korf, Craig Mains, Nick Ruth, Minna Resnick, and myself, a few artists are just starting their career like Sarah Kinard seen above.  Others like myself have been at it for over fifty years.  We get to see a variety of techniques put to work in the service of artistic expression.  In our present show I prepared wall labels that allow each artist to say something about how they develop their images; what their process is and this helps inform a visitor who stops to see the artwork and may not know what goes into making a print.

Red Back Yard by Alan Singer

I found out from Minna Resnick that her process might include lithography and use some images that are in the public domain.  In one of my own prints ( above ) included in our show, I blend a photograph I made through a red filter with some mathematical forms I built on my computer, and then under the pressure of my etching press a transfer print was made which I hope leaves a good impression!

"Process & Purpose, 2019" at RIT City Art Space
thru August 24th, 2019

Our show runs through August 24th, so you have time to see our exhibition if you have not ventured into the city recently.  Also on view - another show featuring prints from a wider selection of artists - "The Art of the Print" now at Phillips Fine Art and Frame, 1115 East Main Street in the Hungerford Building.  Warren Phillips selected these prints and there you will find gorgeous art from Japan, with woodblock prints by Toyokuni across from classics by American, John James Audubon.

"The Art of the Print" at Phillips Fine Art and Frame
1115 East Main Street, Hungerford Building
Rochester, NY

There is a fine group of prints here including one from Wassily Kandinsky that was originally published in an issue of VERVE Magazine that came out of France in the mid- 20th century. Next to that is a rather rugged Picasso from late in his career.  I was standing in the gallery when another print - a beautiful Nicolas De Stael was sold to a collector..

Colorful print by De Stael

"The Art of the Print" will continue at Phillips Fine Art & Frame through August 27th, so this is a good time to consider prints and printmaking as a valuable art form.

On my reading list:  by Jack Whitten ( 1939-2018 )

This summer I have been reading "Notes from the Woodshed" by Jack Whitten, - a painter  who I met years ago when I was a student at The Cooper Union School of Art.  Jack was teaching painting then and there, and I would see him from time to time at Cooper.  Had I known more about him, I might have taken his class!  Now we have his published journals to read, and it is worth your time and effort to find this gem.

Painter, Jack Whitten in his studio

Jack Whitten was an African American and his writing is all about his philosophy and his progress in the New York City art world when there were few opportunities for people of color to move forward with their artwork - in a commercial sense.  The competition has always been fierce - to have your work recognized - and at least Jack Whitten attained some stature in the field, and this is a good cause to re-evaluate his art if you are not familiar with it.  Take a look for this book, and check out his art online!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Mid-Summer Days

Barbara Mink
now open at  the Geisel Gallery
Rochester, New York

"Reds" by Barbara Mink

Last night at her opening for the Geisel Gallery in Rochester, New York, Barbara Mink was on hand to greet her guests who had come to view her recent paintings.  Her exhibition "High Finish" is on view thru August 24th, 2019, so you will have ample opportunity to see her recent paintings selected for her show. 

I have known Barbara for a while, having first met with her when she was presenting the interesting speakers for Ithaca's "Light in Winter" events which were like TED talks about art and science.  Barbara is also teaching at Cornell University and she maintains the Mink Gallery at her home on north Cayuga Street in lovely downtown Ithaca, New York.

Geisel Gallery now showing "High Finish"
select paintings by Barbara Mink

The Geisel Gallery is a wonderful space in the former headquarters of Bausch & Lomb, and it gives an artist the opportunity to create a focus, a visitor can really get close to look at the colors and textures of these abstract expressionist compositions.  Some paintings have explosive energy while others are much more like a collector's cabinet of discrete marks set off against light backgrounds.

Barbara Mink at her opening for "High Finish"

" High Finish" alludes to the fact that many of these new paintings are embedded in a thick layer of resin that seals the work and often unites the artwork in a unique way.  The resin is essentially colorless but gives a shimmering depth to each painting as you can see when you step in closer to look.  Sometimes her paintings look like a very colorful storm while at other times dots and shapes are much more disciplined and not nearly so charged with energy.

These mid-summer days have been busy for me, I am presenting a selection of my paintings and prints in the offices of the Edward Jones investment group and this is an opportunity to meet a whole new bunch of people who come to 706 University Avenue.  Just down the street at 500 University Avenue, in The Memorial Art Gallery my painting is on view as part of the 66th Finger Lakes Juried exhibition,  and I am happy to part of this very select group of artists!  And then there is the show I have curated called: "Process & Purpose, 2019" that will open to the public next week at the brand new RIT City Art Space in the center - the heart -  of Rochester at The Liberty Pole in the Sibley Building, 280 East Main Street.

Alan Singer's print "Re-Entry" at 
706 University Avenue, Edward Jones office ( call for information 585 271-3808 )

"Process & Purpose, 2019" is an exhibition whose focus is on contemporary printmakers and their art. There are about 30 works in this new show  which I have arranged, and each artist gets to make his or her statement.  This practice of making prints is a great way for collectors to begin to build a collection, because the artworks are often much more affordable.  In our show I look towards the future - by including younger artists who are just emerging, as well as a few time-tested professionals all of who make western New York their home.

"Dazzle Dazzle" by Sarah Kinard

Below are a sampling of some images that should be thought provoking, and attractive.  Printmakers often make editions of their artwork on paper, but the technique to do this takes time to perfect.  I like the way the prints  create a kind of a dialogue.  So our show is meant to inform and engage the eye and the mind.  Come on over and see for yourself!

"Avoid Meaningless Words" by Minna Resnick

Print by Nick Ruth, part of the show "Process & Purpose, 2019"
set to open next week at the new 
RIT City Art Space
280 East Main Street
Rochester, New York 14604

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Futures Looking Bright

Curator, Rick Muto at the University Gallery
Campus of Rochester Institute of Technology
"Renewable Futures"
thru August 10, 2019

Rick Muto. He is smiling now because his job is almost complete.  The last few artworks will go up on the wall and the labels will be attached and then in a few hours crowds will arrive for " Renewable Futures".  We are in the University Gallery on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology and the new exhibition opens with over a hundred works of art created by art students who have graduated from RIT during the 1960s and have then gone on to careers in the arts.  Some, but not all of these talented people became teachers - in all there are eighteen creative people being honored in this new show.  One of them, Paul Garland ( below ) was giving an artist talk at the Axom Gallery recently, and I had a chance to go and hear what he had to say about the development of his art.

Paul Garland speaks at Axom Gallery

Some of the original inspiration for Paul Garland stems from landscape art and this can be seen directly in a large painting of his that was on view in the University Gallery show that just opened.
Interesting to hear Paul Garland comment on why so many of his compositions are divided in half - just to see what happens!  How many artists would be willing to saw their work in half and then deal with the results!

Paul Garland composition at University Gallery

Walk in to the University Gallery to see a diverse collection of artworks, sculpture and assemblage. These eighteen artists -- many of whom have been friends for  almost fifty years make up a core of creativity and they have brought so much to the Rochester region.  A few, like Judd and Julie Williams have passed away, so it is touching to be reminded of their accomplishments.  I have met many of these folks and have enjoyed their artwork in numerous shows.  I share an office with Luvon Sheppard who is one of the honorees here being celebrated in this exhibition.  Kudos to Luvon!

Walls of art, part of "Renewable Futures"

Lawrence "Judd" Williams ( 1934-2018 )

Each one of the eighteen artists has had some influence on the younger generation coming up.  When you survey this show you realize that there is not set direction that these artists have taken.  Portraits are on view, abstracts, collage, carved and assembled and welded sculpture is on hand.  There is no governing style to these diverse artworks - it is all the energy of the 1960s that is in the spotlight. During the opening I had a chance to talk with several of the artists including Tarrant Clements ( below ) who is fascinating as an artist with a particular brand of sophisticated humor that she brings to her work.

Tarrant Clements

One of the many artworks on view by John Kastner addresses a current topic,  and that is the prevalence of plastic waste products  that he finds when out and about.  His large assemblage comes plugged in with flashing lights and other warning signs - the work itself includes pieces of plastic and details and comments that are right up-to-date.

Assemblage by John Kastner

John Kastner has illustrated several children's books, and he has a rare wit and an eye for the comic and dramatic gesture.  He also is showing some very delicate drawings like the striking portrait seen below.

Portrait by John Kastner

Kathy Calderwood also has her art featured in a book which you can purchase at the front desk.  We stopped to chat at the opening and it was great to see her paintings once again in this show.  Her work often includes some verbal dialog, and her paintings can almost be read like a rebus.  

Kathy Calderwood at the University Gallery

Visual Art can create a dialog about place and space!

Rooted in the 1960s the art that blooms could be seen against a backdrop of social upheaval, and yet there is a promise of better things to come...  "Renewable Futures" allows a visitor to consider  the contribution that this group of eighteen artists has made to our community, and it is quite considerable, and it provides one of many reasons to value what we have to offer  as part of the fabric of our culture here in western New York!

Renewable Futures
University Gallery, R.I.T.
thru August 10, 2019 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Exhibition Hours

Alan Singer: "Electrical Storm" gouache on canvas
in the new
66th Finger Lakes Juried Exhibition
Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY

Thank you for all the nice compliments I have received for my painting ( above ) in the recently opened 66th Finger Lakes show.  Yes, I missed the opening because I was in Pennsylvania at an exhibition of my father's artwork that I co-curated with my brother, Paul Singer.  Sorry to have not seen and talked with all the friends and other artists who were part of this grand exhibition that is held at regular intervals over the years.

Painting by David Hockney of the Grand Canyon

Actually, I have not been in the Memorial Art Gallery for a while, so walking around I found some really exciting developments.  The David Hockney painting of the Grand Canyon was a surprise - especially because it is in a gallery with some classic ( and much older ) American landscapes, so it really stands out ( all of that red! ).  But I like the attitude.

New Wall murals by FUA Krew

When you walk down the hall where the Sarah C. Rutherford portraits were painted, we now have extravagant graffiti which must be a first for any local museum to reserve space for artists of this genre.  Yes, I have seen many photos of this sort of mark making and a lot of the real thing on the subways of New York City ( Thank you TAKI 183 ! ), but to  see this jazzy stuff along the hall really could change some minds about the outreach the museum is undertaking.

Peter Fischli & David Weiss: their film " The Way Things Go"

Take the time to sit and watch "The Way Things Go" in the media lab.  It is a kind of Rube Goldberg process when one thing hits another and sets off a chain reaction.  Reminds me of the viral videos for the music group OK Go that I saw at the Bridges Conference in Canada a couple of summers ago.

Photo courtesy of The Memorial Art Gallery
Greeting  visitors to the show

Once inside the 66th Finger Lakes Juried Exhibition I found myself looking over artwork from a wide variety of working artists, and even some who might describe themselves first as scientists or crafts people.  The juror for this show is Marilyn Zapf  ( any relation to the type designer Herman Zapf? ) .  She chose a selection from 62 artists many of whom I have seen before,  and there are always a few surprises in store!  A visitor can cast a vote for their favorite before they leave.

Susan D'Amato " Taxonomy of Air"

A trend it seems in some contemporary art presents a kind of obsessive compulsive behavior like the presentation by Susan D'Amato from her series of Ten Thousand Things, which was similar in some respect to Cory Card's drawings of dust particles that won an award across the room.  Cory Card's artwork here is like a fresh kind of neo-dada experience.

Jeanne Beck's " Book of Longings"

A wall hanging from Jeanne Beck is just gorgeous with hanging chains and gold papers that could flutter in a breeze takes me back to paintings of Gustav Klimt and Vienna.  Directly across  from that are two artworks from Werner Sun whom I had the chance to meet in Ithaca when we had the opening of my printmaking show which will be coming soon to Rochester, at the new RIT City Art Space.

Joseph Accorso's painting of the "High Falls Spring Runoff"

There is a diverse approach by contemporary painters,and in this show there are a few pieces that approach traditional  renderings of what we can see around us, notably the painting of High Falls by Joseph Accorso.  There are several standout works that are dimensional and Lee Hoag's work would be among them.  He invents what look to be  utilitarian objects that have yet to be discovered - and as  technology impacts our lives - so does art.

Lee Hoag and "Late Shift", 2018

I was glad to see that Colleen Buzzard's piece was given an award.  Having just been in her studio within the last month, she is doing something with drawing, sculpture, and light that is very engaging.
I urge you to go see this new exhibition, because a delicate piece like Colleen's does not reproduce well - you have to see the real thing!

Colleen Buzzard"s "Hard Merge From Left"

Our Print Club of Rochester is lead in part by Katharine Baca-Bielinis and she has a fine print in this show which should not get over-looked.  It is telling that the juror's taste comes out in the present exhibition, and it is not based on the trendiest color or material.  Come and enjoy the show, and before you leave, stop in to find the Lockhart Gallery show that is on now ( 1969 Turns 50 ) and enjoy the collection there that includes the well-known like Andy Warhol, and the artists that will be better known like Warren Colescott  ( 1921-2018 ).

Lockhart Gallery presents: "1969 Turns 50 "

Warren Colescott  ( 1921 - 2018 )

The Memorial Art Gallery is undergoing a period of renewal.  There are many reasons to come out and look at what is happening in the arts, especially now when there is so much political turbulence in our country.  It is a good time to find some peace and a way to contemplate what artists have to add to our daily lives.  It is just like what the bumper sticker says: EARTH without ART is just EH....

Wendell Castle and Kathy Calderwood
The Memorial Art Gallery
500 University Avenue, Rochester, NY