Friday, March 15, 2019

Spirited




Cheemah

March 11, 2019  Oakland, California

Down by Jack London Square there is a bold monument of a young woman holding a torch perhaps riding alongside an eagle, and this sculpture is called "Cheemah, Mother of the Spirit Fire..  She points the way and  is installed right by the entrance to a weekend farmer's market and I was surprised to observe that no one stopped to look - she is taken for granted - maybe even ignored!
This is the problem for visual art - in order to be regarded - the art has to grab your attention which gets harder when everyone has their eyes on  their cell phones.

Cheemah is a kind of a symbol, and because the work of art represents a powerful woman figure it becomes an illustration of leadership by example, something we really need in our lives right now given the national political situation.



Henry Raschen ( 1854-1937
"California Miner With a Pack Horse", oil on canvas, 1887

We are on break now and on my way to California I am reading a book called 1491 by Charles C. Mann that outlines what was going on here in the Americas before ( and during ) the period of European exploration ( and exploitation ).  Charles C. Mann attempts to sketch out who did what to whom - how the West was won - and it is not a pretty picture.  The "New World" held out so much promise!  But perhaps several million people lived in North and South America, and over a few decades they would be ravaged by disease that came off the boats  of the explorers.



California Gold by Nathaniel Currier

The explorers came looking for treasure and they found it in America.  In the Oakland Museum of Art just a few blocks away from Jack London Square, I saw a unique work on paper ( above ) where a man sits under an open umbrella that is planted on a hill of gold which in turn is being  towed out to sea by a spouting Sperm Whale.  California in the past did have its Gold Rush, but todays bounty may be found in the acres of oranges grown along the highways, or the high tech firms of Silicon Valley.


Orange groves in Central Valley with snow-covered High Sierra in the distance

At the Oakland Museum of Art I was introduced to several large scale works like the bulky ceramic sculpture by Peter Voulkos ( 1924 - 2002 ) called "Solano" made in 1959.  The  label explains that Voulkos had a wish - he regarded the mythical aspect of breaking through the old traditions of art.  I have high respect for those artists who take those chances, and for Peter Voulkos he developed an entirely different way for a potter or ceramic artist to cultivate a career.


Peter Voulkos'  Solano


The museum experience should include some surprises and I found one by Carlos Villa  ( 1936-2013 ) near the entrance - a painting by an artist I had not known of and his acrylic painting had some movement implied, and interesting color application  ( air brush ) and dimension.



Acrylic painting by Carlos Villa

We headed out into the daylight and drove south and then east towards the parks along the high Sierra Mountains.  We could see them from many miles away - snowy peaks shimmered in the sun, and we looked forward to going out of the city and into the fresh air.  Staying at Three Rivers, CA,  we went into parks and enjoyed the changing views of big sky country.


Kaweah River  creates a lake in California

We packed a lot of activity into a short period of time.  We drove thru the Central Vallery, towards Los Angeles and then on to fly out of Palm Springs.  Our short vacation comes to an end but we can rest a while and absorb some sun rays as we wait for our departure.



Palm Springs, March 2019










Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sentinel West




General Sherman
Sequoia National Park, California


Meet General Sherman!  On a "must see" list, I can introduce you today to the world's largest tree!

Not the oldest, nor the tallest tree ( which resides many miles up north of here ).  We met General Sherman on March 12th up in the Sierra Mountains where Sequoia National Park is located.  Let me tell you that everything you have ever heard about giant sequoias is dwarfed by the REAL thing!

To get up the mountain we had to try three times - who knew that these trees were in the snow?? - and we were told that we would need chains for our tires so we turned around and went down the mountain.  The next morning we found a tire chain rental place and learned how to put them on, and back up the hills we went.  When we got to the level where it becomes mandatory to have the chains on ( 7000 feet above sea level ) we found that the chains we rented were too small!  Back down again... our frustration mounting!  Finally,  found a place that had chains for our tire size, and we roared back up the mountains.  The only way to get around in the Sierras - you need snow tires and a four wheel drive vehicle..


Anna Sears presents General Sherman


When I was practicing my botanical art for the National Geographic Book Division, I did some illustrations of the Sequoia, but I had never seen the giants in person ( in the 1980s they did have a sequoia in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden - maybe twenty five feet tall which  I used as a model)



The neighborhood is in Oakland, California

To backtrack a bit for my readers, we have flown out west for a break; to visit family, and to see the sites.  We started out from Oakland, California where my son is building his first house.  His wife is expecting their second child, and we all got in the car  to drive over to the Oakland Museum of Art which overlooks a reservoir on Park Boulevard.


Family outing Oakland Museum of Art


Ceramic by Viola Frey

When you walk upstairs to the museum you are greeted by a larger-than-life ceramic figure created by Viola Frey - who if I recall correctly was represented in New York City by Nancy Hoffman.  I have to say,  that once inside the Oakland Museum - it works very well for young children - if you have a family.  My grandson was very entertained by many of the installations and he is not quite two years old!



Painting by Bay Area painter, David Park


Looking around the museum you see right away that the layout is not chronological - but rather there are pockets of artwork for various eras.  A good space is open for the Bay Area painters, so we have David Park, and Richard Diebenkorn for example.  There are some interesting abstracts on view, and other areas devoted to things like scale models and dioramas.

Towards  the back of the exhibition space there is a hall that features dinosaur bones, and painted charts of where to find hoards of great fossils ( hint: around Bakersfield !)   The museum has documentary photos, and a wide variety of craft items on view, some very startling...



Crowd Pleaser in Oakland


Saying goodbye to family, we left Oakland and headed for the hills - and in between got a wide view of California's Central Valley which really is the breadbasket for our nation.  So many rows of blooming trees - we forgot that it is early spring here, since when we left Rochester, New York we still had many inches of  snow on our lawn.



Dry Creek Road near Three Rivers, California


I did have a chance to drive through ranch land, and found a sea of California Poppies blooming away on the hillside.  Such a warmth of color out there!  You have to see it for yourself!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Likeness




The artist Sunyoung Kwon
at
Joy Gallery 
498 1/2 West Main Street
Rochester, New York


At the Joy Gallery,  in the heart of Rochester, New York, there is a new presentation by artist Sunyoung Kwon who studied as a grad student at Rochester Institute of Technology over twenty years ago.  Sunyoung recently came back to RIT to give Luvon Sheppard's class some tips on watercolor painting and life lessons as an artist.  She keeps her artwork on a small scale, perhaps to make it more portable, and she often paints these small portraits of people she knows and along with the brushwork she adds a little sentence or at most a paragraph about the person she portrays.



Ms. Kwon's portraits at Joy Gallery

Sunyoung told me that she now has hundreds of these miniature portraits and this is the first time I have seen this portion of her collection.  She concentrates on the face, often giving her subject some emotional sensibility that you can feel in the painting to which she adds her writing which is often matter-of-fact.  She has painted her friends and mentors and I found a portrait of Luvon, and then one of David Dickinson who was the one who originally hired me to teach at RIT.  There was even a little portrait of me in  this show, and then Sunyoung came over to show me the reference photo she had taken of me when I was younger and I was still wearing the same winter coat that I had on then, when that photo was made so long ago!



Sunyoung Kwon watercolor portraits

This is the kind of exhibition where you can spend a fair amount of time looking and reading the stories.  All of the paintings are presented flat - on a table for you to see up close, and up a few stairs on the next level at the gallery there is a video presentation that gives you a stop-action story of her technique.  You can watch her painting quickly develop, and this answers in part that question that comes along with her art - How did she do it?

Before the evening was over I wandered back over to the Axom Gallery to see their new show, which features many paintings by the artist Lin Price.  The art is bold, even though the size is modest.  Maybe the largest painting is set above the couch in the main room ( it features some big  steamer boats perhaps on one of the Great Lakes).


The artist Lin Price at Axom Gallery
Rochester, New York

Talking with the artist she made a remark about the pacing of the show and pointed to a series of smaller works that alternate between a direct sort of realism and a more poetic approach to representations.  The people that you find in her paintings are often surrounded by wide open spaces suffused with color and texture.  She speaks of the memories she had painting some of these scenes  which often portray experiences that can be thought of as very symbolic like the painting below - which  she calls " River".  A person bends over on a little driveway in the middle of a hot orange sea of color to look in a little mailbox- there on a post.  It could be a dream, as their horse runs away...


Lin Price " River" at Axom Gallery

In the artist statement she writes about her paintings which represent fleeting moments of contemplation.  Themes that rise from her paintings are experiences of desire, regret and joy...
I think when you see them you will have your own ideas, some may be funny, while some paintings are puzzles for you to try and figure out.


Lin Price at Axom Gallery


Lin Price





Rising Stars



Above: Art by Dongyi Wu
Below: portrait of Dongyi Wu



Nice to meet and get to know some of the many new faces in the art world, which is now so diverse!  Also good to see one of our students from Rochester Institute of Technology pictured above, who has created beautiful artwork -and is beginning to be recognized for her contribution!  The online magazine called ACS ( out of Chicago ) has just published a lengthy interview with Dongyi Wu and featured her sculpture  and wearable art in their new issue.  You can read about it - and here is the link:https://www.acs-mag.com/acsmagjanfeb2019?fbclid=IwAR1WdA_nQhFxE0U5hPEL0Z140yl6t8GujZJJ_N5KPpHjqkznLK01ZVZpgMY 



Just Opened: Just Folks
at RIT CITY Art Space
Rochester, New York

Out for Friday, Galleries Night, I am just part of the big crowd at the show called: "Just Folks", and what a show it is!  This is the brainchild of Erich Lehman and the exhibition celebrates some of the artists associated with Wall/Therapy and Erich's 1975 Gallery ( which I really miss! ).  Here is Erich  enjoying the sense of a large family gathered together to talk art and other things.  This city needs this kind of energy, and the art is not too bad either!



Erich Lehman at the opening of "Just Folks"

Erich has been a guest speaker in my class where we talk about the business of art, and his activity as a gallerist, and also as a promoter for Wall/Therapy - among other things, he has been an essential part of the art scene here in Rochester.  He is able to get the youth motivated to come out and contribute to the cultural scene and provides a nexus of energy and determination through his efforts. Some of the striking examples of this movement can be seen on the gallery walls.  A dramatic painting by Sarah C. Rutherford is just one part of a larger statement that she is making with her new television special "Her Voice Carries" soon to be seen over the PBS Broadcasting system.



A huntress by Sarah C. Rutherford

I wonder how the young artists that I see featured in this show deal with the new realities.  Do I see some of this reaction in the little painting here called: "Daily Damage Report"?  The arts are going through a period where there are so many directions to take, how does one follow it at all?  Luckily this is also a very democratic moment, and  if you have the skill and the stamina, you can make a statement.


Dan Pendleton's  "Daily Damage Report"

I know from talking with Erich that he got started on this road to the art gallery by being a collector. He also has this renegade spirit that comes from the art that he saw and made for the roller boards that skaters created to give their boards personality.  So it was a bit of surprise to find surfboards in the show and why were they parked in a little corner?  Since a surfboard has a real dimension to it  why not feature that?  There is also some relationship to the tattoo artist in some of the work featured in "Just Folks", and I can imagine making  a bigger point being made for that.




Art by Mike Ming



Art by Sarah Blood at "Just Folks"
RIT CITY Art Space


There is so much to see in this exhibition and there is a convenient list to look at for the titles and prices.  Looking over the list there is a real surprise to see how much each artist is asking for their work.  Some of these talented artists whose work I have seen before are really maturing and getting better.  I found some beautiful portraits, and wonderful abstraction at this show - so you must go and see it!


Portraits by Brittany Williams


Abstraction by St. Monci
at RIT City Art Space
March 1 - 23, 2019





Monday, February 25, 2019

Local Color




A Maze, wall mural at R.I.T. Booth Building 7A

This is what it is like starting out in a field as diverse as the visual arts, what are all the turns to expect as you make your way ahead?  Before I get to sleep at night I think about how lucky we are to be here now, to experience all of the varied influences and make a contribution to our community!  I can reflect on the last few weeks and thank all the people who came out to the Axom Gallery to see my artwork.


Axom Gallery door Poster is a Welcome 
to all who ventured out in the cold!


I am grateful to Rick Muto, Robin Muto and Margot Muto for getting me involved in showing my artwork here in Rochester, New York.  The paintings and prints I have been making over the past four or five years looked so good in their gallery environment - I was really pleased to see it presented in this way.  The Axom Gallery is a room on the second floor of the Muto's loft space - and it has a living room atmosphere with sofas and chairs, glassware and floor coverings - all part of the interior design business that they run out of the same address.

Also I want to thank Rebecca Rafferty of CITY Newspaper tor taking the time to come and see my exhibition and then spend her time writing a very informative review which you can read here: https://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/review-alan-singers-shapely-at-axom/Content?oid=9576231


Alan Singer's "Transformation" a 
transfer monotype, 2018

Now, after my show has closed I can move onto the next chapter, which includes more exhibitions and some travel time.  The monotype above will be part of the yearly theme show at the Oxford Gallery in the spring.  Another exhibition I am involved with is one I am curating: Process & Purpose, 2019.  This is a printmaker's invitational which will have two venues:  Corners Gallery in Ithaca and the new RIT City Art Space later in the spring and summer.

We plan to travel to California for my mid-semester break, so don't be surprised if I write my next blog from the west coast!  In the meantime I am looking forward to  a new show called "Just Folks" which will feature artists associated with Erich Lehman and Wall/Therapy.  That show will also be presented opening March 1st at the RIT City Art Space.

Here in Rochester we also stopped in to see a show of small scale pastel drawings that were presented  in the cafe of the Little Theatre.



Group Show of pastel drawings at Little Theatre


"Georgia On My Mind"
The first place winner
S.Zefting-Kuhn


The lighting for this group show left something to be desired, but the show was very welcome especially because we had just stepped out from seeing the movie Capernaum which was quite a stirring affair.

Now I am back in my studio looking out over the train tracks and thinking about what comes next.  Stay tuned, and I will have more to report this coming season, thank you.



View from The Hungerford Building



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Renewal




Poster at the entrance to Axom Gallery
Rochester, New York

About the time I was putting the finishing touches on my own show at Axom Gallery here in Rochester, I went out to check on some of my R.I.T. colleagues who now have their own exhibitions in our area.  I have worked with these people that I write about here, usually as an advisor or instructor at R.I.T., but in most cases as I have watched them work it is I who have learned from them, and continue to do so.



Highland Park 

It has been cold and snowy, and I found my way up to Highland park to check out one of my favorite views.  It is remarkable how I can find so many similarities in the real world when I compare these views to the abstraction in my paintings, like the snow scene here, and my painting I call "Electrical Storm" at the top of this post.

I walked over on cold winter night to the opening of "A Day's Gonna Come" - which is a two person show for Jacquelyn O'Brien and Zach Dietl, now on view at the new RIT City Art Space.  This show is on until February 23rd, and it features new sculpture and prints by these young artists who are beginning to speak in an artistic  language of their own.


Jacquelyn O'Brien
"A Day's Gonna Come"
at RIT City Art Space

Actually, Jacquelyn's work is an evolution for the kinds of sculpture she was making while still a grad student a few years ago at R.I.T.  Her art has a penchant for declaring it's own weight, and she has a flair for pink.  Her art expresses a kind of pressure that one might have seen in the art of Robert Gober from twenty years ago.  That pressure her sculpture exhibits, I equate with a social anxiety, and it certainly has to do with weights and measures.



Jacquelyn O'Brien at City Art Space

I was glad to read in a fine printed brochure that accompanies this show that Jacquelyn has won awards for her work, because it is certainly memorable.  I think her large sculpture with dangling cement cylinders is like some sort of arcane musical instrument that has the potential to ring out with a thud by crushing that furry thing underneath.



Jacquelyn O'Brien "Weights"

I have a tendency - thinking about a psychological diagram when I am looking at these sculptural and conceptual works, and I also think about the title for this show "A Day's Gonna Come" - and what that may mean in regard to this work.  Like Louise Bourgeois, we may be regarding this work in the future like a trend setter, so we will see.....


RIT City Art Space features work by Zach Dietl

In Zach Dietl's sculptural art there is a certain matter-of-factness that may cause one to think of the rigging of ships and other historical associations.  Some of Zach's artwork has a light humor to it - modern jazz effect of a few squeaky squawky notes in an otherwise solid performance like tooth picks sticking out of a wood beam.


Cory 
Card
with 
"Sweepings"
at 
ROCO


Down the block at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, I walk back to a room to see some intimate drawings by Cory Card.  Cory also has a droll sense of humor and his suite of drawings called: "Sweepings" include very sensitive renderings (in graphite) of materials that we often overlook or just vacuum up.  These drawings are hard to characterize, but they are, or almost could be,  mere shadows.

Very meditative... and curious!







Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Nature of Change




"Landscape and the Unbuilt"
at Rochester Contemporary Art Center
137 East Avenue
Rochester, NY

Of course we are not alone, but our species inflicts un-natural change on our environment - something to think about as we go through periods of difficult climate.  What can be done about it?  What can I do about it?  While I contemplate this and walk up East Avenue to Rochester Contemporary Art Center, I anticipate a show that will engage me in the local situation and I feel the impact immediately at a well-attended opening for the show: "Landscape and the Unbuilt".



Totem by Patti Russotti

The group of artists in this large and textured show have been charged with finding visual stories to tell about this place we call home, and that can start with a look at a map and maybe a journal entry or memories of a hike or two in places like Corbett's Glen, or other properties managed by the Genesee Land Trust.  Patti Russotti in her display tells the viewer about what she found there in the Glen - trees of great height almost 150 years old - only a few hundred yards away from the mainline of the railroad that passes through this area.



Phyllis Bryce Ely - her focus is on the landscape
at ROCO


I said my congratulations to Gay Mills, the Executive Director of the Genesee Land Trust at this exhibition - her organization is responsible for the stewardship of many properties with a mission to protect the wilds and conserve the habitat.  Think of what this can accomplish when you have a drink of the fresh water that serves our community, or consider what our region would be without the habitat for wildlife among other things.



Nate Hodge painting and bookshelves and nature guides

Rochester based artists are featured in this exhibition and the art that each of these creative individuals puts on display is augmented with a map of an area that is their focus.  This is bringing the art of landscape into a new and different concern - more than just a pretty painting over the couch - hopefully this show creates an active agency to help us think about conservation and construction more wisely.  Your involvement could start with a visit to this show.



Jean K. Stephens graphite drawing

We are moving away from the romantic view of the landscape especially with harsh news of wildfires and frigid conditions here in the USA.  Citizens need to unite and urge caution and thoughtful development of our natural resources.  In the present show there are reminders of the past through the art of Aaron Delehanty ( he misspells John James Audubon throughout ) reworking well known prints of this 19th century pioneer.  Also there is the sculptural presence of a falconer from the Middle East to throw us back in time.


Aaron Delehanty studies Audubon


The ancient art of Falconry

Jennifer Schinzing presents the facts as best she can through the art of taxidermy.  She found road kill, animals that met with accidents, and she presents them in their little glass coffins.  I am not sure that this is a hopeful sign, just something that we all face - the reality of our own mortality as living beings.



Jennifer Schinzing presents her taxidermy at ROCO

Each of the featured artists writes a short testimonial to their own involvement with nature, and the artists also focus on particular areas of concern.  Perhaps it is a trail, like the El Camino that George Wegman selects that runs through our town, or maybe it is farmland that is celebrated in the peaceful artwork by Andrea Durfee that greets you at the door.  On my way out of the show I stop to admire the drawings by Bill Stephens who manages to convey the ongoing mystery of nature and one way of approaching the amazing complexity of life.


Bill Stephens drawings at ROCO


George Wegman on the El Camino Trail
in
Landscapes and the Unbuilt
at
ROCO