Sunday, January 20, 2019

You Have To Be There

Mary Gabriel's new book 
published by Little Brown
"Ninth Street Women"

"Ninth Street Women" is a great read and a new big book by Mary Gabriel.  It is big in many ways, but first and foremost it is a story that needs to be told setting the stage for what is to come.  Women in the arts from my point of view have never been given the attention or the credit that they deserve.  I have been involved in the visual arts all my life, and this is what I have observed.  Our culture musters some support for the visual arts, but the women who stimulate the field and have been practitioners alongside men have been over-looked - now and in the past.  This new book attempts to play catch up, by telling women's stories, and giving us a profile of five painters from the mid 20th century.

Helen Frankenthaler ( above and below )

This is particularly important because there is a large constituent portion of artists I know who are women; they play major roles in the gallery and museum world too but the majority of attention has gone to the men involved.  This bias began to change back in the 1970s when feminism started to take hold in the U.S. and it was certainly strong in Ithaca, New York when I was a painting student in grad school at Cornell University.

"Ninth Street Women"  takes me back to the 1950s when my parents ( who were both artists ) took me around to art galleries in the Village (NYC ).  Later when I was in college at Cooper Union, I lived on east 11th Street so I knew the physical layout of the city, and I was living right there where everything happened.  My next door neighbor was Dore Ashton, an art historian who wrote a lot about the action of women in the arts.  Dore Ashton brought Helen Frankenthaler to speak to students in my class.  I also met many of the people who Gabriel quotes in this book.  As far as I am concerned her book is a must read.  She writes in a descriptive fashion that takes you into the lives of Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler - and these five women helped change the course of modern art.

I went out to roam the city and see the shows of these five women, and I also had the chance to hear from them in person, and that is important.  Seeing artists do their thing- talking about what they love - that is happening here in Rochester too.  Just this past Friday night at the new RIT City Art Space there was a wonderful talk with Leonard Urso and Willie Osterman.  John Aasp introduced them and just to hear their stories behind their art was a thrill.  This is the last week of their show "Emergence", the evening was cold, but there was a large turnout.

Left to right - Leonard Urso, Willie Osterman, and John Aasp

Willie Osterman and Len Urso

It was a very cold evening when I had my own opening this past Saturday at Axom Gallery.  I plan to give an artist talk in dialog with artist Rebecca Aloisio and that will take place in the Axom Gallery during the afternoon of February 9th from 3-5 pm, so come on over if you are in town.  Here is a link to the gallery:

"Shapely" by Alan Singer at Axom Gallery
176 Anderson Avenue, 2nd floor, Rochester, NY

Finally, I want to urge you to see the show happening now at the University Gallery in Booth Building at R.I.T. = see the packed show of posters and graphic designs from Abram Games. I remember this work from many years ago and there is so much to say about this era of design from a time when I was growing up.  These posters were part of the culture we lived in from the 1950s through the 1970s and it is fitting that they found a place to exhibit them in the Vignelli Design Center.  Below is a fine example from Abram Games.

Abram Games at University Gallery
Booth Building on the campus of R.I.T.