Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Good Impression

 



Alan Singer is drawing the Hibiscus at home now....

I am celebrating the end of a season as we usher in the fall.  I painted portraits of flowers on cool days just enjoying working outdoors studying nature.  This is peaceful and meaningful for me and it is good practice!  I have been painting flowers it seems for over 30 years and I never tire of the challenge to make them come alive on my paper.

Swirls of thunderstorms in our area and a dramatic sky settles down for the evening after we drove home from the Central Library in downtown Rochester, New York.  We all went to view an exhibition called: "The Art of the Book & Paper" which is the 11th Annual Juried International show of artist's books.  What is an artist book you ask?  I found out years ago when I signed up for a class given by Nina Tovish at the Visual Studies Workshop established years ago by Nathan Lyons on University Avenue.



Artist Books at the Central Library, Rochester, New York

Artist Books are often created through the impulse to do something different, maybe something unique. In my case I was printing, stitching and binding my own book from pages of hand made paper in the printmaking studio using a method called cyanotype - which gives you a kind of blueprint.  Cyanotype is a darkroom process related to making photographic prints from negatives that you might have done many years ago.  I had a one-of-a-kind  result which I have kept to this day!

At the Anthony Mascioli Gallery in the Central Public Library we found a display of award winning artist's books  which represents the work of a number of highly creative people from here and abroad.  The books and works of sculpted paper were made using a variety of techniques.


Barbara Page and her Artist book won Best of Show


The printed Book Marks by Barbara Page


Barbara Page, our friend from graduate school days at Cornell University has won Best of Show for her interesting "Book Marks" project which takes an old-fashioned catalog box filled with cards for  memorable books  - each one inscribed by Barbara with her art and all of them are compiled in a printed book as well.  So you can read what she has to say and look at the images she makes,  and it is just  a fun and mighty big project to take in.

Barbara Page is also an aviator as well as a visual artist and she has made many paintings that resemble maps of the territory she has flown over.  Here in Rochester, I have seen the work she has completed at The Oxford Gallery.

 

Ben Rubin's layout for a publication

I had a chat with Ben Rubin at the exhibition and I was pleased to see his work on display at The Library.  Ben had been a student at R.I.T. when we first met and this was years ago when he was starting  in on creating his own Zines.  I like his roaming intellect and the sketches he incorporates for each page.



Opus by Kristine Bouyoucos

Other artists from our area include Kristine Bouyoucos who is showing her Opus,which includes colorful prints in an accordion style book open in a display case.  In this gallery there are also a number of dimensional works that are engaging in a different way - you don't read them



so much as just experience them!  This is a cabinet of wonders as you go through the exhibit you can be deeply engaged ( but don't touch the art! ).  Below is IMan by Robert Marvin in what is a kind of graphic novel...


Iman, by Robert Marvin

The judges must have had a lot of time to go over all the entries, and pick out the winners.  In the Central Library there is a bit of information about each of the judges for this International.  You have to thank Gerald Mead, Diane Bond and Rachael Gootnick.  Rachael was there is a dress covered in book images and she has a studio in the Hungerford Building.  #Just Terrific


3 Judges for Artist Books









Monday, August 15, 2022

Like No Other

 

Paul Garland's "Intuitive Progression"
at
The Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York

It should come as no surprise that we are tired of this Covid Pandemic, and it has kept people across the globe down and taken the lives of many.  In our family we have lost a cousin to the virus, and my family has been careful but we have not been spared.  As a result I haven't written as much as I would like to and certainly my dilemma has been about going to art openings and gallery affairs.  I just don't feel I can jeopardize my future!  Still, I miss the art scene, and I am taking precautions....

I am happy to report that this week I did get to see some exhibits at The Memorial Art Gallery.  On a bright sunny day in August I went to look at art from the Ubuhle Women to the paintings of Paul Garland and it is worth the time and effort to get there.  


Beadwork by Ubuhle Women straight from Africa to you in Rochester, New York

I can't imagine the kind of patience you would need to do the beadwork on view now at The MAG!  This show is like no other that I have seen here, and it is so refreshing to find a branch of the art world that  has escaped notice locally ( until now! ).  Are these compositions planned out in advance or are they made up as they go along?  Trying to do something like this big bull would be impossible if you didn't think it through and plan on how to make the image come together.



Zondlile Zondo, The Red Bull - glass beads sewn onto fabric

I read in the descriptive wall text that Ubuhle means "beauty" in the Xhosa and Zulu language of Southern Africa.  There the women have a long tradition of bead art and here we can see some wonderful examples.


"Flowers for the Gods", 2012 
Glass beads sewn onto fabric


Zondolile Zondo, glass bead work for "My Mother's Peach Tree"

Down the hall at The Memorial Art Gallery a new show has been mounted  for the artist Paul Garland called: "Intuitive Progression".  I knew of his paintings early on in my career here in Rochester because the paintings were presented in the gallery that Rochester Institute of Technology had opened downtown and this was many years ago!  As you will see if you visit this museum, Paul Garland has had over 50 years of experience to build on as a painter and fine artist who has also been a teacher in Oswego.


Paul Garland at The Memorial Art Gallery

Since that early show I have seen many more of Paul Garland's paintings  most recently at the Axom Gallery before they moved into their new location in the South Wedge.  From that experience I realized that Paul Garland and I share many  interests.  I found  the current show "Intuitive Progression" to be well chosen to represent his work, and I thought that this is important for the MAG staff to present this work of a local art professional.  We need to see this and support their efforts.

There is a wonderful painting that Paul built called "Open Borders" which stands out to me in that it is a kind of sculptural take on what paintings can do, and it has a freedom and intelligent point of view that can inspire the visitor. 


Paul Garland's "Open Borders", 2020 acrylic on MDF

So on my way out of the main gallery I stopped  to look at a wonderful little portrait that you see below:


Unique Fair-Smith at 
The Memorial Art Gallery

I am proud to say that Mr. Fair Smith was one of my students at R.I.T. and his portrait here stands out for the color and detail, but also because the fellow he portrays comes alive for the viewer.  It is a fine experience to see this artist do his thing so successfully here - just a few years after graduation..  There is a lot to look forward to, and these shows at The MAG have brought me a new sense of hope and joy!























Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Joy To Behold

 


Iris portrait by Alan Singer in watercolor , June 2022


Our jet plane landed safely after the quickest, smoothest flight from San Francisco and then we came into  Newark, New Jersey on the way to our last stop closer to home in Rochester, New York.  The flight was PACKED and so was the airport in New Jersey. But we had quality time with our family in Oakland, and now we are back on home turf.  Amazing how much our garden has changed over our short trip to California!

I got right down to work the day after painting portraits of the iris flowers in our garden on the most glorious days due to cool weather temperatures and lots of sunshine.  At first I was a bit rusty but I did work up some fine watercolors that I am satisfied with.

This violet iris presents a problem because the paints I use aren't as vibrant as the flowers in front of me!  There are cool blue violets here and warm red violets in these flowers which can create the sense of dimension that is a challenge to articulate.  So,  I give it a chance and make three or four good ones I can keep.



Kerina Mangiaracina at JOY GALLERY
West Main Street, Rochester, New York

After my painting session at home I travel to downtown Rochester to find the Joy Gallery on West Main Street.  My colleague, Luvon Sheppard has opened his gallery for a showing by Kerina Mangiaracina.  She was one of our students a few years back at Rochester Institute of Technology and we are proud of the fact that she has many new works on display in this solo show.


Kerina calls her show "Connections" and this is her print at Joy Gallery - see it this weekend!

Kerina had studied figure drawing with me back at R.I.T. but there are few figures in her new work and in fact most of the large scale paintings have an abstract quality that hits you first and some have a rigorous geometry which I later found out relates to the grid of city blocks in New York City.  There are works which have a set of whirling circles she calls: ""Dirty Dishes".  Paintings on canvas express a great deal of energy and vitality,  while the title takes a cue from the ever present duties of being a parent who has to clean up after the kids.


"Dirty Dishes", oil on canvas

Ms. Mangiaracina writes an artist statement that gives the viewer her perspective on how art and life can co-exist, especially when you would like to be painting or printmaking but you have to take care of the kids and be able to pay the rent.   In her show she has a big broom and a pile of dishes on the floor as an installation that comments on the fragility of common household items and the fragile state of affairs that can accompany the life of an artist.



Installation by Karina Magiaracina
at
JOY GALLERY
498 West Main Street, Rochester, New York

You will enjoy the variety of artworks she has produced, and they make you think a while about the symbols she employs and the various materials she uses to get your reaction.  Go take a look for yourself and see what you think!






Friday, May 20, 2022

Our Best Western

 


California's State Flower, the California poppy

Berkeley Botanic Gardens


We are spending some time this spring in Oakland, California for a real change of scene, and we need to re-connect with family and see their new house!  To visit with our son, his wife and our grandchildren, we fly out  and land  in the Bay Area and  migrate to the BushRod neighborhood where our family has put down new roots.....


Bay Area view from Old Rose Garden

In the Hills above Berkeley is a wonderful Botanic Garden which we visit on a glorious  spring day and it is truly a feast for the eyes!  Along with the  California poppies ( above ) , we found Bottle Brush and Redwood Trees which soared over our heads.  This is a great way to do some sightseeing as there is a terrific view of the Bay right from the Old Rose Garden up a narrow path.  I took a side trip to visit the Herb Garden and it just smells wonderful with Mandarin Orange tree in bloom and and a patch of Rosa Rugosa that was Lucious.  Stop by the Japanese Pool for a look at the Iris plants and all in all a most satisfying experience.


Forest Stearns and his creations in quantum computer land

The next day we are heading to Emeryville and the waterfront, but before we do our son Nate, introduces us to Forest Stearns who is an artist that lives just down the street, and he is AWESOME!  He graciously shows us his  basement studio with  artworks underway that  boggle the mind…really!  He is working on a project that helps portray the quantum computers being engineered in a facility that would make  every techie green with envy.  Forest has given TED talks so he knows how to communicate his love for art and science, and I told him that we speak the same language ( though I haven’t gotten into the realm of Quantum mechanics ). Forest  as an artist has put his paintings and illustrations out there in space on satellites, and down home in California on  quantum computers. He really bridges the gaps between science and art. Check him out at Draw Everywhere Studios...




Kings River Canyon by William Keith


Another day we spent some time at the Oakland Museum, which really is on more than one level.  In fact there is a Natural Science floor which will remind you of the Museum of Natural History with dioramas and interesting graphics that dig deep into science, and the history of the terrain we were standing in.

 

The Oakland Art Museum is a place we have visited before and there are always new things ( and old ) to take in.  This time there is a special exhibition having to do with works of clay that feature sculpture by Peter Voulkos and tableware by Edith Heath ( and her studio ).  I found a video about Heath to be very enlightening and also enjoyed the little gallery full of paintings by 

Hung Liu ( see below ).



"Still Point"
Painting by Hung Liu (1948-2021)
at
Oakland Art Museum

 

https://www.draweverywhere.com



Sunday, April 24, 2022

Art in Bloom

 


Wonderful Lily in our garden

This is the time of year when I am out in my garden inspecting the progress my plants have made after a long, cold winter.  Our new home in the Egypt Hills doesn't have the same square contours as our old home in Brighton which years ago seemed to me to have been built on a mound of old bricks.

Our new home on a hilltop that was once an orchard has terrific soil rather than the clay and bricks we found on Elmwood Avenue.  But I did establish a garden many years ago and each spring and summer I might sit outside and paint a watercolor or two.  I plan to do that once again where we are now, but I want to see how our new garden grows and what comes into bloom.  In my  teaching career at Rochester Institute of Technology I always brought my students to the greenhouse in Highland Park to draw and paint plants as part of my course in Zoological and Botanical Art.



Students from R.I.T. drew and painted from plants in a greenhouse

One can be inspired to work the soil by visiting places like the gardens at Sonnenberg  in Canandaigua or west in Pavilion, New York at  Linwood Gardens.  At Linwood you can find beautiful tree peonies in May that would be a real challenge to draw and paint.  My comments come from years of experience both with working in watercolor and studying complex plants like a peony or a rose.  Working with botanical art takes skill and patience!


Carol Acquilano at Axom Gallery, Rochester, NY
"Growth in the Chord of C"

It was a pleasure to see Carol Acquilano's new show at Axom Gallery in the South Wedge which opened this past Saturday.  Carol has put together a show of impressive watercolor paintings that feature landscapes filled with buds and flowers and her artwork has a distinctive sense of color and an ease with which she composes and fills her work with joy.

Carol is an old friend and I have watched her art change and evolve over many years.  Her new works have a very specific nature which calls to our attention the composition and a certain tactility - pools of color and light.  In her painting called: " Growth In The Chord of C " ( see above ) I find a resemblance also to the paintings of Charles Burchfield from early in the 20th Century ( see below ).  Maybe it is a certain glow which both artists seem to possess.


Charles Burchfield

Carol Acquilano has been working at The Memorial Art Gallery for over thirty years and she has just stepped away and retired from her position.  She prepared art for exhibitions and I am sure she will be missed by her colleagues at The MAG.  Now she will have more time to head out to Linwood Gardens or even travel for a stay over in Cortona, Italy where she painted the watercolor "Broom in Bloom" in 2010.


"Broom in Bloom", watercolor, 2010 by Carol Acquilano

Our landscape here in western New York surely offers opportunities for artists to get outside into the fresh air and take on the challenges in the portrayal of nature.  I can't wait to get at it myself!


"Amaranth" watercolor by Carol Acquilano at Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York









Saturday, April 9, 2022

April Time Travel

 


  My father and mother relax in Southampton, NY, (circa 1971)


After a long hiatus, I decided it was time to say hello and continue writing my blog and bring some readers in to once again engage with this community.  Keeping a low profile for much of the year due in part to the pandemic, I can begin to consider where I have been and what I might do in regard to my artwork and also what others are doing in this field.  This past year includes the shock of war in the Ukraine ( some of my distant relatives are from Odessa ) and my heart goes out to the people caught up in this horror.   My father, Arthur Singer, was a soldier during World War ll, so he had some experience with major battles which I can only imagine myself since I have never been in the Army here or abroad.



     Arthur Singer created artwork to identify birds in the field.  Here is his gouache for a field guide to Birds of Britain and Europe, painted in the late 1960s and this book is still in print!

My father, seen above on a calm day years ago in the Southampton home of Bertel Bruun  ( the author of the book "Birds of Britain and Europe" ) during the 1970s, along with my mom.  My parents were both artists and illustrators.  Arthur Singer illustrated books mainly about animals and birds.  His book about birds in Europe was published by Paul Hamlyn, and the book helps bird watchers identify what they are seeing in the field. 


Speaking about my father, I would say that he was a man of great patience, developing  drawings and finished art to be published in many books as his career took off after Work War ll.  My father  worked at home and I watched the daily routine of an artist putting together  page after page of artwork that was thoroughly researched down to the last details.  While my dad worked on. his projects my mom also was illustrating books and teaching as well and I could watch what they were doing and learn about making a living as an artist and creating  a way of life.

Over thirty years ago when our parents passed away my brother and I inherited a large catalog of original art that my father made over many years.  Just recently we made a donation of original book plates to the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  One example from our gift to Cornell is the page of birds you see above that my father painted in the late 1960s.



Silhouettes of birds on large walls
at The LAB

In Ithaca, we drove up to Cayuga Heights and over in the Sapsucker Woods is the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.  The birds were singing, the weather was warmer and pretty soon it will be spring.  If you go into The Lab you will see the terrific mural art by Jane Kim and her wall of birds.  This is a large scale artwork which took several months to complete, and to accompany it Jane has published a book about this unique project.


Jane Kim's mural at Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology

There at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology a room is dedicated to artworks of Louis Agassiz Fuertes and there is a portrait of him at the entrance.  Fuertes was a role model for many who have been drawn to illustrating nature, especially birds.  He was a teacher at Cornell as well as an artist who went around the world for the National Geographic Magazine in the early 20th Century.



Fuertes was a role model for future artists

After we left The LAB we drove over to Hanshaw Road in Cayuga Heights and visited with Ariel at The Corners Gallery.  A few years ago we mounted a show there of contemporary printmakers which was a lot of fun for me as I was the curator.  On view now is a selection of recent paintings by Lin Price and she is doing some very bold work that brings up messages from the history of art - especially modernist abstraction to which she adds a bit of storytelling.  Here, below, is her work called: "Search Party", and she is having fun with some visual cues, some jazzy color and interesting invention.



Lin Price "Search Party"


Lin Price, now at Corners Gallery
903 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY





















 


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Family Ties

 


Alan Singer and Anna Sears
Fall 2021


Now that I have published my 400th post to this blog, I can take a few moments to reflect on bit of family history, and before this year's end we can celebrate the people that are close to us.. I. first want to say that I owe a great deal to my wife Anna ( see above ) who has stood by me all these many years and without her support I don't know where I would be today! ..We are married for over 41 years and looking forward to so much more!



At R.I.T. my class in Botanical and Zoological Art

As I reflect on the past I can also say that this year has been a major transition after having retired from 32 years of teaching art at Rochester Institute of Technology, and I wish my students who shared so much of their talent with me all great success!  Over the last semester I was a ZOOM professor and I can say that for me looking at artwork through the lens of my computer is really not the same as being in the room with a student who expects so much good advice from their teacher... I have been so lucky to have found a great job with gifted people all around!

This year I can also  celebrate the fact that I have been exhibiting my artwork for over 50 years...
Showing what I can create is very important to me, and I look forward to feedback on my shows whenever and wherever they occur.  Hopefully I won't have ZOOM exhibitions - although I may have to!

My first New York City show came in 1971 and it was a collaboration between me and Allen Silberman.  Allen was a photographer married to Dina who was a gifted vocalist in the all woman group "The Pennywhistlers".  These women - seven ladies would rehearse in Allen and Dina's apartment in the Village and I... was just enthralled.  Later I would see them perform onstage at Carnegie Hall and they were even better!



The Pennywhistlers with Dina Silberman at far left

Allen Silberman and I had our show in the new gallery district in New York City which was called SoHo for South of Houston Street.  Our show was a "Happening" and it took place at the Flats Fixed Gallery on West Broadway.  When we had our show I was still a college student in fine art at The Cooper Union and I was trying to decide whether I wanted to be a photographer or a painter ( painting and printmaking won that argument ).  So the two of us created a happening in a darkened  gallery before an audience when we projected movies onto photographic paper and we had given out water pistols filled with developer and asked  people to pull the triggers!  Really unique images then were revealed, and we let the images dry out up on the walls of the gallery.
Alan Singer in 1971 at Yale University in Norfolk, CT

Something else I need to mention was the fact that although I was showing my art in New York City, it was hard to make the sales I needed to support myself, so I branched out and started to work as an illustrator and designer.  I had always enjoyed gardening at my parents house so I used their plants and flowers  as my subject matter.  I was also going about painting "en Plein Aire" after studying with Wolf Kahn and Paul Resika - two notable landscape painters.



My parents - Arthur and Judy Singer - at Bertel Bruun's house, 1972

My garden watercolors lead me to a job I wanted - I was working as a book illustrator and over the next two years I produced detailed watercolors for a volume published by Delacorte Press entitled: "The Total Book of House Plants". I should also note that during the day I was studying for my Master's degree at Cornell and during the night I worked on illustrating my book.



My night job was as an illustrator.. for my first book published by Delacorte Press 


How do you get a job illustrating books?  You have to impress a publisher and back it up with a great portfolio - and I was in luck because my father, Arthur Singer had been publishing his artwork for years with Golden Press and the editor there ( Lucille Ogle ) had watched my progress as  an artist and wanted to support my work!  So I would study painting during the day and at night I could do my illustrations.  I gathered a great collection of tropical plants in my apartment and there was also a stellar greenhouse on the campus at Cornell.  The fellow who was in charge of taking care of the Cornell greenhouse ended up writing the book you see above - and that was Russell Mott.  Needless to say, my graduate years at Cornell were very busy in Ithaca, New York and it was there that I met my future wife!

So you see there is much to celebrate and these were the very beginnings of my artistic ventures that have only multiplied over the years since.