Sunday, January 22, 2023

In Our New Year

 


Alan  Singer,  creative artist and writer
January, 2023

Here we are in 2023!  To start it off I am working on a new small painting I intend to give to my wife Anna, for her birthday.  This little abstract is like a crystal growing in my studio.  The facets are cut like a jewel, very geometric..and the image has implied movement.  It is like a dance, but we will get to that later.  Anna is in the next room playing her piano and working her way through a new score.  Music is a big part of our lives but because of the pandemic we don't go out to hear the symphony like we used to!



                                                 Anna, Michael, and Alan on Elmwood Avenue
        
In the past we have entertained guests like Michael Kimmelman ( seen here in our old house on Elmwood Avenue).  Michael came to Rochester to speak with my students and also do a guest lecture at The Memorial Art Gallery.  Michael sat down at our piano to play "Pictures At an Exhibition".  Not only is he a fine musician but he is also the newspaper critic of Architectue and art for the New York Times, a position he has held for many years.

Speaking of The New York Times, I just ran across an article about Art Spiegelman, the artist and author of the book MAUS which has been in the news a lot lately.  Banning his book in certain states is a BAD idea, and sets a bad precedent.  A photo of him in the article in the Times shows him looking over at a painting by my friend Gary Panter ( see below ).  Gary has also visited my students at R.I.T. years ago - and not only is he a gifted painter and cartoonist, but he is also part of the team that brought us Pee Wee's Playhouse on TV back in the late 1980s!



Art Spiegelman looks at the Gary Panter painting mentioned above..

I met Gary years ago when we were both students in a summer program run through Yale University in Norfolk Connecticut.  Gary was already a prolific artist and cartoonist and he has had a long lasting effect with his art and his humor.

Thinking back to those student days reminds me that I should recommend a book I am reading now about the painter Paul Resika.  He has a new book on his work published by Rizzoli in New York City.  The book:"The Art of Paul Resika" features eight decades on his paintings and has so many interesting stories to tell, and he was one of my professors when I was at The Cooper Union.



New book out features the paintings of Paul Resika

Paul Resika got us all involved in painting outdoors because of his love of the landscape.  He has also been on Cape Cod for years working around Truro and Provincetown.  His book also has new works right up to the present that feature boats in an almost abstract sense.  Here he is with one of his recent paintings ( see below ).



Painter:  Paul Resika

Paul was a student of Hans Hofmann, so the strong sense of color and composition was reinforced by his own education and he passed that on to us as we studied his examples.  Paul also visited us in Rochester, and I made a presentation with Paul at The Memorial Art Gallery which later bought one of his paintings for their collection.

Since we mentioned books, I can't help but give a round of applause for the book I am now going to start called: Mr. B.  and it is all about dance - ballet and the choreography of George Balanchine ( Mr. B ).

This is a great book especially if you like dance, and the writer Jennifer Homans has done her homework! Well researched and very engrossing , she tells a story of modern dance culture better than anyone else!

Read this book, here is the cover ( see below)..!  and Happy New Year!













 



Saturday, December 31, 2022

Finding a Time Frame

 


Kevin Indovino measures at MuCCC
142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester, NY
My most recent showing of paintings!


Looking over an unusual year I was grateful for the opportunity to exhibit new artwork at MuCCC here in Rochester and thankful for the assistance of Kevin Indovino who helped me mount the show.  

As our year of 2022 is now behind us we have to observe the artists who have passed on and here I am thinking of Sam Gilliam who was 88 years old and had a very creative life and I am grateful for having had the chance to meet him.  In 2006 he was having a retrospective at The Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington D.C. and this gallery space in 2022 is now closed due to financial considerations.


Sam Gilliam, painter, passed this year, he was 88 and had a successful career

Sam. came to my classroom in 2006 to give critiques and later that day gave a talk at The Memorial Art Gallery.  Sam's artwork was out of the ordinary, often they were paintings that draped over a space, not the typical stretched canvas in a frame. 

An art historian who championed Sam's work was Jonathan Binstock who has been the director of The Memorial Art Gallery and is soon to move on to be the Director of The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. in our new year of 2023.  The Phillips Collection is one of my favorite places to visit in D.C. and what a collection they have!

During my tenure at Rochester Institute of Technology I was lucky to have the support of the faculty there and I was able to bring great artists like Sam Gilliam and also Elizabeth Murray who you can see in this photo by Sue Weisler.  I enjoyed talking with Elizabeth and I would have to say that her paintings and prints really had an influence on me and I hope for my students as well!


Elizabeth Murray and Alan Singer in conversation at R.I.T. in 2002

I have been a big fan of. the artists I brought to speak at R.I.T. and over my 32 years teaching there we have had over 80 different guests who came to my classroom to speak about their career and to encourage my students as they find their way in this world.  Hopefully we have made a difference!  Below is a picture of one moment with Elizabeth during her talk with my student Lila Krebiel.



We had a chance to talk with Elizabeth Murray


Elizabeth Murray gives a critique in 2002 at R.I.T.

BRAVO! To all of those who have supported the arts in this city and beyond.  I hope your 2023 is an active and productive one, and I look forward to seeing what you have  created!  Thanks, and Happy New Year!





Saturday, December 10, 2022

Our Rochester Contemporary Salon


Rochester Contemporary Members Show, December 2022
137 East Avenue, Rochester,  NY

Looking for a bit of inspiration in these cool months when the sun sets so early?  I found my way over to the Rochester Contemporary galleries to look over the 32nd annual member's exhibition and spent some time looking around and also chatting with the Director, Bleu Cease.  There is much there to delight the eye and stimulate the imagination..  As you walk into the gallery you may be asked to cast a vote for the artwork that has the most impact for you and maybe even entertain the idea of a purchase,  because it is the Christmas season after all!



Emiliano Diaz greets you at the entrance to the member's show at RoCo

Emiliano Diaz has a painting in the front that offers an architectural slant on the show you are about to see and you can trust that there is a lot of variety ahead for the art enthusiast as well as the newcomer.  Since I have been in the Rochester area for over 30 years I have participated in these shows and I always look forward to seeing the work of old friends and new acquaintances and I was not disappointed!

Jason Tennant was a neighbor of mine once in the Hungerford Building where he had a studio and here at RoCo he shares a wall with others like Judy Gohringer.  On this wall we go from the two dimensional to a fully three dimensional expression that is part of the salon style hanging for this voluminous show ( see Jason's prototypical bird at the top of this post ). Each  year we get to see the depth of talent in this area and witness a diversity that can mirror our community.  We can be proud that the arts set such a clear example of strength and this can be a magnet for visitors and collectors...


"Lip Service" from Emily Bellinger

Coming into the show I look at different materials that artists choose to work with and sometimes they even make me laugh like the painting of a cat and mouse caught in the act. 



Will Page's painting Cat and Mouse 

Another smile arrives when I look at the image from Richard Margolis who is shown here wearing a beret while holding a brush as he paints a portrait of his wife.  Richard is well known in this community as a photographer, so he is having a bit of fun with the audience.


Richard Margolis in his studio...

As I walk through the show I look to see who has that popular appeal and Richard Margolis certainly does the trick.  I am also attracted to a photo towards the back that makes a collage out of plants and sets some new parameters with color and texture.  This piece by Marcia Zach and Michael Tomb is called a Gallery of the Open-Pollinated, and I would love to know more about how this image was created...



Marcia Zach and Michael Tomb, photographers

It is not a surprise that in this land of Kodak that there would be some interesting photography and this is one which has a lot of impact for me as I am avid about plants and gardens.  In that zone is a recent painting of a landscape by Joni Monroe that has beautiful tonality and creates a dimension by use of light and shade in a more traditional way.



Joni Monroe's traditional light and shadow


If you are looking for trends in the visual arts I think you just have to keep an open mind as the show suggests that there is no one direction that artists are willing to take today.  You can find traditional paintings like the one above and then there are striking ones that have a more abstract tension ( see work below by Belinda Bryce).


Belinda Bryce

I was glad to see that there are artists willing to take on a task of making a commentary on local state of affairs, with Richmond Futch, Jr.'s  take on revelations ( see below ).


Hopeful signs from Richmond Futch, Jr.

Also, glad to see that there is an image of  Frederick Douglass by Mollie Wolf on view.  The label says that this is a kind of print, but it really looks like a painting to me.  In any case I am glad that this work is included in the show as I am a great fan of Frederick Douglass!



Portrait of Frederick Douglass by Mollie Wolf
at
32nd Members Show at RoCo

Get up and go to see the show; it is very rewarding and will give you a renewed sense of hope after these years of a pandemic, which still has not left us!

























 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Education of an Artist

 


Alan Singer,  November, 2022 speaks of his realm as an artist
and author of this blog post

As we enter our holiday season, I like to think of my education as an artist.  I had to prepare a talk to give at MuCCC in conjunction with a show of my recent work that hangs in the theatre atrium.  As many of my readers may know I am just retired from teaching after 32 years at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Teaching is something I embraced and I can't tell you how many dreams I have had about interacting with my students, it really enriched my life and I hope I have helped their performance!



My parents Judy and Arthur Singer circa 1970

Simply put, it all comes back to my parents who were both artists having met in art school at The Cooper Union in New York City.  When I was little my father kept a studio in the attic and my mom liked to garden and paint outdoors.  My dad would take me on the subway uptown to his office in the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel where he had a partnership with Ben Sackheim to form an advertising agency.  For my father's clients he would produce illustrations that were very realistic..see an example below:



Arthur Singer illustration for an advertisement circa 1953

My mom spent some of her time illustrating books and she teamed up with Sonia Bleeker who was working in anthropology along with her husband Herbert Zim.  Later on my mom  also put her gardening experience into her art and produced the illustrations for her book called: Bulbs for the Home Gardener.

In our home there were always projects underway and my father's interest in the birds and animals that he knew from many trips to The Bronx Zoo and beyond  really paid off over a lifetime.  My father mastered the art of portraying birds and animals and made a living producing illustrations published by Golden Books ( Birds of the World, and Birds of North America being among the most notable ).  I learned a lot by watching my parents do their thing!



Arthur Singer's illustrated "Birds of the World" for Golden Books in 1960s

In writing about books and art I should mention that part of my education as an artist comes from reading art history and criticism and I have built up quite a library.  For example I just finished reading Jerry Saltz's book "Art Is Life" and you may know his writings from his work at The Village Voice, and also for New York magazine.  He writes short essays on shows he has seen and also throws in some autobiographical takes on his life and interest  in making his own artwork.  He has a closing chapter on his  meeting Jasper Johns and the impact that John's painting has had worldwide.



Jerry Saltz is a writer and critic on visual art and this is his new book!

Well I met Jasper Johns once also, and was introduced to him by my painting teacher Wolf Kahn.
Johns artwork certainly has been interesting to watch as he is a force in contemporary art and is still going strong in his 90s!

Another book comes to mind before I sign off and that is the one I just read from Peter Schjeldahl which I found very poetic and really engrossing.  Here he is writing about a variety of artists and I should also say that Peter has recently passed away from cancer...and his work as the art critic for the New Yorker will certainly be missed!


Peter Schjeldahl was critic for The New Yorker magazine and this is one of his best books!









Monday, November 21, 2022

Out Front

 


Alan Singer delivers his Artist Talk
at
MuCCC, 142 Atlantic Avenue
Rochester, New York

My readers will note that I have a new exhibition open at MuCCC,  here in Rochester, and on Saturday, November 12th there was an audience for my artist talk.  Kevin Indovino set up a large screen and I proceeded with my comments in a Power Point presentation.  You can listen to the talk now posted to You Tube, and here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV4jA_5eUwY&t=30s

My show runs through to the end of December, and if you have not had a chance to see it in person, just know that this exhibit is of my recent abstractions which tend toward the geometric and are very colorful!
This is a select group of paintings that reflects my interests in composition, and also in the use of applied mathematics created on my laptop.  There are also several references to landscape and also to figuration especially in my painting that I call: "Dear Theo".  Actually, that painting came to me after reading the letters of Vincent Van Gogh and considering the strength of his portraiture, and so I tried to make a version using geometry and composition in oil paint.

After my talk there are some very astute questions coming from the audience members and I try my best to answer and reflect on my process.  In my talk I do spend a bit of time going over features in my background which includes work I have done as an illustrator and I  show some samples of books I have published, and talk a bit about how they were done and under what circumstances.  Most of all before I came to Rochester to teach at R.I.T. I was an artist in New York City and publishing was my gig.  I still am interested in books and have always  enjoyed the creative storytelling methods which probably leads me to once again thank you all for taking the time to read my posts!

Friday, November 4, 2022

State Of Mind

 


Alan Singer: "Recent Artwork" with
Kevin Indovino at MuCCC
Multi-use Community Cultural Center
142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607

Back from our short trip to New York City, I am now prepared to walk into an art gallery and enter into a dialogue.  Because of the pandemic we had a long period where we did not socialize and I tried to protect myself and my loved ones as best I could.  But I missed the impact that art can have on my psyche!  I really enjoy the times when I am moved by what I see and hear!


"Who On Earth" oil on canvas
by Alan Singer

I am willing to provide some of that inspiration, and so I have mounted a small show of brand new artwork that I have created - mostly paintings made since I retired from teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology.  I was invited to join forces with the folks at MuCCC ( Multi-use Community Cultural Center ) located at 142 Atlantic Avenue in Rochester, NY.

Kevin Indovino is the gallery manager there ( as well as being a multi-dimensional player at WXXI ) and you see him at the top of the blog post helping me hang the show.  My exhibit was made with geometry in mind and bright color that I hope is pleasing this season!  Coming on Saturday, November 12th at 4pm in the afternoon I will be giving an artist's talk about the development of the work on view. Check out their website: https://www.muccc.org 

As the season turns from Fall to Winter it think it is time to go out and see something that will stimulate the soul and I can recommend shows being held downtown including one at the R.I.T. City ArtSpace near the Liberty Pole in Rochester.  This show is called: "Elemental" featuring films made by the artist Ana Mendieta.  Ana Mendieta is present in the films you see projected on the gallery walls making this show quite unique.


John Aasp gallery director introduces Raquel Cecilia at
RIT City ArtSpace

I was lucky to have heard a talk given by Raquel Cecilia who is a film-maker and relative of Ana Mendieta.  Raquel is in charge of the Mendieta Estate and she is also responsible for taking great care of the films that Ana Mendieta made during her career.  I was aware of the artist Ana Mendieta during the 1970s and 1980s but recently it has been difficult to find her work and if you see these films you can begin to understand why this has happened.


Ana Mendieta ( 1948-1985 )  in "Elemental" at RIT City ArtSpace
260 East Main Street, Rochester, NY

Ana Mendieta is known for her sculpture and she would call her artwork "an experience".  Mendieta was a multi-media artist
and I would say that her artwork takes me back to a time when artists invited an audience to "a happening".  At this kind of event visual art becomes very involved with theatre and the feeling that will arouse the viewer is hard to qualify or quantify.  Ana Mendieta's art goes towards the elemental ( hence the title of the show ) and she is engaged in making dimensional art that involves her body, heart and mind.


https://www.muccc.org

State of the City, at RoCo

I am a member of RoCo and part of the contemporary art scene, and now they have a show that reaches out to an audience who want to know more about this city of Rochester.  Emiliano Diaz has strong architectural paintings of buildings that you might recognize, and along the long wall there is a work in progress including portrait drawings, but the things I was most moved by are the stories that accompany photos of the murals that have been going up in the city for the past decade. 



Emiliano Diaz at RoCo

Wall/Therapy is a project that has been fostered by many artists who have made  Rochester a real destination.  These images have a real impact.  Go see "State of the City" and let it stimulate you too!  I think this part of the exhibition stimulates a very valuable dialogue, and gets you to think about how visual art can play a major role in our lives; even as we walk down city streets!......


Mural by Bones and Erich Lehman expresses himself.... at RoCo











Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Early Inspiration

 


Fall colors greet me in the morning

I am up early in the morning to fetch the newspaper ( Yes! I still read a newspaper! ).  Across the street there is a blazing show of colors and I can't help but take a photo of it since it won't be long until the trees are bare. Today, we are also going down the road to the Big Apple to deliver some of my artwork that sold recently.  This presents a nice opportunity to run over to the Whitney Museum and see a brand new exhibition that opened last week.



Sunset on the Hudson River

We are going down to the old "meat market" on the west side of Manhattan.  This section of the city is undergoing a radical shift from groceries to artificial intelligence, but there is still a place for a fine collection of visual art at The Whitney.  They have a spectacular space to view contemporary art and the place was packed, so buy your tickets early and online!


Edward Hopper's New York at The Whitney Museum

We went in to see the new show of Edward Hopper's paintings, prints and drawings that engage with this city and the people involved in their daily pursuits.  Hopper was born in Nyack, New York on the Hudson but he spent most of his adult life in New York City ( with a place also on Cape Cod ).  Along with the artists in my family, my early inspiration was Hopper and his style of realism which has a bit of theatre in it as you may observe in this exhibition.

I wasn't more than a teenager when I found his address in a telephone book and went down to Washington Square north and knocked on Hopper's door.  The man who answered the door was not  Hopper but rather a much younger painter who I later found out was actually Paul Resika.  Paul later on became  my teacher at Cooper Union, but that is a whole other story!  I never did get to shake the hand of Edward Hopper and thank him for all his paintings and prints that I so treasured!


Hopper oil painting portrays a scene of city life

Seeing the Hopper painting of an office at night ( above )  reminds me that when I was living in New York City that you might see a scene like that through city windows after dark.  In fact,  I know that Edward Hopper often portrayed a realistic portrait of a New York City that he probably walked by every day.  Such as the block of storefronts below, and the pharmacy which was still intact when I was a student at The Cooper Union.


Early Sunday Morning, oil on canvas, 1930


Realistic portrayals in oil by Edward Hopper at The Whitney Museum

The effect of seeing these paintings and many others in this new Whitney Museum show brought me back to ideas I had when I was first getting into painting and printmaking.  Another thing that I found at this exhibition was a  large factor in the development of Hopper's life work was that when he was younger he contributed illustrations to many magazine covers and  in these formative years he  really developed an ability to tell stories through painting.  There also was a sustained interest in theatre and scenic development - and in fact Hopper created sets with the help of his wife who had been his model for many of the later paintings whose focus was on a lone figure sitting in the late afternoon sun.



Edward Hopper's New York at The Whitney Museum

Perhaps this show might act as a catalyst that can inspire a new generation of visual artists to take notice of their surroundings and document the city of today.  I know that  there are scenes which effect us if we are observant, and that they won't last forever, and maybe they can become the subject of your next drawing, painting, or print.  



Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks"

Just as we were leaving we wondered why we had not seen the most famous painting Edward Hopper ever made...and we stopped to ask one of the guides.   Our question was answered:  The Chicago Museum which has the painting would not let it travel!  So if you are looking forward to seeing this iconic work, you will have to get a ticket to Chi Town!