Saturday, March 30, 2013

Back To Work

"Transient Being"
  performance artist: Alaina Olivieri
  painting  and video installation:  Joe Tarantelli at the Bevier Gallery,     R.I.T.

After taking off for the Big Apple, I returned and got back to work.  The pay off in teaching at R.I.T. is to watch my students give their Thesis exhibitions in the Bevier Gallery.  We have seen many excellent shows, and this year one of the most striking examples was a painting video performance that featured the dancer/performance artist Alaina Olivieri under the supervision of choreographer Eran David P. Hanlon of Biodance.  It was all in the concept of Joe Tarantelli, the grad student who created the paintings and the video.  Watching the video   ( with a minimal soundtrack of scraping the canvas ) what we saw was a telescopic version of the creation, destruction, and re-creation of a painting in a process that was set to mimic the passing of the seasons - so it became a translation of terms - as painting "strategies" were projected onto the body of the dancer.  Alaina became the screen onto which the video image was playing.  It was mesmerizing, she moved verrry slowly, it was steady.  Then one watched as the painting process was projected in stop action - and fast forward motions - the painting is made, and unmade, the painting is made again, and scraped down, then the painting is made again, all while the dancer, dressed in white throws her arm up and gradually turns her body - like the slow movement of shadows made as the sun moves along the ground, thus setting up much anticipation which is, and is not fulfilled.

The Arena Group
  in the Vignelli Design Center at R.I.T.

The Arena Group is now exhibiting artwork in the Vignelli Design Center just a few feet from the Bevier Gallery on the R.I.T. campus.  This beautiful exhibition space with its elegant light has selections from group members including Lynne Feldman ( who contributes the enigmatic "Dancing Among Rowan Trees on the Isle of Mull" in acrylic and fabric on canvas) also Stuart Chait ( a dynamic quartet of watercolors on stretched materials in a diamond configuration ) and a funny dimensional work by Louis Lanzi.

Lynne Feldman at R.I.T.
  members of the Arena Group

Upstairs, at R.I.T. visiting from Chicago was the guest artist and printmaker Friedhard Kiekeben, who has been asked to speak about his work and the development of a web site devoted to Non-Toxic Printmaking.  At R.I.T., there are many who practice this form of printmaking largely through the inventive efforts of professor Keith Howard.  Before he established the Center for Non-Toxic Printmaking at R.I.T., Keith had met Friedhard in Alberta, Canada ( where I also met Keith in Grand Prairie ) in the early 1990's when these new methods began to bear fruit.

Friedhard Kiekeben
  and students in the printmaking studios of R.I.T.

Friedhard is an artist and teacher who has had international shows of his prints - some of which are large panoramas of an abstract nature printed out on panels of a vinyl material.  The artist presented a selection of his artwork, and recited his history of why he chose the non-toxic route to making new prints.  As Keith Howard say's ( and he should know ) " It is not worth killing yourself for your art".

Louis Lanzi from the Arena Group at R.I.T.

Monday, March 18, 2013

In Like A Lion

Lawrence 'Judd'  Williams
  at Axom Gallery, Rochester, NY

To wrap up my ideas from the last two weeks and prepare for SPRING, I was thinking back to a friendly event at Axom Gallery, it was a reception for Judd Williams.  He was going to do an artist talk - with old friends gathered around.  Judd was teaching at R.I.T. where I first met him; he was involved with printmaking and more, with a sense of humor and modesty unusual for a visual artist.  The show at Axom was of recent pieces - drawing and sculpture - some of which evolved as the show was about to get underway.  Judd has had some recognition from this community - and not just from his students - recently he was a participant in one of the Biennials held at The Memorial Art Gallery.  The art on view at Axom Gallery included constructions of cut wood ( floor planks? ) with demarcations of color tape which  implies a kind of provisional or improvised aesthetic - but looks can be deceiving.

'Judd' Williams at Axom Gallery

Judd Williams' art is unpredictable and there is always that humor and also sensitivity to materials with a kind of home-grown formalism that is engaging and not pedantic.  That evening,  his talk was about growing up to become an artist - all the comings and goings of a teenager interested in drawing and how his pursuits formed the man, or at least provided the conditions in which to grow.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Judd also draws beautifully, and in the show there were figures as well as abstracts to conjure with.

Down in New York City, at the Metropolitan Museum I tried to see the Matisse show of paintings through a thicket of people - there were so many people in fact that movement in the galleries came to a halt - very claustrophobic - but even with that the art was terrific!

Nicholas Krushenick

Thinking more about the art shows at the Armory, and the Armory Shows at the Piers, a couple of artists' work stood out for me that I forgot to mention in my earlier posts - one is a fellow painter I met when I was in my twenties - and that is Nicholas Krushenick.  I thought his painting looked fine - very active and present.  Another artist whose art stands out was Alighiero Boetti  - his embroidered words in puzzling squares ( 'arazzi' -  which have been crafted by Afghan women over thirty years ago ) hold up remarkably well - and I would like to own one!

Alighiero Boetti at the Armory Show

Back in Rochester, I drove over to Albert Paley's studio in a snowstorm and had an advance look at towering sculpture that is to be installed along Park Avenue in New York City this summer.  This group of thirteen works is in the midst of the fit and finish necessary for command over the traffic in mid-town Manhattan.  What a maximum opus this will be for Mr. Albert Paley!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Very Next Day

On Park Avenue, NYC
"The Art Show"

Want to find a more enjoyable venue than Piers 94 and 92?  Tired of fighting the crowds?  How about a show at a real armory?  Sunday, around noon, upon entering I found the art of Jean Arp - reliefs that he is known for and pedestal works that remind one of Brancusi.  Arp is not as stylized as Brancusi, so call this organic abstraction, and think of the impact of silhouettes and simple form ( you will see it again in the Arthur Dove watercolors scattered around the other exhibitions ).

Tam Van Tran waves in the air next door.  I wondered how his gossamer panels of copper leaf were ever transported to and from the show. ?

A few Edward Hopper watercolors were on view,  Hirschl and Adler had "Towards Boston" a memorial to a little train station ( in South Truro according to Gail Levin ).  I was introduced to Hopper's watercolors by my father, Arthur Singer, who was also a terrific watercolorist.  In fact, some of my father's paintings will be part of a show that will open in April at The Edward Hopper House in Nyack, NY.  This is where Edward Hopper grew up, and it has been turned into an art center.

Back in the aisles of The Art Show I found the art of William Delvoye at Sperone Westwater.  His is an intricate re-appropriation of historical styles that in this show diverge into sight-gags ( the printed pig ) and substitutions ( the gothic cathedral filigree ).  Looking into the little silver bulldozer or the cement mixer and I am reminded of Chinese ivory carvings and other kinds of detailed trophies - they are startling... and then what?

William Delvoye
at Sperone Westwater

Gallerie St. Etienne had a strong selection of Egon Schiele works on paper - I would call them "psychological portraits" and it is as if you could look into the minds of these subjects and read them like a book.  Very engaging.

I loved the simple beauty of Robert Adams' photos in "The New West" from 1968-1977.  these were matter-of-fact documentary scenes from the western states in the midst of expansion - construction sites, some desolation, wide open vistas, and empty streets.  A recent publication from Yale University is dedicated to these photos, so find all three volumes in the set "The Place We Live".

Across at the next booth, Tibor De Nagy had a selection of John Newman works in a solo show titled " Everything is on the Table".  Here is an art that has paradox, and a sense of humor.  These works, whether they are sculpture or drawings have a playful attitude towards form, they are often richly patterned and have elements in a kind of suspended collage.

John Newman at Tibor De Nagy

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Spring Fever

People gather for
Art at the Armory Show, March 2013

People flock to the Big Apple for a taste of contemporary art at this time of the year, and the city does not disappoint.  I stepped into the elevator with about a thousand other people to feast on the Armory Show which is actually held at Piers 92 and 94 out over the Hudson River.  Was it coincidence that the world's largest private yacht - the Eclipse - was tied up in the next birth? Talk about conspicuous consumption!  If you want to get an idea of the extent of this show you can go online and look at the site:

Marca-Relli at Michael Rosenfeld

I was starved for something challenging, but first at the Armory Modern side I checked in with my cousin Michael Rosenfeld at his spacious booth featuring the art of collage.  Michael has just moved his business from 57th street down to Chelsea, and many of the artists that he represents were on view at the Pier.  I particularly liked the Conrad Marca-Relli shown above, and a little beauty by Anne Ryan ( she is almost always terrific but hopefully not forgotten ).

Giorgio Morandi

A few steps away I found a buttery Morandi show full of small delights - paintings and prints.  It is remarkable how fresh Morandi still seems, and how engaging.  There was also a late De Chirico - perhaps a re-painting of a favorite theme for this artist also at the Galleria D'Arte Maggiore G.A.M.

I dashed back out into the cool sunny day because I wanted to see what was on the contemporary side - seeking something more challenging - and it was getting more crowded as the minutes went by.  Past the entrance I found wider aisles filled with people, and the booths filled with artworks by artists like Nick Cave at Jack Shainman Gallery.  I  have been struck by this art and the connections made to the art of Oceania -  Nick Cave seems to channel the spirits of the Pacific Island cultures along with a cross between figurative art, the comics, and a toy store.

Nick Cave at Jack Shainman Gallery

At Peter Blum I stopped in to look at David Reed's works on paper which demonstrate his talents layering colors ( with copious notes ) in what looked like recipes for a test kitchen.  My impression from looking around the galleries represented here was that there was a lot less large scale photography, a lot more geometry, and a certain restraint - maybe less creative risk-taking.

David Reed at Peter Blum

Also, interesting to me were drawings by Anthony McCall, and some devilish shapes ( monoprints ) in black all in rows by Allan McCollum.  Allan McCollum has been featured in an Art 21 episode that I enjoyed watching in the past, so I was interested to see how his art held up in this sprawling show.

Allan McCollum

The Pierogi Gallery once again had attractions like Tony Fitzpatrick's collage images, and stunning micro-dioramas from Brooklyn artist Patrick Jacobs.  How does this artist have the patience to work with tweezers and a microscope in order to put his art together???  Look at the details of "Stump with Red Banded Brackets" - it is all of six inches across!

Patrick Jacobs at Pierogi

A historical note was struck at the Howard Greenberg Gallery with a Gordon Parks photograph "Department Store" of 1956, that highlights the cause for racial equality.  Also as a historical footnote to this Armory Show were the many tributes to Andy Warhol and Pop Art in general.  Paintings from the 1980's - long ago - by Steve Gianakos were daffy and amusing at Fredericks and Freiser.

Getting tired and on the way home - thinking that there was little shock value left in the contemporary art scene, I was struck by a painting from Oda Juane, the wife of Jorg Immendorff.  In her painting, a young person seems to be undergoing an autopsy.  The painting is titled inexplicably "Candy", and the man standing next to me says, "I should have bought that painting".  So I turn to him and tell him I have a friend - Cliff Wun - in Rochester who has made paintings similar to this one - and then I notice that my neighbor seems to be wearing a sculpture on his back... not exactly his heart on his sleeve - and he is a walking advertisement!  This fellow is a sculptor by the trade name of Mandad, and I asked him to pose with the painting "Candy", and the result is right out of the art of Rene Magritte.

Mandad and "Candy by Oda Juane at Daniel Templon