Friday, February 26, 2016

Curious Quotient

Jill Gussow
"Antidotes and Such"
Through March 24, 2016
Mercer Gallery
at Monroe Community College

More than twenty-five modestly sized works of art have come to roost at the Mercer Gallery at Monroe Community College in their suburban campus.  I went over on a snowy Thursday afternoon to listen to a gallery talk by the featured artist Jill Gussow, in her one-woman show, and I caught the tail end of her speech as she was saying something about the title of her show ( "Antidotes and Such" ).

Jill Gussow
Mercer Gallery

At first glance this exhibition is filled with color and vitality on a small scale:  bird images, and faces abound and their are a few icons - like a wonderful carrot  ( above ) that reveals its inner workings to the viewer.  The word talisman comes to mind - these artworks are like charms; they have powers meant to turn the tide of emotion into something you can admire, and in that way deflect bad karma. As Jill Gussow said in her remarks, she wants to create things that resonate with her audience even if it is on a very intimate scale.

Jill Gussow at her opening of "Antidotes and Such"
at MCC

Jill Gussow and I go way back to our college days where we shared a studio at The Cooper Union in New York City, and I have had the pleasure of watching her work evolve and she has never lost her wit or humor, which is also in evidence in the large scale public art she has created in and around town.

Jill Gussow works with fabric and thread

At The Mercer Gallery her materials seem to be mostly fabric and thread, and the direct approach she used for this art is sewing or as she says: "It is a practical way of bringing things together".  She mentions that "sewing is like drawing", and it is very direct - we can see the results even if we can not follow the process as with some art.  

Jill Gussow

Jill Gussow mentions to me that the artwork in this new show has accumulated over the past twelve years so it is a series and an evolution.  Many of the works are deliberately face-like, and others near pure abstraction, but retain a joyful eye for color and texture ( see above ).  There are comparisons one might make to works by Lucas Samaras that she mentioned in her gallery talk, but the real similarities are with folk arts, and other works  with needle and thread that have been made in the past 100 years or so.

Jill Gussow at MCC

Going back to the title of the show "Antidotes and Such", Jill remarked to me that many of the works on view are really two parts, the main figure at top, and an pendant which represents the antidote.
So it is possible to read the images like a kind of puzzle - take a look at the dramatic situation on top and then imagine a solution or a cure for that effect.  For me these works have a correlation to folk arts and tribal arts where our attention is put on an object that has strong suggestive powers and could be part of a ceremony or a ritual - in other words these works of art take us on a path that the ancestors took.  I found the show very engaging, and refreshing, so go see it!

Jill Gussow at the Mercer Gallery

Friday, February 19, 2016

Delving In

This is the notice for an upcoming series of short presentations that will be given by four faculty from R.I.T.

I am pleased to be included in this late afternoon get together, and I am looking forward to hearing what my colleagues have to say. If you are in town and available, come on over to the University Gallery, where refreshments will be served, and listen to what the faculty scholars have to say about their research.

I will have a little Power Point illustrated talk about Art and Mathematical Visualization.  Like many other artists I had trouble with defining my relationship to mathematics, especially with what I should have been learning in school, had I paid attention.

Now years later, I can speak about it, and write about it, and just plain use my knowledge and interest in the subject - and it helps me create the artwork I have been doing for the past ten years or more.

I hope to see you there on Tuesday!

Art & Mathematical Visualization
Alan Singer
February,  2016
Rochester Institute of Technology

Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Makers and Mentors

Sheldon Berlyn
"Makers and Mentors"
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
137 East Avenue, Rochester, NY

It is a surprise to go to see an exhibition where the paintings of a retired university painting professor are more colorful and vigorous then his notable students.  That is what I found walking into this new iteration of "Makers and Mentors" that just opened at Rochester Contemporary Art Center on East Avenue.  Sheldon Berlyn born in 1929 is active and astute and he invigorates the gallery walls this season and by example creates an inflection point that his students have to deal with.

Sheldon Berlyn painting at RoCo
"Makers and Mentors"

Sheldon Berlyn has been painting abstract works for over forty years and the style we see here at RoCo is a gradual evolution in form,  related to abstract expressionism.  We have seen works like Berlyn's in the paintings by Gerhard Richter ( using a squeegee ) and even with an artist like Jason Brooks ( photo-realist portraits of swirled paints ).  When you are at the gallery go into the semi-circular theatre and sit down to watch the short video clip of Sheldon Berlyn painting and talking about his method and you will understand a lot more about how his art is accomplished.  The part that you can't see is the instinct and experience that the artist brings -and that makes these paintings unique.

Visiting RoCo for "Makers and Mentors"

Sheldon Berlyn's kind of gestural abstraction can come from a study of other art, whether it is from a classical tradition like Caravaggio ( see the recent interview published in Art House Press ) or you can find it in music - a call and response.  Either way it is the artist's nervous system and the reflex and wrist action that makes his paintings dance.

"Blue Rising" by Sheldon Berlyn
Acrylic on paper, 2015

We got to meet some of Sheldon's select students and engage them in conversation at the opening of "Makers and Mentors" and I was attracted to the works of Juan Perdiguero that combined an atmospheric abstraction with a highly refined portrait of a primate.  The effect is kind of a hybrid between photography and painting, and I asked Juan about his technique he said it was all about drawing.  These portraits are painted with a tender quality that is very responsive to reality - these are portraits that communicate personality especially through the eyes, but that is not all - there are subtle textures that are arrived at through the use of a q-tip or other instrument to remove gradually, layers of black ink placed on photographic paper.  It is a reductive method but really interesting to see the results.

Juan Perdiguero
Ink on photo paper
"Mono Aqua"

Kathleen Sherin is attracted in her artwork to knots, tangles and splashes - or the appearance of these kind of random acts in her carborundum mono prints included in this show and they have a lively effect of movement and a liquid dance that shares some of the vitality that inhabits the work of Sheldon Berlyn.  Ms. Sherin's art is mostly in values of blacks and grays, and close up they have subtle textures that contribute to the total effect..

Work on paper by Kathleen Sherin

Russell Floersch and Gerardo Tan complete the exhibition with paintings and collages which really go off in directions of their own.  Mr. Floersch creates very stable ever dour images  that have an inner solemnity.  That have wit and are like visual puns in a way.  Gerardo Tan's collage work is complex, and text driven and seems to be a work in progress.

In their own experimental gallery space is "The Cubic Foot Project", which seeks to document living creatures that can be found by putting the square you see in the photo outside by the Genesee River and photographing what you find there.  So inside the cube during a period of two weeks you might locate a bird, or an insect, or a leaf, or other life form and this will contribute to our knowledge of our environment.  Thanks to Rochester Contemporary Art Center for putting on this insightful exhibition.

David Littschwager 
"The Cubic Foot Project" 
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
thru March 13,  2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pop Up Show

The Art of Folding Air:  Airigami
Sibley Building, 250 East Main Street
Rochester, New York
through February 7, 2016

In Rochester there are many working artists, but Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle and a host of helpers and riggers has once again put together a timely happening for all ages at The Sibley Building called "Journey on the Genesee".  Is that an owl in a tree waiting to greet us on Main Street?  All made of balloons?  Inside there is a waterfall - all made from balloons- and  you think - how does one go about constructing a waterfall made of balloons?  How much does forty or fifty thousand balloons weigh?  Where are you going to get the balloons and who is going to blow them all up?

Deer in the atrium of the Sibley Building
by Airigami

Everyone gathers around to have their picture taken in front of the waterfall installation which has taken many days to put together and will only be dispatched after the "Popping Party" later this week.  Creator, Larry Moss worries about UV light coming down from the skylight atop the atrium of the Sibley Building as this balloon construction is sensitive to ultraviolet light - al the balloons in this installation are biodegradable.

Wonderful Weeping Willow
by Airigami

It is well worth considering the value that the falls has for this town by the Genesee River, and also for the creatures highlighted with their own balloon renditions: bear and cubs, deer, turtle, Bald Eagle, and Canadian Geese overhead, etc.  In this year an ecological theme is appropriate in this time of climate change and political bombast.  What a relief to go and see this - it is much more engaging than most displays.  Have fun, go and see this spectacle before it POPS!!!!  

Monday, February 1, 2016

University Gallery

"Bob Dylan" by
Milton Glaser
 " The Posters"
RIT University Gallery 
Vignelli Center for Design Studies
through February 26, 2016

Past and future are the real subjects of shows in my local area, hosted by my college (College of Imaging Arts & Sciences) at R.I.T..    Not enough of the public gets out to see the shows held at The University Gallery where the Milton Glaser exhibition is currently on view, but I do see good size crowds for the openings at Gallery r over on College Avenue.  Part of this is the location, The University Gallery is on the campus of R.I.T. -- and part of this has to do with advertising or the lack of it.  More people need to come out and see what is on view, and the Milton Glaser posters which are part of the archive of materials given to R.I.T. through the generosity of Massimo and Lella Vignelli,  are memorable to say the least.

In the 1980's I worked as an artist on number of Vignelli designed books for a company that was then called Chanticleer.  I worked within the parameters set by the Vignelli team for the guide books that were sold through the publisher Knopf.  While Massimo was still alive, I had a chance to speak with him and our Graphic Design program at R.I.T. is richer because of their great legacy that our students can study first hand.  This would not have come about had it not been for the leadership of Roger Remington, my esteemed colleague at R.I.T.  Hats off to them!

Recent poster by Milton Glaser
"Cooperstown Music Festival"

Years ago, my father - Arthur Singer, told me that when he was a college art teacher at The Cooper Union in New York City, Milton Glaser was one of his most gifted students.  Glaser, soon after his graduation created a design company of his own called Push Pin Studios and this began a decades long career that created a particular niche within the art and design world and he had a strong effect on what we see around us.  He designed the world famous logo, below, for New York.

Milton Glaser was also a student of the great Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, and this must have had a life long effect on the up and coming designer.  Milton Glaser may have also developed an interest in food and cuisine while in Italy, and he later formed a triumvirate called "Beard,Glaser,  & Wolf, dedicated to restaurant design and publishing projects including the "Big Kitchen" in the twin towers of the World Trade Center when it opened in the mid- 1970's.  I saw this  in the early stages when my wife Anna worked there to open part of this large food court.  Now forty five years later, Milton Glaser is still working, and we get to see a collection of some of his most famous posters through February 26, 2016.

James Beard poster by Milton Glaser

Over on College Avenue a new show arrives at Gallery r called "Delving In - Research & Creativity in CIAS" and it will open Friday, February 5th, and run through the month of February, 2016.  I have a print in this exhibition which I call "New Fireworks", and I  will also have a presentation of my research that shows the connections between art and mathematics.  The premise of this new show is to give the public an idea of what faculty and student representatives are doing in their respective areas of interest.  You will be surprised to see the many connections being found that point towards the future in the visual arts today!

"New Fireworks"
Transfer print by Alan Singer
"Delving In " opens February 5th, 2016 
at Gallery  r, 100 College Avenue
Rochester, New York