Saturday, January 21, 2017

Elizabeth Murray

Elizabeth Murray
visits Rochester Institute of Technology
Photo by Sue Weisler

I have been reading about the artist Elizabeth Murray ( 1940-2007 ) in newsletters and in the New York Times.  There have been some new shows of her work ( currently on view is a show of her drawings in NYC ) as well as a documentary film about her life ( Everybody Knows...Elizabeth Murray ).  So, this flurry of interest in her work brings me back ten years when I was reading about her death from cancer just prior to her 67th birthday.

Elizabeth Murray in the 1980's

Elizabeth Murray was one of the artists whose work I followed closely in the 1980's when I lived in New York City, and since I was a painter, I was interested and challenged by what she had accomplished and I tried to do the same in my own artwork.  Elizabeth Murray had children and her daughter was in the same graduating class as my nephew David Singer, so after the graduation ceremony near Lincoln Center, I walked up to Elizabeth Murray and invited her to come upstate to speak with my students at R.I.T., and she graciously accepted.

Elizabeth Murray created art for the NYC subway 59th Street

Before Elizabeth Murray came to speak about her artwork, and also look at my student's work, I arranged for her to give a talk at The Memorial Art Gallery, a fine museum here in Rochester, New York. At that stage I did not know yet that the Museum of Modern Art was planning a career survey for her that would take place in 2006 in New York City.

Elizabeth Murray print in 2000

Talking with Elizabeth on the phone to make her plane reservation, she was in the middle of jury duty, so she had some time to plan ahead.  She told me of some prints she had worked on that revolved around a hospital stay.  When I saw the print she was talking about I bought a copy ( see above ) and I have it in my office to this day.  It does reference blood vessels, and I didn't make the connection that maybe she was experiencing some questions about her own mortality.

Elizabeth Murray visits the School of Art at R.I.T.
Fall, 2002

When Elizabeth landed in Rochester, I picked her up at the airport and we spent a busy day at R.I.T. working with my students, after giving them a short talk about her own paintings.  Later, she drew a large crowd at the Memorial Art Gallery, and she told her story about her life in the art world.  The audience had the chance to see her develop as an artist and witness the energy that her artwork exudes.

Elizabeth Murray , "The Lowdown "
oil on canvas, 2001

Now, reading about the news of her shows and the films made about her life, I can reflect on that short time we spent together 15 years ago.  We took her out to dinner, and she stayed at my house - she was right at home.  When I took her back to the airport for her flight home, I gave her a big hug, and I realized at the time that she was thin and maybe a bit exhausted.

I was glad that she had the chance to plan and see her own retrospective, and to take a well deserved moment in the spotlight.  It was a time I am sure that she could take pride in all that she accomplished, and provided a marker for where she still had the urge to go with her art, even if it was within the quiet realm of her studio, alone with her paints and brushes.

Elizabeth Murray talks with my student Lila 
at R.I.T. in 2002

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Medium Media

"A Future View",  
Transfer mono print by
Alan Singer

I think I want to start our new year of 2017 with a hopeful sign against a backdrop of political turmoil.  The election cycle in this country was a big disappointment, and I was amazed that there seemed to be little in the way of substantive debate about the issues that surround us.  For me, the studio is a place I can go to do what I do best, which is communication through image making.  I know also, through practice, that once I have created prints and paintings, I have to get them out and around so people can see them.  There are a variety of media that help me do this, and here I am talking about the WEB - the internet has really given me a helping hand in this regard.

Crystal Monument
Transfer mono print by
Alan Singer

Last fall I had a print ( above - "Future View" ) in an exhibition in London,England  that I would have never been aware of had it not been for the WEB ( Thank You, Artist Marketing Services! ).  Likewise, I would not have had another work ( above - "Crystal Monument" ) circulating in Europe, had it not been for the selection process announced by the Center for Contemporary Printmaking over the internet.

Artists have ample opportunity to submit their works through the online exchange of information from prospective galleries, but all this comes with a fee attached ( for administrative purposes ).  If you don't live in a place that has a bustling art market, you can always send the work to a place that does.  This assumes that you will have the funds to send the artwork across the pond if the need arises.

Transfer mono print by Alan Singer
at JMM in Atlanta, in January

Looking forward to the new year, I have already sent out prints to a show and conference for mathematicians in Atlanta, Georgia.  My interest in breaking new ground through the visualization of mathematical functions  ( Thank you Cinderella 2 ) has opened up a new audience for my artwork, and I hope that my art will be accepted and purchased along the way by this new audience.

In case anyone reading this wants to follow along, there will be another selection process for BRIDGES - a conference between math and art that will convene this summer near Toronto, and I hope to be part of that coming show - where art and math get together.  This is all part of my interest in STEAM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics ).

9th Anniversary issue out now

I was happy to be selected for an interview in the new 9th Anniversary issue of ARTVOICES, that is published both online and in print ( visit them online: ) and there I have a cover story by City Newspaper's Rebecca Rafferty, and she details the how and why of what I create in the studio.  From my perspective, I am glad that people in the media see my artwork, and have selected it for publication.  Along with ARTVOICES, my prints were featured in another new publication called: CREATE Magazine, and I am in the inaugural issue  ( visit CREATE here: ).

CREATE Magazine, the inaugural issue
out now...

So, talking about the medium of print, I am happy to report that a book I have co-authored with my brother Paul Singer, will be published this year by RIT Press, and I will let my readers know when it  arrives.  We write an illustrated biography of our father, Arthur Singer, who as I mentioned in my last post was a wildlife artist.  We are hoping that this book finds a wide readership.

So the medium is the media.  The art part is a challenge, but so is getting your work seen by your audience.  There is so much competition for attention, but thanks to the WEB we have more opportunity than in the past, don't you think?