Sunday, February 5, 2017

Long Lineage

Kurt Moyer at Axom Gallery
Rochester, New York

Maybe it is the stress of the current political climate that calls out for some stability, but I look to gather strengths from the foundations of painting, and from a long and storied history in the visual arts to bolster my constitution.  My integrity is found by looking towards positive actions in the world and in my art, and that path has been followed and stood the test, and I know that I am not alone in sensing this.  We learn from our mentors, and as an artist my education started at home, where I watched as my mother and father both engaged in their art forms, as well as my brother who is four years older than me and is a pretty good painter when he can spend the time with his materials. We all liked Corot and the French masters.

J. B. Corot and his painting "Bridge at Narni ' in the Louvre

Outside of my family, I searched for teachers from whom I could benefit and took classes from a very early age in painting and drawing.  By the time I was a teenager I was registered to take classes at The Art Students League in Manhattan and I started a class with the noted painter, Edwin Dickinson ( 1891-1978 ).  Dickinson had a real following and his artwork has since been recognized by many museums and he has found a place in art history.

Edwin Dickinson's painting "Gonzalez Studio", 1950

As an artist, Dickinson worked often in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and he influenced a group of younger painters who came to learn so much from his example.  I think there is a thread that ran from Courbet and Corot through the landscapes and portraits of Edwin Dickinson.  What I have not mentioned though was the fact that Dickinson's brand of representation was coming at the apogee of Abstract Expressionism, so this factor meant that his contribution was over-shadowed by this art world trend.

Paul Resika's painting of Provincetown Pier, 1988

Later, when I entered college at The Cooper Union, I found encouragement from Paul Resika, an artist who knew Dickinson, and Paul Resika practiced his own brand of painting "en plain air".
Paul Resika is not as well known as Dickinson, but he has been an influence on me, and he has had a very long career starting before he was a student of Hans Hofmann in the late 1940's.  In Resika's class at Cooper Union I encountered ideas that blended representation with relationships to structure in a way that seemed very contemporary, but here once again, what Resika was doing went against current trends which happened to be at that time called "Pop Art".  Paul Resika had great respect for old masters, and his paintings reflected that  grounding.

Paul Resika

When I moved to Brooklyn after doing my graduate work in painting at Cornell, one of my neighbors was the artist Lennart Anderson.  I had known Lennart Anderson for many years through his paintings, and now I got to know him and interview him for an article I was writing for "The Prospect Press".  Lennart had also studied Edwin Dickinson's methods, and even owned a very nice Dickinson painting that hung in his living room.  Both Paul Resika and Lennart Anderson represented a tradition in fine art that deserves more recognition today.

Lennart Anderson's Idyll ( 1977-2002 )

Lennart Anderson passed away at age 87 in his home in Park Slope in 2015.  He was known to work on paintings for many years in a row, until they achieved what he had envisioned.  He could also work quickly when he wanted and he produced some of his most interesting paintings at a time when the art world was held in thrall by minimalism and conceptual art.  Needless to say, Lennart Anderson wasn't a trend setter, but he did have his influence.

 Kurt Moyer, his new show is called:
" In The Forest"
at the Axom Gallery, 176 Anderson Avenue, Rochester, New York

Which brings me to the paintings that I saw this week at Axom Gallery, here in Rochester.
"In The Forest" is a selection of paintings by Kurt Moyer, who was a neighbor of mine in The Hungerford Building. 

 Kurt carries on  his artwork in a similar track that spans many generations and his classical approach to art has a real value and a tactile presence.  Looking at the surface of these paintings you can get into a physical relationship with the many layers of paint, and you can consider the decisions made for such an approach to an almost three-dimensional aspect to his canvases.

His show represents new efforts in a response to nature, and he adds his name to a very long lineage.