Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Black and White

Kurt Ketchum ( KURT K3TCHUM )
Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

The Axom Gallery has renovated its space to create more room for the design products on display and this also makes more room for artwork, paintings and the like.  Now on view, a show by painter and graphic designer Kurt Ketchum called: BLACK5,WHIT35,COLOR3D5 thru to June 1, 2018.  I recall seeing some of Kurt Ketchum's art in a show at Rochester Contemporary a few seasons ago and this present exhibition builds on that experience.

Axom Gallery features Kurt Ketchum

There are many facets to the atmosphere created by Ketchum's paintings, some of which have a historical relationship to abstract expressionism through works by artists like Cy Twombly  ( calligraphic scrawls on white grounds ) and also contemporary affiliations with artists like Wade Guyton ( who was featured in a show at the Whitney Museum recently ).  The primary impression of the many paintings by Kurt Ketchum is one of fragmentation that skirts the limits of graphic design to function as a coherent form of communication.  Ketchum's art opens the door to a poetry of the unexpected, and not only that - it builds a brand out of that concern.  My guess is that this art can perform a commentary on our society - complexity viewed as bits and pieces - filled with energy and determination.

Basketball Hoop 48" x 36"
Kurt Ketchum

Maybe it is because I taught graphic design at R.I.T. for years that I find an attraction to Ketchum's artwork, and his paintings have an engagement with typography, spatial relationships, and a thought process-in-progress that I find most engaging.  In one painting above - Ketchum includes a basketball hoop that brings to mind inner-city sport and play.  Across the room Ketchum builds a wall of small paintings in a kind of altar piece to contemplation.

Axom Gallery features paintings by Kurt Ketchum

Rather than title his paintings, Ketchum just gives you the measurements.  Many of the works remind me of a kind of Morse Code -  dots and dashes, and maybe more than the sum of its parts.  The room  by design has a engaging aesthetic that accounts for texture, thought and urbanity.

Kurt Ketcham

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Working Towards Graduation

Sarah Kinard
explains her Thesis at the Bevier Gallery
Rochester Institute of Technology

Being able to express yourself; having the self-confidence and making a good argument for your artwork - that is a sign that you are ready to step up and graduate.  Just last week I brought my printmaking students over to see the Thesis works by Ms. Sarah Kinard.  She built her show at the Rochester Institute of Technology around an environmental explosion of forms that are truly a mixture of printmaking and painting.  Sarah is at heart a collage artist, not afraid to improvise.  Her pieces have unexpected forms often silk-screened onto wood and then painted and cut out to create compositions which she then orchestrates on the walls of the Bevier Gallery.

Sarah's work reminds me of Robert Rauschenberg combined with the wit and action of Elizabeth Murray - an artist who I once brought to R.I.T. to speak to my painting students almost ten years ago.
Sarah had more pieces in this show than I had expected.  Many of the works of art are small in comparison to other contemporary art works, but these have textures that you have to see up close, since they are almost the size of a postage stamp.

Casual Fourplay
opened First Friday at Gallery r

This is the season for students to contemplate their graduation.  Do they have a plan to go beyond and see how their artwork and life will develop?  At Gallery r this week there was an opening for a show called: "Casual Fourplay" with senior art students - Holly Ferguson, Eliza Harvey, Erika McCarthy and Kit Shulman.  What a mixture of art forms including huge sculpture, prints, drawings and installations!  In the back room take a look at the mysterious line-up of glowing glassware... Just what is going on in this artwork?  What are all those T shaped pins for, and what is in those glass jars anyway?

Holly Ferguson at Gallery r
100 College Avenue, Rochester, NY

I have worked with Holly Ferguson on some of her print pieces, and she let me know that combinations of her little square linoleum cuts were going to be arranged like parts of a quilt.  She stood next to one of her tall works in yarn and found textiles, and I wondered how she found the time to crochet all of those patterns...

Glowing Glasses at Gallery r

Back on campus at R.I.T. on the third floor of Building 7B ( Ganett )  there is a photo show now at the William Harris Gallery called: Terra Incognita.  The photographs are all from graduating MFA students all with a very self-assured look to each segment of the exhibition.  At the entrance there are postcard like prints that offer an interesting window-on-the-world.

"Terra Incognita" at William Harris Gallery

Inside the show there are a variety of candid photos like those of Jade Thiraswas, expressing joy in human relationships as expressed in the images.  Gwendolyn Anne Davies photographed herself in a variety of outfits on a beach or other locale.  She is self-possessed and confident as she sets up each angle.  One work is a play on the centerfold model where she certainly breaks the mold.

Jade Thiraswas
at William Harris Gallery

Gwendolyn Anne Davies
"Terra Incognita"
at R.I.T.

Sunday, April 1, 2018


Todd McGrain
"Passenger Pigeon",  bronze, 2007
outside of
The Laboratory of Ornithology,
Ithaca, NY

On a brilliant blue sky day - the first day of spring, we are in Ithaca to take down a show of my father's paintings and illustrations at The Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology in Sapsucker Woods.  Out in front of the LAB is a sculpture by Todd McGrain that is one part of his "Lost Bird Project".  Here he portrays a version of the last Passenger Pigeon in cast bronze that is much larger than life.  This once abundant bird flew in flocks of millions of birds but was reduced to nothing due to voracious hunting in the 19th Century.

Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Protective coloring of the Ptarmigan
oil painting circa 1920

After the demise of the Passenger Pigeon, artists like Louis Agassiz Fuertes ( 1874-1927 ) made it his mission to portray birds of many kinds in oil and watercolor,  mostly on commission from organizations like the National Geographic Magazine that featured his artwork.  Fuentes once taught at Cornell University and is considered to be one of the greatest painters of birds,so the LAB has a selection of his paintings always on view in the boardroom/exhibition space.

Inside at The Laboratory of Ornithology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Paintings by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

These first days of spring not only brought out some flowers, but the warming trend has melted a lot of snow on the ground which now runs in cascades down the many waterfalls and streams that lead to Lake Cayuga.  Ithaca Falls was thundering when I drove up to see the effects.

Ithaca Falls

Back at Rochester Institute of Technology where I teach in the School of Art, I had the opportunity to watch as graduating students mount the first of many shows of their artwork.  We have a very diverse student body and the grad students are putting together their Thesis show.  I found one of my students from the Business Practices class working on his sculpture which reminds me of a jungle jim.

Kibaek Sung

Just behind his installation, Sarah Kinard put her round paintings up on the wall of the gallery.  Her art always seems to be in motion, and the round paintings produce that effect effortlessly.  Wishing these new artists all the success in the world, now it is time to write the thesis!

Wall Work by Sarah Kinard

As the new season gets underway, there will be a lot to see, and I am looking forward to the warmer weather so I can get out and look around.  Take a look at these little beauties for example!