Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial EarthDay

Brooktondale, New York, May 25, 2018

A moment of silence on this Memorial Day for those troops who have served the U.S.

-Now, let us think of Earth Day.. If, we are really stardust - as the song says, at what point do these specs of dust achieve consciousness?  How would these atoms of which we speak become sentient beings?  And what would they look like?  I know it takes eons to become what we are today, so let us celebrate what great good luck we have had to appreciate the Earth on this day and in this way!

Going forward as a working artist, I look at many exhibitions and get a big boost by looking at artwork and thinking about the people who make the images.  I also teach art at my college ( R.I.T.) and I hope to inspire my students and others to be creative, and celebrate their good fortune at being alive in this moment.

June Szabo
"Artists Save The Earth"
Ithaca, New York

We start out at our little pond in Brooktondale and take in all of nature in its regal splendor before a drive into Ithaca, New York.  I am going to The Ink Shop on State Street, and when I walk into the building I find a small show in the entryway of CSMA: "Artists Save The Earth".

Craig Mains, woodcut
"One Last Load"

On the wall there is a large print by Craig Mains of a last lumber truck rolling along the little housing
project that looks like the colorful ones on Boiceville Road off Route 79.  There is a photo of cows munching on piles of garbage by Robyn Wishna ( Toxic Cow ) that is quite threatening, as well as photos of gravel pits and the like.

Robyn Wishna
"Toxic Cow"

There is a look back to a time when "Earth Art" came to my attention.  I was following what Robert Smithson wrote about, and at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum they had dedicated space to host a show that featured artists who were striking out in new directions.  Marilyn Rivchin brings us a scrap book from this time ( 1969 ) and gives us a description and documentary photos of artists like Jan Dibbets, and Hans Haacke, among others.  I remember that Hans Haacke was one of the teachers at The Cooper Union when I was there doing my undergraduate work.  Hans Haacke made his reputation digging into the dirty secrets of the art world by posing interesting questions, and then setting up circumstances that were very revealing.  I am not sure how this saves the earth but it sharpens my memory of those years when I was a student.

Marilyn Rivchin's 1969 Memorial

Upstairs, at The Ink Shop, I spoke with artist Paul Van Atta - who is a Kahn Family Fellow,  as he prepared his show called: "Molotov Cocktail".  Silk Screen prints of his reminded me of the characters of west-coast artist Barry McGee.  I will have to come back and look at Paul Van Atta's work when it opens in June.  Originally, I thought that I was going to see a show of printed poetry, with many samples from a collection at Wells College.

The Ink Shop presents:  Paul Van Atta
Opens Friday, June 1, 2018

I walked down Ithaca Commons to Artspace and there I found a show of poetry, paintings and prints by Patricia Brown and Lisa Harris.  There is a book published with their collaboration called "Traveling Through Glass" that seems to be the origin of the images on view.  Each work contains a line from a poem, and the painting or print attempts to deal with those thoughts mostly through abstraction,  Energetic and analytic at the same time, many of the images have a geometric tendency.

Patricia Brown and Lisa Harris
"5 Change"
at Artspace, Ithaca Commons, Ithaca, NY

The day was hot and dry, so I got into my air conditioned car and drove up to Clifton Springs to attend an opening at Main Street Arts for a show called: "Land and Sea".  This juried exhibition has a nice printed catalog available and the exhibit itself includes several artists from this area as well as many artists who were new to me.

"Land and Sea" at Main Street Arts
Clifton Springs, NY

June Szabo in "Land & Sea"

The spaces upstairs at Main Street Arts are reserved for artist studios in the residency program, and also for changing exhibits like the walls full of small works that make up the show of "Colorful Creations".  I also found some substantial works from past students from R.I.T. including Chad Grohman and Mike Tarantelli.  There is a lot to see here, so take your time, and enjoy!

"Colorful Creations" Student works and much more....

Chad Grohman, upstairs at Main Street Arts,
Clifton, Springs, NY


Saturday, May 19, 2018

De / Construct, Re / Construct

Werner Sun
De / Construct,  Re / Construct
The Corners Gallery, Ithaca, New York

In today's news there is a Royal Wedding and gun violence in our schools.  How to make sense of all of this?  To focus, I  return to the potential of art and share what stimulates me and gives me hope.  On a sunny day off, my wife and I ride up into Cayuga Heights, above the shores of Lake Cayuga in Ithaca, New York and go and find the Corners Gallery to see the current show.  The exhibition is called: "De / Construct, Re / Construct and it features three artists whose artwork neatly dovetails into a strong and coherent statement about forms, textures, and restrained color.  On the walls of the gallery are examples of visual art that not only would look great in our home, but also begin to stretch the boundary of what art is about.

Rebecca Aloisio, collage, 2017

The three artists in this contemporary show are: Rebecca Aloisio, Werner Sun, and Rosalyn Richards.

Rebecca recently studied printmaking with me at Rochester Institute of Technology.  I was looking forward to seeing what she has accomplished with her new printmaking skills.  She adds to this a strong concept of working with gradations of colors and abstraction and her compositions often against white backgrounds imply movement that can remind one of cubism in art by Ferdinand Leger.
I have written about Rebecca's art before on this blog, and so it was interesting to see where she is taking her work.

Rebecca Aloisio " Laser Ridge"

Rebecca Aloisio
De / Construct, Re / Construct

I have seen how Rebecca can make a print and cut it up to find new expression through collage.  She demonstrates the title of this show in her process.  The artist's methods of making the work become part of the art, even though it is difficult to predict how her work will proceed.  Compare this to Werner Sun and his installation called: " A Random Walk ".  " A Random Walk " appears much more deliberate than something randomly discovered.

Werner Sun, " A Random Walk ", cut and folded papers

Werner Sun's art reminds me of the revelation I found when Buckminster Fuller came to visit our School of Art at The Cooper Union, when I was getting my Bachelors Degree in the last century.
Fuller's geodesic domes had amazing impact on architecture, and now this concept seems to be having a new life in the artwork that Werner Sun has produced for this installation.  Mr. Sun has been taking two dimensional imagery and with some cutting and folding has begun to create an art that reflects an awareness of physical structures that create the foundations of what we can see in reality.

Werner Sun at the Corners Gallery

There is a path that opens up for the visual artist to explore, and we are talking about territory that would have been hard for the average person to contemplate without the aid of the personal computer.  We can start to appreciate the various forms - the geometric mesh of experience that we can see in many examples in Werner Sun's installation.  His constructions hang from the ceiling and project off the wall, and they are tactile and rigorous in their application and appeal.

Rosalyn Richards, "Geometry and Light"

Rosalyn Richards also stakes out new territory in paintings and prints that give the viewer an analytical approach to what and how we see.  Facets of crystals reflecting lights, and bubble forms provide some of the content for paintings that have an intimate close-up quality, and we marvel at the patience that these paintings require of the artist -  to fulfill her vision.

Rosalyn Richards

I found myself thinking about the generations of artists starting with Kandinsky who work with abstraction and their efforts to dig into the meaning and structure of what we see - and this has been essential for contemporary art.  These explorations will continue, and there is much more new territory to explore.  We were happy to explore part of this new land with these three artists.  The show runs thru May 25th at the Corners Gallery on Hanshaw Road.  Go There..

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ode To Joy

Oxford Street and Park Avenue
Rochester, N.Y.
May, 2018

Spring has sprung, and the magnolias along the  median are in full bloom.  On a sunny afternoon I buzz the door for the Oxford Gallery and walk downstairs for a look see.  Around this time each spring the gallery calls on their artist community to take part in a group show, and this year the theme is "Ode to Joy".


"Ode to Joy"
thru June 16, 2018

I was invited to participate, so I sent in a monotype print.  I wanted to see what others had done with the theme, and was happy that they took a very diverse approach to a subject that has music and light woven into the heart of the mix.

"The First Veil of Spring", mixed media

There are over 60 works of art to take in and they range from abstract and intimate ( "Fog" by Jean K. Stephens ) to rather large and boisterous ( "Gun Control" by David Dorsey ).  I had the good fortune to be able to talk with one of the featured artists - g.a. Sheller - about her mixed media work on paper she calls: "The First Veil of Spring".  This is a two part work that includes photography, printmaking and hand painting - portraits of the first flowers - snowdrops to be exact - with marvelous details that appear almost three-dimensional with very subtle hints of green stems or leaves on a snowy morning. She must have gotten level with the ground to get such close-ups of these tiny flowers.

"Lake Effect" by Ken Townsend

"Ode to Joy" is a wonderful concept, and if you take these artists at their word - their artworks should make a real connection.  For some painters in this show, they express their joy by going straight outdoors to find their bliss.  Maybe, for Ken Townsend, it was the light catching on the bits of snow in a large tree that lifted his spirits.

"Farmer's View" by Sean Witucki

Stately trees at the edge of a field in "Farmer's View" bring joy to the artist who paints the picture, and hopefully this is transmitted to a viewer.  The quality of this realist's work certainly gives you a time of day and a very peaceful feeling as you scan this paintings surface and take in the details that this artist provides.

"Elysium's Daughter"
by William Keyser

On the other hand, it might be just the ability to bring something new into the world that brings an artist sheer happiness.  I get that from Bill Keyser's work: "Elysium's Daughter" made of laminated wood with a bright yellow paint.  Keyser's sculpture frames space in a way that both condenses and relaxes the environment creating the first beat of a proposed rhythm.  Other little abstractions can be attractive, including the meandering currents that circulate in the pen and ink drawing called " Great Circle" by Bill Stephens.

" Great Circle" by Bill Stephens

My monotype print which I call: " Comprehension" fits right in this mode.  I have been working with bright primary colors for several years now and my print has a kind of celestial starlight at the central "point of origin" with a radiance that becomes palpable.  I am using a method of  developing  qualities in my art that translates mathematics and measurement into something you can sense and see.

"Comprehension" by Alan Singer

Another artist is very circumspect about the joy they get in the process of painting.  Barbara Page is up in an airplane, surveying the scenes down below and finds a certain confluence of roads and streams and gives you the demarcation zones in her work she calls: "Three Springs".  She has been working on map paintings for a while and I would say her selection for this show takes you away from the ordinary point of view, and by taking a bird's eye view beckons you to step away from today's problems and see things from this new perspective.

"Three Springs" by Barbara Page

"Ode to Joy" could also be a party, and painter Kate Timm, is ready to celebrate.  In her still life which reminds me of the paintings by Janet Fish, there is a little bottle with a portrait of Beethoven on the label.  Kate has a table laden with candy, corn, a vase of flowers and everything is painted in a particular light, as if it could stay that way forever.

"Ode to Joy" by Kate Timm

So, time and place certainly has an effect.  The best thing is that joy can be shared.  There are so many works of art in this show that I am tempted to write about each one, but then there wouldn't be as much of a surprise for the readers of my blog, and I don't want to stop you from getting up and going to see for yourself.  Check it out and smile...

"Gun Control" by David Dorsey
at Oxford Gallery
267 Oxford Street, Rochester, New York

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Industrial Strength

industrial Strength

Albert Paley, "Genesee Passage"
in downtown Rochester, New York

Right in the circle in front of the old Bausch & Lomb Building in downtown Rochester,  there stands a wonderful monument to industry and artistic pursuit by Albert Paley.  I enjoyed looking at this post-modern work of art on a beautiful spring afternoon and  I was thankful that such a thing was commissioned for this location.

Geisel Gallery placard

Inside the building, I walked upstairs to the Geisel Gallery to view  the installation of watercolors by Leo Dodd on exhibition through May and arranged by his son, Paul Dodd.  It was just last year that I was introduced to this painter's artwork - so I went to see this new selection that includes paintings made in far flung places like Italy and even the State of Maine!

Leo Dodd paints motif 
Pemaquid Point, Maine

Leo Dodd ( 1927-2015 ) was a mechanical engineer by day - working for Kodak and he was always attracted by the human activity around building sites in Rochester and elsewhere.  As Rick Muto has written, "Leo Dodd was in the mode of painters like Thomas Hart Benton, a regionalist who had a distinct style that emphasized gesture, gravity, and movement."

Leo Dodd /  Heavy Lifting
watercolor on paper

I am sure that I am not the only one who has drawn and painted around construction sites ( my favorite thing to do when I was a young teenager ).  Leo Dodd was there too, as an observer and one who could chronicle changes to the urban landscape with a touch of his pencil and brush.  I think it would have been interesting to watch him work.  How did he decide upon which details to show and which ones to suppress?

Leo Dodd and the Occupy Movement

If you go and visit the Geisel Gallery you get a taste of what it was like to watch some of the landmarks of Rochester being built through the eyes of this artist.  Seeing these scenes - of workers doing their jobs - and then making a composition for them brings to mind the traditions found in Winslow Homers' watercolors or someone like John Singer Sargent.

Karen Frutiger
"Softly Spoken"
The Gallery at Creativ Framing and Editions Printing
510 State Street

Down the way, over to 510 State Street ( Made on State ) we have a show of collages by Karen Frutiger presented at The Gallery of Creativ Framing and Editions Printing.  Karen's show is on through June and it is worth the trip over there to see her experiments in layering color and form.  This is an art that owes a debt to her abstract expressionist forebears, and you can actually go back to the ground breaking efforts of Kurt Schwitters to find the energy that Karen Frutiger brings to her project.

Karen Frutiger collage

Having just viewed the watercolors of Leo Dodd, I couldn't help but sense some of the same contrasts and gestures in Ms. Frutiger's artwork.  I enjoyed her textures and deep contrasts, and she even has a bit of fun in a work like #11. "Rainy Day" which takes a splash of blue bubbles and makes a composition out of two grey house-like forms.

Karen Frutiger

Here once again, I am curious to know how she does what she does.  Why she selects such deep values, and how does she get her collage materials to sit so flatly?  Go see for yourself and think about how this art is made... wouldn't you like to know?

"Rainy Day" by Karen Frutiger

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Speaking About Arthur Singer

The Author of this blog
speaking to the Burroughs Audubon Nature Club
Rochester, New York

Seems like I have been out on the tour recently speaking about art to an at a nature club like the one above.  My topic is the wildlife art that my father, Arthur Singer made during his lifetime, and I can speak from experience because we collaborated together on some of the most visible projects like  the Golden Guide to Birds of North America, and the U.S. Postal Service stamps that honor the Birds and Flowers of the Fifty States ( 426 million stamps were sold ). How did a boy from Manhattan come to fall in love with wildlife art?

Arthur Singer in the 1970's

The Golden Guide with art by Arthur Singer
has sold millions of copies

At The Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, -- this Friday, May 4th at 7 pm,  I will once again give my talk on my artistic family  ( my mom was also a published illustrator and painter ) and I will also be able to  sign copies of the new book from RIT Press that I co-authored with my brother Paul.  Paul also designed the book, and you should see what he did.!   I am really proud of this art book, and the story is really a good one.  In case you have not seen our book, it is advertised in the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology magazine called: "Living Bird" this month.  Here is the cover of our book ( see below ).

RIT Press is the publisher

We look forward to seeing you at The Memorial Art Gallery for their $5 Fridays, if you can spare the time.  If you read this blog, you know that I am always writing about art, and shows that I like, and I actually have my own recent art in a big group show that will open this week at the Oxford Gallery, also here in Rochester.  The show is called: " Ode to Joy", and this group show will run until mid June.  If you can get there, you will see my print ( see below ) which I call: " Comprehension".
What people may not know about much of the artwork I have created in these past ten years is that what you see in the print is part of my investigation into the blend of mathematics and artistic pursuits.  In a way I am working on the visualization of functions of numbers on a two dimensional plane.

Comprehension by Alan Singer
Oxford Gallery, Rochester, New York

Later this year, I plan on publishing a new book on my recent art called: "Wheel House".

I write about many of the developments of my art that is so influenced by math.  I take up a path that Sol Lewitt had started, and I am making the most of it.  So now I have to look forward to speaking about a book, and working on new shows, and so much more.  Oh, and I just finished another semester at Rochester Institute of Technology, thank you very much!