Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Blog on Wheels ( Part Two )

Barrett Art Center show
"Pushing Paper"
August 11 - September 22, 2018

I have been hearing good things about The Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, so it is off to the Hudson River Valley to find this place and bring my two works for the show that will start in August called: "Pushing Paper"  ( see above ).  In the older section of Poughkeepsie, right near a park by the river is an old brick building that now houses The Barrett Art Center, and they have put together a roster of interesting shows that they are mounting.  I think this is a fine idea, and it will help re-vitalize the art scene in this picturesque town that I knew many years ago when my cousins lived and worked there.

Inside The Barrett Art Center

The Barrett Art Center had a selection of photos upstairs, and a student show when we were visiting.  The interior spaces are very much like walking through the door of someone's home built probably in the late 19th century.  We were met with a friendly receptionist, and I hope that the shows attract some attention.

Making our way out and into New York City we encountered some devilish traffic and suffered through it all the way to Brooklyn.  The next day we spent in the Brooklyn Museum and found solace in the way they have re-imagined their shows, stressing diversity.  This made me think about how hard it has been for some artists who wanted to have their work presented with some respect, and only now have points of view opened to accept and promote their art.

Along Eastern Parkway is the Brooklyn Museum of Art

The show on the top floor began with some classical marble sculpture and an installation of glass art called: "FLOAT" by artist Rob Wynne which will be on view into January, 2019.  This installation actually carried through many rooms  - though each room had something different.  Sometimes the glass art was purely abstract, other situations called for glass letters that spell out some nifty statements: "I Saw Myself See Myself" is one example.

At the entrance to FLOAT
Brooklyn Museum

Further into the museum we came across rooms devoted to Transformation - Life and Death in the Americas - which features many art forms going back into history from native tribal artists of North America, Central America, and South America.  There are  many fine examples of Aztec carving to Northwest Coast masks and beyond.  The show opens your mind to all new perspectives on the power and sophistication of these ancient traditions that would produce these objects.  

Aztec stone carvings
Brooklyn Museum

Transformative Northwest Coast Mask

Downstairs in the Brooklyn Museum there was a different exhibition that featured 120 Radical Women - artists mostly of Hispanic cultures from the mid 1960s through the mid 1980s - and  here once again I was taken by the nature of this show and the fact that I had not been aware of many of these artists whose work I was seeing for the first time.  In the exhibition there was a large wood piece by Marisol that  appears in many books around the beginnings of POP Art - though in retrospect I doubt this art has much to do with POP commercialism.

Marisol at Brooklyn Museum

Another artist that I did find had something more to do with the POP Art sense - but she puts her art thru an activist lens and her prints work at your conscience - and these are the work of  Ester Hernandez, that you can see below.

Ester Hernandez takes on Agribusiness with her own brand of POP
Brooklyn Museum

Before we left to go home we took another look at the big installation of Judy Chicago's Dinner Table which now has a real space devoted to this unique artwork.  As you go around this triangle stop and look over each setting  - and think about the time and care that goes into each part of this major work.

It can give you chills thinking of it, and all of the inspiration that the women who are honored at this table have brought to us all.

Judy Chicago at The Brooklyn Museum

So, we prepare for the long drive back upstate, don't forget the umbrella, it is going to be a pretty rainy day as we pass by the site of the World Trade Center, which is packed with tourists on this summer's day.

Traffic at a standstill..
New York, New York

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Blog on Wheels

"Bird Food"
Alan Singer, July 2018
Transfer monotype on paper

From Rochester, New York, to Ithaca, to Poughkeepsie, to Brooklyn and back...what I do for my living is an art - and it takes a lot of work!  I just left Rochester on this hot day in July feeling good about a new print that I pulled in my studio that I call "Bird Food".  The really funny thing about the print is not the subject matter, but the fact that the image is derived from a mathematical function.  I have been working on developing my prints for years now based on forms of geometry and so I feel excited about going in this new direction especially since the genesis of these images is so  unique in art. This month's Scientific American has an article about art and mathematics and is worth reading.  I think eventually people are going to want to know more about this endeavor.

In a park outside of Rochester Contemporary Art Center
July, 2018

We go on the road for a few days, and before that I visit the Rochester Contemporary Art Center to see the Kalpa Tree being built in the park next to the Art Center building.  The Kalpa Tree is the brainchild of artist Alexander Green and a San Francisco design studio called Symmetry Labs.  The Kalpa Tree is actually a sculpture that will illuminate based on an interactive interface that will result in a broadcast of colors and patterns in the park the likes of which we have never seen before, so this is truly a  wonder to behold as it is now being built from the ground up.

Nancy Ridenour at CAP Artspace on the Ithaca Commons

I have to deliver some of my artwork downstate, so we stop for a while in Ithaca, and I hop over to see two exhibits going on right now.  "Wing Beats" is a two person show at CAP Artspace on the Commons and I have been going over there to see shows for a while now.  This particular show is all about birds and I knew the photos of one of the artists ( seen above ), Nancy Ridenour - having just spotted her work in the State of the Art Gallery down State Street.  Paula Bensadoun is the other artist in this show and her works are mainly drawings including one below of Roseatte Spoonbills that you see below.  The photos are often printed on canvas or stretched around a frame, while the drawings are often in pastel, and are a bit more romantic.

Paula Bensadoun at CAP Artspace

Only a few steps away is the Ink Shop, and this month they have a new show of a variety of printmaking artists all associated with a press in France.  I was told that this is an exchange show, and so the French artists were new to me and I enjoyed seeing their prints for the first time.  Fabienne Veverka is staying here in the U.S. and was the Director of the Atelier de Gravure de la Villedieu.  She brought with her a selection of fine prints for this present exhibition.  Fabienne also has her own work on view and I found a wonderful print she made that is all about color and gradations from one to the next - and it is very enigmatic.  Other images presented are more traditional, and I gather that the Atelier offers a wide variety of printmaking methods including those that are experimental.

Fabienne Veverka
at Ink Shop
Ithaca, New York

Michelle Urbany
Atelier de Gravure de la Villedieu

Ithaca is undergoing a building spree, especially in the downtown area around the commons.  New hotels, and new stores, when you walk downtown you can't help but notice - Ithaca is booming.  I wonder how this is going to shape the visual arts scene going forward...?

Sculpture on the Ithaca Commons

Buildings going up in Ithaca, New York

Monday, July 16, 2018

Inside Story at MAG

Josephine Tota ( 1910-1996 )
Inside the Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York
Summer, 2018

Too hot and humid to work in the studio, I made up my mind that I would be better off going over to the Memorial Art Gallery to see their new shows and hear from the curator of "The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota".  Josephine who?  How often does our museum here in Rochester - introduce us to a totally new figure - a self-taught artist who died in obscurity but left her family a copious amount of small scale paintings that tell a large story worth sharing.

Questions and answers about Josephine Tota
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Josephine Tota's art at the MAG

Jessica Marten is the Curator in Charge at the MAG and she spent part of her afternoon talking with her audience in the museum auditorium about how she first encountered the art of Josephine Tota, and how this art offered a rare opportunity to open a new chapter for these paintings which had never been seen at all by the public.  Josephine Tota had experienced psychological problems and had virtually withdrawn from her work as a seamstress but forged ahead with her art at home.  Josephine Tota probably never expected her paintings to be given such an arousing welcome as we have here at the MAG.

Josephine Tota's paintings tell stories...

Paradoxical visions...

Curious personifications...

Josephine Tota lived in Rochester, New York, so her story has resonance with an audience gathered for the opening of the show.  She could be considered a naive artist - but the sentiment and emotion expressed in her art has more of a surreal context and an illustrative quality to it.  The 90 pieces on display owe more to an earlier century of European art, especially the flattened patterns of medieval manuscript paintings that Ms. Tota so enjoyed during her life.

Grandma Moses

On this Sunday afternoon, I stay to hear Karel Ann Marling speak about Grandma Moses, another self-taught painter who was a star in her own right - I grew up looking at her artwork often published in the 1950's and 60's - which had some influence when I was a child.

Karel Ann Marling is a very interesting speaker having spent years working up her biography of Grandma Moses, and I am very taken with the images, history, and cultural effects that her paintings had, and one can wonder if Josephine Tota will have that kind of impact once her paintings become more well known.

Nancy Jurs at the MAG

Nancy Jurs is a sculptor and installation artist who is well known and respected here at the MAG.  Her show has a title: "My Life Has Gotten So Busy That It Now Takes Up All Of My Time".  Her sculptural works are mainly fired ceramics - some like the grouping installed at the Rochester Airport years ago are quite large.  In this present selection her art is often found in sequence - hanging here under a scrim - which reads almost like a filmstrip.

Model for Airport Installation by Nancy Jurs

Down the hall in the Lockhart Gallery, Larry Merrill has a selection of photos on view that he has made of classical sculpture.  Some of the sculptural pieces come from the Memorial Art Gallery permanent collection and measure only an inch or so across.  In Larry Merrill's photos the lighting gives these objects a real presence, and a viewer can take in nuance that may not be really evident when seen as a real 3D experience.  The photographer's eye captures something else, a quality often of decomposition - some of the unsettling aspects of looking at antiquities from a more analytical perspective.  We really get a sense of how the years have gone by, the depth of history, and the vulnerability even of artwork carved in stone.

Larry Merrill presents: "Wards of Time"

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Notations and State of the Art

Kristine Bouyoucos
Rundel Library, First Floor
115 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 
thru July 18, 2018

We are fortunate to live in a diverse community where access to the arts is as simple as walking into the Public Library.  This is especially true if you go over today to The Rundel Library at 115 South Avenue in Rochester and while you are there look for the artwork on exhibit from Kristine Bouyoucos.  The art comes in many forms, prints, books and more in a show she calls: "Notations: Imagery of Words and Music thru July 18th.

Kristine Bouyoucos
part of a triptych called: La Mer

Kristine Bouyoucos has been working with various forms of printmaking and in her show she presents framed prints and artists books for your enjoyment and contemplation.  Over many years you may have seen her art in Print Club shows, and exhibited at Oxford Gallery, and here the emphasis is on music and how it can intersect with visual art.  Many of her recent prints have musical notation and can be seen as her interpretations of great pieces of music like "La Mer" seen above.

Kristine Bouyoucos
limited editions of Artist's Books

Kristine is also a musician and as she says "music has been a constant in her life".  She can combine  her techniques in one work of art using what she calls: mixed media, and that can be one of a number of printmaking techniques including digital overprinting to give the final effects.  She is not afraid to tackle other subjects, and here I am thinking of her recent strategy of taking on the political climate that we find ourselves in here in the USA.  

Kristine Bouyoucos
Rondel Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester

On a really hot day we drive down to Ithaca, and take a cooling walk along the gorge and Cascadilla Creek.  Not far from the road, we find a spot that has a little pile up of rocks along the lines of Andy Goldsworthy.


Ithaca has some spots I visit regularly for their natural appeal, and then there are some places I go for the visual arts.  One spot is directly below The Commons - and that is an artist cooperative called State of the Art Gallery  at 120 West State Street.  This July there is a three person show on now and it is worth a visit if you have not been there.

State of the Art Gallery,  120 West State Street, Ithaca, NY

I know one of the artists in this current show - Stan Bowman.  When I was finishing up my studies as a painter in graduate school at Cornell University, Stan was an up-and-coming faculty member who moved into my old studio space in what is now Tjaden Hall.  The last things I saw of Stan's were digital prints over in the lobby of the CSMA Building in Ithaca so it was a bit of a surprise to see his new dimensional paintings in this new exhibition with Mary Ann Bowman and Jan Kather...

Stan Bowman with his new artwork
State of the Art Gallery

Stan Bowman's acrylic on board

Stan Bowman mentioned to me that many of the works he is showing were made in the last three months, so they all share characteristics of bright colors, textured surfaces and dimensional cut-outs that bring sculptural form to these paintings that can remind you of painters like Frank Stella and Friedl Dzubas.

In this 3 person show, I was also quite impressed with the prints of Jan Kather made on metal supports in a series called "Watermark".  Beautiful - yet subtle tones are given depth with these new pieces - the result of scanning a watercolor and printing it in a digital format.  My photo doesn't do justice to this art which has to be seen in the first person.

Jan Kather's Watermark
State of the Art Gallery

Mary Ann Bowman has character - many of them are on view in the gallery - and no doubt she has fun with these creations.  The sculptural works can sit in a chair or on a table top.  The "Lovely Chicken Leg Lady" is part ceramic with a topknot of apples - it is a hoot!  Take some time out of your day to visit the State of the Art Gallery, all you have to do is enter the door at 120 West State Street, and you will be captivated!

Mary Ann Bowman
at State of the Art Gallery
Ithaca, New York