Sunday, October 28, 2018


Amanda Means, "Light Bulb 00050C",  2001
currently on view at
Albright Knox , Buffalo, New York

Last week when I was in Buffalo at The Albright Knox Art Gallery, I stopped to take a close look at a photo made by my friend Amanda Means.  The centered image is simple - a light bulb as a subject - it glows fiercely in this Polaroid print made in 2001.  This image represents light and energy; maybe hope and a singular beauty.  And her photo has influenced my own work, especially on my print below - a monotype I call "Importance of Light".  My image is an expression for a form of mathematics - a kind of visual algebra that describes a plane.

Alan Singer, "Importance of Light"
Monotype, 2018

Looking deeply at a traditional artist's work, whether it is a pencil drawing or a painting, you can tell a lot about the personality behind the artwork, so the art is very revealing.  Like a handwriting analysis - artwork can reveal interesting factors, - and sometimes the idiosyncrasy of an artist - their choices that they make create a sense of style, and can be attractive to some and less so for others.

What happens when the motivation for image making is funneled through machine intelligence?  I am thinking now of what is gained and what is lost through digital art and artificial intelligence.  Today in the New York Times they employed algorithms to design Halloween costumes - does AI represent a direction that we are going to be taking in art?  I would hate to leave the task of creating art solely in the "hands" of a machine that is based on averaging out the pleasure we get that is usually found in the artist's work.

Patti Russotti  at the Geisel Gallery, Rochester, New York

I doubt that such a program would bring us an exhibition of the sort that I found this week at the Geisel Gallery.  Patti Russotti mounted her show called: " Primal Invisibilia " featuring examples of things not easily viewed and documented through the lens of her camera ( or scanner as the case may be ).

Patti Russotti  presents: Primal Invisiblia

Along with her photographic pieces were monoprints using encaustic or hot wax on paper.  This very direct method of making an image reveals an organizing principle we bring to working with color, textures, and throw in the accidental and the unintentional.

Russotti encaustic monoprint

This month, thru November 24th, 2018 there is also an inspiring group showing at the Oxford Gallery here in Rochester.  Three seasoned artists - Barbara Page, Anthony Dungan and Phyllis Bryce Ely are exhibiting paintings in a show they call: "Transformations".  Of the three artists who show here, "Tony" Dungan has the more experimental approach to his use of color and applications which have a very expressive range.  His art for this exhibition takes the figure as a primary subject and then plays with the methods of representation.

Anthony Dungan  at Oxford Gallery

The jazz that enters the paintings from "Tony" Dungan plays out in layers and transforms his imagery through his process.  Sometimes his drawing in paint can remind you of Willem DeKooning and at other times it can be be Arshile Gorky.  

In the past I have written about Barbara Page's map paintings and in the present show called: "Transformations" there are several new smaller works that are dedicated to places she has traveled to.  The map paintings may come from flights over the regional terrain, and they often have a prevailing color which may reveal the season, or what the land has been developed for.

Barbara Page at Oxford Gallery

Phyllis Bryce Ely has a studio space in the Hungerford Building, and she is also part of this new exhibition at the Oxford Gallery.  Her subjects  can be a rugged landscape or the structure of a building in downtown Rochester - she told me a story about the "Wings of Progress" - that I found to be surprising.  As a youngster growing up here, she was afraid of the building and what the wings signified for her when she would drive by.  Today, she makes it a point to paint this building in a style that seems to quote Georgia O'Keefe.  

"Wings of Progress"
Phyllis Bryce Ely
oil stick on mylar

In another part of the Oxford Gallery show, Phyllis Bryce Ely presents a grouping of "Rocks I have Known" -portraits of these keepsakes - that reveal once again things that were previously unknown to us.  Little swirls, and textures cause you to think about the forces that created these stones.  I am a rock collector too, and have a pile of similar subjects in my studio, so I will have to look again and think about what could evolve.  Maybe just enjoy the simple beauty of how things are right now...

Phyllis Bryce Ely " Rocks I have known"
encaustic on panels

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Scope It Out

Jim Mott and his  Landscape Lottery
at Lab Space
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
Rochester, New York

We are into the fall season, and holiday spirits can grab you - especially if you are interested in visual art because there is so much happening in and around Rochester (and beyond ).  Yes, I look forward to my trips to see the New York City galleries, but we have some really fine work here, right now.

Jim Mott paints on site

Now open for your enjoyment - you could sign up for an opportunity to determine where Jim Mott will set up his paints next - with the toss of the dice.  Walk into the Lab Space and sign up for a chance to give Jim the co-ordinates on a regional map - and send him out to paint a picture of what he sees when he gets there.  I have been following Jim Mott's artwork for years, and have even written before about his "Itinerant Artist Project ( IAP ) for the American Artist Magazine.

Jim Mott's Landscape Lottery show in progress....

While you are at RoCo check out their new video space, they have renovated at the back of the gallery.

Jim Mott has a fine eye for delicate hues and a direct perspective.  He doesn't shy away from a difficult moment - like the moonrise over Cobbs Hill, or the road out to the airport, or a fence full of black bird silhouettes and much more.  For years he has immersed himself in a painting project that has taken him far and wide, and I think you will enjoy the results.

Belinda Bryce presents
"Pilgrims Process" at Axom Gallery

Over at the Axom Gallery, we have a different take on nature - this time in a more symbolic vein in the paintings of Belinda Bryce.  I met Belinda years ago as she made her prints in Liz Durand's evening studio class at R.I.T.  Belinda has kept up her art practice, and she has been showing her artwork for years now in this region.  She calls her show "Pilgrim's Process" and she writes about spending some time at the Saltonstall Art residency near Ithaca, letting her roam freely over the countryside contemplating her next moves.

Belinda Bryce paintings at Axom Gallery tell a symbolic story

Belinda's paintings at Axom Gallery share a deep interest in contrasts, textures, and subtle or minimal color and graphic impact which never gets rigid.  Her perspective on nature is more of an experience, not entirely unlike what I saw in the paintings of Brad Butler over at the Mercer Gallery in MCC.  Her vision is more internal, more poetic and you just have to follow her path.

Belinda Bryce

Belinda actually has a narrative that is worth reading and it gives you a bit more background about her walks in the woods.  She tells a story about walking through the landscape and her artwork verges on the iconic - having a visceral relationship to artists like Joan Mitchell and maybe even Adolph Gottlieb.

Down in the South Wedge at 661 South Avenue to be precise we have an end of October pop-up art show curated by Erich Lehman  who has been instrumental in the Wall/Therapy initiative, and also he was owner of the 1975 Gallery for a number of years.  This new show will only be available for viewing in the next few days - so plan on being there soon!  I saw many red dots - so works are for sale and people are getting into the holiday spirit as I said earlier..

"Dearly Departed"  
661 South Avenue

Run over to see what is happening, and in conversation Erich Lehman promises to have more to show when R.I.T. opens up their new City Artspace in the new year.  The opening attracted a young audience and there is a list of seventy-five works up for your contemplation - all in the spirit of the season.

The crowd at " Dearly Departed "
hosted by Erich Lehman of the 1975 Gallery

Friday, October 19, 2018

Destination Buffalo

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo, New York

After several hours of recruiting students for my College of Art & Design at R.I.T., I left the Villa Maria for the Albright-Knox and Burchfield Penney Center over on Elmwood Avenue.  The day was cool and the sky blue, as I walked a path over to see a show at The Albright-Knox that features artists from the 1960s - the era in which I grew up.  I was not disappointed, but the Gallery was in transition as they were installing a show of their recent acquisitions.

Andy Warhol's portraits of Seymour Knox

In the museum, the show is called: "Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s.  I found many paintings and only a few sculptures - which I thought was odd.  My guess is that this show represents a certain point of view of the curators and the buying habits of Seymour Knox.  Seymour looks out at us in multiple colors in a work by Andy Warhol, and in fact there is very little evidence in "Giant Steps" of the strength of Pop Art in the 1960s.

I was teenager in the 1960s, but I never missed a week of going into the galleries of 57th Street in Manhattan and often stopped into shows at the Howard Wise Gallery on a regular basis.  I remember speaking with Yayoi Kusama at her opening there, and I remember seeing Len Lye and his artwork also in a show at that gallery.

James Rosenquist's "Nomad", 1963

The 1960s - "Giant Steps", artists like Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist are featured - but where is the art of Peter Saul, which I saw numerous times at the Allan Frumkin Gallery?  No, this exhibition features Abstraction and Op Art, and one of the standouts from this time is Victor Vasarely - for the sheer power of his geometry and work with color.  I also want to give a nod to Max Bill and Hans Hoffmann.  These are painters who had the most impact on me - then and now.

Victor Vasarely

The Albright show lacks sculpture and where are the works of artists like Robert Smithson, or David Smith?  No notice of Earthworks, or even Richard Serra who is protean.  There is a giant yellow painting by Al Held who created some powerful artwork during that period, and there are artists like Bridget Riley who dominate a certain strain of perceptual geometry that still rings true.

Hans Hofmann

Is it just me, or does this show provoke a response - like do we still think that this art will have staying power?  Certain of the artists on view in this show I had never heard of - and how do they find their way into this show of an eras' greatest hits?

If you did not live through the 1960s and this art is new to you, would you still think of this as important and relevant to the art of today?  Maybe.

A concise show - seeing is believing?

Claudio Bravo,  " Red Paper" 1969

Down the lower hallway there is a show that is called "The Swindle" - like these works are so minimal as to create a sense of wonder in the viewer - are they the artists trying to put something over on us?  When you look at this art - there main thing is that the work of the artist seems to be hiding.

Charles  Burchfield  "Trees"

Charles Burchfield ( 1893-1967 )

Across the street at The Burchfield Penney Center we are given a view of the artist's studio and his output based on his observations of trees with his own twist of style and poetry.  He tries to convey in a watercolor or drawing something of the wind and the sunlight which becomes a palpable texture in his art.

Acquisitions for their permanent collection
at the Burchfield Penney Center

Also on view at the Burchfield Center is a show called: "Ten Years In" - representing artworks that have become part of the permanent collection - and you will find it very enlightening.

Make Buffalo a destination and check out the shows.  You will see many strong works and upstairs there are special exhibitions of sculpture including some minimal wall works in ceramic by artist Anne Currier.

Ceramic art by Anne Currier

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Graphic Life

Kenneth Hiebert
University Gallery, Rochester Institute of Technology
October 11, 2018

Walking into the University Gallery at RIT one day last week, I caught the presentation by graphic designer Kenneth Hiebert that included his original posters and photos projected up on a screen for some of his designs.  Having used one of the books that he authored as a guide to design processes in my classes at RIT,  I was interested in meeting this famed designer - who once worked with Armin Hoffman in the Bauhaus tradition.  Ken Hiebert had a long association with the Philadelphia College of Art  (PCA) before it became the University of the Arts and my brother had studied graphic design with him back in the early 1960s.

Kenneth Hiebert designs for the artists - Hicks, Kane, and Pippin

Ken Hiebert's talk could have been called: "The Raw, and the Cooked" with his designs and he even had one piece that was passed around through the audience so they could touch the textures of his hand lettering.  On the gallery walls there were photo images that Ken Hiebert had printed as part of a commentary  on the monument of Stonehenge.  He joked about the notion that his designs with these ruins could by ruined further if they had  suffered from poor production, and he gave us examples.

Pamela Drix at Rochester Contemporary Art Center

A celebration of graphics seems to be the underlying principle here this month as there are shows like: "Under Pressure 2018" - a joint project for RoCo and The Print Club of Rochester.  There are four featured artists:  Pamela Drix, Joseph Scheer, Kathryn Polk, and Bob Erickson.  Joseph Sheer also has some of his prints of colorful moths at the More Fire studio at 36 Field Street this month.

Kathryn Polk lithographs at RoCo

The exhibition at RoCo is subtitled  Redefining the Multiple, and the four artists take different paths to achieve that end.  I think that Pamela Drix may have the most experimental approach to this as she creates colorful strips that create a graphic impact on the wall that is much more radical than the Victorian look of Kathryn Polk's colorful lithography.  The majority of the images from Mr. Scheer and Mr. Erickson are photo based - and they are experimental up to a point.  I found the abstractions from Mr. Erickson to be engaging and unusual - it was hard to tell what I was looking at.  The series of works from Joseph Scheer told a story of political impact  and reminded me of a school of photojournalism that found an audience in the mid-twentieth century.

Bob Ericsson 
"Under Pressure" 
Rochester Contemporary Art Center

Drive down to Honeoye Falls, at the Mill Art Center to find the Annual Print Club show  now underway.  As you walk upstairs you are greeted by an image from illustrator and printmaker Bob Conge called: "A Lobbyist for Big Tobacco" ( this is a mono print with watercolor embellishments ).  Further into the show you will find a companion piece that has a real wit called: "The Corporate Vision".

Bob Conge's "The Corporate Vision"
Annual Show for The Print Club
The Mill Art Center, Honeoye Falls, New York

You will enjoy this show because it has a real vitality in the kinds of prints that artists are making and it runs the gamut from sedate traditional landscape to colorful abstraction.  I like the big print from Michael Harris called: Celestial Navigator" seen below.

Michael Harris' Celestial Navigator

The Print Club exists to further understanding and appreciation for the printmakers and their medium. Prints also serve the needs of people who may want to collect art and want an affordable avenue towards  building  a collection or starting one.  At the Mill Art Center I found my print hung in a trio that included an image from Carol Acquilano, and a bright abstract from Kurt Pfeiffer.  Go over to see this show - you will certainly find something to like in this selection.

Prints by ( left to right ) Singer, Acquilano, and Pfeiffer
The Mill Art Center, Honeoye Falls, New York  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Monet Meets Technology

The Memorial Art Gallery
Paintings by Claude Monet ( 1840-1926 )
'Waterloo Bridge, Vision and Process'

Below:Waterloo Bridge, Grey Weather
by Claude Monet ( 1900 )

I was sitting with Nic Minetor during the New York State Ornithological Meeting last weekend hearing about the work he was doing as a lighting designer for The Memorial Art Gallery.  I told him that we were heading over to see the new show featuring the paintings of Claude Monet, and he was very well aware of the exhibition having planned some of the lighting schemes.  That is an interesting job- figuring out how to set the lights for these masterpiece paintings.  Also, part of the setting for the new show requires choosing wall colors that provide some contrast for the elaborate frames that can  sometimes seem to overwhelm a painting.

photo: John Liebherr

Enter the Monet show here...

"Waterloo Bridge, Vision and Process" is just a marvelous show and a wonderful way to get to know in depth the work of an Impressionist master at the height of his powers.  What I like most about the show is the size, and the concentration on this set of artworks that focus on a famous bridge seen mostly in a mid-distance series of paintings that are evocative and engaging.

photo: John Liebherr

Instructive content

Walking into the show there are descriptive wall panels to read and the context is set for what is to come.  The first painting you come across is colorful with a minimum of detail - just some sunlight peeping out from a grey-green foggy day in London over the river painted en plein aire.  Some of the paintings in this series show the bridge backlit, while others have the bridge bright and dimensional.

Read the Labels

Below the paintings are the labels which tell the visitor not only the title of the painting but also give information about the colors that Monet employed to paint the canvas you are looking at.  We are given forensic evidence of the pigments found when these paintings were scanned and details were identified.  

Claude Monet, 1904 "Vision and Process'

Waterloo Bridge as painted by Monet, tells you not only about the structure of the bridge and the traffic it bears - both on the bridge and in the water below - but also about the surroundings and above all the atmosphere that is built by the painter on each canvas.

Monet meets Hi Tech and allows audience to adjust colors

I congratulated Director Jonathan Binstock on a terrific show and well attended opening.  I also commend the application of high  technology in a historic show of paintings from the past.  There is a revelation when Monet meets High Tech.  A series of interactive screens are set up to give the audience an idea of what would happen if Monet chose to change the color balance in one of his paintings.  Sliders - could give the painting more contrast or less, or show you what the painting looks like under infrared light for example.  Here we are seeing a painting the way a restorer might - through a lens that scans for textures or hidden layers that were subsequently painted over.

This is a new way to inform an audience and also reveal some of the process for making a painting the way Monet did - now over a hundred years ago.

Fabric collage by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz

If you are going to visit The Memorial Art Gallery don't miss the textile collages that are just down the hall from Monet.  Embroidery and cut fabrics are pieced together in these works by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz that tell a fearful story of family love and loss during the years of the Nazi regime of World War ll.

You are under arrest...

Monday, October 8, 2018

Painter's Poetry

Monet has opened at The Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York

You may wonder what else can be said and written about Monet that hasn't been published - so I will add my thoughts on this Impressionist in my next post - because the show that has just opened at The Memorial Art Gallery and should not be missed if you have ever been interested in the fine art of painting.

Both of my parents were artists and introduced me to painting at a very young age, and I literally have been seeing and thinking about art from childhood on.  I am also a reader and writer and poetry has attracted my attention over the years as well.  The ability of poetry to stimulate the imagination, to reach for meaning in the composition of words and phrases finds a parallel universe in the application of paint on canvas in the hands of a gifted artist.  Not every visual artist reaches for the impact and open questions often posed by the poetic practitioner.  We are fortunate at this moment to have an opportunity to assess the strength of painting in shows that stress the poetic temperament.

Bradley Butler - new paintings at
Mercer Gallery
Monroe Community College

In the Mercer Gallery, on the campus of Monroe Community College this past week, I went to see the paintings of Bradley Butler who is currently the Director of the Main Street Arts Gallery in Clifton Springs, New York.  Brad was also a student a fews years ago in the School of Art at Rochester Institute of Technology where he earned his Master's Degree.  In this new show, Brad extends his interest in painting with an invitation to his audience to join him on a path through some dreamy mountains.  Maybe it is the hour before sunrise, everything is quiet, and you are certainly alone.  The tonality of the paintings in his show pose a question: "What Isn't Real and What Is?"

"What Isn't Real and What Is?"
Bradley Butler

The poet painter approaches a path that winds around and seemingly disappears up ahead.  We contemplate the future and look for signs.  The weather is dark and moody, and the action of the artist's gaze only penetrates so far...doomed to return to the start again and again.  Color for this painter is kept at a minimum; maybe some bluish grey.  Up ahead in Brad's compositions are mountains - not necessarily the Romantic ones illustrated by Albert Bierstadt, but ones that could have come about by considering Mark Rothko.  The painter needs to explore, go on a journey, but does he dare go off the path?  If so - what would that look like?

New Paintings by Bradley Butler
October 4 - November 1, 2018
Mercer Gallery, MCC

The next evening, we drive over to The Village Gallery in Caledonia, New York for the opening of a show of artwork on view by Gillian Pederson-Krag.  I have known Gillian's work for years - since  I was a student getting my Master's Degree in painting at Cornell University - and Gillian was teaching there at the time.  Back then she painted the still life and landscape and today - 43 years later she is still at it.

Gillian Pederson-Krag
The Village Gallery, Caledonia, New York

Gillian's poetic stance is translated through her choice of colors, and the touch of her brush which often has a dreamy look to it but very different than Brad Butler's.  Brad Butler takes you along his mind's pathways, and in Gillian's art she is more of a realist and reflects on what things looked like.
Her's is a perceptual approach to a poetry of painting, and as you look around her show you see that things recur in many of her prints and paintings in this current selection.

California Coast by Gillian Pederson-Krag

In her show there are beaches in California, there are also streams from upstate New York.  The presence of a goldish color in her work - and her color selections in general seem to respond to the passage of time.  It makes me think of looking through picture albums of the past - there is a nostalgia for lack of a better term in these modestly sized paintings.  

Still life by Gillian Pederson-Krag

Gillian Pederson-Krag seems quite prolific and her art always has such consistency - whether it is a painting or an etching.  My brother, Paul, was visiting and bought one of her prints on opening night.  The prices for these paintings are rather modest too, considering the amount of time she must invest in them.  So, if you are looking for a wonderful art experience, drive over to Caledonia and look for the Village Gallery.  Gillian is real master, and you won't forget this poet of painting.

Gillian Pederson-Krag's  Umbria
oil on canvas