Friday, May 24, 2019

Fantastic Finger Lakes

Lake Cayuga, view from 5th floor 
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
Cornell University Campus

The city of Ithaca is nestled at the inlet to Lake Cayuga - one of the fantastic Finger Lakes - and you may take in the view from the panoramic windows along the 5th floor of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art on the campus of Cornell University.  The building designed by the now late I. M. Pei was built in the early 1970s and while I was a graduate student at Cornell I watched it being built outside the window of my studio next door.

Flashback:  Cornell at that time did have a small art collection housed on campus which moved to the new museum once it opened.  I remember a very important show by Robert Smithson then that was written up in all the art magazines.  This exhibition set in motion a trend in "site-specific" art that also included Earth Art - a movement that was about to take hold.  So, Ithaca was trendy!  That was about fifty years ago!  Then, the Ithaca Commons was just being considered... before State Street ran right through the center of this upstate New York town.

Alison Lurie reads at Buffalo Street Books

Today, I am in town for the opening of our show at the Corners Gallery whose owner and director, Ariel Ecklund has given eight printmakers the opportunity to show our stuff.  The day before the opening I went to hear and see some presentations including a reading by Alison Lurie, a noted author at Buffalo Street Books.  I am reading her new memoir "Words and Worlds" and enjoying her narrative.  In her book she muses about Texts and their deconstruction - make no mistake - Alison Lurie does not want to be interrogated - just left alone to write what she feels!

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
building design by I. M. Pei

Up the Hill on the Cornell University campus we are going into the Johnson Museum and I come across a big abstract painting by Norman Bluhm downstairs.

Norman Bluhm's  ( 1921-1999 )  "Brizo", 1968

I am hoping that they have some good shows on for this visit.  First, I come across prints and paintings of the nude - this is a history lesson that goes back to the anatomical studies by Vesalius.
There is even an old pop-up book - maybe the first of its kind to reveal inner layers of a body.  This is just a small part of the exhibition called: "Undressed - The Nude in Context, 1500-1750".

Anatomical Pop-up Book

Down the hall is a modern show of photo-realist watercolors from the Louis and Susan Meisel Collection.  The Meisels - gallery owners in SoHo had the best opportunity to develop a collection based on their interest in and support of a group of artists that they promoted.  This new exhibition is quite inspiring and gives you a brief look back at a particular branch of representation that patterned itself around creating paintings by hand that could really challenge a viewer - these watercolors are so complex and complete as to mimic color photographs.  It is funny because when photography was first "invented" photographers often tried to make their pictures look like paintings, but in the 20th Century the tables have turned.

Watercolors from the Meisel Collection
include this portrait of the Bendix Diner
by John Baeder

I noticed a painting by John Baeder of a famous diner in New Jersey near the Interstate that I once sat down in to have a burger.  Painter John Baeder has it accurate down to the last detail.  The photo realists were often attracted by shiny objects - just to demonstrate their prowess with paints and brushes ( and patience! ).

Watercolor by Ralph Goings

Upstairs, there is a major showing of textiles from India with very intricate designs.  Chintz and other weavings  on view show great inventiveness and are worth close study.   My only complaint is that the museum keeps the lights down low for fear of bleaching out the dyes used in these fabrics, so they are a little hard to see.  

"Traded Treasure" Indian Textiles for Global Markets
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

These are fabrics that must take a lot of time to prepare for sale.  The designs tell whole stories in some cases or represent different ways of thinking about patterns.

Indian Chintz fabrics on view now
at "Traded Treasures"

In other parts of the museum I found wondrous paintings like this little masterpiece by El Greco from 1610.  It is funny that this work looks so modern!  Is that because it is so simple and direct?  The figure of Saint James that the painting portrays could be anyone you see out for a walk in the world.

El Greco portrait of Saint James, 1610-1614

I had to get ready to leave, stopping off to admire a Giacometti sculpture that also seemed to be in a rush.  I couldn't wait to get to the opening at the Corners Gallery and greet new friends and old.  I wonder how they will welcome our printmaking show?   I think what we are doing is worthy of being collected and exhibited - maybe even here at this museum.  What do you think?

Alberto Giacometti in stride

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spring Ahead

Signs of Spring:  Trillium in Ithaca, NY

Time out to celebrate the arrival of Spring.  Take a deep breath and then plunge ahead.  This month is fulfilling in many ways.  The change in weather means more sunlight, and  flowers respond!
Time also for an opening of an exhibition that I have been planning on for months at the Corners Gallery up in Cayuga Heights,  Ithaca, New York.  

Alan Singer pictured  pulling a print edition for The Print Club of Rochester

I am a printmaker, painter and Professor of Art at R.I.T. and I have curated the show called "Process and Purpose, 2019".   Included in the new show at Corners Gallery are eight contemporary printmakers who all have a story to tell in each individual work on display.  We had a great crowd at the opening and all of the artists were in attendance.

Minna Resnick, one of our printmakers at the opening

There are established relationships between the artists of friendship and community and there is also a conversation between the artworks on view.  Maybe it is color, or maybe it is the mood expressed but each print is engaging as a composition worth your attention.  Don't mistake these prints for illustration though, the artists have built a deeper concept built from their experience.

It is rewarding to take the time and really see what the artists are dealing with.  In our show along with their art each printmaker has a verbal statement to make in support of their endeavors.  An artist like Nick Ruth comes back again and again to his statement dealing with communication using an image of a cell tower to get us to stop and think about how we have come to rely on devices for conversation.

Nick Ruth at Corners Gallery

The daily news about Climate Change and  striking images of forest fires out west bring into deeper focus the issues that printmaker Craig Mains has made with his work.  His giant woodcut features a lumber truck making the last haul.  Is that because there are no more trees to cut down; have the forest fires consumed them?

Craig Mains large woodcut deals with current issues... 

 Eileen Bushnell's small mixed media prints are like little science experiments, figures are falling and spells are broken.  There is a reliance on elemental charts that tell us about our atomic structures and how we can relate.  You could say that Eileen Bushnell's theme is a quest for knowledge.  Having a second sense of what that knowledge may bring - that is the job of this artist - to find it and hopefully harmonize!

Eleen Bushnell's print - "Akiko and the Buddha"

Minna Redneck's prints are sophisticated image making at its best, with delicate values that come close to photographic depth.  "Avoid Meaningless Words" is one title, and it is a mediation perhaps on childhood, looking back on a life well lived through the eyes of an artist.  Childhood joys are juxtaposed against more mature pursuits with a recognition of being judged through observation.

Minna Resnick at Corners Gallery

These are some of my thoughts about the ways these prints on view in "Process and Purpose, 2019" may cause a reaction from a viewer.  Several of the prints in our show are purely abstract, like those by the artist Kumi Korf.  She and I attended graduate school at Cornell University during the early 1970s and we share some history in our relations to art and that can become something of a signifier.

Kumi Korf and friend at the opening of "Process & Purpose, 2019"

Sarah Kinard and Shane Durgee are the youngest folks in this group of eight printmakers.  Sarah has a way with the fragments she collects and uses, but in her woodcut "Razzle Dazzle" she has a graphic vortex of energy that holds a viewer's attention.  Shane also has that energy and the bright colors of his transfer prints have a tactile depth.

Sarah Kinard at Corners Gallery

Shane Durgee, transfer print with over painting

My prints in this show engage with striking colors that seem to glow.  I have an engagement with geometry and with the translation of mathematics into something you can see and feel.  My new prints embody a search for new ways of expressing myself, but I never thought that you could use algebra to create images like what I am doing today.  Come out and see our show, I think we are on to something here.!

Alan Singer's print called:  " Nirvana"
"Process and Purpose, 2019"
Corners Gallery, Ithaca, New York
thru June 22, 2019

Sunday, May 19, 2019


"March Metamorphosis"  by Mary Buchan
The Oxford Gallery
May 4 - June 15, 2019
267 Oxford Street, Rochester, NY

This season brings may new art shows and each year I anticipate the theme show presented in late spring at the Oxford Gallery.  The theme is chosen on an annual basis by the gallery owner and director James Hall.  This year the show has opened and we are presented with over fifty artists dealing with the subject of Metamorphosis.  When you think of this word you immediately have to deal with change, and maybe even stages or steps that are needed to evolve.  A perfect illustration of this kind of transformation comes this season with the butterflies that flutter past.

There is the glass case, even before you enter the main gallery where small panel paintings on the theme attract your eye.  The artist is Bridget Bossart van Otterloo and she portrays the stages of the monarch butterfly from caterpillar, to chrysalis, and to a beautiful adult on the wing...and her medium is oil paint.

Alice Chen presents her "Metamorphosis"
ink and watercolor on rice paper

Once inside the show you can view bright flowers by Kate Timm and some unexpected works like the circular composition by Alice Chen.  She paints an astronomical picture that is highly imaginative and active, perhaps taking advantage of the medium she works with.  There is the benefit of having a theme like "Metamorphosis" to work with -because it is open to interpretation and contemplation.  My own entry is a monotype and the image flips back and forth with the forms presenting the viewer with a movement that is achieved through bright colors in opposition.

"Transformation", monotype by Alan Singer

Some of the artists were having fun with the subject as you can see looking at the painting by Ken Townsend called "Unmade Bed", in which the bed sheets become stormy wavelets  at the beach.  There are other surprises in store for the visitor including a painting by Daniel Mosner called: "Fruit Rot on Table Not".  I am not sure that this painting would be good in my dining room, but maybe the den!

"Unmade Bed" by Ken Townsend

"Fruit Rot on Table Not" by Daniel Mosner
Oxford Gallery, Rochester, NY

There are many fine works here and I was drawn into looking closely at the small print by Liz Durand which tells a mythological tale of "Selkie", which is a literal transformation.  Other artwork in this show dealt with the realm of nature and the changes of the garden that happens in March when the "Snowdrops" start to flower, as shown in the painting by Mary Buchan  ( seen at the top of this post ).

Geology, and the vision of petrified wood is the subject of a large watercolor by Barbara Page, a very slow metamorphosis indeed!

Watercolor by Barbara Page

A grand portrait of a racing dog is painted by Amy McLaren surprises me with the title: "Retired".

She is such an energetic painter that her focus on this creature is so sympathetic...  I guess that the idea of metamorphosis is all rolled into one clear statement here.

Painting byAmy McLaren

Before I leave the show I have to congratulate the artist Kristine Bouyoucos for her sensitive and interesting use of layers  in her print in honor of the music by composer Arvo Part.  She reproduces part of one of his scores behind blue blooming flowers in this work on paper called "Spiegel Im Spiegel".  Here she is with her print on the left.

Artist and Printmaker Kristine Bouyoucos 
with her print honoring Arvo Part

Take the time to visit the gallery, and you will leave with many new ideas about the word Metamorphosis,  and I think you will have a new understanding and a feeling for how artists can respond.

Bill Keyser is at Oxford Gallery
Thru June 15, 2019

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Show Me, Part 2

Richard Harvey at the opening for his show
142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester, New York

This May is amazing.  There are shows here that you should not miss.  Some of the shows are on stage at GEVA like the one that celebrates the life of Son House:  "Revival" and the puppy musical called "Likah" - a wonderful service dog and a story of life and loss..  I had the chance to meet Son House when I was a teenager, and I also have had a chance to get to know "Likah"!

In the visual arts a new show has opened called: 2D, 3D "Extending the Process" with loads of art by Richard Harvey at MuCcc ( Multi-Use Community Cultural Center ) on Atlantic Avenue here in Rochester.

Richard Harvey presents recent sculptural collage

Introduced to Richard's artwork years ago, I have now seen it evolve to include ceramics this past year, and he uses clay to create some evocative facial features.  Richard says: "Facial expression is one of the most important elements of my images."  Looking over his present exhibition one finds collage, typography, and the use of the digital tools as well as the hand made and much more.  The faces and figures he creates have a style that makes a social statement like a constructivist Ben Shahn.

Left to right: "Mother", Truth" and "Safe Keeping" by Richard Harvey at MuCcc

Richard Harvey graduated from R.I.T. in the 1970s with his BFA and went to work as a graphic designer.  Now, years later he is in the studio on a regular basis and his art has grown and matured.  There is a humor often in his creations like the use of words in his collages that address various concerns ( like the inclusion of the word: emancipate in the artwork he calls: "Mother" ). Richard is a busy man - all of these pieces in this show have been created within the last year!

"Passage" Acrylic with collage on canvas by Paul Garland

Just up the street from MuCcc is the Axom Gallery, and I walked in to see the new show of paintings and collage from Paul Garland.  Paul has been featured in several shows at Axom Gallery, and that is most likely because the gallery owner, Rick Muto studied painting with Garland years ago at Oswego and got to know his work and his philosophy.

Paul Garland painting and collage at Axom Gallery

Paul Garland is remarkably consistent - there is always an inventive quest going on, and the means to an end revolves around color, structure, and with collage a certain restraint with the use of texture.  Many of the works on view are pleasing because of the color and form and several of these works are outstanding because of the eloquent distillations of the facts he likes to explore in his careful manner, balance being the prominent factor.

Improvised study hall of art at Axom Gallery

Paul Garland has been exhibiting his art for over fifty years, and this new exhibition gives one a sense that you are in good hands with a seasoned pro.  Looking closely at his collages he frequently plays one side off the other but in his bifurcated world that is played out in his art - there is not much that separates the sides except an experience of color.  You find that viewing the art you can really see the experiments going on like found textures when you scratch into wet paint, or lay a thread down and paint over it, then remove the thread and see what happens!

So look closely, and learn!

"Come In" a series of paintings with collage by
Paul Garland at Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Show Me

"Tacit Knowledge"  monotype by Alan Singer
presented as part of a new exhibition
"Process & Purpose, 2019"
Corners Gallery, Ithaca, New York
now thru June 22, 2019

The knowledge needed for printmaking includes learning skills that require techniques for making editions or at least a way to reproduce an image usually on paper, but it is much more interesting than just pushing a button on your home printer!

The first part of this post is devoted to our new show of printmaking at Corners Gallery in Ithaca, new York, up in Cayuga Heights at 903 Henshaw Road.  The second part of this post will be about Richard Harvey and his new exhibition at MuCcc in Rochester, NY for the month of May.

Print by Kumi Korf

A revival or expansion of printmaking is underway, and this centuries old art form is being given new life through the expression of many working artists, eight of whom are chosen for this show called: "Process & Purpose, 2019".  The thirty prints included in our show all have a story to tell.  My idea was to introduce current work from printmakers whose images I hold in high regard - and this stems from a life-long interest in printmaking as one way of making art accessible to a wider public.

When I was in graduate school at Cornell University, I was in the same class as Kumi Korf - an artist and architect whose work you see above.  Kumi creates abstraction with colorful form and prints in several layers.  There is depth that printmaking can have that is different than painting directly on paper.  Kumi works in a series just as I do for my monotypes.

Printmaking by Shane Durgee

I have been making prints since I was ten years old, and they were all made by hand - wood cuts and linoleum cuts that were inked and printed on rice paper.  My parents who were both artists showed me how to do it.  Today, many years later I teach printmaking, and now I use a computer to help me conceptualize.  This is also true for many young artists including my student, Shane Durgee whose art is shown above.

For years I have been interested in the art created by Nick Ruth and I have included a selection of his recent work of our show.  His prints have a very definite message to send - they are all about communications.  In this regard, all of the eight printmakers in our show address concepts and imagery that tell a story of our times.

Print by Nick Ruth at Corners Gallery, Ithaca, NY

If you would like to get a better idea of the kinds of techniques used in printmaking today, come and meet the artists who will be present at a reception at Corners Gallery on Friday May 17, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm.  In this new show I asked all of the artists to contribute a statement about their working process so you will be able to read what they have to say, and then look over their work.
Such diversity!  You will enjoy our show!

"Avoid Meaningless Words"  a print by Minna Resnick
now at Corners Gallery, Ithaca, NY 

Sunday, May 5, 2019


Ithaca is Gorges in May, 2019

Here is my first recommendation for this emerging Spring season.  We just stepped out of Cineamopolis in Ithaca, New York where we took our seats and watched the movie documentary "Amazing Grace".  This is about a two hour concert of gospel songs given by the late Aretha Franklin and needless to say she MOVES you!  This lady of song is in her prime and there never was a voice quite like it before.  You just have to go - see it and feel it!

Aretha Franklin ( 1942-2018 )

It is also amazing what can take place on a First Friday in May in Ithaca.  We just delivered a show of 30 prints by eight printmakers ( including myself ) which is set to open at the Corners Gallery in Ithaca early this month.  The gallery owner, Ariel Ecklund was there on time to greet us and we unwrapped the show and spread the framed artwork around for the best effect.  It has been a pleasure to get this show up and running, and just choosing the artwork was engaging and I have to say that each artist has a story to tell in every print that they have lent to our show which I call: "Process & Purpose, 2019".

Eileen Bushnell at Corners Gallery

Nick Ruth at Corners Gallery
Opening May 17 from 5:30 to 7 pm 

If you are in the Ithaca area, the Corners Gallery is located up in Cayuga Heights, come on over for the opening on May 17th to meet the artists.  Here are some examples of what you will see there, but let me say that in this modern age of printmaking the artists use many tools to achieve the right impression!

Alan Singer's "Tropicalia" at Corners Gallery

Minna Resnick at Corners Gallery

Printmakers often work on editions - trying to create identical works through using the etching press, or silk screen or maybe on one-of-a-kind images like mono prints and monotypes.  You will find these and other techniques employed by the artists at Corners Gallery, so come on over to 903 Hanshaw Road and see for yourself.

Ithaca,New York already has a gallery and studio devoted to printmakers and that is The Ink Shop at 330 East State Street, 2nd Floor.  We took a long look at the mezzotints of Cleo Wilkinson on view at the Ink Shop now thru May 24th.  The use of mezzotint for a printmaker requires "rocking the plate" which gives a metal plate a uniform tonality - a texture that can then be smoothed out to define a set of values from light to dark.  Mezzotint as a technique in the hands of Ms. Wilkinson - can give one  feeling that is similar to looking at a black and white photo print.  Below is sample of her work:

Cleo Wilkinson at The Ink Shop , Ithaca, New York
Thru May 24, 2019

A new space has been opened by Jack Goldman at The Bookery in the DeWitt Mall for works of art alongside all of the books for sale, and the featured artist now through June is Fernando Llosa.  He brings beautifully framed works and handmade books which are mostly large format with hand-tipped-in plates of exquisite detail.  The framed art has subdued color, -- and texture is where the action is.  Swirls of ink are expressively used that sometimes reveal or conceal imagery that may have a figurative origin.

Fernando Llosa 
now on view at The Bookery
DeWitt Mall, Ithaca, NY

There is a strong poetic resonance between the images that Fernando Llosa creates, and his essay that introduces the show he calls: Small Signs of the Integrity of Life"

Reading and writing is part of the next exhibition we strolled over to see in the recently renovated space that will now house the Community Arts Partnership ( CAP Artspace).  The new exhibition "Art and the Written Word" features 21 artists that integrate some form of narrative text with imagery.  Some of the pieces had the impact of Pop Art, while others were much more subtle.  I know Barbara Page has had an ongoing project taking old library cards and giving them a fresh look by adding colorful illustration.  

"Art and the Written Word" images by Steve Carver

Barbara Page and her library card project
"Art an the Written Word"

Time to drive back home and get ready for the new week.  On the way, a last stop over in Clifton Springs and a visit to Main Street Arts.  At the gallery, Brad Butler, the Director for the gallery, explains that there is a new show show upstairs that is just WILD...!  The show at Main Street just opened and features over two hundred young artists working on 5"x7" supports for their artwork.

Brad Butler is in touch with public school art teachers and supporting this creative endeavor.  Just take a look at what students are doing - this is K-thru 12.  I think we will be seeing these young artists blossom right before our eyes!

"WILD" at Main Street Arts

Go "Wild" at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs