Friday, November 22, 2019

Urban Innovation

A Star is Born:  RIT's CITY Art Space
features:  "Images from Science 3"
a juried show

It is almost the first year anniversary for the RIT CITY Art Space in the center of downtown Rochester, New York and I have just emerged from the gallery after looking over "Images from Science 3 " that is on view until November 24th, 2019.  This show is built on the idea that there are striking images that can "explain" elements in science that really strengthen the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words.  This current show is the result of a jury process where entries from over a dozen countries were selected for their visual impact and their timeliness in how they add to our understanding of facts revealed through a scientific process.

"Radiolaria", a cyanotype by Nathan Ely

This show was of interest to me because as an artist many of my early works had a lot to do with science, and I currently am teaching a course in Zoological and Botanical art in the College of Art & Design at RIT.  In fact I saw at least one of my past students had their artwork juried into this present show, so I am very proud of their achievement!  The images selected for the current iteration of this exhibit, presented in the same  format run the gamut from astronomical to molecular, and several RIT faculty had their work cut out for them as they had to sift through hundreds of entries to find just the ones that spoke to our audience.

A robotic assisted operation illustrated by Hannah B. Ely

There are many questions that are raised by this exhibition, and they revolve around how much of the images in evidence are influenced by art?  Are the colors arbitrary?  I thought also that it is hard to get a grasp of the scale of many of the images in the show, is there any way to give a viewer a sense of the measurements,  in this work?  A photo of a solar flare for example could look to the average person like the fuzz on a peach.

Photo by Danny Radius
at RIT CITY Art Space

The RIT CITY Art Space was nominated for an award given by the Community Design Center which has its office in the Hungerford Building where I keep my studio on 1115 East Main Street.  As far as buildings are concerned, the Sibley Building which houses the RIT CITY Art Space is going through a renaissance, and it is part of the resurgence of interest that people are having when it comes to finding a place to live, a place to congregate.  I was very happy to be part of this first year's schedule this past summer with a presentation of a show I curated called: "Process & Purpose", a Printmakers Invitational. The visual arts  have been a vital part of the biennial show "Current Seen" that is just coming to an end in and along East Avenue,  and we can look forward to new selections in the next version of this showing.

At the William Harris Gallery, Gannett Building, RIT

Back on the RIT campus, there are other shows worth a mention including one in the William Harris Gallery called: TBD.  The exhibition features installations where up-and-coming student curators are asked to use found materials to create this group exhibition, and there are some striking results.

TBD at William Harris Gallery
Gannett Building 7b
Rochester Institute of Technology
Henrietta Campus

The precarious situation of seeing a wheel chair perched over a pile of broken glass highlights a dilemma faced by people with disabilities.  I thought of this looking out at this installation, and remembering what my student Shwanda Corbett who is wheel chair bound had said when 
she related her story of getting a flat tire, with no one around to help.

TBD exhibition at RIT for student curators

To put this exhibition together each student had to use found materials, and this practice is becoming more common when you go around to look at art gallery shows, including those in New York City.
Each student also had to spell out their premise for the materials that they chose and why they wanted to make this kind of statement.  Here are some examples:

 Student Curator's statement

Abandoned art near the South Wedge

A prompt for the selection of images from Yajing Yan

Provocative imagery from Yajing Yan
William Harris Gallery
Rochester Institute of Technology

Saturday, November 9, 2019

You Have To See This

Nocturne by Pat Wilder

Once or twice a year I have the opportunity to let my students at R.I.T.    ( in the School off Art ) draw from live birds brought to my classroom by the volunteer group in Mendon called: Wild Wings.  After reading Helen Macdonald's book H is for Hawk  I had a whole new appreciation for birds of prey that have been trained to hunt and sit on a glove by their keepers.

Read this book!

Rosalie, visits my classroom at R.I.T.

Drawing from life also gives an artist    ( whether you are a student or not )  - a first hand experience of nature, comprehending all the details, and taking into account the "personality" of the bird itself.
So the artist observes a bird and is observed in turn.  I also have to give credit to the volunteers like Deb  -seen here with Luna, a Screech Owl, because these folks really bond with the feathered creatures in their care.

Wild Wings volunteers

In Rochester this week there are openings  for exhibitions that you have to see.   At the top of this post you can find a deep blue evening sky in Pat Wilder's "Nocturne".  This is just one of a set of photographs she presents at the 1570 Gallery on East Avenue - called "elements" , now through December 8, 2019.  This show of her early work is also dedicated to a kind of color  printing process called "Ilfochrome" that Pat Wilder used in the studio to make lustrous colors come alive.  Also called: "Cibachrome" ,  and due to the influx of digital prints - this process is no longer available!

"Wet Ferns" by Pat Wilder at 1570 Gallery, East Avenue, Rochester, NY

I think that Pat Wilder's color work is a must see.. she has a reductionist aesthetic that really lets her subjects speak for themselves.  Her photo called: "Wet Ferns" also reminds me of the color photos by Eliot Porter, an attractive approach to the details found out in the landscape.  Sometimes the subject is very suggestive as in the photo called "Curvature"  ( is it a body or a hillside? ).  Pat Wilder travels to see what she can see, and sometime her gaze is fixed upon the ephemeral - perhaps parts of posters plastered up on a wall ( see below )...

Pat Wilder presents: " elements" at 1570 Gallery, Rochester,  New York

Pat Wilder remarks in her handy catalog that a primary influence on her work is the abstract expressionist movement because of these artist's generous use of bold color, space lines, and compositional relationships and you can really see that in the photos below:

"elements" by Pat Wilder at 1570 Gallery

I am always excited to see students of ours from R.I.T. having their first shows and really taking off.  That is the case with Victoria Savka in her show called: "Not Your Average Menagerie" that just opened at the Geisel Gallery.  Her artwork is a blend of drawing, printmaking and collage.  Her artwork has a focus on animals, mainly farm creatures like cows and sheep and she adds to this cut and torn papers and bold gestures of pure color.  Each image tells a story.

"Not Your Average Menagerie" by Victoria Savka
Geisel Gallery, Rochester, NY

Victoria Savka in her prints and drawings makes it all look easy.  Her work: "Apricot Valley Indian Runner Ducks" - a drypoint monoprint has splotches of orange paper on top of the drawings of a menagerie of running birds - you can just hear them on the move...

"Apricot Valley Indian Runner Ducks"
Victoria Savka

I spoke with Victoria on the night of the opening and said that her artwork would make a terrific book project.  Children and adults would enjoy these pieces, and she could just write a few words to support each image.  Also at the opening I was able to thank Jean Geisel for whom this gallery is named for her work in establishing a space for up-and-coming artists like Victoria to get her work out in front of an audience.   This kind of positive recognition for artistic achievement is necessary in this environment where often  creative people can be overlooked....  Thank you for all you have done - Jean Geisel!

Jean Geisel at left and Victoria Savka on right
at Geisel Gallery in downtown Rochester, New York
November 7,  2019

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Fall: Fancy That

Glorious Fall Weather in Ithaca, New York

A drive along Route 89 in the Finger Lakes reveals the height of fall colors and an opportunity for me to hit the Art Trail.  It's a glorious day in Ithaca, and I am here to attend Gallery Night and the opening of a group show called: "20/20 Hindsight" at the Ink Shop on State Street.  The Ink Shop is a gallery and a printmaking studio and they celebrate twenty years involved in the arts community with their dedication to an art form that is very much alive.

Craig Mains and his print about a cluster of fracking wells

I talked with printmaker and Ink Shop member Craig Mains about the art on the gallery walls and about plans for spreading the word about the Ink Shop and I found out that they are planning a show that will open in France for Ink Shop members.  Craig also said that a show of Japanese prints from the Tokyo University of Fine Art just ended at their gallery, so they are building international connections.

etching by Zevi Blum  ( 1933 - 2011 )

The show was opening at the Ink Shop and as I came in the door I recognized a piece by one of my old teachers when I was a student at Cornell University ( see above )  and that was by Zevi Blum.  Over the years I have met many of the folks associated with the Ink Shop and recognize their artwork.  Next to Craig Mains print I saw one by Pamela Drix that seemingly has parts of postage stamps interspersed with renderings of drilling rigs - on a large scale piece that is very dramatic.

Print by Pamela Drix

"20/20 Hindsight" is a group effort and there are posters, and prints that exhibit a broad range of techniques and approaches to making prints from large woodcuts to artist's books and much more. My friend Kumi Korf has some abstract images and there is a strong figurative work by Kay Walkingstick in the present show.

Print by Kay Walkingstick at The Ink Shop
Ithaca, New York

The following day I drove up to Clifton Springs to see what was happening at Main Street Arts and chat with Brad Butler who is the Director of the gallery.  Brad was coming up to my class at R.I.T.  to do a presentation to my students about his own artwork, and about his job as the Director of a contemporary art gallery.  In the main floor of the gallery there is now a show of another printmaker from Ithaca, and that is Sylvia Taylor.  Her show is called: "The Time Between the Dog and the Wolf" and it will be up through November 15th.  Her show includes relief prints, paintings and drawings that remind me of children's stories and her images could jump right out of a book for young readers.

A work by Sylvia Taylor: "Flying Fish"

Sylvia's subject matter revolves around animals which are often pictured in groups that can become more texture and pattern.  In this show there is one wall that has a mass of small portraits on red that hang together like a family and all their relatives.

Animal portraits by Sylvia Taylor
at Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs, New York

Upstairs at Main Street Arts there is a landscape show called Ontario Pathways, and there I found a fine painting by my colleague Bill Finewood that shows the shimmering surface of a stream found along the trail.  Bill really took his time rendering the reflections and the colors of the trees as they trend towards autumn.  Each one of the artists took to the trail to find their own way with subject matter.  It is not only what you see that is important, but how you see it, how you compose it and make it your own.

Painting by Bill Finewood
in the Ontario Pathways exhibition
Main Street Arts

Back home once again, I found that men were moving the giant Albert Paley sculpture that had been a feature outside my Hungerford Building art studio.  The Hungerford had the benefit of hosting this colorful steel sculpture for a while now, and I hope that there will soon be a replacement for this work which really lent some character to this old factory building.

Albert Paley is on the move... from the Hungerford Building to Europe!