Saturday, May 1, 2021

A Skyline By The Highline


Skyline By The Highline
Photo from the deck of the Whitney Museum

There comes a point when you feel that it is time to come out of your shell, and you cross the bridge to see the sites.  Due to the pandemic we have been in self-imposed lockdown for months and we needed to break the spell after our vaccines and head for New York City ( by car ).  We have made this trip many times and immediately we were in a wave of traffic going into Manhattan and because people are fearful of getting on the subway the roads are packed.

Alan and Paul Singer at The Whitney Museum, New York City

Just try to park your car around The Whitney Museum in the old meat packing neighborhood on the West Side Highway!  Once we found our timed tickets we proceeded to enter the museum and luckily there was not a long line there waiting for the elevator.  The Whitney has eight floors, and we won't have time to see everything, actually all we will do is a few shows and then it is off to Brooklyn for dinner.

Mary Frank, "Swimmer", earthenware 1978

The main reason why we are in the city is to see an exhibition by the artist Julie Mehretu.  Before we see her show we are on another floor of the museum where there is a select group of artists that represent a blend of art and craft.  Here is a work by Mary Frank in red earthenware.  I would see her work at Zabriskie Gallery years ago and my brother Paul Singer, curated an exhibition of her art for a gallery that was close by to the Central Park Zoo.

Why the split between the arts and crafts exists at all is a mystery, and one that would require a lengthy inquiry.  I respect all of the arts and the inclination to devote your life to a creative pursuit is very high in my estimation.

Betty Woodman on the pedestal

Betty Woodman was someone who I met years ago when I would circulate around the art galleries in Manhattan.  I think the painter, Helen Wilson introduced me to her.  In any case Betty Woodman for a time had her ceramic work in the entry of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and that was a major step forward.  Betty Woodman had an artistic family too with her husband the painter George Woodman ( he had a solo show at The Guggenheim Museum of Art ) and daughter photographer Francesca Woodman, and a cousin the sculptor Tim Woodman who I met when we both studied at Cornell University in the mid 1970s.

The artists in this select show use a range of materials from clay and threads to sequins and even a decorative kitchen that seems to glitter.  Liza Lou creates a statement with found objects and so much more ( seen below ) as a commentary on a woman's place in the home!!

Liza Lou, "Kitchen"  1991-96

Finally we are onto the show of Julie Mehretu, and she does  have a great  ambition!  She sweeps you up into a maelstrom of energy and movement even though some of her subject matter comes from linear studies of stable architecture.  Impressive are her large works which combine drawing with ink on canvas painted with acrylics.  She uses levels - really layers of imagery that creates depth with detail and gesture.  It is moving to see such an outpouring from  this artist!

Julie Mehretu at The Whitney Museum of Art

Julie Mehretu is a Ethiopian born artist, and her family moved to the USA from Africa when their government began to fall apart in the 1970s.  As a student of the visual arts, Julie employs printmaking techniques and drawing by hand as well as the computer, and the textures in her work develop from maps and diagrams, and even blurry photos and a fascinating amount of detail can be seen when you move in close. Don't miss her show!

Catalogue / Book for Julie Mehretu at The Whitney

Don't want to miss her show!

And now we can fight the traffic and find our dinner!  Hope to see you soon, Stay Well!