Sunday, April 24, 2022

Art in Bloom


Wonderful Lily in our garden

This is the time of year when I am out in my garden inspecting the progress my plants have made after a long, cold winter.  Our new home in the Egypt Hills doesn't have the same square contours as our old home in Brighton which years ago seemed to me to have been built on a mound of old bricks.

Our new home on a hilltop that was once an orchard has terrific soil rather than the clay and bricks we found on Elmwood Avenue.  But I did establish a garden many years ago and each spring and summer I might sit outside and paint a watercolor or two.  I plan to do that once again where we are now, but I want to see how our new garden grows and what comes into bloom.  In my  teaching career at Rochester Institute of Technology I always brought my students to the greenhouse in Highland Park to draw and paint plants as part of my course in Zoological and Botanical Art.

Students from R.I.T. drew and painted from plants in a greenhouse

One can be inspired to work the soil by visiting places like the gardens at Sonnenberg  in Canandaigua or west in Pavilion, New York at  Linwood Gardens.  At Linwood you can find beautiful tree peonies in May that would be a real challenge to draw and paint.  My comments come from years of experience both with working in watercolor and studying complex plants like a peony or a rose.  Working with botanical art takes skill and patience!

Carol Acquilano at Axom Gallery, Rochester, NY
"Growth in the Chord of C"

It was a pleasure to see Carol Acquilano's new show at Axom Gallery in the South Wedge which opened this past Saturday.  Carol has put together a show of impressive watercolor paintings that feature landscapes filled with buds and flowers and her artwork has a distinctive sense of color and an ease with which she composes and fills her work with joy.

Carol is an old friend and I have watched her art change and evolve over many years.  Her new works have a very specific nature which calls to our attention the composition and a certain tactility - pools of color and light.  In her painting called: " Growth In The Chord of C " ( see above ) I find a resemblance also to the paintings of Charles Burchfield from early in the 20th Century ( see below ).  Maybe it is a certain glow which both artists seem to possess.

Charles Burchfield

Carol Acquilano has been working at The Memorial Art Gallery for over thirty years and she has just stepped away and retired from her position.  She prepared art for exhibitions and I am sure she will be missed by her colleagues at The MAG.  Now she will have more time to head out to Linwood Gardens or even travel for a stay over in Cortona, Italy where she painted the watercolor "Broom in Bloom" in 2010.

"Broom in Bloom", watercolor, 2010 by Carol Acquilano

Our landscape here in western New York surely offers opportunities for artists to get outside into the fresh air and take on the challenges in the portrayal of nature.  I can't wait to get at it myself!

"Amaranth" watercolor by Carol Acquilano at Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

Saturday, April 9, 2022

April Time Travel


  My father and mother relax in Southampton, NY, (circa 1971)

After a long hiatus, I decided it was time to say hello and continue writing my blog and bring some readers in to once again engage with this community.  Keeping a low profile for much of the year due in part to the pandemic, I can begin to consider where I have been and what I might do in regard to my artwork and also what others are doing in this field.  This past year includes the shock of war in the Ukraine ( some of my distant relatives are from Odessa ) and my heart goes out to the people caught up in this horror.   My father, Arthur Singer, was a soldier during World War ll, so he had some experience with major battles which I can only imagine myself since I have never been in the Army here or abroad.

     Arthur Singer created artwork to identify birds in the field.  Here is his gouache for a field guide to Birds of Britain and Europe, painted in the late 1960s and this book is still in print!

My father, seen above on a calm day years ago in the Southampton home of Bertel Bruun  ( the author of the book "Birds of Britain and Europe" ) during the 1970s, along with my mom.  My parents were both artists and illustrators.  Arthur Singer illustrated books mainly about animals and birds.  His book about birds in Europe was published by Paul Hamlyn, and the book helps bird watchers identify what they are seeing in the field. 

Speaking about my father, I would say that he was a man of great patience, developing  drawings and finished art to be published in many books as his career took off after Work War ll.  My father  worked at home and I watched the daily routine of an artist putting together  page after page of artwork that was thoroughly researched down to the last details.  While my dad worked on. his projects my mom also was illustrating books and teaching as well and I could watch what they were doing and learn about making a living as an artist and creating  a way of life.

Over thirty years ago when our parents passed away my brother and I inherited a large catalog of original art that my father made over many years.  Just recently we made a donation of original book plates to the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  One example from our gift to Cornell is the page of birds you see above that my father painted in the late 1960s.

Silhouettes of birds on large walls
at The LAB

In Ithaca, we drove up to Cayuga Heights and over in the Sapsucker Woods is the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.  The birds were singing, the weather was warmer and pretty soon it will be spring.  If you go into The Lab you will see the terrific mural art by Jane Kim and her wall of birds.  This is a large scale artwork which took several months to complete, and to accompany it Jane has published a book about this unique project.

Jane Kim's mural at Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology

There at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology a room is dedicated to artworks of Louis Agassiz Fuertes and there is a portrait of him at the entrance.  Fuertes was a role model for many who have been drawn to illustrating nature, especially birds.  He was a teacher at Cornell as well as an artist who went around the world for the National Geographic Magazine in the early 20th Century.

Fuertes was a role model for future artists

After we left The LAB we drove over to Hanshaw Road in Cayuga Heights and visited with Ariel at The Corners Gallery.  A few years ago we mounted a show there of contemporary printmakers which was a lot of fun for me as I was the curator.  On view now is a selection of recent paintings by Lin Price and she is doing some very bold work that brings up messages from the history of art - especially modernist abstraction to which she adds a bit of storytelling.  Here, below, is her work called: "Search Party", and she is having fun with some visual cues, some jazzy color and interesting invention.

Lin Price "Search Party"

Lin Price, now at Corners Gallery
903 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY