Saturday, December 31, 2022

Finding a Time Frame


Kevin Indovino measures at MuCCC
142 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester, NY
My most recent showing of paintings!

Looking over an unusual year I was grateful for the opportunity to exhibit new artwork at MuCCC here in Rochester and thankful for the assistance of Kevin Indovino who helped me mount the show.  

As our year of 2022 is now behind us we have to observe the artists who have passed on and here I am thinking of Sam Gilliam who was 88 years old and had a very creative life and I am grateful for having had the chance to meet him.  In 2006 he was having a retrospective at The Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington D.C. and this gallery space in 2022 is now closed due to financial considerations.

Sam Gilliam, painter, passed this year, he was 88 and had a successful career

Sam. came to my classroom in 2006 to give critiques and later that day gave a talk at The Memorial Art Gallery.  Sam's artwork was out of the ordinary, often they were paintings that draped over a space, not the typical stretched canvas in a frame. 

An art historian who championed Sam's work was Jonathan Binstock who has been the director of The Memorial Art Gallery and is soon to move on to be the Director of The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. in our new year of 2023.  The Phillips Collection is one of my favorite places to visit in D.C. and what a collection they have!

During my tenure at Rochester Institute of Technology I was lucky to have the support of the faculty there and I was able to bring great artists like Sam Gilliam and also Elizabeth Murray who you can see in this photo by Sue Weisler.  I enjoyed talking with Elizabeth and I would have to say that her paintings and prints really had an influence on me and I hope for my students as well!

Elizabeth Murray and Alan Singer in conversation at R.I.T. in 2002

I have been a big fan of. the artists I brought to speak at R.I.T. and over my 32 years teaching there we have had over 80 different guests who came to my classroom to speak about their career and to encourage my students as they find their way in this world.  Hopefully we have made a difference!  Below is a picture of one moment with Elizabeth during her talk with my student Lila Krebiel.

We had a chance to talk with Elizabeth Murray

Elizabeth Murray gives a critique in 2002 at R.I.T.

BRAVO! To all of those who have supported the arts in this city and beyond.  I hope your 2023 is an active and productive one, and I look forward to seeing what you have  created!  Thanks, and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Our Rochester Contemporary Salon

Rochester Contemporary Members Show, December 2022
137 East Avenue, Rochester,  NY

Looking for a bit of inspiration in these cool months when the sun sets so early?  I found my way over to the Rochester Contemporary galleries to look over the 32nd annual member's exhibition and spent some time looking around and also chatting with the Director, Bleu Cease.  There is much there to delight the eye and stimulate the imagination..  As you walk into the gallery you may be asked to cast a vote for the artwork that has the most impact for you and maybe even entertain the idea of a purchase,  because it is the Christmas season after all!

Emiliano Diaz greets you at the entrance to the member's show at RoCo

Emiliano Diaz has a painting in the front that offers an architectural slant on the show you are about to see and you can trust that there is a lot of variety ahead for the art enthusiast as well as the newcomer.  Since I have been in the Rochester area for over 30 years I have participated in these shows and I always look forward to seeing the work of old friends and new acquaintances and I was not disappointed!

Jason Tennant was a neighbor of mine once in the Hungerford Building where he had a studio and here at RoCo he shares a wall with others like Judy Gohringer.  On this wall we go from the two dimensional to a fully three dimensional expression that is part of the salon style hanging for this voluminous show ( see Jason's prototypical bird at the top of this post ). Each  year we get to see the depth of talent in this area and witness a diversity that can mirror our community.  We can be proud that the arts set such a clear example of strength and this can be a magnet for visitors and collectors...

"Lip Service" from Emily Bellinger

Coming into the show I look at different materials that artists choose to work with and sometimes they even make me laugh like the painting of a cat and mouse caught in the act. 

Will Page's painting Cat and Mouse 

Another smile arrives when I look at the image from Richard Margolis who is shown here wearing a beret while holding a brush as he paints a portrait of his wife.  Richard is well known in this community as a photographer, so he is having a bit of fun with the audience.

Richard Margolis in his studio...

As I walk through the show I look to see who has that popular appeal and Richard Margolis certainly does the trick.  I am also attracted to a photo towards the back that makes a collage out of plants and sets some new parameters with color and texture.  This piece by Marcia Zach and Michael Tomb is called a Gallery of the Open-Pollinated, and I would love to know more about how this image was created...

Marcia Zach and Michael Tomb, photographers

It is not a surprise that in this land of Kodak that there would be some interesting photography and this is one which has a lot of impact for me as I am avid about plants and gardens.  In that zone is a recent painting of a landscape by Joni Monroe that has beautiful tonality and creates a dimension by use of light and shade in a more traditional way.

Joni Monroe's traditional light and shadow

If you are looking for trends in the visual arts I think you just have to keep an open mind as the show suggests that there is no one direction that artists are willing to take today.  You can find traditional paintings like the one above and then there are striking ones that have a more abstract tension ( see work below by Belinda Bryce).

Belinda Bryce

I was glad to see that there are artists willing to take on a task of making a commentary on local state of affairs, with Richmond Futch, Jr.'s  take on revelations ( see below ).

Hopeful signs from Richmond Futch, Jr.

Also, glad to see that there is an image of  Frederick Douglass by Mollie Wolf on view.  The label says that this is a kind of print, but it really looks like a painting to me.  In any case I am glad that this work is included in the show as I am a great fan of Frederick Douglass!

Portrait of Frederick Douglass by Mollie Wolf
32nd Members Show at RoCo

Get up and go to see the show; it is very rewarding and will give you a renewed sense of hope after these years of a pandemic, which still has not left us!


Monday, December 5, 2022

Education of an Artist


Alan Singer,  November, 2022 speaks of his realm as an artist
and author of this blog post

As we enter our holiday season, I like to think of my education as an artist.  I had to prepare a talk to give at MuCCC in conjunction with a show of my recent work that hangs in the theatre atrium.  As many of my readers may know I am just retired from teaching after 32 years at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Teaching is something I embraced and I can't tell you how many dreams I have had about interacting with my students, it really enriched my life and I hope I have helped their performance!

My parents Judy and Arthur Singer circa 1970

Simply put, it all comes back to my parents who were both artists having met in art school at The Cooper Union in New York City.  When I was little my father kept a studio in the attic and my mom liked to garden and paint outdoors.  My dad would take me on the subway uptown to his office in the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel where he had a partnership with Ben Sackheim to form an advertising agency.  For my father's clients he would produce illustrations that were very realistic..see an example below:

Arthur Singer illustration for an advertisement circa 1953

My mom spent some of her time illustrating books and she teamed up with Sonia Bleeker who was working in anthropology along with her husband Herbert Zim.  Later on my mom  also put her gardening experience into her art and produced the illustrations for her book called: Bulbs for the Home Gardener.

In our home there were always projects underway and my father's interest in the birds and animals that he knew from many trips to The Bronx Zoo and beyond  really paid off over a lifetime.  My father mastered the art of portraying birds and animals and made a living producing illustrations published by Golden Books ( Birds of the World, and Birds of North America being among the most notable ).  I learned a lot by watching my parents do their thing!

Arthur Singer's illustrated "Birds of the World" for Golden Books in 1960s

In writing about books and art I should mention that part of my education as an artist comes from reading art history and criticism and I have built up quite a library.  For example I just finished reading Jerry Saltz's book "Art Is Life" and you may know his writings from his work at The Village Voice, and also for New York magazine.  He writes short essays on shows he has seen and also throws in some autobiographical takes on his life and interest  in making his own artwork.  He has a closing chapter on his  meeting Jasper Johns and the impact that John's painting has had worldwide.

Jerry Saltz is a writer and critic on visual art and this is his new book!

Well I met Jasper Johns once also, and was introduced to him by my painting teacher Wolf Kahn.
Johns artwork certainly has been interesting to watch as he is a force in contemporary art and is still going strong in his 90s!

Another book comes to mind before I sign off and that is the one I just read from Peter Schjeldahl which I found very poetic and really engrossing.  Here he is writing about a variety of artists and I should also say that Peter has recently passed away from cancer...and his work as the art critic for the New Yorker will certainly be missed!

Peter Schjeldahl was critic for The New Yorker magazine and this is one of his best books!