Friday, December 31, 2010

In the Rearview Mirror

Last day of the year and we're all looking backwards to see what's ahead. Maybe it makes no sense to look backwards before you look ahead, but it's what we like to do. As someone who drove around in my old Roachmobile for three or four months this summer without a rearview mirror, I can attest that seeing what's behind you is indeed valuable no matter how unnecessary it may seem. So in that vein, and in an effort to make one final post before the clock strikes midnight, I'm offering you an abbreviated version of my arting trip to New York this past month. I'm calling it:

(Click on an image to enlarge it.)

1. I'm going to start with a fabulous installation at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery on 21st Street in Chelsea with Tomas Saraceno's "Cloud Cities Connectome."  You can read all about the deeper meanings on the gallery's website, but I found it lyrical, inventive and vaguely like walking around in an illustrated science textbook.

The dots on the floor are where wire or fishing line attaches so that the structures are suspended between ceiling and floor.

2. In the same vein, the Museum of Modern Art's On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century began with a fabulous thread and wax installation in the lobby outside the first gallery. Since photography was prohibited (hate that), I am making do with a photo I took from a Jerry Saltz piece in ArtNet. (See it after his discussion of the Kiefer show at Gogosian.)

Ranjani Shettar "Just a Bit More"

To make up for not having a photo of my own, here's a link to the MoMA video on this work.

"Double O" by Zilvinas Kempinas

Another airy installation was made of two pieces of magnetic tape that stay in the air between two fans. You have to see the fans + tape in action to get it. Here's the link.

4. Getting back on the ground, I also particularly liked the work of two artists at the Stephen Haller Gallery:

Two views of a work by Lloyd Martin. I liked his work so much that I bought his catalog.

Martin's work relates to the horizontal grid work that I am currently using in my own work.

5. Another artist that the Binster and I really liked at Stephen Haller was Johannes Girardoni.

"Drip Box" front view

"Drip Box" side view

This Girardoni work was hung in the glassed-in area of the gallery so this photo contains reflections from the glass.

These works appear to be encaustic over wooden constructions. The color is a deep greenish-grey, and they were very handsome.

6.  Another handsome work, this one from 1962, was an untitled work by Yayoi Kusama at Robert Miller Gallery. The main show was of work by Lee Krasner (God love her), but this work really spoke to me. It had a vaguely African feel, like some of those textile pieces used in ritual dances.

Untitled work by Yayoi Kusama from 1962, made from egg cartons according to the gallerista.

Side view through the plexi box.

7. Something entirely different was a show of large gouache paintings on paper by Storm Tharp of model Ashby Lee Collinson at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery.

These paintings were portraits in a range of styles from expressionist to realist and everything in between.

8. When we left Chelsea and went uptown the next day, we saw more portraits in "Waxing Poetic," a show of works in encaustic by Marybeth RothmanFrancisco Benitez, Willow Bader and Kathleen Thompson at Marymount Manhattan College. Thompson's was the only work that did not represent people. I was familiar with the work of Benitez and Rothman, but the real surprise was Willow Bader's work, which was mostly related to tango with images of dancers and musicians. I loved the way these works were painted in a manner that is most unusual for works in encaustic.

I believe that these are "Handmade Tango" and "Red Shoe Tango"

Here I hope you can see some of the loose and painterly application of encaustic.  If you look at Bader's website, you will see that she has a setup allowing her to paint in an upright position, rather than flat. (Remember to click and enlarge.)

 9. Finally, because I went to New York mainly to catch the Abstract Expressionism show at MoMA, here are some of my favorites from MoMA - some of which are not Ab-Ex.

Underneath and looking up at the sculpted edge of Elizabeth Murray's shaped painting.

Elizabeth Murray, "Do the Dance," 2005. This is a very large, intricate and joyous painting hung high on the wall in the entry area. I loved seeing how the canvas was fitted to the wood just like a seamstress fits clothing - but hopefully without the staples.

10. Of course I had to see all the Gustons and Rothkos. They felt like old friends to me after reading and writing about them.

In my too-quick photo, I cut off the left side of this untitled Guston from 1954

But this is what I was after - all those little strokes massing up to a red field - or is it an object?

Guston did paint some really ethereal expressionist paintings. The warm greys or mauves that he achieved with his rather limited pallette were really lovely against the pinks and reds.

11. And there in the midst of all those boys was one painting by a 100-year-old woman who was one of the only female artists hanging out with all the Ab-Ex guys - Hedda Sterne.

Hedda Sterne, "New York VIII" of 1954. It's actually the painting that looks fuzzy and not my photo - this time.

12. Following are two photos of juxtapositions that I really liked:

Franz Kline's "Chief" of 1950, left, with David Smith's "History of LeRoy Barton" of 1956

Franz Kline's "Painting No. 2" of 1954 with a window

13. This is something else I really liked: museum-goers, a lot of them young, were studious to the point of reverence in front of the works. It was nice to see that and it made me think that perhaps it's not all just about performing art and/or reality shows. It made me have some hope for the visual arts.

People looking at a Jackson Pollock painting. 


Richard Pousette-Dart, "Desert" 1940

I liked the color and built up surface of this work. It looked as if it was oil over plaster or maybe just sand mixed into the paint.

15. Louise Nevelson - not too well represented in the MoMA collection, or at least not in evidence. But then, you really couldn't call her an Ab-Exer.

Louise Nevelson, "Sky Cathedral," 1958

16. Finally, you will never guess what that cluster of ant-like figures are doing down there in MoMA's atrium.

You'll have to watch the video that explains it all.


So here we are on New Year's Eve - me at the computer and you out there having a blast or getting blasted. It's nearly time to watch the crowds in Times Square getting ready for the ball to drop. (But pullease don't make me watch Dick Clark.)

Twenty-ten has been a good year, as years go. But better days are ahead - let's hope.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all - and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Luminosity at 180 Degrees

Since we knew two of the artists and since I was in Connecticut on my way to New York last week, Binnie and I stopped in at the opening of Luminosity at 180 Degrees. This show of work in encaustic at The Flinn Gallery in the Greenwich Public Library featured five artists including Kim Bernard, the founding member and Chair of New England Wax (NEW), and Richard Keen who had previously been a member of NEW.

The Finn Gallery is a spacious room in a very large library building that puts on six shows per year. This show was curated by Kelly Eberly and Cynthia Whalen and featured a large selection of work by each artist.

Kim Bernard

Kim Bernard, "Epicycloid," encaustic on panel, 36"x36", 2010

"Indirect Energy," encaustic on panel, 24" x 24", 2010

"Lissajous," encaustic on panel, 48" x 24", 2010

The paintings that Kim showed were from her Spirendulum Series, described as follows:

The Spirendulum Series involves 2-D encaustic panels positioned on the studio floor to receive marks made with a wax-drizzling pendulum that she swings, pushes and propels, then layers with spirographic transfers. Aware of the tension created between mechanical symmetry and organic flow, Bernard plays with the relationship of control and lack thereof.

This video shows a piece being created:

In addition to the paintings, Kim also showed sculpture. Here are some of the pieces included in the show:

"Chambered Nautilus," encaustic, plywood and lead, 31" x 15" x 29"

"Hippodrome," encaustic, plywood and lead, 40" x 44" x 19"

"Uprooted," encaustic on plaster, 6" x 12" x 24"

Kim Bernard and her husband, Chris Calivas, at the opening

Check out Kim's website for a look at some of her fascinating experiments with movement + art. You can also get more info on the numerous classes she teaches around the country.


Two of the other artists included in the exhibit were Leah Macdonald and Martha Robinson. Images of three of their works are below. Mark Dooley also participated, but unfortunately I did not take pictures of his work.


Leah Macdonald

"Bird's Nest," wax on wood panel, 20" x 16"

"Candelabra," wax on wood panel, 16" x 16"

"Two portraits," wax on wood panel, 16" x 20"

I do not know Leah Macdonald and have never seen her work before, however, despite the description of these works as "wax on wood panel," they look to me like wax over photos with some color added either under or on top of the wax.

Martha Robinson

Top: "Lotus Language," 12" x 12" and bottom: "Root Matrix" also 12" x 12. Both encaustic with mixed media

"Green Leaves Vescia Pisces," encaustic with mixed media, 20"x20"

Three other works by Martha Robinson - info missing.

Richard Keen

Richard works as a mooring diver in Casco Bay, off the coast of Maine. Many of his works are inspired by boats, rigging and other marine elements. Like Kim, he showed both paintings and three-dimensional works.

Richard Keen in front of his work at the opening

"Sea Geometry No. 112," encaustic on canvas/panel, 24" x 24"

"Ocean Hull No. 77," encaustic on panel, 24" x 30"

Three works on panels

Rigging piece - did not get the exact title

Another rigging piece with blue rope

Side view of installation

You can see more of Richard's work here.

As you might have gathered, I was having too much fun chatting to get all the details correctly, but it was an interesting show, very nicely installed and offering a good representation of each artist's work.

The show will continue until January 26th and the open hours are on the gallery's website.