Ad Astra Per Aspera

Every year the Wassaic Project hosts a summer festival, an artist residency program, ongoing arts education for youth and the annual summer exhibition. This year’s exhibit, Ad Astra Per Aspera, references the Kansas state motto, which translated from the Latin means “to the stars through difficulty.” Curated by the Wassaic team including Bowie Zunino, Will Hutnick, Jeff Barnett-Winsby, and Eve Biddle, the exhibit is complex and thought-provoking with surprises awaiting visitors on each of the seven floors. The curators stated; “The artists in this year’s show seem to be asking of us, the viewer, to reconsider that which we think we know using different lenses, or perspectives.”

The main floor features work by Margot Bird, who creates sculptures with gold leaf embellished with kitschy ceramic poodles, merging polar opposite ideals in the decorative arts. Moving towards the back of the gallery visitors can follow the sounds and explore several installations, including work by digital collage artist, Anna Cone. Anna ConeHer work references Baroque furnished rooms seen in museums. Cone commented that “By visually employing a Baroque extravagance with Kitsch undertones, I want to democratize these opulent, elitist, and once inaccessible spaces.”

Moving up the stairs to the second floor, you will come upon Saki Sato’s installation, “The Icebox,” an immersive environment that provides an opportunity to think about our food sources. The room may remind visitors of walking into the refrigerated section at the supermarket, where it is uncomfortably cold. Decorative cans of food are sparsely arranged on shelving creating a feeling of scarcity, while a video plays promoting foods we casually buy at the market as rare and precious. Saki SatoAs you continue up the stairs you will note the vertical installation inside the shaft of the grain elevator by Tatiana Arocha, providing visitors a glimpse of a rainforest, including sounds of howler monkeys and a thunderstorm.

On the 4th level wall, you’ll find a fine exhibit of abstractions by Eleanor Sabin and Anthony Sullivan. Delano Dunn’s works on wood with resin coating represent research-based facts of deeply held beliefs. The interior of the room features Amber Heaton’s “Rites of Spring,” an installation referencing natural systems with patterns of light and time. Don’t overlook the immersive environment by Jeila Gueramian, where visitors can sit and contemplate the crocheted limb-like growths and observe the world outside of this shelter.

The climb to the top floor rewards visitors with a birds-eye view of the Wassaic village. Susan Hamburger has filled this small room with “Birds of New York,” an installation that features pigeons, sparrows, and starlings perched on stacks of shipping boxes. Susan HamburgerThe floor is littered with strips of newspaper as if the birds had opened the boxes looking for treasure. Looking closer, visitors will notice the birds are all individually made from newspaper paper mâché.

Many alumni of the Wassaic Artist residency program are featured in this exhibit. If you time your visit right, you can meet current artist residents during Open Studios and see what they have been creating.

The Wassaic Project is located at 37 Furnace Bank Rd, Wassaic, NY.


This article was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy! section, August 23, 2019.

Photos by Linda Marston-Reid

Art and Sculpture at Wilderstein Historic site

Summer in the Hudson River Valley is magical and one destination worth visiting during this time is Wilderstein Historic site in Rhinebeck. Landscape designer, Calvert Vaux created a winding set of walks and trails meandering through the 40 acres of Wilderstein, which also features a stunning Queen Anne mansion. Visitors to Wilderstein can experience the sweeping views along with the 5th Outdoor Sculpture Biennial Exhibition up now through the end of October. This is the second time that local artist and curator, Franc Palaia, has organized the Outdoor Sculpture Biennial increasing the exhibiting artists to 25.

The works have been thoughtfully placed throughout the property, creating a great visitor experience of surprise and discovery. On Wilderstein’s front lawn, you cannot miss “Plastic Bottle Man,” Willie Cole’s larger-than-life sculpture created from 5000 plastic water bottles. The sculpture lounges against one of the grand trees, perhaps unaware that his essence is a major source of world pollution. Turning towards the incredible views of the Hudson River, see William Scholl’s “Portal 409,” a sculpture created from Bluestone and mounted in a large tree.

Alison McNulty-Hudson Valley Ghost Column#4Circling around towards the back of the mansion, see Alison McNulty’s “Hudson Valley Ghost Column 4.” The artist stated that “The Ghost Columns echo the Hudson Valley’s industrial history and architectural ruins, formalizing traces of the region’s geological, social, and material history.” Visitors will note the stacked bricks and Cormo sheep wool sourced from a historic Hudson Valley fiber farm. Julia Whitney Barnes is another artist fascinated with the historical context that bricks hold in the Hudson River Valley region. She has installed “Hudson River of Bricks,” at the edge of the front lawn of the mansion; an homage to the historical brick industry of the past. Visitors will note the glazed historic bricks included in the installation – the shape of the installation defines the places on the Hudson River that the brickyards formerly operated.

Julia Whitney Barnes _Hudson River of Bricks

Hans van Meeuwen-MelvinInside one of the rustic gazebos on the property, see Hans van Meeuwen’s sculpture, “Melvin,” casually seated as if he is surveying the landscape. Nearby on the tennis courts, Namoi Teppich’s sculpture, “Snowflake Cactus” is centered in that space, the cactus spines jutting out from copper outlines provide shape and interest to the simplified sculpture. Step over to the edge of the mansion’s lawn and appreciate the sculpture, “Here I Am,” by Andres San Millan. The life-size sculpture of a horse has leaves of silver and copper that shimmer in the sun. Andres San Millan Here I Am

Poughkeepsie artist Suprina exhibits, “Someone Else’s Shoes” featuring a pump created from found objects. From a distance, the sculpture is in a recognizable form of a pump, but on closer examination, the five-foot-high sculpture could be a bench, a place to take selfies or a place to imagine what it’s like to be in some else’s shoes. Visitors will discover other delightful sculptures placed on the property along the Calvert Vaux designed walking paths, including Joe Chirchirillo’s “Deciduous Rings,” as well as Dave Channon’s “Flâneur,” a sculpture created from rusted metal resurrected from the junkyard.

Details if you’d like to visit:
Wilderstein Historic Site is located at 330 Morton Road, Rhinebeck.
The exhibit will be on view daily 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. through October 31, 2019. Hiking trails and grounds are open to the public free of charge.
For further information: 845-876-4818 http://wilderstein.org/


Photos by Linda Marston-Reid

This article originally appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal on July 26, 2019. 

The Art of Color Field

Peter A. Bradley has led an enviable life as a successful artist and curator and was at the forefront of the contemporary abstract painter’s movement in the early 1970s. For the past few decades, Bradley has resided in Saugerties where he continues to create new work. For the month of June, Emerge Gallery in Saugerties has mounted a one-person exhibit of Peter Bradley’s paintings.

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“On a Clear Day” | Copyright Peter A. Bradley

As a young man in the 1970s, Bradley developed his contemporary painting style. His work began to be known in what art critic Clement Greenburg called “color field” painting. Other painters using this style included Kenneth Noland, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. As Bradley continued to work as a painter during this time, he made connections while supporting himself through work as a gallery salesperson, handling such artists as Picasso and Calder. These contacts led to Bradley being invited to exhibit his work at The Whitney Museum in the “Contemporary Black Artists of America” show. Bradley wanted his work to be considered with other contemporary artists and not simply as a black artist and declined to show. The criticism among the black community was that there was little black participation in organizing the Whitney exhibit and in response, the Menil Foundation planned to fund an exhibit that would place black artists and curators at the center of organizing an exhibit of contemporary art. Bradley was invited by the Menil Foundation to curate “The DeLuxe Show” in Houston, which he organized integrating some of the most well-known contemporary artists in 1971 with no regards to race. This was a turning point for black artists that began to change the dialogue about which artists get representation. In today’s contemporary art world, black artists have been recognized for their contributions to American culture and their work is now featured more frequently in group exhibits and increasingly in one-person shows.

Bradley continued to work through the decades and his work is held in the permanent collections of museums across the United States including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Art in Houston, The New York City Museum of Art, African American Museum in Dallas, The Fogg Museum at Harvard University, and Johannesburg Art Foundation in South Africa.

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Peter Bradley abstract paintings at Emerge Gallery: “We Should be Heroes” included in the exhibit. Copyright Peter A. Bradley. 

The exhibit at Emerge Gallery shows Bradley’s recent work that fills the gallery space with their explosive energy. The painting “We Should be Heroes” is a large abstract work that celebrates the relationship of colors to each other. Bradley is a master at the placement of colors and textures that creates a space that brings to mind a topographical map. “Not Quite Here” is another painting with surfaces reminiscent of the earth. The shock of the brilliant spring green at the top of the painting contrasts with the charcoal lava-like color and textures in the body of the artwork.

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“Not Quite Here” | Copyright Peter A. Bradley

The exhibit in its entirety is a rare opportunity to appreciate one of the Mid-Hudson region’s internationally-known local artists that have produced a lifetime of important work.

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“Stone House Series” | Copyright Peter A. Bradley

This essay was originally published by the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy! magazine – May 31, 2019. 

More information on Peter A. Bradley:

Peter Bradley was prominently featured in the New York Times article “Why Have There Been No Great Black Art Dealers?” by © Janella Zara (June 20, 2018)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/t-magazine/black-art-dealers.html

Peter Bradley was prominently featured in the Hyperallergic article “How Black Modern Artists Defied a Singular Narrative in 1971” by © Jessica Bell Brown (January 17, 2017)

https://hyperallergic.com/352161/how-black-modern-artists-defied-a-singular-narrative-in-1971/

An Interview with Peter Bradley from © BOMB Magazine (January 17, 2017)

https://bombmagazine.org/articles/peter-bradley-1/

Additional info on The DeLuxe Show: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kld03?fbclid=IwAR1pRcIbCKayXGSdS1cfLtOjqMT01Sm_oMz9Ywz3yd7E5k10nEY8bv6ieLk

Peter A. Bradley, New Work on exhibit at Emerge Gallery, June 1 – 30, 2019

Emerge Gallery is located at 228 Main Street, Saugerties; (845) 247-7515

Hours: Friday, Saturday: 12:00 – 6:00 p.m., Sunday: 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

https://www.facebook.com/EmergeGalleryNY/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emergegalleryny/

The Art of the Outsiders

Collectors of outsider or self-taught art have led the way to preserve and honor this type of art. In fact, most self-taught makers don’t consider themselves artists, creating art out of self-expression to describe their lives, feelings, and beliefs. Vassar Lehman Loeb Art Center currently exhibits the work of self-taught artist Inez Nathaniel Walker, organized by Mary-Kay Lombino, The Emily Hargroves Fisher ’57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator at Vassar College. The exhibit of drawings shows the progression of the artist’s life beginning when she was in prison, through nearly two decades of life producing over 1000 drawings. The Vassar connection is important in that when Vassar alumni Pat O’Brien Parsons was shown her earliest works, she began collecting and selling Walker’s artwork at her gallery. Vassar now holds over 100 pieces of artworks by self-taught artists donated by O’Brien Parsons, including some by Walker.

Inez Nathaniel Walker first began making drawings and would use whatever scrap paper was available. In the exhibit, a vitrine holds one of her first drawings that was on the back of the mimeographed prison newsletter. The drawing is a profile portrait of a man dressed in a zippered sweater with hands in pockets. The artist spent much time creating the hairstyle with deliberate marks that indicate wavy hair. Many of the drawings use this formulaic style to arrange the composition featuring a portrait of a person centered within the paper and intricate patterns for hairstyles and clothing.

Standing woman a150_z
Inez Nathaniel Walker (American, 1907-1990)
Standing Woman with Raised Arm, 1974
Felt-tip pen, colored pencil and pencil on paper
Bequest of Pat O’Brien Parsons, class of 1951, 2014.16.14

In the drawing, “Standing Woman with Raised Arm,” we can see how the artist first drew the woman’s figure in pencil and then went over the lines with colored pencil and marker. The figure wears a sophisticated striped dress, and her hairstyle is an intricate design of curved lines, the disproportionate size of the hands and feet contrast with the overly large head and eyes. The figure is standing before a background embellished with yellow patterning.

In “Man with Goatee,” Walker records fashionable men’s wear from the 1970s: large cuffs, collars, and wide pants are proudly worn on this figure. Walker spent the time to give this figure an on-trend Afro along with long sideburns, a mustache, and goatee. The clothing has been decorated with an array of curved stripes

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Inez Nathaniel Walker (American, 1907-1990)
Man with Goatee, 1974
Colored pencil and pencil on paper
Bequest of Pat O’Brien Parsons, class of 1951, 2014.16.15

, and the background has three horizontal groupings of unique colored patterns. The figure gazes directly at the viewer as he poses in his finery.

Not all of Walker’s artworks feature a single image – some of the more intriguing drawings have two or more figures engaged in a moment together: scenes depicted include exchanges of money, conversations, or lounging in fanciful surroundings. Walker describes details from a life seen or imagined and puts her vivid pattern imprint on each scene.

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Inez Nathaniel Walker (American, 1907-1990)
Untitled (Two Women at Table), 1974
Pencil, crayon, and felt-tip pen on paper
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Pat O’Brien Parsons, 1996.12.150

Mary-Kay Lombino wrote in her catalog essay: “Her art is made in an unselfconscious way and does not obey the criteria and principles of mainstream art but it is best appreciated for its formal liveliness and the incongruities that grab our attention and make us look more attentively.”


This article was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy! section March 8, 2019. 

Freehand: Drawings by Inez Nathaniel Walker is on view at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center through April 14, 2019. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is located on the Vassar campus: 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie.

 

The Art of Pink

February in winter brings us Valentine’s Day, where the color pink is synonymous with love and pleasure. Pink has also symbolized friendship, affection, harmony, and inner peace. In Poughkeepsie, NY, a recently formed artist cooperative, Queen City 15 gallery, exhibited “Tickled Pink” featuring 13 artists exhibiting their own artistic response to this theme. Barbara Masterson served as the juror for this exhibit and exhibits one piece, “Janell,” from her series on migrant farm workers. She wrote in her juror’s statement,

“The tickling pink concept is of enjoyment great enough to make the recipient glow with pleasure.”

Looking through the exhibit, the idea of pleasure is abundant: From

Carolyn Edlund Sledding 2013FL03 10x10 oil
“Sledding” Carolyn Edlund

Carolyn Edlund’s realistic painting “Sledding,” featuring a child enjoying some blissful time out in the snow, to William Noonan’s lushly painted landscapes of Dogwoods blossoming in the spring. While the color pink is apparent in each of their paintings, each artist uses the color to help viewers recall that pleasure linked to walking in an orchard in spring or sledding in perfect snow.

Carl Grauer exhibits a large painting “Dorothy Ester Francis Judy” featuring Judy Garland in the four phases of her life. As the character Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she stands to face the reality of her life. The four images of Judy Garland stand in a field of tall poppies and the sky is a fantastical shade of pink.

Carl Grauer-Dorothy
Carl Grauer “Dorothy Ester Francis Judy”  

Julia Whitney Barnes exhibits “Bricks and Stones May Break,” featuring a rosy pink sunset over the water in the distance. The wall in the foreground is an intricate composition of bricks and stones, each painted in vibrant rosy hues. The dark silhouette of a tree serves as a point of transition between the wall and the sea and sky.

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“Bricks & Stones May Break” Julia Whitney Barnes

Nansi Lent’s mixed media collage “The Future is Female” represents the female voice with the gestural use of paint, text, and collage. Paola Bari’s work in porcelain tile painting is a traditional women’s craft that this artist has brought to new heights with her intricate designs and perfect surfaces. The final touch of framing them presents them as a venerated object that can be exhibited on the wall.

Paola Bari
Painted porcelain work by Paola Bari
Nansi Lent, __The Future is Female
“The Future is Female” Nansi Lent

Donna Blackwell creates jewelry of gold, silver, and precious stones designed with a modernist flair and in the theme of the month, she has adorned the jewelry case with festive pink bows. The artist describes her jewelry: “All of it is designed with the hope that the wearer will feel pleasure each time it is worn.”

Sculpture is well-represented in this exhibit with the work of Suprina and Undine Brod – before you enter the gallery their artworks are featured in the front windows. Brod’s “Ready but Unable” features a creature tied to a child-sized pink chair, unable to reach the roller skates directly below. Brod’s creatures manage to look charming and menacing at the same time. Suprina exhibits several of her sculptures, including “Seduction.” Suprina utilizes found objects in all of her work, ultimately creating something new. Her works transport us to a world where the imagery is visceral and symbolism speaks quietly with authority.

The original version of this article was published on February 8, 2019, in the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy! section.

Gallery 15 featured Tickled Pink on exhibit through February 23, 2019, featuring the work of Donna Blackwell, Undine Brod, Donna Fraser, Carl Grauer, Brenda Harbuger, Carl Karni-Bain, Pam Krimsky, Nansi Lent, William Noonan, Barbara Masterson, Karl Volk, Julia Whitney-Barnes, and Lisa Winika. Gallery 15 is located at 317 Main Street, Poughkeepsie. Gallery contacts: queencity15gallery@gmail.com

The Art of Winter

In the Hudson Valley region, there are a number of nontraditional venues that exhibit work of regional artists. The Moviehouse in Millerton is a fine example of a space that has mounted exhibits that allow artists to show a body of their work to a new audience that appreciates fine-art movies. The recent exhibit, Winter Showcase, provided an opportunity to see work by five regional artists that exhibit their work beyond the Hudson Valley.

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“Hill and Hollow” by Audrey Francis – Copyright Audrey Francis

Audrey Francis exhibited “Hill and Hollow,” an oil painting that captures a beautiful moment of the imagination. The bright yellow background sets the tone with an unlikely gathering of a variety of birds, perhaps symbolizing safety in numbers for a species. The vision of vibrant color paired with beauty from nature is alluring.

In Norm Magnusson’s “Decorating Nature” series of photographs, Magnusson paints on, or colors, pieces of nature. His approach to beauty takes a wry look at nature as the ultimate beauty, but with the possibility that the human hand might make a few improvements.

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From Norm Magnusson’s series, Decorating Nature. Copyright Norm Magnusson

Magnusson states that; “We use nature how we see fit: we strive to bring order to it, we try to make it prettier…more profitable.” Magnusson continues to explore through his artistic practice the complicated aspects of our culture and how it relates to our lives.

Robert Hite is known for his three-dimensional sculptures of shack-like structures, which originally grew out of his paintings. The artist has stated: “There is an organic cross-pollination between painting and other ways in which I work.” In the painting “Birdstack Black,” visitors can see how Hite centers the object in the center of the canvas, similar to how religious portrait painters arrange their sacred subjects. The continuing exploration of the house structure at the bottom of the artwork creates a base for the stylized birds to gather. The image brings to mind the phenomena of birds gathering in one place at sunset.

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Robert Hite, “Birdstack Black” Copyright Robert Hite

Nadine Robbins is a portrait painter that depicts her subjects as the genuine humans that they are. Robbins states that in her work she “serves to echo the reality of the American experience, one that is diverse, fluid and multifaceted.” For instance, “Sativa Sunrise” is a realistic portrait of a young woman captured in the prime of womanhood: viewers could imagine that she might be a worker at the neighborhood grocery store or a student at the local university, but her fresh beauty and self-awareness are apparent. Robbins states that her “portrait paintings tell the stories of ordinary people from all walks of life paired with a sense of defiance and irreverence for societal norms regarding gendered ideas of behavior, identity, and sexuality.”

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“Sativa Sunrise” by Nadine Robbins – copyright Nadine Robbins

 

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“Lost G(LOVE)” by Roxie Johnson – copyright Roxie Johnson

Roxie Johnson exhibited abstract and conceptual work layered with nuances of memory and loss. She states that: “Painting is an avenue through which I explore those innate passions that drive our humanity and lie embedded deep in the heart.” The surface of her work, “Lost G(LOVE)” bring to mind the memories of a night out. Viewers could create their own stories to support the visual clues worked into the painting by the artist; a woman’s lost glove, bits of newspaper, and fragments of textural pieces that create ethereal documentation of a memory.

This article was originally published January 25, 2019, in the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy!. Artists supplied the photos of their work and all copyrights remain with the artists.

Winter Showcase: Artists of the Hudson Valley featured the work of Audrey Francis, Robert Hite, Roxie Johnson, Norm Magnusson, and Nadine Robbins through February 5, 2019.

The Moviehouse is located at 48 Main Street, Millerton and features changing exhibits. http://www.themoviehouse.net, email: info@themoviehouse.net, 518-789-0022