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 Photography Now

Every year The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) invites a nationally known curator to create a contemporary photography survey exhibit utilizing their curatorial vision. This year they invited Elizabeth Ferrer, Vice President, Contemporary Art at BRIC, a major New York cultural organization to jury the exhibit Photography Now 2018: Still-Life, representing a variety of styles that contemplate a state of being, or a still-life. In her curator statement, Ferrer wrote: “Still-Life ventures into seemingly distinct territories – the realm of the inanimate, of things, and in tandem, of contemporary lived experience.”

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Rock, 2018; from the series A Place to Disappear by Pablo Lerma – copyright Pablo Lerma – artist website: https://www.pablolerma.com/A-Place-to-Disappear

Each of the thirteen artists exhibits several photographs, providing viewers the opportunity to see their vision and approach to photography. For instance, Pablo Lerma approaches his photographic practice by imagining what would happen if humans disappeared from the earth. His photo, Rock, from the series A Place to Disappear, shows rolling green hills, horizontal striations of the earth strewn with rock, where a single large rock becomes the focus of this landscape. Using a similar viewpoint, Cecilia Borgenstam photographed locations within San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. These photos showcase the natural beauty of the park alongside the detritus that people left behind. For instance, in Perego Stroller. Red Flowers, viewers will see what was once a luxury baby carriage abandoned beneath the dramatic tree branches.

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Perego stroller. Red flowers, 2017; Archival pigment print by Cecilia Borgenstam – copyright Cecilia Borgenstam  artist website: http://www.ceciliaborgenstamphoto.com/

Artists using the urban landscape for their still-life include Ken Dreyfack, who captures the facades of buildings with dramatic lighting, reminiscent of a movie set. His photography series,

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Rear Entrance, 2015; from the series Silent Stages by Ken Dreyfack – copyright Ken Dreyfack – artist website: http://kendreyfack.com/

Silent Stages, is featured in this exhibit and each photo has a narrative quality. Jarod Lew’s works use Detroit’s urban spaces as a stage for the inhabitants to live their lives. Lew’s photo, Belle Isle, is a surprisingly alluring image of a young woman – her direct gaze is softened by a slight smile as she stands in water with the cityscape behind her.

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Belle Isle, 2017; from the series, Maybe I’ll See You There by Jarod Lew – copyright Jarod Lew – artist website: http://www.jarodlew.com/
Enjoy-Daniel Ramos - daniel_ramos_jonathan
Jonathan, 2017; from the series The Land of Illustrious Men by Daniel Ramos – copyright Daniel Ramos – website: https://danielramosphoto.com/

Daniel Ramos exhibits four photographs from his series, The Land of Illustrious Men, a family narrative about life experiences between the United States and Mexico detailing vignettes of memory as still-life. As an example, in Self Portrait, 2002, the viewer can experience a room with objects in the artists’ home. A decorative mirror captures a portion of his face as if he is but a small piece of these narratives.

Ferrer also selected photographers using images of people as a way to explore notions of social responsibility. She commented: “Whether in work interrogating social issues or embodying a more philosophical reading of humanity, I am struck by the persistent desire to represent what is real, true, and beloved.” Laurent Chevalier explores self-identity of black men and brings social justice into the conversation. Channell Stone’s photographs strive to reclaim “the Black body as a recognized aspect of humanity.” Soohyun Kim uses traditional family portraiture photography to put faces on families faced with immigration hardships.

This photography survey shows that artists are at the forefront of opening a dialog that validates what is real in their lives from a variety of viewpoints and artistic practices.


This article originally appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal Friday, November 16, 2018. Photography Now 2018: Still-Life was on exhibit through January 13, 2019. Featured artists include Ruth Adams, Keliy Anderson-Staley, Cecilia Borgenstam, Laurent Chevalier, Evan D’Arpino, Ken Dreyfack, Leah Edelman-Brier, Soohyun Kim, Pablo Lerma, Jarod Lew, Daniel Ramos, Niv Rozenberg, and Chanell Stone. 

Artists retain copyright on all photos. 

The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) is located at 59 Tinker Street, Woodstock, New York 12498.

 

Documenting the Art of American Roots Music

During October, music photographers who have captured the essence of musicians from acoustic traditions exhibited their work in American Roots Music at The Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, New York. Roots music, also commonly called folk music in the United States, are musical forms created without the use of synthesizers and electronics, incorporating early blues, country, folk, rhythm and blues. Music journalist Frank Matheis organized and curated the American Roots Music exhibit inviting twelve prominent and internationally renowned music photographers in this exhibit of black and white fine art photography.

We are all familiar with the folk music tradition led by world renown king of folk music, Pete Seeger. Fine art photographer and artist, Bibiana Huang Matheis, captured images of Seeger in concert and at his home. In the photo on display, Huang Matheis caught the moment when Seeger has one hand on his beloved banjo and one arm outstretched to the audience. Seeger’s expressive face is framed against the inky black background, capturing him in song.

Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger in concert by Bibiana Huang Matheis. (2008) copyright Bibiana Huang Matheis – website: https://www.bibiphoto.com/

Bill Steber has documented blues culture in Mississippi for the last 20 years, chronicling the state’s blues musicians and traditions that gave birth to or influenced the blues. Steber’s documentary photography of guitar evangelist Flora Fluker perfectly captures her intense singing style.

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Bill Steber captured Guitar Evangelist Cora Fluker in Marion, Mississippi. (1996) copyright Bill Steber – website: http://www.steberphoto.com/

Many of the photographers that document the musicians also make music. Bill Steber performs with several bands and John Rocklin is the co-founder of the Honesdale Roots & Rhythm Festival, sings and plays guitar in several bands. Rocklin’s involvement with music started at a young age when his father took him to Washington Square Park exposing him to music. “I stood right next to Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee.” Rocklin met and soon became friends with Little Sammy Davis, a blues harmonica legend. Inspired by his photographs of the musician, he pursued art photography and went on to capturing music legends such as B.B. King, Johnny Winter, and Odetta.

Douglas Baz is a freelance and fine art photographer residing in Dutchess County. The images in this exhibition are from a documentary project that he and Charles Traub photographed in Cajun Louisiana in 1974. A large exhibition and book of this work will be exhibited at the Historic New Orleans Collection Museum during 2019.

George Mitchell and Axel Küstner used a documentary approach to capture photography and field recordings of blues musicians; similar to a folklorists’ approach to documentation. Mitchell’s photo of Jesse Mae Hemphill on her porch shows that music was an everyday part of life. Axel Küstner is known as one of Europe’s blues experts. Küstner’s 1980 photo of Flora Molton sitting on a Washington D.C. corner performing to passerby depicts the essence of roots music – it is by the people and for the people.

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Flora Molton performing in Washington D.C., (1980) photographer Axel Küstner – all copyright belongs to Axel Küstner

The late Myron Samuels was a serious blues fan and photographer. Samuels was also a street musician playing blues harp at Portland, Maine area venues and farmers markets. His work in this posthumous exhibit includes photographs of Etta Baker, Ted Bogan, and John Cephas.


This article was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy!, October 5, 2018. American Roots Music was on display at The Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main Street, Beacon, New York;  October 6-28, 2018.

All copyrights belong with the photographers in this essay.

 

The Art of Eco Materialism

Unison Arts Center and SUNY New Paltz students have collaborated to create installations responding with ephemeral sculptural installations using an Eco Materialism theme. Inspired by Linda Weintraub’s forthcoming book, What’s Next? Eco Materialism & Contemporary Art, this exhibit responds to the urgent environmental neglect we witness in the world today. The exhibiting artists present their artworks as thoughtful responses, including the selection of materials.

The exhibit, What’s Next, also provides an ideal opportunity for a summer stroll with time to pause and consider each of the 29 stations where work has been constructed onsite, many times with items sourced from the Unison property. Michael Asbill, Visiting Lecturer at SUNY New Paltz involved students in his Collaborative Constructions course in this exhibit. Amanda Heidel, participated as a student and commented, “Starting with reading and interpreting Linda Weintraub’s text to form a proposal, to developing a list of artists to invite to respond to the text, contacting artists, reviewing of proposals, preparing the site at Unison, and assisting artists with installing their work, students were involved in every aspect of mounting this exhibit.” Visitors to the site will experience artworks that are about process, while some project a utopian viewpoint of beauty. At the gateway to the installation pick up a walking guide to get additional information on the artists’ process in approaching Eco Materialism in their pieces.

Enjoy! Moira Williams Matters of Care
Matters of Care an installation by Moira Williams. See more about her work: http://www.moira670.com/about 

Moira Williams exhibits Matters of Care, featuring a stack of cannon-ball size soil filled with positive bacteria. The artist has researched Mycobacterium vaccae, known as the ‘happy bacteria’ living in soil and invites all who pass to take one home to share. Beth Haber’s installation To Be Written shows four paired slate tablets placed on podiums supported by the remains of four ash trees in a compass formation. Visitors have the opportunity to write messages, which will then be wiped clean by the natural process of rain, wind, or over-writing, suggesting that we have the power to start a new movement that considers nature first.

Enjoy! Susan Togut's Emergent Wisdom (1)
Susan Togut’s Emergent Wisdom: artist website: http://www.susantogut.com/Galleries.htm

As you meander further down the path you might be drawn to the sound of water where Susan Togut’s Emergent Wisdom is installed above the Unison pond. Togut’s statement reads, “this environment seeks to evoke an appreciation for change, transformation, uncertainty, the magic of the unknown as in creativity, and the ephemerality of life.” Most of the pieces in the show focus on the transient, from the materials, used that naturally change over time, to the concepts presented in each piece. Jan Harrison and Alan Baer created Halcyon, a mythical nest-world for endangered and bird-like creatures that floats above in the tree limbs. The artists stated this is a “refuge and a place of rebirth in the global world of the sixth extinction, the Anthropocene.”

Enjoy! Jan Harrison and Alan Baer's Halcyon
 “Halcyon,” Jan Harrison and Alan Baer, (Birdlike porcelain sculptures in a human-built nest) More info on artist website: https://www.janharrison.net/news-exhibitions-publications 

 

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“Trees our Silent Companions” Copyrights: Ilse Schreiber-Noll, 2018. Artist website: http://www.ilseschreibernoll.com/

Exploring the exhibit heightens our sense of awareness towards the natural world. Perhaps this will extend our views on Eco Materialism as a life practice and new art movement that could change our world for the better, ensuring that we have a say in what’s next.

All photos in this essay by Linda Marston-Reid. All copyrights remain with the artists described in this essay.

This article was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy! section July 27, 2018.