Another work day begins at home. I’ve created a place to focus and noticed this morning that greens and blues are the predominant colors in my space. The green bowl holds freshly cut sage from an overgrown side garden. Here it represents an honored place as a reminder that we are all tied to nature.
The small painting is by Penny Dell, featuring a collage of cubes created from the safety patterns seen on envelopes. Each cube is edged with gold encaustic paint, making the stacked cubes more precious.
Next to that is a jar created by Alexis Feldheim. This work has similar connections with the patterns Penny Dell uses – Alexis used her series of photographs and transferred the images onto the ceramic vessel. Having these things around me while I work reminds me how fortunate I am to be surrounded by a community of artists.
Today we can appreciate the mission of the Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance to preserve the regional legacy of the 19th century architect, Calvert Vaux. To expand appreciation of the historical value of these places, Kitty McCullough and the Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance invited Franc Palaia to curate a photography exhibit that featured the historic architecture and landscape design in the Hudson River Valley. Palaia commented, “In my selection process I tried to focus on well-known, as well as lesser-known architecture to give the show a sense of discovery for the viewer.” From over 100 images, he selected 29 photographers to show 70 images for the exhibit.
Olana is a stunning example of Calvert Vaux’s partnership with Frederic Church to complete a home sited on a rise where views of the Hudson River and the landscape seems to go on forever. Photographer Paolo Nigris used drone photography to capture Olana and the sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.
Several photographs in the exhibit feature the abandonment and ruination of these grand structures. Liz Cooke’s photography, Convalescent Home Piano Room, is a wonderful example of the architectural details in these old buildings. The photograph allows us to imagine the grandeur of this room in its prime, filled with music appreciators for an afternoon concert. Cooke has created a collection of these memorials to grand architecture and is the founder of Abandoned Hudson Valley, a website devoted to sharing ideas and images of the forgotten places in the Hudson Valley region.
Now abandoned, the Hudson River State Hospital Psychiatric Center looms above Route 9, a major transportation corridor. The iconic buildings were designed by Frederick Clarke Withers and the grounds were designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted: both were known for their pioneering work of America’s Park Movement, as well as the design for New York City’s Central Park. Monica d. Church captured the existing building on a cold morning in her photograph, Cheney Building, Psychiatric Hospital.
Bannerman Castle is another spectacular architectural structure adjacent to the railroad corridor on the Hudson River. John Verner’s photo of Bannerman Castle shows the intricate architectural details of the structure up close.
Wilderstein is an Italianate style home designed by John Warren Ritch in 1852, and 40 years later, Calbert Vaux completed a landscape plan for the grounds that were originally pasture. Wilderstein’s interiors were designed by Joseph Burr Tiffany featuring the finest decorative arts during that time, including stained glass windows. Photographer Pieter Estersohn captured one of Wilderstein’s large stained glass windows at the top of a stairwell. The window’s artistry continues to sparkle in the sunlight, providing beauty and grace to all who walk within the walls of this architectural gem.
This article was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal Lifestyle section, May 10, 2020.
Jan Sawka was a world renowned artist with artwork held in collections of 60 museums. Originally from Poland, his life took on unexpected direction when he was exiled from his country during the Cold War. He landed in New York and eventually made his home in High Falls, where he continued to make art from 1985 until his death in 2012.
Currently, the Dorsky Museum has a one-person thematic exhibit of Sawka’s work, The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place), curated by the artists’ daughter, Hanna Maria Sawka and Dr. Frank Boyer. The artworks clearly show Sawka’s love for his new country and especially the Hudson Valley. This is seen in the large four-panel painting depicting the Ashokan Reservoir, a place that reminded Sawka of his home country. Hanna Sawka, the artist’s daughter, commented: “This was a favorite place for my parents to take walks. The Hudson Valley was a place tied to my father’s memories.”
Sawka, his wife and daughter would travel for summer vacations to Asbury, New Jersey. Sawka felt the urban decline of Asbury Park reminded him of the conditions in Soviet-dominated Poland. The painting, “Asbury Notebook,” contains a multitude of small sketches and paintings that describe one detail about the place. Together, the images create a symphony of visuals.
An entire gallery space is devoted to Sawka’s series, “Post-Cards,” which includes 36 drypoint prints of places around the world that were meaningful to the artist. What is especially exciting about this exhibit is a recent discovery of a letter from Sawka to Elena Millie, who was the Fine Prints Curator at the Library of Congress, where he described the inspiration and memories that he associated for each print in the “Post-Cards” series. Visitors will find these descriptions available in the gallery to guide their exploration.
Each of the artworks was created using drypoint, which is a scratching tool to create line on thick sheets of Plexiglas. Hanna Sawka provided this memory of visiting her father’s studio: “The persistent sound of a steel needle scratching Plexiglas is a part of my earliest childhood, it was a sound that I would hear well into adulthood.”
Artists scribe lines into the Plexiglas to create the imagery for a finished print. Lines that are deep and thick will print darker when put through the printing press. Hanna Sawka explained, “The length and the rhythm of the scratches would change with the length of the lines or hatchings. It was not a quiet scratch, but a determined, loud sound as my father scratched hard to create lines deep enough to hold ink for the printing process.” The exhibit includes a glass vitrine that contains two Plexiglas plates for the printing process as well as Jan Sawka’s drypoint scribing tool.
This article was originally published in the Hudson Valley News Weekend, February 26, 2020
Symposium: Jan Sawka: The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place): A two-day symposium co-hosted by The Dorsky Museum and The Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City including panels of scholars who will help illuminate aspects of Jan Sawka’s practice, his biography, and the social and historic context of his art. Speakers will include Peter Schwenger, Tom Wolf, Beth Wilson, the exhibition curators and others.
YouTube video exhibition views of Jan Sawka: The Place of Memory (The Memory of Place) Curated by Hanna Maria Sawka and Dr. Frank Boyer at The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.
One of the most important milestones in the career of an artist is to have their work included into a permanent museum collection. The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art has established an annual purchase award and acquired artwork over the past 12 years through the Alice and Horace Chandler Art Acquisitions Fund. The exhibit, Collecting Local: Twelve Years of the Hudson Valley Artists Annual Purchase Award is a rare opportunity to see selections of the collection together. Entering the gallery, it’s apparent that the collection has been built with a discerning, yet diverse eye. The exhibit includes video, sculptural installation, paintings, photography, mixed media and ceramics, yet all these artworks together create a vivid picture of the work of contemporary Hudson Valley artists. Many of the artworks included in this exhibit turn the mirror back onto our culture as they examine climate change, violence in our society, and displacement. Curt Beishe and Lise Prown collaborated on the installation, Carrying (Pistol Packing Pupils) 2010, an artwork that makes a statement on our gun culture and gun laws in schools across the United States. Seen in a context of when the sculpture was created, we have seen ten additional years of gun deaths in our schools.
Libby Paloma creates wall hung multi-media pieces that memorialize her Chicanx and queer culture. In Chingona AKA Libby, she remembers her family roots while she claims her own individuality. The piece is embellished with seed beads and tiny objects that depict her world. Several paintings are featured using a variety of style and approaches to working with paint. Nestor Madalengoitia’s work, Simon Bolivar – Hero 2, uses the artists’ trademark signature of portraiture with lettering and designs that feel inspired by Incan civilization from centuries ago. Thomas Sarrantonio’s small paintings on paper show us the birds eye view of forests with waterways from his series, Forest Paintings. Charles Geiger’s works are not only beautiful, but also a statement on the environment as shown in his painting, Out of Sight, inviting the viewer to search within the jungle of flowers and plant-like objects. In Stephen Niccolls’ painting, Strapat, the artist has pared down shapes to explore the essence of painting. Looking closely at the artwork, you will see the deliberate brushstrokes and placement of color.
There are several fine examples of photography in the exhibit from François Deschamps series, Available, where the artist places an image of a person alongside an empty storefront, to Richard Edelman’s dramatic piece, Rebekah Creshkoff in Search of Matilda, a study of shadow and light. Several artists use existing materials to reconceptualize the work, such as Barbara Leon’s Homo Naturalis, where the artist has taken an existing poster and painted over the images. Don’t pass by the grouping of steel engravings; look closely to see how Jean-Marc Superville Sovak has inserted images that change the perception of these formerly bucolic landscapes. As you depart this exhibit, pause a few moments at the gallery entrance to enjoy Patrick Kelley’s ethereal video, 175 Rome Churches.
The exhibit Collecting Local: Twelve Years of the Hudson Valley Artists Annual Purchase Award is on exhibit until July 12, 2020 at The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.
State University of New York at New Paltz, 1 Hawk Drive, (75 S. Manheim Boulevard for GPS), New Paltz, NY. Phone: 845.257.3844 Email: email@example.com
This essay was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal, February 28, 2020.
The Lockwood Gallery is one of the latest galleries to the Hudson River art scene and they finish off the year with a flourish with their exhibit In Pursuit of Color. Michael Lockwood, owner of The Lockwood Gallery and curator Alan Goolman organized the exhibit that includes 24 of the Mid-Hudson region’s extraordinary visual artists. Visitors can explore the smaller galleries organized around colors that showcase a variety of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and mixed media.
Andrew Lyght’s artwork, Painting Structures 645C, is prominently situated in the first gallery. Lyght created the three-dimensional piece with red oak and plywood, building negative and positive spaces that were informed by his observations of built structures during his early life in Guyana. The piece is embellished with drawings that may remind viewers of the Peruvian Nazca Lines. In the same gallery Stephen Pusey’s lively abstract painting, Nexus, is executed with colorful lines that dance on a rhodamine red background.
Joseph Conrad-Ferm’s painting, Cornu, was inspired by music. The artist stated, “My mood picks the music that drives my spirit in the studio: Monk, Coltrane, Davis, Parker, and others were in the studio with me.”
Congruence by Stephen Niccolls
In the same gallery space, see three of Stephen Niccolls’ exquisite paintings including Congruence, where the artist has created an abstract composition that quivers with energy using color and design.
David Provan’s petite sculpture, Primary Structure, is big on presence. The sculpture is created from rods painted the three primary colors; yellow, red, and blue, that crisscross forming interactions with the colors. Provan also exhibits Trance Stance, a painting with color gradations that suggest states of meditation and consciousness.
Susan Spencer Crowe’s work is informed by early training and work as a sculptor. Floating on Blue is a recent work where she has created a three-dimensional wall-hung painting by cutting and folding the artwork. As viewers walk around the artwork, each angle brings a fresh view of this complex work.
Talya Baharal’s painting practice has evolved out of her work as a studio art jeweler and sculptor. Her paintings bring unlikely colors together on one surface. For instance, in Untitled, pink and goldenrod yellow intertwine with an organic black line. The work is overpainted with layers and the surface bears markings where the artist has added and subtracted color, adding to the depth of the work. Laura Gurton’s work explores patterning and color, as does Ralph Moseley‘s One-Over-One color field abstract landscapes.
Several artists depict the human form including Angela Voulgarelis’ delicate study, Portrait of a Young Woman, and D. Jack Solomon‘s diminutive abstractions of the female form. Don’t miss Mike Cockrill’s collage paintings that present the humorous side to art school.
In this exhibit, the exuberant use of color is the focus until you approach Carole Kunstadt’s mark-making drawings that showcase color in a subtle way. The line of the pencil is the star of these drawings and the introduction of small bits of color teases the viewer, who may try to read the markings as a centuries-old text.
The artists retain all rights to images in this post.
The Lockwood Gallery is located at 747 Route 28, Kingston, New York. In Pursuit of Color was on exhibit November 2019 through January 4, 2020.
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. Her 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. As 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. The 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.
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.
Circling 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.
Inside 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This essay was originally published by the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy! magazine – May 31, 2019.
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.”
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.
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,
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.
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.