Art & Catalytics

In science, catalytics speed up a chemical reaction while undergoing no permanent change. Recently this premise is actively being tested at the Arts Mid-Hudson gallery – two Hudson Valley curators Emilie Houssart and Xuewu Zheng are launching a series of artistic dialogues through group art exhibitions. Houssart explained that this is facilitated “by getting artists together so that we might ‘collide’ with each other in interesting ways.”

LMRblogJinkookAltogether, eight artists are exhibiting work that could be wildly diverse without this premise. For instance, in Jinkook Hwang’s “Sushi Nam Yeo” series, rice is seen as the object of happiness and love, stemming from his cultural background. In “Couple Sushi,” the artist draws a man and woman resting on a bed of rice that has been magnified to signify its importance in his life.

 

Hayoon Jay Lee, Silent Witness (detail)
Silent Witness I, (detail) Hayoon Jay Lee

Hayoon Jay Lee also creates work responding to food, which can be seen in many of her performance pieces and artworks. Hayoon said, “I try to communicate the tension points surrounding personal conflicts and social inequities. However, a central core and a function my work is an active collaboration by artists to inform and support underserved communities.” Hayoon exhibits “Silent Witness I,” where viewers can consider the artist’s rendition of a beautifully rounded spoon, filled to the brim with rice and contemplate the idea of what is enough.

 

Emilie Houssart and Xuewu Zheng both use their artistic practice to make sense of contemporary culture. With Zheng’s practice of rolling and tying newspapers, the work reflects his fascination with history and the idea that we create a new history as we live our lives. Zheng’s practice can be summed up in his succinct statement about his work: “My goal is to take the treasures of the people in my left hand and the masters of yesterday in my right hand and to clasp them together. I then want to blend them to create the Zheng Xuewu of today.” His installation “Century Text” placed in the center of the gallery features thousands of pages rolled and tied, reminding us that history is made up of thousands of tiny details from each day.Xuewu Zheng, Century Text

Emilie Houssart, Spaces
Spaces – Emilie Houssart

 

Houssart’s work “Spaces” responds to the different perceptions of value in society. Similar to Zheng, Houssart has a darkly humorous approach to contemporary culture, adding it all into the mix and allowing everything to exist side by side in a vaguely chaotic presentation.

Marieken Cochius exhibits her recent ink and shellac drawings on paper. The artist may be influenced by the natural world: her abstraction of color and bold line stands out as a direct emotional response articulated with paper and inks. While Cochius presents ethereal line and shading, Leigh Williams exhibits “Vessels,” two forms that can be viewed as positive and negative space. The hand-built wood-fired clay has delicate colorations that defy their dark, organic shapes.

Joe Radoccia’s larger than life portraits show a dignity and gravitas in each face. Each portrait features underpainting in the background that adds to the depth and nuance of each face. Radoccia places the soul of each person on display using a grand scale and the direct gaze of the subject.Joe Radoccia, 'Joe Weber'

Sumi Pak examines human emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, and curiosity through his daily portraits of his cat, Kopi. Pak’s gestural line and colorations describe the ordinary life of his cat, and perhaps our own lives as we go about our daily business.


This essay was originally published in print:  the Poughkeepsie Journal – March 10, 2017 Sumi Pak, Getting to Know You   

Art and the Byrd

For over a century, the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony has a history of providing a place for artists to create work. Today, the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild sustains that creative work through an integrated program of exhibitions, performances, classes, workshops, symposia, summer residences, and artist housing. The annual Members’ exhibition demonstrates the sustainability of founders Jane and Ralph Whitehead’s multi-disciplined model that welcomed artists and craftspeople to work collaboratively and without restrictions.

This year’s member’s exhibit, Byrd & Image, provides a glimpse of the immense amount of talent showing in a broad array of media. Artist and curator, Linda Weintraub designed the installation of the exhibit with over 100 pieces of artworks on display. She commented, “Debra Priestly was honored with this year’s ‘curator’s choice’ award for her meticulously constructed print, but those eligible as runners-up are plentiful. Other impressive works include emotionally expressive abstractions, masterfully constructed sculptures, beautifully crafted collages, and hauntingly intimate photographs.”

 

lauragurton
Laura Gurton – Unknown Species #215

Visitors to the exhibit will notice Weintraub arranged the exhibit works in groupings, allowing each work to be appreciated on its own merits. The larger pieces of work that are standouts include Calvin Grimm’s “Clearing Out the Stories,” an exuberant oil on canvas, and Laura Gurton’s “Unknown Species #215,” a beautiful composition of patterning, reminiscent of Aboriginal designs. The exacting designs of dots and drawn lines are enhanced by the luminescent depth of the painting’s surface. Mary Anne Erickson’s “Binger’s Rocket Gas” painting reminds us of the nostalgic roadside attractions seen during the mid-century era. Similar in mood to Edward Hopper’s work, the image depicts a place where the architecture, signage, and vehicles dominate the world. In direct opposition to this feeling is Marjorie Grinnell’s portrait of a man lying on a fainting couch, fully dressed in evening wear, which is both a beautiful portrait and a narrative painting.

 

 

enjoy-kunstadt_carole_interlude-no-4
Carole P. Kunstadt, Interlude No. 4 

The smaller artworks really shine in this setting, surrounded by other works on their own scale. For instance, Debra Priestly’s modest-sized pieces have a delicate beauty and convey a personal story about memory, ancestral knowledge, and historic events. Carole P. Kunstadt’s “Interlude” series are small artworks that have a large presence. Utilizing an old music manuscript found in a thrift store, Kunstadt cut and wove the papers followed by repetitively knotting linen threads into the fragmented surface of musical notations and lyrics, resulting in a meditative artwork. Viewers of these artworks could consider that these small framed pieces also serve as sacred objects.

 

Byrdcliffe Arts Colony was founded with the idea of venerating the handmade, fostering an artistic community and creating beautiful objects for everyday use. In this exhibit, there are ceramic pieces on exhibit that reflect this ideal including work by Megan Dayl, and Deirdre Puleo’s “Creepy Forest,” a wood-fired pot with branch embellishments. The exhibit also includes bronze sculptures by Philip Monteleoni, Alex Kveton, and Jean Newburg.

Weintraub commented on the artworks and artists in the region; “They each provide evidence of the artistic vitality that endures, to this day, in the historic Hudson Valley.”

This article was originally published in the Poughkeepsie Journal Enjoy!, January 13, 2017.

Making mistakes and changing the world

Neil Gaiman, one of our contemporary artists and thought leaders said:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”

art-desk-1-1-2017My desk shows that recently I have been busy making something. My hope for you is that 2017 brings the accomplishments of making and trying new things and that you’ll join me in pushing ourselves to be the best we can be.

Life and the Art of Cooking

2016-04-24-11-28-56Winter is here, bringing cold slush, freezing temperatures and making me think about heading back to Mexico. The temperatures are not only warmer, but the people are friendly and the food is wonderful.

Finding good food in Mexico City is easy enough – just walk into the nearest little place and order the menu of the day.  Most of the time lunch will include soup, salad, main dish and a dessert. Eating this way is easy and inexpensive, but the more we wandered through markets with the stunning piles of chiles, fresh squash blossoms, fruits and tortillas, the more we talked about how fun it would be to be able to make our own meals. During our last trip to Mexico City, we stayed in an Airbnb with a kitchen, which opened up the possibility of shopping and cooking our own meals.

First, I should mention we are a family of people who love to cook, including two chefs who make their living this way. There are few travel activities more exciting than wandering through a food market and finding new options for dinner.

Some of the food is simply beautiful in its color and pattern, such as the stacks and stacks of dried cereal, pasta, and spices. Other types of foods we had no idea what we were looking at and had to ask how the vendor cooked it at home.

2016-04-25-16-54-15-1  Shopping in the neighborhood also gave us a glimpse of life in that community, since we had to visit the green market, the Mercado for supplies, the bakery, and a liquor store for our favorite tequila, Gran Centenario.

 

2016-04-27-17-49-24

Dessert from the bakery – an important part of dinner.

We enjoyed every minute of these neighborhood wanderings and arrived back to begin preparing that evening’s feast. Dinner one night included a simple stew with garbanzo beans, corn, tomato, and small red potatoes – it was delicious, but the experience of shopping and cooking was a large portion of the pleasure.

 

 

 

Life and the Color Red

enjoy-ruth-edwy_a-landscape-in-red_oil-on-canvas_24x24The color red has long been affiliated with passion and warmth, perhaps because it is also the color of fire and blood. Emotionally intense, red increases respiration, raises blood pressure and enhances human metabolism. Red also has significant cultural meaning around the world: in China, red is associated with good luck and fortune; in Japan, red is associated closely with a few deities and statues are often painted that color; and in Sweden, red was reserved for the privileged class.

Recently, Emerge Gallery & Art Space in Saugerties curated, “Primar(il)y Red: A Group Exhibition of Artwork Celebrating the Color Red.” Robert P. Langdon, Emerge Gallery director stated, “Everyone experiences art differently, but I believe that the selected works in this exhibition will offer the viewers a chance to connect with their feelings to see which emotions are elicited from spending time with the work.” Forty-five pieces of art representing forty-four emerging artists from the Hudson Valley and New York Metropolitan area were included in this exhibition. Langdon stated, “Although some of the work included is not entirely red, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the red element in the piece.”

enjoy-marilyn-rowley_descent_mixed-media_11x14This is noted in “Red Wings,” a painting by Elin Menzies depicting two Red Winged Blackbirds perched in the brush. The artist uses layering and sgraffito on the surface, creating a magical setting for the birds to roost. The brush is painted in subtle colors making the vibrant red-colored wings pop against the background. Marilyn Rowley uses another approach with red in “Descent,” where the first thing viewers will notice is the vibrant red background. The artist has captured the moment as a black bird lands against a red background with white gestural lines completing the dynamic composition.

enjoy-alison-winfield-burns_red-palio_oil-on-canvas_36x28Alison Winfield-Burns exhibits “Red Palio,” a painting inspired by the annual tradition of the Palio horse race in Siena, Italy. Capturing the excitement of riders and horses that are working together to win with an impressionistic approach, the action on the race track is framed by the stadium’s red swath above the spectators.

enjoy-ross-corsair_assignation_photography_39x28-1Ross Corsair’s moody photograph, “Assignation,” is a study in compositional elements. Viewed from above a plaza, there are intersecting lines, patterns, and textures, primarily in shades of gray. The eye will immediately focus on the red triangles, part of an umbrella held by a lone person crossing the plaza. Corsair’s artist statement explains: “Most of my photographs attempt to capture the ephemeral, a fleeting moment, sometimes cloaked in mystery.”

Ruth Edwy shows “A Landscape in Red,” a lovely, painterly abstraction of the landscape. At first glance, the viewer may think this is simply an examination of the color red, but looking closer you can see form and gesture, design and line. The artist explains her inspiration in her artist statement: “My paintings involve the landscape, more and more, whether in a very abstract form or very literal, but in the end what defines all of my artwork, over many years, is my love affair with light and color.”

This essay originally appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal’s Enjoy! section, December 16, 2016. 

Appetite for Destruction

The title for Wassaic Project’s 9th Annual Summer Exhibition, Appetite for Destruction, is taken from an artwork of the same name by Robert Williams, a California-based artist that was at the forefront of psychedelic, apocalyptic artmaking. Williams’ painting was selected originally for the cover of a Guns N’ Roses album, but after its initial release was banned in record stores, forcing the album reissue with his art inside the album and a new image on the cover. Although that was 1987, apparently art still had the capacity to shock and provoke strong reactions.

Appetite for Destruction at the Wassaic Project’s Maxon Mills exhibit space takes a more measured approach. The works on display by contemporary emerging artists focuses on the artists’ interpretations of the untamed world – whether that world is the outdoor landscape, the built environment, or the imagined. The annual exhibit is important to present emerging artists’ work, building reputations and allowing artists to experiment and take risks with their art. Of the 56 exhibited artists, 45 are alumni of the Wassaic Artist Residency, where artists can live and make art in Wassaic during their residency period.

This year there are exhibits installed on the grounds that can be spotted before visitors enter the space. The exhibition space is a seven-story grain elevator with artwork installed at every level. On the first floor, visitors are greeted by David Grainger’s larger than life sculpture, “Dear in Headlights.” A manufactured forest and the sound of water encourage visitors to explore an installation by Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw, featuring a boat in a built stream surrounded by vegetation. The artist statement described the installation as “influenced by belief systems and how they related to visions of the future.”

Deborah-Simon-Flayed Rabbit-photo LMRMoving up the stairs to the next level, see Deborah Simon’s “Flayed Albino Rabbit” wearing a beautifully embroidered jacket depicting trees and interconnected root systems.

As visitors continue to move up the stairs, don’t miss the small wood boxes containing 3D digital animations created by Meredith Drum and works by J. D. Fontanella installed in the grain elevator shaft.

Natalie-Baxter-Warm Gun photo by LMRIMG_20160904_135650The third level is an installation of Natalie Baxter’s “Warm Gun” series. Natalie stated that she “learned from her Appalachian grandmother to create soft objects that challenge feminine ideals, gun laws, and violence.” The next level has an interactive exhibit by Gregg Evans featuring 12 photo panels on three shelves. The artist encourages visitors to rearrange the panels to create a new story, demonstrating how art can be re-interpreted by its surroundings.

Roxanne-Johnson-Run to the Hills photo  by LMR20160904_141651Next up are Roxanne Jackson’s fantastical creations – the exploding ceramic wall mask is a tour de force of design, color, and imagination. Don’t hesitate to enter and explore Sabrina Barrios’ installation created using UV light and string.

Sabrina-Barrios-Coup D'etat how they did it. Photo by LMRIMG_20160904_141144

Continuing up the stairs, Holden Brown’s “Stairway to Heaven” installation will invite you to ponder the pure white stairs cordoned off by a rope. The artist stated, “My work is about fantasy and unfulfilled desire. It addresses the human pursuit for utopic perfection and the images we associate with the idea of “Utopia.”

David-Grainger-Stairway-to-Heaven-LMR photoIMG_20160904_142427He used Google to search for images related to “Stairway to Heaven” and “Utopia.” Facing the installation, visitors could see an open door at the top of the pure white stairway, a blue sky with fluffy white clouds slowly moving, visible through the open door – a heavenly choir completing the utopian scene. Visitors may wonder if they will be allowed to pass beyond the blue velvet rope.

Appetite for Destruction at the Wassaic Project’s Maxon Mills is located at 37 Furnace Bank Road, Wassaic. Exhibit up through September 18, 2016. 

 

This essay (in an edited form) originally appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal’s Enjoy section, September 9, 2016.

Fun House – the art of the unusual

Summer 2016 will be remembered for the Fun House exhibit, held at Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie and curated by Eve Biddle, local artist and curator. The exhibit was inspired by Hudson Valley regional artist David Lax’s surreal painting, spotted in the entry hall of the gallery. “There is something about this theme, the bizarre, weird, and wonderful, that really strikes a chord with artists;” Executive Director, Joanna Frang commented, “We had over 300 local and national entries for the show.” Local artist and curator, Eve Biddle, selected 81 artworks by 51 artists, hailing from 17 states and 40 cities and towns. Biddle’s curatorial statement sets the stage in anticipation for seeing the art: “These works are a jumble of dreams and nightmares designed to overload the senses and spark the imagination.”

Santiago Cohen_The Fight_Courtesy the artistMany of the artworks include the unexpected juxtaposition of collage images, such as John Baker’s painting, “Born and Raised in the City of Chicago,” and the photographs by Annie Stone and Kerfe Roig. Santiago Cohen’s “The Fight,” reminds us of the strong influence of the surrealism movement on Mexican art. Born in Mexico, this New Jersey artists’ influence is seen in his three paintings on exhibit.

2081913Ileana Doble Hernandez exhibits staged photographs from her series, “Animal Nature,” which are inspired by animal-human interaction. The photograph “Pollito Chicken,” depicts a mother with a pig-mask sitting at the dinner table, her baby is dressed in a bright yellow romper and appears to be trying to crawl out of an aluminum roasting pan. There is a roast chicken in front of the mother, but the placement of the baby next to the dinner and the empty plate might make the viewer feel uneasy. The artist notes that “In the end, we are also animal kind.”

Jim Allen exhibited “Traveling Dreams,” a surreal black and white photograph that captures reflections and shadows of travel, whether by fantasy or memory. The fantasy of riding off on a stallion is viewed through a scratched windowpane, making the memory seem unreliable. Through the window the viewer sees the distorted image of a school bus leaving on its route.

James Allen_Traveling Dreams_Courtesy the artistSculptural pieces include Trent Taft’s artworks that could have come from the special effects movie prop storeroom: meticulously created and vaguely disturbing, these are artworks from a new master.

Marah Carpenter’s fabric work series, “Paper Doll Look,” a reconfigured wardrobe inspired by paper dolls, features three pieces that are actually wearable, creating a one-dimensional view of the model.

Isaac Roller’s pen and ink scroll “The Changeling” demonstrates the artists’ skill at drawing animals – both real and imagined. Although a small portion of 31’ scroll is viewable, what is on display is truly bizarre.