Thursday, September 27, 2012

Peter Cheney at Rockland Center for the Arts

Peter Cheney is a friend of mine.  He's one of the most cheerful guys I know.  I first saw his art two years ago during the 2010 Nyack Art Walk.  The paintings that I saw that day and paintings I just saw at Rockland Center for the Arts (ROCA) in West Nyack, NY are hit or miss... some I love and some I don't.  But whether you like his work or not you can appreciate Peter's sense of humor.  The exhibition at ROCA is titled "The World According to Peter Cheney".  According to the ROCA website...
Self taught artist and Nyack resident Peter Cheney exhibits his art in "The World According to Peter Cheney." His use of broad brush strokes and flat planes of color reflect the simplicity and directness of country road signs, while his animal characters tell anecdotes of his time in Rockland County and in his day-to-day life.
Peter is one of those artists that has integrated into the arts community in a very organic and authentic way.  He is neither an insider nor an outsider.  He doesn't contain a shred of pretension and he seems to be a man of sincerity not seriousness.   I mention his personality because it stands in contrast to the stereotypical crabby and lonely artist.  Peter knows who he is and he has fun with it!

In regards to his art... his best works are those without words, like the horse or mule painting below.  I really love this piece because of its simplicity, directness, sincere effort to articulate anatomy, and the nothing-special subject matter.  I can enter into the painting and imagine my own narrative.  On the other hand, his paintings with text prevent me from "making the piece my own".  In general, text almost always dominates over the visual component of the painting.  The written word has tremendous power over the audience... thats what makes using this tool very risky.  

*Note not all of these images are part of the ROCA exhibition

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Amy Lincoln, John Avelluto, James Prez and Other Heros

Amy Lincoln

My friend Julie Tores organized an exhibition of artists that not only make work she is inspired by but who also involve themselves in the art community.  These are people that give much more to the art scene than take from it.  According to Julie, "They show and talk about other artist's work in a meaningful way, and provide venues for us to meet, look, think and engage both face-to-face and on-line."  I should also add that most of the work she chose to put into the show was work that the artists never intended to exhibit publicly; in some cases she scrounged around piles of forgotten work or found a piece hidden in the corner of dusty studio. 

Here is a list of all the artists and their projects...
Liz Atzberger (Airplane), John Avelluto (Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk), Brett Baker (Painters' Table), Paul Behnke (Structure and Imagery), Deborah Brown (Storefront Bushwick), Sharon Butler (Two Coats of Paint), Kevin Curran (Airplane), Joy Curtis (Pioneers of Inspiration), Paul D'Agostino (Centotto), Rob De Oude (Parallel Art Space), Lacey Fekishazy (Sardine), Enrico Gomez (Parallel Art Space), Chris Harding (English Kills), Katarina Hybenova (Bushwick Daily), Lars Kremer (Airplane), Ellen Letcher (Famous Accountants), Amy Lincoln (The Laundromat), Loren Munk (The James Kalm Report), Matthew Mahler (Small Black Door), Mike Olin (Pioneers of Inspiration), James Prez (artist/organizer), Kevin Regan (Famous Accountants), Jonathan Terranova (Small Black Door), Austin Thomas (Pocket Utopia)

The gallery itself is very interesting and is refereed to as an apartment gallery.  Here's what the website says...

Small Black Door is a project space located in Ridgewood, Queens. Artists Jonathan Terranova and Matthew Mahler founded the space in late 2010 with the intention of bringing emerging artists and thinkers together. Located in the basement of a diverse Queens neighborhood, Small Black Door physically embodies the challenge of a new generation of artists in their quest to explore alternative venues and ideas within an established art system.  

Small Black Door

John Avelluto

John's art first struck me as being of bad taste.  It looked cheap, gross, and not very sophisticated.  But I soon realized that these unflattering words were actually compliments.  I fell into his trap.  And after talking to Julie about his work I learned that everything in his paintings was made of acrylic paint!  The yellowing baloney that he drew Jesus on was not real baloney; the cheap wood panelling that he drew diamond "s" shapes on was not cheap wood panelling; and the plain sheet of blank paper was not a plain sheet of blank paper.  John is both a magician and a terrific artist with a genuine knack for humor.

 Amy Lincoln

Amy's work is simple, introspective, and charming.  Her small paintings and drawings are magical and they exhibit a developed visual language primarily of flattened space and forms, abstracted shapes, and soft colors.  Her work is soothing but also has a kind of tension to it, that I think in part is from the figures in her work (all self-portraits except for the one immediately below this paragraph) confronting the us, the viewers, with an unnerving stare.

 James Prez

James's art was my favorite in the exhibition.  From what I understand he draws and paints on anything and everything he can find.  His drawings become little sculptures because of their tactile qualities and uneven edges of the materials we works with.  His sculptures in particular fascinate me.  I want to see more of his work and I wonder if he creates larger sculptures, drawings, and paintings.

Some other heros whose work I loved...

Joy Curtis

Enrico Gomez

Loren Munk

Rob de Oude

Katarina Hybenova

Brett Baker

Paul Behnke

Lars Kremer

Ellen Letcher

Kevin Curran

Sharon Butler

Austin Thomas

Monday, September 17, 2012

Krasel Art Center: Saint Joseph, MI

Fred Spaulding

After a run along Lake Michigan's eastern shore I walked past what looked like a sculpture park two blocks from where I was staying.  It turned out to be Krasel Art Center.  Their indoor gallery space was closed, apparently do to the setting up of a Chihuly exhibit, but I had more than enough fun strolling around the outside.

The Krasel is named after George and Olga Krasel, the centers beneficiaries.  In 1980, the year the center opened, it began acquiring sculptures.

The first sculpture that really struck my attention was Fred Spaulding's Krasel Stack II.  It looked like the kind of thing that a visionary outsider artist would've assembled in their backyard.  It stretched upward like stacks of junk piled up and bundles together with straps.  The shape and composition of it was dynamic, but one thing I did not like about it was the details.  At first glance the interesting textures and worn colors drew my eyes closer.  But soon I saw what appeared to be printed images on many of the cinder blocks... this I though was unnecessary and took away from the natural beauty of the material.

Another sculpture I found interesting was a heavy, bronze, minimal piece that had a rich textured patina surface.  Kirk Newman's Gulwave possesses a kind of Herculean presence.  Also, the rusty steel Seedpod 10 by David Greenwood curiously resting beneath the midday sun had so many exciting views to look at it from.  I'm not used to 3D art as much as I am to 2D, but this piece seemed to carry the essence of sculpture within its simple and dynamic forms.

Kirk Newman

David Greenwood

Fred Spaulding

Michael Dunbar

Jon Isherwood

Lucy Slivinski

Micki LeMieux

Alex Gartelmann and Jonas Sebura

Mark Klassen

Jay Wholley

Kanri Nakano

David Barr

Parking lot
The back of Krasel Art Center

Sewer cover

Don't forget these three little guys