Friday, October 26, 2012

The Hudson River School and Tatzu Nishi

Thomas Cole

Two great exhibitions are next door to one another on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.  The New York Historical Society is showing "Nature and The American Vision: The Hudson River School" and the Tatzu Nishi installation "Discovering Columbus" is on view at Columbus Circle... (FYI you have to reserve your time slot for this exhibition at discovering_columbus).

The third painting of the "Course of Empire" paintings
The Hudson River School group of painters is historically important in this country.  They were in awe of the American landscape.  It seemed untamed compared to Europe.  Coupled with their admiration for mountains, valleys, and waterways they mastered the technique of mimicking light and atmosphere.  These paintings, similar to Vermeer's work and Turner's, seem to radiate light.  You feel more as if you are gazing outside of window when viewing these pictures than looking at a flat surface.

Their best works in my opinion are studies of landscapes that were made on the spot.  Thomas Cole's famed "Course of Empire" is overly cerebral for my tastes.  Even though this five painting series illustrates his ideas of nature's predominance over mankind, I favor his work of simple, dignified natural subjects.  I like these works because of their minimal cerebral quality and their quiet yet powerful contemplative aura.

Albert Bierstadt

Thomas Cole

Asher Brown Durand

John Frederick Kensett

Asher Brown Durand

John Frederick Kensett

Asher Brown Durand's Art Supplies

"Discovering Columbus" by Tatzu Nishi was pretty amazing. The 120 year old Columbus sculpture standing 75 feet high over Columbus Circle has an imposing presence. I can't say that the exhibit gave me any new ideas about Columbus. In fact, the installation didn't appear to have anything specifically to do with the explorer. Inside the living room there were sofas, a lamp, a bookshelf, and oddly enough a TV that was turned on to Fox News or CNN. I thought cable was a bit much... In fact grade school students that were there for the exhibit were huddled around the television chatting about the presidential debate. I would've liked to have seen the interior a little more thoughtfully decorated. For example, deck the heck out of the interior... make it lavish and over the top with gaudiness... or turn Columbus into a Pop art installation by covering all the surfaces in hot pink... or make some political statement by using "Gober-like" wallpaper of dying Native Americans from small pox. Overall, it's an exhibition worth going to see and having a conversation about afterwards. Afterall, making a 75 foot high historical sculpture seem like its the center piece in a posh New York apartment is something you don't experience everyday.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Charles Ritchie and Michael Rees

Saturday I walked around Chelsea during their open studio event.  As it turned out the first gallery that I came across was the most moving.  Charles Ritchie is currently exhibiting his watercolors and drawings at Bravin Lee Programs.  Charles is my kind of artist.  His work is as modest as it gets, his technique is masterful, his work is charming, his subject matter is banal, and his work is authentic.  None of the pictures on the Bravin Lee website do his work justice.  The textured and rough edge paper that he draws on gives his two dimensional work an object like quality.  For the past two months now I've been collecting vintage postcards.  They enchant me and so does his postcard size drawings.  According to Ritchie's Artist Statement on his website...

My drawings are investigations of a series of sites in and around my suburban home which I have explored repeatedly for twenty-five years. Light is my essential subject.
My inspirations come in a flash and I hope to convey that initial excitement [...]  However, by the time the drawing is finished, the site may be vastly different than when I started [...] The exhibited work is an abstracted accumulation of many different experiences and events.
[...] I aim to come to deeper levels of awareness and to more fully interpret the magic and mystery behind the surface of things. 

Charles Ritchie

Later that day I came across Michael Rees' sculptures.  I find the forms of his work very creative.  They seem to have both organic and machine-made elements.  But these characteristics don't clash... instead they integrate and make something exciting, new, and weird.

Michael Rees

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Garner Arts Center: Resurrection Show

A little over a year ago Garner Arts Center was badly damaged by Hurricane Irene.  Last night and this afternoon "GAGA" celebrates its Resurrection Show.  100 artists are exhibiting their work... its a great show for a cross section of Rockland County artists.  According to
August 28, 2011, GARNER Art Center was hit hard by the floodwaters of Hurricane Irene. Building 21, home of GARNER’s Main Gallery was completely destroyed, taking with it the access bridge into Dye Works performance \event space. The entrance and Stone Circle Performance area of Creekside Sculpture Garden were also washed away
HURRICANE IRENE UPDATE: The Garnerville Arts & Industrial Center, the home of GARNER Arts Center, suffered tremendous damage as a result of Hurricane Irene. The Main Gallery was significantly damaged when the back wall of the building collapsed under pressure from projectile debris carried by the rising flood waters of the Minisceongo Creek. Thankfully, the rest of the buildings of the historical industrial center were not seriously damaged.
Exhibitions and events planned for the fall of 2011 have been cancelled. It is our hope that we will be able to regroup and restart our programming within the 2012 calendar year. We will keep everyone updated as we, the artists and staff of the GARNER arts community, dig out, clean up, and get back to business.
Says Robin Rosenberg, President of GARNER Arts Center: “GARNER is a place of ideas and possibilities; a place of inspiration where art and craftsmanship flourish. It is a community of people who share a creative bond. That is and will continue to be the base from which all else follows.”

My top ten picks in no particular order...

Ruth Geneslaw

Michael Reck

Tamara Gayer

Carl Rattner

Richard Bedkowski

Anthony Rossi

Barbara Lowenstein

Miguel Castillo

Jennie Chien

Gretchen Kane

And few phone pictures I took last night of this lovely industrial complex...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Earth, Sea and In-Between: Zaraia Forman, Gretchen Kane, Leah Oates

Last weekend I visited the The Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY.  A friend of mine is part of the current exhibition there titled "Earth, Sea and In Between".  The show ends next weekend.  All the works in this exhibition are beautiful, and although these three artists are all very different from one another their art compliments one another.  Gretchen Kane's abstract rock paintings are always a pleasure to look at... the mark-making, simplified shapes, layering, and the bright and subdued colors make her drawings full of rich visual information.  Zaria Forman's massive metallic seascapes and dramatic cloud formations immediately engulf the viewer and impress a mood of both serenity and anxiety.  Her technique is masterful... but its this odd fluctuation of calm and storminess that makes me want to own one of these drawings and get to know it better.  Leah Oates' layered nature photography of modest subject matter has a contemplative and mysterious feeling to them.  They're mysterious to me in the sense that I can feel as if something has happened behind these plain nature scenes that ripple back to us their story.

Gretchen Kane

Zaria Forman

Leah Oates