Sunday, June 30, 2013

Best Art Venues In The Lower Hudson Valley

Storm King Art Center

To commemorate the beginning of the summer season I put together an edited list containing art venues within driving distance or a train ride from New York City along the Hudson River.  Most of these are my personal favorites, although only one I have not yet made it too (HVCCA).  The list is in order from closest to Manhattan to Beacon, NY.  Here is a link to a google map I made showing these locations...  If you had to choose only a couple of places to visit, go and experience Dia:Beacon and the town of Beacon (easily accessible by Metro-North) and Storm King Sculpture Park (expect to be there all day).  

***Note: all photos were found on the web and the descriptions of each venue was found on their website.

Wave Hill
"Wave Hill is a 28-acre public garden and cultural center in the Bronx overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. Its mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts." 

Mikhail Zakin Gallery
"The Art School at Old Church is an art school and fine art gallery in Bergen County, NJ (North Jersey) offering fine art and craft classes for adults, teens, children and families, as well as workshops, art exhibits, outreach programs & much much more!"

The Arts Students League: Vytlacil Campus
"The Elizabeth V. Sullivan Gallery at the Art Students League's Vytlacil Campus in Sparkill, NY opened in January 2012 as a dedicated exhibition space. Hosting six exhibitions per year, the Elizabeth V. Sullivan Gallery shows a broad range of established artists including modern masters, with a focus on solo exhibitions by the League’s exceptional faculty.  Set in the historic home of modernist painter Vaclav Vytlacil, these exhibitions serve to educate and enlighten; to broaden the viewer’s understanding of the art making process."

Edward Hopper House
"The mission of the Edward Hopper Landmark Preservation Foundation is to preserve and maintain the birthplace and boyhood home of artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967); to maintain an archive of Edward Hopper documents and memorabilia; to serve as a resource for scholars, art historians, and art lovers worldwide; to function as a multi-arts center for artists to display their work in all media, and to encourage and nurture community engagement with the arts."

Rockland Center for the Arts
"RoCA is a multi-arts center dedicated to creating and promoting art through its School for The Arts, exhibitions, workshops, literary and performing arts events, Summer Arts Day Camp, and outreach programs. [...]  Originally known as the Rockland Foundation, RoCA was founded in 1947 by a group of renowned artists, including Aaron Copland, Paulette Goddard, Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, Maxwell Anderson, and Helen Hayes. Their intention was to create a new cultural center, separate from New York City, taking advantage of the immense creative talent that had recently migrated to the region."

PepsiCo Sculpture Garden
"The Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens is a collection of 45 pieces of outdoor sculpture at the PepsiCo world headquarters in Purchase, New York. The collection includes work from major modern sculptors including Auguste RodinHenry MooreAlexander Calder and Alberto Giacometti."

SUNY Purchase: Neuberger Art Museum
"Initiated in 1974 with Roy R. Neuberger's donation of 108 works of art, the permanent collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art has grown to over 6000 works of uncompromised quality and variety. Featuring prestigious examples of modern, contemporary and African art, holdings include the Roy R. Neuberger Collection of American Art, the Aimee W. Hirshberg and Lawrence Gussman Collections of African Art, the Hans Richter bequest of Dada and Surrealist objects, the George and Edith Rickey Collection of Constructivist art, and American, Mexican and European master works from the collection of the late Dina and Alexander Racolin. The Neuberger Museum of Art continues to collect and exhibit its permanent collection, enacting Mr. Neuberger's commitment to supporting the work of contemporary artists who examine and expand the ideas of our day."

Gaga Arts Center
"GARNER Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) not for profit arts organization. We are located in the Garnerville Arts and Industrial Center in the lower Hudson Valley of New York, just 45 minutes from Manhattan. A sprawling old, red brick, pre-Civil War textile mill that is now the home of a thriving arts community including the studios of painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, woodworkers, and of course, loads of unique performance and exhibition space."

Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Arts
"The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, located in Peekskill, NY, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and education organization founded by the Marc and Livia Straus family. The Center is dedicated to the development and presentation of exhibitions and interdisciplinary programs that enrich our understanding of contemporary art, its contexts, and its relationship to social issues. HVCCA is also committed to the enrichment of Peekskill, a multicultural community that has recreated itself as a major arts destination. HVCCA operates a 12,000 square foot exhibition space and is the primary sponsor of the Peekskill Project, an annual, city-wide exhibition of site-specific artwork."

Garrison Art Center
"THE RIVERSIDE GALLERIES at Garrison Art Center consists of three exhibition spaces. Each year the galleries feature a number of exhibitions that include solo shows, curated group shows, juried shows and several educational exhibitions. The Trudy and Henry Gillette Gallery, the largest of our spaces, has recently been completely renovated with support from generous friends of the Art Center. This space accommodates a variety of exhibitions annually that include sculpture, large scale painting, installation, photography and more. It is also suitable for performances, small concerts, gallery talks, lectures and readings.The adjacent Anita Hart Balter Gallery is approximately 300 square feet. It is used for more intimate exhibitions, small installations and digital media."

The Marina Gallery
"Exhibits of Contemporary Art by notable Hudson Valley Artists and also houses a Fine Art Restoration shop.  An artist-run gallery that exhibits Contemporary Art and also offers Fine Art restoration work by Marina Yashina."

Storm King Sculpure Park
"Widely celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King Art Center has welcomed visitors from across the globe for fifty years. It is located only one hour north of New York City, in the lower Hudson Valley, where its pristine 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures created by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time."

Dia: Beacon
"In May 2003, Dia Art Foundation opened Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, as a museum to house its renowned permanent collection of major works of art from the 1960s to the present. Located on the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, Dia:Beacon occupies a nearly 300,000-square-foot historic printing factory. The galleries are named in honor of Louise and Leonard Riggio for their extraordinary generosity, which has helped make possible the realization of this museum." 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jeff Koons: New Paintings and Sculpture

I had to catch a glimpse of Jeff Koons' "New Paintings and Sculpture" at Gagosian Gallery in New York before it closes July 3rd.  The first thought that came into my head being at this exhibition standing in front of Koons' paintings was: what am I doing here?  What would my old painting professor from SUNY Fredonia think if a student created these paintings?  The student would surely have had to have a damn good explanation at the very least.  Only an artist like Jeff Koons, whose work is highly sought after and sells for millions, could create work like this and show it at the most famous gallery in the world.  So whats the deal?  Am I missing something about this series of "Antiquity" paintings?  Or is this just another example of the power of suggestion and the backwardness of the art world.

I am reminded of art critics Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith who choose to collect affordable artwork from flea markets and garage sales instead of paying thousands for art exhibited in galleries.  I also think of children's artwork... wonderful drawings and paintings from six and seven-year-olds that I would love to be the proud owner of.  There is something interesting…Koons' "Antiquity" paintings would not gain even a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the attention they are currently gaining if they were made by a student or emerging artist.  In other words, if Michelangelo's David was created by a student at SUNY Fredonia the work of art would be celebrated equally as much as it has been coming from the hands of Michelangelo himself.  On the other hand if the antiquity paintings were found in a students studio at SUNY Fredonia it would gain no recognition whatsoever.  What does all of this tell us?  The artist's name is a brand and art is no longer solely valued according to technical skill or sublimity.

I now understand that the reason why I came to see this exhibition was to question art.  Is this the true function behind Jeff Koons' work...  To force us to question our conception of what is and is not fine art?  It would be easy to either hail him or detest him.  His work is to be reacted to... thought about, talked about, argued about.  After all isn't that the artists job in contemporary society?  

Lastly, I think his sculpture is much more interesting.  His bronze hulk, granite gorilla, and stainless steel ballon sculptures are mesmerizing because of their optical illusion, size, and quirky pop culture imagery.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rosalind Solomon: One of "The First 15"

After visiting the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY to view "The First 15: Photography from the Meredith S. Moody Residency at Yaddo" Rosalind Solomon's photo titled "Blind Girl and Dolls" stood out from the rest.  I decided to acquaint myself with more of her work and her story.

In a nutshell, Rosalind Solomon is inspired by travel, politics, and people (often those faced with hardship) .  She has traveled around the world taking pictures since the 1970's.  She's photographed in places such as Washington DC, Alabama, New Orleans, New York City, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala Highlands, Columbia, Northern Ireland, Italy, Poland, Yugoslavia, Israel, Jordan, West Bank, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tibet, India, Nepal, and Cambodia.

According to her website

Solomon’s photographs are in the collections of over 50 museums. Her work has been shown in nearly 30 solo exhibitions and in 75 group exhibitions. [...] Rosalind Solomon was born in 1930 in Highland Park, Illinois. She graduated from Goucher College in 1951 with a degree in Political Science.  Following her graduation, she traveled to Belgium and France with The Experiment in International Living, an organization with which she remained closely associated for the next two decades.  Solomon married and moved to Chattanooga, TN, in 1953 where she raised her two children.  [...] In 1968 the Experiment sent Solomon to Tokyo, and it was there that she discovered photography. She began taking pictures with an Instamatic, expressing herself in a new way. A year later, she purchased a Nikkormat and set up her own darkroom. 

I'm attracted to her work because of it's candid and spontaneous nature, the pathos of her subjects, and the beauty of the compositions that seem to teeter upon the thin line between controlled and uncontrolled, deliberate and accidental.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent

I visited the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY.  I had just finished checking out the exhibition titled "The First 15" and was exiting the museum when i suddenly caught a glimpse of Corita's art beaming from a high ceiling gallery.  "Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent" is on view till July 28, 2013.  If you're in the area go and see it.

Her art looks like it's been made in single spontaneous moment by a flash of inspired creativity, or by consequence of experimentation.  The process reminds me of Basquiat's, Joe Bradley's, or Matisse's... a process that reinforces the idea of the artist as a vessel.  Her work is so lively, consistent yet varied, and prolific that this exhibition really highlights the spirit behind her art... in other words, the focus is more on her, the artistic force, than any pieces individually.  And that is expressive of how the show is presented... clusters of prints hung salon style up and down the high gallery walls instead of being spaced out one at a time parallel to the floor.

Corita's choice of printmaking has an aesthetic appeal and social purpose.  She hits both dead on.  The flat brightly colored shapes and graphic text that make up her jazzy compositions is a style in such harmony with the medium that its indistinguishable which came first... the visual style necessitated the medium or the medium necessitated the visual style.  Socially, she preferred art that people could afford and experience in places outside of the gallery.  According to the Tang museum... "For Corita, printmaking was a populist medium to communicate with the world around her, and her designs were widely disseminated through billboards, book jackets, illustrations, posters, gift cards, and T-shirts."

So who was Corita?  According to the Tang Museum website...

Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent is the first full-scale survey of more than thirty years of work by artist and designer Corita Kent (1918–1986). A teacher at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles and a civil rights, feminist, and anti-war activist, Corita, as she is commonly referred to, was one of the most popular American graphic artists of the 1960s and ’70s. Throughout her rich and varied career, she made thousands of posters, murals, and signature serigraphs that combine her passions for faith and politics. Reflecting larger questions and concerns of the 1960s, her images remain iconic symbols of that turbulent time. Corita’s earnest, collaborative approach to art-making—combining faith, politics, and teaching with messages of acceptance and hope—continues to be a potent influence for many artists working today.

[...] she developed her hallmark mixture of bold, bright imagery and provocative texts that she extracted from a range of cultural sources, including: advertising slogans; street and grocery store signage; poetry; scripture; newspapers and magazines; philosophy; theological criticism; and song lyrics. Her ingenious textual amalgams mix the secular and religious, popular culture and fine art, pain and hope, and include quotes from a range of literary and cultural figures [...].
Early Work

The last image I have here is of her last series.  According to a description on the gallery wall at the exhibition... "Corita's move to Boston led to a distinct change in the style of her work.  Suddenly living on her own, without constant interaction with sisters and students, she shifted away from an art of direct social engagement, toward quieter, more introspective statements.  Although still politically engaged, her art grew more contemplative, and personal.  [...]  In the early 1980's she began to paint watercolors outdoors throughout New England.  Corita relished the immediacy of watercolor in contrast with the complex processes of printmaking.  Her last major series, the watercolors represent the final solitary phase of her lifelong engagement with the world."

What a fascinating shift from the colorful, lively, and bold graphics of her prints to these subdued and simple watercolors.  There is some wonderful kind of Truth in these modest, curious, and completely unselfconscious pieces.  To me, this series is like discovering a recording of Jimi Hendrix playing the blues on an acoustic guitar... there is something so personal and revealing about art like this that it almost seems to carry more emotional weight than the experimental eye catching works we normally associate with Corita.

Late Work

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Joe Bradley at Gavin Brown's Enterprise

The other day I visited Gavin Brown's enterprise to see Joe Bradley's exhibition titled Lotus Beaters.  Upon walking in the entrance to the gallery four beautiful large abstract paintings welcome the viewer.  These four are the best works in the show... and they are terrific!  His work obviously references abstract expressionism, but his way of handling paint, blocky compositions, and use of large swaths of negative space make him stand apart.  According to Frieze Art Fair, "he makes paintings resembling human figures from assembled canvases which reference Color Field painting and Minimalism.  Another thought that had occurred to me while in the presence of these richly textured and layered works Is that they have a look to them as if Basquiat had painted abstractions.  These four especially possess the same energy, intensity, carelessness, and non-attachment as Basquiat's paintings do, minus the stream of conscious visual rap of words and images.  

I also think Joe Bradley's paintings look like large drawings, although they have no similarities to his actual drawings, which I am not interested in.  In every painting he intentionally leaves the unprimed canvas showing through, untouched by painterly brush strokes but often full of accidental but welcome drips and foot prints.  To me the naked canvas reminds me of blank white paper and the drips remind me of pencil or charcoal smudges.  

Here is a link to an interview Joe did with Phong Bui of The Brooklyn Rail...

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