nikkal, NINES, 60×36 (2015) original version

 

I challenged myself to change a painting I completed in 2015, because I didn’t like the rough patches of paint on the surface and also wanted to simplify the geometric design. See the original version nearby.

NINES was exhibited recently in a 3-person show titled In the Space of Spirit (Nov 16, 2017 to Jan 11, 2018) at the Lakefront Gallery at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, NJ. It was a big show. I had 23 works in the show, including large paintings and framed collages. Karen Fitzgerald, who organized the show, and Kristin Reed were there other two artists. Sheila Geisler selected and hung the show on the huge mezzanine level at the Lakefront Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

NINES at the Lakefront Gallery

 

 

The image nearby shows NINES on the Lakefront Gallery wall, flanked on the left by Kristin Reed’s 2 works and on the right by Karen Fitzgerald’s two works. Notice there is a large number nine painted in dark grey in the upper left side of my painting. The exhibition was reviewed in a Times of Trenton article: Lakefront Gallery Fine Arts: ‘In the Space of Spirit’ | NJ.com (Nov 29, 2017). Janet Purcell wrote about NINES: “Pay careful attention to her (Nikkal’s) large acrylic on canvas where the number nine sometimes appears prominently and other times only obscurely. “ Purcell added a statement by Sheila Geisler: “Her (Nikkal’s) adept manipulations of contrasting color create a sense of movement – the surfaces seem to breathe. She is dedicated to exploring the layering of materials as well as the layering of form and pattern.” I was pleased with the review and the recognition that my abstract geometric works are always about surfaces and layering.

 

 

 

I brought NINES back to my studio on January 11th, looked closely at the way it was painted and decided I definitely would change it. On January 25th a pithy post arrived via email from Seth Godin to accept the challenge to begin. The post is titled Beginning is Underrated. Read the post.

 

BEGINNING IS UNDERRATED

Merely beginning.

With inadequate preparation, because you will never be fully prepared.

With imperfect odds of success, because the odds are never perfect.

Begin. With the humility of someone who’s not sure, and the excitement of someone who knows that it’s possible.

 

 

NINES in progress, close up view

 

The image nearby is a close up of the painting after I started to make changes. I wrote myself a work memo: Sand Nines when you arrive at the studio to make the surface smoother. Plan to use a sand block. Scrub gently in a circular motion. It’s hard to tell from this close-up, but I turned the painting upside down so the top is now the bottom. Look at the center of the painting here and notice the painted paper collage. The papers shows up because I reduced the layers of paint with sanding. Notice the cut paper letter D on the right sided. I started to add new collage. The paper, a reverse letter D is not glued down yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

nikkal, NINES, acrylic and collage on canvas (2017)

 

The image nearby is the new version of the painting. I painted out the large number 9 and large grey oval shape in the original painting. I painted large areas with thin layers of white acrylic to soften the grey yellow tones and unify the design. I changed a yellow square to grey. As I worked, I wiped the acrylic paint gently to reveal undertones. With the turnaround, the nines became sixes so I knew I would have to add more collage numbers to keep the title NINES. FYI: when I am working on a painting, I always paint papers at the same time. That way I have collage papers with colors that match.I eliminated the yellow gold bar at the bottom, the yellow stripe on the right and little gold square on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will show NINES soon in a group exhibition titled Black White & Grey at the Upstream Gallery in Hastings on Hudson, NY March 1-18, 2018. I am a member of the gallery and NINES now has the right colors for the group show. It’s all black and white and grey.

 

 

I found another Seth Godin post, dated January 21, 2018, that says exactly what I think and feel about this process. It’s titled The Gap. Read it here.

THE GAP

There’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Many gaps, in fact, but imagine just one of them.

That gap–is it fuel? Are you using it like a vacuum, to pull you along, to inspire you to find new methods, to dance with the fear?

Or is it more like a moat, a forbidding space between you and the future?

 

What did I learn?

Go for it. There are always gaps. Dance with the fear. You can make it work.

 

Your comments are welcome.

 

If you are in Westchester County, NY, please stop by the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and see the exhibition (March 1-18). Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30. Come to the reception Sunday, March 4th, 2-4 pm. The show includes various media, all interpreting black, white and grey.

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The Abundance of Images

December 13, 2017

 

I live in Metro NYC and see a lot of contemporary art. I also find images online. You can too. The Internet is a great resource for information and images.

Yayoi Kusama flower painting

The image above is a flower painting by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (born 1929). Notice the colors are red, green yellow, black and blue. It’s a stylized flower with stem and leaves and a crackle-texture black on red background. Notice the detail and pattern. You may think it looks like a simple flower painting, but probably also think it is very appealing.

Kusama is known for obsessive, dot-covered art and pumpkin motifs, as well as the use of mirrors to create mystical “Infinity Rooms.” The image below shows the artist in a saffron orange and black polka dot dress sitting on the edge of a platform installation with walls and floors in the same color and polka dot design with a pumpkin sculpture behind her in the same colors and design. The artist is part of the installation. The image was reproduced in an Artsy article titled The Top 14 Living Artists of 2014 and was taken at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (2010). I have the image, on a Pinterest Board titled Yayoi Kusama. I have 117 pins that show Kusama and her art. It is the most popular board of all (image of Yayoi Kusama courtesy Artsy, published January 18, 2015).

Yayoi Kusama in front of her pumpkin sculpture

Kusama says “My artwork is an expression of my life, particularly of my mental disease.” She has been plagued by mental illness and hallucinations since childhood. She uses her hallucinations and mental illness as material to stimulate an incredible artistic output in every discipline. Her colors and patterns are opulent and decorative. At the age of 88, Kusama is one of the most unique and famous contemporary female artists alive today. Her works include paintings, sculpture, photography, installation, performance and Conceptual art. She lives in a mental hospital in Japan and works every day in a nearby studio.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors at the Hirschhorn Museum

The image above is a view of Infinity Mirrors, originally at the Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, DC. Read about Infinity Mirrors. The show is currently at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, CA (closes Jan 1, 2018) and will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (March 3-May 27, 2018), the Cleveland Museum of Art (July 9-Sept 30, 2018) and finally to the High Museum of Art (Nov 18, 2018 – Feb 17, 2019).

There are plans to build a museum for Yayoi Kusama’s art in Japan this coming year. Read more about Yayoi Kusama life and art here.

 

CONNECTIONS

In a previous post, titled Connections, I wrote about an art project I organized and took to Albuquerque, NM in September 2017. The project included 21 mixed media collages by regional members of the Society of Layerists in Multi Media (SLMM). I am a regional coordinator for the Society.

I got email from Sharon Eley. She is a Midwest regional SLMM member and participated in the SLMM group exhibition I organized. She asked me to edit the post because I didn’t mention that her twin sister, Shirley Nachtrieb, was the person responsible for an exhibition I mentioned in the post. Shirley is the regional coordinator for the South Central SLMM membership. I edited the post and gave Shirley credit.

I was curious to see Shirley’s art and visited her website. She is an amazing watercolor artist. I saw flower images and it made me think about writing this post to show (and share) the images of Yayoi Kusama’s art and include images of flower collages by my students at the Pelham Art Center. See the images below. The student collages don’t look like Kusama’s flower paintings. They’re interpretive and personal. They are collage paintings because they include cut and pasted flower images  (from flower magazines) and painted papers on a painted and embellished  Bristol paper substrate. My students loved the flower collage project because it included so much mixed media. But, they also love other collage projects we do. Not everything is a flower.

 

Lynn Evansohn Flower Collage

Lynn Evansohn did the collage above. The flowers are cut from a botanical catalog I brought to class. Some of the papers are painted. Lynn painted the background with black acrylic and etched spiral twirls into the wet paint. The vase is all paper collage. Notice Lynn cut and pasted green painted paper dots at the bottom edge. I remember she said it was a tribute to the polka dots in Yayoi Kusama’s work.

Patty Towle did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic embellished it with tiny dots of various colored painted papers. The flowers and stems are cut and pasted decorative papers. Some flower petals have polka dots. She cut flowers and leaves from images in a flower catalog. Notice the dots that decorate the blue vase. Notice  the blue painted paper tiles Patty used to create the table, and notice the black spaces in between. The design mimics the black on red in Kusama’s flower painting seen above.

 

Patricia Towle Flower Collage

 

Mimi Wohlberg Flower Collage

Mimi Wohlberg did the collage above. She painted the background with black acrylic and embellished the surface with dots and circles. She painted the flower papers and stamped them with more dots. Notice the stem and leaves are cut from patterned green painted papers. The design is layered and all the pieces overlap with a sense of dimension.

Sylvia Lien did the collage below. Notice the landscape imagery behind the cut and pasted flower in a vase. Sylvia was inspired to create a collage that quoted a Kusama flower sculpture in a landscape setting. Notice how Sylvia’s flower petals and leaves are made with various papers from a flower catalog. Notice the flower stem. Sylvia cut and pasted yellow painted papers to shape a curved stem. I like the vase. It’s a simple rectangle shape, cut from a page in a flower catalog. This collage juxtaposes decorative papers and photo images to create abstract and natural elements.

Sylvia Lien Flower Collage

Sandra Graciadei did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and  etched the open dot design into the wet paint. The vase was cut and pasted from a  magazine image found in ArtForum. Sandra painted papers for the leaves in the vase. The tiny flowers are cut from a flower catalog. Notice how Sandra fitted all the leaves and flower stems into the vase and how the flower stems extend beyond the edge of the black painted background. Notice how the stems mimic the width and abundance of the lines in the design on the vase. Details!

Sandra Graciadei Flower Collage

Estelle Laska did the collage below. Her collage is an interpretive quote of a  Kusama flower sculpture in an outdoor setting. Estelle painted the collage background with blue acrylic and used a palette knife to build texture as she painted. Her leaves and flowers are large papers cut from a flower catalog. Estelle added red and green painted paper polka dots to a rich golden yellow leaf shape at the bottom. Notice how the leaves extend beyond the borders of the painted background.

Estelle Laska Flower Collage

Harriet Goldberg did the collage below. She painted the background in black and green and added yellow and green polka dots. The yellow dots are press-on papers you find in stationery stores. The flowers are cut and pasted from painted papers and images from a flower catalog. The vase is decorative paper with dots. Notice how the flowers extend beyond the painted background. See all the patterns, colors  and layered papers. This collage is a riot of dots and definitely Kusama-inspired!

Harriet Goldberg Flower Collage

Leslie Cowen did the collage below. She painted the background with acrylic in blues and greens. There is a sense of diagonal movement as well as decoration. She etched into the paint with a palette knife. The large pink flower at the top extends beyond the painted background. Leslie cut and pasted her papers to make the flower image look dimensional and realistic. Some of the leaves and flowers are created with painted papers and some are images cut from a flower catalog. Realistic and abstract imagery is juxtaposed in this design. Notice how the leaves also extend beyond the edge of the painted background.

Leslie Cowen Flower Collage

Ilene Bellovin did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and created her flowers with papers from a flower catalog. Notice the variations in color in the pink, yellow, red and violet flower petals. Ilene created the leaves with green painted papers. This collage is almost realistic. The flowers are cut and pasted papers arranged like a beautiful bouquet.

Ilene Bellovin Flower Collage

My students include adults at all skill levels. Beginners quickly become highly skilled collage makers. We work with fine art papers, everyday media, art magazines, including ArtForum, postcards and found papers. We embellish collage with drawing. We paint papers.

The flower collage project is a favorite. We’ve done it more than once. All the flower collages above include painting and mixed media collage on 14″ x 11″ Bristol paper substrate.

Sometimes I get resistance to projects that quote a famous artist. I argue that there is no way anyone can copy. Everything is an interpretation. And, more important, the process is an exercise that teaches you how to look carefully and study what you see. You notice colors, relationships, scale, proportion, and other design elements.

Question for YOU: Can you be inspired by an artist and make collage that quotes but doesn’t copy? Send me your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am the regional Northeast/Midwest coordinator for the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media (SLMM) and organized an art project titled Connections. I took the art to a national meeting in Albuquerque, NM.  Our project was one of several by members at the 35th anniversary SLMM meeting September 20-23, 2017. Twenty-one (21) Northeast and Midwest SLMM members created the art here. See all the images below.

The Society (SLMM) was founded by Mary Carroll Nelson (Albuquerque, NM) and is a national organization that meets each year in a different city.

I wrote this post and included all these images because many artists who participated in the project were unable to attend the meeting in Albuquerque and wanted to see their art. The image here is one side of the four sided installation. See close-up views of the works below.

The project started in May 2017 when I contacted SLMM Northeast/Midwest regional members and invited them to make a collage with shared media. I told them I would take the art project to the annual SLMM meeting in Albuquerque, NM.  I sent a packet of assorted collage papers to everyone who agreed to participate and said they should design their art with painting, drawing, text and/or collage, but had to include at least a few of the shared papers in their work. The project goal was to show how sharing art papers connected every work. I titled the project Connections. Below are 3 images, seen above on the double panel.

Collage by Deanna Funk

Collage is by Deanna Funk (Springfield, IL), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers.

Collage by Sylvia Harnick

Collage is by Sylvia Harnick (Great Neck, NY), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, photo transfer, acrylic and assorted papers.

Collage by Nancy Egol Nikkal

Collage by Nancy Egol Nikkal (White Plains, NY), titled Red, 11 x 8.5 inches, magazine, tissue and painted papers. Notice my work (above) and the work by Sylvia Harnick (above) both include the shared tissue paper with white dots on red.

Here is part of the text I wrote that is printed on the first panel:

“We are geographically apart but connected with art and the Premise of SLMM. The Midwest SLMM members are: Mary Ann Beckwith, Sylvia Bowers, Sharon Eley, Deanna Funk, Catherine Keebler, Suzan Kraus, Susan Lince, Annie Morgan, and Patricia Tuglus (she has moved to Asheville, NC but did the art for this project). The Northeast SLMM members are: Marie Cummings, Sylvia Harnick, Alice Harrison, Mary Kralj, Valerie Lewis Mankoff, Nancy Marculewicz, Joya Maxwell, Patricia McCandless, Ruth Bauer Neustadter, Nancy Egol Nikkal, Ellen Reinkraut and Gordana Vukovic.

I added: I hope it was a gratifying project for everyone who created the art, and I hope you enjoy it too.”

THE PROJECT:

I sent each participating artist a materials packet and included instructions for how the project would work. The substrate (back paper) for the project was warm white, 8.5 x 11 inches and strong enough for paint and collage as well as printing. I said their work could be horizontal or vertical. This meant the final design for the project depended on how many were horizontal and how many were vertical. More than 21 artists signed on at the beginning, but a few dropped out at the end. I couldn’t plan the layout until all the art arrived. Ultimately, I designed the project for 21 works on 8 panels. I planned to assemble the panels in Albuquerque into an open 3 dimensional box, 2 rows high on 4 sides. One side had text on the top row, and 3 works of art on the bottom row. The three remaining panels had 6 works each in a double row.  The project had to be flat to travel and assembled on site. The 8 panels were cut to 14 x 38 inches from 3 sheets of  light weight black FoamCore board.

Kathleen Kuchar took the image (above) at the hotel in Albuquerque. It shows two sides of the installation. You see on the left there is text and 3 images. The image to the right shows part of the 6 images in two rows. The image below shows one side of the installation with 6 images, followed by 6 close up views of the individual artist’s works.

Notice there are printed artist statements on the black tablecloth in front of the installation. Several SLMM artists included comments with their art work.

Above collage is by Gordana Vukovic (Slingerlands, NY), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. I am sure I sent her the green painted paper seen on the lower right. Notice a tiny half circle of the printed red dot tissue paper in the center.

 

Above collage is by Marie Cummings (Treadwell, NY), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. Marie included an artist statement: I see life as multi-faceted, richly textured and complex and my art reflects that perception. Ultimately, I hope viewers feel this expressive freedom when they see my work. I want people to delight in the colors and whimsy, to experience a sense of happiness, to enjoy this reminder of what it means to be alive.”

 

Above collage is by Ellen Reinkraut (Franklin Lakes, NJ), titled The Horizon, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic and assorted papers. Notice Ellen used red printed text and painting.

 

Above collage is by Joya Maxwell (Wakefield, RI), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, collage with assorted papers and hand lettering. I am pretty sure I included yellow hand-made paper in the packet, seen in the upper left corner. Joya included a  printed image of a hummingbird and added the words spirit, thoughts and feelings in her own hand.

 

Above collage is by Suzan Kraus (Newbury, OH), titled Three, 11 x 8.5 inches, collage with assorted papers. In this image you see the shared white dot on red and black squiggle on black shared tissue paper, plus shared acid green painted papers.

 

Above collage is by Susan Lince (Chaska, MN), titled Homage to the Birches, 11 x 8.5 x .5 inches. Susan included the shared green and yellow papers and added real moss and birch wood to her work. This work drew a lot of attention because of its message.

How I Assembled the Project:

Before I show you more images, let me tell you how I prepared the project. I had to wait until all the art arrived to determine how the works would be assembled and what work went next to another. I curated the project like an exhibition on a wall, except I planned the project as a table top installation. I wanted the works to look well together as guests walked around all four sides. The project had to be sturdy but light. It had to be assembled and disassembled because I had to travel with it. FoamCore was a good choice for the support because it was light, came in large sheets and could be cut to size. I was able to purchase black Foam Core and attached the art to the boards before I left NY for Albuquerque. I glued the text to one panel and glued “labels” under each art work, but used double sided tape to attach the art. I wanted to be able to separate the art from the boards so I could return the works to the artists. I discovered the double sided tape was not strong enough for the heavier collages, so I had to reattach quite a few with heavier tape when I arrived in Albuquerque. I cut glassine paper to the panel size, and placed a sheet in between each panel to protect the art while it traveled. The wrapped package was about 40 x 14 x 10 inches high. It didn’t weigh that much and I was able to place the package in the overhead compartment on the plane. At the hotel in Albuquerque, my roommate, Terri MacDonald (Hays, KS) helped me assemble the 8 panels into a 3 dimensional installation with four sides and two rows per side. It became a double-decker box (open on the inside) with the art work facing out.  I used 8 wood slats to support the inside (back) of the assembled FoamCore panels. I traveled with the wood and the 8 panels together. Thank you Terri for helping me get this project assembled! We placed the installation on a round banquet table in the hotel meeting room our group used for all the events, workshop and banquet dinner.

See 6 images below of works by individual artists. I didn’t get a good image of the 6 works together, but include an image of 3 works in one row so you see how 3 works looked next to each other.

Above collage is by Sylvia Bowers (Columbus, OH), titled Variations on a Theme, 11 x 8.5 inches. I think Sylvia painted yellow and ecru white stripes in her background and then pasted papers on top.

Above collage is by Valerie Lewis Mankoff (Kinnelon, NJ), titled Between Generations. I believe this collage includes painting on the back and a family photo of Valerie and her grandson.

 

Above collage is by Patricia Tuglus (Oak Brook, IL now living in Asheville, NC), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches. This collage includes  a yellow and black painted background and yellow, red and blue hand-made papers. I see an image of a house in a cloudy, turbulent landscape. I see tiny pieces of black squiggle tissue papers that we shared. It looks like some of the hand-made papers are torn by hand. I see soft edges in the cloud shapes.

 

The view (above) shows the 3 works by Sylvia Bowers, Valerie Lewis Mankoff and Patricia Tuglus that were attached to the top row of the panel. Golden yellow is the unifying color. The 3 works (below) by Alice Harrison, Nancy Marculewicz and Catherine Keebler were on the bottom row of the same panel, seen left to right.

 

Above collage is by Alice Harrison (Morristown, NJ), titled CONNECTIONS, 8.5 x 11 inches. Alice cut and glued multi-color papers into a spiral shape that travels across the horizontal space in her work. It would be interesting to know a little more about the images of the buildings and other collage elements.

Above collage is by Nancy Marculewicz (Peabody, MA), 11 x 8.5 inches. Nancy wrote she started the collage, stopped working, feeling frustrated, unable to get inspired by the papers included in the packet. She decided to reread the instructions and realized she could incorporate some pieces of her own monotypes in the project piece. She said she felt like she had entered a special zone and now she knew exactly what to do and how to do it. She says she will continue to re-work old monotypes with new media. Nancy is the author of the book titled Making Monotypes Using a Gelatin Plate.

Above collage is by Catherine Keebler (Chicago, IL), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches, acrylic, glitter and assorted papers. If you see this work in person, it looks like a tapestry with rich texture and tiny patterns. The light green paper that looks like a grape cluster was included in the packet I sent.

Comments about the Art Project

Northeast and Midwest regional SLMM members asked me if people at the meeting commented on the works in our display. There were lots of comments – I wish I wrote them all down. Here are two very thoughtful comments: “Exhibitions of layered art demonstrate a subtle affirmation that serves as a leavening in this time of extreme divisiveness and chaos” and “Every time you create a work the universe expands and connects more.”

Following are images by 6 more artists in the project. The first image is a view of all 6 works in 2 rows on the panel. The works in the top row, left to right, are by Sharon Eley, Anne L. Morgan and Mary Kralj.  The works in the bottom row, left to right are by Mary Ann Beckwith, Ruth Bauer Neustadter and Patricia McCandless.

Collage above is by Sharon Eley (Chillicothe, OH), titled A MAN’S WORLD, 11 x 8.5 inches, with pencil, pen, mixed media and assorted papers. It’s hard to see, but there is a small, round metal object in the center of the collage.

Collage above is by Anne L. Morgan (Grand Haven, MI), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches. Notice the cursive hand writing, red pencil, painting and collage. I see a sliver of the shared tissue paper with white dots on red plus other dotted tissue papers.

Collage above is by Mary Kralj (Silver Springs, MD), titled UNSPOKEN, 11 x 8.5 inches.  Notice there is vertical script in the center. The work includes painting, paper collage and gold leaf. Mary wrote she included a block of “asemic” writing (in the center). She added: “The piece was intended to convey a number of contrasts to hopefully generate a sense of centererd energy beyond our everyday left brain search for verbal meaning.”

Collage above is by Mary Ann Beckwith (Hancock, MI), Untitled, 11 x 8.5 inches. Notice the woven strips of cut papers that intersect with a metal ring.  Purple is the dominant color. Notice  circles, dots and squares throughout. See purple dots on tan paper tucked behind the metal ring. The purple dotted paper was included in the shared packet.

 

Collage above is by Ruth Bauer Neustadter (Hackensack, NJ), Untitled, 8.5 x 11 inches, acrylic and mixed media. This work is lush and highly textured with paint and media. The dotted strips sparkle.

Collage above is by Patricia McCandless (Paoli, PA), titled PAPER SOLO, 11 x 8.5 inches. This collage is created with cut paper and the amount of cut papers is amazing. The text on the bottom reads: “Into Penns Woods”  – No Paint – No Pen – No Ink –  Only Layers of Exquisite Paper.

ENCHANTING LAYERS IN NEW MEXICO

Here is information about the Albuquerque SLMM conference. Laura Pope, Southwest regional coordinator and her crew, organized a spectacular 3-day event.

We arrived and checked into the Hotel Albuquerque on Wednesday, September 20th. During the day I attended a Board of Directors meeting as a regional coordinator. At 5:30 pm we gathered  for an informal reception at a hotel outdoor pavilion.  SLMM President Jaleh Etemad welcomed assembled members and guests to the meeting. The weather was warm and gorgeous.

The 3-day itinerary included a bus trip to Santa Fe to see art, a day to visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum, a creative workshop inspired by images from Petroglyph National Park in Albuquerque, NM, and a banquet dinner with a Flamenco dance performance. It was a great time to reconnect with friends. I’ve visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe previously and love the art and energy in the Southwest U.S. Three days is never enough.

I didn’t walk Canyon Road. (I’ve done it before). Instead, I spent 2 hours at Meow Wolf, a converted bowling alley that’s become an immense, immersive art installation. The current installation is called the House of Eternal Return. Read about it here. SLMM Southwest regional members recommended Meow Wolf as the place to see in Santa Fe. I’m so glad I did. The image above is Terri MacDonald (Hays, KS) in the long entry corridor looking up at the lights. I took iPhone photos in every room, stairwell and corridor at Meow Wolf. I was standing on a balcony here. Everywhere you look is a light show, bursting with color, fantasy and technology. Over 100 local artists collaborated in the design.

I also didn’t stop at museums on Museum Hill or visit galleries as our tour bus made a loupe around the art venues in Santa Fe. I visited the New Mexico Capitol Rotunda Gallery to see an exhibition of handmade artists’ books by members of the Santa Fe Book Arts Group (titled Portable Magic: The Art of the Book, through December 15, 2017).

The Capitol building is also an arts venue. The state of NM is a proud arts patron. I was so glad I visited the Capital building. I saw paintings, prints, tapestries, etc. by established NM artists on several floors in the building.

Our SLMM Albuquerque conference included a group art workshop inspired by petroglyphs and a talk by Dr. Matthew Schmader who spoke about rock art’s place in human and cultural history. Petroglyph National Monument is located on the West Mesa in Albuquerque, NM. They say the park is a Landscape of Symbols – one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400-700 years ago. Read more here. I’ve been to Petroglyph National Monument. It’s fabulous.

We visited the National Hispanic Cultural Center and were treated to a wonderful docent tour. We saw a huge installation of piñatas. The image here is Mary Carroll Nelson, SLMM founder. She’s wearing an orange hat and standing under the piñatas at the NHCC. The back wall behind Mary is a huge installation with pinata tissue papers.

 

 

 

 

 

On the same day we visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum and saw world-renowned historic and contemporary Pueblo pottery, baskets, weaving, painting, murals, jewelry and photos. The image here is of me standing next to a Pueblo statue.  Do you think we look alike? Did you notice we have the same hairstyle? Our evening itinerary included a banquet and a Flamenco performance by an ensemble of young, talented and passionate dancers.

 

 

Here are 3 final images that show SLMM regional art projects.

The image above is Mary Carroll Nelson (photo courtesy Kathleen Kuchar) . She’s looking at a portfolio of art brought to Albuquerque by members of the Pacific/Canada Region. I also had a chance to view the works and hold the art in my hand. Very special.

The image above (courtesy Kathleen Kuchar) is a wall installation at the Albuquerque hotel – individual paintings and mixed media works attached together with rings. The works are by SLMM members of the Southwest/West/International region.

The image above is a wall installation titled “Reflection of Myself” – all 12 x 12s – done by SLMM members from the Deep South/South Central region (the work is currently at St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre, St. Peters, MO).  The exhibition was curated and organized by Shirley Nachtrieb, regional coordinator for the Deep South/South Central region. The works weren’t installed at the hotel in Albuquerque – I got this image from Kathleen Kuchar, but I’ve included it here to show art from all the SLMM regional members.

RETURN TO NEW YORK

I traveled back to NY with the art re-wrapped as a flat parcel, tucked into the overhead compartment on the plane. I disassembled the project at my studio, took new photos of the individual works, and then sent the art back to their owners.

It’s your turn: Please add your comments. Email me. Tell me if you’ve heard about Meow Wolf and have visited Santa Fe or Albuquerque, NM.  Do you have comments about the art seen here? Have you visited Petroglyph National Park, the National Hispanic Cultural Center or the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Museum?

Thank you again to Laura Pope and her team who organized this fabulous meeting. Here is a link to the SLMM website to learn more about the SLMM Premise and membership. The 2018 national meeting will take place in Tacoma, WA next year in late August.

 

 

The Woven Image at MoMA

I hope you’ve visited the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, and seen Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (April 15 – August 13, 2017). This show is important. I include links (below) to reviews with excellent images and comments about why this show is important.

Yayoi Kunama, No.F oil on canvas

I’ve seen this exhibition 3 times. My art practice is contemporary geometric abstraction and it was important to me to see how the curators selected the art and artists. I recognized the stars – Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, born 1929), Agnes Martin (American, born Canada, 1912-2004), Louise Nevelson (American, born Ukraine, 1899-1988), Louise Bourgeois (American born France, 1911-2010) (and others). The image here is by Yayoi Kusama. It’s titled No.F and is dated 1959. Media is oil on canvas, size is 41.5″x52″. This Kusama painting is in the permanent collection at MoMA.  Kusama is an international art star. I kept looking at it, trying to get as close as I could, to see the incredible texture of the white on white oil paint. It looked like eyelet fabric to me but was a painting.

I went to see Making Space a second time to really appreciate the extraordinary abstract paintings and sculpture by the Latin American superstars Carmen Herrera (Cuban, born 1915), Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920-1988) and Lygia Pape (Brazilian, 1927-2004). These three have also had recent solo retrospectives at NYC museums. I especially love the hard-edge geometric abstraction in paintings and sculpture by Carmen Herrera who is still at work at age 102. She is finally getting the recognition she deserves. See her black and white abstract painting below.

Carmen Herrera, Untitled, painting on canvas, 1952

 

My third visit to Making Space was different. I wanted to see all the works that are woven because I have a new fascination with weaving and textiles, and the exhibition showcases this media in the context of great art.

 

Making Space at MoMA includes ninety-four works by fifty-three international artists. Every work but one has been in storage at the Museum. The exhibition was co-curated by Starr Figura and Sarah Meister with help from Hillary Reder. The Curator’s Say: Making Space shines a spotlight on the stunning achievements of women artists between the end of World War II (1945) and the start of the Feminist movement (around 1968). In the postwar era, societal shifts made it possible for larger numbers of women to work professionally as artists, yet their work was often dismissed in the male dominated art world, and few support networks existed for them. Abstraction dominated.

 

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Yellow Abakan

 

This work, titled Yellow Abakan, by Magdalena Abakamowicz (Polish, 1930-2017) fuses weaving with sculptural installation. It’s coarsely woven sisal, 124”x120”x60”

I read that Abakanowicz deliberately tried to blur the distinctions between art and craft. She chose to explore the structural (sculptural) qualities of fiber.

 

 

 

 

Sheila Hicks, Prayer Rug

 

The work seen here is by Sheila Hicks (American, born 1934) and is titled Prayer Rug. It’s made with hand-spun wool (87”x43”). Hicks wrote she was inspired by Morocco and prayer rugs and architecture with arches. To create this work, she went off loom, working like a ceramicist works, with the material in her hands.

 

The next work (below) is by Anni Albers (American, born Germany, 1899-1994) and is titled Free-Hanging Room Divider, 1949. Anni Albers was a protean force in textile innovation and design. The work here is made with cotton, cellophane, and braided horsehair, 87”x32.5.” Albers was focused on creating translucent space, thinking about how the weaving functioned in an architectural setting as a space divider.

 

See Peter Schjeldal’s review: THE XX FACTOR Women and Abstract Art (the New Yorker magazine, April 24, 2017).

Anni Albers, Wall Hanging

 

Schjeldal writes: The show’s inclusion of fabric and decorative art marks an insurgent appreciation, taking hold in the sixties, of formerly patronized modes of “women’s work.” He references Magdalena Abakanowicz “Yellow Abakan” (1967-68). He says it “… invites a fighting comparison with some far more well-known minimalist works in felt, from the same time, by Robert Morris.

This wall hanging by Anni Albers as tall as a tall adult and was installed so you walked by and saw it up close. It is transparent. You can see the floor behind the weaving in this image. I love the vertical stripes and the cellophane in the weaving.

 

 

 

Here is an image of me standing in front of a framed black and white weaving by Anni Albers. The work is exquisite in design and detail. I was visiting the exhibition at MoMA for the 2nd time and invited. Peggi Pugh to join me so we could compare notes on what works we liked best. She took the photo. In this gallery, every work  was a weaving or an image (a drawing or print) that looked like a weaving. We walked around the gallery slowly to be able to absorb all the different works.

 

woodcut by Lygia Pape
drawing by Yayoi Kusama

 

Here are two images that look like weaving but are not. The top image by Lygia Pape is untitled, from her series Weavings (Tecelares). It’s a woodcut print (dated 1959). The bottom image by Yayoi Kusama is titled Infinity Nets. It’s ink on paper (dated 1951). I thought it was interesting that the curators placed these two works in tandem, one on top of the other. I thought they were textiles from a distance, because the Anni Albers framed textile (above) was in the same gallery space. I was wrong – but they look exactly like textiles.

 

 

 

 

Lenore Tawney, Little River

 

 

Here is a view of a wall hanging by Lenore Tawney (American 1907-2007), titled Little River (1968). Photo credit: Nicole Craine. In his New York Times review, At MoMA, Women at Play in the Fields of Abstraction (April 13, 2017) Holland Cotter tells us: In the 1950s, Ms. Tawney lived in Lower Manhattan, where she counted Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana and Agnes Martin (who is also in the MoMA show) as neighbors. Living in an old shipping loft, she made the most radical work of any of them: towering open-warp fiber pieces that stretched from floor to ceiling and across the loft’s wide space. Yet, in 1990, when she finally had a retrospective, it took place not at MoMA, but at the American Craft Museum, which was then across the street.

 

 

 

Ruth Asawa, hanging mesh sculpture

 

I photographed this gallery installation. I was fascinated with the shadows cast on the floor beneath the mesh wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa (American, 1926-2013). The work was installed from the ceiling in the center of the gallery. Hanging from the ceiling was totally a unique concept. As was woven sculpture in mesh wire. On a wall across the room, you see Lenore Tawney’s Little River weaving (notice the cast shadows there on the wall behind the work). On another wall to the left, you see a small view of Magdalena Abakanowicz’s very large sisal Yellow Abakan. The installation was inviting and intriguing. People lingered and looked.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Anne Ryan, collage 353

 

The image here is a collage by Anne Ryan (American 1889-1954) titled #353 dated 1949. I’m a collage artist and know Ryan was highly respected for her practice. Ryan worked with exquisite papers and also fabric and thread. Her works are small and delicate and deliberate. The Museum has four collages by this artist in the permanent collection, and the curators installed four Anne Ryan collages in the exhibition. At least two or three reviews, including ones by Peter Schjedahl and Holland Cotter and the Huffington Post start with this image. When I looked at this collage, I saw the threads and the thin papers. It’s a woven image also.

 

 

See the Artsy review by Abigail Cain (April 17, 2017), titled New MoMA Show Unearths Female Abstractionists That Have Languished in Storage.

Cain writes about gender inequality at the Museum. She also mentions the philanthropist Sarah Peter who can help remedy the imbalance. Sarah Peter launched the Modern Women’s Fund at MoMA in 2005 to target works by women artists for acquisition and to support major solo exhibitions by women. That’s a good start to bring about change.

Holland Cotter also writes about the gender inequality issue in his review of Making Space at MoMA and says: “This exhibition is a start, but ultimately to make changes and show women artists the respect they deserve, the MoMA should also reorganize the permanent-collection galleries that draw the largest crowds…Put Anne Ryan next to Kurt Schwitters and Jackson Pollock to see how that shakes out, historically and atmospherically… Put Ruth Asawa’s wire sculptures up against Richard Serra’s fortresslike walls. “

I hope the MoMA and other museums make these changes. Please send me your comments.

 

 

Several people commented about my recent post Duality at the Islip Art Museum, where I am showing a two-panel abstract diptych in blue, black, white, green and gold ochre. See the image below. I submitted two images as digital files for review for this show. Scott Bluedorn was the juror who selected works in the exhibition. He is a long Island artist. His studio practice includes painting, drawing, collage, assemblage, installation, photography and cyanotype. He makes collages that are futuristic and Surrealistic.The exhibition is titled Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side and continues to September 17, 2017. Visit the Islip Art Museum, located at 50 Irish Lane, East Islip, NY on Long Island. Gallery hours are Th/F 10-4 and S/S 12-4.

 

nikkal, Blue Triangle Diptych

 

Blue Triangle Diptych is geometric abstraction in two parts (a diptych), 24 inches tall and 32 inches wide. The triangles are in different media and are arranged in a different pattern on each panel. One panel (on the left) is a collage made with painted papers. Every blue and black triangle is cut and pasted paper. One panel (on the right) is an acrylic painting. The paint is layered and I used tape to get sharp lines.

 

nikkal, Blue and White Triangle diptych

The 2nd entry, seen nearby, was not accepted for the exhibition. It’s a diptych and all collage on two panels and made with blue and white painted papers arranged as triangles. I love the range of blue and soft green and white in the painted papers. I prefer this triangle diptych, but was happy the juror accepted one work for the exhibition. It made me wonder how he made his decision. One of the comments to the post came from Karen Rand Anderson, an artist who lives and works in Rhode Island. She writes a blog, She said she liked the blue and white diptych better than the one the juror selected. I told her I agreed, but said I assumed the juror wanted to see juxtaposition, per the exhibition title, and the piece he selected has more dialogue going on. Maybe I was wrong.

The jury process is subjective

Here’s a little information about how it works – and it’s important to understand the process is a crapshoot. You can never assume any work will be accepted – unless the show is an invitational and the juror (curator) tells you he/she wants a specific piece. By definition, an invitational is never a juried show. Artists enter juried exhibitions all the time for different reasons, sometimes for prize money and also to build their resume. The typical juried show includes one juror who looks at digital image files for every work submitted and selects the works. Typically the juror is a professional artist or gallerist, sometimes a prominent art critic, and sometimes an artist with a regional, national or international exhibition reputation. What gets selected into the exhibition is his/her decision. Sometimes the works are selected first by image file review and then by direct visual inspection to make sure the work is the same as the image file.

I typically do not enter juried shows. I wrote that I entered this show because the exhibition title: Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side was intriguing. My work is abstract and not narrative. My new studio focus is about duality and the serendipity of mismatched twins. I see diptychs as fraternal twins. I like the concept that twins can be the same and also different. Even identical twins can be different (if they try). It takes looking to see how they are different. I intend to focus on diptychs.

Recently I interviewed two jurors about the process of how they select works for an exhibition.

 

The juror looks for strong works

I emailed Susan Hoeltzel, the juror for an annual show at the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings on Hudson, NY titled PaperWorks (June 22-July 23, 2017). I am a member of this artist-run gallery and helped hang (install) the exhibition that includes a large and beautiful array of paintings, drawings, 3D sculpture and other works on paper submitted by local and regional artists. Gallery members do not enter or show work in this exhibition. The juror came to the gallery to see the exhibition after it was installed. I didn’t meet her and emailed her to ask how she selected the works for the show. I told her that gallery members were very pleased with the works she selected. I did not tell her I helped install the show. She replied: Thank you – I also think the exhibition looks great and extend my congratulations to the people who installed the show (It’s not that easy to hang a group show and the people who installed this one were sensitive to the transitions between the works, making it visually pleasing and leading the viewer from one work to the next.) I took that as a compliment. She wrote: In choosing the work, I was simply looking for strong work that represented a broad range of approaches – style, content, media, etc. She added she was working without information about dimensions, so was trying to make sure not too many works were selected for the space. It’s a big space and there are a lot of works to see.

Susan Hoeltzel is the former director of the Lehman College Art Gallery, City College of New York. Susan has exhibited her mixed media drawings on canvas nationally and internationally. Her works explore objects and the meaning we construct around them – about illusion and what we infer from the flat, two-dimensional surface of the work. Her most recent series deals with plants, particularly invasive species.

 

The juror picks what he likes

I spoke with the artist and educator Stuart Shils in person July 15 at the opening reception for the 9th National Juried Exhibition at the Prince Street Gallery, 530 West 25 Street, NY, NY (July 11-29, 2017).

 

nikkal at Prince St. Gallery

The image nearby is me standing in front of my collage titled Amok at the Prince Street Gallery opening on July 15. I submitted 3 entries that are part of a new series titled Curvy Geometric. Amok was accepted, seen here on the wall above another framed work.  Amok is made with painted papers, magazine text and  tan Washi papers with thin bamboo sticks. The Washi papers add a transparent layer. I’m a layerist. This framed work is 18 inches by 17 inches I was pleased that it was installed in the gallery on a small wall with only 4 works. There were about 50 works in the show, mostly small in size, mostly paintings.

I met the juror at the reception and complimented him on the exhibition he selected. I asked him to tell me how he chose. He said he picked what he liked. Simple. The show includes 45 artists. He said he rejected about 300 entries – that means 1 out of 7 artists was accepted. I said I was surprised to see so many semi-abstract and abstract paintings in the show. I checked Shils’ website before I entered the Prince Street Gallery juried show and basically entered because the juror’s works look like abstract paper collage. I asked Shils to tell me about his paper works. His answer surprised me. He said his work is not really collage. He said he puts papers together and then disassembles the work after he takes a photo. The product is the photo. It’s a collage concept. I did not ask if the photo is material or immaterial.

See works by Stuart Shils online, including window collages, painting, monotypes, drawing, photography, video and a book with his photographs titled “because I have no interest in those questions…” (Sold out).

 

The juror picks the art and creates the show

I remember a comment I heard many years ago about juried shows in a seminar led by the artist Kay WalkingStick. She is an American Artist and one of today’s most accomplished Native American contemporary landscape painters.

She basically said – don’t be upset if your work is not selected in a juried show. In some cases your work doesn’t fit the concept the juror intends. In some cases, the other works submitted are so different from what you submit that your work will look like it doesn’t belong in the show and that’s why it’s not accepted. She added: in some cases your work is so much better than all the rest that it can’t be included because all the others will look terrible in comparison. AND there are probably other reasons. Try to be positive.

Maybe the juror doesn’t like your work. Don’t take it personally.

Please add your comments. Tell me if you’ve been a juror and how you made your decisions. If you’re an artist, tell me if you enter juried shows. Tell me if you love or hate the process. Share what you know.

 

nikkal, Blue Triangle Diptych

I submitted two diptych paintings for a juried exhibition titled Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side at to the Islip Art Museum. One diptych – titled Blue Triangle Diptych (nearby) was accepted. One diptych, titled Blue and White Triangles (below) was rejected. The juror was Scott Bluedorn, an artist who lives and works in East Hampton, NY. The exhibition is June 24-September 17, 2017. The reception date is June 24th from 8-11. The Islip Art Museum is located at 50 Irish Lane, East Islip, NY 11730 on Long Island. Gallery hours are Th/F 10-4 and S/S 12-4.

 

I don’t typically submit works for juried shows but was intrigued with the theme and the wording in the prospectus. It asked artists to “seek out what’s hidden behind the veil of perception to reveal chaos in the mundane, beauty in the ordinary, and depravity in the wholesome.” I don’t see how my work is veiled, depraved or chaotic, but I suppose my approach to layering with paint and papers implies veiled perception – something below the surface. I am interested in duality. The diptych is my approach to expressing duality. I work with painted papers and collage. The media is dual. In the first diptych, one panel has painted paper collage and one panel is a painting in acrylic. Each includes triangles but the configuration is not parallel. Each panel is 24×16 inches. Together, the diptych measures 24×32 inches. I like the interplay between mixed media – collage and painting, paper and paint. The Blue Triangles Diptych was never intended as a diptych. Each panel was created to stand alone. By chance, I placed them next to each other against a wall in my studio (I was re-organizing space). I liked what I saw and I decided they belonged together – it was serendipity! I think of them as fraternal twins.

 

nikkal, Blue and White Triangle diptych

The image nearby is my 2nd diptych titled Blue and White Triangle Diptych. This work was declined. It was created as a diptych. I changed triangle shapes and added more light blue and white papers as I worked. Notice the way the triangles go from wider to thinner as they approach the center and press into each other’s space. I wonder if this work was declined because the two parts are united. What do you think? I hope you can attend the reception and/or see the exhibition if you find yourself in the area. Link here for more information and directions. The Islip Art Museum website says the IAM is a leading exhibition space for contemporary art on Long Island, and the NY Times calls the Museum the “best facility of its kind outside Manhattan.”

 

CONTEMPORARY DIPTYCHS

 

I have a skinny, 16-page paperback catalog titled Contemporary Diptychs: Divided Visions. See it nearby. It’s an old catalog from a 1987 exhibition. I found it while browsing for art books at the Strand Book Store (828 Broadway and 12th Street in NYC). I loved the cover image and the essays about diptychs inside. If you haven’t been there, you must visit the Strand. It’s a great destination for art book lovers.  The catalog cover image shows a contemporary diptych titled Slope of Repose, by the artist Edward Henderson, dated 1986. The catalog has the same title as the exhibition – Contemporary Diptychs, Divided Visions, – and includes essays written by Roni Feinstein, formerly Branch Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fairfield, CT. Feinstein organized the exhibition at two Whitney Museum branch locations – one at the Equitable Center in Manhattan, 787 Seventh Ave., NYC and another at at the Whitney Museum branch in Fairfield County, Stamford, CT. Both shows were in 1987. The exhibition catalog is still available online.

 

According to Feinstein, the first diptychs were tablets consisting of two pieces of wood with writing hinged together. In the late 16th century, diptychs were used primarily for companion paintings with portraits of a husband and wife, intended as a pair, but also visually independent. The contemporary revival of diptychs in the 1960s was more about conceptual art – dealing with issues of narrative and allegory, autobiography and self-expression, social, political and cultural commentary.

 

The essay about Edward Henderson’s diptych Slope of Repose (image is seen above) says: “Things are not exactly as they seem. The left side may look like a collage with pasted newspapers and other elements, but it’s a trompe l’oeil painting. What looks like a wooden bar running down the middle is actually painted to look like it’s real, and the right side panel shows a letter N (an apartment house) but is assembled from thin strips of balsa wood. What seems to be collage on the left side is painted and what seems to be painted on the right side is collage.” The diptych makes you ask – what is real?

 

FINAL COMMENTS

 

I am pleased to be included in the exhibition Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side at the Islip Museum, and can’t wait to see the various works that were accepted in this annual show. Long Island is a lovely place for a day trip in the summer. If you are nearby, please stop by and see the exhibition. Let me know what you think. See directions to IAM here. Let me know what you think about contemporary diptychs and the idea of duality.

 

It Takes a Team

May 24, 2017

I visited the NYC Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) last week to see the exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (through August 13). The show is fabulous and all the most exciting abstract artists (who happen to be women) are included. The curators selected works from the Museum’s permanent collection, including almost 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles, and ceramics by more than 50 artists. I loved how the works were installed in the galleries. I am a keen critic when it comes to exhibition installation. It takes a team to select the great works and it takes a team to install the best exhibition.

The curatorial team included Starr Figura, curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, and Sarah Hermanson Meister, curator, Department of Photography, with Hillary Reed, curatorial assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints. According to the online comments, the installation was loosely chronological and synchronous, with works that range from gestural canvases by Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell to radical geometries by Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Gego. There are fiber weavings by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney. There’s collage Anne Ryan. There are paintings – both large and very white  by Agnes Martin and Yayoi Kusama. The last gallery includes a large sculpture by Lee Bontecou. There’s a hanging sculpture by Louise Bourgeois (it looks very heavy), and – my favorite – a wall installation by Eva Hesse done with industrial materials. It’s a stellar cast. I include some of these artists below with images taken at the exhibition (my iPhone) as well as images from the MoMA website. Visit the exhibition online here. I hope you get to see the show and see all the media and  all the artists.

 

Agnes Martin, The Tree, oil and pencil on panel, 1964

 

 

The painting seen here is 6×6 feet, done by Agnes Martin (American, born Canada, 1912-2004). Titled The Tree, it’s oil and pencil on panel, and dated 1964. Image: copyright Estate of Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. This is a very white painting with faint pencil lines on canvas. When you walk up close you see it clearly. From a distance everything is quiet and delicate. Agnes Martin had a recent retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC – I made sure I got to see it more than once, and also attended a panel program at the Museum. I heard that Martin made all her pencil lines by hand. Amazing. Her work is highly regarded and her career and persona are fascinating. Here’s a link to see images and a video from the Guggenheim Museum show.

 

 

Carmen Herrera, Untitled, painting on canvas, 1952

The image nearby is by Carmen Herrera (born 1915, Havana, Cuba). It’s untitled and dated 1952. The artist is still working and showing her paintings and sculpture at age 102. I love this painting because it has black and white stripes that create the illusion of triangles. Notice the top and bottom of the painting where there’s black against white and white against black. Carmen Herrera was and is always focused on the edges of her paintings and sculptures. Herrera studied art, art history and architecture in Havana and then in Paris, France where she because part of an international artist’s group called the Salon des Realties Nouvelle. She distilled her geometric style of abstraction in Paris. She reduced her color palette to three, then two colors for each canvas. She created hard-edged canvasses at the same time Ellsworth Kelley (also in Paris) developed his style. The Museum website says: Herrera’s ascetic compositions prefigured the development of Minimalism by almost a decade, but the artist did not receive the critical attention she deserved. I saw this same image by Carmen Herrera at the Whitney Museum of American Art at her 2016/2017 solo exhibition titled Lines of Sight. See more images and read about the Whitney exhibition here.

 

Yayoi Kunama, Untitled, 1959

The work nearby is by Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, born 1929). I’m a great fan. Here work and career are amazing. This painting is very white and looks like lace. It has dimension. It’s untitled, done in 1959 and oil on canvas (41 ½ x 52 inches). Yayoi Kusama is almost 90 years old and still exhibiting everywhere. Her white painting in this exhibition looks nothing like current images that you see in galleries and museums. Recent exhibitions include installation with ceramic pumpkins and polka dots in mirrored spaces. When you think of Kusama, you think kaleidoscopic imagery and incredible color. The painting at MoMA is copyright 2017 Yayoi Kusama. I posted a blog about Kusama in 2012 – titled Collage Exploded – about her solo show that year at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. All about dots. See it here. The David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea, NY, represents Kusama, and organized Infinity Mirrors, Kusama’s current North American traveling exhibition (2017-2019), a survey of the artists’ evolution to create art in immersive infinity rooms. The traveling exhibition includes sculpture, installation and large scale paintings. Read about Infinity Mirrors here.

Women Artists: Eclipsed Careers

Elsa Gramcko, Untitled, 1957

 

I’ve already said that every work in the exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction  is part of the permanent collection at MoMA. But, many works are exhibited for the first time or in a long time. I’ve listed who donated the art to the Museum. Most of the artists – because they are women – were eclipsed in their careers by the “big guns” (i.e. male artists) and did not have a solo museum exhibition during their lifetime. That’s all changing now.

The image at left is by Elsa Gramcko (Venezuelan 1925-1994). It’s untitled, 39×13 inches, 1957, oil on canvas and painted with a deep Yves Klein blue, with black, white, red, yellow and green in a bold geometric design. The blue and white together are radiant. This is not a big painting in size, but the saturated colors and design are totally captivating. I noticed it immediately as soon as I walked into the gallery space.  The painting was a promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund, 2016.

 

 

Lydia Clark, The Inside is the Outside, 1963

 

I recognized the image at left as soon as I saw it. It’s a stainless steel curvilinear sculpture by Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920-1988), titled The Inside is the Outside, 1963, 16 x 17 ½ x 14 ¾ inches. Lygia Clark had a retrospective exhibition at MoMA in 2014 organized around three key themes: abstraction, Neo-Concretism and the “abandonment” of art (the last was participatory). The MoMA says Clark became a major reference for contemporary artists dealing with the limits of conventional art forms. Read about the 2014 Lygia Clark exhibition: The Abandonment of Art, 1948-1998 here. This curvy steel sculpture is another gift from Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund, 2011.

 

 

 

Eva Hesse, conceptual sculpture,1966

Here is my image of a sculpture by Eva Hesse. I saved my favorite image for last. I am intrigued with the industrial materials she used to make art, and by the shape the materials create on the wall. This conceptual sculpture is untitled, dated 1966, and made with enamel paint and string over papier-mâché with elastic cord, approximate size is 33 1/2 x 26 x 2 1/2 inches. Eva Hesse was German-American (1936 – 1970) and is associated with Minimalism and Feminist Art. In this work, contour is the primary concept. Notice the shape. Hesse’s work demonstrated to a new, postwar generation how to distill feelings and conceptual references down to a set of essential forms and contours. Her career spanned little more than a decade. Even though she died young, she left a huge legacy for others to follow. She said: In my inner soul art and life are inseparable. I think art is a total thing. Her work has remained popular and highly influential to important international artists who followed, including Louise Bourgeois, Bill Jensen, Martin Puryear and Brice Marden. Words associated with Eva Hesse’s works: wit, whimsy, evocative and spontaneous invention. Her media were casually found, everyday materials. Important critics describe her forms as languid and proto-feminist. Read about her Life and Legacy here.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I am always impressed with the talented teams that curate an exhibition – what they choose to include and how they choose to organize how the show is installed. This exhibition is about great artists (who happen to be women) who were marginalized in the art world during the post World War II period. The MoMA, and other museums, are making amends for that exclusion.

This show feels contemporary. That’s a compliment from me.

I want to recommend a new book I’ve just read that I found at the MoMA bookstore after I saw the exhibition. I always stop at the bookstore to find a little book to add to my library. I like little books to carry and read if I’m on the train, waiting for an appointment, etc. Ideally, the book doesn’t have too many pages, there are lots of images and really good text. I found Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? An A to Z Guide to the Art World by Kyung An and Jessica Cerasi (2016, Thames & Hudson). The book is fun to read and answers 4 basic questions: What is contemporary art? What makes it contemporary? What is it for? And why is it so expensive? The authors discuss museums and the art market, the rage for biennales and the next big thing. Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? examines how artists are propelled to stardom, explains what curators do, and challenges our understanding of artistic skill, demystifying the art market, and much, much more. Every short chapter includes a 2-page commentary and an image by or about a significant work by a contemporary artist. Both authors are highly qualified to write about the contemporary art world. Kyang An is an Assistant Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, NY and Jessica Cerasi is Exhibition Manager at Carroll/Fletcher and was Assistant Curator of the 20th Biennale of Sydney in 2016.

 

Get the book Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? and go see the MoMA exhibition before it closes August 13. You’ll find there are artists you love and didn’t know about. There are more than 100 works by 50 artists to see. Email  me your comments about your favorite artists and works in the show. Tell me if you agree that many works also seem contemporary in spirit in spite of the fact they were created so many years ago. Tell me what you think about the sculpture by Eva Hesse. Thank you for your comments.

Nancy