Solo exhibition: October 4-28, 2018

the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

 

I am pleased to write this interview about the artist Phyllis Famiglietti. She has a wonderful approach to the art of collage and will show 35 works in various media (October 4-28, 2018) at her first solo exhibition at the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Meet Phyllis Famiglietti at the gallery reception, Sunday, October 7th, 2-5 pm. Visit the Upstream Gallery during regular Gallery hours, Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30 pm. For information and gallery directions, call 914.674.8548 or visit the Upstream Gallery website.

Collage, Collage, Collage

Phyllis Famiglietti started creating paper collage about 7 or 8 years ago. Prior to that, she worked a lot in photography and in digital collage. She is a video editor who moves images around in her day job. As a break from sitting and looking at a computer screen all day, she took up the art of paper collage and found it very appealing.  She says she loves the feeling of different papers in her hands and the stickiness of glue on her fingers.

 

Phyllis Famiglietti, Brandy Wine Creek

Famiglietti’s collages are typically small and there are various groups that will hang together in the exhibition. The largest collages are 24” x 20” and the smallest are 7” x 9”. The older works were based very much on the Polaroid photograph. The more recent works have broken free. The artist says she’s been exploring frames, grids and quadrants in new and exciting ways.

The image above is titled Brandy Wine Creek. It’s a collage with various papers, including reproductions of old maps, an old brown envelope, some random pieces of magazine cut-outs and colored paper. It’s 24×20 inches, and one of 35 works on view at the Upstream Gallery.

Famiglietti said Brandy Wine Creek is actually her most recent piece, and it’s interesting as a departure for her, because she did it while away in Maine this summer on a vacation. She said the vacation location was…”totally off the grid…no flush toilet, no running water, no electricity…and the papers in the collage are just a hodgepodge of what was on hand and available. She added: “It was a great challenge for me. I’m sticking with my quadrants, but I’m a lot more relaxed here…. letting shapes flow in and out of each other in an organic, free-flowing way“. She let the colors dominate in a way she’d never done before and thinks, “The environment in which I worked is so apparent in this piece.”

Hunt and Gather – Cut and Paste

Famiglietti cuts and pastes papers that she finds interesting in terms of image, color or texture. She says she loves going to flea markets and especially library sales where she can pick up cast-off books. She adds: “I also frequent construction sites where advertising posters are mounted on surrounding green painted plywood. I’ll judicially collect pieces of these posters and layer them into my work.”

 

Phyllis Famiglietti, Sociology

The image above is titled Sociology. It’s collage and the size is 16 x16 inches. Famiglietti says: “This work was done right after my Polaroid phase, and I think the grid and frames are informed by that previous work. There is a lot of layering (which is also an off-shoot of my video work) while what’s inside the frames is kept more to a minimum. “ She says she is fascinated with what time does to elements, and loves the feeling of peeled away layers of papers. Most of the pieces are from old sources, and sometimes include sanded paperback book covers. Some elements are from discarded hardcover books where the cloth is stripped off the cardboard.  The artist said she called this piece Sociology because the word “sociology” showed up on one of the elements (from a paperback book cover) and she thought it really fit the piece.

 

Phyllis Famiglietti, Rubbery Man Scent

The image above is a collage done on a book cover. It’s title “Rubbery Man-Scent” refers to text that is in the piece. Famiglietti says: “Pretty much all my pieces have names that appear somewhere in the text in that particular piece. I’m mostly using text as a visual element, though sometimes I do stray from that. Some papers in this work are vintage; some are from recent magazines; others are from book covers or the interiors of books. I try to use elements in ways that are unrecognizable from the original work itself. “

Famiglietti works in series in order to look at a particular set of materials in depth. She explored the Polaroid photograph for a period of time, experimenting with the relationship of what’s both inside and outside that iconic frame. The artist included works from the series “Massachusetts White Gentlemen” in the current exhibition. She recycled portraits from a book of historical political figures (all white men) and obliterated their faces with pieces of photos of engines taken at her car mechanic’s shop. The exhibition also includes small works (7” x 9”) from a series where she layered pieces of advertising posters with images from 1950’s Popular Mechanics magazines. The artist has another series that uses the inside of book covers as her canvas.

Famiglietti says: “I might start a work with an image or part of an image. Collage is a journey…. a rollercoaster with dips and spins, discovery, frustration, a puzzle, a fitting, a juxtaposition.” She asks: What am I saying…where am I going with this?  It’s a constant uncovering, like ripping off layers of myself…. reframing and re- contextualizing, an ongoing process of coming to terms with me…what was/is expected, taken and turned inside out and transformed into what is totally unexpected.“

Visit the exhibition (October 4-28, 2018). Read more about the artist here.

See more works by the artist online at the Upstream Gallery.

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Solo Exhibition: Fairy Tales & Other Stories

October 4-28, 2018

the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

I am pleased to write this interview of the artist Louise Cadoux. She will exhibit mixed media wall hangings and three-dimensional sculpture in a solo exhibition (October 4-28, 2018) at the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. The exhibition is titled Fairy Tales & Other Stories and includes amazing mixed media wall hangings and clay sculpture that interpret the fairy tale theme. Meet the artist at the exhibition reception, Sunday, October 7th, 2-5 pm. Regular Upstream Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30 pm. For information and gallery directions, call 914.674.8548 or visit the Upstream Gallery website.

 

Louise Cadoux, Hansel & Gretel

The image above is the wall hanging titled Hansel & Gretel, made with clay, driftwood, branches and wire mesh. It’s 25 inches wide and 40 inches high. The artist says she wanted this work to look a little ominous as a warning to Hansel and Gretel: “Don’t go this way! Can’t you see this is Wicked Witch territory?” Cadoux created flowers for the hanging, made out of mesh and clay that are meant to look like mutated octopuses, and then she created another layer in the work that includes pieces of mesh that looks like cobwebs.

Cadoux says the wall hangings are light enough to move as people walk by, and can create shadows on the walls. She hopes the shadows and movement also conjure a sense of the mystery of the fairy tale story.

 When I asked about the theme, Cadoux said, “The theme and the works emerged in the process of exploring new works with wire in my studio following my last gallery exhibition.” She said the wire became a drawing as it developed into a wall hanging. She thought one wire drawing looked like vegetation, because it made her think of plants growing up around the castle in the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. She created a second wire drawing that reminded her of the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel because it communicated the nightmare sense of being lost in the woods. A third wire drawing reminded her of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Cadoux created sculptures to accompany the wall hangings to complete the fairy tale stories.

 

Louise Cadoux, the Tortoise and the Hare

The image above is a sculpture titled The Tortoise and the Hare.  It is one of 20 new works in the exhibition and is made with clay and wire, paint and varnish. The Tortoise is 26” x 17” x 11” The Hare is 24” x 15” x 5”. The sculpture bases are cast in concrete and also painted.

Cadoux created the sculptures from clay, wire and paper clay, and they vary in size from 12 inches to 36 inches tall. The exhibition also includes wall hangings with 3D elements that are about 25 inches wide and 36-60 inches high and made with diverse elements, including wire mesh, wire, wood, hardwood and clay. Some elements are painted.

Louise Cadoux says we create the stories of our lives.

Cadoux thinks fairy tales colored her childhood and helped shape the person she is today. She said: “We are, after all, the stories we’ve created about ourselves.”

 

Louise Cadoux, The Curious Otter

The image above is a sculpture titled The Curious Otter. It’s made with clay, wire, paint and varnish. The Curious Otter is 12” x 17” x 4”.  Cadoux thinks otters are playful and said she wondered why she’d never read a story about a curious otter, so decided one of the works in this exhibition should be an otter – because they’re so playful.

Visit the exhibition (October 4-28, 2018) and see for yourself.

Visit the artist’s website. See more works by Louise Cadoux at the Upstream Gallery website.

 

 

Lenore Tawney

October 1, 2018

 

Fiber Arts Pioneer, Collage and Assemblage Artist

I am writing about women artists I admire.

My recent post Blue Again was a tribute to the artist Louise Bourgeois. The first image in the post showed a massive steel sculpture of a spider (titled Maman) photographed against a brilliant blue sky, outdoors at the Guggenheim Museum in the Basque City of Bilbao in northern Spain. The post includes additional images with drawings and soft sculptures, made with recycled cloth that Louise Bourgeois cut into pieces and sewed piece by piece to build up volume. I think of the soft sculpture as 3D collage.

This post is about the artist Lenore Tawney (American, 1907-2007)

Lenore Tawney is widely credited as the pioneering spirit whose open-warp weaving redefined and helped shape the field of fiber art during the second half of the twentieth century. This post will include images of her large woven, open loom weavings and sculpture as well as her other media: drawing in pen and ink, drawing as weaving, mixed media assemblage with wood, wire and thread, collage and postcards that she began during the 1960s and continued to create throughout her long life.

Lenore Tawney in her Studio

The image above shows Lenore Tawney in her studio, at an industrial space located in the Coenties Slip area in lower Manhattan in New York City. The photo is dated 1958. Photo credit: David Attie. Tawney made huge fiber sculpture in this space, but, in this image, it looks like Lenore Tawney is working small. She is sitting on the floor, weaving with an improvised, open weave loom.

Lenore Tawney, Cloud Series VI

After 1977, Tawney created her “Cloud Series” with hand-knotted, shimmering linen threads woven into a linen superstructure and hung from the ceiling. The image above shows Tawney standing on a scaffold with a very large work titled Cloud Series VI. The size is 16’x32’x8’ and is dated 1981. This huge open weave installation was a commission and installed at the Frank J. Lausche State Office Building in Cleveland, OH. For the viewer, the experience is air and space. Imagine walking into a room with a fiber installation cascading down from the ceiling above you. Imagine that the installation is made with thousands of individually knotted shimmering linen threads. Photo: The Lenore Tawney Foundation. Read the chronology of her career at the Lenore Tawney Foundation website.

Lenore Tawney, Little River Wall Hanging

The image above is titled Little River Wall Hanging. It’s dated 1968 and was made with linen and wool. It’s 164 inches tall by 22 ½ inches wide. Little River Wall Hanging is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 2017 it was included in the large group exhibition titled Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (April 15-August 13, 2017) at the MoMA. The exhibition included 100 works by 50 women artists created between the end of World War II and the start of the Feminist movement. All the works – including paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles and ceramics were drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection.  I wrote a review of the exhibition. Read it here.

 

Drawings with Pen and Ink, Linen, Thread, Paper and Wire

 

Lenore Tawney, Wings on the Wind

The image above is titled Wings of the Wind. It’s pen and ink on graph paper, 17×22 inches, and dated 1964. Lenore Tawney created many, many drawings in pen and ink and other media. I learned Lenore Tawney drew inspiration not only from the ancient weavers of Peru, but was also inspired by her study of 19thcentury patterns made on a Jacquard loom.The weaver in her appreciated the jacquard loom’s ability to produce complex compound patterns, and the artist in her was fascinated by its intricate cord system. In the 1960s she began a series of India ink drawings that “hover above the graph paper with a vibrating energy.” Read more at the American Craft Council website.

 

Lenore Tawney, Waters Above the Firmament

The image above is titled Waters Above the Firmament, 1976, 156 ½ x 145 ¼ inches, collection: the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s made with linen, warp-faced/weft-ribbed plain weave with discontinuous wefts, and includes 18th/19thcentury manuscript pages cut into strips, attached and painted with acrylic paint. The top and bottom are braided, knotted and cut warp fringe. This work is a large circle set into a square – a simple design, but the upper half of the circle, where the warps are made of paper and fabric and coated in blue paint, give it incredible weight. Tawney wove the circle with slits that open at regular half-inch intervals that emphasized a third dimension.

Lenore Tawney, Drawing in Air

In the 1990s, Lenore Tawney reinterpreted her ink drawings into 3D works, using linen thread. The image above is titled Drawing in Air XVII, 1998, Linen and Plexiglas. The size for this work is  48x48x24 inches.

 

Assemblage

Lenore Tawney, untitled (Arietta)

In the 1960s Tawney began to work with paper and found objects and created assemblage. The image above is untitled (Arietta), c 1967. It’s a mixed media box construction with feathers, wood and paper, 12 ¼ x 7 x 4 inches. Photo: courtesy the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York

Lenore Tawney’s assemblages often included an amazing assortment of birds and feathers, some literal, some with a talismanic presence. Often, actual eggs appear as actual objects.

Lenore Tawney, Even Thread Had a Speech

The image above is titled Even Thread Had a Speech, dated 1966, and made with wood, paper collage and string, 9×7 ½ x 2 ¾ inches, collection: Whitney Museum of American Art, gift of the Lenore Tawney Foundation. The threads, in straight lines, weave through the open-sided box construction and appear beyond the edges.

 

Collage

 

In the mid-1960s, Tawney began to create postcard-sized collages that she mailed to friends and family. For Tawney, mailing the postcards became an essential part of the collage-making process, and the cancelled postmark functioned as an important collage element that showed a record of a journey successfully made.

book-Lenore Tawney: Signs on the Wind

The image above shows the cover of a monograph about Lenore Tawney’s small collages titled Signs on the Wind, published by Pomegranate Communications Inc., Petaluma, CA, 2002. I own the book and recommend it for the wonderful essay by the art critic Holland Cotter and over 80 full-size images of her postcard collages, dated 1961-1990. Each image is a unique collage that will inspire admiration and creativity.

Lenore Tawney, Circle in a Square postcard collage

The image above is a collage postcard that’s included in the book. The postcard is addressed to Miss Tender at the shop Tender Buttons, 236 E 77, NY 28, NY. Tender Buttons was a repeat recipient of many of Tawney’s postcards that are reproduced in the book. This postcard shows a 1966 cancellation date stamp, and is embellished with neat, evenly spaced ruled lines in pen and ink . The design is both horizontal and vertical.  The image is a circle in a square. Tawney created the circle with vertical lines in pen and ink. The circle is superimposed over the  shape of a square made by the  lines in the collage. The text collage, written in French, extends beyond the top and bottom edge. There’s a 4 cent postage stamp with the image of President Abraham Lincoln. This collage drawing echoes the art of weaving with taut, parallel straight lines. It’s amazing that Tawney trusted that the postcard collage would arrive undamaged, and it did. Tawney mailed the postcards to family and friends – and she even sent one to herself, addressed in her late mother’s maiden name. The postcard collages were made mostly with papers, including photographs, newspaper clippings, magazine ads, charts, Tantric symbols, musical scores, her own drawings, and notes and manuscript pages with foreign text. The postcards are rich and dynamic with a range of themes from childhood to female sexuality, even spirituality – and can be read as treatises or as Valentines. We are lucky people saved them.

In the book essay, Holland Cotter says, “The attraction of the postcard collages is not their inscrutability but their accessibility, their fleet wit, their conceptual ingenuity, and their stimulating metaphoric play.”

 

CONNECTING THREADS:

I wanted to create a thread to connect two artists I admire: Louise Bourgeois (American, born in France, 1911-2010), and Lenore Tawney (American, 1907-2007). One thread is drawing. Both artists had a background in drawing and sculpture. Both artists used drawing to explore subjects throughout their lives.

Louise Bourgeois studied sculpture but used drawing to tell the stories of her life. FYI: Bourgeois started drawing while still a child. She worked at her family’s tapestry restoration business in France and drew in the missing parts in the damaged antique tapestries so they could be restored.

Lenore Tawney studied sculpture and drawing and then discovered tapestry weaving. Tawney created the “open warp” weaving technique, with fluid forms of textured yarns contrasting against transparent grounds of exposed warps, like a drawing floating in space. Tawney used the transparency as a sculptural negative space. Her approach was controversial at the time. She said: “All I did was weave the design and leave the rest of the warp unwoven. Why not? “

 

If you can, purchase the book Lenore Tawney: Signs on the Wind. Get it for the Cotter essay with images of her weavings, and for the full-size images of the postcard collages. Holland Cotter wrote: “Tawney’s work was considered heretical by orthodox craft adherents, but too “crafsy by the orthodox art world. Despite this arts/craft divide, Tawney found success as an artist.

 

I am glad her colleagues and friends saved the collage postcards.

 

Blue Again

August 31, 2018

My recent post STILL SO BLUE was all about artists who work with the color blue – but I only wrote about men – the “big guns” – Henri Matisse (French 1869-1954), Richard Diebenkorn (American 1922-1993), Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch 1853-1890), and Andy Warhol (American 1928-1987).

I received an email a few days after I posted the blog. It included a single sentence – a question: Where Are the Women? I felt EXPOSED and GUILTY because I didn’t write about a single woman artist. This post will remedy that omission, and will focus on the artist Louise Bourgeois. Her reputation is stellar.

I am also starting to collect information and write a book that will focus on women artists – because I admire their works and want to know more about them.

LOUISE BOURGEOIS (French-American 1911-2010)

The image nearby shows Louise Bourgeois’ bronze, marble and stainless steel sculpture of a spider – an arachnid – titled Maman – dated 1999. The sculpture stands over 30 feet high. It’s installed at the Guggenheim Museum in the Basque city of Bilbao in northern Spain. I included this image because it shows a beautiful blue sky in the background.

Louise Bourgeois, Maman

Louise Bourgeois, Maman

She said: “The colour blue – that is my colour – and the colour blue means you have left the drabness of day-to-day reality to be transported into – not a world of fantasy, it’s not a world of fantasy – but a world of freedom where you can say what you like and what you don’t like. This has been expressed forever by the colour blue, which is really sky blue.”

Louise Bourgeois always said and did exactly what she liked.

“The spider—why the spider? Louise Bourgeois wrote:

Because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider.”

The Huffington Post had a lot to say about Bourgeois’ spider.  In an articled titled “A Love Letter to Louise Bourgeois, A Feminist Icon Whether She Likes it or Not”  (Dec. 6, 2017), Katherine Brooks wrote: Bourgeois created her first arachnid in 1999 and they quickly proliferated, as spiders are wont to do. Titled “Maman,” the spindly creatures and their egg sacs, made from stainless steal, marble and bronze, stood as tributes to Bourgeois’ mother, Josephine.

Bourgeois is best known for her sculptures, which range in scale from the intimate to the monumental. She worked in many different media, including wood, bronze, latex, marble, and fabric. Her imagery included totemic forms, hanging figures and anatomical fragments that conflated or mixed together female/male.

Louise Bourgeois, Tete V

Louise Bourgeois, Tete V

The image nearby is titled Tete V, and is a soft sculpture made with cut and sewn fabric (2004). It sits on a stainless steel base. Notice there are two heads and one neck. Notice how the rough, soft surface of the sewn sculpture contrasts with the smooth, hard surface of the stainless steel. Bourgois is known for juxtaposing materials conventionally considered male or female, and using rough or hard materials associated with masculinity to sculpt soft biomorphic forms that are suggestive of femininity. Image: courtesy Xavier Hufkens Gallery, Brussels. Photo: Christopher Burke © the Easton Foundation.

FABRIC SCULPTURE, DRAWINGS and PRINTS

Fabric played an important role in Bourgeois’ life. She grew up surrounded by the textiles of her parents’ tapestry restoration workshop, and from the age of twelve helped the business by drawing in the sections of the missing parts that were to be repaired. Bourgeois was a life-long hoarder of clothes and household items such as tablecloths, napkins and bed linen. She cut up and re-stitched these, transforming her materials into art. She wrote: The sewing is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole.

Louise Bourgeois, Personnage

Louise Bourgeois, Personnage

Louise Bourgeois began making her fabric heads when she was in her eighties. She cut fabric, typically from the same bolt of cloth, starting with an inner core and gradually adding layers of fabric, hand-stitching the features as the form progressed. It was her intention to make the stitching crude with loose threads and raw edges.

SOME DAYS WERE PINK DAYS

Louise Bourgeois, Three Figures

Louise Bourgeois, Three Figures

Siri Hustvedt wrote a brilliant review for Bourgeois’ exhibition at the Tate Modern for The Guardian (Oct. 5, 2007) and mentioned a sculpture titled The Three Horizontals (1998), made with fabric and steel, 53 x 72 x 36 inches. This work shows 3 bodies mounted one above the other like diminishing versions of the same person. The review said they are amputees and their soft anatomies appear to have been torn and mended, adding – there is a tenderness in the execution. You expect to see marble, but instead, see pieced fabric. The juxtaposition of the soft fabric and the hard metal creates a tension and makes you take notice.

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

Louise Bourgeois usually worked in series, often returning to a familiar theme. One theme – Femme Maison (means “house woman”) is shown here – above as a fabric sculpture and below as a chine colle print. The print is dated 1984 and the plate for the print is 9 7/16 by 11 13/16 inches. The fabric sculpture is dated 2005 and the size is 6.5 x 15 x 5 inches. Both images are ©The Easton Foundation/VAGA

If Bourgeois were asked if she knew a piece was finished, she would reply:

“It is never finished. The subject is never exhausted.”

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison

LOUISE BOURGEOIS began her life in Paris, where her parents had a gallery. Later, the family moved to Choisy-le-Roi and then to Antony. Her father served as a soldier during World War I, was wounded at the front, and after his return, the family opened a tapestry restoration studio, where Louise learned to draw in order to assist in the family business. Bourgeois studied mathematics for a short time at the Sorbonne, and then left the Sorbonne for various art schools. In 1938, she met the art historian, Robert Goldwater, married him, and moved to New York, where she lived and worked until her death in 2010

FINAL THOUGHTS

Louise Bourgeois’ work did not emerge OUT OF THE BLUE or in isolation. She drew inspiration from her life as well as the world of art and art history. She worked in two dimensions, in three dimensions and in terms of ideas, subject matter, and media.

Would you like to receive a free PDF copy of“ How to be an artist according to Louise Bourgeois”?  Email me (include the subject line (How to be an artist according to Louise Bourgeois), and I will send it to you.

STILL SO BLUE

July 8, 2018

 

My Favorite Color is Blue

I wrote about the color blue recently because it’s my new favorite color. My post included a lot of images by modern artists who work with the color blue, including Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, Vincent Van Gogh, and Andy Warhol. I included a link to an article in the Huffington Post titled Blue is the New Orange written by Katherine Brooks (12/6/16) with many, many art works where blue was the dominant color, including art by Degas, Picasso, Yves Klein, Monet, Renoir, Matisse Rothko and more.

 

Yves Klein IKB 241

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962 is my inspiration for the color blue.  I would love to be able to do a painting with collage that is totally blue. See the image here by Yves Klein. He created his own acrylic paint that is called International Klein Blue (IKB). He worked with a paint dealer to create a matte version of French Ultramarine Blue paint. The color is electric.

 

Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1964

Andy Warhol did an almost totally blue flower painting. See it here – four flowers in electric blue on a black background with a few thin green lines as stems and leaves. It’s an acrylic and silkscreen print with pencil on linen. It has a simple title: FLOWERS (1964). This image was included in the Huffington Post article.

 

Getting to Be More Blue

 

Nikkal, Blue Triangles

The image nearby is my acrylic painting on canvas, just completed. Notice it’s standing on 2 containers (also blue), leaning against the wall in my studio.  My painting is not all blue, but getting there. I won’t change this one (I frequently re-paint finished paintings), but I have a feeling that as I do new paintings there will be more and more blue, and less and less of other colors. My goal is total blue like the artist Yves Klein. My painting is 48×48 inches square, and acrylic on canvas. It has a lot of sharp edges and I didn’t use tape for every outlined edge. My triangles are black, white, blue and gray. Some are a yellow tan color blending into white. The patterns are a play of advancing and receding geometric shapes that are competing for space. I’m still creating color relationships. I will title this painting Triangles in Blue, Grey, Yellow, Black and White.

 

True Blue Affinity

Blue is the most popular color in art, and is favored by men and women alike. Here’s another fact: two of the greatest modern artists – Henri Matisse and Richard Diebenkorn also painted with blue, and Richard Diebenkorn loved Matisse’s blue so much that he used the same blue. The color is Ultramarine Blue.

 

Matisse/Diebenkorn at SFMoMA

In 2017 there was an exhibition titled Matisse/Diebenkorn at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10/23/16-01/29/17). It travelled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (3/11/17-05/29/17). There’s an exhibition catalog with the same title. The images within the catalog are gorgeous. The image above shows two paintings. The one on the left is by Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954) and titled The Blue Window, 1913, oil on canvas, 51×35 inches (MoMA). The one on the right is by Richard Diebenkorn (American, 1922-1993) and titled Woman on a Porch, 1958, oil on canvas, 72×72 inches (New Orleans Museum of Art).

 

How Blue Are You?

I asked my students at the Pelham Art Center (Pelham, NY) to create a collage with painting and papers, and be inspired by the way Matisse and Diebenkorn used the color blue. I showed them images of paintings in the museum catalog. Their collages had too many colors and not enough focus on the one color I wanted: blue, so I asked them to do a second class project and we started with a solid blue painted background. Everyone taped their 14×11 inch Bristol substrate and applied blue acrylic to the entire paper background.  I helped them mix a blue color and they applied the paint with either a palette knife or a sponge roller. As soon as the paint dried, they added found collage papers from magazines or their own stash of papers. See four (4) collage paintings by students in my class Create with Collage below.

 

Jane Regan, collage

The image above is by Jane. You see the gorgeous blue back ground and the collage on top. Notice the shiny top additions. I think it’s cellphone over pasted papers. The work is 14″x11″ with papers, acrylic, and other media on paper.

 

Harriet Goldberg, collage

The image above is by Harriet. I flipped the image horizontal. I think it looks good. Notice the background is painted blue and there are a lot of collage papers. The work is 11″x14″ with magazine and painted papers, acrylic on paper.

 

Anne Haley Enright, collage

The image above is by Anne. She made the painted area smaller than 14″x11″ and square. You can see the blue acrylic in the center of the composition. Anne likes to extend the borders with collage. It’s a spiral design and has a lot of rhythm.

 

Paulette Coleman, collage

The image above is by Paulette. You can see the entire background is painted blue. She created a narrative collage with text and magazine cutouts with figures. There’s a lot of drama and personal story here.

 

I hope you enjoyed all the blue. Stay tuned. There will be more blue soon. Your comments are always welcome.

An exhibition review and an interview with Carole Kunstadt

Nikkal, with her art at the 2018 ArtsWestchester Triennial

See me above. I have 6 collages installed on the 2nd (balcony) level at the ArtsWestchester Triennial exhibition in White Plains, NY (May 8-July 28, 2018).  I am one of 15 artists in the show. These works are part of my new Curvy Geometric series. Each work is mostly black and white and made with art magazine and painted papers. Some works include tiny wood strips, curved wire, and canvas.  Some include thin Washi papers layered over the painted papers to create transparency and texture. The sign on the wall to the left of the installation reads: My studio is filled with papers, glue, scissors and tools. I am a contemporary collage artist…exploring color relationships, layers, edges and connections within a gridded geometric format.

The Triennial exhibition includes a wide range of media from painting to photo collage, video, delicate sculpture made with human hair, sculpture in clay and terra cotta, ink on paper, installation and much more. The ArtsWestchester gallery is located at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY. Visit the exhibition (May 8-July 28, 2018) during gallery hours: Tue-Fri, 12-5 pm and Sat, 12-6 pm.

I interviewed Carole Kunstadt for this post. Like me, she is one of 15 artists in the Triennial exhibition. The image below was taken from the balcony at the opening reception and shows her installation titled PRESSING ON. What you see are antique irons covered in lace and text. Notice a visitor is reading wall text for the installation.

Balcony view of PRESSING ON installation at the Triennial

The wall text was written by Mara Mills, Deputy Director of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY (HVCCA) and says: “Carole Kunstadt’s work is always unique and layered, literally and metaphorically. Her juxtaposition of materials, for her PRESSING ON SERIES combines artifact, word and fabric. The hardness of iron, the graciousness of lace, and the wisdom of words combine as a testament to women’s tenacious movement forward. PRESSING ON honors abolitionist/feminist Hannah More, and integrates history, memory, domesticity, and celebrates women’s political and public voice.”

 

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON table installation

The image above shows 12 “sad” irons with lace and text similar to the 14 displayed on a pedestal at the Triennial. The image below shows 17 “sad” irons with lace, linen thread and other media on a shelf at the Triennial. Each iron in the installation is unique – small but powerful –  and I urge you see them all at the Triennial before it closes July 28th.

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON shelf installation

Carole Kunstadt is a collagist, painter, book and fiber artist and her media are antique books, music manuscripts, ephemera and photo postcards. In her artist statement she says: “Through the exploration and manipulation of the antique materials, history, memory and time merge in a hybrid form. My devotion to books is inspired by the ability of the written word to take the reader to other places through stories, poems and prayers. My process reveals how language can become visual through re-interpretation.”

I asked Carole to tell me how she found the book that was the genesis for the PRESSING ON series. She said she was in a bookstore in Connecticut about 8 years ago, looking for an inexpensive antique book to utilize in her work. Carole cuts and pastes papers from books. She said she found a small book titled “An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World by One of the Laity” (London, 1791). The book was published anonymously but, through researching the title, date and publisher, Carole discovered the book was attributed to Hannah More. Carole told me she found a more recent biography “Fierce Convictions – the Extraordinary Life of Hannah More, Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist,” by Karen Swallow Prior. She added: “… the more I read about Hannah More, the more inspired I became.”

Read about Hannah More (1745 – 1833) at Carole’s website. Hannah More was an abolitionist, poet, social reformer, philanthropist, feminist, writer and a member of the intellectual group “Bluestockings.” Hannah More is referred to as the “First Victorian”, bridging the 18th and 19th centuries…Hannah More’s life-long cause was galvanizing women to act not as domestic ornaments, but as thinking, engaged and responsible beings. She devoted herself to educating and helping the poor, and established over sixteen charitable schools.

I asked Carole to tell me about the irons. She said there’s a common element – scorched lace and text from book pages. She said most of the lace came to her through family. Her maternal grandfather worked in the garment district in NYC and used lace to embellish clothing. Some lace came from a dress her mother wore years later. There’s a delicate tatting lace that was made by her paternal grandmother and a piece of lace that was sewn to the border of a tablecloth from her husband’s paternal grandmother from Vienna. The use of personal fibers creates the connection.

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON: Homage to Hannah More, No.5

The image nearby is titled PRESSING ON – Homage to Hannah More No. 5, 4x3x8 inches. This is an antique “sad” iron with scorched linen thread and paper, and pages from the book An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World: By One of the Laity, London, 1791, Hannah More.

I asked Carole how she started the PRESSING ON series. She said the idea of combining the irons and the text and fibers came when she inherited an iron that had been in her mother’s house. She said it was not as old as the sad irons collected for the series, and added the first few sad irons did not incorporate scorching.

I asked Carole how long she has been involved with the PRESSING ON series. She said she started the series in September of 2017 and is continuing to develop it. She has over 70 works in the series and will have a solo show in December at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. All of the sad irons include some text from the book by Hannah More.

Fabulous PHOTO COLLAGE on the 1st floor at the Triennial

Gary Burnley, photo collage

I recommend viewing the 6 photo collages by Gary Burnley on the 1stfloor at the Triennial before the exhibition closes. The top left image is titled QUEENS OF YESTERYEAR #10. The other 5 works are titled FACING HISTORY #7, #10, #15, #18 and #19. The image you see shows my collage students Anne and Paulette in front of Burnley’s works. Burnley’s artist statement says he is conflating and contrasting the ideals, manners and purposes of recognized portraits from art history with images seemingly produced for contradictory purposes with historic photos and pictures from African American school yearbooks and/or photographs from family albums. Burnley says his works create unions that are strange bedfellows –transient confederates. He says what the viewer sees is influenced by the social, class and racial background of them as onlooker. Try to see his images before the Triennial closes July 28th. If you cannot visit the exhibition, see Burnley’s works online here.

Art on the Balcony at the Triennial

Michael Barraco, THE WORD, neon, 2015

You can see a neon installation titled THE WORD by Michael Barraco as you look up to the balcony from the 1st floor. I think this neon work may be more than 20 feet long. It’s all lower case letters that start bababadalghara….

Michael Barraco, BIRD SONGS: An Archive of Love and Loss, 2016

The image above, also by Michael Barraco, is titled BIRD SONGS: AN ARCHIVE OF LOVE AND LOSS. It’s a customized jukebox with 100 photographs, 100 CDs and preserved bird specimens.

Steven Lam, Director and Associate Professor, SUNY Purchase School of Art and Design wrote: “Michael Barraco’s works bridge humor with a biting critique on the ruins and pitfalls of modernity. His work titled BIRD SONGS: AN ARCHIVE OF LOVE AND LOSS includes bird songs and a photo album of birds that fell victim to building collisions. The work mixes melancholy, memory and poetry – a timely work for a chaotic moment.”

Michael Brown, IN THE MEANTIME, stainless steel

The image above shows Sarah and Jane, two students in my collage class at the Pelham Art Center who are standing in front of two of 4 large works made of hand-made stainless steel by Michael Brown. The installation is titled IN THE MEANTIME…III, VI, VII and IX. I took the photo and you see Sarah and Jane reflected in the pattern created by the stainless steel. Also reflected, you see an installation with abstract mixed media paintings by Karlos Carcamo on the opposite wall.

Barry Mason, oil on shaped canvas

The image above shows an installation (one of two) by Barry Mason, with oil on shaped canvas titled SAY IT LOUD, BETWEEN THE WORLD. It’s on a wall near my 6 collages on the balcony at the Triennial. There’s a sign near his installation which reads: “My art and rearrangements can be poetic or brutal; seductive or stark, but all of it is influenced by the callings of my heritage rooted in the African American experience where the djembe drum is alive and there is the sound of gospel – where I receive echoes from my past which “inform” my soul. Read about Barry’s photography and paintings and see his work here.

The Triennial: A snapshot of what’s now and what’s new in contemporary art

The Triennial will become a regular part of the ArtsWestchester exhibition programming. This 1st exhibition coincides with the 20thanniversary celebration of ArtsWestchester at it’s White Plains location. They say the Triennial showcases the vanguard of the region’s arts community and offers a snapshot of what’s now and what’s new in contemporary visual art. Read more here.

There are always people to thank for such an impressive show, including the two curators: Marc Straus, Marc Straus Gallery, NYC  and Paola Morsiani, Brodsky Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

Special thanks to Janet Langham, CEO, ArtsWestchester and the gallery staff, Kathleen Reckling, Gallery Director, Logan Hanley, Gallery Manager and Kimberly McKoy, Programs Associate.

Your comments are welcome. Try to visit before the exhibition closes July 28th, and let me know what you think. Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments.

The Color Blue

May 28, 2018

Matisse/Diebenkorn at SFMoMA

TRUE BLUE AFFINITY

The image nearby shows two paintings. The one on the left is by Henri Matisse (French 1869-1954), titled The Blue Window, 1913, oil on canvas, 51×35 inches (MoMA). The one on the right is by Richard Diebenkorn (American 1922-1993), titled Woman on a Porch, 1958, oil on canvas, 72×72 inches New Orleans Museum of Art.

These two paintings were part of the exhibition Matisse/Diebenkorn that opened at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10/23/16 – 01/29/17) and travelled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (3/11/17 – 05/29/17).

I recommend you visit the Baltimore Museum online for images and information, including a link to a video “Richard Diebenkorn on Beginning a Painting” and additional links to exhibition reviews on TV and other media. Here are five (5) things to know about Diebenkorn that are part of the online exhibition site: (1) His work is in almost every major US museum collection (2) Diebenkorn moved between abstraction and figuration (3) He lived and worked in California – and the light and space of the West Coast infuses his paintings (4) He was influenced by several Modern European and American artists, including Henri Matisse, his greatest influence, but also Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cezanne, Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning and Piet Mondrian, and (5) He is best know for his Ocean Park series, named for the Santa Monica neighborhood where he lived from 1966-1988.

 

The Baltimore Museum of Art was the only East Coast site for this exhibition.

I recommend the exhibition catalog, also titled Matisse/Diebenkorn, published by The Baltimore Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoCA) in association with DelMonido Books, Prestel. The catalog shows works by both artists on facing pages and includes essays that give a lot of information about the affinities and connections between the artists.

 

THE POWER OF THE COLOR BLUE

Blue is the most popular color in art, favored by artists and preferred by men and women alike. Diebenkorn used the same blue colors in his paintings as Matisse. If you check out images of blue paintings by Diebenkorn, you’ll see most of his paintings are blue, and the blues vary in hue and color from warm to cool, and pale to deep tones. His oil paints had to include Ultramarine, Cerulean, Cobalt and Prussian blues.

 

The color blue represents both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity. Blue also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven, and intelligence.

Blue can be strong and steadfast or light and friendly. Read more about the meaning of the color blue here.

 

HOW BLUE AM I?

 

My recent abstract geometric paintings have a focus on blue. Like Diebenkorn’s abstractions, some of my paintings include other colors like grey, green, orange, black and white.

 

Nikkal, Jacob’s Ladder 1, acrylic on canvas

 

The image nearby is my painting titled Jacob’s Ladder 1. It’s acrylic on canvas, 52×40 inches and includes triangles in a gridded space. A friend suggested the title. She said the painting reminded her of an old child’s game constructed with thread and wood blocks where the blocks change their location and shape when you juggled the threads.

 

I was playing with shapes and colors in this painting. I used Ultramarine blue as a primary color, but also used Cobalt and Manganese blue. I created blue greens when I added different yellows into the blues. My colors are layered and show blues are under or on top of other colors. Up close you can notice blue under white, blue under deep red orange, blue under gold and salmon pink, blue under grey and green.

 

Nikkal, Blue and White Triangles, acrylic and paper collage

I wanted to create a painting that showed blue with white variations. The image nearby is Blue and White Triangles, a diptych, 24×32 inches on two panels I created with paper collage painted with acrylic in Ultramarine, Cobalt, Cerulean Blue and Whites. I mixed the paints to create lighter and deeper blues. The colors are layered with blues over whites. You can also see I used greens under colors and added oranges. This work is about color relationships expressed with painted cut triangle papers.

 

Nikkal, Blue Triangles on Black, 12×12 inches, acrylic and paper collage

 

The image nearby is a small 12×12 inch collage on panel with blue and black painted papers. The blue triangles are cut papers painted with Cobalt Blue acrylic. The black papers are painted with a mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber acrylic to create a dark tone that looks like black.

 

Blue is the New Orange

 

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889, oil on canvas

 

Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1964

 

The two images above are the painting Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (oil on canvas, 1889) and Flowers, an acrylic and silkscreen print with pencil on linen by Andy Warhol. See these images and others in a fun read in the Huffington Post titled Blue is the New Orange – about the color blue, written by Katherine Brooks (12/6/16).

 

The author writes blue is now the most popular color in art. See 28 gorgeous examples, with art by Degas, Warhol, Picasso, Yves Klein, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, Matisse. Rothko, and more.

 

Yves Klein IKB 241

The image above is an untitled Blue Monochrome by the artist Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962). Photo credit: Levy Gorvy at Art.sy. Klein created a color field painting in a blue so rich that you have to see it in person because the blue is so intense and spectacular. In an artsy.net article titled Yves Klein’s Legacy is about Much More Than Blue (Jan 9, 2017), Tess Thackara wrote Klein was seduced by the deep cerulean blue of the French Mediterranean Sea and obsessed by the brilliant blue skies in Nice. Yves Klein worked with a paint dealer and created International Klein Blue (IKB), a matte version of French Ultramarine blue paint. The color is gorgeous.

 

CHOOSE BLUE

Some blues cannot be mixed. You have to buy the paint in tubes or jars to get the exact color. I work with acrylic. Visit Dick Blick online and see a color chart that shows all Golden heavy body acrylic colors sold in a paint tube or jar. You can see every color imaginable. Choices for Blue colors include: Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine Blue, Light Ultramarine Blue, Manganese Blue Historic Hue, and Phthalo Blue (green shade and yellow shade)

I have all these colors in my studio. I typically mix some small amount of one blue into another blue to create variations in hue and tone, and add other colors like yellow and white, grey or green to change the color absolutely. But, if you want cobalt blue, you have to use the tube that’s cobalt blue.

 

I hope you are inspired by the color blue. Your comments are welcome.