The Art of Noel DeGaetano

May 20, 2011

EXHIBITION: CONTRASTING ELEMENTS

Media Loft Gallery, 50 Webster Avenue, New Rochelle, NY

May 22-July 16, 2011

Opening Reception: Sunday, May 22, 2011, 2-6

Closing Reception: Saturday, July 16, 2011, 2-6

Information and Directions to Media Loft Gallery

ARTIST STATEMENT

In his artist statement at his website (NoelDeGaetano.com), the artist says his work is about demonstrating the visual power and presence of energy.

The Art of Noel DeGaetano CONTRASTING ELEMENTS at Media Loft Gallery includes mixed media works, including oil on copper, copper on aluminum, paint and paper on aluminum, and relief sculpture in hammered aluminum, aluminum and copper, and fractured mirror.

You see reflective light everywhere.

DeGaetano, Back/Female

The image above is one of a pair in the exhibition. Titled Back/Female, it is 48 x 36 inches and is hammered aluminum.

DeGaetano says he has welded metal sculpture for many years and likes copper with steel or steel with stone or glass.

He paints directly with oil on copper and aluminum, or uses the metal to form his sculpture. He says copper and aluminum draw and reflect in a warm way, and, in combination with oil paint, the results are electric.

Here is more information about copper (at geology.com):

Copper was one of the first metals ever extracted and used by humans. It resists corrosion from the air, moisture and seawater and was used in ancient times for coins. In modern times copper is used by the electrical industry as wire for power generation and transmission, and modern day electronics.

DeGaetano, Wind Maker

When I first saw the artist’s works in his studio, I asked him if his work was about the sea. I sensed a connection to water.

You see the energy in his sweeping brush strokes across the metal and paper.

The mixed media works in two and three dimensions make me think of a view across the water and of seafaring vessels.

He says: certainly water often comes up in the work, as does nature.  He told me that water was an important image for him.

The artist mentioned that while he studied at the School of Visual Arts on East 23 Street in NYC, he met the artist Fred Mitchell (one of the original Counties Slip artists along with Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly and James Rosenquist). Fred Mitchell had a studio on the top floor of the Seaman’s Church Institute, a home for seaman while in port, located on the Battery in Manhattan, opposite Staten Island and Elis Island.

DeGaetano, Maya

The Institute had a world famous maritime museum, with model ships, some 25’ long, built by sailors. The view from Fred’s studio was the arrival and departure of all the ships in New York harbor.

The artists in the group (DeGaetano, Fred Mitchell and others) painted and drew this view, and on Saturdays rode the Staten Island ferry back and forth and made watercolors of the New York skyline, the ferries and the docks.

The image above, titled Maya, is 26×32 inches, mixed media on hand made paper mounted on aluminum.  The artist says his mixed media works are about his need to express more than just what he saw – he needed to feel the essence of what he saw. He began to use anything that would create the texture and depth and transparency.

DeGaetano, Hand

DeGaetano says his work attempts to capture the tension that exists between physical structure and the kinetic energy that is present in all of nature.

The image above is titled Hand; it is mirror – fractured glass – and 8” tall.

LIGHT IS ENERGY

The sculptures in the exhibition reflect light within their structure and also reflect the light that shines on them. Light is energy.

DeGaetano, Head

The artist says the juxtaposition of reflective media brings the viewer’s eye around and around.

He says he uses hard materials to depict something that is inherently soft (or non-physical) and that forces us to think outside our normal frame of reference. He wants us to ask how glass and other metals can be understood as soft, and how skin or water can be experienced as hard.

He says: by using conceptually opposing substances, each work helps us think about how much of life can be described as another form of energy.

The image above is a sculpture titled HEAD. It is copper, and 17 inches tall.

DeGaetano states: I was always attracted to metals – in particular – copper. I have used it consistently since the 1970s.

DeGaetano, Nearer the Sea

The image above, titled Near the Sea is mixed media on hand made paper mounted on copper. It is 14×26 inches.  The artist said he started using paper years ago because he could get a soft and ambiguous surface and canvas did not have as many possibilities. He added: the oil paint is warm and the metal is cool for mounting.

Noel DeGaetano mentioned another inspiring resource – the Finnish Creation book called the Kalevala.

The Kalevala is a mythological poem compiled by the 19th century Finnish doctor, poet and folklorist Elias Lonnrot. It is considered the Finnish national epic and has influenced many artists, including Tolkien, Silbelius and Longfellow – And Noel DeGaetano:

The following Kalevala poem (translation by John Martin Crawford) is about the Sea, Seafaring and a Copper-Banded Vessel sailing to the higher-landed regions to the lower verge of heaven. If you like, read more about the Kalevala.

Thus the ancient Wainamoinen,

In his copper-banded vessel,

Left his tribe in Kalevala,

Sailing o’er the rolling billows,

Sailing through the azure vapors,

Sailing through the dusk of evening,

Sailing to the fiery sunset,

To the higher-landed regions,

To the lower verge of heaven.

(Canto 50, line 493)

Thank you for visiting and reading this interview. Your comments are welcome.

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