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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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.

 

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.

A NEW FOCUS ON DIPTYCHS

April 27, 2018

the artist with Metro twins at Upstream Gallery

 

The image nearby shows me standing with two acrylic paintings on canvas. I was at the Upstream Gallery installing my solo exhibition titled Duality/Assembly. The exhibition includes recent paintings and collages on canvas and wood panels.

My exhibition opens April 26 and closes May 20, 2018. Upstream Gallery is located at 8 Main Street in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.  Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30. The opening reception is Sunday, April 29th, 2-5 pm.

 

 

I have a new fascination with diptychs, doubles and twins. Twins (identical and fraternal) fascinate me because there’s a paradoxical doubling: two the same and two different.  Identical twins share the same sex and (usually) the same features. Fraternal twins can be the same sex or different and may not even look alike. Fraternal twins are really just siblings, but they share a lot of the same closeness as identical twins because they were womb-mates. My diptychs are fraternal twins.

I call the paintings above Metro Twins. I see them as a kind of diptych because they are together and their colors and patterns are related.

I like to put things together. Diptychs allow me to play with doubles. Diptychs also ask the viewer to look at the differences and similarities, so the viewer is connected in the process in viewing the art and can make very interesting observations. Every diptych in the Duality/Assembly exhibition is about relationships and a metaphor for the spaces we share. Both Metro twin paintings touch and are placed so they stand on the same height above the floor. Metro 6 on the left is taller (60”x36”) and Metro Teal on the right is shorter (42”x40”), but the lines in the grid and the pattern of squares connect. Both paintings are acrylic on canvas. Both paintings are about color relationships and shared space.

 

Nikkal, Blue Triangle Diptych, acrylic and collage, 24″x32″

 

 

The image nearby, titled Blue Triangle Diptych, is made on two wood panels, each 24” high by 16” wide. The left panel is painted paper collage. The right panel is acrylic painting. The triangles are different shapes and sizes.  The colors are blue, and black (and brown) in the left panel and blue, green, black, white and caramel in the right panel. They’re fraternal twins.

 

 

 

 

Nikkal standing by 2 paintings at Upstream Gallery

 

 

The image nearby shows me standing in front of two acrylic paintings that are still placed on the floor, waiting to be hung on the wall. There are 6 paintings at the exhibition. Most show color relationships. Some of the colors are greens; others are blues. The painting on the left is titled Nines. It’s a medley of black and white colors, acrylic on canvas, 60”x36”. I added a lot of painted paper collage as I worked on the painting.  You can see all the papers when you stand in front of the painting. On the right is a painting I titled Jacob’s Ladder. It’s one of three paintings at the exhibition with the same title, all exploring triangles where blue is the dominant color. If you come to the exhibition you can see how each one is different – and you can ask me to tell you the meaning of the title Jacob’s Ladder.

 

 

 

 

Nikkal, B&W Triangles, acrylic and collage, 32’x40

 

The image nearby shows a collage with white and black painted papers on canvas. It’s titled Black and White Triangles, 32”x40” and installed near the gallery entry.  I love to work with colors like green and blue, but also like to create with black and white paint and painted papers. In this collage, I’m layering triangle shapes to show positive and negative space. I’ve created several black and white triangle collages on 24”x16” panels and put them together for this exhibition as diptychs and doubles.

If you visit the gallery, you’ll see one double installed as two panels hung horizontally, one above the other. The top panel is titled White on Black Triangles. The lower panel is titled Black on White Triangles.  Both are 16” tall and 24” wide. They are almost identical twins.

I show a diptych with two 24”x16” panels hung vertically, each touching the other. Together they are 24”x32”.  One is a grid with triangles. The other is a geometric abstraction with stripes and circles. I decided to put them together and let the viewer ask: why do they go together? Is it because they’re the same size done as paining/collage on panel, or the fact that they’re both black and white?

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Duality/Assembly is about putting things together. The exhibition includes works in the Metro series with squares that were never in line, but held in place, and works in the Triangle series that show triangles that intrude under, over and into another’s space. I think all the paintings and collages are an abstract representation about the spaces in which we live, how we live with others and how we share our spaces.

 

Nikkal, Roll Call, acrylic and collage on canvas, 14″x14″

 

 

The image at left is titled Roll Call. You can see it as soon as you walk into the gallery. Its acrylic and collage on canvas, 12”x12” framed to 14”x14” and part of a new series titled Curvy Geometric. I included several small works from the Curvy Geometric series because they are small and done with black and white painted papers I thought they fit in well with the other works in black and white.

 

 

 

 

 

There are two gallery rooms at Upstream. I have my works in the East room. Two new gallery artists will also show works at Upstream in the West room: Antonio Alvarez does abstract acrylic paintings and Madlyn Goldman does found wood assemblage sculpture and collage. There’s a lot to see.

 

If you are nearby, I hope you will stop by and see the exhibitions. Upstream Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30.

 

Nikkal, B&W and Red (2018) collage 14×11 inches

 

I created the collage seen nearby as a sample for a class I teach at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY. My collage is on a 14×11 inch Bristol paper substrate. It’s designed as an abstract grid and includes a bottom and a top layer. The bottom layer is the image below – a large page from W magazine that shows a model sitting in a field of flowers, holding a flower in his hand. The magazine image was almost as big as the 14×11 inch substrate. I glued it down and added a top layer made with small papers from art magazine that show stripes, round letter forms, half circles and bullseye shapes. There’s also a drawing with concentric circles with two lines that criss-cross the circle. Almost all of the top layer papers were printed text in black on white or white on black.

 

 

 

 

Nikkal, lower layer in the B&W and Red collage

 

This image is the bottom layer of the collage.  After I glued it down, I payed attention to the visual relationship between the new pieces and bottom image. I added papers so they touched and overlapped, paying attention to contrast and connecting patterns. I included papers with high contrast and some with low contrast.  I didn’t cover the entire first layer but you have to look closely to see where the bottom layer image peeks through. I added 4 tiny red collage papers last.

 

 

 

 

 

Black and White Are Colors

I think black and white are colors just like red, purple, blue, green and yellow. Black and white are potent because they are at opposite ends of brightness (in the value scale). I like high contrast. It can be dramatic. We pay attention to opposites and high contrast.

 

I showed my finished collage to the class. I showed an iPhone image of the magazine paper that was covered and underneath. I asked my students to go through the W magazines we have in class, tear out a page with a large black and white image and glue it to the Bristol paper substrate as the first step. Their second step for this collage was to look through art magazines and find papers for the top layer. WE all used the same magazines, but you will see they selected papers with a lot more red.

 

See images below of black & white and red collages done by students in my classes at the Pelham Art Center.

 

 

Chris Timmons, B&W and Red collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Chris Timmons. She used stripes, dots and circles in black white and red. You can see part of an image from her bottom layer. It’s a face partially covered by a red half-circle in the center of the collage. Chris added a second face on the right edge of the collage, facing sideways to balance the horizontal white on black stripes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilene Bellovin, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

 

The image at left is by Ilene Bellovin. She used red, grey, black and white horizontal strips  for collage over her bottom layer. Notice there is a sense of a figure in this collage where the image peeks through the paper strips.

 

 

 

Leslie Cowen, B&W and Red Collage

 

 

 

 

The image at left is by Leslie Cowen. You can see a building face with fire escapes. That image is her bottom layer in the collage. Leslie cut and pasted a vintage image of Jackie Kennedy in the upper right. Notice there is a cartoon drawing in the lower center that looks like eyes. Notice Leslie pasted in text in white on red, white on black and black on white throughout her collage to add to the rhythm of the diagonals in the fire escapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic of the Color Red

 

Red is one of the top two favorite colors of all people. Red captures our attention. It’s one of the most visible colors, second only to yellow. The history of languages reveals that red is the first color after black and white (all languages have words for black and white). If a third hue exists, it is red. When using red, where it’s placed and what it’s next to makes a big difference. I tell my students to use red as an accent color because a little bit of red goes a long way.

 

Here are more images in B&W and Red by students in my collage classes.

 

Estelle Laska, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

 

The image at left is by Estelle Laska. I believe the background layer in the collage is an image of a woman in a white dress. Estelle always makes narrative collage with a story and here she shows us her love of fashion illustration with collage she found of vintage drawings of ladies with long gowns and round hats. Estelle even included paper text with the words Fearless Fashion in the lower center of her collage, and used a red letter “A”, red quotation marks (on the right side), and a large open donut shape cut from red paper.

 

 

 

 

 

Harriet Goldberg, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Harriet Goldberg. I can see part of the image of a building facade in the lower layer in the collage. Harriet cut two drawings with the letter “X” and pasted them in the upper and lower portions of her collage. Above the lower “X” he pasted a drawing of a cute face. It’s the same drawing that Leslie Cowen used in her collage. Harriet added red paper over the lips in the drawing, and cut and pasted 10 more red magazine and painted papers over her collage in a horizontal and vertical pattern to mimic the design in the buildings behind.

 

 

 

 

 

Paulette Coleman, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Paulette Coleman. I think Paulette likes to work on a square substrate and probably cut it down from 14×11 inches to 11×11 inches. She used the white substrate as a background, and then pasted various magazine papers in red, black and white on top. There’s a rhythm of squares, dots and stripes that move horizontally, vertically and diagonally throughout. Notice the portrait of a face in profile on the lower left. Notice the sliced image of a red titanium red balloon by Jeff Koons on the lower right. Notice how reds balance the four corners of this collage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelly Edmonson, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Nelly Edmonson. You can see she used a duplicate (copy) image of the building facade with fire escapes. Harriet Goldberg used the same paper for her background. Nelly added red netting on the upper left to give a pink cast to the collage. You can see the pasted image of the building behind the red netting. Nelly strategically placed small red papers into the image of the building in the bottom layer. Notice the b&w face on the right. A lot of the papers mimic the diagonal patterns in the building fire escapes and lead your eye back into the image on the bottom layer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Albers, The Interaction of Color, oil on panel.

 

Finally, here is an abstract painting by Joseph Albers (German-born American, 1888-1976), titled The Interaction of Color. This painting shows variations in the color red. Albers was an artist, educator and wrote extensively about color. Each painting consisted of either three or four squares of solid colors nested within each other to show how colors change when they are placed next to other colors. Read more about Joseph Albers here.

 

 

 

Read more about the color red here.

Creating a collage in two layers is challenging. You are working against an image. Working with black and white makes you focus on value and contrast.  Adding the color red, makes you selective in where you place the color.

Would you like to make a collage in black and white and red? Email me and ask for a free PDF for this project.

Your comments are welcome.