In Boston, the new year begins not in January but in September. This is especially true in the art world, where September shows are eagerly awaited and fresh work arrives in the galleries to inspire, perplex, challenge or bore us unspeakably for another season.
Kingston Gallery is part of this ritual of renewal with its annual members’ show, Gifted. Visitors to the gallery this September have noted the inclusion of work by a group of artists who are new to the Kingston stable: Stacey Alickman, Kathleen Gerdon Archer, Mira Cantor, Julie Graham, and Lynda Schlosberg. I found that in the Gifted show, the work of these new artists has added an enhanced richness of color and texture to our visual mix.
The work of these artists is diverse and vividly realized, exhibiting a wide variety of conceptual perspectives and technical practices. What unites them is their commitment to the ongoing development of their creative vision. Their work will have a significant impact on the intellectual environment of the gallery, and we’ve selected them specifically to participate in ongoing dialogue with us.
I’ve asked each of them to respond to a few questions in pursuit of this theme as a way of introducing them and placing their work in context.Their responses are intriguing, and we’re looking forward to seeing their ideas take shape in the upcoming shows of their work we’ll be presenting at Kingston.
Linda Leslie Brown (LLB): What is your take on being a new member of Kingston Gallery? How do you think your work fits into the mix?
Mira Cantor: I am delighted to be in Kingston Gallery as a NEW member. I believe it is a good fit as I am sitting here in the gallery looking at all the members’ work.The show was curated well and I think we are all fortunate to have Deborah Davidson with us handling the PR. It’s been a long time since Genovese Sullivan closed and I feel connected again to the street. Thanks for inviting me. Some of the members are old acquaintances and friends; others I hope to get to know. It’s exciting to be part of the group and look forward to seeing all the interesting work.
Julie Graham: I’m honored to be a new member of Kingston Gallery. I’ll show in the members’ gallery in March 2014 where I’ll install a new project that combines multiple elements of my interdisciplinary practice. I’m not yet sure what form it will take, but I will explore some ideas that have been percolating for some time. I’m happy for the opportunity.
Kathleen Gerdon Archer: For me Kingston Gallery has always been at the top of the list of galleries which show exciting, inspiring and thoughtful work. This gallery is less motivated by commercial success than it is by freedom and experimentation. I feel my work will be pushed in new directions as a result of frequent interactions and conversations with the other artist members.
LLB: What’s happening in your studio these days? Are you beginning a new direction or expanding on some ideas that have been in development for some time? What are you most excited about in your work today?
Stacey Alickman: I’m most excited to be exploring more nuanced kinds of texture. Not just impasto and ridges but also something that is the perception of texture rather than just texture itself. I am finding new inspiration in current work by sanding down the paint in order to build up lines again while allowing for previous layers to come through.
I’m also still developing paintings for the purpose of “breaking” in order to get the paint off its canvas. Once the paint is free of its ground, I can use these chips, front and back, for future compositions. I am thinking about using these chips for a large wall installation at Kingston in 2014.
Lynda Schlosberg: I am currently expanding on ideas that have been in development for quite some time. My focus in the studio now is on finding ways to expand on my mark making and new ways of combining and layering the marks to achieve a certain level of visual density and complexity that is characteristic of my work.
While visiting the Danforth Museum’s “Off the Wall” exhibit this summer, I saw several artists with grid and network references in their work. I was already being drawn towards the idea of the grid and began wondering how I might go about introducing something similar into my work. Historically my marks have consisted of interwoven layers of repeating patterns of dots and dashes signifying a sea of vibrating particles of energy, yet I have been becoming more curious with the underlying system that connects all of this vibrating energy together which has led me to the notion of the grid. The grid I envision however is not a rigid system; it is fluid and pervasive, it is an optimum state between chaos and order.
My investigation with the grid is still in its infancy. I have started by working with cheesecloth, soaking it in paint and imprinting it onto the surface. The cheesecloth begins with a uniform structure, but quickly changes form as soon as I apply paint to it and reshape it before pressing it onto the panel. I am going back in and painting over the intricate mesh with different layers of color, breaking up the grid while maintaining part of its original structure. I have yet to finish the first piece using this new technique, so the jury is still out if it will be successful or not, but I’m excited to be working with these new marks.
Mira Cantor: My new work will be shown in the December slot.The landscapes are in a state of demise due to the variation in the viscosity of paint, which metaphorically references global warming.The show will be called MELTWATER.
The new work is derived from two recent experiences. I was an artist in residency in May in Banff, Canada and I spent the month of July teaching at the Burren College of Art on the west coast of Ireland. Both were total immersion of me in the landscape looking at nature very close up and with great vistas. I had also been in Banff in 2010. Immersion into the landscape seems to inspire and motivate my desire to paint. I started using oil paint again in 2010 which I stopped using in graduate school. Oil felt like I was more in touch with natural elements instead of the plastic quality of acrylic. It also enables me to do things with oil, turp and varnish that I cannot accomplish with acrylic. I do wear a mask when I paint which I do not need with acrylic. I think my work has become more quirky and fluid since my last series. I don’t know if that has to do with the material change or age.
Kathleen Gerdon Archer: I am at the beginning of a new body of work that takes a different form but is consistent with themes I often explore. As before, I will use a series to tell a story with literary references. The work has been haunting me for three years and has finally developed into a whole. I can’t wait to show it.
LLB: How do you go about developing new work? Do you have a process of experimentation, inspiration, and change? How do you know when the work needs to take off in a new direction?
Stacey Alickman: In the past couple of years, I’ve been layering oil paint over extended periods of time, often putting it on then taking it off. At some point, the physical aspects of the paint assert itself and I am no longer controlling the outcome. The paint wills itself into a composition that is not of my ideas but something hopefully more transcendent. Lately, I’m more open to the possibility of not knowing what the work is about. A painting I can live with is one that results in an end that couldn’t have gone any other way.
Julie Graham: I’m interested in unexpected and unplanned collisions of ideas, forms, color and architecture — things and places that are normally overlooked, and things that don’t really seem to belong. I consider myself a painter, but I also make 3D pieces (I’m not sure if they are sculpted paintings or painted sculptures) and photographs.The processes of construction are similar throughout, as I build layer upon layer to mirror the way I see the world around me.
Lynda Schlosberg: The desire to expand on my mark making vocabulary and layering is twofold. One is of a semi-practical nature; since my work is very time consuming to produce I’m always looking for new ways to achieve the same visual intricacy with less. The second is on expanding the personal dialogue I am having with quantum theories, and the introduction of new marks and techniques is fueled heavily by what I read on the subject.
Right now I’m in the middle of reading “The Field” by Lynne McTaggart, which has introduced me to the ‘Zero Point Field.’ To oversimplify: there are lingering fluctuations in the Universe’s sub atomic energy field even at temperatures of absolute zero—which is where everything should be completely void of any motion. This ceaseless energy implies that nothing ever really dies completely, that all things that ever existed still exist, and that they are intricately and forever connected through The Field. It is this ‘connection-of-all-things’ that intrigues me, and the idea of an energetic grid that is the mechanism holding it all together.
Kathleen Gerdon Archer: By constantly taking photographs I eventually understand what it is I am interested in seeing. A pattern of like images develop, and once recognized, can be expanded upon. The images reflect what I have been feeling even if I am not aware of that as I am shooting. The years it takes can be frustrating but the stories eventually develop and become clearer to me as I write my statement, a critical component of the work.