Scale!

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It is the scale of the works in Kathleen Gerdon Archer’s current exhibit  As Above so Below that is astonishing.

She submerges objects in ice and photographs as it melts; they reveal themselves in uncanny ways.

We are submerged in these spaces, we are inside these spaces, which are overwhelming, stunning.

Although they seem like manipulated images, they are not. Archer sets up the situation and context for “Nature” to divulge itself, an invented world made out of real materials.

The photographs float on the walls, not so much in dialogue, but rather ricocheting off each other.

The images are simultaneously geographical and personal.

We try to see what we are looking at – leaves, rocks, water, ice. It is as if we are examining the world under a gigantic microscope.

We are compelled by what we do not recognize. We are looking at stupendous moments stopped in time.

Go see this wonderful show, the exhibit runs through March 1.

Image: Kathleen Gerdon Archer, Between Sun and Geography, Polypropylene print mounted on 6 mil white Sintra behind 1/8th” plexiglas, 40 x 27 inches, 2014

Correspondence

Grant Drumheller

A Department of Makers, the current exhibit featuring the studio faculty at University of New Hampshire, fills all three galleries. This group of artists is held together by their commitment to teaching and the rigor they have for their respective practices. The exhibit, well curated by Mary Harding, resounds with a variety of mediums and ways of handling subject matter. As the viewer moves through the space, surrounded by this variety, resonances occur. As one encounters each work, a dialogue ensues. There is an overall connection between the artists and their works, even if the pieces are separated from one other. For example, when arriving at Rick Fox’s paintings in the back of the gallery, I am reminded of Jennifer Moses’ work in the front room. The gelatin silver prints by Michael Cardinale correspond to Ben Cairiens mixed media pieces and to Scott Schnef’s meticulous still-life prints.

The artists challenge themselves to discover new answers to these enduring questions: How do you find something new and unexpected using traditional techniques? How do you make the best use of size, of scale? How does the limitation of the support push an artist? The experience of each work in the exhibit had me returning repeatedly to earlier encounters, as well as appreciating the relationships created by works in closer conversation with each other. Each is a challenge, a problem solved.

Go see this wonderful show, the exhibit runs through February 1.

Image: Grant Drumheller, Museum with Helicopter, Cooler Version, Oil on Linen, 28 X 22 inches, 2014.

 

 

Art New England Review of Mary Lang’s November exhibit

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We are so pleased to share the review by Shawn Hill of Mary Lang’s November show, Gazing into Space, in the current January/February 2015 issue of Art New England. Below is an excerpt from the article:

“In Lang’s work, we care about the land, but even more so the sky. In her vistas they are conscious actors, especially when clouds roll in like for or mist, obscuring solid surfaces. People are not an afterthought but they are small, dwarfed by the immensity of their environment.

Lang’s visit to Machu Picchu was definitely rewarding. In one image the Peruvian peaks dissolve, engulfed by cottony banks of fog, as if the vertiginous mountains weren’t completely real after all. The figures in the lower left corner climbing around cliff-like walls of ashlar seem to exist in a world of magical transformation, visiting lost horizons and hushed grandeur.

Closer to home, Lang finds that the lush natural settings of New England and California offer nurturing refuge. The scenes she chooses are maintained and landscaped, but in a way that human intrusions like fences and power lines become fragile and unimportant details, where wildflowers and old trees and swaying grass are left to develop in well-tended wilderness.

Even an image taken of an artificial setting (a landscape constructed for a model train in San Diego) fits in with Lang’s sandy, grassy hills. The scale and composition make the artificial hard to spot among the actual, but once seen, you question the reality of the other images. Another scene features a rectilinear tennis court surrounded by chain link fencing and lush vegetation. Though familiar, you sense Lang asks us to stop and consider what we’re really seeing.”

Image: Mary Lang, Clouds and Mountains, Machu Picchu, 2013, archival digital print, 20×30 inches.

 

 

A Complement

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In the Center Gallery, guest artist Rhonda Smith’s work complements Stacey Alickman’s exhibit, Humpty Dumpty. Her paintings also move, but in a very different way. The marks swirl across the surface, filling the room with light and energy, but the paint itself does not move. These images, created by marks, are layered and juxtaposed. From a distance they seem almost photographic, and it is through a closer reading that they reveal themselves. The well-curated space allows for each to breathe and be in conversation with its companions. These paintings, which appear to encompass both the vast and the miniscule, remind me of the Powers of Ten film by Charles and Ray Eames, which also expresses an equivalence of the macro and micro. Are we looking at the cosmos or are we looking at particles so small, they are unavailable to the naked eye? Are we looking at ourselves?

The exhibit runs through December 28

Image: Rhonda Smith, Electron Madness lll Then and Now, Oil on panel, 46 x 76 inches, 2014.

 

 

 

All About Paint

 

Lost Year

Stacey Alickman’s paintings are all about the paint and the paint is alive. It is emphatic; it exceeds the boundary of its support. In fact there is a painting in the exhibit which has literally been shattered by design and has shed its frame. The paintings are filled with gesture; the paint swoops and flourishes, shimmies and shakes. It asserts itself. It announces itself with bravado. Each piece is a complete world; collectively the paintings create a universe, a universe that is emphatically hopeful, one filled with motion and connection. The artist invites the viewer to share in this exuberance and these worlds. She holds up a mirror and lets us in the door.

Stacey Alickman: Humpty Dumpty runs through December 28. Don’t miss this exhibit!

Image: Stacey Alickman, Lost Year, Oil on canvas. 48 x 42 inches, 2014.

Slow Down

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Mary Lang’s recent photographs alert us to the world, or more precisely the world as perceived by the artist and mediated through the lens of her camera. She is bound to this world, these landscapes. We see as she does, places of great beauty, from a distance. They situate the viewer both in and out of the frame. They hold us and diminish us. That they are all digital prints (she notes her first such exhibition) is evident, but not essential to the way they are composed and presented. The images are idealized; a sense of yearning and a predominance of green are twinned throughout. In this moment in our culture of over-saturation of images, especially digital ones, Lang’s photographs invoke places out of time. The spaces are for the most part emptied out, even when there are figures or some evidence of a human presence. They alert us to stop and consider what we are seeing. They quietly say: Look. Look here. Look inward. See what’s there.

There will be a gallery talk on Saturday, November 29 at 4 pm. The exhibit runs through November 30. Don’t miss the show!

Image: Mary Lang, Clouds and mountains, Machu Picchu, Archival pigment print, 20×30 inches, 2013.

 

 

Re/Sounding Text

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Joining Susan Alport is 2014 MFA/ Emerging Artist, Eugene LaRochelle, with his exhibit I Love You in the Center Gallery. As you follow the suite of silkscreen prints around the room, a crescendo builds with the repetition of the phrase “There are no gay people in Korea”. The text not only becomes image but also sound, a litany, a chorus, both inviting and implicating the viewer as she works her way around the gallery space. As it builds in density, the text becomes less clear but more implicit. The artist wants to have a dialogue with the viewer and for the work to engender that conversation.

LaRochelle invites the audience to see and hear his concerns about pain as a universal theme. He aims to create work that frames and provides a window into conversations on pain and conflict, allowing the observer to eavesdrop and gain an intimate, even invasive view of the private lives, quarrels and suffering of others.

This is the last week for the three October exhibits – work by Eugene LaRochelle, Susan Alport and Elif Soyer, which run through November 2.

Don’t miss these shows!

Image: Eugene LaRochelle, Denial #1, Silkscreen Print, 22 x 14.75 inches, 2014.

Text/Subtext

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“You are one of the few artists I know who really live it, without any commercial concerns – Brava.” Comment by Jennifer Moses in exhibit guest book

Susan Alport’s exhibit There for the Taking is a performance. That is, she has asked the objects which make up the installation in the gallery, and which are in relationship to each other, to act. We see the evidence of her mind, what she is drawn to, what she has decided to present here. These relationships are relative, and can only be understood in this way.

She renders an imaginary studio for us, using and referencing these elements simultaneously. She lets us in on her vision and presents the objects in high relief by placing them in the gallery setting. We see the evidence of the studio through the objects placed on a wooden table: painted bottles, photographs of the painted bottles, yellowed newspaper articles, photographic images of her studio, which in turn become objects, a collection of pottery shards in a box, postcards, notes, receipts.

The installation reads, like the blown up statement with edits and notations which one encounters as one enters the space, as a record of her thinking. It does so best when seen from a single frontal point of view, as if it were one image. Neither a still-life nor a theatrical set, it exists as a text containing a subtext, and this viewer was transposed and transported. Brava.

Alport is joined in the Center Gallery by Eugene LaRochelle’s I Love You and by Elif Soyer’s New Work in the Member’s Gallery.

The exhibits continue through November 2.

Image: Installation view of There for the Taking

Photo credit: Susan Alport

 

 

 

 

 

What are we talking about when we talk about art?

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Last Saturday we had a wonderful (first ever) event in the new Second Saturday series organized by the Boston Art Dealers Association in conjunction with the current exhibit Ground Cover: Contemporary Abstraction between Figure and Ground, curated by William Kaizen, Assistant Professor of Art History and Visual Studies, Northeastern University. The panel Abstraction and Contemporary Art included Kaizen in conversation with Peter Kalb, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, Cynthia L. and Theodore S. Berenson Chair, Brandeis University and Martha Buskirk, Professor of Art History and Criticism, Montserrat College of Art. They had a terrific conversation and great feedback from the audience as well. This is my response to and understanding of both the talk and the exhibit itself.

Sometimes I see things differently. It can happen after I read something, hear a lecture or visit an exhibit, and I will be profoundly affected and pleased by this new understanding of the world around me. This is the case with Ground Cover, seeing the works in the exhibit with the particular lens of the relationship of ground to figure and the ways the artists express their relationship to the theme. They all make their work by hand, perhaps expressing our collective anxiety to an ever-increasing technological world; perhaps balking at the trend of many contemporary artists whose practice involves technology for the production of the work.

The artists chosen by Kaizen exemplify the exhibit’s theme of ground cover and they each articulate in a variety of ways this relationship of figure to ground. In his curatorial statement he says: “Dancing between thing and nothing, event and non-event, appearance and disappearance, the works in Ground Cover transmute ground into figure and figure into ground.” Each of the works asserts itself in relationship to figure/ground or ground/figure and also articulates the space of the gallery and in so doing reaffirms itself as an object. For each, the question of what is figure and what is ground is one that is answered or resolved by the process itself and the resulting object. This assumes that the paintings are objects and not just surfaces for material. In fact all the works hover in the liminal space between object and surface in varying degrees.

The artists in the exhibit are not ambivalent about making objects and raise several important questions. How does their work function in our ever-increasing technological world? Why is abstraction still relevant? Artists always have responded to their particular culture. Art is made in response to society and thereby becomes its window. The work in Ground Cover gives us many different ways to see.

Don’t miss this exhibit! Ground Cover: Contemporary Abstraction between Figure and Ground runs through September 28.

Photo credits:  Will Holcroft, Installation view of Ground Cover exhibit, Mary Bucci McCoy, Attendees September 13 event

Ground Cover

Multistory

We are looking forward to the panel discussion Abstraction and Contemporary Art: Curator William Kaizen with Peter Kalb (author of “Art Since 1980: Charting the Contemporary”) and Martha Buskirk (author of “Creative Enterprise: Contemporary Art between Museum and Marketplace”) on Saturday, September 13, 4–5 pm.  This is the first event in the Second Saturday series organized by the Boston Art Dealers Association and is in conjunction with the current exhibit Ground Cover. Hope to see you there!

Image: Julie Graham, Multistory, Plaster, wood, paintings on panel, 69 x 10 x 9 inches, 2012.