ELBOW ROOM CHAT

Jennifer Moses’ Elbow Room: An Interview in Images with Linda Leslie Brown

Jennifer Moses’ quizzical, layered paintings are packed with physical and conceptual content. They also manage to pay homage, in ways both straightforward and sly, to a panoply of artists -some of whose work you may recognize below. Elbow Room, her show on view this month at Kingston, is a visual feast you won’t want to miss.

I met Jennifer for coffee recently to talk about her work, in an extension of an ongoing discussion we’ve carried on over the years. So, we sat around over at Nero the other morning talking about our art heroes and influences, of whom we have several in common.

Here’s one of Jennifer Moses’ works:

-1.jpgJennifer Moses  Bird on Wire 33×30 oil on panel

And one of my wall pieces

nutt-house
Linda Leslie Brown Nutthouse 2016 mixed media

We decided to conduct our discourse in images…

“First, she said, there’s…

440px-gorky-the-liver

…And don’t forget

matteo-di-giovanni

Do you know this one?Sassetta_-_The_blessed_Ranieri_frees_the_poors_from_a_jail_Florence_-_Louvre.jpg

We have to mention  picasso_nudeinanarmchair1929  of course.”

And it seems both of us have a permanent Resident in our studios:

guston-studiophilipgustonweb1975lg

Well, that started a flow of images…murray2450

th   the-weeping-woman

richard_tuttle_the_triumph_of_night_320x240

larger-copy

…as well as images of flow…

101000-coping

until I came out with

4

which started us both laughing. We could go on and on with this!

So I’ll leave it to you, Readers, to search out further references like these in Jennifer Moses’ paintings and collages at Kingston Gallery this November.

See you at Elbow Room!

-LLB

Q&A with Sarah Meyers Brent: Flowers, Repurposing Objects, and Working through Life’s Messes

Dripping Plant II, detail.
Dripping Plant II, detail.
Sarah and I met at the gallery on the first day of her exhibition, Salvaged Garden (open July 1 – August 2, 2015) to discuss her work. Although the Center Gallery is not a particularly large space, her works made it seem so, with an installation and two large paintings looking sharp as all get-out.

SDG: Artists such as Rebecca Louise Law take flowers into a sculptural profusion that fills the exhibition space. Your profusion is rooted into abstract painting, even the installations. Tell us about your relationship with painting, and what it has meant to you to expand into installation.

SMB: Ultimately, I want to create an exhibition that has everything. There’s something alluring about that blank rectangle, and I am a painter first, but I also like to see the different ways that the forms I create translate into space. I am working on a few sculptures now in the studio, using similar materials, and look forward to showing them in the near future.

SDG: Your installations have received positive media attention in the past few months, including coverage by Cate McQuaid in the Boston Globe and in Artscope Magazine by Sarah Kinkade. Other than the evident quality and beauty of your work, do you think that the issues you deal with, or perhaps they way you work are having a moment in our cultural imagination?

SMB: I work with repurposed, recycled materials. I love them not just because of the environmental message they contain, but also because they look so cool. I am likely one of many artists out there asking, why put new crap in the world if we can use the old stuff?

I think that STUFF has even more power than ever now because of all of the digital matter we process every day. Actual things really speak to us, their physicality. I love seeing the combinations I can create, and I almost feel like I’m cheating when I put things I’m working on up on the wall-wire, cloth, and floral material-and they look so appealing, organic, and plastic.

“Salvaged Garden” (left) and “Ode to Pregnancy” installed at Kingston Gallery

SDG: I appreciate it when smart, driven artists like yourself openly engage motherhood in their work. It enables viewers to align motherhood with creativity and productivity outside of running a household. What kind of feedback have you received about works such as Ode to Pregnancy or Mommy Love Me, in conjunction with their titles?

SMB: Painting is like therapy for me, and whatever I’m thinking about makes its way into my work. I had two ridiculously dramatic pregnancies, and I am still working through the emotions. My youngest is just seven months old, and the power of the sensations and what a mess babies are is still very much a reality for me.

Many different emotions come up when people view this work, both positive and negative. Teens LOVED the painting “Ode to Pregnancy” when it was exhibited at the Danforth Art Museum. They were curious about the process, i.e. “what IS that, a painting or a sculpture? How did she make it bulge like that?” People have asked whether it depicts a miscarriage, and that becomes a touchy subject. I use my artistic process to work through the mess of life, and ultimately arrive at a form that I find really beautiful, even if not in the traditional sense. That is the point of my art: to capture that simultaneous beauty and ugliness; growth and decay.

Detail,
Detail, “Salvaged Garden,” photo by Elevin Studios.

SDG: As you work, do you make decisions in an organic or intuitive response to the materials, or do you plan how things will go in advance? Do you work in a sketchbook before or while working on a new piece?

SMB: I work on paintings differently than on installations. My paintings evolve as I work, often turning out very differently from how they began. I respond to the materials and the forms as I go, and I like that. I work on the floor a lot, and the paint moves around as I work.

This installation at Kingston was initially designed for a different space, and since then I have reworked it for other spaces. I begin by sketching the overall forms, and as I build it, it grows and changes within the limitations of the space. The organic materials grow and move, and I fix them with wire, but they still do their own thing and surprise me.

SDG: Which artists inspire you? Could you recommend anyone’s work we should have a look at?

SMB: Expressionist artists such as Joan Snyder; particularly her collages and flowers.That is why I love the Danforth Art Museum. Also Joan Mitchell, Lynda BenglisFrank Auerbach, and Chaim Soutine. Contemporary artists I look at include Summer Wheat, Julia-Fernandez Pol, Cecily Brown, and Lauren Rice.

Sarah with her installation at Kingston Gallery.
Sarah with her installation at Kingston Gallery.
SDG: Where can we see your work next?

SMB: I am in the second annual pop-up exhibition at Flock Gallery in Manchester, New Hampshire. The opening reception is Thursday, July 23 at 5:00pm – 8:00pm, and the exhibit runs July 23-28th.

I have a solo exhibition at the Danforth Art Museum in the main center space from March 6 to May 16, 2016. For that exhibition, I will reinstall an archway piece and create a site-specific piece for an alcove. I’ll have news about another group exhibition in the near future as well.

You can follow Sarah on twitter @sarahbrent and on her website: sarahartist.com.

Christina Pitsch: All that is Lovely and Fine

forget me not4 WIP
Christina Pitsch, forget me not, porcelain, 11 x 12 x 3 inches, 2015.

close up chandelier
Christina Pitsch, Objects of Desire, detail, mixed media, sizes variable.
Ceramics hold many opposites in balance. They are breakable and delicate, yet made with mud by being fired in extreme temperatures. Glazed ceramics can survive a trip through the dishwasher (although I wouldn’t recommend testing this, unless they were intended as dining implements), but not a trip from a shelf or wall to the floor (crash). Each time an artist sends glazed ceramics into the kiln, there is an element of suspense about how it will turn out. The physicality and closeness to the elements make ceramic sculpture inherently dramatic.

On view at Kingston Gallery through August 2, Christina Pitsch‘s solo exhibition Fancied layers the inherent drama of ceramics with that of chandeliers that she altered to create floor-to-ceiling mixed media sculptures. In place of light bulbs or candles stand her own porcelain sculptures of deer hooves. She shifted the transition from white porcelain to gold chandelier upward on some hooves by dipping part of the hoof in shiny gold glaze that matches the finish of the chandelier.

The only colors in Fancied are white or gold, a limited palette that allows a focus on the smooth and shiny textures of the metal and the porcelain. The cluster of Forget-Me-Nots, gloriously floral stems, linear or colorful details, betrays a delicacy quite different from a bouquet of real flowers.

Robert Chamberlin, from the Fill me Up series, porcelain.
Robert Chamberlin, from the Fill me Up series, porcelain. http://www.robertchamberlin.com/
With a similar erasure of specifics balanced by a recreation of essential mood and forms, Boston-based Robert Chamberlin creates vases inspired by the French Sèvres style popular in the 19th century. Absent figures, color, and designs, his series, Fill Me Up, removes narrative and adds a dash of absurdity and a graceful bow to the temporal nature of food arts by applying the ornate, scrolling flourishes with a cake decorator.

In Pitsch’s work, fantasy and absurdity play significant roles. She questions the boundaries of why we find certain things beautiful, in the continuum of natural to human-designed. She sculpts an exaggerated idea of luxury. Her floor-to ceiling sculptures are eye-catching for the same reasons that luxury items are, but their excess and repetition, and illogical insertions of porcelain sculptures interrupt our usual intake of admiration.

The chandeliers she selected are not expensive or antique, and that is part of her point. Walk into any Home Depot and see styles of the past represented in the light fixtures. For $99, you can buy an elaborate, faux-cut crystal (plastic) chandelier. What is it about maintaining Baroque or Victorian tastes in our light fixtures, but not in other parts of our home? For one, the many curving lines of a Victorian table are less practical for a family to dine upon each day. Ornate chandeliers may float above our heads, dusted possibly a few times a year, and work as aspirational forms toward imagined polite and cultured past eras. By contrast, the clean lines of modern furniture translate well into busy households.

Kurt Pio, from his "Diamonds" series (see http://www.kurtpio.co.za/ to learn more)
Kurt Pio, from his “Diamonds” series (see http://www.kurtpio.co.za/ to learn more)
In addition to questioning why we decorate the way we do, Pitsch’s work also references the tenuous line between inspiration and robbery in the realm of fashion and interior design. Some of her ceramic sculptures of birds perched amid blossoms may appear similar to ones you could buy for much less at either a lucky thrift store find or at Anthropologie. By definition, innovation takes form before there is the chance for it be mass-produced, and thus less expensive. There is an undeniably stronger tension between new and the mass-produced ceramic art than, for example, paintings, which may be recreated with giclée printing, but less convincingly. Do we pay for the idea, expressed with matter, or its semblance that is also an object? Do we support the artist or the corporation?

The chandeliers and smaller sculptures in Fancied operate on a continuum between artifice and nature. Much of art consists of making something, or a reality, that you do not in reality have access to by making a version of it with art. Kurt Pio, of South Africa, paints giant diamonds, among other natural forms including the moon and plants. Pio’s diamond paintings are photo-realistic, but done at such a large scale that the refracted gems seem geometrically exaggerated, like lovely, radiant, abstracted mosaics. Viewers feel more than one level of desire or admiration as they appreciate the two-dimensional art. It resonates on the level of luxury AND achievement at how well he rendered a facet of the physical world.

Also on view right now a short way from Kingston Gallery is All at Oncea twenty-year survey of Arlene Schechet‘s art at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. From 2012 to 2013, Schechet did a residency at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in Germany. At the entry to that section of the exhibition, an introductory text explained the significance of porcelain as a medium in the eighteenth century. “Porcelain was thought to have a living, breathing quality that other sculptural materials lacked,” and we may not be able to relate to the “sense of magic, mystery, and modernity” an eighteenth-century person felt. But I think that ceramics, and porcelain in particular, is having a moment in Boston. I encourage you to see Schechet’s exhibition at the ICA, and Pitsch’s exhibition at Kingston. Please comment to suggest where else we may see ceramics continue to make their mark in fine art.

-Shana Dumont Garr

chandelier grouping detail2
Christina Pitsch, Objects of Desire, detail, mixed media, sizes variable, 2015.

A Quick Q&A with Susan Emmerson

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Susan Emmerson, Flesh and Bone, ink and acrylic on cut and molded Tyvek, wire, extruded plastic, 28 x 51 x 4 inches, 2015.
Associate Member Susan Emmerson divides her time between Boston and Chicago. Her first solo exhibition at Kingston Gallery, “Around a Thousand Tiny Corners,” just ended in May, but she’ll be show work from another series in a exhibit at Kingston in August.  I recently caught up with her to talk about her work.

SDG: My mom and brother are surgeons, and so I am especially fascinated by how your experience as a surgeon inspires your work. You speak of your art as a type of translation. How does your piece Flesh and Bone translate into biological terms?

SE: I began Flesh and Bone when I noticed the strong resemblance of melted white Tyvek to the inner structure of bone, and began to try to reproduce the appearance of other body tissues.

Susan Emmerson, Visible Absence, acrylic on cut Tyvek, 48 x 48 inches, 2015.
Susan Emmerson, Visible Absence, acrylic on cut Tyvek, 48 x 48 inches, 2015.
SDG: How about all of the colors-are they direct or more metaphorical?

SE: I used organic colors found inside the living human body: subdued reds, yellows and browns. The drawings are based on various cells and parts of cells, and I included partially hidden features to give the illusion of looking inside the body.

SDG: That explains the complex textures that I find so appealing. How about this other piece that appears dramatic on Kingston’s grey walls, Visible Absence?

SE: In Visible Absence, I use forms based on the structure of the lymphatic system, with tiny vessels interconnecting seemingly random clusters of lymph nodes. I called it Visible Absence to emphasize that these structures are almost imperceptible in our own bodies and function more or less without our knowledge unless something goes wrong. The shadows that form behind the piece serve to emphasize this illusory quality.

SDG: What a gorgeous way to bring to light information that we typically can’t even sense, let alone see. Would you say your art is a metaphor for the body at work?

SE:  The abstract shapes share many qualities with live organisms: flowing, expanding, growing, repeating and proliferating.

You can learn more about Emmerson’s work at her website, susanemmerson.com, and see more of her work this August at Free Association 2015: Kingston Associates’ Annual Exhibition, from August 5 to 30, 2015.

visible absence detail
Detail, Visible Absence, as installed at Kingston Gallery in May 2015.

Mary Bucci McCoy: New Paintings

Image

What Am I Looking At?

The questions I always ask when looking at art are these: What am I looking at? What is the physicality of the object (if it is an object)? How do the materials make a leap to some kind of meaning?

In Mary Bucci McCoy’s show New Paintings, I am looking at carefully articulated shapes that hold paint, paint which is allowed to react to the conditions she has set up – calculated circumstances that lead to beautiful “accidents.” What I see is paint in action, the many ways the paint had moved; what I see is the arrested movement. In the space of the gallery, each work is a world unto itself, singular; each is a record of time and a “moment” in time.

Something else I see is the oval shape moving throughout the space of the gallery. It appears as a shape or mark, or sometimes the support for a shape or mark. Dark ovals absorb light, becoming voids; light ones project outwards, becoming mirrors.

I see paintings here that also exist beyond the boundaries of their supports.

For me this work becomes the answer to my questions and the material, the paint, holds multiple meanings. It fulfills what we often ask of art and, in particular, abstraction, that it becomes a locus for our own projections, a way of finding meaning not only in the work that we see, but also in the world at large.

Image: Crux, acrylic on plywood, 9 x 7 x 1″, 2013.