All Natural: A Conversation with Al Miner

Installation view, All Natural, Kingston Gallery, September 2015. L-R art by Christina Pitsch, Mary Lang, & Kathleen Gerdon Archer.

Installation view, All Natural, Kingston Gallery, September 2015. L-R art by Christina Pitsch, Mary Lang, & Kathleen Gerdon Archer.

Last week, I met with Al Miner at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he works as Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. He curated our current exhibition, All Naturalfeaturing Kingston member artists Kathleen Gerdon Archer, Mary Lang, Greg Lookerse, and Christina Pitsch. Each artist examines humankind’s attempts to commune with, control, or contain nature. The exhibition includes a broad representation of media, including photography, sculpture, and performance.

Lookerse_fish

Greg Lookerse, Two Fish Cut Into Five Thousand Piees, #1, edition of 10, archival inkjet print.

It didn’t take long for me to see that, although Miner says he’s not obsessed with landscape, it holds some fascination for him and, well, for all of us. “It’s a theme that clearly spoke to artists throughout time,” Miner said. Landscape paintings are among the most popular works in the Museum, he said, which is part of why he curated the long-term exhibition, Landscape, Abstracted, on view from August 2014 through July 2017. It includes an immense (24 x 80 feet) mural by Jason Middlebrook that Miner says has become “selfie central.” The point of the exhibition, he said, was to give examples of how artists today are not bound by the same constrictions as artists were in the past. There are so many contemporary takes on landscape, and artworks including Jason Middlebrook’s mural, green chenille beanbag “Topia Chairs” by Barbara Gallucci, and a site-specific installation made with thread and staples by Anne Lindberg demonstrate just how far they can abstract nature. They use color and pattern, among other visual tactics, to respond to the museum’s architecture, while simultaneously evoking nature and seizing upon natural phenomena.

When I inquired about Miner’s own interactions with nature and how they might influence his thinking he said, “I’m curious about whether anything real still exists,” Miner said. He does not want to camp, hike, or otherwise immerse himself in the outdoors. Really, he just wants sit outside at a cafe with a beverage and a piece of cake in the sunshine. That still feels like an authentic outdoor experience, especially if you’ve previously been in a windowless space and/or staring at a computer screen before arriving at said cafe.

“With this group of artists at Kingston,” Miner said, “I found that all four artists were making compelling and consistent bodies of work.”  From there, he realized that all four of them dealt with nature, but with boundaries, compromises, and constructs.

I Am A Century Wide, 2015, 24 x 24 inches, polypropylene print mounted on Sintra under plexiglas, 1 of 10

Kathleen Gerdon Archer, I Am A Century Wide, 2015, 24 x 24 inches, polypropylene print mounted on Sintra under plexiglas, 1 of 10

Kathleen Gerdon Archer employs alchemy (turning water into ice, then ice back into water), using her own power to transfer elements from one state into another state.

Mary Lang compares dioramas of state parks with actual state parks. First, there is the issue of the gates, stairs, and other fixtures that may be meant to protect the park, but also alter the original landscape. Then there is the contrast of being intrigued by a real place, but realizing it isn’t real.

Greg Lookerse’s performance, Two Fish Cut Into Five Thousand Pieces, exaggerates the rules and constructs we follow when we interact with nature. Photographs documenting the performance are part of the exhibition, along with works from his Honey Storage series, where he folded cut paper from the book The Great American Forest, by Rutherford Platt, into honeycomb shapes. Lookerse, like Archer, alludes to the attraction of alchemy in his work.

Near Moutlton Falls, WA, 2015, archival digital print, 20 x 30 inches.

Mary Lang, Near Moulton Falls, WA, 2015, archival digital print, 20 x 30 inches.

Christina Pitsch created clear trophy mount deer heads with cast plastic, sewn vinyl, and sheet acrylic. “They become empty vessels, sucking out the meaning we expect from taxidermy,” said Miner. Pitsch employs her own clean and symmetrical aesthetic to interrogate why we hang something like a hunted and killed deer in an interior space.

Miner appreciated the depth and prolonged exploration evident in each artist’s work. Presented together, viewers become aware of the way all four artists manipulate natural elements, sometimes leading audiences in one conceptual direction, only to complicate our notions of this subject matter with an unexpected conclusion or eschewing one at all, but rather allowing nature’s mysteries to remain unsolved. They also remind us of how far we may have come from having a direct relationship with nature.

Postcard of Christina Pitsch, Fragments of Love and Desire: Loveletter, taxidermy deer hoof, ribbon, 19

Postcard of Christina Pitsch, Fragments of Love and Desire: Loveletter,
taxidermy deer hoof, ribbon, 19″ x 8″ x 7″

Miner is now working on a large group exhibition for the MFA entitled “Megacities Asia,” which examines the way artists in some of Asia’s most quickly expanding cities respond to the urbanization around them with found object practices. One thing that has become clear to him as he works with artists based in Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Delhi, is that, as he puts it, “being “green” is a luxury.” For instance, there is not yet a vibrant green movement in China. Citizens of Asian megacities experience natural spaces in more limited and different contexts, and, as the whole world is urbanizing at a staggering rate, we may soon experience nature this way ourselves. Will every city of the future incorporate green space? Is it and should it be important to every culture or not? Can they build green spaces indoors, or by maintaining a view of the horizon from the upper floors of a high-rise building reinforce a fading connection to the natural world? The artwork Miner included at Kingston raises these and other questions, too. Further, the MFA exhibition will be staged not only inside the Museum’s galleries, but also outdoors. Both exhibitions make it clear that contemporary conversations about landscape are as much about being human as about relating to nature.

Installation View, All Natural, Kingston Gallery, Sept. 2015. L-R Greg Lookerse, Mary Lang, Christina Pitsch.

Installation View, All Natural, Kingston Gallery, Sept. 2015. L-R Greg Lookerse, Mary Lang, Christina Pitsch.

Gallery Artists’ News

The second half of 2014 was as busy as the first for Kingston Gallery’s artists! We are happy to share what our artists have been up to:

Ilona Anderson currently has work in Imaginal/Imagining The World (organized by Deborah Davidson, Suffolk University Gallery Director) at the Adams Gallery, Suffolk Law School. The exhibition runs through January 25.

Kathleen Gerdon Archer was a finalist for the Photolucida Critical Mass awards. Photolucida is an arts nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon whose mission is to provide platforms that expand, inspire, educate and connect the regional, national, and international photography community.

Linda Leslie Brown Co-Host Ceramic, metal, plastic, paper clay 13 x 9 x 9 inches 2013

Linda Leslie Brown — Co-Host, ceramic, metal, plastic, paper clay, 13 x 9 x 9″, 2013

Linda Leslie Brown has been awarded a 2015 Traveling Fellowship from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She had a new environmental work in copper wire and crystal, Indra’s Drala Net, installed as part of the Kingstown RI Land Trust Sculpture Trail, and she currently has work in Imaginal/Imagining the World Imaginal/Imagining The World at the Adams Gallery, Suffolk Law School. (See Ilona Anderson, above, for full details).

Judith Brassard Brown’s painting, Frontline, was purchased by NYU’s School of Professional Studies in New York, NY. She had work in the group exhibit Faculty and Students of Montserrat College of Art and Endicott College at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center, Gloucester, MA during the month of October, and also during October she exhibited work at New England BioLabs in Ipswich, MA.

Mary Bucci McCoy is now represented by Gray Contemporary in Houston, TX and CG2 Gallery in Nashville, TN. Her work was included in an exhibition of work by gallery artists, Aloe Vera, at Gray Contemporary in August and also was featured in a two-person show with the British painter Erin Lawlor, Long Loud Silence, in September and October at the gallery. Reconfiguring Abstraction: Lisa Russell and Mary Bucci McCoy was on view at the FPAC Gallery in South Boston in August and September. Mary was the Visiting Critic for the fall semester at Montserrat College of Art’s Senior Fine Arts Seminar. She has work in a group exhibition of work by gallery artists at Gray Contemporary, Houston, TX through January 17.

Conny Goelz-Schmitt had work in Bibliophilia at Nave Gallery Annex, Somerville, MA during the month of October. Also during October Conny also had work in Time Travelers at Cambridge Arts Association, Kathryn Schultz Gallery, Cambridge.

Julie S Graham had work in the Salon Show at the Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA in November–December.

 the space between, hand embroidery on re-appropriated linen, 50 x 72", 2012

Joetta Maue — the space between, hand embroidery on re-appropriated linen, 50 x 72″, 2012

New member Joetta Maue spoke at the event With Thread in Hand, a program celebrating the historic and vital art of embroidery, at The Atwood House Museum in Chatham, MA in November. Also in November Joetta had work in Narcissism and The Self-Portrait at the Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY. She had work in The Personal is Political, at the Slater Concourse Gallery, Aidekman Arts Center, Tufts University, Medford, MA in November and December. Joetta gave an informal talk within the context of the exhibition Vessels at the Nave Gallery Annex in Davis Square in December.

Jennifer Moses was an artist in residence at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY for the month of July. She had work in the summer-long exhibition Surface, Strokes and Light, a group exhibition of of contemporary painters and sculptors at Kelly Roy Gallery. Broadsided Press displayed a collaboration between Moses and poet Annie Finch on the Cape Cod Public Bus Transit in the summer through September.

Rose Olson had work in Postscript: A Selection of Work from the Gallery Artists and the Director’s Collection at Hutson Gallery, Provincetown, MA in September and October . She had a group of small works on display in October at Susan Maasch Fine Art, Portland, ME, and currently has work on display there in Gallery Artists: Group Exhibition at Susan Maasch Fine Art, through February.

Christina Pitsch — Flora of Fauna Porcelain 21” x 21” x 5” 2013 [photo: Millyard Studios]

Christina Pitsch — Flora of Fauna, porcelain, 21” x 21” x 5”, 2013
[photo: Millyard Studios]

New member Christina Pitsch has work in Beasticon II at Mark MIller Gallery, 92 Orchard Street, New York, NY. The exhibition runs through January 15.

Lynda Schlosberg is guest juror for Chroma, a national juried exhibition of work on hue, saturation and value at Gallery 263 in Cambridge, MA. The exhibition will run January 15 – February 14, 2015. She has work in Gallery Artists: Group Exhibition at Susan Maasch Fine Art, Portland, ME through February.

Elif Soyer had work in the annual exhibition Ekim Gecidi (The Passage of October) at the Canakkale Museum of Ceramics in Canakkale, Turkey in October and November.

Ann Wessmann had work in the group show Earth to Heaven at Spoke Gallery @ Medicine Wheel Productions, South Boston from September to November.

Luanne E Witkowski’s works on paper and selected paintings were featured at Hutson Gallery, Provincetown, MA during the summer and she had work on display there in Postscript: A Selection of Work from the Gallery Artists and the Director’s Collection in September and October. She also had work in Trans-Alternate: artists, social practitioners, and voices seldom heard from Nepal: Art and Social Practice – Call and Response at Godine Family Gallery, Mass. College of Art and Design, Boston, MA in October.

 

Jennifer Moses – Hard Won

Image

The current exhibit The Black and White of Things in the Main Gallery, which opened last week, is not to be missed!  Jennifer Moses’ work is tough and rigorous, each painting like a well conceived and constructed sentence.  The paintings together speak to each other and to the viewer. The other exhibits, Jeffrey Hull’s paintings and drawings in GUMBO VARIATIONS and Kathleen Gerdon Archer’s work, entitled The Door Behind Us, complement Jennifer’s work – come check them out at the Kingston Gallery, through March 2.

Image: Jennifer Moses, Moonrise, 12×12 inches, Oil on wood panel, 2013

NEW Gallery Members at Kingston

By Linda Leslie Brown

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.

Mira Cantor

Mira Cantor

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.

Julie Graham

Julie Graham

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.

Stacey Alickman

Stacey Alickman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Lynda Schlosberg

Lynda Schlosberg

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.

Kathleen Gerdon Archer Curates Painting Exhibition

Salt Ship

Marguerite Phillips Neuhauser Shafer — Salt Ship

Kathleen Gerdon Archer has curated the exhibition Looking Back: Rocky Neck Honors Marguerite Phillips Neuhauser Shafer (1888–1976) at The Cultural Center of Rocky Neck, 6 Wonson St., Gloucester, MA. Ms. Shafer painted en plein air on Cape Ann for over 50 years.

The show runs from June 6–16, with a reception on Friday, June 7 from 5–7 pm.

Kathleen Gerdon Archer in Two Exhibitions

Kathleen Gerdon Archer — The Upplutur, an Icelandic dress worn by her Grandmother. Alyssa wore it as her wedding gown.

Kathleen Gerdon Archer — The Upplutur, an Icelandic dress worn by her Grandmother. Alyssa wore it as her wedding gown.

New member Kathleen Gerdon Archer has work in the three-person exhibition 3×3, Portraits, Prints & Paintings at the Pingree School in Hamilton, MA, through May 10. Her work will also be included in the Cambridge Art Association’s National Prize Show, May 15 – July 11 in Cambridge, MA. The National Prize Show was juried by Toby Kamps, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Menil Collection, Houston, TX.