Only the Essentials: A Studio Visit with Mary Bucci McCoy

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Untitled (for now), 2015, acrylic and micaceous iron oxide on panel, 10.5 x 8.5 inches.

Mary Bucci McCoy spent this past February as a resident at the Vermont Studio Center, and I recently caught up with her to hear about how the month went. The residency provides a largely open schedule, with optional visiting artist presentations, studio visits, and open studio participation. Other than that, residents have the all-clear to devote themselves to their work.

Mary Bucci McCoy's studio at the Vermont Studio Center

Mary Bucci McCoy’s studio at the Vermont Studio Center.

We had a strong group of paintings to discuss, as McCoy made progress on an ongoing series of works on panel and experimented with other grounds. She builds each panel herself, then sands them several times to create a porcelain-like surface.

A thick stack of canvas swatches stood on a work table during my visit, making McCoy’s interest in the details evident. The wide range of samples made both of us realize, in the course of our conversation, how painters and viewers alike may become complacent about the potential influence of surfaces. We remember many paintings for the colors, the quality and composition of the marks, but not always for the relationship between the marks and their grounds. McCoy tried many of the fabrics over the course of her residency. Each sample offered different grains and shades of “neutral,” where it became apparent that some beige colors are not so neutral in comparison to others. The results are striking, particularly Pull, made with acrylic and iridescent acrylic on linen. Its background shows the color of the linen through a transparent acrylic medium.

Pull, 2015, acrylic and iridescent acrylic on linen, 12.5 x 10 x 1.25 inches

Pull, 2015, acrylic and iridescent acrylic on linen, 12.5 x 10 x 1.25 inches

It may come as no surprise, considering her balanced attention to all materials involved, that McCoy sculpted before she painted. Trained as a ceramic artist, her studio is presently adjacent to the studio of her husband, David McCoy, who also works in ceramics. Her background, therefore, informs her present work. Her intuitive, process-based method creates imagery that viewers may identify as recognizable objects, although that is not her intention. I asked McCoy about frosted windows after observing the image at the heading of this blog post, and she said it may have been subconscious on her part, as February in Vermont certainly has its share of frost. She agreed that her surroundings find their way into her work, but not in an overt way.

The paint is liquiform when she begins to work on a piece. She selects each paint with care. “Color is like a space for me,” she says. Working flat, the compositions come about as the liquid paint gradually dries. The drying ushers in surprises, such as spindly threads of ochre rising up from areas of thick, lavender paint. McCoy’s acceptance of the unexpected is similar to putting an object into the kiln. During the firing period, blended glazes may shift in colors, and cracks may form where the clay seemed firm. She comes upon compositions through the process of manipulation and acceptance of the materials having their own say in the outcome of the finished piece. Accretion and the unescapable effects of gravity become themes of her current work.

Untitled (for now), 2015, acrylic and micaceous iron oxide on panel, 10.5 x 8.5 inches.

Untitled (for now), 2015, acrylic and micaceous iron oxide on panel, 10.5 x 8.5 inches.

The full-bodied materiality of the surfaces and the paints and McCoy’s focus and close relationship with the materials are essential parts of the character of each finished piece. Her efforts bring about singular imagery with luxurious finishes. Texture holds equal influence to shape and color, establishing intimacy between the art and the viewer. McCoy’s keen focus while making is at the heart of her work’s meaning. Her small-scale paintings cultivate, or perhaps invite, the rewards of paying attention.

Mary Bucci McCoy is represented by Gray Contemporary in Houston, TX and CG2 Gallery in Nashville, TN. Her next exhibition is at Kingston Gallery’s member space from April 29 to May 31, 2015. 

-Shana Dumont Garr

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.

 

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

Kingston Gallery Artist News

Kingston Gallery artists have had a busy first half of 2014:

Stacey Alickman — Lost Year, oil on canvas, 48 x 42", 2014

Stacey Alickman — Lost Year, oil on canvas, 48 x 42″, 2014

Stacey Alickman received the 2014 Blanche E. Colman Award.

Ilona Anderson has work in Pipe Dreams, Wishful Thinking, Grand Gestures & Dirty Lies at ASC project space, 526 West 26th Street, Room 304, New York, NY through July 15. Ilona also has work in the group exhibition As | Orchard opening July 31, Lower East Side, NY.

Kathleen Gerdon Archer and Barbara Moody were named Co-directors of Kingston Gallery for 2014. Kathleen Gerdon Archer and Conny Goelz-Schmitt both had work in the group exhibition Synchronicity at the Associazione Culturale Rosa Venerini (ACRV) in Viterbo, Italy from June 27 – July 6. They spent the month of June at the Associazione Culturale Rosa Venerini (ACRV) Residency Program.

Judith Brassard Brown is exhibited in The Power of Suggestion at Gallery Alpers Fine Art in Andover, MA from January 15 – March 22. For more information visit www.alpersfineartonline.com. Judith is now also represented by Art in Giving, www.artingiving.com. This non-profit organization provides a creative way to raise funds for research for the prevention and cure of childhood cancer.

Linda Leslie Brown and Luanne E Witkowski both had work in a group show at AMP: Art Market Provincetown, 148 Commercial Street, which runs June 25 – July 9.

Mary Bucci McCoy was interviewed by the 365 Artists 365 Days project.

Mira Cantor is teaching at the Burren College of Art in Ireland during the month of July.

Julie Graham was in the group show Small Works at the Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, November 30, 2013 – January 11, 2014. She also had a solo show Topoanalysis at the Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery at Montserrat College, Beverly, MA, May 28 – June 27.

Mary Lang’s had a one-person retrospective exhibit, Like Water, at the Trustman Gallery at Simmons College, March 17 – April 17. The exhibition was reviewed by Mark Feeney in the Boston Globe.

Barbara Moody taught a new studio intensive course entitled Expressive Interpretations of the Landscape, at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA in both January and July. She exhibited her photo-collages March 17 – May 7 in a three-person exhibition at the Albright Gallery, in Concord, MA. And she and Ann Wessman both have work in Dreaming Gardens at Suffolk University Gallery, 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA, which runs June 10 – August 22, curated by Deborah Davidson.

Jennifer Moses showed her work in a group exhibition of 12×12 paintings at the Oxbow Gallery in North Hampton, MA, December 5, 2013 – January 5, 2014. She has work in the summer long exhibit Surface, Strokes and Light, a group exhibition of of contemporary painters and sculptors at Kelly Roy Gallery. Broadsided Press is displaying a collaboration between Moses and poet Annie Finch on the Cape Cod Public Bus Transit through September. Jennifer is also an artist in residence at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY for the month of July.

Rose Olson will be featured at Hutson Gallery, 432 Commercial Street in Provincetown, July 25 – August 7. She also has work in Danforth Art Museum’s Community of Artists Annual Juried Exhibition, which runs June 8 – August 3.

Lynda Schlosberg had a solo exhibition Field of Potentiality in the Spencer Presentation Gallery at the Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts, Endicott College, Beverly, MA, January 28 – March 20. She was the featured gallery artist at Susan Maasch Fine Art in Portland, ME for the month of March. And her work was included in Painting Intricacies, curated by Resa Blatman at Nave Annex Gallery in Somerville, MA, April 18.

Luanne E Witkowski’s mixed media works were included in a group exhibition in the President’s Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, December 9, 2013 – January 23, 2014.

Mary Bucci McCoy: New Paintings

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cate McQuaid’s review in today’s Boston Globe: Shows that paint outside the lines, and one that sticks to the script

Mary Bucci McCoy’s review in today’s Boston Globe along with Jered Sprecher and Lot F Gallery:

Shows that paint outside the lines, and one that sticks to the script

 By Cate McQuaid  Globe Correspondent   April 08, 2014

“Within” from Mary Bucci McCoy’s show “New Paintings,” at Kingston Gallery.

Two refreshing solo painting shows up now in adjacent galleries have much in common, but wander down wildly different paths.

Mary Bucci McCoy, at Kingston Gallery, and Jered Sprecher, at Steven Zevitas Gallery, make mostly small, mostly abstract works. Bucci McCoy’s delicately toned and textured paintings read like haiku: swift, elusive, ripe. Sprecher’s much denser, hotter-toned works display an exuberant virtuosity: He cuts up, sorts, and juggles forms; he layers veils of pigment. Small as his works are (the paintings on linen are 11-by-8 inches), they are deep, whereas Bucci McCoy’s are more wide open.

For the smaller paintings, the artist chopped up photocopies of his pigeon photo and made collages, which he re-created in oil paint. The birds can be discerned in only one of these works, “Pigeons,” in which we see a plump green silhouette, with the fluff of the wing feathers accentuated, but again the image seems incidental to the spark and flow of abstract painterly fireworks: down-rushing smears of gray and yellow, a narrow curtain of hot pink on one side.
Knowing the birds are there, if only in fragments, you might start to look for them. Is that the curve of a breast in “Invention of the Chair”? And maybe the stony face of the cliff along the bottom?

But this painting hinges on the thick, flat bars crossing one another, in black with great gaps of orange, over a changeable orange and red ground. The violently colliding bars have heft, but they vanish. There’s a broad passage of dun in the background at the top, a bland banner. Sky blue brushes lightly over the surface.

Sprecher plays tricks with space and surface; he makes bold marks and dainty ones. There’s so much going on in a relatively small space, it’s as if he’s deftly answering in paint the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Bucci McCoy offers a deep breath. Her painting “Another Grace” is simply a pale peach, near square. When I saw it I sensed vaguely that the corners were receding, and I got up close. The paint along the sides is infinitesimally yellower than it is in the middle. The surface gently puckers and wrinkles, like water in a breeze. A barely perceptible zigzag, perhaps just evidence of the paint drying, saws softly down the right side. Discovering these is like unearthing secrets.

Early in her career, Bucci McCoy worked with ceramics. Her paintings have the tactile quality of clay and the surprises afforded by kiln-fired glazes. “Within” is an oval, like a cameo, in powder blue. It’s matte flat, but the blue rises off the surface in one thick dollop. Below that hovers a blurry white dot, and to the right, a dot of black, veined and glittering like mica. Each of these reveals itself on a largely unsullied plane, little eruptions through a placid surface.

These paintings convey the unlikely combination of patience and spontaneity. Sometimes Bucci McCoy takes action: Her finger makes a deep gully down the center of the pristine white “Channel.” But sometimes it’s also just about seeing how the paint reacts. “Sanctuary” has a ground of tender terra-cotta, perfectly flat. A heady wash of aqua pours in from the upper right, like a wave rushing onto sand. The breathtaking contrasts are many: the colors, the textures, opacity versus mottled transparency, stillness versus movement. This artist achieves all that with startling economy.

Signs to celebrate cursive

“Its Virtue Is Immense: A Pre-Vinylite Tribute to Script Lettering,” a jaunty show at Lot F Gallery, suggests that thanks to dedicated practitioners around the world, the art of hand-painting signs is not dead. It’s on the decline, and has been since vinyl signs came on the scene in the 1980s. But this show isn’t merely about hand painting. It’s a cri de coeur on behalf of handwriting, and in particular cursive, which is being taught less the more technology dominates communication.

“Handwriting Is Handy,” Bob Dewhurst reminds us in one snappy sign. Kenji Nakayama, in “ABC Script,” layers a cursive alphabet in autumnal enamels and variegated gold leaf, which glimmers with coppers and blues. It’s eye-catching, to be sure, but it goes beyond signage into art, with its complex layering of letters.

Nakayama came to Boston from Japan to study at the Butera School of Art, one of the last academic outposts to teach hand-painting signs. It closed two years ago. The work in this show reminds us that there’s something rich in the human touch that can’t be replicated in a prepackaged font.

Mary Bucci McCoy: New Paintings

At: Kingston Gallery,

450 Harrison Ave., through April 27. 617-423-4113, www.kingstongallery.com

Jered Sprecher: Half Moon Maker

At: Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., 617-778-5265. http://www.stevenzevitasgallery.com

Closing date:
May 10

its Virtue is Immense: A Pre-Vinylite Tribute to Script Lettering

At: Lot F Gallery, 145 Pearl St., through April 25, 617-620-8452, http://www.lotfgallery.com

 

Cate McCuaid’s Critic’s Pick in The Boston Globe: Mary Bucci McCoy, First Friday reception this evening

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MARY BUCCI McCOY: NEW PAINTINGS Bucci McCoy’s small paintings hinge on the materiality of the paint, how it flows, how it dries, and how her spontaneous actions impinge upon it. Color matters, but the works are catalyzed by substance. Through April 27. Kingston Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave. 617-423-4113, http://www.kingstongallery.com

CATE MCQUAID

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