Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November Delights: Highline, High Art, Turtles and the Newborn Babe

November started out with this excellent event, curated by Nick Shimkin,
where my video "An Accelerating Decline" was screened (again!)
by the BAC, curated by Nick Shimkin, otherwise known as the Brooklyn Arts Council,
that exemplary organization based in DUMBO.

Beware!  Shameless self-promotion ahead:
After my video had screened, one young woman in the audience said, 
I lost everything in Sandy, and that video was exactly how I felt!
 And I said, Oh, that was mine, and she was like, Wow, that's amazing. 
All of it, the imagery, the music, it really touches me.

While sad for her losses, I was gratified that I had reached someone in a deep way.
Speaking of deep, let's hope that we don't see an inundated city for a long while yet, 
but I'm not all that hopeful.
The Arctic melts at an ever faster rate, and storms get fiercer.

On a more positive note, November 10th saw the birth of my incomparable grandson,
Oliver John Keeley Yonda!!!!!!
Or maybe not Oliver.  Maybe another name will happen.  Nothing is writ in stone.
But it's clear that he was born under a Scorpio sun with
moon in Aquarius and Virgo rising sign.

And now it's official, I'm one of those grandmothers,
because my grandson is the best.
I don't need to make a list of how he's the best because he's the best in every way
a baby boy can be best in.
I kind of feel sorry for other grandparents...

...except for Michael and Janice Keeley,
who are also grandparents of the best grandson!

Andrew and Jennifer have given us this gift.

You see how he's manifesting his best-ness:  
here he's sizing up this new world with a thoughtful hand gesture.

And here was his baby-daddy chilling out many, many years ago
also giving us a thoughtful hand gesture.

Here again is baby-daddy Andrew John, mere hours old, 
as his brother Aaron realizes that his life is basically over
now that this small being has invaded it.
Aaron once asked me why I liked someone who "can't even talk."

Here was Aaron when he still ruled the roost,
back on the farm near Connorsville, Wisconsin

Aaron had just finished feeding the chickens and he was very proud,
since they were pecky beasts, especially the cock-o'-the-walk rooster.

Speaking of animals, here's a picture of the shrine at my studio,
taken by Amy Bassin when she and Mark Blickley came for a visit.  

Blick has written an article about my work for an online magazine called Creative Sugar
which will be featured in their December issue!
Thank you Blick and Amy for the fabulous studio visit!

We talked for a long while about the evolution of my imagery -
back to the days when I was sitting in front of a canvas with a brush in my hand
instead of in front of a little screen with my Wacom pen.

This is "Venus Going Down" a diptych from 2003, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36.

Those were the days!

But we must move on, as do the Painted People, who took a trip on the Highline,
the above-the-city park in Chelsea
that used to lift railway cars off the streets of Manhattan's meatpacking district
and was saved from destruction and turned into this NYC asset
 by a group called "Friends of the Highline."

Those folks better move aside if they know what's good for them.
Not that the People are dangerous, but you just never know what will happen when they're around...

Here's an iconic New York November view from the Highline:

And once again I'm on 24th Street where the fake sheep, oh, sorry, sheep sculpture,
 have taken up residence in a former gas station.

Two sides of a very special van where an itinerant artist sells work outside the gallery system.

And here's a cute VW bug with a some kind of skin disease.

Next I visited this very cool show,
"New Prints 2013/Autumn" at IPCNY on West 26th St. which includes the work of my dear friend
Richard Hutter.  His bulbous floating forms defy the constraints of gravity;
they exist in their own universe within their own set of rules.
 Rick was in undergraduate school with me in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
(Now those were the days!
Our graduating shows were occasions for Bacchanalian revelry.
Or something like that.)

He now lives in the drifting Pacific mists,
where his artwork was featured at the "Electric Gallery" at Union Street Substation
in downtown Seattle.

(pic from http://www.richardhutter.com/ by Timothy Aguero)

...and here are his prints at the
International Print Center New York (IPCNY)
508 West 26th, 5th Floor,
a building that offers the rare New York experience of a manned elevator!

Moving onward, I stop in to see the work of
entitled Jesus and Bossa Nova (thru Dec. 28th).
This show's title is just the first of several I will see with a religious reference.

Westfall's geometric abstractions are crystalline plays on color and linear relationships.  
The more you study them, the more the warm/cool, push/pull, color theory harmonies and complexities shine through.  Each area of discreet color makes its own statement but merges
 with the rest to create a dynamic overall pattern.

Across the street,
is showing his "Variations:  Black Napkins" - which at first glance looks similar
to Westfall's work as he's using the same elemental language.
Yet he's telling a very different story with his forms.
A much darker story, and not just in color.

Above, Westfall's pure, shimmering shapes coalesce into a cohesive whole.
They work together.

Below, Depner's distorted, even ravaged shapes stay within
a set framework but are tense and piercing, threatening to break away at any point.

Here is a painting I did in grad school at Pratt, once again using a similar language,
but once again, with a very different overall message.

Jeanne Wilkinson's Untitled, oil on canvas, 1989.

Here's another show invoking a spiritual presence:

"A Vacation on Mars with God"

The name of the show comes from this surreal piece whose eccentric, lumpy creatures with
tree limb bodies seem too self- involved to be scary.

Tricks with Fire, 2008-2009, Ink and Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 30 inches (61 x 76 cm)

Zansky, left, at his opening,
seen here with esteemed critic Donald Kuspit and gallery owner Stefan Stux.

I have seen Zansky's work
flow from one strange state into another over the years - his mastery of materials
is worthy of a Renaissance man, and he doesn't employ a factory of assistants
but works by dint of his own mysterious, inner holy-shit!-inspired spirit.

Zansky,  Giants and Dwarfs III 1990 - 2013, oil, epoxy and glass on carved and burnt plywood, 96 x 144"

His paintings are sublimely bizarre, a world of metamorphic dreams, candlelit, twilight fantasies
of existential, primal fear and awe, and razor-sharp wit.

Well, time for a turtle break.

Speaking of strange creatures who exist in their own world, 
my sister Sherry and her husband Brett found this lovely lady walking across the road last summer,
and they (very carefully) placed her in the swamp in back of their house near Lake Minnetonka, 
west of Minneapolis.

But she promptly came back!  And left them a hole in the yard full of her eggs.

We think that Sherry "called" her, since her totem animal is the turtle
and she has many, many turtles around her at all times.
Inevitable that the real thing would feel comfortable and safe here.

They built a small structure to protect the nest from those nasty predators
who love the taste of a nice turtle egg.
The American flag let the potential attackers know who they're dealing with.

And voila!  One dark night the eggs turned into baby turtles who
all escaped without being seen, hopefully down to the swamp
instead of the busy road.  Sherry and Brett didn't see any little green pancakes
on the road, so we hope for the best.

Here are the egg remains, and several had not grown into turtles, showing that the 
nest had not been robbed by yolk-swallowing nasties.

Next year they may have many turtle nests in their front yard, not so great for the grass,
but instead something much better, a real turtle sanctuary!

Okay, turtle break over.  Time for more art.

More abstraction, but this time amorphous, organic, textural shapes that make me want to
pick up a paint brush again.

 PF - Chim, 2013, 39.5 x 47 inches

Behm's work is in that borderline arena where shapes almost resemble "real" things but then
they slip back into that place of pure creation rather than mere fact.

Next is an exhibition called "The Fifth Day"
a biblical reference to the book of Genesis,
part of the artist's continuing series on the week of Creation.
The fifth day is when God brought forth all the living creatures.

The Fifth Day (#36), 2012-2013
acrylic on canvas
63 × 45 inches, and detail, below

The list is marked with a rash of red dots which mean a near sell-out show!

It appears that this November in Chelsea that
who famously sang the Leonard Cohen song of the same name.

I have admired Engelhardt's work for many years, for its lyricism, spontaneity and reverent beauty.
It is the kind of work, not unlike Behm's, above, that lies between pure abstraction
and representation - in Engelhardt's case, her painterly strokes
speak of matter in flux, of things not quite formed, of the underlying forces that 
create what we know of as landscape.

The Fifth Day (#38), 2012-2013
acrylic on canvas
63 × 45 inches

You can see why I am attracted to her work - below is a painting that I did in 1994, 
oil and wax on canvas.  This is before I developed a sensitivity to oil paints 
and oil mediums and had to switch to acrylics, which was only the beginning of a journey through various media that ultimately settled me securely in front of the little screen.  No regrets.
But I do love paintings.

This is a detail of one of my many unnamed paintings, 
some, like this one, now destroyed in an attempt to clear out room in the studio.

Below is an abstract piece that reminds me of work by Mark Rothko,
or, say, Hans Hofmann.

Hans Hofmann, The Door,  1959

Here's another piece in the series - both of them can be seen
at the F train station at 7th Avenue in Brooklyn.
Or maybe not.  They may be gone by now,
part of the ever changing accidental-art exhibition that is the subway system.

Mark Rothko, Red, Orange and Blue,  1960

Below is the opening to the yearly fundraising exhibition for
where I recently showed my "Solstice:  The Sun and the Horn" video installation.
This is another great Brooklyn-based organization, providing artists with affordable
studio space and many excellent programs and tutorials.

The Painted People are at the show, looking for new friends who will take them home
and love them.

Feer Euphoria, above, and Tango Tilden,  below.
Both 11 x 14 inch, mounted digital collages.

Well, time to get going to Madison, Wisconsin
for Thanksgiving where I will meet
the new little one, who will eventually have a name.

Here's a little nature-in-the-city before I go - this tree of many colors 
charmed me on Bethune Street in the Village.

Below is the Kingsborough campus showing off its fall colors.
(I would show you the Pratt campus, but, sadly, I'm never there anymore, 
so as a consequence am not documenting the beautiful fall colors on campus.  Take that, Pratt Institute!)

Below is a mansion on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn glowing in the early morning sun...

...and nearby, someone has abandoned a no longer glowing fake-log fireplace.
Not at all tempted to pick it up and take it home...hate the gas fires, personally.

Beautiful sky in Brooklyn!

And a couple more glimpses of iconic New York sights...

...before signing off.

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