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Trumping the Arts, the Other Campaign, and Fabulous New (and Continuing) Members
At the outset of the unexpected upset, I announced that I would get to work on a report about what the new president-elect’s policies will mean for the arts, specifically the visual arts. I polled a few critics and curators, and most said, It’s too soon to tell.

You will read many exhortations to keep going, keep making art (like, what else are you going to do? get a degree in air-conditioning repair?), but I’m more concerned about what happens to the market, to the National Endowment for the Arts, to grants and fellowships for artists, to teaching jobs. And censorship on any level is always a valid concern. But only one prediction seems safe: That the upper one percent will continue to prevail. The big-name artists and top-tier galleries will continue to prosper, perhaps beyond the norm, as collectors buy blue-chip art as a hedge against economic downturns. What happens to the rest of us—artists, journalists, mid-level galleries, collectors of new and emerging talent—will only be known as time unfolds.

And that’s why I’d like to make yet another pitch to keep Vasari21 going. I need a renewed round of funding for Year Two, and you can find out more in the new Indiegogo campaign. I want to keep bringing you the best “service” stories, profiles of artists “under the radar,” and podcasts with artists, dealers, critics, curators. In short, it’s something like a magazine every month, but one dedicated to an audience of artists looking for more information than they get from the same old, same old. If you haven’t contributed already, please consider a donation to keep the site alive and thriving.

Now onto the good news of new and returning contributors.

That’s Barbara Rachko’s Broken (soft pastel on sandpaper, 38" x58" image, 50" x 70" framed) at the top of the newsletter. You can interpret the image and title however you like, but it seems an apt metaphor for the crazy times we’re living through. Barbara is an old friend who has worked as a pastel painter for many years, drawing inspiration from her collection of folk-art figures from Mexico, Guatemala, and other places south of the border. You can see more of her work and read about her unusual journey—she started off with a career in the Navy before turning to art full-time--in the "Under the Radar" profile posted earlier this year.

Deborah Brown is another returning contributor, who did a podcast interview with us on her life and times in Bushwick, from the days when it was a wild and woolly enclave in Brooklyn to its present peak as the outer-borough Bohemia. She has been through a number of transitions, but most recently has been mining art history, literature and mythology for inspiration, drawing on artists as diverse as ancien régime portraitists, 19th-century sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, and Pablo Picasso. “By assuming a more human attitude, the recontextualized figures become vehicles for a full range of thoughts and emotions--contentment, abjection, yearning, despair or glee,” she writes. “The artist returns the figures to their ‘origins’ as images derived from the human figure. The twist is that this transformation takes place through the vocabulary of painting. Art returns to life through art.” Below is Still Life (The Ray), 2016, oil on canvas, 77" x 88"

Several months ago, I wrote a profile of another returning member, Jonathan Morse, whose works, I noted, are mostly abstractions and made in their entirety on the computer, incorporating many of the elements familiar to contemporary art—collage, bold calligraphy, random splashes and splatters of paint, and even passages of Richter-like realism. As one of his gallery statements adds, “This is computer art with a human hand embedded in its heart.” Below is Artworlds 3 (2016), pigment print, 22” by 34”

New member Dianne Jean Erickson sends Flirting With Blue, 15 by 11 inches, an encaustic monotype created using a hot plate and painted with wax sticks. “What I love about the making of these prints is working with gesture, an emphasis on line and irregular shape, and evidence of the artist’s hand in the making of a mark,” she writes. “They come from mind to hand to paper in very little time and without preconceived ideas about what they should be. Not every print makes the grade, but the ones that do seem wonderful to me.”

From another new member, Heidi Pollard, comes Pearl Diver (2016), oil and spray paint on canvas, 48 by 48 inches. “I don’t really have a lot to say about this particular painting, other than that it exemplifies my love of what I call the 'thinginess' or physicality of paint and how it can transcend itself metaphorically,” she writes. “My studio process is improvised, contemplative, a way of negotiating irreconcilables. Yet I’m an imagist, not someone who is primarily interested in process. Drawing, painting and object construction have taught me to trust the fertile soil of the moment, and my own perceptions.”

Edith Hillinger, who grew up in Germany and Turkey, says her collages are “infused with the idea of nomadic life.” Her work “brings together all I have gathered from these different cultures. Added to that is my long-time interest in archetypal patterns, such as the zigzag patterns that have been used as a motif from the time of the Hittites to the present day. Another influence is the meandering patterns found in the work of some Aboriginal and African art. These ancient patterns, geometric abstractions, are firmly embedded in the human mind.” Below is Conversation 2 (2010), mixed media collage on paper, 30 by 20 inches (private collection).

Lea Anderson says that she generates “anamorphic forms,” like the one below. “Colorful, bulbous organisms expand and pulse with life, their bodies seeming to mutate and spread,” she says. “Each piece exhibits unique organic or biological characteristics, and can be compared to botanical material, fungi, marine life, or microbes. Encapsulated within each form are marks, textures, patterns, and occasionally protrusions--elements that comprise or reflect an operative inner philosophical language. I see my job more as that of a keeper, even a breeder, of these living entities, and I am delighted by unusual interpretations of their cultural implications.” This is Frutti (2015), paper, foam, fabric, acrylic, and mixed media, 12” x 12” x 6”

If I haven’t mentioned you in this newsletter, there will be more next week. And if you haven’t sent an image of your work yet, I will be nagging you shortly.

I hope to be back with some content at the end of next week--a profile of figurative painter A.J. Dungan and an essay on the importance of being nice, an especially apt subject for our times.

Thanks again and again for your continued support.

p.s. Please note that anything underlined and/or highlighted in this newsletter is a direct link to the
site--just click and go!


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