A Farewell to Teaching, an Update on Art Advisers, and a Reminder About the Monuments Contest
If my calculations are correct, a large percentage of the members of this site make a living as teachers—whether at the college or graduate level, in workshops, or now in particular via online courses. The rewards can be huge, the frustrations daunting. But as a way to keep body and soul together, it’s often the most attractive option. This week, Teresa Stanley reflects on 30 years as a professor of painting in one unnamed institution in northern California, a school in a small town that was not on her radar when she arrived in San Francisco four decades ago with the dream of being an artist. With the humanities challenged on every front, she speculates on what the future will be for young people considering life as an artist. I’m sure many of your will identify. You can read more here.
On an overseas gig: Stanley and students in Greece in 2010
In the early stages of this site, I published a post about art advisers, noting the ways in which AAs and artists and clients find ways to work together, and what advantages teaming with consultants can have for the artist. A couple of things have changed since that first post: the growing influence of Instagram and the ongoing demise of smaller galleries. Now more than ever, working with advisers seems not a bad way to go. There’s no guarantee of sales, or of gaining a larger audience, but it seems worth the investment to seek out affiliations with these matchmakers who work with both corporate and private clients. Check it out here.
Francie Kelley of Paragone in Los Angeles
Though not quite caffeinated at 8.15 a.m. MDT, and nursing a stubborn frog in my throat, I had a delightful time in a Zoom meeting with the New York Artists Circleon Thursday. I explained my checkered path from art-history undergrad and graduate student through the byways of magazine and newspaper journalism to the stewardship of Vasari21. And I offered a few predictions for the future. From what I can see of V21 members, the pandemic has brought absolutely no slowdown to anyone’s artistic practice and in fact may have expanded opportunities in unusual ways. I’m hoping the meeting will be available online and will keep you posted on a link.
And last of all, another installment of Eat My Memoir with a recipe for a memorable chocolate soufflé. You may wonder why I’m writing these when Vasari21 is essentially a full-time job reporting and publishing. I’m not sure myself, except to note that this is “recreational writing,” if there is such a thing. It all started with a greater interest in cooking during these panicky times, and that brought about a renewed look at my family history, and the whole thing started turning into a memoir with recipes. So there you have it, and will have it, as we romp through the decades between Swiss steak and chimichurri sauce.
And now on to the news from members!
I was delighted—no, damn near ecstatic—to get a tour of the new Taos Ceramics Center and meet with the masterminds behind this combination of high-end gallery and state-of-the-art studio programs. Jules and Georgia Epstein have put together a stunning debut show of local ceramists (through November), including Hank Saxe, Anna Bush Crews, Ani Garrick, Jan Dorris, and Georgia herself, complemented with paintings from Marsha Oliver and Gretchen Ewert. After the depressing efforts from the local art institutions (the Harwood Museum, the Paseo), it’s a huge treat to see a sophisticated venue for enjoying the abundance of talent Taos has to offer. Congratulations to Georgia and Jules!
Jules and Georgia Epstein
A view of the main gallery of the Taos Ceramics Center
Through September 20, Jodi Colella has a solo show called “Faculty of Utterance” at the Boston Sculptors Gallery. “I relish the labor of meticulous handwork and use kitsch, nostalgia, and needle-art techniques to remind us that the 'how' of making is as important as the 'why,’” Colella writes. “Embracing dualities—beauty and malice, restraint and excess, power and oppression—these works present the erasure of identity as both repressive and liberating, challenging the viewer to question their own biases and imagine a more enlightened world.” She adds: “I hope to connect with you in person during a scheduled appointment or a socially distanced mini art talk. I will be holding live virtual tours and posting videos throughout.” For more details, see the gallery’s website.
Jodi Colella, Tacit in Blue (2020), garden statue, paint, glaze, batting, assorted threads, 36 by 30 by 30 inches
“My installation Interference, commissioned by the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Barnstable, MA, is currently on view from now until mid-December,” writes Adria Arch. “Groupings of my sculptures hang throughout the building, emerging unexpectedly from fireplaces, drooping down stairwells, emerging from closets and creeping along walls and ceilings. My intention is to interfere in a playful way with expectations. The sculptures appear to be taking over the museum, bringing to mind the voraciousness of nature, envisioning a future when human architecture may be subsumed by vines and trees.” Below, an installation shot.
Pamela Blum’s solo show “Damage Control” is at the Pamela Salisbury Gallery in Hudson, NY, through August 30. And she has a couple of other exhibitions coming up: a virtual group show, “Carnival of the Animis,” begins September 4 at One Mile Gallery, Kingston, NY (Robert Saja curated the exhibit for Janet Hicks, gallery owner). In September and October, she’s showing related work in “The Kingston Annual 2020,” hosted by the Art Society of Kingston (ASK) and Kingston’s Mid-Town Arts District (MAD). Julie Hedrick curated the show and has awarded Blum first place, and Judy Pfaff will be exhibiting at ASK at the same time. “I make small, mostly wall sculptures,” the artist writes. “I try to compress meaning into their forms so that they imply a story. These forms cause me everything from delight to revulsion. Most of them read as bodies. I plump up the sculptures’ aluminum mesh armatures with plaster bandages, papier mâché, and layers of wax paint. Some sculptures take on nearly human characteristics, but lack arms, heads, feet, and/or torsos. Others suggest animals or objects. I invest my work with a hefty measure of the abject combined by contrast with something funny and/or poignant. Make of them what you will.”
Pamela Blum, Voice (2020), encaustic and oil on papier mâché, plaster gauze, and aluminum mesh, 8 by 7 by 2.5 inches (photo by Robert Storm)
Odetta Gallery in New York is presenting a solo show called “Seeing Red” of works by Patricia Miranda, from August 26 through September 26. “The exhibition includes textile installations, paper, books, and video in a universe pigmented in the historical color cochineal,” says the press release. “Vintage linens from Miranda’s Italian and Irish grandmothers, and sourced from friends and strangers around the country, form all of the lace work in the exhibition. Each individual donation is documented and integrated into the work, and in an accompanying webpage and artist book. The relationship of craft and women’s work (re)appropriated by contemporary artists to environmental and social issues is integral to Miranda’s investigations…. For Miranda, textile is an intimate material that wraps our bodies from cradle to grave. The lace inserts a visceral femininity into the pristine gallery space, and exerts a ghostly trace of the history of domestic labor.” Two other shows at the gallery, which is housed in a historic Harlem townhouse, one on the garden level and one in the entrance courtyard, celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Patricia Miranda, Lamentations for Rebecca (2020), vintage lace and silk thread hand-dyed with cochineal, cast plaster, 126 by 180 by 2 inches (dimensions variable)
Through September 8, Liliana Bloch Gallery in Dallas, TX, is hosting “FLASH,” a new solo exhibition by Tim Best. “Continuing his exploration of gender fluidity, Best takes us on an epic photographic journey,” says the press release. “Feelings of 70s reminiscence are imbued in Best’s choice of medium: The Polaroid camera, whose heyday was concurrent with the artist’s first recollections of sexual awakening. Departing from the classic photographer/model relationship, Best explores the power of the male gaze, defined by Laura Mulvey as deriving sexual pleasure from looking at the passive female object…..’FLASH’ represents the sexual pleasure men enjoy from looking at a passive female yet disturbs it as the artist reverses power roles. This action transforms, transfixes, and critiques the complexities of the masculine in photography. The resulting images are a mix of video, instant film, and medium format photography revealing an intimate, visual dialogue between model and photographer.”
Tim Best, Alex the Observer (2017), Polaroid photo, 3.5 by 4.25 inches
Frances Ashforth is part of the show called “HomeMADE,” curated by Brooke Molinari of BAM Art, mentioned in the art advisers post this week, which can be seen online through September 7, with 50 percent of the proceeds benefiting NYC Salt, “a charity providing photo programs as well as college and career mentoring to teens from underserved areas of NYC” (the show also includes a drawing by V21 member Alyse Rosner). Visit the works here, or check out the show on the Artsy site. Ashforth says her 9- by 12-inch drawings, below, are “portraits of special rocks she has known for years.”
Another online exhibition at Artsy, through September 15, features Louise Noël and Vasari21 member Anna Wagner-Ott, each with 10 works in the show, which is curated by Michael David of M. David & Co. “Since 2014, Wagner-Ott and Noël have maintained a conversation around their similar interests: both are preoccupied with human emotions and conflicts; both use fabric and wax among other mediums to express these concerns,” says the press release. “The similarities end there as each of these artists has developed original ways of expressing their ideas. Noël is known for taking found pieces of clothing and fabrics and transforming them with metal, fire, wax, or paint to create powerful sculptural entities. Wagner-Ott refashions threads and different types of fabrics that at times are covered with wax or paint into complex and intricate grids and woven assemblages. The exhibition includes some of the artists’ assemblages and sculptures created through their conversations and personal experiences.”
Anna Wagner-Ott (from the left): Nesting #1, Nesting #2, and Ancestor #8 (2020), fabrics, threads, acrylic paint, and a wire coat hanger
Louise Noël, “Augur #1,” found rusted metal, burlap, encaustic medium, fire suspended on metal wire with black acrylic paint, 31 by 20 by 20 inches
Another contributor to this week’s post on art advisers, Peter Roux is showing with Nat Anderson through September 9 at Van Rensburg Galleries in Milton, Australia. “As a landscape painter I like to consider the world around us, and how we experience physical space,” writes the artist. “In the ‘West Sky Segments’ (and other work from my cloud series), I’m drawn to clouds as a universal form—with rare exceptions, no matter what landscape we might find ourselves in they are a subject with which we can all readily identify...just by looking up. They connect us. By isolating them in composition, the pieces focus less on expanses of sky and more exclusively on clouds as protagonists, each with distinct form and character. In a constant state of transition and change, they forever advance. For me, the pieces are sections of a sky in grid form—breaking the expanse into a modern sequence, each with a small story to tell. Perhaps, hopeful ones.”
Peter Roux, West Sky Segments #1 (2020), oil on panel, 12 by 12 inches
As part of her pandemic “home study quarantine,” Celia Johnson put together a terrific video linking her works with the projects by underknown women artists of the Bauhaus. It’s only a little more than seven minutes long, and for me was a revelation about Johnson’s painting practice. I wish more artists would offer such coherent and lively video introductions to their work. Have a look here.
Celia Johnson, Saturday Night (2014), nine-color
serigraph, 19 by 14.5 inches
Martha Wakefield is offering a series of six online Zoom courses every Tuesday beginning September 22 through October 27, from 1.30 to 4.30 p.m. East Coast time. “In these classes we will study the language of color and each pigment’s personality to build a personal palette,” writes Wakefield. “Enhance your color knowledge through exercises, demos, and by examining past and contemporary artists’ oeuvre. Understand the mysteries and properties of color from analysis of the psychology, perception and energy of colors for creating dynamic, expressive, and meaningful paintings. Each week we will meet online, and through video demonstrations, slide presentations, written material, and weekly homework assignments you will strengthen your color awareness in all media. "The course is $275 for members of Concord Art, the fee is $275; non-members, $325. Click here for more information.
Martha Wakefield, Labyrinth, (2020), mixed media on two panels, 36 by 72 inches
And in miscellaneous developments….
Tracy Linder is working on a series of “Plough Shares” for her show at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Yellowstone, MT, opening in November. “I’ve been looking back at the homesteaders’ hard work of busting sod and now to contemporary agricultural practices of the working land,” she writes. “Plowing is falling by the wayside as soil conservation and carbon sequestration prioritize a no-till approach whenever possible. I’m also considering the ‘swords into ploughshares’ idiom as we face our current circumstances of uncertainty and divisiveness. I have embedded birds in each ploughshare as a sign of peace. Four of them, and each will very subtly represent one of the elements. I did earth first (see below). They will all have a similar color, grasses and birds. The elements will be represented by adding dirt (earth), ashes (fire), pebbles (water) and seeds (air)." My interview with Tracy will appear in the November/December issue of Sculpture magazine.
On a lighter note, Jemison Faust reports that her cat, Bodhi, was not amused by her latest attempt to bond with him. “My friends are a little worried, but they can keep me in line if I go off the deep end,” she reports.
A gentle reminder that the Monuments Contest, described in an earlier newsletter, closes Labor Day weekend. I’ve had a few excellent submissions, but I’m hoping to see more. Sketches, written plans, computer simulations—all will be gleefully considered and posted. For inspiration, here's a mock-up for the Shirley Chisholm monument slated to go up in Brooklyn next year.
I have a number of donors to thank, many of whom contributed to the site after Zooming in on my NYAC talk, but since this week’s bulletin is getting kind of long-winded, I will publish a separate newsletter next Monday, August 31, dedicated to new members (and continuing supporters).
In the meantime, as the summer of our discontent draws to a close, rejoice that many of the New York City museums are re-opening today. And stay safe and sane.
Top: Teresa Stanley, Tilt, (2020), acrylic and mixed media on panel, 36 by 36 inches