8.16.2012

Color: Field and Form, Part 10




A Visit to the Hudson Valley

Between New York City and Albany there's a vast stretch of territory through which the Hudson River flows. It's pretty country, with the Catskills rolling gently and the mighty river passing at their feet. If I had the time I'd tell you more about Hudson, the sleepy town across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which has has become home to many artists and one fabulous gallery; or about the Revolutionary-era homes in Kingston, which was the original capitol of New York State and is now home to the largest manufacturer of handmade encaustic paint in the world; or the Hippie vibe that still permeates the quaint town of Woodstock and which hosts a large number of New York artists who have set up second studios in barns on their properties, most not far from the main drag of Tinker Street. But I'm going to focus instead on on three exhibitions and two studio visits.
.
John Davis Gallery, Hudson
Louise Fishman: Paintings, Drawings and Prints
Brenda Goodman: A Solo Exhibition
.
Louise Fishman, Blue for You, oil on linen, 30 x inches
Installation view below



The small storefront space that is the John Davis Gallery on Warren Street has lovely squarish proportions with window panels that block the intense rays of the afternoon sun. Those panels double as exhibition walls. It's low tech and intime, exactly right for concentrated viewing. This is where Louise Fishman's show took place recently. Out back is the carriage house with four floors of more exhibitions. It's an easy train ride up from the city.
.
Fishman's brand of gestural abstraction has been honed over the decades so that only the essential elements remain. Here the works were easel size, smaller than the canvases she normally shows at Cheim & Read in Chelsea, and a downstairs gallery offered small drawings and watercolor monotypes that related to her paintings. Upstairs I liked Blue for You for its spatial complexity with an economy of hue, but the tiny Little Green One  hit me right in the solar plexus.
.
Installation view with Black and White No. 3, 2012, oil on linen, and Bish Bash Falls, 2012, oil on linen, 30 x 20 inches, also shown below
.
.
Little Green One, 2002, oil on linen, 7 x 10 inches
.

Next we walk through the courtyard to the carriage house. I wrote about this unusual space here a couple of years ago, so we're going to walk right up to the third floor to see Brenda Goodman's show. Just to set the scene: It's 90+ degrees and the air is humid and still. A few small fans move air around as an afterthought. We are limp by the time we arrive at the third floor.
.
View of the carriage house through the courtyard
.
Panorama of Goodman's paintings in the third floor exhibition space. To the right is another large painting, which my panorama doesn't capture. The image of it, below, is from Martin Bromirski's blog, Anaba

Untitled B2, 2012, oil on wood, 72 x 72 inches
Photo from Anaba blog
.

Goodman's work is all about perilous balance. Note the high wires, off-kilter ladders, weighted forms, and big shapes teetering on sticks. Occasionally there's a struggling figure to lend poignancy to the drama. "The new work is about duality: the delicate balance between joy and suffering, hope and disappointment, life and death, struggle and release, perseverance and futility," wrote Goodman in her statement for the show.
.
Looking at Untitled B2 above, I wondered what circle of Dante's hell this image depicted. Yet each work contains a plate or orb of color that offers a brighter emotional counterpoint, a little piece of heaven, hard won. Formally that color punctuates canvases that are largely achromatic (though lusciously rich with swipes and smears of paint). And at six feet square, there's another balance at work: You feel you could be pulled physically into their space, but of course you remain on your side of the picture plane.
.
Untitled C3, 2012, oil on wood, 72 x 72 inches
.
Detail below
.


Untitled A1, 2012, oil on wood, 72 x 72 inches.
.
Untitled D4, 2012, oil in wood, 72 x 72 inches
.
Detail below

Read the Huffington Post interview with the artist here
.
 . . . . . . . . . . .
.
Gallery at R&F, Kingston
Nancy Natale: Of Cabbages and Queens
Through September 22
.
An installation view of Nancy Natale's work at the Gallery at R&F
This grouping is from a series called Text Messages. These four are composed of found text and mixed mediums with encaustic, all 2012,  24 x 24 inches

,
A different kind of balance is at work in Nancy Natale's vertiginous compositions. Natale creates assemblages that she describes as bricolage.  Her mixed-media mashup of words and images suggest the sensory overload of too much information coming from too many directions (though there's a sense of topography as well, something I noted in a previous exhibition). Her compositions rivet you every bit as firmly as the tacks she uses to secure all those elements.
.
Innovation Agenda.
.
Soft, Terrifying Maturation

Detail below 
.
Another installation view with a fiery quartet in the foreground and the exhibition's title piece, Cabbages and Queens: Disco Version, on the far wall, which is composed of images representing monarchal royalty as well as disco divas, drag queens and assorted celebrities
.

The Gallery at R&F is unique among exhibition venues. Directed by artist Laura Moriarty, it is set within the small factory where R&F encaustic paint is made. (Come to an opening and you can get a tour.) The Gallery features the work of artists who work in whole or in part in encaustic. But while medium in the binder, so to speak, it's the art that drives each exhibition. Occasionally the gallery stretches farther afield, as in the exhibition, Conversations, which Moriarty and I co-curated last year.
.
Natale's exhibition is up through September 22. Learn more here. Read a review in the Kingston Times here.

. . . . . . . . . . . .
.
Studio Visit, Woodstock
Nancy Azara
Darla Bjork
.
Nancy Azara: Work in progress, carved and gilded wood, each about 12 x 12 inches
.
Below:  Closer view of one panel that is carved, gilded and painted in part in encaustic
.

Nancy Azara and Darla Bjork are my longtime friends, and I love to visit their studios, both in Tribeca and in Woodsock. Their home, on a mountain road just above town, contains a feature which only artists living in the country can claim: hers-and-hers barns. Azara's is depicted below, though she doesn't use the entire space.  Bjork's, smaller and closer to the road, is used completely; there's a sprawling summer painting room in the front and a compact studio off to the side that's closed in and heated for winter.

View from the house to the barn. Azara's studio is at the far end of the structure
.
Below: An inside view with work in progress: carvings, rubbings and collages. Some of those logs on the studio floor, from the surrounding woods, will be used in Azara's sculpture
.
In Bjork's summer painting studio, work is in progress.

On the easel, and oil and mixed-media abstraction
.
Detail below


.
A small work on the wall to the right of the easel, about  7 x 5 inches
.
I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the other fabulous aspect of color, field and form at the Azara/Bjork compound: lunch. No starving artists here.
.
Baked salmon and potatoes and sliced tomatoes from the garden
.

.
On Monday: A break from color with 50 Shades of Gray

12 comments:

Paul Behnke said...

Really looking forward to Louise Fishman's upcoming show at Cheim & Read on September 13.

Tracey Adams said...

Enjoyed this Blog and especially love Louise Fishman's work!! Thanks for posting.

Tracey Adams said...

Enjoyed this Blog, Joanne. I love all the work shown! Thanks for posting. Nice food photos, too!

smellofpaint said...

Hi, Joanne!
Such wonderful commentary! your language seems completely unforced -- fluid, economical and poetic... . I've been to Hudson several times; that country is a pleasure to see in the summer and in winter; and it is culturally very alive. Appreciate your photos of artists' studios, inside and out -- a real visual treat!

VBAA >>PHILIP G.<<

Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for including my work in your tour, Joanne. This is a wonderful collection of work. I saw the shows at John Davis Gallery and they were just great. Brenda Goodman's work really speaks to me and I was so happy to see her paintings in person. The setting for it was so perfect in the carriage house. It was also a treat to see Louise Fishman's work in person. And I enjoyed seeing Nancy Azara's and Darla Bjork's work, studios and great food. The Hudson Valley is a beautiful space and the amount of art produced there is outstanding. I feel very fortunate to be showing my work there at the wonderful R&F Gallery.

Admin said...

I am a big fan of Louise Fish(wo)man's and Brenda Good(wo)man's work; thanks!

Anonymous said...

Quality art , now im hungry.

Lynette Haggard said...

Terrific post, thank you!

Victoria Webb said...

Another fan here of Fishman. Thanks so much for the great shots. Small world dept: met Azara's daughter back in early 2000 in NYC, her sculptural work was hanging in the loft space.

donna said...

Beautiful work, thanks Joanne. I wondered about Brenda Goodman's work on the concrete (?) blocks. Having those beneath the work, making it more an object, is very interesting to me. I assume it was intentional, but notice that the ceilings are low in that space and wondered if it crowded her work to hang it on the wall.

james w hadley said...

I appreciate seeing this work, and must say I find your motto at the top of your blog wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Fishman's blue painting (the relationship between scale of marls and framing edge) contains that mix of aggression and uncertainty that I can sometimes still see in vintage AbEx, if I use my imagination, even with all the water under the bridge. It's a real knockout. and that must be VERY hard to do in such a well-known idiom (gestural abstraction). So she shows the difference between idiom or approach and the individual work. You don't know one just cuz you know the other.