June 24, 2011

A Summer Ramble @ Sohn Fine Art

An homage to the idyllic A-B-A-B, 15-stanza verse by the passionate polymath poet and sometime Berkshire resident, William Cullen Bryant, this group show features my collage print, “Summer Splash,” and the works of 11 other artists. 

The show, running from June 24 - August 22, will be at the Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Stockbridge, MA. 

Please join me at the opening reception, Saturday July 2, 5 - 8 pm.

June 20, 2011

‘Rooster Tuesday

Tuesday afternoon, I got my wish.  A telepathic friend took me out to lunch at the fabulous Red Rooster in Harlem.  Overflowing with happy parties dining on Lenox Avenue, the airy, lively and welcoming restaurant is visually vivid.  The waiters and waitresses could all be artists’ models, each one had something elegant and eccentric about their appearance.
I lingered in both bathrooms to take in all the art, photography and tchotchkes.

imageThe menu is filled with difficult choices—from the complex, suavely named cocktails to the carefully coupled desserts.  All entice.  We had to start with the cornbread, caramelized on the outside, dense and flavorful with each bite, and even tastier anointed with the tomato chutney or the whipped honey butter.  Trying to be sensible, I had the red lettuce fried chicken Caesar.  But, my friend went for the house specialty, the Fried Yard Bird—all dark meat with a crunchy crust—staged on a bed of smoky collard greens, and drizzled with a cream gravy that pulled it all together.  Reconnoitering the joint afterward, I saw a little bakery stand wedged in a corner, and was compelled to buy a beautifully iced sweet potato muffin, wrapped in red paper—a little accompaniment to our iced coffees.

imageThen, whom did we see, but the chef/owner himself, Marcus Samuelsson.

June 15, 2011

Salaam Warren Street

Saturday evening, Hudson New York was still tinglng after the festivities of earlier in the day, when it celebrated the Elks Flag Day Parade.  Forest green Portosans lined the boulevards, and small American flags adorned the tops of parking meters.  Candy and gum wrappers and the splayed remains of firecrackers dotted the sidewalks.  The convulsions of fireworks could be heard downtown.

We went to the Hudson Opera House for a show about the main drag, Warren Street.  Some forty artists participated, and several works have lingered in my memory. At the core was “The Warren Street Project,” a striking black and white series of documentary photographs of historic buildings by Lynn Davis.  I remember seeing them originally at the Mark McDonald Gallery. There, along the periphery of the upstairs balcony, I enjoyed contemplating hundred of her photographs, engaged by their quiet definition of the built environment of this once grand city.  If they are not in a book, they should be.

imageWhen you enter the show at the Opera House, you are confronted by a sculptural critter that admits you into its kaleidoscopic snout, a fun and mesmerizing installation by Bruno Pasquier-Desvignes.  There is Dan Rupe’s technicolor portrait of the first place I ever ate in Hudson, the Columbia Diner.  In those days, all of Hudson appeared in shades of grey. A small, lovely watercolor called “Space 360” by Nancy Hagin captures the essence of an elegant brownstone.



imageimageimageAnd of course, there is a streetscape by Earl Swanigan, Mississippi transplant and Hudson artist.  His painting, populated by walking dogs, is a special part of Warren Street on the block of his studio.image
Filled with visual treats, the real Warren Street, looking down to the river, continues to be a view from the past—especially at dusk.

May 28, 2011

Black and White and Read All Over the Armory

“Hey, it’s like being inside a TV, Mama,” my son said.  Ryoji Ikeda’s spectacular installation at the Park Avenue Armory did remind some of us of the horizontal and vertical controls that cured the errant scan lines of yesteryear.

Upon entering the massive yet elegant Grand Marnier lit 19th century building for the opening reception, we saw the very shy, somewhat diminutive artist in sunglasses—How could this work of his be so colossal, extroverted, and commandingly powerful?

Ikeda’s the transfinite is kind of like God for atheists.  An expression of mathematical data describing the infinite, it is immediate—overwhelming yet comforting.  Projections of parallel black and white lines and grids of numbers are perpendicular to the floor—a clean white beach—where people walk shoeless or recline to confer, dance and contemplate.  Occasional plinths dot the landscape, each topped with displays of data, white type rushing against black ground, mutating dynamically like a river you want to arrest with your touch.  For a textile designer, it is seeing patchworks of stripes and extreme close-ups of plaids rushing in contrasts. 

The transfinite is also the voice of mathematical output, accompanied by its own mewing resonant sound waves, like chanting mantras.  The Armory’s Drill Hall is transformed by its immersive starkness yet warmth, and we were filled with meditative awe and the experience of communion.

April 23, 2011

From Hitcher . . . to Stitcher

imageHuckleberry DelSignore, an artist in residence at the Berkshire Museum greeted us this past Saturday at the opening of her show, Concepts in Crochet.  Installed in an upstairs nook was a collection of organic, pop fiber critter masks she made, amidst a few extruded polyhedral tents.  Huck told us that most of the masks—which are easy to slide on and inhabit—were crocheted onto helmets.

imageimageimageimageWe had a blast, trying on all the masks and posing.  Soft, ample and not at all itchy, the one-size-fits-all masks are mossy and complex—looking in.  They offer the wearer a secure hideaway that disarms viewers by making them laugh.

imageThe blue yarn latticed tents—framed with metal armatures—were large enough to admit small people.  Believe it or not, Huck said, she uses the same stitch for all the work in the show.  She has also hitchhiked –back and forth across country to California several times—crocheting along the way.

February 08, 2011


I counted the days until the opening of M.C. Escher: Seeing the Unseen at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA.  The show contains his classics and some of the rarest Eschers ever in one place—original pencil studies, lithographs, metamorphic scrolls, woodblocks and tzchotkes collected by him, including tiles he hand-painted to make his own tessellation patterns. Black-lit psychedelic posters, applications and appropriations of his work on record albums, magazines, and even polyester shirts convey the dichotomy of Escher as pop artist or master printmaker.

imageEscher, as you know is one of my core group of influences.  In seventh grade I did a lengthy research paper on him, which I presented to a group of novitiates.  I was and am still very entranced by his approach—by Escher’s interest in how we “see” things, his sublime technical prowess in printmaking and drawing, and his apprehension of the natural world.  And I am awed by his ability to illuminate and show the continuum to infinity, to illustrate the merger of opposites:  sea and sky, day and night, good and evil, two dimensions and three, order and chaos (Order and Chaos, a still life with a giant crystal at its core is one of my favorites.)  Escher starts in the physical realm but takes us to the philosophical one. His work is transcendent.

Prior to the opening reception, Jeffrey Price, one of the foremost Escher hunters, collectors, dealers and experts, gave an insightful overview of how Escher’s family life, mentoring teachers and travels informed his decision to do what he loved—be an artist.  At the show, I got to probe Jeffrey for more details about Escher’s life and work, and share Escherphilia.

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