40 over 40 at EBD4

The November 11th opening at artist Elyse Defoor’s new gallery EBD4 and studio space in Chamblee was well attended by Atlanta art cognoscenti. Unfortunately, flu-like symptoms prevented my going, but I caught up with Defoor the following Saturday at EBD4. The 2,000 foot space is just off Chamblee-Tucker road in the Chamblee Commons business center. Elyse has built out a salon type area, there are two large exhibition spaces and a rear area is her working studio. I was impressed with the two mammoth roll-down garage doors, that just beg for giant paintings to be hauled through them.

The invitational exhibit, titled “40 over 40”, is a tribute to artists who are mid-career or older, although a few had never shown before. “This show champions artists who continue to take risks, explore, and do the work that they are meant to do,” says curator Defoor in Buckhaven Lifestyle, and acknowledged that she chose what she liked in terms of curating the work. A few artists are mainstays on the Atlanta art scene, one small painting is by Jerry Cullum, the city’s preeminent arts critic. Many others I had met from exhibits years ago, or through the Seek ATL group, founded in 2011 by the now New York based painter Shara Hughes and Ben Steele, who still resides here.

The show includes sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing and mixed media, photography, fiber and textile art and provides a good overview of a strong group of artists who have devoted their lives to making and creating. What stands out is the diversity of both style and mediums, but because of the thoughtfulness of the installation the entirety of the exhibit flows smoothly, and sometimes surprisingly, throughout the space. I missed a few artists in this post, please head out to Chamblee before the show ends to catch everyone’s work.

The front gallery has a small seating area.


Elyse has her studio towards the back of the space.

Some of the artists had until recently, studio spaces at the Arts Exchange on Kalb Street, now slated to be developed and transformed into “creative office” space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marc Brotherton, Killskreen 1.81. Acrylic and glitter on canvas. Brotherton’s glittery geometrics are a key signature in his works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Rowles, Porosity. Cotton thread, found doilies, tubing, wire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Tuttle, Skin. Dye sublimated print on fabric, edition of 2

Martha Whittington, Material Study. Leather, mahogany, brass, cotton cording

Leisa Rich, Tolbachik’s Cup Coral. PLA: plant-based biodegradable plastic, fabric, artist original photo heat transfers, thread, resin and microbes

Steven Anderson, 89 Years #2. Marker and pen on paper mounted on canvas on panel with UV varnish

Terri Dilling, Cloud Shadows. Acrylic and mixed media on panel

Phyllis Kravitz, Tableau. Wood, plaster wrap, paint, wire, paper

Jerry Cullum, Homage to Rexroth, I. (painted 12/22/2005, Kenneth Rexroth birth centenary) Acrylic on wood with found frame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hollis Hildebrand-Mills, Rider. Collage oil and acrylic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie Ballay, Me, Myself and Mine Eye. Oil on panel

Ande Cook, Field Botanik. Acrylic on birch panel

Anita Arliss, Murder in Moscow. Oil paint and UltraChrome ink on canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Alembik, Spider: ‘the quintessential american narrative…quest for home’ Graphite and conte pencil on Rives paper. Quote from Junot Diaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Dreher, Plant Life. Acrylic paint on wood panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eileen Braun, Turning Point. Mixed media with fiber and encaustic wax

Callahan Pope McDonough, Django 2017. Face mounted archival pigmented print, 1/4″ acrylic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Harris, Modern Tessellation #4. Acrylic and watercolor on canvas

Temme Barkin-Leeds, Twelve Best: Unaware. Oil, acrylic, ink, marker, graphite on canvas

Angus Galloway, Untitled. Drawing mounted to panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen Gegan, Your Shadow Kisses My Twin Cup, Curving Space Time. Woven copper and nylon


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher Hall, Amor Fati. Mixed media on canvas with electric candle

Rose M. Barron, The Thinker. Partial print over archival pigment ink on fine art paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Hamer, Back and Forth. Ink and Acrylic on watercolor paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Henry, Special construction no. 2. Assemblage of cardboard, paper, paint and vintage dry cleaning tags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Jones, Government Issued. LED lights, archival print, marker, spray paint, gold leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Ker-Seymer, Folio. Acrylic, graphite, and canvas on wood panel

Andrew Huot, Walks with Rosie. Artist proof of 20

Judy Lampert, Untitled. Archival print on Japanese Kozo paper

Branda Mangum and John Morse, Walking through the Colors. Quilted cloth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corrina Sephora Mensoff, Uprooted Voyagers. Forged and fabricated steel, recycled steel

Melissia Fernander, Forty Thoughts. Window and lighting. This piece was suspended from the ceiling near the front salon area.

Carolyn Rose Milner, Woman’s Torso. Woodcut print

Karl Kroeppler, Conversation No. 6. Mixed media on paper

Rick Robbins, Gatherings – into the light. Oil on canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Robinson, Blue Flow. Ceramic with underglazes

Stacie Rose, Candy Pill. Acrylic and mixed media on wood

The exhibit has been extended until January. Gallery hours are noon to 6pm Saturdays and by appointment.

EBD4, 2382 Chamblee Tucker Rd., Chamblee, GA 30341. Ph 404.667.1902, ebd4@bellsouth.net

Posted in Art reviews, criticism and blogs, Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Anthony Greco at Thomas Deans Fine Art, Atlanta

A friend recently gave me the 2010 book, Modern Women, Women Artists at MoMA, and this quote in the forward from Anne-Marie Sauzeau-Botti is a good introduction: ‘I don’t believe in “feminist art” since art is a mysterious filtering process which requires the labyrinths of a single mind, the privacy of alchemy, the possibility of exception and unorthodoxy rather than rule.’

The text also reminds us that in 1817 John Keats suggested that the ideal state of mind of the poet or artist as “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after facts and reason.” Both sentiments could describe how Anthony Greco has been making art since he devoted his life to painting back in 1966.

Currently on exhibit until November 11th at Thomas Deans Fine Art are sixteen of Greco’s minimalist paintings from 1970 to 1977. These paintings were a departure from his figurative work, he wanted to “make work that wasn’t fed by some visual object or illusion of space. I wanted them to be contained by the canvas and not imply that there was more to see outside it.” The earliest of the works were “curtain” paintings from 1970, clearly influenced by Matisse. From the gallery press release: “In the tile paintings made in the same year, the artist rejects atmosphere and illusionistic space altogether.”

The painter and professor emeritus taught painting for 40 years at the Atlanta College of Art (now Savannah College of Art and Design or SCAD). From 1976 to 1982 he was Dean of the college. Celebrating his 80th birthday this year, the energetic and youthful Greco met with me earlier this week at his second floor studio in Decatur. The space houses a few former Beacon Hill studio artists.

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Greco sent handwritten notes to Thomas Deans gallery in explanation of the genesis of these large paintings on view in the exhibit, which are not necessarily minimalist in the same vein as say, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, or Robert Mangold. Greco’s work very much shows the hand of the painter with its shaky wavers, the messiness of the medium, drips evident between stripes and grids.

 

A few of the predominately striped paintings refer back to the painter’s early studio at 314 Luckie Street near what is now the Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. Photos are my own and some courtesy Thomas Deans Fine Art. All work in the show is oil on canvas.

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Foreground painting: 314/Fifteen, 1976. 68x76in. Left wall: 314/Nineteen, 1977. 68x76in

Below: Curtains #3, 1970. 76x90in.

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Tiles #2,1970, 72x72in

Growing up in a blue collar family, his dad a truck driver, Anthony was the first in his family to go to college. He attended Catholic high school, and in his senior year the school hired an art teacher who noticed his talents and encouraged him to apply to the Cleveland Institute of Art. Greco ended up getting a half tuition scholarship. After graduating in 1960, he travelled in Europe, then started his art career in earnest after receiving a Masters of Fine Art from Kent State University. The same year he graduated, in 1966, he began teaching at the Atlanta College of Art and continued until his retirement in 2006.

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Curtains #2, 1970. 76x90in

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314/Ten, 1975. 68x60in

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To Charles Ives, 1981. 65x81in

A later painting in the exhibit titled “To Charles Ives” (above), its calligraphic snaky lines eliciting homage or reference to Brice Marden, is an experimentation with laying rope on paint, pulling it off and scraping some areas to reveal layers of color beneath. Greco says he paints with music in the background but that the work does not usually overtly reference it. However, he is intensely interested in classical music.

He pulled out various charcoal and ink drawings on paper from flat filing bins and I was struck by how adept he is at working from life. His line work is effortless and loose in the best tradition of gestural drawing. He says he has been doing self portraits over the years and that it’s “fun to see the progression of aging.” Not sure most of us could agree to the premise, but it speaks to his love of drawing. A chiaroscuro head is an early work from his years at the Cleveland Institute of Art, he resembles a young Franz Kline.

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A few of his more recent works reference politics and the second Bush presidency. A diptych (above) shows a relatively serene abstraction of a landscape (or it could be) on one panel, and on the other panel what Greco referred to as hurricane iconography – similar to the symbols one might see on The Weather Channel.

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Some of his work echoes the landscape, although in his most successful pieces this has been subsumed by abstraction. Another diptych portrays a calligraphic depiction of an Abu Graib prisoner with hood, scraped into an almost black background which was very difficult to photograph. The emotional impact of this work is impossible not to grasp; the blue/black field with a brighter cobalt blue seeping through scraped areas that limned the “figure” intensely disturbing.

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His patterned monotypes are developed from rectangular wooden panels into which he has drilled holes and pressed wooden pegs. On other panels, he has glued round beads, small porcelain alphabet beads, pebbles or metal chain link onto the surfaces. He uses acrylic paint and Arches paper or a similarly heavy cotton rag paper for these superbly produced prints.

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Greco5aHis use of color is both spare and generously exuberant. It’s hard to pin him down in any one style over the decades, as he continues to change and experiment. He has returned to figurative and still life work, while also working in abstraction.

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Still Life #2 (c 1965) is part of Georgia’s State Art Collection.

He showed me a couple of standalone painted sculptures from wood, with moving and sliding panels that formed words like “flag” or “stop”, as though a large letterpress had been dismantled and reconstituted.

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A series of earlier circular paintings was inspired by looking through a kaleidoscope and painting the patterns seen projected.
Mr. Greco is a painter’s painter. His focus over the decades of teaching and raising a family has been an exultant experimentation in painting. He leaves it to the viewer to interpret and does not seek to stamp his process with any theory or philosophy. The work speaks for itself.

Anthony Greco’s work can be found in various Atlanta collections, including the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Coca-Cola, Georgia’s State Art Collection, the Mint Museum of Art, the Butler Museum of American Art, Kent State University and many private collections.

A digital version of the exhibit is available on the gallery’s website, and an E-catalog can be found here. Thomas Deans Fine Art, 690 Miami Circle NE #905, Atlanta, GA 30324. Gallery hours: Monday – Saturday, 11-5. ph: 404.814.1811

Posted in Art reviews, criticism and blogs, Daily meanderings, Interviews | 2 Comments

Decatur Glassblowing Studio and Course Horse

A representative from CourseHorse, a discovery and booking tool for local classes, contacted me to offer a free class in exchange for writing a review on my blog. With multiple classes in art, cooking, tech, professional, life skills, performing art, language and even classes especially for kids, it was hard to choose. Since I’ve collected blown glass for decades and Decatur Glass Blowing was on their list, I chose a 2 hour class on a friday night and made my first bowl. CourseHorse offers several other glass blowing classes in Georgia and the Atlanta area, you may find one closer to you.

Entrance

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Seven of us attended the one-on-one class at Decatur Glassblowing, which afforded me the chance to be taught by a veteran glassblower who had been practicing the art for 44 years. The other assistant to founder Nate Nardi’s studio was much younger, but highly skilled as well. As I chatted with my teacher, he gave me a short history lesson about glass in America. Glassblowing dates back to the 1st century BC and the Roman Empire, but quickly expanded into the Mid East and Europe.

In the early 1600s a few Germans and Poles arrived by ship to Jamestown, VA and discovered vast amounts of forests to fuel their ovens, endless sandy beaches and oyster shells for lime. A glass-house was built in 1608 and the first factory began exporting glass made in the U.S. back to England. “New Jersey and Pennsylvania had excellent sands and extensive forests, so for many years the glass houses of New Jersey dominated in glass production. To the north in Massachusetts, on the Island of Sandwich, there arose a group of glass houses and the glass produced there still bears its name.”

Bench with tongs

Bench with duckbill shears and various sized “jacks”.

Here is a more in depth glossary of tools and equipment used in glassblowing.

Applying color

 

 

 

 

 

 

We first had a demo on safety issues and the steps that we’d be following during the process. Everyone wore protective safety glasses and a heat resistant arm guard was provided during the shaping of the bowls. At no time was any one of us left on our own, but the teachers also encouraged us to engage without fear. As an admitted scaredy-cat around any potential hand or eye threats, my fears proved relatively unfounded. Once the glass is heated on the end of the rod, it’s dipped into colored glass chips and rests gently for a second or two.

Colors

Cutting off

During the initial demonstration, my instructor uses a clamp like cutting tool to snip the hole for the opening of the bowl.

Any glass that cools down too quickly is liable to crack, so there is a slower oven for annealing or cooling down from the initial 2,000 degrees in the firing oven or “glory hole”.

Cooling oven

Large blue Annealing or cooling oven in the background.

Firing

Heating the molten glass on the end of the blowpipe in the “glory hole”. The process of “gathering” is similar to using a dipper to take honey from a jar. Glassblowing furnaces are typically gas-powered and are heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Turning

Turning the rod keeps the taffy like glass rotated to maintain its shape.

After blowing

Checking the bubble after blowing.

Student firing

Student refiring in the “glory hole”.

Shaping with tongs

Shaping the bowl with “jacks”, similar to large tweezers or tongs.

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The gallery.

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Studio Gallery.

This video is a great overview of Nardi’s studio and processes.

CourseHorse was begun in 2011 by two NYU graduate students. After an unproductive search for a cooking class, the duo startup team of Katie Kapler and Nihal Parthasarthi won $75,000 from Stern New Venture Competition for their idea. Since then, Course Horse offers +70,000 classes to over 200,000 members in over a dozen cities around the country. They’ve also been noted in Forbes as one of America’s Most Promising Companies. Many thanks to Courtney, who signed me up!

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Dragonfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a fascinating and educational class. While glassblowing is seemingly spontaneous, the skills required to produce the end results can be honed over decades. I was particularly taken with Nate’s dragonfly glass sculpture, (more bugs here) and some of his earlier grad school sandblasted abstract glass work. You’ll just have to stop by and see for yourself, since I didn’t get a photo of those last fabulous pieces. I’ll be posting my own bowl here at a later date, after I pick it up.

An open house between 5pm and 10pm is coming up this Saturday, April 29th and again on May 20th. See the studio’s Facebook page for event updates. Demos, food, music and drink are provided free of charge. Raffle tickets for giveaway items are only $1.

Decatur Glassblowing, 250 Freeman Street, Decatur, GA 30030.
ph: 404.849.0301
email: natenardi@yahoo.com
Hours: Gallery | Tues-Sat |2-6 pm

CourseHorse is currently still in beta mode for Atlanta, but more classes will be coming soon! Be sure to sign up with your email address and locale to receive more information on when classes near you will be available.

Finally, a 5 minute demo from Jamestown, Virginia’s Glasshouse. Visitors can see the remains of the original furnaces used by those early glassblowers and watch as modern glassblowers produce wine bottles, pitchers, candleholders and various other glass objects. Today’s glass furnaces are heated by natural gas, rather than by wood as in 1608. Glassblowers, however, use tools and methods similar to those of the 17th century.

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Hathaway David Contemporary in Atlanta

In my old vinyl collection is the Velvet Underground’s 1967 iconic LP with Andy Warhol’s yellow banana on the cover. A song on that album written by Lou Reed, “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, is an apropos title for the inaugural exhibit this April of the new Atlanta westside gallery, Hathaway David Contemporary, or HD for short. New York painter and founder Michael David and co-founder Laura Hathaway launched the space with an opening, that despite torrential rains, drew about 800 attendees, including Atlanta artists, writers and curators, museum directors and a few of the Brooklyn artists who traveled for the show.

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The show was a mix of artists from Michael’s former Brooklyn based Life on Mars gallery along with Atlanta artists that he has also shown. Unfortunately, he recently announced that the New York gallery would be closing this year. David taught at both SCAD in Atlanta and also at the Atlanta Fine Arts Atelier that he founded here in 2002.

His new westside gallery is 8,700 square feet huge, with high ceilings and polished floors, an imposing glass garage door and plenty of storage space. I attended the opening and returned on a Saturday when Anna, the very pleasant gallery assistant, answered questions and graciously showed me some of the paintings that were being held for the upcoming Re-Hang exhibit that will open next week on June 16th.

This is a highly condensed version of the show. Don’t miss the opening next thursday to view the entire exhibit.

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I know some of the Brooklyn artists in the show, like Loren Munk and Farrell Brickhouse, only through social media. I was happy to finally meet Farrell in person, along with Mary DeVincentis, at the opening. My 2009 interview with Loren Munk was precipitated by seeing his YouTube videos online, under his alter persona, the James Kalm report. I became Facebook friends with Farrell back in 2010 and have enjoyed his daily postings of his thickly painted figurative abstracts.

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Farrell Brickhouse, SciFy #6, 2015. Oil on canvas, 20x16inches.

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Loren Munk, Bushwick Unfinished, 2003-2014. Oil on linen, 84x72inches.

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Mary DeVincentis, Swinger, 2016. Acrylic on yupo, 26x20inches.

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Pam Longobardi, Bounty Pilfered, 2014. Ocean plastic from Alaska, Greece, Hawaii, Costa Rica on the Gulf of Mexico; steel amature and driftnet floats from the Pacific North Gyre, 136x84x54inches.

Longobardi is an Atlanta based artist/activist who sources materials from plastic garbage patches littering the oceans; “this strange material legacy that we’re leaving behind.”

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Brenda Goodman, Almost a Bride, 2015. Oil on wood, 80x72inches.

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Arnold Mesches, Postures 2, 1981. Acrylic on canvas, 60x120inches.

Mesches has been around for some time, he’s 92. Take a look at his impressive bio and other symbolic and figurative works.

HD12HD12c William Downs, The Longest Walk, 2016. Ink wash and mixed media on found folders, 15x18inches.

William Downs is an Atlanta based artist and currently a lecturer in drawing and painting at Georgia State.

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Todd Bienvenue, Boys Will be Boys, 2014. Oil on canvas, 76x67inches and High School Hi Jinks, 2014. Oil on canvas, 76x67inches

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Shara Hughes, Being Shady, 2016. Oil on canvas, 58x52inches.

Shara is one of the founders of SeekATL, an artist run group that coordinates monthly studio visits in metro Atlanta and environs. Originally from Atlanta, she recently relocated back to Brooklyn.

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Jessica Scott Felder, Compass Rose, 2012. Installation, 144x72x72inches

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Karen Schwartz, Neither Fish Nor Fowl, 2016. Ink, oil, charcoal on linen, 74x74inches.

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Fran O’Neill, Shadow, 2016. Oil on canvas, 84x84inches.

The bold and gestural work of Fran O’Neill gives Gerard Richter a run for his money. Rather than using a giant squeegee, her own body – literally her arm – is involved in the brushwork.

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Sharon Horvath, Dark Matter (for my Father), 2010-2014. Pigment, ink and polymer on paper on canvas, 60x84inches.

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Whitney Wood Bailey, Order/Chaos: Ages, 2016. Oil and mixed media on paper, 60x40inches.

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Thorton Dial, A Bird Will Always Try to Fly, 1991. Oil, braided rope, enamel, burlap, carpet and industrial sealing compound on wood, 72x48inches.

The prolific and self-taught Dial died this past January. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns 13 of his works. Dial once told Atlanta collector William Arnett that ““Art is like a bright star up ahead in the darkness of the world…”

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Pam Longobardi, Downstream, 2013. Ink, gouache, acrylic, pigment and devalued currency collage on paper, 13x11inches.

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Through Aug. 14. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays. Free. Hathaway David Contemporary, 887 Howell Mill Road N.W. (behind the restaurant Bocado), Suite 4, Atlanta. 470-428-2061, www.hathawaydavid.com.

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Cathryn Miles and Scott Upton at Thomas Deans Fine Art, Atlanta

The two painters in this exhibit through Saturday May 21 at Thomas Deans gallery on Miami Circle offer similarities only in their obvious command of their mediums. Photos of individual works courtesy of Thomas Deans Fine Art.

The press release offers this synopsis: Scott Upton creates abstract paintings that sometimes project the atmosphere of landscape. Cathryn Miles creates landscapes that border on geometric abstractions. Both artists display a rare mastery of color and form.

Cathryn Miles works with a palette knife and brush in broad planed strokes in a mostly horizontal or square format. “Abstract shapes, aerial perspective, flat patterning, and traditional perspective have all contributed to my developing style”, writes Miles. It’s satisfying to see paint handled so well, Miles boldly slabs her canvases with pigment. She states in her bio that she has been influenced by Diebenkorn, German Expressionism and the Bay Area figurative artists that include David Park and Elmer Bischoff. She has also spent time over the past six years in Oaxaca, Mexico. While most of her work in this exhibition has an intensely blue palette, I am curious whether Oaxaca native and renowned painter Rufino Tamayo and his brilliant reds and oranges will at some point surface and creep into the color spectrum of her work.

Miles has an MFA from the University of Houston and a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art. She taught design and color theory at Kennesaw State University’s School of Art and Design from 1994 to 2004, and has taught painting and design at both Georgia Perimeter College and the Art Institute of Atlanta. Now that Miles has retired, she is painting full time, find her site here. She has been exhibiting in Atlanta for many years and is represented by Thomas Deans here.

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By the Water, oil on canvas 48×48 inches

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Embankment, oil on canvas 48×48 inches

An extremely competent colorist, Miles judiciously uses cadmium red for emphasis along a diagonal or horizontal plane.

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Freshwater Well, oil on canvas 48×48 inches

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Morning Heat 2, oil on canvas 30×48 inches

Morning Heat is one of the few paintings in this exhibit that breaks from Miles’ azure/cobalt/ultramarine palette to offer more oranges, ochres and earthy greens that echo Diebenkorn’s series of work from New Mexico. Whether the painting was created in Oaxaca is not noted, but it would be intriguing to see more in this vein.

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Night Sky, 1 oil on canvas 12×12 inches

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Swept Up, oil on canvas 12×12 inches

Miles’ darker gestural slashes serve to divide and determine horizon, sky, and land in the broad forms of these landscapes, much like Richard Diebenkorn’s diagonal thrusts from his Berkeley series.

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Water Over the Bridge, oil on canvas 24×24 inches

Scott Upton has had his work featured in film and television, with a history of exhibiting in Atlanta and the Southeast since the late 1970s. His almost meditative paintings elicit comparisons to Mark Rothko and JMW Turner’s late abstractions. As with those artists and more contemporary ones like artist Olafur Eliasson (who based a series of color experiments on Turner’s work), Upton agrees on the importance of luminosity: “For me, light is the unifying force, transforming everything it touches by banishing darkness and encouraging renewal.”  Upton explores an existential realm in these calm works, suggesting that in addition to the beauty”, light can offer feelings of hope and peace.

One is drawn in close to discover texture and layers of colors in the works that elude from a distance. Red flecks might appear in an underlayer, while the topmost layer seems to have been scraped and sanded down. Upton’s multiple layers of acrylic paint both conceal and reveal reflective silver and gold leaf through his proprietary varnish. I haven’t witnessed this with his work since I was only at the gallery during an afternoon, but during different times of day, the reflective properties might add to changes in hue. Although he claims to paint fairly quickly, the work demands contemplation and a break from the multitasking that is ubiquitous in most lives today.

Upton has a website showing his painting, with reviews from both Atlanta based art critic Jerry Cullum and Richard Maschal, author and retired arts and architecture critic for the Charlotte Observer.

Scott Upton received his BFA from the University of North Carolina and attended the Art Institute of Atlanta. He has exhibited at the Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina and the Art Institute of Atlanta. His work is in many collections, including the Knoxville (TN) Museum of Art, Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta, the Arthur Blank Foundation in Atlanta, Northside Hospital of Atlanta and the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. He is also represented by Thomas Deans Fine Art in Atlanta.

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Daybreak, mixed media on canvas 48×72 inches

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Dragonfly with Firefly1, mixed media on canvas 16×16 inches

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From the Earth, mixed media on canvas 48×36 inches

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Life’s Passion, mixed media on canvas 30×48 inches

OffMyShoulders_mixedmedia_48x72
Off My Shoulders, mixed media on canvas 48×72 inches

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Run With It, oil on canvas 36×72 inches

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Still Lagoon, mixed media on canvas 28×45 inches

Thomas Deans Fine Art, 690 Miami Circle NE #905, Atlanta, GA 30324

T: 404 814-1811   F: 404 814-1812

Gallery Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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Sydney Licht and Stephen Pentak at Thomas Deans Fine Art, Atlanta

Some paintings smack you in the face with emotionalism and raw energy. More controlled painting, like the works in this show, demands an almost meditative attention. It helps to devote time to looking and looking again; put away that cell phone, forget about texting. Go back for a review on another day. The reward will be an immersion in contrasts.

Thomas Deans always offers interesting and thoughtful exhibits at his gallery on Miami Circle. In this show titled Still + Life, two painters focus on still life and place. Stephen Pentak zeroes on a particular landscape of trees, often including water and horizon. Sydney Licht spins the mundane into voluptuous masses of color that transform ordinary objects, much like Cezanne’s bowls of fruit. Both artists transcend their subject matter with their considerable skill and exceptional attention to the craft of painting. Paint becomes poetry for these two painters.
The show is up until November 14. Photos of individual works courtesy of Thomas Deans Fine Art.

Opening

 

From the gallery’s site: The exhibition Still + Life presents paintings by Stephen Pentak and Sydney Licht, two highly regarded painters whose work explores the relationship between paint, form, and image. Both painters are thoroughly contemporary; both have developed unique and recognizable styles and have earned significant reputations; yet both work with traditional media, using established genres as a springboard to personal exploration.

I spoke briefly with Sydney Licht during the opening. She has a studio in Tribeca in NYC, and at one time taught at Ohio State University, where Pentak is Professor Emeritus. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to chat with Stephen.

StillLifewithSweetNLow

Still Life with Sweet and Low. Oil on linen, 12″x12″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A successful artist who has been showing and painting for some time, Ms. Licht is remarkably accessible. Her skill with paint and texture is evident and while the small works are obviously still lifes, her forms abstract and flatten planes. She achieves volume with juxtapositions of highly keyed color and occasionally adds small touches of patterns to the work. I mentioned an echo of Cézanne in her two still lifes of flowers in a striped vase, reminiscent of his portrait of his wife posed in her green striped dress. She admitted to a great affection for his work and to that of Vuillard, one of Les Nabis who also used pattern to his advantage.

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Still Life with Flowers. Oil on panel, 12″x9″

StillLifewithFlowers

Still Life with Flowers. Oil on linen, 24″x18″

Painting without much medium and no varnish, Ms. Licht succeeds in keeping her colors both distinctly clear and matte. Whether working on birch panels or linen, I was struck by the exquisite craft of her work. On unframed works, the edges are at least two inches deep and left bare, no gesso to mar the beauty of the raw linen or wood.

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Still Life with Three Bundles. Oil on linen, 12″x12″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Licht has said in interviews that she limits her palette to essential colors, eliminated black many years ago and is interested in understanding color by using very little of it. She says: “At one point I asked myself, “Can I make a monochromatic still life with just slightly tinted hues of white?” Right after that, I really wanted to see how far I could go in pushing color intensity so the palette expanded to include a fluorescent yellow.”

One can see Morandi in her structure, but Licht’s colors are jazzed up and richer, more like the Fauvists. We also talked a little about how much we both like the Bay Area Figurative painters, who weren’t shy about using high chroma. She says she begins with a palette knife to establish the idea for a color and plane and refines from there.

StillLifewithFatQuarters

Still Life with Fat Quarters. Oil on linen, 10″x10″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

StillLifewithCoffee&Tea

Still Life with Coffee and Tea. Oil on panel, 16″x12″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A wonderful 2012 interview with Sydney Licht by Neil Plotkin, discussing her history and process of working can be found at Painting Perceptions. She is represented by Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York and is also a member of the still life group Zeuxis.

Stephen Pentak’s oils on paper, my favorite of his pieces in the show, have an almost Japanese feel in the brushwork and an emphasis on negative space. His muted colors can be deceiving until a closer look reveals the intensity of a dark cobalt teal contrasted with a dusky lavender or cobalt blue. He states that he uses a palette knife along with wide brushes, and often paints an allover ochre as a ground for the works. Scraping with the knife reveals the tonal base and gives a subtle luminosity to the paintings.

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Closeup – Landscape 2015.1.2. Oil on paper, 42″x30″ (paper size)

 

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Landscape 2015.1.2. Oil on paper, 42″x30″ (paper size)

 

2015.8.1

Landscape 2015.8.1. Oil on paper, 26″x 40″ (paper size)

Pentak’s larger oils on wood panels show multiple glazing and scumbling, that adds to the depth. The geometry of rectangles seems to be a basis for the work, along with reflections in bodies of water that can be found in most of the paintings. An eloquent review of a 2003 exhibit by Richard Roth gets to the heart of Pentak’s work and can be found on his site here.

He is represented by Thomas Deans Fine Art in Atlanta and Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York. His work can also be found in various galleries across the country.

2015.V.III

Landscape 2015.V.III Oil on birch panel, 36″x 36″

2015.V.11

Landscape 2015.V.II. Oil on birch panel, 36″x 36″

Landscape 2015.1.3

Landscape 2015.1.3. Oil on paper, 42″x 30″ (paper size)

VIII.VI.2012

VIII.VI.2012. Oil on birch panel, 34″x 76″

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brian Rutenberg at Timothy Tew Gallery in Atlanta

Brian Rutenberg gave an artist’s talk on Saturday, April 25, after the prior night’s opening for his show at Timothy Tew Gallery in Atlanta.

Rutenberg’s large abstract paintings are pure beauty and luscious paint. The artist isn’t afraid of color and he favors using generous amounts of paint, slabbed onto the Belgian linen he uses, with his hand or palette knife. During his talk he reminisced about growing up in Myrtle Beach and the lowlands of South Carolina. “Humidity made me a painter”, he said. Attuned to color as a child, he would bury his head in azalea bushes, breathing in his southern heritage.

“Nightcrawler” below, 55″x 68″, 2015. Photo courtesy Tews Gallery.

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BrianR At twelve, Rutenberg copied Manet’s sea battle paintings in an effort to learn spatial displacement. He spoke of building virtual rocks out of pillows to duplicate the way that Manet placed his objects in the paintings. Rutenberg’s tactile paintings depict place. While he may appear to be an abstractionist, he realizes the sky and earth as standard conventions for a landscape painter, and isn’t hesitant to admit to the same thing in his own work.

In the talk, Rutenberg stated that it’s important for a painter to define his/her “job”, and to craft a place in which to do that. The fact that “no one cares” is a liberating premise for any artist, mistakes are inevitable. Rutenberg cherishes the notion of failure and says that success, to him, is defined by curiosity and effort. “Every painting fails before it gets better… and it never looks the way it does in my mind….you have to screw up if you want to be a painter. Do everything you can within a series of limitations.” He also insists that too much technique or too much intellectualism, as well as too much “craziness”, doesn’t work. His affability betrays a dedicated workmanship in both the craft of painting and in the intensity of his ambition; Rutenberg has shown yearly since the late 1980s, after receiving his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

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His influences are surprising; he admitted that Thomas Gainsborough is one of his favorite painters, with Tiepolo another influence. The Canadian Group of Seven was more obvious to my mind, at least for his color palette, along with the Scottish Colorists. He didn’t mention Hans Hoffmann, who seems a natural influence based on Rutenberg’s juxtapositions and rectangles of vivid and bright color. I also find some Diebenkorn similarities in swatches of odd colors – like a pink flesh tone in a horizon that is framed by ochre on the left with smaller red and acid green rectangles on the opposite vertical side that ring almost of Klimt. This particular painting (below) was not featured in the show, but it’s worth noting for Rutenberg’s versatility of palette.

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Fascinating as well, is his affection for the pianist Glenn Gould, whose quote can be found his website: “The purpose of art is the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” Rutenberg’s works commissioned by the Glenn Gould Foundation are more circular in composition, and quite different from the more current vertically striated paintings. He does not elaborate on which of Gould’s interpretations he favors.

While Rutenberg doesn’t usually paint on site, he does make sketches that he rarely shows. And although he calls himself a landscape painter, I detect a symbolism in the pictorial haze that permeates the mid part of his canvases. He mentioned the quality of light that came through the Spanish moss hanging on the trees of that southern home. The softening serves as a contrast to the harsher edges of what may be a response to a more dense, urban landscape. Rutenberg has lived in New York City since he was 21, and has his studio there.

Some of his works are bright, pop in your face vivid. Others seem moodier, with dark undercurrents of tonal values. The current paintings in this show offer a complex palette; juxtapositions of muddied earth tones and rusted oranges with fantastic jewel like reds and violets, which segue into deep and mysterious dark teals.

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Brian’s studio in New York City.

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You can find more of Rutenberg’s work on his website and a 2011 review by critic Diane Thodos on the blog artcritical.com.

 

Rutenberg offers videos about his process here. Timothy Tew’s gallery can be found in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood of Atlanta.

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Anne-Sophie Mutter at Emory’s Schwartz Center

The Mutter Virtuosi Tour 2014 – Anne Sophie Mutter with young students from her Foundation rocked Emory’s Schwartz Center last night, playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Mendelssohnn’s String Octet in E-flat Major, op. 20.

She began the performance with Sebastian Currier‘s “Ringtone Variations”, Roman Patkolo accompanying her on double bass. Mutter had commissioned the piece, which Currier dedicated to her. Resplendent in a sequined gold top, black clingy capris and a pair of impossibly high black patent stilettos, Mutter is the glam queen of classical music.

As one of the perks of being a volunteer usher, it was a special treat to see a beautiful harpsichord on stage being tuned before the audience arrived. Exquisitely played by Knut Johannessen, he has been touring with Mutter since 1999 and is founder and artistic leader of the Oslo Baroque Orchestra.

The audience rewarded Mutter and her young virtuosi with two standing ovations, they gave an absolutely electric performance.

Her Virtuosi tour can be found here.

Anne-Sophie Mutter playing Vivaldi.

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Rail Arts District Studio Cruise, Tudor Square and Dashboard Co-op

This Saturday, March 15, was the annual Rail Arts District Studio Cruise (RAD) in my neighborhood of Avondale Estates. Held mostly in artists’ studios on Franklin Street, an industrial warehouse space that Marghe and Bob Means of Little Tree Art Studios began renovating years ago, it attracts people from all over metro Atlanta.

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This year, the cities of Avondale and Decatur got in on the act. Avondale’s mayor Ed Rieker bought the old Academy Theatre building on Center Street and has great plans for what he’s calling Tudor Square. His new community manager, Deborah Revzin, coordinated an artists’ market in the space that included Root City Market and local artisans and artists, of which I was one.

TinyBuffaloBaking

Pillows

SimplySeoul

Simply Seoul was making kimchi, beef and pork buns all day long and sold out early.

CanvasBags

Andover Trask makes handcrafted bags from American canvas and leather.

Knives&Leather

I didn’t get the name, but this man had beautiful knives and leather bound journals.

Leather&Canva

More canvas and leather bags, must be a trend.

Ceramics

Lovely ceramic work.

Cards

Macaroons

Macaroons!

Whale

A decoupaged whale.

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My friend Arthur (Theo) Matthews is making ceramic gnomes and creations. He also displayed some of his small acrylic paintings.

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I set up a booth after we realized we couldn’t hang paintings on the walls. Met a lot of nice folks and some neighbors and old friends dropped by.

I didn’t get a chance to hop on the trolley to the Franklin Street studios, or head over to studios in Decatur. Next year.

One day after work at One Midtown Plaza, I took the elevator down to the Mezzanine to check out Dashboard Co-op’s exciting show, COSMS, 12 installations by twelve artists. I had to miss Martha Whittington’s talk, but at least got to meet her and lie on one of her cots and listen to dreams. Dreams, the stuff of an artist’s life.

Artists below, in order of images:
Martha Whittington, Elizabeth Riley, Paper Frank, Lindsey Wolkowicz, George Long, Chris Chambers, Dave Greber, Kevin Byrd, Jason Peters, Andre Keichian. I didn’t get a shot of Dustin Chamber’s wonderful video installation of friends and neighbors afflicted with Alzheimers and Zopi Kristjanson’s container of moss was not marked. Credit to David Batterman for some shots that I couldn’t get in the fading light.

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ElizabethRiley

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PaperFrank

LindseyWolkowicz

GeorgeLong

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ChrisChambers

DaveGreber

KevinByrd

JasonPeters

AndreKeichian

There is a review by Jerry Cullum of the show on ArtsATL.

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Jim Byrne at Timothy Tew Gallery

Last weekend closed Jim Byrne’s show at Tew Galleries. Jim had found my blog and invited me to his opening. A group of his newest paintings was exhibited there from October 25 to November 25th, along with artist Isabelle Melchior. I was unable to make the opening, but saw the show and took some photos. Lighting is always an issue with photographing paintings in a gallery, there is some glare and color discrepancies in my shots. The best solution is to view the work on Jim’s site.

Byrne’s brushwork is luxurious and his palette both subtle and bold, revealing a sophisticated colorist. His people look more fully developed and ‘alive’, than if he’d relied solely on photographs, and like Balthus, he captures emotion and mood in the dynamics between the figures, the viewer and the landscape. The patterns that he weaves into objects and backgrounds recall Matisse and Vuillard. The guy can paint.

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