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NYC January 30, 2014

An incredible artist and my very good long-time partner-in-crime, Cathy Doocy, took the train from Windsor and joined me for a day of Chelsea gallery going on Thursday, January 30. Our first stop was at Alexander and Bonin where we saw some amazing sculptures by John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres. From the press release: “…an exhibition of sculptures made by John Ahearn, in collaboration with Rigoberto Torres, between 1981 and 1991 in his first South Bronx studios. “Works from Dawson Street and Walton Avenue” includes full figure castings as well as three-quarter figure castings and busts of neighbors and friends in the South Bronx. The casting process, which continues to this day, has the air of a major fiesta and usually happens on the sidewalk in front of friends, family and neighbors. The work presented is exemplary of what became Ahearn’s most prominent visual language; detailed full and half-figure plaster sculptures with “an exquisite glow of vitality” provided by a vibrant acrylic paint application technique. John Ahearn was born in Binghamton, NY and studied at Cornell University. Rigoberto Torres was born in Puerto Rico and worked in his family’s factory in the Bronx where plaster figurines were made.” These sculptures are remarkably moving, each one expressing a very particular personality, and feeling rather intimate. We were both surprised and impressed.

During January and February, Lombard Freid Gallery is presenting video and film by artists from their roster. We didn’t give any attention to the video and film presentations, but there was some rather interesting collage work hanging on the walls by two artists, Nina Yuen and Tameka Norris. I know nothing about these artists and the information offered at the desk and on the website is about their video and film work, so further research is needed here. But I am simply presenting some images of their collage work for you – perhaps it will inspire you and/or give you some ideas.

Since its inception, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery has consistently exhibited work by African American abstractionists. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the artists whose works I present to you here – I know that I am only familiar with a few of them. My reason for including these photos is that they struck me as wonderful examples of Simplicity and Complexity – our topic for this year’s Annual April Artists’ Retreat. Take a look and see what you think.

And how about these works by Simon Hantai, simplicity or complexity? The exhibit is titled “Go Figure/Ground” and is at Paul Rodgers/9W. From the press release: “…each of these three paintings addresses and reinvents one of the fundamental concerns of visual art: the theme of figure and ground.” Take note in the detail photos, the white areas are not just plain white, nor are the black areas just plain black. Is that important?

My photos will most likely not give you the full impact of the works by Vincent Hamel in his show “Paintings, 2009 – 2013” at Howard Scott Gallery. I wish I could take you there in person and ask you, “Is this simplicity or complexity?” From the press release: “He disavows any deliberate reference in his paintings to the world outside the studio and concentrates on the creation of a specific object by focusing his investigations on the fundamental aspects of “what is a painting?” His principal concerns include: the strength and clarity of each individual stroke of paint and its directionality; the unifying accretion of numerous component strokes to achieve a continuous surface and an all-over field; the specificity of the coloration gradually created by the deliberate layering of transparent hues; and the tension realized through the gradual creation of a physical object which possesses both energy and repose. The borders of his paintings gain significance through his very deliberate attention to their exact physicality. He has referred to them as the zone in which the interior calm of the painting and the “chaos” of the outside world meet.”

And now for something completely different!! Readings on Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity provided a catalyst for this series of drawings by Paul Glabicki at Kim Foster Gallery. Each drawing is a relentless accumulation of images, data, form and color progressively added in pairs – one element in relation and relative to another. Each pair of elements is a singular event, contrast, or juxtaposition – some simple and formal (large/small, left/right, reversals, contrasts, foreground/background), others more complex (fact/fiction, two versions of similar data, past/present, opposites, comparisons). Mechanical technique (assisted by drafting tools) is used in relation to freehand drawing or traced detail. The completed drawing becomes a unique configuration and multi-layered collage, a record and architecture of information and visual form constructed in pairs, at once simultaneous, mysterious, and, depending on the observations of the viewer, a multi-layered reality or record to be read, discovered and explored at each viewing. (Taken from the press release.) Definitely complexity, wouldn’t you agree?

And I will end this post with some work that surprised me. It is the sort of thing that isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I found it well done and strangely powerful. Here is what the press release says about Ingrid Dee Magidson’s work at Unix Gallery: “In her three-dimensional, enigmatic portraits of kings, queens, nobility, and courtiers from centuries past, Ingrid Dee Magidson brings back to life her subjects and re-imagines these individuals to immortalize them in time. The artist employs innovative methods to add depth and intrigue to her works with a technique she calls “layerism.” Between the portrait and multiple layers of transparent acrylic the artist places items such as antiques, vintage photographs, butterflies, and flowers to create a unique world the viewer can explore and decipher. The artist explores the delicate balance between the conscious and subconscious and the ambivalence between the physical and the spiritual as expressed through the use of transparent layers that reveal depth hidden at first glance. Magidson travels through the historic hallways of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. The artist states, “the people painted so long ago were as alive as each of us now. They had hopes, dreams, and lives we can never know…I want them to be here and in their own time simultaneously. My art will be transparent, ghost-like, so the viewer can see both worlds.”

And that is only about one-third of what Cathy and I saw. And, in my week and a half here I did not see all the galleries. But, this is plenty. Hope you find lots to research and ponder, and that it inspires your own work. I go home tomorrow, Saturday, February first. I’m sad to leave this fabulous city, but I’m excited to get back into my own studio and get to work.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres.

Nina Yuen at Lombard Freid Gallery. Complete work. Notice that it is just pinned to the wall.

Nina Yuen at Lombard Freid Gallery. Complete work. Notice that it is just pinned to the wall.

Nina Yuen. Detail.

Nina Yuen. Detail.

Nina Yuen. Complete work.

Nina Yuen. Complete work.

Nina Yuen. Detail.

Nina Yuen. Detail.

Tameka Norris at Lombard Freid Gallery. Complete work.

Tameka Norris at Lombard Freid Gallery. Complete work.

Tameka Norris. Detail.

Tameka Norris. Detail.

Tameka Norris. Complete work.

Tameka Norris. Complete work.

Tameka Norris. Detail.

Tameka Norris. Detail.

Howardena Pindell, Untitled, 1975, at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Howardena Pindell, Untitled, 1975, at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Howardena Pindell, Detail.

Howardena Pindell, Detail.

Sam Gilliam, After Glow, 1972, at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Sam Gilliam, After Glow, 1972, at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

William T. Williams, Nu Nile, 1973, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. Note: what you see is actual texture.

William T. Williams, Nu Nile, 1973, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. Note: what you see is actual texture.

Alma Thomas, Carnival of Autumn Leaves, 1973, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Alma Thomas, Carnival of Autumn Leaves, 1973, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Alma Thomas, Detail.

Alma Thomas, Detail.

Beauford Delaney, Untitled, 1961, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Beauford Delaney, Untitled, 1961, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Jack Whitten, Zen Master, 1968, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. (hmmmm....doesn't look very Zen to me!)

Jack Whitten, Zen Master, 1968, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery. (hmmmm….doesn’t look very Zen to me!)

Simon Hantai. Complete work.

Simon Hantai. Complete work.

Simon Hantai. Complete work.

Simon Hantai. Complete work.

Simon Hantai. Complete work.

Simon Hantai. Complete work.

Simon Hantai. Detail.

Simon Hantai. Detail.

Simon Hantai. Detail.

Simon Hantai. Detail.

Vincent Hamel. Complete work.

Vincent Hamel. Complete work.

Vincent Hamel. Detail. This is actually black, but the light and the camera made it gray, but you can still see the texture.

Vincent Hamel. Detail. This is actually black, but the light and the camera made it gray, but you can still see the texture.

Vincent Hamel. Complete work.

Vincent Hamel. Complete work.

Vincent Hamel. Detail. Again the photo came out lighter than the actual piece, but you can still see how the paint application and manipulation varies from one work to another.

Vincent Hamel. Detail. Again the photo came out lighter than the actual piece, but you can still see how the paint application and manipulation varies from one work to another.

Vincent Hamel. Complete work.

Vincent Hamel. Complete work.

Vincent Hamel. Detail. Note that in all these paintings the color is actually complex and nuanced, even though it seems solid and plain from a distance.

Vincent Hamel. Detail. Note that in all these paintings the color is actually complex and nuanced, even though it seems solid and plain from a distance.

Paul Glabicki. Complete work.

Paul Glabicki. Complete work.

Paul Glabicki. Detail.

Paul Glabicki. Detail.

Paul Glabicki. Complete work.

Paul Glabicki. Complete work.

Paul Glabicki. Detail.

Paul Glabicki. Detail.

Paul Glabicki. Complete work.

Paul Glabicki. Complete work.

Paul Glabicki. Detail.

Paul Glabicki. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson at Unix Gallery. Complete work.

Ingrid Dee Magidson at Unix Gallery. Complete work.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Complete work.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Complete work.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Complete work.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Complete work.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

Ingrid Dee Magidson. Detail.

And at the end of the day, we got our just desserts!!! Hey, Cathy, your piece is bigger than mine!!!

And at the end of the day, we got our just desserts!!! Hey, Cathy, your piece is bigger than mine!!!

Kelly
February 12th, 2014 at 3:09 am

Hi Debi – I am grappling with the concepts of simplicity vs. complexity. I looking at Hantai and Hamel, I want to say they are both!!! Is that possible?

Carolyn
March 8th, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Like Kelly I see simplicity and complexity in most of the artist I am looking at. I may begin by believing that the artist’s work is simple, but as I study him/her I begin to perceive the complexity in the work. This is a good brain teaser. Thanks so much for sharing so much with us.

Irene Hilbert
February 4th, 2014 at 2:27 am

Thank you for sharing the art work and comments. I also enjoyed your web site and gallery.

Laura
February 2nd, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Debi, thanks so much for taking the time to share your NYC adventures! You’ve given us lots of places to explore and think about, especially in context to the retreat topic.

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Debi Pendell Artist by debipendell.com