Monday, September 29, 2014

Color and Geometry at Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson, AZ

Kicking off the fall season in their beautiful new space,  Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson is showing their first group exhibition of the season in the main gallery, called "Relative Geometries." This show runs through October 25th and features  the work of Annell Livingston, Robert Moya, Joanne Mattera and me, Nancy Natale.

"On Broadway," 2013, 14" x 14", mixed media with encaustic on panel
One of my works in "Rlative Geometries"

Along with this group exhibition, Joanne Mattera will also have a solo show in the project space called "Chromatic Reasoning."

Joanne Mattera, "Chromatic Geometry 21," 2014, 12" x 12", encaustic on panel

Miles Conrad has selected nine works from my small Running Stitch series. They are each 14" x 14" x 1.5", composed of various found and manipulated materials such as books, album covers, paintings, treated metal, advertising and other paper ephemera. I cut these materials into strips, lay out a horizontal arrangement and attach them to panels with lots of tacks. Many of the elements have had encaustic painted over them before they are cut up, and once everything is fully tacked in place, I apply another coat of encaustic in the valleys between elements.

The selection in the studio

Oh, that dreaded finishing, including painting of edges and wiring

Here are the press release images for "Chromatic Reasoning" and "Relative Geometries." You can see the real thing here and find links that actually work.

Here are a few more of my pieces in the show.

"Lotsa Pulp'," 2013,  14" x 14", mixed media with encaustic on panel

"World Around Us," 2013,  14" x 14", mixed media with encaustic on panel

"Guest Star," 2014,  14" x 14", mixed media with encaustic on panel

I hope you will visit Conrad Wilde Gallery if you are in the Tucson area to check out the space and these two very colorful shows. Joanne Mattera is attending the opening and I'm looking forward to seeing her photos of the installation and the reception.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Road Trip: Larchmont, New York, Saturday, September 13th

P a r t  T w o  of the arting weekend    (Link to Part One)

On Saturday Binnie and I drove to the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, New Jersey to pick up work from Swept Away: Translucence, Transparence, Transcendence in Contemporary Encaustic. We had a very nice lunch in Clinton and then drove slowly back into New York through the rain and traffic. It felt like we had been gone for hours -- and we were. In fact, it was nearly dark by the time we reached Larchmont and the rain began falling more steadily.

Kenise Barnes Fine Art (KBFA)
Larchmont, New York
Opening Reception for Two Shows: Saturday, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

This was the first time I had visited Kenise Barnes' lovely contemporary art gallery, and Binnie and I were very pleased to be receive a friendly welcome and unofficial tour prior to the reception's beginning.  This is a pristine white space, thoughtfully and beautifully organized to display the exceptional art featured at KBFA. The upstairs space has two galleries with a small viewing room at the rear and the world's best storage layout and viewing area in the basement. Even the bathroom has a terrific selection of artwork complementing the dark blue wall and streamlined fixtures.

All the images below are from the KBFA gallery website, and I wish that all galleries would use this website as a model of easily navigated sections with wonderful, large photos and full captions. This website gets an A++. (I am linking to it twice for good measure.)

David Konigsberg was showing "Nigh Season" in Gallery I, and his large, colorful narrative paintings featured conceptual landscapes that seemed to be remembered rather than observed. His website statement says: " His work occupies a nether world of image and memory in his very personal narratives, which are not meant to be deciphered but experienced as emotional possibilities."

David Konigsberg, Fields Near Germantown, 2014, oil on canvas, 45 x 60 inches

David Konigsberg, Fields, Distant Barn, 2013, oil on canvas, 44 x 46 inches

Julie Gross
In Gallery II, Julie Gross and Margaret Neill were showing new work in "Undulate." This show spoke more to my aesthetic because of the color and geometry.  I had admired Julie Gross's work only online, but in person it was so intensely colored and vibrant that I had a new appreciation for it. She refers to these curving forms as "vessels for color" and that was readily apparent.

Julie Gross, Vertical Sine Horizon #4, 2014, oil on linen, 64 x 32 inches

Julie Gross, Vertical Sine Horizon #5, oil on linen, 64 x 32 inches

These large columnar paintings were dynamic and luminous with restrained curves that played with the relationship between figure and ground. There was noting restrained about the thrilling color combinations. The colors were pleasingly sophisticated and unexpected, especially in the gouache paintings on paper that were studies for the larger works. Those dense, matte gouache surfaces were even more chromatically rich and seemed to vibrate as the colors played off one another.  We were gushing over them!

Julie Gross, Vertical Sine Horizon #10, 2014, gouache on paper, 22.5 x 13.5 inches

Julie Gross, Vertical Sine Horizon #20, 2014, gouache on paper, 22.5 x 13.5 inches

Margaret Neill
I was not familiar with Margaret Neill's work previously but became an instant fan. The curves in her paintings are sensuous and created with a full movement of arm and body. It was clear that those curves were felt emotionally and intuitively as she applied layers of meditative paint. Thin veils of paint with striated brushmarks in some areas gave glimpses of forms beneath and added a great sense of depth.

Margaret Neill, Conduit, 2014, oil on linen, 48 x 48 inches

Margaret Neill, Snap, 2014, oil on paper mounted on panel, 24 x 24 inches

Margaret Neil also showed airy drawings on paper that recorded repeated trajectories of looping pathways and pressures, like graphs of emotional journeys or dramatically obsessive responses to music or memories. Her statement says: "My work emerges from an engagement with my materials and is concerned with neither narrative nor image. The medium becomes the vehicle of my expression of transient but ever present tensions and their resolution..."

Margaret Neill, Rondel Series I, 2014, colored pencil and acrylic on paper, 36 x 50 inches (unframed) 51 x 37 inches (framed)

Margaret Neill, Prospect, graphite on paper, 44 x 44 inches

A Perfect Ending To a Perfect Day
Binnie and I met up with our friend, artist Ruth Hiller, and interviewed her informally* about her residency at the Golden Foundation Residency Program in upstate New York. We had a fine time chatting downstairs in the KBFA viewing room surrounded by paintings and other works of art. Eventually we adjourned for a good Chinese dinner just down the street from the gallery and then, full circle, made our way back to Connecticut through the rain and traffic.

*Here is the link  to an actual interview with Ruth about her Golden experience conducted by Milisa Galazzi in ProWax Journal, a quarterly online publication for professional artists working in the medium of encaustic. While you're there, read some of the other great articles and features!

Coming up next:  P a r t  T h r e e  -  no, I'm still not done with the world's longest weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Road Trip: New Jersey and New York, Sept 12-14, 2014

P A R T  O N E: Hunterdon Art Museum and American Folk Art Museum

Ostensibly, the purpose of this trip was to pick up work from the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, New Jersey. The Hunterdon exhibition ran from May 18th until September 7th and was a beautiful second incarnation of the original Swept Away: Translucence, Transparence, Transcendence in Contemporary Encaustic. The exhibition was originally curated by Michael Giaquinto of the Cape Cod Museum of Art and it was exhibited there from May 18th until June 23rd, 2013. Very big thanks go to both museums for their  thoughtful installations and gracious hosting of our work!

Catalog cover for the Hunterdon's exhibition - Cover image is a detail of an encaustic painting by Lynda Ray

Driving, Always Driving
My good friend Binnie Birstein chauffered me all over Connecticut, New Jersey and New York this weekend, and I owe her a big debt of gratitude for her fortitude and excellent driving skills. It's true that we had a great time chatting away by the hour, eating some great food, and doing lots of arting wherever we went. I don't know how many miles we put on Binnie's car, but there were a lot.

First Stop: American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Ave. at 66th St., NYC
Willem van Genk "Mind Traffic" and Ralph Fasanella "Lest We Forget"
When I read Roberta Smith's review of this show in the Times, I knew it was going to the top of the Must See list. This is the first time I have been to this museum since they have revamped themselves in reduced circumstances. (If you recall, this is the museum that sold their unique building to MoMA who plans to tear it down.) The location across from Lincoln Center is great and it's right next to the Mormon Temple in case you want to pop in.

These shows were beautifully installed and I was happy to learn a few things from the installation. We visited on Friday night and unfortunately (for us) the museum was having a musical performance right in the middle of Fasanella's work, so we didn't get to see all his paintings.

And, by the way, they did not allow photography of the work so I have had to resort to the internet, thus being unable to provide titles, sizes, etc. for the most part. Those caveats aside, I loved these shows in a big way!

Ralph Fasanella, "American Tragedy," size and year unknown (to me)

Ralph Fasanella (1914 - 1997) was a self-taught painter from working-class New York with a strong social conscience. He depicted scenes (imagined and actual) of importance in American history, especially to the American worker. His works are usually large and highly detailed. The ones most interesting to me had emblems or signs at the top, usually in dark red, that hovered above the scene below. The American Folk Art Museum has a large collection of Fasanella's work and an archive of related materials.

Willem van Genk (1927 - 2005) was a Dutch painter, also self taught, but more of the visionary and outsider ilk than Fasanella. Van Genk suffered from mental problems but was able to live on his own and create a large body of unique visionary work in paintings and sculpture.

Van Genk's works are covered with obsessive marks and writing, many containing buildings, cars, airplanes and machines composed of intricately cross-hatched lines. He often uses collage of both paper and thin wooden pieces and many works have circles or hexagonal areas like large thought balloons added to scenes that contain other information.

Willem van Genk, Untitled (World Airport), 1965, 44 3/4" x 46 3/4"

Although Van Genk worked from books, magazines, travel brochures and maps, he also traveled later in life, so some of his scenes come from direct observation.

Van Genk liked to build trolleys and machinery from cardboard with pieces of plastic, screening and advertising glued on. The museum has a large collection of these displayed together although they can't be viewed in the round. Due to discoloration of the glue over time, these works have an antique, weathered look that adds to their character and interest.

Additional info and more photos: Roberta Smith's rave review, Wall Street International review

Coming up in Part Two - lots more from the road.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Color and Light From Nature

This week I was surprised to find how much my color choices had been influenced by observing nature -  or is that Nature? The funny thing is that I first made the paintings and then saw the wonderful light and shadow with all that beautiful foliage. Who knew?

"Guest Star", 2014, 14" x 14" x 1.5", mixed media with encaustic on panel

"East of the Sun," 2014, 14" x 14", mixed media with encaustic on panel

"September Blue," 2014, 14" x 14" x 1.5", mixed media with encaustic on panel

For the "Relative Geometries" show at Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson (opening October 4th),

More info about the "Relative Geometries" show will follow - along with images of my other paintings in the show which have little or no resemblance to anything in nature but fruit and flowers.

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Introspective Week: The Illusion of Intention

This week I'm becoming more aware of the season changing and moving much too early into fall. My eye keeps returning to one particular vignette in our neglected yard that draws me to it with its seeming perfection, just as if we had planned and carefully tended all the elements to achieve their peak in the final days of summer.

A garden picture

But we put no effort of weeding, trimming, pruning or watering into making this garden picture happen since we are operating more under the benign neglect system of gardening. This image is an illusion of intention and that idea connects me to some other thoughts this past week about making art.

How long did it take?
When someone asked me this week that question that sets my teeth on edge, I posted it to one of my Facebook art groups for discussion and input. Since there is no time clock or a widget counter in the studio, artists know that of course the answer must be that it takes an artist all her life to make a particular work, as the sum total of all that has come before it.

It got me thinking about making art as a great chain, where one piece is so strongly linked to the one before it and the one after it. A painting or a sculpture does not stand alone in an artist's work because all the work is connected, and made whole by what preceded and what followed.

Intention and accident
How much is really within our control? I'm not talking about the manipulation of a medium, but how much other factors influence the work. For example, another question a studio visitor asked me this week is why I chose the colors I used in a piece I was making. My answer was the practical response that I had those colors left over from the previous work. If that had not been the case, would I have chosen something else?

It reminds me that I used to make work no wider than 44 inches because that was the width of the hatchback in my car. There are practical constraints and influences that limit choices in making works. So in thinking about intention, how much is really accident that becomes transformed into meaning?

Paintings to be coated with encaustic before being cut up and used as elements in other works.

Habits of Mind and Hand
There are certain marks and colors that I go to in an automatic way. If I choose to make something different, am I working against myself? Will the process create new habits or lead me to see something new that resonates with me? These are questions that I don't usually think about in a conscious way but that are always there. Am I choosing or avoiding, omitting or including?

Inventing Context
I read an article in Art in America this week that referred to a statement by Janet Malcolm that she had never found anything an artist said about his or her work to be interesting. Well, she is a snarky bitch but I am wondering if the statements we make about our work can ever convey the reality of our choices. When I set my work into the context of depicting or referring to memory, am I simply choosing a context from a laundry list or is that really the meaning of my work?

Going anywhere or a dead end?

The Making
I make what I like to make. I have found it after continual experimenting, looking, comparing, trying, putting aside, and many times uttering the death sentence on those disappointing failures that deserve scraping or sanding or even tossing into the dumpster. My confidence in myself and my work ebbs and flows depending on my mood, my sales, my feedback, my personal assessment and  innumerable other factors. The process can fascinate, bore and frustrate me but I keep at it year after year, glacially moving along that chain of making, link by link, not thinking about how long it's taking.