As the first big cold front of the season began making its way into the City, I stopped by the Tria Gallery for some warm Holiday Cheer and to visit with friends at the Winter White exhibit. Here are some snapshots that I made at the crowded opening:
When Philip Guston began showing this work at Marlborough in 1970, the negative reaction of the established New York art world was so overwhelming that the gallery would not renew his contract to exhibit there. Hilton Kramer ridiculed the new paintings, and much of the art world dismissed the work as being “impure”—it was simply too transgressive for the sensibility of the art establishment, which revolved around a received notion that painting had to be “pure” to be seen as authentic.
Guston eventually moved to Woodstock, withdrawing from the city to focus on his new artistic direction. The David McKee gallery began showing Guston’s new work and continued to do so until the artist’s death in 1980. His painting output during this time period became a lightning rod for subsequent generations of figurative painters, who drew inspiration from his courageous break with the dominant trend of abstract expressionism. Guston once said, “I’m puzzled all the time by representation or not, the literal image and the nonobjective. There’s no such thing as nonobjective art. Everything has an object, has a figure. The question is what kind?”
The current exhibit at McKee is a great opportunity to visit some of the very earliest of these protean works, which still pack quite a punch after 40 years.
James Kalm Visits the McKee Gallery: Philip Guston Small Oils 1969-1973
My Brompton folding bicycle is a mainstay of my experience as a sketchbook artist & photographer in New York. I commute all over the city with my sketchbooks, pens, and camera in the shoulder bag that mounts onto the front of the frame. My “other bicycle” is a Motobecane Nomade from the late 1970’s, which I purchased from a Goodwill store for $40 over 10 years ago.
Sketchblog artist Harold Graves with his Brompton T-6 folding bike on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Digitally manipulated imagery has been a part of the scene for a number of years now, but there is still an almost mystical regard for the physical medium of paint as something sacrosanct. Artists who have taken on the challenge of rendering their images digitally are still viewed by many people as interlopers; I like to think of them as pioneers, venturing “into the badlands of other media” as Robert Hughes once said of Stuart Davis. David Hockney is perhaps one of the first major artists to establish a precedent in this regard (he was doing drawings on computers almost as soon as the technology became available).
Lauren Edmond is a digital painter whose work has been turning up in small group shows in New York City this last year or so; there was a show last autumn at the Tompkins Park Library, and then another at a small cafe on 7th street called Planet One, and most recently at the HOWL: Homage to Allen Ginsberg exhibit that is currently on view at the Theater for the New City on First Avenue.
Ms. Edmond has a distinctive color palette that is strangely reminiscent of the mysterious nocturnal, aerial landscapes of Yvonne Jacquette, and a handling of form that at times seems allusive to the landscapes of Fairfield Porter. But what is peculiar about these images is that they are all rendered on a computer, using a digital painting program called Painter and drawn with a Wacom stylus and graphic tablet.
Recently updated exhibition information:
A Harvest Moon closing party will be at Planet One on Wednesday, October 7 from 5:30-8PM, 76 E 7th St, NYC, between 1st and 2nd avenues, their phone is 212-475-0112.
Lauren will also have three new paintings in a show at the Tompkins Square Library, opening Saturday, October 3. MENAGERIE: Creative ExPression of the Lower East Side 2009, the show will include 40 downtown artists, as well as performance, poetry, and films.
Tompkins Square Library. 331 E 10 St (between avenues A & B) NYC, Saturday, Oct 3, 1-4:30 PM
Here are some examples of Lauren Edmond’s work, and a link to her website:
During a bicycle ride through TriBeCa today, I came across some Bastille Day festivities on West Broadway, where a large crowd had gathered to play petanque on a sand court set up for that purpose in the street. There was a brass band playing music and a petanque tournament was in progress when I arrived, in front of the Cercle Rouge Brasserie, a French Bistro that is apparently named after the 1970 movie, Le Cercle Rouge.
This Petanque player’s energy was an amazing thing to behold; my drawing does not fully convey the intensity of his focus as he took his position to make his shots. The other players were much younger than him, mostly college kids, jostling each other and laughing, their energy loose and scattered by comparison. This man became completely rooted to the ground when he lined up to shoot: his gaze penetrating and precise as he bent slightly at the waist, his right hand poised for a moment like a discus thrower in an olympiad. I could almost feel the line of force radiating out from his face across the court. He was good, too: his boule frequently landed within an inch or two of the jack. After finishing a round, he would take a drag off of a little cigarillo before casting the circle for the next shot, saying nothing the whole time. Petanque, I recently discovered, actually means anchored feet.
On 10th Avenue and 20th Street, right on the edge of the Chelsea Art District, this accordionist was busking on the corner, his back turned towards the avenue, facing the parking garage that sits nearby. I noticed him as much for his outfit as his music: he wore a helmet modeled after a Star Wars character the entire time that he was playing. He would not remove the helmet even to wipe his face (it was a bit warm outside), but instead would deftly lift the mask partially away and run his hand underneath: I wondered if perhaps he was trying to conceal his identity. At one point he began playing a Philip Glass theme that I recognized, then segued abruptly into La Marseillaise and the theme from Star Wars. He was still there when I rode by again an hour later, groups of art tourists walking by tossing money into his open case.
My most recently published “artist’s book” is Buildings and People. This one is mostly drawings of my neighborhood here in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and a few street scenes in Manhattan, plus some drawings of my fellow subway riders. You can buy a copy of Buildings and People at this great little boutique called Serimony in Brooklyn on Court Street near 3rd place.