Open Call: A World Where We Belong

We’re incredibly honored to have been invited to curate an exhibition to honor Georgia Brooks at the Dineen Hull Gallery at Hudson County Community College. As an LGBTQIA+ advocate Georgia Brooks worked actively to ensure the dignity and equality of all people. Our theme and approach to the exhibition are directly inspired by Georgia Brooks. The exhibition will be curated from an open call. The complete details are below. —Arthur Bruso & Raymond E. Mingst

A WORLD WHERE WE BELONG

The Georgia Brooks LGBTQIA Exhibition

CALL FOR ART & ARTIFACTS

LOCATION: Benjamin J. Dineen, III and Dennis C. Hull Gallery, Hudson County Community College, Jersey City, NJ

ENTRIES DUE: Thursday, February 9, 2017, 5pm EST

EXHIBITION DATES: March 3, 2017 – April 19, 2017

GEORGIA BROOKS: Georgia Brooks was a lesbian and an advocate for LGBTQIA rights and worked actively to ensure the dignity and equality of everyone. She was a Hudson County Community College Academic Lab Manager and advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance. Ms. Brooks passed away in November 2013 and her inspirational work at HCCC is honored each year with The Georgia Brooks Stonewall Celebration Project.

EXHIBITION THEME: The inspiration for this exhibition comes directly from Georgia Brooks. As a young woman Ms. Brooks was looking for something that would validate her awareness of her identity. She had heard that you could find anything on 42nd Street in New York City. So, she set out to find some books — books that she might somehow relate to as a lesbian. What she found where pulp novels that traded in stereotypes and a prevailing sense of internalized shame. One of those novels was Carla. The cover read, “to the world a lass, to her lovers butch, to herself tramp.” In a HCCC interview Georgia Brooks said, “It’s unfortunate that she felt herself a tramp, because for me she’s an example.” Ms. Brooks found the books, “helped me to not feel isolated and gave me hope that I might find a lesbian, or some lesbians, so eventually I found a lot of them. So, those were the days.”

The LGBTQIA community, and minorities of every stripe continue to struggle to find cultural touchstones that resonate; to find ourselves reflected in the culture at large. When we discover or discern a hint that there are others like ourselves, sometimes these messages are coded, discreet or even far from admirable and supportive of our sense of identity. But, even a flawed representation gives us hope, as Ms. Brooks had found. This exhibition is an exploration of the myriad ways we’ve identified or found ourselves reflected in the world and made a place for ourselves.

EXHIBITION CONTENT/SUBMISSIONS: The exhibition will include visual art as well as a range of artifacts. Submissions may include artwork, artifacts, or both.

VISUAL ART: The curators welcome broad interpretations of the theme. Conceptual responses are very welcome. All mediums will be considered.

ARTIFACTS: This aspect of the exhibition is open to writers, musicians and others in cultural fields. The artifacts may be books, like those found by Ms. Brooks, magazines, newspaper clippings, diary entries, lists, tickets, records or cds, images, photos or postcards. For objects that may no longer be extant, drawings, photos or even recreations will be considered. The artifacts may be virtually anything mined from the broad cultural cacophony. We looking for those touchstones that were seminal to the awareness of our LGBTQIA selves reflected in the world.

CURATION: The exhibition is curated from the open call. This approach is distinct from a juried exhibition. The curators approach the open call as an opportunity to look beyond established networks to bring together a diverse group of artists. The curation team is rigorous in the service of the artists, the exhibition and audience. In addition to the quality of the work, balance, space and other factors influence final selections. This means some excellent and appropriate work may not ultimately be included. We hope all the artists submitting work understand this and continue to respond to future calls.

MEDIUMS/DIMENSIONS: All mediums/objects will be considered. Please provide accurate dimensions and installation views if needed. (Please include framed/final installation dimensions. Work that does not match the dimensions submitted may be excluded from exhibition.)

ELIGIBILITY: All artists working in any medium. LGBTQIA identifying people and Hudson region residents are encouraged to apply.

FEES: NO FEE TO ENTER

DEADLINE: Entries must be received no later than Thursday, February 9, 2017, 5pm EST.

SUBMISSIONS: Please include all information. Late, incomplete, or web link submissions will not be considered or responded to. (Exception: video artists may include online links to their work. Video artists must provide all necessary equipment to show their work and submission must include an installation view.)

  1. Up to 5 images. Images must be in JPEG or PDF format, resolution set to 72 dpi, no larger than 800 X 800 pixels and no larger than 2MB. Please number images to correspond to Image List.
  2. Image list. Numbered to correspond with your image submissions. For Artworks: include image #, your name, title, date of work, media, framed size. For Artifacts: include image #, your name, title or description of object/artifact, include date if known and dimensions. You may include a brief description for each image, however this isn’t required.
  3. One page résumé and 3-line bio. Include your contact information and an email address.
  4. Artist’s statement, or statement about the artifact submitted and it’s significance. No longer than 1 page.

NOTIFICATION: Accepted artists will be notified via email by February 13, 2017. NOTE: Accepted artists/participants must confirm their participation and ability to meet all deadlines by February 15, 2017. The artist or the artist’s representative must meet all deadline dates, including drop off and pickup. We cannot offer alternative dates/times.

DROP OFF DATES: February 21, 2017 – February 24, 2017, 9-5pm

PICK UP: April 20 – April 21, 2017, 9-5pm

EMAIL SUBMISSIONS TO: georgiabrooksexhibit@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

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Art House Gallery/Curious Matter at the Noyes Museum

The Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University is located in Atlantic City, NJ.

The Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University is located in Atlantic City, NJ.

The Curious Matter exhibition A DARK WOOD, produced and presented in collaboration with Art House Gallery will be traveling to the Noyes Museum of Art. A Dark Wood features the work of 33 contemporary artists. The exhibition explores the theme of being lost in the darkness of our fears, doubts and negativity. Dante Alighieri, the 14th century Italian poet, began The Divine Comedy with a character who has lost his way in “a dark wood.” It is a metaphor not only for a crisis of faith, but a crisis of humanity. He has lost his spiritual compass, even how to be with and treat people. His character must survey the punishments of Dante’s taxonomy of evil before he is able to find a way to even a dim light of hope. There are many aspects of the dark wood and the artists presented in this exhibition interpret the richness of the concept through a range of media and methods.

The artists are: Meg Atkinson, Aaron B., Milcah Bassel, Daniel A. Bruce, Arthur Bruso, Emanuele James Cacciatore, Jessica Demcsak, Peter Everett, David French, Ethan Hamby, Jee Hwang, Jang Soon Im, Casey Inch, John Keefer, Dae Young Kim, Todd Lambrix, Ross Bennett Lewis, Joan Mellon, Dave Mishalanie, Daniel Morowitz, Nazanin Noroozi, Sarah Pfohl, Ben Pranger, Jon Rappleye, Clark Rendall, Dept of Reparative History, Anna Riley, Robert Schatz, Linda Kamille Schmidt, Jill Scipione, Philip Swan, Lisa Taliano, Linda Tharp

A DARK WOOD at Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University, January 19 – April 23, 2017. The museum will host an opening reception on February 10, 6 to8pm, for details: http://noyesmuseum.org/upcoming-exhibitions/

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Tableaux Vivant at the Met

Met_1560

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We chanced upon this scene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday. We imagined the composition of figures plucked from a Veronese or perhaps a classical Greek frieze. (We can’t say with certainty whether the mood was World Cup related or not.)

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Find Yourself at Curious Matter

Not sure where you are, or where you’re going? Be brave. The artists of Terra Incognita have explored uncharted territory too. Come. The final day to view Terra Incognita is Sunday, June 22, noon to 3pm. You might just gain a new sense of direction.

Christopher Gideon Eye, 2012 Vintage baseball cards from the artist’s childhood collection, 9 X 10 inches.

Christopher Gideon
Eye, 2012
Vintage baseball cards from the artist’s childhood collection, 9 X 10 inches.

Traveling today is easy. We plan and we tour. We insist that our destination be picturesque, somewhat exotic, yet still offer familiar food and comforting amenities. We shake our fists in frustration at globalization while expecting it when we travel. We delight in finding the familiar comforts of home in far-flung ports –– as if we’re all just a Coke bottle away from global harmony.

Travel in the past was arduous, dangerous, and mainly for the daring or desperate. Stories abounded of distant lands with strange animals and mysterious people. These fantastic stories were corroborated by bestiaries and literature going back to Alexander the Great, inspiring adventurers to hie out and find the truth. What was beyond the horizon to the west, and Cape de Não to the south? It was thought the edge of the Earth lay to the west, and monsters ready to devour the foolish lurked in the southern waters. Those who tried to see for themselves never came back. Still, commerce and curiosity proved too beguiling. The Age of Discovery was born when Columbus braved the western route to find China and the Spice Islands. Instead, it wasn’t an edge to fall off, but the Caribbean Islands and a New World which lay in the way.

Ben Pranger Countless Rings, 2008 Wooden log and dowels, Braille text by Emerson, 7 X 11 X 11 inches.

Ben Pranger
Countless Rings, 2008
Wooden log and dowels, Braille text by Emerson, 7 X 11 X 11 inches.

The phrase terra incognita was first used by Ptolemy in C. 150 AD in his Geography to indicate what may exist beyond the known territory. It found popular use with cartographers during the proceeding centuries to indicate, as Ptolemy did, land that was imagined to be in that particular place in the world. To Curious Matter, the notion of exploring uncharted territory of whatever topography seems the very essence of what artists do. Artists often grapple to visually articulate something unseen, unknown, murky or subconscious. Odilon Redon described his exploration of the interior landscape as an attempt to “place the visible at the service of the invisible”. The working of the brain and psyche continues to offer fertile ground for exploration into the unknown. Laurie Anderson, during her NASA artist-in-residency, was inspired by our ongoing fascination with space and its mysteries. She also recognized the link between research and beauty. Contemporary artists are making discoveries and documenting terrain in areas closer to home as well. Matthew Jensen, for example, through site-specific walking projects reveals unknown aspects of the landscape sometimes without leaving Manhattan.

Sarah Michalik Complex Relations, 2014 Blown glass, flameworked glass, mixed media, 17 X 14 X 13 inches.

Sarah Michalik
Complex Relations, 2014
Blown glass, flameworked glass, mixed media, 17 X 14 X 13 inches.

Curious Matter presents the exhibition Terra Incognita, as an exploration of how artists traverse the unknown territory of their ideas; whether that be a physical place, a psychic state or the physical application of media.

Robin Sherin (Building Silhouette #2 and Building Silhouette/Horizontal #10), Lance Morris (Local Positioning System: Los Angeles Roundabout), and Emmy Mikelson (Threshold Composition B.), are all exploring the physical space of the world. Sherin and Morris find a sense of wonder in their well-used urban surroundings. They take their cues from street signs and architectural landmarks and search for adventure in the mundane. Mikelson, filtering her vision through Piranesi, reimagines her neighborhood by turning it back upon itself and plotting out that terrain.

Claudine Metrick Fire Flies, 2014 Charcoal and mica powder, 12 X 11 inches.

Claudine Metrick
Fire Flies, 2014
Charcoal and mica powder, 12 X 11 inches.

Christopher Gideon (Eye) and Robert Gould (Ring of Rust) are time travelers. Gideon revisits his childhood obsession with baseball cards and reinvents them into graceful geometric collages. Gould, incorporating the very soil of an historic site, imbues his work with the essence and energy of the place he is depicting.

Ben Pranger (Countless Rings) finds visual inspiration from what can’t be discerned with the eye. His textual wood sculptures incorporate Braille, spelling out a text for those who have the understanding. Countless Rings conveys a text of Emerson, but the simple form and lush texture invites touching even for those who can’t interpret the projecting dowels.

Peter Matthews (A Volume of Ocean Knowledge) infuses his work with the mystical by binding together books that share the subject matter of the ocean. He then soaks them in the sea, hoping that the wisdom the books contain will also absorb the knowledge of the elemental water.

Robert Gould Ring of Rust, 2010 Rust, soil, gouache, on ink jet print on Arches paper, 
mounted on plywood, 8.25 X 12.25 inches.

Robert Gould
Ring of Rust, 2010
Rust, soil, gouache, on ink jet print on Arches paper, 
mounted on plywood, 8.25 X 12.25 inches.

Lauren Orchowski (As Seen By A Free Falling Observer), Sarah Michalik (Complex Relations), and Claudine Metrick (Fire Flies) all take us on a voyage beyond this Earth. Both Orchowski and Metrick compose imagery that embraces the mystery and grandeur of the planets, the stars in outer space, and the forces of the universe. Michalik devises an entire swirling galaxy or perhaps a single atom with swirling electrons with her circling glass orbs. Atom or galaxy, the forces that hold the cosmos together seem to converge at the very spot of her work.

Each of us is on our own journey, and often several at once. We follow a physical path, where our footsteps lead us from one place to another, experiencing the world through our senses. We also follow a psychic path, where we are led by our inner selves, sometime consciously, sometimes not, tethered to some invisible pull, always arriving where we need to be. Artists have a further journey, to follow their inspiration and drive to create. For them, this is the true terra incognita, and the most exhilarating voyage of discovery of all.

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Hats Off To The Frick

Possibly a poet or poet's muse, by Parmigianino.

Possibly a poet or poet’s muse, by Parmigianino.

We headed out to the Frick to see Parmigianino’s “Schiava Turca.” The sitter was misidentified in the 1700s as a Turkish slave (most likely because of her turban-like headdress) and the appellation stuck. We felt a little bad for her, even with her stylish hat and ostrich feather fan, she just didn’t command the round-the-block crowd Vermeer’s “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” had gotten earlier this year.

This is the first time “Schiava Turca” has been shown in the U.S. and you should visit just to look at her improbably elegant, mannerist hand. The painting is shown with four Renaissance portraits of men, but we think it would have been more fun to present her alongside Comtess Daru by Jacques-Louis David. Comtess Daru dons one of our all-time favorite examples of the milliner’s art as depicted in a painting. You can see her in the adjacent gallery.

The "jolly" Comtess Daru by Jacques-Louis David

The “jolly” Comtess Daru by Jacques-Louis David

Also at the Frick is a wonderful surprise in the installation of “Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes from the Hill Collection.” The bronzes are exhibited without the barrier of vitrine glass. This makes for an unusually intimate experience with the work. But it’s the juxtaposition of the bronzes with the painting “17th century” by Ed Ruscha that gives the exhibition real punch. Ruscha’s wall-spanning canvas of a brooding sky declares in Gothic typeface “war!” “alchemy!” “taxes!” “plague!” among other words evocative of the seventeenth century. There are a few other late 20th century works on display that refer to and enliven consideration of the bronzes, these include a couple by Cy Twombly. We heartily recommend a visit…

The Poetry of Parmigianino’s “Schiava Turca” will be on view to July 20, 2014.

Renaissance and Baroque Bronzes form the Hill Collection until June 15, 2014.

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Parallel Art Space Speaks

This is Phantom Limbs (2), 2013 by Russell Perkins. Ammonium dihydrogen phosphate, hand crank grinding wheel, 12 X 6 X 8 inches.

This is Phantom Limbs (2), 2013 by Russell Perkins. Ammonium dihydrogen phosphate, hand crank grinding wheel, 12 X 6 X 8 inches.

Parallel Art Space presents smart, fun exhibitions and I’m very pleased to be showing in their current group offering “The Heroic Object.” This Sunday, April 27 at 3pm they’ll host a talk with the 8 exhibiting artists. If you decide to come you won’t spend anytime trying to figure out how to slip away undetected. As moderator, PAS co-founder, Enrico Gomez makes these informal gatherings a terrific time. His keen understanding of the work and theme under investigation is complemented by the good humor and focus of a natural MC.

The artists are Vincent Como, Joshua Johnson, Peter Lapsley, Raymond E. Mingst, Russell Perkins, Kara L. Rooney, Magdalen Wong, and Frank Zadlo. The works “hone in on the art object, traversing realms from the mythic to the prosaic, deploying, by turns, allegory, commodity, manifesto, buried gold.”

The Heroic Object is up until May 11, 2014. The talk is Sunday, April 27 at 3pm.

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Canterbury Cathedral Stained Glass at The Cloisters

Abraham

Abraham

Moving and shipping art is nerve racking. Even if the object itself is resilient as a plush toy there’s always the possibility of loss or damage. Safely and securely shipping six huge stained glass windows from England’s Canterbury Cathedral, to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and then on to the Cloisters here in New York is almost too daunting for us to imagine. These delicate masterpieces hadn’t left the cathedral since they were installed between 1178-80.

Why chance such an expedition? Repairs to the cathedral had begun. Stonework necessitated their removal, but also offered the opportunity to conserve the glass. Afterwards, instead of waiting in storage the cathedral’s director of stained glass, Léonie Seliger, and Grace Ayson, from the team of conservators personally accompanied the windows to the U.S. for exhibition.

The repairs are amazing--here a simple bow of wire soldered in place to support a broken piece.

The repairs are amazing–here a simple bow of wire soldered in place to support a broken piece.

The 6 life-sized figures on display are from among 43 that have survived from the 85 originals. They represent the genealogy of Christ. Included in “Radiant Light, Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral at The Cloisters” are Abraham, Jareth, Lamech, Noah, Phalec, and Thara. Thara definitely seems like a dodgy character. He looks out of the corner of his eye while turning away as if he’s about to be caught or accused of something vile. Sure enough, he came from Ur, a city in Mesopotamia. As the wall tag explains, the place “was considered a hotbed of paganism.” On the other hand, Noah seems like a reliable guy. He confidently gestures as if in conversation, feet both firmly placed. If you had a major task to assign you could count on Noah to come through. These are gorgeous works, and the visual clues—dress, posture, expression—that reveal their individual characters make them especially fun to examine.

The opportunity to see these treasures in the U.S. probably won’t happen again for another 800+ years. They’ll be on view til May 18. Spring is set to burst forth and the various gardens in and around the Cloisters are just starting to bloom. Plan your visit soon.

We decided to use this occasion to pay particular attention to the stained glass permanently installed at the Cloisters as well. It’s a gory collection of horrors… you’ll see the “Blinding of Zaleucus of Locria”! “Souls Tormented in Hell”! Death with a Peasant, a Prince, and a Pope”! and more!

Stained glass on permanent display.

Stained glass on permanent display.

Finally, we happen to know a few stained glass artists that we think are pretty terrific. If you’d like to see what the current state of the art and craft of stained glass is then check them out:

Joseph Cavalieri – We featured an exquisite portrait of  King Henri III of France by Joseph in our group exhibition “Dividing Light, Measuring Darkness”.

Joseph’s work is playful, irreverent and possesses a strong graphic sensibility. Artists should page through his blog for career advice too.

Barbara Meise was one of the first artists we met when we moved to downtown JC. Her own work and her restoration expertise are in tremendous demand. She was profiled recently in Jersey City Independent.

Sasha Zhitneva was combining stained glass with plastic bottles when we showed one of her pieces in The Fool’s Journey. She continues to think through her medium in intriguing ways.

 

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Fanny Allié at ArtBloc

The opening reception for “Fanny Allié: The Glowing Home” at ArtBloc in Hamilton Square is this Thursday, March 13, from 6 to 8pm. We had a daytime preview of the work, but we’re looking forward to viewing the neon and sound installation at night.

courtesy the artist

courtesy of the artist

We’re delighted to have Fanny Allié exhibiting in downtown JC once again. Her video “From above” was in the first group exhibition held at Curious Matter in 2007. The image of the artist “levitated” along with the story of waking to discover she “had lost [her] body during the night” is enchanting. There have been many other exhibitions for Ms. Allié since then. Among them, an installation of her “Silhouettes” at St. Eustache Church in Paris, and currently “Getting To Know You” at 601 tully in Syracuse until April 26.

New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrix” recently featured a sculpture Ms. Allié installed in Tompkin’s Square Park. It seems people had taken to dressing her life-sized silhouette with scarves, hats and other items. NYmag was particularly amused when someone had duck-tapped the hands of her figure to suggest a bondage scene.

We thought we’d take the occasion of her ArtBloc installation as an opportunity to ask her a few questions, including whether she was pleased or distressed about the Tompkin’s Square installation.

 A Few Questions for Fanny Allié:

Fanny, you recently installed a sculptural work, “Serendipity” in Tompkins Square Park. It’s a life-sized, steel, silhouette of a human figure. People have taken to dressing the sculpture. It has donned hats, scarves, and tee shirts. It has been wrapped in tape, and has had a variety of objects attached to it, from sticks to shovels. Can you tell us what your initial response was to these “interventions”?
In the very beginning, when the first red ribbon was added to the sculpture, it bothered me and I had to remove it. I went and took the ribbon off. Then I started to realize that the sculpture wasn’t mine anymore, it belonged to the public, being in a public realm. I then began to document the changes as often as I could.

photo courtesy the artist, Serendipity with "piece of wood attached to the neck + black wool glove"

photo courtesy the artist, Serendipity with “piece of wood attached to the neck + black wool glove”

Were they totally unexpected?
Yes

Have they changed how you think about public art in anyway?
Not really. They actually reinforced the idea that for me public art is a great source of possible exchanges and encounters with other people. In the case of Serendipity, those interventions are almost magical; they appear out of the blue, at times with humor or poetry.

What role does context/location play in your work?
It plays a big role. When I propose a piece, I always do research about the environment, social, historical, geographical, the context in which the work will be received. I am interested in the relationship between the artwork, the place and the people who inhabits the place. 
For my installation at Artbloc In Jersey City, I mainly asked people that I met around Hamilton Park to sing a song for my project. Next time they will be walking near the shipping container located near Hamilton Park, they will hear their own voice playing.

You also create small papier-mâché pieces and works in clay. (One of which we exhibited in the Curious Matter/Proteus Gowanus collaboration The Fool’s Journey.) I’m inclined to read them as objects from a cabinet of curiosities, particularly when you display them on shelves or in a grid. Can you tell us the relationship between these pieces and your larger public works?
In my studio, I usually create small objects using different materials, like paper-maché, plaster or more recently fabric. And yes, they could belong in a cabinet of curiosity. I like experimenting with material and the hand-made process. I don’t have the same relationship with my larger works because I’m drawing it, but I am not making the work physically myself, I have it made by someone else. The connection between all my works is definitely the human figure and its trace.

From above, video, 1:32, Fanny Allié

From above, video, 1:32, Fanny Allié

Lastly… you work in steel and neon, but also papier-mâché, clay and fabric. You have an interest in the “fleeting moment.” Can you speak to your choices of medium? What role does the permanence or ephemerality of materials play in your work?
The project and the idea behind the work dictate the choice of medium. My work often relates to ephemerality so I use fragile materials, clay, neon, paper. For my series Artifacts for which each object was referring to a piece of news, I used paper-maché because it was like keeping the envelope of the object, its trace. We read or hear all these news on a daily basis but only a few remains in our mind, they come and go.

Ms. Allié’s Artbloc exhibition is curated by Brendan S. Carroll. For more about Fanny Allié visit her website.

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CHELSEA: report from the street

Chelsea, NYC

Chelsea, NYC

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Grumpy, Old Men at National Academy Museum

Had I not read about the show, this image wouldn't have enticed me to see the exhibition.

The NA chose to feature this portrait by Peter Heinemann…

Paintings by a group of grumpy, old men currently line the walls of the National Academy Museum. “See It Loud: Seven Post-War American Painters” features work that “grew out of abstract currents, but shifted toward representation.” The artists are: Leland Bell, Paul Georges, Peter Heinemann, Albert Kresch, Stanley Lewis, Paul Resika, and Neil Welliver.

The exhibition “seeks to restore a sense of historical balance to the understanding of the history of American art.” According to the curator, Bruce Weber, “[a]ll of the artists in this exhibition insisted on the significance of figuration and landscape painting, even when it seemed irretrievably out of fashion.” It’s an intriguing idea. Perhaps another show will give that theme the breadth and dimension it deserves.

“See It Loud” would have benefited from asserting a more modest intention. The works on view are all on loan from the Center for Figurative Painting in Manhattan. As a result, the scope of the exhibition is limited by its source.

We weren’t merely being glib in calling these grumpy, old men. What came through in reading the wall texts and viewing the art was an essential disquiet among the artists. The show includes men exclusively, and they all seemed to be shaking their fists; embattled by an art world captivated by abstraction.

While the artists of “See It Loud” may have nursed wounds, feeling their work unjustly ignored, they reveled in their outsider status as well. Leland Bell referred to himself as “contentious…an odd man out. And a pain in the ass.” Peter Heinemann said he “had a problem with people throughout my life because I’ve been so egotistical.” Welliver too, was “ [a] pugnacious individual…” Each nurtured a complaint with the world. Were they all just dissatisfied art world outsiders; out of vogue and resentful? Or, was there something else going on unique to their “post-war” experience?

Stanley Lewis battled the canvas itself. He literally scored and cut his drawings and paintings. He found it “amazingly hard to start [the] drawings. The first couple weeks are HELL.” Well, they look it. It’s as if a relentless physical assault on the page would produce the result he desired. His works look tortured into existence.

Struggle manifested on Paul Georges’ canvases as well. Not a single one of his paintings possessed the balance and visual ease of inevitability. His attempt to “reconcile the scale and freedom of Abstract Expressionist painting with the figurative content of the Old Masters” was clearly fought with every brush stroke.

“See It Loud” will most likely add value and cachet to the collection of the Center for Figurative Painting. So, the museum achieved that goal. While the abstract vs. representational theme was probably the most obvious way to package these artists as a group, for us it didn’t really hit the mark. Still, it got us thinking about aspects of the post-WWII experience among artists who didn’t fully embrace the instruction of Hans Hofmann or Josef Albers. We wondered, not just about the choice to paint the figure and landscape in the face of the abstract expressionist juggernaut, but, considering this crew, the essence of masculinity at this time in history.

Neil Welliver's paintings looked great. This jpeg doesn't reveal why. (It's the paint.)

Neil Welliver’s paintings looked great. This jpeg doesn’t prove it, you’d have to see them in person.

What surprised us

Of the seven on exhibition we’re most familiar with the landscapes of Neil Welliver. We’d never been fans. His colors don’t meld. No scumbling, no washes. He’d simply start at the upper left hand corner of the canvas and work his way down and across. Perhaps our expectation of the sublime made his work appear dutiful and cold. He never seemed to really care about the Maine landscape he depicted.

Sometimes not liking an artist’s work is reason enough for us to seek it out. It’s a chance to either congratulate ourselves, or challenge our prejudice. This time we got schooled. We had to admit that Welliver’s canvases looked amazing. That hard-edged, paint-by-numbers quality was trumped by an exquisitely lush feeling for the paint. He had commanded his stroke across immense picture planes with fluid consistency. His images shimmered as if the paint were still wet. He was the highlight this time out.

If you decide to visit “See It Loud: Seven Post-War American Painters” there isn’t much time, the exhibition closes on January 26.

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