Thinking Outside the Frame – print show at NUMU

 

I was excited to take in the new print show which opened to members last Thursday night at the New Museum Los Gatos! Presented by The California Society of Printmakers, Thinking Outside the Box was juried by Cathy Kimball,  Executive Director and Chief Curator of The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, bringing together fascinating prints, which employed a wide variety of processes, mediums, materials and methods of presentation, engaging the viewer in a very different experience than with traditional printmaking. Makes me want to print on stuff!!! The show runs until September 30. Check the NUMU website for hours and all the printmaking demos they have lined up this summer! Also, click on artist’s names below for links to their wonderful websites if you’d like to see more of their work.

Outside the Frame – NUMU

NUMU’s curator Marianne McGrath introducing Susan Howe, who is in charge of Special Projects at The California Society of Printmakers which is presenting Thinking Outside the Frame and offering an excellent exhibition catalogue which is available at the museum. She will be conducting a Mokuhanga Woodcut demo June 30 at the museum.

Cathy Kimball, Executive Director and Chief Curator of The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art brought her considerable experience and eye to jury the show. She is speaking here about her selection process.

Kent Manske – Genetic Garden 5-17-18 – 2018 – Installation of screen based monoprints on aluminum.

Ellie Honl – Coping Strategies – 2013 – HD stop animation video made from prints.

Michelle Murillo with DNA MAP – For a Shifting Identity – 2015 – Fused glass screen print.

Detail – the artist is using bits from her own family history!

Karen Gallagher Iverson – Variable Horizons 1,2 – 2016 – Pochoir Print – drawn colored pastel on wax.

Close-up of Variable Horizons 1. The artist has echoed the contours of the landscape to the rhythm of a heart!

Beth Fein - Betrayed – 2011 – Monoprints formed into 3D shapes, paper, ink, shredded US currency

Close-up.

Ashley Rodriguez Reed and little one – The Forest of My Wild Heart – 2017 – Silk-screened, digitally printed, found, sewn and embroidered fabric.

Detail, a toucan amongst the intricate patterns of a piece inspired by tangles of exposed tree roots at Mount Tamalpais and the environments they create.

Ginger Crawford Tolonen – Hopscotch Allegories – 2003 – Accordian artist book, intaglio and drypoint etchings, handmade box.

Up-close.

Ewa Gavrielov – 5 Shades of Pink – 2017- Screen print.

Ewa Gavrielov – Alternating – 2016 – Mixed media, shredded and folded paper.

Carrie Ann Plank – Dermaombré Brown and Blue Variations, Small Versions – 2017 – Laser assisted woodcut with indigo dye on Okawara.

Carrie Ann Plank – Dermaombré – 2016 – Woodcut with indigo dye.

Robynn Smith  – Liminal Terrain – 2015 – Linoleum relief print over digital output, 5 panels. This artist will be offering a Silk-Cut Linoleum Relief Printing Workshop July 14 & 15 at the museum.

Detail.

Donna Westerman – Generation – 2015- Woodcut installation.

Close up.



Katherine Venturelli
– Lunar Calculations – 2013 – Artist book, intaglio, Rives BFK paper, book cloth binding.

Luz Marina Ruiz, Tierra de los Sueños – 2017 – Tunnel artist, linoleum cut, hand-colored with watercolor.

Me with Betty Friedman‘s Untitled (triptych) 196, 2010 – Intaglio, chine collé, printed on handmade paper.

NUMU’s Executive Director Lisa Coscino in conversation with Genetic Garden’s artist Kent Manske.

Coffee Tawk – The Obama Portraits

Portraits are so contentious! John Singer Sargent, arguably one of the very best portrait painters, is known to have said, “Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.” No wonder there is still such controversy over the Obama portraits at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery! These groundbreaking figures, the very first African American family in the White House are beloved to so many and thanks to the wellspring of fantastic photographs over their eight years in highest office of the land, many of us feel that we know them quite intimately and have emotional responses to how they should or should not be portrayed.

Artists, writers, collectors and art supporters gathered at NUMU’s Coffee Tawk, yesterday to ponder what could have been a scene out of SNL, with Mike Meyers, “The Obama Portraits are neither the Obamas or portraits…tawk amongst yourselves….”

President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley – oil on canvas 2018

First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald, Oil on Linen, 2018

So, I’ll let you in on my personal opinion….. I am thrilled with these portraits! In keeping with their time in office these portraits are like a breath of fresh contemporary air in the stodgy world of official portraiture. Real art, imbued with fascinating symbolism and technique and radiating a distinctive voice! Even more importantly, the Obamas both chose brilliant African American artists who consciously challenge the ways that African Americans have traditionally been presented!

In Kehinde Wiley’s hyper-realistic painting of Barack Obama, he has set the president against an encroaching backdrop of greenery flowering with blooms that symbolize his roots, the African blue lilies from his father’s birthplace of Kenya, the jasmine from his Hawaiian birthplace, the chrysanthemums from his town of Chicago where he had met his wife and worked as a community organizer, civil rights attorney and later represented the 13 district in the Illinois senate. This is typical in Wiley’s work, strong, contemporary African American subjects dynamically set against dramatic flora or pattern laden with symbolism, often in poses taken straight out of the pages of art history!

Amy Sherald’s heavily stylized portrait of Michelle Obama exemplifies her work. Her subjects are presented in a greyscale wearing colorful, often patterned clothing and set against a simple, colored backdrop, which carefully isolates the direct gaze of the subject. Traditionally, classic oil paintings begin with a grisaille underpainting, in shades of grey to better control values in achieving a three dimensional effect before adding  transparent washes of color. At one point Sherald decided she preferred the contrast of the grey skin against the colored backdrop and outfits. Perhaps it was simply an aesthetic choice, perhaps it came out of the agency that early photography brought to African Americans in how they chose to portray themselves that resonated with her. The dress that Michelle Obama is wearing, by American designer, Michelle Smith of Milly, is in keeping with the subject’s support of American designers, the within-reach, if somewhat  aspirational couture she chose as First Lady but more importantly, this dress contains references to the Gee’s Bend quilts, designs passed down from generations of African American women, some of which encoded Underground Railway information – all while still feeling fresh and modern and as elevated as a Mondrian!

Wiley and Sherald both employ unique approaches to African American portraiture that help us see African Americans in a new way. I cannot underscore enough how important it is that this vision have such a prominent place on the national stage. I would expect nothing less from the Obamas to personally chose these artists to represent them in this vital way.

Having said my piece, I will share some of the questions and concerns that were brought up at Coffee Tawk….

What is the artist selection process for official presidential portraits? What is the criteria? Can the artist’s race, gender, religion be a bonafide criteria?  Who makes the selection?  Who pays? Should a portrait be a photographic likeness or an artistic interpretation?  How will these portraits be seen in the course of history?

Interesting! Also very interesting is how disappointed some people felt that the portraits didn’t look enough like the Obamas, that some aspect of their personality was missing, like  their warmth. One person felt Barack looked slouchy and undignified, another thought he looked as though he was leaning forward to listen.  One person missed Michelle’s smile, another thought she looked queen-like in the her golden triangle orientation.

People also spoke about their experiences in commissioning portraits, disappointments in not getting a faithful likeness and adventures in abstract representations! Speaking from the artist’s side of the commissioning process, I typically turn down requests of portraiture, especially memorial portraits, counseling the hopeful, potential client that paintings are great if you are looking at an artistic rendition that might (if we’re lucky) capture some sliver of the spirit of that person, but paintings are not a substitute for photography or memory and that people are great at recognizing faces….and experts in the faces they love, so any little thing that is off can be quite creepy and disappointing (“A portrait is something wrong with the mouth.” – Sargent, again!), the whole venture is quite a gamble and SO much work!  All that’s riding on getting a portrait “right” can turn the painting into something very stiff and awkward. Now I will only a portrait for it’s own sake, not as a commission. This frees me up to paint how I like (without the feeling of someone looking over my shoulder.) It is very rewarding if subject or their family is interested in the painting after it’s done but I can’t be worried about that while I work. Painters are not magicians or mind readers and their work can’t be all things to all people.

I guess my advice to those who are interested in commissioning a portrait is to do your research! Pick an artist whose style you love, who has a solid record of painting portraits in particular. You will be getting their interpretation of you or your loved one, not a facsimile!

Finally, in addition to the links above, I’m including some links to interesting articles and interviews about the artists and the Obama portraits.  Please feel free to chime in with thoughts about the portraits!

Oh…. the next Coffee Talk at NUMU with Director, Lisa Coscino is set for April 26, 2-3pm the topic (as I understand it) will be about censorship – questions about how and if we re-evaluate the work of artists who have been found to have been discredited in other aspects of their life, questions about the propriety/ necessity of removing controversial statues from public spaces …. it’s broad and wide raging and controversial. Bring your opinions and coffee – NUMU provides the venue and the sweets!

The Jealous Curator’s Art For Your Ear podcast interview with Amy Sherald.

NPR’s All Things Considered 2015 interview with Kehinde Wiley.

http://npg.si.edu/blog/looking-amy-sheralds-portrait-michelle-obama

http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/baltimore-insider-blog/bs-fe-little-girl-parker-curry-amy-sherald-michelle-obama-portrait-viral-20180305-htmlstory.html

Waterlines Preview Party

Waterlines opened up last night at NUMU with a fabulous, packed preview party for members!  I am so honored to be part of this extremely beautiful show curated by Marianne McGrath with such outstanding artists working in a multiplicity of media and bringing distinct perspectives and sensitive visions and voices speaking to our experience of water. Exhibiting artists include: Judith Belzer, Barbara Boissevain, Marie Cameron, Matthew Chase-Daniel, Christel Dillbohner, Linda Gass, Nancy Genn, Liz Hickok, Theodora Varnay Jones, Pantea Karimi, Cheryl E. Leonard, Danae Mattes, Marsha McDonald, Klea McKenna, Ryan M. Reynolds and Linda Simmel, I have added links to all of their websites which can be accessed by clicking on their names below.

Always a pertinent topic, and especially so in California, NUMU was able to enjoy the support of sponsors such as Badger Meter and San Jose Water Company and Kumiko Iwasawa, Iwasawa Oriental for Waterlines.

Executive Director Lisa Coscino and Curator Marianne McGrath, talking about the genesis of the show and introducing sound artist Cheryl E. Leonard who played transporting music with objects from the sea and layers of recorded sounds from waves and melting glaciers.

Here are some of her instruments, mussel shells, stones, dried kelp flute, stinger driftwood and shell rattles  and sand.

Music by Cheryl E. Leonard,  Video by Oona Stern.

I love how the various pieces in Waterlines seem to be in conversation with one another.

With my assemblage painting with found objects and Pacific Ocean water, Stilla Maris which is Latin for Drop of the Sea and is thought to be the precursor to Stella Maris.

With California Water Rites, my assemblage with Los Gatos tap water.

California Water Rites and Poem

Theodora Varnay Jones – Poem

Christel Dillbohner with Frozen in Time – oil, cold wax on linen and Motionless Torrents – oil on silver leaf.

With Danae Mattes and her Evaporation Pool.

Site Specific Evaporation Pool by Danae Mattes.

Exhibiting artists Danae Mattes and Liz Hickok with Holly Van Hart.

Liz Hickok‘s photographs (sublimation print on aluminum) Lithosphere and Signal to Noise.

Pantea Karimi speaking about her silkscreen, Mapping a Gulf: The Persian Gulf Map and Tour of The Persian Gulf Album with Lorraine Lawson.

Judith Belzer‘s paintings.

Linda Gass with her sumptuous painted silk textile pieces, Owens River Diversion and San Joaquin Merced Revival.

Marsha McDonald – Slough, one of many GIF videos of water.

Barbara A. Boissevain aerial photographs of Bay Area salt ponds.

Barbara A. Boisssevain – Salt Pond Restoration Photo Grid

Matthew Chase-Daniel – Swamp South of Crescent City – photo assemblage.

Nancy Genn‘s Patagonia series casein paintings on canvas.

Linda Simmel photopolymer intaglio etchings, 75kts and 60kts.

Linda Simmel – Book of Seas - gesso/pencil on gampi paper, steel binding.

Ryan Reynolds – Frogshead and Petaluma River – oil on panel.

Klea McKenna Rainstorms & Rain Studies

Klea McKenna

Waterlines runs from October 6 – March 18.  November 4th several Waterline artists will be present to talk about their work (including me) in conjunction with NUMU’s Winter Celebration. I hope you get a chance to see the exhibit in person because my photographs are not capturing the beauty of the work!

Et in Arcadia Ego – NUMU

Et in Arcadia Ego
Even in Arcadia there I am

NUMU’s exquisite exhibition, Et in Arcadia Ego, guest curated by David Molesky, just opened last night! Growing out of the classical belief that utopia exists just beyond the bounds of civilization and liminal figures like shepherds are beings that are ideally seen to inhabit both worlds. This show features a stunning collection of work from stellar local and international artists. Running from June 2 – October 2, there well be an Opening Celebration for their summer Exhibitions, tomorrow, Saturday June 4 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. New Museum Los Gatos is located at 106 E Main Street, Los Gatos, California.

Here’s a taste… all the artists names are linked to their websites where all of their photos will be better than mine!

David Ligare – Et in Arcadia Ego (View Moderne) – Oil on Panel

Aron Wisenfeld – Bloom – Oil on Canvas

Agostino Arrivabene – Il Sogno di Asceptio -Tempra and Oil on Antique Panel (detail)

NUMU’s Executive Director, Lisa Coscino introducing  Guest Curator, artist and writer, David Moseky (He’s the tall one in the middle of the photograph below).

Astrid Preston – Mountain Path – Oil on Canvas

Stephanie Peek – Deeper 1 – Oil on Canvas

Holly Lane - After the Storm – Acrylic on Carved Wood

Seamus Conley –  Po Boy – Oil on Canvas

David Ligare – Et in Arcadia Ego – Oil on Linen

Odd Nerdrum – In Arcadia (self portrait) – Oil on Canvas

Jason Yarmosky –  Counting Sheep – Oil on Canvas

Julie Heffernan – Self Portrait as Acceleration – oil on canvas

Maria Kreyn –  Even Here – Oil on Canvas

Robin F Williams – The Gardeners – Oil on Canvas

Brad Kunkle – Reclamation – Oil, Gold and Silver Leaf on Wood

Me trying to become part of Stephanie Peek’s painting – silk floral camo!

Some of the brains and beauty behind the exhibit: Andrea Schwartz / Andrea Schwartz Gallery, David Molesky / Guest Curator, Marianne McGrath / NUMU Curator, Lisa Conscino / NUMU Executive Director.

The NASA Paintings – Rick Guidice at NUMU

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Thursday evening was a stellar night at NUMU with Los Gatos artist Rick Guidice, The NASA Paintings and a fabulous NASA Ames Research Center panel discussion, Our Place in Space: A Panel Discussion About the Future of Space Settlements! This dynamic exhibition of visionary space settlements Guidice developed for NASA in the 70′s helped to shape how we could see our future in space and has informed much later work on the subject. It runs from September 17, 2015  though to February 14, 2016.

Rick Guidice- NUMU - Marianne McGrath - photo Marie Cameron 2015

NUMU’s Curator of Art, Marianne McGrath introducing Rick Guidice for a informal talk about this series and his experience working with NASA.

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Rick Guidice unscrolling one of his early drawings of Mars space suits that had been modeled for him at NASA Ames Research Center.

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Such an enthusiastic and knowledgable turnout for Rick Guidice’s talk, the room was filled with scientists, engineers and artists!

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Rick Guidice explained how he used dramatic changes in scale of the astronauts to indicate how incredible large these space settlements were.

Rich Guidice -The Nasa Paintings - NUMU - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Astronauts tethered to an early space shuttle in a detail from a Guidice painting.

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Spellbound.

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - painting detail 1977 Mass Driver With Solar Power Station- photo Marie Cameron 2015

In Mass Driver with Solar Power Station, an acrylic painting from 1977, Guidice explained how he chose to paint it from an unusual perspective – one where the earth was floating above instead of under our feet. He even signed it to make sure the orientation was maintained in future publications but to no avail, we earthlings are so fixed in our imagination, it was often printed upside-down.

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Guidice’s initial idea was to develop practical, dense housing for these space settlements but NASA had something more reminiscent of the pastoral French countryside in mind.

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings -painting detail- photo Marie Cameron 2015

Here’s a detail of agriculture in space, from a Rick Guidice painting. Maybe this is where The Muppets “Pigs in Space” concept came from?

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Full room for an engaging storyteller!

Rick Guidice- NUMU - The NASA Paintings - painting detail- photo Marie Cameron 2015

The forced perspective, raking angles, high contrast, bold colors and texture seen in this detail from an asteroid mining device illustration, are just some of the artistic devices that make Guidice’s work so exciting.

Our Place in Space - NUMU Panel Discussion - Lisa Coscino - photo Marie Cameron

NUMU Executive Director, Lisa Coscino welcoming the NASA Ames Research Center panelists speaking on Our Place in Space: A Panel Discussion About the Future of Space Settlements.

Panel Discussion  Our Place in Space -NUMU - photo Marie Cameron 2015

Panel Moderator, Alexandra Hall (Principal, Sodor Space Agency LLC) leading an engaging panel discussion on the future of space settlement with guest scientists.

Dr. Ann-Sofie Schreurs ( NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow)

Sidney Sun (Chief of Space Biosciences Division at Nasa Ames Research Center)

Lynn D. Harper (Lead of Integrative Studies for both the Emerging Commercial Space Office, reporting to the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters & the NASA Ames Research Center Space Portal.

Yes, it was that kind of amazing night! So many great minds sharing interesting research and posing engaging questions.

The panel spoke on falling in love with space, their individual areas of study,  the importance of human psychology in space, of the impact on the human body and how we may be bio engineered or evolve to better cope with issues like bone density loss and muscle atrophy. There were questions too of how our own colonies of bacteria might be kept in check as they seem to become more virulent in space. How space junk was an issue and recycling is critical. For example, even clothes can not be washed in space and must be trashed in a week – could they be recycled or maybe self cleaning clothing can be bio-engineered? Bio organisms will prove to be an important component in creating organic systems to recycle water and waste in general.

There was talk of how it will be necessary to develop outer orbit mining and manufacturing and recycling of the the highly processed space debris that is already in orbit  (some 12 million tons) There was talk of the excess carrying capacity of current space launches and how material for the creation of these settlements could be sent, taking advantage of the extra room and be stored in zero gravity.

When I asked a question about who owns space (now that there are so many commercial entities vying for a piece of the cosmic pie) I got an unexpected answer from a member of the audience, Daniel Faber, CEO of Deep Space Industries – (asteroid mining anyone?) Apparently The Outer Space Treaty is the only thing currently in pace and while it regulates some things (no nukes on the moon) it has a non-interference policy when it comes to mining – Faber feels taxes will be collected by the countries from which the mining companies are based.

Harper felt that the World Bank could also act to collect a percentage of profits that might be reinvested in global space mining/ manufacture.

It’s all a ways out yet, but maybe not as far as we think – fascinating!