As galleries and museums reopen even as mask-wearing mandates remain in effect and some venues require proof of vaccination, the public, freed from the constraints and isolation of the screen, can once again enjoy the pleasure of viewing artworks in situ.
We’re grateful for digital technology, which got many art venues through the pandemic and has continued to enrich the offerings of many, with artists’ talks, exhibition tours, and other events reaching a broader audience. But the renewed physical encounter with artworks has been exhilarating, involving spatial adventures that play with scale and placement.
After a year of sensory deprivation, the texture of objects viewed close up is almost like a touch. The way a sculpture pictorially shifts as you walk around is an animating force. Unless the Delta variant gets the better of us, these sensations will probably soon dull somewhat as they become routine and expected. During this period of re-entry, though, they are intense, lending artworks a freshness and raw magnetism.
This month there are at least a dozen exhibitions in the immediate vicinity. Collectively, these shows represent a banquet of visual treats, food for the mind as well as for the eye. We discuss three particularly intriguing shows or groups of shows, at ‘T’ Space, the Hessel Museum of Art, and the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, in detail, and offer a brief summary of some of the other offerings arranged by geography.
There’s a lot going on in this art-filled valley. We make no claims our survey is anywhere near comprehensive.
‘T’ Space’s exhibit of Anthony Titus’s richly hued canvas wall reliefs, entitled “Ruptures and Reconciliations,” explores not only the deconstruction of the painted canvas but also of architectural space. The seven pieces, consisting of crumpled, wrapped, folded, or draped monochromatic canvas alternately emphasize and escape from the rectangle in glossy, jewel-like colors of midnight blue, marigold yellow, red, and celadon. They gleam in the dim natural light of the gallery and take on a gravitas in the compact but monolithic spaces of the building, reinforcing its dialogue of containment and flow.
Just 750 feet square, the wood-sided T-shaped building designed by architect Steven Holl is located in a woodland near the village of Rhinebeck. The structure seems to float in the forest, hidden from the road by a thick growth of vegetation. Clear rectangles of glass on the walls and ceiling channel the light from above, like the clerestory of a cathedral. It is a hushed, meditative space, and it is enhanced by the spare, syncopated placement of the artworks, which explore themes of containment, oppression, repression, restraint, resignation and violence as well as release, flight, freedom and survival.
Titus’ modernist vocabulary references the gestural paintings of Motherwell and Kline, but the thick foldings of acrylic-painted canvas lend a visceral tactility and sculptural weight that refers back to the fabric’s vernacular functional origins as well as to the folds of drapery of the carved stone figures gracing ancient Greek funerary stelai.
The gallery is part of a complex founded by architect Holl and funded by his foundation. It also includes a building for architectural residencies, a miniscule lakeside studio, paths lined with sculptures, and a new structure housing Holl’s archives. The gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. on October 10, 17, and 24.
Hessel Museum of Art
Up the road at Bard College, at the Hessel Museum of Art, is “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985.” Originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the show surveys an underrepresented art-historical movement. P&D (Pattern & Decoration) began in 1975 with a group of artists in New York who met, held conferences, and organized their first show at the Alessandra Gallery. It subsequently spread to Los Angeles, Chicago, and other large cities before petering out in the mid-1980s. P&D, closely associated with feminism and craft, bears the imprint of numerous non-Western decorative art traditions. Though the show includes works by art-world luminaries Lynda Benglis, Lucas Samaras, Frank Stella, Judy Pfaff, and Nancy Graves, most of the artists are relatively unknown.
In direct opposition to the less-is-more minimalist orthodoxy of the time, P&D artists embraced the notion of more is more, with their uninhibited use of textiles, feathers, glitter, bright color, and wild patterning.
For example, the floral motif in Tony Bechara’s lyrical acrylic painting Carib, laid out in quarter-inch squares with masking tape, plays an Op Art trick on your eyes and references needlepoint, pointillism, and Byzantine mosaics.
Constance Mallinson’s dense grid-based drawings in color pencil resemble herringbone fabric and even viewed close up inexplicably mimic the fabric’s rough texture.
Pat Lasch’s Wilheminia’s Bird Tower sculpture, an elegant and comical creation recalling the Surrealist style of 1930s Paris, is fabricated out of wood, cut paper, glass beads, hair, and other materials. It rises from a confectionary base of rosettes, in which acrylic paint was piped from a pastry tube.
Al Loving’s draped multi-color fabric piece, tattered and patched, was inspired by his grandmother’s quilting bee and expressed his identity as an African American artist within the language of abstraction.
Diane Ritter’s flat, intimately scaled handwoven linen works, at odds with the monumental scale of 1970s fiber art, were made without a loom, They mostly consist of fringe, either dangling luxuriously in a rainbow of colors or spread out in a fan.
Two other artists whose art pieces are one with the process of their making are Howardenea Pindell and Neda Alhilali. Pindell applied glitter, sequins, and other cheap, crafty materials to sewn-together strips of canvas to create a surface texture that’s bleached and textured. It covers the monumental canvas and resembles a salt plain viewed from a plane. Alhilali wettened, braided, knitted, and wove lengths of paper together, and then rolled the material through an etching press and painted the surface in acrylic. The work’s overall calligraphic-like marks, raw texture, and large scale relates to Abstract Expressionism. Decorative and kitschy these works aren’t.
Many of the artists traveled widely and were inspired by decorative arts from around the globe, including African textiles, Guatemalan weavings, Moroccan tiles, Chinese landscapes, Japanese screens, Greek icons, and Persian miniatures. These influences were applied in multiple ways and took various forms.
The show includes two room installations, one with patterned wallpaper bearing hand-sculpted floral reliefs. Among the assortment of ceramic pieces are a series of vases complete with ceramic wall niches and shelves by Betty Woodman. Woodman’s Italian Window is a particularly inventive conception. It consists of curvy, twisted ceramic fragments arranged on the wall as if a reconstruction of archaeological fragments. The arrangement could also be read as ceramic employed not as a substitute for the original stone or wood of the depicted object but of a painted form. “Pattern and Decoration” is on view through November 28. Also on exhibit is “Drawings and Works on Paper in the Marieluise Hessel Collection,” through October 17. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 to 5. Advance reservations are required.
Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art
Over at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, “The Dorsky at 20: Reflections on a Milestone” commemorates the institution’s founding at SUNY New Paltz with an exhibition of promised gifts by a handful of donors, some imminent, others by bequests in wills.
The room of gifted artworks comprise a kind of museum-within-the-museum, consisting of paintings, prints, photographs, ancient Chinese ceramic pots, and a series of three tabletop clay and mixed-media sculptures by Grace Bakst Wapner, in which branching plant forms resemble human limbs in dance-like gestures (the title of one piece points to the grotesque: Medusa Head with Club Foot.) Wapner herself was the donor.
A tiny etching of a landscape by Cezanne — sharing wall space with prints by Renoir and Pissaro — succeeds in conveying a powerful sense of space and forceful form with an economy of means. A similarly small color lithograph of vases and flowers by Matisse expresses an exquisite grace and simplicity.
A moody monoprint of charging horses by Mary Frank suggests a multiplicity of dream-like realms infused with the lyricism and gravity of a Greek vase. In Cindy Sherman’s Ancient, the artist takes on the persona of a robed and turbaned seer sitting by the fire on a starry night within the confines of her studio. A crisp, brightly colored geometric abstract painting by Osi Audu represents himself wearing a Yoruba hairstyle.
Andrew Lyght’s digital photo artwork AIR Rights NYLyght NY presents a fanciful re-imagining of a rapacious real-estate term, in which futuristic gourd-like forms resembling acoustical devices float above New York City rooftops, The photographic image is incised with a network of ruled lines in color pencil, a geometrical staking out of the sky.
A series of paintings by Newburgh-based landscape painter Thomas Benjamin Pope relates stylistically to a landscape by contemporary painter Sandow Birk, although a closer look at Birk’s work reveals the inclusion of the sprawling Shawangunk Correctional Facility in the distance, subverting the pastoral serenity. Woodstock School of Art is represented by a painting of a bleak industrial scene along the Hudson River by Austin Mecklem, a portrait of a Black woman by Eugene Speicher, and a charming small oil painting of a landscape with two children and a woman running in a de Chirico-like space by Phoebe Towbin.
Photographers George N. Barnard (who captured the scenes of General Sherman’s campaign during the Civil War), Todd Webb, Aaron Siskind, and Andrew Kertesg are represented, as is contemporary multi-media artist Judy Pfaff.
The donors’ names, listed for each piece, include Arthur A. Anderson, John Driscoll’s family, Howard Greenberg, Floyd Lattin and Ward Mintz, and Ken Ratner, among others.
Also on display at the Dorsky through December 2 is “Life After the Revolution: Kate Millett’s Art Colony for Women,” an exploration of a heretofore unknown chapter of feminist and lesbian local history. In the late 1970s, Kate Millett, author of the landmark feminist book Sexual Politics, and her partner Sophie Keir purchased a farm in Lagrange, establishing a darkroom, a screenprinting studio, and a sculpture workshop as well as living quarters for a revolving cast of volunteers who helped plant, maintain and harvest 80 acres of Christmas trees, to support the farm.
“It wasn’t for everyone. You had to be willing to work really hard at physical labor,” noted Dorsky curator Anna Conlan of what became known as the Women’s Art Colony. “It was also a place for panels and parties.” The challenges and joys of living, working and playing at the farm are captured in interviews with Millett and various colonists in a film.
Millett was a person of extraordinary achievements — not just an award-winning author, educator, and activist for women’s rights around the world, and also mental health and elder care but also an artist. Several whimsical wood sculptures from her Magritte-like “fantasy furniture” are on display, plus samples from her Pop-style silkscreen prints of local flora, farm equipment, and summer clothing, whose sale helped support the farm.
Conlan first learned about the Women’s Art Colony when she was a freelance curator and discovered a correspondence between poet Audre Lorde and artist Mildred Thompson, including love letters in the Spellman College archives. She learned from the Poughkeepsie postmark that Thompson was a resident at the farm. Millett died in 2017, but Conlan was able to contact Sophie Keir, Millett’s wife, who still resides at the farm, now renamed the Millett Center of the Arts. Keir provided much of the archival material and connected the curator with former colonists.
Thompson’s illustrations for a series of poems by Lorde are included, as well as artworks by visitors, including Yoko Ono’s “A Box of Smile,” a small metal box containing a mirror (Ono and John Lennon had visited the farm), and Carolee Schneemann’s photo silkscreen, Women’s Travel Plans, which contains a listing of egregious exclusions of women artists in the art-historical canon.
Such is the path of pioneering curatorial scholarship.
Also now on view at the Dorsky is “Who Really Cares?,” featuring works by more than 25 Hudson Valley artists reflecting on the year of the pandemic. Personal favorites of mine include the cool, concise still lifes of Marcy Rosewater, which include objects referencing the outdoors, such as pine cones and tennis balls.
Sharon Bates offers a calendar series in which each month is represented as an abstract image, consisting of layered stacks of dryer lint. Ransome has produced boldly colored and composed collaged paintings of Black people lounging in interior spaces, including a portrait of a Gee’s Bend quilter.
Finally there’s “Follies and Picturesque Tourism,” whose display of stereographs, postcards, booklets, and other historic tourist memorabilia includes a remarkable Piranesi engraving and a delicate Jervis McEntee watercolor of a landscape near Perpignan in southwestern France.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 to 5.
Aaron Rezny’s large-scale photographs capturing the board games of his childhood are displayed in “Gameshow,” an exhibition at his studio at 76 Prince Street through October 31; call 212-691-1894 for an appointment.
The work is a kind of companion series to Eating Delancy: A Celebration of Jewish Food , the well-received book of Rezny photos commemorating the food of his childhood. Board games “were near and dear to me because I was bedridden with leg braces from age six to nine and a half and friends and family members would come and play with me,” Rezny recalls. Close-up shots of game pieces and other details, from battling metal robots to tiny plastic ships to miniature basketball nets to a scattering of wooden Scrabble letters, are captured in color or black-and-white in monumental compositions that play with depth of field and focus, transforming the objects into mysterious terrains.
“Funeral for an Able-Bodied Self – Birth of the Disabled Self,” a mixed-media installation at The D.R.A.W., 20 Cedar Street, through mid November, features the work of 19-year-old Nick Carroll, who was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at age 16 and then with autism a year ago. This double whammy prompted a documentation of the imagined funeral of herself as an able-bodied person and the celebration of her rebirth as a disabled person. The series of 19 digital prints were made from line drawings delicately colored in with pencil. The images have a gentle lyricism, reminiscent of 1930s comic strips.
Carroll said the series will be displayed above an urn crafted to resemble a honey-bear jar. A decoupage gift box will be filled with Acetamiophen. “When the show is over, I’m going to cremate them,” said Carroll, who was born and raised in Kingston and attended the Maryland Institute of Art for a year. “I deal with chronic pain and fatigue. The time I can spend on things has changed, and only now am I starting to accept that as a reality,” In their energy and lyrical design, these highly accomplished prints seem to defy limits and challenges. For info on hours email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Jose Acosta: Looking for Something in Color” is a solo exhibition featuring the brightly colored, energized paintings of the Poughkeepsie-based artist, who was born in Cuba, and “It’s Music to my Eyes!,” a monthly members’ exhibition, is at Arts Society of Kingston, 97 Broadway, through October 31. Tuesday through Sunday, 1 to 6.
Works by Nancy Catandella, Olesya Dzhurayeva, and Margaret Still are on display at Green Kill, 229 Greenkill Avenue. Catandella’s mixed-media works, incorporating encaustic, altered photographs, acrylic, ink, and charcoal, relate to water and the pandemic. “When I work I may start with an idea of what I’m going to do but in the end the work takes on a life of its own,” she writes, describing the pieces as “narrative visual poems that also testify to the resilience of human nature and our environment.”
Dzhurayeva, who grew up in Ukraine, is a graphic artist based in Kyiv who has exhibited around the world. She’ll be exhibiting her linocuts.
Margaret Still is a Saugerties-based artist who paints simplified landscapes inspired by photos taken on road trips or images found on the Internet. “When an image grabs me, I play with it until it becomes something more pungent and iconic,” she noted. Through October 30, Tuesday through Saturday, 3 to 5:30.
“Intersecting Art, Earth, Fire, Water & Air,” five artists respond to the environment and the four elements, at West Strand Art Gallery, 29 West Strand. The exhibition includes digital prints, drawings, paintings, and lithographs by artists Carmen Lizardo, Amy Fenton-Shine, Pablo Shine, Judy Brodsky, and Diane Burko.Through Nov. 14, Friday and Saturday from 1 to 6 and Sunday from 1 to 4.
“Built II: Architecture in Art,” will open at The Lockwood Gallery, 747 Route 28. On October 14, from 5 to 7. Works relating to architecture by Vivien Collens, Daniel Denton, architects Richard King and Richard Scherr, Victoria Palermo, and Kurt Steger will be featured. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 to 6.
Abstract painter Lois Capone will show her works at the Wired Gallery, 11 Mohonk Road, from October 2 through through October 17. Capone’s intensely hued abstract canvases resonate with emotion. Surrealist painter Raul Serrano is featured from October 23 through November 7. He creates dreamlike narratives by playing with scale and juxtaposing figures and objects in incongruous scenes.
Every day, 11 to 4.
“Tell Me a Story” will be on view from October 16 through November 14 at Emerge, 228 Main Street, featuring 50 artworks in the gallery (more online), include monotypes, collages, drawings, fiber art, paintings, photographs, and sculptures focusing on a narrative.
There will be a virtual tour and artists’ discussion on October 24 at 3 p.m. and a virtual reading on November 7 from 3 to 5, featuring writers reading their story, essay, or a poem inspired by an artwork in the show. Artists include Beacon-based Theresa Gooby, Lou Storey, Claudia Waruch and Jeffrey Friedkin. Writers are encouraged to submit work inspired by the show’s images to email@example.com. Friday and Saturday 1 to 6, and Sunday 1 to 5.
The 11 Jane St. Center will present ”Jennifer Hicks: Imprinted Over Time,” paintings of roses in response to the pandemic and the artist’s subsequent religious readings and spiritual questioning. The installation also includes ambient projections by Christine Alicino and sound art by Gary Weisberg. It is open through November 7 on Thursday and Sunday noon to 5, and on Friday and Saturday noon to 6.
“Native Stone: The Art of Tomas Penning” will be at the Woodstock School of Art, 2470 Route 212, from October 9 through November 7. The opening is at 3 to 5 on October 9. Exhibition focuses on the life and art of Tomas Penning, one of the leading sculptors of the Woodstock art colony. Curator and art historian Bruce Weber will conduct a tour of Penning’s former property at High Woods on October 23 at 2 p.m. and give a talk at the gallery on November 7 at 2 p.m. The show is open Monday through Friday, 9 to 3, and on Saturday from 9 to 1.
“Rewriting Loss: Photographs by Carla Shapiro,” photos of prayer flags — actually hand-written obituaries of 9/11 victims on sheets of vellum — suspended in a clothesline over a stream on the photographer’s property over a year, will show through October 11 at the Center of Photography at Woodstock, 59 Tinker Street. Also on exhibit is “Double Life,” Kelli Connell’s photographs of one model through the course of 20 years. These constructed realities explore the dualities of the self. Showing through November 27, Monday through Friday, 10 to 5, Saturday, noon to 4.
“Artists Draw Their Studios,” Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 36 Tinker Street, October 9 through November 21. Meet the artists at the opening on October 9, noon to 5. Artist Michelle Weinberg invited 50 artists to contribute drawings of their workplaces in a project that seeks to expose the various ways artists perceive their creative work and lives. Some drawings are observational, others abstract or conceptual representations of the idea of studio. Presented by Available Space, https://availablespaceishere.com, Friday through Monday, noon to 5.
“Stephen Green-Armytage: Extraordinary Birds” at Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, 28 Tinker Street, through November 7, with artist’s talk in October 9 at 3 p.m. In these large photographic color portraits of exotic (or exotic-looking) breeds of chickens, pheasants, and pigeons, plumage makes a fashion statement: are these really birds?
Also at WAAM is the members’ autumn exhibition of small works, staff selections from the permanent collection, and “Being Present in a Time of Uncertainty: Onteora High School Photography and Digital Art.” Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5.
New paintings by Nora G. Licht and Douglas I. Sheer, Sublime Salon,1538 Route 212, through mid-November. Licht’s work focuses on patterning and decorative motifs, while Sheer’s is gestural and expressionistic. For hours call 917-692-0975 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.