April on Art
In South Florida and Beyond
Public art has reinvigorated West Palm Beach—and is transforming it into an art destination. On November 11, the city’s second Canvas Outdoor art experience opened. This year it is centrally located along the waterfront on Flagler Drive. Artists from around the globe are creating monumental installations at that new, permanent location, and mural art is being created as well. Last year’s Canvas exhibition offered some sensational mural art by the big international names in that field such as Sean Yoro (Hula)....
Left to right: Bik Ismo, See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil, WPB 2015.(Wilcox); Agata Ren & Steven Brouse, Infinite Spirit, WPB, 2016 (Now Painted Over) (Ren); Mike Greg, True Love, WPB, 2015 (Wilcox); Sean Yoro (Hula), Clara. WPB. 2015 (Wilcox)
Other artists whose work is still on display in the city are Eduardo Kobra, Bik Ismo, and Greg Mike, plus local artists such as Amanda Valdes and Eduardo Mendieta.
West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County have strongly supported this artistic renaissance. In fact, West Palm Beach actually joined with Nicole Henry, founder and curator of Canvas, to support her project going forward. The Canvas exhibition has attracted large crowds this year and last--and indication of how much people appreciate accessible good art. It also proves that when art and business collide, it’s good for everyone! See my article in the Miami art magazine Art Districts-Florida for details about this art phenomenon. http://artdistricts.com/
The glory of Florida landscapes is back again in the work of the Florida Highwaymen--and the teacher who inspired them, A.E. Backus (Shown below). You can see a selection of their work, along with a great selection of A.E. Backs --at Florida Atlantic University's Ritter Gallery starting September 16. The Florida Highwaymen were African American artists who avoided working in the fields of South Florida in the 1960s by selling their landscape art to tourists, hotels, and restaurants. The market for art was booming due to the influx of people into the state after WWII. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of academic lectures--plus an artists' panel--that will discuss both the artwork these artists, the influence of A.E. BAckus, and the conditions of Jim Crow Florida at the time. To find out more, read my article in the September PalmBeachArts Paper.
Dear Art Lover---
It's September -- one of the most exciting cultural seasons here in South Florida; a plethora of great art coming to our region to examine and enjoy. I'm updating the calendar to make sure it includes all significant September art showings, gallery highlights and events! More to come...
April-- September 3, 2016
Landscape Art of A.E Backus and Florida's Highwaymen--Florida Atlantic University
September 16 -- November 19 Ritter Gallery Sept. 15 - Nov. 19, 2016
This exhibit brings together -- for the first time in such detail -- the art of A.E. Backus and that of the Florida Highwaymen, the African American artists from Ft. Pierce inspired by Backus, Florida's greatest landscape artist. The exhibit includes a series of lectures and examinations of how these "Florida Highwaymen" flourished in the Jim Crow south of the 1960s.
Botanicals--Antique Engravings & Lithographs-- Ann Norton Sculpture Garden 2051 S. Flagler Dr., West Palm Beach Sept. 15 - Oct. 20, 2016
Lovers of flower prints will be delighted with this exhibit. It contains a beautiful selection of rare lithographs and engravings that depict botanicals, fruit, architectural renderings, and Coats of Arms dating from the 1500s through the 1800s. All are for sale. Each one is beautifully displayed in beautiful handmade frames in mahogany, burl wood, gold and silver leaf, tortoise shell, and marquetry by Giovanni Bello of Florence, Italy. Many include hand-painted mats.
All-Florida Invitational at the Boca Raton Museum
Through December 15, 2016
The relaunched All-Florida Invitational at the Boca Museum contains a wide range of types of art. Begun in 1951, the format is new. Five established artists were asked to select five emerging artists. You'll see artwork from 31 artists--some familiar--others entirely new--artwork in a wide variety of genres from video to found objects. There are some outstanding pieces, although many of the best are by the established artist/curators themselves.
The tower cast a spell over me immediately and beckoned me to come closer and examine it. Coming closer, I could see ribbons of miniature people in action poses that swirl around the cylinder from top to bottom. These are based on photographs taken by Cervetti.
When I stepped inside and looked up toward the ceiling, I felt an almost mystical sense of tranquility and peace and community. That seems to be just what the artist had in mind. She wanted to create “a non-violent place where myriad members of a single humanity share experiences with one another in the context of a protected sacred space for all to share.” Those are beautiful words to describe a beautiful piece of art—and impressive dream—of a very creative, talented, and thoughtful young artist.
This past June, I traveled to the Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, NY, to answer the question, “What is conceptual art?” I had heard that the Dia art center there had an amazing selection of conceptual, minimalist and post-minimalist art—much of it acquired in the 1960s when conceptual art burst on the art scene. So, since I was in in nearby Poughkeepsie for a Vassar College reunion, I took a bus tour with classmates to explore the center.
Conceptual Art -
"Art in which the idea presented is more important
than the finished product, if there is one.”
Definitions like this have left me confused. They are pretty abstract and intellectual. They immediately make me wonder, "What if the viewer looks at the piece of art, but no idea emerges?" "Does the viewer have to be a mind reader?" And most important of all: " "Does conceptual art from the 1960s--and beyond--have true "staying power?"
With those questions in mind, I followed our guide into a large room that held 36 of the canvases of On Kawara’s famous Date Points series. Each black rectangle is inscribed with the day, month, and year Kawara painted it. It seemed obsessive to me. But as we walked around the room, my classmates began to reminisce about what happened to them on some of the dates represented. One date in 1966 was very close to our graduation date. But was it art? Or could these dates just as easily be painted in giant-sized Post-It’s and glued to an office wall?
It was easier for me to understand the huge Richard Serra sculpture we encountered in the next room. It took the form of a huge slab called called a Torqued Ellipse. This tall, twisted copper colored monolith reminded me of Stonehenge and made me want to walk around it and explore it. It was powerful and stunning.
The Pergamon Exhibition at the Met in New York City took my breath away this past June! The statuary was spectacular. Heroes, soldiers, generals, hermaphrodites...In these statues, every muscle, torso, arm and leg was carved so perfectly I thought these figures might come to life as I walked past them. Who knew the Hellenistic world achieved such realistic beauty? Earlier Greek statuary is stiff and formal. These statues, created after the death of Alexander the Great, are created in a much more dynamic, realistic style.
Of course most of this statuary was copied by Roman sculptors. The original statues and busts were the work of amazingly talented court artists who lived much earlier--in the few hundred years between the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) and 146 BCE when Rome conquered the Greek mainland. That was the heyday of Hellenistic Greece when the great centers of culture were concentrated in Alexandria and Antioch, Pergamon (now in Turkey), and other cities--not so much in the former city states of Greece. You still have a few days to see this exhibition if you are in New York City, since this blockbuster exhibition continues through July 17.
When in New York City in mid-June, I made a beeline for the Pergamon Exhibition of Hellenistic art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the great works of art of this period, after the death of Alexander the Great—statuary, finery—gems, glass, gold—and parts of the famous Great Altar of Pergamon (originally located in what is now Turkey) on loan from Berlin. One of my main goals was to see the statue of the “Dying Gaul”— one of the most famous statues in history. Well, there it was—a marble copy of the famous Hellenistic Greek statue. But…this copy was smaller than life size. And it wasn’t the copy I had hoped to see (which is in Rome, not Naples, where this one came from)…My favorite has a torque around his neck. Nevertheless, this timeless statue emanated all the pathos of the original--and clear respect for the fallen warrior.
This mural is beautifully balanced--an inspiring wall painting in West Palm Beach. It cleverly combines Agata Ren's interpretation of the now extinct Dusky Seaside Sparrow with Steve Brouse’s engaging art. The mural stands out for its simplicity and power—making it sad to realize that the handsome bird portrayed is now extinct.” Ren, a conceptual artist, explains her painting this way: “My artwork is currently dedicated to endangered species. I care a lot about our environment because I have children and I want them and their children to grow up in a healthy and beautiful world.”
The new mural, unveiled in May, is the first initiative of Street Art Revolution, a new artist collective dedicated to encouraging the creativity of local visual artists. The collective is working in partnership with the West Palm Beach Development Authority, Sub Culture Group and the City of West Palm Beach’s Art in Public Places. More information on the collective may be found on a Facebook page entitled “Street Art Revolution.”
Georgia O'Keeffe art lovers, run to the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach to see some exceptional art of hers! Move quickly because the exhibition closes May 15. You will also get a chance to see other fine artwork that may come as a surprise--paintings by three other Modernists from NYC--Marguerite Zorach, Helen Torr and Florine Stettheimer. All were contemporaries of O'Keeffe, worked in the same city at the same time (1920s and 1930s) as she did and socialized with her or knew of her art. But who has heard of them now? The work of these three painters has been virtually ignored until the last decade. The disappointment three of them faced professionally, despite a certain amount of acclaim during their lifetimes, can be seen in face of Helen Torr, in this Self Portrait in oil she painted ca. 1934-1935.
Referring to all four artists, Ellen Roberts, the organizer of the exhibition and the Helen and Anne Berkley Smith Curator of American art at the Norton, notes that "The majority of critics in their era saw their work through the lens of their gender, limiting their understanding of it." These painters wanted to be judged simply as artists. O'Keeffe eventually achieved that goal. But the other three found their reputations fading with time, and today are still seen through a "gender" lens, according to Roberts.
Marguerite Zorach (Bathers, oil top left) studied in Europe and burst onto the California art scene with a Fauvist style that shook up the American critics. But after starting a family, she turned to embroidery and textiles which were not taken as seriously, but brought in steady income. Helen Torr (January, left) created lovely, lonely abstracts of nature and buildings. She was unfortunately overshadowed by her husband Arthur Dove, who became much better known than she was as a leading Modernist.
Florine Stettheimer (Portrait of Myself, above left), was a well-to-do socialite, who lived with her mother and sisters in NYC. A decade older than the other three artists, she started out with an light Fauvist style. But after her 1916 one-woman exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery did not generate sales, she never again exhibited in public. Nonetheless, she continued to paint and created a delightfully gay new style, almost surrealistic that foreshadowed much of Marc Chagall's dream-like work. In this new style she frequently created scenes that satirized the society she lived in—from Spring Sale at Bendel’s to Studio Party.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings jump out at you from the dark walls in the final gallery (See The Shelton with Sunspots, NY. 1926, above right.) They show her progression from the flowers that reinforced her image as a “woman” painter to other subject matter. These paintings of city scenes, animal skulls, and other topics, completely overturned the stereotypical label she started out with, and brought her much greater, lasting fame than the other three artists, at least in their lifetimes.
IF YOU GO: O'Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Four Women Modernists in New York WHERE The Norton Museum in West Palm Beach DATES Runs through May 15 DAYS AND HOURS Monday through Sunday 10 am or 11 am to 5 pm; open until 9 pm Thursday COST OF ADMISSION: Adults, $12; students, $5; Children under 12 and members, free; MORE INFORMATION www.norton.org
The theme is "Something Out of Nothing" for this provocative exhibit at the Cultural Council Exhibit in Lake Worth, FL. Curator Nichole Hickey says that artists had only five weeks to respond to this theme—“Something Out of Nothing,” but the results are fascinating—15 local painters and sculptors have created customized work, some pieces beautiful, some spooky. All fit beautifully into the lovely exhibition space of the Council. “I try to show fresh new art by local artists” Hickey explains and that’s what she’s done here.
Isabel Gouveia’s wall sculptures such as Bicho de Parade (Plastic Wall Critters) are spooky, yet cheerful. Nick Paliugli's has a different type of vision. His Untitled Construction (below) of a Olympic runner awes us with the beauty and smoothness of the way he jumps over the hurdles, but his Werewolf collage (below), makes me want to keep my distance!
The work of two other artists also stood out. Nellie Lou Slagle demonstrates a lovely, light abstract style shown clearly in Airbourne, mixed media, 2016 (below). Stephen Futej's scuptural piece, the introduction to the exhibition, called Gorjeta (below) has a menacing sense almost like a living, metal "critter" As such, it's a great introduction to how to make "Something Out of Nothing."
<IF YOU GO> DATES & HOURS: Tuesday through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m THROUGH May 21 COST: Free to the public. LOCATION: Cultural Council galleries, located in the at 601 Lake Avenue in downtown Lake Worth. ...PARKING Parking available nearby.
"Art washes away