Updated: Mar 25
One of the great joys of living in NYC is the sheer amount of art available for viewing in person! The winter session of ART YARD Advanced Studio in person has been taking full advantage of the phenomenon, and we’ve enjoyed every moment!
Yesterday evening we met up at Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 W 20th Street in Chelsea, to view Rose B. Simpson: The Road Less Traveled. John Yau in Hyperalergic describes the exhibition as “an interrelated installation focused on journey and transformation, as implied by the exhibition’s use of a line from Robert Frost’s well-known poem, “The Road Not Taken.” .... As the word “conjure” suggests, viewers are about to enter a dream, an alternative reality whose relationship to our everyday world is not spelled out, which is true of all of Simpson’s work.”
Cecile Chong and Abbrielle Johnson view works by Rose B. Simpson
ART YARD Artist Abbrielle Johnson summarizes: "Rose B. Simpson: The Road Less Traveled fills the spacious ground floor at Jack Shainman Gallery, conjuring up a great curiosity and wonder with every glimpse of a new piece. Simpsons beautiful clay figures are painted and etched with enigmatic patterns. The eyes, and in some instances the mouths were cut out entirely create leaving what could have seemed blank, but instead managed to make the sculptures feel alive with an energetic presence. Looking into the eyes I found myself questioning the construction of the forms. I began to wonder in both a concrete and abstract way about the actual space inside of these compelling bodies! Perhaps the ceramic forms, painted shapes, beads, and strings indicate thought or spirit? The limited color pallet served the body of work well bringing the pieces together as a whole. The choice was just right. Rose B. Simpson: The Road Less Traveled was the perfect start to an inspiring evening."
Our next stop was C24 Gallery, 560 W. 24th Street, where we attended the opening of No Vacancy: Works By Roxa Smith. The moment I walked into the gallery I was wowed by the vibrant energy of the work. Truly, it is like walking into a candy store! Roxa Smith, who was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, presents her newest paintings, a loving homage to the domestic spaces of her homeland. We visitors are lucky to take a pleasant trip as we find ourselves lured into her highly patterned interiors. I found myself in awe, thinking “there is so much to look at!” -- color, patterns, textures, doorways, windows, wallpaper, decor, cats and books within the paintings. Each element precisely and individually drawn. Roxa Smith did an excellent job with texture especially on the furniture complete with textures of velvet, embroidery, and culturally relevant patterns. I particularly enjoyed hearing Roxa share the inspiration behind her painting titled ‘In Reverence’ as she enthusiastically spoke with visitors.
Paintings and collage by Roxa Smith
We capped off the evening at The Shirley Project Space, 609 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, owned by artist Sarah Shirley/May who came up with the brilliant idea to turn the lower level of her home into an art gallery. The space is small but well designed, airy and has fantastic street level visibility. We attended the opening of ART YARD Teaching Artist Rachael Wren: Site Lines. We have visited Rachael's exhibitions many times over the years, and I have come to know and love her elaborate color choices and unique mark making. I was amazed to see her first ever site-specific installation! It caused the viewers to have a totally new relationship to deep space perceived in her work.
I can't help but make comparisons and contrasts to the wonderful artwork from this in person art viewing. For example, Rachael Wren's choice of shapes and patterns are very similar to shapes adorning most of the sculptures created by Rose B. Simpson. On the other hand, Rachael's paintings are as bright and nuanced as Roxa Smith’s palette. In color and form Rose B. Simpson's work seems ancient -- a relevant and important history, Roxa Smith's remembered places call to mind a more recent past, and Rachael Wren's geometric abstraction adds a futuristic feeling -- a sort of hope for the future. Not surprisingly, I was left with the exciting feeling of artistic time travel.
Attending Rachael Wren's opening
Successful would be an understatement of how well the night went. We were all enriched, and I am so proud that we at ART YARD are exposed to and celebrate such amazing contemporary artists!"
Last Saturday ART YARD Advanced Studio in person looked at art in DUMBO. Both Kevin and Maraya had suggested the destination.
Marilyn summarizes our day in DUMBO looking at art: "How lucky I was to be visiting from California for an outing with an enthusiastic ART YARD posse! We convened in DUMBO on Saturday, March 18th to visit 3 very different galleries, all close to each other for easy viewing. The first was A.I.R. Gallery, 155 Plymouth Street, which showed the work of artists: Susan Bee, Amy Ritter, and Anoushé Shojae-Chaghorvand.
Susan Bee, “Apocalypses, Fables, and Reveries: New Paintings.” was inspired by 12th-century illuminated manuscripts, incorporating images of figures battling demons, dragons, and other beasts. Other canvases featured visions of nature, with birds, witches, and mythical creatures interacting. The vibrant colors and the intricate patterns that crowd the paintings are overwhelming. Amy Ritter presents a vision of her parents’ home in a life-sized photograph opposite a video, “Happy Birthday Dean”, taking the viewer inside her father’s home. Another video Fear|Comfort, also reflects Ritter’s father’s reflections later in life. The work of Anoushé Shojae-Chaghorvand and was a conglomeration of mechanized small appliances, anthropomorphized animal creatures to depict a vision of hunger and suffering. The appliances were spread on the floor of the gallery and unexpectedly would turn on and move or make motorized sounds.
Highlights of DUMBO Gallery Hopping
Next was the Center for Cuban Art (20 Jay Street), a gallery crammed with images presenting “En la lucha: Celebrating Cuban Women and Their Art”. Here was an array of very different paintings, prints, and crafts in a large space hung from floor to ceiling. It was a fascinating visit—including conversations with the director of the Center. In addition to being an art gallery, the space is a center for Cuban culture, film, classes, travel, and good will.
The third location was Platform Project Space (20 Jay Street) where we viewed a group show titled Some of my brothers are sisters, some of my sisters are mothers, and all of my mothers are fathers, too. Of particular interest were enigmatic Cyanotypes on handmade watercolor paper by Yasi Alipour.
The final stop of the day was to our very own—Ed Rath’s Studio, for a gathering and dinner. How wonderful it was to sit with friends, talk about art, tell stories, laugh and share delicious food! The feast included Meridith’s fabulous pasta salad and green salad, samosas and spanakopita (Ed), Girl Scout cookies (thanks to Iviva's niece), and abundant wine, beer, coffee, and water to satisfy all and to keep the party going. Jeremy, Jacob Rath’s roommate, was visiting from Minnesota, and joined us for the day along with Ed’s friend Tim. We were then treated to a tour of only a fraction of Ed’s work and heard fascinating stories of the history and experiences behind the work. What an exceptional bonus to our day of gallery visits!"
Our visit to Ed Rath's Studio
Monday in ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom Maraya Lopez presented a session titled In the future, who will build outer space? in which we designed a piece for an imaginary object that will be placed in their homes that speaks to the past, present and future. The lesson was inspired by the AfroFuturist Period Room at The Met and the history of Seneca Village.
Maraya sums up: “In the Future, who will build Outer space?", this week’s Advance studio class was inspired by the AfroFuturist period room at The Met Museum, titled, “Before Yesterday We Could Fly”. The room brings to the light, the lost community of people who once inhabited a small portion of what is now, Central Park. The community known as Seneca Village, was comprised mostly of African-Americans, many of whom owned property. By 1855, the community was comprised of roughly 225 residents. The enclave allowed residents to live away from the built-up parts of Manhattan while escaping unhealthy living conditions and racial discrimination.
Participating artists were asked to create a work of art based on themes associated with AfroFuturism (a genre encompassing Black culture and history and incorporates science - fiction, technology and futuristic elements into art, writing and music. Like the AfroFuturist period room at The Met, students designed an imaginary object that would be used in their homes. The objects were based on past, present and future events in their personal lives or the world at large. Asked to imagine what the future may look like, students incorporated a science - fiction aesthetic into their designs, similar to some of the examples looked at in class.
I’m in the process of moving apartments. For the class, I (Maraya) envisioned a design for my living room that would be one large mediation pillow/space capsule where everything I needed would be built into the pillow space. Everything including a lamp that turned into plants and a clock with no numbers but time based on looking at a painting all day long. The paintings would rotate. The sun would present itself when speaking its name. I used a combination of recycled newspaper and markers to create the design.
Meridith’s design could be compared to Cyrus Kabiru’s, “Miyale Ya Blue”, through her use of a radio as inspiration for her piece. While Kabiru’s radio elicits memories from his past and is imbued with spiritual powers, Meridith’s vision is an imaginary line of communication with birds, where we can ask them questions, like what is on their music playlist?
Abby’s Sequence Classic game in a drawn moray background alludes to fun family activities and shared experience.
Ed’s design was inspired by Virginia Hamilton’s book, “The People Could Fly”. His use of line and color alluded to a flag of sorts, perhaps a flag for Seneca Village.
Diane’s drawn sink with growing tree vanity made us all want to do a little home renovation!
Marilyn will be well dressed for future gardening in her solar powered sun bonnet.
Jeremy had us all fascinated with his description of energy source and locomotion, his design pairs technology with a traditional wheel barrow design.
Karla’s Collage on handmade papers with “Proof of Purchase” graphics and 1903 Sears catalog that her father collected was an interesting way to honor her personal past, as well as, our past as consumers. Her use of imagery and the format of the work is reminiscent of a Joseph Cornell shadow box.
Karla adds: “I was very inspired by the story of Seneca Village. An unknown piece of history to me. I thought about the black community who purchased land and built homes all to be displaced by development and the powers behind wealth. A deed (proof of purchase) did not assure fair compensation or reward. The museum installation structure inspired my grid. I stamped dollar signs on the gray paper. The brown paper a symbol for the excavation of the land to install the park. The printed catalog items could have been from homes in that period. Great lesson Maraya!!”
This week the studio at ART YARD Art Matters and the East New York High School of Arts and Civics was abuzz with activity. Dennis writes: Teaching Artist Fatima Traore brings out the superstars during her classes at the East New York High School of Arts and Civics on Tuesdays and Thursdays of every week. Students at the high school have varied schedules so they often work on different projects at the same time - some are finishing up portraits while others are completing their Great Wave pieces - and we'll start yet another lesson next week.
Fatima worked closely with Josh on the application of gold leaf (sheets and liquid adhesive) to his Louis Armstrong portrait - and Rah-nee started yet another Great Wave piece - a variation on her original.”
Joshua added gold leaf to his Louis Armstrong portrait.
Fatima sums up: “This week at Arts and Civics, the students have taken turns learning different techniques and applying them as need to their pieces. We’ve gone over painting skin-tones with watercolor paint, applying gold leaf, and painting in grayscale. Each of the students have been both shocked and thrilled at the work they are producing. It pays to be open to the process of exploring through multiple art mediums.”
Moving on to Tints, Tones, and Shades! Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau's students at PS 6, our partnership school in Jersey City, began adding color to their "Green-Up Machine" works.
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Each table was supplied with green, white, and black acrylic paint and different sized brushes. Students learned how to mix the three to achieve different tones, shades, and tints (and learned the meanings of these words and their associated painting processes). Other vocabulary words related to this project, and discussed in class, were monochromatic, polychromatic, and hue.
Evelyn's excellent presentation included works by Picasso, Lois Dodd, Mark Rothko, and Georgia O'Keeffe - those which feature examples of monochromatics.