Here are some Don’t Miss Events
Jackson Pollock, one of the most original artists of the 20th century, was born in 1912. He lived a short, fevered life and left an enormous artistic legacy.
Pollock’s star began its ascendancy with a large painting, Mural, he created for Peggy Guggenheim in 1943.
The Jason McCoy Gallery recently organized an exhibition based on the new book, American Letters 1927-1947: Jackson Pollock & Family. The book has numerous entries of interest, including this excerpt from Jackson to his brother, Charles, about receiving the commission from Guggenheim:
July 19, 1943
“I have a year’s contract with The Art of this Century and a large painting to do for Peggy Guggenheim’s house, 8’ 11 ½” x 19’ 9”. With no strings as to what or how I paint it.
“I am going to paint it oil on canvas. They are giving me a show Nov 16, and I want to have the painting finished for the show. I’ve had to tear out the partition between the front and middle room to get the damned thing up. I have it stretched now. It looks pretty big but exciting as hell.”
What were you doing thirty years ago this week? Presuming you had been born at least thirty years ago, that is. I had graduated from college in May ’82 and was preparing to spend September through June in a convent.
Much more interesting were the goings-on recorded in Andy Warhol’s diary for that week:
Saturday, August 21, 1982: “Stopped at Schrafft’s on 58th and Madison and the waitresses there were all saying, ‘Is it him?’ ‘It’s him.’ ‘It isn’t him.’ And so when I went out I said, ‘It’s me,’ and they were thrilled.”
Monday, August 23, 1982: “The Duran Duran kids came by and brought some bigger and taller girlfriends.” [Editorial comment: OMG! Music videos from the early '80s were so bad they are hilarious!]
Wednesday, August 25, 1982: “Cabbed to Park and 74th ($2). It turned out to be a birthday party for Claus von Bulow. And Doris Duke was there with Franco Rossellini. He said that Isabella’s getting a million and a half for one of her modeling contracts and that she and Marty Scorsese are still trying to work it out.”
Have a good week, whatever you are doing, wherever that may be.
What’s on your to-do list?
At work, I have scattered notes about art conservation, labels to write, reading lists for graduate students, but most of the time I am thinking about exhibition planning and talking about art.
On my talking-about-art to-do list:
This autumn the museum hosts the exhibition Seeing the World Within: Charles Seliger in the 1940s (see the last post, August 13), so I am planning different kinds of presentations. One of them is “40 Things about the ‘40s,” and I have about five things listed thus far. World War II must count for, like, 25 things, though, right?
The Seliger show will overlap for a time with Shadow of the Sphinx so I had the brilliant idea that I should address them both. In one talk. What was I thinking?! Something about bugs, I suppose, important to Seliger’s early work, and there are all those beetles in Egyptian art, too.
I’ve been invited to speak about “Flowers in Contemporary Art” to the Herkimer Garden Club in October, something I’m looking forward to, so I have begun to collect pictures of, surprise (!), Georgia O’Keeffe, among other artists.
On my exhibitions to-do list:
The next Central New York Artists exhibition will be on view in March and April 2013 and I have to make an appointment with artist Kim Waale about a big spider web installation she wants to create for the show.
For our summer 2013 show, The Prints of Andy Warhol, I have to find a photo booth rental and see if we can afford to borrow one for some exhibition-related events we are planning. Will YOU be ready for your close-up, by the way?
And I am talking to artist Sam Van Aken (sculpture professor at Syracuse University) about creating the next Sculpture Court Project for autumn 2013. Lately Sam has been grafting different kinds of trees together to create hybrids that are lovely to look at and disturbing to think about. Sam thinks about how things can look like one thing but be something else. I wonder what he has in mind for us?
I’ll bet you have some interesting list-making going on in your mind. Care to share with us?
Okay, gotta run. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it, lucky me.
Charles Seliger (1926-2009) demonstrated a precocious interest in painting and, while still a teenager, exhibited his work at important galleries in New York City during the 1940s. Surrealism, with its fantastic imagery, inventive processes and creative freedom, was especially influential on the young artist.
This autumn the MWP Museum of Art is proud to host Seeing the World Within: Charles Seliger in the 1940s, on view from October 21 through January 20, 2013. Organized by Jonathan Stuhlman, curator of American Art at The Mint Museum, Charlotte, N.C., Seeing the World Within is the first exhibition to focus on the pivotal group of pictures the young Seliger created during the first decade of his career. The show is currently on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy, and if you click here you can take a virtual tour. It’s pretty cool.
In addition to being influenced by Surrealism, Seliger’s work also is rooted in ideas explored by his American peers who came to be known as the Abstract Expressionists, many with whom he exhibited during the 1940s. Seliger, however, sought a distinctly personal vision and artistic vocabulary. His paintings typically are smaller, more intimate, than those of his colleagues.
Seliger applied both opaque and transparent paints, then scraped away layers to reveal hidden structures and networks that exist beneath the surface; the exhibition organizers write that Seliger “visualized a natural world concealed from the human eye: biological structures, cells, viscera, and bones.” These organisms seem always to be in motion, as well, because Seliger was fascinated by the idea of metamorphosis. He said:
“My paintings are always concerned with the most minute relationships and structure yet always remain in flux, in a state of becoming, never (in spite of the intensity and detail) to arrive at a final and recognizable form.” (Charles Seliger, journal entry, 1 December 1980).
This is a momentous birthday anniversary year in American painting, the 100th birthday of Jackson Pollock and, closer to home, of Edward Christiana (1912-92), an important artist and teacher in Maine and Central New York.
Mr. Christiana was born in White Plains, NY, and raised in Ilion. He attended Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, graduating in 1933. Between 1936-39, Christiana was a fellowship recipient at the newly established School of Related Arts and Sciences, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute and continued to study at MWP when it transmuted into an art school under the direction of William Palmer. Mr. Christiana was invited to join the MWP School of Art faculty in 1943 and continued to teach here until 1982.
Edward “Chris” Christiana began his career as a watercolorist and was elected to the membership of the American Watercolor Society in 1949. By the early 1950s he concentrated solely on oil painting, though he returned to watercolor by the mid-1970s.
Mr. Christiana’s primary subject matter was landscape in Utica, the Mohawk Valley, and notably in Maine, where he spent his summers. He captured the essences of an environment, communicating his emotional responses to a place with expressive color and textures, and bold forms. Early in his career, Christiana commented: “It is indeed an exciting thing: first to visualize and then to organize some phase of nature into a plastic design through the use of line and color.”
Mr. Christiana’s work has been exhibited nationally since the early 1930s. His paintings and watercolors are in the collections of the Albany Institute of History and Art, The Currier Museum of Art, the Everson Art Museum, The Worcester Art Museum, and the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute.
Visit the Museum of Art to enjoy a sampling of Mr. Christiana’s paintings on view in the AO (that’s the first level) gallery and celebrate an artist who contributed so much to the arts of Central New York.
Next summer the Museum of Art will be hosting The Prints of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, organized and toured by the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. You can imagine how excited we are about it.
August 6 is Andy Warhol’s birthday, though he often didn’t want to be reminded of it. Here are some birthday comments he made, excerpted from The Andy Warhol Diaries.
“Wednesday, August 6, 1980: Halston sent a singing telegram that had three people singing it. They were awful. They’re trying to be in show business and I asked them not to exaggerate it and to sing it quietly. Halston sent a big cake in the shape of a shoe and it must have been the best cake because Brigid [Berlin] ate all of it. . . .We got a dumpy limo outside to go to Mr. Chow’s . . .Robin Williams came in and said hello, I asked him to join us but he said he was at the bar with someone, that he’d see. With some lady friend. And then I remembered that somebody told me he met a girl the day he married his wife and that they’ve been having an affair ever since. Anyway he didn’t come back. He had a short-sleeved shirt on and his arms are so hairy, that’s how Susan recognized him. I hope Popeye is a hit for him because his TV show just died.”
“Thursday, August 6, 1981: It was my birthday and I’d told everyone at the office that if they even mentioned it they’d be fired. Brigid had wanted the day off but I was Mr. Grump. I let everyone off five minutes early.”
“Thursday, August 6, 1982: Greg Gorman the Interview photographer had called and they wanted me over on 18th Street near Fifth to be in a publicity photo with Dustin Hoffman who was in drag filming Tootsie, and I thought that sounded like fun. But when I got there, they said, ‘All right, we’ll be shooting your scene soon.’ They actually wanted me in the movie . . . Dustin looked great. When I think of all the lady teachers I had that must have been really drag queens!”
“Monday, August 6, 1984: “Well, we went to 79th and Lexington to this place called Jams that we go by all the time and never knew was there, this chic place. It was expensive, but the food was so good. The whole thing was like the Four Seasons used to be when the guy was there who used to grow the garden stuff in his own patch in Connecticut. The dessert was incredible. Jean Michel [Basquiat] ordered a lot of champagne and he said he’d pay for it but I wouldn’t let him (dinner was $550). It was underplayed, nobody said ‘Happy Birthday’ and it went smoothly.”
“Tuesday, August 6, 1985: In the morning Benjamin picked me up and it was a pretty day. And since it was my birthday I decided to do all sugar, just an all-sugar day, not deny myself anything (cab $6). All this Happy Birthday stuff. Bernard the drag performance artist brought me the greatest present, he’s really clever. A beautiful package from Van Cleef & Arpels, and inside was a big beautiful bracelet box, just everything perfect and beautiful, and I was so excited, and inside the bracelet box was a typed card and it said, ‘Andy Warhol wants nothing for his birthday,’ because that was what I told a magazine was the best present. ‘Nothing.’ I don’t know if he had to pay for the packaging or what. So I came face to face with my own philosophy and I was (laughs) so let down. It was great. It’s worse than eating your own words, getting them back in a Van Cleef & Arpels box.”
This summer Art Box II Sculpture Teacher Paula Caruana has her students working on Egyptian-inspired projects, in conjunction with the Shadow of the Sphinx exhibition.
Paula created some instructive, very attractive posters throughout her classroom to set the stage for the young artists.
After studying a bit and touring Sphinx, the students set to work and achieved amazing results. They were inspired, in fact.
For one project, the students created masks of a man, woman or a god, such as a cat mask to represent Bastet. These are remarkable, so bold.
I am especially fond of these animal sculptures. They are made of fired clay, then painted.
These pectoral necklaces are striking (they are made of fired clay and painted), and the artists successfully incorporated Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Here are some of the Art Box artists’ canopic jars, made of fired clay and then painted in acrylic. The artists created a giraffe, hawks (traditional god-animal for these jars that are buried with mummies), snakes, and there is one God of Bacon (center), a new entry into the ancient Egyptian world of deities, I guess.
And, of course, the snake is an important motif in ancient Egyptian art, so Paula and the students created these animated serpents. They are made with card stock cut to spiral around and have jeweled eyes. Wonderful!
Join us on this Sunday, July 29, at 1:30, to hear Bob Brier, Ph.D., aka Mr. Mummy, talk about Egyptomania: The World’s Fascination with Ancient Egypt.
Professor Brier is a Senior Research Fellow at C.W. Post University and a leading Egyptologist who specializes in paleopathology, or the mummification process. He’s investigated some of history’s most famous mummies, including King Tut, and has published several books on his mummy research. The New York Times described Brier’s The Murder of Tutankhamen as having elements of “teen-age love . . . Orwellian rewriting of history, and the desperate please of a terrified queen.” Perhaps you’ve see Brier on the Discovery Channel, where he is a very popular contributor.
Brier’s presentation will range over a wide variety of Egyptian-inspired stuff, from Steve Martin’s King Tut and earlier popular songs to household trinkets. It will be held in the Museum of Art Auditorium, $10 for general admission and $5 for MWP members (join and save!), with tickets available at the door.
Shannon Stockbridge is a rising senior at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn; she completed her first two years of college here at PrattMWP, entering the program in fall 2009.
Shannon is from New Hartford and considered going straight to Brooklyn or possibly to Alfred University, but decided to stay close to home for her first two years and take advantage of PrattMWP’s programs. “I was really impressed by all the teachers when I had met them at Open Houses, as well as the small class sizes and the one-on-one opportunities with the professors,” she said.
For two summers, Shannon has been a teaching artist in the Museum of Art’s ArtReach program, which introduces urban Utica children to the museum and to art-making (see last week’s blog). She enjoys introducing the kids to their projects, seeing their imaginations at work: ”The creative license they employ results in all the projects having their own artistic touch,” she said.
After she graduates from Brooklyn next year, Shannon would like to look at different areas outside of Utica to see what opportunities are available. Her ideas range from teaching classes in museum, galleries, and art centers, to learning about curating shows, particularly in pop-up (or temporary) spaces. She’s so energetic and creative, I fully believe she can make this and more happen.
For the long term, Shannon hopes to be a working artist and teacher with a studio-gallery for making and exhibiting art, her own work as well as that done by artists of all different ages: “I think it would be really interesting to have receptions and openings, similar to those in galleries in Chelsea [a big gallery neighborhood in New York City] in different states that haven’t experienced the art world in this way.”
It’s July and that means ArtReach in the Museum of Art. Now in its 17th year, ArtReach offers kids from Utica’s summer playgrounds a museum and art-making experience.
Shannon Stockbridge is one of the teaching artists who leads the youngsters in their two-day ArtReach visit. Shannon is a graduate of PrattMWP and a rising senior at Pratt Brooklyn, majoring in sculpture. This is her second ArtReach summer; last year she led students in a Buckminster Fuller-inspired geodesic-dome-building adventure.
This year, Shannon drew inspiration from still life, what she calls the “fundamental starting point in art making,” but she gave it a Pop Art twist. She introduced her students, from Court Street Children’s Center, to Still Life with Fruit and Champagne by Severin Roesen, a painting in the MWP Museum’s permanent collection.
Then, in the classroom, Shannon gave a presentation about the artist Claes Oldenburg (born 1929) and showed the students images of his food sculptures.
The Court Street kids chose their own favorite food to create and. using papier-mâché over balloons, made it many times the actual food size. It was a delightful and messy experience. Shannon was really pleased with the results: “The project turned out even better than I had imagined! They all did awesome!”
In the one north gallery of the Museum of Art, you can see these great food sculptures – drumsticks and broccoli to donuts and fruit – organized into the young artists’ very own still life installation.