Here are some Don’t Miss Events
The 63rd Exhibition of Central New York Artists opens on March 3, but you can have a preview by visiting not one, but two area solo shows by artists whose work was selected for it.
Jonathan Kirk / Machines: Fragments and Reveries will be on view just a few more days, til February 1, at the Clifford Gallery, Colgate University.
It’s a beautiful and interesting exhibition of sculpture that ruminates on, among other things, the wonders of engineering and the delight of making things with one’s own hands and imagination.
Christine Heller, who will create a drawing mural at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, is doing something similar at the Kirkland Art Center, Clinton, NY. Her show there is The Anatomy of Time: Line/Body/Action, on view from January 24-March 9, with a reception on January 31 from 5 to 7 p.m.
It’s an excellent winter for art in Central New York. See you in the galleries.
The PrattMWP Art Gallery kicks off the spring 2013 semester with a great show of photography by Gale Farley. Farley will talk about his work at the opening reception, 4 p.m. Friday, January 25.
Farley’s photographs are gorgeously composed studies in form, texture, and light. The meeting of building gables becomes a trio of triangles; a brilliant white, gnarled branch stands in relief against rippling water; markings on a parking lot resemble abstract painting.
The eye continues to move between recognition of forms and their abstraction.
Farley’s work startles in the best possible way, making us more alert to our surroundings and the beauty found therein.
Since moving to the Mohawk Valley in 1981, Gale Farley has operated a commercial photography studio. He was previously an adjunct instructor at Mohawk Valley Community College and is currently an Associate Professor of Photographic Technology at Herkimer County Community College. He holds an undergraduate degree in Photography from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas and an M.F.A. in Photography from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Mr. Farley’s work is held in many private and public collections, including the Museum of Art, MWPAI.
Something very exciting is happening at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute November 6 and 7. A rare Civil War document, handwritten by President Lincoln, will be on view.
MWPAI will exhibit the only surviving version of Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a document in Lincoln’s handwriting, November 6 and 7 in the Museum of Art. The Museum will observe extended hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days.
MWPAI President Anthony Spiridigloizzi said, “We are honored to be able to present this to our community.”
The exhibition, The First Step to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, was organized by The New York State Museum, a division of the New York State Education Department, and will include historical background and interpretation of the document. Also included is the manuscript of a speech written and delivered in New York City in September 1962 by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Proclamation’s centennial.
State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. noted the exhibition incorporates collections and images from the New York State Library and the New York State Archives. He said the documents stand as important markers in the path to freedom and equality for African-Americans and are among New York State’s greatest treasures.
Although Lincoln’s handwritten final Emancipation Proclamation burned in the Chicago fire in 1871, the preliminary Proclamation survived the State Capitol fire of 1911 and has been preserved by the State Library. Lincoln’s handwritten preliminary Proclamation, issued 150 years ago in the midst of the Civil War, is the only surviving copy of this document in Lincoln’s own handwriting. Lincoln donated it to the U.S. Sanitary Commission, which raffled the document at an Albany Army Relief Association Fair in 1864. It was later purchased by the New York State Legislature.
“This unique freedom document did nothing less than change the Civil War—and change American history,” Harold Holzer, award-winning Lincoln historian, said. “In a very real way, this one-of-a-kind relic testifies not only to Lincoln’s resolve to expand freedom, but New York’s resolve to preserve it.”
The First Step to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is sponsored locally by Trainor Associates and Trainor Digital.
Admission is free and open to the public.
Seeing the World Within, now on view in the Institute’s Museum of Art, tells the remarkable story of the young Charles Seliger (1926-2009) and his first decade as a professional artist.
Seliger developed in the rich environment of 1940s’ New York City, which was temporary home to European intellectuals and artists who had moved there in exile from World War II. For Seliger and other Americans, the Surrealists were the most influential of these visitors, in part because they advocated automatic painting, a free flow of forms from the subconscious to the canvas.
Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) was a key player in the story of Seliger’s young artistic life. An American heiress, Peggy was a niece of Solomon Guggenheim for whom the Guggenheim Museum is named. She lived the expatriate’s life in Europe and was an avid patron of modern art. Her collection included paintings, sculptures, drawings, and collages by the likes of Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Kandinsky Magritte, Mondrian, and Picasso, to name only a handful.
Peggy Guggenheim also left Europe during World War II. While she waited in New York, she founded Art of this Century, an unusual museum and gallery at 30 West 57th Street.
Art of this Century promoted both established European artists in her collection as well as Americans, including William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Richard Pousette-Dart, Theodoros Stamos, and Jimmy Ernst (fyi, all represented in the Institute collection, thanks to our patron, Edward Root).
These artists were experimenting with a new visual abstraction that was very inward-looking and was influenced by psychology, mythology and nature. It was an extremely stimulating environment for the young Seliger, who matured rapidly as an artist.
Peggy Guggenheim was so impressed with Seliger’s paintings, she gave him an exhibition at Art of this Century in 1945 – when he was just 19 years old! She wrote:
“His painting is extremely organic, and his technique highly accomplished . . . [he is] an extremely serious painter, and I have a great deal of faith in his development.”
In Seeing the World Within, you will enjoy what Peggy Guggenheim recognized in Seliger. His paintings are beautifully, thoughtfully painted with forms and colors evocative of living organisms always in the process of transformation.
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Seeing the World Within: Charles Seliger in the 1940s opens in the Museum of Art this weekend.
Seliger was largely a self-taught artist and just a kid when he began exhibiting his paintings in New York City, alongside the likes of Jackson Pollock. But his youth notwithstanding, he had a clear vision. Seliger painted abstract organisms in flux and captured these microscopic, magical worlds with a confident technique. Seliger described his process as “a magnifying lens for the infinite minutiae forming reality.”
Back in August I wrote a preview of the exhibition. I was looking forward to the show then, and now that it’s installed, I can honestly report that it is beautiful, full of detailed paintings with textured patterns layered upon their surfaces that simply glow with rich color. You will want to linger over each one.
Seeing the World Within is organized and toured by The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC. Visit the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute website for more details about the exhibition and its programs.
While you’re in Museum of Art enjoying the glorious splendor of the exhibition, Shadow of the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt and its Influence, take some time to visit the MWPAI Library for mummy movies, music, and mystique that are available for loan to MWPAI members.
Exotic offerings include Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra, The Metropolitan Opera’s Aida with Plácido Domingo, Taylor & Burton’s Cleopatra, and Putumayo’s North African Groove.
Walk like an Egyptian across State Street, from the Museum to the Library, and let them know that the Sphinx sent you!
Meg Gianetti, Museum of Art Educator for School Programs, has created an exhibition, opening October 9, in Gallery One North with artworks from the Museum’s collection based on the theme of people and artists as recorders of life in 18th- and 19th-century America.
This installation is the basis for two tours about American history that support local 4th- and 5th-grade social studies curricula. Through Their Eyes examines life from the American Revolution to the beginnings of the Civil War, and Homework, Hops, & Hoops relates history through the eyes of kids who went to school (homework), worked (hops) and played (hoops) during the 19th century. Paintings by such notable artists as John Singleton Copley, Ralph Earl, Eastman Johnson, and Gilbert Stuart are included to bring eyewitness testimony of American life.
In addition to these paintings, the exhibition also showcases a recent acquisition, the George Washington dumb stove, as well as Grace Williams’ childhood lap desk, and artists’ materials.
And although Meg’s exhibition is targeted for elementary school visitors (and it is installed an appropriate height for them), the gallery is open to all. Museum visitors of all ages and backgrounds should find this an interesting stop in their gallery wanderings.
We are planning something unusual for a Monday—the Museum of Art will be open on the Columbus Day holiday, Monday, October 8 for a special Shadow of the Sphinx day of programs called “Mummies and Milkshakes.”
It promises to be great fun: craft projects, funny movies, stories, and of course, mummies and milkshakes. Look at all the great stuff kids and their grown ups can do, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Museum of Art’s current exhibition, LitGraphic, includes imagery from Sue Coe’s gripping, disturbing illustrated story, The Pit, 1999. Thea Spittle, excellent Museum of Art intern from Hamilton College, wrote this essay about the drawings.
After attending the Royal College of Art in London, the internationally recognized artist and illustrator, Sue Coe (born in 1951) moved to the United States, where she found her passion for socio-political issues during the Vietnam War. She translates these concerns—which range from homelessness, to AIDS, to rape, and animal rights (Coe grew up near a slaughterhouse and hog harm)—into graphic images that confront the viewer with troubling strength and beauty.
The Pit: The Tragical Tale of the Rise and Fall of a Vivisector (1999) is a powerful example of these concerns. Coe sought inspiration from British artist William Hogarth’s allegorical series The Four Stages of Cruelty (1751), which equates animal abuse with human degradation. Through thirty mixed media drawings, Coe tells the story of Pat Watson, the protagonist, and his demise.
Pat begins by abusing helpless animals, then moves on to humans (a homeless woman and a mentally handicapped girl), parallel to Hogarth’s story. Pat’s dog, Pit, represents his better instincts by encouraging Pat to make the right choice, and not become bait to an economic scheme. By using a dog in this role, Coe humanizes Pit, acknowledging the human tendency to identify with dogs, due to their highly domesticated quality.
LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel remains on view in the Museum of Art through Sunday, April 29. The exhibition was organized and toured by the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts and is sponsored by the Bank of Utica.
I read comic books and I’m not afraid to say it.
Like millions of others my age, I was addicted to the “Batman” TV show in the mid-‘60s, but since comic books were for kids, I soon abandoned them. It wasn’t until I was in college in 1980 that I took another interest in costumed heroes (I was an art student so it was ok). The Batman had gotten dark and brooding, Green Arrow was pursuing believable adventures, Jonah Hex was a ill-tempered antihero, and the X-Men were, well, they were the X-Men.
Go to any comic book shop and marvel at the racks of books, posters and other super-paraphernalia. Probably the last thing you will see in a comic book shop is someone under age 16. Comics have come a long way since the Man of Steel fought for truth, justice and the American way. The sophisticated story lines, “mature” dialog and intricate plots are geared purely for adults.
And why not? Reading, for a large percentage of the population, is to escape reality, so why not escapeit with tales of derring-do? “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” created by Baroness Emmuska Orczy in 1905 is considered great literature and features a title character who is a mild-mannered fop with a dual identity as a heroic champion of justice during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution. Take the same concept and put it in the Spanish colonial era of California and you’ve got Zorro, created by Johnston McCulley in 1919. Add illustrations and 20 years to that concept and you’ve got The Batman.
Not that illustrated tales of heroics started in 1939, mind you. Let’s jump back to the year 1070 and take a look at the Bayeux Tapestry. The Tapestry is a 230-foot illustrated account of the Norman conquest of England. In case you’re wondering, yes it is historically accurate, back in the 11th century horses actually were multi-colored, grand warships held about six soldiers, and people were much taller than horses and always stood perfectly side by side, even while fleeing broadswords and battle axes.
Throw a red cape and a unitard on William the Conquerer and you’ve got one whopper of a comic book. (By the way, did you know that Halley’s Comet is depicted in the Tapestry?)
Oh, what the heck, let’s go back even further and examine cave drawings. No doubt that 30,000 years ago, prehistoric geeks, after spending the day getting loincloth wedgies and being turned down for dates by cute pom-pom sporting “gruntleaders” gathered around caves marveling at the heroics of shaggy champions pummeling mastodons in the name of truth, justice and the Cro-Magnon way.
Which brings us to the exhibition, LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel, opening this weekend in the Museum of Art. Here, illustrated stories get their well-deserved recognition and the art takes its place among other visual masterpieces. Stop by and savor the genius of Sue Coe, Marc Hempel, Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Frank Miller and a host of other important graphic novel artists.
Join us on Sunday, March 4 for the public opening of LitGraphic, which begins with the presentation “Manga in the Context of the Graphic Novel,” by Oneika Russell, followed by refreshments in the Root Sculpture Court.
LitGraphic was organized and is toured by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and generously sponsored in Utica by Bank of Utica.