By Sue Stovall
“Slide Mountain,” by Mark Stetler at Galerie BMG
During this season of snow covered, bounteous beauty, the importance of art in our lives is reflected in the landscape and in the many galleries and artspaces in the Catskill Region and surrounding areas. From the vibrant landscapes of a Cuban-American painter to the two very different views of Woodstock by a husband and wife artist; from a first show of a photographer who was an assistant to Richard Avedon to a group show of artists who helped establish Woodstock as one of the premier artists’ colonies and much more, this region is displaying it’s creative allure both indoors and out.
Nature Without Glass is the first exhibition at Galerie BMG of fine art photography by Mark Stetler, a resident of Olive, NY, and a successful commercial photographer in Manhattan. While his New York City career has focused on fashion and portraiture, this new body of personal work builds on his affinity with nature and combines it with his fascination with the pinhole camera to present his own unique viewpoint.
Stetler hikes into the woods, along the coast or in the mountains and returns with images that reveal hidden places and give us a glimpse of a rare moment in time, not typically seen. The enigmatic color landscapes are shot “without glass,” using a pinhole camera to capture those mysterious moments just before dawn or the obscured vision in stormy weather.
He moved to New York in 1994 to pursue his lifelong interest in photography and worked as an assistant to Richard Avedon, which further fueled his interest in the photography industry and in portraiture, in particular. Mark has achieved worldwide visibility through his recognition as a Mamiya Emerging Photographer and through publication of his images of September 11, shot from the rooftop of his apartment near the World Trade Center.
Nature Without Glass will be on display from January 5 through February 12, with an artist’s reception scheduled for Saturday, January 6 from 5 to 7 pm. Galerie BMG is on Tannery Brook Road in Woodstock. Winter gallery hours are Friday through Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm, or other times by appointment. For more information, please call 845 670 0027.
During the month of January, Windham Fine Arts is having a group show of artists that helped establish Woodstock as one of the premier artists’ colonies of the forties and fifties. In the main gallery the remaining work from the last years of acclaimed painter and sculptor Edward Chavez will be paired with the fused glass sculpture of Glenn Abel. Chavez’s bold use of color and abstract bent of the traditional landscape is a perfect foil to the sensuous color and shapes in Abel’s glass sculptures. During the same period the paintings of Reginald Wilson and Carolyn Haeberlin will be on view in the new back gallery. Curator, Victoria Alten, was invited by the Woodstock School of Art to visit their “barn” filled with treasures left to the school by established Woodstock artists. It was Wilson and Haeberlin’s wish that their remaining work be given to the school to benefit that institution, and the best of that work will be offered for sale in Windham.
“Guitar,” oil on canvas by Reginald Wilson at Windham Fine Arts
Edward Chavez (1917-1995) is definitely an important part of American art history, working through the depression as one of the most successful WPA muralists, then for the U.S. Army painting murals in mess halls during off duty hours, and finally becoming one of many artists to call Woodstock home in the years after World War II. In 1951 Chavez won a Fulbright Grant allowing him and his wife, artist Jenne Magafan, to paint in Italy for the year. Through the fifties and sixties, Chavez remained on the cutting edge of the art scene until the op-art movement redirected popular opinion. Chavez’s work is in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress Print Collection, Museum of Modern Art, Hirshorn Collection and Detroit Museum of Art, to name a few. His art is planted firmly in his native New Mexico: the colors and shapes in the later work on display in Windham still have haunting images from Chavez’s youth but with a twist that is decidedly ahead of his time. A beautiful enhancement to Chavez’s paintings will be the most recent work of Glenn Abel created expressly for this show. Abel is constantly refining and experimenting with the unusual medium of glass, and in this show he stretches established boundaries and presents work that baffles the imagination. Windham Fine Arts is thrilled to welcome Abel back after his successful year showing in some of the most prestigious glass shows and galleries in the country.
Carolyn Haeberlin (1913-2000) and Reginald Wilson (1909-1993) were husband and wife and artists with two very different views. Like Chavez, they choose Woodstock as home in the 1940’s after studying at the Art Students League. Haeberlin’s style is rooted in mid-twentieth century Woodstock modernism with influences from nineteenth century folk art. Wilson’s influences and color choices were more modern, recalling Picasso, Miro and Matisse cutouts. In the early fifties, when many of Woodstock’s painters were experimenting with abstraction, Wilson and Haeberlin chose to not to abandon the recognizable image for nonobjective painting and further refined their styles. The paintings at Windham Fine Arts will be from that period.
Experience this slice of Woodstock history at the opening reception on Saturday, January 6 from 5 to 7 pm. This retrospective runs through January 29. Windham Fine Arts is located at 5380 Main Street, Windham, NY. Gallery hours are 11 am to 5 pm, Thursday through Monday. For more information call 518 734 6850 or check the Web at www.windhamfinearts.com.
The Arts Society of Kingston (ASK) is celebrating new beginnings in its January Members Lounge show, entitled Commencing: Art for the New Year. The show includes the work of three collage artists, Linda Erman, Andrea Neher and Susan Phillips, and will begin with an opening reception on Saturday, January 6 from 5 to 8 pm at the ASK Arts Center, 97 Broadway. The show will run through Saturday, January 27.
New Paltz native Linda Erman graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and did her basic training in art and design in New York’s fashion industry. Her creative abilities take many forms, from painted children’s wear to visionary art for synagogues and retreat centers. Her fiber art has been displayed at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Colorado, and has been photographed by The New York Times.
“Pieces of Dreams,” a collage by Susan Philips at the ASK Arts Center
Erman said, “I create art as a nest-feathering response to life’s winter days and raspy edges, drawing inspiration from the rusty, falling-down farm I grew up on. The farm, and the woods behind it, are my secret garden. I’m enchanted by the content of its many rooms, both past and present, and strive to transmit that feeling through my work.” Erman’s work for this show features eggs in nests, in conformance with her nest-building attitude and to the show’s theme of “New Beginnings.”
Andrea Neher lives in Woodstock, where she grew up. From a very early age, Andrea was exposed to the art life in her community. It was no surprise when she went on to study fine arts at Cazenovia College in upstate New York and then continued to study at the Woodstock School of Art, experimenting in different media. For the past several years, she has focused more and more on collage as an art form. Her sensitive abstracts eventually become her signature style.
Neher says of her work, “I build colors and shapes. I create as I go, with no pre-conceived ideas. It just evolves.”
Twenty-five years ago Neher was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As it progressed, it has severely diminished her fine-motor control. But it hasn’t ‘disabled’ her. “I work, I work out, I create art. I need to work for my sanity,” she said.
Susan Phillips of Mt. Tremper works in both photography and collage. Phillips has been showing her prize-winning photography since the '70s, and has shown in many local galleries such as Woodstock Art Association, Kleinert/James and RiverWinds, as well as several galleries in New York City and nation-wide. In 1999, she began experimenting with collage, though the process of creating the art is completely different.
“In photography, I compose the image within the viewfinder, deciding how I will capture natural lines, appealing patterns or the interplay of light and texture, Phillips said. “This process is inverted in my collage work, where I start manipulating just a few components, then adding elements, until an interesting unity begins to evolve. Creating something visually exciting from unrelated pre-existing objects, each with its own texture and dimensionality, is the challenge. Torn papers, scraps, transferred images, layerered paints, pieces of nature and bits of watercolor may all be used until each piece finds its own unique harmony. The subconstious gently guides while the eye and hand freely play. These works seem abstract, yet may still reflect emotional states, hint at landscape, or trigger the recall of forgotten dreams and memories.”
Among the most exciting artwork now being created in the Hudson Valley are the vibrant paintings and powerful constructions of Poughkeepsie resident Jose Acosta. The Arts Society of Kingston (ASK) is pleased to announce a solo show of Acosta’s work, Jose Acosta: Cuban-American Artist, in its Main Gallery at 97 Broadway, Kingston. The show opens with a reception on Saturday, January 6 from 5 to 8 pm, featuring Cuban food prepared by the artist and his family. The show runs through January 27.
Lisa M. Robinson, “Emergence.” Chromogenic Print. Courtesy of the Center for Photography at Woodstock
Bright colors, swirling figures, and vibrant energy characterize Acosta’s paintings, which he attributes to the influence of his native Cuba. Acosta was born in Cuba and emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 3 years old. He is very proud of both his Cuban heritage and his American citizenship. “Generally my paintings depict my personal history and my surroundings,” said Acosta. “I paint from my heart, expressing a little hope and happiness in all of my creations.”
Another characteristic of Acosta’s paintings is their welded and polished galvanized metal frames. The frames express another side of Acosta’s personality, his training and profession as an engineer.
The metal and the engineering background also appear in Acosta’s red and black constructions and sculptures. “My red and black constructions, because of the strong colors, appear richer and more serious than my paintings. My first constructions were towers made up of many small boxes, filled with knick-knacks I had collected or bought. The towers are painted all red or all black and the contents inside them all the other color.
“From the simple stacks of boxes, I progressed to more free-form arrangements of many of the same items—boxes, plastic soldiers, etc.—and then to sculpture, using different shapes of wood I cut and metal I weld as well as store-bought items. Everything is painted red or black or left the color of the metal.”
Acosta’s sculptures are strong and striking, very direct in their message. “That is my intention,” he explains. “I want the viewer to understand exactly what I am trying to say, as well as be interested in the work visually. I use and experiment with various materials to get the effect and looks I want in my work. I never skimp on the quality of material or the details.”
Though he has only been showing his work in public for a few years, he has already won several prizes, including First Place prizes and Best of Show at the Dutchess County Fair, a Blue Dot at the Art Students League, First Prize at Barrett Art Center’s Members Show last January and First Place at the Putnam Arts Council Fine Arts Show in October.
The Arts Society of Kingston is located at 97 Broadway, Kingston, NY. Regular gallery hours at ASK are Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 6 pm. For more information, call 845 338 0331 or visit www.askforarts.org.
The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) is opening 2007 with two new gallery exhibitions: Kiss & Tell, with artists Karen Brett, Elinor Carucci, Kelli Connell, Todd Jordan, Sara Macel, Johnny Miller, Kyung Duk Kim and Bharti Parmar, and Snowbound, a solo show of Lisa M. Robinson’s magnificent photos. These exhibitions will open on January 20 and run through March 18. I love photography and these two exhibitions are photography at it’s best.
CPW is located 59 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY. For more information, please call 845 679 9957.