Oct 28: “The Making of an Argument,” an exhibition of photographs by Gordon Parks, the first African American to work for Life Magazine, can be seen at Vassar’s Lehman Loeb Art Center until December 13. The images were taken on assignment for Life during the month Parks spent in Harlem in 1948 with a teenaged gang and their leader Leonard “Red” Jackson. The resulting photo essay “Harlem Gang Leader,” halped to make Parks one of the premier documentary photographers of his time.

However, Parks viewed the final results with mixed feelings. By portraying the conditions in African-American communities that fostered delinquency and teen gangs he had hoped to inspire government and social services agencies to work to better the situation. Although he recognized the violence that was part of Jackson’s life, he felt the magazine’s editors put too much emphasis on that aspect of his life and thereby created a one dimensional story.

1237 "Untitled" by Gordon Parks

Oct 26:  James Barron invariably presents imaginative exhibitions and “Plywood, etc.” is no exception. The paintings, furniture and sculpture of ten artists working in plywood as well as other no-frills materials is on view at his gallery in Kent until November 8. 

Plywood, fashioned from thin layers of wood glued together each layer rotated up to 90 degrees from the other, is a utilitarian material most often used for crates and construction. However, in the hands of artists and designers it can be transformed into works of art.

1233 "Culture Shock" by Moira Dryer

For example Moira Dryer and Jules de Balincourt paint on plywood rather than canvas. Many of Dryer’s abstract paintings call to mind exotic fabrics. Executed with casein on plywood,  “Culture Shock” is comprised of bands of parallel wavy lines in shades of mauve, pink and brown that undulate across the surface of the panel like the stitches found in Florentine bargello. The colors are delicate. Some run down to those beneath in faint delicate lines creating the effect of a living substance. 

1234 "Off the Beaten Path" by Jules de Balincourt

October 18: Twelve years ago after a career in computers, Susan Roth took up painting full time.  However, she has always been interested in art.  She received her first training at an art program for selected high school students at the Carnegie Mellon Museum in Pittsburg where she grew up. Today she divides her time between her studios in New York City and Ancram.

1231 "Red Barn on Pat's Road" by Susan Roth

“My paintings usually originate from a landscape, still life or city scene that I mentally capture,” Roth writes in her artist’s statement. She works in a diversity of styles and says “I try to push myself in different directions.” 

If the directions she pursues differ, her use of strong bright colors can be seen in throughout her work. “I love color,” she says. “My emphasis is always strong composition and strong colors.”

1232 "Gordon Path" by Susan Roth

Octoer 18:  Photography by Susan Fowler-Gallagher and Dan Goldman is the subject of this month’s show at the Millbrook Library. Although both artists work in black and white, their subjects and the feeling of their images are very different.

Fowler-Gallagher, who lives at Black Sheep Farm in Staatsburg, is the most impressionistic of the two artists. Her work focuses mostly on the natural world. “Awakening,” a series of five photographs in square format, is concerned with what she calls” the cusp time of the seasons … late winter/early spring when plants are beginning to sprout and late summer/early fall when the flowers and vegetables are spent and returning to the soil for their winter rest.” 

1220 "Nature's Bounty" by Susan Fowler-Gallagher

American Ballet Theater, celebrating its 75th anniversary, makes a three performance appearance at Bard’s Fisher center this weekend.   I attended opening night that included a premiere by Mark Morris and two stunning pieces from the repertory.

Company B choreographed by Paul Taylor to a selection of songs by the Andrew Sisters brought us back to 1941 and the outbreak of WWII.  It had all the hope and exuberance of a still young nation about to go to war.  The dancers were all smiles as they danced about the loves of soldiers and their girls with reminders of something somber, maybe sinister, suggested by shadows parading across the backdrop. Misty Copeland was just one of the strong women dancers who won over the audience, but the real strength were in the male dancers.  The records of the Andrew Sisters were marvelously redone – they sounded bright and fresh.

Oct 11: The exhibitions at the RE Institute are always interesting if sometimes disconcerting. The current show, "I Know What Art You Did Last Summer," in the upstairs gallery of the Center’s big barn held in collaboration with The Watershed Center and the Studio around Swoon, features the work of some 14 artists  

Along one wall of the lofty space, a pair of videos by Todd Chandler run in a continuous loop. On the left a large yellow bulldozer moves mountains of trash about in a landfill.  On the right flocks of seagulls dive bomb the carcass of a whale that has washed up on a beach and devour his remains in a grisly feast. If Chandler means to say that we treat our wild creatures today much as we do our trash, he is not far from wrong. 

Among the installations is “Woman in Mourning” by Marshall LaCount. Propelled by a the blades of a fan, a woman dressed in black scrubs her laundry in an old fashioned wash tub. Beside her an assortment of black tee shirts hang on a clothes rack. 

1213 "Woman in Mourning" by Marshall LaCount

At the Millerton Moviehouse on October 10 at 5 pm., the opening reception for painter Jeffrey L. Neumann was packed—standing room only for viewing the half-hour documentary “Vanishing America.” This filmed tribute to his work, produced and directed by William L. Farrell of Farrell Video Productions, presented a biography of Neumann along with his recent paintings. Quite frankly, I expected to be bored by the documentary, but was enchanted, not only by the articulate, lively story line, but also by the attention to voice inflection by Neumann in the documentary. Farrell told me it took about twenty takes over about a year to edit the work into its polished surface. Farrell, who greatly impressed me, has completed many documentaries of painters.

Oct 8: Critics have been raving about the exhibition of Picasso’s Sculpture that opened recently at MOMA, and with good reason. It is remarkable. Many of the 140 sculptures Picasso made between 1902 and 1964 are on loan from museums and private collections in this country and abroad. Many have not been seen here in the US before.

Because he never trained as a sculptor, Picasso could express himself with no regard for tradition. The late critic Robert Hughes once wrote that Picasso was “the most succinctly inventive sculptor of the 20th century.”  The artist seems to have been especially fond of his sculptures. He sold almost none in his lifetime, but kept them at home almost as if they were pets. Only after his death were they dispersed, many becoming part of the founding collection of the Muse?e National Picasso–Paris.

Picasso’s commitment to sculpture, however, was sporadic. After making a number of pieces in one mode, he would return to painting to earn money. Months or sometimes years later he would begin sculpting again by which time his style as well as his materials and techniques had changed. 

1210 "Flowers in a Vase" 1951-53

October 2: Paintings by Victor Mirabelli comprise the current exhibition at the Argazzi Gallery in Lakeville, CT.  The artist painted these large, for the most part square images especially for this show.

Mirabelli grew up in Washington State not far from the Columbia River. His work perfectly expresses how he was  “drawn to the dry, arid summer air blanketing the sagebrush hills where weather beaten farmhouses stood abandoned along dusty dirt roads.”

1194 "Rural Fancy" by Victor Mirabelli

His white houses have the haunting quality of buildings that stand empty after long years of abandonment. Some are single houses, their walls pierced by narrow windows that stare at us with ghostly eyes Others present blank faces to the onlooker.  The barns either stand alone or attached to the houses.  The buildings rise out of a landscape bereft of trees. In a few pieces everything is partly obscured by mist. 

1195 "Dusty Sage" by Victor Mirabelli

September 26, 2015- The Amernet String Quartet played four pieces by young composers Thursday, Sept. 24 at Merkin Hall in NYC before a sparse audience.  There was charm, warmth and a definite strain of familiarity among the three composers, all of whom were present.

The audience that was not there would have been surprised at how conservative these composers sounded.  They did not go for the far out, the weird or the uncomfortable. They all composed for the string quartet using the instruments the way they have traditionally been played, which was surprising.  They even sounded like traditional instruments.   They sounded a little like Haydn.  There were themes and variations and sounds that might be the human voice and sounds from nature. 

The last piece by Daniel Ott had six movements with names like Mesto, Odes 1 and 2, Scherzo and Allegro!  

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