I have always been interested in the domestic as an underlying motif for my work. During this time of self-isolation – I’ve returned “home” once again. (I have been looking at the same rooms for several weeks.) The rooms (and even the still lifes) in my work upon first impressions may seem cozy, warm, inviting and sometimes whimsical, but often also evoke the feeling of being trapped within the home. I am sure many of us have experienced a sense of anxiety and claustrophobia in this strange time. I am a big fan of the work of Edouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940); his domestic scenes have heavily influence my work.
These collages are made with paper painted with gouache. I began using this medium after seeing an exhibition of Matisse’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams: His Art and His Textiles https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2005/matisse-textiles in 2005. Also since a lot of these collages also had children as subjects, these simple torn and cut paper seemed to add something to their meaning. These pieces of paper are then used to build a painting.
Elizabeth Bisbing exhibits paintings, drawings, collages, animations and videos. In the spring of 2014 she showed “The Metamorphosis” (an animation) in the Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art Cultural Exchange and Exhibition in Shenyang, China. She participated in The Veil: Visible & Invisible Spaces, an exhibition, which traveled across the country from 2008 through 2013. She has been a member of the Soho20 Gallery New York City since 2002. She is also affiliated with the Projects Gallery of Philadelphia where she has been in group shows and one solo exhibition. Her work has been written about in the New York Sun, Distinction Magazine, and New York Magazine as well as the Lincoln County News of Damariscotta, Maine and The Garland News of Dallas, Texas. She earned her BFA in painting from Moore College of Art & Design and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Art. Her work is in many private collections as well as Rowan University’s Art Gallery and the Fremantle Foundation in Florence Italy. She lives and works in New York City.
This exhibition is equal part still life, landscape, and figure paintings.
I began as a still-life painter and remained so for many years. In my first semester at the NY Studio School, my teacher, Mercedes Matter, set up an elaborate, complex still life and told us to spend the semester working on it. She taught us to focus on the intervals and spatial tensions among objects; the objects themselves were less important, fractured as in cubism. However, objects and their relationships were important to me—as metaphors for human relationships and interactions. Objects huddle, stand in the foreground or the background, lean on, obscure, stand-alone, stand out, couple up, bump into, and cast shadows on one another. These remind me of human interactions, relationships, and feelings associated with them. Usually, I exaggerate the human attributes as I re-arrange (in reality or solely on canvas) objects until I am satisfied with the composition.
I first got my footing as a painter when I discovered that I had an affinity with the work of Georgio Morandi and Piero Della Francesca. The quiet intimacy and mystery of their paintings appealed to me. In them, I saw myself, or at least a part of myself (I have another part—more on that later) that values stillness, intimacy, and mystery.
Morandi spent days, even weeks, arranging a still life before beginning to paint; I never had the patience. At first, I would arrange and, if the composition didn’t work, re-arrange, add, or omit objects and continue painting. Gradually, I developed a method: set up a still life, paint from observation until I hit a roadblock, look around the room for objects and ideas, then only on the canvas rearrange, add, and omit. Often I stop looking around the room and simply invent.
Matisse wrote, “A distinction is made between artists who work directly from nature and those who work purely from imagination. Neither of these methods should be preferred to the exclusion of the other. Often both are used in turn by the same artist...” This and another quotation (which I could not find) went something like this: to get away from the danger of unimaginatively copying what one sees (something I sometimes succumb to), it is best to have the model on the first floor and the easel, paints, and canvas on the third. This is more or less my method, although in my tiny studio the “model” (still life), which I glance now and then, is behind me.
In The Eyes Have It, I borrowed an idea from Chardins’s Soap Bubbles—the boy behind the ledge.
I set up a still life, started painting and added a head behind the far edge. I decided that the back end of the table was too low on the canvas, so I raised it, starting with a line where I where I wanted the edge to be. As I painted out the face (from bottom to top), I noticed that an eye looked like it was on the table (it is now showing through a bottle) and the top of the head was slicing up through it, looking like an inverted bowl. I liked the mysterious, surreal quality—the eye would become a light-motif of the painting.
My small landscapes are usually from direct observation and often succumb to “unimaginative copying,” except for the ones shown in this exhibition. The White House, and Frederica’s House (the same house from different points of view) and Casina II were completed in Italy where I was on an artist residency. They came quickly, in one session. I started Elizabeth in the Field in Italy but worked on it, on and off for months, in my NYC studio.
Two of the figures paintings, Oops! and Drowning, derive from life experiences. Oops! Is an attempt to recapture my (in)experience with a kayak and my wife attempting to help me (although some people say it looks like she is pushing me over). The composition derives from Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes. As you can see, it has undergone serious revision:
I was once caught in a wave and rescued by a stranger. The final version of the painting, Drowning, is nothing like the place I experienced it, but it expresses my feelings of the event. It evolved over months of painting, scraping, wiping out, subtracting, and adding figures that, unintentionally, look to me like human jellyfish.
As I said above, the quiet intimacy that I value in many of my still lifes is one side of me. I also want to express feelings of an anxiety and turmoil, as well as joy and humor. Perhaps Self Portrait-Fire captures two sides of my personality; the self-portrait reminds me of the impassive stillness of a Piero, the fire, turmoil, anxiety, and fear. A similar opposition is, perhaps, captured in Variation on a Theme by Matisse, but here it is joy versus the threat of it being destroyed:
I paint landscapes, still life, figure compositions, and interiors based on perception, memory and fantasy. By means of color, light, space, gesture, and narrative (metaphorically in still life paintings) I strive to express emotional states or moods, which can vary from somber to light and fanciful. For me, color is the most important of these modes of expression. I want my paintings to stimulate the viewer’s intellect, yet be easily grasped, and sufficiently complex to reveal themselves over time.
Castellana has been exhibiting his paintings since 1965, has had eighteen one-person shows, and numerous group shows. He is a member of the Blue Mountain Gallery in NYC and a former member and director of the Bowery Gallery. His works are in many private and public collections at FFAST Fondazione Fremantle per Artisti Stranieri in Toscana (Fremantle Foundation for Foreign Artists in Tuscany) and Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). He was a founder of the Interdisciplinary Studies program at Fairleigh Dickinson and is now retired. He has had artist residencies in Italy, where he has also exhibited, and at the Vermont Studio Center. He studied at the Art Students League, New York Studio School, and Queens College. His teachers included Edwin Dickinson, Charles Cajori, Mercedes Matter, Esteban Vicente, and Louis Finkelstein.
Art Students' League
New York Studio School
Queens College, MFA program (no degree)
Harvard College, B.A. in Biology
New School for Social Research, M.A. in Political Economy; Ph.D. in Economics
“Leaves, Diamonds, Moon”
March 6- April 18, 2020
This exhibition pairs two distinct bodies of paintings Kevin Wixted has been developing over the past few years. One can be called abstract and the other representational, but the reality is they are one and the same. The paintings question the relationship between perception, memory and invention. By showing them side-by-side Wixted wants to form a dialogue between several strong impulses that are always present in the work. This juxtaposition speaks to organic growth systems and sequences in nature, but also suggests the mysterious emotional encoding to be found in landscape. As game playing strategies develop through comparisons, the geometric and organic contrast leads to a variety of possibilities and interpretations. This formal play has its roots in the contrast of landscape sources experienced first hand and the metaphoric potential of abstraction. The interaction of color and shape has been an ongoing concern in Wixted’s oeuvre. He concentrates on building an abstract vocabulary of rhythm, pattern and color relationships that reflect his experiences of both working directly from nature and inventing a formal language. Wixted wants the work to develop its own pictorial dynamic beyond the image, reflecting the particular geometry, color, texture and light of place.
Paintings by Sirena LaBurn, Samuel Levy, Nathan Mullins, and William Reed
November 9, 2019–January 10, 2020
AMOR FATI broadens the definition of traditional momento mori to explore themes of life, death, and rebirth in paintings by Sirena Laburn, Samuel Levy, Nathan Mullins, and William Reed at Wagner College’s Union Gallery. The four artists’ works, each exhibiting individual interests and styles, converse about the hopes and fears inherent in our limited human experience, keeping an eye toward the certainty we all face, and welcoming that death as necessary.
The wheel shapes in Sirena LaBurn’s (b. 1986, B.S. 2012, M.F.A. 2014) paintings reflect the cyclical nature of life and the circumstances in which we are born and will die. Drawing from her experience of motherhood, LaBurn creates images that speak to the wishes and fears she has for her daughter’s future, including skeletons that dance in the deserts of the artist’s home state of Texas, laughing at our attempts to make sense of it all. The dichotomy of life and death is blurred in Samuel Levy’s (b. 1980, B.F.A. 2003, M.F.A. 2009) observational paintings as stags and ducks seem to breathe before the viewer realizes that the animals are taxidermy stand-ins. This reversal of the original reading offers a chance to reflect on the line that separates the quick and the dead. Figures both mythological and commonplace combine in the paintings of Nathan Mullins (b. 1989, B.F.A. 2012, M.F.A. 2015), finding equal footing to explore symbols of rebirth. The destructive and life-giving duality of water is a central theme present in these paintings that range in topic from The Birth of Venus to rising ocean levels. William Reed’s (b. 1981, B.A. 2003, M.F.A. 2009) Pyre paintings, a series begun some years ago, are visual meditations that deal with chance, death, and renewal. The flowers, gathered from spaces personally meaningful to the artist, lay scattered across floors in decay, but are revived with life and beauty by their arrangement as painting motifs.
NICK SAVIDES “NYCITYSCAPES” EXHIBIT
The Union Gallery at Wagner College will present a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Brooklyn artist Nick Savides. The exhibition will be on display from November 12, 2018 through January 12, 2019. There will be an opening reception, free to the public, on November 18, 2-4 pm.
The paintings in this show are set in New York City – in neighborhoods such as Tribeca, SoHo, and NoHo, as well as Central Park. They are portrayed with a blend of realism and subtle surrealism that creates a unique vision of the city. One of the recurrent themes in this show is the depiction of the figure and faces on billboards, anthropomorphizing the city itself. Using the effects of light and space, they blend the everyday and the extraordinary, the dynamic and the serene. As Val Schaffner writes, “Beyond the carefully rendered beauty, complexity, and calm of his art, there is mystery: a sense of something about to be discovered.”
Mr. Savides started painting as a young child, learning from his mother, who was also a painter. Later, he studied under New York figurative painter Paul Georges at Brandeis University. Since his first solo show in 1980, he has exhibited in many group and solo shows in New York City, as well as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Long Island, Upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, and Toronto. His work is included in numerous private and public collections and was featured on June Middleton’s cable show “Minding Your Business.” Twice published by Nabi Press, he had a retrospective of his work at the Berkeley College Gallery in 2012, was selected for the cover of the 2015 William & Mary Review, and has recently been published in Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 41, and John Natsoulas Press’s 2018 10th Annual Art of Painting in the 21st Century.
His work can be seen at nicksavides.com and UGallery.com .
GATHERING LIGHT: A Solo Exhibition of Paintings by Susan M. Blubaugh
The Union Gallery at Wagner College will present a solo exhibition of paintings by Susan M. Blubaugh. Most works in the exhibit, Gathering Light, are landscape paintings of Bucks County, PA and Hunterdon County, NJ and will include studio paintings corresponding with the plein air studies that inspired and informed the larger works.
The focus of Susan’s work is the continual study of the subtle changes in light, time of day, and season, and she often returns to the same location, recording the shifts in the atmosphere and emotion of a particular subject.
Susan has been painting and exhibiting her landscapes, still life paintings and the occasional portrait in Bucks County, PA and Hunterdon County, NJ since 2001. She started her career as a painter and illustrator in New York City where she studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design with painters Isaac Soyer, Harvey Dinnerstein, Burton Silverman, Hilary Holmes and Curt Hanson, who said about Susan’s work: “Her love of painting directly from nature has stayed with her since I encountered her painting in Central Park in the 1980’s. Her drawing ability is impeccable and the paintings always reflect a freshness only gotten by firsthand observations. Many artists have shorthand methods that produce flashy effects that often hide their lack of ability. With Susan, I always see a patient seeking of visual truth that is imbued with the excitement of honest discovery.”
Susan has dedicated this exhibit to the memory of Curt Hanson, her friend and mentor who passed away recently after a short illness.
More of her work can be seen on Instagram and at www.susanblubaugh.com
“Myths and Tales.” Nov. 8 until Jan. 13.
Colman Rutkin has lived on Staten Island for more than 30 years since moving here from Manhattan. This is his second solo show; the first, held in 2013 at the Staten Island Museum, was titled “A Visual Journey” and included oil paintings, prints and watercolors.
For more about the artist, visit his website @http://colmanrutkin.com/
Staten Island, N.Y. — Artist Scott LoBaido, best known for his American flag portraits on display across the nation, will be featured in an exhibition in Wagner College Gallery throughout the month of March.
The exhibition, titled “Self Portraits”, consists of three 4 1/2′ by 9′ pieces, one for each wall of the gallery. The pieces are all untitled.
“They are older pieces,” says LoBaido. “They are surreal, with some patriotic influences. I prefer the audience to see what they want and try to figure out the artist’s intentions; hence, they are untitled, with no explanation.” The exhibition runs from Sunday, March 6, through Saturday, April 2.
About the Artist
LoBaido, who was voted “Best Artist (Paint/Sculpture/Ink)” in SILive’s 2015 Best of Staten Island Poll, is best known for his American flag paintings, which are on display on structures all across Staten Island.
Last year, he went on tour to all fifty states, painting his trademark flags on patriotic buildings in each state.
His “Empty Chairs” Driftwood Memorials, a tribute to victims of Hurricane Sandy, were on display last Fall in Midland Beach.
Click on the gallery above the view the pieces on display in the exhibition, and some of his other artwork. For more information about Scott LoBaido, visit his website.