• Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

    Elaine A. King

    Artist, Theaster Gates. Photo courtesy of hypocritedesign.com

    Theaster Gates is a 21st century Renaissance man whose art practice comprises painting, sculpture, installation, music, design, performance and urban planning.  Gates is, as are L.A. artists Mark Bradford and Richard Lowe, an extraordinary social practice artist who can sees potential beyond the surface of a situation despite its outwardly decrepit state. He was born in Chicago in 1973 on Chicago’s run-down South Side, known as Greater Grand Crossing, where he continues to work and live. This visionary raises money, collaborates with urban planners/architects/policy makers and has been supported by Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel who made Gates an off-the-record commissioner of renewal for the city’s South Side. (more…)

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art Features Watercolors by Homer and Sargent

    Amy Henderson
    John William Hill, American (born England), 1812-1879, Apples and Plums, 1874. Watercolor on paper, 7 7/8 × 11 3/8 inches. Collection of Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr.

    John William Hill, American (born England), 1812-1879, Apples and Plums, 1874. Watercolor on paper, 7 7/8 × 11 3/8 inches. Collection of Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr.

    Is it appropriate to define watercolor as “the medium” in American art?  That’s the contention curator Kathleen A. Foster sets forth in her new Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition and catalogue, American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent.

    Establishing watercolor’s significance has been the driving force of Foster’s career, beginning with her 1982 Yale dissertation, “Makers of the American Watercolor Movement, 1860-1890.”  While the medium has often been called “quaint” and sniffed at as something women toyed with on Sunday afternoons, Foster has made it her career crusade to show that the medium launched a vital aesthetic movement in America after the Civil War. Instead of imitating French Impressionism, artists embraced watercolor and catalyzed the creation of a uniquely American art–one whose vibrant identity suited the rise of America’s modern national identity in the late 19th century. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter: March, 2017

    Richard Friswell

    matisse woman with hat

    Vanity, Thy Name Is…

    “I don’t control painting, painting controls me.” ~ Hubert Roestenburg, German Expressionist

    Left: Henri Matisse, Woman in a Hat (1920) Private Collection.

    What can art teach us about human motivation? It is in our nature to surround ourselves with the people and things that reinforce our self-image and belief systems, as evidenced in the case of the current president? Take notice of the ‘new’ oval office and the change in art work that now hangs within sight of the chief executive, and all those who care to notice in photographs of proceedings there. To the right of the desk, from a viewer’s perspective, is a large portrait of Andrew Jackson (c. 1834), by then-Nashville colleague and White House resident artist, Ralph E.W. Earl. Jackson lost a bitterly contested election to John Quincy Adams in `24.  His next campaign—characterized by his rough-hewn style and unconventional Tennessee country ways—was aimed at earning the vote of the ordinary man. This carried him to victory in 1828. In order to manage his public image, it is said that Jackson kept the artist close by in the years that followed, requiring that multiple portraits be produced to reinforce the perception of the man as a heroic and statesman-like figure. (more…)

  • Contemporary Sculptor Boaz Vaadia: Figures Keep Silent Vigil in Complex World

    Richard Friswell

    Vaadia_003_sm

    Editor’s Note: We recently learned of the untimely death of sculptor, Boaz Vaadia, at age 65. This piece ran in ARTES in 2013, after a wonderful visit to his studio in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. Our time together on that and other occasions always felt more like a reunion of friends than a series of interviews. Boaz’s warmth and congenial style will always be remembered. His talent and devotion to his medium were remarkable, as was his love of family. His towering bluestone figures will stand for all time as a memoriam to his craft and the lasting impression he made on those lucky enough to know him during his brief time among us.

    The narrow metal door is just a step up from the narrow street, one of many in the matrix that is the Williamsburg neighborhood, a quaint section of New York City’s Brooklyn borough. A small hand-lettered name appears above the mailbox beside the entrance—Vaadia—alerting me to the fact that I’ve reached my destination, the studio of well-known sculptor, Boaz Vaadia (left). artes fine arts magazin (more…)

  • Penny Arcade’s ‘Longing Lasts Longer’ at Brooklyn’s St Anne’s Warehouse

    Edward Rubin
    penny arcade

    Solo performer, Penny Arcade

    I have always appreciated the bravery, as well as the chutzpah, of those performers who choose to go it alone in a one man or one woman show. Not unlike comedians who stand totally exposed before an audience hoping to avoid the slings and arrows, or for that matter the stink of rotten tomatoes, these are all but naked performers. Ultimately, they rely on the shear force of their god-given personality, and well-honed talents to wow their audience; and in the best case, bring them to their feet amidst thunderous applause. (more…)

  • “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” at Washington’s National Gallery of Art

    Elaine A. King
    Davis, Stuart

    Cover image for NGA exhibition: ‘Stuart Davis: In Full Swing,’ Owh! on San Pao (1951). Detailed caption info for all images at end of review

    Stuart Davis (1892-1964) is considered to be one of America’s first modern artists and a precursor of Pop Art.  He was an enthused colorist whose bright, well-developed paintings translated French Cubism into an unquestionably American art expression. Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, currently on view at Washington’s National Gallery of Art, considers his work from 1921 and his breakthrough paintings of tobacco packages. It then moves through five decades to his final canvas, demonstrating through the chronology Davis’s habit of recycling earlier work for new compositions. With more than one hundred of his most important, visually complex compositions on view, the exhibition highlights Davis’s ability to assimilate the imagery of popular culture, the aesthetics of advertising, the lessons of cubism, and the sounds and rhythms of jazz into works that hum with intelligence and energy. (more…)

  • Washington D.C.’s Phillips Collection: ‘Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Epoque’

    Amy Henderson
    Mademoiselle Églantine’s Troupe 1

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mademoiselle Églantine’s Troupe, 1895–96. Ed. Note: For detailed captions on all images, see story end.

    The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. has recently opened an exhibition that showcases an extraordinary collection of Toulouse-Lautrec lithographs. Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the ‘Belle Epoque’  focuses on about 100 “defining images” that embrace the artist’s entire lithographic career (1891-1899) and provide a fascinating window into Montmartre’s fin de siècle  café and cabaret society. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter: January, 2017

    Edward Rubin

    paul-delaroche-two_heads_camaldolese_monks-1844

    “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    Left: Paul Delaroche, Two Heads, Camaldolese Monks (1844).

    Sweeping up the Heart

    Every singer, every actor, every dancer considers themselves artists. The world of expression and those who give form to our emotions through lyrics and movement, is poorer in these fresh days of a New Year, a result of the loss of several talented performers in recent weeks. While my head was still spinning with each new, sad announcement, I received an email from cherished, long-time friend and contributing editor to ARTES, Ed Rubin. Eddy is a New Yorker, through-and-through, and as a result, has ‘theater’ coursing through his veins. The performing arts come alive for those, like Ed, who can casually encounter a star or a cultural icon on the streets of the City, at a restaurant or party. You quickly learn that celebrities are just people, as their vulnerability and untimely deaths so often painfully demonstrate. (more…)

  • Gallery 100 New York: International Artists Draw ‘A Fine Line’                          

    Mary Hrbacek

    Alan Sonfist, “Leaves Frozen in Time: Spring,” Mix Media on Canvas, 4 x 4 ft. (122 x 122 cm.) no date provided

    A Fine Line, the inaugural exhibition for the newly launched Gallery 100 New York, presents an amalgamation of the varied but related works of four international artists, who use straightforward natural materials with telling effect.  The show curated by gallery director Michelle Loh, features Wang Huangsheng, Oliver Catté, Mahmoud Hamadani, and Alan Sonfist.  An express emphasis on paper unites the installation; there is an aura of purity emanating from the white paper of the drawings on view that permeates the space.  Color plays an important tandem role; hues glitter in conjunction with the brown cardboard works, and in the nature-based leaf piece entitled “Leaves Frozen in Time: Spring.”  The abstract drawings explore the essential delicacy of paper as it comingles with ink flowing irregularly over the surfaces, while the creative potential and durability of cardboard come sharply into focus in cityscapes that radiate urban exuberance. Traditional underpinnings resound through the exhibition; the use of ink, which is made from tree bark, is a medium used for millennia in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. (more…)

  • Holiday Inn: Roundabout Theatre Brings the Past into the Present

    Edward Rubin

    The Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical, currently playing at Studio 54, first showed its lyrical face at Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House where it had its world premier during the holiday season in 2014. With a book co-written by Chad Hodge and Gordon Greenberg (he is also the director), »more