Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Commission 2015 Artists Brice Brown and Alan Shockley

Although The Commission 2015 will remain
under wraps until May 9, we are delighted to announce the winning artists. They are visual artist Brice Brown and composer Alan Shockley. For those of you who don’t know Brice and Alan, here is some biographical information.

Brice was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and currently lives in New York City. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and an MFA from Pratt Institute, and he also studied at the Chautauqua School of Art. 

Brice has exhibited nationally and internationally. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, Artnews, artcritical and The Village Voice, among others. He has held residencies at Yaddo, VCCA and the Vermont Studio Center, and has been a visiting artist/lecturer at Dartmouth College, Carnegie Mellon University, Williams College and Drew University. 

Brice’s work is in public collections include the International Collage Center at Mount Holyoke College, Speed Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Swope Art Museum, and Yale University. Recent and upcoming solo exhibitions include installations at Margaret Thatcher Projects, New York, and Air Circulation Gallery in Brooklyn, and works on view in the Chautuaqua Institute Sculpture Garden.

From 2006-2010 Brice founded and edited, with Trevor Winkfield, The Sienese Shredder, an annual arts journal bringing together visual arts, poetry and fiction. He is currently co-editing another arts journal with Trevor Winkfield, titled Tether, which will be launched May 2015. 

Raised in tiny Warm Springs, Georgia (population 475), Alan Shockley holds degrees in
composition and theory from the University of Georgia, Ohio State, and Princeton University (M.F.A., Ph.D.). 

In addition to VCCA, Alan has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Italy’s Centro Studi Ligure, and France’s CAMAC, among others.  

Recent commissions include I feel open to… for the California E.A.R. Unit, a virtuosic solo work for flutist John Barcellona, and an as-yet-untitled work for violin, cello, and piano for Trio Terroir.  Alan’s electronic works have been installed in Jack Straw Studio’s New Media Gallery (Seattle), Minneapolis’ Weisman Art Museum, in VertexList Gallery (Brooklyn), the Electronic Music Foundation (Manhattan) and played all over the world as part of Vox Novus’ 60x60 Project.  

These days Alan’s works are often experiments in musical form—attempts at tailoring the form to the material, resulting in a unique shape for each piece, and one that the composer hopes “works” in a strange and individual way.  He’s currently Director of Composition/Theory and an associate professor in the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. 

The winning The Commission team is awarded residencies at VCCA to help them with the project. Brice and Alan will be in residence in May to prepare the piece ahead of its installation: Brice: April 20–May 11; Alan: May 5-10.

We are very excited to see their piece installed at Adventure Farm! For information and tickets for the event:

Susan Pashman’s "Upper West Side Story" to be published in May by

Susan Pashman’s second novel, Upper West Side Story, will be published in May by Harvard Square Editions both as a paperback and eBook.
Susan began the novel almost fourteen years ago at VCCA; she continued to work on it during a subsequent residency. 
Susan writes, “Of course, I haven't been at work on this book for a full fourteen years. During this time period, I designed and built a house, landscaped my property, spent five years at Harvard getting certified as a landscape historian and designer, spent another year earning an M.A. in Landscape History, and then another year completing a doctoral dissertation in Landscape Aesthetics at Stony Brook University, SUNY and have published many new stories and essays. But I am most rewarded by this new publication, so long in the making. Thank you to VCCA for starting me off with the gift of time and the perfect place.”

Friday, February 20, 2015

Gerald Cohen's "L'dor VaDor" Debuts at Avery Fisher Hall

The world premiere of Gerald Cohen's "L'dor VaDor" will occur at Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday, March 22 at 4:00 PM.

The choral piece will be performed by the International Jewish High School Choir, HaZamir. Gerald will be playing the piano, which will be his performing debut at Avery Fisher.

HaZamir brings together young people from the United States and Israel, who have been rehearsing in their own communities, for a concert each year in New York. There will be more than 300 young people performing in the chorus.

Gibson and Recoder’s "Light Spill" in Ireland

Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder’s installation Light Spill at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, Ireland (part of the Plastik Festival) features a running 16mm film projector from which film unspools onto the ground.

The piece is oddly unsettling: we feel the absence of the projectionist and the relentlessness of the machine that continues its mad course despite the tangle of celluloid piling up on the floor. It’s a witty metaphor for things unraveling and running amok with a potent reference, in particular, to the “death of cinema."

Practitioners of “expanded cinema” Sandra and Luis have collaborated since 2000 producing numerous installations and performances that make full use of the visual, mechanical and conceptual qualities of film projection.

Catherine Courtenaye to Give TEDx Talk

Catherine Courtenaye reports that she has been invited to speak at the TEDx Talk at the University of Montana, in Missoula, on February 20. This TEDx Talk theme is language and will feature 17 speakers from many disciplines. Catherine is the only visual artist included in the program and will address how and why she uses language in her painting.

Catherine uses various digital and printmaking processes to incorporate examples from 19th century American penmanship manuals, arithmetic workbooks and handwritten ephemera into her paintings.

She first became interested in writing “many years ago, while reading through some antiquarian documents, I was struck by how single pen strokes in 19th century manuscripts can conjure an era so keenly.” Catherine’s work allows her to combine her interests in American cultural history, literature with formal issues of stroke and texture.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Jennifer DePalma's Minimalism with a Twist

Visual artist Jennifer DePalma decided to apply to VCCA because she was feeling untethered. She had just finished an installation for American University’s Katzen Art Center, which she had toiled over for three years during which time  she also had a son. And as a graduate (with honors) of the Corcoran College of Art + Design, she was feeling bereft by the demise of that institution and the scattering of its community.

At VCCA, Jenn was “really pleased with being around other artists studios and having that accessibility. I feel like I gleaned a lot of technical information the last few days I was there and everyone had open studios. Its funny, I hang out with tons of artists in DC, but in order to do a studio visit we have to schedule a time and drive there and meet and then drive home and it ends up sucking a whole half-day or so from my studio time. But at VCCA we were able to do these quick studio visits that were right around the corner literally, so I also feel like I have a lot to digest from those experiences.”

Jenn’s work is all about “owning every step” of the creative process. She creates the objects instead of collecting them, presents the photographs instead of using them as a studio tool, and “examines each medium’s individual nature and capabilities by trying to manipulate each of them into looking like each other.”

Right before Jenn came to VCCA, a filing cabinet she had ordered arrived. Unpacking it, she discovered eight black foam half cube shaped packing elements. Delighted by the “funky way somebody made them,” imperfectly gluing the three pieces of foam together to make a slightly skewed geometric form, she ended up bring them with her to VCCA for inspiration.

In a departure from her normal non-collecting approach, she arranged them in stacks and painted them using an arresting palette of acid green, pale yellow, ruby, tan and gray. The cheeky colors, inherent imperfections of the shapes and the vertiginous stacks themselves add a refreshing levity to what would be classified, at least visually, as minimalist.

By her own admission Jenn’s trying to find comedy. “I need to be serious when I’m doing it, but there’s a sense of ridiculousness. It’s really minimal along the lines of Robert Mangold and Sol Lewitt, but then it’s not really perfect. I’m rifting on the minimalists, or I guess you could say I’m sampling them.”

Jenn refers to these works as still lifes. “The idea of still life is something I came to realize when I first started working with objects and I had to write about my work. Instead of describing that whole long process: taking/collecting/making objects, setting them up and then drawing or photographing them, or both, I realized there already was a genre for that, and it’s still life. Since figuring that out, I feel like my work has sort of revolved on an axis around what still life is and what it means.”

Even though she’s only shown two-dimensional work, Jenn’s clearly drawn to working in both two and three-dimensions. The Necker cube, an optical illusion image (or in Jenn’s case a cut-out) that appears to be both flat and also protruding forward and backwards in space, seems like the perfect motif for her and she concurs: “Paper is inherently square—how could you not make art about that? A Necker cube is two dimensions going into three-dimensions.” To make her Neckers Jenn draws the shape onto thick paper and then cuts them out with an Exacto knife.

Combining art and the environment, Jenn places the cubes in the landscape (including the roof of the Studio Barn) and then photographs them. The effect of these geometric forms is both subtle and startling. You don't notice them at first and then when you do, they are surreal: geometric forms floating against a real world back drop. The odd construct is visually appealing, both drawing attention to reality and playing off it. “I’m really excited about having a project I can do when I’m hanging out with my kid and out in the street and then bring it to the Internet world. I’ve spent so much consuming beautiful hiking videos and camping blogs, I just want to contribute something and put art into that environment. But I’m trying to be careful; I don’t want to become this person that’s always working on cubes.”

Necker cubes are something that exist in the world and any one has access to them. So the challenge is how can Jenn make them her own. “How do I talk about them without just making noise and not contributing to the conversation?” she asks. “Necker cubes play with our concept of realism. Is it naive realism or direct realism? If I see it, does it exist? If I see a green bush, it exists. But a Necker cube plays with that: it’s flat, but looks 3-D. And the fact that you can’t decide which square is in front, and which square is in back shows that direct realism doesn’t exist. Realism is an illusion.” These are heavy questions and Jenn admits she’s fascinated by quantum mechanics and quantum physics.

After her two weeks in residence, Jenn returned to Washington with her creative purpose reenergized, and a new project to pursue. “I was hoping to use the time at VCCA as a frenzy of creativity that would give birth to a long-term project, which actually happened perfectly. I had a few private goals, I wanted to make something big, something colorful, and I wanted to cut the paper into a shape that wasn't a rectangle or square. I also hoped I would make something outdoors, which ended up happening a little with the Necker cube project. The Necker cube pieces are really where I want to put my focus for future work. I am really excited about the photographs I took out in the property and the cubes I cut out and I'm having all kinds of new ideas for videos and photographs based on that.”