Friday, September 19, 2014

Quinn's Skies Enveloping Everything, and Places

Skies Enveloping Everything, and Places is Ann Quinn's latest exhibition. Her paintings, which combine abstract elements with precisely detailed passages have an almost mystical quality. Here, she uses the sky to evoke a transcendental sense of place.  

Ann explains, "This exhibition is of different places that I spent time in, under their particular skies. Places such as East Donegal, Bulgaria, Scotland and the South of France. Every piece of work I have made is based on a specific place I have spent time in. My paintings are about places, but in fact I am going for the atmosphere. I use places in order to instill an atmosphere; this is the main element that I go for. It is the same atmosphere that appears in works of literature and films. This is the reason why I cherish literature, films and paintings so much; it is the essence of the book, the film or artwork that I seek out."

Donegal Bay and Bluestacks Festival, Abbey Arts Centre, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, September 27-October 5. Opening reception: September 27, 7:30 PM.

AXIS Artists Attend Opening

AXIS unites 13 visual, digital, sound and literary artists who are VCCA Fellows at an exhibition at the Brentwood Arts Exchange (Brentwood, MD). According to Indrani Nayar-Gall, the show’s title “suggests a center or core that is capable of connecting, changing, and moving things, people and ideas to create a multitude of possibilities and alliances; it is a crucial transformative concept at this point in history. Fitting with the title, this exhibition brings together contemporary artwork by artists from across the United States and Europe whose work connects in spirit while it diverges in form.”
The show’s genesis can be traced to a VCCA open studio in October 2012. Struck by the range and quality of the work being produced, Indrani and Judith Pratt bandied about the possibility of an exhibition showcasing the work of VCCA Fellows. There followed two years of planning, sending out proposals, and collaborating. AXIS will open at DC’s Brentwood Arts Exchange on September 2 and run through October 18.
 “We are so pleased to have this show become a reality,” says Judith. “To shine a spotlight on all that VCCA does for its artists. We also hope the show encourages many more people to seek out what VCCA has to offer.” The thirteen AXIS artists are: Jo Ann Biagini (CA) • Julia Bloom (DC) • Blinn Jacobs (CT) • Caroline Burton (NY) Alonzo Davis (MD) • de’ Angelo Dia (NC) • Rebecca Morgan Frank (MS) • David R. Lincoln (NY) Joan Michelson (UK) • Indrani Nayar-Gall (NC) • Judith Pratt (VA) • Jessica Deane Rosner (RI) • Aaron Stepp) (KY). 

There will be an artists talk featuring several of the artists on October 4 at 2:00 PM. 
Pictured at the artists' reception left to right: David Lincoln, Phil Davis (Brentwood director), Judith Pratt, Blinn Jacobs, Julia Bloom and Indrani Navar-Gall

Monday, September 15, 2014

Susan Crowder's Future Nature

“We’re all living in the biotech century. Our ability to engineer ourselves and our planet has become a reality and it’s being done with wild abandon motivated by self-interest,“ says Susan Crowder whose work focuses on serious issues facing the natural world like disappearing environments, genetic engineering and invasive species.

“Nature is being gobbled up and reprocessed to accommodate more people with more demanding ideas of how their lives can be ‘improved.’ And yet even as we embrace these new versions of ourselves, we are nostalgic for the way we think Nature used to be. We worry about how we’re degrading our planet through our own consumption and hope science can fix everything without too much inconvenience for us.”

Susan is the subject of a one-woman show at her alma mater Sweet Briar College’s Babcock Gallery, September 18 - November 19. The show will feature sculptural work from Susan’s series Ground Covers (developed while she was a Fellow at VCCA) as well as drawings from her Tropical Nature Studies that she has been working on since she began spending time in Florida, where she now lives. Prior to that, Susan and her husband lived for many years in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, but now divide their time between Florida and Maine. 

Tropical Nature Studies are vivid little paeans to the environment Susan now inhabits evoking the heat, color and jungle-like growth of plants that are exotic, vividly colored and charged with energy, so much so their proliferation seems at times frantic and unstoppable.

Though they resemble stylized flora or micro-organisms, Susan’s studies aren’t depictions of actual science, but rather her abstract ruminations on science. “As my interest in biotechnology has developed, my drawings have mutated from images of the observed environment to imagined images of our microenvironment.”

Susan’s style melds a sleek crispness with a distinctly handmade quality that invests the work with character and visual appeal. Her charmingly inspired patterns succeed in referencing microscopic slides, while maintaining a fanciful remove. Some, like “TNS003,” with its spiraling tendrils and little repeated blobs, have the decorative all-over effect of wallpaper—very unusual wallpaper, needless to say. “TNS006” reminds one of twisting ribbons of kelp, and “TNS017” demonstrates a flawless sense of composition, balancing an area of drawn information with a rich scarlet background that is allowed to have its own voice. Yet even as one is charmed by these delightful works, one can’t quite shake an underlying sense of menace. This feeling is quite intentional; Susan is trying to portray “frenzied, eerie but purposeful microbial movement.”

Sculpture has always played a significant role in Susan’s work. For a time, she created large-scale, site-specific installations out of straw that had the appearance of mass and solidity belying their rather tenuous building material. at once architectural and fragile.

Designed to degrade naturally over time from environmental forces, two were destroyed by intentionally set fires. After these incidents, Susan backed away from these works. “The arson kind of scared me, this conflict of culture with nature, it made me want to do something different, so I switched to plastic and to artificial nature.” Susan uses traditional media for her drawings: pencil, ink and Craypas. By contrast, all the materials in the sculptures—low-voltage cable, cable ties, deer netting, ping pong balls—can be bought at Home Depot. Susan’s colonizing Ground Cover sculptures are distinctly ominous. Attractive and repellent, they look like synthetic plants, “Suggesting a future,” Susan has written, “Where engineered plants replace natural ones.

“I have this feeling,” she tells me, “Nature is going to become more and more man-made, partly because we’re being so hard on it and partly because of bioengineering.” One hopes Susan is wrong about this, but even so, her vision of future nature is captivating: part, plant, part machine, pure inventiveness.

Margery Amdur in L.A.'s "ArtVoices"

In 2012 Margery Amdur began using cosmetic sponges to construct her surfaces, drawn to them for their softness, texture and gender specific association.

Margery orders the sponges in bulk. They come in five different sizes, which she glues together by the thousands, making formations that become the building blocks of her compositions. She under-paints these sponge assemblages with gouache and ink layering pastel pigment on top to produce complex abstract markings Some of her sponge pieces are relatively flat and look like topographical maps—Margery describes these works as "maps to places unknown...personal landscapes—others resemble bulging giant amoeba-like shapes or enormous blooms of coral. 

Both pliable and textural, we sense the softness of this unorthodox yet surprisingly dynamic and sensual surface. It adds an appealing contrast to the intensity of Margery's marks. Margery Amdur is the subject of a profile and article in the Los Angeles-based ArtVoices magazine.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Duesberry's "In an Instant: New York, 9-11, Before and After"

With In an Instant: New York, 9-11, Before and After Joellyn Duesberry takes on the very difficult subject of 9-11. She does so with technical virtuosity and urgency that seems to embody the shock and awe of that terrible event.

On View: September 11-November 13; opening Reception: September 11, 2014, 5-7pm, The Art Gallery | Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Sousa in Three Exhibitions

Jean Sousa’s work will be featured together with Ilze Arajs, Larry Chait in Sight Unseen curated by Alan Leder at the Noyes Cultural Center, Evanston IL. Opening reception September 14, 3:00-5:00 PM. Through November 6.

Jean’s work will also be in The Nature of a Collective opening at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, October 3. The exhibition includes work by members of the Stella Collective, a group of 12 photographers:  Aimee Beaubien, Suzette Bross, Patty Carroll, Barbara Ciurej & Lindsay Lochman, Liz Chilsen, Christine DiThomas, Mary Farmilant, Alice Hargrave, Kate Joyce, Mayumi Lake, Margaret Wright and Jean. Through November 30.
The Illinois State Museum traveling exhibition, Fragile Relations: Art, Nature & the Environment, curated by Jane Stevens, will be on view at the Rend Lake Gallery in Southern Illinois November 9 – March 15. This is the fourth and final venue for the exhibition. 

Jean is delighted to report she will be a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome this fall.

Leslie Kerby Guest Curates BRIC Biennial

Guest curated by Leslie Kerby together with Elizabeth Ferrer, Jenny Gerow and Fawz Kabra BRIC Biennial: Volume I, Downtown Edition, brings together a range of artists whose practices vary widely: from Scherezade Garcia and her socially minded multimedia work to Jenna Spevack, who’s interested in sustainable design, to Vince Contarino, who makes abstract paintings, to Martha Wilson, a performance art pioneer. September 20-December 14. Opening reception September 19, 7:00-9:00 PM.

BRIC presents contemporary art, performing arts and community media programs that reflect Brooklyn’s creativity and diversity.