Friday, August 29, 2014

Jenny Lynn McNutt in "A Menagerie of Metaphors"

Jenny Lynn McNutt’s work will be featured in A Menagerie of Metaphors along with such art luminaries at Louise Bourgeois, Walton Ford and Kiki Smith. The show, the 103rd Annual Exhibition at Randolph College’s Maier Museum, will be on view September 12-December 14. Jenny Lynn will be the featured visual artist in the 23rd Annual Helen Clark Berlind Symposium (October 3-4) at the museum.

As the title of the show suggests, the work on view goes beyond illustration into the realm of allegory and Jenny Lynn’s rabbits fit right in. With their exaggerated haunches and ears, they evoke the quintessential idea of a rabbit or lanky hare, but their soulful, threatening, or rapturous attitudes add an anthropomorphic touch that underscores the “elastic continuum of creatures.” This theme, central to Jenny Lynn’s work, also figures in Precise Breathing, a project she developed about the honeybee between 2001 and 2010 beginning with a solo performance and culminating with a diverse installation of sculpture and works on paper.

Using dynamic lines and veils of scumbled color that range from soft to bold, Jenny Lynn renders her leporids with an exuberance and potency that seems to perfectly match their animus. Dancing, floating or upside down, they seem to inhabit a dreamscape. Indeed, it was a transformative dream where a ten-foot hare appeared and waltzed Jenny Lynn away that provided the inspiration for this body of work entitled Zoopsia (hallucination of animals), first begun in 2010 at VCCA.

In Residence: Karen Bondarchuk’s Corvids

Karen Bondarchuk’s series of corvids commands attention. She’s been focusing on these birds for several years, as well as work that has recently come to include the Wild West of Edward S. Curtis photographs and the 1952 film, High Noon. She cites also “The near extinction and relocation of every indigenous presence standing in the way of Manifest Destiny” as a potent influence as well.

Karen's birds are beautifully rendered, caught in candid moments, mid-animation. Enlarged to an “up close and personal’ size, they’re rather unsettling, with their beady eyes fixed on us. But the fact they’re so large and in most cases, consigned to the lower part of the composition so their forms are partially cut off, adds visual whammy. In some, Karen goes even further, introducing letters and words, and such oddities as a floating bottle cap—perhaps a halo above the un-saintly crow? In one, a slashing line of red, a beautiful gesture in and of itself, suggests blood. These are works that combine consummate technical skill with imagination and dash.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

AXIS Show Unites 13 VCCA Fellows

Fellows who come to VCCA speak about the heady atmosphere of creativity and support that pervades the place. The many collaborations that have blossomed between Fellows over the years stand as testament to this, as does our annual Commission event that places collaboration front and center.
But perhaps there has never been a collaborative happening quite like the upcoming exhibition at the Brentwood Arts Exchange (Brentwood, MD). AXIS unites 13 visual, digital, sound and literary artists who are VCCA Fellows. 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 13 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. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Michener Museum Acquires Schaff's "Questing Nest"

Following her show, True Grit: The Poetic Images of Barbara Schaff at the James A. Michener Art Museum (Doylestown, PA), the museum paid Barbara the ultimate compliment by acquiring one of her drawings, Questing Nest.  

Using compressed charcoal and gesso on paper, Barbara creates an elegantly lyrical snarl of a bird’s nest; her line and inflections of light and shadow recall the wispy deftness of Asian art.

To quote the Michener Museum write up, Barbara “has spent most of her adult life in a passionate and disciplined search for the poetic image.” Her lifelong quest “for poetry is not about hiding behind a veil of secrecy and illusion. Poetic images drill down through the gentle topsoil of life into the gritty realities, the bedrock. Poetry is, above all, true-to the complexities of the human heart, and the eternal-and fleeting-mysteries of the universe.”

Wallach's Songs at Kingston Festival

Selections from Joelle Wallach's Post-Millennial Love Songs and Love in the Early Morning will be performed by Alison Davy, soprano and Gene Rohrer, piano on August 28 at The Uptown Gallery as part of the Kingston [NY] Festival of the Arts. 

Post-Millennial Love Songs explore poems about love, while Love in the Early Morning: Songs About Making Love to Milkmen is a “serio-comic song cycle of lust and longing, sexual fantasy and domestic comedy.”

Other composers on the program are Ralph Vaughan Williams, Lee Hoiby, and Francis Poulenc.

Duesberry's "Reflections of Maine, Coming Home"

Joellyn Duesberry’s dynamic paintings are densely packed with information. Not only does she revel in capturing details of the landscape, but also the formal aspects of paint on canvas using intense color and bold brushwork to convey light, shadow, scale and texture. 

Though she divides her time between Denver, CO and Millbrook, NY, Joellyn has a particular affinity for Down East's rugged beauty. "My instinctual search of the Maine Coastal landscape in the past five decades for subjects en plein air relating to aesthetic elements which fascinate me, has given me peak experiences unattainable anywhere else. Manmade traces seem to have been gentle on the landscape, and the geometry I seek to uncover in the land is thus often aided by structures, dwellings within the darkly forested sites or detritus on the beaches. My recent compositions of Maine show less struggle with building abstraction, whether stern hard rock or limpid water, and, therefore more of a load of deep feelings, both current and remembered, articulated and inchoate, that make me want to paint this particular place called Maine.” 

Joellyn’s exhibition of her paintings, Reflections of Maine, Coming Home is on view through August 30 at The Gallery at Somes Sound.

Hartwig Rainer Mülleitner in International Steel Symposium, Riedersbach 2014

The three-week “International Steel Symposium Riedersbach 2014,” which began on August 11 will close with a final presentation: 25 Steel (Symposium) Symphony on Friday, August 29 in the plaster hall of the Energie AG power plant Riedersbach, Austria.

A total of 21 artists, including VCCA’s own Hartwig Rainer Mülleitner, have participated in the symposium creating a wide variety of objects made from steel.

Norbert Francis Attard’s "Feeling Wind" in Germany

A wind driven turbine ventilator producing fresh ambient air at zero operating cost, Norbert Francis Attard’s interactive sculpture, Feeling Wind relies on centrifugal force triggered by the slightest draft to induce outward airflow. The resulting negative pressure inside the sculpture’s 28’ d x 20’h aluminum pipe, forces air from outside to rush in to maintain equilibrium.

The interactive work is designed to accommodate people of any height who can enter the pipe through the 16”-wide opening to enjoy the strong sensation of wind created by the continuous cycle of ventilation. 

Feeling Wind will be on view at the Windpark Söhrewald in Kassel, Germany through August 31.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ayesu Lartey. The Right Place. The Right Time.

Writer, composer and performer Ayesu Lartey is in the middle of his five-week, NEA-funded VCCA Fellowship and relishing every moment. From New York City, Ayesu is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside and received his M.A. in 2011 from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. His one-act musical, "Touch" (music, book and lyrics by Sam Salmond) was produced at Barrington Stages in 2010. "Voices of the Quilt" a musical documentary about the Aids Quilt (music, book and lyrics by Ayesu) is currently in development.

Writing songs since he was eight, Ayesu is clearly no slouch. He says he’s pretty fast, but even he was amazed at how much he’s accomplished while at VCCA. Thus far, he’s completed a Mass for choir and string quartet (they asked for a choral song; Ayesu upped the ante; that’s just how he rolls) and is polishing off a libretto for an opera based on Joan of Arc.

Ayesu spoke movingly of his experience at VCCA. What he says will resonate with our Fellows and with other artists who daily face the challenge of finding the time and space to be creative.    

“Artists have to fight so hard for space to make art. My first couple of days here it was weird because I was realizing I don’t have to fight for space. There’s nothing but space. I cannot put into words how amazing this experience is. The food’s amazing, the environment, nature, the space. There’s a reason why everything’s amazing. It didn’t happen because you guys are nice people, it happened because you know what you’re doing and you did it and you’re doing it. You’re making a home for us, and frankly [providing] better working space than what we have at home.

Ayesu likens his sojourn at VCCA to life, “When you arrive it’s like you’re born and you know when you’re leaving so that’s like knowing your time of death. So you need to maximize your time here. Your output shows you what you’re capable of. At VCCA you’re in the right place at the right time.” But Ayesu believes we have the potential to always be in the right place at the right time, it’s just that “in this life we’re not given the space or the comfort to live up to our potential and VCCA is nothing but living up to your potential. There’s nothing to complain about there’s only life to be lived and art to be made.” And in Ayesu’s case that means a Mass not a song because as he says, “Victory is not in the minimums.” 

Nussbaum's "Topology": the Arc of Life

Filmmaker Karl Nussbaum’s latest project is a 15-minute two-channel video performance piece entitled, “Topology”  — which is the mathematical study of shape and space. He is working on two separate videos to be projected side by side onto a 10’ x 15’ overhead screen mounted on a metal framework that resembles a huge cage. The screen, which is made of stretchy material, can he manipulated by the artist using a series of ropes while the videos play to create new topological/curvilinear shapes and make the images merge or interact. This not only underscores the topographical theme of the piece, but also adds a performance element as Karl moves about within the frame, casting his shadow and interrupting the projection beam while he makes adjustments.

In adding performance to the piece, Karl was inspired by Victorian scientists who acted as showmen and spokespeople for their discoveries, often taking their science show on the road. Another inspiration is the French father of animation, Charles-Émile Reynaud, whose projections entailed a kind of hidden performance: in a small room directly behind the theater screen, Reynaud fed his slides through a magic lantern accompanied by live music. By being part of the piece, physically involved in its function, Karl introduces a mechanical element—a refreshing throwback in this digital age. He also employs a tactic of Reynaud’s using mirrors aimed at the projectors to bounce the image into the air with the idea that he can separate and merge the two images by turning the mirrors.

Karl uses such images as a Mobius strip, a highway cloverleaf overpass, a diagram of the movement of air and smoke, knot theory, weather patterns, cells dividing, a radar screen, all of which seem connected. He pairs these with an otherworldly soundtrack that features such interesting sounds as a gong recorded backwards, a shofar, a Buddhist horn and submarine sonar.

According to Karl, “Topologists think of taking shapes and stretching and distorting them in space, but these topological shapes always retain the same properties no matter how they have been transformed. So it’s really the study of connectivity and continuity.”  This continuity and connectivity has a direct relation to family and “the arc of a human life…how we start and end and when we peak and fade out. That’s essentially what the piece is about,” he says.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Zlotsky's “It happened, but not to you” at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts

The title of Deborah Zlotsky’s new show, “It happened, but not to you” at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, comes from Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, Could Have which “emphasizes a fusion between what has happened and imagining what might be.” 

Deborah’s imperfect geometry and striking color choices add warmth and charm to her paintings of jumbled forms, while ensuring they have a distinctly contemporary feel (September 11-October 11).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

In Residence: Tanja Softić

Both delicate and forceful, Tanja Softić’s paintings are like visual poems, offering up lyrical pictorial passages that are richly layered with meaning and technique. Tanja knows how to balance things, pitting geometric forms against lacy filigree, silhouettes against drawn lines, blocks of bold color against washed-out hues. She uses veils of muted green and rose to form a backdrop for her idiosyncratic iconography that brings together glimpses of botany, biology and technology. These complex arrangements of fragments relate to each other visually, but also have a potent relational significance to the artist.

Recently, Tanja has become interested in splats. The kind you see on studio floors or on the street. They’re images of impact, of violence. She employs artificially made ones and ones that naturally occur during the painting process. The very deliberate way she goes about producing the former is interestingly complex. First she spills the ink to make the blots, than she photographs them, then she plays with them in Photoshop, stretching or compressing them. When she’s satisfied, she projects the manipulated image onto the painting’s surface and outlines them. It’s all about process. “A weird circuitous way,” she says, “Going from actual, to digital, to actual, to digital and so forth. It’s funny how we set up these obstacle courses. But you need all these obstacles in order to get the thoughts worked out.”

Tanja Softić: Migrant Universe, a traveling show that explores the fragmented and multilayered experience of the immigrant organized by the Halsey Gallery, Charleston, SC will be on view at the University of Richmond (where Softić is a professor) August 20 - October 6.

Madonia's "Invisible Fault Lines" to Be Published bySimon & Schuster

Kristen-Paige Madonia writes that Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers will be publishing her second novel, Invisible Fault Lines, in the spring of 2016. 

A contemporary novel with a historical twist. “Part mystery, part love story, part historical fiction, and all San Francisco, Invisible Fault Lines is a story of resilience and explores the ways we cope with the seemingly unsolvable mysteries of life.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Del Tredici's "The Last Violin" to Premiere

David Del Tredici will be participating in Bargemusic‘s Labor Day Festival Here and Now performing the world premiere of "The Last Violin."

A floating concert venue moored at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, Bargemusic provides the intimate space of a chamber music hall with the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. August 27–30 at 7:00 pm and August 31 at 4:00 pm.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gagliano’s "Suspended in Paradise"

Michelle Gagliano’s work will be featured in Suspended in Paradise at Chroma Projects in Charlottesville opening September 21. Loosely based on the descriptions from Dante’s Paradiso, the work is the result of Michelle’s experimenting at VCCA with metallic pigments on panels. “I seem to have an Italian love for gold dust, leafing, and all metallic-y things,” she says. “It’s that reflective quality that has drawn me in, and Dante is all about reflection.” Through October 21.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Jennings’s Arthurian Era "Her Family of Men" Published

C.P.T. Jennings’s Her Family of Men has just been published by Red Feather Press. The first draft of the novel, set in Arthurian times, was completed during a VCCA residency as Caroline has so kindly mentioned in her dedication.