The debate over distinctions between fine art and craft has been played out over time and in countless venues, but the works in Branching Out, an exhibition of members of the Long Island Craft Guild on view at the Art League of Long Island, leave no question as to the quality of vision, execution and artistry involved. They are extraordinary works of art crafted in metal, wood, fabric, clay, glass and beads.
Elaine Mayers Salkaln’s “Face” and “Happy Abstract”
Through November 6th, the beautiful two-floor Jeanie Tengelsen Gallery is flooded with light and filled with delights. The exhibition is titled Branching Out, in acknowledgement, writes Elaine Mayers Salkaln, a sculptor whose “Happy Abstract” and “Face” are highlights of the show, of the road many artists travel in searching for the medium that best suits their vision. It also speaks to the courage artists must have to keep finding new means of expression. Just as Matisse mastered painting and sculpture before he ever tried paper cut-outs, many of the artists in the show have created large bodies of accomplished works in many different artistic forms.
Eileen Palmer’s “Highwoods”
Eileen Palmer is such an artist. She has painted and drawn, but she says in her artist’s statement that finally finding the possibilities in cut glass mosaics opened up new visions for her and allowed her to express them in extraordinary ways. The medium also allowed an added layer of meaning. She states, “Symbolically, I enjoy the action of uniting broken shards of glass to create something whole and beautiful.” Her landscapes, seascape and still-life glass mosaics sparkle with color and light that could not be achieved in paint on canvas. In her “Highwoods,” a stand of birches combines the flatness of the glass with hints of the depth behind the tiles to beautiful effect, and it would be hard to imagine surfaces and textures other than those she has chosen that would better capture the sinuous shimmering of her enchanting underwater scene “Water Mother.”
“Vienna 1897,” Sally Shore’s captivating fiber composition (pictured at the top) brings to mind the Klimt exhibition now showing at the Neue Galerie. Her delicate yet powerful image combines pattern and figure, abstraction and realism, all through the use of meticulously cut and placed pieces of very deliberately chosen fabrics. The triptych draws the eye from across the room.
Kathleen Gerlach’s “Winter Solitude”
There are smaller works that are just as powerful. Beaded rings, carved wooden vessels, Puneeta Mittal’s ceramics that recall Jackson Pollock’s paintings and a host of extremely accomplished glass artists add depth of texture and meaning to the visual experience. Kathleen Gerlach’s “Winter Solitude” recalls a black and white photograph, but through surprising materials and techniques that make the work both unique and compelling. Pamela Hanna’s glass plates capture the wildness of untamed nature by harnessing the properties of molten glass over which she clearly has control.
Pamela Hanna’s “Wind”
It’s a wonderful show, well worth the time to visit. If the Art League of Long Island is not within reach, the exhibition catalogue can be viewed through a link on the League’s website. It’s a great time to get to know the League and its work and the Long Island Craft Guild’s exciting and accomplished artists.
The exhibiting artists are Linda Brandwein, Rosanne Ebner, Lisa Federici, Anna Fredericks, Barbara Gardner, Liss Geraldi, Kathleen Gerlach, Pamela Hanna, Beth Heit, Lisa Hermanson, Louise Hope, Barbara Karyo, Lita Kelmenson, Julianna Kirk, Helene Kusnitz, Allison Mack, Vincent E. Matthews, Dianne Matus, Puneeta Mittal, Eileen Palmer, Odell Plantin, Linda Rettich, Audrey Roberts, Elaine Mayers Salkaln, Barbara Segal, Sally Shore, Rita Silverman, Alice Sprintzen, Karen Strauss, Jan Tozzo, Constance Wain, Julian Wolff, Sylvia Wolff, Nancy Yoshii, and Valerie Zeman.
Photos by Adel Gorgy.