Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.
“Now and Then” a multi-media exhibition at the Islip Art Museum on Long Island brings together many works and many stories through the art of many women. Women Sharing Art is a non-profit organization celebrating its tenth anniversary in this extraordinary exhibition. The work of the group’s about two dozen members is as rich and varied as these women artists, themselves. Some have histories of exhibiting before. Some are new to showing. Some are self-taught. Some are Harvard educated. All have a streak of passion, a dedication to art and philanthropy, and a spirit of sharing.
Gabriella Grama, “Afrika,” Mosaid
Ten years ago, Sue Miller, the founding member of the group, had a vision for a space – physical, intellectual, emotional and creative – where she and other women could get together and explore ideas, support one another and grow as artists. Before long, a handful of women had joined including Pat D’Aversa, Victoria Beckert and mother/daughter artists Sandy and Kathy Seff. Now, the group averages about 25, and they are looking to expand in both number and in artistic disciplines to include poets, musicians, film makers and writers. “The possibilities are endless,” they say, “just like your creativity.”
Tove Abrams, “1920s Ladies’ Room Door,” Oil on canvas
In addition to funding a scholarship for young women artists in the community, the group has also exhibited together for many years at the Bay Area Friends of Fine Arts (BAFFA) gallery in Sayville, which has a long history of exhibiting notable local artists in its historic mansion. This is the first year Women Sharing Art is showing at the Islip Art Museum.
A wall with watercolors by Mireille Belajonas
Lynda Moran, the executive director of the Islip Arts Council, welcomed the women to the museum, a gem of history and a hub of creativity in Suffolk. The museum has been recently refurbished to its past elegance, thanks to help from local legislators like Steve Flotteron, who attended a packed reception to welcome and congratulate the artists. The now gleaming walls of Brookwood Hall, which houses the museum, proved the perfect setting for refined works of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, glasswork, jewelry, and mosaics.
Sheri Berman, “Easy Money,” Collage
The exhibition title, “Then and Now,” said Eileen Palmer, an artist/curator member whose background includes organizing programs at the Brooklyn Museum, reflects not just the history of the women’s group, but the evolution of the individual artists, as well. “Many of the women included an earlier work and a more recent one,” she said. “To show how their work has evolved or changed over the years.”
Eileen Palmer, “Dirty Dishes,” Mixed media
Palmer’s own works are a perfect example. She’s showing a glass mosaic that was her first work, as well as her latest piece, a complex, rich mixed media work that includes mosaic, found objects, sculpture and painting. A three dimensional female torso formed of pieces of blue and white china emerges from rich cobalt canvas. It recalls influences as diverse as Delftware and Chinese porcelain and Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines. “Dirty Dishes,” she said, “is a feminist statement, made last year during the 2017 Women’s March. The shards of broken dish ware (symbolic of domesticity) were from plates from all over the world. The shards—united by grout and grit—pulled together to make a strong feminist statement.”
Holly Black, “Magic Hour,” Photograph on canvas
Sue Miller, the founder of the group also tells a story through her art. This time, it’s a bit of autobiography. She’s a gifted photographer represented by two evocative, complex photographs. Miller’s “The Now of the Then,” a photograph on metal appears at the top of the story. It shows how far she had to reach to grow in her work. Traditional, straight photography wasn’t bringing her vision to life. So she spent countless hours at her computer, learning new methods and mastering new tools. “I had to pull and push the work to get to what I wanted,” Miller said. But, the story expands, as is demonstrated in a later work in a separate gallery in the museum. An abstracted sculpture of a woman stands about 4.5 feet tall. It’s formed of a variety of metal pieces. Miller decided to take up welding recently.
Hers is just one example of the indomitable artistic spirit of this group that meets to share ideas, techniques, friendship and laughter. They inspire each other as well as those around them and contribute not just to the artistic spirit of the community, but to its future, as well. The art and heart of this group of women will be on view through March 2, 2018, at the Islip Art Museum.
Top Photo: Sue Miller, “The Now of the Then,” Photograph on metal, on view at the Islip Art Museum
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.
I lift my brush to catch the light Which passes quickly from cloud to cloud A purple color melts in April greens Objects wait for colors to describe their shapes.
– Marsha Solomon 2015
Marsha Solomon was one of many artists who answered this year’s open call at the Islip Art Museum to ‘think inside the box’ by creating works in an enclosure of some form that engages only one viewer at a time. “For a painter used to making wall-sized abstractions, this proved quite a challenge,” said Marsha Solomon, whose work can be seen in the opening photo. “I thought that pairing a poem was key, since it would correspond to this intimate, one-on-one experience of looking. I wrote the poem on a small curtain that covers the front of the box. Then when the viewer lifts the curtain, they see a small still life painting (as written about in the poem) as well as the arrangement of the actual objects I used to create the composition.”
The works selected reflect a wide variety of concerns and opinions, from relationships, ecology, aging, feminism, science, politics, and “just plain wonder,” according to the museum. “It was fun for me to work in three dimensions,” said Marsha. “This is actually my first sculptural work, and it also functions as a small-scale installation. I think part of the reason the museum asked for work like this was to get artists to think differently. It certainly had that effect on me!”
Artists featured include: Olga Alexander, Berges Alvarez, Renee Andolina, Holly Black, Jackie Branson, James Battistelli, Kate Collyer, Monica Chulewicz, Ana Paula Cordeiro, Margaret DeLima, Krystle L. DiNicola, JoAnne Dumas, Anna Fredericks, Lauren Goldstein, Adel Gorgy, Crista Grauer, Carol J. Hansen, Bernard Hallstein, Ellen Hanauer, Lori Horowitz, Lorena Kalaja, Julianna Kirk, Janet Lust Ganes, David Lee Moneypenny, Eric Murphy, Lesley Obrock, Linda Rettich, Meredith Rose, Neva Setlow, Sally Shore, Rosemary Sloggatt, Dinah Maxwell Smith, Marsha Solomon, Mark Strodl, Hisayasu Takashio, Shira Toren, Gerald Walsh, Ching Wen Tsai, Leigh Yardley, and Tmima Z.
Private Viewing: For Your Eyes Only Islip Art Museum Curated by Eileen Palmer June 19 – September 11, 2016 Curated By Eileen Palmer June 19 – September 11, 2016