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.
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.
“Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met. Museum?” According to the Guerrilla Girls, yeah, kind of. Their supersized billboard goes on to state that less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 76% of the nudes are females. They gathered the statistics in 2011, in a response to a work done decades ago where they counted less than 3% female artists and 83% of the nudes. So, has much changed? Also, yeah, kind of.
Just over thirty years ago, the Guerrilla Girls broke conceptual ground, pointing out glaring inequities in the global art market. It all started with a 1984 exhibition at MoMA claiming to be an overview of contemporary art. When it turned out that fewer than 10% of the artists included were women or people of color, the first generation of Guerrilla Girls was born. They claimed that art cannot represent society if it excludes the majority of that society. They woke some people up and scared the hell out of others. They’re still doing it today. “Not Ready to Make Nice,” an exhibition of these provocative, political, activist feminist artists just concluded at the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
The Guerrilla Girls presciently suggested dropping an “Estrogen Bomb” on Washington back in the Bush administration.
The Guerrilla Girls are a group of anonymous women artists who, rather than being frustrated and angry about how white males dominate the canon of art history, decided to take action. They started with facts. Just how widespread and deeply rooted the inequality in the art world is and has been is the basis of all their work. They’ve pasted stickers, hung posters, carried signs, projected messages onto the sides of museums and given talks, all while wearing rubber gorilla masks. They’re out to redefine the “F” word to Feminism, through searing commentary couched in humor.
The Guerrilla Girls tout their own heroes in “The Birth of Feminism”
These masked crusaders are contemporary art’s superheroes, fighting for truth, justice and the American way. They vary in number, but over their thirty-plus years, more than 55 women have donned Guerrilla gear to fight for equal representation and compensation for women and minority artists, to rail against economic inequality, and to raise awareness of environmental dangers like fracking. Some Guerrilla Girls were active for years, some for weeks or months, but all remained anonymous, using the names of great women artists like Frida Kahlo or Käthe Kollwitz. It’s both an homage and a defense mechanism. The Guerrilla Girls have all been artists who are trying to make a living in the same system they’re debunking, so they’re courage is as real as the consequences could be to their careers.
“Not Ready to Make Nice” includes the Guerrilla Girls’ “Anatomically Correct Oscar” that predated the “Oscars So White” movement by more than 10 years.
Zuccaire Gallery director and curator, Karen Levitov, who, herself, has been shaking up the art world in a quiet corner of Long Island, mounted an extraordinary exhibition, bringing major examples of the Guerrilla Girls’ work together. The show gives an idea of the international scope of their activities, including billboards about women’s representation in art institutions from Ireland to Italy and Turkey. Years before the “Oscars So White” movement emerged, the Guerrilla Girls billboarded Hollywood with their “Anatomically Correct Oscar” on view in the exhibition. It says “He’s white and male, just like the guys who win! 92.8% of the Writing awards have gone to men. Only 5% of the Acting Awards have gone to people of color.”
Levitov invited the public – which includes, naturally, many of the university’s students – to become part of the discussion with a huge blackboard inviting responses to the Guerrilla Girls or the values they represent. Visitors even got to take home their own Guerrilla Girl work. Pink erasers marked “Erase Discrimination – Guerrilla Girls” were given out.
The Guerrilla Girls started rattling some big cages thirty years ago; the effects are being seen today.
For decades, like many women who work in the art world, I’ve silently uttered, “Thank you, Guerrilla Girls.” Now I can say it publicly.
Thank you, all Guerilla Girls, past, present and future, for kicking hornets’ nests and fighting for rights. Your efforts have been fruitful. Today, there are women directors leading the Cooper-Hewitt museum, the Queens Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Hirshhorn in Washington and the Tate Modern in London, to name a few. The Met Breuer opened its new space with a solo show of a woman, Nasreen Mohamedi, and followed it with another solo show of a woman, Diane Arbus, and when the Whitney Museum reopened, its inaugural show gave women artists pride of place. The Guerrilla Girls, are part of that, and their works are now eagerly collected by the very institutions they’ve criticized.
Listed on the Guerrilla Girls’ “The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist“ are “Working without the pressure of success” and “Being assured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled feminine.”
Though the exhibition started in Chicago in 2012, where it was curated by Neysa Page-Lieberman, and the Zuccaire Gallery show has ended, the good news is that the Guerrilla Girls are far from done. Their artists’ talk at Stony Brook can be viewed online. You can learn about them at their website, and find out where they’ll be showing next, book an appearance, or buy one of their works like “Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes.” You’ll be in good company, the Guerilla Girls have shown at and been collected by the Brooklyn Museum; the Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA; the National Gallery of Art in Washington; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, Australia; and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turkey, to name a few. It’s overdue but appropriate appreciation for these rebels with a cause.
Artists, art lovers and arts journalists, like me, have long been drawn to the East End of the south fork of Long Island, known collectively, colloquially, and around the world as “The Hamptons.” There are countless reasons to visit, but the lure of two art fairs bringing over 100 international galleries tipped the scales, and meant it was time for Adel Gorgy, my artist husband, and me to make a trek to New York’s summertime sixth borough.
The journey east can be accomplished by public or private transportation, and, unless you’re among those who can helicopter out, all will take between two and three hours from the city. The Long Island Railroad offers service from Penn Station, and the Hamptons Jitney and other luxury bus lines pick passengers up in several Manhattan locations. We drove, and even that offers a few choices. Traveling on the Long Island Expressway (the Distressway to locals) is fast but unlovely – four lanes packed with cars and trucks and little to see. But arriving at the end of the road means you can head south on Route 24 via the small town of Flanders and see the Island’s top roadside attraction, the Big Duck, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Built in the 1930’s as the storefront for a duck farm, the twenty-foot high canard convinced immigrant artist, Hedda Sterne, “that the United States was more surrealist, more extraordinary, than anything imagined by the Surrealists.” An alternate route, the Southern State Parkway to Route 27, closer to the shore and breezier, features mostly strip malls till you reach eastern Suffolk County, where it’s lined with trees and leads into the Pine Barrens, Long Island’s last remaining significant wilderness area.
Corn fields and mansions line Montauk Highway, the main route through the Hamptons
Most of the island was settled in the mid to late 1600s. The Hamptons fight to preserve some of that sense. The highways end at the western edge of Southampton, and rural roads and farms mingle with perfectly manicured hedges hiding luxurious estates. Small towns feel homey and quaint. 300-year-old windmills, lovingly maintained, dot the sides of the roads, along with clapboard churches with pointy spires, the tallest buildings to scrape the clear blue ocean swept skies. Everything is spotless, picture-book perfect.
Historic windmills are a common sight in the Hamptons
The main streets of Southampton, Watermill, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett and Sag Harbor all boast upscale shops and restaurants where it can be hard to tell the heiresses, movie stars and business moguls, many in flip-flops and shorts, from the organic farmers and local chefs. But we were hunting different quarry: an extraordinary first-hand art experience.
Since the 1800s when William Merritt Chase opened a painting school here, the area has lured artists like Winslow Homer, Milton Avery, Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler and her husband Robert Motherwell, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, and Andy Warhol. The area’s initial draw was, ironically, bargain-priced real estate, but it’s still home to art stars, like Richard Prince, Eric Fischl and his wife April Gornik, Julian Schnabel and Donald Sultan. A trip to either of the two stellar local museums, the Parrish Art Museum or East Hampton’s Guild Hall, will almost always reward with major works by local artists of the past and present. This summer, at the Parrish, Connections and Context highlights Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelley, Dorothea Rockburne and Donald Sultan among others, and, starting in August, Guild Hall’s museum focuses on Minimalism with a special exhibition including Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and Gerhard Richter.
Main Street, Bridgehampton serves up shops, galleries and out of this world pies
Arriving well before the opening of the art fairs allowed us a walk up Main Street in Bridgehampton and stops in Kathryn Markel Fine Arts and Chase Edwards Gallery. Both exhibit the work of contemporary artists, while Julian Beck and Mark Borghi Gallery offer museum-quality modern masters.
Since even artists don’t live by art alone, and a long night of art partying awaited, it was necessary to fortify our bodies to fuel the soul, i.e., time for something to eat. Bobby Van’s steakhouse is a popular spot, but we opted for a cozy booth at World Pie, which specializes in an extensive menu of wood-fired pizzas. A crispy, hot Patti’s Pie with mushrooms, onions and roasted garlic, mozzarella and tomato sauce arrived in minutes. The crust was thin and smoky, the cheese melted perfectly, and a glass of Italian red made us think we’d slipstreamed to Naples. Dinner for two, around $50.
As the sun slid behind the hedgerows and the blue of the sky deepened, we headed to Nova’s Ark, a 95-acre park featuring monumental sculptures by a local legend known simply as “Nova.” It brought to mind a grassy version of Monet’s Giverny. Though the property is open to visitors, its Cinderella moment is the four days each summer it hosts a Hamptons art fair. Crews arrive, gently coaxing horses and sheep off their usual grazing grounds, to raise an enormous, air-conditioned, museum-lit, catered construction that can only be called a tent if you’re willing to call the QE2 a boat.
Fabulously dressed Hamptonites tiptoed across the field to avoid what was left by the equine occupants and joined the VIP opening filled with music and noise, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. For some, people spotting and partying was the point, but for us, the payoff was lining the walls of over 70 room-sized booths where top-notch galleries from around the world presented their best. We saw an extraordinary early painting by Robert Delaunay at London’s Trinity House Gallery, delicate watercolors of cranes and owls in flight by Karl Martens, sculptures by Jeff Koons and Lynn Chadwick at Taylor Graham, and a whole booth filled with fish paintings by Academy Award winning actor, Adrien Brody. While opening night crowds may be raucous and fun, they don’t encourage thoughtful responses to works that artists have pondered, sweated, loved and labored over. We decided to return the next day at a quieter time for the second of our targets, the Market Art + Design fair.
A quiet Sunday morning in the Hamptons
If you’re lucky enough to have friends in the area as we are, nothing beats watching the night fall and a low hung crescent moon reflected on Peconic Bay as crickets chirped and fireflies put on a dazzling display. If not, there are many charming, historic B&B’s in the Hamptons, or, if they’re not within your budget, Riverhead to the west and Montauk to the east also offer family-friendly motels at more down-to-earth prices.
A late breakfast or early lunch is easy to find at either one of the branches of Citarella, which has a great selection of baked goods and on-the-go meals, or the Golden Pear (one in each town). Of course, it’s possible to dine your way through the Hamptons, but that would just keep us away from the art.
Dia Bridgehampton, a one-man museum for Long Island artist, Dan Flavin
Before heading into Market Art + Design on the Bridgehampton Museum grounds, we stopped just across the street at one of the most moving, enriching, exciting and plain fun art experiences available on Long Island, or anywhere. The Dan Flavin Art Institute, housed in a former Baptist church, just off Main Street, was built by the Dia Art Foundation in the 80s to exhibit some of Flavin’s greatest works.
Fields of a different sort at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton
His candy-colored fluorescent light sculptures create clouds of ethereal hues the viewer steps into, becoming one with art, drenched in their glow. It’s transportive and transformative. Dia associate curator Alexis Lowry, said, “Part of the reason it’s not in New York City was to try to get you into of the mindset of going to travel to a site to have this dedicated experience. It’s part of the package.”
Market Art + Deisgin, 2016, over 40 international galleries and hundreds of contemporary artists exhibiting under one roof.
Market Art + Design brought a smaller group, with over 40 exhibitors, but it was expertly curated to include international, national, and even local galleries presenting fine art and design under one roof. Eclectic, energetic works from up-and-coming creatives contrasted with the more established artists seen at Art Southampton, and gave the fair a hipper vibe. Even between two ends of tiny Bridgehampton, there was an uptown/downtown feeling of contrasting sensibilities.
Compositions made of individually carved, one-of-a-kind signature stamps or chops at Able Fine Art NY Gallery
Sundaram Tagore Gallery opened the show with a strong collection of sculptures, photographs and paintings. Three outstanding gelatin silver prints by world renowned photographer, Sebastião Salgado were a highlight. At Able Fine Art NY Gallery, director Michelle Yu explained the painstaking process used by Kwanwoo Lee to create his Condensation series where a single image is composed of hundreds of unique, hand-carved stamps. Hector Leonardi’s colorful abstractions at Walker Waugh were gently powerful and evocative. At Galerie Fledermaus, Jerry Suqi presented a rare collection of collotypes by Gustav Klimt. They were created by the artist to document his paintings, in an edition of 230. Miniature masterpieces, each perfectly reproduces a major work. To see Adele Bloch-Bauer, (the Woman in Gold) along with so many other iconic works all lining one wall, in a booth, in a tent, in a small town, on Long Island was mind-boggling, in itself. It also offered a brush with history.
A rare collotype from Gustav Klimt’s Das Werk at Galerie Fledermaus
We headed to the Hamptons hoping for a unique experience of art. We left having had several. From pastoral fields, to a one-man museum, to tents filled with old masters to contemporary treasures, all were moving and exciting. The weekend had come to a close, and it was time to head back, though I’ve learned from sharing my life with Adel that you take the art with you. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Music is perpetual, and only the hearing is intermittent.” Sometimes, a journey brings it closer, but it’s always there, if you listen.
All photos by Adel Gorgy
Top Photo: Roy Lichtenstein’s Tokyo Brushstroke I & II outside the Parrish Art Museum announce your arrival at an enclave of art in the Hamptons Photos by Adel Gorgy
It’s not only people that can populate stories; places can, too. But only when characters move in, do they start to come alive. An empty house, a huge gift, and an untethered soul all come together under the deft, controlled, evocative and moving touch of New York Times bestselling novelist, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, in June. Like last summer’s huge hit, Bittersweet, June is a story of a young woman’s coming of age in unfamiliar territory, under uncertain and unforgiving circumstances.
When Cassie Danvers inherits Twin Oaks, the sprawling, storied home that dominates the small Ohio town of St. Jude, the first voice the reader hears is that of the house, itself. It dreams. It yearns. It remembers, and it demands. But rather than a ghostly haunting, Twin Oaks carries the echoes of passion and lust, loyalty and betrayal, true friendship and love—the multifaceted spirits of the families that lived under its once grand, but now leaking, roof.
Cassie is faced with a huge responsibility in the form of the house, but that, she learns, is just the beginning of the story. A deus ex machina arrives in the form of a knock on the door announcing a handsome stranger bearing news. That sets off a complex series of events that weave between the present-day and a summer six decades ago when another handsome stranger, a famous movie star, came to town. The novel moves seamlessly between two stories, each of which draws the reader into a complex web of jealousy and greed, secrets and whispers, lies and loves, blackmail and murder. Beverly-Whittemore is masterful in slowly unveiling secrets, and only as the novel unfolds do we come to see how the two worlds are really the early and final chapters of the title character, June.
Besides the old house, Beverly-Whittemore fills her pages with a cast of vibrant characters who do unexpected, imperfect, and wholly believable, human things. Lindie, through whose eyes we see much of the action, is so compellingly drawn that she seems to jump off the page, aching for adventures her small life in a small town can hardly provide. Until, that is, big Hollywood directors, producers and movie stars show up. Beverly-Whittemore keeps uncovering twists and surprises right up till the final pages.
Partly autobiographical, June was inspired by the author’s own grandmother, her sleepy hometown in Ohio and a grand old house filled with characters and stories. Beverly-Whittemore spins a gossamer web of glamour and decay, suspense and intrigue around the homestead’s sturdy old bones. A big, sprawling tale filled with emotions and revelations, June will have you smiling as the pages whiz by and satisfied at the end, but with a hunger for Beverly-Whittemore’s next book.