Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “Affordable Art Fair NYC

What’s been Going on/Is Coming Up, Spring 2015

After a hard and busy winter I am so very happy to be in transition to the warmer season ahead. The work in my studio and recent events gave me a wonderful distraction from the relentless weather in the Northeast, but all logistics and movement are so much easier and more enjoyable with warm sunshine, no snow or ice, and planning that can be relied upon.

My solo show at Gold Gallery in Boston remains up through April 25th.

Everyone has heard how massively hit Boston was with snow this past winter, and the reports were no exaggeration. We had planned a February show, agreeing that since they had February traffic and business, we should go for it.

Sometimes I just love the expression: “Man plans. God laughs.”

After a few postponements, we did open with a reception on March 13th. It was a lovely time for me, with many in-depth questions, especially about my Affinity Series and the multiple-panel pieces.

Gold Gallery

Gold Gallery

The gallery brought my work to the AD 20/21 Fair down the street from them a few weeks later. I love the way the work pops on the grey walls.

Work at AD 20/21

Work at AD 20/21 with Gold Gallery

I wrote a blog post about this multiple-panel piece in the show as an example of how a new idea evolves. This piece has quite a story, involving photos of my son Tony; Maya Lin; Storm King; and many sketches and studies.

Green Waves, oil on canvas, 14"X82" framed.

“Green Waves”, oil on canvas, 14″X82″ framed.

Edgewater Gallery of Middlebury, Vermont brought my work to the Affordable Art Fair NYC at the end of March, so I decided to attend. I hadn’t been in several years, and found the whole fair to be well-organized and accessible, a kind of bubble of positive energy. This year was very successful, not surprising with with the quality and variety of work and the good vibe.

I was meeting up with friends and collectors at different intervals for three days running, so I spent quite a bit of time there. The first day I decided to get further involved by collecting information on some of my favorite artists being exhibited at the fair in order to write a blog post about it. This is a review of the work of the five artists that I selected:

A few pieces of mine

A few pieces of mine at the Edgewater booth at the AAF.

I got a first-hand look at how hard the galleriests at these events work as I returned often to the Edgewater booth,  enjoying the chance to get to know Kate, Rachel, and Zoe a little better in between their many conversations with fair-goers and invoicing and wrapping sold work. The days were up to 12 hours of standing and smiling and chatting, and they had a great attitude throughout.

I have had several commissions in the first months of this year.  Although I am a tonalist by instinct, over the years I have found that I like to meander this way and that with my palette. These five pieces are about as bright as I can imagine going, but I am pleased to see how “me” they look, even with more saturated color.

Installation shot of four pastels commissioned through Megan p eter Fine Art.

Installation shot of four pastels commissioned through Megan 
Peter Fine Art.

"Saltmarsh in August", headed soon to it's hone on Martha's Vineyard, commissioned through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

“Saltmarsh in August”, headed soon to its home on Martha’s Vineyard, commissioned through the Louisa Gould Gallery.

I recently enjoyed a visit at my friend Marie Vickerilla’s studio. She had new work finished for her upcoming show in New Jersey that I was determined to see before it left her studio.

Marie's studio

Marie’s studio

Our conversation about this body of work had a lot to do with mixed associations (see my discussion of this in the blog post reviewing the Affordable Art Fair) and complexities of surface. I have always loved Marie’s more minimalist work, and found this new series to be exciting in a different way–lost and found edges and layers; unusual color juxtapositions; and stories begun one place and and finished in another.

From her statement about this series: “Not until after the work is complete do I realize from where the painting has come. From shifting lines holding up a shape, lines and bars moving from place to place, a kind of organization emerges from the randomness, and I find a correlation to some slow-moving event in life.”

Actually, I’ll just say it, since I have before in conversation: I think Marie is a genius. It’s not always apparent to me where and how her decisions are made, but they have amazing clarity, subtlety, and depth—“unique voice” is an understatement.

Inviation for MArie Vickerillas show.

Upcoming Shows:

May 9th: Chace-Randall Gallery (upstairs space), Andes, NY, 10th Anniversary show, 5 – 7 p.m.

A solo at Albert Shahinian Fine Art in Rhinebeck, NY, July 16-Labor Day, reception July 25.

The Shandaken Studio Tour, July 18-19.

A solo or duo at Louisa Gould in Vineyard Haven, MA, August 13-26:

A few new pieces:

"Perceived Acuity", 18"x52".

“Perceived Acuity”, 18″x52″.

"Blue/GreenSea", 3 panels of 12"x12"; 12"x16"; & 12"x12"

“Blue/GreenSea”, 3 panels of 12″x12″; 12″x16″; & 12″x12″

A few of my recently sold pieces:

"Skyline with Lifting Rain", 20"X20", oil on linen.

“Skyline with Lifting Rain”, 20″X20″, Edgewater Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair.

5 Trees

“5 Trees”, 20″x60″, Albert Shahinian Fine Art.

Turqiouse Light

“Turquoise Light”, 30″x30″, Gold Gallery.

My February workshop “Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape” at the Woodstock School of Art managed to come off, despite terrible weather, and succeeded in what I had set out to do. A new workshop, it involved an unprecedented amount of planning for me, as I was determined to develop exercises that would lead my students into a deeper analysis of composition and color, and a more conscious understanding how the elements form the whole.

The landscape itself is so seductive that it can actually get in the way of crafting a good painting, so much so that often I see artists plateau in their skill-building, finding it hard to advance to the next level. This workshop was designed for those artists, though I think it also works well for beginners as a step-by-step.

Day #2, working with color (those touchy greens!)

Day #2, working with color (those touchy greens!)

I was concerned that the artists in this workshop would feel constrained by so much structure, but they all surrendered to the process and felt that they learned way more than in a workshop with more open painting time. The exercises are also really fun—I did them myself first to make sure of that.

At work on a frigid February day.

At work on a frigid February day.

I will be teaching the same workshop in Provincetown in September, as well as these others coming up in 2015:

Woodstock School of Art, “Landscape in Large Scale” , June 20-23:

Artists Association of Nantucket, “Landscape and Mood”, July 13-15:

Provincetown Artists Association and Museum, “Constructing/Deconstructing the Landscape”, September 14th-17th.

Woodstock School of Art, “Interpreting the Landscape in Oil and Pastel”, October 17-19

I hope to see many friends and followers this spring and summer at a reception, a workshop, or my studio. Many of you have been students, collectors, and friends, in one order or another, and I love to see you show up.

A Review of the Affordable Art Fair in NYC

I had a fine time at the Affordable Art Fair in NYC recently. Edgewater Gallery of Middelbury, Vermont featured my work along with eight other gallery artists, so I decided to attend to meet up with friends and collectors.

The quality of the work was overall higher than I had remembered from my last visit, and as I wandered around and connected to the work of several artists on view, I decided to write about some of my favorites.

These bodies of work bring up some thoughts about mixed metaphor in art.  Aspects of complex combinations found in a given piece or body of work are often hard to name individually, since the references are myriad: historical, art historical, nature-based, daily visual stimuli; art forms such as music and literature; and they source many personal experiences and memories embedded in the mind and body.

With representational work, there is a narrative, at least implied, as well. I prefer one that is not sewn up tight and so leaves room for the viewer to emotionally occupy the piece.

The art that I respond to the most is a rich visual stew that is experienced viscerally but bears additional fruit with analysis. Even when minimalist on the surface, it evokes deep, complex feelings.

The work of Tessa Grundon, at the Arco Gallery booth is rich with associations. I see ancient parchment or fabric; the residue of floods both small and large; things buried and rediscovered; the passage of time; and the impermanence of our treasured objects.

Tessa Grundon

Tessa Grundon, “Stour l (Lungs/Contour)”, Erwarton mud and beeswax on handmade paper

Tessa Grundon says about her work:

“I use an array of materials and artifacts relating to specific geographical locations – local maps, wax from nearby beehives, pigments from the muds, earths, plants and charcoal, debris found along the strandlines of shores and riverbanks both rural and urban. With these materials I create work that embodies a sense of place, totems of landscapes I know and love.”

Tessa Grundon

Tessa Grundon, “Contour in 16 Pieces”, mud and beeswax on handmade paper


Her lines are based on topographical maps, and also feel like leaves, forests, seaweed, Chinese landscape painting; the hand of a talented cartoonist, and Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock depictions of ocean waves.

Tessa Grundon, detail

Tessa Grundon, detail

Much more overt are the photographs of Nine Francis at Julie Nestor Gallery. The subjects of these portraits look out at the viewer with matter-of-fact assurance, seemingly taking a brief pause in the course of a busy day.

Nine Francois

Nine Francois, “Deer 2”, archival pigment print

“I use photography to express personal versions of my own selective truths. My images start off in the objective, as all photographic records do, but frequently don’t stay there. They are transformed through various techniques and processes to make them mine–to take them out of the realm of fact and reportage and and place them into the service of exploring and responding to my world.”

Nine Fransois, "Ostriches"

Nine Fransois, “Ostriches”, archival pigment print

While the narrative element is what is first perceived, the photographs have a strong formal presence with reductive off-center compositions, soft edges, and sepia-and-white color. One aspect of their narrative presence that I like is that they balance perfectly between visual richness and beauty and a slightly goofy, cartoonish air, leaving the story open to interpretation.

Nine Francois, "Couger 2"

Nine Francois, “Cougar 2”, archival pigment print

Ren Adams at New Grounds Print Workshop is very consciously working with mixed metaphor in her hybrid-technique prints. I get a sense of batik fabric in some of them; physics; surrealism—the abstract kind, such as Miro; a dash of Kandinsky and maybe a little Klee. Her color choices are almost but not quite organic and also evocative of the traditional inks of Ukiyo-e woodcuts.

Ren Adams,

Ren Adams, hybrid printmaking techniques

“Synthesizing ideas found in physics, information theory, Eastern philosophy, archaeology, digital culture, mass media and linguistics, I embrace the interdisciplinary nature of mixed media, layering printmaking techniques with drawing, painting and digital processing. These layers address convergence, the originating space where substance takes root, generating a virtual archaeological dig where viewers uncover artifacts, moments and mysterious terrain. The resulting alchemy of image integrates micro and macro components, revealing transitory connections while expressing multiple points in time simultaneously.”

Ren Adams

Ren Adams, hybrid printmaking techniques

It strikes me that these layered prints explore space beautifully. Within a relatively shallow space, the elements occupy varying depths and push against the edges of the paper, creating movement both outward from the sides of the picture plane as well as back behind it.

 Red Adams

Red Adams

I was immediately smitten with the work of Park, Sun Hee with Artflow Gallery. Constructed  of tea-bag wrappers, these minimalist pieces are highly crafted and rhythmic, art historically evoking Louise Nevelson and Agnes Martin. They invite the viewer into a contemplative zone with reduced color and a surface texture that create the illusion that these are made of a natural substance—cork, perhaps. The construction also brings to mind the rock work of an intricately designed wall or chimney.

Park, Sun Hee, "Thinking and Metaphor" #1

Park, Sun Hee, “Thinking and Metaphor” #1, tea-bag wrappers

“We see a minimalism not smothered by geometry and are returned to the metaphor of thinking. Following her analogy, we come face to face with the necessity of cataloguing and sorting one’s ideas. But, as theses grids she has set out towards refuse to flatly repeat, we are reminded of the even greater importance of disjunct thinking and and outjutting whims, runaway trains of thought, illogic, and must needed asides in the life of the cognizant mind.”

Park, Sun Hee, "Thinking and Metaphor" #2

Park, Sun Hee, “Thinking and Metaphor” #2, tea-bag wrappers

Underneath the associations created by the formal elements, I catch undertones of long-vanished warehouses containing carefully stacked silks, teas, woods, porcelain, and fragrant spices.

Park, Sun Hee, angled photo

Park, Sun Hee, angled photo

The intricate mixed-media drawings of Laura Jordan with Rebecca Hossack Gallery reflect city life with its packed visual stimuli. With a lively line and strong narrative, Laura “works in pencil, pen, watercolour, collage and print to create wonderfully rich large-scale images of Metropolitan existence – in all its vitality, humour, horror, pathos, wonder, and bathos.”

Laura Jorden, "Metro"

Laura Jorden, “Metro”, mixed-media

“With an acerbic wit and visual acuity that place her in the great satirical tradition of Hogarth and Rowlandson, Laura Jordan maps the political, social and architectural landscape of contemporary London, New York, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro.”


Laura Jorden, Marble Arch

Laura Jorden, “Marble Arch”, mixed media

Always on the lookout for strong formal elements, I appreciate the lovely, almost organic-feeling shapes that the accumulated detail of each drawing creates. The drawings also scatter off from these clusters in sometimes truncated fragments, as if sections were erased—but oh so carefully—leaving the compositions enhanced.

Laura Jorden,

Laura Jorden, “A View of Paris”, mixed media

Since I can’t resist being in such good company, I will include my own work. Here is my Skyline piece, quite a different take on the urban experience. Employing the flattening, simplifying effects of moments of light and atmospherics such as rain, fog, or sunset, I am take an intrinsically busy locale and find a view and treatment that creates space.

"Skyline with Lifting Rain", 20"X20", oil on linen.

“Skyline with Lifting Rain”, 20″X20″, oil on linen.

There were not a large number of tonal pieces at the Fair, so my body of work stood out in that way (as did several of my selections above). One fellow who was enquiring about my work commented that while my skyline is in greys, it is softly uplifting, and also very clean.

Swirling Winter Sky, 20"x24".

“Swirling Winter Sky”, 20″x24″.

The simplest thing I can say about this body of work is that it is about creating light and space in a world crowded with possessions, information, obligations, and actions. I choose a minimalist approach to balance all of that with softly flattened shapes, blended edges, and tonalist color while recognizing and retaining undercurrents of more complex realities.

Red River Shore, 20"x30".

“Red River Shore”, 20″x30″.


I got halfway through writing this blog post before I realized that all five of the artists that I selected–six including myself—are women. I am not even sure what to make of that, or if there is anything to be made of that, except that women are masterful at multi-tasking (this is explained in brain science research) and so by extension might have a particular facility with artwork that accesses multiple associations.

You are welcome to comment if you have any other ideas.