A Memory Frozen In Time

It’s 14 years later and Ground Zero has morphed into a transportation hub and shopping center. I couldn’t help feeling sad as I walked through the underground “malls” that now cover a large part of this sacred ground. Curiosity, not holiday shopping, motivated me to take a trip down to what is now known as the Oculus.

Yes, there were malls underneath the site of the Twin Towers. But people remember the towers and the plaza, not the stores. It is little known that over the last 14 years since 9/11 numerous artists across diverse media have used the Twin Towers, 9/11, and Ground Zero as subject matter for their creative expression. Charles Smith, in our current exhibit, has 3 stunning paintings entitled, “The 9/11 World Trade Center Series”, which he created in 2006, to commemorate the tragic events of that day.

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These paintings use abstract shapes to depict the moments of impact as each airplane, like a white-hot triangular knife, slices into each tower causing huge explosions. Surrounding the towers and within Ground Zero, billowing, suffocating clouds of black smoke and ashes rise to the sky darkening it. The colors Charles uses are black, gray, red, and yellow to reflect the horrifying and unimaginable devastation above the ground and below.

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Charles says, “The design of this piece, and those in the series, use geometric shapes to represent the streamlined skyscrapers and architectural structures in NYC made of steel, glass, and other materials. Metallic colors highlight the glimmer and glory of those buildings reflecting the sun’s bright rays on that beautifully clear autumn day in September. The Twin Towers are tall rectangular bars of gold, anchored in the deep underground subways and passageways used by thousands of commuters daily. The Hudson River flows nearby as another source of comers and transportation. The paintings are framed in the patriotic colors of the American flag.”

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Like Charles, I too have used these tragic events as subject matter for 2 series “After the Dust Has Settled” a collection of poems superimposed upon 9/11 imagery, and “A Journey Through Remembrance” where I collaged NJ 9/11 memorials with images of the Twin Towers. You can view these series on my website at http://studio-l.tripod.com/galleryafterdust.htm and http://studio-l.tripod.com/gallery9-11Memorials.htm

There is also a place in cyberspace where one can view hundreds of other works by artists using 9/11, Ground Zero and the continuing development of the site as their themes. The 9/11 Memorial Web site  is as diverse as art can be and well worth a visit to view these individual interpretations of this painful subject.

 

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Altering Reality

On Thursday July 10th Leona M Seufert did a wonderful artist talk on how she achieved the effects in the artwork on display in our current gallery exhibit. “Reflections – From Real to Surreal” uses a variety of techniques to alter original unaltered photographs. She used old-fashioned cut and paste collage, drawing with markers on the ink jet printout, and a variety of Photoshop special effects. 15 of the pieces used only the camera and trick positions of herself or her hand to get eerie reflections in the final image. 

Before the advent of digital cameras, there were limited ways in which a photograph could be altered. Most photographers relied on the camera itself to attain strange effects or in the printing process in a physical darkroom. Today, not only Photoshop but a variety of other computer programs can assist the photographer in attaining altered realities. And of course we are very aware of the misuse of this software to alter images for a variety of devious reasons. So much so that the word “Photoshopped” has become part of our everyday vocabulary.

Look at any fashion magazine cover and you can see how this software helps the person achieve better quality skin, eliminate wrinkles, and even look thinner! Devious? Well, fashion was always about illusion whether it be manipulating makeup on a model’s face or manipulating pixels! Devious is when someone uses this technology to post an altered image of themselves on a dating website. On the positive side, Photoshop has helped restore old and damaged photographs in a way that never could be achieved by hand.

However, there is a dark side to the use of Photoshop. It is easy to scan in a document and change information on it, for instance dollar amounts or paste in a completely different signature. It has also been used to “erase” elements from a photograph or place things in a picture that didn’t exist. More common in the early days of Photoshop you can still find it happening today. Visit this website listing the biggest Photoshop scandals of our time to find examples of just what has been done using photoshop. These range from darkening OJ’s skin to slimming down newscaster Katie Couric.

Unaltered photograph

Unaltered photograph

Altered in Photoshop

Altered in Photoshop

But for an artist, Photoshop is just another tool to assist in realizing a creative goal. Leona did that very well with many of the pieces in this exhibit. She’s been using this program for over 10 years to achieve her creative visions. She states “I am a digital artist who uses Photoshop to transform reality. In a dialog between my eyes, my soul, and technology, and using Photoshop to manipulate the images, I aim to unlock the story within the image. Each artwork is the result of many experiments, the process is an artistic delight for me and hopefully the result is enchanting to the viewer.” Altering reality to create these unique images is what her art is all about.

Enter Leona’s Weird Digital World!

You have to see these photographs to believe it. 15 were not touched by any form of digital manipulation (except cropping and light/dark enhancement). Then she rolled up her sleeves, and got creative, altering each by a different method.

Reaching Out From the Other Side

Reaching Out From the Other Side

Talking about the first series, which she did in 2013, “My first series of reflections photographs were unaltered images. Inspired by this serendipity, I then started to not only to look for these happenings, but to actually create them using only the camera’s viewfinder. Gallery exhibits netted a wide range of images as the reflective glass and lights on the hung artwork played all kinds of tricks depending upon the viewing angle. Many of these photographs were ‘staged’ compositions resulting in spectacular eerie effects.”

The Cosmic Fashionistas Arrive

The Cosmic Fashionistas Arrive

For this series she pulls out all the stops: “I had two goals as I worked on this series: Have fun, and try to relate the second image to the first. Some make a statement on the original, others take it and distort it so that it becomes an abstraction, while others were created to elicit a laugh.”

On Tues June 10 you’ll have a chance to meet her and as you view each image ask “How did you do that?”!

Exploring the World of Dawn Gilmore

I was fortunate to be able to view Contradistinct while it physically hung in our gallery. Dawn Gilmore’s artworks are very personal, full of emotion and color. They reveal an expression of herself and her relationship with the world. She does acrylic paintings on Plexiglas, conte crayon and charcoal drawings on Strathmore 400 series drawing paper, photography, and construction. The first 3 were represented in this exhibit.

Dawn uses the creative process as a way to work through personal problems and feelings.

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She states “My paintings tend to deal with relationships ranging from crushes, falling in love, to break-ups, while others are about loneliness, longing, and changes in life.” The small acrylics are vivacious and colorful while her large paintings have an African Art feel about them. She uses plexiglas as her substrate because she loves the effect, never really liking canvas. 

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Her conte crayon and charcoal drawings of faces, on the other hand, are dark and brooding. “My drawings are all self-portraits about identity and the struggle to feel comfortable in ones own skin”. She is currently moving into using color conte crayons, experimenting with the emotional effects she can produce.

The series of photographs, shot with a Pentax K-X digital SLR camera, is the most fun and spontaneous form of expression that she chooses to use. Each image is something that she had the pleasure of stumbling upon, exploring, and then shooting up close in natural lighting. Some photographs make you look twice to discover exactly what the image contains.

“I’m really a quite shy person but I love to create work that is bright with color that is ‘in your face’!”

Dawn has been inspired by contemporary artists Margaret Keane, Keith Haring, Frida Kalo, and Barbara Kruger.  

She attended DuCret School of the Arts, Plainfield, New Jersey Majoring in Fine Art, and received her Bachelor of Arts from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey where she majored in Electronic Filmmaking and Digital Video Design Documentary-Feature-Corporate Track.

She has exhibited at the Ceres Gallery, New York, New York, Watchung Arts Center, Watchung, New Jersey, Barron Arts Center, Woodbridge, New Jersey, Arts Guild, Rahway, New Jersey and has done window displays for Gallery U, Red Bank, New Jersey and  for the Juror/Window: The No Show – Show / No Lines, Art Alliance, Red Bank, New Jersey.

 You can view her work at http://www.dawngilmore.com
                      
Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert

Pastel Painting

What are “pastels”?
The name pastel comes from the French word pastiche, meaning a work of art. In the art world, pastel refers not to pale colors, but to bright, durable sticks of pigment used to make paintings. Made of pigment and a binder, which converts a dry powdery pigment into a moist lump, thus forming sticks that are then baked. Being a compressed pigment, they will adhere easily to any paper that has a tooth or texture. When cared for properly, pastel paintings last indefinitely.

Pastels are the most permanent artistic medium that exists and are more permanent than other art mediums (oils, watercolors etc) especially when properly framed. This is because pastels have no liquid blinder that can cause other media to darken, fade, yellow, crack or blister over time.  Pastel artworks from the 16th century still exist today, showing the longevity of this medium. Art materials expert Ralph Mayer author of The Artist’s Handbook wrote, “Framed under glass and given the care that any work of art normally receives, (pastel) portraits of the 1750 period have come down to us as bright and fresh as the day they were painted.”

A number of great masters including Delacroix, Millet, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, and Whistler produced their great works using pastel.  Edgar Degas pushed the envelope of pastel painting and changed the reputation of the medium from a pale medium to a sketching tool into a major artistic medium.

A brief history of Pastel art ( from Wikipedia )
The pastel medium was first mentioned by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495.
Artists such as Maurice Quentin de La Tour and Rosalba Carriera have been using pastels to create masterpieces as far back as 1703.During the 18th century the medium became fashionable for portrait painting, sometimes in a mixed technique with gouache.
In the United States, initially pastels only had occasional use in portraiture. However in the late nineteenth century, pastel (like watercolor) became more popular. The Society of Painters in Pastel was founded in 1885. The Pastellists, led by Leon Dabo, organized in New York in 1910.

Some Famous Pastel artists:
 Rosalba_Carriera_Self-portrait
Rosalba Carriera, Self-portrait holding a portrait of her sister, 1715, pastel on paper; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
 
Maurice Quentin de La Tour, a bravura pastel portrait of Louis XV, 1748
 Chardin_pastel_selfportrait
Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin. Self Portrait, in pastel, 1771, The Louvre
 Edgar_Germain_Hilaire_Degas
Edgar Degas, La Toilette (Woman Combing Her Hair), c. 1884–1886, pastel on paper, Pushkin Museum, Moscow
 Cassatt_Mary_Sleepy_Baby_1910
Mary Cassatt, Sleepy Baby, 1910
 Flowers_in_a_Green_Vase_by_Leon_Dabo
Leon Dabo, Flowers in a Green Vase, c. 1910s, pastel

Contemporary Patel Art
Mary Cassatt introduced the Impressionists and pastel medium to her friends in Philadelphia and Washington, and helped popularize both in the USA. Whistler produced a quantity of pastels around 1880, including a body of work relating to Venice, and this probably contributed to the growing enthusiasm for the medium.

Most contemporary amateur and professional pastel artists trace their roots to 19th century French impressionists, especially Edgar Degas. Degas took his pastel work very seriously, developing his own fixative allowing him to paint over previously painted surfaces. His figures were often lit from below and painted while the subject was singing or dancing. He frequently employed underpainting in watercolor to intensify the light catching effects of dry pastels. Modern notable artists who have worked extensively in pastels include Fernando Botero, Francesco Clemente, Daniel Greene, Wolf Kahn, and R. B. Kitaj.

Today’s dry stick, Conté crayon, oil pastel, and pencil pastels now form an aesthetic and technical bridge between drawing and painting.
                                 “Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert

Paula Pearl Captures the Essence of Mother Nature

Be sure to come in and view our current exhibit “Reflections of Nature: Pastel Paintings by Paula Pearl” which runs through December 28, 2012. It is an exhibit  beautifully depicting the various “personalities” of nature.

Here is just a sampling of the many works:

 
“South Hampton” is a lovely composition of a quiet inlet like it was before hurricane Sandy ravaged it.


“Summer Storm” shows a menacing side of Nature.


“Awakening” is a gorgeous view of sunrise – Nature kissing the day awake with passion!


“Twilight” is just the opposite, calm and collected as Nature readies our planet for the sleep of night.


“After the Snow” a greeting card image of peace and tranquility!
                       “Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert

Teens Rock New Exhibit

Come out and support our teen artists. This new exhibit has 61 pieces from the Touring Exhibit. Acrylics, Oils, collages, a wonderful collection by aspiring artists. When you consider 700 works were submitted from schools all through Union County, these selected 61 are tops!

Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella states, “The artwork in this exhibit is exceptional.”

This is an annual event and the students look forward to creating works that might have a chance to be hung in a gallery. After you’ve seen the show, please take some time to leave your comments on this blog. I will make sure the students receive them.

  “Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert