Elaine Florimonte: Painting Layered Metaphors

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Elaine Florimonte

Elaine Florimonte

Elaine Florimonte’s day often starts out over coffee in the morning while she touches base with some of her high school art students.  They come in early to talk about the parallels between art and life and what to do when something goes wrong in a painting—philosophical stuff.  “It’s a privilege to be present in their lives at these moments when 15 to 18-year olds are forming their identities,” she muses, “and I stay connected to about four or five each year, following their progress through college.”  In the classroom Elaine teaches techniques and various media while coaching them through the standard processes of making art.  Sometimes she picks up the brush and paints on her own canvas to get a point across, a technique she learned from one of her own teachers during her high school days.  It was this particular teaching model that convinced her to study art and then become an art teacher herself.

Elaine acquired her undergraduate degree in art education with a minor in graphic and computer design at Radford University and then stayed for another three years to gain her MFA in two dimensional media. Her computer graphics portfolio and gregarious personality got her a job with the Fairfax County Office of Staff Development and Training followed by teaching stints in Oakton High School, Centerville High School, and finally Westfield High School where she heads up the art studio program today.

With My Brothers and My Sisters

With My Brothers and My Sisters

In tandem with her teaching career, Elaine practiced the art of painting.  First in a tiny office with a cardboard easel and a sheet of paper taped to the wall so it wouldn’t get spoiled.  Painting purely for enjoyment. Her confidence increased as she entered art shows in Berryville Virginia’s gristmill fundraisers, but realistic subject matter evolved into more abstract works over time.  She came to realize, like artist Richard Diebenkorn, that “It is not a matter of painting life. It’s a matter of giving life to a painting… [It’s about] putting down what I felt in terms of some overall image at the moment today, and perhaps being terribly disappointed with it tomorrow… trying to make it better and then despairing and destroying partially or wholly… getting back into it and just kind of frantically trying to pull something into this rectangle that made sense to me.” When Elaine begins to paint in this way, it is like she’s taking a step into an unknown place, surrendering to a process in which the paint and a flick of the wrist lead the way to an image that is synchronized with head and heart.

My Bitter Pill to Swallow

My Bitter Pill to Swallow

Elaine’s first solo exhibition Accumulation at Touchstone Gallery includes large works, diptychs and small 6”x 6” paintings from her summer project of creating one painting a day for 30 days.  Whether large or small, these paintings reveal layer upon layer of color, brush strokes and shapes.  The paintings may be abstractions from a sculpture she photographed on a recent trip to Greece.  Or they may begin with overlapping drawn images that come and go until a non-objective status is achieved. “The light and shadow patterns describe, or are metaphors, for people’s overlapping lives,” she says, “plus I’m inspired by artists Paul Cezanne, Andrew Wyeth and Helen Frankenthaler.”

To be experience the movement of Elaine’s veils of color and movement, visit Accumulation at Touchstone Gallery from November 30-December 23, 2016.  Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  Opening Reception is Friday, December 9 from 6-8:30 pm. Encore Reception Sunday, December 11 from 1-3 pm. Artist’s Talk at 2.901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20001; http://www.touchstonegallery.com  –Rosemary Luckett

Elaine Florimonte Studio

Elaine in Her Studio

Jill Brantley: Creating Fresh Surroundings

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Jill Brantley

Jill Brantley

The experience of playing freely during childhood must imprint itself indelibly in one’s psyche.  So many artists and writers who grew up in small towns across America seem to have been fueled by these long lazy periods of spontaneity as children. I put Jill Brantley among those so endowed.  She was fortunate to live in a small town in New England.  No stoplights.  Church steeples rising above oaks and maples.  The whole nine yards.  She remembers walking to school, riding bikes in the dark on summer nights, roaming with friends from yard to yard inventing games as they went along.  Imagination sparking imagination.  And a mother ringing a special bell at dusk.

Jill’s family circle was also a creative place, one that fostered reading and thought-provoking discussions at the dinner table.  “Why people do the things they do and what causes mental illness,” for instance.  (Her father being a professor at Boston University, Harvard and Tufts and her mother being a nurse).  When Jill’s father was sent to Paris for a year-long UNESCO project,  thirteen-year old Jill experienced a different kind of creative jolt.  She was in awe of how French women dressed and accessorized with scarves, handbags and jewelry.  Looking back she thinks her current interest in “the decorative” along with “the narrative” or what makes people tick, began in those formative years.

Gawkers

Gawkers

In college at American University, Jill wrote poetry, joined in a dance troupe and majored in sociology with a minor in social anthropology.  After graduation she worked at McLean hospital in Boston, but left after a year to pursue jobs in other areas, to marry, and then to travel Europe in a van for three months. Making art was not even in the cards as she mothered two small children.  Eventually she took a job with Tri City Too, a home decorating company commissioned to do color consultations in client homes.

From her advisory work with color schemes, she transitioned into the fine arts classes at the McLean Community Center, the Art League School in Alexandria, and Myrtle Beach NC.  Rob Vander Zee and several Art League teachers encouraged her to bring the imaginative childhood experiences into the fore using the languages of acrylic paint and collage.  “Being an artist is not like being a surgeon,” Vander Zee taught. “As you come to a turning point and seem lost, you have to decide whether or not to take a leap into the unknown.”

The Suitor

The Suitor

On a memorable visit to a Metropolitan Museum of Art’s special Matisse exhibit that included odalisque costumes, she was overwhelmed by the Matisse’s family textiles as well as his brilliant paintings.  “I came out of the exhibit vibrating with excitement!  I wanted to go in those rooms and stay there,” she states. “After that I began to add fabrics to my collages.”

Another painting giant, German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, inspired Jill too.  Kirchner reflects, “It seems as though the goal of my work has always been to dissolve myself completely into the sensations of the surroundings in order to then integrate them into a coherent painterly form.” Jill does exactly this in her first Touchstone Gallery solo exhibition of collages entitled Situations.  The works are constructed with paint, paper, fabric and found objects.  They summon memories from the past like shag rugs, and plastic covered seat cushions, as well as pets, flower arrangements, and gesturing people—narratives describing how individuals embellish themselves and their surroundings in mundane, or ambiguous or humorous ways.  Like Kirchner, she “paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, in fact …creating new appearances of things.” Her complex two dimensional compositions include unusual papers, fabric and intricate color schemes.   

In summarizing her life and art, Jill observes, “I am so blest to have found a creative path to serenity in spite of it being a lot of work.  It is such a gift to have the ability and opportunity to do this with my life right now while being supported by the many creative people I study and exhibit with.”  –Rosemary Luckett

Situations will be on exhibit November 4-27, 2016, Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC.  Opening reception is Friday, Nov. 4, 6-8:30pm.

Henry Not Again

Henry Not Again

Kate McConnell: Capturing Color in the Landscape

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kate-portrait

Kate McConnell

How does the artist paint the landscape while, at the same time, paint from the “deeps” of the soul?  Painter Emily Carr posed that question to herself as she painted alone in the forests of British Columbia sometime in the 1930’s. “What do I want to express? … The arrangement, the design, colour, shape, depth, light, space, mood, movement, balance, not one or all of these fills the bill. There is something additional, a breath that draws your breath into its breathing, a heartbeat that pounds on yours, a recognition of the oneness of all things,” she writes in her journal.

Kate McConnell seeks special places in nature for painting too.  Sometimes in Rock Creek Park in the heart of Washington DC, and sometimes at Cape Cod.  In 2016, however, she traveled to southern Spain where the spiritual and cultural harmonies drew her breath into its breathing. There she savored the “rapture of the here and now,” she recalls.  Using water based gouache paints for the first time enabled her to capture color sketches of a new place and a new terrain.  They served as inspiration for full-fledged gouache or oil paintings made at the same location in succeeding days.  Kate’s solo show Suitcase Paintings at Touchstone Gallery during the month of November 2016 features both the Spanish works and paintings made at other places.

Creek Palette

Creek Palette

In these art works Kate paints the light and the landscape with energetic intense color.  Brilliant yellows pair up with orange or modulated purple.  Or green meadows and marshes float beneath a yellow and blue sky.  This is color that she’s noticed and absorbed her whole life.  First as an eight year old child pouring over art books for hours in the Westminster College library in her hometown of New Wilmington, PA, and then exploring the woods across the street from the playground. Music and books, visits to National Parks, and riding bikes through the countryside with her friends contributed to a love of nature and the changing colors inherent in the landscape at any given time of day.

In college Kate discovered contemporary art and earned an art design degree from Westminster College and The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.  She worked as a graphic designer at the Library of Congress for five years before taking a job with the nonprofit organization People for the American Way as their design director.  Of her eleven years there she says, “This was the best job of my life because it allowed me to use my creative design work efforts among like-minded liberal colleagues and to support passionate topics close to my heart: civil liberties, equality and justice for all.”

Marsh At Dusk

Marsh At Dusk

Kate’s aptitude in design and color continued to be expressed when she went became a book designer for Time Warner Inc.  Her specialties were cookbooks and gardening books.  When her sharp eye for color correcting garnered attention, she was assigned to proof for color accuracy before  books got the final okay to be published.

Forest Trees

Forest Trees

After a period of job shifts, time opened up for painting and teaching book design and typography at the Corcoran School of Art.  Kate appreciates a wide variety of art history movements, especially energetic representational art that includes abstract qualities like arbitrary color and vigorous brush strokes.  She is especially inspired by Georgia O’Keefe, Arthur Dove, Charles Burchfield, Emily Carr, and the Canadian Group of Seven, many of whom were fauvist painters.  –Rosemary Luckett

To enter the breath of Kate’s Suitcase Paintings at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC, visit during the opening reception Friday, Nov. 4 from 6-8:30 pm or during regular hours: Wed-Fri 11-6, Sat-Sun 12-5.     202-347-2787; http://www.touchstonegallery.com

Seaside Palette

Seaside Palette

Gale Wallar Paints Avenues and Alps

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Gale Wallar

Gale Wallar

Gale Wallar’s exactitude in describing what she sees around her is remarkable.  Through the language of oil paint she creates compelling vignettes that put the viewer in the scene she is describing, as though present on the street in front of a row of buildings that she visited in one of her many years of travel.   At some point, however, the viewer comes to the realization that the colors may be fresher and the perspective condensed.  Wallar images the “real,” but, she remarks,  her viewpoint “conveys a subjective reality affected by time and space.”  In other words, the painted images may appear photographic, but subliminal qualities influence images in unexpected and compelling ways. Look for this in her attention to detail.

The Original Old Ebbitt Grill (Washington DC Landmark)

The Original Old Ebbitt Grill
(A Washington DC Landmark)

Mountains have been a major focus of Wallar’s landscape paintings for several decades.  Parallel to this, she developed a passion for city scenes and depictions of structural elevations.  Her Touchstone solo exhibition for October 2016, Altitude and Elevations, blends themes from both. The world which she continues to describe demands to be constantly reconsidered, to be looked at again, to be described in paint again and again as light over the mountains changes and buildings are remodeled. The possibilities of describing passing time, changes and space keep the artist in Wallar captivated by both the altitudes in the natural world and the elevations in a world occupied by people. –Rosemary Luckett

Above Davos

Above Davos

 

Altitudes and Elevations by Gale Wallar

Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 202-347-2787; http://www.touchstonegallery.com

October 5-30, 2016   Wed-Fri 11-6, Sat-Sun 12-5

David Alfuth: Is This Art Really 3-D?

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David Alfuth

David Alfuth

Are David Alfuth’ s new sculptural collage works really 3-D?  Or is the architectural subject matter just fooling our eyes?  To find out, you’ll have to see his new surreal collage works, Perspective, at Touchstone Gallery between October 5—30, 2016.

David’s new black and white collages reveal all the principles of good design, and all the essential elements of art.   “I always add one surprising device, he muses.  “This time my new collages are all three dimensional.  I have created many intriguing relief sculptures as well as free standing collage sculptures.”

Ceiling with Perspective

Ceiling with Perspective

The American College Dictionary defines collage as a French word for a composition employing various materials, such as newspaper clippings, fragments of advertisements, and lines and color supplied by the artist.  David uses special black and white imagery of architectural elements to create imaginary segments of buildings, or entire complex compositions that read as a multifaceted structure.  He strives to surprise his viewers with not only unique images but also exceptional perspectives. -David Alfuth & Rosemary Luckett

David Alfuth’s Perspective show is up at Touchstone Gallery October 5—30, 2016.  Opening: Friday, October 7, from 6:00 to 8:30.  Gallery Hours: Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.

Architecture With Perspective

Architecture With Perspective

 

Perspective and Ceiling

Perspective and Ceiling

 

 

Pete McCutchen: Photographing an Alien Landscape

Photographing an Alien Landscape: an interview between James Madison University student and budding photographer Amanda Marie Harner and Pete McCutchen concerning his solo exhibition The Thermal Zone showing at Touchstone Gallery August 31-October 2, 2016.

Harner: What drew you to photographing Yellowstone?

McCutchen: I was going on a family camping vacation, which included Yellowstone National Park along with a number of other destinations. Once I saw the thermal zone in Yellowstone, I knew immediately it was for me.

Yellowstone Thermal Zone 13

Yellowstone Thermal Zone 13

Harner: What aspect of the park thermal zone, in particular, made you feel that way?

McCutchen: I absolutely loved the colors — the rich reds, browns, very vibrant but also earthy, the lush blue of the thermal pools themselves, the steam rising from them, and the shapes and textures I found.  I’ve done work that’s very realistic, very traditionally photographic, as well as very abstract work.   But I like work that sits at the edge of abstraction – imagery that has an abstract quality to it, but still looks at least a little like the thing being photographed.

Harner: Speaking of your earlier work, much of it appears to be focused on aspects of the world that aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing – rusted surfaces, junky cars. How did you approach photographing Yellowstone? Would you say this was outside of your comfort zone in some regard?

McCutchen: It was!  One visitor to my studio — a boy about eight or nine — said, “you take gross stuff and make it look cool.”  Of course I’ve photographed things that look naturally beautiful before — roller coasters for example — but it’s true that a lot of my work focused on finding the beauty in subjects people would think of as ugly. Everybody knows Yellowstone is beautiful, so it was an interesting challenge, and as you say, a bit outside of my comfort zone.

Yellowstone Thermal Zone 2

Yellowstone Thermal Zone 2

Harner: That being said, what were your main goals? What were you trying to convey?

McCutchen: My approach to photography is to really listen to my subject. Then I convey what I’m hearing from that subject.  Sometimes the result is very traditionally photographic.  Other times less so.

In the case of the thermal zone, what spoke to me about the area was the richness and depth of the color, the wonderful abstract forms, and also, how alien the landscape seems.  In some ways, it literally is an alien landscape — the cyanobacteria that give the runoff its color can only live in those conditions.  Somebody asked me when I’d been to Mars, and it really does look that way.  But here are hints of the surrounding (Earthly) wilderness, too.  Reflections of the forest in the water, footprints of animals, trees dimly visible behind the haze.

Harner: Since you were in such an, as you say, “alien landscape” would you say that there were any unique technical challenges that you faced?

McCutchen:  Actually, yes.  All of what I’m photographing has a sheen of water on top of it — runoff from the hot springs.  As a consequence, I see a lot of very harsh highlights.  The light at that altitude was a bit harsh as well.  The camera’s light meter wants to overexpose the images I chose to deliberately underexpose by one or two stops.  This helped me retain highlight detail and also helps convey the richness of the colors.  That’s an old trick I learned in the days of shooting transparency film.

Harner: What equipment was used to create these images and how were they processed?

McCutchen: Everybody loves to talk about gear.  I think it’s more important to think about vision than about tools.  I’ve seen great images shot with an iPhone. That said, I chose to print these big, and when going big it’s important to have a technically strong image.  I shot of the images in this show with a Nikon D800E using a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 lens — a very sweet lens. The images are all either a f/2.8, which gives very shallow depth-of-field or f/13 or f/16, which gives lots of depth of field.  Nothing is in between.  I guess in a lot of ways that’s my motto.  Nothing in between.  

Harner: How are your images printed?

McCutchen: I printed them with an HP Z3200 printer on Moab Slickrock Metallic Paper.  I love the richness and sheen the metallic paper gave this series.  A lot of photographs look better on the screen than in print, but I like the print to have enough unique strong elements that it looks better in person. The Metallic paper was by far the best for this project.

 Harner: What is the size of these printed images?

McCutchen: Most are 30×45 — one is a diptych of two panels that size, three are 40×40, and one is 30×60.

 Harner: Did anything surprise you seeing them printed that large?

McCutchen: Seeing your work that big always bring surprises.  Sometimes you get a bad surprise, because some images don’t stand up to that much enlargement.  But in this series, the surprises were all good.  So many small details came out — reflections in the water, animal tracks, subtle color shifts.  I feel like they just explode off the wall.

Harner: What makes this body of work most successful, in your opinion?

McCutchen: The thing I’m most proud of is the fact that I took a subject that is very heavily photographed and put my own stamp on it.  These are my unique images. Does that answer your question?

 Harner: Sure!

McCutchen: Oh and I should add that Yellowstone Thermal Zone 13 will be appearing in the Berlin Photo Biennale  in October, along with two of my other images.

Harner:  Congratulations!

McCutchen: Thank you.

Harner: Well, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! It has been very interesting hearing about your approach to creating this show. You did an incredible job, as usual. Congratulations again!

McCutchen: Thank you!  Hope you get a chance to see the show in all its glory.

Pete McCutchen

Pete McCutchen

Pete McCutchen’s The Thermal Zone show is up at Touchstone Gallery August 31-October 2, 2016..  Opening: Friday, September 9, from 6:00 to 8:30.  McCutchen’s Artist Talk: Sunday the 25th at 2:00 PM.

Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  info@touchstonegallery.com

202-347-2787.

Judy Giuliani: Creating Structure and Spirit through Color

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Judy Giuliani

Judy Giuliani

A Tokyo shopping street smelling of sandalwood.

Ume and Kiku flowers embroidered on silk kimonos.

A one-man band of bells, drums and other music-makers entertaining children.

Rotting hulks of ships in a Philippine harbor turning its water brown.

The texture and temperature of air in each place.

A plethora of sights and sounds like these greeted Judy Giuliani in the far-off places where her military families were assigned.  First with her parents in the Navy and then with her husband in the Air Force.  All this traveling meant that she lived in 36 different locations in 36 years!    She could have lamented the fact that she was missing out on a typical American childhood. Instead, she chose to enjoy and absorb what each new place had to offer, eagerly observing the art and traditions of other cultures.  Over time distinctive details were stored away in her mind’s eye until the urge to take up the brush lead her to include them in paintings.

Fiore-Forty-Three

Fiore Forty Three

For many years, her adult life focused on family and work, but she was able to take advantage of sporadic opportunities to indulge her artistic appetite. She studied art as the lessons presented themselves.  While in Texas, a friend taught her Tole painting.  An artist in Arizona instructed her on how to stretch the limits of one color in a series of monochromatic still life paintings on canvas.

But art classes were put mostly on hold while she cared for her small children, studied for a bachelor’s degree in American Studies (1972), and acquired a masters in Organizations and Organizational Behavior.  By the time she completed her master’s studies, Judy was living in Washington DC and had a job as director of admission for the dental school at Georgetown University. Subsequently she spent ten years as a graphic designer developing the technical processes of editing images and  forming design effective layouts.  In addition to numerous university catalogs, she worked on a particularly intriguing book for a United Nations Landmine Symposium.

Fiore Fifty One

Fiore Fifty One

After her design job ended, Judy segued easily into art classes.  Taking a basic drawing class with her daughter at the Art League School in Alexandria VA was the final nudge pushing her over into a career in the fine arts.  Deanna Schwartzberg’s abstract class and then Rob Vanderzee’s expert coaching encouraged her to find her own personal expression. In each class she asked, “What can I do to push the logical left brain thinking aside so I can paint more loosely?”

“No matter where I am or what I am looking at, color grabs me,” Judy reflects.  Some of her paintings start with a fresh white canvas and a limited palette of colors.  Others make use of salvaged old paintings.  She ponders as she works on her current series, “How can I push this, make it more playful or funky?” As with the French Fauve painters of the early 1900’s, the answers are found in juxtaposing high intensity colors with abstracted floral motifs–subtracting out some things and focusing on what remains. Judy, like Matisse and others,  separates color from its descriptive, representational purpose, thus allowing it to exist on the canvas as an independent element. Color projects a mood and establishes a structure on the canvas without having to be true to the three dimensional natural world. Judy’s current work is an emotional response to flowers, a unique intuitive expression.

Fiore Forty Two

Fiore Forty Two

“Right brain thinking has changed how I see everything–from 17 shades of gray in the side of a barn to outlandish pink in the clouds.” The fun for her in painting is to put a few arbitrary marks on the canvas in hopes that they will become a dialogue between her passion for color and the joy of brushing on the paint. Judy Giuliani’s first Touchstone Gallery solo exhibit is Tutto sui Fiori (It’s All About Flowers).  Viewers will experience the freedom, warmth, and joy in Judy’s colorful, intuitive, abstracted Fauvist flower paintings. Rosemary Luckett

Tutto sui Fiori,  Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC. August 31, October 2,2016.  Opening: Friday, September 9, 6-8:30 pm.

Artist Talk: Sunday, September 25, 2pm. Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  info@touchstonegallery.com 202-347-2787.

Fiore Seven

Fiore Seven

 

Art as Politics: American Artists Describe the State of the Union

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Test Tube USA by Fredrico Ruiz

Test Tube USA by Fredrico Ruiz

Touchstone Gallery’s August 2016 national juried exhibit Art as Politics reflects the “state of the union” as seen through the eyes of artists who don’t often get asked for their views on anything.   The 250 artists who answered the call to make work about the tumultuous 2016 election cycle didn’t disappoint juror Jayme McClellan. They submitted 400 boisterous pieces of art. McClellan chose 127 works by 90 artists. It’s an all-media show of wall pieces, video installations and sculpture.

The astounding array was produced by a geographically diverse group of artists, some from as far away as California, Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Maine, Ohio, and Iowa.  Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC are also well represented.  A broad spectrum of views addresses social issues of the day: presidential candidates, money in politics, gun violence, immigration, war, freedom of speech, environmental degradation, racism, and women’s rights. “This show is dense in numbers and dense in content,” states Touchstone member Janet Wheeler.  “It’s a show viewers will want to spend some time with.” What is described below is only a fraction of the art in this exhibit.

The current  presidential election breaks new ground because it includes the first woman candidate nominated by a major political party in the nation’s 240 year history. During this time span, women though excluded from direct participation in government,  banded together to discuss politics and sew patriotic quilts using national symbols like the eagle, heroes of their day, and variations on the flag.  Quilt artists fostered a sense of patriotic duty and an awareness of national history first gleaned through word of mouth, then radio, then television and now the internet.  Bed-size quilts were, in a sense, giant posters when hung on family clothes lines, easily readable from the nearest roadside.  The Art as Politics artists who bring this rich fiber tradition into the present include: Misty Cole – Political Circus, Penny Mateer– Damn Good Whacking #5 Protest Series, Eileen Doughty —Taking Liberties, and Rose Beckham — Untitled #50.

Polical Circus by Misty Cole

Polical Circus by Misty Cole

In the mid 1800’s politically significant quilts were hung on fences and clothes lines to mark safe houses for escaping slaves on their way north—networking codes for the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War such issues as ongoing “Jim Crow” laws in the South, decades of racial segregation, the turmoil surrounding the Civil Rights Movement in the ‘60’s, and continuing sporadic eruptions of racial bigotry associated with arrests of African American men continue to plague the American social landscape.   The number of black men incarcerated has swelled to 67% of jail and prison populations, and video witnesses to shootings have pushed racial tensions to the breaking point in 2016.  This topic elicited many searing responses:   Stoddard – Black Angel, Christopher Chinn – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, Kelly Burke – Black Lives Matter,  and others.

Black Angel by Ann Stoddard

Black Angel by Ann Stoddard

Whether racial, sexist, or related to war and immigration,  “wall” or “barrier” expressions are a major theme in this exhibit: Janathel Shaw’s clay and wood sculpture  Still A N_____/No Entry, for instance, explicitly addresses the wall that exists between white people and those of color.  “The door in my installation represents a structure that we must demand to walk through with dignity and accomplishment,” she says. Her piece shows how prejudice is like a solidly palpable wall for African Americans. In contrast this wall is either ephemeral or completely unseen by many in the majority.

Still a N____/No Entry

Still a N____/No Entry by Janathel Shaw

Another seemingly invisible wall of privilege and power separates Glenn Kessler’s painting of a powerful royally-robed President George W. Bush from the nearby painting of a homeless man.  A poignant and troubling contrast.

Leadership by Glenn Kessler (detail)

Leadership by Glenn Kessler (detail)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner by Christopher Chinn

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner by Christopher Chinn

The Wall by Augustine Chavez

The Wall by Augustine Chavez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A more active barrier scenario, The Day of Contempt, painted by Ali Onur Sengul shows peaceful demonstrators facing violence from a wall of police water hoses and tear gas. Augustine Chavez’ The Wall, a 96 inch wide painting of a wall, under construction to keep immigrants out of the country, invites consideration of the merits of exclusion by a country built on a foundation of inclusion.

Legacy II by Byron Taylor

Legacy II by Byron Taylor

Sexist barriers that keep women at a disadvantage are described in unsettling terms by Ashley Danes – Shhhh and It’s Not Rape, and Julia Dzikiewicz – Strip & Search: Suffragette Lucy Burns Experience at the Occoquan Workhouse. Cathy Wilkin’s distressing Help Yourself painting of a reclining nude, that lies bare before the Supreme Court as they debate her reproductive options, is hung near Byron Taylor’s painting of a bleeding woman at the pharmacy door.  Tim Johnson tongue-in-cheek painting 1st to 45th …Pantaloons to Pantsuit and Rosemary Luckett’s Hillary Athena Campaigns lighten an otherwise somber group of paintings and photographs.

1st to 45th Pantaloons to Pantsuit by Timothy Johnson (detail)

1st to 45th Pantaloons to Pantsuit by Timothy Johnson (detail)

 

Athena Hillary Campaigns by Rosemary Luckett

Athena Hillary Campaigns by Rosemary Luckett

Even the works in which people are wrapped in the flag, vis a vis flag garments, bespeak the seriousness of what ails our country this year.  Patricia’s Turner’s Mayhem in the Middle East connects the dots between American oil consumption and on-going war.  Likewise environmentalist artists connect the dots between hyper consumption and the coal- generated pollution that is a by-product of the manufacturing process and electricity production.

Kryptonite 2012 by Kathryn Circincione

Kryptonite 2012 by Kathryn Circincione

Mayhem in the Middle East by Patricia Turner

Mayhem in the Middle East by Patricia Turner (detail)

Several small paintings by Michael Auger and K. M. Copham offer humorous alternatives to the mostly serious portrayals of presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders, President Obama, Michele Obama and Vladimir Putin.  One just has to smile at presidential candidates Nudes Playing Chess (paint on cutting board), Whose Hair are You Voting For?, Boobies on Capitol Hill, and Trumpty Dumpty.  Janos Somogyi’s abstract Pro Pacem III offers a quiet expression of peace.

Art as Politics is a fresh alternative to the expounding pundits and talking heads who dominate media coverage of the election process.  You’ll never see another exhibit quite like it! Rosemary Luckett

Nudes Playing Chess by K. M. Copham

Nudes Playing Chess by K. M. Copham

View the exhibit between now and August 25 at Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave NW, Washington DC.  Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5.  info@touchstonegallery.com 202-347-2787.

 Art As Politics Award Winners

1st Place – $750, Augustine Chavez; “The Wall”; Oil on Panel; 48 x 84 in.; $8000

2nd Place – $500; Kevin Grass; “The Thinker”; Acrylic on Panel; 33.25 x 25 in.; $4800; http://www.kevingrass.com/

3rd Place – $250;Kelly Burke Artworks; “Black Lives Matter; Oil on Canvas; 54 x 108 in.;POR; http://www.kellyburke-artworks.com/

Honorable Mentions

Ann Stoddard Art; “Black Angel”;Video Installation Social Sculpture; 42 x 75 x 12 in.; $7500; http://www.annstoddard.net/

Ali Onur Sengul; “The day of Contempt”; Oil Painting on Masonite Board; 41.5 x 48.5 in. $3200

Janathel Shaw; “Still A N___/No Entry”; Ceramics Stoneware, Wood and Metal; 15 x 19 x 25 in. ;POR

Glen Kessler Art and Teachin; “Leadership”;Oil on Canvas; 96 72 in.; $12000;  http://www.glenkessler.com/

Jenny Wu; “Wall, Wall. Wall? Wall. Wall!”; Video Installation; POR;  http://www.jennywuart.com/wall/

Lina Alattar: The Unscripted Experience of Painting

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Lina Alattar

Lina Alattar

“Abstract work has its own way of explaining itself,” says Lina Alattar, an abstract painter at Touchstone Gallery who works in acrylics on canvas.  To understand how her paintings speak, she tunes into each one by being consciously aware and open.  “I just respond to the marks, because it’s the experience of painting that drives the painting.”  Knowing that nothing is scripted opens the door to tolerance for “accidents” that happen during the painting process.  For Lina, these unexpected happenings in the creative process preempt any preconceived ideas.  Each one shows her the possibility of going in a different direction, a road less traveled perhaps.  American contemporary painter Helen Frankenthaler summed it up saying, “You have to know how to use the accident, how to recognize it, how to control it, or ways to eliminate it so that the whole surface looks complete and born all at once.”

Balance Beam

Balance Beam

This kind of spontaneity contrasts mightily with today’s automated, highly scheduled, perfectionist world—a world in which one is expected to fit alongside everyone else into cultural and corporate standards and boundaries. An end result is often the erasure of one’s innermost self and the death of aesthetic meanings that are so life-giving.  “The craving for this beauty and serenity is not satisfied by materials the marketplace has to offer, but can only be sated through creative thinking and the wholeness-of-being that connecting with art can provide.” Lina notes that “cultures which value art are less focused on guns and violence than those that lack the appreciation and freedom to create and cultivate the arts.”

Islands in the Stream

Islands in the Stream

During her childhood Lina’s family lived on three continents in ten years before settling in Nashville, Tennessee.  No matter where they lived she practiced art, because at age five she knew she wanted to be a painter. With this goal in mind Lina obtained a degree in art at the Middle Tennessee State University and an art study program in Italy following graduation.  Then she was ready to enter the corporate worlds of Kiplinger, the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University.  Finally the call to devote her time and skills to art was strong enough to cause a change in her career path.  She quit the corporate job world and set up a studio so she could enhance the community with her abstract expressionist paintings.  Lina relates to the work of contemporary California artist Richard Diebenkorn, who wrote, “What I do is face the blank canvas and put a few arbitrary marks on it that start me on some sort of dialogue.”  From those tracks and traces a complete and integral painting eventually appears, giving meaning to her life and to those who view her work.  Her Unscripted paintings will give viewers a life-giving boost during the month of July, 2016 at Touchstone Gallery.

July 1-31, 2016;   Opening Reception: Friday, July 22, 6-8:30pm;  Artist Talk: Saturday, July 30, 2-4 pm

Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20001; www.touchstonegallery.com

Promises

Promises

McCain McMurray: Stained Paintings

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Think about diving into  the waters of the Caribbean.  Imagine feeling the sensations of being under and in the water off St. Bart’s, St. Johns or Martinique.  Cooling blues and greens float with muted reds, yellows or oranges.  Then visit the newest paintings by McCain McMurray in his solo exhibit Immersion at Touchstone Gallery during the month of July.  You’ll see slices of the Caribbean in his long vertical paintings—painted essays defining the essence of this watery space and the experience of exploring life in it.

Anse de Lorient

Anse de Lorient

Working in acrylic, McMurray pours multiple layers of thinned paint onto the unprimed canvas and allows the pigment to seep into the fabric to actually stain the canvas. This staining process creates a flow that is different from his previous works on board. “This process results in freedom to take advantage of serendipity and the surprises it can bring,” he states.

McCain McMurray

McCain McMurray

Trowels are used to spread the acrylic.  Wet paint is poured into wet paint or wet paint over dry to create either blends of colors or edges of color.  Ink and wax pencils are used for additional mark making.

Many paintings are covered by 15 to 20 layers of pigment before they are finished, resulting in very rich deep colors. These paintings offer a version of McMurray’s reality, a reality that “has to be digested…to be transmuted by paint,” as American abstract expressionist painter Richard Diebenkorn observed.

Immersion: Paintings by McCain McMurray

http://www.mccainmcmurray.com

July 1-31, 2016: Opening Reception: Friday, July 22, 6-8:30 pm; Artist Talk: Saturday, July 30, 2-4 pm

Touchstone Gallery,  901 New York Avenue NW,  Washington DC 20001; www.touchstonegallery.com

Anse de Toiny

Anse de Toiny