In Dialogue with Eric Fallen, Founder and Executive Director
Amy Butowicz solo show Boudoir Theatre at Peninsula Art Space features a collection of domestically scaled sculptures staged as a group of characters which are readily associated with notions of sensuality, ornamentation, and haute couture. Bulging cushion-like forms, meticulously hand-stitched over wooden structures, display intricate patterns and rich material suggestive of bedding, vanities, corsets and human anatomy. Bold and tender simultaneously, these anthropomorphic forms defy the disdain and fear that are frequently imposed upon feminine artforms, spaces, and bodies. Eric Fallen, founder and executive director of the Red Hook based Peninsula Art Space elaborates on Amy Butowicz’s exhibition and on his art venue.
In Dialogue with Emilie Ahern and Sherri Littlefield
In the thought-provoking group showAmericans Looking Inat the Center for Book Arts the curators Emilie Ahern and Sherri Littlefield explore what it means to be “American” mostly through media such as photography, book art, sculpture and prints. Their personal experience of coming from multicultural backgrounds and growing up in the States has prompted them to ask the question – What is American culture today, and what does an American look like?
Bonny Leibowitz makes site responsive sculptural installations with painterly sensibility – they hover in the air, spill on the floor, or sprawl on the walls. Her love of Baroque compositions, Abstract Expressionist gestures is underscored throughout her work. Bonny Leibowitz had a long-standing interest in the illusory nature of experience and the supposition of stability. In Terra Unfirma, her most recent body of work, she tackles what it means to deconstruct expectations and perceptions by using a variety of materials which play off one another – natural appearing manufactured, manufactured appearing natural – constructing environments which may feel ephemeral, eternal, fleeting, solid, light or looming at the same time. The artist refers to this quote: “Everything worth knowing is cloaked in paradox because everything substantial defies being revealed in its totality” – Mark Nepo
The Spanish born, New York based artist Pablo Garcia Lopez makes mixed media reliefs and sculptures which evoke hybrid forms resonating with Baroque imagery, biological forms, and at times Victorian delicate ornaments. His Spanish heritage, coupled with his background in biochemistry and Neuroscience largely inform his visual vocabulary and themes.
Aisha Tandiwe Bellis interested in the many manifestations of the traps of race, sex, and class. She makes drawings, paintings, ceramic sculptures, installations, and performance work that examine the metaphors and the allegory that this trap manifests. In her newest work Aisha Tandiwe Bell’s is looking at how one might negotiate traps, utilizing shape shifting, and code-switching as well as looking at identifying markers that both separate and unify. She says, “I am a Black African American Jamaican Woman Artist Wife and Mother. These are all categories that I consistently juggle and negotiate in a white male dominated space.” Aisha Tandiwe Bell is participating in Domestic Brutes at Pelham Art Center.
Melissa Stern is an artist, working in mixed materials and across genres. She is interested in ideas that are simultaneously funny and dark- that is, “work that might make you smile or laugh, but with a wee bit of discomfort,” as she puts it. Much of her work of recent years focuses on home and childhood and the ways in which our childhoods and our memories haunt our lives. She works in clay, found objects, wood, metal collage and various drawing materials. Her goal is that the materials she uses are at the service of the ideas. On a different note she says, “I am an only child, raised by older parents who were first generation Americans. My mother desperately wanted to be ‘American’. My father was very connected to his European heritage. This push and pull; between belonging and being an outsider has profoundly influenced my life as an artist.” Melissa Stern is participating in Domestic Brutes at Pelham Art Center.
Tirtzah Bassel grew up in Israel, the oldest of eight in a Jewish Orthodox family. Her father is a traditional scribe and her mother, a ballet dancer by training, was the homemaker when they were growing up. Although both of her parents were very creative and the value of making things by hand was instilled early on, she didn’t know any professional artists and had no concept that making art was something she could do as an adult. This changed when she took a night class at the Jerusalem Studio School in her early twenties. She recalls how she was immediately drawn to the intensity of the atelier-style learning environment, drawing and painting from observation, and the methods of the Old Master paintings. She later decided to pursue an MFA at Boston University and subsequently moved to Brooklyn. “Perhaps it was the continuous traversing of worlds – religious and secular, Israel and the US, Hebrew and English – that led me to ground my work in close observation of seemingly mundane situations,” she says.
Diana Schmertz has always been interested in systems that people create to organize what they perceive in the world around them — based in science, religion, psychology, philosophy or politics. The artist says that no matter how cerebral a system or an idea may appear, it is always experienced through our physical senses and in order to communicate balance between reason and senses, she paints imagery of the body expressing emotional understanding juxtaposed with systems of verbal and/or mathematical reasoning. In Domestic Brutes, the women group show at Pelham Art Center Diana Schmertz shows a painting installation. Her virtual artist talk hosted by PAC is scheduled for October 8th.
Ashley Norwood Cooper is an artist and a mother, raising three teenagers in a small town in upstate NY. Her paintings have always dealt with family and home and how the personal connects us to the global and political. She is interested in the schizophrenic role of the artist-mother-wife-teacher and in how to redefine the heroic from a woman’s perspective. Ashley Norwood Cooper is participating in Domestic Brutes and she will present her work in a virtual studio visit hosted by Pelham Art Center on Thursday, October 15th, 5-6pm.
Manju Shandler creates symbolic art that speaks to current events. Building upon established storylines from myth, religion, and history, her mixed media artworks create richly layered narratives that reflect on our dense and complicated times. Shandler believes people are natural storytellers that make sense of the world through by mining both personal experience and collective memories that have been passed down. Her work dips into this well. Training as a theatre designer helps her to envision installations and her background as a puppet builder informs how she approaches building objects. Identifying as a mother seeps into everything she does.