Remembering Richard Smith

In April, British artist Richard Smith passed away. Richard had a long, prosperous career with solo exhibitions at the Tate Gallery (1975), the Jewish Museum (1968), and the Whitechapel Gallery (1966), among others. He represented Great Britain in the Venice Biennale (1966, 1970), as well as the Sao Paulo Biennale (1968). His artwork is in the public collection of many renowned fine art institutions including the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I first met Richard in 2012 at his Patchogue studio. The Patchogue Arts Gallery had just opened with an exhibition featuring a selection of Richard’s recent paintings and works on paper. I was tasked with helping the artist compile images of his artwork from over the years for a slideshow presentation he would use for an artist talk scheduled at the end of the exhibition. I met Richard in his studio where he had a few sketches and smaller works out on the table with volumes of works wrapped and tucked away in storage.

Richard was personable and friendly as he took the time to discuss with me the details of his life, career, artistic interests and influences. We spent the afternoon huddled around my laptop as he reflected on his career and body of work. The longer we spoke, the more I came to admire him and appreciate his artwork as he would recall the details of his oeuvre, some of which he remembered better than others. We often got sidetracked as a particular painting would remind him of a story involving a close friend, studio visit, or of his inspiration for the piece.

I was fortunate to work with Richard several more times over the years. One such time was in late 2014-early 2015 when John Cino and I were curating the Remembering Things Past exhibition at the Islip Art Museum. Richard happily agreed to be a part of the exhibition and we all met at his studio to review possible works to include. Upon arriving, John and I were greeted by a large, three-piece kite painting that Richard created in the late 1970s. It was my first time seeing one of his kite paintings in person and I was in immediate awe of delicate yet imposing presence and wonderful ascetics. Needless to say we included the work along with a smaller four-piece kite painting and a painting produced in the late 1990s that depicts a silhouette of the artist.

The last time I spoke to Richard was in early March. We discussed the possibility of a retrospective exhibition that would coincide with his 85th birthday and commemorate his life and body of work. Despite being ill, Richard happily agreed to the idea and we scheduled another studio visit. Although he passed before we could work on the project, I am flattered that Richard was interested in working with me one more time. As far as I am considered, when it comes to Richard Smith, the only thing more admirable than his artwork is his character.

Thank you for everything, Richard. Working with you will always be a highlight of my career.

Jay Schuck

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With Richard Smith’s Portrait (1997) at the Islip Art Museum

Journeys in Photography: Carole J. Amodeo and Howard Beckerman

On view at the Artspace Patchogue is Magical Moments: Journeys in Photography a two-person exhibition featuring the artwork of Carole J. Amodeo and Howard Beckerman. Amodeo’s body of work stems from her interest in storefront display windows and often depicts mannequins that model articles of clothing behind glass while capturing the street scenes that are projected off of the reflected surface. Beckerman, on the other hand, is interested in the relationship between light and landscape, capturing Patchogue’s scenic landscape and village-scape at various times through the day. He often edits his photographs digitally with the finished products being exhibited through various filters. In their respective photographs, each artist captures moments of time in their everyday lives through the use of point-and-shoot cameras.

Included in the exhibition are new works from Amodeo’s Reflection Series. Deriving from her series of New York City reflections photography, the artist ventured into Greenport and Port Jefferson to take photographs of various storefront displays. One such work is Chic Chick, which portrays two mannequins wearing sundresses and large, dark sunglasses with a third mannequin hidden in the background. On the right-hand side of the composition, the prominent mannequin in the foreground adorns a slim green clutch bag that features two flamingos with their necks craned into a heart-shaped fashion. Reflecting off the glass window, one finds another storefront situated across the street along with the rear of a parked car in the lower right corner. Strong horizontals cut across the center of the composition as a towering tree, devoid of leafs, occupies the left-hand section of the picture. Indicative of the leafless tree and apparel of the mannequins, one can deduce that the photograph was taking in the early Spring months of the year.

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Carole J. Amodeo, Chic Chick, 2016

Another work by Amodeo, Up on the Rooffeatures a wooden stepladder that is trapped behind glass. Probably used to set up the shop’s display case, a large tag dangles from the ladder’s metal hinge with packaging resting on several of its steps. Reflecting off the glass is a two story, bright red building, which occupies the majority of the composition. Ascetically, the ascending ladder leads the viewer’s eye to top section of the photograph, which depicts a pale white sphere that is cast against a dark blue background. as two fictive birds appear to be flying in the sky.

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Carole J. Amodeo, Up on the Roof, 2016

In his compositions, Beckerman offers the viewers a glimpse into his world, which is filled with a stunning display of color and light. One photograph, Sunrise Over Artspace, consists of a beautiful juxtaposition of warms reds, orange and yellow against a varying degree of blue. The horizon line is low, allowing four-fifths of the picture to be filled with a sky that is caught in the twilight sun. Leafless trees cast their silhouettes on the horizon line as thin clouds stretch on a diagonal from the bottom left to the top right-hand side, across the work’s visual plane. One becomes lost in the photo as one would when experiencing a sunset in person.

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Howard Beckerman, Sunrise Over Artspace, 2016

Another work from Beckerman, amply titled Sunrise in Lavender, depicts a purple-blue sky over the village of Patchogue. The Congregational Church of Patchogue can be seen on the left-hand side of the horizon line with its clock tower standing tall over the village, which has been cast in a deep blue. The sky near the horizon line has been rendered in a vivid violet and is occupied by low hanging clouds that float above village. Beckerman manipulates his photograph, emphasizing the blues and purples of the original picture.

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Howard Beckerman, Sunrise in Lavender, 2016

Carole J. Amodeo began her photography career in 1999. She is a member of Women Sharing Arts, Inc., South Bay Arts Association, the Patchogue Arts Council and East End Arts Council. Her photography draws on the interpretation of light and vibrancy of color within landscapes and cityscapes. Her work has been exhibited throughout Long Island and has been published in The Photographer’s Edge, and the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce Magazine.

Howard Beckerman is a Patchogue-based songwriter and collaborator in original musical theatre programs. He is the President of Heartworks International, Inc., a corporation that develops media and publications in the arts, entertainment, and education since 1992. In 2006, he founded the New Musicals Project and co-founded Worldwide Voices, Inc. alongside his wife Linda Beckerman. A non-for-profit organization, Worldwide Voices, manages projects that support the arts and media programs through creative collaboration with multicultural groups and individuals.

Magical Moments: Journeys in Photography, featuring the artwork of Carole J. Amodeo and Howard Beckerman, is on view at Artspace Patchogue from June 11 to June 26. Artspace Patchogue is located at 20 Terry St., Patchogue, NY and is open Thursday and Friday from 2 to 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 PM for the duration of the exhibition.

Jay Schuck

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