3rd International Artist Residency Comes to Long Island

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE NOVEMBER 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

For the third time in five years, the Islip Art Museum brought a group of international artists to Long Island for it’s two-week long New York Contemporary Art Symposium (NYCAS). Unlike previous residencies, which included artists from around the world, NYCAS 2016 focused on a specific country, bringing five Chilean artists to New York from September 19 to October 3. For this year’s residency, the Islip Art Museum collaborated with International Meeting of Art, a global non-profit organization dedicated to the arts and cultural exchange while encouraging, supporting, and facilitating the possibility for artists of all mediums and different cultures to work together. The 2016 NYCAS artists included Andrés Achavar, Ignacio Castillo, Paloma Gómez, Marcela Zamorano González, and Nico Huidobro. Like previous residencies, the participants were invited to exhibit their artwork across Long Island and experience all that New York culturally has to offer.

The residency featured a group of artists working in a variety of mediums. Andrés Achavar is a fine watercolorist whose work focuses on the beauty of the everyday. His paintings capture the essence of his subject matters that occupy a brief moment of time, as each work is bathed in a rich atmospheric light that encapsulates its setting. His figures are expressionless, devoid of individualistic features, as they go about their everyday-activities in urban and sub-urban street scenes or interior settings that project a moment plucked from time, forever frozen in watercolor.

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Andrés Achavar, West 20th Street, 2016

Ignacio Castillo’s work is a reaction to the increasing industrialization of his hometown of Santiago City. His small-scale ceramic sculptures rise from the grounds in which they are fired. Some figures tower over the smaller ones, casting them in shadows. These figures, like Achavar’s, are featureless, standing representative of the everyman. His subject matter is not the figures themselves, but the expressions and emotions they project through their poses, gestures, and colors.

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Ignacio Castillo, Art Energetic Gnapo, 2016

Working in oil paint, Paloma Gómez’s subject matter alternates between the abstract and the representational. She is inspired by the relationships between man and their environments as well as their interpersonal interactions. For the basis of each painting, she uses her own sketches, photographs and imagination as references. She builds up the layers of her compositions with vibrant colors until she feels each canvas is complete. Her Headphones and Nocturno series captures sub-urban street scenes at night with her figures and landscapes saturated in the afterglow of street laps that dance across the night sky. Although painted on a squared piece of canvas, her compositions are circular as if the scene is viewed through a hole in a screen.

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Paloma Gómez, Headphones XIV, 2016

In her photography, Marcela Zamorano González turns her camera lens towards what is often overlooked. Broken bottles, graffiti riddled buildings, and the average passerby are all subjects utilized by the artist as she structures her compositions with strong vertical and horizontal lines that zigzag across the picture plane. By turning her attention to the mundane, the artist draws attention to the hidden beauty of the world around her, highlighting it for all to see while urging the viewers to be observant of their surroundings as well.

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Marcela Zamorano González, Untitled, 2015

In his artwork, Nico Huidobro utilizes expression as an interpretive medium with which he attempts to concentrate on the present moment and current happenings of his surroundings. His paintings are visual expressions of his reactions towards music, the people around him, and the conditions of his environment. His works are impulsive and whimsical, created on the fly or at a moment’s notice.

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Nico Huidobro, Untitled, 2016

NYCAS 2016, an Islip Art Museum and International Meeting of Art Collaboration, is a two-week long, international artist residency program based in East Islip, NY. The bi-annual residency seeks to encourage and improve the cultural exchange between participating artists and collaborating communities. In 2016, the Islip Art Museum hosted five Chilean artists working in a variety of mediums from September 19 to October 3. These artists exhibited their paintings, photographs, and sculpture at the Islip Art Museum, Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery in Bay Shore, and the Patchogue Arts Gallery throughout September and October. Additionally, their work is currently on display in the exhibition Made in Chile at Toast Coffeehouse in Patchogue until December 28.

Jay Schuck


Photo Credits
Images of Paloma Gómez and Marcela Zamorano González artwork courtesy of Patchogue Arts Council

Images of Andrés Achavar, Ignacio Castillo, and Nico Huidobro artwork courtesy of Islip Art Museum

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

Poison Play

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE MAY 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

On view in the Islip Art Museum is a selection of artwork that examines the toxic relationship between industrial innovations and the environment. The exhibition, Poison Play, was curated by Museum Exhibitions & Curatorial Director/Curator Beth Giacummo and features the artwork of Margaret DeLima, Scott McIntire, John Sabraw, and Anne Seelbach. Through their artwork, each artist explores the detrimental effects of mankind’s carbon footprint on the world as natural resources are exploited for technological advancement and the dumping of bio-hazardous materials forever changes ecosystems.

Margaret DeLima alters the environment of the museum’s smallest gallery with her site-specific installation The Imprinted, which features 500 papier-mâché ducks that are group together in the center of the exhibition space. Each sculpted figure cranes its neck upward as a gesture of imprinting on the viewer, similar to how newborn wildlife impresses on their caregivers as a sign of love and trust. No matter where the viewer stands in the space to observe the installation, he or she will find several hundred ducks that extends its neck towards him or her. Upon viewing the work, one cannot help but feel responsible for the creatures’ wellbeing as their innocently helpless gestures imply connotations of trust. Hanging along the walls, below eye-level, are several pinned photographs that capture the process of how these sculptures are crafted. These pictures of the papier-mâché ducks, some yet to be colored, appear lifeless and stiff as they rest on their sides. These pictures are in stark contrast with the figures in the exhibition space that seem to inspire a sense of life within each figure.

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Margaret DeLima, The Imprinted (2016), Courtesy of the Islip Art Museum

Hanging in the hallways of the Islip Art Museum is a collection of paintings taken from Scott McIntire’s BioArt, Dark Energy and Energy series. Through these works, the artist addresses environmental concerns that often go unseen, rendering energy signatures generated from radio waves, cell phone transmissions, fracking, and global warming. The artist pairs these vibrant fields of energy with vivid depictions of vegetation, wildlife, and industrial power lines, in an effort to bring a sense of familiarity to the viewer as he or she contemplates the negative energy around his or herself.

Scott McIntire, Roadt Trip #3 (2011), Courtesy of the Islip Art Museum

Scott McIntire, Road Trip #1 (2011), Courtesy of the Islip Art Museum

The largest gallery of the museum plays host to an arrangement of John Sabraw’s Chroma paintings. Here, the artist finds a productive alternative to contaminated materials by using them to create pulsating, large-scale works of art. In this series of work, Sabraw’s utilizes powdered iron oxide pigments, and other toxic materials that he has found in abandoned coalmines deserted caves and polluted streams. His abstracted circular paintings resemble blown up microcosms of toxic environments as if they are been observed from underneath a microscope lens. The paintings’ size and illuminating palettes, along with a poster explaining Sabraw’s artistic process and sealed jars of contaminated water and grounded pigments, warrants the viewer to contemplate the ramifications these poisonous materials have on the earth.

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John Sabraw, Chroma S4 Tribute (2016), Courtesy of the Islip Art Museum

The final exhibition space features mixed media works of art taken from Anne Seelbach’s Troubled Waters Series along with the site-specific installation piece Marine World Maze. In this series of work, inspired by a mutated fish discovered by the artist along the shores of Sag Harbor, the artist draws the viewer’s attention to aquatic life and how manmade toxins such as pesticides, herbicide, and sewage runoff, influences natural environments and maritime development. The works exhibited here engage in a dialogue with the viewer, as they address the concerns of Long Island’s polluted water systems, the disposal of chemical and industrial waste, and how it influences the development and wellbeing of innocent oceanic life.

Anne Seelbach Courtesy of Gary Mamay

Anne Seelbach, Sunken Structure (2016), Courtesy of Gary Mamay

Poison Play features artists whose work explores the toxic ramifications technology has on the environment. The exhibition runs in conjunction with the Museum Shop exhibition Lazara, which features artwork by Caitlyn Shea. Both exhibitions were curated by Museum Exhibitions & Curatorial Director/Curator Beth Giacummo and are on view at the Islip Art Museum until June 5, 2016.

Jay Schuck


Image of Anne Seelbach’s work is courtesy of Gary Mamay

All other images courtesy of the Islip Art Museum

Caché: Mixed Media Works by Debra Rodman-Peck

On view in the Museum Shop of the Islip Art Museum is a selection of abstract mixed media works by Debra Rodman-Peck. In her work, Peck uses color to lead the viewer through her work, which is marked by moments of extreme gestural outbursts that border on representational, set against sections of empty spaces of color.

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Debra Rodman-Peck, Horse & Gemstones (2015), Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

The representational fuses into the abstract in a trio of oil stick and graphite drawings entitled Horse & Gemstones, Horse & Lanterns, and Horse & Net. In these framed works, the head and mane of each steed emerges from fields of muddy browns and greens. Each work features expressive lines that swirl and loop into one another that creates the bare outline of each horse. In Horse and Net, the artist uses strong dark lines that outline the contours of the horse’s body. White pigment, contained by the lines, is used to further strengthen the authority of the figure. Horse and Gemstones features at least two horses that emerge from a field of deep earth tones. The bottom right half of the composition is heavily painted, leaving the top left half devoid of color, offering an interesting juxtaposition between color, form, and space.

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Debra Rodman-Peck, Horse & Net (2015), Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

The largest work in the exhibition, I Am Not Your King, is also the most captivating. The majority of the composition features swirling dark lines that intersect sections of yellow, red, and white paint. Colors blend together to create sections of green and purple overtones with the borders of the composition consisting of a pale, white-blue acrylic paint. Peck strikes a balance in the work, juxtaposing the gestural motions in the center with relative calmness among the edges. It is entirely feasible to find hidden representational figures that are buried deep within the forms of the painting, whether intentionally created by the artist or created by the viewer’s eye.

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Debra Rodman-Peck, I Am Not Your King (2016), Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Debra Rodman-Peck is a founding trustee of the Patchogue Arts Council, Inc., and is a co-founder of the artist cooperative and collective River Studios. Over the span of twenty-plus years, Peck has created art, exhibiting her works in various group and solo exhibitions across Long Island.

Caché: Mixed Media Works by Debra Rodman-Peck, curated by Beth Giacummo, runs in conjunction with the museum’s main exhibition Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer, curated by Loeretta Corbisiero, which features the artwork of forgotten 20th century artists Paul Mommer. Both exhibitions are on display at the Islip Art Museum from January 17 – March 13, 2016 with a reception on Sunday, February 7, from 1 – 4pm.

Jay Schuck

Rediscovering Paul Mommer

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE MARCH 2016 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

On view at the Islip Art Museum is a retrospective exhibition highlighting the many artistic styles of the Paul Mommer (b. Luxembourg, 1899 – 1963), a premier artist of the early to mid twentieth century. Despite a pedigree résumé, boasting exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan, the artist fell into obscurity after his death only to re-emerge 51 years later. The exhibition offers a re-examination of the artist’s artwork and life, exhibiting works of art that have not been on public display for half a century alongside historical documents that pertain to the artist’s life and his placement in the art world.

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Paul Mommer, Studio Interior, 1950, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Over the course of his thirty-two year career as an exhibiting artist (1931 – 1963), Mommer’s technical style varied from Romanticism to Abstract Expressionism. Despite this, his paintings are usually noted for their moody, earth-tone color palettes. One such example is Studio Interior, which depicts the artist busy at work in his studio. Browns and reds dominate the palette as Mommer opens the composition with hazy whites and hints of blue. The painting holds no uniform perspective, allowing the artist to deconstruct his painting, which warrants closer observation from the viewer. The lack of depth is further enhanced, as objects are broken down to their basic geometric forms and colors, as only the artist himself appears slightly modeled on the extreme right of the composition. These abstract qualities make it unclear whether the cityscape in the background is being depicted from through a window or hanging on the studio wall as another work of art.

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Paul Mommer, Sewing Machine, 1946, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Taking inspiration from analytical cubism, Mommer’s Sewing Machine abstracts the subject matter to the point of un-recognition. The artist utilizes shape and form, in varying degrees of ovals, rectangles, and triangles, to represent his monochromatic subject matter. Mommer contains his abstracted subject matter by filling the boundaries of the canvas with a cool grey-white border. It is apparent that Mommer strives to make the representational un-representational through abstracted forms and perspectives.

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Paul Mommer, Stone Quarry 1, 1950s, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

Several paintings dating to the 1950s finds Mommer pushing the boundaries of representational art. Entitled Stone Quarry 1 and Stone Quarry 2, this pair of paintings finds the artist juxtaposing black against white. Despite the representational titles, the paintings are purely abstract in execution and presentation. Strong vertical and horizontal lines converge and diverge across the entirely of the compositions as areas of dark oil paint pool in complimentary balancing sections of each composition. The cool color palettes of the paintings compliment the stony aesthetics each title implies. Upon closer observation, the viewer will be please to find hints of blues, reds, and browns that Mommer skillfully lays underneath the final layer of paint.

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Paul Mommer, Stone Quarry 2, 1950s, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

The abstracted natures of these works are manifested in Black and White Abstraction taken from the same period. As in the Stone Quarry paintings, Mommer contrasts the dark against the light. The cool tonal variations of white, with hints of yellow and blue, compliment the heavily applied sections of black paint which appear almost like shadows that are casted upon the surface of the canvas. Where there was a general sense of flow and airiness among the Stone Quarry paintings, Black and White Abstraction feels condensed, solidified by the strong vertical forms and gestures created by the artist.

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Paul Mommer, Black and White Abstraction, 1950s, Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

The exhibition Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer came into fruition at the inquisition of Jessica Ruppel who had an interest in acquiring more information on the life and artwork of her great-grandfather. A student of the exhibition curator Loretta Corbisiero, Ruppel presented her mentor images of Mommer’s artwork, along with important historical documents pertaining to his life that led the pair to his rediscovery.

Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer was curated by Loretta Corbisiero and features an in-depth analysis of the artistic career of one of the early 20th century’s forgotten artists. The exhibition runs in conjunction with the Museum Shop exhibition Caché: New Works by Debra Rodman-Peck, curated by Beth Giacummo. Both exhibitions are now on view at the Islip Art Museum until March 13, 2016.

Jay Schuck


Further Readings
Corbisiero, Loretta, Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer, East Islip, NY: Islip Art Museum, 2016, Print.

Images Courtesy of Islip Art Museum

 

Compendium

THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE DECEMBER 2015 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE

On view in the Islip Art Museum is a selection of artists who incorporate scientific fundamentals into their artistic process. The exhibition, Compendium, was curated by Lorrie Fredette and Beth Giacummo. The exhibition features the artwork of Brandon Ballengée, Gianluca Bianchino, Julia Buntaine, Beverly Fishman, Michelle Frick, Phil Hastings, Jeanne Heifetz, Mark Nystrom, Taney Roniger, Travis LeRoy Southworth, Laura Splan, Werner Sun, and Elaine Whittaker.

Ballengée’s imposing C-prints mounted on aluminum magnifies the deformed anatomy of genetically modified organisms. One work on view, It turns and flies…, places a underdeveloped bird in the center of the composition, in the fetal position. The creature’s vertebrate and bones are highlighted by a deep, cool blue that stunningly contrasts against the off-white, reflective surface of the piece. Across from Ballengée’s work are four digital videos taken from Phil Hastings’ Morphology Series. These works feature videos of manipulated digitally based organisms that swell, and move across the video screen, which are placed in four, hand crafted, reliquary-like boxes. Sharing the exhibition space with these two artists is Beverly Fishman whose work, Pillbox, features six colorful larger-than-life glass capsules that commentate on the allure of pharmaceuticals.

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Installation Shot of Gallery 1, featuring the artwork of Phil Hastings and Beverly Fishman, Courtesy of Andrei Budescu and Islip Art Museum

In the second gallery of the Islip Art Museum, one will find an installation by Laura Splan. Collectively titled Host, the installation features works of porcelain and three-dimensionally printed materials, painted in blood, that represents stereotypical objects found in suburban homes. Across the room, on a steel medical cart, Michelle Frick places a group of hand-made, cast and painted, syringe canary birds. The medical cart displaying the syringe birds, some of which are encased in glass specimen jars, is situated beneath three screen prints, which reads as x-rays of a heart. The gallery also features several adhesive vinyl prints by the artist Travis LeRoy Southworth. In his work, entitled Detouched, the artist draws inspiration from the manipulated imagery found in advertising. He abstracts images of various facial imperfections, such as wrinkles, moles, and other blemishes, and presents them across a series of prints of various sizes.

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Installation Shot of Gallery 2, featuring the artwork of Laura Splan and Michelle Frick, Courtesy of Andrei Budescu and Islip Art Museum

Another gallery features a site-specific installation from the artist Gianluca Bianchino entitled Space Junk #2. Here, the artist makes reference to the cosmos through the metal ribbings of parasols, light, and shadows that are both casted and drawn onto the walls.

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Installation Shot of Gallery 3, featuring the artwork of Gianluca Bianchino, Courtesy of Andrei Budescu and Islip Art Museum

Hanging in the main hall of the museum is a series of works on hand-made paper by Jeanne Heifetz. The artist’s biomorphic forms are created using Plateau’s Law, which governs the growth and development of forms found in nature. Accompanying Heifetz’s work are Mark Nystrom’s digital drawings that allows the viewer to actually see wind as it was processed through collected data. Situated between Heifetz and Nystrom’s works are Taney Roniger’s puncture drawings, taken from her Inscape Series. The works feature simple bifurcated patterns that are continuously repeated and overlaid atop one another as graphite powder is rubbed over the holes, creating monochromatic works that warrants close observation.

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Installation Shot of Main Hallway, featuring the artwork of Jean Heifetz, Taney Roniger, Mark Nystrom, and Julia Buntaine, Courtesy of Andrei Budescu and Islip Art Museum

As written by Lisbeth Murray in her essay that accompanies the exhibition, the artist Julia Buntaine visually represents eye movement data originally collected by Russia psychologist Alfred L. Yarbus as his participates observed a painting by the Realist Ilya Repin in her work Trace Movements. Across from Buntaine’s drawings are two computer generated fractal images by Werner Sun. Both, Continental Drift I and Continental Drift II, disregard traditional two-dimensional works, as pyramidal shapes rise above the surfaces of the works, like mountains in a landscape.

The final artist of the exhibition, Elaine Whittaker, uses infectious diseases as the subject matter in four works taken from her Screened For series. The works feature four digital prints of the artist wearing a surgical mask with a different disease designated by a specific color that appears on the mask and in the corresponding Petri dish which is hung beneath each print. For the exhibition, the curators wished to examine Malaria, Tuberculosis, SARS, and West Nile Virus.

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Installation Shot of Short Hallway, featuring the artwork of Elaine Whittaker, Courtesy of Andrei Budescu and Islip Art Museum

Compendium was curated by Lorrie Freddette and Beth Giacummo, and features a group of artists who incorporate their scientific interests into their artwork. The exhibition runs in conjunction with the Museum Shop exhibition Alternative Historic Photography Experiments curated by Jessica McAvoy. Both exhibitions are now on view at the Islip Art Museum until December 27, 2015. A closing reception will be held on December 13, from 1 – 4 PM.

Jay Schuck
Museum Curatorial & Exhibitions Assistant/Jr. Curator

Source Material
Murray, Lisbeth, Compendium, East Islip, NY: Islip Art Museum, 2015, Print.

Photo Credits
Andrei Budescu, Ph.D, and Islip Art Museum