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The inevitable revolution

by Paul Smart
July 28, 2011 01:09 PM | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We know the changes in our everyday lives — constant messaging, phone calls, and a never-ending need to learn how to type with thumbs or nimble index fingers; Photoshopping and YouTube uploading; the maintenance of blog and Facebook pages. Twittering. Or is that tweeting?

Meanwhile, to maintain our sense of being cultured for the ages, and justify all spent on our years of education, we still try to keep up with the reading of novels and new nonfiction tomes. We scan the poetry that comes at us in our more upscale magazine offerings each week, alongside the proliferating witty cartoons. We keep abreast of film classics, attend classical concerts in local music halls and woodsy chamber chapels, attend theater, new and popularly mainstream. We attend museums that show us the pantheon of what we’re the culmination of, and galleries filled with those wishing to join that elite club while simultaneously snubbing noses at it.

Enter the new Woodstock Guild exhibit, The Medium and the Message — opens Saturday, July 30 at the Kleinert/James Arts Center in the center of Woodstock with an emphasis on the conjunctive…and clear differences from similarly-themed shows that have popped up in the Hudson Valley over the past few years.

What’s the story?

To put it most simply, everything here has been touched by computers at some point…if one can use such a verb with machines.

“Many artists working in digital media recognize the profound impact computers have had on humanity, in terms of being an extension of body, senses, and mind. Their resulting work is itself both a comment on and an effect resulting from these extensions,” is how curator Jimi Billingsley, a native Woodstocker and Bard-educated photographer puts it. “These evident effects, the artworks, are the messages that define the medium and leave us with the question: ‘is this a good thing?’ This exhibition champions the idea that it is not only a good thing indeed, but an inevitable revolution, and attempts to bring a broader audience to the work by demystifying the artists’ practice in digital arts, and making the resulting experience less alien and more stimulating.”

The work here is in a variety of media, including such traditional art forms such as sculpture, photo-collage, drawing and painting, all utilizing and often inspired by the possibilities of digital technology involved in animation, Interactivity, and even gaming.

Sounds not only inspired but inspiring and, given the video games, a lot of fun.

It all opens with a reception this Saturday, July 30, from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. at the Byrdcliffe Guild’s Kleinert/James Arts Center at 34 Tinker Street, after which it runs (on weekends) through September 4, with a panel discussion planned for 4 p.m. on the afternoon of Saturday, August 13.++

 

For further information call 679-2079 or visit www.byrdcliffe.org.


ICE at Mount Tremper Arts

Okay, so this isn’t entirely visual, art-wise. But this coming weekend’s concerts by the International Contemporary Ensemble — ICE — at Mount Tremper Arts on Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30 are of the same ilk as all the genre-bending work this enterprising presenting organization and venue are bringing to the region.

Think of Satie’s work with Picasso, Cocteau and the Dada movement; Cage and Cunningham and Rauschenberg; or Philip Glass and Errol Morris. The arts feed off each other. Which makes the incubation element in residencies such as that ICE has been undertaking at Mount Tremper Arts so important, along with these upcoming weekend concerts, each a phenomenon unto itself.

What is the International Contemporary Ensemble, which has held previous residencies at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and The Miller Theatre at Columbia University, alongside their own new composer commissioning program, ICElab?

“The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced,” reads their mission description. “With 33 instrumentalists performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles,

ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, developing innovative new works and pursuing groundbreaking strategies for audience engagement. Founded in 2011, ICElab places teams of ICE musicians in close collaboration with six emerging composers each year to develop works that push the boundaries of musical exploration.”

On Friday, July 29, a 7 p.m. concert featuring 20th century masterworks by composers Steve Reich, Elliott Carter, Mario Diaz de Leon, and Phillipe Hurel — including such pieces as Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint, for flute and tape, de León’s Altar of Two Serpents for two flutes, and Reich’s New York Counterpoint, for clarinet and tape — will be followed by a post-performance dinner featuring a whole lamb alongside a Q & A session with the ensemble.

On Saturday July 30, an 8 p.m. concert features a workshop performance of Phyllis Chen’s in-progress Glass Clouds We Have Known, for toy piano, toy glockenspiel, flute, clarinet and violin, with live electronics and video, along with four innovative works by 2011 ICElab composers Marcos Balter, Nathan Davis, and Mario Diaz de León.

“ICE has over the last few years emerged as potentially the leading new music ensemble,” said Mount Tremper Art’s Mathew Pokoik about this weekend’s presentation. “As soon as their residency is finished, they are the company in residence at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival where you can see them at Alice Tully Hall with 1,000 other audience members…We’re simply thrilled to have them here as part of the festival.”++

 

Reservations are increasingly recommended for all going on at Mount Tremper Arts, which is located on old Route 28, otherwise known as Old Plank Road, between Phoenicia and Mt. Tremper. Visit www.SmartTix.com or call 877-238-5596 for tickets.

Call 688-9893 or visit www.mttremperarts.org for more information on this summer’s season.


Cox’ new discovery

For anyone with a deep love for original painting, and exciting new developments in surprise cultural stories, you’ve got to get over to the James Cox Gallery in Willow Sunday afternoon, July 31, for the opening of “Seeing is Believing: Late Paintings of Elaine Wesley, 1975-1995.”

It’s the opening chapter in a classic tale of art world wonder. Someone gets called in to take a look at some art a somewhat reclusive and “odd” relative has left behind after passing away. There’s a long drive to some storage units located in East Podunk, where hundreds upon hundreds of different-sized paintings are crammed into a small space. The appraiser figures he has to do what the family’s paying him for and look at each work. Within a few moments he realizes the stuff’s utterly original, professionally-done, and — most fantastic of all — never been seen.

Sure, there are the lost works of already-famous artists found in trash cans, junk shops, or an attic somewhere. For years, I’ve heard of a lost painting by Adolf Hitler from his art school years, circulating amongst households in the Hunter/Tannersville area. Last year, the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum helped launch a new career for the late Arthur Pinajian, a Woodstock artist from the 1950s and 1960s who disappeared into Long Island. They’re making a documentary about that one.

Then there was Cox’s discovery, nearly a decade ago, of Joseph Garlock, a self-taught painter whose work had literally been wood-shedded in a side building at a West Saugerties property until descendents uncovered it all. That work is still unfolding, with the artist gaining increasing value on the Outsider Art market…and new exhibitions and even a book about Garlock in the works.

None of it, however, matches what Cox has found in the trove left behind by Wesley, a Greenwich Village painter who simply didn’t show during her lifetime, yet created an ever-more complex and original body of work over her years of concentrated painting, like some hot house experiment left to bloom away from human eyes.

“In the 1980’s, Wesley’s visual journey led her to create canvases that depict refracted light and a microscopic/telescopic vision sometimes employing the elegant use of symbols and traces of ocean, sky, and celestial bodies,” Cox has written of the works he’s concentrating on in this inaugural showing of the works he’s representing from Wesley’s estate.

And what works they are…

On a recent evening, Cox took a group of us to his gallery space to see what he was working on, without any lead-up. The pieces seemed somewhat Op Art-like at first. A bit psychedelic. There was great formality behind the visual exercises, the tricks and play on view. And obsession, tempered by a rare sense of self-knowledge.

Each paintings uses an inner logic, not explained beyond what they are. Some later pieces are intricately collaged, with each small dot in a field of what seems to be pixels turning out to be a face clipped from magazines. One work, more realistic than the others — and reminiscent of some of the more expressionist material from Wesley’s earlier years — shows her later works in a gallery setting. It’s a fantasy.

 

Cox says what he knows of the painter isn’t much. She worked for a short while and then came into enough money to afford her a simple life concentrated on her art. She had a male companion for years, also a painter, who showed some…and seems to have picked up his best traits from her work.

Wesley lived in the same apartment she painted in, on Sixth Avenue in the Village. She seems to have been familiar with the art world around her, museums, literature. This is not the work of an outsider.

When Cox showed us what he had, and was painstakingly working to restore and show, he said he wanted to move carefully with Wesley’s work. It was apparent that what she was doing was on a par with others of her time. And yet of its own ilk. He wanted to do this soft opening in Woodstock while tendering offers for major gallery and museum shows in New York and elsewhere.

Everyone to whom he has shown the Wesley work is agreeing that he’s got something major here, and the possible discovery of a major American artist previously unknown.

Which means the detective work behind all such discoveries now gets started, along with the qualifying of good Wesleys from not as good, and the bidding wars that build popularity and demand. The business that is the art world…++

The opening reception for this first showing will be Sunday, July 31, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Cox’s Gallery located at 4666 Route 212 in Willow, just past the Farm Sanctuary.

For further information visit www.jamescoxgallery.comor call 679-7608.

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