Alter attended Black Mountain, long-renowned as the foremost experimental, liberal arts and almost Utopian college community of the 20th century, as a student from 1948 to 1950 and again during the summer sessions of 1950 and '51. Amongst the teachers and fellow students with whom the young painter rubbed shoulders, carrying forth their Modernist lessons and explorations, were the likes of Bauhaus legend Joseph Albers, the late Robert Rauschenberg, composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham, poets Charles Olsen and Robert Creeley and the noted critic Clement Greenberg.
While earning a living as a top textiles designer, Alter perfected his painting on his own, working for years in a cramped garage off his Newburgh home. The current show reaches a zenith with a focus on some of Alter's Expressionistic landscapes.
"We see entangled undergrowth, idealized and bucolic otherworldly vistas, people of varied race, children, solitary figures, specters (ghostlike apparitions), planes (whether metaphorically contemporaneous or emanating from Stewart International Airport), buildings, dwellings or representatives of 'home sweet home,'" write the curators of their newfound peer (and Muse's) work. "However, one cannot quite be sure of what one might comprehend. Such is the stuff of the human condition. Fundamentally, much of Alter's work, just like the magic of art and life itself, is 'just plain beautiful': a rare and genuine commodity."
"Donald Alter: Beyond Black Mountain" opens with a reception, including an artist's talk, this Friday, January 9 from 6 to 8 p.m., and stays open through February 1. The Balter Gallery at Garrison Art Center is located at 23 Garrison Landing, across from West Point. For further information call (845) 424-3960 or visit www.garrisonartcenter.org.