In this increasingly digital world, the photographs of Susan Copich and Richard Edelman stand out. Both artists are united by a self-referential subject matter. However, the photographers are not using the self as subject as part of a social media aesthetic ("selfie" culture). Instead, the photographers emerge from a classical sense of theater as they both create idealized environments with poised and choreographed models much like a stage set or tableau vivant. In each of their respective artworks, the photographers' role is as actor/director deliberately addressing and engaging the viewer as the audience. However, the resemblance between Copich and Edelman's work ends there as both artists take the premise of theater and explore the theme in different ways. Susan Copich creates an atmosphere that ranges from suburban privilege and its accompanying banalities to the endgame of architectural decay and alienation. The constant of the female actor either dressed as a middle-class accessory or a traumatized victim is a portrait of our own personal collapse cloaked in social symbols and mythology.
Richard Edelman's photographs are more direct but no less dramatic as he positions his subject in their personal environments or, in the case of his self-portraits, his own internal psychology. Edelman's photographs reveal the essence of his subjects in spite of themselves, and that involuntary illumination is the profound moment.
For both artists, the irony of the discordant veneer creates the poetry from the self-portrait. No matter what kind of distance is created by the formalized, staged tableau of the "portrait", this space is undermined by an uncomfortable intimacy which inevitably illuminates the pain of living.
About Susan Copich:Since graduating Ohio State University (BFA, 1991), Susan Copich has had professional careers as a modern dancer, teacher and actress. Looking to explore new forms of art and self-expression, Copich returned to academia at New York City’s International Center of Photography. While at ICP, Ms.Copich began laying the mental framework for what would become her iconic photography series "Domestic Bliss" and her work is in international private collections and has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums. Susan Copich lives in Upstate, NY together with her husband and two daughters.
About Richard Edelman:
Richard Edelman is a photography graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, with a graduate degree from Pratt Institute. He received fellowships from CAPS (NY Creative Artists Public Service Program) in 1982 and from the Center for Photography at Woodstock in 1985 & 2002. Richard's photographs are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal), Brooklyn Museum (NY), Polaroid International Collection (Offenbach), Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris) and Everson Museum of Art (Syracuse, NY). Together with Gay Leonhard, Richard Edelman created the dominant set piece for the San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera House, Chicago, productions of Werther. Richard Edelman was a member of the faculty at the New School and has also taught photography at the School of Visual Arts and International Center for Photography, New York City.
MARK ME: Group Drawing Show
curated by Ford Crull
Opening Reception Sat. February. 3rd, 5-8pm
Exhibition on view Friday, February 2- Sunday, February 25, 2018
HAMLET: Where wilt thou lead me? Speak, I’ll go no further. GHOST: Mark me
The mark is fundamental to the art process. From brush on canvas, pencil to paper, any medium to any ground the mark is the record of the hand and ultimately the intention of the artist. The drawing mark conveys emotion and movement, concept and symbol as it exists in space and time. Marks may be bold and clearly state intention or so subtle that the concept is only percieved by the subconscious.In this show, MARK ME: Group Drawing Show curated by Ford Crull, the artists explore the different motivations for their mark-making. Stephanie Brody-Lederman and Philip Tsiaras each tell a story with both the gesture of ink wash and the suggestion of recognizable forms creating an oneiric world, Johan Wahlstrom and Anthony Haden-Guest rely on the graphic drama of black and white to depict ideas and thoughts, Marianne van Lent, Mark Sheinkman and Gregory Crane create all-encompassing environments from marks that envelope space and time and Joseph Nechvatal allows forms to emerge from a whirlwind of computer generated and automatic marking like ghosts from chaos. The artist's mark is the first documentation of the personal interior world as it emerges into consciousness, a culmination of the creative impulse and the record of a universal yet unique experience. About The Artists: Stephanie Brody-Lederman: Stephanie Brody-Lederman's mixed media work can be found in many important museum, university and public collections including the Modern Museum of Art and the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City. She is a recipient of many grants including the New York Foundation for the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Artist Space, Percentfor Arts, S.O.S., Hassam and Speicher Award, Ariana Foundation for the Arts Grant and Percent for Art Grant. Gregory Crane: Gregory Crane's work can be found in many important museum and public collections including the M. I. T. List Visual Art Center, Museum of the City of New York and the Orlando Museum as well as numerous international and national corporate and private collections. Mr. Crane teaches at the School of Visual Arts and lives and works in New York City and Red Hook, NY. Anthony Haden-Guest: Anthony Haden-Guest has had a long career as a journalist, culture critic, writer, poet, cartoonist, animator and artist whose work has been published in the Financial Times, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, Paris Review, Esquire, GQ (UK) and New York Magazine. Joseph Nechvatal: Since 1986 Joseph Nechvatal has worked with electronic visual information, computers and computer-robotics using viral programming as a stratagem to create images. Dr. Nechvatal has been the recipient of numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Pollack-Krasner Foundation and multiple artist residencies in France. Joseph Nechvatal is currently the Parisian correspondent for Hyperallergic. Mark Sheinkman: Mark Sheinkman's paintings, drawings and prints are in many national and international museum and university collections including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Modern Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum and the National gallery in Washington D.C. as well as the Yale university Art Gallery and the Hood Museum in Dartmouth College. Philip Tsiaras: Philip Tsiaras works in a great range of media--painting, photography, glass, ceramic, and bronze and has been the recipient of many national prizes: The American Academy Award for Poetry, The Thomas Watson Fellowship, New York State C.A.P.S grant, and two N.E.A. National Endowment Grants for Arts. Marianne van Lent: Van Lent's paintings have been exhibited in the United States and Europe and inhabit many public and private collections.Van Lent has received Fellowships and Grants from Cornell University, NYSCA, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Residency Grant, NYSCA Community Teaching Grant Greene Co. NY, MTA, Arts for Transit, H.A.N.D.S., Bronx, NY, Percent for Art, CityArts Inc, New York, Artists Space, New York and Creative Time, New York. Johan Wahlstrom: A long time musician who toured with Ian Hunter, Graham Parker and Mick Ronson, Johan Wahlstrom took up painting in the early 2000s and has had numerous shows throughout Europe and the United States. Ford Crull (curator): Ford Crull is a painter and curator whose artwork is in important museum and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Dayton Art Institute, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Al), as well as numerous international and national corporate and private collections. MARK ME: Group Drawing Show opens with a reception for the artists on Saturday, February 3, 5-8pm and runs through February 25th, 2018. Follow Cross Contemporary Art on Artsy
HYGGE: Small Art Holiday ShowThe word HYGGE is a Danish term that is not found in English. HYGGE (pron. HOO-geh) describes a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. As an untranslatable word, HYGGE is demonstrated by over 100 drawings, sculpture and paintings by the 50+ artists who have exhibited or supported Cross Contemporary Art and is celebrated with the community during the Holiday Season. The opening reception is Sat. Dec 2, 5-8pm and the gallery will serve traditional Danish Glug (mulled wine) every Sat. and Sun. afternoon until the end of the show on Dec 31. Participating artists include: Gregory Amenoff, Jeffrey Bishop, Richard Bosman, Katherine Bowling, Colin Chase, Mike Cockrill, Gregory Crane, Ford Crull, Peggy Cyphers, Carol Diamond, Josh Dorman, Richard Edelman, Mary Anne Erickson, Stuart Farmery, Brian Fekete, Jeanette Fintz, Deborah Freedman, Ginnie Gardiner, Ashley Garrett, Barry Gerson, Kathy Goodell, Jacqueline Gourevitch, Brenda Goodman, William Greenwood, Anthony Haden-Guest, Jared Handelsman, Jan Harrison, Laura Hexner, Jennifer Hicks, Jim Holl, David Hornung, Roshan Houshmand, Catherine Howe, Heather Hutchison, Mark Thomas Kanter, Ellen Kozak, Alex Kveton, Matthew Langley, Ian Laughlin, Linda Levit, Lucinda Abra, Tom Luciano, Iain Machell, Dorothea Marcus, Susan Mastrangelo, Claudia McNulty, Portia Munson, Paul Mutimear, Garry Nichols, Tina Piccolo, Debra Priestly, Lily Prince, Ann Provan, David Provan, Suzanne Rees, Christy Rupp, Christopher Skura, Melinda Stickney-Gibson, Nadine Slowik, Lawre Stone, Jack Solomon, Shira Toren, Marianne Van Lent, Marie Vickerilla, Grace Wapner, Ruth Wetzel, Susan Wides, Brian Wood, Dion Yannatos and more!
HYGGE: Small Art Holiday Show Opening Reception: Dec 2, 5-8pmSPECIAL EVENTS DURING HYGGE: Small Art Holiday Show Sun. Dec 3, 4pm: Reading by Larry Littany Litt of his recent book Mad Monk: Modern Parables at Cross Contemporary Art Sun. Dec 3,12-5pm Holiday in the Village sponsored by the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce featuring a toy raffle, horse and wagon rides and a petting zoo Sat. Dec 9, Home for the Holidays 3pm-8pm The Village of Saugerties celebrates the holidays with events, gift basket raffle, caroling, contests and special refreshments! Follow Cross Contemporary Art on Artsy
Iain Machell’s ‘Platte Clove Lens’ at Cross Contemporary ArtBy Paul Smart
Iain Machell, professor of art and chair of SUNY Ulster’s Department of Music, Art, Design, Fashion, Communication & Theatre, as well as an initially taciturn but inevitably witty Scotsman, spent time last summer at the Catskill Center’s Platte Clove Cabin on the Greene County Mountaintop. His solo show of drawing work produced then, “Platte Clove Lens,” opens with an artist’s reception at Cross Contemporary Art in his new hometown of Saugerties this Saturday, Oct. 31.
Known for his cerebrally-charged often minimalist sculpture, the new pieces Machell has created capture the gnarled elements of the forest the cabin retreat he painted in is nestled within, atop and bestride a series of dramatic waterfalls. They play off the series of remarkable drawings he’s been posting online daily over recent years, as if incorporating everything he’s seen, studied and shared. Yet they also feel perfect for a Halloween debut, given the spirited elements of the tree trunks and rocks — a mix of dark and lighter elements — he concentrated on while sojourning in the century-old cabin with a feel of deep connection to the Catskill’s most mysterious past and present myths and spooky realities.
“Platte Clove is an ominous ravine, a break in the Catskill Escarpment created during the last Ice Age as meltwater eroded its way through from the Catskill Plateau to the Hudson River below,” he has written of his time there. “I see Platte Clove as an arena for drama, the stage for a number of contradictions: immediate/timeless, liquid/solid, hard/soft, wet/dry, light/dark, growing/decaying, vast/tiny, pretty/ugly, threatening/threatened. My drawings are direct responses to these extremes of landscape and go beyond beauty to see what is beneath.”
Much of the time, the Malden-based artist has said, he worked on these drawings utilizing an intricate 16th-century engraved style of ink laboriously crosshatched on paper. He says he found himself drawn to the “dark, twisted, dangerous and angry power” nature has over humans. The work is also a reaction to the idyllic, romanticized landscape paintings of the Hudson River School, whose artists also had a penchant for the Clove.
Machell studied at Grays School of Art and received his MFA from SUNY Albany. He’s been awarded the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for his long SUNY gig and been a visiting artist and lecturer at numerous colleges and universities including Bennington College, Parsons School of Art, University of Massachusetts, University of Wisconsin/Madison, SUNY at Albany, West Virginia University and Montserrat College of Art. Other venues Machell has shown at include The Drawing Center, The Sculpture Center and the Center for Book Arts in New York City, and the ongoing Kingston Sculpture Biennial.
“Platte Clove Lens” opens Oct. 31 with a reception from 6–8 p.m. and continues through Nov. 22. The gallery is located at 81 Partition St. in Saugerties. Visit Cross Contemporary Art on Facebook or www.iainmachell.com for further information.
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Katherine Bowling at Cross Contemporary Artby Ann Hutton for Almanac Weekly/HV1
Some of us appreciate nothing more than the visual imagery provided by trees, this writer included. I can, and often do, stare into the forest for hours, accomplishing nothing more than the nurturance of my spirit or soul, or whatever you want to call it. American painter and printmaker Katherine Bowling accomplishes more. She translates her perceptions of the natural environment onto canvas or paper or spackled wood in colors both vibrant and muted, as if squinting to capture an overall impression of nature, rather than the crisp details.
Inspired by the woodlands of upstate New York, she creates paintings that command the viewer to look into the landscape, not at it. The moody skies, the earth covered in a tangle of trees or snow or a distant body of water, the silhouetted V of geese flying south, an old garage, an empty road, a fence, and always the branches and trunks and leaves of trees — all come together to form the commonality of country views and brought into a soft focus that suggest simply, “Look at this.”
Showing works since the early 1980s, Bowling has been compared to the 19th century painter, Albert Pinkham Ryder. And it’s been written that in the tradition of the Hudson River School, her expressive technique, quiet symbolism and masterful spatial illusions take the idea of landscape painting into the 21st century. The recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, Bowling has works exhibited in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum and the Fisher Landau Center in New York City, the Orlando Museum of Contemporary Art and the Norton Museum of Art in Florida, as well as the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art in Evanston, Illinois, and St. John’s University in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Now exhibiting at Cross Contemporary Art Gallery in Saugerties, Bowling offers “The Presence of Leaves,” a group of paintings that quietly invites the viewer to become intimate with trees. An opening Artist’s Reception will be held on Saturday, August 29, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Directed by Jen Dragon, Cross Contemporary Art Gallery is dedicated to showing mid-career and established artists who have a connection to New York City, the Hudson Valley and the Catskills region. Open Thursdays through Mondays from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment or chance. “The Presence of Leaves” will be exhibited until September 27. More information about the artist can be found at https://katherinebowling.com/
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FORCES OF NATURE: Monotypes by Peggy Cyphers and Catherine Howeby Fiona Steacy for Saugerties Times
The newest exhibit at Cross Contemporary Art on Partition St. is fresh off the press.
Just two weeks ago, artists Catherine Howe and Peggy Cyphers holed up in a studio together to create some of the monoprints currently on display at the gallery. “The ink is barely dry,” said gallery director Jen Dragon at the Nov. 8 reception. “The ink isn’t even dry,” said Howe, leaning in to examine one of her new pieces. It’s a large, monochromatic, expressionist depiction of flowers in a vase, part of a triptych that acts as the focal point of this wall. The back wall belongs to Cyphers’ floor-to-ceiling painting titled “Woodpecker,” a tempest of swirled and feathery brushstrokes.
The artists’ pieces are similar in their large scale and vibrant color palettes, and it’s these commonalities that make for such a well-curated show. Even though the pieces are so energetic, they do not detract from one another, nor does one artist’s work demand all of the attention. The show was curated by fellow artist and mutual friend, Ford Crull, who, having known both of the painter-printmakers for a number of years, realized what a striking exhibit could be made from their works. Dragon cited the pieces’ gestural quality as the aspect that makes them work so harmoniously in the small space, as well as a shared “exuberance.”
Despite the similarities that make the artists’ works so complementary to one another, their styles are easily distinguished once you’ve had a moment to take it all in. Cyphers tends toward a representation of organic forms as they exist in the natural world and often from nature’s perspective. “Woodpecker,” Cyphers says, is the world from a woodpecker’s point of view. The textures and patterns bear resemblance to the bird, but they are blurred as if in motion, perhaps in flight.
Cyphers considers herself to be a naturalist artist. Her latest example is “Prairie Conversation,” a series Cyphers created while in a residency at the Grin City Collective in Iowa. There, she researched plant specimens in Grinnell College’s herbarium, some dating back to the 1800s. Her series appropriates the specimens, replicating and juxtaposing them in new ways, as a kind of collaboration with a bygone era of American conservation. Now that only 0.1 percent of the original American prairie still exists, Cyphers aims to create new awareness of the disappearing beauty with her unusual compositions. A group of cyanotypes on display at the gallery shows the beauty of nature through the lens of the past. The geometric collages of flora give the impression of a study of nature that, unlike Cyphers’ “Woodpecker,” is at once reverent and distant.
While Howe is equally fascinated with organic matter, she chooses to depict it through a peculiar kind of still life. She claims to have “an affinity for difficult nature…for post-nature nature.” Howe applies a vigorous, expressionist technique to old master structures, giving her still lifes a distinct immediacy. The term “still life” seems y inadequate to describe them; they are anything but still. One can see the energetic hand of the artist in the violent and gestural brushstrokes, and the red and orange hues are as evocative of human emotion as they are of an autumnal harvest.
The natural world is as much a vehicle as a subject for Howe. She says her art reflects her “physical relationship to the natural world.” She aims to capture “the emotional, the operatic…without resorting to the human figure.” She works in a manner as organic as her subjects. “I hate the math part,” she admits, referring to the careful calculations and calibrations artists typically use in the printmaking process. Howe does not make numbered editions of her work. She also prefers bleed prints, printing on large sheets of paper and trimming them down to size.
Both women take a hands-on approach to their works. While many artists employ people to handle the mechanical aspects of the printmaking process, Howe and Cyphers are painstakingly involved in the creation of their pieces. Their recent monoprints are the result of what Howe refers to as a “three-day marathon” in which they “worked like fiends” with the help of only one assistant.
In addition to being prolific artists, both women teach art; Cyphers at Pratt Institute and Howe at the New York Academy of Art. While there is an undeniable urban sensibility in their works, it is equally clear that each draws inspiration from the natural world. The artwork of Peggy Cyphers and Catherine Howe will be on display at Cross Contemporary Art until Dec. 1.
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Anthony Haden-Guest Artist Talkby Paul Smart/January 12, 2017
For anyone familiar with party scenes in New York City from the heady 1970s on, the name Anthony Haden-Guest — who has a new exhibit opening at Cross Contemporary on Partition Street next weekend, as well as a talk at a new performance venue and B&B on the Saugerties/Woodstock border January 14 — is instantly recognizable.
He’s that witty Brit who used to write about all manner of scenes he’d be in attendance at for decades. The one whose family peerage went to half-brother Christopher Guest (of Spinal Tap fame), whose work (and image) regularly appeared in the New York Observer, the Sunday Telegraph, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Sunday Times, Esquire, GQ (UK), Radar, Spy and Financial Times. And who the late Christopher Hitchens pegged as the real model for Tom Wolfe’s character study of a drunken expat yellow journalist, Peter Fallows, in the epochal Bonfire of the Vanities.
“I was publishing political cartoons before I started writing,” Haden-Guest said of his inclusion in Word Count, an exhibit of his hand-colored prints alongside materials by Shira Toren and Peter Tunney that opened in December and runs through Sunday, January 15. “That’s another field that’s depreciated over time.”
The scribe known for his reportage on scenes at Studio 54, New York’s art scene of the 1970s and 1980s, and glimpses into the high market value of auction art in more recent years talked about how the world he arose and flourished in is fast disappearing. At least in terms of readership…and recompense.
“Magazines are a melting iceberg. I do some online work for Daily Beast and other sites, some continuing book projects, curation of a few exhibitions, but it’s all much more difficult than it once was,” he said. “Of course, something called the Internet happened. It transferred things from what used to be the best life a writer could have.”
Haden-Guest went on to talk about the proliferation of fake news, and attacks on journalism and intellect in general, noting how it made he and his peers tend to feel that “what we do hasn’t ever been more necessary than it is right now.” He added that wit and humor, his own stocks in trade, have also always grown in sharpness during “harder regimes.”
“We’re all oppositional now,” he added. “It’s just economically more difficult.”
The writer/artist’s works in Word Count at Cross Contemporary tend to present profound quotes with a slightly ominous twist, playing off and with Tunney’s painted and screened over collages of old book pages that “create contemporary clarity over layers of cultural memory,” and Toren’s graphite numbers evoking “the count down at the start of old black and white films as well as the anticipation of what a count down can bring.”
Haden-Guest’s talk, at 7 p.m. in the new boutique venue The Pineapple, 1659 Route 212 Saugerties, just across from Red Onion, is planned as a multi-media conversation featuring new animations and a live reading of poems and essays entitled An Evening with Anthony Haden-Guest.
The Pineapple, added Cross Contemporary’s Jen Dragon, is the art deco living room of a new bed and breakfast establishment featuring modern art and “spacious, elegant interiors in a traditional woodland setting ideal for small gatherings and special events.”
“We will be presenting a renaissance man who is full of stories and insights about current events, the art world and contemporary culture,” Dragon said. “We hope that this will be the first of many monthly cultural salons at The Pineapple that will present writers, artists, performers, singers and musicians to the public in a relaxed and congenial atmosphere.” How did Haden-Guest get invited for the exhibit and evening?
The man himself says he’s been coming to the Woodstock area from his West Village home in New York City for years.
“It’s a sort of UK thing. You spend part of your time in the town, and some of it in the country,” he explained. “It’s become more interesting of late given some of the problems now in the city, as well as the numbers of city people now up in the country. It’s not exactly rural these days, you know.”
Dragon noted how having Anthony Haden-Guest in her gallery, and as her first guest at The Pineapple, is a bit of a dream come true.
“I was always a fan girl of Anthony’s writing back when I had subscriptions to New York Magazine and Vanity Fair. I loved his NYC culture and Art World coverage as well as the cartoons that would pop up every so often in random publications like the NY Observer,” she said. “I started Cross Contemporary Art with the encouragement of some friends: Ford Crull, Larry Litt, Eleanor Heartney, Mark Kanter and Heather Hutchison. They in turn introduced me to mid-career artists they thought would be a good fit for my small space and Anthony Haden-Guest was one of them.”++ -Paul Smart
Artist Christy Rupp opens new show in Saugertiesby Paul Smart /September 29, 2017/
There’s a moving image of a tadpole swimming upstream in murky waters on the website of Christy Rupp, whose exhibition, “Catastrophozoic,” opens at Cross Contemporary Art in Saugerties with an artist’s reception this Saturday, September 30. There are skeletal sculptures, embossed glassware, collages and posters. An entire world of the fragile and natural is under attack from manmade objects and methodologies.
Rupp’s latest show, named after the Greek root word for “long emergency,” is dominated by an installation of 16 birds taken from centuries of art history, but now ensnared by discarded plastic net bags: a real-life scourge brought into more cultured settings. There are also collaged works that bring fuel trains into classic Hudson River School settings, as well as Russian-doll-inspired “nesting pesticide dolls.”
Ever since this Buffalo-born artist emerged in to the late 1970s New York arts scene with “The Rat Patrol,” sculptures and posters tied to the garbage strike of the times, Rupp has mixed an ironic sense of humor with a penchant for well-researched takes on our civilization’s increasingly tragic dealings with the natural world. She has created new skeletons for coming adaptations to a polluted world, a massive ear of corn tethered to a snail out front of Manhattan’s Flatiron building (entitled “Social Progress”), cardboard sculptures of fish attacked by PCBs and other pollution elements, toxic molecules and genetically-modified insects, labels for new GMO foods, water glasses embossed with images and words of water toxins, a globe made from chicken wishbones, fake ivory, felted oil containers, and a regular flow of similarly witty but provocative works.
Years ago, the artist would come up and rent a Catskills farm or woodsy cabin with outdoor spaces for her welding. Eventually, she bought land and built a home and studio in the rolling fields of Delaware County. Almost a decade ago, Rupp spent several years looking to replicate her deep Catskills experience closer to the Hudson River, the easier to make her back-and forth travels to New York City, where she’s long been on the arts scene. She was in Colab, (The Times Square Show) and she participated in the Real Estate show’s unlawful occupation of a city-owned storefront that later gave birth to the still alive-and-kicking ABC NoRio.
Does her art change depending on where she is? Her property is blessed with long, relatively untamed vistas reaching down towards a sliver view of the Hudson River. It’s obvious that the artist needs time alone observing the world as it’s always been, as well as participating in the culture so abundant in New York City. Spending time increasingly in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, she knows where her birds nest, where the coyote and bears hide. She’s also learned to listen for sounds that tell her when impending trains will roar down the CSX lines near her house. She builds videos of those fuel cars for her collage work.
“It’s our attitudes towards wildlife that I care about,” Rupp said.
Looking through pieces for the new Cross Contemporary show, I’m struck by her take on a 17th-century painting, The Goldfinch, seen on the cover of Donna Tartt’s best-selling novel. The Dutch original shows the small bird held captive by a delicate chain. Rupp’s goldfinch is made exclusively of plastic netting, with discarded pieces of packaging layered to simulate the luminous plumage of the bird itself. The whole thing has a lighter feel to it than Carel Fabritius’ dark original. Rupp was inspired in her bird pieces by a variety of other artists: Brancusi, Frida Kahlo, Lee Bonticou, Louis Bourgeois, Escher and lots of Miro. John James Audubon would have shot the birds he drew and painted.
Off in the distance, a train rushed past. It has been hard to find a Hudson Valley spot after 25 years in Delaware County. Saugerties to her “is still the Catskills.”
“I couldn’t see parting with the great expanses of forest and field, that big green thing, that I had before,” she said. “But then I realized the expanse, the peace, is all in the river. Once I figured that out, this property materialized.”
From her studio we walked into Rupp’s simple, window-oriented home and then out onto porches that look down over fields to that sliver of shining water in the distance. All looked natural, unblemished, comforting, peaceful.
Christy Rupp’s creativity and caring, evident in all her work, made sense. “I think the river is such a great metaphor,” she said.
Off in the distance, the Hudson was still, suspended between its northern and southern pulls. -Paul Smart
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The Sweep of the Hand: Catherine Howe at Cross ContemporaryArt Critical August 15, 2015
Catherine Howe: Supreme Fiction. Monotypes & Mylar Paintings at Cross Contemporary Art, July 3 to 26, 2015“Supreme Fiction,” the title of Catherine Howe’s strong show in upstate New York, likely refers to the amalgam of painterly surprise inherent in work that references both baroque effects and nature. The title also makes use of Michael Fried’s idea that painterly imagery does not have to come from a realist bent, being in some cases entirely imaginative in nature. Her paintings, which at times have attained the quality of low relief, use nature as a springboard for a highly active imagination. Her collection here, of monotypes and works done on canvas or Mylar, resist easy categorization but define a place that begins with the New York School and extends toward the past in its rococo impact and to the future in its fusion of imageries and contemporary materials (carborundum grit and polyester). The sweep of Howe’s hand is expansive and exuberant but also controlled; never fussy about the consequences of her brushwork, she also demonstrates a discipline that links her to art history in ways that intensify her audience’s viewing involvement. Actually, pleasure is what one thinks of when facing these dynamic images. One black-and-white work, made of carborundum-infused acrylic on canvas, consists of flowers and bulbs that float in a sea of gesso white. Drips and thin skeins of paint actuate the rounded blooms and plant life; the effects of these nods to earlier abstract expressionists are actually muted to some extent by the sheer energy of the present tense, always active in Howe’s style. As a painter, she wants to give us the immediate beauty of what she depicts; this desire is evident in the roiling, tempestuous quality of her brushwork. Here, mostly blackened forms, which admit a gritty sparkle in certain light conditions, surround a white flowerlike crown in the upper center of the painting. The viewer has the sense that the painting exists as a passionate embrace of an esthetics based in nature. It consequently becomes clear that Howe’s high regard for nature brings her beyond mere quotation of expressionism, a movement that reached its zenith generations ago. Even so, someone like Fairfield Porter serves to contextualize Howe’s efforts—despite the fact that their imageries are not related closely! His combination of brushy strokes and interest in the outside world finds a later reflection in her art. In the tall, reverse-painted Mylar work entitled Geisha (2015), she imparts a fiercely emotional treatment of a sunflower in a short vase, with other white blossoming shapes looming in the upper register against a blue background. The brushwork is strongly about feeling, made evident by the powerful intuitive forms that sprawl across the Mylar. Clearly, this work and the others in the show concern the performative aspect of painting just as much as they address issues of figuration and abstraction; Howe’s audience has the sense that these paintings exist as fields of play—being action paintings in the best sense of the word. In the discussion I attended in late July with Howe and fellow painter Suzanne Joelson at Cross Contemporary Art, the primary word used was “gesture.” As a descriptive term, it certainly characterizes the main impulse behind Howe’s art, which is gestural in the extreme. The question facing the artist and those who support her work has to do with authenticity: at what point does history intervene and make the gestural image antiquated, even obsolete? To her credit, Howe has found ways of keeping the gesture alive, primarily by emphasizing the baroque impetuousness behind a lot of expressionist art. Even so, the problem of historic precedent needs to be addressed. Howe’s considerable technical skill allows her nearly to caricature the role of the sinuous brushstroke even as she makes it clear she is in love with the luxuriousness of such a style. But perhaps it can be said that her paintings encapsulate the conflict between a historically derived embellishment and the need to make things new—a requirement in today’s art, no matter what the origins of the impulse may be. A monotype, mostly in yellow and red, seems to be about brushwork description. A blossoming crown on the top feels like an opportunity for Howe to paint demonstratively, while the bottom half of the composition consists of a pile of transparent brushwork, whose edges exist in red. Musical in its emotive impact, Rise (2015) delivers a punch that suggests both intensity of motive and cathartic skill. Howe, who has a home in upstate New York herself, shows that she is comfortable with the landscape and flora this part of the world consists of. She knows the public gardens of the area well, deriving inspiration from a nature that is actual rather than second-hand. In her work there is a liberating voice based on the artist’s willingness to work deliberately with beauty. While such an approach cannot be seen as utterly original, at the same time, in Howe’s hands, it must not be understood as mere quotation. She balances memory of previous art with a real need to display her own reading of contemporary life. Indeed, she thoroughly succeeds in doing so.