Saturday, May 28, 2011

Laura James: Praying Out Loud

With an Antiguan heritage and a love of subject matter, both secular and religious, self-taught artist Laura James has made quite a splash in the art world. In the year 2000, she completed thirty four images commissioned by the Catholic Church for their new version of The Book of Gospels. Each of these inclusive and magnificent paintings, which were first on display at the Divinity School at Yale University in New Haven, CT, have been sold. So have all her works in a series called Nannies and Other Mothers.
A new body of work featuring goddesses, such as the revered Mami Wata, and guardian angels, has just been delivered to the gallery and will be here through July. This is a rare opportunity to see an entire body of Laura James' paintings, and her elegant presentation copy of The Book of Gospels will be on display during this show.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Baron Paints a Life Remembered

Baron Corso de Palenzuela was only 8 years old when his titled family fled Cuba to avoid Batista's corruption. The trauma of this sudden and unexpected move from their beloved homeland has remained with de Palenzuela and is clearly evident in his art. His memory paintings, depicting the family's luxurious life in Cuba, illustrate both love and loss for Corso the child, and haunting fragments of memory still carried by Corso the adult.

In his paintings, the main figures are always large and in the foreground, flat in perspective, often flanked by both armed soldiers and the lush vegetation of this tropical paradise. White deer, called Dama Dama, almost forced into extinction because of their prized flesh, white peacocks whose feathers are decorated with gold coins from the family's fortune, white dogs both prized for their hunting skills and their devotion as family pets, enormous fields filled with sunflowers, cocoa and tobacco, and mother tending to her gardens, fill de Palenzuela's colorful canvases.

There is a strong folk aesthetic to this unschooled work which has been shown at the American Visionary Art Museum, The Miami Fine Art Museum, The Jewish Museum in NY, The Havana Municipal Museum, and Vassar College. The artist's spiritual side, reflecting his Sephardic heritage, is depicted in powerful biblical paintings with illustrative text. Corso de Palenzuela says, “I’m religious, but I don’t believe in institutional religion. I’m more of a mystic.” These wonderful paintings are mystical indeed! Most of the work is painted in oil on random shaped boards, often surrounded with framing constructed to protect these vivid and cherished memories. There are fascinating stories told in each work and a goodly amount of the vintage pieces are still in the artist's personal collection.

Edward Gomez wrote of de Palenzuela in Raw Vision magazine, these paintings go “…far beyond the Cuban-American dominated zones of Miami and South Florida reflecting both increasing and broader popular interest in Latin-American culture in general, and the ever-widening scope of the Outsider Art world, where interest in styles, techniques or themes associated with particular peoples or places has significantly enriched appreciation of the genre.” De Palenzuela's work has also received glowing write-ups in the New York Times on four occasions.

Vintage and current works by Corso de Palenzuela are now available at the Beverly Kaye Gallery in Woodbridge, CT tel: 203 387 5700

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Building Upon Building.....

Eric Rosner's art work has captured New York's architecture in it's earliest days, when no detail was left to chance and buildings were embellished like wedding cakes. He has preserved this elegant past for the last 20 years in both ink drawings and canvas prints, so the history of this beloved city will live on beyond the crumbling facades of today. In Rosner's own words, "I find myself thinking of all the people who have graced this grand Metropolis and these buildings have housed them all. Whether it was epic business transactions, stunning scientific discoveries or grand entertainment showcasing, the city of New York has a unique tale of histories. With my artwork, I hope you can imagine a stunning time period over a century ago when the imagination ran wild and magnificent structures soared to the sky. "

Sometimes, Rosner's work can be seen executed on the outside of the buildings as well as inside them. His work has been shown at the Affordable Art Fair, the Tribeca Lounge and the Argos Tea House in NY and recently at the Chelsea Hotel. This self-taught artist recently decided to sell his original artworks. Pieces range from 6" x 6" to 60" x 60". I cannot imagine living in a New York apartment without one of these very prepossessing works on the wall. Any one of these drawings would have been the perfect cover for Joseph Mitchell's "Up In The Old Hotel", one of my favorite books.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Self-taught Photographer, Redux

When the Metropolitan Museum of Art presented a photography show, one of Daniel Farber's reflection photographs was used as the banner advertisement. This self-taught photographer, in the leather business with his brothers, started making his art later in his life. The results of this hobby, turned obsession, are held in over 123 museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Yale University Museum, and so on.

He also had his images used in the movie "Tommy", as well as on the covers of multiple classical music albums. Farber was named one of the top ten photographers in the decade from the 1960's through 70's, and his nature photographs are in many private collections. Since he utilized the process called color separation, these vintage images are as brilliant today as they were when they were first printed.

A book of his images called "Reflections on a Trail Taken", published in 1991, is a stunning record of his photography with very interesting text. Farber generously revealed all his camera, film and exposure information and gave very helpful pointers on how to create similar images.

Silhouettes of winter trees, starkly portrayed in black and white, were among his favorite subjects and photo-silkscreens were made of several of these striking images. A small portfolio of them (image size 16" x 16", printed on Arches paper) are now available, each of which is published, and several of which are held in permanent museum collections. Contact the Beverly Kaye Gallery for more information.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Anyone Can Dine With the Queen

Therese James has a zest for life paired with a sense of humor, which is evident in each of her paintings. Her work would be considered Naive, and since 1993 she has given in to a compulsion to paint full time. She records scenes of everyday life with an unbounded joy which makes the viewer feel like jumping in to join the fun. Therese gets much of her inspiration from the places and literature of her native Wales and the West Country.

According to her bio, "Relying purely on an instinctive approach to her art she has developed her own style with representative characters who inhabit the world of her paintings." A simple seashore scene, double decker red busses in traffic, or even a family sharing their Christmas dinner with the Queen (on TV of course), become fodder for a new painting. Her subjects move at angles and dance across the canvas in a dizzying tango. Her work can be seen in galleries throughout the UK and she is represented in the Affordable Art Fairs by Wren Fine Art, and was selected for the prestigious "Artist of the Year" award.