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Staten Island, New York, United States

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

June in Staten Island: LOTS of ART!

June is a busy month for the arts on Staten Island. I'm involved with some of them and want to make you aware of some of the coolest, most unique art events in the NYC area.

June 9th and 10th: 12-7:30PM at venues close to the SI Ferry terminal (see map above)

June 8th  7:00 PM:   opening and fundraiser at 60 Bay St.  
$20 per person includes:   
Preview of art exhibit, 
Readings curated by Marian Fontana, 
Music by Allergic to Bees, Food & Wine
I will be showing VERY affordable small collages at 60 Bay St and a large piece in the group show at 70 Bay St.



Saturday June 23rd, 6pm to midnight (best after dark)

An absolute 

totally hip art event! It is an international site-specific video art and projection festival, held on the bustling Staten Island industrial waterfront.  This year it will be held at the Atlantic Salt Company. It's a great evening of visual treats you will see nowhere else! (And, to enhance it, I believe they will be serving beer this year.)


Juried Art Exhibit 2012 
Staten Island Museum 75 Stuyvesant Place (a block from the ferry)

June 28 - September 23, 2012

Opening reception Thursday June 28, 6:00 - 8:00 pm

I got one piece accepted in this show. There is a very talented line-up of artists who are included, many of whom have not received the attention they deserve. Come and be one of the first to discover this hidden talent.


Titanic: A Centenial Exhibition of Contemporary Art

Noble Maritime Collection, Snug Harbor

I have one piece in this exhibit and small collages for sale in the gift shop.

The exhibit remains up till the end of the year. 

Inspired by the whole Titanic centennial, I created a limited series of one-of-a-kind small collages. I will be selling them at Art by the Ferry. Preview them at my Etsy shop.
Yours from the studio,
Denise Mumm

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Art Feast: Visiting the Armory Show, NYC 2012

I attended the 2012 Armory Show at piers 92 and 94 on Friday night. I was not interested in seeing contemporary art, although I know this is an opportunity to see art trends from outside NYC. I was particularly looking forward to seeing the work by Morandi that the NY Times had talked about and the other gems by established artists that galleries bring to these shows. I love the intimate exposure to the art, conversing with gallery representatives, and just wallowing in art for a few hours. On this occasion, with a few notable exceptions, I found myself drawn to prints and sculptures.

Entering the show at the Marlborough Gallery booth we were greeted by two clever sculptures referencing other objects. One, at first glance, is a bookcase filled with incredibly worn old books. But, no, stepping closer, it becomes apparent that this is a stack of roughly hewn blocks of wood, definitely wood yet with the slump, tilt, color and scale of old books.

The other sculpture (at left) was made of smooth marble, immediately recognizable as a reference to the central figure from Velazquez' Las Meninas in its color, shape and texture.

Onward, in search of those Morandi paintings. . .  They were at the Galleria d'Arte Maggiore booth.  

Now, I missed the Giorgio Morandi retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008, much to my regret. His paintings are not often on view and especially not in quantity. I have wanted to experience them in person ever since my first painting teacher at the University of Iowa would use Morandi's paintings as examples in his critiques. One of the challenges of being in art school in Iowa was that our access to actual paintings was limited, mostly through slides and books, so I'm not sure I ever understood what my professor was trying to tell me. (Imagine all my "aha" moments visiting European art museums after graduate school. But that's another blogpost. . .)

Morandi painting
So, here I was, finally nose to nose with Morandi's oil paintings. The first thing that struck me, aside from the quiet tones and static composition, is the way the brushstrokes describe the forms. The artist's hand is present, building the surface of the painting. The warm versus cool tones of beige, push and pull the forms in the picture plane. The atmosphere around the objects has a palpable presence, almost as if the whole painting was formed in clay. This is not the world of atmosphere and shadows that we live in, but rather the painting obeys its own laws of physics.

Morandi etching

Shown in conjunction with the paintings were some etchings, with the same kind of vessel forms as subject matter and of the same scale as the paintings. Of course, this being an etching, the marks build the surface of the print. This is a claustrophobic environment. But, there's something else going on here, too. Forms appear to have been cut and applied to the surface, rather than emerging from the muck of the background as in the paintings. Although dimensionality is represented with highlights and crosshatched shading, those marks also look like decoration on the surfaces of flat forms. Light is malleable and somewhat arbitrary.

There were also some delicate watercolors by Morandi, obviously done on site, which explored outlines of forms and stark contrasts of light and dark. This booth offered a richly satisfying taste of my painting professor's hero. Maybe I am finally learning the lessons he was trying to teach

More favorites at the show:

Henry Moore, Studies 1942

Jacob Lawrence at DC Moore

Scrumptious prints by Marylyn Dintenfass at Babcock Galleries

I continue to be astonished that tempera can be such a beautiful medium in Jacob Lawrence's hands.
Helen Frankenthaler, Ukiyo-e style woodcuts at Pace Prints

Would somebody please tell me how these woodcuts are made? This photo does not begin to show the layers and subtleties in these prints. They are so fresh, lively and painterly.

A quick walk through the Contemporary section of the show was interrupted by a visit to this sculpture. Drawn to it by the noise of many ball bearings moving across a slowly slanting steel plate, this sculpture is the kind of thing you could sit and watch for hours, like a fire. It reconfigures itself according to some laws of physics which elude me. It reminded me of those Morandi paintings again with their internal laws of physics.  And the patterns that the ball bearings created were like those brushstrokes.
Wave of Matter, Tommi Grönlund - Petteri Nisunen, Galerie Anhava

After nearly two and a half hours of intense looking and a head full of images that were the results of lifelong artistic explorations, not to mention walking on a concrete floor, I was worn out. I could relate to this sign (at left) near the exit.

All in all, a satisfying visit to this year's Armory Show. I felt as though I had feasted on some very rich food indeed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Art of the Heirloom (seeds, that is) Exhibit at the Horticultural Society of New York

Art of the Heirloom opening, seeds for sale at right
I attended a lively art opening last night at the Horticultural Society of New York. The exhibit is called Art of the Heirloom and is presented by the Hudson Valley Seed Library. The exhibit is comprised of original art that was commissioned for a collection of seed packets

I first ran across this company at the New Amsterdam Market (at the former Fulton Fish Market) where I met Ken Greene, the Seed Library's founder. He got the idea for the Seed Library when he was working at a regular library and thought to himself "why not try a seed library based on the same principles as a library that lends books?" Members would save seeds from their own crop each year and contribute them back. The idea has grown exponentially since then, but seed saving by backyard gardeners is still a big part of it. I like to use these seeds in my own garden because I know that they come from the region where I live and thrive here.

Ed's Kohlrabi, Sheryl's Rainbow Chard
The other wonderful thing that the Hudson Valley Seed Library does is promote regional artists through their seed pack commissions. I have two artist friends, also gardeners, who have done commissions. Last year Sheryl Humphrey did a painting for Rainbow Chard. This year her husband, Ed Coppola, did a collage for Purple Vienna Kohlrabi. Ed's collage was in the exhibit and that's what brought me to the opening. Sheryl was a natural choice since she paints vivid iconographic paintings, often of women's faces surrounded by lush vegetation.

Ed Coppola next to his collage
Ed's collages have a tongue-in-cheek science fiction aspect to them, which is very well suited to the otherworldly "sputniklike" look of a kohlrabi. All of us artist/gardeners on Staten Island have vowed to make the kohlrabi the next big vegetable and will be growing them in our own gardens this year, using these seeds.

The art for the seed packs were not all two-dimensional. Some of my favorites were sculptural. There was a very  elegant ceramic wall piece, Kale Cubes, done by Gregg Moore.

 I was also delighted by some felt radishes with a lot of personality that were made by  Melissa Mandel. During the artist talks Ken Greene held one of the radishes up by its leaves, reminding me of holding up a rabbit by its ears. 
 This exhibit will be traveling. And while the art itself belongs to  the Hudson Valley Seed Library, there are fine art prints of the artwork available for sale. I got very inspired and will be applying to do a seed pack commission myself for next season.
snacks with a garden-y presentation
Although the art was great, I have to say a word about the beverages being served, as well. True to the spirit of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, the drinks were also regional. The beer was from the Ommegang Brewery, a Belgian style brewery in Cooperstown, NY. And there was also whiskey from Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery  in the Hudson Valley. Now, I already love the Ommegang beers, but I'm a new fan of the Tuthilltown whiskey - very smooth, yummy and warming!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hand-painted Wall Advertisements Still Being Done in NYC

So, I'm working in Soho and one day I went outside for lunch and looked up to find two guys actually painting a 7 storey advertisement on a wall. First of all, when one doesn't have one's head bending over an iphone at all times, one can witness all sorts of unexpected phenomena like this. Secondly, it's so nice to know artists are still getting hired to paint for a living. The first day it was hard to say what this painting was going to turn into.
Day One

The next day I checked on the painters' progress. They had done a lot of work in one day. 
Day Two

Day Three
On the following day it was clear that this was developing into a trompe l'oeil painting of two giant holes punched through the building and leading out to a beach. 

Finished Painting
The next day the scaffolding was cleared away. The artists were gone. The whole side of the building was now an advertisement for Jamaica, showing people at the bottom escaping out through the building onto a beach. The painting is visible from quite a distance. Well, visible to foot traffic. It's a one-way street, with traffic facing away from the building. But, all in all, not bad exposure for a couple of artists, whoever they are.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Musings on the Puck Building in NYC

I have been working at a temp job in the Puck Building and have a few observations to share. First - I love this neighborhood. It's been the neighborhood (and for the record, I'm considering this Soho, because the building is on the SOUTH side of Houston St., but there are those who argue it as Noho) where I have worked and played  happily for many years. When I first moved to NYC, it was the eighties and Soho was the center of the art universe.

One of my first jobs was at a boutique, no longer in existence, where I did alterations on clothing. With a master's degree in art, thank goodness I had sewing skills. While there, I made contact with a gallery owner and went to work for her at the gallery (also no longer in existence). At that gallery I met Miriam Shapiro, a feminist heroine of mine whom I had studied about in college, and became her studio assistant at her Soho loft.

Fast forward a decade and I was taking dance lessons at the Sandra Cameron Dance Center  in this neighborhood, for years.  There were many Sundays when I would have a tango class and then go hang out at Puck Fair, one of my very favorite Irish bars in the city, and have an Irish breakfast (including a Guinness) before going back to the dance studio for a practice session. Often I would sit in the window and look out at the beautiful Puck Building across the street. Sometimes I would see couples in formalwear filing in and out for some sort of special event. I made note that the Outsider Art Fair took place there, too. I never went into the building, but often wondered what it was like inside.

 So, now I find myself working inside the Puck Building.  It's a bright cheerful place to work, with the gigantic windows letting in alot of natural light.
the iconic Puck figure, from behind

 When I look up from my computer, I notice some of the details around me. One of the things I love about old buildings is the decorative detail. It seems decoration used to be an assumption in building design, recognizing the human need for the eyes to rest on something interesting. I miss that in modern buildings.

The cast iron columns around me have some wacky flowers attached to them, way up high, under the classic egg and dart motif. I realized that these flowers have to have been bolted on.  They couldn't have been part of the casting because of their undercut edges. To think that someone would have considered this important enough to go to such effort!

column details at eye level

Just leaving the building is a feast for the eyes. Check out this elevator.

Or these flowers again - on the underside of the stairway! 

And just before leaving the building, there is this lacy iron curtain over the stairway. 
I'm happy to have been able to experience this building from the inside and satisfy some of my curiosity. I hope the current lobby renovations will be respectful of the building.