Thursday, October 29, 2009


Just found out about this promising looking show, up this week and this week only at Cornell's Hartell Gallery:
Mark Gibian’s (B.F.A. ’80) sculpture is multimedia: abstract and evocative of natural forms. He constructs both large public commissions and private works, fabricating the work himself in order to control the entire creative process. Since leaving Ithaca and Cornell he has been living and working in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The show features both monoprints and small (non site-specific) sculptures. It comes down after tomorrow.

Sarah Carpenter has an intelligent review in this past Tuesday's Cornell Daily Sun (the student-run daily paper). The article goes into some depth about the relationship between his work in two and three dimensions:
Gibian’s work is about the juxtaposition and symbiotic structural relationship between the delicate and the sound, the spindly and the solid. Its forms imply skeletons, archaeology, rollercoasters and architectural interiors. The monoprints describe three-dimensional space, as promised, as well as motion and speed. Furthermore, they establish an ongoing conversation with Gibian’s sculptures, some of which are included in the show.
I'll have to get up the hill today or tomorrow. It'll be good opportunity as well to see the latest crop of offerings at the Johnson. I would not be surprised, though, if Gibian's work is more compelling that any of the contemporary offerings that they have up there. (And it's a contemporary fixated season, except for "Carved on Copper: Renaissance Engravers and Collectors in the Low Countries."
) Alas. And do go see this if you can.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Sad news for local art:

For Immediate Release

The Upstairs Gallery, a longtime Ithaca art gallery, is closing, another victim of the slow economy.

Board members of the nonprofit Upstairs Gallery in the DeWitt Mall said they will close on Sat. December 26, 2009. The gallery opened 46 years ago, the first commercial art gallery in the Ithaca area. After a year and a half, the original owners were unable to continue in business, so the gallery was kept open by a group of volunteers dedicated to the ideals of supporting local artists, showing high-quality art, and reaching as many people as possible.

“The board was ready to close their doors in Oct. 2008, when they invited me to join and see if new energy could keep the organization alive,” said Laurel Guy, president of the board. “We recruited new board members James Spitznagel, Rob Costello, Werner Sun, Laura Kirsner, Lori Moseman and Margaret Strother. We created a strong slate of shows for 2009, became a mainstay of Gallery Night and gained a wonderful year of remission for the gallery.”

Unfortunately, the current recession made it fiscally impossible for the gallery to continue. The Upstairs Gallery is supported by donations and sales of art. “Art is a very discretionary sort of purchase, and we are in the worst recession arguably in the postwar era,” said Guy.

The board wishes to give sincere thanks to the artists, donors, volunteers and community; and encourages all to attend the current and final shows.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Event horizons

Of possible interest:
Event Horizons: Science in Art

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20th, 7:00pm

Barbara Mink and Frank Moon will show examples of their work, talk about the way science comes into their art and art into science, and invite the audience to share their thoughts on exploring both sides of the brain.


Barbara Mink teaches Management Communication at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and is the Artistic Director of the Light in Winter Festival; Frank Moon is a sculptor, science writer and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Cornell.

Host: Science Cabaret & Light in Winter

Cost: FREE

Where: WildFire Lounge – 106 S Cayuga St.

Mink will be showing work from her science-inspired "Event Horizons" series next month at the State of the Art.
I got a glimpse of these the weekend before last at Ithaca's yearly Art Trail open studios. More to come about these, but I will say that the new work is eclectic, often weird, and occasionally perhaps over-mannered. Her landscape allusions are still mostly there, but they've been twisted into something less familiar, less predictable.

Her informal lecture tomorrow promises to be a candid discussion on some of the ideas behind her new work
particularly on the promises and perils of trying to derive artistic ideas from the natural sciences.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Books to print to books

More Mains, along with other Ink Shop associated artists:
The Tompkins County Public Library will host an opening reception for its newest exhibit, "Books to Print — Prints to Books," Thursday, October 15 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM in the Borg Warner Community Room and the Avenue of the Friends.
Full details here.

I saw the show over this past weekend and it looked pretty decent. The selection and display, not surprisingly, looked a bit haphazard compared to shows the Shop holds in its own space. The caliber of the work, for the most part, is an improvement over the library's usual fare
definitely an improvement over "A Senior Summer."

The opening looks as well worth attending as the show, as
several of the artists will be on hand to manipulate their work.


Hedgerow on Fire, 2008, monotype

Cessna, Cloud, and Mountain Range (detail), 2005, monotype triptych

Filter, 2008, monotype
Storm Surge and Oil Rig, 2008, monotype

U-Assemble Burning Trailer, 2007, inkjet print and mixed media
A small airplane seems posed to make an emergency landing in the mountains. A hedgerow sports cartoon-like bouquets of fire as do a trailer and a submarine. Houses and oil rigs tumble into the water. Ships leak oil and a bridge twists itself.

Such morbid occurrences characterize "Mishaps: Monotypes and U-Assemble Disasters," the current show at Cayuga Heights' Corners Gallery highlighting the work of printmaker Craig Mains. He gives us a compelling teleology for his story-world; in an accompanying statement he imagines "large man-made objects and proscribed attractors of natural malaise." So it goes, and with a logic that is both otherworldly and convincing.

Mains' style and technique are as distinctive as his subject matter. Working primarily in monotype (one-of-a-kind prints) he manipulates hand-painted acetate cutouts in a collage-like manner on a hard plate. After printing these, Mains will often change their arrangement and run the plate through the press again, resulting in color-faded "ghost" images. This combination of toy-like hard-edged shapes, repetition with variation, and painterly rendering is rich and well suited to his narrative imagination.

Although "Mishaps" presents a range of experiments and novelties, it is the relatively traditional work that stands out.

His large-scale triptych Cessna, Cloud, and Mountain Range is the most impressive of these by far. It consists of three framed square-ish sheets and can be read as a narrative sequence, from left to right, in the manner of a comic strip.

The first frame is ghost-ly, the silhouette of the plane merging into that of a cloud, both faint blue-green. It suggests the just-occurred; the second offers up the here-and-now with a solid dark brown aircraft aimed rightward (echoing its shadowy predecessor) towards an imposing peak, darker blue-green. Looking ahead, the final frame shows nothing but landscape: blue-green, green, a patch of black and white
all swirled together in a manner suggesting both Chinese ink landscape and Abstract Expressionism. Where is that plane headed?

Filter is another fine example of Mains in his most familiar mode. Colored in a range of ochres, pinks, reddish and orangish browns and watery yellows, it gives a characteristically surreal take on the depredations of flooding.

In front, perched on dark cliff, stands a lone house with indications of a chimney, windows and doors, and a front staircase. Behind it is a large expanse of river, coming in from the left edge of the sheet and winding its way into the far background, towards the upper right corner. Spanning it diagonally is an arch bridge, its feet progressively twisted toward the viewer as it moves closer to her. To its left, many partially drowned dwellings, houses scattered like tumbled dice. Comically, the bridge appears to block the houses from flowing further downstream
hence the title.

Recently, the artist has been experimenting a group of ideas that are idiosyncratic, at least in a fine-art context. Although animation and paper sculpture are not unexpected directions, his simultaneous use of do-it-yourself hobbyist formats certainly is.

Mains' prints imply a world in violent motion. It's unsurprising, therefore, to see his recent turn to animation. He has built a zoetrope, a nineteenth-century animation device. A strip printed with a sequence of images
here an inkjet copy of hand-printed work is attached to the inside of a wheel. Through holes we can see a moment in time. Turn the crank and we can see motion. This is a good idea with rich potential. Here the image he has chosen, Storm Surge and Oil Rig the title tells the story seems a bit random in its moment-to-moment transitions (compare it with Cessna).

Images from his Oil Rig series are also presented behind frames. They vary both in color and in precise arrangement. Again the action seems arbitrary, more explicitly so since we can see everything at once.

More interesting is a U-Assemble Burning Trailer, a diorama made up of folded paper
again inkjet replicas framed behind wood and glass. The trailer is placed at a diagonal. It is monochrome save for its green striped awnings. It sports an ear-like pair of red-orange flames; another flame occupies the foreground like shrubbery. In the background is a red-orange-brown volcano. Mountain, smoke, and fire merge into a single blurry mass.

Burning Sub, a small screenprint, distills Mains' oddball logic into uncommonly compact form. A solid black submarine, in profile, is submerged in cool gray water; crowning it is a bright, spongy yellow-green flame.

Mains shows his prints around town only sporadically, so a visit to this slightly offbeat venue
The Corners is a suburban frame-shop is highly worthwhile. This is the work of an ambitious and idiosyncratic sensibility. That said, not everything here works well, particularly amongst the outliers and experiments.