Thursday, July 31, 2014

April Gornik - Drawings

April Gornik was recently at the Parrish Art Museum signing copies of her new book April Gornik Drawings. The book is an extensive collection of her charcoal on paper drawings. I was able to attend.
"Her paintings are the essentials of her artistic caraeer, but the charcoals, being dense and compact, balance the scale when weighed against the spacious and airier canvases, and make her artistic output whole. For a person so sunny and bright - both in personality and visual presence - to have created a dark counterweight that rivals her work as a painter, deepens and broadens the definition of herself as artist. In the drawings, she piles black on black, until it is as opaque and bottomless as Seurat's Conté crayon. So, how far can an artist look into the woods? Until she reaches the white of the paper." - Steve Martin from April Gornik Drawings.
The Woods, 2006 by April Gornik
charcoal on paper 38 x 50 inches
image via
April Gornik's work is both worldly and otherworldly, realistic and surrealistic, familiar yet unfamiliar. Each piece a meditation, visual poetry to be contemplated. The work inspires deep emotion.
Composer and pianist Bruce Wolosoff was inspired to create a piece for cello and piano while gazing at April Gornik's drawing The Woods, 2006 on his piano's music stand. Wolosoff's original manuscript of For April is printed in the book and a download card is included. 
Cascading Waterfall, 1997 by April Gornik
charcoal on paper 22.5 x 36 inches
image via
The book also includes a conversation that the author Lawrence Weschler had with April Gornik in her Sag Harbor studio last summer as well as an essay by the artist Archie Rand

In her conversation with Lawrence Weschler she describes how she began to create landscapes, "Well it was after college, and I was making sculpture-like objects. Like I would make a trellis and try to make it look as if light were falling on it, gluing tin to it, painting it a little. I was trying to do everything I could not to paint,  since it was 1977, and you just weren't supposed to do that anymore. I was trying to make what I was thinking of as primitive symbolic objects, something archetypal, I was really confused! And then one day I actually saw somthing in my head - three or four sticks backlit against the shore of some water - and don't ask me where this came from, I have no idea, but immediately took to cobbling it together with the junk that was in my studio. I had some house paint and some regular paint, and I just made this thing, and stepped back.. and it was a landscape."  April Gornik from April Gornik Drawings.
Alleè Path, 2006 by April Gornik
charcoal on paper 38 x 50 inches
image via
For a while, April Gornik painted her landscapes in secret. Thankfully, she is fully in the public eye today.  She has had solo exhibitions in New York City and elsewhere since 1981 and is collected by muliple museums. Her book of charcoal drawings is a wonderful personal book, but I suggest, only an introduction or enhancement to actually seeing her works in person. To sit in front of an April Gornik drawing or painting and just gaze is the soul satisfying equivalent to listening to a favorite piece of music or reading a poem that strikes the heart. The work must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The scale and evidence of the artist's hand make it so much more. Do see which of these museums are nearby and see for yourself. Oh, and do get this beautiful book before it is out of print. Thank you April!

Links
  • April Gornik website here
  • Book: April Gornik Drawings available here and through the Parrish Art Museum published by FigureGround Press, New York 2014 Distributed by ARTBOOK|DAP 
  • April Gornik speaking at the Smithsonian American Art Museum 4/1/14 video here
  • Gallery information here
  • For April by composer and pianist Bruce Wolosoff with Sara Sant'ambrogio on cello included in the book, also available on itunes here and CDbaby here
  • "Within a Forest Dark, April Gornik Explores With A New Book Of  Drawings" by Annette Hinkel, Hamptons Art Hub here
Book Frontispiece: Islands, 1984 Charcoal and pastel on paper 38 x 50 inches
Photos in the book taken by: Ralph Gibson, Gary Marnay, Eleen Page Wilson, Alan Zindeman/Lucy Fremont

Many Thanks to the Parrish Art Museum for hosting this wonderful event. Curator and Director Terrie Sultan was in attendance with Curator of Special Projects Andrea Grover making sure all went well. I look forward to their next event. I'm so glad that I attended this one.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Unwinding

Unwinding by Eric Zener
66" x 54" oil on canvas 
image via
Breakthrough by Samantha French
image via
The ocean dazzles my gaze, its powerful waves require courage and skill. For complete relaxation though, the pool beckons.  "Savor these days now, you will kill for this in February," I think as I sink below the surface, a sigh of bubbles escaping. Unwinding.
Henry and Company Design includes a photo of a divers at a pool at this year's Hamptons Designer Showhouse.
Lucille Khornak portraits creates painterly photographs in the upstairs showhouse hall.
Transforming (study) by Eric Zener
image via artnet here
Lynn Sherr writes about why we swim. Wonderful history, sports trivia and her own personal journey as she trains for and swims the Hellespont
Endless Summer by Samantha French
oil on canvas 72" x 84" 2012
image via
The art of Eric Zener and Samantha French capture those perfect indescribable moments that make you just.. smile.
1960s Jantzen image via

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chasing Chase

The Chase Homestead by William Merritt Chase
14 1/4 x 16 1/8 oil on panel, 1893
San Diego Museum of Art
image via here
I am finally reading some of the books about William Merritt Chase in my "stack". Reading, thinking, here I am living where Chase lived and painted, shouldn't I be walking in his Hamptons footsteps? My first step was to look for the Chase Homestead. The home was posted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Designed by Stanford White, it was completed in time for the Chase family to reside there in the summer of 1892. They maintained a summer residence there until 1916.  Numerous paintings and photographs of the Chase family include this lovely home. The painting most well known to me is the Bayberry Bush in the Parrish Art Museum collection.
The Bayberry Bush - William Merritt Chase
25 1/2 " x 33 1/8 " oil on canvas 1895
Parrish Museum Collection, photo via
Arriving at what I hoped was the proper place, I realized 122 years of plant growth was not going to offer the Chasean vistas that I was yearning for. Not only that, hello, we are talking about private property. Where ever the house exactly is, it could not be seen from the road and I was not about to trespass in order to view it. I will dream of a future invitation.  I knew that I would have better luck finding the scenes that inspired him. Weren't these landscapes still inspiring me?
Photos of the Chase Homestead
The Chase children
Mary Content, Roland, Robert, Helen, Hazel, Dorothy, Koto and Alice
William Merritt Chase in the background
Parrish Museum photo via
The children model for many of Chase's paintings and are also the subject of photographs attributed to Mrs. Alice Gerson Chase.
Chase House, Shinnecock Hills - Postmarked September 10, 1909 
from "Lady Pansies" (Mrs. Chase) to Miss Bessie Fisher, 
requesting "brown liquid to photograph or rather print with" 
Cyanotype, printed on penny postcard
Parrish Museum Archives, Gift of Mrs A. Byrd Mc Dowell
as pictured in About the Bayberry Bush

Next, to visit the waterfront nearby.
Heading south toward Shinnecock Bay.
Shinnecock Bay facing west
Probably Shinnecock Bay
Robert on Pier with Mary Content and unidentified female
Parrish Museum photo via 
A sunny Day at Shinnecock Bay - William Merritt Chase
18 1/2 " x 23 3/4" c. 1892 private collection
photo via
Beached boat Shinnecock
Robert and Helen standing Mary and Roland seated
Parrish Museum photo via
Helen Chase
Parrish Museum photo via
The views that Chase captured are still here.
Do you see them too?

Heading north towards Peconic Bay.
We drove to the end of Clam Road.
Shell Beach at Shinnecock by William Merritt Chase
c. 1892 private collection photo via
The view north, 120+ years later, is still pure W.M. Chase.
Shinnecock Hills, Peconic Bay - William Merritt Chase
24" x 35 1/4" c. 1892-1902
private collection
photo via
The Shinnecock Summer School of Art was led by William Merritt Chase from 1891 - 1902. The Art Village is still marked on local maps.
Every book about Chase that I have read so far references quotes by him from a book written by Katharine Metcalf Roof, one of his students. The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase, published in 1917, contains a forward by Alice Gerson Chase. Happily, I found this book online for free here.  It is such a time capsule! I've been thinking of Chase's admonitions as I've worked on my own painting this week.
Students William Merritt Chase c.1900
Parrish Art Museum Collection via
"Don't try to make comparisons between your own pictures. Forget what you have done and think only of making the best of what you are doing."-William Merritt Chase 
( Life and Art of WMC, Katharine Metcalf Roof)
William Merritt Chase and students late 1890s
Parrish Museum photo via
"Combine a certain amount of indifference with your ambition. Be carefully careless. If you don't succeed today, there is always tomorrow."-William Merritt Chase 
( Life and Art of WMC, Katharine Metcalf Roof)
Willilam Merritt Chase c.1900
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute
Rockwell Kent papers, photo via
"Do not try to paint the grandiose thing. Paint the commonplace so that it will be distinguished."
- William Merrit Chase  
(Life and Art of WMC, Katharine Metcalf Roof)
Art Village image via
"The school was located at Art Village, about three miles down the slope from the site of The Bayberry Bush. It offered a studio for use on rainy days, a large room for critiques, a supply storage, a dormitory and dining room and a group of small houses. Art Village is still known by this name; the original buildings, now reconfigured, are private residences." - Ingrid Schaffner from About the Bayberry Bush
We drove down Studio Lane - PRIVATE on the Art Village map.
I was so intimidated by the private sign that I only took  photos of this cottage that looked abandoned. It is still very sweet.
Essential artist that he was, he was ever humble before the great spirit of art. In his mind there remained always the distance between his ideal and his achievement, a deep feeling expressed once when, after showing a number of his pictures to a guest, he pointed to a blank canvas. "But that is my masterpiece" he said, "my unpainted picture." Life and Art of William Merritt Chase - Katharine Metcalf Roof

Many thanks to my husband, Hugh, for driving me all around the Shinnecock Hills as I navigated using various high and low tech mapping devices. This is just a starter kit...

More Reading
The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase, Katharine Metcalf Roof here
About the Bayberry Bush by Ingrid Schaffner with Melissa Feldman here
Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 by Gary Lawrance and Anne Surchin here
William Merritt Chase by Barbara Gallati here
Books by Ronald Pisano here
Parrish Curator, Alicia Longwell discusses Chase - video here
Article from Art and Architectural Quarterly here
Article from Brooklyn Museum of art here
William Merritt Chase essay from the Met Museum here
Art Colonies and American Impressionism by Deborah Epstein Solon here
Wiki Art has an app here which is nice, but doesn't include painting size or ownership

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ahoy Sailors!

We happened upon the end of sailing class. An instructor in a zodiac was herding the sailors to shore like a border collie on sheep.
The town of Southampton sponsors this particular sailing program.
Beautiful morning on Noyac Bay.
For information, the town website is here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Plein Air Sag Harbor

A perfect day for a plein air adventure in Sag Harbor. 
9" x 12" oil on canvas panel by Gail Gallagher
9" x 12" oil on canvas panel by Hugh Gallagher
Another painter was nearby.
He has a show coming up at Grenning Gallery soon.
Afternoon at Secret Beach by Ben Fenske
Oil 47" x 37.5" 2013
Image from Grenning Gallery here