I make work with a hefty measure of the abject combined, by contrast, with something funny and/or poignant in my sculptures’ gestures.
The body parts and mutations speak to preoccupations with human misbehavior, death and environmental degradation, as do the sculptures’ abraded surfaces and extremes of black and white.
The semi-figurative “Dolls” (It’s a Boy; Plump Lady) evolved from body parts (Heart #1; Him), animal mutations (Plump Form #2) and useless “utilitarian” objects (not included in this exhibit). With their aluminum mesh armatures plumped up with plaster bandages, papier maché, and layers of wax, the dolls take on human personalities. Note, however, they are missing arms, heads, feet and half their torsos.
All these abstracted forms and gestures reflect fears, revulsions, and acceptance.
As an artist, I search for meaning in the unknown. Exploring a world beyond my own tangible reality, I see myself as part of a larger, richer universe. A universe that expands further through a conscious effort to embrace the meaning of that which I create in my own personal life, as well as the experiences generated by the lives of those around me. Art is like magic, an illusion created by the force of humanity. Our choices in life can be amazing portals for adventure. For me, these possibilities present themselves through the process of painting: researching potent images, configuring them on canvas, and struggling to imbue them with a sense of myself and my own wonder at the enormous complexity of the world.
I seek a better understanding of truth in nature with constant comparison and evaluation of opposites. Using a visual vocabulary derived from a world that often goes unnoticed, everyday events such as conversations between birds, forces that drive water, or the cellular structure of plant life, I begin to reinvent reality. This experience enables me to come closer to an understanding of how it is that I identify with the world.
The concerns that arise from this process reveal themselves to me as subversive dualities existing in both the natural world and the man-made. When we consider something in a new context, having unearthed the intrigue that lies just beneath the surface of the seemingly simple, the original meaning is altered and brought to a new level of consciousness, creating a metaphor. In this way, I can see, and show, that the natural world is not unlike our own man-made realm, an alternate universe filled with an active power to recognize desire, temptation, and frailty.
The paintings create a secret recipe for an inner landscape of the human condition; narrative vignettes that are both alluring and mysterious. Nature, and those elements existing in its microcosm become metaphors for a strange and at times super-reality, a parallel universe that questions the natural scheme of life itself.
CARL VAN BRUNT
I have been making digital art since 1981. Before that I painted on canvas: first in oil and later in acrylic. I think of my digital art as an outgrowth of my painting experience. Both my prints and my animations are in essence digital paintings.
My work shown in the Magical Thinking exhibition is representative of my abstract style (with the exception of Kuntazampo’s Seat). I work in other ways– containing elements of abstraction and representation and on occasion photography– examples of which can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and my blog: carlvanbruntart.blogspot.com which has over 200 jpegs of selected works going back to 2008.
I have been a practicing Buddhist for many years and this is manifested in my work. I also am influenced by artists like Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston; to name two out of many others past and present some of whom currently live in the Hudson Valley and who I am blessed to call my friends. Another big influence is Black American Classical Music particularly the work of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Thelonius Monk. I would also like to thank Ben Neill, composer of and performer on all the music that is used in the animations on view. Ben’s music can be found on Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube.
Both my prints and my animations are improvised and essentially meditative in nature. My process is one of discovery. I don’t think of myself as someone who creates things, but as someone who uses tools to discover what is already there waiting to be revealed. One of the most important of these tools is fractal geometry though I am not in any way shape or form a mathematician. Fortunately artist innovators like Scott Draves have developed algorithms that enable artists to explore visual fractal pattern possibilities and make use of them in their work. All the work in this show employs fractal generating software in one way or another.
The fractal patterns I discover are generated in a software called Chaotica and are then manipulated by me in Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro and in some cases Adobe After Effects.
I am happy to discuss any of the above in more detail with anyone who is interested. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions you may have. I am also happy to discuss things you see in my work that you wish to share or know more about. I am a great believer in the enlightening power of dialogue. That said I’d prefer not to comment in this statement about the specifics of any given piece because I am above all trying to express the beauty of open mind and have no wish to limit the discoveries you may make while experiencing my art. As the great American Buddhist teacher Lama Surya Das often says, “Enjoy the View.” I hope you do.
I once read a text entitled “The Yoga of the Great Symbol.” I don't claim to have comprehended it completely, but one concept in the book has stuck with me over the years, namely "the union of the moving and the non-moving." One way of thinking about this mind bending concept is in terms of time and timelessness. I guess the key point is that from the point of view expressed in the text, neither of this pair of opposites describes ultimate reality which can not be conceptualized.
A few years back, someone posted a video on Facebook in which a scientist described the formation of complex molecules in the explosions of stars, super novas. The conclusion the scientist presented is that we are made of stars. The science is fascinating, but the conclusion can be considered as simplistic from a Buddhist point of view. Our bodies and minds may very well be made of the residue of stellar dust, but to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, we are neither the same as stars, nor different. Reducing reality to one fixed concept or another, even a lovely poetic one, is a limit on the freedom of open mind. I could say we are all manifestations of limitless, interrelated cosmos, but that's just another concept.
KARLOS CARCAMO brings a former graffiti artist’s perspective to the art of abstraction. That said, he is not interested in overtly referencing his street cred in his recent paintings, examples of which are on view in this show. Tagging is still a component of his overall process but is erased as part of the preparatory procedures before the actual painting begins. The tag KASE (the tag of a famous graffiti writer) is sprayed on a canvas and then removed leaving behind what the artist calls “a weird surface, an interesting pictorial space,” a ground to explore his take on the history and future of abstract art.
Carcamo engages his past on a conceptual level. He analyzes the history of abstraction through the lens of hip hop methodology: how the “break,” the musical sample that is the foundation of a hip hop piece, relates to the “monochrome” which he sees as the “break” in the history of modern art. His take is that over time reductionism inevitably gave way to an explosion. “Now everything is all over the place. Left with the residue of modernism, what am I going to do with it?”
His answer is to build paintings with a hip hop methodology rather than paint them with hip hop cultural references. Eschewing high art materials he employs industrial paint, spray paint, cardboard for blotting, even paint scrapings from his studio floor which he carefully arranges and adheres to paintings’ surfaces adding a new slant to the idea of the readymade. But this is not an ironic body of work. Carcamo has a painting on his studio wall that he’s been working on for two years. Even his plywood frames are carefully considered and inscribed in the back with his signature insuring that they will never be separated from the painting. In his view, a painting is not done until it stands on it’s own, irreducible to an idea of anything outside of its own actuality.
Galen Cheney is a painter’s painter. Her education as a painter began at Mount Holyoke College and continued at The Maryland Institute, College of Art, where she received her MFA and was mentored and critiqued by Grace Hartigan, Sal Scarpitta, and Hermine Ford, among other important artists. Nearly 30 years later, she continues to push herself and her work with honesty, commitment, and fearlessness. Deep diving into her own creative process, Cheney is a physical artist whose richly layered paintings embody her curiosity about and exploration of materials and her own psyche. She was born in Los Angeles though has spent most of her life in New England where she feels a deep connection to the land and centuries-old architecture.
A childhood trip to Europe was the start of her enduring love of travel and fascination with ancient civilizations. Cheney’s work has been exhibited and collected in the U.S., Canada, Italy, France, and China. Recent recognition includes residencies/fellowships from the Millay Colony, MASS MoCA, Vermont Studio Center, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site (Cornish, NH), and Da Wang Culture Highland (Shenzhen, China), and a nomination for a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in Painting. Her home and studio are in North Adams, Massachusetts.
SUSAN SPENCER CROWE
Susan Spencer Crowe has exhibited widely in the Hudson Valley region and in New York City where she lived for 38 years before moving to Kingston, New York in 2005. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Norwich University, a BFA from Pratt Institute, New York, and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Arts Department at Queens College in New York City. She teaches sculpture, drawing, and fundamentals of art courses. Over the last three years, Crowe has had several one-person shows in the Hudson Valley, including Cuts and Foldsat The Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns and Birthing of the Ethereal at Kingston’s ARTBAR Gallery in 2016, Encaustic/Form II at R & F Handmade Paints in Kingston and Encaustic/Form at the Woodstock Artists Association in Woodstock in 2015.
Her work has been featured in many group shows in the area and New York City, including Logic and Structure II at the Painters Gallery in Fleischmanns, The Ritual of Construction at the Byrdcliffe Kleinert/James Center in Woodstock, and The House of Sky at the Westbeth Gallery in New York City in 2017. She also participated in Staying Power, a 2016 exhibition of eleven artists in the Hudson Valley region who had maintained an active studio practice for more than four decades, at the Albany International Airport in Albany, New York.