APRIL 24–MAY 23
Stanford Kay, Ann Provan, David Provan
Curated by Alan Goolman
Some people make art. Others live and breathe art. For them, art is a second pulse: a confirmation, a measure, and ultimately, an affirmation of life’s presence, beauty, and meaningfulness. The works of the three artists brought together by curator Alan Goolman in “Captured Spaces”– Stanford Kay, Ann Proven, and David Provan– share some similarities: all the works can be seen as “geometric abstractions,” though Kay, in particular, does not think this designation fits exactly. More importantly, all three approach making art not only as a vocation but also as a way of life and a way of knowing.
The Provans, who are married, often spend their evenings sitting at a table together with their sketch pads and notebooks sharing a large assortment of pens and Prismacolor pencils, drawing. These drawings are sometimes the impetus leading to larger works. Some of Ann Provan’s acrylic paintings in this exhibition are examples, though Ann reports that the penned and penciled works are not careful studies for the finished pictures but rather starting points for further explorations.
Kay, who lost his wife to cancer several years ago, has slowly rebuilt his life and his art. His previous work, which can be referenced on his website (stanfordkay.com) progressed through periods reflecting first psychological ruin and then gradual reconstruction. Now he is feeling at home in his studio again engaged in the process of making paintings.
David Provan left the Navy after four and a half years serving in the Vietnam War flying over battle zones and tracking typhoons as a radar operator. Given a choice of where to be discharged, he chose New Delhi over his native California. It was time for a change. He wound his way northward through India passing through the territory where Buddha woke up, finding himself eventually at the door of a Tibetan monastery where he remained for a year or so. Visas expired, he returned to the US, his path altered forever. Ann, who grew up in Berkeley and spent many years in France, met David in Soho in 1986. In 2006 they moved to the Hudson Valley.
The point of putting the work of these three artists together in one space is to foster awareness of the distinctiveness of each by encouraging the viewer to focus on their differences of purpose, process, and realization. And also to engender deeper insights into the meanings each is striving to express for themselves and convey to others.
The green that backgrounds the stressed caged and caging forms of Kay’s “Rupture” painting has a radically different intent than the greens that convey the slowly shifting light of time passing in Ann Provan’s “The Hours.” The quietly curving enclosure of an open circular form composing David Provan’s sculpture “Cartesian Phrenology” is quite unlike the irregular angular grid barely containing the multi-colored jumble of Kay’s “Remembrance of Things.” Kay’s picture is full of abstracted memory, Provan’s sculpture evokes Buddhism’s light-filled “emptiness.”
The gallery visitor might also consider the contrast between the twists and turns of the cropped Tibetan Endless Knot animated by triangles pulsing across and just below the surface of David Provan’s painting “Motivated Material” and Ann Provan’s gentle spacial ironies bathed in Renaissance light revealed in “Tango.”
Take Kay’s “Torso” as another example and compare it to Ann Provan’s ”Totem” or David Provan’s sculpture “WeLiveWithinEachOthersWounds.” All three of these works reference the body even if only elliptically. Stanford’s title specifically alludes to human anatomy though he strongly rejects figuration of any kind. Close examination of the painting reveals that each underlying form stops short of clear definition by being either cropped, partially covered, or otherwise interrupted. The overlaying grid is more complete, but is racked with barely resolved contradictions and seems to contort itself into an unstable resolution. So this is not a picture of the body but an evocation of suffering and the feeling of incompleteness to which the body and the mind are subject.
Ann’s totemic painting piles up forms in a way that could suggest the stacking of ancestral heads in a totem pole or the verticality of a heroic standing figure. The dark blues and greens create an atmosphere of what could be ancestral awe and mystery or just the night sky a bit after sunset and before the deep darkness sets in. There is a solemnity and presence in this work, but there is also an instability created by its off-centeredness and the spatial uncertainty created by the ambiguous shapes in the lower half of the painting. A reflection perhaps of the fact that we live in a time of anxiety and doubt.
David’s sculpture about life and its wounds escapes even his own verbal eloquence to describe. In it he sees the interconnectedness of Mother and Child, Male and Female, and for that matter, everything else. An observer gazing at it might wonder at its lightness given that the piece is made of steel. It’s the lightness of nothing extraneous. Underlying all David’s work are years of thinking about concepts like the relationship of figure and ground. He sees reality through an Eastern prism, having left behind the Western view in Vietnam. He notes that science and Dharma agree that most of reality, 99.99 percent of it, is empty space. He also notes that he has no interest in verisimilitude. David is aiming at a balance between the emergent figure and the ever-changing ground to which it will inevitably return and then reemerge in a different guise; both figure and ground, like everything and all of us, made of the same cosmic stuff: the residue of the Big Bang. And something (or no thing) else that eludes enunciation.
All three artists whose art is on display in Captured Spaces have chosen to make work we call abstract. Some people see abstraction as devoid of narrative meaning. That may be partially true. It would be more true if one added the word “specific” to the description. An artist once asked a group of friends to describe the meaning of life in 10 words or less. One answer was “Life in itself is meaningless but nevertheless full of meanings.”
Besides the paintings of Stanford Kay and Ann Provan, and the sculptures, drawings, and paintings of David Provan, “Captured Spaces” also includes several examples of David’s ceramic work and one of the many beautiful and critically acclaimed chairs he has designed. The show runs from April 24 to May 23. Opening night is April 24 from 5 pm - 7 pm. Masks are required for entry into the gallery and guests will be admitted to the gallery in small groups. To schedule a gallery visit call: 845-663-2318. The Lockwood Gallery is located at
747 Route 28 in Kingston, NY.
- Carl Van Brunt
Beacon, NY 4/19/21
ARTIST STATEMENT - ANN PROVAN
I grew up in Berkeley, California, lived in France for several years, and returned to attend the San Francisco Art Institute for a BFA and MFA in painting. I then moved to SoHo, NYC and met David Provan in 1986. We had twins and moved to Brooklyn in 1997, and then to the Hudson Valley in 2006. My work has included sculpture, artist’s books, watercolors, paintings and photos.
The paintings I am showing at the Lockwood Gallery were done in 2020 and 2021. They developed from small ink drawings that are transferred to canvas, and that change significantly during the painting process. The paintings include geometric forms and atmospheric qualities of light, the sky, and time. They are a kind of architecture of solitude during this pandemic year.
My work has been shown in New York City, including the New Museum, A.I.R. Gallery, Franklin Furnace, and Das Verborgene Museum in Berlin, and other locations in the United States.
ARTIST STATEMENT - DAVID PROVAN
After my discharge from the Navy, at the age of twenty-two, I wanted to relocate to some place where I could cool down and find a conscious and authentic way to begin my new, civilian life. This desire lead me first to India, where I embarked on a pilgrimage to Buddhist holy sites; to admittance to Yang Leshöd Tibetan monastery in Nepal; to Yale University where I studied art and architecture; to the Royal College of Art; to New York City and, finally, to the Hudson Valley.
In that process I’ve come to understand that we inhabit a universe that extends far beyond the grasp of our five senses. These extremes evade us because they are, for the most part, too tiny, too huge or too glacially slow for us to grasp. Through my studies and ultimately through my art, I’ve tried to construct objects that model and resonate with that world that lies just beyond our understanding. Some of the ideas I’ve explored and dedicated series of work to are: “The Emptiness within Form”; “The Interaction of Opposites”; “The Persistence of Life”; “The Perpetual Flux of Big Bang Debris”; “Figure/ground Relationship”; and “The Philosophy of Perspective”.
CERAMIC ARTIST STATEMENT - DAVID PROVAN
I first entered the world of ceramics, about twenty years ago, from two different access points. The first was as a collector, when I began buying inexpensive, mid-century Scandinavian vases on eBay. I really loved the sleek forms of Carl Harry Stalhane, Berndt Friberg and their contemporaries; they evoked for me the minimal, aerodynamic volumes of Cycladic sculpture and Brancusi’s Bird in Space.
Secondly, I had been working for a decade with welded steel sculpture and was looking for a way of transcending that medium’s implacable rigidity. Thinking ceramics might be a good option, I took a class at a Manhattan ceramics school; the same school where, Jackson Pollock, fifty years earlier, had taken classes. I loved it immediately. Clay, in contrast to steel, succumbs to the slightest touch and can be persuaded into virtually any shape. I first began hand-building small sculptures, but was soon fascinated by the potter’s wheel. I could see that its rotational power could leverage the strength of the hand and enable one to quickly introduce a structural integrity onto an unruly lump of mud. . . I was hooked. Soon I was doing clunky homages to Stalhane and Friberg, as I searched for my own voice. Eventually I became skilled enough to come to the attention of the school’s administration and I was asked to teach. When I finally began incorporating wheel-thrown shapes into my sculpture, as seen in the exhibited piece “Sight Fossil”, the integration of clay into my work flow was complete.
ARTIST STATEMENT - STANFORD KAY
PAINTING IN GENERAL
I am interested in painting that is formally abstract and yet referential. The images are arrived at through a process of unconscious painting. As the work progresses, opportunities present themselves, form is teased out, a nexus of color asserts itself and an image takes shape. Once I recognize something is happening, I help it along to become what it wants. My conscious mind takes over and choices are made that move the piece to completion. Ultimately it is a message in a bottle to myself in which I come to understand the world and my reaction to it.
"XO" refers to "exoskeleton" but also, not so obviously, to human connection and empathy as in "hugs and kisses" (XOXO). These paintings refer to the body and the person—the porous cage that holds our stuff: experiences, traumas, history, organs and emotions—that makes us who we are. Though begun in the wake of a personal loss that caused a kind of a personal reconstitution and reflection, it became even more relevant to me in the age of COVID. The isolation within ourselves and our pods heightens our ability to see each other as "other" and our own "otherness".