Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sometimes When You Are Not Looking...

...You begin to really see.

I have been unable to paint for the past 8 weeks. It's just a back problem, and it's improving, but it has forced me to, literally, lay low for awhile. The psychological impact has been positive for the most part as it has given me time to slow down, spend more time in the gym and the pool and step away from the studio and this, in turn, has given me time to look at my work and consider my next steps. On the flip side, it also had me thinking about giving up painting all together, and thinking about my "what's next" steps in life. This was especially punctuated by the loss of a very dear friend just two weeks ago.

Both have kept me here in Florida for the summer instead of up North in the beautiful Finger Lakes and/or my "other home," Cape Cod, and it's meant spending more time inside the homefront instead of out in and around my studio. And even this has had its own set of rewards and obstacles.

Take today for instance. There were dishes in the sink, the dining room table was spread over with paperwork and the laundry was piled up. So, with my list of chores in hand, I did what any good procrastinator would do. I sat down. And as I was contemplating turning on the TV (my avoidance tactics don't have to be military grade) something caught the corner of my eye and put me back on track. 

Forgetting the back problem, I flipped out of the chair with an olympic gymnast's maneuver, grabbed my iPhone and ran out onto the balcony. There, just arriving overhead, was an amazing storm cloud painting images across mother nature's canvas. I dangled over the balcony taking shots and videos while my mind jumped into the yellowfish zone. Everything, including time, stood still. The cloud formations were shape shifters and the sound of the surf and the wind elevated. And I was off in my studio painting it in all its splendor when, just as quickly, it was gone. 

Sometimes that's all it takes. Just a passing, dramatic summer storm cloud to shake things up and get you back on track. Sure, I still have to deal with my list of chores but now, now with a few blinks of en eye I have a renewed sense of the artist within who is driven by nature and a desire to see where the next painting will take her. And it really goes to show that taking some time off, be it willingly or not, has its benefits. I hope you are able to take some time off this summer. You never know what you might be able to see.

Brush on!/cs

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Richard Schreiner: A Timeless, Social "Introspective"

In a still life world Richard Schreiner, the person, would appear as Cezanne's Basket of Apples. Well composed, with soft colors wrapped around a centered body built upon a philosophical mind field of nurturing warmth and, just slightly hidden from view, a contrasting wry sense of humor.  And Richard Schreiner the painter?  "Well, this guy's not just polishing apples!" 

No, you won't find any flowers or apples in Richard's work. Richard Schreiner is, first and foremost, a figurative painter whose subject matter is, and always has been, the human condition. And he does so with a rhythmic hand, allowing us to enter the painting and consider its context. And while it isn't pretty, it is, rather, beautiful. 

He weaves a dance like no other, leaving just the right amount of room between you and the lead, which in this case is his canvas, to explore your own personal reactions and thoughts. Each comes from a place of humanity, painted by a man of humility yet with a strong, competitive fire that seems to say, "take that, you bastard!" And so the aria of emotion begins. 

Richard's works express the engagement we have with various human conditions. And while the philosophical statements may not be readily apparent on the surface of each canvas, their beauty is also in the way of its telling. 

Take for instance "Sailor" (above, far right wall). This could, to the passing viewer, simply be a dark painting of a man out for a sail.  But Richard's intelligent composition pulls you in and gives you time, as if painted for those of us that need it. You look more closely at the sailor's face, notice he is leaning and looking away from you (as if you don't exist!) and note that he is well dressed and holding a large wheel of a tiller. This is when you sense there is something more here. Is he the "have" side of the "have and have nots?" The answers don't have to be spray-painted across a bridge trellis, but they do require you to consider their meaning.

And this is how he wants the lightbulbs to go off.  His expressive brush strokes whirl around and suck you into his world, a world so poetically crafted over the course of decades across his larger than life-sized canvases that it's amazing to learn that these works haven't seen the light of day for decades. And such strength & commentary can not be, nor should be, fully appreciated without experiencing them in person.   

What:    "Richard Schreiner: La Viscere de la Bete Noir, A Retrospective" 

Where:    Hollingsworth Gallery, 160 Cypress Pt Pkwy, Palm Coast, FL

Cost:       Free and open to the public, runs in partial through August 8, 2012


As a young man, Richard was living the text book definition of the 1950's West Side of New York City tough-guy story - he even belonged to a gang and wielded a blade. But his truly deep, dark secret was that he was also carrying straight A's in school. And this, as it turned out, was his ticket off the streets. He quietly applied for and earned, in addition to his black belt in karate, a full merit scholarship to the University of Buffalo (S.U.N.Y.) - renowned then as it is now for its arts & education program. They got him going, gave him a stint in Italy and sent him back to New York City with a B.S. degree in his pocket. But he wasn't stopping there.

Final Sentence, 77 x 44" Acrylic

He was accepted into Yale where he earned his BFA and MFA, took classes from Elaine de Kooning, handled the grunt work at some of the best NYC galleries where he was able to hang with such artists as James Rosenquist (one of the protagonists in the pop-art movement) and spent quality time working independently for and becoming friends with one of the leading cybernetic artists of our time, Wen Ying Tsai (his work is in the permanent collection at the Tate). 

Schreiner was inspired and influenced by three maverick New York City abstract expressionists - Lester Johnson, Al Held and Jack Tworkov.  But it was his relationship with the educational philosopher, author, social activist and teacher, Maxine Greene that had the most profound influence on him. Maxine oversaw Richard's dissertation while earning his doctorate in Art & Philosophy at Columbia University's Teacher's College and was a great friend.  Richard took a very individualistic path developing his own style that mirrored much of what he studied under Greene who believes and taught that "art is a conduit to mean-making, a way of making sense of the world." 

And while Richard spent the next thirty-seven years in academia, as a nurturing and inspiring art teacher and eventually as District Supervisor of the arts program for the East Meadow school district out on Long Island, his own personal growth and ambitious work ethic quietly continued to grow inside his New York City studio. 

And then, as often happens, he put down his brushes for what he thought would be for good and retired with his wife, Arleen, to Palm Coast, FL. He tipped around until serendipity stomped when he stumbled into Hollingsworth Gallery. Here he not only became fast friends with owner, Director John J.J. Graham, he was man-talked back into painting and soon was sharing a studio and once again back teaching.

The retrospective of Richard Schreiner's work is of the quality one would expect to see in a New York City museum, yet it also hollers off the City Marketplace balcony the high level of talent Palm Coast quietly holds in her arms and of which Hollingsworth Gallery embraces. The exhibition continues in partiality until mid-August 2012. 

Update: Richard Schreiner continued to show us the way until his passing on July 12, 2012. Godspeed dear friend, Godspeed.
Rage, 14 x 24" Acrylic on Massonite

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This Saturday All Bike Trails Lead to Hollingsworth Gallery

Christine Sullivan "Waiting Friend" 12 x 12" Oil on Linen 

Knee high by the 4th of July is not just for the growth of corn, it is the same for bike enthusiasts across the globe. July finds the serious racers of the Tour de France spending grueling weeks high up in the competitive Alps while here in the USA bike trails from Oregon to Cape Cod are wide open and filled with all types of riders, embracing yet another warm and sunny summer on the bike. And growing in Palm Coast, FL, home to more than 50 miles of manicured and well mapped bike trails, is one of the largest community bike events getting off the ground at Hollingsworth Gallery where these two-wheeled marvels will be celebrated during the Gargiulo Art Foundation's First Annual Juried Bicycle Art and Poetry Show entitled, THE ART OF THE BICYCLE. The exhibit and events kick off this Saturday, July 14th at 6 PM with an artist reception offering wine, light appetizers and live music featuring classical guitarist, Abe Alam. This and all events are free and open to the public.

Peter Ceretta
The Gargiulo Art Foundation has supported the Arts in Palm Coast since its founding in 2000 and has funded and "planted" a number of quality public art works in our community including the sculptural work of Paul Baliker and Jane Sbordone. This new community art and poetry event will tie in with Palm Coast's community bike events and is partially funded by a City of Palm Coast Cultural Grant.

The art show features the works of many local and regional artists ranging from an exciting two-bike, life-size sculpture by Wes Cackler (which now graces the corner of the City Marketplace lawns) to exciting, contemporary oil paintings by such established artists as Peter Ceretta, Jean Banas, J.J. Graham, Richard Schreiner and Tom Gargiulo. All works celebrate the freedom and exhilaration one feels while out on a bike.

"The Race" by Wes Cackler (Hollingsworth, top left)
Adding to the theme, local poets ride into the exhibit with their own unique perspectives adding yet another, exhilarating trail within the gallery.

On display next door in the SECCA School of Art studios will be The Hollingsworth Summer Art Camp 2012 Show featuring the amazing, bike-themed works created by the kids in Summer Art Camp You can tell these young artist's were especially inspired by the subject matter.

And after a thrilling opening & reception last month, the SECCA Tree Gallery continues to exhibit La Viscere de la Bete Noir featuring the acclaimed works of local & resident artist, Richard Schreiner.

So head on over to Hollingsworth Gallery this Saturday evening for a relaxing ride through their three galleries and open artist's studios all on the second floor balcony of City Marketplace.

But the trail doesn't end on Saturday, this special Gargiulo Art Foundation exhibition continues throughout July with a number of community events (below) to be held at the gallery and which are open to the public and free of charge.   Brush on! cs

July 14     6 PM       "The Art of The Bicycle" bike & poetry show opening/Artist Reception 
July 18     7 PM       "Bicycle Tales from the Trails" moderated by Tom Gargiulo
July 21     10 AM     "Children's Poetry Workshop" with Deborah Susswein
July 28     10 AM     "Adult Poetry Workshop" with Deborah Susswein
July 28     1 PM       "AOTB Artists' Panel Discussion" moderated by Tom Gargiulo
July 28     2:30 PM   "Benefits of Bicycling" with Bicycle Doctor Tony Libertti 
Aug 11     6 PM       "Encore / Artist Reception," Most Popular Artist Award Presentation