Art 101: Joan Snyder and Russell Roberts solo shows

Posted on October 22, 2010


“Brooklyn 2010” by Joan Snyder

The works of two abstract painters who are also Jewish New Yorkers are the subjects of solo shows at two Manhattan galleries. The Betty Cunningham Gallery is displaying fifteen paintings by Joan Snyder through October 30, 2010 in an exhibit entitled “A Year in the Painting Life.” The gallery is located at 541 W 25th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues in Chelsea and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Readers of this column may recall that Joan Snyder is one of the artists whose work is included in the Jewish Museum’s “Shifting The Gaze” exhibit which I described in my September 12, 2010 article.

This exhibition focuses on paintings reminiscent of Snyder’s early stroke paintings of the 1970’s and field paintings of the 1980’s. In her newest paintings Snyder continues to use a variety of media. In “Oh April,” a triptych and the largest painting in the show, Snyder uses (in addition to oil and acrylic on linen) burlap, fabric, pastel, dirt, herbs and seeds. In “Ode to B,” a memorial to a close friend, red strokes, some appearing to be hearts, drip to the base of the painting, and small ghost-like sail boats traverse the impastoed white surface. Joan Snyder was born in Highland Park, NJ in 1940. She received an AB from Douglass College in 1962 and a MFA from Rutgers University in 1966. She lives and works in Brooklyn and Woodstock, NY. Throughout her career, Snyder has received a host of prestigious awards and honors. Most recently, in 2007, as mentioned above, she was honored as a recipient of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Heskin Contemporary is featuring the work of Russell Roberts through December 4, 2010 in an exhibit entitled RUSSELL ROBERTS: POCKETS OF ACCUMULATION includes a new series of oil paintings and a selection of works on paper. The gallery is located at 443 West 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues and is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6:00 PM. The following is an excerpt from the catalogue adjoining the exhibition written by the artist and writer Jennifer Riley:

Russell Roberts is an accomplished mature abstract artist working in the medium of paint for some time. In his new abstract paintings multiple gestalts and provocative explorations of painting history combine into images that resist easy categorization. Roberts embraces the flexibility and fluidity of the medium of painting for both its literal and metaphorical possibilities.

In a time of widening spectacle, gloss and speed, Roberts exploits the slowness of the mediums liquidity and transparency, its opacity and density. Some works feature line others celebrate form, many juggle or balance both. Using fragments, layers, lines, drips, washes and erasures these works depict a stratified and changing world in which multiple formal differences and often opposing elements conjoin to form new and integrated identities. In his complex structures, he collides organic irregularity with geometric and biomorphic shapes, and articulates stretches of canvas with an expansive range of unpredictable and constantly surprising color.

Mr. Roberts grew up in New York city, graduated from Vassar College, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and received an MFA from Boston University in 1995. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting in 1997, a grant from the Mass Arts Council in 2002 and an Albee Foundation Fellowship in 2006 and 2008, among others. He was the Artist-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2003. He has had one- person exhibitions at Binghamton University, UNC Chapel Hill, Farrell- Pollock Gallery, Boston University and a two- person show at the Painting Center, NY. This is Roberts’ first exhibition at Heskin Contemporary.

For more info: David Cooper

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