Sunday, May 2, 2010

Docent Talks

Below are are the contents of a series of docent talks presented on Friday, April 30, 2010, which were researched, written,and presented by the students of the Art Museum Theory and Methodology class.


"She Came in Through the Window" by R.D.

The piece, “She Came in Through the Window,” by Alexia Scott, brings a unique and refreshing outlook of how to convey what is normally perceived as cliché messages. This piece communicates its meaning of obtaining endless possibilities through unthought-of ways. Do not be surprised by this piece and its small domineer since it artfully packs a lot of meaning into its petite dimensions. It is truly a Napoleonic complex at its best.
When looking at the piece, “She Came in Through the Window,” the first thing that attracts the eye are the three bright colors of the piece, red, green, and blue that complement each other very well. It is not by coincidence that the focus of the piece, the window that reflects the clear blue sky, is also the brightest part. This part in contrast to the once vibrant greens of the window frame and reds of the barn that are now faded which then better showcases the crisp brightness of the blues in the reflection of the window which then becomes symbolic of light.
Another unique aspect of this painting is the unusual perspective the artist chose to convey the main message of the piece. Essentially, it is a photograph that is taken from an outdoor space at ground level, which is supposed to capture a reflection from an indoor confined medium (the window of a presumably enclosed barn) of the sky. This brings a very interesting point of view that is quite artistic, especially considering how this view is commonly conveyed through a straightforward approach of taking a photograph directly of the object.
It is also quite contradictory that the world’s most magnificent; forever continuous space physically, chronologically, and philosophically is expressed through the confines of a series of squires. This serious includes the cornered space of the window frame, the barn, and even as far as the shape of the literal photograph itself. This leaves one to ponder if there is any true way to express the significance of the sky and what some would relate to as the heavens in any tangible art form.
This almost oxymoronic medium of the piece is not the only aspect that is unusual. The uncommon angle perhaps reiterates the unique ways the artist conveys her message that deals with light and possibilities. This angle brings more than refreshing quirkiness to the piece, but also strengthening the message. The angle is looking upwards towards the sky, which conveys better possibilities and a hopeful prospective future.
Even the very setting of the photograph relates to the central theme of this piece. The photograph reinvents and twists one of the most iconic images of America, the bountiful unfolding farmland that spreads across this nation from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. This plentiful and seemingly never ending amount of space is a unique aspect that the United States is notorious for and can identify with the same characteristics of the sky.
One can interpret this along with the title, “She Came in Through the Window,” as opportunities that are most commonly coined by the Christian phrase, “When God closes a door he opens a window” Here the focal point of the piece is the window that reflects the clear blue sky that is symbolic of opportunities. Here the closed door of what would have been opportunities is not shown, but is assumed that the partial expressed barn the photograph depicts continues normally as any barn would.
Since God is often symbolized through light, especially light from heaven coming down through the earthly sky, one could also interpret the piece along with the title as heavenly light coming in through the window. The same light that nurtures the crops that most likely surround this barn is the same light that creates or revitalizes ideas, aspirations, and spiritual development. The light that is shining through the window that symbolizes cultivation of the spirit and aspirations is also representing the way in which the window itself replenishes goals and creates solutions. This expression of ideas and concept that is more of a reiteration than oppositional thinking is in sharp contrast to the way in which the oxymoronic way that the endless outdoor upwardly space was conveyed through a tangible confined indoor space at ground level.
Similarly to how we are all individuals of a greater picture, this piece is part of a greater collection of photographs in what is called the “Emotion” series. Most of the other pieces in the collection are tangible forms of expression; a human body conveying messages of thought and emotion through innate body language or more linguistically forms of communications such as photographs of words like, “surge” and “art” that is depicted next to a cross. The piece, “She Came in Through a Window” is only one of two that conveys emotion through theory and without the use of societies most depended upon forms of communication. This furthers the meaning of the piece and the significance of the heavenly sky to discover one’s own possibilities and spiritualities.
The piece, even with its seemingly simplistic form, conveys deep philosophical content through a multitude of symbolism, oxymoronic and reiterated expressions that all fit in the confines of one photograph. Viewing this piece is to view an unfolding exploration of artistic innovation that discovers new photographic subtleties in order to fully express the very concept of ingenuity and opportunities.

"Summer Landscape" by C.R.

For my Docent talk I picked Marilyn Senko’s Summer Landscape Painting’s, with my primary focus being painting # 3. While I thoroughly enjoyed the whole gallery I choose Marilyn for the reason of knowing her better than any other artist in this year’s 2010 Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. After knowing Marilyn through taking several classes with her I’ve personally gotten to see how she develops her work from start to finish. Luckily, I was in the Outdoor Landscape Painting class in which Marilyn created these paintings. I first met Marilyn during last year in the painting class with Jian Cui during the first session of summer classes.
Marilyn is currently a part-time student at Suny Oneonta Majoring in Studio Art as well as completing a minor in Art History. Marilyn said that since she can remember she’s always loved drawing and painting. When discussing to me her background in art she replied “I remember when I was in 4th grade, I was able to skip a lesson that the rest of the class had to do just to copy a drawing on a large scale because the teacher needed a large drawing of a ship.” Another fond memory she recalled was creating Holiday crafts through drawing and painting. After graduating high school in 1983 she worked as a waitress until 1990 when she decided to attend college. Marilyn completed her associated degree in Fine arts. Her goal was to continue on to complete her BA and receive a Masters in Studio Art. With this, her dream was to be an art instructor at a college. Unfortunately, after her life took a drastic turn, Marilyn ended up going back to school to be an RN due to the economy at the time, and all the cut backs going on in the art field. Several years later, Marilyn decided to once again pursue her dream and started attend Suny Oneonta as a part-time student in Spring 2008. Though there were many things preventing Marilyn from attending school from 1992-2008, she said one thing remained the same, which was her consistent love for art. Back in school, and loving her major, Marilyn decided to sign up for Landscape painting. She had mentioned that she was curious to know what the class had to offer since she hadn’t drawn or painted in several years. Marilyn enjoys taking drawing/painting class because she believes the more she is able to have time to paint and draw the better her artist skills will become. If all goes well, she aspires to teach at a college somewhere other than NY State. She had mentioned, that maybe if she gets good enough, she’ll sell her professional painting’s, and would love to display them in an exhibits. Unsure of what the future will truly bring, she stays optimistic about being an artist because she loves it, and believes it is truly a part of her soul. Other than being a student/artist, Marilyn is a mother and a full-time nurse at Cooperstown Bassette Healthcare center where she works in the cancer level of the hospital. With Marilyn working on such a stressful floor in hospital, the painting class became a joyful and meditative adventure. With being a full time nurse, it’s not often that one gets to stop and enjoy the scenery of an outdoor setting especially on a nice day.
Our instructor, Jian Cui is an amazing Assistant Professor at the State University of Oneonta who teaches mainly in the categories of Computer Art and Drawing. Jian Cui received his MFA in New Media from Pennsylvania State University, and his MA in Computer Art from Savannah College of Art and Design, GA. He also received a BFA in Sculpture from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing where he began his art career, being native to this area of China. Jian Cui's works deal with the internal and external conflicts between an individual and the environment. He is interested in integrating traditional 2D and, 3D arts with contemporary digital media. He loves Landscape painting and was the perfect mentor in the outdoor painting class.

In Jian’s class we literally sat outside every day from 10am to 12pm. Within the 6 week course the weather was phenomenal, barely a drop of rain. The class went to various locations spending a week at each one. The Campus Pond was our first serious painting location. The pond is actually depicted in one of Marilyn’s three paintings, which landed its spot in the middle of the three landscape portrayals. Through the paintings, and especially in the way they are displayed, viewers can observe how Marilyn’s artistic quality progressed. The chronological display not only shows how Marilyn’s artistic skills improved, but it also shows how Jian helped us to evolve through lending his students constructive criticism. Along with exploring the campus region, the class was instructed to explore new scenery, such as down town Oneonta which has beautiful old houses. In addition, Jian encouraged his students to paint at home, explaining that a 6 week course was barely enough time to develop gifted painters, thus the weekly homework assignment. The top picture in the display is one of Marilyn’s homework assignments, which depict the street in which Marilyn resides.

The objective of Jian’s Class was for the students to work as an advanced studio art class, where we would use new media’s and subject’s that were not covered in other Suny Oneonta’s painting classes. The emphasis that Jian strived for his students to adapt to was the integration of creative and technical aspects through Painting. Jian's Inspirations for the class came from 19th century impressionist’s artist and, featured landscapes from central New York, many from the Oneonta area. Students were encouraged to work with acrylic and gauche on watercolor paper, thus Marilyn’s submissions of acrylic on paper. The Painting is of one of downtown Oneonta’s most distinct buildings, The Robynwood Homecare Agency located on 43 Walnut in downtown Oneonta. Through observation, I have found that in painting on several of Oneonta’s beautiful streets, the Robynwood building has become quite a popular choice for students to pick for their Landscape Portrayals. Marilyn’s depiction of Robynwood Homecare displays the various rendering skills in which Jian taught his class to learn. This was one of the final locations that the class painted in.
To better understand what Landscape painting is about, I’ll explain how Jian educated the class. Landscape art is a type of painting that covers natural scenery, such as streets, mountains and valleys. In landscape painting, the subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a cohesive composition. The goal of Landscape painting is to capture as many elements as permitted by the canvas. Typically the sky is always included in the view of the artist. Another element that should be taken into consideration when painting is the weather. The overall mood and tone of the painting is often affected by the weather conditions.
Now that we understand what we’re looking for let’s take into consideration the fundamental objectives through viewing Marilyn’s Landscape Painting #3. When viewing Marilyn’s painting, my immediate feeling is warmth, a perfect portrayal of a warm summer day, which may I add, she has done quite nicely in all three. Seeing the bright orange/red brick makes you feel as if the sun is shining right and reflecting off the hot brick structure. The contrast of the house against the cool trees and the almost opaque sky makes the building pop. The sky gives off a very warm and dreamlike setting for the painting. The contrast of the juxtaposed colors makes the viewer focus on the small and intricate detailing that the building has to offer, and more importantly its 3-dimensionality. The warm grayish-white really highlights the bright yellowish-white gingerbread molding that trims that house. You can feel the cool areas in the painting. Marilyn did a lovely job creating the shaded areas in the painting, such as the shadows under the molding and porch area, as well as underneath the trees and flowering plants. The variation in the shades of the green in the foliage makes them seem so lively and real. Overall I’m just really drawn to the picture; to me it’s warm, and familiar.

I think that Marilyn is a very talented individual. I have enjoyed taking classes with her, and getting to know how wonderful she is on the inside. Her love for art is so inspiring to me. Like Marilyn, I too would like to get my Masters in art education. To see how her passion has for art has always prevailed is so touching to me personally. Her patients with school and work, I’m sure, will be greatly rewarded.

"Cow" by J.H.

Mullen Gallery- Student Show

One piece that I felt stood out the most was the one of the cow. It was like none of the other pieces in the whole show. This piece was done with little sections of paper to create this over sized picture of a cow. Cows around here are not a rare sight, but people who live in cities this could be. For myself I have seen a cow but being next to this is like being next to a real cow as funny as that sounds. Luke Dougherty used watercolors created this piece. For this talk I had took it upon myself to email Luke Dougherty to get a few questions answer that I had about the piece, which he did respond to.

The first is the medium Luke used, which is watercolor. I thought that the chose of watercolors was perfect because of the texture it gives to the paper. The subject being a cow means that it has fur and when painting with watercolors you have brush stokes, which lends itself very well for fur. Each block of paper was painted separately and then maneuvered together to create this cow. With each block being painted gives each block a unique look to it because not one brush stoke is the same. The brush strokes show movement and give the cow movement. Along with each block being painted individually there are shadows and light spots and give the cow a sense of depth. From a far view you would think this would be a real cow until you get closer and see all the brush strokes.

When looking at the painting you see the cow looking back at you as if the cow is frozen while looking at you. You don’t know what it is thinking; maybe its nervous, or just have no idea what is going on around it. Looking at how the painting was done, by grid, it started from a photograph first. I have done grids before and how I’ve done it was you take a picture and grid it out then on the paper make an enlarged version of that same grid with the same amount of sections. Then for each section you paint what you see in the picture to make it a larger version of its self.

The first question I had asked Luke Dougherty was why a cow? You don’t see many pieces that have a cow as the main subject and I have found this interesting. You never really see a cow alone they’re always with a group. This cow has an interesting story behind it, Luke Dougherty was photographing cows in a neighbor’s field, and he had made a project of these photos. The cows have this amazing presence, Luke stated, and “they are really quite peaceful and curious, although you do have to be fairly careful about them. Jack, the farmer that lets me photograph his cows is a neighbor with a notorious slob named Arney. Arney raises Jersey cows while Jack raises Belted Galloways. It turns out that Arney let his fence fall into disrepair and one of his Jerseys impregnated one of Jacks Galloways. The white head is Jersey while the black body is Galloway. I liked the idea of a Bastard cow. I think I am a bit of a bastard cow myself.” After reading this email it made the painting so much more than a painting of the cow because it has more meaning behind it with the cow being two different types of cow. When you looked at the painting you know it was a lonely cow until you here its story on how different the cow really is. The first time I saw the cow I thought it was cute and then you keep looking at it, and he’s alone just looking at you.

The second questioned I asked Doughery was why he decided to use a grid. From my view it was because this was a different and easy way to enlarge a picture. One can see he wanted this to be a large painting and the easiest way to blow up a small picture is to block it out and go by each section and redraw it. Also with a grid each piece is important to the whole painting because without one it can through off the whole picture. This may have taken a long time to create but all put together it made a really well done painting of a cow. What he had said to me for the reason was, “The Grid references modernism. In my mind Mondrian started it, and Agnes Martin, Sean Scully, and of course Chuck Close used it in ways that thrill me.” The grid also made the painting a little playful because it had to be put together like a puzzle and showed off the light heartedness of the painting.

Next was why the large size? For me the nice was necessary because it is a cow and it makes it feel really. When I look at this painting you just get this feeling that the size was so important. What Dougherty said was “I painted the image large because I wanted it to have several aspects. Monet's Water Lilies at the MOMA in NYC are very realistic from a distance but as you stand closer to them they turn into abstractions, a beautiful language of marks, tones etc. I love that.” This I find beautiful the fact that he wanted it to be seen as perfect from a far but as you come closer you see that it is not and it is full of loud brush strokes and paper showing through. The only way I feel someone can represent a cow and make it tasteful is to exaggerate it. What I mean by this is if you are going to paint a cow make it a cow. People see cows all the time, but never as a focal point for a piece of art.

One aspect of this painting that I find very important is Dougherty’s use of color. In this painting there are a lot of muted colors and at first I thought that this was because the cow was alone. I thought he wanted you to look at this and feel what the cow was feeling with the dark outside around him. This was not true when I asked Dougherty the question about the use of muted colors. His answer was “The colors are muted because in my opinion muted colors have the most lasting dignity. I work in almost all grey of one sort or another. Bright colors don't grow on you, they are what they are. Think of grey eyes that seem to shift colors depending, this is a really interesting experience. There is also a somber quality to muted, like a minor key, only without the forced drama.” This statement shows me there is truly a lot of thought behind this. That by using all different tones of grey he wanted to create a serene environment so that when you look at his painting you are not over whelmed with the over use of color. I think this make the painting have some sophistication even though it is a cow.

What I find that is very important about this painting is the use of a strong brush stroke. The way he applied the paint really lends its self well for the painting. I think that the strokes show off the fur of the cow, and give it a sense of movement. It also helps with the abstract feeling the Dougherty was trying to create. Dougherty stated that, “strong brushstrokes are exciting to me. Think of Japanese brush painters, the calligraphy of a mark conveys a lot of feeling.” You see this feel that he is talking about with the brush strokes. One can see the movement with his use of large brush strokes.

Last what I feel is important to the cow painting is what Dougherty was feeling at the time. This I feel has something to do with every piece of work. Their needs to be that spark, something that makes you want to create something. Dougherty said I don't know what I was feeling at the time. There is this thing that happens to me, I start to think about an image, maybe the way you start to think about something you are going to write, and the image sticks around, like a piece of furniture I pulled out of the garbage. There is something that I like about it. If I tried to say what, I would just be selling you or myself. I think images come from a place that is aside from verbal reasoning, not better or truer, just different. I think for him knowing the story behind this cow helped him with his idea of the cow painting. I also believe this thought was unconsciously thought of during the time the painting was being created.

I am very excited that I chose this piece and emailed the artist. I know now the really reason for this painting and that is how the cow differs from all the other cows. This painting I found to be different for all the other paintings in the show, it stood out to me. I was very excited when the artist emailed back, and hope he goes far with his art.