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Gallery 66 in Cold Spring, NY is pleased to announce “Figuratively Speaking”

  |   February 28, 2013  |  Comment

“Figuratively Speaking”

 Gallery 66 NY is pleased to announce “Figuratively Speaking” their March exhibition of the works of  Donald Alter of Newburgh featuring his creative vision of the human form. Each artist interprets the human figure in both literal and surreal art forms, capturing the essence of our physicality and imagination.

It is common practice for artists to list, on their curriculum vitae, the colleges and universities they attended, just as a point of interest. However, the name Black Mountain College carries with it a certain significance that imbues its graduates with added gravitas. Donald Alter is such an alumnus.

The Bronx-born Alter, who will celebrate his 83rd birthday this year, is the last remaining graduate of the rural North Carolina school that served as a combination mecca and artistic trailblazer for a generation of American artists. Founded in 1933 by the controversial scholar, John A. Rice, Black Mountain College took up the mantle that was dropped by the closing of the Bauhaus School in Germany, under the increasingly powerful Nazi regime. The new school operated on the premise that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspectsof a truly liberal arts education, and it attracted and created maverick spirits.  Although Black Mountain College lasted only 24 years, it quickly became legendary in the art world.  The heady atmosphere spawned such future luminaries as Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Ben Shahn, Cy Twombly, Merce Cunningham, Robert Motherwell, Arthur Penn, John Cage, Kenneth Noland and Donald Alter.

Alter entered Black Mountain College in 1948, at the age of 18, and studied under the noted German artist Josef Albers. As Alter recalls, it was all primarily painting, but I did everything that I could touch. I did sculpture, weaving, all kinds of crazy stuff.After he left Black Mountain in 1950, he never felt the urge to return to school, and believes to this day that once you learn yellow and red make orange, you’re off and running.  Alter became a textile designer in New York City, a trade that he followed for the next four decades. He was always involved in the arts,he states, and at 65, he opted to leave the world of commercial art, and returned to painting as a full-time pursuit.

Alter’s work has recently been described by one art critic as a very sensitive, picture-book narrative style in the form of paintings, drawings and mixed media works.  Just as his media run the gamut from oil to acrylic, from watercolor to weaving, the artist’s themes defy categorization, and range from abstract landscapes to almost Chagall-like depictions of people and animals.  Alter recently eschewed the use of canvas, preferring to paint his figures on the styles section of the Sunday New York Times!   He relates these paintings to his inner caveman:  wanting to leave behind pieces of himself on surfaces seen by many.  His use of colors can be at once startling and satisfying, and invites the observer’s gaze to linger. Figuratively Speaking will exhibit Donald Alter’s unique and unframed nudes and figures, including the Sunday Times paintings and  featuring several works  that will be shown for the first time.

The Gallery will also be showing artists Sarah Haviland and Giselle Behrens in Gallery 2.

Sarah Haviland

In addition to reflecting basic natural forms trees, birds, plants in her art, sculptor

Sarah Haviland’s work is rich in its elegant representations of women. Whether her medium is paper or bronze, wire mesh, mirrors, or cement, her abstract figurative works bring an originality and grace to her subjects.  Often resembling plants, trees, or birds.  Her work investigates mythology, images of women, and the implications of mirrors.

Sarah’s recent sculptures and installations open out from an inward female presence to wider contexts of human relationship: to local history, to community, to family, and to the natural world. She uses diverse media from cement and clay, to wire mesh and mirrors and responds to specific settings or states of mind.  On Exhibit will be two wire mesh female winged figures, floating in the air spanning 8 feet.

A Yale alumna, Haviland attended Hunter for her postgraduate studies, after which she became a recognized member of Peekskills artist community. She has been exhibited in several museums, galleries, parks, and educational institutions, among them, Pratt Sculpture Park and NYU Langone Medical Center. Sarah has also received a number of grants and awards, including a Creativity Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships from both the New York and New Jersey State Arts Councils, and residences at Sculpture Space, Skowhegan, and Yaddo.

Giselle Behrens

Giselle Behrens has established her career as a fine arts photographer, specializing in digitally enhancing and painting her images. The native Venezuelan first took up film photography fourteen years ago, using the works of Ansel Adams as both her inspiration and her personal classroom. When digital photography emerged as a viable new format, Behrens adopted it, and has focused primarily on fashion and the female form. Her feminine themes are often whimsical a woman nonchalantly sharing tea with a rooster, a nude clinging to a cloud tree high above the firmament, a disheveled model hatching sleepily from a parti-colored egg. They reflect a playfulness, without sacrificing her respect for her subjects. Behrens specializes in creating Fine Art Fashion Editorials stories told through a series of enhanced images, often setting them in surreal worlds of her own devising.

Behrens completed her postgraduate studies in Art History at Caracas Universidad Metropolitana, and earned her MA in Digital Photography at the School of Visual Arts, NYC. Her work, which has been shown in Milan, Paris, and New York, as well as her native Venezuela, has garnered several awards at such prestigious venues as the International Photography Awards, Paris’ PX3 Prix de la Photographie, and the 2010 AuthentiCity, an annual photo contest jointly sponsored in Milan by Illi Issimo and the School of Visual Arts.

The exhibition will run from March 1 through 31, with an artists reception on Friday, March 1, from 6 to 9 PM. Gallery 66 NY is located at 66 Main Street, Cold Spring, NY.  For more information, call 845-809-5838 or go to www.gallery66ny.com.

Photo credit Daniel Timoldi

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