2000-12-16 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio...

From The Artists Studio...

“Night Painting With Lizard”, 2000, gouache on paper – Catherine Drabkin – Courtesy of Kraushaar Galleries, Inc. 
“Night Painting With Lizard”, 2000, gouache on paper – Catherine Drabkin – Courtesy of Kraushaar Galleries, Inc.

By Susan Hartenstein

James McKay teaches oil painting for the RAA in a Saturday program at MS 198. Friday, December 22 from 4 to 6 p.m. McKay, RAA and the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation are presenting "Artists of the Future" at MS 198. This exhibition features student art from this program. All students are invited to participate. The public is invited to enjoy art, food, friendship and stage entertainment.

Aside from being a highly talented artist whose work has been featured in this column, and an RAA board member, McKay is an inspirational teacher. Many of his students have won prizes and gone on to prestigious art schools on scholarships, including FIT and Pratt. Quayelle Glenn is six years old and a student in the above-mentioned art program at MS 198. "Somewhere – Everywhere," a painting by this special young woman, has been chosen by Arts and Kids to enter the final round of competition in the annual Arts and Kids Open Arts Contest in the 6–7 year old category. In addition, the work is slated to be reproduced in this organization’s book, "Innocent Impressions – The Best Works from America’s Emerging Young Artists." Congratulations to Quayelle or as she is more commonly known, Q. James McKay reports that she is all business and quite serious in her approach to her work. "She makes me proud every time I think of her," says McKay. He also wishes to tell the other students in his class how sensational they are. You’re pretty sensational yourself, James. Thank you, and good luck to Q. This column will keep its readers posted about contest results.

RAA’s Christian Le Gars is one of 25 printmakers whose work appears in the first portfolio ever to come out of the internationally renowned Printmaking Workshop. The workshop was founded 52 years ago by master printmaker Robert Blackburn. Through all these years, even through times of financial hardship, it has remained under Blackburn’s determined leadership, a haven where printmakers from all over the world and of all levels of experience have come to learn, to teach and to experiment in an ideal atmosphere of communal creativity. This past Sunday the portfolio was presented for the first time, to coincide with Blackburn’s 80th birthday. "The Millennium Folio" celebrates a new millennium of printmaking. It celebrates the workshop’s past and its future – a future which did not seem possible at certain times. Only 35 copies of this stunning and treasured portfolio have been made. One will go to the Library of Congress. At Sunday’s celebration, tribute was paid to Blackburn and the workshop for its long, rich history of inspiration and its essential importance to the arts. Musician Jimmy Owens honored Blackburn by playing for him on his flugelhorn. Famous fellow printmaker of the workshop, Will Barnet, was there. Among the other workshop printmakers whose art is included are Elizabeth Harington, who conceptualized the portfolio, and Denise Kasof and Edward Fausty, both of whom were pivotal in organizing it. Each of the 25 prints is gorgeous. A wide range of printmaking techniques has been used. Le Gars’ print is particularly beautiful – striking and luminous. Congratulations, Christian for being, deservedly, chosen to be part of this piece of art history.

Manhattan is lovely though crowded this time of the year. Here are a few exhibitions you may wish to see:

  • Kraushaar Gallery – 724 Fifth avenue – oils and gouaches by Catherine Drabkin are on view through December 22 and worth seeing. Drabkin’s landscapes and interiors are painted in large areas of color that play wonderfully off each other. The paintings are filled with an extraordinary, strange light – what Drabkin calls a symbolic light i.e. the light from the objects. Not representational, it is like the light of van Gogh, not of Sargent. Drabkin had a happy childhood, she explains, and it is that light which she associates with her childhood that she craves. Her interiors are filled with the toys her husband has collected. Some of her interiors are painted from a low point of view, as would be seen by a child. Indeed, there is an element of innocence and purity in the viewpoint of all her works.

  • D.C. Moore Gallery – 724 Fifth avenue – through December 29 – recent egg tempera paintings by George Tooker and drawings by Ben Shahn. There is a thought-provoking uneasiness in the works of Tooker – where, for example, fingers that should be touching oneself or another do not really touch. A contact with no contact. Shahn’s political and social themed drawings exhibit a versatile use of line and proportion and a knowledge that what is not shown can be as expressive as what is shown.
  • Tibor de Nagy Gallery: Selections from the First Fifty Years – 724 Fifth avenue (notice a trend?) – through January 13 – an interesting, wide ranging collection that includes works by Jane Freilicker, Red Grooms, Rudy Burckhardt, Elaine De Kooning and many others.
  • International Center of Photography – 1130 Fifth avenue at 94th street - "Eugene Atget: The Pioneer" – through January 21 – a collection of this photographer’s fascinating works made more interesting by their juxtaposition with the works of those influenced by him. These include Walker Evans, Bill Brandt, Jacques Darche and Lee Friedlander to name a few. The accompanying works deal with the same subject matter and make for a revealing comparison of approaches. Atget did not wish to be called an artist. He saw his works as "documents for artists," meaning for them to be neutral and unsentimental. Whatever his self-definition, it is through Atget’s choices and compositions that the images’ poetry of line, shadow and form is revealed. Some of his later images appear to become more abstracted and simplified but never loose their sense of reality. This is an exhibit you will see and wish to see again.

So enjoy and have a very happy holiday.

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