2001-02-24 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

By Susan Hartenstein

From The Artists Studio
Rockaway Artists Alliance

Last words on a first-rate event: Saturday - T6 - Music - Art - Poetry - Warmth - Welcome - Smiles. Join RAA from 12 - 3 p.m. for a special afternoon at Fort Tilden, sTudio 6. Let’s chase away those winter doldrums, together!

RAA quickie: March 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park -- the reception for the exhibit of work by 15 well-known women artists, including RAA’s Esther Grillo.

Kate Judge is a Rockaway filmmaker whose work is inspired by the people and places in her community. She was recently awarded a 2001 Queens Community Arts Fund grant for her latest film/video project, "The Circuit." One of only four individual artists to receive this funding, which is from the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Queens Council on the Arts, Judge is driven to take ordinary stories and tell them in an extraordinary way. In her own words, she strives to "create thought-provoking work that… help[s] define the voice of this unique urban outpost in Queens." "The Circuit" is a video documentary about the yard sale experience in Rockaway. It reveals the personalities and practices of this fascinating subculture. We look forward to its completion.

"Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art" is an exhibit of art, which emerged from that country at a time of great cultural, social and political upheaval. The influences of the outside world and the highly charged tensions between these influences and the traditions of the past are reflected in the works displayed. The drawings and paintings from the collection are placed within their social and historic, as well as their artistic context. This period saw the fall of the Qing dynasty and the rise of the modern Chinese nation-state. The early 20th Century saw the influence of foreign countries and the rise of a mercantile class in China – new patrons of the arts who preferred portraiture, popular narrative subjects and colorful flower-bird compositions to the literate styles and subjects of the preceding 300 years. Many artists began experimenting with dramatic and expressive imagery and brushwork, as well as new subjects. We see in certain work the use of traditional themes expressed in new and dramatic techniques. There is experimentation with realistic rendering of natural scenery rather than the old formulas of composition and brushstroke. One particular artist on exhibit combines Chinese media with a Western rendering of volume, using opaque silvery white to create patterns and highlights. The influence of Japan can also be detected in artists such as Feng Zikai, who lived into the latter part of the 20th Century. "Seated Woman" by Lin Fengmian (1900-1991) shows the influence of the Fauvist use of color, line and pattern.

The works of three mid-20th Century Chinese artists practicing a new traditionalism are also explored. Particularly striking among these is an amazing series of album leaves by Qi Baishi, "Insects and Plants," which combines, within the same painting, insects drawn with extraordinary specificity and delicacy, and flowers and vegetables which are colorful, free and sketchy.

No matter what the approach to tradition and modernism, the works in this fascinating exhibit are crafted with imagination and technical expertise. Also on exhibit is a wardrobe from the Ming dynasty. Its inlay work done with mother-of-pearl, amber, glass and other materials will take your breath away. The exhibit runs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through August 19.

Enjoy the week. Let’s hope March’s lion doesn’t have too loud a roar.

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