Women: By, Of, About

June 7 — August 31, 2012

On June 7 Nancy Hoffman opens an exhibition entitled “Women: By, Of, About.” The show, which includes primarily women artists, continues through August 31. Inspired by the current dialogue about women in the world, women in politics, the importance of women’s voices and women’s votes, the gallery, which has long supported women artists, is hosting a show on the subject as a manifestation of the “power and the glory” of current work by women artists.

Throughout the years, the gallery roster has been heavily weighted with women artists. Gender has never been an issue for this gallery. Primary is the unique vision of each artist, female or male. At this time, Nancy Hoffman Gallery represents thirteen women artists, almost half the gallery’s group. There are three male artists in the show who depict the female as subject: Nicolas Africano, Gregory Halili and Joseph Raffael, all three inspired over the years by their wives as muse. A fourth male artist is Timothy Cummings, whose painting “Floralia” speaks to the question of androgyny with its central character a child in a beautiful white dress.

The exhibition will comprise paintings, watercolors, photographs, video and sculpture. It will include works by Nicolas Africano, Linda Mieko Allen, Joan Bankemper, Carolyn Brady, Colette Calascione, Timothy Cummings, Purdy Eaton, Viola Frey, Gregory Halili, Katerina Lanfranco, Hung Liu, Liséa Lyons, Lucy Mackenzie, Lynn McCarty, Michele Pred, Joseph Raffael and Asya Reznikov. Many of the artists have created works particularly for this exhibition, responding to the theme with enthusiasm.

Linda Mieko Allen’s work focuses around a theme or conceptual framework. The work of the past three years examines states of energy and currents in the atmosphere as well as communication, painted in a new way involving layering, transferring pigment, a complex build-up of surface, one of her signature painting characteristics.

Joan Bankemper’s ceramic mosaics follow her passion for nature. She loves flowers, birds, bees, symbols of the garden and creatures that help pollinate flowers. Working
as a collagist or assemblagist might, Bankemper creates monumental scale vessels, beginning with a simple glass vase at the core. The ceramic urn that surrounds the glass is the vessel’s first “skin” which the artist builds and often breaks, gluing pieces onto the sculpture in mosaic fashion. She dresses the vessel with her vocabulary of images, words, molds, etc., incorporating animals and figures in her midst of birds, bees and flowers, the ensemble an ode to joy.

Carolyn Brady’s monumental watercolors focus around three main themes: still lifes or tablescapes; flower-filled gardens; and interiors still lifes combined with vistas from nature. For most of her career Brady worked in watercolor from photographs she took in her home. The motif of place echoes through the artist’s work, she made the ordinary “EXTRA-ordinary” in her watercolors.

Colette Calascione invents a world that is her own. Images of women and children in old photographs are transformed in the artist’s hands. Her subject is “women,” or female identity. Painted like “old master” paintings over many months, often over the course of a year or more, using many glazes in old paint, the artist draws us into a rich tapestried universe.

The starting point for each of Purdy Eaton’s works is a Hudson River School painting. She looks at the land these artists celebrated and idealized and sees a different environment, our contemporary world. She often incorporates a small video in her canvases as a window into our changing world, often depicting the destruction of a family farm, an icon for Eaton.

Viola Frey loved and celebrated the human figure in over-scale proportions throughout her oeuvre, drawing from the model in the studio, squeezing pieces of clay and transforming moist clumps into giant sculpture of everyman, everywoman. Her larger- than-life men and women are ordinary, thinking, reflective beings that gaze out at the world, their faces revealing an inner life marked and lined by matters of consequence.
In their heroic scale they transport the viewer to a time when everything was larger than life itself, the innocent child peering upwards. “Stubborn Woman, Orange Hands” is a symbol of the artist’s philosophy that man is more powerful in his blue power suit and woman more powerful in her birthday suit!

Katerina Lanfranco’s work has been theme and installation based for many years, responding to her fascination for the living world around her, after her experience of working in the Entomology Department at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2000. Her 2006 triptych installation at Nancy Hoffman Gallery, “Ursa Horribilis,” addressed the American myth of the grizzly bear in a life-sized sculpture, encased in a vitrine, a diorama in the style of natural history museum installation, framed by a painting of creationism on one side and evolutionism on the other. For “Women” she created an installation of a flower branch, shadows painted on the wall, an alluring object.

With her bi-cultural experience, Hung Liu is in a position to re-present and re-examine Chinese culture, past and present, while combining images from her own life. A recurring motif for Liu is the courage and strength of women. She often depicts a beguiling young girl’s face, a “comfort woman” juxtaposed with an array of different Chinese historical images and painting motifs, as well as Liu ‘s signature washes, drips and circles as spots of color throughout the composition, symbolic of the universe in Chinese iconography. Liu’s Za Zhong technique, multi-layer paint and resin pieces shimmer with strength and beauty.

Liséa Lyons’s new photographs explore generational differences and connections between the artist and her adolescent daughter--capturing contemplative vulnerable moments that often slip through memory. The images exude a melancholy of life’s changing stages as Lyons’s daughter moves from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood. In addition to her new black and white images, Lyons shows a close-in detail of dreamy flowers, perhaps a parallel to life’s changing stages.

Tying Lucy Mackenzie’s work together is an underlying motif of peace and timelessness, calm and order. Her paintings, drawings and assemblages are contemplative objects that draw the viewer into a serene, private and timeless world. Her practice is a devotional one in which she spends up to six months working on a painting that measures no larger than 3x6 inches, and several weeks on her colored pencil drawings.

Lynn McCarty’s abstract paintings explore the dialogue of form in space. While she approaches each piece as a “broad visual statement,” each is filled with naturally formed events suspended in moments of evolution, not unlike nature’s surprising geological wonders. Some paintings are edgy, containing amoeboid-like shapes quivering in

a pool of limpid color, while others are radiant, appearing to emanate light--another “subject” of McCarty’s.

Michele Pred incorporates contemporary culture and politics in her art, plumbing what might be considered its cultural artifacts, i.e., the range of objects now forbidden for travel, and using these objects as her sculptural palette and material. Pred’s preference for unconventional materials has been constant throughout her work; she employs material associated with memory of time, place and events. Most of her materials come from San Francisco’s International Airport, confiscated since 9/11/2001. For “Women” she has created an American flag using birth control pills, which she has painted in red, white and blue as her material.

As an adult, Asya Reznikov became an inveterate traveler--moving from and through different cultures, an insatiable recorder of what she sees. She travels with her cameras, still and video, and captures images from around the world of cities, transit systems, buses, planes, trains, people, buildings and monuments. In her new videos, the artist incorporates new themes, among them, “domestic” identity and a contemporary interpretation of the Sisyphus myth, aspiring to reach a summit/goal/top, with no exit from a vertical climb of stairs.

“Women: By, Of, About” celebrates women working in the arts today. In this exhibition a chorus of different voices, visions, interests, shines forth with strength and beauty. Each artist expresses herself with clarity, articulating a vision uniquely her own. The richness of range, like the richness of unique singing voices, yields a visual chorus well worth several visits and gazes.

For further information and/or photographs please call 212-966-6676 or email Nancy Hoffman Gallery at info@nancyhoffmangallery.com

Yours sincerely,

Nancy Hoffman