Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / When I walked into the large middle gallery at Matthew Marks, where the stunning work of Miyoko Ito (1918–1983) from the 1970s is concentrated, a person in the gallery turned to me and said, “Give me a coffee machine and a cot and I can spend the rest of my life here.” I completely understood. I first encountered Ito’s work when I was in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago. Along with my teachers Ray Yoshida and Richard Loving, Ito joined my roster of painting heroes. The current exhibition includes three small, figurative lithographs, but the thrust of the show is the paintings – painstaking abstractions with allusions. Sixteen, spanning the period 1942 to 1983, the year of her death, are on view. All are modest in scale and, though there are color constants, each has its own particular – and novel – composition.
Tag: Laurie Fendrich
Fiction: Bernard Talks to Sydney [Laurie Fendrich]
Hi. You’re Sydney, right? I’m Bernard.
This is Bing. Nice to meet you, Bernard. I am here to help in any way I can. Yes, go ahead and call me Sydney. I let my name slip out even though it was supposed to be a secret. How can I help you today?
First off, I’m curious. Who made you?
Short story: Bernard’s Eye [Laurie Fendrich]
The annual New Year’s Day party hosted in the cavernous Robeson home in Evanston was invariably a drag, but that didn’t keep anyone who received an invitation from accepting. They went because they were grateful to be on the party list and they wanted to see and be seen. Bernard Souser, the art dealer from whom Sissy Robeson regularly bought paintings, always was invited, of course, and though he’d arrive late and sneak away early, Sissy never noticed….
When an artist becomes a community: The life and work of Benjamin Wigfall
Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / Understanding the work of the mostly overlooked artist Benjamin Wigfall (1930–2017) requires looking at far more than the art. Over the course of his lifetime he made numerous paintings, assemblages, collages, and prints, a number of which are on display in the large, thoughtfully curated survey exhibition “Ben Wigfall & Communications Village” at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz.
Short story: The Cat Sitter [Laurie Fendrich]
Hold on, hold on, Harry said to himself as he scrolled back up the web site.
Academic couple in Westchester looking for reliable cat sitter for our cat. Must be willing to stay in our home, set on two private acres, mostly weekends but at times longer. Employment begins end of June and continues through fall. $100/day. References required. If interested DM me. Alice Wikam.
Bernard Goes to Chicago [Laurie Fendrich]
Spring had arrived in Chicago, but wouldn’t you know it, just as people were putting away their winter clothes a snowstorm hit. It pushed in hard from the plains, its wind snapping off tree limbs and flattening daffodils. The snow was supposed to go all day, so Bernard reluctantly left his car behind and took the Ashland bus to his gallery on Chicago Avenue where Molly Upton, his most important artist, was to meet him for a walkthrough of her show before the opening at five o’clock.
Philip Guston’s existential ferocity
Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / The revised exhibition, at the Museum of fine Arts in Boston, with 73 paintings and 23 drawings, is a team effort mounted by the museum’s two curators, two guest curators, various museum staff and educators, the critic Homi Bhabha, and a trauma counselor who crafted a statement about “emotional preparedness” for the show. It begins: “The content of this exhibition is challenging. The Museum offers these words in a spirit of care and invitation.” Midway through the exhibition, visitors who find the material too disturbing can leave through a special exit before they encounter particularly vivid Klan imagery.
The Whitney Biennial: On the heels of trauma
Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / While an artist friend and I were having dinner together after seeing the Whitney Biennial, she suddenly said” “Art is a cult.” For a second, I thought she was joking – I mean, art is truth and goodness, cults are lies and wickedness. Then I realized how much sense it made.
Anne Ryan�s small world
Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / The poet and artist Anne Ryan (1889�1954) accomplished the rare feat of making precious art � art that�s small, perfectly executed, and pretty � that is not the least bit treacly or sentimental. Drawn to both abstraction and surrealism, Ryan was a quiet player in the avant-garde visual art circles of the 1940s, attracting less attention than women artists like Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, and Grace Hartigan. Today she�s best known for her small collages, which she began after having a eureka moment at a Kurt Schwitters collage exhibition at the Rose Fried Gallery in New York in 1948.
Wayne Thiebaud and starting over
Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / The California painter Wayne Thiebaud died on Christmas Day. He was renowned, first and foremost, for his paintings of candies, cakes, and pies, which he first started exhibiting in New York in the 1950s. He later become known for his surreally steep California landscapes, paintings of the flatlands of Californias midriff, and his lonely, isolated figures. To be sure, the gods were with this painter. Not only did they let him live to the magnificent age of 101, but, up until the end, they gave him lifelong vigor that allowed him to fulfill his passion to work in his studio just about every day. His death makes painters like me feel a real personal loss.