In which “The Body Electric” opens, and I survive

The Body Electric, at Cooperative Gallery 213
The Body Electric, at Cooperative Gallery 213

Yes, I survived. The sleepless nights beforehand, the shaking hands, the matting, the framing, pulling my back at the mat cutter. The transport, the hanging and arranging and re-hanging. The oppressive humidity. The transport and arrangement of the tons of food (with my sweetie, who not only framed my paintings beforehand, but provided first-rate food — which we will be eating for weeks, if not months — for the Thursday night opening reception).

And yes — I survived the publicity, the newspaper profile, the exhibit announcements, the interview for local TV, the praise, the hugs, well-wishes, and compliments from old friends and from family, meeting new admirers, answering the questions, discussions of artistic techniques, the help and support of my co-exhibitor and my other Cooperative Gallery 213 colleagues, and all the other great and nerve-wracking stuff.

And we packed up the remaining food, and cleaned up the gallery, and came home, and I read a glowing write-up of my work in the Triple Cities Carousel, had a couple of glasses of wine with my sweetie, and slept soundly with a profound sense of relief. Tonight is First Friday — the crowds may easily be larger, the action more hectic, but I survived the opening. Thank you to all.

Click in any of the tiled photos below, to switch to a slide show of the painting series. To exit the slide show, click the small X in the upper left corner.

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The Body Electric opens July 2 at Cooperative Gallery 213, with London & Beyond

At Last Only Here, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in.
At Last Only Here, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. (© Glenda Blake 2015)

This July, Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St. in Binghamton, NY, opens a dual exhibit by Glenda Blake and Chuck Haupt, titled respectively, The Body Electric and London & Beyond. The exhibit runs July 2-25, beginning Thursday, July 2, 6-9 p.m. with a reception, open to the public, at the gallery. The show will also be on display for the First Friday Art Walk from 3- 9 pm. Both artists will talk about their work in a public presentation on Third Thursday, July 16, 7 pm at the gallery.

Glenda Blake is a painter in oils whose realist/impressionist work frequently incorporates dramatically lit dancing figures. The Body Electric, her new work, celebrates the beauty of the human body with a series of nude figures seen from the back and side in dark studio interiors, in ambiguous dance-like postures. The series has its inspiration in the 1855 Walt Whitman poem of the same name, and exhibits a 19th-century-like sensibility.

“I make art to make marks,” Blake says, “and to search those marks for meaning. I make art to reveal to both myself and others the often unnoticed piquancy of the world around us.” She has exhibited her work in juried shows throughout the Northeast and New England. In 2013 she was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation for South Central New York for her ground-breaking series of paintings, “Unlikely Dance.” Visit her website at www.glendablake.com.

Windsor Sentry, © Chuck Haupt
Windsor Sentry, Chuck Haupt

Chuck Haupt is a photographer whose work as a photojournalist graced the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin for 30 years. His black and white photography in London & Beyond leads the viewer on a profound visual journey. “Photography freezes moments in time, forever,” he says. “The camera alone does not make the picture; I make it, using my eyes, emotions, and heart.” His website is www.chuckhaupt.com.

Cooperative Gallery 213, a popular stop on the First Friday Art Walk, is located at 213 State Street in Binghamton, and is open on both First Fridays 3-9 p.m. and regularly Fridays 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays 12-4 p.m. Follow the gallery on Facebook at Cooperative Gallery 213; find out more and sign up for the weekly e-newsletter at www.cooperativegallery.com or our Facebook page Cooperative Gallery 213.

A fun group show opening, a gallery membership, and a new look

Unfinished underpainting for the first painting in an as-yet untitled series of nudes
Above: Unfinished underpainting for the first painting in an as-yet untitled series of nudes: oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in.

What a breath of fresh air — for me, anyway, and I hope for you: a new design for my website! It’s still not fully functional with all the capabilities of the new template, but it’s at least as functional as the last. All things in good time.

Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St., Binghamton NY
Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St., Binghamton NY

This week I got some good news, following my application and interview for exhibiting (full) membership at Cooperative Gallery 213 in Binghamton: I was accepted! I am SO looking forward to working with this group of serious and highly skilled artists to show our work in the heart of the Binghamton Arts District. Also eager to get involved in some of the public arts projects connected to the gallery, with friends old and new who are already members.

BeethovenOaks_Melusina_TheGrove
My pieces in Members Only: clockwise from left, Unlikely Dance: Beethoven Oaks, Melusina. and The Grove
Still life by Linda Ciallelo
This wonderful still life by Linda Ciallelo is in the Windsor Whip Works members’ show. © 2015, Linda Ciallelo. Used with permission.

Last night, Sweetie and I went to the opening reception of the Members Only group show at Windsor Whip Works Art Center. It’s an unjuried show, so the quality varies widely, but there’s some stunning work there. (The show runs through March 1.) And it was a fun party — a full house, shoulder-to-shoulder, a really nice refreshment spread, and a really fun bunch of people, several of whom are my new colleagues at Cooperative 213.

So while a forecast major snow storm envelopes us over the next couple of days, I’ll be getting further into the first of a new series of paintings — top of this page — so far untitled. Looks like this will be a satisfyingly productive year for me; hope it is for you as well!

Now showing at the Lost Dog Cafe

Three Musicians -- oils on canvas, 16 x 20 in.
Three Musicians — oils on canvas, 16 x 20 in.

It’s been a couple of years since I last showed at the Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, NY. Although it’s awkward for people to look at the art when there are diners at the tables (and there are always diners at the tables in the Lost Dog!), it’s a lovely space, with three distinct exhibit areas, each with a nice hanging system. So this morning I parked my car full of art in front of their door, hauled my goods in, and set to work. This is the last time I’ll exhibit my Unlikely Dance series for a while, I think. But it looks wonderful in the Lost Dog space, as I knew it would, along with a couple of studies for the series and two new dance-themed pieces — The Grove and Three Musicians.

This First Friday night I’ll be in the Lost Dog Lounge holding forth at Meet the Artist (or so I imagine; this will be my very first Meet experience). And this month I’ll have a good excuse to have lunch and perhaps a dinner at the Dog — yummy!

I also have a few pieces in a November group show with the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, at the Krembs Gallery, UHS/Binghamton General Hospital, not shown here.

 

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Arts festivals, classes, and commissions — oh my!

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Binghamton JulyFest has come and gone once again, and I’m seriously considering skipping it next year. It is So. Hot. It is So. Exhausting. (If they decide to move the “Artists in Action” section back to the shady courthouse lawn, from the brick oven of Washington Street, I’ll look on it more favorably.) It takes me almost a week to recover. It was fun, of course — not party-city with Mary Robertson & family, as I’d expected, but there was good company all around. I spoke to some lovely people, shrugged off the inevitable idiots (“Did you paint all these by hand yourself?”) for the most part, and made some sales — enough to pay for admission and a little more, though nowhere near what I made last year. That may have been partly due to skipping Sunday, however — violent thunderstorms were forecast and Ron Sall, the super-hospitable festival coordinator, told us we were free to go if we felt the need. I felt the need, as did many others. Of course the thunderstorms didn’t materialize until late afternoon. Of course. This coming Saturday is Johnson City Carousel Day.

The class list for my  Introduction to Oil Painting course, at Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, was filled more than a week before the class starts, due partly to the handouts I distributed at JulyFest, and also to the distribution of the class description to the FASST (Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier) membership, for which I’m mightily grateful — also, I presume, to the Library newsletter, events calendar, postings, and Facebook event.Intro to Oil Painging So looking forward to it (it starts a week from today) and a bit anxious — having to rein myself in so I don’t spend all my earnings on class materials I didn’t think to include in the initial price!

Meanwhile, I’m about ready to start on a commission — a piece ordered through the “Custom Order” function on Etsy. (See my shops at www.greenboat.etsy.com, and www.GreenBoatVintage.etsy.com .) I am so psyched about this painting. It started out vaguely enough, with a request for “a painting of a contra dance,” and I rather expected it to disappear when the client saw pricing and started answering hard questions… but that didn’t happen! She’s made a down-payment, signed a commission contract, and for the most part approved the initial composition sketch — some minor changes forthcoming by request — and I can’t wait to get started painting. It’s a very ambitions composition — will post progressives here and on my artist/designer Facebook page (click “Like Me on Facebook” in the right-hand column) — and a real challenge. You know how I love a challenge!

My eyes are still not working right and it looks like I’ll need to fit in retinal surgery sometime soon — and perhaps vision therapy to re-train my brain — but that will be as it will be. I just need to see better.

On with the show!

An emerging new process, and The Joy of Dancing

KwanYin and Chrysanthemums, 20x16 in., oils on canvas
KwanYin and Chrysanthemums, 20×16 in., oils on canvas

Two weeks and two days ago I had eye-muscle surgery. Nothing scarier for an artist than eye surgery, except maybe encroaching blindness. I’ve had this wonky left eye, which tracked upward and to the left of my right eye, since I was a kid. All along there were murmurings about the possibility of corrective surgery, but as time went on either the opthamologist was discouraging it or I was avoiding it. Prism arrangements in my glasses lenses brought the disparate images together, until recently. My optometrist encouraged me to see a specialist about the surgery — for real — because the maxxed-out prisms were no longer adequate to the task and he was concerned that my right eye would lose sight to the dominant and errant left. I’d already lost some depth perception, and had a growing cataract in the right eye. So I did it. Quite a do, and I’m still recovering. My eye is still not tracking quite properly all the time, but the surgeon said it would take six weeks to heal so I’m still hoping it’ll all straighten out. Meanwhile the cataract in the right eye has grown significantly in density, so that’s scheduled for surgery in May.

Hasn’t stopped me from painting, however — in fact, I’ve been quite productive. In my last post I talked about a paint-together still life session with Mary Robertson and Jan Wood (just before my surgery), and I’ve finished the painting I started that day, Kwan Yin and Chrysanthemums. Using a process new to me, I painted in semi-transparent glazes (mixed colors thinned with oil/resin medium) over my initial underpainting, saving the lightest lights and darkest darks for last. I love the result. So I started another — Henry and Rebecca — and have worked on a couple of earlier underpainted pieces, Demeter and Rebecca.

Demeter 04 -- almost finished!
Demeter 04 — almost finished!

 

Rebecca 03 -- progress!
Rebecca 03 — progress!

 

Henry and Rebecca 02 -- first color glazes
Henry and Rebecca 02 — first color glazes

These last two had given me problems due to my use of Turpenoid Natural for thinning the paint in the underpainting, but they did finally dry and I’m quite pleased with their progress. I’m close to finishing Demeter, thanks to a lovely paint-together session at Mary’s studio today.

This painting in transparent layers over a show-through underpainting has intrigued me for some time, and although I’d tried it before, to a limited extent, I’m finding it really freeing as an overall technique, That, plus saving the lightest lights and darkest darks for last — a lesson from John Singer Sargent — and I’m in a whole different ballfield than before: one I like a lot.

Meanwhile, my first long drive alone since surgery was the hundred-mile trip to Ithaca and back, to help take down the Joy of Dancing exhibit at the Tompkins County Public Library, where my Unlikely Dance series was the cornerstone. What a wonderful space, and wonderful show. My thanks once again to Sally Grubb, Scottish Country and contra dancer, exhibit coordinator at TCPL, and curator of this show. I got some photos before we disassembled it. A wonderful review of the show is here.

Another painting started in a paint-together

KwanYin with Flowers 01
KwanYin with Flowers 01 — 16×20 in., oil on canvas, unfinished

Actually, I haven’t renewed my membership in FASST, the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier. I think my membership dues were due this last summer, but I haven’t been happy with the organization, with its muddle of amateur and professional affiliations, and its largely amateur exhibitions. But I have made some wonderful friends there, including Mary Robertson, mentioned in my last post. I’m thinking of renewing now.

Today we painted together at the temporary FASST gallery in the Oakdale Mall, in Johnson City, NY. Jan Wood, president of FASST, joined us. Thanks to Mary’s husband Rudy, who fetched her forgotten canvas and her clamp light, we set up a simple still life with the flowers and pots that Mary brought and the KwanYin figurine that I brought, and did our underpaintings. We also took photos for use in finishing our paintings. It was a very happy couple of hours.

Mary Robertson - Still Life at the FASST mall gallery
Mary Robertson – still life at the FASST mall gallery. My underpainting at right.

Meanwhile, a couple of days ago one of my singing partners from Diamonds in the Rough brought me a copy of last week’s Ithaca Times newspaper, which included an art critic’s review of the “Joy of Dancing” show at the Tompkins County Library. I was flabbergasted and delighted by what he said about my work. Wow! Thank you, Warren Greenwood!

Re-entry!

Still Life at Mary's studio
Photo of still life set-up at Mary Robertson’s studio

It’s been one heckuva winter. Felled by first one virus and then another, I’ve been doing pretty much nothing for about two months while it snowed and froze outside. Still have the residual fatigue and cough, but last week I started painting again, thanks to my artist-friend Mary Robertson, who invited me to a still life session at her studio a few blocks away.

Cutler Maples_03
Unfinished, stage 03: Cutler Maples, 16×20 in., oils on canvas*

I’m not happy with the underpainting I did that day, but the activity has spurred me on to work more on a figural landscape I started last summer, which has been sitting on a shelf in my studio since July.

And that’s what I worked on when Mary came to my studio this week. Painting is such a solitary occupation, it’s great to occasionally have someone nearby to bounce things off of.

Study for Demeter 01
Unfinished, stage 01: Study for Light Within/Light Without: Demeter, 16×20 in., oils on canvas*

I’ve also done a couple more underpaintings for 16×20 in. oil studies for another large-ish series of 24×30 in. pieces, this time underpainting in burnt umber rather than cadmium red. I wasn’t sure at first what the unifying series theme would be, but as I worked in Photoshop composing the pieces, it came to me that all the pieces are explorations of interior figures in indoor light modified by outdoor light from windows. The figures are variously live or statuary. The series is tentatively titled Light Within/Light Without.

Rebecca_01
Unfinished, stage 01: Study for Light Within/Light Without: Rebecca, 16×20 in., oils on canvas*

But the first two underpaintings are not drying, and I’m wondering if that’s due to the citrus-based solvent I used for the first time, Turpenoid Natural. Has anyone else had this problem? I’ve learned, since buying it, that citrus-based solvents are actually more toxic than plain old unscented mineral spirits. I use solvents only on underpaintings, so toxicity’s not a major concern, but after this first experience with TurpNat I’m switching to the mineral spirits. In the meantime I’ve tried spraying the first piece — Demeter — with touch-up/damar varnish, which I’ve read somewhere will help it dry. If it works — fingers crossed — I’ll try it on Rebecca. Any advice/suggestions welcome! [UPDATE: I’ve done some online research, and sure enough artists are complaining about excessive drying times when Turpenoid Natural is used as solvent or medium in a painting. An advisory group on art media suggests using it for only brush-cleaning. And the damar varnish has just lain sticky and wet over the wet parts of the Demeter underpainting. Looks like a re-do on these two pieces.]

Have to take it slowly still, but it’s sure good to be painting again.

*”Like” my Facebook page at left, for access to the ongoing progress on these pieces — see my photo albums for each piece as it develops.

Yuletide is coming on…

Our Yule tree
Our Yule tree, with its growing collection of birds in the branches

After a wonderful closing reception on December 6, I’ve taken down Unlikely Dance at the Broome County Arts Council gallery space — leaving two studies that were sold — and the six paintings are back in my studio for a couple of weeks before going to Ithaca for

GoldenClouds: Study 1
GoldenClouds: Study 1 – sold
Golden Clouds: Study 2
Golden Clouds: Study 2 – sold

three months for a small-group show called “For the Joy of Dance,” at the Tompkins County Public Library. (The opening reception for that show will be in February, though it’ll be on view January through March.) It’s like having old friends come home, only to leave again.

RiverRead show
My show at RiverRead Books

Meanwhile, my smaller dance series is hanging, in part, in the lovely RiverRead Books shop in downtown Binghamton, That show includes a series of large heads of dancers wearing floral crowns, which I’ve never shown before. The opening was quiet, but the music of Idlewild was full of life.

And I’m offering earrings and cards for sale at Old Barn Hollow Local Food and Artisan Market.

GreenBoat Gallery earrings
GreenBoat Gallery earrings

The tree is up, in our front room, the cards are mailed, and shopping looms; as I did last year, I’ll go to Boscov’s, the local Pennsylvania-based old-fashioned department store which anchors Binghamton’s downtown shopping district, with possible side trips to RiverRead and Tom’s Coffee, Cards, and Gifts. And it looks like we’ll have a record number of family coming to our house for Christmas dinner 2013 — eighteen at last count!

Yulecard 2013
Wings of Desire / Snowy Rooftops, Johnson City NY – our holiday card this year — next year I’ll sell them