Morandi at CIMA

When I was 13 and just finishing my catechism classes, having been newly confirmed into the Catholic Church, I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I replied without hesitation that I wanted to become a monk, one who took the vow of silence and was a mendicant. I was told just as quickly in response that because I was a girl I could instead be a nun. This is when I became an artist.

Giorgio Morandi has for me always been an artist whose work I turn to for inspiration, guidance, and to renew my vows, as it were.

We have so few opportunities in the United States to see an exhibit of Morandi’s work.

The Center for Italian Modern Art on Broome Street in New York City has just opened a fine exhibit, Giorgio Morandi, which runs through June 25th, 2016.  CIMA is a non profit research and exhibition center. On Fridays and Saturdays their fellows in residence give a guided tour of the exhibit (as well as a wonderful espresso prior). The viewing that I attended was peopled mostly by artists (mostly established), who I would bet we’re there for the same reason I was.

Giorgio Morandi looms large in legend. Exaggerated claims of his lifestyle; not traveling, not allowing anyone into his studio and being uninterested in fame or fortune.

He lead an exemplary life in that he seems to have made all his decisions based on his relationship to his work. He did a bit of travel, saw and appreciated the work of Cézanne, Giotto, Piero della Francesca and other artists, yet was basically content to stay in his family home with his sisters and keep the focus in his studio. Some exaggerate his steadfastness to extremes. I disagree with that characterization. Any artist knows when they come to that point in their work where something spiritual happens it’s a gift. We know not to leave the room, not to let anyone disrupt us, to forget about dinner and so on. The more we work, the more these times happen. I do think that Morandi was living his life pretty close to that state all the time and he was very protective of it, nothing more than that.

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In Walks: John Davis Gallery

Review & Interview

I spent a very cold January morning this week at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson speaking to John about his life, work, past and upcoming shows at his gallery. This gallery for me is one of a handful that I can count on for seeing a show of interest. The work may not always be to my liking, but it is always high caliber.

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A Moment in Time

The Photography of Donald Vega

Elsewhere Café

This exhibit of over 30 black and white photographs done by Donald M. Vega is a stunning example of ordinary characters frozen in both time and in their own emotional worlds.

“Vega”, as he prefers to be called, has lived in the East Village of New York for the past 15 years. The pieces he has chosen for this exhibit have all been shot within blocks of his residence on East 6th Street. He did a tour of his show this evening. Vega, as we learned, studied at The Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara in the 70s. He moved to NYC directly afterwards with a sound knowledge of all the technical skills and the trained eye of a pro. He spent the next 20 years working in the field of high fashion, along side many of the top fashion photographers including Steven Meisel and Jacques Malignon.

These photos have a visual texture as rich as the characters he has chosen to study. His whites are sculptural; his blacks are full of detail. Each piece does have the full range of tone, white to black and seven shades of gray in between. These are photos shot using a wide range of cameras from a 1930’s Leica to a panoramic Polaroid.

Vega always printed up all his own work preferring to change the carrier, which holds the negative to print each picture individually. Sometimes creating the effect of a black rim border, or showing the sprockets and picture number on others.

All the work in this exhibit is figurative. He seems to be interested in creating a complex composition almost always with a contextual setting, many with reflections of the surrounding buildings. His characters, even if they are celebrities, seem to be existing in a space either physically or emotionally confining them uncomfortably.

His photos seem an interesting juxtaposition of visually rich and skilled photography chops and the grimier, earth-bound side of humanity.

The show remains up until January 3rd at Elsewhere Café 335 East 6th Street, NYC.