Monday, March 24, 2008

M. Shemchuk Paintings

Meridian 36
46 x 48

About a year ago I attended an opening at OK Harris Gallery to see Joanne Mattera's Silk Road paintings. There were about 5 other artists showing as well, and one, Mike Shemchuk, or Shem, as he welcomes people to call him, had a show of his geometric abstract paintings in one of the front galleries. I was immediately drawn to the paintings, which are made from pigmented gypsum on panel. Color-saturated matte surfaces use line and form to hint at landscape and suggest an observation of immediate environment. Well-worn surfaces create a sense in Shem's paintings of a language informed by time passing, by layers of emotion, and by all that makes up a full life--in other words, a personal history.

Click here to visit
Shem's website.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Going DEEP

Untitled 726

The work in Vincent Romaniello's exhibit DEEP poses an interesting juxtaposition of earthy, intimate paintings in a rather rarified space. Up through May 18, 2008 at the Philadelphia Art Alliance satellite gallery space at the Rittenhouse Hotel, the work, which is from Romaniello's new group of paintings, the Furrow series, hangs among polished marble walls and floors in a public space outside the hotel's spa and salon and adjacent to a residential wing.

Using gesso combined with dried pigments, ground charcoal, sand, and other materials, Romaniello uses a hand-made, rake-like tool to draw along the still-wet surface, to create three-dimensional effects, or as he refers to them, furrows.

The most direct reference is of the earth seen while flying over land, capturing visions of fields that have been plowed or worked for planting. Viewing the paintings with their cinder-like texture also brings to mind the idea of the "scorched earth." However universal these concepts might be, and however process-oriented these works might be, the pieces are at the same time imbued with a sense of humanness--the hand is very much present, and Romaniello also makes a much more emotional, personal statement with
Father's Garden (below).

One final thought about the concept of furrows that resonates for me is the "furrowed brow" of one deep in thought. While this is likely not among Romaniello's intended references, the more I thought about and looked at the work and the word furrow, the more the idea stayed with me.

Follow this link to view the catalog of the exhibition written by Vittorio Colaizzi. and to find more information on the work.
Follow this link to view Vincent Romaniello's website.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Voices: totally new experience

Today, I experienced something totally new to me: I did a voice-over for an instructional video an artist friend is making. Fortunately, I'm also working as the script editor for the video, and had worked with the text enough to be familiar with it. I'm also quite well acquainted with the subject matter, which I'm not in a position to make public at this point, since we're in the middle of production.

I've long had the common experience of thinking the sound my own voice on tape is weird, on my recorded voice mail message, etc. But this was so different. The sound editor/engineer was a kind, gentle soul who knows what he's doing. He offered clear and helpful feedback and had a marvelous sense of humor.

Miraculously, we needed very few "do-overs". I quickly got used to hearing my voice in the headphone monitors, and was only marginally uncomfortable hearing the playback. I sat in a separate room adjacent to the recording console, and since we were working in a home studio, did not have one of those fancy glassed-in recording booths. I had the script, a light, a microphone with a windscreen, and the sound engineer's voice (rather soothing voice, actually) in my headphones. At the very beginning, I had a little adrenaline rush but with the encouragement and direction of the engineer and the artist, I soon settled in. It was FUN! I would do it again in a minute (and will, actually, as we proceed with the project). It was the kind of work that doesn't feel like work at all.

It was an oddly intimate experience, being directed through headphones by someone I could not see, but whose voice created a warm, safe, environment--kind of. Anything could have been going on in the recording room, away from my sight, and I would not know.

As a therapist in training, I often had my sessions taped--with full permission of the client--so that my supervisor and I could review it. I can think of nothing more nerve-wracking, and yet, it was all so I could learn. In my various professions, I've had to engage in public speaking, presenting papers and workshops and the like. Even with years of experience, it never got easy or comfortable. But here, where I am disconnected from another person or an audience, I was not the least bit self-conscious, and I was very comfortable.

So, this all has me thinking about making art with my voice--sound installation, video, performance, something like that. I've often felt that my development as an artist has been a lot about finding my own voice. And now I feel that I've found it. Literally.

Kicking these ideas around make me think of Bruce Nauman's video installation "Thank you thank you thank you". I'm only sorry I couldn't find a link to the installation.

Hmmm....the possibilities.