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April 2017

Celia Gerard

Celia gerardThe shape of Celia Gerard’s studio is akin to an isosceles triangle whose apex has been leveled. It is a slightly irregular shape, but with a door on one end, a window at the other and a set of walls connecting base to foregone-tip, its geometric irregularity recedes beneath the structural logic of a building within which this little polygon fits neatly. When I imagine an image generated by changes in the layout of this building—small studios merging; larger ones being subdivided—I see fluctuating spatial relationships defined within a set of unchanging parameters. Older forms become ghosted beneath newly constructed arrangements that arise as they are needed. There is a natural order that underlies this apparent chaos; the question is how does one find that natural order? How does a person cultivate the ability to see the logical operations that give shade and shape to what may otherwise appear tangled and arbitrary?

Celia Gerard’s artistic practice is grounded in this kind of search and her procedural basis—regimented and systematic—is engineered towards the experience of discovery. In Gerard’s drawings, the process of construction and erasure that ultimately leads to a highly nuanced geometric coordination is made visible. One sees the final composition, and at the same time, the choices by which Gerard arrived there: her destination and journey pressed into a single visual arrangement.

This kind of practice is built on the type of looking that comes naturally to seekers of all variety. It is active and mindful observation, full of intent and near to the experience of contemplation. This way of seeing draws heavily on one’s insight and, by extension, encourages intuitive association. When I give myself over to studying the details of Gerard’s work, to becoming a seeker myself, certain mental operations fire into action. Intuition leads directly to imagination. My sense of wonder is stimulated, but so too is my analytic mind, probing and cataloguing. To my eyes Gerard’s work accomplishes a rare double action. It is developed through steady, calibrated technical decisions that eventually accumulate into an image that speaks to the embrace of understanding arrived at without any need for reason or proof.

Gerard favors very strong paper for her drawings because it needs to withstand a great deal of her touch, which can be as aggressive as it is gentle. Consequentially, they are works of great tactility and sensuality. Her exploration of bronze and ceramics is rooted in the same hands-on curiosity that is the foundation of these drawings. The plate-sized ceramics are each a unique response to the same question: what happens when I try this? They are cast from the same mold but Gerard has used a variety of clay bodies—porcelain, earthenware, T1—and glazed each piece differently. They seem to float on the wall, almost rising against the pull of gravity.

Gerard’s bronze sculptures embody an opposing sensibility; some are dark and heavy, scarred, pockmarked and pitted like the weather-beaten anchor of an old ship. These pieces also bring to mind the slag that remains after a coal fire, or a growth of chaga upon a birch tree. But of course Gerard’s bronzes are not meant to represent any of these things. They are resolutely abstract—like her drawings and ceramics—and in that sense attend to a discourse that long ago departed from the merely representational. It is a discourse between a creator and her material that is concerned with essential formal ideals such as balance, harmony and rhythm. Kandinsky worked in this manner. So did Agnes Martin. These artists sought to express the intrinsic qualities of their art, to create visual structures that would resonate on a level beneath the system of words that comprise our languages. It is not easy. Martin destroyed much of what she made.

It is also easy to be misunderstood: for a long time critics identified Martin’s compositions with rows of crops and textiles—because one can point to a visual resemblance—despite the fact that Martin herself did not make that association. As I walked down the narrow hallway from Gerard’s studio to the elevator, I wondered if I was making a similar mistake, connecting her aesthetic configurations with architectural space. But I wasn’t wrong. Insofar as Gerard’s work achieves a state of equilibrium amidst its many parts, there will always be a congruence between her abstractions and the ideals of constructed space, be it a building, a borough or a city. The danger is thinking that such a relationship in anyway explains the work. It does not. It only proves that her abstractions are very deeply in tune with how we create the places we inhabit.

— Charles M. Schultz

 

Celia Gerard (born 1973) received her BA with Honors in Art and Art History from Colgate University, her MFA in Sculpture from the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting And Sculpture and her EdM from Harvard University. In addition, she studied with Nicolas Carone and Bruce Gagnier at the International School of Art in Umbria, Italy.  One-person exhibitions include Sears-Peyton Gallery; Tayloe Piggott Gallery, Jackson, WY; Mark W. Potter Gallery, Watertown, CT; New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. Group exhibitions include the National Academy Museum; Lori Bookstein Fine Art; Sideshow Gallery; Lohin-Geduld Gallery; I-20 Gallery; Gutman Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Coolidge Center for the Arts, Portsmouth, NH. Publications include ARTnews, CityArts, The Daily Beast, ArtSlant, Parabola and works&conversations. Awards and honors include the S.J. Wallace Truman Fund Award, National Academy Museum; Artist in Residence, New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture; Cathedral of St. John the Divine Sculpture Fellowship; Inaugural Artist in Residence at The Spruceton Inn. Teaching career positions include Bard College, Swarthmore College, Pratt Institute, the New York Studio School, Columbia University and the School of Visual Arts. Gerard lives and works in New York, NY.


Leonardo Drew

IMG_1877Rooted in historical evidence, Leonardo Drew’s abstract sculptural compositions are emotionally charged reflections on the cyclical nature of existence. From the eroded fibers of human industry and the tide of urban development to the awareness of ourselves as part of the fabric of a larger universe and a connection to all things, Drew exhumes the visions of the past in a mirror of organic reality that reveals the resonance of life - the nature of nature.
 
Drew has been making artwork since childhood, first exhibiting his work at the age of 13. He went on to attend the Parsons School of Design and received his BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and art in 1985. Since then his work has been shown in solo exhibitions at notable institutions such as Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1995); The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC (2000); the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, Ireland (2001); and Palazzo Delle Papesse, Centro Arte Contemporanea in Siena, Italy (2006). Drew’s mid-career survey exhibition, Existed: Leonardo Drew, debuted in 2009 at the Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston and traveled to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC and the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA.
 
Drew has also collaborated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and has participated in artist residencies at ArtPace, San Antonio and The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York, among others. He was awarded the 2011 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Marcel Sternberger

Kahlo-684x1024 Marcel Sternberger photographed the likes of Sigmund Freud, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Albert Einstein, and George Bernard Shaw. His portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the basis for the president’s likeness on the dime. And yet, his name was forgotten, until a young photography and antiquarian book dealer named Jacob Loewentheil discovered his photographs, abandoned in storage.

Sternberger was born in 1899. He fled his native Hungary due to antisemitism, only to wind up in Nazi Germany. He and his wife, Ilse, were detained by the Gestapo, but made it out of the country in 1933. They moved to Antwerp, where he became the Belgian Royal Family’s official photographer. As war engulfed Europe, Sternberger moved to London, before emigrating to the US, where he was enlisted to take FDR’s official portrait.

“In his heyday, world leaders and preeminent persons recognized him as the leading portrait photographer of his generation,” Loewentheil told American Photo.The artist traveled the US and Mexico, photographing numerous luminaries, his work appearing in international newspapers, on book covers, and postage stamps. In his travels, he became close friends with Rivera and Kahlo, returning time and time again to the couple’s Mexico City home, la Casa Azul.

Sternberger’s method for producing emotive portraits that captured his sitter’s personality involved what he called “The Psychology of Portrait Photography.” Described by the New York Times as “a unique blend of psychological and photographic techniques,” the methodology involved conversing with his subjects before immortalizing them with a handheld Leica 35mm camera.

 

Article from artnet.