ASTRID FITZGERALD - ASSEMBLAGES &PAINTINGS
LEONDA F. FINKE - SCULPTURE &DRAWINGS
MARCH 5 - 28, 2010
GARRISON ART CENTER
Gallery hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10 - 5 pm
Roger Lipsey, noted art historian, editor and author of numerous books will present a talk on Fitzgerald’s work on March 21, at 3pm in the Art Center’s Gillette Gallery
Gallery Talk by Art Historian, Roger Lipsey - Video
PICTURES OF OPENING
Astrid Fitzgerald at Garrison Art Center
The art of assemblage is a surviving alchemy: when the last alchemist put away his beakers in despair and became a chemist, the magical idea of alchemy retained its power in the human imagination. To take humble things, discarded and forgotten things, and compose them into an eloquent order; to make a little world with its own rules and hidden messages from bits and pieces of the world at large—this was promising. It was an artist’s way of making gold from lead. The first assemblages and collages appeared in early twentieth-century art that still feels like our own, not distant: Cubism and Constructivism. These are arts about us and our world, and they have formed some part of our current responsiveness to things visual.
Astrid Fitzgerald discovered in the cast-off and buried treasure around her Catskills home—copper pipe with a magnificent verdigris patina, old barn wood—the working materials for a new visual poetry. It is brought together largely on instinct—hands and the quietest of minds do the work—to tell a certain story. What story? Just here we are challenged to understand, value, and delight. Best to imagine ourselves as guests at a traditional tea ceremony. The host offers us the filled tea bowl, we sip noisily to be polite, and in time we follow the custom of admiring the tea bowl itself. We notice everything about the bowl—its shape, colors, textures, weight, how it catches or absorbs light, its perfect imperfections. This is an exercise in both civilized conversation and attention. But attention is not entirely civilized, it is a hungry thing, it wants to know, to understand, to grasp what things are and their meaning.
Something like this attitude will serve us well here, where truly fine and elegant art is exhibited in both spaces.
As these works by Fitzgerald whisper, interpretation should also whisper. Would you say that we’re being shown how life is encased? Or how Life is encased? There is certainly a sustained contrast between the beautiful green-blue piping and the containments surrounding and often compressing it. Each work is a finely crafted object, pleasant at that level—but there is something more, and that is what we need to understand. Configured this way, and that way, and in still another way, the persistence of glowing life in the middle of things—in the middle of ourselves—may be the discovery to be made here.
Roger Lipsey, a Garrison resident, is an author and art historian. Go to www.dag-hammarskjold.com for a look at his work in progress.
For the past eighteen years I have been eyeing a pile of construction debris left from building a larger studio and retrofitting a 180-year-old farmhouse in Ulster County. It lay piled up against a stone wall at the end of the property. Obscured by foliage in summer, the pile was laid bare in the winter landscape as I looked out from the studio.
About a year ago, while bushwhacking through undergrowth, I discovered that the pile of ten- to twenty-foot long copper pipes from a hundred-year-old well was encrusted with a blue-green patina, and the left-over rough-cut lumber was inhabited by an assortment of beetles, mice, chipmunks, and an extensive groundhog warren – all of it too messy to meddle with. But, being frugal, I was kept from selling the heavy-duty copper pipes at considerable profit I was told, so they stayed untouched. Then, the recession hit the country, the price of copper fell, and my own austerity plan was put into action.
In these constricted times, the pile of construction debris all of a sudden seemed to have great potential. I made sketch after sketch and scrounged through boxes of stuff found over the years around the foundation of the farmhouse. What seemed once to be just debris suddenly offered a creative challenge.
The potential went into full swing when I started to work with the actual materials – untangling them from an overgrowth of thorny rosebushes, cleaning, cutting lumber to size, sanding very lightly to preserve the grayed-out surface, matching and cutting copper pipes and assembling the pieces into a whole. The relationship of boards to pipe began to offer intriguing geometric patterns.
As my respect for the beauty and integrity of the materials grew, the real fun began – I let the materials dictate the creative process which unleashed an unexpected new direction of approaching the work in a more playful and intuitive, less intellectual way.
As I ran out of suitable lumber, a 90-year old farmer living on a nearby 130-year-old lumbermill was only too willing to part with his bounty of grayed-out lumber. I watched with apprehension as he climbed over stacked piles of cedar and helped me find just the perfect boards.
Back in the studio, the assemblages on view here at the Garrison Art Center took shape and are shown enhanced by the saturated colors and geometric forms of the large hangings, which themselves harken back to work commissioned for an outdoor exhibition along a less mighty river in Switzerland eight years ago.
NOTED ARTISTS FINKE and FITZGERALD FEATURED AT GARRISON ART CENTER
by Carinda Swann, Executive Director, Garrison Art Center
Garrison Art Center features two extraordinary artists in its galleries March 5-28, 2010, Leonda F. Finke and Astrid Fitzgerald.
Leonda F. Finke’s artistic endeavors began as a young child and continue to this day. She began evening classes during the Great Depression and continued her studies at the Art Students League and the Educational Alliance during WWII.
Finke’s bronze figures, primarily of women, are "both calm and tortured: heroic and sympathetic," according to David Finn, photographer of the 2006 book Leonda Finke. "Their roughly textured surfaces give them power beyond their solitary poses, as they stand, sit, recline, crouch and twist, all the while seemingly immersed in their own thoughts."
Jonathan Harding, Curator of The Century Association recently wrote of Finke’s work, "She captures the scope and breadth of life, moments of joy or sorrow, and leaves the ultimate decision as to meaning up to the individual viewer." Finke comments, "…visual art cannot be explained logically; if I could do my job with words, I’d be a poet."
Several medium to small bronze pieces will be shown along with a series of Finke’s figure drawings. Her large scale bronze figures will be included in CURRENT 2010, Garrison Art Center’s summer sculpture exhibition on the grounds of Boscobel and on the grounds of Garrison Art Center.
In the Gillette Galleries Astrid Fitzgerald will debut her new assemblages, enhanced by the saturated colors and geometric forms of her large canvas hangings. The artist’s discovery on her property of a treasure trove of old copper pipes and rough-cut lumber, among other aging items of construction, inspired the assemblages. With the help of time and the wise artistic vision of Fitzgerald, these somewhat rough objects combine to become this quiet and spiritually elegant collection.
Dr. Roger Lipsey, noted art historian, editor and author of numerous books will present a talk on Fitzgerald’s work on March 21, at 3pm in the Art Center’s Gillette Gallery. His viewing of a few of the featured works piqued his interest, and the following initial commentary offers a brief review specific to this body of work.
"Astrid Fitzgerald's assemblages explore the relationships between a surprising and fresh notation for everything buoyant and untouched in us (the blue-green rods, steady and vibrant) and everything else of which we and the world are made (the containments, ties, and other elements in the assemblages). The rods imply a moderately complex order inside: joyous in color, disciplined and definite nonetheless. The containments and ties are not negative presences, as if they deny brightness. Are they a figure for 'how things are'? Every inside has an outside, all living relationships are dynamic interactions.
"Abstraction in art is still our native language in the 21st century? or one of the native languages in our polyglot world. Fitzgerald speaks it with depth and flair. It approaches us as an enigma: what are we being told? And like a poem slowly offers meaning."
There will be a public reception in the galleries to honor the artists on March 5, 6-8 pm. Garrison Art Center is located at 23 Depot Square on Garrison’s Landing in Garrison, New York and is a short stroll from the Metro North Hudson Line’s Garrison Stop. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday 10am – 5pm. For more information on this and other exhibitions please visit Garrison Art Center or call 845-424-3960.