Open Studio and Reception

A party to go along with Natick Artists Open Studios. Really a celebration that the studio is clean and organized for one weekend out of the year. Come by and eat and drink and look at some art. If you can’t come to the party, stop by during the open studio event Saturday and Sunday 10/19-10/20, 11am-5pm

 

Anna Cosimini Ceramics

Hi All. I know it’s late in the game, but consider yourself invited to a great little show in Wellesley this afternoon. Anna’s work just gets better with each one of these yearly events and I’m thrilled to once again provide a backdrop. I’ll have 5 cityscape graphite wash paintings from some recent travels in Europe hanging as well as a handful of monotypes.

 

 

Stop by and say hello!

Group Show/Artists Spotlight

You’re Invited!

Next Friday, March 2nd, we are kicking off a group show of several very talented local painters at the Page Waterman Gallery in Wellesley. The Opening reception is 5-7 on Friday night and for that night only, we are offering a 15% discount on all of the art and proceeds are going to the Wellesley Free Library Foundation. The show is one week only, so plan accordingly!

I am thrilled to be part of this mix of artists: John Rufo, Carrie Megan, T.M. Nicholas, Jeannie Celata and Nadine Gellar. Check out their work and then come meet them in person.

Also up for the show are new Anna Cosimini ceramics. She can’t make the show but her fantastic sculptures will be there.

Come out and celebrate some cool art and help support some local artists!!!

26 Church Street, Wellesley MA 02482

 

 

New Cityscape Monotypes/Cosimini Ceramics Show

The dark and moody cityscapes continue to surprise me with how much people seem to like and respond to them. So I have revisited some recent subject matter and created a handful of smaller, atmospheric monotype prints (the original influence for the oil paintings!), that will be available at The Hagan Collection exclusively for the Cosimini Ceramics show on Sunday, November 26th from 4pm-7pm

 

Just one edition of each piece will be available, all framed up and ready to hang.

Some of my figure prints and paintings will be available as well so put it on your calendar and come check out some great sculpture and functional ceramics.

If you have visited my studio, you are probably familiar with Anna’s work, and her current pieces are very exciting.

The Hagan Collection is at 9 Crest Road in Wellesley MA

Hope to see you there.

  

 

Open Studio and Reception

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It’s that time of year again. Along with Natick Artists Open Studios weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21st and 22nd 11am-5pm), I’ll be having a reception here at the studio that Saturday evening. Good food, wine etc. – you know the drill.

All are welcome, so stop by and say hello.

Open Studio & Reception

Invites are on the way!

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Saturday, October 15th

6pm-9pm

It’s that time of year again. Last year’s Open Studio was a great turnout and a lot of fun, so I’m hoping to duplicate that success and go even further to make it a good time for everyone.

There will be lots of paintings on display, as well as sketches, drawings and prints. Recently I’ve been experimenting with Monotypes, and I hope to have a lot available.

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Also, this year I will have several Paul Black paintings on display. Wonderful impressionist paintings of coastal New England and more.

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And if that isn’t enough, just come for the food, drink and conversation.

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Saturday and Sunday, October 15th and 16th is Natick Artists Open Studios, so I will also be at the studio from 11am-5pm both days. So if you can’t make the reception or if you just want to visit with a little more privacy, feel free to drop in.

203 Union Street, South Natick 01760

All are welcome and I hope to see you there.

Monotypes!

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I thought I needed to add more projects and further cut into those few remaining hours of sleep, so I got set up and started doing some printing at the studio.

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I like to call these my varying degrees of failure. The struggle seems to be in the tackiness of the ink and the dampness of the paper. Too thin paint or too dry and I get a real light, splotchy look. Too think and I loose all the subtle gradations and too wet the paper absorbs different areas deeper than others.

 

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The good news is, I’m learning and getting better and the medium is very fun to work in.

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So far, these are some life drawing references and loose drawings of mine I’ve cropped and composed in some interesting ways to fit the ratio of the plate I’m working on.

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Not exactly Degas, but I do see progress.

Let me know what you think and if you have some ideas. Still experimenting for now.

 

 

– Ryan

 

As Always, Thank You!

 

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Another successful event and a great turnout. Thank you to everyone that made it out and I hope you had as good a time as I did.

The response to the newer cityscapes was more positive than I could have hoped for.

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The oysters and cheese spread were a big hit. Thank you to Island Creek Oysters for providing the best oysters around. I was secretly hoping to have some left over, but I underestimated my guests.

And thank you to Anna Cosimini for showing your fantastic ceramics. I loved sharing this great space with another artist.

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Can’t wait to do this all over again, even bigger, this October.

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Open Studio Party

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I’ve been working on some new cityscapes and that seems like a good excuse for a party. Come by for food (Oysters!), drinks and hopefully some decent things to look at.

Saturday, April 30th, 6pm until 9pm (or later).

Thank You!

Summer Evenings
oil on canvas 30″x40″

Great turnout and some wonderful and encouraging input at the reception today. To everyone that came out and to The Hagan Collection, thank you so much for the support and interest. Today was a lot of fun and I hope everyone had as good a time as I did.

The show is up for the next few weeks, so if you couldn’t make it out today feel free to stop by or make an appointment.

I’m already excited for the next event. Thank you all.

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charcoal on paper

Reception at The Hagan Collection, Wellesley

I know everyone has a lot going on in the holiday season, but if you’re looking for a break from it all, I have a reception for a show coming up on December 6th that coincides with Wellesley’s Art Walk and annual Holiday Stroll.

The show will be going up the week before and running for a limited time, so if you can’t make the reception, please contact the Gallery to schedule an appointment.

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Thanks,

  • Ryan

Thank You!

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A heartfelt thank you to everyone that came out this weekend! I hope you had as much fun as I did and that you enjoyed the wonderful space that I am very lucky to have.

Both the reception and the Open Studios event were far more successful than I expected and I am feeling very encouraged to do more events and social gatherings that could utilize this great space. From showing other artists work, to maybe a group paint night/demonstration, or something else I haven’t thought of yet, I definitely do not want to wait another year to gather together and celebrate.

Speaking of events, I have a figure/people show going up at The Hagan Collection in Wellesley starting after Thanksgiving with a reception on Sunday December 6th (after the Holiday Stroll in Wellesley Square). If you would like to be on the mailing list for invitations, please let me know. More info to come.

And thank you again for your continued support and interest.

-Ryan

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Open Studio and Reception

SZ2LNatick Artists Open Studios Weekend is Saturday and Sunday October 17th and 18th from 11am to 5pm both days.

I will also be having a reception here at the studio at 6pm that Saturday. There will be lots to see, eat and drink and I hope to see you there.
Invites are ordered and will be here soon, so if you would like a personalized invitation, please let me know.
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La Japonaise and Orientalism

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Though politics and religion are as dominant a theme in art as anything you can put up against them, they are still taboo in polite conversation. So, I will try and keep this rambling, reactionary soapbox rant focused on the art side of things.

For those that missed or (wisely) ignored this nothing of a story, here is a quick primer:

La Japonaise, Monet’s masterpiece featuring Camille in a blonde wig and beautiful kimono, has recently returned to Boston and the MFA. It is part of their permanent collection but has not seen the walls in many, many months because it was first being restored and then on loan to an exhibition in Japan. The piece itself was done as commentary, bordering on satire, of Western Europe’s brief obsession with Japanese culture in the late 19th century. Though the blonde wig and smiling face depict a conscious view of Orientalism at the time, it cannot be seen as too satirical considering that Monet’s home, to this day, has walls covered in Japanese woodblock prints.

During the paintings short stay in Japan, they had a good natured event to promote the museum and further the exposure to Western artwork and the impressionist movement. It was called Kimono Wednesdays, and viewers were encouraged to wear kimonos and have their pictures taken with the painting.

It was a huge success.

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(A great example of the use of a kimono in western painting, by Gary David Hoffmann)

So when the painting returned to its home here in Boston, the MFA decided to continue the event, encouraging members and visitors and anyone else to come and enjoy this beautiful painting while wearing a kimono.

They had it on Wednesdays as well, which is also their free admission day. And that was their undoing.

I can’t imagine a mindset that wants so badly to be outraged and protest and stand for a cause but looks out at the world and thinks, damn, nothing going wrong here, guess I’ll manufacture an issue. I know, I know, that is not fair. It’s not about all the woes of the world, but their proximity and relevance to the outraged.

Faux outrage is the downfall of our society. There is so much to fix, but the self-serving and self-advancing bullshit causes of the young and uninformed muddies the water and gives empowerment to the enemies of progress and the people who think we live in an overly PC world. Sigh…

Anyway, a couple of protesters showed up.

Seriously, that’s it. About two people with signs and a couple of their friends who were there for moral support. Sadly, this wouldn’t have happened if they had Kimono Thursdays and the protesters had to pay $20 to get in.

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(another piece by Hoffmann, incorporating many Japanese aesthetics)

And here is the real news: There will always be a few dummies. Always. They made the people uncomfortable and called the people who were there to see this masterpiece racist and claimed the museum was promoting Asian stereotypes. Fine, engage them in conversation (or don’t) and move on. I’m not mad at them. But then, the MFA, whose skin is apparently a lot thinner than the new linen backing the freshly restored painting, caved and cancelled the event.

And that’s my problem. And theirs.

This was a non-story, but the second they changed their plans, it was an admission of guilt and that there was some misdeed. And all the news organizations in the area picked up on it. The Globe has been running stories almost daily about it. Two protesters is not a story, but a museum admitting to prejudice absolutely is.

There will always be dummies. Always. Just do your best to ignore them.

And, for the record, if one culture looks to celebrate another, it is not racism. In fact, the appropriation of another culture is not racism, but actually the cure for racism. Exposure and experience is a good thing. If a restaurant in Tokyo does a Wednesday evening where they play Rock & Roll and encourage their patrons to wear blue jeans, it is not racism. It is not an attempt to reduce a culture to a costume.

Artists have been incorporating themes and aspects of other cultures and traditions since art was about smearing blood on walls and carving phallic stone monoliths. And it has helped bridge the gap of space and language far, far more than it has hurt.

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(a corner of my own studio)

The MFA botched this one.

They made it a story and gave a megaphone to the whispering voice of dissent that was let, free of charge, into their beautiful gallery.

Then again, maybe there is no such thing as bad press. Maybe having this non-story in the paper each morning will spark interest in this beautiful piece of history. I have stood in front of this painting and admired it more times than I can count and even I feel energized to do so again.

As always, thanks for reading.

Ryan Black

Klimt, Altmann and Films about Art

Lady in Gold

Now, I don’t want to get off on a rant here….

Two things most people know about me and I don’t keep it much of a secret – I’m a bit of a lunatic when it comes to discussing film and art. “Passionate” would be an overly kind way of putting it. So, when the two subjects combine, I get excited to say the least.

Now, before I get into specifics, let me explain some history within that genre so you can better understand both my excitement and frustration. There are very few films about the subject of art that work, and it is a field that filmmakers avoid like the plague. Maybe with good reason, but I am optimistic that certain hurdles could be circumvented. Have you seen the most recent adaptation of Flemings’ Casino Royal, where James Bond spends a good chunk of the film playing poker? Now ask a professional poker player (or amateur or anyone with moderate knowledge of Texas Hold em’) what they thought of those scenes. That is the problem with making a good film about the art world. I’ve often said art is a language, filed with jargon and terminology that would be difficult to portray accurately without mammoth amounts of wasteful exposition. Because, like the Poker in Casino Royal, it would have to pander to the most uneducated and ignorant members of the audience. Thus, alienating your built in, target audience. My optimism on the subject stems from a belief that not every film has to be structured to fit within the understandings of the widest group of potential ticket consumers (there is an obesity joke there but I’m going to leave it alone).

Thus, you get half a dozen biopics about minor, 15 minutes of fame nobodies every month (there was a time in this great nation, when two movies about Joey Buttafuoco where competing with each other), an yet there has never been a major film depicting important historical figures like Monet or Cezanne.

In my mind, there are great films just waiting to be made about Rembrandts decent from fame and Royal following into poverty. About Monet’s major muses, the three women in his life that had the title of Madame Monet, each inspiring a new direction in his paintings. About Sargent’s exile from Paris after the Madame X scandal. About Jean Francois Millet and the Barbizon School. About Manet, Degas, Renoir and the rest of the group that would later be known as Impressionists shunning the Paris Salon. Etc, etc…

There was a very good film this past year about Turner, so there is still hope. But they are few and very far between.

This gets me to the angry part of my rant – The Woman in Gold.

Of all the films that could be made, it is all the more insulting that this is the one that gets the star treatment. And not because of its artistic subject either, as Gustav Klimt’s pencil drawings are some of my absolute favorite works within the medium. No, the reason this film gets me so fired up is that, having followed the story, I know the film is complete and utter bull.

If you want something closer to the truth, start with The Art of the Heist: Lady in Gold, and avoid this Hellen Miren staring glorification of the events. At least in that version, they present evidence and show both sides of the argument.

Here’s my take (spoilers to follow):
Did the court ultimately make the right decision, rewarding the 5 Klimt paintings to Maria Altmann and the other heirs that took the Austrian Government to court? Probably. But it is far from the David and Goliath story the film is trying to portray it as.

Quick history – The Klimt paintings, including the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Gustav’s masterpiece and arguably one of the most important 20th century paintings in Europe, the Austrian Mona Lisa it has been called, were stolen by the Nazis during WW2. Along with, tragically, thousands of other priceless pieces of artwork that many people have spent decades tracking down. The subject and sitter of the painting passed away years before these events and in her will requested that the painting be left to The Austrian State Gallery, but it was owned by her husband and technically his to bequeath. In his will, he noted that he would honor his late wife’s request and donate the 5 Klimt paintings (the legality and binding nature of this has been much debated). He passed away in November of ‘45, and when the artwork was discovered years later, it was taken into possession by the museum and therefor owned by The Austrian Government. The argument is basically, given the Austrian Governments complicity and handling of the Nazis, the husband and owner would have amended his will had he still been in possession of the pieces. And, since he left his entire estate to his heirs which included Maria Altmann, they should be considered the true owners.

In the nineties when the case was brought up, the Austrian legal system was trying to become more transparent in dealing with reparations and healing from this very dark period, but still had limits and fees placed on certain aspects. One of which was legal fees of 1% of the value you are suing for. At the time, the Klimts were valued at $150 million dollars US, so Altmann and the other heirs would have had to pay $1.5 million to bring the case to court. To try and work with them, the Government lowered the fees for this one instance but they were still going to cost $300,000, which Altmann was unwilling to pay.

The painting re-titled Lady in Gold (sadly because, during wartime they did not want such an important piece to bare a Jewish name) was set to tour the world so that as many people as possible could enjoy it, and it came to the United Sates. Which, through a technicality, meant that Altmann could file a case without paying the fees required. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of Altmann and the other heirs, and they were rewarded with the paintings.

Here is where, I’m guessing, the film ends. The reality of what comes after, even though the trailer of the film has touching moments where Altmann nostalgically speaks of her aunt and wants her portrait for her family, is that they never even accepted the paintings. They were shipped directly to sell at auction, where they combined to get roughly $325 million dollars and be placed into private hands. This was about an opportunity to make money. I don’t fault them for it, but it shouldn’t be celebrated and it has caused dozens of other cases with less merit to pop up and a general fear and unwillingness to put together these traveling exhibits for fear of foreign legal systems. Not to mention the loss for the public, who can no longer visit these works in there intended home.

Did the Austrian Government deserve to own these paintings? No. But did the museum and the public deserve to lose them? Also no.
This was a sad repercussion of a dark and terrible history.

The one thing I’m sure of, is there are an infinite amount of much more deserving true stories to be mined from the world of art and art history.

I’m glad the film is getting terrible reviews. I want there to be more films about art, but this is a rare one I will skip.

End of rant.

A Jack of all trades is a King of none…

I recently told a couple artist friends of mine I wanted to try my hand at some three-dimensional artwork, namely, clay sculpture, and they gave me some sound advice:

Don’t be a dabbler.

I certainly agree with their point. Every painting and drawing an artist does should teach them and increase their skill and confidence. So, any distraction is a missed opportunity to become that much better. And, in an ideal world, that much more successful.

But it has always been my experience that trying and understanding new forms of art can only benefit whatever medium, genre and style you prefer. Painting in unforgiving watercolor makes me more confident in oil, abstract expressionism brings out emotion and betters the composition in representational works, etc, etc…

So call me a dabbler.

Ultimately, I’m not trying to be the best at one form or another. Art to me is about discovery, and sometimes that means trying different things and learning from my mistakes.

IMG_1486 So, I built a work station at the studio and got myself all the necessary tools and clay.

I started with a particular favorite of mine, Sargent’s scandalous portrait best known as “Madame X”.

IMG_1494 Remember when I said learn from my mistakes? Well, when removing the armature I broke the base, which then led to breaking the figure. Multiple times.

So I went back and decided to try and salvage/fix the cursed subject. Lots of research and trial and error later…

The Madame was (almost) her former self.

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IMG_1541 I had to replace the base that I broke, so I decided to use wood (birch) instead. But I had to also account for the broken bottom of the figure, which meant some carving. IMG_1566

Then it was just a dowel and some shellac away from being ready for the fired piece.

Here she is after firing and some apoxy. IMG_1656

And a dark base coat. IMG_1659

Some Spanish Copper rub n’ Buff IMG_1670

                                                           And finally a coat of triple-thick acrylic varnish. 033a

All to make a very elaborate business-card holder.

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