Hop to it!
On our last day in NYC, Emilie took some drop-in classes at the famed Broadway Dance Center and I went to Chelsea’s art district to find some art galleries to explore and be inspired by.
Most of the galleries I was looking at were within a couple of blocks of Pace University. The first street I went down (24th) had “closed for the season” signs on most of the gallery doors. I was getting worried. But one street over (25th) I found Agora Gallery (we are open all summer) and went in for a look.
Agora Gallery is a contemporary fine art gallery, their look was clean and neat. The floors were refinished wood, the walls where white and well lit, the art was displayed professionally with plenty of space between paintings so that you could step back and enjoy them.
One artist I was particularly taken with for her use of color and bold shapes was Alana O’Hern. Her work really spoke to me, the large up-close and personal composition, and her use of the palette knife as her means of applying the paint was spectacular.
Blue Mountain Gallery
My next stop was Blue Mountain Gallery where I enjoyed a solo exhibition of Marsha Doran’s mixed media collage work entitled “Fragmented Symbols” I loved her layering of paint, collage, text, mark making, and more paint. The texture was fabulous and nothing was framed under glass. Again, the color resonated with me. The room was full of a variety of abstract pieces that allowed me to simply appreciate the color, composition, texture and pattern.
Gallery Henoch was a stunning space with wonderful wide open spaces. I enjoyed their Summer Group Show and especially the work of John Evans. His water lily painting had wonderful texture and a slightly abstract feel to it. When I visited his website I found more water lily paintings that pushed even more toward the graphic and decorative, which I loved.
Bertrand Delacroix Gallery
Next stop was BDG Gallery which offered stunning sculptures and paintings. I am partial to paintings, I must say. I was taken with the mixed media paintings of French artist Alyine Olukman. Maybe it was the swimming images, maybe it was the mixed media… I really appreciated the limited palette and subdued colors. Since I am all about bold, wild and crazy color, I often appreciate the opposite use of color from other artists. Olukman’s colors were vibrant, but muted. I enjoyed the way that the two paintings featured above were harmonious in their palette and displayed nicely next to each other. These pieces were certainly something I would love to display in my home.
Falcon Power and Stricoff Fine Art
I made a quick stop into Falcon Power Gallery to see the Urban Planning and Aerial Landscape paintings by Roy Kinzer. The space was beautiful and wide open. I appreciated Kinzers total abstraction, which is more difficult that most people appreciate.
Stricoff Fine Art Gallery offered more contemporary paintings (awesome) and presented works by emerging and mid career artists.
My favorite stop of the day was the Pleiades Gallery which presents local artists. Here I met Lisa Ocasio Hirkaler who took the time to tell me all about her work. The Gallery is a co-op gallery, this means that the artists pay for it and run it themselves. Since this was Lisa’s solo exhibition, she was gallery sitting.
At first I found her work “scary” as it reminded me of meat hanging from hooks on the ceiling. My first reaction was “that scares me” and I said it to Lisa who chuckled and said “thats my work, and it’s supposed to be scary.” Then I was intrigued, both by the work and the fact that I had the artist right there to explain it to me. She offered to tell me about it and herself.
Lisa Hirkaler teaches sculpture and knitting classes at her local Library. Hirkaler has also been an AP Art History teacher for 11 years at Vernon High School. She studied sculpture at Columbia and William Paterson Universities and received her master’s at Columbia University.
Her Fiber sculptures invite you to “touch, connect, immerse, and emerge transformed.” She talked to me about the recent loss of her mother, something she just can’t get past. Her mother had spun many of the woolen “umbilical cords” as I called them, that cascaded out of her pod sculptures and spilled onto the floor. She described her Mother as a master at spinning wool.
Lisa went on to tell me that all of the wool used in the pieces was sheared from sheep on her farm in New Jersey, about an hour away. She showed me different kinds of wool, explained the natural color, the spun soft wool vs. the still curly, right off the sheep, wool. I was so impressed with her connection to her art, right down to the raw material.
It also made me smile that she was an art teacher–involving her students in her work, inspiring them, molding them as future artists and people who understand, appreciate, and connect with art.
She told me that the Orifice / Emergence series was about the pain associated with turning 50. Her aches and pains, the shape of her body feeling foreign to her, not being able to do some of the things she used to without struggle. She also included the emotional pain of recently losing her mother. She told me about the voice mail her mother left on her phone just before she died: “I just don’t feel good, I love you” Lisa said she still has the voice mail in her saved messages. “I felt terrible, I was traveling on my way home from California when she called. I was in the airport and I saw her on the caller ID but I just couldn’t answer because we were boarding.” She said her mom called her brother too, but he couldn’t get to her quickly either. Her mom died at home that day from a massive heart attack, shortly after the calls. Lisa said that her mom had struggled with ovarian cancer and obesity before she lost her battle.
Lisa told me about her recent divorce, her willingness to get married again, her adult sons and how they reacted to it. We talked for a very long time, connecting personally on a variety of subjects and life experiences. We laughed, she cried, and all of a sudden the work wasn’t “scary” any more. It was something I could relate to, she was someone I could relate to.
Thank you Lisa.
for being a part of
My Art Journey,
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