Scroll down to see this month’s earlier entries in THE BOX.
THE BOX, Wednesday, August 31, 2022: FROM TAIWAN, A PICTURE THAT CAPTURES THE SPIRIT OF THE SUMMER’S END
The American artist Michael Newman has been living in Taiwan for almost three years. There, he has been an artist in residence and a teacher in the art department of a large university located on the east coast of the island. Newman is no stranger to East Asia; in the past, he traveled extensively throughout the region and lived almost 18 years in Japan, and then later lived with his Taiwanese-born wife in her homeland, where they ran a bakery.
To find out more about Newman’s artistic journey and the development of his exuberantly expressive abstract paintings on paper and canvas, see Edward M. Gómez’s article about the artist, which was published in brutjournal’s March 2022 issue. That free-access article can be found here.
From time to time, artists send us messages with news about what’s cookin’ in their studios. Their missives may be seen as smoke signals or eagerly shared advisories from the laboratory-playpens in which they perform their magic, giving tangible form to their emotions and ideas.
Just in from Newman, who put down his moon cakes and tea long enough to share a note with us: this buoyant painting on handmade paper (below), titled “And the stories begin….,” whose athletic strokes and wisps of gentle, transparent color dance and churn with more vigor than late-summer languor, almost as if to say, “Watch us as we come together to make a picture — oh, and we’re having a good time here; this party could go on for some time.”
In his note about this new painting, Newman observed: “I sit still in the heat here in eastern Taiwan. The campus feels completely empty, but, little by little, the students and teachers are returning. Life continues. Learning, always learning — perhaps me more than the students. Ha! Small though they are, new forms are slowly appearing in my work.”
A shout-out to Newman and his muses…
Now, please pass us those moon cakes.
THE BOX, Sunday, August 28, 2022: NEAR PHILADELPHIA, BRUCE MUNRO’S ART LIGHTS UP THE NIGHT
The British artist Bruce Munro (born 1959) has become internationally known for his site-specific installation works that employ and showcase the expressive power of light. Now, at Longwood Gardens, an open-to-the-public park located to the southwest of Philadelphia, eight of Munro’s newest creations are on view (through October 30, 2022) — and they are dazzling.
Among them, “Field of Light” is made up of 18,000 illuminated lights spread out across a vast area near a lake, while “SOS,” which includes an audio component, has been installed in an orchard.
As a much-needed, awe-inspiring expression of inescapable joy — this is one time the overused, devalued adjective “awesome” really does apply — Munro’s light-filled, light-celebrating spectacle comes as something of a summer tonic for these very stressful and distressing times.
Timed-reservation tickets are required for admission to this outdoor exhibition; see the Longwood Gardens website for details.
THE BOX, Monday, August 22, 2022: FLAP YOUR WINGS FOR THE RUFFED GROUSE GALLERY, OPENING SOON IN NEW YORK STATE’S CATSKILL MOUNTAINS
The artist Ryan Ward grew up watching his relatives make art and craft objects rooted in the folk-art traditions of their Pennsylvania-German ancestors. Later, as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Ward brought the influences from those family-made creations into his own paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media installation works.
Having done considerable research about the curatorial methods that are used to present art and artifacts at historical sites throughout the United States, over the years, Ward has also developed deep interests in contemporary art, folk art, and the work of outsider and other self-taught artists. Today, he is a teacher of drawing and painting at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Now, Ward is channeling his creative energy and varied interests into the programming and offerings of the Ruffed Grouse Gallery (Instagram: @ruffed_grouse_gallery), a new venue he is opening in the town of Narrowsburg, in the Catskill Mountains in the southeastern corner of New York State, very close to the border with Pennsylvania. The new gallery, which is scheduled to open on September 2, will present a mix of works made by contemporary artists and by outsider and other self-taught artists, including a diverse selection of folk-art items.
Ward told brutjournal, “The geographic scope of the artists whose work I’ll be exhibiting extends beyond the immediate region and will include, for example, the works of many outsider artists from the American South. I’ll rotate showings of works by contemporary artists every two to three months; these artists will primarily come from the Northeast but also from other places in the U.S. and possibly Europe. The gallery’s target audience will include outsider-art and folk-art enthusiasts, admirers of high-quality contemporary art, and weekend visitors to the Narrowsburg area.”
Such ambitious plans are nothing to grouse about, we say enthusiastically as we shake our tail feathers and display our necks’ fluffy, elegant ruffs.
THE BOX, Thursday, August 18, 2022: Lakefront Anonymous: Chicago’s Unknown Art Gallery: THE BOOK IS NOW AN EXHIBITION
Lakefront Anonymous: Chicago’s Unknown Art Gallery
Text and photographs by William Swislow,
and photographs by Aron Packer
Published by Interestingideas.com, Chicago, 2021
Available online for customers in the U.S.A. from the publisher’s website, here.
Also available online to customers based outside the U.S.A. from eBay. Click here.
In this past April’s issue of brutjournal, we examined Bill Swislow and Aron Packer’s new, photo-filled book, Lakefront Anonymous: Chicago’s Unknown Art Gallery, which documents the thousands of carvings that have been made over nearly a century on large, quarried stones that line the shore of Lake Michigan for many miles where that large body of water marks the eastern border of the city of Chicago.
Both Swislow, an art collector and arts writer, and Packer, a photographer and art dealer, are well known in the community of collectors, historians, and aficionados in the United States who specialize in outsider art and in vernacular art and design. In the past, for various books and magazines, each of them has produced photo-illustrated writings based on their respective research interests.
Now, a selection of the photos that appear in Lakefront Anonymous is on view, through August 27, at Firecat Projects, at 2019 N. Damen Avenue in Chicago.
THE BOX, Monday, August 15, 2022: LONDON: THE SPIRITS ARE RESTLESS — AND WILL BE COMING SOON TO THE COLLEGE OF PSYCHIC STUDIES
In the capital of the United Kingdom, the College of Psychic Studies is an institution that grew out of the London Spiritualist Alliance in the late 19th century and is still going strong today.
The College’s website notes that the Alliance “was formed by the Rev. William Stainton Moses in 1884 to meet the Victorian era’s rising interest in Spiritualism and psychic phenomena.” That organization “acquired its current London premises, a beautiful townhouse in South Kensington, in 1925, under the presidency of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [the British writer and physician who created the fictional character Sherlock Holmes].”
For details about the College’s renovation, which was completed last year, see the report by Cathy Ward, brutjournal’s London-based artist-correspondent, which was published in the magazine’s September 2021 inaugural issue. (Find it here.)
Now the college has let us know that, on October 11, it will open a new exhibition, Creative Spirits, featuring works of art made by 100 mediumistic artists. Among them: drawings by Aleksandra Ionowa (1899-1980), who has been called Finland’s Hilma af Klint, referring to the Swedish mystic painter of grand abstractions who died in 1944; automatic drawings by Anna Mary Howitt Watts(1824-1884), one of the College’s founding members; and works by Surrealists and self-styled visionaries.
Find out more about the College’s history, mission, and programming on its website, here.
Creative Spirits will run through December 10, 2022.
THE BOX, Friday, August 12, 2022: THE LATE ALAN GUMMERSON (1928-2020) AT THE BLACKSMITH SHOP IN NORTHERN ENGLAND
Recently, in Bishop Wilton, a small town to the east of Leeds, in northern England, the design-oriented business partners Mark Ibson and Barry Parker opened a new art gallery in an old blacksmith’s workshop. Its name: The Blacksmith Shop, of course.
Ibson, who spent many years working as a restorer of furniture and interiors, and Parker, a dealer specializing in mid-20th-century modern European furniture and lighting design, opened The Blacksmith Shop with a group exhibition that notably included mixed-media assemblage sculptures made by Alan Gummerson (1928-2020).
Gummerson was not super-well known during his lifetime, but he did show his work in numerous exhibitions. Born in Bradford, a small town to the west of Leeds, Gummerson studied at Bradford Art College and later taught at Leeds Polytechnic and at the Leeds College of Art.
The Blacksmith Shop’s exhibition featured some of Gummerson’s assemblages, in which the artist made use of such found materials as swatches of fabric, pieces of metal pipe, old electrical parts, wire, and other odds and ends. At first glance, his creations resemble dusty old objects whose purposes are hard to determine, but under closer inspection, they come into focus, and the organic manner in which their different sections seem to grow and expand out of themselves hints at the creative process Gummerson must have explored in his studio.
Ibson told brutjournal that The Blacksmith Shop will regularly show the work of less well-known and outsider artists.
We’ll be looking forward to seeing how its exhibition program develops.