Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum, painting by Alan Goldstein, turned wood by David Ellsworth
“Combine skill of hand and depth of heart, and the spirit of the artist is born, the maker of things: beautiful things, things of mystery and meaning, things that ask questions, that tell us who we are as individuals, peoples, cultures.” - Michener Art Museum website
Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song brings together a group of living artists who evoke the ideals of this well thought out and executed educational art exhibition. Explaining art, especially abstraction and conceptual artworks, can be challenging. But the show brings together artwork, artist statements and videos by John Thornton to illuminate the shadows of modern art. With painting, sculpture, photography and mixed media, the exhibit describes the concepts, tools and techniques of each artist in an educational and entertaining tableau. Each of the eleven artists has a space dedicated to their artwork. the tableaus flow and connect as the viewer meanders the gallery. Even the museum website is extraordinarily informative offering a deeper understanding of the exhibition.
DoN learned a lot about Michael Olszewski‘s evocative artwork through the excellent videos produced by John Thornton at the request of the museum. The videographer was charged with profiling the artists and video monitors are integrated into the artwork. Pairs of headphones offers the museum visitor a private moment with the artist to learn about motivations, techniques and styles that are included in the show. Every effort is made to illuminate the artists inspirations, workspaces and processes offering explanations to clarify the confounding nature of contemporary art through sight, sound and text.
Check out John Thornton YouTube channel to see all the artist profiles for Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum.
Bruce Pollack, Forests in the Tree, oil on linen, collection of the artist, 2013, Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum
Bruce Pollack‘s paintings takes mark-making to a cosmic level with the simplest of forms and formulas depicting the elusive concept of a space/time continuum. When the artist works out his paintings sometimes the drawing will expand off the canvas and onto his studio walls as if the idea is so big it can’t be contained. When the painting is done though the window into the meta-magical world of fractals becomes fluid and consciousness-raising.
“I often use fractal geometry in my painrings. Fractal forms are universal archetypes that retain the same shape, whether they’re seen in a microscope or a telescope” - Bruce Pollack artist statement.
Throughout the gallery are spaces like this where you can sit and look at paintings, many of which are very recent and belong to the artist. To spend some alone time with meditative works like Pollack’s is deeply satisfying as the layers of time, space and thought merge in a unique visual experience.
DoN walked through the exhibition with the volunteer docents who were learning about the show and how they would explain the work to children. The museum has a large community art space where kids can learn about and make art. And the work in the show has that DIY vibe where the elements of creativity are evident and accessible. Helping kids be artists and think artistically is a worthy mission that satisfies both the young learner and the teachers simutaneously.
Jill Bonovitz, Wire Composition, painted wire, collection of the artist, 2012. Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum
Jill Bonovitz‘ wire sculptures hanging on the wall near her large ceramic platter-like discs use light and shadow morphing the artwork into a drawing in space. If it weren’t for the placement of tiny bit of color, a red string, a couple of beds, a piece of tape, it’s almost impossible to tell where the wire and the shadows separate. The shadows on the wall are darker than the painted wire and fade to blurred lines that convincingly look like pencil. The artist told DoN she only works with fragile mediums like the ceramics and delicate wire and that often pieces come apart, mixing them into new works invigorates the artwork and surrounding space.
Jill Bonovitz, Wire Composition – 2, painted wire with berries, collection of the artist, Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum
“Several years ago I began experimenting with a new material, wire – still pursuing my passion for making vessels or suggesting vessel forms. The quality of fragility is common to ll my work. In the wire sculpture, I am creating the edges of what is not there. In clay, I am creating the essence of what is.” - Jill Bonovitz artist statement
Bill Scott, Perennials, oil on canvas, Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child” – Pablo Picasso
The collection of paintings by Philadelphia artist Bill Scott is like walking into a garden. Many of the paintings are in fact based on his own garden, the elements of nature, light effects and lush colors have an immediacy that is counter intuitive. Even though the paintings have a quality of liveness and exuberance they take years to develop. Each shape, color and stroke of paint is considered and directed to it’s place like characters in a movie. The John Thornton video of Bill Scott offers a wonderful view into the artist’s world. The artist jokes that his paintings actually look like the world to him when he takes his glasses off.
Bill Scott, Overlapping Days, oil on canvas, 2012, collection of the artist, Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum
Paula Winokur, Above and Below, porcelain and lucite, Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song, Michener Art Museum
“My work has been influenced by information gathered at various “sites”, places in the natural environment that I have responded to visually. The earth itself, particularly cliffs, ledges, crevices and canyons: the effects of wind, earthquakes, glaciers and other natural phenomenon such as geological “shifts” and “faults” interest me.” - Paula Winokur website
In a quiet room to itself is a collection of ceramic sculptures by Paula Winokur that punctuates the conversation started by the other artists in Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song. Abstract art is actually about the world all around us, it’s just trying to explain the obvious using a language that may be hard to understand at first. But when the artist transports the viewer to another time and place just through the power of that visual vocabulary the forms and rhythms sing a song you never forget.
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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