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New Tang show features four contemporary artists

April 3, 2014

New Tang show features four contemporary artists

April 3, 2014

With careers spanning five decades and works ranging across diverse mediums, four artists at the cutting edge of contemporary art are the focus of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery’s Alumni Invitational 4, which runs through June 15.

The exhibition of Skidmore College graduates features a massive installation by Gayle Wells Mandle ’63, geometric paintings by Grace DeGennaro ’78, abstract paintings by Nicole Parcher ’90, and ceramic sculpture by Courtney Mattison ’08. The invitational builds on past exhibitions at the Tang that feature prominent Skidmore graduates working in an interdisciplinary context.

The exhibition is “visually rich and diverse,” says show curator Rachel Seligman, Tang assistant director for curatorial affairs. With the show’s new and recent work in a range of styles and mediums, she describes it as “like four solo exhibitions with interesting connections among them—about the way we relate to each other as human beings and the way we relate to our natural surroundings.”

Courtney Mattison, who describes herself as an “artscientist,” creates complex ceramic sculptures of marine life that highlight both its beauty and its vulnerability. In a 2013 interview with the Mission Blue organization, she explained, “I’m bringing to the surface little vignettes, or in some cases a large-scale visualization, of the coral reefs to give people a sense of hovering over the reef and experiencing it as a scuba diver would.” She is best known for Our Changing Seas I: A Coral Reef Story, a 15- by 11-foot, 1,500-pound sculpture on display at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., that shows a healthy coral reef transforming into a bleached reef smothered in algae. Mattison has created a work of similar scale, Our Changing Seas III, for the Tang exhibition, which will also include several pieces from her 2012 Hope Spots series depicting unique marine ecosystems in need of protection.

Mandle's Study of a Monument
Study for a Monument

Painter and abstract collage artist Gayle Wells Mandle has long been concerned about the disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” both in this country and in the Middle East, where she lived for several years. Often collaborating with her daughter, artist Julia Mandle, she has responded to ever-increasing disparities between rich and poor around the globe with work that evokes the often-violent struggle for greater equality, fairness, and respect. The Tang show features their large-scale Study for a Monument (2012), a 20-foot teeter-totter weighed down on one side by stacked chairs the artists have said represent people who stood up and voiced their dissent in the Occupy movements and the Arab Spring.

The paintings and watercolors of Grace DeGennaro explore ritual and geometry through repeated patterns and iconic forms, expressing a meditative quality that offers an alternative response to the increasing frenetic pace of everyday life. Her current painting series Continuum, says DeGennaro, seeks to “convey to the viewer a sense of the unseen structure that supports the universe,” informed by her wide-ranging research into traditional forms such as Tantric drawings, Navajo weavings, and Byzantine mosaics. Each painting is meticulously created from a central axis, starting with small beads of pigment, each mark leading to another. The Tang exhibition includes works in oil on linen from the Continuum series, as well as several watercolors.

Parcher Wishing Well
Wishing Well, Nicole Parcher

Nicole Parcher describes her paintings as “luscious puddles of joy and human disappointment.” Working in what she calls “the beautiful language of pure abstraction,” she makes dynamic, loosely constructed paintings that evoke natural and manufactured environments. Her process begins with collages that frequently combine illustrations of mid-century children’s books with swaths of color, texture, and patterns; paintings are then created based on certain collages. Abstractions of abstractions, the paintings are playful and full of energy and movement. The exhibition features several new paintings and mixed media collages.

Ongoing Exhibitions

Continuing at the Tang are One Work (through June 1),Graphic Jews: Negotiating Identity in Sequential Art (through April 13), David Greenberger: One Upon (through April 13), and Elevator Music 26 David Greenberger: one updown (through April 13).

One Work features nine large-scale artworks in the museum’s collection, including recent painting, photography, sculpture, and installation, by artists David Brooks, James Esber, Elger Esser, Anya Kielar, Julian LaVerdiere, Katy Schimert, Jonathan Seliger, and Beverly Semmes. Lavardiere’s work in the Tang’s exhibition, Lost Cornerstone (2003), is a recreation in urethane and styrene of one of the giant eagle sculptures that formerly graced the entrance of NYC’s old Penn Station. The work has a cameo role in the upcoming movie “The Amazing Spiderman 2,” which is due to be released around the time of Lavardiere’s visit to Skidmore on April 24.

The public is invited to the following free events:

Thursday, April 3, 5:30 p.m., One Work: One Hour dialogue with artist Beverly Semmes;

Thursday, April 3, 6–9 p.m., One Upon: Two-Minute Performances in a One-Seat Theater, live performance by David Greenberger and his band, A Strong Dog, in an intimate theater space built for a single audience member at a time;

Tuesday, April 15, noon, Curator’s Tour of Alumni Invitational 4 with Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs;

Thursday, April 24, 5:30 p.m., One Work: One Hour dialogue with Julian Laverdiere, artist and production designer;

Saturday, June 14, 2:15 p.m., Artists’ Talk—Alumni Invitational 4, a discussion led by Rachel Seligman celebrating four Skidmore graduates whose careers span 50 years and a diverse range of mediums, with artists Gayle Wells Mandle ’63, Grace DeGennaro ’78, Nicole Parcher ’90, and Courtney Mattison ’08, with reception to follow.

For more information, call 518-580-8080 or click here to visit the Tang web site.

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