The German Christmas markets sparkle in the European landscape as places where reality can be suspended and grown-ups can be kids again. Central Berlin alone has 10 Christmas markets, each market with its own personality. They run from late November to early January.

There are constants: Twinkling rows of small shops bring crafts and specialty street-foods from all over the country. Sausages sizzle. Beer foams. Wonderful smells waft. Gingerbread morphs into festive shapes. Some markets even have ice-skating rinks, amusement-park rides, and carnival games of chance.

Berlin Christmas Market 1

Berlin Christmas Markets 2

Berlin Christmas Markets 3Drinks are plentiful, the Glühwein (hot mulled wine) and hot rum grog are most popular because it is cold outside, and most drinking places are outdoors, around circular fire pits or at long tables. My modus operandi is strolling among crowds with a mug of Glühwein or a package of hot roasted chestnuts, or sitting at a fire pit.

Berlin Christmas Markets 4

Berlin Christmas Markets 5

Berlin Christmas Markets 6

My favorite market is at Alexanderplatz, where there is a giant Pyramide with life-size Mary, Baby J, Joseph, shepards, and kings revolving on a 5-story-tall replica of a common German Christmas table-top decoration, which at home has tiny tiers propelled by candle heat. The ground level of Berlin’s monstrous Pyramide is a beer garden, the second tier is a restaurant.

Berlin Christmas Markets 7

The Berlin Christmas markets are kitschy and crass, but within bounds. The mood seems a mix of merriment and nostalgia. Little kids are ecstatic with all the lights and movement, and adults are ready to drift into a realm of holidays long past with hope for the future. This is maybe why the killings at last year’s Berlin Christmas market seemed especially brutal. Its one-year day of remembrance happened this week in Berlin, and the observance was not without controversy.

When the attacker last year on Dec. 19th drove a 25-ton truck into the Christmas Market at Breitscheidplatz quickly killing 12 people and injuring 70 more, prime minister Angela Merkel herself seemed like a doe caught in the headlights.

She was blamed for the terror by the right wing for having allowed so many immigrants into the country (the driver of the truck was from Tunisia), and she was criticized from the left wing for showing so little compassion toward the victims and their families. She did not meet with the families after the attack. She did not write them personal letters. She did not offer government-funded reparation or funeral costs.

It’s not like terror is unknown in Germany. The 20th century Germans unleashed much of their own on the world. But since the 1972 terror attack at the Olympic Games in Munich, which now seems long ago, modern Germany has gotten off easier than many other countries in terms of this sort of violence. Frankly, Merkel has had little practice in dealing with terrorism on her own turf.

Berlin Christmas Markets 8

On Tuesday of this week, Merkel visited the site of the killings, where an elegant and unusual monument to the victims was unveiled (see next blog entry on artistic monuments to terror) and where fresh flowers and candles have been constant since a year ago. The Christmas market was shut down that day for the ceremonies. Bells tolled in the Gedächtniskirche – the Church of Rembrance of WW II events, on the steps of which the truck driver had mowed down the 12 victims. On Wednesday, Merkel finally met with the families of the killed and the injured, and talked with them for 3 hours. Overdue, but kind.

In the past Germans have been critical of the way some nations report terrorist events – nations that name and lionize the perpetrators, and leave the victims nameless. In response to this act of terror, German journalists have made a point of naming all 12 victims in each coverage of the event. I will do it, too: Anna Bagratuni, Georgiy Bagratuni, Sebastian Berlin, Nad’a Cizmár, Dalia Elyakim, Christoph Herrlich, Klaus Jacob, Angelika Klösters, Dorit Krebs, Fabrizia Di Lorenzo, Lukasz Urban, Peter Völker.

Three-foot high, one-ton sections of concrete barrier now encircle the same market and life goes on in a bent direction.

Berlin Christmas Markets 9

May our celebration of the new season, the new year, in any holiday form we choose, signify a fresh start for us all.

Berlin Christmas Markets 10

X Bonnie Woods

In the gallery with Charlene Liska, 2017

In the gallery with Charlene Liska, 2017

In the Silent. Silence. Silenced. exhibit at Atlantic Works Gallery, Charlene Liska sets up a Plato’s Cave, of sorts, using video and installation. Gallery visitors can see faces of the artist’s  tribe on one screen and hear the echos of what they are saying–via  deliberate use of headphone assistance– on a second screen in a different location in the gallery. At the same time the sound of silence–rather, what Liska offers as silence–is a bird’s chirping which permeates the gallery’s audio atmosphere. What the gallery-goer does not immediately realize: the bird chirping is mimicry of the real thing; a sound made by Liska’s Brazilian electrician, Elson.

Using the concept of Silence as the springboard, Liska plays with the possibilities of form and organization, flat planes, shadows, dimension and her own wit, imagination and experience.

“I see Silence as having two sides,” she says. “There’s the beautiful, spiritual and eternal. We are all seeking that and desperately want that kind of silence. And then there is the psychological side.

“Psychologically we’re all being silenced by too much noise. Too much data. It’s flooding in on us constantly.”

Artist Charlene Liska and her 'Diorama' installation at Silent. Silence. Silenced exhibit November 2107.

Artist Charlene Liska and her ‘Diorama’ installation at Silent. Silence. Silenced exhibit November 2107.

The far-side of the gallery houses her curtained-off installation Diorama. Liska creates a layered and a sculptural space that features her own image–talking but without sound–captured within a very small 3-d TV that hangs about six feet above the floor. A projection of a green shrub and brick wall hit and flash on the monitor. The green and red images reach back further, to the flat wall which is about 6 feet behind the suspended TV. The green flashes, changing shape, morphs.    In the upper left corner, is a video cameo of a Boreal Warbler that seemingly watches over the pulsing installation.

“I have tremendous sensitivity to flashing light,” Liska said. “I suffer seizures. Epilepsy.”

Liska explains that epilepsy was a cruel condition to have as a child because it made her feel alienated, self-vigliant and hypersensitive. “Beginning when I was about 13, going on through menopause–estrogen can push you over the edge!”

She hid the condition. In high school teachers and administrators threatened ‘if you have another one’ they would have to put her in an institution. “That meant insane asylum,” she adds. Her family felt strongly that she and they should not talk about her condition publicly.

“I don’t stay silent about it anymore, or hide it.” Liska explains. The episodes and experience certainly influenced her art.

For example, waking up from a seizure Liska would see heads hovering above her. “Heads similar to the heads in my video interviews.” Of course the heads were her husband’s and daughter’s; earlier on her family’s.

Liska has shot many ‘head-on interviews.’

“I did one on Occupy Boston. Another in Berlin on the Documenta. The first video I made was with Anna [Salmeron]. We interviewed gay people about their first kiss. It’s titled ‘Crush’.”

She laughs. “I’m attracted to people’s heads and what’s going on in there.”

In the Silent. Silence. Silenced video Prophecy I, Liska interviews and celebrates her tribe of Atlantic Works Gallery artists.  She requested the interviewees wear hoodies, a form of silencing, and asked them about the future.”What do you think it will be like?” But you can’t hear the answers, unless you walk to the other side of the gallery, to Prophecy II, and put on headphones, or read the text pinned to an opposite wall. Gallery-goers, however, can see the deconstructed pulse of the language, like a line of a heart monitor, that captures the sound waves of the interviewees answers. “It’s media chaos,” she says about the separation of voice from image. “It’s taken for granted in our world, words can easily be drowned and depersonalized in data.”

In the back nook of the gallery, Liska’s 12- hour video, Border Night  not only pays homage to the past–early video artist Andy Warhol– but also to current and future questions regarding privacy and surveillance.

“I wanted to grab the opportunity to make this video before everything on East Boston’s waterfront changes,” Liska says.  So, one night in  September 2017, Liska set up cameras in her Border Street studio window and shot a dusk to dawn look at East Boston’s waterfront.

In addition, at the Silent, Silence Silenced exhibit, Liska shows archival prints:  Newfoundland Bogs (from her time in Canada); Convent, Ghent; and Mojave Whistlestop.  

Atlantic Works Gallery artist Charlene Liska in front of "Prophecy I Machine Transcription": video, 2017 (image on screen is Elson, the Bird Caller)

Atlantic Works Gallery artist Charlene Liska in front of “Prophecy I Machine Transcription”: video, 2017 (image on screen is Elson, the Bird Caller)

There is not complete Silence in the gallery. We hear bird noises. “So many people associate silence to birdcalls,” Liska says. So she came up with bird sounds–a witty twistaroonee, of course: sounds made by her Brazilian electrician who has a knack for imitating and relating to birds. “They talk to him. He talks to them,” she says.

“When you go into the countryside to record silence, you get birdcalls. Even when you are not looking for them, there they are.  It’s like birds live in a parallel universe. Their spirits fly and they don’t care what we do. They just go on and on. Unaffected.” She nods. “Birds are stronger than we are.”

Finally, going back to Platos Cave: the ‘prisoners’ in the cave perceived only shadows and echoes of real objects and were completely unaware that those forms were not the real thing. Ultimately, according to Plato, their perception was not false; by their understanding of the world, the shadows and echoes were the actual forms, since this was all they knew.

In ‘Liska’s Cave’, an ode to Silence, the world’s transition to a socially connected, digital society—the age of the internet–nudges the viewer to contemplate modern reality, and the shadows it casts on form. Here, in the gallery, the major form is video screens. And use of the form questions the separation of words from their speaker, the transformation of spoken text into paper flatness; the absence and ability to inject new words within the movement of a silenced mouth; and even the manipulation of self presentation.

In the gallery with Charlene Liska, 2017

In the gallery with Charlene Liska, 2017

“I do art because I like to do it,” Liska said. “I make art to make art, for no other reason.”

We can think of Liska as the bird in the corner of the gallery in Silent. Silence. Silenced. watching over the video screens. The sound of her voice  has cast strong shadows that challenge our questions about the future and what we might choose to make or take from the video screen.

Woman in abaya at November 4, 2017, Opening reception of Silent. Silence. Silenced.

Woman in abaya at November 4, 2017, Opening reception of Silent. Silence. Silenced.

For the Silent. Silence. Silenced exhibit at Atlantic works, I showed a grouping of black & white monoprints of hooded heads that many gallery visitors said were fascinating. At the artist talk, one of the guests thought the row of prints reminded her of Crusaders.

It was a long haul through self-censorship for me to show the monoprints, because more than one of my yoga associates told me they would not come to the exhibit or send any students to the exhibit to see the hooded images because they were too ISIS and too upsetting.

Up until those conversations, with people I admire and am grateful to have in my life,  it hadn’t occurred to me that I ought to sequester the images so the public would have a choice of whether or not to look at them. But I began to silence myself. Self-censor. Maybe I shouldn’t show them. Maybe the black hooded heads would upset people. Maybe I would be perceived as politically incorrect or a racist.

B & W monoprint

B & W monoprint

Consequently, as a way of working out my artistic dilemma, I made gold hooded heads and called them “Silenced by Capitalism.”  For some reason, I was sure the concept and the sculptures of female heads tightly shrouded in gold would not be upsetting to anyone.

More conversations.  With Charlene Liska who said “Don’t self-censor.”  In conversation with fellow artist Brenda Star who said, “Art is supposed to get people to think about what’s going on, around them. How are people going to become aware if they are protected from images, from art?”

Art is always a process. Often I know what I am thinking about when I work. I know how I started thinking and when I finish I know more about what I am thinking.

This is the story of the monoprints:

Christine Palamidessi printing Black Hooded mono prints.

Christine Palamidessi printing Black Hooded mono prints.

In the winter of 2017 I was artist in residence at Mass MoCA in North Adams, working on the printing press at Maker’s Mill. I was doing mono prints of the head of the Greek Goddess Nike, the image being based on the 420 BC bronze head of the goddess (now viewable in Athen’s Agora Museum). I thought I was exploring the imprints of antiquity on modern life and the meaning behind the Goddess: from the Victorious Female who rode in the chariot next to Zeus to a word and a swish on a sneaker. In addition I was exploring the meaning and hallucination that goes along with looking at a ‘head,” particularly the image of the first head we humans see and become visually attached to—the head of the mother who looks over the infant.

On the second or third day, I turned onn the radio. Our U.S. Senate had gathered to discuss Trump’s attorney general pick, Jeff Sessions. As I inked and pressed, Senator Elizabeth Warren read a letter, written by Martin Luther King Jr’s widow Coretta Scott King. The letter detailed Session’s history of racism and civil rights violations. The Speaker of the House shut Warren down; the Senate voted to silence her.

Silenced by Identity Politics

Silenced by Identity Politics

That was truly upsetting new for me.  I dropped a black inked hood over the face of Nike; and I kept going. A portion of the monoprints, made when the artist was upset about a silenced woman, are on exhibit at SILENT. SILENCE. SILENCED. at Atlantic Works Gallery .

This is the process. We use our skills, our sensitivity, our history, our bodies. and react to social, political and aesthetic conditions in our environment.

The black, hooded icon consumed my work for several days, initially expressing censorship; female censorship; and then moving on to reference images of racism, terrorism, and public degradation, execution, religion, and war as realized by a simple, stark, isolated hooded black face.

A hood/sack placed over a human head silences; humiliates; deprives a person of soul and individuality, while at the same time identifies that person as a single member of an oppressed group exploited by those more powerful.

I began thinking of a Female Goddess, Victory, who then became Silenced, who then became a an meditative icon.  An image is in effect in service to power. No one has ever cut off your head or mine. You are like me: a human being who speaks, an artist.

"IF THEY WANT POSTCARDS, I MAKE POSTCARDS"

“IF THEY WANT POSTCARDS, I MAKE POSTCARDS”

For the Silent. Silence. Silenced. show at Atlantic Works Gallery, Charlene Liska and I worked together to come up with an attractive and informative post card that would serve multiple purposes:

  1. A Hand-out to give friends and family.
  2. An immediate mailer/invitation. There’s no envelope to open.
  3. A good-looking ‘small flyer’ for us, fellow artist friends, and student volunteers to leave at coffee shops and to pin on announcement boards at museums, cultural organizations, and student centers, etc.
  4. A calling card for when we visit galleries this month.
  5. A possible bookmark and legacy stash.

Front of Charlene Liska’s postcard for Silent. Silence. Silenced.

Decisions to make before designing an Art Exhibit Post Card.

  1. What’s on the Front? Usually an image. Could be words.
  2.  What Goes on the Back? Who-What-When-Where ( more later).
  3. Size. To qualify for First-Class Mail postcard rate the card has to be rectangular, at least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick and be no more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick.
  4.  Print Run. How many to  print?
  5.  Budget. How much money you have to spend on this aspect of promotion//marketing?

As far as print run: we decided to print 500 postcards and print two different front images.  We shared identical print information on the back of the post card and varied the image on the front 250/250.

Front of Christine Palamidessi post card for Silent. Silence. Silenced.

Finally, here are the five main points to keep in mind when putting your post card all together:

  1. Plan ahead.  Have the postcards ready 1-2 months before your show opens. This means not only do you need to design the card, but communicate with your printer to find out his/her lead time. So work backwards from your desired date of having the post-card in hand and then line up all the things you need to do to make it happen.
  2.  Who. What. When and Where. Yes, you’ve heard this before and you’ll hear it again. Who (your name) What (name of show and definition of show–is it a pop-up, a month-longshow, a one nighter?)  When (the run date of the show as well as the date of the Opening Night and any other special events during the run of the show) Where (name of the gallery, or venue, and the address. Include zip code and phone number of the gallery and the gallery/venue website. You may consider putting your own phone number on the card, as Charlene and I did,  but realize your phone number may end up on someone’s solicitation list.
  3. Establish Credibility. Be sure to proofread everything. Use high resolution photos/jpg. A sloppy looking card communicates ‘a don’t care/don’t know/I make mistakes attitude’ — which you probably don’t want to do unless that’s the theme of your exhibit, which has its own set of decisions and contradictions not addressed here.
  4. Keep It Clean and Easy. Fewer words are better than a lot of words. People appreciate quick-to-eye grab information. (look at image below–left side of the back of postcard)  to see how we varied caps and lower case, as well as grey and black inks.)
  5.  Ask Friends and Art Community to Help Spread the Word &  Distribute Your Post Cards (drop off, mail, post in their place of work) .

 

 

Conceptual Artist Walter Kopec and his ‘hangman’ word play drawing. At Atlantic Works Gallery, 2017.

 

Blue. Red. Black and White.

Not a hint of cowardly yellow bridges the Right with the Left; no grey softens the Yes and No, the Pro with the Con. There are no dips into non-objectivity. The work Walter Kopec is showing at Atlantic Work Gallery is elegant visual symbolism embedded with the tension of theoretical opposites set off against one another.

Kopec’s crisp, spare images–a pencil drawing, black tape on the wall, nail-pierced shoes, a grid of suspended red and blue ribbons–deliver complex messages; their controlled surfaces counter the irrational and compulsive inner workings of our American politics, culture and society.

The work relies on symbol and the openness of symbol interpretation. There are multiple references to the American flag.  An impressive, mobile-like soft-sculpture, built from red and blue ribbons and fragments of picture frames, takes stage center. “Is the flag assembling, or disassembling?” Kopec asks. Nearby is a wall-sculpture, echoing the shape and material of the mobile sculpture but not its colors. It is a flag made of black and white stripes, which Kopec titles We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident  “And the next part is,  …that all men are created equal.”  Kopec says, quoting the words of the U.S. Constitution.  “And, it’s not just black-white racism that this work references,” he adds. “It’s also the black and white print medium– fact vs. fiction. Truth vs. fake news.”

"The Last Dog Eats Alone" ( in a dog-eats-dog world) Pencil drawing with inks. Walter Kopec, 2017.

“The Last Dog Eats Alone” ( in a dog-eats-dog world) Pencil drawing with inks. Walter Kopec, 2017.

Kopec’s  process is contemplative and never-ending. “I might go to my studio and read the dictionary. I might do word games, puzzles. I sit, think and write down ideas. I ask myself what’s happening in the world. What’s the drumbeat right now? ”

For 15 years Kopec’s been chronicling his ideas, words, stories. “I have boxes and boxes filled with sketches, notes, clippings, even fabric. What is this for? What can this mean? Can I use this? How?  Explain it? How? For me, there’s really no start-stop in the conceptual process. My mind is always active. I even wake up at night and write notes.”

“My current conundrum,” Kopec says, “is that I grew up in the 60s and 70s. Experienced stuff that happened in the civil rights movement; during the Viet Nam War. The unfairness of it all.” Today he sees similar opposing forces fighting it out, except that now it is his generation that’s the cause of it. “The people I grew up with are responsible. What prompted this to start?” he wonders.

Two of the pieces in the show have Trump-related themes, though Kopec makes it clear he has not made

Walter Kopec in gallery installing the red strips for ...AND WHAT REMAINS

Walter Kopec in gallery installing the red stripes for …THINGS THAT REMAIN

Trump art or anti-Trump art, and that has no desire to put any of his brain power into Trump. “The art is about what is happening in society: special interests, politics for self-serving personnel gain. Trump just happened to bring it all to the forefront and pushed the ugliness in our faces.”

In the binary opposition of his show …AND THINGS THAT REMAIN, Kopec points  a finger at the system we live in that considers everything either “right or wrong” , “winner or loser” ; “Democratic or Republican” ; “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” Using cultural symbols and coded words he connects with emotions illustrating the continuing interrelated conflicts that he felt earlier in his career. “I certainly don’t have answers nor do I pretend to have answers to what’s happening,” Kopec affirms. “America is happiness. This is where people come to pursue happiness.”  He points to a drawing on the wall of a stick figure running after a small American flag, which he titles Pursuit of Happiness.  “ I’m not making judgement on any of this stuff. I hope the pieces appeal to a universal sense of things.”

Walter Kopec’s…AND THINGS THAT REMAIN runs in conjunction with Melissa Shook’s LANDSCAPE OF MEMORY. April 1-26, 2017. At Atlantic Works Gallery, 80 Border Street, East Boston.

 “Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory [of the artist] since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”       —Harold Pinter, upon his receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, 2005

Samantha Marder in dressing room. BENT 2016

Samantha Marder in dressing room. BENT 2016

Meret Oppenheim is supposed to have described her famous Objet (Le Déjeuner en Fourrure-1936 ), the fur-covered cup, saucer and spoon, as “the image of femininity imprinted in the minds of men and projected on to women.”

Samantha Marder’s BENT  installation at  Boston’s Atlantic Works Gallery (December 3-30, 2016), begs similar questions as the cup: the social reality construct of femininity meets the reality of both being female, and/or dressing up like one. While the act itself–when we consider cross dressing to be an artistic act that makes its way to a gallery–questions who exactly is the man dressing up for? Perhaps the best answer is: himself, the person who in the moment is both male and female, the male projecting his dream on himself as a woman.

In turn, the witnessing of the documentation of man dressing up for himself and the accruements he uses to do it makes us, the viewer, a bit uncomfortable in the same way the idea of drinking tea from Oppenheim’s cup does. It’s a visceral “wait a minute!” reaction that is accompanied by a politically correct liberal voice that says, “It’s all right.”

But we all are programmed to react: real men don’t spend hours looking into mirrors; real women don’t really dress up like the man who is play acting a slut, a bride, a maid wearing crotchless underwear, or a mean horny nurse.

In our polarized culture, men are not to be treated as mere body, and women must consider themselves primarily body. The portrayed body becomes the feminized body, regardless of its sex.

Marder shows, in her installation, that femininity has image; masculinity has no image.

The two rooms in the gallery are set up like this:  One room is Reality. The second room is Dreamland.The middle divider is a dark curtain, like the subconscious, that the gallery goer and the cross dresser passes through when entering the rabbit hole.

Reality room. Samantha Marder Photos on wall. BENT, 2016.

Reality room.  BENT, 2016.

The reality room showcases a row of snapshots of men wearing wigs, women’s clothing and make-up.They look like they’re all having a blast: laughing, showing cleavage, revealing the thigh line of black stockings.

In the same room, on the opposite wall, is Marder’s journal, a sociological observation of

degrees of sexual, sexy and social behaviors; a list of the fantasies men prefer to act out after they’ve dressed up as women (job interviews, caught in the act of sexual betrayal, automat slut).

Once you pass through the black curtain, to the dreamland side of her installation, Marder shows you the nuts and bolts of the business of cross dressing all bathed in soft pink lights. There’s a lounge area to relax, listen to music, a basket of soft buttered buns. In one corner is a softly lighted bridal gown ( “Hindu men’s favorite fantasy,” she pointed out.)  In front of the leather sofa and  floor cushions is a glass topped coffee table filled with an assemblage of breast protheses.

To the far right in the dreamland area, is a small closet of a room lined floor-to ceiling with mirrors. It has a shag rug and a chandelier composed of pink fluffy petticoats.  In this room gallery goers can try on one of a handful of wigs and/or high heels, test dozens of tubes of lipstick, touch feathers. Girl heaven.

Samantha Marder in dreamland room with Bridal Gown. BENT, 2016

Samantha Marder  with Bridal Gown. BENT, 2016

Marder, who in addition to being an artist-exhibitor at Atlantic Works Gallery, has worked as a cross dresser facilitator for the past 20 years.  She has a degree in cultural anthropology and previously worked as a social worker.

Her show BENT is an intellectually eroticized exhibit that agrees reality is a construct; that plays with philosophical ideas about reality and gender; that acknowledges real men can’t dress up as women and hang out at their country club or attend their business’s board meetings.

“Usually men who want the experience of dressing up as a woman have to go to a dominatrix or prostitute. I am neither.”  She finds clients through ads in magazines, such as Boston Magazine.

Marder has a collection of over 200 miniskirts in her studio and perhaps twice as many panties. “Certain men reduce anxiety and stress by cross dressing, ” Marder said. “I am their fairy godmother, their facilitator, their guide.”

BENT is Marder’s second gender exploring installation at Atlantic Works Gallery.

BTW: in the 30s Meret Oppenheim sold her fur lined cup to the MoMA in New York for $50. Since this was the first work by a woman the museum acquired, Oppenheim is playfully called the First Lady of MoMA.

Object (or Luncheon in Fur), by Meret Oppenheim. In 1936, Oppenheim wrapped a teacup, saucer and spoon in fur. In the age of Freud, a gastro-sexual interpretation was inescapable. Even today, the work triggers intense reactions.

Object (or Luncheon in Fur), by Meret Oppenheim. In 1936, Oppenheim wrapped a teacup, saucer and spoon in fur. In the age of Freud, a gastro-sexual interpretation was inescapable. Even today, the work triggers intense reactions.

Major Kaye in her Atlantic Works Studio

Major Kaye in her Atlantic Works Studio, September 2016

Atlantic Works Gallery Member 

 

Marjorie Kaye’s sculptures reach out and in and up and beyond. The transcendent stacks of energy are constructed from pieces of plywood, which are cut into shapes with a jig saw, smoothed and then tinted with bold gouache color–or house paint washes. The pieces are assembled in sequences, one piece glued or nailed against the other, forming patterns that transit from basic schematics of color and size into higher, longer and wider dimensions that strive to be freed from the constraints physicality. In her gracious unfolding of form, Kaye considers the mechanics of duality, and the vibration between the laws of intention and those of magnetism.

Perhaps classical in inception, the sculptures are very particular to our present time and reflect the emotions of a meditation on internal space. “I reflect who I am as a person. I bring my inside experience outside,” Kaye says.

Kaye sculptures and paintings have been shown both locally and nationally. She has an BFA in painting and has done graduate work in printmaking. Her work has been reviewed in many publications including the Boston Globe and ArtScope Magazine. She is the founder/member/owner of Galatea Fine Art in Boston, MA, a large artist-run gallery.

In her most recent work Kaye breaks down the emotive qualities of sound, dissecting music, particularly the curvaceous, meticulous and musical chases composed by Bach. She appreciates Bach’s order and expression, pointing out that his arrangements are repetitive and sequential, like her art. “Bach didn’t express chaos. Order allows emotion to come through.”

Kaye grew up in the Boston area, in a musical environment. “It began in the crib–the listening, the appreciating, the dissecting. The family took me to Leonard Bernstein concerts, to musicals.” She remembers seeing, The Carnival of Animals with her grandmother. Kaye sang in oratorios. “In my mid-20s, after art school, I studied voice. But I found I was more interested in music theory than performance. The calibrations. Cadence. The ideas.”

“Yes,” she smiles. “I ride a lot of different horses,”  adding, “when I was young I  started a journey of many disciplines: music, the occult, theosophy, astrology, Judeo-Christian texts, the Kabbala. Eventually it culminated in Zen Buddhism.  And I’m still investigating, contemplating, researching…

“When I think about organized religion, I see no differences. Each is a system to look at the threads that join all of us together.” That thread is apparent in her art. “The most important thing in life is God and spirit. My  art is a spiritual practice; my ongoing contemplation is about the meaning of life. I ask: Who are we? What is nature?

She turned to sculpture as an expressive form when she and her companion, Artist George Shaw, began living together. “George is also a woodworker,” she explains. “There were of scraps of wood around the house. I started shaping the pieces and painting them. Finally I gave myself permission to do sculpture.“

Previously her painting (which she still practices and exhibits) had focused on the mandala. A mandala is a ritual symbol, representing the universe, that guides viewers into a sacred, internal space. “Instead of painting mandalas I began building them,” she says.

Marjorie Kaye's sculptural mandalas

Marjorie Kaye’s sculptural mandalas

In 2016 Marjorie was awarded by the Provincetown Art Association and Museum: a Lillian Orlowsky/ William Freed Foundation grant. “On the application I wrote that with the funding I would get a studio and I did.” In June Kaye moved her tools, paints and wood to  a studio in East Boston, to 80 Border Street, Atlantic Works Studios.

In her studio she doesn’t listen to music. “I like complete silence. Plus I use power tools, and they make a lot of loud noise.” As far as color, the color of her work is bold. “The brighter the better,” she says. Orange seems to be the bridge color. “I use orange to pull everything together. To get from here to there.”

She can’t predict how having a dedicated art studio will effect her work. “For sure I have more opportunity to look and consider each piece,” she says. “But I worked hard in my home studio. I’m just a hard worker; it’s my nature. I’m process oriented. I make the best of any situation.”

Marjorie Kaye getting ready to use the jigsaw

Marjorie Kaye getting ready to use the jigsaw

 

MARJORIE KAYE’S ONGOING AND UPCOMING SHOWS:

The Poetics of Space. (with George Shaw) at Atlantic Works Gallery, 80 Border Street, East Boston, MA.  October 8-29, 2016.

Colo Colo Gallery, 29 Centre Street, New Bedford MA. December 2016

FOR MORE VISUALS and info VISIT www.marjoriekayeart.com

George Shaw

George Shaw

George Shaw’s paintings seduce the viewer with their color and secret. They are investigations of home and house, Shaw’s personal continent of experience. He studied painting at Massachusetts College of Art, graduating with honors, and works during the day as a master carpenter. Shaw also has a certificate in historic architectural  preservation. The paintings of a single house on an unnamed landscape provoke and free a sense of light, time and place and within those realms release a vulnerable precariousness. The seen feeling is a Hopper-esque isolation, a captured desire just out of grasp; a moment saturated with color and suggestion. The secret within the house is a light; life is happening.

Shaw said, however that his intention is not to be inside the house but to be approaching it.  “Life is an illusion,” he says, “we’re on a journey but we don’t know where. Meanwhile, we’re all looking for home.”  Home according to George, is a sense of place and security.

Shaw’s been producing paintings in his house series for two years.  His day job, finish carpenter, gives him the opportunity to be a voyeur in many people’s houses and family life.  He sees how people value their space and what they desire to have inside their house, how they create comfort and security and control the chaos and tentativness of life in their immediate surroundings.  “A lot of times it’s the idea they have of a house that people strive to attain.”

The paintings are very American in their idea of lone individualism, masculine in their frankness, saturated in color intelligence, and layered with spiritual meaning of potential ascension. Technically, Shaw’ paints on board using oil, powdered pigment, wax and glazes. He usually begins with the color in the sky and works his way down the board to the earth, knowing intuitively when the color needs to change. In many paintings a line of oil pastel defines the meeting line of heaven and earth, adding an intense seam of drama to that line where souls eventually ascend.

In the realm of the house, in search of the real resting place for family and soul, Shaw has positioned the viewer between the lure of the everlasting and the possibility of attaining that reality, sensation, idea, hope . A place we all hope to attain: home.sahw2

George Shaw is a member of Atlantic Works Gallery. An exhibit of his work “Home Again” is on exhibit at Galatea Fine Art in Boston, June 1-26, 2016. Upcoming shows at Atlantic Works, East Boston, and Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford in the fall of 2016.

Website: http://www.georgeshawart.com

 

Artists for Animals Reception and Auction

Benefit in support of Citizens for Farm Animals

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 6-9PM

Work from over 70 artists will be on display, including anything from handmade jewelry to painting, for a silent auction with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the Citizens for Farm Animals campaign, which aims to make Massachusetts the first state in the US to mandate basic humane care standards for farm animals.

You do not need to bid/buy any works to enjoy and participate in the event, but if you do, you will taking home a piece of art to enrich your life at a price far below art gallery pricing while providing crucial financial support to an important landmark cause.

Add your voice to those of other Massachusetts citizens working to make our state the leader in the nation for compassionate care for all animals.

Reception and Auction: Thursday, July 14, 2016, 6-9PM
Participate: Become a member of the Facebook group
More info: (617) 913 1871

About Citizens for Farm Animal

Citizens for Farm Animal Protection is a grassroots campaign working to prevent cruelty to veal calves, egg-laying hens, and pigs by putting a measure on the November 2016 ballot. These animals are crammed into cages so small they can’t turn around or extend their limbs. This practice is abusive and increase the risk of food safety problems, like Salmonella. We’re a broad coalition of non-profit organizations, farmers and businesses, community leaders, and grassroots activists dedicated to enacting a ballot measure to ban the cruel confinement of farm animals.

In the fall of 2015, more than a thousand volunteers helped us reach and surpass our signature gathering goal, collecting over 100,000 signatures in 66 days to help put this on the ballot. For our second — and final — signature drive in May and June of 2016, our goal is to gather an additional 25,000 signatures from registered Massachusetts voters to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. By voting yes on this ballot question, we will help protect animals from abuse.

Artists Farzaneh and Bahareh Sararani in front of their painting "Alone"

Artists Farzaneh and Bahareh Sararani in front of their painting “Alone”

What artist would turn down a second mind, a pair of extra hands, or a person who could stand by their side realizing and making manifest what they themselves were thinking?

The Safarani sisters, identical twins Farzaneh and Bahareh, have just that.  Since the age of 13 they have been helping each other do art. It wasn’t until their undergraduate years at the University of Tehran that they began to paint together.  Their process is familiar.  “First we decide what to do, then we discuss how to do it and make a drawing.  When we paint, I work on a area of a painting,” said Bahareh, “while my sister plans another painting. And then we switch.”  For the past two years the sisters have been students in a Master of Fine Arts program at Northeastern University/ The Boston School of Museum Arts where their studies are concentrated on painting and video art.

At The Boston Biennale 4, their painting “Alone” hung front and center in the left-gallery  “Alone” is a genuflection to the Italian Renaissance, with its strong sienna and umber palette and its particular luminosity, a result of the medium, oil paint on wood. Additionally, the twin’s painting makes a good attempt at melting colors into one another–the sfumato technique, similar to the one used by Leonardo Da Vinci to softened Mona Lisa’s smile back in 1503.

The female in the painting is one of the twins. In addition to being each other’s helpmate in the creative process, they are also each others models and muses. Keeping within the framework of Renaissance symbolism, the brown garment, or cloak held in front of the seated, classically beautiful female communicates modesty and religion. It is the same color worn by monks. Yet, in the frozen moment of the painting–just as the Mona Lisa is about to smile but hasn’t yet– the brown cloak is about to be opened. (Intuitively we know the cloak won’t be lifted because someone will stop the movement before the seated female reveals her heart and her secrets.)

That someone would be the missing part of the painting: the other sister.

A video accompanies “Alone” and places the second sister in the white slice of doorway, in the back chamber, in the secret territory, within the heart of the painting. (The video part of the painting was not included in the BB4 exhibit.) The second sister is naked. She is taking a shower. Her vulnerability is distant and veiled by a translucent curtain. She is washing herself. A baptism. A cleansing off of the religious, modest cloak.

Could the brown cloak on sister one suggests the hijab, a garment of modesty and religion, worn by women in Iran, the twins home country?

The twins intended to reveal nothing more than classical beauty and wonderful light in their painting.  “A painting is an object in itself,” Bahareh said. “It should be beautiful.  The subject doesn’t matter.”

Many people ask why they use wood, not canvas as a background material. “We are interested in browns and flesh tones and the wood works well for that.”

“Alone” is one in a series of six video-paintings that the twins are completing for their thesis at BSMA. In the series female figures–nude and clothed– appear in different rooms, in different situations. The intended tension is for the viewer to wonder if it is one person or two.  “A viewer could also read the painting as one person trying to know herself, trying to connect different parts of her identity,” said Bahareh.

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Are two heads better than one? Joined-at-the-hip people making art and in unison seems unusual, and,yes, even weird, and at the same time symbiotically inviting. Exactly how unconventional is it? I took a quick doubles look on the internet and within three Boston minutes found four sets of artist twins currently living and making art together: the Singh sisters, living and working in London, are credited with the revival of the Indian miniature tradition within the modern art practice; Marina and Irina Fabrizius, twin sisters, born in Kazakhstan, living in Germany, paint very large, extreme color paintings reminiscent of the landscapes of their childhood.; Vietnamese twin brothers Thanh ands Hai Le, do laqueur paintings and run a bar, gallery and artist residency in Hue, Vietnam; and  ex-Florentine artists  Marcello and Alesso Bugaglar relocated to Maui, Hawaii, and have a business called Twins Fine Art. If you would like to know more about the Safarani Sisters, they have a website and a fine future ahead of them.