Friday, November 25, 2016

Joan Snyder: No Time To Lose

Are Mine, 2010
Oil, acrylic, glitter, rosebuds, burlap on panel
30 x 30 inches

Joan Snyder paints us an interior landscape, an inside garden, if you will. It is a mythical place, a profound place, scratched out of the earth inside her.

Joan Snyder, Magic Meadow, 2007

There are deeply rooted plants, beds, rows, flowers, fields. Everything grows there. Memories, dreams, ideas, revelations. Disappointments, joys, sorrows, and hopes. She loads them up like Viking Funeral ships and floats them out to sea.

1970 oil, acrylic, and spray enamel on canvas, 72" x 96

We get to witness them float by one by one, like the Macy's Day Parade. Her beds of roses. Her Rose Bowl Parade.

Nights of Summer
Oil, acrylic, paper mache on linen
30 x 64 inches

As we watch them go by we admire them. We admire them like a garden. We notice there is more. Messages scrawled in the dirt. They sing to us. Strange and mysterious songs of all manner of experience.

Joan SnyderYellow Was Blue (2013); 48" x 48"

They circle around and spiral down inside us. Like sirens they pull us onto their rocks. We drown in their paint and colors and song. We turn in the eddies of paint and flotsam and jetsam in her paintings and they in turn drill eddies of the like inside of us.

"New Moonfield", 2008
 Acrylic, burlap, silk, cheesecloth, wooden beads, paper mache on linen,

Joan Snyder has always been a poet painter. She has always plumbed the depths beneath the painted surface. It has been ideal for her. A place to have it all. The poem and the garden, in paint. A place to put it all, tend it all, realize it all, act it all out.

1970 oil, acrylic, and spray enamel on canvas, 72" x 96

Yes, there is theater here. Drama here. A stage. Joan Snyder gets to set the stage in her paintings and the actors play their parts, engage each other in action, stand up for what's right, and tell their stories. Passionately. Fiercely. Social justice, political protest, world events, tragedy, history, comedy, romance. Love and death. Hope and glory. Birth, rebirth, transformation, redemption, celebration. It is all there.

WOL, 2010 (standing for "Women of Liberia")
oil, acrylic, paper mache, mud, cloth, seeds and glass beads on linen

Joan Snyder's paintings have always been wise down to their roots. The wisdom of the ages. Very serious stuff. And well they should be? They have truths to tell, fields to plant. There is no time to lose.

Oil, acrylic, twigs, seeds, fabric, paper,
glitter on linen
42 x 62 inches

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine
Spring Hill, November 2016

Purple Passion, 2012 - Joan Snyder
Joan Snyder 2012

Joan Snyder with Proserpina in progress, 2012

Friday, November 18, 2016

Martin Mugar: The Light That Shines From Within

"I started building the images of letters, merging nature and culture."

Martin Mugar at Bromfield, 2013

A few years back Martin Mugar hit a beautiful wall. His work had arrived at such a sublime place that he might as well have disappeared in the morning mist, taken a swan dive off the precipice where he found himself. It was time to shake things up. It was a beautiful thing, but his journey was far from over. It was time to retrace his steps and find another path. Maybe something a little rockier.


For fifteen years Martin Mugar had evolved and fine tuned his spiritual vision of dissolving color, energy, and matter into light; an almost ironic, even paradoxical experience created by using a painting process of thick, heavy, encaustic impasto that seemed more like relief sculpture than painting. The power of these works and the heights Mugar achieved is undeniable. They are unlike anything else. Impossible to quantify.

Martin Mugar, 2014, #46, 48" x 44"

It is a true measure of their originality that no one knows quite what to make of them. They are otherworldly, almost aloof. They are like the daughter that no man is good enough for. Martin Mugar has staked his entire life and career on this work. Instead of turning back when he received too little critical acclaim for all of his prodigious efforts, he doubled down and pushed on. One day museums will make his curious pastry-like confections of pure light the cornerstone of their collections, but until then he does what he does, like some sailor explorer, painting away in his studio near the water in Southern New Hampshire.

Martin Mugar, 2010, 44" x 42"

Near the water is important. Martin Mugar sails his boat in those waters. He catches the light that breathes life into his paintings. Out on the water is a sanctuary of sorts, as is his studio, as is his work.

Martin Mugar, 2014, 42" x 44"

So when he had gone as far as he could go, he made a change. He started out with a switch from the simple form of a stroke, a mark, a squiggle, to the more complex gesture of letters and words and calligraphy. Who could have predicted where this would go? At first glance the paintings looked somewhat the same. A closer inspection however revealed the letters and possible words they formed in the sea of pastel colors that had become his trademark and avenue to luminosity. Letters and words in a great jumble that call out, cry out, fermenting a great poetry, fomenting a great poetry, bursting out in song, in longing, in yearning, in eloquence, in prose, in rage, in sweetness and in pain. A great orgasmic graffiti battle, part tourette's, part scatological orgy, part wild celebration, of transcendence, ascendance, revelation, and triumph.

Detail, Martin Mugar

These complex forms within forms opened the door to the most recent paintings. The new marks look like more scribbles in paint, but they become so much more than just letters; each one is like a small sculpture. Each one is a small sculpture inside of the larger monolithic, monochromatic wall of a  Mugar sculpture/painting. They are like figures. Like the figures on Rodin's Gates of Hell. The way they nest inside the larger work, inhabit the larger work, allows for endless joy and adventure and expression and discovery. There is great drama there. Great passion. Great power and humanity and cosmic force. A great swirl of cosmic force that opens up new worlds.

Detail, Rodin's Gates of Hell

Martin Mugar, 2016, #67, 29" x 24"(detail)

This is a great advancement in the work. A great step forward to a new and bright horizon. There is no overstating the magnitude of this breakthrough. There is no overstating the significance and magnificence of this breakthrough in terms of the larger oeuvre of Martin Mugar's personal victory as an artist.

Martin Mugar, 2016, #67, 29" x 24"

And as grand as this breakthrough is, the innocence and exuberance that has always been in his work is still there. The essential playfulness is still there, but even more so. The light is still there, but it is different. It is not as much the light from the sun, directly, but more the light that radiates from plants and flowers and fruit. A marvelous vibrancy. It is the great light that shines from within. Martin Mugar has found his way through his beautiful wall of light. He has found his way ashore again. He has found his way back to the garden.

Martin Mugar, 2016, #66, 27" x 24"

Martin Mugar, 2016, #64, 50" x 41"

Martin Mugar, 2016, #63, 24" x 22"

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine
Spring Hill, November, 2016

Martin Mugar

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Douglas Abdell: Message in a Bottle

Douglas Abdell, Kayeau - Aekyad, 1979, 19 x 9 x 4 inches

Douglas Abdell's sculptures have always begged this one gnawing question: What's on the inside? This question has forever been behind the great symbolic and spiritual power of his work. What's inside? It is his question, and in an almost unknowable way, he makes it our question.

Douglas Abdell, Qurefe Aekyad, 1981

Maybe Douglas Abdell never had any answers. Only questions. Or maybe he had the answers all along, but didn't think we were ready for them. Or maybe he wasn't ready for them. Who knows? It is worth noting that early on he invented a secret language to tell his story, something more Phoenician than Aramaic that probably raised more questions than it answered. He even almost dropped sculpture altogether at one point to realize his mission in paint and poetry. That is how large a role language and poetry have always played in his work. At that time he found himself more at home with the graffiti culture than working in bronze and steel.

Douglas Abdell, Phaena Kraenq Phaena, 1982, 18 x 18 inches

Was he searching for his own truth, the truth, his own meaning, universal meaning, or just a place to feel at home, a place to belong, a place to express himself?

Douglas Abdell, Kraenk #25, 1983, 46 x 14 1/2 inches

Born in 1947 in Boston of Lebanese heritage on his father's side and Italian on his mother's, Abdell graduated from Syracuse University and joined the prominent Andrew Crispo Gallery in New York in the 1970s, and then moved there just at the exciting advent of the explosive New Wave, Neo-Expressionism and postmodernism art scene of the late 70s and early 80s.

Douglas Abdell, Bronze wall sculpture, 1972

Douglas Abdell, catalog cover, 1978

He relished the energy and dialogue as much as any artist in the thick of it all. His path was not unlike  that of the great David Smith over thirty years earlier. He transitioned from cast bronze to welding, from warmer, more organic, touchable, intimate and more traditional modern sculpture to hard-edged, geometric, prickly, and cutting monolithic vessels/figures that synthesized and charged his vision. These were both soldiers first and last.

Douglas Abdell, Helae-Aekyad, bronze1977

These sculptures were sent out into the world to carry his poetry, his message, to lead his quest.

Douglas Abdell

In recent years Abdell has changed. His work has evolved from poet warrior to poet ambassador.  He has opened up his closed vessel like a book. Recently almost literally. He works in stone(marble) to achieve something sublime. That is so important in all the ways we know and can imagine. Stone is hard. Hard to work and hard against time. It lasts. It is of this earth but is also spiritual in nature. It is as old as time. In it life is compacted over tens of thousands of years and longer. It is heavy not just in weight.

Douglas Abdell, Código del Mediterráneo, 2009 - 2010, mármol de Makael,
 Almeria, madera, cm. 57 x 144 x 90 

Douglas Abdell has found a home on the coast of Spain. Malaga. He has embraced his rich Arabian and Mediterranean cultural heritage. His recent sculptures tell this story. They have an outside that houses and shelters but opens up and reveals an inside. The focus is now on that inside, and he is eager to tell us what that inside is. He is eager to share with us what that inside means. Douglas Abdell wants us to get his message in a bottle.

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine 
Spring Hill

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lois Dodd: Endless Summer

“Magenta Touch-Me-Not,” oil on linen, 2007

Looking at Lois Dodd's paintings it is easy to say that we all have a little Lois Dodd in us. I know I do. Call it morning sun. Call it The Sound of Music. Call it warm, green grass under bare feet, or call it a fresh breeze playing mischief with curtains and kites and skirts, or call it happy days. At 89, Lois Dodd has painted that forever, a sweet and gentle world at the end of a country road.

Lois Dodd, “Self-Portait in Green Window” (1971),
 oil on linen, 53 1/2 x 36 inches

Wouldn't it be nice. When we want that, need that, we have her work. It is a little like Giorgio Morandi. Through World Wars and revolutions we got still-lifes of jars and bottles and glasses, maybe some flowers, maybe a shift in palette. Something that didn't change in a changing world.

Lois Dodd, Red Shirt and Window, 2013, oil on panel, 15 3/4 x 16 inches

The same could be said of Lois Dodd. Through Elvis, walking on the moon, JFK, the 60s, the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, bellbottoms, AIDS, Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall, personal computers, 911, the Iraq war, smart phones and so on, never mind the passing myriad of seismic art world movements, trends and isms, she has stayed the course.  Plein air painting.  It is actually a steel-eyed vision in the face of all that. Negativity is easy; she has a positive mission. A fierce choice. Lois Dodd is far from naive; she may paint in Maine, but she lives in New York City.

Lois Dodd, “Cows and Clouds” (1961),
 oil on linen, 33 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches

Some people could find this unwavering constancy of her work unnerving, even disturbing. Others might find it comforting. Her work really begs the question, but it is not a fair one.

White Catastrophe, (1980)

An artist is free. Free to follow their own path. See what they want to see. Celebrate what they want to celebrate. Share what they want to share. The world, art world or otherwise, can make of it what they will. Take it or leave it. They are free too.

Red Poppies and House, 2004

Lois Dodd gifts us a world apart that we cannot sustain. Most of us live a in different and more complicated world, a world where we cannot help ourselves. We want more. We need more. We are driven and distracted and scheduled and worried and afraid. She gives us simpler times. Simpler pleasures. Still but fleeting moments. Stilled. Care free moments where we can catch our breath. Feel our breath. Smile. Forget. Lose ourselves in sunshine. Trust in sunshine. Trust that life is good.

Lois Dodd, "Cow Parsnip in Bud," 2011.
 Oil on masonite. 20 1/8" × 13". 

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine
Spring Hill, October 2016

Lois Dodd: Windows and Reflections 
List Gallery at Swarthmore College
November 3 - December 15, 2016

Lois Dodd is the 2016 Donald Jay Gordon Visiting Artist. Featuring a variety of paintings made between 1968 and 2007, this exhibition reflects Dodd’s life-long fascination with windows and similar structures that focus attention and kindle new ways of seeing. Lois Dodd: Windows and Reflections will be accompanied by a color catalog with an essay by Barry Schwabsky.

Lois Dodd was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1927. From 1945-1948 she attended The Cooper Union in New York. In 1952 she was one of five artists to establish the Tanager Gallery, where she exhibited until 1962. From 1971 to 1992, Dodd taught at Brooklyn College, and has, since 1980, served on the Board of Governors of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is an elected member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and National Academy of Design. 

She is represented by the Alexandre Gallery in NYC. Her next show will open Jan. 7, thru Feb. 25,'17

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sachiko Akiyama at Matter and Light

Sachiko AkiyamaBetween Dream and Memory, 2004
 wood, paint, steel, resin, 20 x 19 x 64 inches

Sachiko Akiyama: Between Here and There

Sculpture and Paintings Curated by Nina Nielsen and John Baker

There is a stillness to Sachiko Akiyama's work that is also the pebble in the pond. Its quiet energy radiates outwards. It is powerful and passive at once. It is accessible and inaccessible at once. We are left to prowl or scale or contemplate its exterior. Its interior is another matter. The eye of the needle. The razor's edge. The puzzle box. The work is curious. We can only guess at what is before us. While this is the nature of most art, Sachiko Akiyama has managed to elevate the experience to a fine level that teeters up and down the spine of tension.

Sachiko AkiyamaWinter's Night, 2016,
 wood, paint, steel, resin, 26 x 13 x 68 inches

Her sculptures push out from inside their shells, like eggs that are about to hatch. Again, we can only marvel at the smooth beautifully carved and colored wooden figures. What stirs inside is anybody's guess, which is of course the pleasure of it. The narratives bound up in each piece, a held bird, a forest carried on a back, a sleeping form, tell the story of the artist and nature. It is a uniquely sad and calm and determined story of one. A broken-hearted one. One for all.

Sachiko AkiyamaI Remember What I Did Not See, 2010
 wood, paint,  59 x 29 x 15 inches

Sachiko Akiyama is indeed a storyteller, and her sculptures cast a spell over us. A spell that like a net brings us into her magic tent. We are easily taken into her starry skies, her lapping waves, and calls in the night. Shooting stars abound. She brings us peace and goodwill. She brings us stillness. She brings us back to our senses and ourselves.

Sachiko AkiyamaBetween Here and There, 2016
polychromed wood, paint,  10.5 x 7 x 11.5 inches
In collaboration with painter Rick Fox

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine

Spring Hill, October, 2016

Sachiko AkiyamaThe Blue of Distance, 2016
 wood, paint, steel,  33 x 11 x 68 inches

Sachiko AkiyamaIn the Forest of Ghosts, 2016
 wood, paint, paper, mixed media, 10.5 x 10 x 23.5 inches

Sachiko AkiyamaUntitled, 2016, acrylic
 two framed drawings, 6 x 5 & 9 x 6 inches

Sachiko AkiyamaUntitled, 2016, ink on paper

Sachiko AkiyamaUntitled--Mountain Collage,
 2016, wood, paper,  paint, acrylic, resin

Sachiko Akiyama: Between Here and There
September 16 - October 31, 2016


Matter and Light Fine Art
63 Thayer St, Boston, MA 02118
Phone: (857) 990-3931