Artists of the East End

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Artists of the East End

September 8 – October 1, 2011
Gallery Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30-5:30

Charlotte Park - Untitled (Red, White, and Green)

Charlotte Park, "Untitled (Red, White, and Green)," oil on paper mounted on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

Spanierman Gallery is pleased to announce the opening on Thursday, September 8, 2011 of Artists of the East End, featuring works created from the mid-twentieth century to the present by artists who have lived and worked on eastern Long Island.  The longest intact artists’ colony in America, the East End of Long Island has been a gathering place for artists since the mid-nineteenth century.  Buoyed by this long history, the area’s sustained appeal is due primarily to two factors: its intense beauty, comprising its distinctive brilliant light and a coastal landscape of extreme variety, and its close connection to the avant-garde art and literary circles of New York City.   Comfortable among like-minded colleagues, artists have always felt free to experiment on the East End, producing a vast array of works, including many of landmark significance.

John Ferren - SKI, 1952

John Ferren, "SKI," 1952, oil on canvas, 47-1/4 x 36 inches

Of the waves of artists who have made their way to eastern Long Island, John Little and John Ferren belong to the circle that formed around Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in the mid-twentieth century.  Little frequently visited Pollock and Krasner in Springs, East Hampton, before 1948, when he moved next door to them, purchasing Duck Creek Farm, a house and barn.  In the following year, Little was included along with them in the first annual Artists of the Region exhibition at Guild Hall in East Hampton.  A two-man show of the work of Pollock and Little was held at the same venue in 1957.  Painting with bold gestures, Little explored the “inter-vibration” of areas of color, gradually developing a flattening of his paint layers and a use of white to give breathing space to explosive arrangements such as Akiton (1973).  John Ferren, who was close to Picasso, Miró, and John Helion while living in Paris in the early 1930s, evolved an Abstract Expressionist style in the early 1950s, a time when he was an active member of The Club, the intellectual center of the New York School that was led by Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning.  Ski (1952) reflects Ferren’s continued exploration of Eastern philosophy, in which he considered the movement and complexity within simple, subtly shifting colors and varied brush handling.  In 1958 he bought property in Springs, joining the growing community around Pollock.

Betty Parsons - Flying Duck

Betty Parsons, "Flying Duck," 1981, mixed media on wood, 34 x 21 x 1 inches

As an art dealer with a rare perspicacity, Betty Parsons held ground-breaking shows for many avant-garde artists including Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Clyfford Still.  Also a dedicated artist in her own right, Parsons painted and sculpted throughout her life, creating a body of work that is today garnering significant attention.  Parsons began to work on Long Island after receiving an unexpected inheritance in 1959 that enabled her to purchase land on a cliff overlooking the sea in Southold, on the North Fork of the East End. In Southold, she painted as well as created constructions from the wood scraps she found on the beach, combining them into witty structures that evoke anthropomorphic associations.

Charlotte Park is another woman artist from the Abstract Expressionist era whose work is receiving long overdue recognition.  She was married in 1947 to the artist James Brooks and knew Pollock and Krasner from that time forward, renting a New York studio in a space where they had lived and joining them in establishing studios on Long Island, first in Montauk, and then in Springs.  Park launched her own version of Abstract Expressionism in the early 1950s, achieving radiance in works such as an untitled painting from this time in which shapes are inextricably interwound. Rich cursive lines and Park’s favorite crimson-orange palette produce an allover surface that evokes the splendor of a medieval floral tapestry.  Such paintings have prompted critics recently to describe Park’s work as a “revelation” and to praise her as a “great colorist,” while observing her “extremely refined understanding of compositional structure.”

Theodore Stamos - Willow, 1950

Theodore Stamos, "Willow," 1950, oil on masonite, 23-1/2 x 17-7/8 inches

An important member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Theodore Stamos was renowned for the passion and originality of his vision.  A firm believer in the role of nature in the creation of a work of art, he sought to capture “the idea of a thing,” making his emotions visible, as in Willow (1950), a reflective image in muted tones that is suggestive of geologic and marine life.  Stamos settled on the North Fork of Long Island in the town of East Marion in about 1951.

A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, David Budd moved in 1954 to New York City. There he studied at the Art Students League and joined fellow artists at the Cedar Street Tavern, including Pollock, Kline, and de Kooning.   Soon thereafter he began to spend summers in East Hampton, where he became an active part of the community of artists on the East End.  Influenced by Pollock in particular, Budd developed a style blending a lyrical sensibility with a powerful gestural handling created through a liberal use of the palette knife.  His approach of the time (before his departure in 1962 for a decade in Europe) is demonstrated in The Creeks (1958), named for the estate of Alfonso Ossorio in East Hampton, which was a popular gathering place for artists in the 1950s.

Dan Christensen, an artist associated with the Color Field movement, had a relentless desire to experiment with tools and pictorial space, as he expanded the limits, range, and possibilities of paint and form through both systematic and spontaneous methods. The noted critic Clement Greenberg wrote in 1990: “Dan Christensen is one of the painters on whom the course of American art depends.”  Inspired initially by the work of Pollock, Christensen was part of a group of young artists who revived painting after a period in which minimalism had prevailed.  His Pale Rumor (1968) demonstrates his early use of the spray paint gun to create shimmering allover surface effects.  Christensen had a long association with the East End, which he began visiting in the mid-1960s.  He was living full-time in Springs with his wife, Elaine Grove, at the time of his death in 2007.

Frank Wimberley - Nile Crest, 1990

Frank Wimberley - "Nile Crest," 1990, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 44 inches

Of the contemporary artists who continue to find contentment on the East End, Frank Wimberley is among the best known.  A resident of New York City and Sag Harbor, he is esteemed by his fellow artists for his masterly abstractions, consisting of unusual manipulations of paint, color, and texture.  Dragging and compressing paint, often using a large spatula to allow underpainting to escape through the surface, Wimberley references Abstract Expressionism’s optical intensity, as in sensuous images such as Nile Crest (1990).  His paintings draw on the improvisational qualities of jazz music and the crystalline waterways of the South Fork.  At the 72nd Annual Artists Members Exhibition at Guild Hall (East Hampton) in 2010, Wimberley was awarded top honors and a future show, which will take place at Guild Hall in 2012.

Carol Hunt relies on color and gesture to produce openly expressive paintings filled with dynamically interactive bold strokes.  Often deriving her inspiration from her surroundings on Long Island’s East End (she lives in Southampton), her images evoke fleeting visual thoughts jotted down for later analysis.  Verbally expressive without specific words, images such as Improvisation 16 (2008) are both self-revelatory and speak to the collective unconscious in their evocation of archetypal forms.

Elaine Grove - Hammer Head, 2011

Elaine Grove - "Hammer Head," 2011, steel and wood, 22 x 20 x 9 inches

Carrying on the tradition of the welded steel constructions of Picasso, David Smith, Julio Gonzales, and Anthony Caro, Elaine Grove creates sculptural “drawings in space” in which metal forms appear animated from within. Residing in Springs, Grove incorporates “found objects” into her work, but her focus is on their shapes and relations in space rather than their original purpose.  Witty resonances and puns reside in her inventive constructions, which are often commentaries on society.

Piri Halasz Reviews “Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists”

Frank WImberley - Tide Murmur, 2011

Frank Wimberley (b. 1926), "Tide Murmur," 2011, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Spanierman Gallery invites you to view the  exhibition Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists, presenting works created from the mid-twentieth century to the present by ten artists: Frank Bowling, Dan Christensen, Teo González, Carol Hunt, Stephen Pace, Charlotte Park, Katherine Parker, Betty Parsons, Neil Williams, and Frank Wimberley Please read the following review of the exhibition by Piri Halasz from her online art column From the Mayor’s Doorstep. This exhibition ends this Saturday, July 16th, at 5:30PM.

July 11, 2011

By Piri Halasz

Uptown, Spanierman has turned the “historical” side of its gallery into a stage for “Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists” (through July 16—a collagist is in Spanierman Modern). The focus in the group show is on artists older than the LaViola group, and/or artists practicing the gestural painting led by de Kooning in the 50s. Among them are Betty Parsons (better known as a dealer, but occasionally piquant as a painter), Charlotte Park, Stephen Pace, Neil Williams (shaped canvases in Day-Glo colors half-way between Zox and Stella), Carol Hunt, Katherine Parker, and Teo González. The three who stood out for me were Dan Christensen, Frank Bowling and Frank Wimberley. The first two, I am sure, are familiar to most of my readers, but they may not be aware that here is a chance to see five or six fine paintings by each.

Dan Christensen - Bill's Drift, 1979

Dan Christensen (1942-2007), "Bill's Drift," 1979, acrylic on canvas, 57-1/2 x 29-1/2 inches

The large “LS” (1967) by Christensen, displayed in the gallery’s window, is a magnificent example of the artist’s softly-hued spray paintings, built up of horizontal strokes of cream and gray, hints of brighter hues peeping through. Also handsome is “Wave” (1987), a small narrow horizontal, with white and red striations across it, and especially “Bill’s Drift” (1979). This was a type of painting by Christensen that I’d never seen before, with a yellow field dominated by a diagonally vertical stripe of Kelly green, and lesser accents of purple, pink, orange and blue. I also saw five paintings by Bowling – 2 from the 70s, one from 1980, 2 from last year. The two recent ones, “Old Altar Piece” and “Wreath,” were both welcome and familiar, but the two from the 70s were unexpected and gave me fresh jolts. “Flame” (1975) is blended vertical stripes of color, the broadest being mauve and the narrow one next to it, a surprising red, while “Sanovski” (1977) is a knockout, with an intricate rainbow of pale colors, blended like the feathers on a peacock’s tail.

Wimberley (b. 1926) is the least known of the three, and I was only able to see three paintings by him. One left me cold, but the other two were impressive. This artist works with a defiantly flat matte finish. His “Immixture” (2011) is yellow paint slathered on, in raised short, folded strokes over a black field. “Tide Murmur” (2011) is large horizontal rectangles and narrower stripes of grays and black with accents of white, mustard and a pale bluish gray. With Wimberley, as with Christensen and Bowling, there was one painting on the checklist I couldn’t see, because it was out on approval. I would be irritated except that I’m happy business seems good.

View the exhibition online

Ten Modern & Contemporary Artists Exhibition

Spanierman Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Ten Modern and Contemporary Artists, featuring works created from the mid-twentieth century to the present by ten artists: Frank Bowling, Dan Christensen, Teo González, Carol Hunt, Stephen Pace, Charlotte Park, Katherine Parker, Betty Parsons, Neil Williams, and Frank Wimberley. The exhibition is on view thru June 16, 2011.

Dan Christensen - Redzilla, 2006

Dan Christensen - Redzilla, 2006

A seminal figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement, Betty Parsons (1900–1982) launched the careers of many leading artists through the gallery she ran for thirty years; she was also an artist in her own right, producing abstract paintings and sculpture in which she drew from her stimulating milieu and expressed her own personal and witty responses to her surroundings. Charlotte Park (1918–2010), wife of James Brooks, evolved a unique version of Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, developing a dynamic, vibrant approach to express a wide emotional range. The New York Times art critic Roberta Smith identified Park as among a few other women artists whose art shows “hints of bodies of work that might sustain further study.” Contemporary with Park, Stephen Pace (1918–2010) enjoyed a long and productive career. He visited the Paris home of Gertrude Stein in the 1940s, became a friend of Milton Avery’s in the 1950s, and trained with Hans Hofmann, whose teachings spurred the direct and vigorous Abstract Expressionist style he developed in the 1950s. In 1961, the critic, Thomas B. Hess, deemed him a “brilliant member of the second generation of New York School painters that burst on the scene, in the early 1950s, fully made, as if from the forehead of the Statue of Liberty.” Continue reading

Betty Parsons

Earlier this year Spanierman Modern held a solo show of Betty Parsons’s work at the Armory in addition to Journeys: The Art of Betty Parsons, an exhibition focused on the relationship of her art to her travels in American and abroad. In the video below Ira Spanierman talks about the artist and reads an interview with Parsons that was published in Women Art magazine in 1977.

Spanierman Gallery-Betty Parsons video from SuaveArtFoundation.org

Video not displaying? Watch it on the Sauve Art Foundation website.

From the Archives: Interview with Betty Parsons

Betty Parsons

Betty Parsons

In 1977, Helene Aylon, friend of Betty Parsons, interviewed the then seventy-seven year old artist; the interview appeared that same year in Woman Art Magazine.

This interview, of which an excerpt is posted below, includes conversation between Parsons and Aylon which touches on everything from the artist’s relationship with other female artists to her views on Abstract Expressionism (and many topics in between).

This is an enlightening, empowering interview—and certainly well worth a read!

Read the full interview on our website.

HA: You knew Martha Graham, Marlene Dietrich, and after all, you played tennis with Greta Garbo!

BP: Two or three times. Interesting the way I met her. I was asked on Christmas Eve by her ghost writer, Salka Fiertel. She said, “Come over and we are going to dress the tree.” I got there and Salka said, “go up to the attic and bring down a great big box of Christmas dressings…” So I went up there, and Greta and I stared at each other over the top of the box.

Continue reading

New York Times Reviews Betty Parsons Exhibition

Betty Parsons - Journey, 1975

Betty Parsons, "Journey," 1975, acrylic on canvas, 67-1/2 x 53-3/4 in.

Today’s New York Times (Friday, March 12, 2010) includes a review of JOURNEYS: The Art of Betty Parsons, on view at Spanierman Modern. Written by Roberta Smith, it captures the spirit of Parsons’s art and highlights her often overlooked paintings and their place in the history of postwar American art. Well deserved!

New York Times

March 12, 2010
Art in Review

‘JOURNEYS’
‘The Art of Betty Parsons’
Spanierman Modern
53 East 58th Street
Manhattan
Through March 20

Betty Parsons (1900-1982) has a place in the history of postwar American painting as a facilitator. She opened her gallery in 1946 and within a few years had ushered or helped usher into public view the paintings of Ad Reinhardt, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Richard Pousette-Dart. She would later show Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman, Paul Feeley, Agnes Martin and Richard Tuttle.  Continue reading

Betty Parsons: Travels, Both Literal and Metaphorical

Betty Parsons and Timmy, on the Beach at Southold, Long Island

Betty Parsons on the Beach at Southold, Long Island, photograph, Parsons Estate

Lisa N. Peters

While working on our third exhibition of the art of Betty Parsons (1900-1982), opening February 9, I was once again amazed by Parsons.   She seems to have lived several lives at once and didn’t compromise on any of them.  Her New York gallery is viewed today as the most important and groundbreaking of the Abstract Expressionist era.  She championed the artists she showed, both famous (Jackson Pollock, Barnet Newman, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko) and little known, with relentless energy and passion.  Friendship was important to her, and she kept close contact with her inner circle of friends; her work as a dealer was integral with her social life.  In addition to the artists she exhibited, her friendships included a surprising list of other well-known figures in the arts, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Martha Graham, Ezra Pound, Janet Flanner, and even Greta Garbo (for whom she was at times mistaken). Continue reading

Betty Parsons in Maine

Katherine Bogden

Betty Parsons - Moonlight, Maine, 1972

Betty Parsons, "Moonlight-Maine," 1972, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20 inches

I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn’t deeply in love with the state of Maine. There is something in the wild, coastal waters and thick, old-growth woods that instantly casts away the urbanite in me and calls forth my rural roots. For someone working in the field of 19th and 20th century arts, this is probably a good thing, for countless painters have traveled to our easternmost state to paint and take in the area’s plethora of natural beauty.

These works are, for the most part, easy to recognize—sometimes almost down to the exact location. There are others, however, that represent the state in a less literal manner. One such painting is Moonlight—Maine by Betty Parsons. Intrigued by this dramatic painting, we recently decided to see what more there was to know about Betty Parsons and my favorite state.

Although it is well-known Parsons traveled widely, we didn’t know if she had spent extensive time in Maine or merely passed through. What first clued us in that she might have spent extensive time there was a very brief quote from a 1975 New Yorker profile written by Calvin Tompkins in which Parsons states:

After Europe, I went out to Wyoming for three weeks and stayed with my friend Hope Williams, who has a ranch near Cody. I did a lot of painting there. And then I was at my cottage in Maine for two weeks. Continue reading