Dan Schmidt: Double Take
February 25th through March 31st
Reception Wednesday, March 6 from 4:30-6:30
The Azarian McCullough Gallery at St Thomas Aquinas College is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Dan Schmidt titled Double Take. This body of work examines the identity of objects, the politics of consumption and modern product design yet presents these ideas in formal, abstract colorful paintings that mysteriously hint at the original quotidian source material.
The paintings are colorful and play with lyrical shapes that dance within the center of the picture plane. At first glance it is unclear from what source the artist derives such whimsical imagery. Indeed, the works are composed of one or more shapes traced from commercial packaging that the artists collects and keeps from his daily life. He squirrels these objects away into the studio and works with them repeatedly, making drawings from myriad formal variations.
Schmidt considers these works “Standard Stoppages” and enjoys objects that, while clearly mass-produced, are obscure as to their original brand or purpose- so that the mystery of their identity unfolds to viewers only in a slow-viewing process. One must spend time with the paintings in order to begin to parse out the subject matter’s humble origins.
Schmidt uses gouache and heavy bond paper yet works over the surface many times to achieve wonderfully patterned backgrounds that use strong formal color patterns. These patterns often derive their logic from the patterns seen on security envelopes- those intricate, complicated graphics used to prevent exposure of the interior of a business envelope. As shapes not meant to be seen, these problematic patterns that often fade into the background of life beguile and intrigue the artist and speak to the hidden life of objects. Dan Schmidt is based in New York City and holds a BA from Willamette University in Oregon and studied with the seminal abstract artist Hans Haacke at the Cooper Union in New York.
Daina Mattis: Bona Fide
January 21st through February 24th
Reception Wednesday, February 6 from 4:30-6:30
The Azarian McCullough Gallery at St Thomas Aquinas College is pleased to present an exhibition by Daina Mattis titled Bona Fide. This body of work examines surface, simulation, consumption and perception. Through illusion, formalism and material, Mattis adroitly address the trajectory of our cultural perceptions. Works in the exhibition include paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints that reference the history of art, Western food culture and the entertainment industry.
Imagery of master copies, imitation food, and props used on film and television sets entice the viewer to consider how reality is mitigated in today’s culture and how craft is redefined. Striving for compositional ideals, the artist utilizes traditional design principles of symmetry, grids and the golden ratio. Opulence is embodied within elements of marble, French curves, doilies and columns; features that ornament and frame perception.
The column sculptures are low-density foam and imitate props used on television and film sets. While their titles reference Capitalism, their execution reflects its illusion. The columns, over time, reveal their ephemeral materiality by slightly oxidizing and changing color from white to yellow. This transformation not only speaks to the flimsy nature of faux materials striving to simulate the permanent, but to the capitalist striving for perfection in the face of cultural decomposition.
Daina Mattis (b. 1984, Los Angeles, CA) is a Brooklyn based visual artist who works across the mediums of drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Her choice of materials and imagery creates sub-dialogues connecting time, patterns and humanity, as well as exploring innovative methods of visual communication. Mattis is the youngest of four children to Lithuanian immigrants. Her experiences in a bilingual, culturally rich home in Los Angeles greatly influence her work and how she examines the representation of visual language.
Mattis has exhibited nationally as well as internationally and her work is found in many private and public collections.
Mattis has instructed as an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University, as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Kutztown University, PA, and as a Drawing Instructor at The Cooper Union. She currently teaches at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Creative Technology: Art and the Digital Future
Novermber 13th through December 18th
Reception Wednesday, November 28 from 4:30-6:30
Systems, connections, conduits. Art in this digital age immerses itself in the networks that allow the movement and transfer of global knowledge and information. Technological changes also provide new tools for self-expression, whether it be tapping into social networks, exploring interactivity or bridging the digital divide.
In the 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama set a mandate to ramp up technological innovation in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). That same year John Maeda, as president of the Rhode Island School of Design, initiated the STEM to STEAM movement, campaigning to add “arts” to STEM. STEAM contends that design thinking and creativity are essential components of innovation.
Utilizing creative coding and interactivity, artists working in the area of creative technology continue the project-based inquiry long practiced in the art studio. Tech-based art making practices are interactive by nature and are able to expand and explore the role of user input and augmentation. Conceptually, much of this art also delves into questions of global connections and the digital systems, both seen and unseen, that are the information portals of the 21st century world.
This group show features the work of James Yuxi Cao, Dahye Kim, Catherine Lan, Jeremiah Teipen, Maciej Toporowicz, Tansy Xiao, and Jing Zhou. Curated by Nina Bellisio and Catherine Lan.
Anton Bashkin: Parthenon
October 8th through November 5th
Reception Wednesday, October 17 from 4:30-6:30
The Azarian McCullough Gallery at St Thomas Aquinas College is pleased to present an exhibition by Anton Bashkin titled Parthenon. The exhibition features a suite of paintings inspired by the play Lysistrata by Aristophanes. The work does not seek to situate itself in direct correlation to the play, but expands upon the eternal themes and human pathos to point more directly at current events.
The inception of this project coincides with the #metoo movement as well as the 2016 election campaign. Oath was the first painting composed from that time and according to Bashkin, this work spoke to the courage and strength of women. It is based on the scene in Lysistrata in which the heroines in the play take vows of celibacy to punish the men of Greece for their never-ending conquests and military pursuits. This pushback to toxic masculinity finds an echo with the current political climate in the United States.
Inspired by Baroque painting as well as Classical imagery and forms, Bashkin seeks to use those visual languages in a decidedly contemporary context. His work, on the one hand, looks to conservative techniques and subject matter, yet somehow it transcends such categories and lands somewhere in an idiosyncratic political commentary. The artist strongly believes that professionals in the visual arts should embrace authority in creating work that is suggestive of a broader social commentary.
Other works in the Parthenon series offer a realist counterpoint to Oath and underscore the vulnerability of human beings, and women in particular, during catastrophic times in history. The composition of these works coincided with the broadcasting of the Syrian Civil War, the 2016 election cycle and its aftermath. Both events informed the dramatic tone of the work.
Robyn Ellenbogen: The Path of Water
September 5th through September 30th
Reception Wednesday, September 12 from 4:30-6:30
The Azarian McCullough Gallery at St Thomas Aquinas College is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Robyn Ellenbogen titled The Path of Water. The exhibition takes its inspiration from Zen Buddhist philosophy, poetry and the ephemeral abstractions of nature. Using the 12th century drawing technique of Metalpoint, Ellenbogen allows her hand and body to register the beauty, chance and randomness of nature onto her carefully prepared surfaces.
Time and memory play an important role in Ellenbogen’s work. The artist aspires to translate these feelings, perceptions, and sensations into something palpable and fluid; intimating the process by which formlessness becomes form.
Although the labor-intensive process of Metalpoint is a traditional mode of drawing, Ellenbogen infuses her work with the contemporary concerns of scientific method and study, using a microscope attached to her computer to analyze the hidden aspects of the world. From this close observation, the artist uses the language of poetry and the mindfulness of Zen practice to facilitate the repetitive movements and chance occurrences that lead to a finished piece.
Ellenbogen employs an assortment of mediums to create her work. The essentials are metalpoint, metallic wools and metal wire brushes. However, Metalpoint may include metal wire in a stylus and the use of flat and three-dimensional pieces of metal such as coins, thimbles, spoons and assorted jewelry. Metallic wool and metal wire brushes enhance a sense of atmosphere through intuitive gestures and help build dream-like images where fiction and reality meet, meaning shifts, and past, present and future merge.