Thursday, October 17, 2013

Noyes Museum Fall Exhibit by Lou Storey

This year’s Autumn Opening Reception at the Noyes Museum (Friday, October 4, 5:00 - 8:00 pm) was a well-attended event featuring four exhibitions and an installation in the central museum space.  The Noyes curatorial staff always does a great job putting together an interesting and quite varied experience in each of the galleries.

The yearly Signature Artist Exhibition, which brings together each of the artists in the Noyes  Signature Artist stable, is by nature an eclectic mix of styles, mediums and genres that hold together as an exhibition through a combination of high quality offerings  and thoughtful installation.  Juxtapositions based on colors (abstract assemblage alongside traditional seascape), groupings of similar themed works, and interspersed platforms and pedestaled art (pottery, woodworking and decorative art objects) ensures that your journey around the gallery is interesting.  What I like about this method of “mix and match” in an exhibition is that it invites us to spend time with artworks that we might ordinarily not favor or devote much time to.  Going through this exhibition for me was like stepping into the ocean in early June, at first I am unwilling as it seems too cold, but then once I do enter and give myself time to adjust, I am happy that I made the effort. The thirty-five artists represented in the exhibition share unique sensibilities and a practiced hand at what they do.  I had my favorites, as did Steve and Peter with whom I went to the reception, and they were each different, which speaks to the success and strength of a heterogeneous art show.

My favorite of all of the galleries was the John Pierce Barnes (1893-1954) exhibition, presenting the work of Pennsylvania Impressionist, John Pierce Barnes. While admiring the gallery of pastel landscapes (with a few oil landscapes also installed on the center wall) I was introduced to the curator, Kathryn Scimone Stanko who has been advocating for the collection of artworks, many of which prior to her involvement had been “hidden away among Barnes’ family possessions and oil paintings”—these twenty four pastels (from a grouping found in a box) are just some of many that have now seen the light of day and been brought to public attention due to Kathryn Scimone Stanko’s dedication and stamina.  Go and spend some time with these densely colorful and impressionistic works of art. Also consider the many wonderful works of art that remain in attics, storage bins and basements and be grateful for the efforts of a dedicated few who rescue abandoned, forgotten or neglected artworks for the benefit of us all.

The Noyes website states that “In Fable, Cape May artist Victor Grasso presents 13 masterfully rendered oil paintings that re-imagined legendary narratives. The paintings are dark, contemporary and slick, as Grasso combines objects in unexpected ways. Myths and legends including Crazy Horse, Icarus, and Aphrodite are presented not as literal interpretations of storied characters, but conceptual representations as Grasso chooses to see them.”  I selected the painting above as my favorite—it seemed a good representation of the commanding authority of this series of portraits. Each is masterfully painted and share a tar-black background.  I felt both compelled and repelled by the various portraits and spent time examining Grasso’s paintings both up close for the artist’s extraordinary command of paint, color and surface, and from a distance, for the dramatic mood and character each life-sized painting powerfully projected.

MOVIS is a group of like-minded artists (seven visual artists and one musician) who have put their creative energies toward the exhibition Noise@Noyes. Each of the artists examines the concept of sound from a variety of perspectives. The most compelling of these are the installations, many of which invite participation in creating an acoustic response.  Photography is also used, as are sculpture and recordings.  The gallery experience is part art show, part Exploratorium.  While in the exhibition I overheard one viewer tell his companion, “I like this! My brain hurts.”  I am not sure what he meant, but I just had to share that with you.

And lastly, I will end with a terrible confession: I totally missed Karen Guancione’s installation, which is hanging in what the museum calls their Central Gallery Window. I think I may have thought it was part of the gift shop, which is in the same location, or it may be that I tend to rush past crowds of people, and at a reception this large people tend to hang out around the food and drink tables that filled the central area of the museum. Fortunately there is both a picture (seen here) and a blurb in the Noyes website: “The large-scale hanging piece is constructed of thousands of library card catalog entries, carefully designed and sewn to form one large composition.”
That sounds pretty cool and I am sorry I missed it! Go see these shows for yourself—here’s the info:
Noyes Museum
733 Lily Lake Road
Absecon (or Oceanville), NJ 08205
(609) 652-8848
The Noyes Museum of Art Signature Artist Exhibition: September 6- November 24, 2013
Victor Grasso, Fable: September 13, 2013-January 5, 2014
Noise@Noyes: MOVIS: September 20, 2013- January 12, 2014
Karen Guancione- Installation: September 20, 2013- January 12, 2014

Lou Storey, October 5, 2013

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