Politics on Paper

For centuries, art has been used as a vehicle to inform the public, to illustrate a point of view, and to incite change. The introduction of printmaking, and later photography, played a significant role in politics due to the ease in which multiples could be produced and distributed to the general public.  The new exhibit, Politics on Paper: Art with an Agenda from the Syracuse University Art Collection, examines the relationship between art and politics over time, using several examples of drawings, prints, and photos to advocate for a social purpose or cause.

Forget the Watergate, Let’s Talk About Daniel Ellsberg , lithograph by Paul Szep

Forget the Watergate, Let’s Talk About Daniel Ellsberg, lithograph by Paul Szep

Pioneers of social commentary used the print process to create works on paper that illuminated the atrocities of war and tyranny. Jacques Callot (French, 1592-1635) is one of the earliest and most influential examples of an artist in this role.  Trained as an engraver, Callot became well-known for his vast, multi-plate views of battles and battlefields. His most important work, Les Grandes Miseres de la Guerre (The Miseries of War) from 1633, would influence the artist’s role in society for centuries. Consisting of 18 small etchings, the series depicts the atrocities and warmongering observed firsthand from the Thirty Years War in Europe. The prints were small, portable, sharable, and exposed in realistic detail the day-to-day consequences of military affairs. Their bitter social commentary has inspired antiwar depictions ever since.  Francisco Goya’s Capricios (1799) and Disasters of War (1810-1820) series, Käthe Kollwitz’s depictions of the Peasants’ Revolt in post-World War I Germany, and William Gropper’s stand against McCarthy-era politics are all legacy to Callot’s gripping etchings.

Politicos , lithograph by William Gropper

Politicos, lithograph by William Gropper

The 19th century saw the introduction of the industrial press that laid the foundation for the information age. Mass-produced periodicals, rich with illustrated texts, were now printed in the tens of thousands. Artists such as Thomas Nast, Honoré Daumier, and John Pughe found great appeal in social cartooning and utilized the new pictorial press as the soapbox for their political cause. This spirit of social cartooning flourished into the 21st century and is evident in the work of Charles Martin, Paul Szep, and Barry Blitt.

The past hundred years have been fertile ground for artists and satirists making artwork with social purpose. Between the two world wars, the Works Progress Administration championed artists who made work that instilled hope, gave purpose, and delivered a distinct nationalistic propaganda to a suffering nation. The political upheaval and radicalism of the 1960s saw innovation in how artwork was used and created. Photographic techniques mixed with traditional print processes introduced the art of appropriation, re-interpreting readily available images from the media, advertisements, and industry in a new context.  Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and Sister Mary Corita Kent are perfect examples.  All used recognizable images from society to state an alternative point of view.

Aufruh (Revolt) etching by Kathe Kollwitz

Aufruh (Revolt) etching by Kathe Kollwitz

Civil rights and race equality continue to be central themes to many African American artists, as seen in the work of Calvin Burnett, Elizabeth Catlett, and Kara Walker. Gender issues, economic reform, and war are all represented in the contemporary work of May Stevens, Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. and Enrique Chagoya.

In a modern society where few issues are out of bounds, the art of the print remains one of the most effective instruments in the arsenal of art with motive today. Interested in learning more?  Join Curator, Andrew Saluti, for an informal discussion on February 7, 6-8 pm.  Group tours will also be offered every Friday by appoint between 10 am and 4 pm (last departure at 3 pm).  The galleries are open Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11-8 and Fridays & Saturdays, 11-4.  Admission is free.

FREE MUSEUM EVENTS

Gallery Talk, February 7, 6-8 pm
An insightful discussion of the exhibit with the Curator, Andrew Saluti.
Register

Group Tours, Fridays January - March by appointment
Thought Provoking tours with audience participation. Contact Robert Presnar to make your appointment.

Meet the Candidates, February 21, 6-8 pm
Meet and greet the candidates running for local office!  Arts & Education at the Hoyt is hosting a reception for its latest exhibit, ”Politics on Paper: Art with an Agenda”, on Thursday, February 21, 6-8 pm. We’ve invited those seeking election in 2019 to join us in acknowledging the artist’s role in social commentary.  This event is not a public forum or a debate but an opportunity to view the exhibit while talking one-on-one with those seeking office.  Complimentary food and drink will be provided. RSVP requested.

*If you are running for local office and would like to participate, please contact Executive Director Kimberly Koller-Jones.

Resilience: Surviving the Middle Passage Seeking to Live a Privileged Life

Stepping Out on Nothing

Stepping Out on Nothing

Washington, D.C. based artist Jenne Glover believes that art can inspire conversations, connections, and celebrations among people.  Her latest exhibition opening at Arts & Education at the Hoyt, Resilience: Surviving the Middle Passage, Seeking to Live a Privileged Life (January 8-March 28), is intended to do just that.  The colorful body of mixed media collages illustrates the African experience on its way to the New World.

According to the artist, each piece represents a moment of an uphill climb.  Some mental, physical, emotional or spiritual pain on the journey between then and now.  Yet they also reflect the inner strength and the dexterity that “comes with crazy”.   Glover hopes that the exhibit will promote dialog on social reform, justice and equality. 

“Making it a perfect companion to the Politics on Paper exhibition in the Hoyt’s Main Galleries”, says Hoyt’s Executive Director, Kimberly Koller-Jones.  “Both offer a chance to look back and think about how we want to move forward.”

Glover evolved from a figurative painter to a mixed-media collagist over the last 30+ years.  Today, mixed media collage is her primary medium.

“Creating mixed-media art is like creating a jazz composition, it’s spontaneous and improvisational.  Working without boundaries and restrictions.  My challenge is finding the pulse, the beat of the unfolding concept, and going with the flow.”

Compositions are constructed of magazine cutouts, ready-made materials, paint, oil pastels, fabric, and repurposed images from my earlier works that are altered, fragmented and reassembled on to canvas. The result is a blend of color, texture, pattern, and rhythm that are very appealing to the eye. 

Resilience will be on display through March 28.  A Public Reception will be held on January 12, 2-4 pm. Admission to the galleries is free.

Artistic Innovations: Edinboro University

The Hoyt Main Galleries feature the paintings of Bradley Milligan and Ben Frederick.

Blue Hawaiian by Bradley Milligan West Gallery.jpg

 A recent graduate, Milligan received his BFA in painting from Edinboro University in 2018. His work employs a combination of direct observation and invention to explore a sense of ambiguity and the tension between the familiar and unfamiliar. Subjects range from cluttered still lives and interiors to dioramas made from found objects.  He says the paintings in this exhibition are rooted in architecture and occupied spaces, “but not in architecture for its own sake.”

“Instead, the paintings investigate what happens when a person becomes more acutely aware of their relations to their surroundings”, he says, “and what meaning can be extracted from this when combined with this exploration into the place between familiarity and unfamiliarity.”

Originally from Easton, Maryland, Milligan has shown throughout Maryland and Western Pennsylvania as well as in a number of national and regional juried exhibitions.  He now resides in Bloomington, Indiana.

Another recent graduate, Ben Frederick completed his MFA in painting this past May. His work typically revolves around the routines of his young family.  There is, therefore, an aspect of personal chronicle about the body of work although not necessarily significant moments. And yet he says “there is significance to them in that family is important to me, and therefore the home, and by recording the moments I have made them significant.”

A Dayton, Ohio resident, he has become active in Dayton’s art community since graduating from the University of Miami in 2008 - exhibiting artwork, volunteering at a gallery, and teaching drawing and ceramics classes at a community art center.

Several additional alumni are being featured in the Blair Sculpture Walkway including Christopher Boring, Heather Kanazawa, Josiah King, Zack Pontious, Rabecca Signoriello, Isaac Bower, Sara Catapano, Stephanie Craig, Deric Ence, and Todd Leech.  Works range from photo realistic oils and expressive acrylics to contemporary ceramics and sculpture.

Artistic Innovators will be on display through January 3. Admission to the galleries is always free.

The Four Seasons

Watercolors by Jeanette Blair
August 7 - October 11
Public Reception: August 10, 6-8 pm

Swamp on County Road

Swamp on County Road

While the work of Robert Noel Blair (1912-2003) may be more widely known than that of his wife, Jeanette, she has certainly found her own place in the esteem of the Western New York arts community as evidenced by the recent publication, Jeanette Blair, Selected Works: A Survey of 60 Years of Art, (2016). The expressive body of work within, illustrates a shared love of the landscape, influenced as much by each other and by the American watercolorist, Charles Burchfield.

It was this book that inspired local artist and Hoyt Trustee, Wendy Warner, to propose the upcoming exhibition in the Main Galleries, The Paintings of Jeanette Blair, August 7-October 11. Having studied under Blair herself, Warner was not only well acquainted with their work but with the personalities of their prolific creators.  Thus, she accompanied Hoyt Exhibition Manager, Patricia McLatchy, to curate the selection of works to be featured in the show.

As a student and later teacher at the Art Institute of Buffalo in New York, Jeanette was actively engaged in artistic circles since the 1940s. She married Robert in 1943 and found in him a supportive partner for her own career. She was an active, exhibiting member in the Associated Arts Organization, Watercolor League of Western New York, Patteran Society of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Society of Artists from which she received numerous awards. She also exhibited at the Albright Knox Gallery, the Chautauqua Institute, and the Butler Institute of American Art.

The birds and local scenery of Nancy Connelly’s sculpture and pastels will complement the Blair’s work in the Walkway Gallery.  The birds are created from driftwood or other random pieces of nature collected during walks.

“After seeing a whimsical bird in a gallery, I wanted to try my hand at it,” she said, “I had limited resources to start – just a few pieces of unburned wood from the fire.”  Connelly concluded the natural shape of the material tends to dictate what it becomes.