The glass is more than half full in Millville.
On Friday, Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center will host GlassWeekend ’15, the signature biennial event devoted to contemporary glass art. In addition, “Emanation: Art + Process,” a groundbreaking exhibition at its Museum of American Glass, will open as part of the three-day festivities.
Glassmaking and South Jersey have an history going back to early Colonial days. In 1739, Casper Wistar founded America’s first glass factory near Alloway Creek in Salem County to compete with English suppliers and provide window and bottle glass for a growing market on this side of the Atlantic.
With industrialization, glass manufacturing became a key source of the local economy, employing thousands of skilled workers.
By 1904, Carl Sandburg, the celebrated poet, proclaimed: “Down in southern New Jersey, they make glass. By day and by night, the fires burn on in Millville.”
Gone are those massive factories “shooting out smoke and sparks … that marks the death of sand and the birth of glass.”
Nonetheless, WheatonArts honors the region’s heritage with the most comprehensive museum of American glass and a functional hot glass studio.
Kristin Qualls, director of exhibitions and collections, says, “Visitors regularly share stories about working in or knowing someone who had worked in the South Jersey glass industry. It is still very alive in the region.”
GlassWeekend ’15, brings together an international array of acclaimed artists, collectors, gallery dealers, and museum curators for exhibits, demonstrations (some hands-on), and lectures. The gathering benefits the Creative Glass Center of America (CGCA) Fellowship Program, annually providing funds to 10 artists for individual working residencies to use the hot glass studio for creative investigation.
Adding to the excitement is Saturday evening’s opening of “Emanation: Art + Process” in the Museum of American Glass. This ambitious group exhibition of 10 site-specific installations by 11 artists (two work collaboratively as a creative pair) will run until Jan. 4, and brings the museum into the big league of contemporary art.
Two of the participants are Mark Dion and Judy Pfaff, who are both included in “The Order of Things,” a special exhibition also on view at The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia through Aug. 3.
Hank Murta Adams, the glass studio creative director, invited a fascinating range of artists to create installations for “Emanation.” Like Pfaff and Dion, many do not have reputations associated with glassmaking, but were encouraged to take advantage of all of Wheaton’s resources, including the museum and its hot glass studio with trained artisans.
Each was given free reign to select sites on a first-come, first served basis.
Nine installations are found in the museum building, while the collaborative team of John Phillips and Carolyn Healy selected the freestanding Centre Grove Public School that was relocated to the Wheaton campus in 1970. The former Cumberland County one-room 1876 schoolhouse is the venue for “Splendor in the Glass,” their shimmering multimedia installation with a 22-minute video loop and soundscape that uses glass as source material for both its visual and sound effects.
For two months, Phillips and Healy selected historic objects from the museum’s storage barn, washed them and carefully installed their discoveries, including 1000 miniature perfume bottles and numerous glass apples arranged on a sill in the classroom. Qualls, the museum director, half-heartedly joked: “This is how I get others to do my work, going through the boxes and cleaning up the objects!”
Beginning in April, the artists started working directly in the museum while its galleries remained open to the public; the intent was to demystify the creative process.
On a recent visit, signs reading “Art at Work” were clearly visible. Qualls describes it as “an open-air museum,” the indoor version of landscape artists painting en plein air (in the open air). She acknowledged this has “challenged the staff in a fascinating way, making planning a bit different.”
On the other hand, it enabled visitors to interact and engage with artists “in a continuing exploration of creativity” and “dispels the studio stereotype of the solitary genius privately at work,” explained Qualls.
No holding back
Judy Pfaff is a pioneer of installation art and recipient of a 2004 MacArthur Fellowship, which has been dubbed the “Genius Award.” Like Dion, she is also participating in the special summer exhibit at The Barnes, using a variety of found and constructed materials. For each, she spent time working on site as if the galleries were an extension of her upstate New York studio.
Yet the two are markedly different in character. In Philadelphia, she uses a lot of soft colors with a significant amount of glitter, acknowledging it is “strangely feminine.” Then again, the artist declared: “Mrs. Barnes got lost in the shuffle.” Indeed, her immersive installation is titled ” Scene I: The Garden. Enter Mrs. Barnes.”
At Millville, Pfaff viscerally responded to the lobby of the Museum of American Glass with its “seriously flocked” red wallpaper and pair of formidable crystal chandeliers salvaged from the celebrated Traymore Hotel in Atlantic City. She didn’t hold back when she described it as looking like a “Victorian brothel.”
Last month while working on the installation in Millville and surrounded by the opulence of the room, Pfaff nostalgically recalled “Cat Ballou,” the 1965 Western comedy film.
Pfaff realized a dramatically expressive work that hangs from the ceiling and wanders across the floor. However, her main element is the red metal-frame chandelier with numerous clear glass phallic shades.
Unlike the Barnes installation, this has a decidedly masculine character. Calling it “Rood Licht,” which is Dutch for red light, she may just be conjuring up the infamous canal district of Amsterdam as well as Tintoretto, the 16th-century Venetian painter.
Fred B. Adelson is a professor of art history at Rowan University. Contact him at email@example.com
IF YOU GO: “Emanation: Art + Process” on view through January 3, 2016. Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts, 1501 Glasstown Road, Millville. (856) 825-6800.
Hours: April through December Open Six Days: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Day visitors are welcome on June 13 and 14. Admission: $10.00 Adults, $9.00 Senior Adults, and $7.00 Students. Children five and under are free. WheatonArts and the Glass Studio demonstrations are included in the price of admission. There is an additional charge of $6.00 per person to visit the Gallery Exhibition. Event Center hours: June 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and June 14, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, call WheatonArts at 800-998-4552 or (856) 825-6800 or visit glassweekend.com.
Visitors to the galleries of the Barnes Foundation are often so engrossed in the complicated arrangement of the masterpieces on the walls, they fail to look at the floor.
The parquet flooring is inlaid with dark lines around sculpture and furniture, lines visitors are not allowed to cross. Gallery guards spend much of their time pointing out the lines to people whose eyes are busy looking up.
In her reaction to the Barnes collection, artist Judy Pfaff used every surface of the special rotating art gallery on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia – the walls, ceiling, and floors – to create a psychedelic garden of manipulated photography, foam resin, and metalwork. The floor pieces are bounded by zigzagging metal rails at varying heights. They are impossible to overlook.
The Barnes Foundation commissioned Pfaff and two other artists – Mark Dion and Fred Wilson – to create installations after the renowned collection of modernist work and the eccentric way Dr. Albert Barnes arranged it. Each of the artists in “The Order of Things” turned over unlikely rocks in the Barnes legacy to inform their work.
Pfaff’s piece, “Scene I: The Garden. Enter Mrs. Barnes,” is an homage to Dr. Barnes’ wife, Laura, who designed the arboretum surrounding the original galleries in Lower Merion — a lush, sophisticated garden many visitors overlooked in favor of the paintings inside.
“I really try to grow gardens,” said Pfaff. “I’m bad at it.” The only organic thing in her sprawling, walk-through installation is the process by which she made it. Pfaff tinkered and refined the pieces onsite, reacting to the light and the space. Her metal canopies mimic the gallery arches Henri Matisse painted for Dr. Barnes — amorphous sculptures of foam resin ooze across the floor, and white chandeliers suspended from the ceiling are a tangle of metal twigs and electric candles.
She did, however, bring in a real log she found in a forest; to the horror of the Barnes’ staff, it was still a home to a population of bugs.
Pfaff’s neighbor in the gallery is her polar opposite. Mark Dion created a rigidly formal arrangement of natural science tools against a wall. He chose a particular niche of the gallery because it has very defined borders and edges.
‘The Incomplete Naturalist’
“I’ve known Judy’s work for a very long time, and one of the interesting things about it is you never know where it begins and where it ends,” said Dion. His piece, “The Incomplete Naturalist,” mimics the symmetrical approach of Dr. Barnes, but instead of art, Dion used traps, nets, guns, and storage cabinets a natural historian might use in the field to gather specimens.
It reflects the more “sinister” side of collecting — the act of removing birds, bugs, or art from their native contexts.
“I think every artist has to feel a little compromised by how their work can be used to illustrate someone else’s philosophy,” said Dion. “Everyone who makes things wants them to be seen in their integrity and not to merely be a pawn in someone else’s argument.”
The Barnes Foundation – to its credit – not only did not shrink from Dion’s critique, but encouraged it. The artist is often commissioned by cultural institutions to do an artistic “interventions” where he examines the operation and makes work in response.
“But, do they really want that?” said Dion. “That gets tested when you give a little pushback and try to be critical of them. Soon, you find they are not interested in this kind of interrogation. But the Barnes has been incredibly good about this.”
Instead of the dour yellowish beige burlap Dr. Barnes chose for the walls of his gallery, Dion displayed his field tools against a bright green, to give a “glass half-full” feeling. It’s a very un-Barnesian hue, “apple martini.”
“The Order of Things” amounted to a test of the foundation’s flexibility to accommodate artists. It bent over backward to fulfill artist Fed Wilson’s requests for his “Trace” installation, in which he re-created “to an 1/8 inch” the administrative offices of the Barnes gallery in Lower Merion.
Whatever art Dr. Barnes could not fit, or did not want in the main gallery, he put in the office. He also stuffed his country estate, Ker-Feal, with paintings and artifacts from his collection. Neither place has ever been open to the public.
Wilson called “Trace” a “ready-made” installation, after Duchamp’s mass-produced objects he presented as art objects. The layers of juxtaposition, irony, profundity, and banality are heightened through re-contextualization. The arrangements of mostly bland office furniture alongside artistic masterpieces speak to the different ways art is perceived by the museum industry versus the public.
Wilson’s work created countless unexpected revelations, most prominently Joan Taylor, the receptionist at the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion whose desk and swivel chair is used as the centerpiece for “Trace.” The desk and the Cezanne painting that lived above it were moved into the gallery, along with Taylor’s desk nameplate.
Taylor, a former elementary school teacher from Flourtown, died in February while Wilson was preparing this installation. She was 77.
“The Order of Things” will be on view until August 3.
One of the pioneers of installation art reaches new heights in a two-gallery show, which affirms her rare capacity to integrate meticulous systems and joyous improvisation. At Howard, Pfaff utilizes Plexiglas, neon, and poured resin in wall-mounted compositions, some in eye-popping fluorescent palettes, that pay titular homage to her colleagues Jules Olitski and Helen Frankenthaler. At Zoubok, the artist takes a more ecological turn with moss-colored drawings and collages, tumbling plastic sculptures with floral motifs, and a stunning wall-sized work that incorporates twining branches, images of fish and crustaceans, and Chinese lanterns refashioned into birds’ nests. Through Nov 15. (Zoubok, 525 W. 26th St. 212-675-7490;
October 18 – November 15
Billed as a collaborative exhibition, this Judy Pfaff double-whammy at 531 West 26 Street reveals an understated bifurcation in Pfaff’s studio production: extroverted and introverted. It also leaves the viewer convinced that, given the opportunity, the artist could have hung new work on every wall in the entire building, and the neighboring addresses as well. She is unstoppable, having devised a working method that is capable of absorbing an enormous range of materials, processes and moods.
At Loretta Howard, Pfaff delivers her familiar but always engaging blend of elegance and ebullience in 14 works of widely varying size, all dated 2014. In smallish works dedicated to Larry Poons, Helen Frankenthaler, Bridget Riley and Jules Olitski, Pfaff tips her hat to movers in mid-20th-century abstraction. In these pieces, shards of colored plastic, deformed by being melted, tangle with acrylic, resin, and pigmented expanded foam, and evoke the formal means of each honoree. The biggest of the tributes is Blue Note (for Al), in which Pfaff’s former teacher, Al Held, is celebrated — a 9-by-14-foot wall work featuring concentric circles of blue and orange Plexiglas, fluorescent lights and a meandering, steel-rod musical staff.
Even more convincing is the gallery’s second space, in which the visitor encounters the two largest works in the show. Pfaff’s use of foam in the (mostly) free-standing, three-part There is a Field, I Will Meet You There (Rumi) recalls Lynda Benglis’s innovative use of similar materials, but whereas Benglis’s roiling mounds of polyurethane feel volcanic, Pfaff’s oozing pools are more like quicksand — once you start to get sucked in, it’s difficult to extricate yourself.
In Alberta, another dimensions-variable work, there are echoes of Frank Stella’s late-1980s and early-90s wall works — those with the relatively restrained palette and the rippling, swirling, organic shapes between which you can see through to the wall. In this company, an untitled work dominated by green plastic is both compact and explosive. To achieve such balance of intimacy and theatricality requires that Pfaff nail the scale of the works relative to the room — and that she does.
The mood is darker at Pavel Zoubok, the work there less immediately ingratiating. Their materials feel clotted rather than clustered — not just layered, but laminated. The checklist runs to 73 items (nearly all from 2014 or 2013), of which many are small, individually framed works, many riffing on botanical and decorative motifs, in encaustic and collage on repurposed ledger paper from India and antique bills of lading from a New York paint company. Across tiled expanses of snapshots and postcards of flora, fauna and her own studio activity, these framed works are arrayed, underscoring the idea of inventory or archive. Wrapping around three walls in the gallery’s back space is one such environment, which includes 21 paper works and an untitled, tendrilly sculpture; the viewer might feel a bit lost in the underbrush. Even more than usual for Pfaff, this installation device risks inelegance for the sake of sheer abundance, as if to assert that the irreducible essence of her practice is proliferation itself.
Among the many sculptural works at Pavel Zoubok, of particular interest is Hydroza, nearly eight feet high and dated 1994-2014. A rough bundle of tar, resin and steel wire, enclosing a big bulb of greenish blown glass, dangles by steel-rod vines from a sort of boom mounted at a perpendicular to the wall. It looks like a nest. The gallery’s overgrown, jungly feeling owes much to the preponderance of materials that have been scavenged from the natural world: Hanging Judge, a walk-through sculpture just inside the entrance, makes effective use of several charred chunks of driftwood; in other works one finds tree branches, dried leaves, deer antlers and sections of honeycomb.
These are combined with repurposed manufactured objects such as paper Chinese lanterns, welded steel furniture, plastic flowers and (naturally) more expanded foam. Twenty-four feet long,Let Sixteen Cowboys Sing Me a Song is anchored by a stringy, undulating frieze of what appears to be seaweed encased in clear resin, an element that plays nicely against the other flotsam washed up in this piece: photographs of giant crustaceans; a translucent pool of pigmented resin, mounted to the wall at looking-glass height; roots, branches, leaves; pinwheeling globs of some unidentified polymer product; photographs of old color engravings of deep-sea fish. A rigid, right-angled, polished steel armature lends visual as much as structural cohesion to this sprawling work.
In the best sense of the term, Pfaff is an artist of the old school. She puts the stamp of her personality on whatever theme she takes up. She thoroughly reinvigorates a tired trope — the natural vs. the man-made — and in the process suggests that just about anything is open to being revisited, reinvented, rediscovered. Embracing a familiar idea and completely recasting it in her own idiom, she demonstrates an awe-inspiring tenacity. To rework an old joke: How do you get to have a two-gallery show in Chelsea? Practice, practice, practice.
– See more at: http://www.artcritical.com/2014/11/08/stephen-maine-on-judy-pfaff/#sthash.QzRmHtZq.dpuf
Judy Pfaff at Pavel Zoubok and Loretta Howard Gallery
What a wonderful occasion to have a 2 gallery show of the work of the incomparable Judy Pfaff. For almost all of her career she had been under appreciated, under represented and under rated ( exceptions do exist like deservedly being named a MacArthur genius). Now Judy fills these 2 spaces, Pavel Zoubok and Loretta Howard galleries, with her typical formula for creating a robust energy that has characterized her work for the last 35 years.
I first met Judy while I was in graduate school just after she had finished the installation of her first exhibition, “Deep Water”, at the Holly Solomon gallery in Soho in, I believe, 1980.
I will never forget the experience of moving into the gallery and through the installation and feeling as if I were going into deeper and deeper water. What was true then and is still so today is that Pfaff has an uncanny way of utilizing the most mundane materials and transforming them into something beautiful and magical.
The list of artists who have been influenced by Pfaff’s development of installations and use of materials is long and distinguished and includes, for example, Jessica Stockholder
And Sarah Sze both also MacArthur recipients.
The wall installations at Loretta Howard have an orbital, ethereal feel to them
The circular forms take on the persona of planets in a solar system appearing to spin in space. High tone color is accomplished so simply by using plastic and light emanates from fluorescent bulbs. Pfaff is so accomplished at having order emerge out of a sense of chaos. A century ago, Kandinsky, achieved a similar result in his pursuit of abstraction.
In addition, the combination of color and structure in Pfaff’s work have always been a nod to her mentor at Yale, Al Held.
Downstairs, at Pavel Zoubok, Pfaff’s works seem much more earthly. A large charred tree horizontally bisecting the main gallery ushers in a feeling of concern for the environment, and a large wall installation contains images of fish and flora and fauna immersed in earthen tones.
This is the most prominent presence that Judy Pfaff has had in New York in quite a while, and hopefully some of the public institutions will take note and consider giving the whole body of her work the exposure it so deserves.
A Dealer’s Eye, and Life
By ROBERTA SMITH
JAN. 16, 2014
When the history of galleries in postwar New York is written, there will most likely be a chapter devoted to Holly Solomon (1934-2002), the petite and feisty blonde who was a vivid art-world presence for nearly 40 years. In the meantime, her gallery is being revisited in “Hooray for Hollywood!,” a big, sumptuous exhibition spread between adjacent Chelsea galleries, Mixed Greens and Pavel Zoubok. The show has the added advantage of offering a relatively wide-angle view of the 1970s and the ’80s, a period that recent curatorial habit — most prominently at the Museum of Modern Art — has reduced to a depressingly thin gruel of Post-Minimalism, Conceptual art and appropriation art.
Starting in the early 1960s, Ms. Solomon went from self-anointed “Pop princess” to plugged-in collector and patron and finally to art dealer. With her husband, Horace, she opened the Holly Solomon Gallery on West Broadway in SoHo in 1975, exhibiting an eclectic mix of Post-Minimalists and younger sorts with ideas of their own. Most prominent was the irreverent upstart art movement Pattern and Decoration and related tendencies that broke with the more austere aspects of Post-Minimalism and Conceptualism.
“P and D,” as it was sometimes called, included, among others, Kim MacConnel, Robert Kushner, Robert Zakanitch, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Brad Davis, Valerie Jaudon and Ned Smyth. Their often riotously patterned, unstretched paintings, sometimes functional sculpture and various environments promoted the notion — fairly shocking in the early 1970s — that art should be pleasurable, witty, visually sophisticated and maybe even usable.
But Ms. Solomon’s taste cut a broad, eclectic swath. Some of the shocks I remember from her gallery include not only the singing color and loose patterns of Mr. MacConnel’s paintings operating in the gap between Matisse and Hawaiian shirts but also the bright process-oriented abstract paintings of Mary Heilmann; chunks of buildings repurposed as sculpture by Gordon Matta-Clark; and the immersive installations of Judy Pfaff. Ms. Solomon also unsettled things with the first New York exhibition by the influential German painter Sigmar Polke in 1982.
Like most collectors, Ms. Solomon learned from dealers, including Leo Castelli, whose gallery was Pop-Minimal Central, and Richard Bellamy of the Green Gallery, which gave early, important shows to Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg and Lucas Samaras. (She bought her first artworks from Bellamy: a Flavin and a Samaras.)
She was initiated into Post-Minimalism by John Gibson, whose gallery was associated with the story-art faction of Conceptualism, which she also collected. Then, from 1969 to 1972, the Solomons established a kind of private alternative space at 98 Greene Street in SoHo, where exhibitions, poetry readings and performances were held, including sendups of fashion shows by Mr. Kushner, some of whose first paintings were also costumes. The space led to the gallery.
“Hooray for Hollywood!” is haphazardly installed and has some gaps. It includes only works on paper, not paintings, by Ms. Heilmann, Mr. Zakanitch and the New Image artist Nicholas Africano. William Wegman, who had numerous show at the gallery, is represented by a portrait of Ms. Solomon (with a Wegman Weimaraner) when there should be examples of his drawings and the jokey yet softly atmospheric paintings he began making in 1985. Nonetheless, the show’s onslaught of ideas, sensibilities and mediums is invaluable.
It features the efforts of nearly 50 artists whose work Ms. Solomon exhibited or collected, as well as examples of the many portraits she commissioned from some of these artists and others. (Ms. Solomon was hardly a shrinking violet. Before she took up collecting, she had tried, without success, to be an actress.) One of her first portraits was by Andy Warhol, a nine-image work from 1966 that used photographs of Ms. Solomon vamping in a photo booth. It is not here, although several others are, including photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe of Ms. Solomon smoking elegantly in bed; a wrapped portrait by Christo; and “Holly,” by Joseph Kosuth. Made in 1968, when Mr. Kosuth was a young turk of Conceptualism, it consists of the dictionary definition of “holly,” cut out and pasted to a piece of paper. One of the last portraits, from 1991, is by the television savant Nam June Paik (1932-2006), who reigned as the gallery’s senior provocateur.
While providing a glimpse of the pluralist nature of 1970s art, this show occasionally demonstrates how its disparate strands intersect. Exhibit A is Mr. Kushner’s “Wedding Dress,” a wryly beautiful, rarely seen costume painting from 1976 that consists of an undulant expanse of filmy cream-colored fabric painted with attenuated fleurs-de-lis in red or violet and edged with gold tassels. It reflects Mr. Kushner’s attention to Islamic art and delivers a campy but unavoidable decorative punch while also “dematerializing the art object” — as the Post-Minimalists would say — so much so it could be carried in a shopping bag. This piece is emblematic of its moment but not trapped in it, and should be in a museum collection.
Mr. Smyth’s 1973 sculpture of a toilet completely covered with colored and gold glass mosaic is a wonderful addition to the history of assemblage. It hovers tantalizingly between functioning and decorative object (although he might reconsider the concrete pedestal he gave the piece in 1995). Another such addition is Mr. Lanigan-Schmidt’s “A Summer Before Vatican II” from 1976, an amazingly detailed chapel constructed with a winsome combination of care and casualness from painted cardboard, aluminum foil, colored cellophane and images of saints. It is at once playful and devotional, a dollhouse and a reliquary.
Some artworks favored the domestic over the decorative, presenting an inflected Americana. This is the case with George Schneeman’s tiny frescoes depicting flannel shirts (1975) and Donna Dennis’s 1976 playhouse-size re-creation of the screened porch of a summer cabin, which can evoke a distant childhood idyll. Joe Zucker’s “Chomp” (1975) depicts a voracious boll weevil in the artist’s signature combination of cotton balls and paint on canvas.
Ms. Solomon pursued her varied interests to the end. The process-oriented abstraction of Ms. Heilmann was supplemented by Ms. Pfaff’s crazed formalism, as evidenced by the exuberant “Wallabout” of 1986, a multipart wall-hung assemblage with bright, routed elements that resembles an explosion in a woodblock print shop and the paintings of Melissa Meyer. Her contribution here is “The Princesse de Clèves,” whose thickly worked surface of slippery blue and green forms builds on Arshile Gorky’s biomorphic landscapes.
From the founding Conceptualists like Douglas Huebler and Robert Barry, Ms. Solomon progressed to Laurie Anderson’s striking musical scores (which apparently used contact prints from movies) and Alexis Smith’s engaging screenplays collaged with images and small objects. And Ms. Solomon’s beloved “P and D” led her to the savvy artifice of Virgil Marti, whose 1999 show was one of the last at her gallery.
This exhibition reiterates what is so often lost: History is big, messy and made by many. It also demonstrates that our tastes are larger, and more polymorphous than most of us allow ourselves to discover. Ms. Solomon gave herself permission.
“Hooray for Hollywood!” is on view through Feb. 8 at Mixed Greens, 531 West 26th Street, Chelsea; 212-331-8888, mixedgreens.com, and Pavel Zoubok Gallery; 212-675-7490, pavelzoubok.com.
A version of this review appears in print on January 17, 2014, on page C33 of the New York edition with the headline: A Dealer’s Eye, and Life.
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