Wednesday, August 29, 2012

" 'Sparkle' and 'Glow' " by Miriam Kashiwa

‘Sparkle’ and ‘Glow’
By Miriam Kashiwa, Curator
Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors

It is a special moment when one may observe a painting that seems to glow like a stained glass window; to witness a surface radiate as though physically backlit. This experience creates questions. How can this occur? Has the artist discovered a mystical alchemy that allows paint to ignite?  Does this happen in all media? Is it a property of the medium or artistic technique? Is it formula or is it choice?
And many more questions enter the list: what is luminosity or ‘glow’ itself? Is it seen only in the chiaroscuro of classical art -- the dramatic contrast of light and dark?  Is this common in contemporary art? Does this occur in watercolor?
To begin, there is a condition in the faces in ‘The Nativity’ by Italian Renaissance artist Antonio Correggio’ described as chiaroscuro,  here, termed ‘glow.’ The painting is oil based and comprised of subtle tonal components. Color is evident but not primary. One hardly sees the transition from edge to edge creating the forms. And then one notices the facial warmth as though the cheeks are breathing and the lips are about to speak.  One can feel the presence of something alive. The phenomenon of ‘luminance’ by means of modeling lights and shadow has created the appearance of a glowing third dimension.
There is a distinction between ‘lighted’ and luminous. When something is ‘lighted’ a beam or ray is shined upon the object. When an object is ‘luminous’ the glow is emitted from the inner regions of itself as a pearl or a day-glow wand.
In other cases of classical art, from illuminated  biblical pages to the magnificent frescos of Da Vinci’s fame, artists of all genres seemed to have sought luminosity particularly in oil based portraiture as Rembrandt’s, Tintoretto’s and other figural painters of centuries past.
The Impressionists used oil or tempera paint as their media of choice.  Are there examples of luminosity in their light-filled canvases? Or were they seeking the brightness of the out-of-doors and the sparkle of contrast?
Monet’s gardens and lily ponds sought engagement with light and out-door fresh sparkle  whereas Gaugin’s work  was more exotic and sultry. He used warm opaque color and in so doing evoked some of the classical notion of luminosity. His oils appeared almost pastel-like in solution.  Are palette and medium part of the condition and is individual choice a prerequisite artistic device?
Toulouse-Lautrec, in painting his posters of bawdy life in musical theater used shades of yellow to connote excitement and enhance contrast in his figural outlines. This art was straight-forward contrast without suggestion of glow. He produced quick, flat sketches with spare color to sell casual Parisian nightlife as ‘glowing.’
In mid and late 1800’s, Sargent’s created watercolor sketches that pale in comparison with today’s aqueous wonders of vivid, over scale topics that range across the board. At the century’s turn, Winslow Homer’s soft edged plein air watercolors of the Adirondacks used accents in brilliant darks as though to push forms through the picture plane. In the following fifty years, Charles Burchfield’s barns, fantasies and cityscapes used darks for back-lighted form. White paper and dark ‘accents’  provided illumination for most watercolor artists  at that time but without the element of ‘glow’ we are seeing now.
Leading  advocates for using the paper’s white for sparkle in our own acquaintance today   are watercolorists Don Getz, Bus Romeling (dec), Frank Webb and countless others. 
There is alchemy at work here: Artistic Alchemy …the artist-inspired solution to design mixed with powers of graphic skill:
‘Glow’ requires dramatically lit forms against dominating areas of opaque, dark ground: dark to light.
"Northern Road" by David Douglass DeArmond, NWS

‘Sparkle’ depends on major whites of paper contrasted with strategically placed vibrant, dark accents: light to dark.
"Last Row" by Catherine O'Neill, NWS, AWS, TWSA
‘Glow’ in current art is becoming more common in major abstracts and portraiture, particularly where opaque and textured media are used: pastel, egg tempera and oil impasto. Watercolorists will be challenged to find texture and opacity in their fluid and transparent medium although the ‘alchemist’ can work exception.
In short, then, we may observe that Sparkle or Glow depend on the juxtaposition of light and dark.  Only the artist-alchemist can modulate the design and aura to create illusion.

--Posted by Leslie Bailey, View staff
The catalog for the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors contains the above essay, as well as remarks by Pat San Soucie, juror of selection, and Paul Jackson, juror of awards, and photographs of the 30 award-winning paintings (including the two above). It can be purchased at View or online at

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Watercolors open at View

The watercolor exhibit will be on display through Oct. 8

Below are remarks by Miriam Kashiwa, watercolor exhibit curator, that were delivered at the opening reception on Aug. 10, 2012.

Curator Miriam Kashiwa
                              "This year of Olympic Sports reminds us of the importance of exercise for good health.  Most would agree that we humans have more than bodies; a brain and mind directing action PLUS a free spirit.  Total health, then, would require more than physical activity: it would include exercising the spirit’s sense of beauty. 

Artists understand this idea.  They share their expressions of beauty in art forms … they partner with viewers who connect vicariously through sight… experiencing the same feelings and stories … exercising their own spirit’s sense of beauty.

Today we observe 100 outstanding watercolors from across the country:  ‘part’ of the fruit of the unlimited inspiration given by places like the Adirondack Mountains.  The exhibit shows human curiosity in concrete solution: thought captured on paper in color and feeling.

I’d like to reach back for a bit of history….

During the past ten years, The Arts Guild has enjoyed a ‘Barn Raising’….we got together and built a PLACE: an oasis against an encroaching hectic world where peace and inspiration infused by its Adirondack setting can be savored.

We now begin to ‘raise’ its walls with substance and opportunities for learning… ‘learning’: that stuff that makes life interesting…like the exhibition platform where artists may exchange thoughts and ways of expressing art; like our theater where performance informs human foibles and dreams; like music which delights and refreshes the fatigued; like studio work-space to examine our own efforts at creativity; and like our future Walkway through the mysteries of Nature’s wetlands.

As a ‘Barn Raising’ requires an army of enthusiastic volunteers, so too has our own Arts Center required the talents of scores: from those who contribute volunteering hands-on, to growing members and visitors, and to generous open purses. We thank you all for being part of the Place at VIEW. And we hope you will continue to find enjoyment and inspiration in the ‘sparkle and glow’ of this year’s Adirondacks national watercolor exhibition.  Come often and early to exercise your own spirit’s sense of beauty.


--Posted by Leslie Bailey, View staff

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bethany & Rufus Roots Quartet to bring Folk and World Music to View

The Bethany & Rufus Roots Quartet will bring folk music from all over the world to View on August 16, at 7:30 pm.  Bethany met Rufus at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan, and many years later they are still reinventing traditional folk and defying the standard classification of genres.  For example, with traditional bowing, plucking and percussive bow tapping, Rufus has transformed the cello into a rock powerhouse.

Bethany & Rufus Roots Quartet is comprised of Rufus Cappadocia and Bethany Yarrow (daughter of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Yacouba Moumouni, and Brahim Fribgane.  Weaving many influences into their unique sound, the quartet draws from roots music traditions of America, Niger, and Morocco.  Their strength lies within the collaboration of their individual talents.  Two dancers will accompany them with interpretive dance. 

This program, beginning at 7:30 pm, will be entertaining, as well as educational, for the entire family.  Refreshments will be available for purchase.  This event is part of the New York State Presenters Network Presenters-Artist Partnership Project with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Tickets are $25/$20 for members, which can be purchased by calling View at 315-369-6411, or email

--David Weygandt, Performing Arts Intern

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gary Lee’s point of View

Event Coordinator Elise Carlson snapped this photo of View board member Gary Lee -- retired ranger and not-retired writer, photographer and naturalist -- as he was perusing the field above View’s parking lot earlier today, August 8. He was pulling invasive clover and planting Sweet Peas.

Gary shares his knowledge and love of the natural world by offering free guided hikes and presentations. He offers annual nature hikes in the summer to explore Ferd’s Bog, located off the Uncas Road in Eagle Bay, and the Remsen Bog. He also leads a butterfly hike around View.

The bog hikes took place in June, but the butterfly walk will take place at 10 am on Friday, August 10 at View. Gary will also give a power point presentation titled, “Wildflowers for Your Garden,” at 7 pm on Tuesday, August 14 at View.

If you are interested in birds, flowers, great photos, and wonderful stories of the outdoors, then Gary’s your guy. He’s also on good terms with the local moose. But as Gary likes to say, “That’s another story.”

--Leslie Bailey, View staff