NYC artists to present paintings, sculpture at Plattsburgh State venue
by Robin Caudell
Press-Republican, Out & About, February 8, 2007
PLATTSBURGH – An exhibition of the contemporary works of painter Hermine Ford and sculptor John Newman opens Saturday at the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.
The New York City artists were brought to the attention of Edward Broehl, museum director, by Jaons Andrew, exhibition curator and co-founder of Norte Maar.
“Ed is always interested in and the museum dedicated to exhibiting the best, unique and alive” Andrew said. “He’s drawn to both artists, who use all kinds of imagery across the board.”
It was fun for Andrew to put the show together but difficult because of the artists’ very different languages.
“There’s a lot of air between them,” Andrew said. “You can look and compare at the same time. I think color is really an important part of the show.”
For the show’s catalogue, Andrew asked Raphael Rubinstein, senior editor at Art in America, to write an essay about the artists. In “Two Mediums, One World” Rubinstein writes:
“Although on is a painter and the other a sculptor, Hermine Ford and John Newman share a great deal of artistic territory.”
Influenced by Africa and ancient Rome, Ford paints on thin linen-covered plywood. Her fragmental shapes appear as magnified cloth assemblages or topographical mosaics.
About Ford’s work, Rubinstein writes:
“In fact, they are closely based on the designs of Mbuti pygmy women of the Ituri Forest in Zaire, who are known for their bark-cloth paintings and drawings. The colors Ford uses echo the plant-based mediums employed by the Mbuti. Also pygmy-derived is another set of subsections in which dots and lines create net-like patterns of three-, four- and five-sided shapes, some of which Ford fills in with solid colors.”
Newman’s travels in Europe, Asia and Africa influence his use of disparate materials and techniques in his sculptures. About him, Rubinstein writes:
“Like Baroque sculptors and painters, Newman is constantly looking for ways to torque his forms. Curling in upon themselves or stretching from one part of a sculpture to another, his biomorphic elements twist with a sensual, playful sinuosity.”
In arranging the show, Andrew spontaneously added two fantastic charcoal drawings by Ford placed near Newman’s “crushed and weighted-down turn.” A sculpted stone and a wad of paper balance at the termini of a black-and-mettallic twist.
“It’s amazing,” Andrew said. “The stone at the bottom, John chose. He had these incredible Italian carvers carve that drapery into it. His wife is a fantastic writer. That crumpled piece of paper is reminiscent of a writer’s block. He chose to put that on top. The sculpture combines this cutting edge of technology and a very traditional form of carving in stone.”
Both artists leap adroitly from the primitive to the now.
“The affirmation by both Ford and Newman of the hybrid character of culture is, simultaneously, a rejection of the fictions of purity and isolation. Their cultural inclusiveness is also of a piece with how they oganize their works: as a self-generating, radically disparate, joyously non-monolithic experiments in sheer form.”
Andrew loved the idea of bringing the two New Yorkers ot a now-where-are-we-going rural environment.
“Everyone comes to New York City to see something of this caliber,” he said. “We can always use more of it to analyze and see what contemporary art is about today. To stretch our minds.”