artists & participants
06.01.2017 - 08.02.2017
The Flomenhaft Gallery is proud to present About Women on view January 6 through February 8, 2017. In the past we have had one show each year called Women Only focusing on female artists and their point of view. Now we feel it is more exciting and thought provoking to examine how men portray women, how women are viewed by other women, how women’s creativity reveals what they think and feel, and how different it is from the male depiction of the opposite sex.
The works in this exhibit are by: Emma Amos, Romare Bearden, Siona Benjamin, Beverly Buchanan, Janet Davidson-Hues, Neil Folberg, Rimma and Valeriy Gerlovin, Mira Lehr, Builder Levy, Laura Murlender, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Miriam Schapiro, Linda Stein, and Carrie Mae Weems.
We begin by tackling the men first. Romare Bearden’s Maternity/Ancestral Legend recalls Renaissance Masters. In fact, Bearden was very invested in art from a historical perspective. The forms are cubist and here he is a worthy successor of Picasso’s, whereas the mask hearkens back to his African heritage. Builder Levy’s Mae Philips with Granddaughter Jeanie is an interesting contrast to Bearden’s work. Always a socially conscious photographer, Levy has had a long involvement with the impoverished and abused Appalachian mining community. Bearden’s Girl in a Garden depicting a woman carrying a shopping bag is reminiscent of the African American’s rural life in North Carolina where Bearden lived in his youth. In a different engagement with life, a portrait with compelling power by Levy is March on Washington of a woman whose charged feelings are difficult to discern as she witnesses Martin Luther King’s historic speech. Valeriy and Rimma Gerlovin collaborate on photographs and Rimma is clearly Valeriy’s muse. We contrast Real with Bird. The former depicts a meditative woman and the couple’s philosophic bent. Bird emphasizes a sense of confinement too often felt by women. Among the photographs by Neil Folberg from his Impressionist series, is After a Portrait of Berthe Morisot by Manet, Lucie Rouart. Lucie Rouart was Morisot’s great granddaughter, and Morisot was considered to be a romantic interest of Manet’s. Viewing Lucie one could experience a mandate from Leonardo De Vinci’s Mona Lisa. In all of these many works, one perceives a shared impulse. There seems to be a sense of quiet reverence towards the subjects of women evidenced by all these male artists.
Now it’s the women’s turn. Here we see that freedom reigns supreme. Woven into the web of Emma Amos’ Take Me Off Uptown is serious fun. She paints about the joy of dancing to jazz, so well developed in Harlem. Amidst the celebration, it is a provocative painting and there is the confusion of a nude black man dancing with a fully clothed white woman. An important subject is being raised. How courageous to raise this with biases still moldering in our current life. Mira Lehr’s creative imagination is always inspired by nature but in an intrepid way. Boldly she moves from painting luscious and colorful landscapes with unerring harmonies as in Chinese Dream I and II. It is not a question of what she can do but what she is impelled to do as she dashes off to capture nature’s wiles with the dangerous use of fire and resin. In Migration, a strong painting by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, we observe clear pride in her heritage but also concern for the displacement of her Native American people. These contrasting themes with their many discouraging elements have pervaded her oeuvre. Miriam Schapiro’s accomplishments are most singular. She was one of the original and highly regarded abstract expressionists as seen in Fresh Air of 1957. Of course, she was also a leading proponent of the women’s art revolution having its beginnings in 1970. Janet Davidson-Hues acrylic on canvas, Mother and I is both introspective and painterly. She is at home in the world of abstract art with great drips as well as conceptual ideas using lettering, poetry and historical quotes, all with graphic freedom. She captures your imagination, making you look and think twice. Laura Murlender’s works are the most reflective in our exhibit. She was a ‘disappeared’ in Buenos Aires. Yet she survived. Her abstractions, and the way she uses forms, as in Itineraries, speak from the heart and soul with a detectable pathos, a residue of her horrific experience. Beverly Buchanan’s sculpture, Coming Home the Back Way, is an outstanding example of the works like those in her retrospective currently shown at the Brooklyn Museum. She was inspired by shabby structures that tenant farmers inhabited with dignity in the south where they worked hard and raised families. We also show a poem that connects to the emotional character of her remarkable sculpture. Poetry was as important to her creativity as photography and sculpture. Many of Siona Benjamin’s paintings are from her Finding Home Series such as Finding Home #86 (Chava). Having emigrated from India as a young art student and a woman of color as well as a Jewess, her complicated path took root in a powerful body of work. It is always imbued with elements uniting each phase of her pilgrimage and Jewish heritage. Linda Stein has long been occupied with furthering women’s rights. We are fortunate to show several works that emphasize her passion for protecting society which she resolved was so badly needed after the brutal destruction of the Twin Towers in New York. She created protector figures such as Calligraphic Knight and Heroic Shadow and Line Up 607. In the latter she depicts Wonder Woman, a heroine from Linda’s youth she is happy to remind us protected people but never killed anyone. In the photograph High Yella Girl, Carrie Mae Weems invites us into the world of African Americans, how people of color view and speak of themselves. Weems has always confronted head on and in a highly personal way many issues about identity, race, color and class.
At the heart of the show we ask the following questions. How can we differentiate between art created by males of women or about women, or between the art of women? Are women depicted differently by each? Do men see women as objects of art and does this color relationships in general? Finally, do women create art in a distinct way that could never be imagined by men?
We hope this show will arouse thought. Please come and see it.