Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review of Hannah Barrett: Family Jewels in the Boston Globe

From the Boston Globe, Wednesday December 14th, 2011

Text by Cate McQuaid

Gender Bending

Hannah Barrett's paintings and drawings in "Family Jewels" at Howard Yezerski Gallery are comical and deadly serious. Barrett has for years made portraits of fictional characters of blended genders.  The first I saw were mash-ups of her parents. For the newest ones, she tosses together Adolf Hitler and Queen Elizabeth II--two very different icons of power in the 20th century.

This show is all about connotations of power. Each piece begins as a collage, and evolves into a drawing, then a painting. The subjects are the same DNA, but they all look quite different, as Barrett shuffles facial features and elements of physique and costume. For the backgrounds, she borrows from Tintoretto and John Constable, not to mention Hitler's own watercolors. In almost all the works, Barrett unveils the hermaphroditic subjects' genitalia amid the jodhpurs, uniforms and gowns.

"Joyous Entry" depicts a figure executing a demure royal wave, with petite hands in creamy gloves. The figure, on horseback (and with an open fly), wears Hitler's uniform shirt and sports his mustache, but also has donned glittering rubies. The brown hair is cropped short, but bracketed by gray curls.

The funniest bit, in every work, is the face. These characters look awkward, distorted, and prim, yet they are always somehow trying.

"Fidei Defensor" shows a largely masculine character, with Hitler's nose and mustache over a broad neck, draped in fur. The chest is bare and muscular, yet there are breasts and the genitals pop out of a white skirt. In the background, Barrett has painted a glacier from a Hitler painting. One of Queen Elizabeth's Faberge eggs perches on the desk in the background.

It's charmed imagery. Simply to expose a royal's genitals has an emperor's-new-clothes vibe. It nakedly acknowledges the historic emphasis on a monarch's fertility too. In making these figures androgynous, Barrett also elevates to high rank people born that way, who hide, pass, or surgically alter what nature gave them. Her subjects are floridly both male and female, affirming of all possibilities. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paul Heroux: Vessels

Paul Heroux


December 2 - December 30, 2011

Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to present a small exhibition of ceramics by artist Paul Heroux. Using a combination of slab and coil building techniques, Heroux creates sleek, elegant ceramic vessels, which come alive with their painterly surfaces. Trained as a painter, Heroux approaches his stoneware pieces as a three dimensional canvas. Combining a mixture of figurative and non-figurative imagery with matte and shiny glazes, Heroux builds up the surfaces of his vessels to create tactile and dynamic works. Drawing loosely from nature as inspiration for the forms of the vessels and their glazing, each piece takes on an organic quality of its own. The durability and functionality of the work is also apparent; they are weighty and useful while simultaneously delicate and beautiful.

Paul Heroux lives and works in Maine and has shown throughout New England and New York and is in public collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA, and the Currier Museum of Art in New Hampshire.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hannah Barrett: Family Jewels


Hannah Barrett

Family Jewels

November 18 - December 30, 2011

Opening Reception: Saturday November 19th 4 - 6pm

Howard Yezerski is pleased to present The Family Jewels, a series depicting the glamorous appearance and lifestyle of royal hermaphrodites, by Hannah Barrett. The divine beings garden, ride horseback, take tea, frolic in the bedroom, and cook dinner in the castle kitchen.  Like many an official portrait of the Christ Child, the genitals are exposed in order to verify their unique status. These are enviable creatures possessing everything a person could possibly want from multi-sexuality to opulent surroundings.

Although ancient in concept, the hermaphrodite is the way of the future, the solution to endless dissatisfaction with the limitations of male and female.  The past, while it is full of great art and paintings, is unfortunately saturated with inhumanity.  Even the imagination cannot free itself from history, because something is always based on something else.  The world of the hermaphrodites has digested the past and created an unexpected ending to the story.

The Family Jewels span a three- year period and consist of collages and drawings, which are collected in a Zine, and paintings.  In the collages the sources for the images are visible including the parts of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Adolf Hitler that were cannibalized and hybridized to create the figures. When designing the hermaphrodite prototype, what better people to start with than the very two individuals, who, more than anyone else in the 20th century, symbolize master race? The drawings fuse the pieces together and obscure their origins, while the paintings seduce with color and gold. Although the pictures are graphic, and specific, they are frankly imaginary and open to interpretation.

This is Barrett’s third show at the gallery and the most explicit in the theme of androgyny that runs through all of Barrett’s figuration. Concurrent with The Family Jewels, is another completely different body of work by Barrett, Tea with the Gibsons, on view at Childs Gallery from November 9th – December 13th. Tea with the Gibsons is a series of invented portraits based on the Boston family, the Gibsons, a microcosm on some of the largest and most broadly painted of Barrett’s canvases, whereas The Family Jewels cram a macrocosm into small panels reminiscent of Bosch and Cranach. Together the two exhibitions demonstrate an unmistakable consistency in Barrett’s work, and its surprising way of re-inventing style and approach to dual obsessions with gender and time.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reviews of Two Kindred Spirits

Two Reviews of John O'Reilly and Marsden Hartley: Two Kindred Spirits came out back to back! If you didn't see them in print, here are the reviews from the Boston Globe and the Boston Phoenix:

From the Boston Globe by Cate McQuaid on Wednesday October 26:

Suffering and vulnerability, mind and body

In 2008, John O'Reilly, a master of graceful and slyly potent photomontage, went to Dogtown--long ago neighborhood of Gloucester, now a woodsy area known for its boulders--to take pictures. He knew that Marsden Hartley, the restless Modernist painter, had spent time in Dogtown in the 1930s. Consequently, O'Reilly, whose works sometimes probe the more bruised stories of cultural history, made his "Dogtown Hartley Series."

Independent curator Trevor Fairbrother has put together "John O'Reilly, Marsden Hartley: Two Kindred Spirits," a moving and provocative exhibit at Howard Yezerski Gallery, that highlights O'Reilly's Dogtown series and other photomontages alongside spare, fevered drawings by Hartley, on loan from the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine.

The boulders play a big part in the works of both artists. Hartley's pen-and-ink drawing depicting Dogtown, "Untitled. Subject: Rock, Walls, Twisted Trees, Blueberry Bushes," sets the big rocks undulating in the middle of a scene buzzing with the tangled lines of foliage and the speckles of grass and berries.

O'Reilly, who breathtakingly shuffles shreds of art-historical imagery and personal narrative, here weaves his own photos of boulders with images of sculptural figures, such as Michelangelo terra cotta in "Dogtown Hartley Series 1/24/09." The figure is not perfectly clear, but you sense a shoulder, a haunch, as man struggles to emerge from stone.

In the forefront of O'Reilly's virtuosically assembled, "Dogtown Hartley Series, 10/29/09," a man--whose legs and feet, clad in ballet slippers, might be from an old photo of Nijinsky, a regular player in this artist's work--lies writhing before a jagged rock face. Above, ancient classical columns stand, fall, and meld seamlessly with the rock; a house topples into a William Morris textile design. A snapshot in a bottom corner captures young men on a dock, two of them shirtless--like the men in many of Hartley's drawings.

That artist's pieta, "Badly Bruised--Who Is He?" shows a small legion of square-shouldered, shirtless men cradling a nearly naked figure. This hangs beside O'Reilly's own "Pieta" from 1995, in which the artist holds a naked Christ.

O'Reilly, who is in his early 80s, is gay, and he threads his work with homoerotic references borrowed from everything from Renaissance painting to porn. Hartley is thought to have been gay and closeted, and he certainly celebrated the brawn of the male body.

What Hartley here expresses in deft, simple, electric line drawings, and O'Reilly in lush photomontages, is the same: the suffering of flesh and psyche, the pain of sacrifice and a mystical expression of vulnerability.

From the Boston Phoenix by Greg Cook on Tuesday October 25:

In "Two Kindred Spirits" at Howard Yezerski Gallery (460 Harrison Avenue, Boston, through November 15), curator Trevor Fairbrother pairs drawings by Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) with John O'Reilly's recent Hartley-inspired collages. O'Reilly is attracted to Hartley's masterly, roughhewn late style, begun in his summers painting the boulder strewn fields of Dogtown in Gloucester in the '30s, as well as his sad end as a lonely, broke, closeted gay man seeking a place for himself in his native Maine. The Hartley drawings, on loan from Bates College, aren't his best, but awkward sketches of fey bare-chested fishermen or a scantily-clad wrestler reveal a heartbreaking longing.  

O'Reilly's Dogtown Hartley Series 10/5/09 features photos of rocky tidal shallows, men fishing, and fragments of stone sculptures of strapping men's torso and legs. The Worcester resident's collages conflate Dogtown, which is inland, with the Maine coast as he fashions energetic off-kilter compositions of rhymed heterogeneous imagery. The result is as elegant (sometimes too elegant) as Hartley's art is brawny. O'Reilly brews a dreamy mood from sensuous, mythic sculptures, rugged landscapes and the flirty pleasures of a holiday at the shore.

Gallery talk this Saturday, October 29th with artist John O'Reilly and curator Trevor Fairbrother at 10:30 am.
Please RSVP to as seating is limited.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

John O'Reilly and Marsden Hartley: Two Kindred Spirits

John O'Reilly

Marsden Hartley

Two Kindred Spirits

Curated by Trevor Fairbrother

October 14 - November 15, 2011

Opening Reception: Friday October 14th 6 - 8pm

Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to present Two Kindred Spirits, an exhibition of new photomontages by John O'Reilly, which will be hung with drawings by the American modernist Marsden Hartley, opening Friday October 14th. Trevor Fairbrother, the guest curator, has selected over twenty pictures by O'Reilly, which will be displayed alongside eleven works from the Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection of Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine.

O'Reilly's photomontages, like traditional collages, are unique works of art. Often intricate and labor-intensive, they combine fragments from diverse sources, joined together as a new visual statement. Some passages in a given work by O'Reilly shift seamlessly from one element to the next, while others jar the viewer with their quick and sometimes astonishing juxtapositions. His source materials include images cut from magazines and books as well as an array of photographs he has taken, in the studio or out of doors.

All manner of mythological figures and art historical personages crop up in O'Reilly's art, as do historical figures, including the dancer Nijinsky and the artists Dürer, Eakins, and Picasso. Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) became the focus of a new series in 2008. O'Reilly's interest in him was two-fold. First there was the exceptional art, which ranged from lively, cubist-inflected abstractions made in Germany in the 1910s to the stark and exhilarating views of Maine's rugged terrain, produced in later life. Second, there was the biography of the man himself, who, despite his pioneering connections with such avant-gardists as Alfred Stieglitz and Gertrude Stein, had an ultimately distressing trajectory. Hartley died poor, solitary, and closeted; he asked that his last remaining drawings be given to the museum in Lewiston, his birthplace. Since the late 1970s he has been admired not only as a pioneer modernist but also as a bravely original artist who articulated an attraction to the male body in some of his work.

A number of O'Reilly's new works feature his photographs of the giant rocks in the wilderness of Dogtown, an abandoned community on the outskirts of Gloucester, Mass. Hartley, who painted there in 1931 and 1934, wrote "[Dogtown] is forsaken and majestically lonely, as if nature had at last formed one spot where she can live for herself alone." In some of his photomontages O'Reilly brings together an artistic family for himself; in others he imagines a place where he can be with kindred spirits. Hartley embodies for him a New England soul who embraced the Transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau and the upright fearlessness of Lincoln. Hartley and O'Reilly share a passion for the inner dialogue. They seek to reconcile the trials of life with the dreams and ideals evoked by art, literature, and systems of faith and worship.

John O'Reilly has lived and worked in Worcester, Mass., since 1964. His art has been appeared in many solo and group shows in North America including the 1995 Biennial Exhibition of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Nine years ago the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Mass., hosted a retrospective of his work in conjunction with Klaus Kertess's notable monograph John O'Reilly: Assemblies of Magic (Twin Palms Publishers, 2002).  His work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Friday, September 23, 2011

HYG Artists Far Far Away

While we like to keep you updated about HYG artists work in and around Boston, we also want to let you know about our artists who are showing work beyond the reaches of Boston and New York, domestically and internationally. 

Bill Burke
Here in the States, in Louisville KY, Bill Burke is in a show at Paul Paletti Gallery. Paul Paletti is showing early work by Burke, from his travels in Southeast Asia and the US. The Photo Biennial the Frazier History Museum will also highlight Burke’s documentary work in the group exhibition, Rough Road. The Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project 1975 – 1977. This will showcase work that Burke did in conjunction with other photographers in KY back in the 1970s. The show at Paul Paletti is on view until November. The Photo Biennial at the Frazier Museum will be on view October 15, 2011 to January 15, 2012. 

Jowhara Al Saud, New Years, 2010
Internationally, Jowhara Al Saud has just opened her first exhibition in Saudi Arabia! Work from her series "Out of Line" is on view now through October 19th at the Athr Gallery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. If you happen to be making a trip, or know someone who is, make sure to check out the exhibition. 

If you are ever out in someplace far far away and see work by an HYG artist, let us know! Send us an email, a tweet or a Facebook message and keep us informed so we can let everyone know how fantastic and wide reaching our artists' work is!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall art season has begun! Shows featuring HYG Artists.

Welcome back from your summer vacations HYG Blog readers! We have started off the fall season running with Amanda Means: Glass + Light, a fantastic exhibition of Means' photographs. In our back room are two photographs by Dawoud Bey: Buck (Washington, DC), 1989 and Aurora, 1997. We'd love to see you in the gallery to check out the work by these extremely different but seriously talented photographers. 

From Everyday
Outside of the gallery, HYG artists are busy all over the country and the world with exhibitions. Locally, Karl Baden has a solo show at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, MA entitled Every Day: A Long Year. The show runs from September 11 to November 6th and features Baden's signature daily self portraits, which are introspective as well as important comments on the history of photography, about which Baden is extremely knowledgeable. The opening reception is on Saturday, September 17th from 6-8 and there is an artist talk on September 25th at 3pm as well. Baden was also chosen by MassArt's Joanne Lukitsh as one of her two underknown/under-respected artist picks on fototazo's f100 list of 100 under appreciated photographers.

Composition in Black + Green
Brian Zink is in a group show at the Beehive Restaurant in the South End called Sting! Object Relations, which opens on Tuesday September 27th at 6:30pm. Curated by Jeff Perrott, the show includes work by 11 Boston artists whose work is all based in abstraction. There will be a live performance by the Nat Mugavero Quartet at the opening so its sure to be a fun event!

Gary Schneider has a show open now through October 22nd at David Krut Projects in New York. The show, HandPrint Portraits, Johannesburg is the first show that exclusively exhibits the HandPrint portraits that Schneider has been working on for years. This show follows a survey show of Schneider's work that took place at David Krut Projects in Johannesburg this past summer.  While in South Africa Schneider set up a studio where he made of 50 HandPrints of artists and other members of the creative community. These HandPrints are what we see in the show. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Amanda Means: Glass + Light

Water Glass 1, 2011, gelatin silver print, 50 x 40

Amanda Means

Glass + Light

September 9  - October 11, 2011

Opening Reception: Friday September 9th, 6 - 8 pm

Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to present Glass + Light, an exhibition of photographs by Amanda Means, opening Friday September 9th.  The passing of light through glass is a necessary component of photography. Means plays on that concept using glass and light as her subject matter and revealing the complex interplay between the two. By choosing only light bulbs and water glasses as her subjects Means is able to isolate the subtleties of their individual relationships to glass and light; bulbs generate light, water glasses allow for the passage of light. Using this repetitive imagery allows Means to communicate the multifaceted effects that glass and light can generate when they are brought together. But, the fleeting and transient natures of glass and light are exposed in her subjects as well; a glass is only necessary until we are finished drinking what it contains, a light bulb until we leave the room. Thus, Means repurposes these objects in order to demonstrate how captivating and remarkable the deliberate use of glass and light can be.

Amanda Means has exhibited widely with numerous solo and group shows in Europe and North America including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the International Center of Photography and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Her work is in several public and private collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Los Angeles County Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New York Times Magazine Photo Book

Gary Schneider, Carly, 2006, 30 x 32", pigmented ink on canvas

Aperture is pleased to present the upcoming publication The New York Times Magazine Photographs, edited by Kathy Ryan, which reflects upon and interrogates the very nature of both photography and print magazines at this pivotal moment in their history and evolution. This volume presents some of the finest commissioned photographs worldwide from the past thirty years, featuring work by Gary Schneider among other internationally renowned photographers. With a preface by former editorial director Gerald Marzorati, this volume presents some of the finest commissioned photographs worldwide in various sections, including reportage, portraiture, style, and conceptual photography, and photo illustration. Diverse in content and sensibility, and consistent in virtuosity, the photographs are accompanied by reproduced tear sheets to allow for the examination of sequencing and the interplay between text and image, simultaneously presenting the work while illuminating its distillation to magazine form. This process is explored further through texts offering behind-the-scenes perspective and anecdotes by the many photographers, writers, editors, and other collaborators whose voices have been a part of the magazine over the years.

Kathy Ryan contributes an insightful essay that provides an in-depth history of the magazine’s relationship to photography, contextualizing its contributions within the larger world of magazine work. Also addressed are issues of documentary photography in relation to more conceptual photography; the efficacy of story-telling; and what makes an image evidentiary, objective, subjective, truthful, or a tool for advocacy; as well as thoughts on whether these matters are currently moot, or more critical than ever. As such, The New York Times Magazine Photographs aims to serve as a springboard for a rigorous, necessary, and revitalized examination of photography as presented within a modern journalistic context.

Be sure to check out the traveling show accompanying the publication. 

Our very own Gary Schneider will be featured in the publication for his work on the article Fat Factors, which was published August 13, 2006. The image above was featured on the  cover of the New York Times Magazine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exciting news for HYG Artists John Goodman and John O'Reilly!

Our NAKED exhibition is going strong in these hot summer months and two of the 14 artists featured in NAKED have had very successful summers in New York as well.

John Goodman, Venus, Tuscany, 2003
Photographer John Goodman who's "Venus, Tuscany, 2003" is included in NAKED, has just recently had a photograph acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The photograph, "Couple, 327 Commonwealth Ave" was taken in 1976 and is part of his Boston Combat Zone series. It is the sixth photograph of Goodman's to be included in the Met's collection, a fantastic achievement. 

John Goodman, Couple, 327 Comm Ave, 1976
After a laudatory review in the New York Times by Holland Cotter of his current show at Tibor de Nagy gallery, John O'Reilly was also mentioned in last week's New Yorker "Galleries" section. Two of O'Reilly's photomontages are featured in NAKED and we are looking forward to the upcoming show of his work here at Howard Yezerski Gallery in October, which will be curated by Trevor Fairbrother.

John O'Reilly, The Bathers,  2010

The New Yorker blurb reads:
"The artist’s meticulously constructed photocollages have the feverish, chaotic, slightly mad quality of transcribed dreams. Dedicated to Marsden Hartley, Hart Crane, Nijinsky, and C. P. Cavafy and alluding to countless other classical, literary, and art-historical sources, the work is also intensely personal and enthusiastically erotic. Vintage snapshots and scraps of gay porn are layered with images of a Renaissance angel’s wings or a Greek bronze head in collages that strike a perfect balance between raunchy and refined. O’Reilly seems to be rooting around in civilization’s ruins and rearranging them into fragile but enduring monuments to the restorative power of the imagination. Through July 29."  Read more

Come in to see these two talented artists' work in NAKED, open through August 19th. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reviews of NAKED

NAKED has so far been a great success as a summer group show for the gallery. It has been reviewed in two separate publications: artscope Magazine and the Boston Globe. Check out the reviews below!

Artscope Magazine:

Robert Colescott
Woman Fleeing From Her Youth, 1974

Perhaps what’s startling about Howard Yezerski’s group show “Naked” is not so much the nudity but the wide variety of it. The evolution from taut, youthful bodies to their maturing counterparts is a study in search of lost time. And when 14 markedly diverse artists come together in an exhibit dedicated to the human body — unwrapped and exposed — the results are as disparate as you might expect.

Stephen DiRado rests at the bottom of the generational arc with his bright young things, sunning in black in white on Gay Head beaches. His photographs capture the pinnacle of a sort of carefree indiscretion. His figures slink, casually, across the sand. The sunlight plays with the tension of tight skin; their easy nakedness frolics in sharp contrast to the daylight and the very public setting in which they recline. DiRado’s seaside muses radiate an underlying comfort in regard to their state of affairs; the sense of security is passed to the happy viewer.

So, too, does fellow photographer Peter Hujar endow his human form with undertones of splendid satisfaction. But Hujar’s “Anthony Blonde,” is more
demure; we’re allowed to peer into his private respite. Hujar’s figure reclines on his side upon a slab covered in a thick folded material. The moment is peaceful, and the body beautiful; the scene transcends “nakedness.” Were the figure carved from marble it might feel at home in the Galleria Borghese. But the figure is cast only in the fleeting moment of the flash, and time marches on.

We turn next to Neeta Madahar, stepping from shades of grey into a world of boisterous, satirical Technicolor. Madahar maintains a body of work in which she sets women against wildly colorful, over-feminized floral backgrounds. Playing with gender roles, Madahar embraces and overcomes traditional stereotypes. In “Melanie with Roses,” the artist builds a highly structured setting where the model lounges in a chair, naked except for pink high-heeled shoes. She’s beginning to age; her skin slowly slumps against a background of draped silk. The manual manipulation of the environment is in sharp contrast to the minimalism and effortless of the black and white photographs. There is a sense that Melanie is also confident, but the finish is less relaxed. With Madahar, we’re trying harder to feel comfortable as clothes come off.

Of course, the decline and fall of the human form is also captured in black and white photographs and less literal paintings. John Coplans’ work is remarkable in its rawness. Skin sags with the gracefulness of a life lived in full; wrinkles ripple across a deeply shadowed torso. Coplans’ aging form exudes an air of nobility that is conceivably only awarded for time passed. His “Side Torso Bent with Large Upper Arm” features a model transformed, but with the war wounds to make it worthwhile.

The human form is also deconstructed in paint and sculpture. Robert Feintuch’s oil painting “Last Grapes” laments (in a rather cheeky fashion) fading virility on a vine. In “Bacchus,” Feintuch’s forlorn subject looks longingly at a shriveling bunch of grapes as his watch ticks away on his wrist. The message is clear.

In some cases, the body is removed from time. Rona Pondick’s carbon steel sculpture, “Untitled Animal,” dismantles the human form with a heavy hand, the leg extending beside a nebulous torso. It is rusted over, deliberately inert, palpably sinking into the ground. The lethargy makes for the natural conclusion to an arc born from lithe and virile Vineyard sunbathers.

The Howard Yezerski Gallery is triumphant with “Naked,” not as a celebration of nudity, but as an examination of our individual relationships with the evolving human form.

-Text by Christine Laferriere

The Boston Globe:

Robert Feintuch, Bacchus, 2006
In the flesh 

“Naked,’’ the summer group show at Howard Yezerski Gallery, playfully investigates the pleasures and mortifications of the flesh. It’s an elegantly hung show. Denise Marika’s video “Leg,’’ in which the artist’s naked leg lies almost painfully atop a pale stretch of fallen tree, is installed across the gallery from photographer Peter Hujar’s slickly beautiful reclining, leggy nude, “Anthony Blonde.’’ In between sits Rona Pondick’s rusty carbon steel sculpture “Untitled Animal,’’ in which a cast of the artist’s leg monstrously conjoins with the torso of a small, seal-like critter. These works are wildly different in concept, but formally in concert.

Other favorites: Emily Eveleth’s painting “Sultan’’ portrays the oozing orifice of a jelly doughnut, but conveys something of the flesh. Photographer Barbara Norfleet offers a startlingly weird color portrait of a wide-eyed, wild-haired naked doll in the grass in “Prepubescent With Pansy.’’ Robert Feintuch’s sad, sweet painting “Bacchus’’ offers a profile of a middle-age fellow in his boxers, standing but stooped, holding a small bunch of grapes out in front of him.

John O’Reilly’s “The Bathers’’ has as its backdrop a reproduction of a Degas pastel. We see the beginning of the curve of a nude hip rising from the red tub, and O’Reilly seamlessly attaches that hip to the back of a man embracing another man in a photo, and they lean directly into another torn photo of a splayed hairy leg. O’Reilly’s montage artfully knits together artistic dreaming with erotic longing - just the right theme for an exhibit of nudes.

- Text by Cate McQuaid

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

HYG Artists in the News

Howard Yezerski Gallery artists have been busy this spring and summer, participating in shows across the country. Starting farthest away we have Massachusetts-based artist Robert Cumming, recently had a show at Jancar Gallery in Los Angeles. Jancar showed work from Cumming's 1977 "Studio Still Life" series, a very popular series of photographs by Cumming, taken at movie studios in the 1970s. The show was reviewed here in the Los Angeles Times. 

Moving closer east, Yana Payusova is currently in a show at the University of Arizona School of Art in Tuscon. The show is called Tale of Two Heads and is a collaboration with Joseph Farbrook in which the two have created characters from moments in Payusova's childhood and have written and illustrated the stories that have formed around them.  To view more information about the show visit the University of Arizona's website.

Laurel Sparks has been busy in New York; she is currently in two shows there -- two group shows and a solo show of her work at 443 PAS called Against Nature just recently closed. At DODGE Gallery she's in their current show, Shakedown, which features a large work on canvas by Sparks and the work of 13 other artists. Shakedown is open until the end of July. At D'Amelio Terras, Sparks is included in the show Affinities: Painting in Abstraction, which was curated by Kate McNamara and is on view until August 19th. 

Also in New York, John O'Reilly is currently having a solo show at Tibor de Nagy gallery, which was reviewed by Holland Cotter in last Friday's New York Times. The show, called Recent Montage is on view until July 29th. Sebastian Smee, who is a critic for the Boston Globe mentioned the show in his blog in mid-June calling O'Reilly one of New England's "most bewitching artists."

Back in Boston we have been enjoying discussions of our NAKED show, on view through August 19th featuring 14 different artists. We hope to see you this Friday, for July's First Friday!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Announcing: NAKED


June 17 - August 19, 2011

Opening Reception:  Saturday June 18th, 3 - 5pm

Being naked is analogous to revealing oneself in an unorthodox way, of exposing what is usually hidden or covered, due to convention. To be naked is to be bold, overt and confident. Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to present NAKED, a show of work that is playfully bold, technically fearless and openly defiant of the conventional use of nudity in art. Comprised of the work of 14 artists, NAKED raises questions about appropriateness, customs, intimacy and privacy.

The paintings of artists Robert Feintuch and Emily Eveleth mischievously allude to male and female body parts using food references. Feintuch hints at dwindling male fertility with his paltry bunch of grapes and Eveleth's doughnuts intimate the sumptuous female form. The drawings of Robert Colescott and Robert Cumming reveal a traditional method of depicting the nude body but in a nontraditional way. Colescott's "Woman Fleeing From her Youth" shows a woman embracing the weight of age in favor of the superficial nakedness of youth.  Robert Cummings naked subjects are drawn doing tasks one would typically do while clothed, in the buff. This inventive depiction asks us to question the discomfort we have with nakedness on a regular basis.

Denise Marika's "Leg" and Rona Pondick's "Untitled Animal" are representations of the same body part but present entirely different interpretations. Pondick's leg sits heavy and rusted on its stand, an object made for movement in a state of inertia. In Marika's video loop we see her leg, which is seemingly still but upon closer inspection is subtly moving due to an inherent inability to remain absolutely motionless.  These natural actions of a live limb present a stark contrast to Pondick's atrophied animal, leading us to wonder about the control, or lack there of that we have over our bodies.

The black and white photographs by John Goodman, Stephen DiRado, John Coplans and Peter Hujar depict nakedness at different levels of comfort and intimacy. Goodman's "Venus" is a torso that bares all, yet the mysterious identity of the barer of that torso affirms the forbidden quality of such blatant nudity. In DiRado's nudes, however, we see an ownership of nakedness that is almost offensive in its cockiness. His subjects' comfort with revealing themselves suggests an unprecedented level of self-confidence in our prudish world, especially within the context of his photographs, which are taken on the exclusive beaches of Aquinnah, MA the tip of Martha's Vineyard that is the summer residence of presidents and old Boston families alike. John Coplans' iconic photographs of his aging body start a conversation about one's intimacy and comfort with one's own nakedness. By photographing his body but never his face, Coplans retains some of the privacy required for nakedness but simultaneously bares all of himself, all his wrinkles, hairs, spots and scars to the public, keeping nothing private. Peter Hujar's "Anthony Blonde" is such an intimate portrait of its subject that his nakedness is almost forgotten; we are made to feel like more of a voyeur due more to the privacy of the moment than the nakedness of its subject.

The staged color photographs of Neeta Madahar and Barbara Norfleet uncover yet more aspects of being naked. In Madahar's portrait of "Melanie with Roses" a staged portrait where Melanie chooses how to have herself portrayed, she chooses to bare all.  This is the naked of a real, confident woman, available for all to see.  Barbara Norfleet's photographs of naked dolls have something of a disconcerting quality; unlike Madahar's Melanie, the blatant nakedness of these dolls seems almost taboo. They are children, exposed and their wide-eyed faces seem to reflect our surprise at their unclothed bodies being the subjects of portraits.

Lastly we have the photomontages of John O'Reilly and the photographs of Gary Schneider. Nakedness has been an important theme in the work of both of these artists. O'Reilly works in collage piecing together images found from a variety of different sources from reproductions of fine art works to pornographic magazines, juxtaposing these different uses of nakedness in such a way that draws attention to the many ways the body and nakedness can be perceived, as a thing of beauty or an object of desire.  In Gary Schneider's artful photographs, the beauty of his subject's body is drawn out through Schneider's artistic process, which reveals a level of intimacy with his subjects that causes us to think about what's behind the nakedness of his subjects rather than to consider the nakedness itself. 

The artists in the show come from diverse backgrounds and have all achieved high levels of success in their work. Together the work of these artists comprise NAKED, a show that exposes the multifaceted issues connected with the body in its natural form.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

News from Howard Yezerski Gallery

Our current exhibit, Jim Campbell: Recent work has been getting a lot of positive feedback from everyone who has visited the gallery since we installed the show two weeks ago! The show is running in conjunction with the seventh biennial Boston Cyberarts Festival and has really stood out as a part of this year's work. Greg Cook of the Boston Phoenix called one of the three pieces on exhibit, "Exploded View" the "sharpest piece" in the Festival in his review of the Festival as a whole. At the Cyberarts Festival closing Gala on May 6th Howard Yezerski Gallery was awarded the IBM Innovation Award for the best exhibition in the entire festival! We are extremely happy with the show and hope that everyone gets a chance to come in and view the work.

We are having a back room show of work by painter Barbara Grad. Grad describes her paintings as a "collision of perspectives" that allude, through their nonfigurative images, to the tensions associated with modern society and its effects on us as individuals.  Each painting is made up of two attached canvases that communicate with each other in an unpredictable manner. This creates volatile connections in the work, which call into question what we perceive as representation and abstraction.

Barbara Grad has her M.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she resided before moving to Massachusetts. She has been a professor of painting at Massachusetts College of Art since the early 1980s.  Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries nationwide. Her work is currently on view in a solo show called Video Villa at the Kemper Museum of Art in Kansas City, KA. 

Laurel Sparks, Babylon
In other news, Laurel Sparks is having a show at 443 PAS in NYC called Against Nature. The show opens Tuesday May 10th and runs until June 3rd, 2011. The show was curated by Chris Warrington and will be exhibiting paintings by Sparks, some of which have previously been shown here at Howard Yezerski Gallery.

John Coplans will be having a show of his photographs from 1984 - 2000 alongside Carl Fudge at Carl Soloway Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The show opens this Friday, May 13th and runs through August 13th, so if you have any summer plans to head out to Cincinnati, be sure to go by and check it out!

Neeta Madahar, Lisa with Primroses
On Thursday May 19th in London the show Role Play featuring Neeta Madahar and Madame Yvonde will open at PM Gallery and House. The show will have work from Madahar's Flora series (at HYG last June) and photographs from Madame Yvonde's 1935 Goddesses series, the work that inspired Madahar for Flora. 

John O'Reilly will be having a solo show at Tibor de Nagy gallery this upcoming summer. The gallery will be showing assorted work from the Nocturne and Tadzio series' as well as various other work. The show opens in July, check back for more details.