Painted in New York City:
Viewpoints of Recent Developments in Abstract Painting
January 30 - April 12, 2001
Emily Lowe Gallery, Lowe Hall
Introduction by James Little, Guest Curator
Whenever you occupy a position of responsibility, never accept images that have been created for you by someone else. It is always better to form the habit of learning how to see things for yourself, listen to things yourself, and think for yourself; then you are in a better position to judge for yourself. Someone can create a certain image and then use that image to twist your mind and lead you right up a blind path.... We'll find that all these modern methods of trickery will be used and we will be maneuvered into thinking that we are getting freedom or thinking that we are making progress when actually we will be going backward.
Domestic Peace Corps
December 12, 1964
On more than one occasion I have been asked why I chose older artists - meaning those more than 35 years of age - for the exhibitions I have organized over the years, and why they were all abstract. My reasons for curating and organizing painting exhibitions are motivated by impulsive needs and are out of esthetic necessity. I seek out artists who have distinguished themselves conceptually. My actions, therefore, are not consciously aimed at any particular group, race or gender. My commitment is to abstract painting.
It is an onerous task for me since I am an abstract painter and have been, on occasion, reluctant to curate and organize by that fact. But since abstract painting, especially in New York City, has been critically ostracized in the past 15 to 20 years, I choose to do so.
The abundance of obdurate critics, curators and museum directors have popularized these erroneous notions - that abstract painting is no longer a viable and meaningful form, that it has outlived its purpose and usefulness, and that it has spent all of its innovative and creative contributions to plastic art.
The endorsement of such lurid thoughts by influential and powerful art world professionals has created an obex for abstract painting, and has aided in the flourishing of these false ideas. In addition, the importation of Eurocentric art and artists has aided in the proliferation of similar beliefs. Eurocentricity, through the help of self-centered, bungling and misguided curators and critics and through sophisticated marketing strategies, seems to have captured the imagination of the American scene producing an ill-informed public. With their erred percipience, most museums and art institutions outside New York City exhibit what critics and curators sanction.
Presently in our culture, photography and pornography, installation and conceptualism, human waste, urine and even elephant dung are used subjectively to exemplify and to define our culture and taste. The insipid state induced by this fact in the contemporary art scene has reinforced my commitment to featuring abstract painting as an alternative. I feel it to be an act of self-preservation, necessity and patriotism, and for the sake of abstract painting, that I organize and curate abstract painting exhibitions.
The selections I have made in this exhibition fall into one of four stylistic categories. They are geometric, organic, gestural and expressionistic. In choosing the works, I sought out those that had what I coined "autonomy of style" and those that appeared to be "indigenously American" in their formal structure and subjective content.
I believe that painting is born of an inherent human need for art and beauty and that it innately thrives on discipline, commitment and maturity. The painters I have chosen are but a small sampling of artists who have those attributes. They have worked tirelessly as abstractionists for many years. Some of them are well known, others lesser known. The common bond here is that they are all committed to abstract art and continue to raise important esthetic questions and pertinent issues in regard to abstraction.
In selecting the paintings for this exhibition I chose works that addressed abstract expressionist ideology and to some degree those that either discerned or rebutted Greenbergian thought, as well as some works that inferred American/cross-cultural references. I hope to dispel the belief that there are no concurrent abstract innovations in painting. I think that this exhibition supports that intent.