My visit to the Jerald Melberg Gallery

Jerald Melberg Gallery

Charlotte, NC

On Friday October 29th, 2010 I was greeted in the gallery by Janet Wall who had generously pulled out over 10 original Rutenberg pieces for me in advance.  She walked me to the private viewing room and after a brief introduction of myself and why I was there, she proceeded to tell me about her experiences with Brian and his art.  She came from the art business point of view and had some interesting insights, but when talking about going to Brian’s New York Studio, she said she couldn’t wait to get out. “I don’t like to get dirty” she said and from the various pictures and videos I have seen of Brian’s studio I get the feeling it gets pretty filled with paint, as it should, paint that could cover any person who may slip or trip and fall in the wrong direction.

After an hour or so of conversation, Janet introduced me to a man named Chris Clamp.  He is an artist and alumni from Winthrop University who discussed Brian’s work from an artist’s point of view.  He answered as many questions as he could and spared nothing, when something new came up in conversation he would go to the back and pull out yet another of Brian’s pieces.  I got to see a number of his large works on linen, some of his medium sized works on canvas and paper, and then later even some of his monoprints that he made during his time at the “Atelier” program.  The interesting thing about his prints is that he didn’t leave any the way they were.  He made each one individual by adding an additional layer of paint to each print to make each unique.

I was able to sit down after talking with Chris for over an hour and just look at all the paintings sitting out before me and around me on the walls and on the floor and I was truthfully elated and felt as though it couldn’t be true.  I was glad I dressed up for the meeting, I thought to myself with a grin.

After flipping through the Galleries copy of the book Brian Rutenberg; a book that is currently sold out almost everywhere and out of print to boot, and after taking ten and a half pages of notes in my sketch book, I got up to walk around the gallery to see what else I could pack into my time there.  I saw a number of beautiful pieces, but nothing quite compares in my opinion and aesthetic to Brian’s pieces filled with an abundance of rich color.

Before leaving I introduced myself to the receptionist who had arrived after I did, thanked her for allowing me to visit, and headed on my way with a smile and a boost of motivation and passion about making art.

 

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First piece of art criticism

On Pamela Winegard’s opening at Winthrop University. November 8, 2010.

In all actuality the atmosphere created by the lighting, and intense effort to hang the work in the best way possible create a powerful sense of…  reverence.  I use this word because of the weightlessness of the works on paper and even the two more recent triptychs in the room on the left.  Each piece glows with a halo of light, symbolic of a formerly religious reference.  This presentation style contributes to the work, empowering spiritual undertones, more than they would have if hung in a less dramatic way.

“Ash Pit”, 2010 – Encoustic and Mixed Media on Panel.  Ash Pit speaks volumes to my imagination because of the choice of blue and cream relief sculpture behind the window of a hard wire grid cut open.  The faces are anonymous yet different, they are downcast as though they are indwelt by the spirits of some of the victims passed over a half a century ago – sleeping, waking, and then moving on to another resting place leaving the faces soulless once again.

The cumulative work as a whole evolves into a more serene and masked version of itself.  The two triptychs entitled “Gornisht”, 2010 encaustic on panel and “Memory”, 2010 encaustic on panel, differ in execution of line work, but remain consistent in concept.  In my opinion, “Gornisht” is the more successful of the two because the color and shape of the line work cut into the purity and serenity of the white negative space unlike “Memory”.  The blade-like shapes created in “Gornisht” sharply cut, speaking as a metaphor for the process, wherein the artist carves away the top layers of white wax to reveal the under layers of cool blue and green.  The color choice of the blade shapes contrasts the white background not only in value, but in temperature and creates a cold and mysterious mood.

The work is serious.  It is not playful; it does not make light of the issues of the holocaust or the generational witnessing of it.

Her work is now down.  She has since installed “Gornisht” in the MFA show entitled Line at the Loading Dock Gallery in Rock Hill, SC.  Line had its opening last night were myself and others in the program presented our work.

If you are interested in seeing or reading more about Pamela’s art you can visit her website: http://www.pamelawinegard.com/index.html

 

Stephen Lursen