Finding Your "Bedroom" Eyes at Cheryl McGinnis Gallery

It seems these days, I never make it to the Upper East Side as much as I used to. Nonetheless, I’m always willing to travel to see art, especially if it’s good. So this past Friday night, I traveled way Uptown to 91st and Madison with my friend Kate (a featured model in the show) to the quaint Cheryl McGinnis Gallery to check out the new exhibit of photographic works by Tony Gonzalez–a photographer, who seems as much of a nice guy as he is a thoughtful, brilliant artist.

The exhibit, entitled “The Bedroom,” features nude works that take inspiration from his previous series from 2004-2005 called “The Bathers.” Some of the pieces actually evoke memories from “The Bathers.” Far from gratuitous, Gonzalez’s “The Bedroom” series juxtaposes traditional nude imagery with the contemporary world as is seen in “Kate/Mirror.” Here we see a young woman with a timeless face and figure applying mascara counterbalanced by her bold Celtic love knot tattoo. Like “The Bathers,” “The Bedroon” is full of interdependent voyeurism, taken to a higher level of intimacy, in which the subjects know they are being photographed and are part of the collaboration with the photographer. Collaborative or not, the photographs, which portray women in the style of historical genre paintings going about their personal business in their homes, burst with their subject’s quiet indifference to the fact that there is a photographer present. The works almost say “Look how much we’ve changed, and yet, we’ve stayed the same!” The spectator sees this in pieces like “Mimi/Closet” and “Rachel/Towel” where traditional daily moments are paired with the contemporary as evidenced by Mimi’s 21st Century wardrobe or Rachel’s laptop. It’s as if the subjects have one foot in two distinct time periods.

Continuing the metaphor, Gonzalez’s photographic process also brings two different periods together. One of ten artists in the world using the vintage technique of Gum Bichromate (a nineteenth century printing process which combines Gum Arabic, Ammonium Dichromate and water color pigments), Gonzalez combines this with modern-day digital technology to create full color images that “are rich with meaning.” At the opening night reception, Gonzalez hinted that this will likely be the last show in this genre photographed with film as it is no longer manufactured, so see them while you can.

“The Bedroom” is on exhibition at the Cheryl McGinnis Gallery located at 1287 Madison Avenue (between 91st and 92nd Streets) in Manhattan through October 11.

Batik Royale: New Exhibition Packs Artistic Punch in Chelsea, NYC

(“El dia de los Muertos” by Lenore Mills)

It’s no secret that art is a very personal, subjective thing and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s the wonderful thing about people and art—there’s plenty to go around and one can find almost anything to strike his or her fancy.

As a mask maker, I love the dramatic. I also love diversity in art—diversity in styles, diversity in materials and most especially, diversity in subject matter. So, when I received information in my e-mail box about a new show going up at Pleiades Gallery of Contemporary Art in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood that will feature the works of Batik artist Lenore Fiore Mills, I rushed to review all the details and put this opening on my calendar. “Celebration and Ceremony” opens on September 30.

(“Lion Dance” by Lenore Mills”)

Batik is one of the oldest art forms in the world, with its roots going back to approximately 206 BC-24 AD in China. Traditionally, Batik artists utilize a special wax-dipped knife with which they paint designs and patterns on cloth. When the wax dries, it cracks, and during the dyeing process, the dye enters the cracks creating lines. The signature Batik patterns are revealed on the cloth once the wax boils away. To create what she calls “harmonious compositions,” Mills uses material as her canvas on which she first does a pencil drawing. She then alternates layers of wax and dye to completion. The wax is applied with fine brushes and the fabric is submerged in dye.

For more than 40 years, Lenore Mills has been honing her craft and finding inspiration in a variety of subjects that find their way into her work such as her fascination with festivals, ceremonies and street scenes ranging from the Giglio in Williamsburg, to the Black Cowboys at the Manumission Day commemoration, to St. Augustine’s on the Lower East Side. Though her earlier works were much simpler, Mill’s Batik has grown up since she now incorporates more intricacies into her pieces.

Among the new works to be featured in her upcoming show are the Moko Jumbie parade, a Phillipe Petit performance at Washington Square Park, and the Chupacabra from the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Lenore Mill’s works have also been shown at DaVinci Art Alliance in Philadelphia, the Artspace in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, as well as New York City’s L’Atelier Gallery and Framing and the Photo District Gallery, in addition to the Dutot Museum, Delaware Water Gap. A woman whose works are sought worldwide, Mills’ Batiks are held by collectors in the United States, Japan, and Brazil.

“Celebration and Ceremony by Lenore Fiore Mills” The Art of Wax on Fabric – Ancient Form Depicts Contemporary Life runs through October 25 at the Pleiades Gallery of Contemporary Art, Chelsea, New York City (530 W. 25th St., 4th Floor). An opening reception will be held on Saturday, October 4th from 3 to 6 p.m.

For more information, contact Lenore Fiore Mills at 570-947-7942 or batiknick@att.net. Please see http://www.fiorebatiks.com for sample paintings and more information.