Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Art Matters Reflections on the definition of "art"

My last (and first) column was a reflection on the column’s name “Art Matters.”  In part, it spoke to my immersion in the art world and its influence on me personally; in part, it was an exploration of arts importance on a broader level.  I thought it would be interesting to look at a dictionary definition of art. What follows is adapted from the “Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary” online.  For a thorough understanding of any word, go there or the Oxford Annotated.  

Did you know that art can be either a noun or a verb.  As a noun, its primary meaning is ‘the use of the imagination to produce works typically in a visual form, such as painting, drawing or sculpture and to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power (1). It can also refer to the actual works produced by the act of creative expression (2) or the act or skill by which those works are created (3).  The “arts” can refer to visual art, music, theatre, literature, etc. when you think of them as a group (4) or a particular type of art, i.e., dance or painting (5).  And art can be used in the sense of the humanities or “liberal” arts” which refers to areas of study other than the sciences (6) or of an ability or skill that can be developed by practice and training, i.e., the art of …writing poetry or even making tea (7).  As a verb, “art” is an archaic form of the verb “to be”, second person, singular, the “thou art” of the King James Bible.  

Does that mean that to do art is to be human?  An interesting thought to explore.  I recently created and sold an abstract painting called “Neolithic Rider.”  My dad bought it which was a flattering and fulfilling turn of the circle back to where I began as the child fascinated by his art, now he in his 90’s appreciates mine.  As for the title, the painting started as an abstract and then struck by its similarity to a horse & rider, I tweaked it just enough to make the pareidolic image clearly visible (picked that term up in a triva question recently, it means the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern).  

Part of the fun of doing art is being able to play with design and pattern. And to spin the wheel back to the opening sentence…the earliest humans created art and that form of expression was important enough to them to paint on cave walls, carve into bones or leave works in the earliest burials we’ve found.  Young children given a crayon or paint will create with earnest concentration and for them it’s about the act and the experience not about the result.  As they grow, their art changes.  Next, they do representational pictures, drawing iconic images of simple homes, stick figures and the like.  Study most early art up through the Late Medieval /Early Renaissance, it may become more sophisticated and realistic, but generally it is more often based on idealized images of  the subject matter whether its Egyptian pharaohs or Greek & Roman rulers or Byzantine Christ Pantocrator or Christ “All Powerful.”  

More on Art 101 and its parallel in how our artistic sense develops next time.

Janet Cornacchio is an artist member of Front Street Gallery, President of
Scituate Arts Association & a Realtor

You can contact her at jcornacch@aol.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ART MATTERS — Reflections on Growing up with Artists...by Janet Cornacchio

Art Matters
Reflections on Growing up with Artists

Art Matters.  

What does that mean to you?  To me, it has a multitude of meanings.  It could mean that art is important.  That is art matters in our lives, in our development and growth and education as human beings.  It could mean that it matters in our communities and our cultures, in world culture.  It could mean that art has a language of its own, like every other discipline, philosophy, craft or skill—and any or all of these concepts can be applied to art.  Art has its own argot used among its practitioners.  It has its own specialized language that those who are “in-group” use.

And, to add to the fun, with the arts, there are many specific languages across all the disciplines of the arts. To name a few—there is a language for art history, art criticism and of Art, itself.  Each of the Arts has its own unique terminology, practitioners, etc.  It is also interesting to note that the Scituate Arts Association began in the 1950’s with multiple guilds (an appropriate medieval term for different arts and artisans groups who used an apprentice, journey-man and master system to initiate its membership) which included a drama guild, woodcarvers guild, gourmet decorators guild and the art or painters guild.

Oh, and for the purpose of my column, I’m referring to Art as the “Visual Arts”, including but not limited to, painting whose mediums can include watercolor, oil, acrylic and pastel; photography; drawing; printmaking or sculpture. The Arts can also refer to literature, music, drama, to almost any discipline that’s dependent on craft and skill to create an experience, an experience that stretches the mind, that touches the spirit or that makes ones heart sing.  Indeed, Art matters.

For me, me personally, art has been an integral part of my life from birth.  Both of my parents were professionally trained artists. Growing up with two artist parents can be both inspiring and frustrating:  art supplies were plentiful, as were books on art   instruction and art history; not to mention continuous exposure to contemporary artists in local galleries and frequent visits to the fine art museums in the Boston and New York area.  And then there was always someone willing to show you how to do it right and better than you could.  Having now worked with artists for over 10 years as a member and president of the Scituate Arts Association Board of Directors and as a member of our Front Street Art Gallery and having consciously worked on developing that side of my brain for the past 20, I’ve realized how different that perspective that can be.  One thing I’ve learned about myself is I’m that rare bird, “mid-brained” I believe is the term.  In other words, I can function in both the creative world of the artist or those who work with their hands, but I also have the ability to intellectualize what I’m doing and express it in words.  An ability which I’ve learned is lacking in many creative people.  They can do, but it’s hard for them to explain the process.  But more about developing both sides of the brain another day.

And that’s exactly why I eventually landed on the name “Art Matters” as the name for this column.  I have been mulling over this introductory column for several weeks, looking for how to set a tone and define its intent which no doubt will evolve over time.  Since, like the famous tree in the forest, art needs viewers and responses to be heard and for the artist to evolve.  So please share your thoughts and dialogue with me.  

Janet Cornacchio is an artist member of Front Street Gallery, President of
Scituate Arts Association &  a Realtor

You can contact her at jcornacch@aol.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Scituate Arts Association Congratulates the Award Winners of The 2016 Annual Juried Show

The Scituate Arts Association offers congratulations to the twenty-four award winners at the SAA’s Annual Juried Show.  On one of the warmest evenings to date, the show’s winners and friends and other admirers attended the Show’s Awards Reception on Friday, April 22nd at the SAA's Front Street Art Gallery.  Prizes totaling $1000 were given out, made possible by the event’s four business supporters: Business Patrons-Janet Cornacchio, Jack Conway, Scituate and Business Sponsors-- Coastal Heritage Bank, Frame Center of Hanover and the Inn at Scituate Harbor.  

The accepted works and award winners were chosen by jurors: Nancy Collela who paints with oils intuitively, usually finishing in one session;  Becky Haletky, the SAA’s  2015 Best in Show Winner, has been painting in watercolor for 35 years, plus she is a published illustrator and Vcevy Strekalovsky, a third-generation painter of Russian heritage, draws and paints in oil and watercolor primarily from life.  

Eileen Casey won Best in Show with her evocative pastel of a “New England Peak” on a foggy afternoon.  The remaining Pastelists who received awards were First, which was awarded to Christine Bodnar for “Driftway Romance.”  Janet Tooker was recognized with a Second for “Satuit Sunset” and Donna Rossetti-Bailey who placed Third with “River Memory”  
Best-In-Show was awarded to Eileen Casey For "New EnglandPeak."

In the category of Oil & Acrylic, Christina Eckerson merited a First for her work “Ocean Light,” with Joanne Papandrea’s painting “White Bowl & Jar” receiving a Second.  Brenda Bechtel’s “Red Lily Pond: Turtle Soup was given a Third. Boczanowski’s rendering of  “Scituate Shores,” Erin Donnellan’s “Bliss,”  Linda T Osborne’s “Oxalis in the North Window” and Susan Page-Thompson’s “Season’s” were recognized with Honorable Mentions. 

Ted Nystrom’s dramatic work “Scituate Sunset” won a First in Watercolor. “Diamond in the Rough” by Burton Longenbach was awarded a Second  and Stephen Holland’s Blue Boat at Saquish was Third .  Bruce W. Nickerson received an Honorable Mention for his striking “Gail’s Paradise.” 
Ted Nystrom with "Scituate Sunset."

In Photography, Ronald Wilson captured a fascinating image of “Well Rock, Minot Beach” to win a First.  Stephanie Steward’s “Elephant Eye”  was recognized with a Second and Erin O’Donnell’s “Under Powder Point” received a Third.  

In Drawing, Graphics, Mixed Media & Printmaking, the warm “Grey Glow” of Ann Conte’s work captured a First.  Kathleen Mullins Mogayzel’s fascinating “Great Egret” won a Second and Donna Goes’ whimsical “Matilida” placed Third, with Honorable Mention going to Marie Wilkes for her drawing of “Waiting at South Station No 1.”   The Judges decided to recognize our Youth entries with Honorable Mentions:  Evan Flaherty and Callie Herschfield.
Kathy Mullins Mogayzel displays the "Great Egret"

The almost 70 works of these South Shore artists & beyond-from the Bridgewaters to West Barnstable and whose ages ranged from high school to 92--are on display from Wednesday, April 13th through Sunday, May 1st at the SAA’s Front Street Art Gallery, 124 Front Street, Scituate.  A wide range of styles from realistic to abstract and media from oil to assemblage are represented.  

Come to Scituate Harbor and experience the wealth of art produced by the South Shore artistic community and beyond.  It is indeed a gift to have so many talented people in our midst.  The Front Street Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 to 5 and on Sundays from Noon to 5.