Many people now flock to Williamsburg for it’s eclectic restaurants and charming streets. It’s also home to the Sketchbook Project, a gem of artistic expression. Housed in the Brooklyn Art Library, The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art celebration.
The library is a small and intimate space.The walls are covered with shelves of 5″x 7″ sketchbooks filled in by people young and old; professionals and amateurs; from nearby Brooklyn and places far away like China and Russia, As varied as the people, so are their sketchbooks. There are watercolors and pastels; collages and cut-outs; simple line drawings and complex geometric shapes. Some tell a story; others capture moments on a personal journey.
Anyone can join the Sketchbook community. All it takes is the purchase of a $25 sketchbook. Each year a new group of sketchbooks go on tour. For your sketchbook to join the tour all you need to do is to submit it in early January for that year’s tour. At the end of the tour, the sketchbooks return to the Brooklyn Art Library where anyone can come to see them.
Even if you don’t want to create your own sketchbook, go and visit the Library to see what others have created. It’s a rare opportunity to, not only see a wide assortment of art, but also to hold it in your hands. And if you go, be sure to stop into Mast Brothers, next door, for some hot chocolate or a delicious chocolate bar.
American life in the 20th century are beautifully captured in exhibitions at two New York City museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of the City of New York.
America Today by Thomas Hart Benton, on display at the Met
America Today, at the Met, is a ten-panel mural painted by Thomas Hart Benton in the late 1920’s before his career really took off. The murals are hung in one large gallery in the American Wing at the museum, replicating how they appeared when they were first hung in the boardroom of New York’s New School for Social Research. The impact of standing in the room, and having an almost panoramic view of these paintings, is spectacular. Each panel vividly brings to life scenes from America in the 1920’s. In an adjacent gallery, you can see sketches and early paintings Benton did to prepare for the murals. I enjoyed seeing these, almost as much as the panels themselves, because you could see how Benton composed many of the scenes. There’s also a room with other works from the Met’s permanent collection that relate to America Today. It was interesting to learn that Jackson Pollack (one painting on view) had been a student of Benton’s and served as a model for his teacher’s mural. This exhibit is on view through April 19, 2015.
Mac Conner: A New York Life, at the Museum of the City of New York, is the first exhibition of illustrator McCauley Conner. It contains more than 70 original artworks depicting American life from the 1940’s-1960’s. Conner, a New York native, was an original “Mad Men,” as much of his work was done for advertising agencies. Many of the pieces on view are editorial illustrations, bringing to life, stories that appeared in magazines like Good Housekeeping and Redbook. I was particularly drawn to the sparse line drawings, with limited colors, that captured a moment in time. For more information on Conner, read an MCNY blog post Mac Conner, One of New York’s Original ‘Mad Men.’ The exhibit is open through January 19, 2015.
Wayne Thiebaud “Cold Case” 2010/2011/2013
There is something so enticing about a Wayne Thiebaud painting. Whether he is working in oil, pastel or charcoal, I always feel like the pictures are good enough to eat! The 93-year old artist seems never to stop making art. Forty-nine works are now on view at the Acquavella Galleries on the upper east side. Many of them have been created in the last five years and have not been seen before.
The works in the exhibition re-visit recurring themes in Thiebaud’s work, like confections, pastries and other ordinary objects. The exhibition also includes landscapes of California, where he has lived his whole life. His oil paintings are textured and his color choices are bright and optimistic. “This exhibition is a testament to his unique ability to illuminate the everyday and elevate the ordinary,” commented Eleanor Acquavella.
There were several art works that caught my attention . One was an ink drawing; a medium I don’t normally associate with Thiebaud. I loved the way his sparse lines conveyed a whole story about a man with 2 baguettes. Another was a pastel drawing of “Ten Candies.” It was only after looking closely did I realize it wasn’t paint. As a pastel dabbler, I really appreciated the color nuances he was able to extract from the pastels. “Cupcakes & Donuts” was an interesting piece because of the various media Thiebaud used to create it. At the bottom of the work he wrote: “Unique trial proof hand-tinted with India Ink, watercolor, gouache and pastel on paper.” The effect is a much darker palette than his other pastry works. I liked the outcome.
The Thiebaud exhibit at Acquavella is on view until November 21st. Opening at the Allan Stone Projects gallery on October 23rd are “Wayne Thiebaud In Black and White,” and “Prints By Wayne Thiebaud.”
Derrick Adams Sculpture from LIVE and IN COLOR
Bold colors, clean lines, and simplistic images draw you in as you wander through “LIVE and IN COLOR. ” The two floor exhibit, now on view at the Tilton Gallery on East 76th Street, features the work of the multidisciplinary artist, Derrick Adams.
Derrick Adams, They All Want Cake, 2014
Derrick Adams, They All Want Cake, 2014, detail
While Adams works in performance, painting, sculpture and music; this show has both wood sculptures and large-scale mixed media collage. According to the Tilton Gallery, the work is meant to capture “the bold character-dramatizations of black figures in entertainment. Stills and screen captures from sitcoms, music videos, news and stand-up are the point of departure for the work and are used mainly for reference and inspiration,”
While I enjoyed looking at the sculptures, I was more drawn to the collages. Each collage piece Adams used was very simple. Yet taken as a whole, created a complex image that drew you in to examine it more carefully.
The exhibit will be on view through October 18th.