Saturday, December 28

Noyes and Forsythe

So nice to escape the city for a day, and actually get out and do something during this vacation time (although the studio has seen a bit more of me than usual this week). We drove down to Absecon to visit the Noyes museum, which is this great little art museum that features New Jersey artists primarily. They have four main gallery spaces. One is featuring a solo exhibit of fable-inspired portraits by Victor Grasso- while well-painted, some were just annoyingly... well see for yourself. Another gallery had a member show, and a third had an exhibit of impressionistic pastels by John Pierce Barnes. In the hall was a great window installation by Karen Guancione, filled with suspended card catalog cards- all these once-useful indexes flown to the wind.
 A final gallery had an exhibit about Noise (noise- Noyes, get it?- yeah it's a little silly, but it was perfect because my daughter asked on the way down- will it be noisy there? Oh we love a little pun....) I'm not a huge fan of multi-media art exhibits because half the time the media devices aren't working, and they weren't. There were headphones connected to a typewriter and an old trestle sewing machine, but no sound came out, and an ipod was dangling from a phonograph-like sculpture, but no sound poured forth because the cord was disconnected. And were these sculptures meant to be interactive or not? No signage granted permission, but the works seemed intended to be interactive. I love the Noyes, but this exhibit seemed sadly neglected. Despite the media flaws, there was an INCREDIBLE piece by Eve Ingalls anchoring the show. From afar it appeared like a charcoal drawing:
but up close it revealed its incredible 3 dimensionality. Entitled "After Sandy", it embodied the crash and thrum of pounding waves and the crunch of sand covered asphalt, all while sitting quietly on the wall. Perhaps its success was that it did not set out to make sound or incorporate sound literally, unlike the rest of the works in the show. It was a great noise through visual expression  and interpretation. Visual artists can get in trouble when they try too hard to be something more than visual. Ingalls captured it just right. Check out more of her incredible work.
 Is it any surprise that my favorite works were fibers-related?
 Much to my surprise, the Forsythe national wildlife refuge was RIGHT NEXT to the Noyes (who needs gps?) and our adventure continued to the great outdoors. It seems more of a vehicle-friendly place than walker-friendly (ugh... NJ car culture), but we took a short hike down to gull tower pond and climbed the observation tower. I took some panoramas and sketched from the close-up views of the swans and egrets you could see with a telescope up top. The sun-spot above obliterates the Atlantic City skyline with its windmills. I love windmills. From the aerial view, the wildlife seemed so much more abundant than from our roadside hike vantage.
 Although, we were wonderfully startled by an egret who suddenly leapt from his hiding place about 10 feet away from us as we walked. I love the marsh grasses and their reflections. The broken stalks below remind me of a Harry Callahan photo. I wish I could stumble in and weave a living basket of them.
Winter color is subtle.Winter light is crisp. I'm more inspired by the beauty of nature than the man-made beauty in the museum. I can't help myself but to go and make art myself... but it is a poor reflection of the wonder of the world.

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