In the Art World

  • Laurie Simmons


    For the next few weeks, as part of the #5WomenArtists campaign, we're discussing areas of the art world that women artists are leading the way in defining what this type of art means in a contemporary context. Each week, we'll dive into a different area and pick five women artists we love that explores it in her work. This week, we're looking at women who create work about domestic life. 


    Domesticity has been the realm of women for centuries, and as their lives expand beyond the walls that keep them within that world women artists are turning their sights back to the home with a discerning eye. Often intended as a metaphor for women's roles and struggles within society at large, their work challenges the connotations of the home with femininity, investigates the politics that relegate women to these spaces, and subverts symbolism associated with domesticity. Here are five artists that work with questions of domesticity:


    For thie next few weeks, as part of the #5WomenArtists campaign, we're discussing areas of the art world that women artists are leading the way in defining what this type of art means in a contemporary context. Each week, we'll dive into a different area and pick five women artists we love that explores it in her work. To start, we're taking a look at textile art. We focused on this for our group show, "Following The Thread," last summer that featured our artists like Debra Smith and Emily Barletta, and now we'll open that up to the art world at large. 


    The distinct divide between the worlds of art and craft has been rapidly shrinking. Artists who work with textiles are being welcomed into the contemporary art world like never before. Drawn to the aesthetics or the cultural and political connotations of textiles, their work looks to the tenets of painting, applying notions of space, form, and color to their manipulation of fabric and thread. As the world of textiles has always been predominantly a place for women, so too are female artists making up a vast majority of those who are elevating these mediums to fine art. They subvert the notion that these materials are to be dismissed and relegated to the sidelines of the art world, and use their materials to create pieces that are often imbued with political and historical messaging. Here are the five artists we chose to exemplify the work that's been done in the realm of textiles: 


    For the past two years, we've been excited for The National Museum of Women in the Arts' #5womenartists campaign during Women's History Month. Getting people talking about women artists is something we're passionate about, and we have a lot to share this year. Our gallery is run by women (with the exception of our weekly visit from our art handler - thanks, Noah!) and 81% of the artists we represent are women, and it's been that way since the beginning. Last year, we spotted Kathryn Markel's name on a Guerilla Girls' piece in the Whitney that listed gallerists who dedicated at least 30% of their solo shows to female artists. When reviewing the season from 1984-1985, the list was shockingly small. In 2017-2018, there's still work to be done, but we still managed to find a lot of excellent shows in New York's galleries and museums that just happened to be by women artists. (Perhaps you've seen our monthly #artwalks in our Instagram stories!) Our Gallery Manager, Alyssa Alexander, and Marketing Associate, Celeste Kaufman, narrow down their lists to their 5 favorite exhibitions they saw since the last #5womenartists campaign: 




    On Monday, the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery were revealed. Painted by the renowned Kehinde Wiley and emerging Amy Sherald, respectively, the paintings are a stark departure from what we typically associate with traditional presidential portraiture. (Elaine de Kooning's JFK and Chuck Close's Clinton are other portraits hanging in the Gallery that have also represented a particular moment in art history that coincided with the presidency they depicted.) Unsurprisingly, the reception of the Obamas' portraits has been mixed. Are they successful, powerful representations of an historical moment - the first African American artists chosen to paint the portraits of the first African American First Family for the National Portrait Gallery - or were the artists' choices underwhelming and inappropriate? 


    We asked our artists for their reactions to the paintings and collected their commentary below. 


    Our gallery director, Debra Marcoux, and gallery manager, Alyssa Alexander, both went to see Vija Celmins’ show at Matthew Marks and had very different responses to her work.  Debra, already a fan of Celmins, appreciated the escapism of getting lost in her paintings of night skies and seas, and her meticulously detailed sculptures.  Alyssa, new to Celmins’ work, was left searching for meaning. Here they discuss their experiences viewing the exhibition.



  • "Aboveboard," Sarah Irvin
    "Aboveboard," Sarah Irvin

    This past weekend was the Art on Paper fair in New York and it was an exciting collection of contemporary galleries showing their artists' unique takes on works on paper. We showed Joanne Freeman, Sarah Irvin, and Marilla Palmer at our booth and were honored to be named one of the 5 Must-See Booths by Art Zealous. When we weren't discussing Freeman's graphic "Covers" series, Irvin's hypnotic "Ink Series," and Palmer's collaged botanical studies, we were roaming the fair ourselves. Here are just some of the artists we loved:



  • A Dash of Rose Quartz and Serenity

    Incorporating Pantone's 2016 Colors of the Year Through Art
    Serenity and Rose Quartz, Pantone's Colors of the Year for 2016
    Serenity and Rose Quartz, Pantone's Colors of the Year for 2016

    This week, Pantone threw the worlds of fashion and design for a loop when they announced two colors of the year for 2016 instead of one. Their picks? Rose Quartz, and Serenity. Pantone explains:


    As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.


    For those who can't help but feel like you're being invited to a gender reveal party rather than catching up on design trends, don't worry, it was intentional:

    In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer's increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.

    If you'll be redecorating in 2016, you may be interested in having Pantone's colors of the year reflected in your interior design. An easy way to do this -- and one without the connotation of a nursery -- is through art. A well-placed piece can provide a nice nod to the trends without the risk of becoming dated too quickly. We dug through our collection to bring you works from our gallery artists that can subtly infuse your home with the colors that will be defining 2016. 

  • #Startdrawing

    A Museum Campaign Pits Sketchbooks Against Selfies
    Drawing at the Rijksmuseum, Photo courtesy of Rijksmuseum
    Drawing at the Rijksmuseum, Photo courtesy of Rijksmuseum

    As you approach the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, you're greeted by a giant banner showing a red X over a camera. While the prohibition of photography is not unusual in certain exhibits, in this day and age of the #artselfie this museum-wide discouragement (although not banning) of photography has caused a bit of an uproar. It's part of the museum's #hierteekenen ("start drawing") campaign, which kicked off with the weekend-long event The Big Draw back in October, a festival full of drawing lessons and activities throughout the space. Since then, museumgoers have been strongly encouraged to keep their cameras and phones in their pockets during their trip, and instead try drawing the works they're most attracted to. This is especially the case on Saturdays, when visitors can pick up a free sketchbook and pencil to bring with them around the galleries.


    The intent is to combat what the Rijksmuseum claims to be a tendency for a modern museum visit to be "passive and superficial," with visitors being too distracted to "truly experience beauty, magic, and wonder." As the director, Wim Pijibes, puts it, "In our busy lives we don't always realize how beautiful something can be. We forget how to look really closely. Drawing helps because you see more when you draw." For those that are learning about art, taking the time to sit and study a painting or sculpture enriches their experience with art and deepens their understanding of the artist's process and journey.  The museum is quick to remind everyone that the end result is not what matters here, but more so building that relationship with the work that speaks to you. Instead of rushing through the exhibits taking as many pictures as possible, the challenge forces everyone to slow down and thoroughly appreciate the art they've come to see.


    But others see this move as a hostile one. 

  • What We Loved

    Current Shows in Chelsea Galleries
    Sheila Hicks at Sikkema Jenkins
    Sheila Hicks at Sikkema Jenkins

    Our director, Debra Marcoux, recently paid a visit to several of the galleries in our neighborhood to check out their current shows. Here's what's not to be missed in the current crop of Chelsea exhibits.