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The work of Barbara Grad and lots of links

Tuesday Night Painting #5

Barbara Grad, Bluff, 2019, Oil on linen, 60 x 72 in

Hello painters, 

Early last week, a water main burst on Harrison Ave in the South End, flooding many of the ground floor galleries and shops in the area. Some galleries reported 4 to 5 feet of muddy water had collected in their spaces, damaging equipment and soaking some artworks. Other galleries were luckily spared, but this accident comes at a rough time for these locations which had already been shuttered for over a month. Greg Cook has posted a full report on his Wonderland blog.

One of the galleries I work with, AREA, reported extensive flooding in their space. Soon they will be hosting a fundraiser to try and recover some of their losses. The fundraiser should be posted on this site so keep this link handy. I will probably be contributing some work to this fundraiser along with plenty of other wonderful artists.

For the newsletter this week I'll share with you the work of Barbara Grad, a fantastic painter whose exhibit in the South End was abruptly closed due to the pandemic, but was thankfully spared from any flooding. I also have collected a lot of abstract painting related links for you to explore. Without further ado:

Barbara Grad, Desert Bluff, 2020, Oil on linen, 60 x 72 inches

Barbara Grad, Echo, 2020, Oil on linen, 60 x 72 in
Barbara Grad (the second Barbara in a row featured by this newsletter) has been based in Boston since 1987 and has had a long career in education, having taught at places such as Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh as well as MassArt. Grad is best known for her organic abstract landscapes crisscrossed with undulating lines. 
Barbara Grad, Silent Shift, 2012, Oil on canvas, 48 x 42 in
Strata (sing. stratum) are distinctive layers or beds, of sediments or sedimentary rocks deposited consecutively, or with interruption by unconformities, atop other rocks. Each sedimentary stratum has approximately the same composition throughout, reflecting conditions at the time of deposition.
From early on in her artistic career, Grad has cited natural scenes as inspirations for her abstractions. That much is clear from the landscape like feeling a lot of her canvases evoke. The layering of her lines and the way her shapes and forms stack one on top of the other give me multiple associations, from rolling hills to city grids to the layering or "strata" of rocks formed over time.
Barbara Grad, Rerouting, 2018-19, Oil on linen, 70 x 60 in
Barbara Grad, Air Under Water, 2018-19, Oil on linen, 60 x 108 in across 2 panels
Barbara Grad, Sprouts, 2018, Oil on linen, 30 x 40 in
At times Grad approaches her subjects very literally and describes the shapes of her landscape as they appear. However she does return to previous canvases and repaints them, or paints other versions, to create more abstract versions.

The look of something can be deceiving, but knowledge is less so. I see nature changing, and climate defining those changes. –Barbara Grad

Shara Hughes, Tributes to Tributaries, 2018, Oil, acrylic, and dye on canvas, 78 x 66 in
Shara Hughes, Rose Kennedy Greenway Mural, 2018
Barbara Grad's influences include early modernist abstract painters like Kandinsky and Klee as well as Bay Area painters like David Park and Richard Diebenkorn. In terms of theme and color palette, I see a connection between Grad's work and the work of Shara Hughes (b. 1981, featured in two images above), a younger artist we've looked at before. You may also see a connection between Grad's work and the work of Katy Schimert, one of the Guggenheim Fellows from the previous week's newsletter.
Katy Schimert, With Caves, 2014, watercolor on paper, 12.5 x 15 in
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Stuart Davis, Swing Landscape, 1938
 
Links for this week:

One:
From the Globe, a story about how a young Stuart Davis traveled to Gloucester to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. Rocky Neck was a popular destination for artists at the time, and an article from the Cape Anne Shore newspaper recounts how artists like Davis and his mentor began crowding out the fisherman in the area. Read on to find out how Gloucester affected his early artistic development.

Two:
Last week I shared the Clyfford Still documentary, this week it's a new documentary about Hilma af Klint. This doc interviews relatives, artists, and historians about the new place being carved out in art history for af Klint's work. You can screen the film virtually at this link. Part of the proceeds go toward whichever cultural institution you wish to support. For example, you can choose to screen the film from the Portland Museum of Art by clicking here.

Three:
The abstract artist John Way as an engineer who studied at MIT during the day and went home to his small Beacon Hill apartment to paint at night. This article by critic John Yau talks about how artists are adapating to making work at home in their apartments instead of at their studios. The artwork of the man he interviews, Steve DiBenedetto, isn't my cup of tea but there is still an interesting discussion about what kind of supplies and spaces artists require to get their work done.

Four:
A virtual look at the work of minimalist abstract painter John Dudley featured on Magenta Plains' website. A visit to Magenta Plains is usually on my agenda whenever I visit NYC. Here they are presenting the work of John Dudley, a long time abstract painter and sculptor born in 1930.
And so we reach the end of another Tuesday Night letter. I hope to write to you again next Tuesday to keep the painting vibes going. Here is the soundtrack for this week:



I was exposed to the music of Mulatu Astatke when I saw the movie Broken Flowers back in 2005. This was in the midst of Bill Murray's turn to "serious" cinema, and although I haven't seen Broken Flowers in a long time I still recommend you check it out, especially if you like movies by Jim Jarmusch. 

Mulatu Astatke is an amazing musician who took his classical education in Jazz and Latin music and combined it with traditional Ethiopian instruments to create a new genre of Jazz. You can listen to a collection of his Ethiopiques here on Spotify.

See you next time!
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