Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Artists' Websites: Marina Reitner

Marina Reitner
Marina Reiter was born in Moscow, Russia and she currently resides either in Washington, DC or New York City. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Moscow State University, where she studied literature, fine arts, and art history. In the US, Marina studied art at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and the Torpedo Factory Art School. Check out her website here.

Defending Rockwell

Just in case that you thought that I was the only art critic on the planet defending the current Norman Rockwell exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Ryan L. Cole, who writes from Indianapolis on politics and culture for the City Journal, shares my point of view about Rockwell and his critics:

Critics would likely seize upon the sight to observe that popular approval does not equal artistic quality, especially when the art in question is insufficiently socially aware. Certainly that’s the view of Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik, who in reviewing the show derided Rockwell as the cowardly, “aw, shucks” epitome of Middle America. Rockwell “doesn’t challenge any of us, or himself, to think new thoughts or try new acts or look with fresh eyes,” wrote Gopnik. “From the docile realism of his style to the received ideas of his subjects, Rockwell reliably keeps us right in the middle of our comfort zone.”

This perception of the artist’s work as soothing sentiment for the masses is nothing new, but “Telling Stories” proves it simplistic. The show, drawn from the collections of fellow storytellers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, confirms that Rockwell had a deep understanding of America’s character and a masterly ability to convey it to canvas. True, his vision focused on our virtues, not our sins. But only in the self-loathing landscape of contemporary intellectual thought would that be cause for criticism.
Read the review here.

Binstock at the Katzen

Currently on exhibition at American University's Katzen Museum is Alan Binstock: Way-Stations. The exhibition drives home a couple of important points: (1) The Katzen's presence continues to be a major player not only in the "local" DMV art scene, but its unique design and exhibition space delivers an opportunity for large scale artwork to be exhibited in the perfect setting for size and appreciation, and (2) The DMV is one powerful magnet area for talented artists working with glass as the main substrate.

As one walks around the minimalist and somewhat Teutonic courtyard around the Katzen, the large scale sculptures by Binstock (most of which are glass, resin and steel) resonate with the space and represent a wonderful opportunity to check out one of the DMV's most gifted sculptors.

Terra by Alan Binstock

Terra by Alan Binstock

In Terra, Binstock accomplishes the successful marriage of these materials in a piece that allows to viewer to admire the work from a distance, as a cosmic visitor might, or from underneath; as if from within the attractive model of the Earth itself.

This positioning of the perspective repeats itself in most of these large scale works: A two-pronged approach at observing and interacting with the work itself. In Tradak (which means "gazing meditation" in Sanskrit), a far view reveals an enticing and slim architecture that suspends a hanging globe of green glass. As the cosmic view is reduced to a closer inspection, the piece offers three open seats within its design, further inviting closer inspection of the globe.

The title of the exhibition (Way-stations), refers to Clifford D. Simak's classic 1960s science fiction novel about virtue and galactic travel. And perhaps the piece which best exemplifies Simak's morality tale is "Chapel."

Chapel by Alan Binstock

Chapel by Alan Binstock

There is a quiet and universal elegance to the work that manages to place it as both a stopping place on the light-years trek from Earth to perhaps asteroid B612, or the miles long medieval pilgrimages from northern European cities and villages to Santiago.

The exhibition goes through October 24.