Conversations I


Buster Levi Gallery is pleased to present Conversations I an exhibit that features the work of seven gallery artists with guest artists selected by them. The show will include work by Tim D’Acquisto, Vincent Baldassano, Gary Buckendorf, Ada Pilar Cruz, Jenne Currie, Eric Erickson, Barbara Smith Gioia, Bill Kooistra, Chantelle Norton, Samantha Palmeri, Rick Rogers, Cody Rounds, Nancy Steinson and Nita Steketee. The show will run from February 2 through February 25, 2018. The opening for the show will be on Friday February 2, 2018 from 6-8pm.

Conversations I is the first of a two exhibits that pair the work of artists whose work or ideas share similar concerns. The ‘conversation’ between the artists in this exhibition is purposefully open and could exist on either content or visual planes or both. Unlike Monet and Renoir or Braque and Picasso, the artists in this exhibit do not live or work in studios near each other, frequent café’s at night to discuss their work or are considered part of a movement. Instead, they work independently and see in each other’s work similar ideas that each work out in their own way.

Barbara Smith Gioia selected Samantha Palmeri to show with her.  Smith Gioia’s work is an abstract interplay between shifting planes of painted collage and expressive line. Palmeri’s is more directly affected by observation, in particular the figure, although she is also interested in ‘things that cannot be observed’. However, both artists share a fascination with process, “the physical act of engaging with my materials”, as Smith Gioia puts it or for Palmeri, “to the unfolding of chance and emotion.” The paintings in this exhibit demonstrate this. Both artists emphasize process in each work. In addition, they both show clear interest in mark making especially through a wide variety of lines that accentuate gesture and the involvement of the artist. As a result, Palmeri’s painting appears to be moving, running, flying off the canvas as she uses a combination of blurred and sharp lines that partially blend into the ground where obvious brushstrokes and scrapings move from left to right. Smith-Gioia’s work also emphasizes movement, but in a very different way. The use of collage creates a slower movement as areas of the painting appear to be cut out and then reapplied but not exactly fitting where they once were. One has to work their way through the painting similar to a maze.

Eric Erickson will be showing with Gary Buckendorf. Both artists also work on the edge of abstraction and representation. Buckendorf describes his approach as, ”My work seems to follow the same rules as the Abstract Expressionists. I usually try to produce illusionistic light and space and I like my pictures when they are verging on representation”.  Buckendorf was born in Idaho and the landscape is etched in his ‘being’ and although he has been living in New York since he was 34, he: ”Still miss the sagebrush, the space and light.” This is clearly evident in the painting included in this exhibit.  It is abstract, but the color, brushstrokes, and texture all approximate a field of scrub grasses. In addition, there is a random feeling of selection with the dark area seemingly drifting off the left side of the painting. Almost as you are staring at the field and after a few minutes realize there is a clump of brush there.  Random appearing elements are common in Eric Erickson’s work as well; in fact all of the forms in his work often appear randomly placed.  Forms that are either cropped, or hidden under layers of paint with their ghosts barely legible dominate his work. Erickson, while not necessarily influenced by actual fields from a landscape, also places his forms on fields of color in which they directly interact and suggest light, space and exist on the border of abstraction and reality.

Ada Pilar Cruz has invited Chantelle Norton to show with her. Both artists have an interest in the emotional potential of their imagery on viewers of their work.  Norton explores; “the vulnerability and intimacy between humans and their dogs, investigating how throughout history and in myth the dog has impacted our lives.” Similarly, Pilar Cruz explores sacred spaces, objects and stories.  The imagery in their works is meant to have a narrative even if the works themselves do not represent an obvious story. They are meant to felt, creating a meditative response, yet allowing each viewer to have their own personal interpretation. Another similarity between the artists is their interest in texture and its tactile quality.  Though primarily working on canvas, Norton has been painting on ceramic tiles as well. Pilar Cruz is a ceramic sculptor who often paints on clay. Both are interested in clay’s earth tones and the potential it has for color and how it can work with its surface.

Bill Kooistra selected Cody Rounds for the exhibition. Rounds will be exhibiting a painting of skeletons based on a photograph of an excavation in London.  Kooistra is showing a multi panel painting of fields. Both artists in these works are interested in memory, how one perceives time and place.  Rounds describes her series; “Each painting from this body of work was created from photos of existing mass gravesites from across the world. Upon excavation, these sites act as a time capsule, revealing dormant information about a previously existing life.” She sees the skeletons; “Much like a footprint in soil-an event that has already taken place; proof of a past.”  In her view, ‘we’ project the weight of a conscious existence and use our knowledge and imagination to build a relatable narrative about experience, hardship, family and passion. Kooistra’s fields are also events, in the sense an instance in time. They either focus on seasons slowly passing from one to another or landscape viewed as singular moments and then jammed together creating combined experiences of landscape; thus a slices of landscape viewed at different times coalesce into a story about seeing.

Tim D’Acquisto will be showing with Nancy Steinson. Steinson is a sculptor whose works are characterized by basic geometric forms influenced by artists such as Constantin Brancusi and Barbara Hepworth. Her forms tend to curvilinear that stress linear straight edges. The work in this exhibit, Bluebird, though not curvilinear is still based on the natural world. D’Acquisto’s paintings also tend toward basic forms and shapes. Although not formalistic, they are often humorous; D’Acquisto avoids complex compositions and detailed forms. Rather, he tries to achieve flat surfaces that suggest form and space through thin layers of color and subtle textures.  Both artists are extremely sensitive to light and surface. The works in this exhibit, though based on completely different subjects, share similar visual characteristics. Both employ a basic geometry dominated by rectangular shape. Both demonstrate sensitivity to their surface, a combination of brushstrokes and multiple layers of color in D’Acquisto’s work is contrasted to the smoother but subtle layering in Steinson’s. Finally, their compositions move in a horizontal direction. Different mediums, sources, shared considerations.

Jenne M. Currie selected Nita Steketee to exhibit with her. They are probably the only two artists in the exhibit who work together at times.  Currie describes their collaboration; “Nita and I have been making art together for the past few years and the influence we have on each other’s work is palpable.  We are both interested in painting using contrasting gestures and textures and exploring powerful structural elements through the medium of cut paper.” Working together has not inhibited their individuality though. Currie’s work utilizes layering of intense color over color while Steketee is focused on dramatic uses of line and brushstroke while using a more limited palette consisting of black, gray and white.  Both artists share an enthusiasm for texture. Currie’s approach is more layered, the result of built up colors and surfaces whereas Steketee”s textures tend to be a result of the gestural moment.  There are passages in each of their works that almost looked shared or borrowed, however the end result are two works made in a similar manner by two clearly different creative minds.


Vincent Baldassano selected Rick Rogers to show with him.  Looking at the body of work of both artists, it would seem this is an unlikely choice.  Baldassano’s recent work is heavily influenced by his visits to Italy, especially its architecture. His paintings make use of improvisational brushstrokes that define and embellish architectural settings.  Rogers’ work, on the other hand, is varied and his interests range from ironical simplified ‘realist’ renderings to assemblage with a ‘Pop” flavor to abstractions. In this exhibit, though with definite differences, one can see an interchange between each artist that Baldassano notes when he writes: “However, upon closer observation in this selective ‘pairing”, one will recognize shapes, forms, and colors that are common in both Rick’s painting Orbs and my Villa Aurelio.” Rogers’ painting and Baldassano’s both employ numerous circular and organic shapes and both make use of line to suggest contours as well as create shapes. However, Roger’s painting is painted with bold and almost crude brushstrokes that give the work a very physical feel. Baldassano uses thinner glazes of color that impart a glow to his color that is typical of his work.  The result is two works that may appear similar in origination but upon reflection convey very different moods.

Buster Levi Gallery is open Saturday from 12-5 pm.