The Art of Anthony Quinn
June 13 - August 25
Opening Reception: Friday, June 14, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Although he appeared in more than 70 films over the course of his long career, Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) is linked most indelibly with the exuberant title character in 1964’s “Zorba the Greek.” But the two Academy Awards he won were for his supporting parts in “Viva Zapata!” (1952) and “Lust for Life” (1956). In the latter he played Paul Gauguin, the passionate, audacious French post-Impressionist.
That role was a natural for Quinn (who claimed Gauguin’s ghost spoke to him during the filming), for he himself was an accomplished artist who boldly expressed his own zest for life in his prolific creation of sculptures and paintings. He responded most fervently to early twentieth-century modernism, particularly Picasso’s paintings of the 1920s and ’30s, sculptor Henry Moore’s reclining figures and the flowing lines of Henri Matisse. He was also a collector, perpetually seeking out works by major artists; native art of faraway lands; decorative eggs; African masks; and books. As an artist he was something of a chameleon, absorbing virtually everything, yet expressing it with a vitality all his own.
He studied briefly with Frank Lloyd Wright, but was mostly self-taught. He assimilated the visual vocabulary of modernism from books; at museums in New York, Mexico City, Paris and London; and – whenever he was filming on location – at contemporary galleries all over the world. His lengthy stays in Africa and the Middle East and his Mexican ancestry also influenced his work. Such was his curiosity that he frequently made several versions of the same sculpture in different materials – marble, onyx, travertine, bronze and steel, among others – just to see the varying effects. He carved many bas-relief abstractions from wood, painting them for a playful look.
A number of Quinn’s pieces reveal some preoccupation with the female form. “Aphrodite,” a graceful reclining nude sculpture, channels Henry Moore. “Queen of Hearts,” a painted wood assemblage, seems a tongue-in-cheek nod to synthetic cubism and playing cards. The expressionistic painting “Soldadera” pays tribute to the women soldiers who fought alongside men in the Mexican Revolution.
Over time, Quinn also enjoyed recording the changes in his own compelling face. A 1984 oil self-portrait projects his legendary intensity. Quinn titled it “Zorba” – so closely did he identify with his most famous screen persona.
Exhibitions Curator Michael Giaquinto had the enviable task of selecting some 40 works for this show from the vast collection at the artist’s Bristol, R.I., estate, where Quinn spent the last seven years of his life – and where Katherine Quinn, his wife and studio assistant, still lives. We’re very grateful to Mrs. Quinn and the Anthony Quinn Foundation for their generosity in making this exhibition possible.
Image: "Zorba-Self Portrait"
Works from the Vortex: Glass Sculpture by Fritz Lauenstein
May 25-July 14
Reception: Sunday, June 2, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Gallery Talk: Thursday, June 6, 2 pm
Glassblower Fritz Lauenstein owns and operates Fritz Glass on Upper Country Road in Dennisport. There he makes and sells platters, bowls, vases, paperweights, marbles and other functional objects using brilliant, often swirling colors. When time allows, however, he relishes using glass – sometimes in combination with other materials – to fashion one-of-a-kind sculptures that are more personal in nature.
Lauenstein began learning the fundamentals of glass blowing as a student at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine. He continued his studies at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., and Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. After moving to the Cape in 1984, he spent several years working at various fishing jobs and as an assistant at Chatham Glass. He and his wife, June Raymond, opened Fritz Glass in 1991. In addition to Lauenstein’s glassblowing studio they run a retail shop and also wholesale their products to more than 120 galleries and gift shops across the country, including the Art Institute of Chicago, which has featured Lauenstein’s “rainbow heart pendant” in its catalog the last five years. Lauenstein enjoys his work, but doesn’t view his decorative piece as outlets for creative expression. “This has allowed me to stay on the Cape and make a living,” he says matter-of-factly.
For him there’s no mental connection between the production work he makes for Fritz Glass and his conceptual sculptures, which relate to things he thinks a lot about in his daily life. “I go through my life and have experiences in my life … and objects come into my head,” he says. A piece titled “Twenty Years of No” comprises three sealed shadow boxes containing shelves displaying nonfunctional crack pipes. (This relates to Lauenstein receiving requests he can’t or won’t fill. Some people have even assumed he can make scientific laboratory equipment or fix broken windows.) “Nothing Special” features a piece of taxidermy – a coyote – surrounded by glass hoops. While the conceptual pieces are evocative – suggestive of stories – Lauenstein refrains from elaborating, hoping viewers will arrive at their own conclusions.
Image: "Twenty Years of No"
Swept Away: Translucence, Transparence and Transcendence in Contemporary Encaustic
May 18 - June 23
Artists Reception: Sunday, June 2, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Discussion featuring five exhibiting artists: Wednesday, May 29, 2 pm. Artists: Joanne Mattera, Cherie Mittenthal, Mitisa Galazzi, Laura Moriarity, Jane Allen Modine
Gallery Talk by Curator Michael Giaquinto: Wednesday, June 19 (on this exhibition and "The Art of Anthony Quinn")
This exhibition is being held in conjunction with the annual International Encaustic Conference, co-produced by founder/director Joanne Mattera and Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill and its director, Cherie Mittenthal, and held in Provincetown May 31 - June 2. The show will feature works in encaustic by 31 artists from around the country.
The amazing luminosity possible in encaustic painting is the unifying theme of the exhibition “Swept Away: Translucence, Transparence, Transcendence in Contemporary Encaustic" on view from May 16 through June 23 at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Juried by Exhibitions Curator Michael Giaquinto, the show will feature approximately 50 paintings, sculptures and prints by 31 of the foremost artists working in encaustic from around the country. Encaustic painting – the use of finely ground pigments suspended in heated beeswax – dates back to ancient times, notably to the Fayum mummy portraits created during the Coptic period in Egypt (100-300 AD). It fell into disuse as less technically demanding paints – such as tempera, oil and acrylics – were invented. However, a revival of interest in the medium began when American artist Jasper Johns adopted it for use in his iconic paintings of flags, targets and maps in the mid-twentieth century. The popularity of encaustic has grown tremendously over the past two decades, with artists attracted to the medium’s texture; malleability; quick drying time; brilliant, durable colors; and even its aroma. Its adhesive qualities make it an excellent collage medium. It can also be carved, sculpted and molded. But probably its most compelling quality is the luminous effect of light penetrating the translucent layers of wax, illuminating the artwork as if from within.
“Swept Away” is one of only a small number of museum exhibitions anywhere that has focused specifically on encaustics, according to Mattera, the author of “The Art of Encaustic Painting” (Watson-Guptill Publications, 2001). As far as she’s been able to determine, it’s likely the very first devoted to any noteworthy aspect of the medium – the selected theme being its “extravagant quality of light,” in her words. Illuminated primarily by a large skylight, the museum’s conjoined Bank of America and Robert Douglas Hunter galleries promise to make a most favorable setting for this exhibition.
While encaustic can be used to paint representationally, artists are more apt to turn to it for less conventional effects. With “Pansy Riot,” Chicago artist Lynn Basa used a heat gun to form blossom-like bursts of sapphire and amethyst, which appear to float upward and forward, as if winning their liberation from conformity. Sara Mast of Montana has turned to encaustic in hopes of discovering “a visual language and image-worthy mapping process that explores humanity’s connection to the cosmos.” There’s a striking similarity between her “Signal Cell” and “Between Stars,” though the former loosely suggests molecular diagrams and the latter, constellations. The subtle markings on Santa Fe artist Paula Roland’s golden-toned monotypes “Palm” and “Field” seem to evoke dappled memories of fronds and grain. Here there’s no mistaking the potential glow of encaustics, because the semi-translucent pieces are lit from behind with fluorescent illumination.
Karen Freedman of Philadelphia uses complex geometric elements to create symmetrical patterns resembling views through a kaleidoscope. By interspersing segments of opaque and translucent encaustic paint throughout her composition, she intensifies the impression of holding a kaleidoscope up towards the light. Her “Ruche 0352.55” visually pops with color. There are elements of kaleidoscope patterns in “Peltae” by Anne Cavanaugh as well – though, in overall impression, the piece more closely resembles a quilt (perhaps a quilt viewed through a sheet of ice).Cavanaugh, who has a studio in Orange, Mass., uses actual plant materials (in this case dried gingko leaves, inkberry leaves and berries, pine needles, and flower petals) to create patterns reminiscent of botanical motifs in textiles, wallpaper and tiles.
A number of other works also demonstrate the wealth of effects that may be achieved by sealing collage elements under – or even embedding them between – layers of wax. With works like “Eugene,” New Jersey artist Marybeth Rothman works with digitally altered “orphaned photo booth photographs” of strangers, using layers of encaustic paint to create visual depth and inventing biographies for these “lost and forgotten souls,” as she deems them. “Rouge” is from Nancy Natale’s recent “Running Stitch Series.” The Massachusetts artist cuts up old books, records, metal and her own gestural drawings, fastening these bits and pieces to a panel with rows and rows of tacks (in semblance of a “running stitch”). An encaustic overlay unifies her target-like composition of concentric circle and adds a somewhat sculptural dimension.
Encaustic’s sculptural possibilities emerge more fully in the wall construction “Pulse (4)” by San Francisco artist Howard Hersh. There, sunny chunks of encaustic on panel resemble a distorted plus sign. “Waggle Dance,” a lacy pattern of freestyle loops, is a playful installation of thread, paper and wax by Milisa Galazzi, a Providence, R.I., artist who summers on Cape Cod.
Meanwhile, “Color Up,” an installation of 16 monoprints by Palm Springs artist David A. Clark, highlights the potential for achieving fascinating effects with wax in printmaking. Each print features a different treatment of Clark’s pet motif – an upward pointing arrow. And that’s just the direction encaustic is likely to go from here.
Images: top: Nancy Natale, "Rouge"; bottom: Marybeth Rothman, "Eugene"
FORMER EXHIBITIONS: click here