Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Can-Man Show, 06/22/17 - 7/22/17, at Drawing Rooms

by James Pustorino

The Can-Man Show, 06/22/17 - 7/22/17, is an exhibition of works by Rainbow Thursdays Artists at Drawing Rooms. It is a culmination of almost five years of progress as artists for the group. The show was named by one of the participants as such, since collecting cans for recycling is one of the ways they contribute to their hosting program, Windmill Alliance, and being the Can-Man was a role that they could identify with. As a group, everyone has a pretty fun sense of humor. Wayne even made a painting of the mythic Can-Man for the cover of the exhibition catalog. As a group, Rainbow Thursdays Artists create imaginative, thoughtful works that explore and investigate the possibilities they see and hope for.

Aida draws in colored pencils, working from early Christian icons and Renaissance paintings in books and mass cards. She translates her devotional imagery into simple, flat space and symbol, representing the table at The Last Supper by a circle, angel’s wings by a double curved line, and using glowing, rich colors. Alan draws ordinary scenes such as city hall, the Bayonne Bridge, local schools, trees, and playgrounds. Using both words and imagery, he makes poem drawings and his own version of crossword puzzles about these subjects. Charles will draw landscapes, animals buildings or abstractions, but people are his true subject. He can look at a person and draw them and he will sometimes make his own version of the artwork that the person next to him is making.

Cheryl has a strong sense of pattern and sees pattern in nature. Her work has a graphic quality, stylizing the elements of nature. An underwater scene becomes stripes of color, the sky becomes arcs dipping down, the ground becomes a stage for birds or sheep or deer to walk across. Debbie has worked from paintings by modernist painters such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Matisse, and American scene painters Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, as well as from animal drawings or photos. She has a way of making images part of her own unique world, simplifying forms and rearranging spatial compositions. Christopher's images include the tree of life, a rainbow, a windmill, his precise geometric abstractions, and his word pieces, that in themselves are portraits of alternative personas. He makes pictures in focused flashes of concentration, standing at the table and creating distilled and precise images. It was Christopher who named the program Rainbow Thursdays. Dennis likes to draw pictures of helicopters, boats, bridges, mountains, whales, buildings and trees and finds relationships between forms and colors. He builds a picture by outlining major shapes and developing mass with a careful accumulation of color marks, adding on details or figures with a deft graphic touch.

Dina's work is very gestural and almost kinetic. Her subjects are often hearts flowers and seasonal themes, Christmas trees, Easter baskets, or snowmen drawn from her imagination. Ed's artwork has become a vast array of images and shapes, some drawn from his mind and others from photographs or his response to books on African or Aboriginal art. Ed’s masterful build-up of marks and linear colors and textures energize the surface of all his pictures. Eric draws from books of paintings or photos of his favorite television stars, and strives to get a good likeness. He recently completed a drawing series celebrating every major character in the TV show Full House, along with a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge from the opening credits. Eugene's brilliant shapes of pure color are completely abstract. His intuitive understanding of design and imagery is similar to that of early 20th century artists such as Matisse.

Hirra's drawings engage writing and symbol-making, and remind one of hieroglyphs. The vocabulary of her works includes tents, churches, houses and people, with crosses scattered everywhere. In them, she is working towards developing a sense of structure and, like a quiet graffiti artist, she wants to express what is on her mind. Jimmy makes smooth, looping lines in one color as if they were drawn while listening to music. Next, he starts a slow process of filling in color, usually one specific color, which he will use for a series of several drawings. He never intends on completely filling the forms with color, leaving a strong positive/negative balance within the work. Jude's pictures consist of emblematic imagery: a clock, a person or a house, which repeat often, along with symbols such as hearts and shamrocks. Whatever he draws is expressed with a spindly, electrified line that enlivens the forms. Judy's animals or plants engage repetition and variation to achieve a lively, bright pattern. Her dancing hares, floating dragonflies, and leaping dolphins are animated by blocks of color and juxtaposed with delicate line-work. Legs and wings sometimes end up in surprising configurations, and overall there is an ordered sense of beauty.

Kaitlyn has studied works by Van Gogh and Paul Klee and creates her own kaleidoscopic assemblies of lines and ribbons of color, which she arranges like musical notes. Linda draws with an emphatic charcoal outline to be later colored in. She has a style to her cartoonist drawings that would make wonderful children’s book illustrations– the kind that adults really like too. Louis has a real talent for portraiture and there is a very strong graphic sense to his work, which is always a combination of words and image. He always works from images he finds on his phone or in print, from pop-culture, black history, advertising, animals, indigenous art and other sources that come to his mind. Luis constructs his paintings out of fluid lines and painterly washes of colors. His work is free and inventive in any medium; the works shown here are his watercolors and acrylics.

Marcello uses oil pastels to create rainbow pictures. He thinks carefully about his color choices and the order, width, and intensity of each band. MARY BETH draws with a cartoonist’s sure sense of line and quick confidence. Her subjects, schmoos, are almost always a mix of right-side-up and upside-down parts. Michael's art is coloring. He will either work from drawings started by Dina, or will work in coloring books. He sometimes will create a new drawing by creating systems of blocks or grids with his crayons. Mina makes dense webs of scrawled, circling movements. His drawing is an activity, an expression of the motion and energy that he has within himself, as well as of the physical limitations he has to deal with.

Nicky has a few major themes that he repeats in his drawings: cruise ships, dinosaurs, camels climbing hills of sand in the desert, and blimps. He is very interested in the larger things in the world, like the tallest buildings or the biggest ships. Nicole is a natural painter. Her blending of tones and hues, and her use of brush strokes to activate and build-up the texture of her paintings is sophisticated and beautifully achieved. Noreen's artwork is often very abstract, but it also seems to be about something, and is expressive of her ideas and personality. She will draw in layers, often making a kind of face first and then layering over it with drawn colors, sometimes adding paint on top of that.

Paulette works very intensely, laying color line over color line and building up a dense progression of drawn tone and texture. Drawing is one of the few ways she can communicate, and Paulette has a strong sense of focus each time she makes artwork. SAL draws from an inner graphic language of shapes, line and words. His drawings are systems of symbols that suggest hieroglyphs, and are usually inscribed and dedicated to the person to whom he gives the drawing to. Timothy begins with photographs of girls that he may know or may like to know, and draws in pencil first. He then adds color and a setting. He has also been making paintings, working from a photograph or combining photographs to get across the idea he wants.

Wayne experiments with color and paint, sometimes mixing his colors on his pallet and sometimes laying down pure strokes of color on the canvas so that colors optically mix. Wayne’s images come straight from his imagination. His world is filled with happy monsters, people turning into butterflies, happy bugs, and Chinese soup. Wendy likes color and chooses her colors carefully. She works partly with a brush and partly with her fingers to get the movements and marks that she wants. Her paintings have a dramatic, energetic contrast of colors and explosive bursts of dark and bright hues. Yahirra's landscape pictures are luminous arrangements of tones and textures achieved by using colored pencils, markers, watercolor paint, oil pastels and crayons. She will work from photo-images or create from her memory.

Rainbow Thursdays Artists is a weekly community-based art education program connecting developmentally disabled adults with professional artists who provide them with materials, training, and encouragement to express themselves through art. This weekly outreach art program consists of about forty participants many of the participants are advancing in their creativity and skills and are developing an identity as an artist. The program encompasses a study of great artworks, the natural world, and images of people through books and photographs, and encourages each participant to understand drawing as their unique visual language with which they can create realistic and abstract form and systems, and express emotion and ideas through line and color. The population at Windmill may have very varying capabilities, but everyone participates enthusiastically and many come up with surprising results.

The Can-Man Show, 6/2218 - 7/22/17, at Drawing Rooms features drawing and painting by Rainbow Thursdays Artists. The show is curated by Anne Trauben.

James Pustorino is an artist, arts organizer and the Founder and Director of Drawing Rooms, a Victory Hall Inc. no-profit art space and gallery, and Rainbow Thursdays Artists, art classes for developmentally disabled adults. Read his bio here and view his website here.