Note: Event tonight in New York City (see end of post)
“A portentous stillness hangs over America; the affluence that we thought
would last forever has been replaced with apprehension, angst and anxiety,” says Traci Fieldsted, curator of the exhibition.
Clockwise from upper left, "Artist's Mother," David Kassan, 30 x 20, oil on canvas; "Wall Poster, " Burton Silverman, 48 x 40, oil on canvas; "Homeless, " Max Ginsburg, oil on canvas, 25 x 40.
The show is called “Hard Times: An Artists’ View” (at the Salmagundi Club in New York through August 20). The subjects are homeless people, manual laborers, and street vendors.
Warren Chang’s “Fall Tilling” shows field workers toiling with hoes. A woman sits on the ground, while a man talks on his cellphone.
The fourteen artists in the group show include such veteran realists as Harvey Dinnerstein, Burton Silverman, and Max Ginsberg. According to a caption, they “weathered the drought imposed by the modern abstract art establishment.”
Max Ginsberg’s “Snapple” shows a hot dog stand with tattered umbrellas. The sign in the store behind says “CLOSING OUT INVENTORY: EVERYTHING MUST GO.”
The paintings steer clear of overt narrative, sentimental pity, or political diatribe. Unfortunately, some images look like professional models impersonating down-and-outers. And some rely a bit too heavily on photographs.
The most convincing is a street scene with African-American young people painted by Garin Baker. Mr. Baker knows the neighborhood well, because he has worked for years on the street, developed a mural program with underprivileged artists in Newburgh, NY.
Marvin Franklin (1952-2007) painted authoritative watercolors of subway riders. Franklin taught at the Art Students League, working night shifts as a track cleaner on the subway, where he was killed in a freak train accident.
The show presents a brave direction to young realist painters, something meaningful to express with their skills. It stand squarely in the nineteenth-century realist tradition of Bastien-Lepage, Kramskoi (above: "Portrait of a Peasant"), and Dagnan-Bouveret, as well as the better-known Courbet, Millet, and Van Gogh.
The images are disquieting, reminding us of the hardships faced by the bottom margin of our society. Art can make us look at things we’d normally look away from. Such subjects are not easy choices for a career-minded painter. They are often made at the expense of an automatic sale.
Tonight there will be a lecture and panel discussion at the Salmagundi Club, including Fred Ross, Vern G. Swanson, Peter Trippi, Harvey Dinnerstein, and Burton Silverman.
Panel Discussion at the Salmagundi Club in New York City TONIGHT at 7:00 p.m. with a reception following
Art Renewal Center Article about the Exhibit
Warren Chang's Website
Max Ginsberg's Website
Garin Baker, Carriage House Studios
Salmagundi Club is at 47 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10003
Hours: Monday - Friday 1:00 - 6:00 PM Weekends 1:00-5:00 PM