The program, which is directed by Jamie Bennett and Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, is a two-year course of study designed to give students a broad range of technical opportunities in a 10,000-square-foot metal studio fully equipped to accommodate most hands-on metalsmithing and jewelrymaking practices - from fine work in precious metals to larger-scale formed and welded constructions. Faculty members include a number of the world's top innovators in their field, which has started to gain outside notice as jewelers begin to take their delicate works to larger scales, sometimes monumental, revolutionizing the somewhat ossified world of sculpture.
"Gifted faculty, teachers and artists have made the metals program an absolute gem and a leading intellectual and creative light on our campus," said New Paltz president Steven Poskanzer after the new standings were listed, also placing the college's entire graduate arts program within the nation's top 100. "Within what is a superb MFA program overall, our metalsmiths and jewelers have achieved particular distinction," added Fine Arts dean Kurt Daw. "This is a richly deserved honor for a very accomplished program."
"It is our objective to encourage students to have a strong sense of self-reliance and confidence," says the mission statement for the program itself, which is proud of its guest artists and lecturers, including some of the world's top artists in the field and overall art critics recognizing metallurgy's rise as a fine art. "We see the community of Metal as part of the larger community of the arts."
For more detailed information regarding the program, call (845) 257-3285 or visit www.newpaltz.edu/metal.
All's fair in love & art
NYC art fair scene bodes "big" for Sitelines in Beacon in May
The big phenomenon of the art world in recent years has been the international scene's shift from strenuous gallery-hopping to massive, all-encompassing art fairs where it sometimes seems that all sales go down. A couple of weekends ago, all the action centered around New York, where eight such events brought work from hundreds of galleries around the world to Hudson River piers, giant tents, hotel lobbies and even windowless storage containers plopped down throughout the Chelsea art district for buyers to peruse. Combined with the latest installation of the Whitney Biennial, the result was several thousand artists and their works to look over. The overall effect was, as can be expected, both diverse and dizzying.
Given that the final touches are currently being put on a first-ever Hudson Valley-centric art fair, "Sitelines," to run in Beacon May 15 through 18 in tandem with the fifth anniversary of that city's world-class Dia:Beacon museum, the recent art fairs were chockfull of lessons, both in the valuation of visual art and in the competitive world in which our culture progresses these days.
Sitelines, being put together by a consortium of regional cultural figures and headed by New York-based art fair veteran Robert Curcio, will unfold in tents and storage containers along the waterfront in Beacon, within walking distance of both Dia and the local train station. Earlier plans had the event taking place first at the influential Tallix Foundry, which lacked the infrastructure for such crowds, then the old high school now known as Bulldog Studios. Now, it will involve out-spun spaces around town, and include such evolving side projects as an invitational show of graffiti artists in a number of former industrial sites, various private shows and Habitats for Artists, a witty collection of creatively wacked-out variations on home and work spaces.
But Sitelines, as concept, has been a dream of many in the area for years now - as a key to drawing new attention to the region's rich population of working artists, as well as a means of inspiring new collecting fervor within the Valley itself. The idea has been simple: to bring art-world big shots up here, and not just allow everyone talented to be forced to flow south to New York - to draw press, in other words, from more than us local scribes.
Art fairs, the biggest of which are based in Europe and Miami each year, have become like shopping centers for high-end collectors of late. A lot of galleries now tend to putter along much of the year, then make killings at the big events each fall and spring. A lot of folks, it turns out, like the idea of seeing what's hot all at one time, then buying accordingly - applying fashion lessons to culture. The result has been noticeable on the art market, in the way art gets taught and in the ways in which many artists now conceive their works to achieve quick impact in grouped settings. "Big" and "bold" seem to be keywords, along with fast ironic concepts that create quick double-takes for audience members marching through such events.
At the latest Biennial, for example, video is still the rage. Old-style painting, and even photography, have given way to invitingly interactive installations. As my two-year-old noted, "messy" is a new keyword. If one likes something, his reaction would be a decisive "I want to touch," even though such action is verboten - unless one buys.
At the Armory show, the recent weekend's big-ticket event, things lightened from the Whitney, but only a bit. There was more painting - the best of it from China - but lots of work that needed commentary to make sense. "I see," said Milo, indicating that he was ready to leave.
Pulse, further downtown, was friendlier, and included solid examples from such local talents as Woodstock's Devorah Sperber, showing new thread-spool pieces based on Star Trek imagery, and Portia Munson of Catskill, eschewing her gentler, more complex giant flower mandalas via a new piece with a floral pattern of death's heads. Obvious plays better in these scenes, it seems.
We heard that Red Dot was even more attuned to our upstate scene, and that the upcoming Affordable Art Fair set for the City in June was lining up galleries from Catskill, Hudson and Beacon like hotcakes.
So... lessons? For local artists, big, or preciously small and concise, is best. Aim for installations. Think big-concept. Or just wait and see what plays best this time around, and wait for next year's event.
For local galleries, get in there. Be choosy, even if it means alienating a few. Keep catalogues. Go with your best, and let the rest ride on his or her coattails.
For collectors and simple art-lovers, do what the city folk do and take a digital camera, the smaller the better. Take visual notes. Compare prices (which means asking for them). Think in terms of generalities.
As for the latter, as observed in New York last month: Cynicism finally seems to be outré at the moment. The idea of the beautiful is coming back into vogue - albeit not that beauty-for-beauty's-sake is playing particularly well yet. Using Nature to comment on humanity's failings is always strong. Things, as evidenced by all we saw (especially at the Biennial), are slightly gentler and kinder than in the past - as if repression fears are stoking depression-blockers.
Best of all, folks are talking about what they see - and seeing a lot.
We'll tell you more about Sitelines, our own regional art fair, as it grows clearer and more organized in the coming weeks. In the meantime, keep an eye on its website at www.sitelinesartfair.com, or call (845) 836-2995 and ask for updates. Just don't leave it off your calendars.
@ Paul Smart