Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harry Levine

These drawings were all done by my grandfather, Harry Levine. He was trained (in Vilna) in the art of woodcarving to become a cabinet builder/furniture maker. Once arriving in Brooklyn as ayoung adult, he spent time at the Educational Alliance Art School, where his peers were other Eastern European immigrants such as Chaim Gross and Louise Nevelson. He took art classes at the Alliance and I believe it was a central part of his short life.
Grandpa's drawings and etchings are as "sculptural" as his busts and other carvings. He also did a few paintings, but color was never really his thing. I believe these drawings were mostly used for etchings. Many of them have what looks like a conte rubbed on the back, which I assume had something to do with a process he used to transfer his drawings onto the etching plates. There's even a backward signature on the woman in the center above, which I believe is another hint that the drawing was used for an etching.

The central photo above is of him, and the photo to the right is a violin (or "fiddle") that he made, carved with a tree of life of its back. One of my brothers has the fiddle.
Back to the Brooklyn Museum -The Educational Alliance donated two of his sculptures to the Brooklyn Museum. They are now housed in the Luce Center for American Art (Visible Storage - Study Center) on the 5th floor of the museum. This is the Luce Center:

It is very difficult to photo Grandpa's artwork, because the sculptures are displayed in floor to ceiling glass cases. One piece is on a top shelf (left, below) and one is on a bottom shelf (center, below).

Here they are on the Luce Center's computer:

If this interests you at all, I previously blogged about my grandfather and our search for a missing totem pole he carved in Croton-on-Hudson. Those posts, and images of the carvings he did in Croton can be found here:
Anyone who can offer any info to help with our search, please let me know! The totem pole has not yet been found.
drawing by Harry Levine
And by the way... we started the morning with a 2 hour delay (ice, ice, baby!!) and I decided to go in early. Halfway there, I got a call telling me school had been canceled. Argghh!! I came home and wrote this post, but am aggravated that I didn't keep going and have the day to get stuff done in my room. I'm setting up a show in the public library on Thursday, and since we've been on vacation all week I haven't even started name-tagging. Oh dear...

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Brooklyn Museum!

Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Art Museum

We didn't explore the floors with Asian or African art - just too much for one day, nor did we even peek at the special Norman Rockwell exhibit, but we saw lots of other stuff.
There's a terrific collection of Egyptian artifacts (the blue goddess is Isis, my cat's namesake).
And from another part of the museum is this lovely butterfly gate, that I'd be happy to have by my garden. And this gorgeous sculpture of cast glass with light shining through.

There was a special exhibit called "Tipi - heritage of the great plains", including this Blackfeet tipi (my husband in front). Dig those beaded sneaker cowboy boots!

We spent a bit of time in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, which includes the long-term installation of Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. Amazing. The piece celebrates the achievements of over 100 women, both actual and mythical, many of whom had been ignored by history until "reclaimed" by feminist scholars. Here's a sample of three placesettings. (A photo of the entire piece is at the top of the post.)

And a couple of other interesting pieces from the Sackler Center:

Now we're home from NYC. I'm tired and my legs ache, but the cat, who was home alone (with daily visits from a cat-sitter) was SO happy to see us! Lots of rubs and hugs and kitty-talk; she slept on my feet (and kept them toasty warm) last night. :-) It was POURING in the Big Apple yesterday morning and I was out walking (shopping at a multitude of bead stores) and got SOAKED. But I bought lots of cool beads and am use them! Then we arrived home to a foot of freshly fallen SNOW. Hubby shoveled for what seemed like hours, in the dark last night, and more again today, and there's still more to do. (He refuses to consider getting a snowblower.) Our snowbanks are HIGH and frankly I'm 'over' winter; I'm ready for spring.
I'll save my grandfather's work for a separate post, as I'm supposed to be doing something else right now. :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TEN-THOUSAND Sketchbooks!!

This (photo on left) is what 10,000 sketchbooks looks like, at the Brooklyn Art Library, an offbeat little place in a quiet neighborhood of Brooklyn. About double that amount of sketchbooks were sent out to participants in the Sketchbook Project, but these, here at the library, were the ones that were returned by the artists. The exhibit will travel around the country. Maybe you can see it when it shows up near you!

I wish I could say that I looked at them all, but, well, it doesn't work that way. But, along with other visitors to the Library, we sure tried!!

I liked the mix of people there, young, old, New Yorkers, and tourists like us. We sat at a table and shared sketchbooks with interesting people, and it was a warm friendly artsy environment. Check out those two cool covers sitting on the table. (Their insides were cool too.)

Some of the sketchbooks (such as these above) were humorous; some were scary, others were provocative, and many were introspective.

These 2 images are from a lovely book titled "You'd be home by now..."

To look at the sketchbooks, we were allowed to sign out 4 at a time. You could pick them from a theme, and from there it was pot luck, unless you told them a specific artist you wanted to see. During a lull, the gal in charge let me pick out 3 books from the shelves whose covers drew me to them. So some of the sketchbooks were better than others. Some were obviously done by kids, some were not anywhere near finished, and some were spectacular. Some had pages that folded out - and out - and out further, or popped up. The media choices were widely varied, including pencil drawings, paintings, collage, printmaking, and even crocheting! Covers were left plain, or jeweled, sewn, padded, collaged, laced, and more. By the time we left, we had probably viewed over 50 sketchbooks, only scratching the surface. What an amazing collection of art!

Here's some more favorite pages:

The crocheted book (right photo above, and 2 photos below) was SO cool - there was a crocheted fish, a giraffe, leaves on a tree, flowers, and more. Every page was an adventure!! Here's 2 more pages from the book, including the brilliant pop-up was in the middle of the book!

And some more sketchbook images:

This has been just a small sampling of what we saw. ---------------- Anyhow, here I am, still in NYC. Got back a few hours ago from a great visit to the Brooklyn Museum, but I haven't downloaded my photos off the camera yet. Hopefully tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NYC & the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Exhibit

Raining lightbulbs? Only in the Big Apple! Not sure what the lighbulbs were for, but they shimmered in the sun, so pretty. In the pictures below, the skinny building on the right is the Flatiron Building.

Start spreading the news... NYC is great as always! We made it today to the exhibit of the Sketchbook Project at the Brooklyn Art Library, but that will be another post, as I took SO many pictures I don't know where to start. So this post is more an ode to New York, NY, the "city so nice they named it twice!"
So - have you ever been to NYC? I was born in the Bronx; my parents were one from the Bronx and one from Brooklyn, but I've never actually lived there. Still, the City is always one of my favorite places to go for a couple of whirlwind days.
There's no place like New York City - the best of the best art museums but so much more; the City is filled with vitality and personality, neighborhoods each with their own special "feel". It's a city where it's nothing to walk 40 blocks in a brisk winter wind. Nobody saunters; foot traffic moves rapidly. Sidewalks are always full of people and energy. Wear good walking shoes if you come to NY! When you sit down in a restaurant the next table is probably just inches away, but the waitstaff will be fast and the food exceptional. The subways are noisy and the staircases taking you underground are gritty, smelly, and not the shiny pretty subway stations of those in places such as Washington DC. The subway trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn takes you flying at breakneck speed underneath the East River. Scary. But the trains are also fast and efficient and easy to figure out and the only really practical and cost-effective way to get around NY (unless you are a brave soul on a bicycle).
Tomorrow morning I'm strolling up 6th Ave to buy bead supplies, and then we'll head back to Brooklyn, this time for the fabulous Brooklyn Museum, including a viewing of the 2 pieces by my grandfather in the "Visible Storage" exhibit.
So look for more NYC posts, with images from the Brooklyn Museum and especially the Brooklyn Art Library's Sketchbook Project exhibit.