Work by Joan Belmar. Courtesy of c. d. Edwards Studio.
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 24 from 6pm to 9pm
c.d. Edwards Studio presents a pop-up exhibit in studio 9 located at
716 Monroe Street, NE Washington, DC 20017. The opening Reception is
September 24, 2016 from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm. The exhibit will be up
from September 24 until October 24th, 2016. The Artists are Joan
Belmar, Cheryl Edwards, Lisa Rosenstein, and Wilfredo Valladares.
Prism II is an exhibit examining the concept of a prism in a
metaphorical perspective. Prism is defined as a transparent solid body,
often having triangular bases, used for dispersing light into a
spectrum or for reflecting rays of light. This exhibit is
conceptualizing the reflection of light as it relates to culture,
humanity and memory. The Artists have interpreted a prism as a viewpoint
of a subject that is important to each artist.
I got interested in the situation of the indigenous Selknam people a few
years ago when I went back to my native Chile after becoming an
American citizen. I walked along a small street in Santiago and went
into a bookstore. I couldn’t take my eyes off a book containing the
story and photographs of naked indigenous people. I bought the book
titled HAIN about the initiation ceremonies of the Selknams people in Tierra del Fuego by Anne Chapman.
From this book I learned that the Selknam, also called Onas, had
lived a semi-nomadic life for thousands of years in Tierra del Fuego
(Land of Fire) at the southern cone of South America. They had a rich
culture that involved music, dance, theatre and performance. After the
European colonists arrived, they suffered a campaign of extermination
with the support of the Argentine and Chilean governments.
My knowledge of their persecution gave birth to a series of paintings
titled Tierra del Fuego, which I have shown at Charles Krause Reporting
fine art in 2012. These photos are aligned with the paintings in that
While on a visit to Havanna, Cuba in 2014 I was struck by the reverence
of water by the Afro-Cubans as it related to immigration and spiritual
practices. I began to start contemplating water as a concept of identity
and information. In 2016 I went to Stuttgart Germany and learned about
new research from the Aerospace Institute of the University of Stuttgart
which supports the theory that water has a memory. I ordered the book
entitled Water has Memory authored by J. Schock and M. Ebert.
My research has led to a beginning of a new series of work focused on
identity developed from a very organic perspective. In this exhibit my
artwork of ink stained canvas and gilded wasp nests are the beginning
of this investigation of rebirth and identity.
I often find that life is chaotic, complex, noisy, and at times
painfully full. I reflect on the need for peace and quiet using paint
(mostly white) and found objects. While reflecting on the importance of
memory both personal and universal I create visual narratives through
the careful placement of found objects on canvas. Although, much of my
work has been white on white, for this exhibit I have explored hues of
color in a very soft manner as it is created from a white light passing
through a prism. I think of color as an aspect of light. All color is
present in the refracted light of a prism much in the same way that all
humans emerged from a single spark.
My exhibited work in Prism II consist of intimate drawings
and paintings full of texture created in a way to explore the
relationship of light, color reflection and shadows.
Unmasked is a series of sculptures that explore the
interconnectedness of cultures. Portraits and headdresses capture
relationships between time, memory and space.
Studio 9 is located at 716 Monroe Street NE.
Art At Katzen
Updates from the American University Museum at the
Katzen Arts Center
Joan Belmar describes his art as being deeply influenced by Washington, DC and the experience of living in a city
with free museums and vibrant galleries. Trance-Lucid #IV, Al Fin Del Mundo, At the End of the World reflects a sense
both of place and of displacement. The under painting draws associations to maps, but the translucent plastic cups affixed
with map tacks create a sense of distance, displacing the viewer from fully engaging with the image beneath.
Joan Belmar, Trance-Lucid #1V, Al Fin Del Mundo, At the End of
The Washington Post By Mark
Jenkins July 30,2016
In the galleries: Norman Rockwell would have recognized these
There’s also a pop-art flourish in the museum’s
“The Looking Glass: Artist Immigrants of Washington,” which showcases 10 local artists with roots in Latin America.
Ric Garcia updates Warhol by crisply and colorfully portraying edible products for the Latin market, with labels far funkier
than any designed for Brillo or Campbell’s.
the other works are sculpture and installation, with political content that includes F. Lennox Campello’s anti-Castro
drawings and Carolina Mayorga’s video of a gagged waitress. The most traditional are the handsome wood blocks and linocuts
on immigration themes of Uruguay-bred Naul Ojeda, who lived in Washington from the late 1970s to his 2002 death.
are large, striking pieces by Irene Clouthier, whose paper airplanes hang above the entrance, and by Joan Belmar,
whose circular plastic-cup assemblage bends around a corner. Frida Larios’s boldly stylized “picto-glyphs”
are derived from Central American folklore, and yet sometimes rendered in vinyl. They’re simultaneously mythic and as
modern as a can of Goya black bean soup.
..Then there are
the artists that blend in. Jose Bermudez’ works are artifacts of the 1960s, demonstrating the broad reach of
abstraction after World War II. His sculpture could converse well with Alexander Calder; his painting, with Robert
Motherwell. In dialogue with more contemporary materials and abstract processes is Joan Belmar’s installation
of wall painting and plastic cups.
What ties it together is Juan Downey’s
video, and possible de facto inspiration for the exhibition’s title (if not the exhibition). His video about Diego
Velazquez’ painting “Las Meniñas,” breaks down the ways of seeing and reading the painting as told from
the perspectives of an artist, various art historians, a mirror salesmen, and others. It underscores the dynamic of how we
see, how we are seen, and how we perceive others being seen.
Put more simply, it’s about empathy. As the exhibition demonstrates,
it’s with empathy we can transgress most borders and boundaries—either real or imagined.
At American University Museum to Aug. 14. Katzen Arts Center,
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Free. american.edu.
Highlights from the 21st Marquee Ball Auction Exhibition at Creative Alliance by Cara Ober
It’s art auction season – this means it’s your chance to own a really
good piece of art for a lot less than it sells in a gallery or art
fair. Typically, starting auction prices are set around half of an
artist’s usual market value – with the hopes that the price will rise
significantly as bidders do their thing. This rarely happens in
Baltimore (sad but true), which is a bummer for artists but it is a
great opportunity for a collector to purchase a work by an artist that
has been previously out of your price range.
In past years I have bought affordable work at MAP’s Under 500 and
Out of Order (happening on Friday), as well as School 33’s Lotta Art,
and Creative Alliance’s Marquee Ball. I know everyone goes to these
parties to drink and have fun, but I actually keep a slush fund from
previous art sales for such occasions. I go to the events to buy art!
After a preview of works up at this year’s Creative Alliance, curated
by Amy Eva Raehse, Lat Naylor, and Jeremy Stern – here are my picks on
the art I would buy if I could.
Joan Belmar: 3D Sphere Black and White, 2011 Mixed Media – starting bid is $800
Erin Fostel: Sparrows Point Blast Furnace (After Aubrey Bodine) 2016, Charcoal and graphite on paper – starting bid
Sam Allerton Green, Synaptic Vesicles, 2013, Oil on Canvas – starts at $200
Kyle Tata, White Fluorescent Diffuser #10 (Pink), 2015 – starts at $350
Ellen Burchenal, from Daily Drawing Series Florence, 2015, Ink and watercolor on paper – starts at $200
Kyle Bauer, 48 Points, 2015-16, Mixed media – starts at $250
Rosemary Liss, Rinse Out (2010) – starts at $200
Karen Hubacher, Respite.02, 2013, Encaustic and Oil – starts at $350
Top: Graham Coriel-Allen, Shadow Crossing 2013, Found plywood, digital print, acylic paint
lettering – starts at $150
Bottom: Lillian Hoover, Untitled (Baseboard and Shadow) 2013, Oil on panel– Starting
Joseph Hyde, Beach Rocks 2015, Archival inkjet photo from silver gelatin negative – Starts at $200
Tom Scott, Memory Stones, 1984-92, Acrylic on photograph- Starts at $500
Mike McConnell, Night Run 2014, Acrylic on Panel – Starts at $300
Yambe Tam, $29B, 2014, Pastel and pigment on panel – starts at $375
Joyce Scott, From the Still Funny Series: Lover 1, 2011 – starts at $3000
Amy Sherald, Untitled 2016, Graphite on paper – starts at $200
Works by Wayson Jones, Joan Belmar, Sheldon Scott
and Ellington Robinson.
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.
Forward: 15 Years of Millennium Arts Salon, now on view at the Brentwood Arts Exchange, defies easy categorization as
it captures a wide swath of area artists in its artistic net. The twelve selected artists—Holly Bass, Joan Belmar, Anne
Bouie, Welsey Clark, Hedieh Ilchi, Wayson Jones, Anne Marchand, E J Montgomery, Ellington Robinson, Sheldon Scott and Stan
Squirewell—work in a variety of mediums, including painting, printmaking, sculpture and even video. Abstract works largely
take center stage, although portraiture and sculptural vessels are also included.
Listen to My Song of Freedom
Acrylic and Watercolor on
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.
first glance, the wide variety of works make it initially difficult to pinpoint a cogent message, closer inspection shows
certain themes beginning to arise. Many of the abstract works touch upon the systemic constraints posed by biology and/or
geography, while the portraiture adds a layer of human complexity to the mix. Hedieh Ilichi’s Listen to
My Song of Freedom presents a tsunami of hot pinks, vibrant ochers and blood reds clashing with cool blues and teals
holding the fires in check; a diminutive female, her body eclipsed by her flowing black tresses, stands with bullhorn ready
to reign in this fray. A similar feeling of kinetic energy held at bay is seen in Anne Marchand’s Moving Times where
burlap fragments hold explosions of color in check. Joan Belmar’s Blue Note, featuring
a lattice of red lines and black dots add a geographic note to this idea, while Ellington Robinson goes full-on geopolitical
with his 4th Dimension.
Mixed Media on Paper
Photo for East City Art by Eric Hope.
These constraints become more personal in Sheldon
Scott’s John Henry Man, a character study of a man literally held firmly in check by gravity,
but figuratively weighed down by unseen societal structures. Injecting a human element into the mix demonstrates how these
unforeseen forces, kinetic energies and physical structures react to each other in sometimes chaotic ways. While this cacophony
of forces can create beautiful moments like the northern lights, it can also influence political strife.Looking Back/Looking
Forward demonstrates that investigating the overlapping, often unseen forces around us can lead to a deeper understanding
of our societal norms, morals and political systems.
Forward: 15 Years of Millennium Arts Salon runs through January 2nd, 2016 at the Brentwood Arts Exchange.
For hours and directions, visit their website here.
Editor’s Note: a previous edition had listed Nekisha
Durrett as a participant. Ms. Durrett was originally approached to be a part of the exhibition but was not able to participate.
The gallery’s listing was only recently corrected.
In the galleries:
Getting ‘Personal’ at King Street
[A guest post from Artist Joan Belmar, as part of our Art Bank Collection series]
My approach to making art tries to impose some discipline on what remains, at bottom, a chaotic process. My first
is to fly like a bird. For example, when I am not in my studio, I am
always seeking to explore new situations, research new possibilities,
read art books, visit exhibitions, art studios and discover new
music.etc. Sometimes, the information I compile can be painful. Too
many times I have seen examples of unfairness in the world. For
instance, a few years ago when I went back to my native Chile after
becoming an American citizen, I walked along a small street in Santiago
and went into a bookstore. I couldn’t take my eyes off a book
containing the story and photographs of naked indigenous people. I
bought the book and devoured it in few hours.
From this book and online research I learned that the Selknam,
also called Onas, had lived a semi-nomadic life for thousands of years
in Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) at the southern cone of South
America. They had a rich culture that involved music, dance, theatre
and performance. After the European colonists arrived, they suffered a
campaign of extermination with the support of the Argentine and Chilean
governments. Large companies paid sheep farmers or militia a bounty for
each Selknam dead, which was confirmed by producing a pair of hands or
ears, and later a complete skull. Some of them were taken to France to
be displayed as animals in the zoo. Bounty hunters were given more for
killing a woman than a man.
Today the Selknam are extinct. My knowledge of their persecution
gave birth to a series titled Tierra del Fuego and was shown at Charles
Krause Reporting fine art in 2012. In this series, I mixed imaginary
maps, with drawings of Selknam almost hidden or erased from the surface
of the canvas or paper–emulating in a way their extermination from this
In 2013 I approached this series in a different way. The new works were less literal and were shown by Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington and New York. In 2014, I had a solo exhibition at Addison Ripley Fine Art,
entitled “CHORDS,” where I melded the qualities of color and textures
to creating a musical compositions. CHORDS #40 came from this last body
of work. In making this abstract piece, I used many techniques,
including the techniques that were part of my painting process for over
The second step in my creative process is to choose a
painting surface. In the case of CHORDS #40, I used oil paper because
it absorbs very well. I start cutting paper. I mark it with sawing
tools or anything that can leave a mark or a pattern on it. Then I pour
different kinds of inks, acrylic or liquid watercolor onto the paper and
allow them run free without any expectation of where they should go. It
is a joy to see the painting flying free and mixing without
premeditation. In their accidental travels they change their properties
and transform. Then, I create translucent layers of paint and polymer,
gradually increasing their thickness until become opaque and solid.
My third step is to organize this beautiful mess. I
balance the colors; I draw lines, dots, grids, and eliminate areas. In
the case of the “Territories” series, I used the images of indigenous
people with paint on their body or faces. In a photo computer program,
I inverted the image to obtain an image where their perceptible flesh
disappears and the dots or lines of their body paint remain. Then I
project this image and I draw the dots or lines on the painting. So as a
result, I get an abstract map feeling, but I feel and I know the
indigenous people are part of the work. At the end, I add velvet
colors on top as a contradiction to all the transparent layers behind.
As an aside, the art world that I perceived as hostile and distant
when I came to the United States in 1999 is my friend today. And I
think of all the people in it as my family–from the artists who struggle
so hard just to pay the rent to the art leaders and collectors. I
cannot thank DCCAH enough for its support since the beginning of my
– Joan Belmar
[In support of visual artists and art galleries in the Washington
metropolitan area, fine artwork is purchased each year to expand the
District’s Art Bank Collection, a growing collection of moveable works
funded through the Art in Public Places Program. Works in this
collection are owned by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
(DCCAH) and loaned to other District government agencies for display in
public areas within government buildings.]
Visual Arts Viewpoint: Interview with Artist Joan Belmar
Visual Arts Viewpoint: Interview with Artist Joan Belmar
Before you make your way to a table at the new Busboys and Poets in Takoma Park, allow yourself generous time to walk
around the space and contemplate the worlds inside Joan Belmar’s paintings hanging on the walls. A palette
of browns, whites and sepias in granular textures evoke earthy terrain, while velvety black circles suggest opaque nighttime
skies. At times, bright colors assert themselves uncompromisingly. Across portions of these mindscapes march topographical
stitching lines suggesting boundary demarcations; across other portions meander lines of contour mapping. Belmar’s work
is built up layer after layer in a complex dance of opposites—transparent and opaque, textural and smooth, organic and
geometric, earthy color and bright reds or blues.
I’m sitting down over coffee with
Chilean-born, Takoma Park-based artist Joan Belmar at Busboys and Poets to discuss his work. Entitled Discover the Art of Social and Political Change, the paintings are on exhibit through April 30th.
What is the significance
of the title of the show and the bodies of work you show here?
The original title of the show that contained these pieces in 2012 at Charles Krause Reporting Fine
Art was Hidden
Treasure. The artwork came from two different series:
the Americas series, created between 1999 -2006, as an emigrant from Chile and Spain
it reflected my first impressions of America; and, the Tierra del Fuego series,
created in 2012, inspired by the Anne Chapman book Hain about the ceremonies
and the extermination of the indigenous Selknam people by the Chilean and Argentine governments in the early 1900’s.
Do you view your
work as overtly political? If not, is it meant primary as an aesthetic experience or is there another take away?
I believe all art is political. The best example for me
is Jackson Pollock. His works are abstract and apolitical but they communicated the unrestricted nature of freedom and were
used to promote freedom in the United States during the cultural Cold War with Russia. Nevertheless, when I’m working,
I don’t think of the work as political. I just follow my instincts, helped by personal experiences, and I do whatever
I want. I like to experiment, change, challenge myself. Yes, some of my series could be seen as more or less literal than
others. It all depends on the venue I have in mind and my motivation at the moment.
Mapping symbols and circular imagery abound
in your work. Why?
I have always been
interested in marks, scars, signs, etc., because for me they register evidence of a past. And that became more evident to
me during my research of the maps and geographical regions where the Selknam people lived. I love circles because they are
present in everything. Think about it, when you look the line between the ocean and the sky it looks straight but we all know
that our planet is round.
Becoming Paper 2.
are titles of work to you?
I don’t like to set titles because they can narrow
the personal vision of the viewer.I may be completely different from someone who views my work but I believe I can connect
with that person through my work about deep, hidden, and universal feelings. That is why my titles are mostly abstract and
not explicit, because I don’t want that experience to be narrowed by a title.
Describe briefly your process. Has your background
as a graphic designer had an impact on your work?
work on several pieces at a time and they often become a series. I work on the floor. In the case of my paintings, I choose
a supporting base background and then I let the painting freely run, mix, fight and find a destination. Later, I need to find
a way to balance and connect it with concepts that I am working at the moment. My three-dimensional work is more disciplined
My background as a graphic designer
gave me the chance to learn to draw and be aware of many art techniques. Also it gave the technical knowledge, which I combine
with my intuitive knowledge, to balance intense and chaotic paintings. You need to know these rules in order to know the right
way your particular art should break them.
In addition to the paintings in this exhibit you make work that is more 3-D, can you say a few words about these works?
I think of my 3-D work as the voice of the hidden sculptor
inside me. I took me many years to develop this technique. I wanted something that would evoke sculptural sensibilities but
that was also hard to classify because it didn’t correspond with any specific category. What I came upon was something
like sculpture trapped inside a painting frame. I don’t like conventional boxes and I love contradictions. I love the
process that involves apparently insignificant, common and translucent objects and how they can be used to create pieces that
play with the way we appreciate things. Also, I love how light constantly changes these 3-D pieces and how they also change
depending upon the viewer’s angle.
Tierra Del Fuego 1.
Do you feel the
DMV to be a good place to be an artist? In your opinion, what institutions/organizations help artists to exhibit, form a community,
and thrive there?
Yes. We live amid a
vibrant art scene. But one problem we have is that we don’t have many galleries or other venues that can represent,
provide exposure and take artists to a higher level outside DC. In my case, Washington Project for the Arts was crucial to
my development as an artist. Also Hillyer Art Space, Transformer, School 33 in Baltimore, and McLean Project
for the Arts are great non-profit art organizations where artists
can show a serious body of work without thinking about the commercial aspects.
What does the DMV need to help artists thrive?
In general, more education to help people appreciate the
visual arts. And, for those beginning to collect art, it is important to emphasize to them that they can collect great art
in this area without having to go to New York or abroad.
Joan Belmar’s website.
ADAH ROSE GALLERY
3766 Howard Ave
Kensington, MD 20895
+1 301 922 0162
E-mail address : firstname.lastname@example.org
Adah Rose Gallery showcases contemporary art in a variety of mediums. The gallery
exhibits art incorporating many modern movements with a speciality in Text-Based work. The gallery was founded in Sept 2011
and additionally shows art in a variety of spaces in DC including law firms, pop ups and architectural spaces.
Exhibitions rotate monthly and include duo, solo, and group shows of painting,
drawing, sculpture, installation and mixed media. The gallery also works with emerging artists and showcases the work of recent
MFA graduates in a number of shows each year. The gallery is dynamic and is always exploring new ways of exhibiting and promoting
Adah Rose Gallery recently participated
in Pulse Miami 2014, The Silicon Valley San Francisco Art Fair 2014, Pulse New York 2014, PULSE Miami 2013, the Dallas Art
Fair 2013, PULSE New York 2013 and PULSE Miami, 2012.
architectural digest magazine
10 OF OUR FAVORITE WORKS OF ART FROM PULSE NEW YORK3 Members On the Pulse
A perennial highlight during Manhattan’s March art-fair
madness, PULSE New York has returned for its tenth edition, showcasing extraordinary works from more than 50 leading galleries.
Here are just a few of the pieces that got our hearts racing.
architectural digest magazine
10 OF OUR FAVORITE WORKS OF ART FROM PULSE NEW YORK
A perennial highlight during Manhattan’s March art-fair madness, PULSE New York has returned
for its tenth edition, showcasing extraordinary works from more than 50 leading galleries. Here are just a few of the pieces
that got our hearts racing.
Arauco Paper #18, 2013, Joan Belmar.
Exhibited by Adah Rose Gallery.
With wires and beads, exhibits dangle
intrigue in front of visitor’s eyes
Hover, See-Through, Lean” — the subtitle of a three-artist exhibition
at the McLean Project for the Arts, is appealingly straightforward.
Barbara Josephs Liotta’s sculptures do seem to hover, although they
don’t disguise the strings that suspend the stone shards. Annie Farrar
combines found objects into vertical assemblages and then slants them
against the wall. Joan Belmar arrays plastic forms in wall-mounted boxes
— abstract dioramas that are literally if not thematically transparent.
show’s full title is “Manifesting Phenomena: Drop, Hover, See-Through,
Lean,” and it’s that first part that’s tricky. The three area artists
seem less inclined to manifest than to manipulate. Liotta contrasts heft
and weightlessness, taunting gravity by seeming to float rocks in
midair. But she sometimes emphasizes artifice, allowing dangling string
to pool on the floor or arranging green stones on a descending scale in a
piece that resembles musical notation.
Farrar’s materials, which
include a lot of brooms, are often made of wood. So bundling the items
into upright clusters suggests that she’s returning them to their
origins as trees, except that she denatures the lashed-together pieces
by painting them black, yielding an industrial look. Belmar’s
constructions hint at both landscapes and the maps that chart them. But
placing the elements behind plastic gives them a sense of distance — the
remove from his Chilean homeland? — and even mystery. While Liotta’s
and Farrar’s art exists palpably in space, Belmar’s appears just out of
it’s in a separate space, Jean Sausele-Knodt’s “Out for a Spin” is a
good fit with the arts center’s main show. The artist’s wall sculptures
are partially abstract, while incorporating the forms of clouds and
foliage. Yet the organic shapes are conjured from building materials, as
such titles as “Concrete Mix One” and “Rebar Mix Two” indicate. Like
Farrar, Sausele-Knodt returns manufactured articles partway to a state
Manifesting Phenomena: Drop, Hover, See-Through, Lean: Works by Joan Belmar,
Annie Farrar and Barbara Josephs Liotta and Out for a Spin: Mixed Media Paintings by Jean Sausele-Knodt On view
through March 7 at McLean Project for the Arts, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean. 703-790-1953. www.mpaart.org.
shapes take center stage at McLean Project for Arts Sun Gazette News Thursday, January 22, 2015 12:00 pm
by BRIAN TROMPETER, Staff Writer
"Interlude No. 2," a mixed-media work by
Chilean-born artist Joan Belmar, is among works by five artists on
display through March 7 at the McLean Project for the Arts' three
The exhibit in MPA’s Emerson
Gallery, titled “Manifesting Phenomena: Drop, Hover, See-Through, Lean .
. .,” shows works by Farrar, Joan Belmar and Barbara Liotta.
Chilean artist and U.S. permanent
resident Belmar, whose first name is the Catalan equivalent of John,
supplied several works with spheres of various sizes painted on
translucent acrylic panels, which he then placed on top of multiple
slices of white paper.
“I am playing with pieces that
tie together memory and altered perceptions, depending on light and the
viewer’s position,” said Belmar, who lives in Takoma Park, Md.
A fine example is Belmar’s
“Interlude No. 2,” a roughly 4-by-5-foot work bounded by a black frame.
The artwork, which combines spherical elements with wavy brown and
black vertical lines and a grid pattern of tiny black dots, is perhaps
the most striking artwork of all on display.
Acrylic, ink and gouache on canvas
x 6 feet;
view at Addison/Ripley Fine Art.
are also a motif in Joan Belmar’s “Chords,” at Addison/Ripley Fine
Arts. Some of these drawing-paintings suggest interstellar charts, with
dotted lines that might indicate hypothetical orbits. But their vast
expanses also could represent deserts, such as the barrens of northern
Chile, the local artist’s homeland. Grids add to the sense that Belmar
is charting some sort of territory, although he contrasts
Circles are also a motif in Joan Belmar’s
“Chords,” at Addison/Ripley
Fine Arts. Some of these drawing-paintings suggest interstellar charts,
with dotted lines that might indicate hypothetical orbits. But their
vast expanses also could represent deserts, such as the barrens of
northern Chile, the local artist’s homeland. Grids add to the sense that
Belmar is charting some sort of territory, although he contrasts the
Cartesian elements with watery shapes and three-dimensional effects.
Bubbles seem to rise from the picture plane, and painted shadows create
the illusion that orbs are spinning above it. Sometimes, as in “3/D #1,”
the multiple levels are actual, and not just skillfully simulated.
mostly on canvas or paper, Belmar combines acrylic, ink, oil and
gouache. That list alone gives a sense of his work’s layered complexity.
Yet the compositions and color schemes in “Chords” appear simpler than
in Belmar’s earlier work. The pictures are mostly rendered in grays and
blacks, accented by hues that are usually muted but occasionally bright.
Yellow and orange illuminate “Small Canvas,” while aqua seeps through
the complex “Liberto,” at eight-feet high the largest piece. At that
scale, the map and the landscape begin to merge.
Belmar: Chords On view through Oct. 25 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-338-5180; www.addisonripleyfineart.com.
Artsy Editorial New York, NY, United States
Featuring strata of
paint applied to untreated strips of Mylar and acetate, which are then submerged under more pigment and material, the artist’s
compositions evoke the language of cartography while wryly echoing, in effect, the strategic self-presentation and positioning
required by a life of long-term statelessness. Debuting at Addison/Ripley Fine Art this month, his newest body of work, “Chords,” continues that investigation, exploring harmony and dissonance through the framework of musical composition. Ever
sensitive to the nuances of assimilation, these acrylic, ink, and gouache paintings accommodate different artistic traditions,
from the Spanish painting of Joan Mirò, for whom Belmar was named, to American artist Kenneth Noland’s Color Fields.
As with an early series of abstract multi-media works from his “America” series, which Belmar
hid from the public for 13 years and finally debuted in 2012, Chord is not overtly political, in topic or
content. Instead, the paintings employ the motif of overlapping circles, Venn-diagram-like, to suggest the multiplicity of
influence and identity, intimating the reality of the artist’s heritage through the sensory effect they produce: an
unsettling of the visual field, as spheres of form and color bleed and dissolve into each other. In Belmar’s art, produced
from a mediated space between worlds, the ghosts of underlying layers eternally peek through. Just like the residue of former
cultures, attitudes, and traditions, they may fade, but they persist.
“Joan Belmar: Chords” is on view at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, Washington, D.C., Sept. 12th–Oct. 25th, 2014.
Follow Addison/Ripley Fine Art on Artsy
3 Hamptons Fairs Bring Art to the Beach
10/07/14 7:22 AM EDT
Pentimenti’s Paper Please!
Each work in the show has the qualities
that cause a viewer to stop
and closely examine, rather than quickly move on. Joan Belmar’s
paintings are an examination of how objects change when they are viewed
as part of a whole. The papers look as if they have been folded many
times to create a textured fabric, but this effect is achieved entirely
through Belmar’s painted process.
“Without Boundary” at School 33 Art Center’s Main Gallery
Opening Reception Friday, March 21
Exhibit March 21 – May 31, 2014
School 33 Art Center is pleased to present “Without Boundary,” a group exhibition featuring Kyle
Bauer, Joan Belmar, Ben Boothby, Ruth Hiller, Andrea Joki, Alison Stigora and Jay Walker.
The exhibition is on display in the Main Gallery from Friday, March 21 through Saturday, May 31, 2014.
An opening reception takes place Friday, March 21, 2014 from 6pm to 9pm. School 33 Art Center is
a facility managed by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and is located at 1427 Light Street. Gallery
hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6pm and Saturday from 11am to 4pm.
Curated by Christine Pfister, director and founder of Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, the works included in
“Without Boundary” maintain a relationship between abstract and figurative aesthetics. Each of
the seven artists depict elaborate craftsmanship by creating innovative works from unconventional materials including, but
not limited to, duct tape, cardboard and glass. “Without Boundary” sparks critical dialogue concerning the
categories of contemporary art practice and challenges audiences to rethink the limitations of such categories.
More info here.
David Brown’s “Roaming around the Quadrangle” at School 33 Members Gallery
School 33 Art
Center welcomes “Roaming Around the Quadrangle,” a solo exhibition of recent works by David Brown. The
exhibition is on display in the Members’ Gallery from Friday, March 21 through Saturday, May 31, 2014.
opening reception takes place Friday, March 21, 2014 from 6pm to 9pm. School 33 Art Center is
a facility managed by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and is located at 1427 Light Street. Gallery
hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6pm and Saturday from 11am to 4pm.
creating his art, Brown is influenced by the immediate force of the shape and color, the “push” of the image.
After the initial impact of the image or shape, he draws the viewer in to see the work up close. Unlike traditional
minimalism, Brown’s work tries to create a more personal and organic, yet minimalist image. His aim is to create
an image that allows the viewer to experience the process. The audience is encouraged to join Brown in the same personal
meditation he feels during the creation of each piece. More info here.
School 33 Art
Center is excited to unveil “Sticky Fingers,” a site-specific installation by Baltimore-based artist Lauren
Boilini. The work is on display in the Project Space from Friday, March 21 through Saturday, May
31, 2014. An opening reception takes place Friday, March 21, 2014 from 6pm to 9pm. School 33 Art
Center is a facility managed by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts and is located at 1427 Light Street. Gallery
hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6pm and Saturday from 11am to 4pm.
finds inspiration in physical action, indulging in pleasure and pain, searching for her limit. “Sticky Fingers”
features mural sized paintings dealing with ideas of excess and gluttony. Viewers of the installation are completely
surrounded by the floor to ceiling paintings which also cover the floor. Through her work, Boilini posits that “We
are a hedonistic society, always looking for more until the more we are looking for loses its meaning.”
School 33 Art Center is dedicated to providing opportunities for visual and performing artists through
solo and group exhibitions, art classes, hands-on workshops, a Studio Artist Program and special events. A program of the
Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, School 33 Art Center is supported in part by the Maryland State
Arts Council and through private contributions.
Color Redivivus: Abstract Music From Washington
by Donald Kuspit
No more copying from nature…rather,abstract painting in color.
Color, colors with their laws, theircontrasts, their slow vibrations in
relation to the fast or extra-fastcolors. Their interval.... As in
music,an auditory art, this was a visual art whose forms, rhythms,
developments allstart from painting as music, which has no sonority in
nature, but only in musical
…In thisperiod, about 1912, it was called pure painting. Robert
Delaunay in a letter to the American painter Sam Halpert(1)
In the painting of
pure color, it is color itself which, by its play, itsruptures, its
contrasts, forms the skeleton, the rhythmic development,
withoutcollaboration with old methods like geometry. Robert Delaunay
Seen by Robert Delaunay(2)
It is the art of
music which mostcompletely realizes this artistic ideal, the perfect
identification of matterand form. WalterPater, “The School of
All men agree that
music is one ofthe pleasantest things….But music is pursued, not only as
an alleviation ofpast toil, but also as providing recreation. And who
can say, whether, having this common use, it may not also have anobler
one?....May it not also have some influence over the character and
thesoul? And that they are so affected isproved in many ways, and not
least by the power which the songs of Olympusexercise; for beyond
question they inspire enthusiasm. Aristotle, Politics,Book VIII, Chapter
Robert Delaunay’s Fenêtre sur la Ville,
1911 and 1912,revolutionary paintings in which “the first germ of color
for the sake ofcolor” appeared,(4) are now a century old. They still
remain fresh and exciting—two sets of “sensational” colors,one a series
of pointillist dots repeated in a pattern, the other of irregularplanes
in an eccentric grid, interacting to form what today would be called
an“all-over,” “polyphonic” painting, to use Clement Greenberg’s
terms—but“paintings of pure color” are no longer revolutionary. Like
Seurat, Delaunay applied Chevreul’stheory of the simultaneous contrast
of colors to create his musical paintings,but color “simultaneity,” as
Delaunay called it, has become a formula.
Delaunay’s livelyprivate window on the world to an anonymous empty
square, diluting his colors,and so-called color field painting reified
color into vacuous purity,tautologically self-same and grandly
staged—“publicized”--but mute. Color loses what Delaunay called
its“mobility,” in effect petrifying it. Theintimacy and richness of
Delaunay’s colors, and the complexity of hiscompositions, were replaced
by the matter-of-fact colors and simplisticorderliness of Kelly’s
spectrum paintings. Color becomes a decorative phenomenon in itself, if
no longer “somethingmerely decorative to form,” as Delaunay said it is
in representational painting. Gestural formlessness and
geometricalform—eloquently integrated in Delaunay’s Fenêtres,clearly
geometrical however much he claimed to eschew geometry--went
theirseparate ways, resulting in the opposition between Abstract
Expressionism andConstructivism. Insistently pure andheroically
itself, each became a sort of reductio ad absurdum of abstraction toa
one-dimensional dead-end, and as such finally self-defeating, that is,
nolonger seemed to make beautiful music.
Without its musical
raison d’êtreabstraction seems to be “motivated,” as Mark Rosenthal
argues, “by escapism,foolish utopianism, or pessimism, and so alienated,
or so solipsisticallyconcerned with the self,” or “so independent,
self-contained, and, too often,hermetic,” that it seems “irrelevant”(5)
to human experience. Which raises the question what kind of
humanexperience does musical experience, mediated by abstract painting,
and ingeneral, afford?
I will argue that
the“constructions of color”—Delaunay’s phrase--in this exhibition of
abstractpaintings by Washington artists remobilize color so that it once
again makes a“musical sound,” to use Kandinsky’s language, more
broadly, they show thatabstract paintings at their musical best have
what he called a spiritual effect. That is, they are able to
generate--and in a sense embody--“visionaryspiritual experience,” thus
satisfying the deep “need to transcend the limitingboundaries of the
self…postulated to be a basic neurobiological need of allliving
things.” More particularly, forliving human beings, visionary spiritual
experiences involve “efforts to breakout of the standard ego-bounded
identity,”(6) and, one might add, everydaysocial identity.
Since Delaunay and
Kandinsky—astheir exchange of letters makes clear, they both thought
that making abstractmusical paintings was a sort of spiritual
activity—abstract paintings have cometo be thought of in strictly
technical, materialistic terms, clever “solutionsto formal problems,” as
Rosenthal said. The “materialistic attitude” that Kandinsky deplored,
and that purepainting intended to counter with its “spiritual attitude,”
had taken it over,vulgarizing it. It no longer evoked whatKandinsky
called “superfine feelings,” stepping stones on the way totranscendence,
as distinct from the “coarse feelings” of everyday life. Materialistic
abstraction was neither—it wasemotionally neutral, even emotional
indifferent and feelingless: it was driven neither by what
Kandinskycalled “internal necessity” nor “external necessity, which is
why its colorsmade no “sound,” to use Kandinsky’s term. In short, since
the days of Delaunay and Kandinsky paintings of purecolor have slowly
but surely been losing musical subtlety, not to say
spiritualsignificance. The paintings in thisexhibition are serious,
convincing attempts to restore music to pure painting,and with that to
restore the basic meaning of abstraction. It is “a process of emphasis,
and emphasisvivifies life,” as the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead
wrote. It is “a stripping bare…in order tointensify,” giving rise to
“aesthetic experience,” which is “feeling arisingout of the realization
of contrast under identity.”(7)
If color liberated
from abstractionbecomes sublime—transcendental in import, or at least
suggests that everyone iscapable of having a visionary spiritual
experience—then the process ofreductive emphasis or “stripping bare”
that occurs in the so-called minimalistabstraction of Albers and his
followers de-sublimates color, implying that itis incapable of affording
the opportunity for a visionary spiritual experience,let alone an
intense aesthetic experience, or what the art historian
AnandaCoomaraswamy calls an “aesthetic shock.” With Albers the spiritual
abstraction of Delaunay and Kandinsky becamean intellectual exercise,
and as such nominally pleasing. It lost its spiritual authenticity
andauthority; restoring music to abstraction the Washington painters
renew it,sometimes with painterly verve, sometimes melodically
geometrical. Whether more constructivist or more expressionist—morea
matter of Apollonian geometry or Dionysian gesture, to play on
Nietzsche’s“duality of art”--but ingeniously reconciling both, all use
their resources tomusical effect, suggesting that abstraction can
continue to have transcendentalsignificance. Their paintings are,
inspirit, “songs of Olympus,” charged with “enthusiasm.”
Thus one can understand the threebroad bands of colors in Gene Davis’s
1962 as bars of music. Thebars are in effect fugues--polyphonic
constructions of heterogeneous colors,each oddly “off-beat” however
rhythmically unified on each bar. Each color is subtly implicated in
the other,yet they remain autonomous and differentiated. The darker
colors function as intervals between the lighter colors, evenas they
have a solemn tone of their own. A sort of ironical harmony emerges from
the rhythmic interplay of theoptical colors. The repetition of
thecontrasting bars, each of the same length but with a different
combination ofcolors, adds to the musical tension. Incontrast, Anne
Truitt’s Way, 1981, withits sublime display of yellow—the white
strip beneath it is a kind of horizon,suggesting that we are thrown
towards transcendence, as it were—is moremelodically uniform. For
all its horizontality, the paintinghas an “uplifting” effect, that is,
it lifts us “vertically” into the sky,creating a transcendental effect.
Thedifference between Davis’s painting and Truitt’s painting is the
differencebetween “horizontal” and “vertical” music, however indirectly
vertical Truitt’spainting is. Alma Thomas’s Horizon, 1974 and Joan Belmar’s Like Bubbles
2013, have a similarverticality, for all their horizontal planes, and
textural differences. In “horizontal music,” the culture
historianJacques Barzun writes, “the composer writes melodic lines that
move forwardalong four, six, or more paths simultaneously. In these
combinations, the notes sound together pleasantly most of thetime—hence
the other name, counterpoint: one point or note [or color] jammed againstanother.
But this piling up occasionallyproves harsh or intolerable. Out of
thispredicament comes the idea of composing ‘vertically,’ that is,
taking care ofthe collisions that occur between horizontal lines. This
musical style bears the other obviousname of harmony. It offers the
listenera melody as being on top…and having ‘below’ a group of notes
(chord) so chosenas not to shock the ear [eye]—or, if they do, to do it
in a passing way,quickly ‘resolved’ into harmoniousness. Both styles,
polyphony and harmony, are equally capable ofexpressiveness, although
harmony is better suited to the lyrical, individualvoice and its nuances
of feeling.”(8) The best musical painting, as I see it, is
simultaneously epic andlyrical, which is what Delaunay’s Fenêtresand Kandinsky’s Compositions
were,and what the paintings in this exhibition are—epically lyrical or
lyricallyepic, that is, individual and transcendental at the same
With Carol Brown Goldberg’s NT 21,
2011, Abstract Baroque musicflamboyantly comes into its own. Its
tworadiating centers in opposing corners of the inner rectangle, linked
by red andblack gestures, fluid and irregular compared to the straight
black linesradiating from the centers, form an eccentrically “imitative
counterpoint,”another term for the fugue. The wordfugue derives from
the Latin fuga,which means flight or pursuit: Goldberg’s
gestures, with their conflicting colors, fly recklesslyacross the
canvas, even as they seem to pursue each other, sometimes crossingpaths
but never converging. Thetriangles in the literal center of the work
are another “musical phrase,” theirgeometry at odds with the squares in
the corner centers. The squares are small compared to thetriangles,
their hard angles at odds with the soft curves of the lineargestures.
The whole drama is staged in adarkish inner frame edged with luminous
dots, a pointillist matrix of “touchy”sensations, neatly arranged in a
grid, extending to the outer frame. The auratic atmosphere, a grayish
blend oflight and shadow, adds to the haunting intensity and
transcendental effect ofthe work. Pulverized glass informs the surface,
reminding us that Titian’s lushcolors were informed by crushed glass,
making them ingeniously radiant, suggestingthat Goldberg’s work is a
kind of Venetian painting, which, as Pater argued, isthe model for all
musical painting. Goldberg’s painting can be read horizontally or
vertically, suggestingthat it is doubly musical.
Sam Gilliam’s Plantagenets Golden,
1984, with its dramatically intersectingplanes and eccentric shape,
giving the flat painting a sculptural, evenconstructivist character, is a
masterpiece of musical intricacy, compression,and expressive
ambiguity. Gray, red,black dominate the overlapping, interlocking
planes, some squares, someparallelograms, some curved, some angled,
sometimes painterly, sometimes with agrainy texture--always haptically
exciting as well as visually“sensational.” Always at odds with
eachother, abruptly yet intimately related, the friction between them
palpable,they nonetheless bizarrely cohere. ThePlantagenets were the
royal family that ruled England from Henry II’s accessionto the throne
in 1154 to Richard III’s death in 1485. Richard III was “a deformed
monster whomurdered his nephews, the young princes in the Tower,” but as
Barzun reminds usthis was the “big lie” invented by Thomas More, who
served the Tudors whooverthrew the Plantagenets. Can one saythat the
little circle in the angle formed by a wooden rectangle and a
somewhattarnished golden plane—the fragment of a Suprematist square—is
the remnant ofthe royal crown? Is the halo-like form asort of relic of
the glory that once was? Does the “deformed” work represent the deformed
Richard III, its “hunchbacked”right side reminding us that Richard III
was supposedly a hunchback, thought tohave been made vicious and
resentful by his irreparably crippled body? Apart from its metaphoric
character,Gilliam’s work, an extreme, radicalized kind of Analytic
Cubism, is, musicallyspeaking, a sort of fantastic tone-poem, the
Plantagenet reference giving it aprogrammatic, romantic character.
Theplanes function like different musical instruments, orchestrated into
a dissonantcomposition, suggesting the work’s relationship to
ultra-modernist music, alsocomposed of tonal fragments, a family of
forms that make strange musictogether.
Tom Green’s Gong, 1988 and Jason Hughes’s PowerTrip,
2009 are so-called pattern paintings, but the pattern in
Green’spainting is somewhat discombobulated, while the mandala-like
pattern inHughes’s painting invites repeated meditation. The sound that
Green’s gong makes is loud and jarring, all the more sobecause it echoes
in a variety of forms and colors, intertwining and intersectingyet
never reconciling. What might beregarded as a kind of enigmatic Kufic
writing—sacred hieroglyphs, as itwere--appears on the surface of a
tablet-like red plane. To me it is the clue to the whole work:
writing is like painting, painting is likewriting: they are equally
“occult.” The shapes of the letters are in effectwritten large on the
canvas—dramatized and transformed into unequivocally pureabstract
forms. They are green, red,blue, yellow, and brown, of various
intensities. The eccentric, driven shapes are outlined inblack, and the
black is outlined in white, with another outline of white aroundthe
plane of color, except in the case of the bright yellow plane,
therepetitive little curves of its right half spiked with light.
Green’s hyper-excited gong won’t stopringing: does its percussive music
callus to prayer? Kandinsky would thinkso. In Hughes’s more
symmetrical,schematic work the music is calmer, the colors and forms
fewer. The center, composed of concentric circles,black, red, and
brown, is surrounded by squares, which contain the samewhirligig
form—the Buddhist wheel, signaling the cycles of life, involvingendless
reincarnations until enlightenment is finally achieved—as appear in
thecenter. Sometimes the circles are white,suggesting an enlightened
state of mind, despite the passionate red and thematerialistic black.
As the brokencircles—displaced alternative centers, as it were—at the
four corners of thework suggest, the work extends into our space: the
lively forms confront us even as they invite us to passivelycontemplate
them. They are at oncetranquil and dramatic, like the forms composed of
square and circle—acontradiction in terms that nonetheless suggests
that it is possible to squarethe circle, unite the opposites, achieve
cosmic completeness. Green’s dissonant music can be regarded as
aprelude to the more harmonious music of Hughes, with its more
Howard Mehring’s Mirage Double, 1962 and W. C.Richardson’s
Plus (For J. E.),
1985,are more conspicuously minimalist than the works mentioned, and
morehallucinatory in effect. Mehring’sintersecting/overlapping red,
blue and yellow squares—the primary colors andfundamentalist Suprematist
geometry--are ingeniously reconciled. If the squares were circles, I
would say thathis painting conveys the harmony of the spheres.
Richardson’s triangular shapes, variouslysized and interacting,
intersect/overlap with concentric circles. Opposites are again
reconciled, in heavenlyspace, as the luminous white space of the paper
strongly suggests. Both works are subtly visionary, howeverdeceptively
simple. Their geometry isepic, their colors lyric, their unity melodic.
In a sense, the works
thatepitomize the spiritual point of the exhibition—the presentation of
abstractmusical works that have what the psychoanalyst C. G. Jung calls
a “transcendentintegrating function,” best exemplified in art by music,
as Pater argues--areRobin Rose’s Fathom, 2006, a dark patternpainting, and Pat Goslee’s Enigma of
theEternal Now (Lift),
2012, an atmospheric, passionately coloredpainting. Taken together,
they suggestthat one must fathom the emotional depths to reach the
transcendentalheights—instantly available in the eureka moment when one
perceives thesublimity of abstract musical painting. Geometrical forms
are eternal and unchanging, and the tones of colorsmay “atmospherically”
change but the colors themselves are informed with theeternal light in
which they “originate.” The spirit of the original musical
abstractionists continues to inspirethe Washington musical
(1)ArthurA. Cohen, ed., The New Art of Color: The Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay(New York: Viking,
(3)Walter Pater, “The School of Giorgione,” The
Renaissance(New York: Modern Library, n. d.), 114
(5)Mark Rosenthal, Abstraction in the Twentieth Century: Total
Risk, Freedom, Discipline (NewYork: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,1996), 236
(6)David Lukoff, “VisionarySpiritual Experiences,” Psychosis
andSpirituality: Consolidating the NewParadigm, ed. Isabel Clarke (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 207
(7)Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making, in Alfred
North Whitehead: An Anthology (New York: Macmillan, 1953), 510
(8)Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence,1500 to thePresent: 500 Years of Western CulturalLife (New York:
D.C. shows feature Tim Makepeace, Trudy Myrrh Reagan, Joan Belmar, Lori Anne Boocks, Rachel Farbiar
The Washington Post
Joan Belmar and Lori Anne Boocks
The richly textured paintings of Joan Belmar and Lori Anne Boocks are nearly
abstract, yet suggest both personal and historical meanings. The two artists’ works, on display in “Mathematics,
Maps and Myths” at Adah Rose Gallery and Studio 1469, feature mottled, grainy textures that suggest layers of earth
and sand. For Boocks, the depths symbolize family history; to Belmar, they represent the indigenous peoples of Chile, his
The artists are showing larger
pieces at Studio 1469 and smaller ones at Adah Rose, but even the latter feel expansive. Boocks begins and ends with charcoal,
with which she renders forms, often rectangular, as well as words and numbers. In between, she lays down and then partially
removes acrylic washes. The technique gives luminosity to the muted hues, often earthy browns or metallic blues. Sometimes
she connects pictorial elements with drawn lines, cotton twine or rusted twigs of metal. The sculptural aspect adds another
tier to her intriguingly multi-strata style.
The bottom level in Belmar’s pictures is spray-painted and soft, but the D.C.-based artist contrasts that with
hard-edged, brightly colored forms derived from maps he studied as a child. Belmar’s “Arauco” series, named
for the region of southern Chile where his father was born, contrasts precise and amorphous forms, chart and terrain. The
painter calls his subject “a search for freedom in a structured world,” but in such dense, immersive paintings
as “Arauco #1,” the straight lines and perfect circles are just as crucial as the loose, watery color fields.
June 14, 2013
don’t have to be a Bethesdan to enter the annual Bethesda Painting Awards; it’s open to artists from throughout Maryland, plus Virginia and D.C. But seven of this year’s eight finalists
(chosen from nearly 300 entrants) are from Maryland, and the top prize went to Baltimore County’s Barry Nemett. Several
examples of his work, as well as pictures by the other finalists, are on display at Gallery B.
of the artists, including Hedieh Ilchi and Joan Belmar, had recent shows in D.C. galleries. Most balance abstraction and representation, whether by incorporating both modes or
by engaging in one while hinting at the other. Nemett, for example, paints landscapes but in a misty style that sometimes
dissolves into pure color and texture. Iran-born Rockville resident Ilchi, who took third place, paints colorful clouds and
tendrils that sometimes become three-dimensional but also inserts intricate gilded illustrations in the manner of classical
Persian books. Cara Ober and Bill Schmidt, both of Baltimore, mix drawing and painting in intricate compositions that suggest
the tradition of illuminated manuscripts.
the boldest pictures are those of Belmar, a Chile-bred Takoma Park inhabitant, and Lutherville’s Dennis Farber. Belmar
contrasts hard-edged black shapes with loosely painted, earth-toned areas, while Farber paints so thickly that his free-hanging,
vividly hued canvases become almost sculptural. All eight painters show great finesse, but Belmar and Farber match that quality
to crackling energy.
So where are the symbols?
Tom Green - “First One” anchors the exhibition “Sigil,” a round-up of sometimes
cryptic art at Addison/Ripley.Rig
One painting dominates
“Sigil,” an exhibition at Addison/Ripley Fine Art spotlighting eight Washington artists, including veterans
and rising stars.
At roughly six feet tall and 10 feet wide, Tom Green’s canvas —
covered with rows of hieroglyphic-like symbols against a vibrant red background — is so large that curator Carol Brown
Goldberg wasn’t sure it would fit into the gallery. But the painting by the acclaimed artist (who died last year of
Lou Gehrig’s disease) was the first piece she knew she wanted in the show. Titled, appropriately enough, “First
One,” it in some ways sets the tone for the entire show. Visual harmonies with Green’s richly symbolic work reverberate
throughout the gallery, but there also are intriguing notes of dissonance.
Superficially, artists W.C. Richardson and Andrea Way
seem most closely aligned with Green. Not because their work looks the same. It doesn’t. Even in his smaller paintings,
Green communicates with a vocabulary of abstract signifiers that are almost like an illegible language. The way that Richardson
and Way speak through their densely patterned art is closer to mapping than to writing. Yet all three artists rely on complex
systems of markmaking — a series of codes that are not easily cracked but that hint at deep mystery.
Furthest from Green stylistically
are Maggie Michael and Robin Rose. Michael’s “Lick,” for instance, features thick puddles of latex house
paint in an evocation of what Jackson Pollock might have made had he used a ladle to spoon paint onto a horizontal surface
instead of flinging it. Two acrylic works by Rose — the blood-red “Sanguine” and the lushly colored triptych
“Elemental Nobility” — are studies in pure, almost featureless color from an artist best known for his luxurious
Sigiland the lushly colored triptych
“Elemental Nobility” — are studies in pure, almost featureless color from an artist best known for his luxurious
So where are the symbols?
Right in front of you, as it turns out. What’s more iconic than color and gesture, each of which is on flamboyant,
almost ritualistic display in Rose’s and Michael’s works? Their paintings speak to the unattainable sublime.
Joseph White’s paintings and Renee Butler’s shadow boxes, on the other hand, are grounded in something
more mundane. In deceptively simple works, White depicts the sun-drenched balconies of Miami, where the couple has a second
home, while Butler uses glass — shards of a broken window or panes of frosted glass — to evoke simple X and O
Although their inspiration seems drawn from ordinary life, their subject matter is light itself.
Joan Belmar’s work is probably the hardest to categorize in “Sigil.” The Chilean-born artist incorporates
the image of a hobby horse in the sardonic “Where’s John Wayne #2 (red).” But his other works are far more
subtle, featuring patterns that evoke human cells, tribal markings and other abstract, almost primitive power symbols.
Like his “Sigil” peers, this artist has figured out that meaning is most tantalizing when it remains
just out of reach.
The Story Behind the Work
“Sigil” is the first
attempt at curation by Carol Brown Goldberg, an artist whose own work also is heavily suggestive of unseen forces. The list
of the show’s eight artists came to her in a flash, she says, well before its theme began to take shape.
The show’s odd title was suggested to her by gallery owner Christopher Addison, who knew the word “sigil’
from the HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” where it refers to an emblem or icon — say, a lion or a stag
— used as a family crest. Goldberg, who had never watched the show, looked it up and was intrigued by definitions hinting
at another, broader meaning. Rather than a badge defining membership in a group, the word called to mind a visible manifestation
of the invisible.
It’s a term that evokes, for Goldberg, an “edge” state
— a space between meaning and mystery, between language and silence, and between knowing and unknowing. Though that
sounds a bit like what the Romantic poet John Keats called “negative capability,” Goldberg resists that phrase’s
pejorative implication, preferring to describe it as making peace with ambiguity.—
Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Joan Belmar’s “Bateux
on Papier” (“Paper Boats”) is part of the “Le Temps de l’Eau,” or “The Time of
Water,” opening Feb. 22 at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art.
first glance, it’s hard to understand why Joan Belmar hid his “America” series for 13 years. The collaged paintings are mostly abstract, and the childlike images etched
into or drawn atop the paint don’t seem especially controversial. The simple outlines of feet and airplanes testify
to travel, exile and rootlessness, and even the more ominous shapes — a gun, a jackboot — aren’t necessarily
political. But the Chilean artist wasn’t a U.S. citizen when he made these works, and he decided it was better not to
show them until he became one. (That happened in 2010.) After all, one of the paintings is titled as a tribute to Victor Jara,
the singer-songwriter executed during Chile’s U.S.-backed 1973 coup.
The “America” paintings and a more recent series, “Tierra
del Fuego,” are making their debut at Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art. The newer work can be seen as more pointed,
since it’s about the destruction of an indigenous people, the Selk’nam, who lived on the southern island divided
between Chile and Argentina. Working from photographs taken in the 1920s, Belmar takes the dots and lines of the tribe’s
body paint as visual motifs in paintings that (like the earlier ones) are mainly nonrepresentational. The artist boldly contrasts
strong, clean black forms with areas of mottled, dripped tan and brown, evoking both the Selk’nam and the land where
they once lived. Such pieces as “Reforma #1” are evocative but also powerful as sheer design.
The earlier paintings, made between 1999 and 2006, are messier and more thickly textured.
Their many circular shapes foretell the tubular sculpture Belmar was to make before returning to painting for the “Tierra
del Fuego” sequence. Although the “America” works draw on New York’s abstract expressionism, they
also evoke Spanish painting, notably Joan Miro, for whom the artist is named. The references to Belmar’s new homeland
can be skeptical — a dollar bill is collaged into “They Want Money?” — but also upbeat. “Trip
to the Moon” expresses Belmar’s hopes for a new life with vivid blues and cloudlike swirls of white paper collaged
into the paint. This vision of a new day seems too assured to be the work of a man who was looking anxiously over his shoulder.
Hidden Treasure: The 'America' and 'Tierra del Fuego'
PaintJoan Belmar At Charles Krause Reporting Fine Art
The Washington Post
BELMAR’s work is informed by the circumstances which forced him to leave his native Chile nearly 15 years ago and his
life as an emigrant, first to Spain and later to the United States. Known to Washington, DC collectors for his mixed media
constructions, he has never before shown the magnificent oil paintings from his “America” series (2000 to 2006),
reflecting the joys, hardship and uncertainties of life in a new country where he couldn’t be sure if he would be deported
or allowed to become a citizen. Paired with his most recent series, "Tierra del Fuego," inspired by a recent return visit
to Chile, we believe “HIDDEN TREASURE” will establish Joan Belmar as one of this country’s most promising
artists---an example of the benefits to the U.S. of a more logical and humane immigration policy and the critical need for
The Gallery’s fourth exhibition presents the work of one of the country’s
most promising and talented artists, Joan Belmar, whose experience as an émigré to the United States is both the subject of
his early paintings and a near-perfect example of the consequences of an immigration system that badly needs reform.
title, “Hidden Treasure,” refers to the more than 100 paintings the artist created during his first eight years
in the United States---paintings he kept hidden from public view for fear that their occasional (and always oblique) criticism
of the United States, especially the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, might jeopardize the immigration proceedings
that would determine whether he could remain in this country and eventually become a U.S. citizen.
than risk being deported for expressing views that were no more radical than those printed daily on the editorial page of
The New York Times, Joan Belmar literally buried the paintings he created from 1999 to 2007, depriving himself of the opportunity
to show the world his talent and depriving the rest of us of the opportunity to see and learn from the work of an intelligent
and extremely gifted painter who may well be one of the most inventive and important emerging artists working in the United
13 years after coming to the U.S. and two years after he became a naturalized U.S. citizen, are Belmar’s “Hidden
Treasure” paintings (which the artist calls his “America Series” paintings) being shown in public. Until
this summer, they remained stacked on tables and shelves in his basement, where the artist had kept them hidden from all but
his most trusted friends. It was during our discussions about exhibiting his new ‘Tierra del Fuego’ paintings
that I suggested we look through the earlier work to see whether there might not be at least a couple of them worth including
in the current show.
afternoon in July, Joan and I spent several hours sorting through dozens and dozens of paintings, many of which he had not
seen since he painted them five, 10 or even 12 years ago. To say that what we found was a very pleasant surprise would be
the equivalent of saying that Alexander Graham Bell was “pleased” when he heard Watson’s voice at the other
end of the line.
clear was that Joan Belmar had produced a body of work during his first years in the United States that is extraordinary by
any standard: dozens of vivid, inventive and beautifully painted abstract expressionist works that demonstrate the sure hand
and creative talent of a great artist.
it is fascinating to see the progression of his visual ideas from their inception in some of the early works to their refinement
in later work; how they disappear for a time and then reappear again in his most recent work. For example, the translucent
tubes and the grid pattern he begins to experiment with in 2005, and refines through 2007, become the basis for the three
dimensional Mylar constructions he began making, and became known for in Washington, beginning in 2008. The grids then re-appear
in the “Tierra del Fuego” paintings completed this year (see detail from Tierra del Fuego(Acrylic,
ink, gouache, oil and colored pencil, 60” x 84” diptych) 2012.)
new work was motivated by a return trip to his native Chile, the “America” series paintings, with titles such
as “I Speak Your Language,” “Negro” and “They Want Money?”, are the visual record of a
wise and acute observer’s first impressions of the country he wanted to become a citizen of but whose idiosyncrasies
and shortcomings he couldn’t help but see.
To see his personal collection >
To see his personal collection >
Krause covered many of the most important wars, revolutions and headline stories of the last two decades of the 20th Century
as a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post, CBS News and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour/The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
included: Jonestown…the “Dirty War” in Argentina…the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua…insurgency
and counter-insurgency in El Salvador, Honduras and Central America…the Falklands /Malvinas War…Marcos and the
Peoples Revolution in the Philippines…the U.S. invasion of Panama…Mexico and NAFTA…the War in the Gulf…the
liberation of Kuwait… Israel and the Middle East…Poland and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe…the
collapse of the Soviet Union…the Balkans…and Kosovo.
was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with an Emmy Award in 1997 for his NewsHour
coverage of the Israeli elections in 1996; by the Latin America Studies Association with its Media Award in 1987 for the body
of his reporting from Central America for The NewsHour and CBS News; and by the Overseas Press
Club with its Hal Boyle Award for distinguished foreign coverage, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination, in 1979 for his reporting
from Jonestown, where he was shot and wounded while on assignment for The Washington Post. His book, “Guyana
Massacre: The Eyewitness Account,” was a best-seller and adapted for television by CBS. Broadcast in 1980, “Guyana
Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones” remains the 10th most watched miniseries ever broadcast in the United States.
In 2000, he
accompanied former President Jimmy Carter to Mexico, where he was one of five members of an election observation team that
played an important behind-the-scenes role insuring respect for the outcome of that year’s historic Presidential election,
which ended more than 70 years of one party rule in Mexico. And, from 2001 through 2010, he provided strategic counsel and
media relations support to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil billionaire jailed in 2003 for challenging Vladimir Putin’s
authoritarian rule in Russia.
interest in fine art began as a teenager, when his parents began collecting the work of Ferdinand Leger, Alberto Giacometti,
Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson and other important 20th Century artists. He completed his secondary education at the Cranbrook
School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, designed by the elder Saarinen and decorated with gargoyles and other wonderful bronze
sculpture by Carl Milles. His parents’ high school graduation gift was his choice of any lithograph he wanted from a
gallery in Detroit, where his family lived. He chose a signed Calder lithograph which remains a part of his collection.
By the time
The Washington Post sent him to Buenos Aires as its South America correspondent in 1978, art and foreign policy
had become the two great interests in his life. As he moved from country to country and from one conflict to another, he began
to see that artists were often attempting to influence social and political attitudes through their work---and, conversely,
their work was often influenced by the social and political conditions around them. The first painting he purchased
specifically because of its political significance was, oddly enough, an 18th Century portrait of the last Inca by an anonymous
Peruvian artist working in or near Cuzco some 300 years ago. One of a number of paintings for sale at a Sothebys Latin America
auction in 1980, shortly after Mr. Krause moved to New York to begin working for CBS, he was drawn to the painting because
of its subject matter, clearly a protest against Spanish colonial rule.
In Cuba the
following year to report on Cuban fears that the Reagan Administration would invade Cuba in retaliation for Fidel Castro’s
support of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, he stumbled across a small lithography studio in old Havana. There he met
Roberto Favelo, whose drawings and ink washes intrigued him, and whose observations about what artists were allowed to do,
and what was forbidden, led to a report for CBS titled “Is it propaganda or is it art?”
Over the ensuing
years, as a correspondent and later as an advisor to Khodorkovsky, he continued to look for and to buy art
The Art Bank Collection Wallpapers
The Space Dividing a Dotted
Line by Nora Rosengarten
Alchemy series, Joan Belmar pays homage to amorphously undulating linear graphics, organically perfected circles, and snapshots
of remembered ghosts of childhood through their engagement with one another in dynamic still lifes. Using a color palette
which is suggestive of another world—although whether it is a South American island two centuries ago or a futuristic
spaceship eons in the future is left to the viewer. In this ambiguity Belmar breeds his brooding melange which captivates,
suggesting influences as diverse as CAT scans, jellyfish, looms, eyeballs, and delicate stitchery, recalling to the viewer
Pablo Neruda’s “Walking Around”.
Nora Rosengarten Georgetown ‘14
Washington Post. Restore: Japan
Stephen Mack, DC Local Artists-Examiner (Fragment)
current series Once, Belmar uses techniques he’s been perfecting for six years. Beginning with a piece of
painted plywood, he uses special ink to create an icon on this background layer, drawing from an image he manipulates in Photoshop.
Then he uses mylar, dyed and cut, to create an inch-thick intermediate layer—perhaps arranged in a honeycomb pattern,
perhaps in a wave of long, colored strips. Finally he adds another icon on glass for the front layer. The resulting work is
a three-dimensional juxtaposition of the two icons—such as a housefly against an early prototype airplane—one
easy to see, one obscured.
Belmar says, is about time and memory, depicting connections between ideas from the past and present, sometimes showing how
an idea manifests itself over time from imagination to reality. “So somebody says, ‘Oh, I would like to go to
the moon,’” he offers as an example. “The most stupid idea in the world, but it happened eventually.”
work has been featured in recent exhibitions such as Restore: Japan at Lamont Bishop Gallery, W.A.V.E of Love at L2 Lounge, and Catalyst at Katzen Arts Center. Thanks to a nomination by artist Manon Cleary, he plans to debut the series Once at Hillyer Art Space in October.
American Contemporary Art Magazine
Gesso Head. Ellyn Weiss Blog.
Best Bets. Washington Post (mention)
Falls Church News-press
The Pink Line Project
Paintery Visions. Anne Marchand Blog
The News Leader
Nevin Kelly Blog
The Washington Post: 'Migration': Universal Truths