Artful New Year – January 2017

It’s only the first week in January, and I’m already looking at February events!

Call to Artists-Photographers for the Art Guild of Port Washington’s “From My Perspective” Exhibit


B J Spoke Gallery is having the opening reception for an Artist Members’ Invitational Show, You may want to call for details.  Due to the snow storm, the reception has been moved to Saturday, January 14, from 6-9 PM.

Jan Guarino the popular and  talented watercolorist is having an exhibition opening at  Jericho Library, Saturday January 21,  from 2-4 PM. It was rescheduled, due inclement weather.

Watercolor by Jan Guarino









Visit to Frame

Today I had brought  a complicated painting to be assembled and framed, and prints matted and framed. I have been taking my time with paintings, because of the now unnecessary business I didn’t want to be bothered with, but a family lawyer called and told me how ill my sister was and that she couldn’t make the arrangements, so I should. What a mistake that was!  Who needs to complicate my life any more than it is? . I prefer to focus on creating art, appreciating the art of others and meeting artists and art lovers, (not worrying about a funeral I have no intention of attending, for someone who was heavily into drug abuse and psychotic, and threatened to kill me! He certainly owes me huge karmic debt next time around. Only thing is I don’t want him around in the next lifetime — too dark a soul, as an astrologer referred to his chart.)  That’s a long  story that doesn’t belong here — except to make the point — it it does influence me, which influences my output. Fortunately, I am not inclined to paint devils, demons and fire and hellish scenes in response!

Back to the frame shop, a young woman, was having two unusual ink prints on photo-type paper matted and framed. I’ve seen a lot of cool artwork over the years, but I had never seen that type before. It was a cross between photo and painting;  not with the use of Photoshop or Illustrator. It was “real” not digital art. … Sometimes the most interesting work is seen in the frame shop…. There are two I recommend, LI Picture Frame on Sunrise Highway, in North Massapequa and Stu-Art on Grand Avenue, in Baldwin. There are others that are good too, and if you can recommend them, please send me an email or write a comment. I  stopped going to Michael’s when increasingly most of the frames were made of pressed cardboard or plastic. They carry some wood frames (costly), and they do a good job framing, but for the same price you can get better quality AND get it done faster.  (That is not meant to disparage Michael’s, which is a ‘go-to’ place for arts and crafts!).

Live Model Drawing Sessions

I attended an open studio, live nude model session at the Art Guild of Port Washington. It was totally fulfilling. The monitor is Joyce Kubat,  is a fine artist, who knew my mother, and  was a close friend  and student of the beloved artist/teacher Betty Holiday. My mother Betty Kirshner used to paint in the other Betty’s class and thought highly of her. Both have passed on.

We had a hairless adonis model, Chuck, whom the other women knew. He was very pliable and struck difficult and unusual poses.  I hadn’t worked at drawing since attending some long pose sessions last year  at the Art League of LI. There it was with a clothed  live model. The majority of the women, and one man  in the class ,were professional portrait painters, and although my paintings were primitive, as it had been decades, since I did abstract/German expressionist portraits at the Art Students League (Although, on second thought, I did a self-portrait  and a portrait of my mother ca. 2014).  I saw my progress and enjoyed the challenge. No one was there to judge me, which was a relief!  I highly recommend the Art Guild’s sessions. This one is full, but there will be more to come. (Another venue is at the Art League of LI in Dix Hills.)

© Caroline Kaplowitz, from her website:

One of the figurative artist’s, whose work is fantastic, has a website she shared with me. It’s Caroline Kaplowitz .  She’s a sweet  elder  sculptor first, with a powerful, energetic approach to expressing what’s inside a moment in time with her drawings.  We shared a table and she didn’t laugh at my drawings. Often abstract artists like myself don’t practice sketching people anymore, and like me they do abstract drawings. I think it broadens one’s perception and hand to eye coordination to discipline oneself, sometimes.





Next, off to the Peninsula Public Library in Lawrence , LI for an art history lecture about the first public museum in the USA, located in Hartford, Connecticut. Hartford?  Who would’ve figured it wasn’t in Manhattan?

I was having a bad beginning of the day, I was stressed, and what could be more elevating than artistic appreciation? A friend was excited to attend another great lecture by Ines Powell, Art Historian & Educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I could not pass up the invitation. The art lectures are offered each month and they are par none. Top-notch professional and thorough, as well as entertaining, Ms. Powell, originated from the Basque region and has a distinct accent, and a melodious voice. She tells some of the background information, a.k.a. “secrets”  often lost in encyclopedic histories. She adds color with personal details about artists’ lives and the patrons who sponsored their work.  Today was the “Armchair Tour of Wadsworth Antheum” It was originally founded by one man, a wealthy collector, Daniel Wadsworth in 1842. The Wadsworth Atheneum opened two years later with just seventy-nine paintings and three sculptures. Today the collection exceeds 50,000 works of art – the result of active acquisitions by patrons, directors, and curators who continue Wadsworth’s dedication to collecting and supporting the work of living artist,” according to the museum’s website.  Some Hudson Valley School landscapes I researched online are here for your edification…

Featured is American art, primarily the Hudson Valley artists, which has been expanded to include crafts and decorative arts, and American contemporary art. There is a European collection too.  When I was a student at Vassar College, which was on the Hudson River, the artists in the Hudson River School (e.g.,Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, and more)  were often mentioned in my art history sessions and I recall some of their paintings on display there.  It seemed nostalgic, with a kind of deja’ vu, because the lecturer was as exceptionally scholarly as the sister school art professors. (Turns out she has had interns from Vassar.)  Although I don’t paint landscapes and I am not a fan of landscape paintings, I appreciate the art form as a necessary one.  Besides the landscapes and adoration of nature and its power, portrait artists’ works (i.e. Thomas Scully and his portrait of Daniel Wadsworth and the timeless works by John Singleton Copely) were highlighted as being and integral part of the museum and early collections.  We saw a Frank Stella painting, and one by Georgia O’Keefe that got her into a lot of scandalous hot water, when she married the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (who divorced his wife, after she left her husband to be together) and she had a series of paintings, which included one critics considered obscene. Believe me, it did look like that lower region of female genitalia. No denying it Georgia.

Marsden Hartley’s  abstract portrait in a  German military series of cubistic paintings, as a dedication to a soldier he loved,was one I was attracted to at the Whitney in 2016. I guessed correctly, that Marsden Hartley was gay. I didn’t know much about him, but learned today that he left the US for Paris and was in Gertrude Stein’s salon and circle of friends, and knew Picasso and other important artists. Then he traveled to Berlin, where he fell in love with soldier Karl von Frieberg who died in his mid-20’s. He returned to the US and those paintings were not selling because of anti-German sentiment, so he turned to landscape painting!  Only someone who’s devoted to art history would research and know about the individual artists’ personal motivations for painting and living as they did.

The lecture gave me the elevation I needed.

The life of an artist is never done. I got a call from the frame shop, my job was ready to pick up, completed two days ahead of schedule.   I needed to enter a show with the newest painting, “In Play”… (Note, I don’t include my newest work  on my website, as I create it, because I copyright it with the US Copyright Office first.)   I was originally incorrectly told when you post online, your work is automatically copyrighted because it goes through the Library of Congress as
all web pages are supposed to do. Not true.  Fortunately, I didn’t trust my brother’s advice (R.I.P.)  to an artist who was upset that he posted her images, and told her that story. As a lawyer himself, I wanted to believe him, but he wasn’t a copyright attorney. I was cautious and asked a lawyer at Legal, who specialized in Copyrights and patents. Sure enough, it was not  true.  Phew!  I am glad I asked the right people!

Raise those brushes!   

Remember I told you in a previous month, about a watercolor teacher and workshops that are terrific?  Well, Lorraine Rimmelin is teaching another introductory workshop on Sundays, this winter and has other classes lined up. Look at her Enchanted Forest paintings and you’ll be awestruck. If you are interested, now is your chance to sign up at the Art League of Long Island.

One of Lorraine Rimmelin’s Enchanted Forest watercolor paintings.



The completion of Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway has provided the venue for superb mural art at each stop and it is something you ought to see. If you haven’t seen it in person, you can now view the highlights in a photo essay, by clicking the link below. It is worth it.

From Chuck Close to Sarah Sze, a Ride Through the Art of the Second Avenue Subway
New York’s Second Avenue Subway opened on January 1 after almost a century of planning, with new art installations by Chuck Close, Sarah Sze, Vik Muniz, and Jean Shin.
Allison Meier.  (Fr: January 3, 2017)

One of Vik Muniz’s Subway Art of Ordinary People series









AMERICANA in time for the Presidential Inauguration

I visited the gallery at the Art League of LI in Dix Hills, to view the new exhibit of “The Art of Cliff Miller”… A nostalgic sense of Norman Rockwell’s spirit drifted by a cowboy image among many photographs and paintings from photographs. Realism, super realism, it did not excite me, but it might excite you if you love all things American and you prefer reality vs. abstraction.  The show is up in the main gallery for the month of January. Herein are photos of some of what you will see better up close. He has a following and will be teaching oil painting at the League.










Metaphysical Feast ©Karen Kirshner 2016. A tStrolling Gallery with “Metaphysical Feast” Jan. 19, 2017.
“Red&Gold#1” ©Karen Kirshner 2015. At Strolling Gallery, Jan. 19, 2017

While at the League I perused the walls of the strolling gallery” featuring Kevin Larkin’s  flock. There were two of my abstracts,“Metaphysical Feast” and the first one I did there in one of his sessions, “Red and  Gold #1”.  I am one of those people who won’t let an art instructor/another artist touch my work. No one can put a hand into my painting, not even a line. I’m not violent, but I fantasize squeezing any artist’s brush arm and pushing it away. Fortunately, with Kevin I never had to worry about that. I trust his critiques and that is what I need sometimes, besides being with other artists who are serious about creation of something from nothing. What is nothing? A feeling, a thought, consciousness? Abstracting from any one of those is highly personal and fills a blank space with something that has meaning and purpose. That’s my thinking on the matter of creation of abstracts vs. representational art.



Artists: Recommended for high resolution photographing /digital files …

On the way home, I dropped by to pick up two of the new paintings I had photographed with high resolution scanning onto disk. Artists often ask where I go to have my work scanned or photographed professionally. A pro who runs HiRezInk, had been been ill and is returning to work soon.  In the meantime, I have been delighted with the work done by the commercial photographer, Tom Decker in Plainview, NY, (recommended at Stu Art). His prices are reasonable and he is reliable  and friendly, and does an excellent job. I’ll post his card for you to see what kind of work he’s done for other fine artists. You can reach Tom at 516-694-8980.


More great art lectures and a visit to the New York Historical Society in Manhattan…

I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to attend the high-calibre lectures at the Penninsula Library in distant Lawrence, LI.  I feel transported back to Vassar’s Art History classes. L’ creme de la creme are the guest lecturers!  (And, it’s free.)

On January 23, Vivian Gordon, formerly with the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  took us on an fascinating and informative “arm chair tour “of the Art Institute of Chicago, as only a learned scholar with pizazz could do. What a treat! Street violence, lots of shootings prompted President Trump to suggest sending in the National Guard, and yet there is a quiet, elevated place where peace and beauty resides in abundance.

Although the focus of the lecture was on Degas and Rembrandt, Ms. Gordon explored as much as possible to the delight of a full house.

The Art Institute of Chicago is guarded by a pair of lion mascots at its main entrance. Founded in 1879 in the rebirth of the city post 1871 fire, that led to the introduction of modern architecture. The museum houses El Greco’s Assumption of the Virgin,” which is over 13 feet tall, painted in Spain in 1577.  Ms. Gordon described El Greco as a bold painter recognizable by his energetic, piercing white highlights and elongated figures, a unique style. ( I thought I remembered he had a visual impairment that caused him to see elongated figures. I’ll have to look that up.) The Assumption was considered one of his finest paintings and had been above an altarpiece originally. Another artist, Mary Cassatt discovered it and wanted it for the museum and in 1906, the Art Institute of Chicago purchased it for the equivalent of $40,000.  (What a steal!)   There is a Rembrandt 1631 painting of an elderly man, a model the artist used for character studies. He’d dress him in elegant garb sometimes and one can imagine perhaps he was a peasant with an interesting face and Rembrandt transformed him to opulence with costuming and artistry. The Degas I found most captivating was “The Milliner’s Shop,” in which a young milliner is portrayed and the hats she decorated. There are more than twenty paintings and pastels of the milliner’s shop.  There is a personal reason I am particularly attracted to the painting. As a young woman, prior to migrating to the USA, my paternal grandfather’s aunt Mary (Kirsner/Kirshner) Bale was a hat designer. She worked in a London milliner’s shop, creating d hats for Queen Victoria( and was said to be one of her friends).

Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” (1938). © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


There are several Chagall paintings in the museum, including the famous and rarely seen “White Crucifixion,” which in symbolism stressed Jesus’s Jewish heritage. There are six panels, “The American Windows” by Chagall at age 87, created for the city of Chicago and the Art Institute. They represent freedom of artistic expression.

There is such a wide variety and so much to see you must book a flight to Chicago and spend a weekend exploring the Art Institute of Chicago for yourself. Who knew such treasures await us?  (Hmm…thought New York was the center of the universe?)

Next Stop — The New York Historical Society where the small museum was conquerable within 3.5 hours.  “The Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World” runs to March 12. There were portraits of Colonial Jews and families and many artifacts, including a partially burnt torah scroll from George Washington’s time. It should have been buried, according to tradition; instead a fragment was preserved for history’s sake. Leroy Nieman’s Mohammed Ali renderings were featured in the exhibit honoring the world’s champion boxer. I met the artist, Leroy Nieman, when I was about 22 years old. I was the Sports Calendar Editor at Sportswise New York Magazine (first job) and had wrote a Sports of the Town column, when a friend, Ruth Young, fellow artist and poet told me her mother worked with Leroy Neiman, as his assistant-artist. I must have mentioned this to my publisher, because the next thing I knew he created a cover for our magazine, featuring tennis stars. I wish I had the original artwork, but it belonged to the publisher or to Leroy Nieman himself. In those days the publication was paid for TMP (Telephone Marketing Programs) and distributed in sporting goods stores. I should have a copy lying around somewhere. When I locate it, I’ll post the cover art. (Remind me if I forget!). It would have been 1981 or 1982.

Much to my delight, I came upon a giant ballet theatre curtain of Pablo Picasso’s. What in the world was that doing in the New York Historical Society’s collection? It was centrally placed in the permanent collection gallery. The paintings there were stunning, Hudson River School masterpieces and many other great works of art.  Many more early portraits too. We ventured into the interactive children’s section and fooled around, finding the inner child. An antique electric train ran through from the lobby,a as there was a Holiday Express exhibit of model trains and historic toy soldiers and other such collections. It is certainly properly rated a “children friendly” place.





Being a kid again, NY Historical Society










 “Max Beckmann in New York” —  a lecture by Thomas Germano of SUNY Farmingdale

The German Expressionist, Max Beckmann’s art work is currently on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through Feb. 20, 2017.  This lecture was an excellent introduction to the man who was the greatest German artist, in Weimar Germany, prior to WWII. In fact, the rising Nazi party determined his art to be “degenerate” and placed his and other expressionist and impressionist, avante guard , modern art in an exhibition of such “degenerative art” and seeing the writing on the wall, he fled to Amsterdam in 1937, where he had a reversal of fortune.  Then when Philip Guston’s position at the University in St. Louis opened up for a temporary replacement, he came to America and St. Louis now has the largest collection of his works.  Much was confiscated by the Nazis. Only recently was “The Lion Tamer” sold privately from that stolen collection, by the son of the man who hid stolen works for decades. The price paid was only the equivalent of $1 million, far below the actual market price had it been legitimately auctioned.  After St. Louis, Max Beckmann came to New York City, where he did many new paintings for his 1950 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He never got to see the exhibit, because on route he suffered a heart attack and died on the sidewalk at Central Park aged 66 on December 27, 1950.  His work was profoundly expressive and self-reflective. The impact of WWI on his psyche, as a pacifist medic, who saw unspeakable horrors, and the Christian evolved artist who saw the rise of the Third Reich, he was scarred for life. His images bear those wounds for all to see in symbolism and powerful expressionism that is unavoidable. “The Argunauts” and “Family Picture,” “The Old Actress,” “The Lobby,” “The Falling Man” and numerous self portraits throughout his lifetime (over 80 of them) provided an autobiographical treatise. I identified with his angst, which I cannot know the depths of, really. I would say that  instead of  “wearing his heart on his sleeve,” he brilliantly  cast his heart on the canvases of his creations.

Some of Max Beckmann’s self-portraits

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