Celebrating National Women’s History Month at the Howland Cultural Center
Thirteen Hudson Valley artists, all members of a group named Art Women @ Work will have their work shown in a multi-media exhibition at the Howland Cultural Center in an exhibition celebrating National Women’s History Month. The artists first gathered in January, 2006 at the invitation of painter Tilly Strauss and photographer Bibiana Huang Matheis, who felt a need for community in their solitary work as artists. The group meets once a month with artists taking turns hosting the meetings at their studios. Members note that over time they have created “an incredible sisterhood that encourages individual growth and gives each artist courage to become more fully herself.”
The notes for the exhibit describe each artist’s work as follows:
Mimi Czajka Graminsk (sculpture installation) finds inspiration for her art from the alpha state of consciousness, those moments between wake and sleep, when an image emerges which is usually abstract and embodies a feeling, idea, person, or experience. Her work is also “inspired by my interest in using materials and traditional handcrafts in new ways, mixing them, and bringing them into a new level.”
Amy Farrell (monotypes, mixed media) inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the natural world creates images that provide the opportunity to stop, look closely, and explore the depths of each multi-layered picture. She has developed a uniquely complex process that combines a variety of printmaking methods with photography and painting.
George-Ann Gowan (drawings) “I just want to get to the truth of the matter.” Two of her graphic drawings were selected by the United States Department of State Art in Embassies Program to hang in the official residence of the US Ambassador in Kyrgyzstan.
Victoria S. Hayes (collages) a continuing interest in the landscape, the theme of her woodcut imagery, led Victoria to explore more immediate and diverse media such as watercolor, pastel, collage, and assemblage. At present, she is exploring mixed media assemblage to create objects reflecting a continuing connection to nature and its interpretation through Asian art.
Susan Hennelly (watercolor paintings) “My art is about capturing the essence of the subject”¦usually inspired by nature.” Susan’s move to Dutchess County in 1995 inspired her to record and paint the fleeting farmland.
Tanya Kukucka (sculpture, paintings) Tanya states that her artworks are a representation of an inner self. Her assemblage sculptures “purge the inner darkness of my psyche.”
Joan Blazis Levitt (paintings, printmaking) “Follow your heart” describes the artistic path of this painter and printmaker. Her work expresses her love of nature, manifesting in lovely, colorful, and linear renderings of animals, plants, still lifes, and landscapes. “Creative expression is so important in life. For me the practice of art has a healing effect.”
Amy Manso (relief collages) “I challenge and mock the spirit of plastic — animate it and imbue it with life — reclaim it and re-contextualize it. My collages assimilate and transform mundane synthetic leftovers into something genuine and hopeful — art that is accessible, joyful, whimsical, and surprising.”
Bibiana Huang Matheis (artistic photography) concentrates on emotive feelings, rather than a particular subject matter. Matheis calls the photos in this exhibition “little vignettes for the heart,” as this collection directed the lens toward serenity”¦.she hopes “to create playful spaces in which we can be at peace.”
Johanne Renbeck (artist book making & small paintings) “I am interested in the influence of the natural world on human behavior and belief. For this exhibit, I have created some small playful artist books that draw imagery from Norse myth and from the “Rune Women” paintings.”
Tilly Strauss (paintings) Hot roosters, mixed up hens, and street scenes pepper a frothy mix of paint, paper, and brushwork. Thus is the background for paintings in this exhibit. Two years after the chicken farm closed Tilly moved her paints into the defunct slaughterhouse. Chickens now fall easily from her brush. They peck out the moods of her soul and attempt to capture the riddle of why we exist, dream, move, and act.
Also included are Lillian Lovitt (sculpture, paintings) and Arlene Nadel (portrait painting). An Artists’ Book will be on display during this exhibition for the public to read about the extensive background of all of the artists.
It was just 90 years ago that women won their right to vote. However, the struggle for equal rights dates back to 1848 when women led by Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth converged on Seneca Falls, New York to attend the first conference of women in their call for recognition, equality, and independence in all aspects of life: social, economic, political, and educational. Also, for centuries, women artists were totally suppressed by the male-dominated art world. They often resorted to a male “nom de plume” in order to have their art work at least acknowledged and hopefully accepted.
The Howland Cultural Center Gallery is open to the public every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., with the exception of Sundays March 6 and 20. The Center is located at 477 Main Street, in Beacon. For more information visit www.howlandcenter.org.