Readings: Edward Hopper House Art Center, Nyack


Kay.Ramble.acrysmall_010The subject of the two-person show Readings is books and their meaningfulness to the artists that depict them. In Stanford Kay's paintings, books are sometimes stacked, sometimes shelved (as in "Ramble," left), and other times placed on tabletops in a non-static grid. The core format, the classic type from this body of work, is the shelved book (straight-on compositions) variously sized and colored (books seen with binding out set straight up and down along thin shelves), all veiled in color and wispy brush strokes. In "The Natural World," various representations of leaves are applied near the end of the painting process suggesting the outdoors, a vision sometimes imagined while reading novels set in gardens, valleys or forests.

The least bookshelf-looking of this format is "City Lights" where yellow streetlights bleed through a fog of violets and blues, but few books. Here, the viewer may think of a detective novel centered on crimes of passion, or books that hinge upon romantic night rendezvous or sleepless traveling salesmen.

Depicting stacked books, a second approach, can also achieve a varied result visually and in the minds of the viewers. In "Strata," heavy books seen from the page side stack like bricks weighed down in thick creamy white paint, while "Herstory" stacks high too, but in canvases with sections of books forming a jagged pile of greens against a pinkish backdrop. Here, the results are more sculptural, suggestive of engineering, gravity, and movement.

"My Back Pages (gray)" is of the tabletop variety, and has an odd off-perspective. The way these books are arranged reminded me of the style of 1950s up-tempo magazine ad illustrations with their jazzy lines, colors, and compositions. SpectorSpine22003_000

Buzz Spector's photography falls somewhere between a "quick read," as in "Spine" and "Big Red C," to far deeper meanings with his "All the Books in My Library" series. In "All the Books in My Library by or About Marcel Broodthars," we see a right-leaning stack of books justified evenly on the left, but irregular on the right - all happening against a dark field of deep space. In the similar "By and About Ann Hamilton," there stands a row of books descending in height from the outside in. The setting, a cardboard base slowly blending into a medium blue field, is light and refreshing. In both instances, using a large-format 20x24-inch Polaroid camera, Spector shows us the artists who have influenced him, using books from his own library or the libraries of friends. What I noticed and felt most of all from the photographs of Spector was an intimate and very natural conceptual approach that lends itself quite well to the immediacy and clarity of his camera’s lens. This viewer at times felt more like a voyeur than an uninvolved spectator, which in one small way is what meaningful books are all about. - D. Dominick Lombardi

Edward Hopper House Art Center 82 North Broadway, Nyack, NY (845) 358-0774 dom.jpg

Mr. Lombardi is an artist with representation in Kasia Kay Art Projects and in Chicago, Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon, NY, and ADA gallery in Richmond, VA; a writer with Sculpture, Sculpture Review, DART, and NYARTS; and an independent curator.