Pictures at an Exhibition

Giuliano Opening at Real Eyes Gallery

By: - Nov 10, 2019

It takes a village.

Over the past couple of seasons there has evolved a vibrant and homey sense of community at Real Eyes Gallery on Park Street in Adams.

Bill and Francie Riley reside in what was the Riley family furniture store. They are a matrix for the arts community.

A now retired scene painter for the Metropolitan Opera Bill renovated the storefront as a gallery. One side features special exhibitions and the other an inventory of works by local artists and crafts. The hours are Friday through Sunday.

Yesterday was the opening of my exhibition “Then and Now from Analog to Digital.” It was well attended. There was exotic music provided by Adams based musicians Nana Simopoulos on electric sitar and acoustic guitar. She was accompanied on percussion and vocals by Caryn Heilman. There was applause for each selection. Their performance greatly enhanced the ambiance of the event.

There will be a closing party and artist’s talk on Saturday, November 23, at 4 PM. The focus will be on how this body of work developed in phases over several decades. The show combines original collages of taped snapshots. Then an intermediary period of framed giclee prints. Over the past year some 13 large format prints on canvas were created. Through different iterations the work is old and new.

Last summer for two exhibitions, “Heads and Tales” at Gallery 51 and “Amigos” for Eclipse Mill Gallery, I made large prints on canvas at Beck’s Printing in North Adams. There were two rock images, not in the current show, and three collages that are. This is the work that Bill responded to particularly the use of classical sculptures as an element of the images.

In the year since then I photographed some 200 photocollages. They were tweaked with Photoshop and printed on 13 x 19” Epson Premium Luster paper. Three portfolios of this work are included in the Real Eyes exhibition. In the coming months I hope to add a couple hundred more collages to the inventory. Once tweaked they are all potential digital files for large format printing. They comprise landscapes and monuments as well as surreal images.

It was very difficult to select the thirteen prints on canvas for this exhibition. They were combined with framed examples of original collages as well as giclee prints created with Ray Fair. The Fair prints were created on sheets of Arches watercolor paper and are one of a kind. I planned to edition some but he retired before that happened.

The original collages, entailing commercial color prints and tape, are not archival. The giclee prints are and the canvas pieces are intended to hold up under intense natural light. The commercial inks and process are designed to create billboards and posters.

During the opening there were wonderful conversations with artists and friends. Among the works on view there were many different “favorites.” But most folks particularly responded to “Astrid at the Frontenac: Homage to Hopper.”

It is different from the others by being more personal and intimate. As in a Hopper painting my wife Astrid, then a flaming redhead, is seen gazing out the window at the St. Lawrence River. In this panoramic image, with shifts of space and light, we see that view from another window in the spacious room. It was such a thrill to stay at the iconic chateau in Quebec City.

There were also a lot of comments about the Joseph Beuys installation at MASS MoCA and a moody panorama of the Hancock Shaker Village. An observation entailed the distortions of collage space as how memory reconstructs visiting sites and monuments. It is more evocative than a single fixed view. In real life our eyes scan and process from many moving vantage points. That’s quite different from a frozen fixed image. In that sense the collages are arguably more poetic and true to actual visual experience. With “Frontenac”  “Beuys” and “Shaker Village,” for example, there is a rhythm to how we view the space. Of course in aesthetic terms that derives from cubism, futurism, or the strobe photographs of Harold Edgerton.

One of the primary reasons that artists show at Real Eyes is its fabulous space and lighting. When Bill and I spotted the show it was amazing that it seemed to fit so perfectly. I was in New York for the week when Bill and the artist Alvin Ouelette installed it so precisely. With a nice touch Bill painted the clips with white paint so they blend with the walls. The sides and bottom have white headed pins.

The unstretched canvas approach is essential as it avoids framing. There is no space in our crowded loft for thirteen large framed pieces. Between shows the rolled canvases neatly fit into storage bins. Collectors have the option to stretch or frame the pieces. That’s why there are white margins around the images.

Last week, during a dinner gathering of artists, I was teased as to who will review the show. By default that means me. It is a bit ironic that I review many artists but nobody covers me. In 2014 for the launch of the first of now six books I had a reading at The Mount. The Berkshire Eagle ran the Mount’s press release. Since then there has been nada ink from the paper of record. That’s really deplorable, not just for me, but for so many authors and artists in the Berkshires.

The opening yesterday was absolutely fabulous. So many friends made real efforts to come by. For the occasion I was outfitted in my Senegal robes and hat. Linda O’Brien, who took a great shot of me, remarked that it is made of mud cloth. My niece Sarah Tuvim bought it for me in the market when we joined a family drumming trip.

That was quite an adventure particularly when we ran out of money. There were some hard scrabble improvised dinners of bread, water, pasta and chili paste. It seems the bank wouldn’t take my travelers check and ATMs rejected our credit cards. We pooled our cash and had to borrow money from a fellow traveler.

Perhaps some other time Astrid and I will show our Senegal pictures. Part of what is so personal and resonant about the show and albums of collages is the manner in which they reflect our life, love, and travel.

Indeed every picture tells a story and drop by if you are in the hood.