Shades of Blue for a Beacon Hill Brownstone

THE STORY - These past 6 months we have had the pleasure of working on a commission with a couple located in Beacon Hill. They came into the gallery during our Collected Stories exhibition and by chance had the opportunity to meet Holly Harrison, one of our represented artists who was on view.

THE ARTIST - Holly Harrison’s latest work, Color Fields, relates sections of color with elements of mixed media. In this new series, the bands of color serve as the subject, contrasting with her previous work that was mostly image-based. A crucial element to Harrison’s work is the mixed media component, giving each artwork texture, depth and most importantly: an imbedded story. Often the layers include old shopping lists, vintage comics, book and magazine pages, printed papers, junk mail, her daughter’s early doodles, and pieces of her husband’s works on paper. These components are covered with a wash of paint, joining the disparate pieces together while also obscuring their content. After discussing their shared love for comic books and New York City, the couple decided to commission two artworks by Holly for their dual fire places.  

COMMISSION PROCESS –  For this project, Harrison wanted to ensure the work was a perfect balance of her artistic expression and a representation of the clients’ lives and family. She spent time getting to know them, looking at selections from their vintage comic book collection as well as drawings and homework samples by their children that the couple had assembled for her to use. She also searched online and in vintage shops for antique prescription bottle labels and old medical illustrations of the brain as an ode to the clients’ careers in medicine. In additional to the personalized collage elements, the clients also hoped the finished works would aesthetically match their home in shades of blue.  

For every commission there is a conversation between the artist and clients where the artist gets a sense of the client’s preferred style, size, and scope of the project. Once the artist is about 75% complete with the artwork, they share progress photos with the clients which allows one or two rounds of feedback (or they say they love the progress and have no changes!). From there, the artist finishes the work and we set up delivery and installation. 

OUR ADVICE - Commissions are a wonderful way to acquire an artwork specifically customized for your space. If you love a certain piece, but it isn’t quite the right size for your home - always ask the gallery if there is the option to create a new work in the size you need. 

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Announcement: Wilhelm Neusser at Rijksmuseum Museum

Wilhelm Neusser, Woods (1530), 2015/2018, Oil on linen. 24 x 32 in.

We are thrilled to announce that Woods (2015/18) by Wilhelm Neusser has been selected for Long Live Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The exhibition showcases Rembrandt's impact on artists today across all media, genres and styles. Rembrandt remains best known for his mastery of the human figure, not just in his stunning self-portraits, but also in biblical scenes and those depicting bourgeois life.

Painters of the Dutch Golden Age are a constant source of inspiration for Neusser as he envisions contemporary landscape. Rembrandt’s The Stone Bridge, held by the Rijksmuseum, has hung for years as a postcard in Neusser’s studio. “Not in order to copy or imitate what Rembrandt was able to do with paint on panel (I couldn’t),” said Neusser, “but in order to draw from his incredible play with dark and light, the sublime mood and atmosphere in this painting.”

Around the time Neusser began painting Woods, he became enamored of a series of online lectures on Rembrandt by John Walsh, especially the art historian's emphasis on the Dutch master's technique and surface treatment. The forest landscape in Woods was determined by the nature of the painting material itself. According to Neusser, “the topography of the subject matter and the canvas became one.” 

Long Live Rembrandt: On view July 15, 2019 to September 15, 2019, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Landscape with a Stone Bridge, Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1638 oil on panel, h 29.5cm × w 42.5cm × d 5.5cm Image Courtesy of Rijksmuseum

Artist Spotlight: Richard Keen

Our gallery Director Allyson Boli sat down with Richard Keen to learn more about his creative process. Not only is Richard both a talented painter and sculptor, but he also has three studio dogs! Read our interview below to learn more about him:

Allyson Boli: What was your initial spark to be an artist?  

Richard Keen: I can remember drawing and tracing a lot as a child. Throughout school, I also gravitated to art and music classes and fortunately went to a public high school that had a solid art program with four art faculty who were very supportive.  After high school, when it came time to decide between moving to LA to become a “Rock and Roll Star” versus going to college for art, something inside me must have known I would be a better visual artist – that plus a heavy parental urging to go to college.   

AB: What is your creative process like? Do you begin with an end result envisioned?

RK: My creative process generally starts with turning on music and looking around at what I did last. I often have at least 10-15 pieces happening at once and paints mixed up ready to go so that I can jump right in and get messy. Most of my work starts with putting down some light ground colors with acrylics to block out some simple shapes. Then, I start building up lines, shapes, colors and textures with my oils. Sometimes I have a sense of a basic direction that I want a painting to head in, or I try to capture elements of other paintings that I’ve completed, but I don’t typically have a vision for an end result. 

AB: So it sounds like you’re working on multiple pieces at once, how does that play into your overall process?

RK: Yes, I find that working on similar but different bodies of work at the same time keeps my work moving in interesting directions. I often find that one painting, or group of paintings, informs the other and helps me with color choices, textures and generally keeps me from getting stuck in a rut. 

AB: What inspired your sculptural and shaped paintings? 

RK: My current sculptural and shaped paintings come from within my “Form Singularity” paintings and through finding shapes that resonate with me. I’ve been exploring three-dimensional work as far back as I can remember, but I think that I would have to say that making shaped paintings could be directly attributed to my appreciation for Elizabeth Murray’s work. I can also say that walking through a boatyard in the off season, and seeing how boat hulls get sanded and repainted also stimulated my urge to make shaped work. I think I saw a rudder laying on the ground half sanded by the yard crew… that was a moment of inspiration for me too.

AB: What made you move toward the more minimal style of the Form Singularity series?  

RK: I’ve leaned towards simplifying, reducing, and minimizing the amount of information that I put onto the canvas all along my path as an artist. As far back as high school, I remember working with simplified shapes and amplified colors. My “Form Singularity” Series is, in a sense, my natural state of being, while my other series act as bridges for viewers to cross over into the way I see the world.   

AB: Are there any artists that inform your work?  

RK: Oh yes… I love so many fantastic artists. I mentioned Elizabeth Murray earlier, who I was lucky enough to meet a couple times. I’m a fan of Richard Diebenkorn, Clyfford Still, Helen Frankenthaler and so many of the late greats. A few contemporary artists that I admire greatly are Julie Mehretu, Cadence Giersbach, Chris Ofili, Gary Hume and David Tremlett.  

AB: What are you currently working on? 

RK: I’m currently working on new “Form Singularity” paintings, new “Island Geometry and Sea Geometry” paintings, and several new sculptures while balancing out the demands of a couple upcoming three-person shows here in Maine. I’m also working on a Public Art Project through Maine’s Percent for Art Program. The multi-panel mural is an 8’ x 8’ abstraction made up of 6 geometric panels linked closely to my “Island Geometry” and will be installed in June of 2020.

View Richard Keen’s work in our exhibition Almost Exactly on view through June 16, 2019.

Artist Richard Keen in front of his work at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery: Form Singularity No. 165, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 72 x 64 in., 2019

Can you name #5WomenArtists?

Since 2016—every Women’s History Month—the National Museum of Women in the Arts has challenged those active on social media to answer this question: Can you name five women artists?

This task should be simple. It’s just five artists . . . female artists. Unfortunately, many cannot answer this question, not without resorting to a quick internet search. 

#5WomenArtists is a campaign to support gender equality in the arts. Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to answer #5WomenArtists this Women’s History Month with five modern and contemporary female artists, working across a range of media, on view in Boston this spring.

SAND Performers. Image courtesy of Victoria Awkward.

1. Contemporary Performance/Interdisciplinary
Victoria Awkward (present)
is a Boston-based emerging interdisciplinary performance artist whose work combines dance, music, photography, and empowerment. Victoria collaborates with diverse groups and focuses her practice on considerations of individuality and self-realization. Her recent performance SAND is an evening-length dance installation combining dance, poetry, music, and visual arts that celebrates the inherent differences between women by highlighting each female dancers’ unique qualities and personal expression.

Recently, Victoria hosted SAND at the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery and will host another performance at Fountain Street Gallery on April 26 and 27.

2. Contemporary Drawings/Public Installation
Joan Jonas (1936–present)
is an American performance and video artist who explores and reinterprets representations of time, space, and female subjectivity in her work. Jonas pioneered video art, and became one of the most important female artists to emerge in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Her work frequently questions portrayals of female identity in dramatic and contrived performances that draw on stories from many cultures, using theatrical gestures, masks, mirrors, and costumes. In 2017, she was the Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Gardner Museum. 

Her solo exhibition I Know Why They Left and her public installation Blue to Blue are on view at the Isabella Gardner Museum from January 23–October 14, 2019, and January 22–June 24, 2019, respectively.

Isabella Gardner Museum
25 Evans Way, Boston, MA 02115

I Know Why They Left is a new series of drawings by the 2017 Artist-in-Residence Joan Jonas, Image courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

3. Contemporary Sculpture
Kapwani Kiwanga (1978–present)
is a Paris-based artist who investigates historical narratives, the global consequences of colonialism, and the pervasive impact of power asymmetries still present in society today. She examines marginalized and forgotten histories by juxtaposing them with present realities and future possibilities, using sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance. Her recurrent reference to materiality and the economics of material production allude to how exploitation invariably manifests in politics and culture.

Her solo exhibition is on view at the MIT List Visual Arts Center from February 8–April 21, 2019.

MIT List Visual Arts Center
20 Ames St, Cambridge, MA 02142

4. Modern Painting/Print/Sculpture
Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) 
was a German artist, who worked with painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Kollwitz was a resolute pacifist whose son died during World War I. She is best known for her compelling anti-war graphic works—which emphasize the suffering and sacrifice of those on the home front and especially the female perspective of the war—and her art cycles which depict the effects of poverty, hunger, and war on the working class. Several of her works are currently on view at the Harvard Art Museum (with many more in storage).

Harvard Art Museum
32 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138

5. Contemporary Photography
Cindy Sherman (1954–present)
is an American photographer and filmmaker who critiques contemporary stereotypes of gender and identity. Using herself as the subject of most of her work, Sherman examines and distorts the social constructs of femininity and the mechanics of their production. “I like making images that from a distance seem kind of seductive, colorful, luscious, and engaging, and then you realize what you're looking at is something totally opposite,” she explains.

Several of her works are currently on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

 Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA 02210

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #3, gelatin silver print, 1977, Image courtesy of the ICA Boston.

Honorable Mention: Contemporary Fashion Exhibition
Made Visible: Contemporary South African Fashion and Identity
is a female-forward fashion exhibition celebrating the identities of South Africans historically denied rights and representation, such as Xhosa, Ndebele, and Zulu communities; women of color; members of the LGBTQI community; and rural citizens. The exhibition explores how clothing communicates individuality, creates or erases cultural identity, and enforces class divisions.

This exhibition is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from February 2–May 12, 2019.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115

Image courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Written by Devon Engle