Wednesday, September 21, 2011

James Palmigiano: Recent Collages

McGowan Fine Art announces the opening of “Recent Works”, featuring a selection of mixed media works by James Palmigiano. The show will run October 11 through November 11, 2011, with a reception taking place October 14, 5 to 7 PM. The reception is free and open to the public.

A Trappist monk, James Palmigiano’s monastic life manifests itself in his quiet, intimate works. “It seems clear that my work reflects my experience of life in the monastery”, says Palmigiano. “The apparent harmony of each piece is born of a process of adding and subtracting, organizing and rearranging in a search for balance, order and presence.”

Collage is the defining element of Palmigiano’s art which grew from his work as a vestment designer at Saint Joseph’s Abbey. At first glance his collages appear random, or disorderly. On closer inspection, the opposite becomes evident. Old stamps, fabric remnants, hand-written envelopes - every day bits and pieces of life - are carefully placed and then rearranged by his meticulous hand. “The process of art making is about attentiveness, trying to bring order and make something out of what is confused and apparently hopeless.” The result of Palmigiano’s painstaking process is serene, meditative works. His gouache and pastel paintings elicit this same sense of tranquility, with a juxtaposition of deliberate and gentle strokes.

James Palmigiano has been a brother at Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer Massachusetts since 1991. Both his MFA from Columbia University and his Masters in Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkley have prepared him for the contemplative life.

Palmigiano has displayed his works in both solo and group exhibitions throughout New England, NY, and in CA.

Money and Art

A customer recently asked me what I thought of the movie Exit Through the Gift Shop. It is a mockumentary (my view) about street art that also passes judgement on the current art scene. Whether is  a real documentary or not doesn't matter. It raises questions worth pondering.....or expounding on.

Julia Jensen
The main character has his interest turned from filming street artists to becoming one.  His focus is on the marketing and branding of himself rather than creation of art. All effort is spent on creating hype and spectacle. It is equal parts chutzpah, money and grotesquerie. The jaw dropping wonder of this film is not that someone is creating bad art and trying to sell it but that critics and buyers believe what they have been told and are willing to hop on the proverbial bandwagon.

And this will bring me full circle to a point that I try to make again and again.... believe your eyes. It is not a bad thing to know the sales history of an artist, but it should not be the sole criteria for judging a piece of art. Being critical about art requires looking at a lot of it.... and making up your own mind. Don't be sucked in by publicity, hype or a gallery telling you that an artist is collectible or an investment. Remember that trend setting collectors, auction houses, artists and galleries have a stake in seeing prices on art sky rocket.

Katja Oxman
And this comes to my final point- the transaction. Why should and how much should you pay for a piece of art? How do you know if you are paying too much? Artists' prices are set and will be the same regardless of which gallery you purchase from. There are some galleries who have responded to the customers' demand for a discount by pushing the price up, but in general galleries and artists are charging a price commensurate with their skill and demand for the work. I try to get buyers to understand that the value is not necessarily  in the object but in an exchange of money which supports an artist whose work you like. Simply put- you are not buying a piece of art you are giving an artist a direct grant and in exchange you get a fabulous object to look at. So the questions to ask yourself are "can I afford this and do I love it  X number of dollars worth?" And this is true of any cultural pursuit.... if you value it and you think it has a place in your community then you should support it with the money that allows it to continue. This is true of music, film, books, the visual arts, dance and more.

Noriko Sakanishi
I had a  conversation recently with a long time collector. I called her bluff by pointing out that we both knew that she purchased many pieces to provide the artists with an income. She gave me a wink and pointed out that she only purchased work that she wanted and was willing to live with, but she is well aware of her role in changing the cultural landscape with her purchases. You too can help create the community and world you want by spending money on the quality of work you want to be surrounded by.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Retirement of Mary McGowan

Mary McGowan, founder of McGowan Fine Art is announcing her retirement. Founded over 31 years ago it is one of the states oldest galleries and the longest, single-owner businesses in downtown Concord.

Mary McGowan founded McGowan Fine Art in 1980 to showcase NH artists. “I wanted NH to recognize the quality of its artists, both established and emerging” said McGowan. “We have since gained a reputation for showing some of the most innovative work in NH.” In 1986 McGowan Fine Art relocated from her home to 10 Hills Avenue in Concord, where it continues to operate, expanding the gallery space and adding a frame shop.

Ms. McGowan turns the business over to director, Sarah Chaffee, who has been at the gallery since 1997. “Sarah has an eye for great art and an excellent reputation with artists. She has been a resource for colleges, organizations and clients. ” says McGowan. Amanda McGowan Lacasse, with the gallery since 2007, will succeed Mary in the corporate consulting. “Amanda has been working with corporation, developers as well as medical & retirement facilities. Her organizational skills and fresh eye have already helped so many to achieve a finished and professional environment.”

Please help celebrate Mary’s 31 years of promoting visual arts on Thursday, September 29 from 4 to 8 PM at the gallery. Many of the artists who have been affiliated with the gallery over the years will be showing recent work. They will also be attending to add to the festive evening. Come join us!