It's always a pleasure to spend an evening viewing artwork, but even more so when the art is of outstanding quality and created by someone you are fortunate enough to call a friend. Back in March, I got to visit with one of my oldest friends and fellow Pratt classmate Gary Kaleda at the opening of his show, Forward Slash /. A large number of his digitally created works were on display and will remain up through May 5th. This month, I swung by Maplewood to see Adam Gustavson's show, Swimmers. I final got to meet the man whom I had previously only communicated with via Facebook.
Gary Kaleda: Forward Slash /.
Back when we were freshman at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, I told Gary that while I had great respect for many of the talented artist students there, he was the one whose work I expect to see hanging in MOMA. My opinion hasn't changed. My advice to any art collectors is go see his show and take home a piece now, before fame finds him and that becomes much more difficult and/or costly.
Gary was already an excellent painter when we arrived at Pratt, but that accomplishment wasn't his ultimate goal. Ever since, I've seen him pursuing his vision and experimenting with various media until he landed on creating digital pieces that combine the human form with the obsession of our age: technology. I've never been a huge fan of digital art as I love brushwork and the physical act of painting among other qualities of handmade pieces. Digital work often feels too slick. Too cold. Too flat. Too inhuman. At first, I was concerned that the medium would not allow Gary to express his artistry to its fullest extent....but I was wrong. Gary's work is both modern and classical. He exploits technology to interpret the human form and brings a painter's sensibilities of texture, layering, color and depth to his computer generated images to tremendous effect.
Take a look for yourself...while these web images don't do the work justice, hopefully they'll entice you enough to get downtown and see the real things before the show comes down.
FORWARD SLASH /
Technology, Transcendence & Tea
Featuring: Gary Kaleda / Malin Abrahamsson / Erik Sanner
Exhibit: March 16 - May 5, 2017
180 Maiden Lane, NYC, NY
Adam Gustavson: Swimmers
I moved out to NJ late in 2015 after roughly 25 years in Brooklyn. Soon after, in 2016, my first children's book came out, The Sound of All Things. That experience introduced me to the organization SCBWI (The Society of Childrens' Book Writers and Illustrators) and that connection led me to Adam, a fellow fine artist and illustrator. I immediately became a big fan and have looked forward to his Facebook postings (especially his humorous Feral Town pieces) even since.
The first time I saw one of his Swimmers pieces posted, I was immediately attracted to the image and its playful and tactile qualities. And who doesn't love imagining a refreshing dip in the water on a hot summer's day? So I was glad to hear that they were to be featured at a show currently up in Maplewood, just a hop from my new hometown of Montclair.
On Thursday, April 6th my wife Drury and I drove over to Maplewood, enjoyed some delicious pizza and a bottle of wine at Arturo's and then headed to the gallery to meet some friends and view the show. A bonus was getting a chance to meet the artist in person for the first time as well as see the series.
Gallery 103 is located conveniently in downtown Maplewood, just around the corner from the main strip. It is relatively small and was overflowing with folks when we arrived. The room was buzzing with friendly conversation and the walls were filled with images of young swimmers shimmering underwater. The bright colors, dynamic compositions, reflections and distortions were engaging and easy to like. The work displays clear love of the subject and an experienced confidence in execution. A number already had red dots (indicating sales) so clearly these images resonated with many.
After viewing the work and chatting with my wife and friends, I finally forced my way in and got to shake Adam's hand and introduce myself. Although we had never met in person, I already felt a kinship and considered him a friend so I enjoyed the opportunity to finally exchange some words face to face and wished him much success with the show (which was clearly already a success!)
Adam has illustrated a large number of children's books, including a new one called Stand Up And Sing!, the story of folk singer, activist, environmentalist, and erstwhile shipbuilder Pete Seeger, from his birth in 1919 to his passing in 2014, complete with forays into the labor movement, McCarthyism, the Civil Rights era, and the founding of the Clearwater organization.
Paintings by Adam Gustavson
Exhibit: Saturday, April 1 - Sunday, April 30
103 Baker St, Maplewood, NJ
I encourage you to check out both shows and/or the artists work - you can thank me later.