Review: Skywriter: Vs vs Stephen Poleskie
By Patrick Kirk-Smith - April 25, 2017
1.11 Residency (LJMU Residency Space at The Royal Standard), 13th April 2017
Ahead of the final exhibition as Vs, we took a trip to the 1.11 Residency space at The Royal Standard. You might remember MUESLI or 6GINS through 2016, made up of LJMU graduates focussing their efforts on developing as curators and gallery managers. The third incarnation, and the first at Northern Lights, comes under the title Vs.
Vs pit their curators against artists to tackle key issues in each other’s work. It’s an intriguing premise for a project led exhibition space and keeps a neat line of progression into an ever more collaborative effort on the LJMU residency programme. 6GINs were fairly flexible with the space, but engaged as artists as well as curators. MUESLI were more laid back as curators, but incredibly involved in planning. Now, Vs seem involved at every stage.
Their penultimate exhibition, Skywriter, draws on the work of internationally acclaimed artist Stephen Poleskie, who collaborated on the exhibition remotely from the United States. The artist has had an incredible career, with work included at Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Neuberger Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Gallery, London (to name a few). For the curators this must’ve been pretty daunting, but it gave them a chance to respond to something incredibly special in entirely their own way.
Working with Poleskie’s ‘Aerial Theatre’, in which the artist flew a biplane trailing smoke to design temporary images in the sky, Vs interpreted the gentle faded visuals in Stephen Poleskie’s work with a focus on the gentle, delicate contrasts between the smoke and sky.
Using polythene and paint, the curators, Lucy Moxon, Ryan Watkins and Dan Smyth, have tried to recreate an element of cloud in their own temporary gallery space in the heart of The Royal Standard. An inviting hanging installation full of snippets and hints at Poleskie’s life and work is the result.
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Liverpool Vs vs Stephen Poleskie
Photos of the work produced by the three Liverpool, UK artists
Link to Stephen Poleskie article about his Aerial Theater in ODD MAGAZINE published in India.
A link to an new essay by Stephen Poleskie on Onager Editions
Stephen Poleskie's latest column for the on-line magazine Ragazine
STEPHEN POLESKIE signed copies of his book THE BALLOONIST on July 4, 2012 at the Genessee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY. The museum has commissioned a "replica" of T.S.C. Lowe's Civil War observation balloon which was unvailed on this day. Details of the event can be found on their web site by using the link below.
Misericordia University exhibition
click to see slide show with music
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May 6, 2011, The Arcades Project, 135 The Commons, Ithaca, NY: Poleskie had a book signing of his new release ACORN'S CARD, and a showing of 1963 B&W movie, THE BIRD FILM, which he wrote and directed. You can read a review on the ETC. page of this web site.
May 10, 2011 Poleskie gave a eading from THE BALLOONIST, at the Cortland County Historical Society, Cortland, NY.
May 12, to October 16, 2011, BRUCKEN im HIMMEL, OK Offenes Kulturhaus, Linz, Austria, Poleskie was in a group show that included artists Yoko Ono, Sam Francis, and Ursula Stadler
June 5, to June 24, 2011, LIGHT and SHADOW, Steve Poleskie & Jeanne Mackin, photographs and text. The Word & Image Gallery, Bright Hill Literary Center, 94 Church Street, Tredwell, NY
August 25, 2011, Reading and lecture from THE BALLOONIST: The Story of T. S. C. Lowe - Inventor, Scientist, magician, and Father of the U. S. Air Force. Tompkins County Public Library, 101 E. Green Street, Ithaca, NY, http://tcpl.org. 607.272.4557, 6:00 p.m.
THROUGH THE SCREEN: Screen Prints by Bill Davison, Steve Poleskie, Minna Resnick, Kadie Salfi, Christa Wolf
The Ink Shop at CSMA Legacy Foundation Gallery 330 E.State / MLK Street NY 14850
Dates: September 3 - September 24, 2010
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10-6 and Friday 9-5
Contact: The Ink Shop 607-277-3884 CSMA 607 272-1474 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.ink-shop.org
Screen printing is currently regarded as one of the newest forms of printmaking, but it evolved out of the oldest known techniques of stenciling in China and Japan between 500 and 1000 A.D. In the 1960s, screen printing arose as an ideal medium for for the time. At Chiron Press, Steve Poleskie worked with most of the 60s well-known artists. A professor emeritus at Cornell, Poleskie's work is in numerous museums including the Metropolitan Museum and MOMA. Other artists showcased include Bill Davison, who taught screen printing and etching at the University of Vermont. Kadie Salfi, his daughter, also works primarily in screen printing, often with sculptural material. Kadie is the 2009/10 Peter Kahn Family Fellow. Minna Resnick, well known nationally and internationally for her work that centers on womens' themes, often combines screen printing with lithography. Christa Wolf's pieces deal with the layering of memory. She studied screen printing with Steve Poleskie at Cornell and is a co-founder of the Ink Shop.
J ROBERT LENNON
Nothing Happens When You Stay At Home
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
by Arthur Whitman The Ithaca Post, 29 June 2010
THE EXHIBITION TITLE “Nothing Happens When You Stay at Home” is a sly rebuttal to popular photographer Elliot Erwitt, who once claimed that a photographer must go out into the world to find subjects to shoot. Both J. Robert Lennon, who suggested Elliot as a reference point, and Steve Poleskie, who first proposed this two person show – currently up at Buffalo Street Books — present digital photographs taken from in and around their homes. The work is not as cozy as the theme might suggest; both artists wrest a sense of oddness from within the everyday.
Neither artist is easily pigeonholed as a photographer. Lennon is best known as a novelist and also records music (entertaining, if not brilliant) as the one—man indy rock band Inverse Room. He also performs with fellow musician—photographer James Spitznagel. He teaches English at Cornell.
Although Poleskie too is currently best known as a novelist, his history as a visual and performing artist stretches back half a century and encompasses phases of both abstract and representational painting of various stripes. (I am particularly fond of his early to mid—sixties realist period, during which he befriended the great painter Raphael Soyer.) Also in the sixties, he founded Chiron Press, the first fine art screenprinting studio in New York City. He is perhaps best known in international art circles for his “Sky Art” airplane performances – seemingly the antithesis of the reclusive lifestyle embodied in his current image—making. Although he retired from flying a little over a decade ago (along with his Cornell art—professorship of three decades), his interest in aeronautics continues to inform his fiction.
Poleskie acquired his current camera in a somewhat accidental manner. After achieving the status of emeritus professor, he was given annual grant money from Cornell – along with a five year deadline for spending it all. Coming to the end of that period, and with money to spare, he made the impulsive decision to buy a digital camera at the school store. He has been photographing since 2004 and in 2006, he had a solo show at Ithaca’s (now sadly defunct) Upstairs Gallery.
His prints are highly consistent in both their subjects and their approach. Influenced by 17th century Dutch still—life paintings, he photographs more—or—less incidental arrangements of household matter: fruit and cut flowers, tableware, reading material and packaging, eyeglasses and glass vessels. They suggest a sort of rustic and informal gentility. The lighting is natural: often with bright rays puncturing sections of an otherwise dark room. Despite some richness of tone, the images are not quite as warm as they might be; Poleskie’s now antiquated camera seems to be the culprit. (He has told me that his further interest in photography is likely to last only as long as the camera does.)
Several of Poleskie’s pieces incorporate two images—one atop the other—behind single frames. Taken seconds apart and from more—or—less the same vantage point, these diptychs challenge the viewer to pay close attention to seemingly minute aspects of human perception—principally the shifting of light and shadow. The effect is to show us the unfamiliar in the everyday, the fluctuations through which we might see the stillness of still—life. In AD/BC the technique is played for sly humor: above, shadows frame a newspaper image of the Christ; below, they mask Him.
Lennon’s work is more varied and less hermetic in feeling. Mostly taken outdoors, they incorporate a variety of lighting to create a variety of moods: night and day, natural and artificial. The color and lighting tend toward the rich and saturated. Subjects are varied as well: leaves and grass, outsides of buildings, shadows and sky, chicken feet, shuttlecocks. The aptly titled Hobbit Door is particularly compelling, its extreme use of blurring and spatial distortion creating a comical focus on a central basement door—almost a like a hole in the image.
Not every photo works equally well. Chandelier feels almost willfully awkward in its composition, as if the artist casually swung his camera toward the ceiling. House with Clouds is the more successful of two nighttime scenes, deftly balancing cast and reflected artificial light with a ghostly, indeterminate light emanating from the sky.
Several of Lennon’s prints incorporate the human form, albeit in oblique ways. Statuette shows a tiny robed figurine perched on a window—ledge. The effect is meditative and gracefully formal. Eye, by contrast, produces a jarring, collage—like sensation—a close-up of someone’s bulging eyeball peers through a hole in a wooden fence. In To The Henhouse, we seen a darkly silhouetted nighttime figure from behind; the building he stands in front of casts a bright orange—tinted glow.
Two person shows are often ad—hoc conjoinings, and “Nothing Happens” is not an exception. It’s easy enough to say that the two artists are exploring related territory (as they somewhat literally are). But the two sets of work feel very different in person—and yet not so different to a degree, or in a manner, that would compel the viewer towards some sort of rewarding synthesis.
Still, these are two able photographers presenting focused and compelling bodies of work. Poleskie’s images, in particular, are a must—see given the rarity of its showing. Knowing his ever—restless desire to move on to new things, its hard to tell when or even if we will next get a chance to see it.
The show’s method of display is also noteworthy: the framed inkjet prints of both artists have been hung on the wooden bookshelves that line the bookstore’s back room. This unorthodox approach is kinder to Lennon’s pieces, as they are both smaller and more variegated – they blend in nicely with the books and objets trouvés that surround them. Poleskie’s work, with its precarious balance of brittleness and grandeur, would be better served by a more formal presentation.
Stephen Poleskie gave a reading from his new book Vigilia's Tempest on Saturday, May 8, at 3:00 p.m. at the State of the Art Gallery on State Street in Ithaca, as part of Spring (W)Rites, a Finger Lakes Literary Festival, hosted by the Ithaca Community Arts Partnership, and Essays & Fictions, literaty magazine.
A New York Group Show
SURFACE & DEPTH
Part Two—Works on Paper
FEBRUARY through APRIL, 2010
MICHAEL DI CERBO STEPHEN A. FREDERICKS SU-LI HUNG
JAMES JUTHSTROM KEN KIMMELMAN HAROLD KRISEL STEVE POLESKIE
MARCIA RACKOW ELFI SCHUSELKA RICHARD SLOAT JUDD WEISBERG
TERRAIN GALLERY 141 GREENE STREET SOHO NYC 10012
Gallery Hours: Wed-Fri 12-5; Sat 12-4 )
NOMINATED FOR PUSHCART PRIZE
Stephen Poleskie's short story "Fishkill," which was published in the Fall Issue of the literary magazine "Many Mountains Moving," has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Established in 1976 The Pushcart Prize - The Best of Small Presses series is the most honored literary project in America. The prize journal is published annually. In the past it has included such writers as: Raymond Carver, Tim O'Brien, Charles Baxter, Andre Dubas, Susan Minot, Mona Simpson, John Irving, and Rick Moody.
Poleskie's 1965 poster for the Paris Review magazine appears on the poster for the MAINLY BLUE exhibition, organized by Rebecca Godin, held at the Community School of Art, in Ithaca, NY.
MAINLY BLUE: An Exploration of the Color Blue
Dates: October 29 - November 27 2009
Place: Community School of Music & Arts
330 MKL / State St. Ithaca, NY 14850
Opening Reception: Friday, November 6, 2009 5-8 PM
Place: Community School of Music and Arts
330 E. MLK/State Street, 1st floor
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10-6 and Friday 9-5
Contact: CSMA 607 272-1474
Stephen Poleskie was a visiting artist at Alfred University in Alfred, New York on October 22 and 23, 2009. He gave a slide lecture on his early paintings, showed a film about his Aerial Theater performances, and read a story from his book GRATER LIFE.
"Pears" 2004 photo/inkjet print
PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW IN NEW YORK
The DRAMA in THINGS
AMY DIENES • STEVE POLESKIE • PERRY HALL
Was held from March 26th through August 16, 2009
Terrain Gallery presented new work by three contemporary American photographers. There were Steve Poleskie’s rich still lifes of daily objects, captivating in brilliant sunlight and deep shadow. There were Perry Hall’s acute observations of city buildings, objects, and happenings, where sharpness and softness mingle in many and surprising ways. And there was the diverse work of Amy Dienes, from an intimate portrait of the heart of a flower, to an awesome panoply of clouds.
This radiant show included the photographers’ comments in relation to these definitive sentences from “The Dramatic Opposites in Photography,” by Eli Siegel, founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism:
"Photography showed something that was beautiful about the world: that there was a oneness between light and dark. And in any rich photograph, the way the two are the same and different is an essential thing. Photography does dramatize light and shade, softness and sharpness, foreground and background; does dramatize where drama is: that is, in the surfaces, the depths, the relations of things."
Gallery Hours: Wed.-Fri. 12-5, Sat. 12-4, & by appointment
TERRAIN GALLERY / AESTHETIC REALISM FDN.
www.TerrainGallery.org • 141 Greene Street, in SoHo • 212.777.4490
Images of all the work in the exhibition can be see by going to the TERRAIN GALLERY link in the sidebar.
Statement for the Exhibition
People have asked me if I “set up” the objects on the kitchen table in my photographs. The answer is yes and no. More often than not there is already a vase of flowers on the table put there by my wife Jeanne. She loves flowers, and cuts them in the summer, or buys them when they are not growing in the yard. As a great deal of our life takes place in the kitchen, the table becomes cluttered much too easily; unread mail, books, fruit to be eaten, a saltcellar, glasses, things that are plain, but also beautiful. If the light comes around just right I will take some photos. It must be bright, but at the same time dark. The time available is very limited, and varies with the season. And so there is drama; the drama in the things themselves, and the drama in the activity of their capture. I hover around rapidly taking photographs, trying different angles and compositions, near and far, peering up and looking down. Sometimes, feeling almost like an interloper, I change the relationship of the objects slightly. All too soon the sun has moved on. If all these disparate elements, in a sense the opposites, have come together in a oneness, I have a picture; if not I must wait for the next sunny day.
Stephen Poleskie, Ithaca, NY, February 3, 2009
From the Spring 2009 issue of JOURNAL OF THE PRINT WORLD
The hero of many of Steve Poleskie's photographs seems to be the natural light. It seems to have a life of its own, while at the same time revealing the forms, rich colors and textures of objects that we can meet everyday within our own homes. His images are just as they are taken.
Some of his works are framed in pairs. In Whole Apple and Sliced Apple, Poleskie shows the drama within a water pitcher, a red apple, a bottle of amber dish soap, a clear glass, and a mint green creamer, all resting on a kitchen sink. These objects are still, yet they are animated. They have personalities.
His work has the touch of the Flemish still-life painters of the 17th Centuty. Drama is certainly there - the drama of the ordinary as you walk from one room to another. What can seem so everyday and at worse even boring, has grandeur that can add to our lives and have us think more of the world. Viewing his photographs, it is as if you are sitting in the room where the objects are, and you are within the space and also observing.
Stephen Poleskie gave a reading from his latest book, GRATER LIFE, as part of the Kendal Lyceum Series at Kendal of Ithaca on Thursday June 4, at 3:00 P.M. Kendal is located on Savage Farm Road, off of Triphammer Road in Cayuga Heights. The poster was designed by Poleskie and is a photograph of him at age four. The photographer is unknown.
You can read reviews of this book, and an excerpt by clicking on the GRATER LIFE icon in the side bar.