While delivering the Spring issue in NYC I saw the exhibit “Djellaba” at the Bowery Gallery: 57 acrylic metal panels by Esmé Thompson will be up through March 26. Esmé has taken lids from sap collecting buckets, painted them and arranged them in intriguing designs. Extremely appropriate timing as we’ve been collecting sap from our maple trees, boiling it down getting about 1 quart of maple syrup from 40 quarts of sap.
A group of teenagers came into the gallery with their teacher and one young man pretended to “play” the lid tops of the installation “Djellaba as if it was all a percussion instrument. That the work demanded a playful response was terrific. More about her work at http://www.esmethompsonart.com/
At the Art Students League of NY on West 57th Street I saw the massive construction going on around the League’s home which was built in 1892. There has been great controversy regarding the selling of the air rights to a company that is constructing a 1,500′ residential building (one of the tallest such buildings in the world) next to the league. This has created quite an upheaval at the League which has known many upheavals since it was founded in 1875 by a group of art students disgruntled about things at the National Academy in NY.
The school is set up as a collection of studios with an instructor and run by a board of governors consisting of faculty and students. Students choose their classes based on what instructor they would like to study with. There is no grading or certification. The Art Students League was based on the 19th Century French atelier system. Raymond J Steiner’s book The Art Students League of NY, a History (now out of print) gives a deeper look into the early years of the League and the beginnings of American Art. The book will be made available online this coming year. arttimesjournal.com/aslbook.htm