Monday, November 28, 2016


Lee Krasner, Autumnal Red, 1980,
oil and collage on canvas, 56' x 73"

Lee Krasner has always been a big question mark. For most of her life, unfairly or not, she languished in the shade of her famous husband, Jackson Pollock. Is she a hell of a painter in her own right, and his equal? Is she the beneficiary of his success or cursed by it? We will never know the answers to most of the questions surrounding this quietly central figure in the history of America's most original, powerful, and influential art movement.

Untitled, 1965

gouache on paper

25 x 38 inches, signed and dated

For example, was it instead Pollock who was the beneficiary of Krasner's vision and art smarts and inspirations and aspirations and genius? A lot of smart people seem to think so. The timeline suggests that she was at the very least a catalyst and guide and counsel at a critical moment in his history. Just how impossible was the glass ceiling for any woman painter like Lee Krasner? Will she be forever the B to his A? A foot note in his glorious history. Can she ever be set free? A lot of people have tried. Can future generations of artists and art historians and art lovers see that playing field level? One would hope so.

Pollock and Krasner in the studio, 1949

Six months after her death at the age of 75, in 1984, the Museum of Modern Art in New York gave her a retrospective. These are the things every wishful young would-be artist is warned about.

Lee Krasner, Celebration, 1960, Cleveland Museum of Art

But then again fame and success and recognition are not why artists are born. She must have known that. But still, when everyone is fawning over your partner, the person you painted along side, struggled along side, suffered along side, celebrated along side, and carried half the time, it has to be a bitter pill.

Lee Krasner, Robert Miller installation view, 2016

I once stood and chatted with the artist Pat Passloff, not that she was ever the kind of person that chatted, while people literally lined up to trip all over her more celebrated painter husband, Milton Resnick, and the hurt and yearning and pain and rage was palpable as she looked on. It would have taken a team of miners to have plumbed the depths of those emotions and have lived to tell about it.

Night Creatures, 1965, acrylic on paper, 30 x 42"

That Pollock died young at 44 in 1956 must have made things a little different. Perhaps there was some measure of consolation that she would not just stand him, stand for him, but stand in for him and become synonymous with him. Pollock-Krasner. Still, people think and talk and write about him all the time without mentioning her, and that just doesn't happen the other way around.

Lee Krasner

So no, we will never know the answer to all of these questions. I can't even say if she was a hell of a painter. But...all of that aside, she sure made some damn good paintings! Some damn good paintings in her own right. Some damn good paintings that don't just stand up, and hold up, along side her husband, Pollock, her teacher, Hans Hoffman, her peers, and in the history books, but stand up and hold up in and of themselves, as powerful examples of what makes life beautiful and special and meaningful and worth living, and locates a place in time that she helped define, for posterity. I'm sorry, but you can't do better than that. You really can't ask for more than that.

Lee Krasner

Another Storm, 1963

signed and dated bottom right

oil on canvas

94 x 176 1/4 inches

Lee Krasner's 1963 painting "Another Storm" could stand alongside the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre. Alongside the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Picasso's Guernica. Rothko in the Tate. Turner in the Tate. Happily. Monet's Waterlilies. Alongside Jackson Pollock anywhere. Hans Hoffman anywhere. Lee Krasner's Another Storm is an inspiration. Lee Krasner's Another Storm is a knockout. Lee Krasner's Another Storm is a vision of hope for generations to come.

Detail, Another Storm

Lee Krasner's Another Storm is not influenced, or in anyone's shadow, but a powerful, original masterpiece, an epic painting filled with what would seem to be several lifetimes of wisdom and experience. True to its name, it thrashes about with all of the scope of Shakespeare at his grandest, of Mozart or Beethoven at their grandest, of nature at its grandest, of life as we have come to know it as a sweeping, at once glorious and awesome and terrifying and joyful and heartbreaking and ugly and beautiful and chaotic and harmonious spectacle impossible to put into words but left to artists to try to capture, to give us some idea, to remind us and share with us. Lee Krasner's Another Storm is nothing short of a revelation.

Another Storm, Robert Miller Gallery installation, 2016

Addison Parks

Artdeal Magazine

Spring Hill, November 2016

Another Storm, Paul Kasmin booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2016 *

Lee Krasner after Pollock

*Courtesy the Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

Friday, November 25, 2016

Joan Snyder: No Time To Lose

Are Mine, 2010
Oil, acrylic, glitter, rosebuds, burlap on panel
30 x 30 inches

Joan Snyder paints us an interior landscape, an inside garden, if you will. It is a mythical place, a profound place, scratched out of the earth inside her.

Joan Snyder, Magic Meadow, 2007

There are deeply rooted plants, beds, rows, flowers, fields. Everything grows there. Memories, dreams, ideas, revelations. Disappointments, joys, sorrows, and hopes. She loads them up like Viking Funeral ships and floats them out to sea.

1970 oil, acrylic, and spray enamel on canvas, 72" x 96

We get to witness them float by one by one, like the Macy's Day Parade. Her beds of roses. Her Rose Bowl Parade.

Nights of Summer
Oil, acrylic, paper mache on linen
30 x 64 inches

As we watch them go by we admire them. We admire them like a garden. We notice there is more. Messages scrawled in the dirt. They sing to us. Strange and mysterious songs of all manner of experience.

Joan SnyderYellow Was Blue (2013); 48" x 48"

They circle around and spiral down inside us. Like sirens they pull us onto their rocks. We drown in their paint and colors and song. We turn in the eddies of paint and flotsam and jetsam in her paintings and they in turn drill eddies of the like inside of us.

"New Moonfield", 2008
 Acrylic, burlap, silk, cheesecloth, wooden beads, paper mache on linen,

Joan Snyder has always been a poet painter. She has always plumbed the depths beneath the painted surface. It has been ideal for her. A place to have it all. The poem and the garden, in paint. A place to put it all, tend it all, realize it all, act it all out.

1970 oil, acrylic, and spray enamel on canvas, 72" x 96

Yes, there is theater here. Drama here. A stage. Joan Snyder gets to set the stage in her paintings and the actors play their parts, engage each other in action, stand up for what's right, and tell their stories. Passionately. Fiercely. Social justice, political protest, world events, tragedy, history, comedy, romance. Love and death. Hope and glory. Birth, rebirth, transformation, redemption, celebration. It is all there.

WOL, 2010 (standing for "Women of Liberia")
oil, acrylic, paper mache, mud, cloth, seeds and glass beads on linen

Joan Snyder's paintings have always been wise down to their roots. The wisdom of the ages. Very serious stuff. And well they should be? They have truths to tell, fields to plant. There is no time to lose.

Oil, acrylic, twigs, seeds, fabric, paper,
glitter on linen
42 x 62 inches

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine
Spring Hill, November 2016

Purple Passion, 2012 - Joan Snyder
Joan Snyder 2012

Joan Snyder with Proserpina in progress, 2012

Friday, November 18, 2016

Martin Mugar: The Light That Shines From Within

"I started building the images of letters, merging nature and culture."

Martin Mugar at Bromfield, 2013

A few years back Martin Mugar hit a beautiful wall. His work had arrived at such a sublime place that he might as well have disappeared in the morning mist, taken a swan dive off the precipice where he found himself. It was time to shake things up. It was a beautiful thing, but his journey was far from over. It was time to retrace his steps and find another path. Maybe something a little rockier.


For fifteen years Martin Mugar had evolved and fine tuned his spiritual vision of dissolving color, energy, and matter into light; an almost ironic, even paradoxical experience created by using a painting process of thick, heavy, encaustic impasto that seemed more like relief sculpture than painting. The power of these works and the heights Mugar achieved is undeniable. They are unlike anything else. Impossible to quantify.

Martin Mugar, 2014, #46, 48" x 44"

It is a true measure of their originality that no one knows quite what to make of them. They are otherworldly, almost aloof. They are like the daughter that no man is good enough for. Martin Mugar has staked his entire life and career on this work. Instead of turning back when he received too little critical acclaim for all of his prodigious efforts, he doubled down and pushed on. One day museums will make his curious pastry-like confections of pure light the cornerstone of their collections, but until then he does what he does, like some sailor explorer, painting away in his studio near the water in Southern New Hampshire.

Martin Mugar, 2010, 44" x 42"

Near the water is important. Martin Mugar sails his boat in those waters. He catches the light that breathes life into his paintings. Out on the water is a sanctuary of sorts, as is his studio, as is his work.

Martin Mugar, 2014, 42" x 44"

So when he had gone as far as he could go, he made a change. He started out with a switch from the simple form of a stroke, a mark, a squiggle, to the more complex gesture of letters and words and calligraphy. Who could have predicted where this would go? At first glance the paintings looked somewhat the same. A closer inspection however revealed the letters and possible words they formed in the sea of pastel colors that had become his trademark and avenue to luminosity. Letters and words in a great jumble that call out, cry out, fermenting a great poetry, fomenting a great poetry, bursting out in song, in longing, in yearning, in eloquence, in prose, in rage, in sweetness and in pain. A great orgasmic graffiti battle, part tourette's, part scatological orgy, part wild celebration, of transcendence, ascendance, revelation, and triumph.

Detail, Martin Mugar

These complex forms within forms opened the door to the most recent paintings. The new marks look like more scribbles in paint, but they become so much more than just letters; each one is like a small sculpture. Each one is a small sculpture inside of the larger monolithic, monochromatic wall of a  Mugar sculpture/painting. They are like figures. Like the figures on Rodin's Gates of Hell. The way they nest inside the larger work, inhabit the larger work, allows for endless joy and adventure and expression and discovery. There is great drama there. Great passion. Great power and humanity and cosmic force. A great swirl of cosmic force that opens up new worlds.

Detail, Rodin's Gates of Hell

Martin Mugar, 2016, #67, 29" x 24"(detail)

This is a great advancement in the work. A great step forward to a new and bright horizon. There is no overstating the magnitude of this breakthrough. There is no overstating the significance and magnificence of this breakthrough in terms of the larger oeuvre of Martin Mugar's personal victory as an artist.

Martin Mugar, 2016, #67, 29" x 24"

And as grand as this breakthrough is, the innocence and exuberance that has always been in his work is still there. The essential playfulness is still there, but even more so. The light is still there, but it is different. It is not as much the light from the sun, directly, but more the light that radiates from plants and flowers and fruit. A marvelous vibrancy. It is the great light that shines from within. Martin Mugar has found his way through his beautiful wall of light. He has found his way ashore again. He has found his way back to the garden.

Martin Mugar, 2016, #66, 27" x 24"

Martin Mugar, 2016, #64, 50" x 41"

Martin Mugar, 2016, #63, 24" x 22"

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine
Spring Hill, November, 2016

Martin Mugar

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Douglas Abdell: Message in a Bottle

Douglas Abdell, Kayeau - Aekyad, 1979, 19 x 9 x 4 inches

Douglas Abdell's sculptures have always begged this one gnawing question: What's on the inside? This question has forever been behind the great symbolic and spiritual power of his work. What's inside? It is his question, and in an almost unknowable way, he makes it our question.

Douglas Abdell, Qurefe Aekyad, 1981

Maybe Douglas Abdell never had any answers. Only questions. Or maybe he had the answers all along, but didn't think we were ready for them. Or maybe he wasn't ready for them. Who knows? It is worth noting that early on he invented a secret language to tell his story, something more Phoenician than Aramaic that probably raised more questions than it answered. He even almost dropped sculpture altogether at one point to realize his mission in paint and poetry. That is how large a role language and poetry have always played in his work. At that time he found himself more at home with the graffiti culture than working in bronze and steel.

Douglas Abdell, Phaena Kraenq Phaena, 1982, 18 x 18 inches

Was he searching for his own truth, the truth, his own meaning, universal meaning, or just a place to feel at home, a place to belong, a place to express himself?

Douglas Abdell, Kraenk #25, 1983, 46 x 14 1/2 inches

Born in 1947 in Boston of Lebanese heritage on his father's side and Italian on his mother's, Abdell graduated from Syracuse University and joined the prominent Andrew Crispo Gallery in New York in the 1970s, and then moved there just at the exciting advent of the explosive New Wave, Neo-Expressionism and postmodernism art scene of the late 70s and early 80s.

Douglas Abdell, Bronze wall sculpture, 1972

Douglas Abdell, catalog cover, 1978

He relished the energy and dialogue as much as any artist in the thick of it all. His path was not unlike  that of the great David Smith over thirty years earlier. He transitioned from cast bronze to welding, from warmer, more organic, touchable, intimate and more traditional modern sculpture to hard-edged, geometric, prickly, and cutting monolithic vessels/figures that synthesized and charged his vision. These were both soldiers first and last.

Douglas Abdell, Helae-Aekyad, bronze1977

These sculptures were sent out into the world to carry his poetry, his message, to lead his quest.

Douglas Abdell

In recent years Abdell has changed. His work has evolved from poet warrior to poet ambassador.  He has opened up his closed vessel like a book. Recently almost literally. He works in stone(marble) to achieve something sublime. That is so important in all the ways we know and can imagine. Stone is hard. Hard to work and hard against time. It lasts. It is of this earth but is also spiritual in nature. It is as old as time. In it life is compacted over tens of thousands of years and longer. It is heavy not just in weight.

Douglas Abdell, Código del Mediterráneo, 2009 - 2010, mármol de Makael,
 Almeria, madera, cm. 57 x 144 x 90 

Douglas Abdell has found a home on the coast of Spain. Malaga. He has embraced his rich Arabian and Mediterranean cultural heritage. His recent sculptures tell this story. They have an outside that houses and shelters but opens up and reveals an inside. The focus is now on that inside, and he is eager to tell us what that inside is. He is eager to share with us what that inside means. Douglas Abdell wants us to get his message in a bottle.

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine 
Spring Hill