Mark Feldstein - Heather Hutchison
Gallery I and II
Louis Stern Fine Arts is pleased to present
FIRST WEST COAST EXHIBITION OF NOTED NEW YORK PHOTOGRAPHER MARK FELDSTEIN
West Hollywood, CA. Louis Stern Fine Arts is pleased present the first West Coast exhibition of the late New York photographer Mark Feldstein, in the show “Mark Feldstein: NYC, circa 1970” (March 30 – May 13, 2017). A well-respected artist whose solo exhibitions included O.K. Harris Gallery, New York, Castelli Graphics, New York and Galerie Jean-Pierre Lambert, Paris. Feldstein's work is included in a number of public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Brooklyn Museum and the Bibliothèque National de France.
Feldstein was also a professor of photography who helped established the photography department at Hunter College in the 1970s. In the 1980s, along with Hunter colleague Roy de Carava, he was instrumental in making photography part of the school’s MFA program.
The exhibition’s 50 vintage prints, printed by Feldstein himself, include many never shown before. In them he captured beautifully composed shots of the buildings and streets of New York in the 1970s. Feldstein went everywhere with his cameras, always on the lookout for the right subject, the right composition, the right lighting. His home and studio was in a loft on Bond Street, and he would take regular walks, often in his neighborhood of The Bowery, at a time when the area was in decline and known for being dangerous and gritty. “Mark was an inveterate walker,” recalled Sanford Wurmfeld, former chair at Hunter’s Fine Art department chair,” and quintessentially a New Yorker in this, which was in his view an activity crucial to his work.”
Feldstein’s work reflects his keen sense of observation, focusing as they do on architectural details, design patterns, and deep shadows. He clearly enjoyed incorporating text into his shots, to somewhat humorous or ironic effect. One photograph features the side of a building with text in all-caps, “RESTAURANT/HOME COOKING/HEROS,” while two men stand in front, one watching as the other is bent over, trying to open or close a delivery door. Another features an exterior pilaster with the word “HATS” advertised – underneath is a slightly tattered handbill announcing Lesbian Pride Week in June 1973. While people were generally not his main focus, blurred pedestrians sometimes make an appearance in his long exposures, and in one photograph he captures the lower half of a pedestrian from the back, someone pushing a shopping cart, as we see from the shadow that falls on the sidewalk. Here the shadow becomes almost an abstraction.
Feldstein (1937 – 2001) was born in Italy, and grew up in New York City and studied at Hunter College, where one of his teachers was Robert Motherwell. Feldstein began his artistic career as a painter, but transitioned to photography in the 1970s, when this body of work was created.
In a monograph of his work, critic and curator Ellen Handy wrote, “The world is enriched when a master artist employs his eye to seek beauties unseen by others, and brings them to our attention through skillful observation, composition and superb photographic print-making-- and this Feldstein has consistently done in his work.”
Heather Hutchison's works are notable for incorporating ambient light as a primary material. Sharing similar concerns with Light and Space artists and having spent decades observing and contemplating nature, Hutchison's works capture the essence of the phenomena of light and how it shifts in natural environments. Although she utilizes diverse media for her bent Plexiglas structures, works on paper, beeswax paintings on Plexiglas, photographs, and video works, each and every piece is a direct inquiry into the perceptual experience of color, light, and shadow particular to a time of day and place. Hutchison emphasizes the horizontal world that surrounds us and finds solace in the ever-present rhythms and syncopations in nature.
Daylight is an integral, animating element in Hutchison’s work. The materials appear at times constructed and solid, transparent and intangible, or actively kinetic depending on the angle of the light, the shadows on and around the work, and the movement or position of the viewer. This intrinsic and constant state of change challenges ideas of objectivity and perception before a work of art.
Self-taught, Hutchison has developed and innovated methods and mediums as well as hand-building and bending Plexiglas forms to facilitate her artistic process. Though seemingly minimalist, the hand of the artist is very much present in these works. This creates a tension between the tactility of material and the pristine quality these paintings have in changing light. The works, both inspired by and activated by light, are focused contemplations of this intangible element, inspiring a renewed awareness of the subtleties of daylight and illumination.