Artists who came to the fore in the mid-1970's and who have continued to produce vital work away from the public gaze are included in That is Then, This is Now, a CUE Foundation exhibition curated by Irving Sandler and Robert Storr.
Donna Dennis, Professor of Art at Purchase College and eight other participating artists are represented by works from the 1970's and current works. The CUE Art Foundation is dedicated to promoting culture by supporting the creativity of under-recognized visual artists. The opening reception is September 9 from 6-8 PM in Chelsea at 511 West 25th Street, New York City.
Ms. Dennis will exhibit the earliest piece in the show, a 1974 mixed media sculpture called "Subway With Lighted Interior," which was exhibited in her first exhibition "Subway Stations and Tourist Cabins" at the gallery started by collector Holly Solomon in 1975.
Dennis will also show a new work called "Coney: Night Maze." This latest work is a gigantic instalaltion inspired by Coney island. She will exhibit a macquette of the piece, which has been a work in progress for 12 years, along with light box photographs of interior views of the installation.
George Melrod of Art in America calls Dennis " A poet of infrastructure. Drawing inspiration from overlooked fragments of vernacular architecture-a subway station, a dingy bungalow, a musty old stairwell--Dennis creates sculptural installations of surprising lyricism...What sets her work apart is the way it draws its inspiration from the real world rather than from art theory. It dares the viewer to interact with it on a variety of levels."
After her first exhibition at the Holly Solomon Gallery, Ms. Dennis's work became widely known in the 1970's. She exhibited at the Walker Art Center in 1977 and in 1979 was in both the Whitney Biennial and the Hirshhorn Museum's "Directions." In 1975 she was awarded a Creative Artists Public Service grant, the first of many grants to follow, including several NEA's and a Guggenheim.
In the 1980's her work was seen internationally, including the Venice Biennale in 1982 and 1984, and the Tate Gallery. While continuing to create and exhibit large architecturally-inspired installations, she also completed a number of permanent public art commissions in New York and Boston. Over the years she has also collaborated with poets (Ted Berrigan, Anne Waldman, Kenward Elmslie) and with performers (Dan Hurlin).
The CUE Foundation exhibition reveals the "Anything seemed possible" trend of the 70's. Pop art, minimalism and conceptualism were established in the 60's and at this moment of pluralism, a number of gifted and energetic artists explored varied options.
In the exhibition Cynthia Carlson and Kim MacConnel create original types of pattern and decoration painting. Martha Diamond and Mike Glier blur the distinction between gestural painting and abstraction. David Deutsch employs aerial perspective and bold color to re-orient our perception of the common place. Lois Lane invents mystical iconic images. Tom Lawson translated media images into painting, pitting a decorative surface against the grimness of tabloid reality. Hermine Ford continues the tradition of New York School all over painting and deflects it in a fresh direction.
Curator Irving Sandler was a faculty member at Purchase College and is one of the most important writers on the New York art scene. His first book, The Triumph of American Painting (1970), remains one of the most coherent interpretations of Abstract Expressionism ever published.
Robert Storr is an American curator, academic, critic, and painter. He is Dean of the Yale School of Art, and was director of the Venice Biennale, and curator in the department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art.