Thursday, February 3, 2011

MZB - Paint by Color - Part 3

At what point are you willing to put your beliefs on the line and vote with your feet? You know, stake all with no safety net; put all your chips on one number? Sound a bit dramatic? Life is dramatic. Well, that’s where we are. Margaret Zox Brown’s Paint by Color exhibition is the dividing line of my career. Clearly my last two blog entries regarding this body of work evidence significant literary departure from my standard critiquing format. Why the change? Choice. When finally we are willing to risk all for our beliefs, passion becomes the mainstay of our diet. Why else offer our necks to the guillotine?

Only the Director here at Knapp, I am responsible for carrying out the directives of the owners, Barclay and Rebecca Knapp. And While I enjoy certain measures of autonomy, keeping these privileges requires results and execution of their vision. Forsaking safety, protocol and possibly relationship, in the name of exceptional art, I have made an executive decision that is outside their consent. The Knapp’s like Margaret’s paintings a lot, however with the caveat that they are expensive for the Philadelphia market.

Holding to my Grandfather’s adage, “No risk no reward,” I have placed my head into the mouth of the lion. Forging ahead, without the Knapp’s blessing, contrary to their vision, I have hung Margaret’s show. No, this is not blatant disregard for their authority. I have remarkable regard and respect for their perspective. I am more than appreciative of the opportunity they hey provided for me, and their trust in me to meet the responsibilities of my position. This is not a struggle for power. This is however an exercise in “voting with my feet.” Putting oneself in Harm’s way demonstrates commitment. In the end, isn’t that what making art is all about; a demand for a committed response.

An outspoken champion for the Philadelphia artist, I find in remarkably ironic that it is for a New York painter that I have drawn my line in the sand. Ultimately, the line represents great art. If I am not willing to take a hit for world class art, than I need a new occupation. Let’s get serious. This is about livelihood, for the artist, the gallery – everyone involved. There is no time for passivity. As a Director, I would be remiss if I withheld this exhibition from Philadelphia based on price alone. Is Philadelphia worthy of my commitment? I don’t know. In the end, I have to face myself in the mirror and live with my decision.

My decision, more than being about Philadelphia, is about the value of fine art and the opportunity to promote the finest artwork available. Folks, in my estimation, this is some of the finest art available. I am staking my reputation on it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

MZB - Paint by Color - Part 2

Margaret’s work arrived about an hour ago. In an instant the world came to a standstill; all else has been put on hold. While the paintings are leaning against the wall, patiently awaiting their imminent wall positioning, I sit on the floor as a parent with an infant. I caress the paint as if to convey my affection; their warm glow satisfying my need for acceptance. Still in contact with the ground, not yet exalted, they maintain an element of settledness; at rest. The remainder of the day, I can’t do much else than just walk around gawking at my treasure; my pieces of gold. They are all mine, well, at least for a month.

I had forgotten the richness, the luster and depth of the paints application. It has been more than a year since I first stood in Maggie’s New York studio. That day, literally I wept at the enormity of the well from which I had been called to drink; her delicate hand on my shoulder, acknowledging the moment’s power. This is the meat of my memory; remembering the moment. Briefly, we stood silent, Maggie and me, sharing the dynamics of our fortuitous meeting. It is all about the moment.

Resigned to the facts, we are held to the arithmetic of our existence. A moment is passed seemingly before it has begun. Back in mid ’09, MZB seized her moment; it was First Friday here in Old City Philadelphia. With confident strides she walked into the gallery and up to me asking if I was Karl, the Director. Barely had I made the acknowledgement before she deftly interjected how her work met our vision at the Knapp Gallery and that her work fit. With pointed and final punctuation - “I want you to exhibit my work here.”

Good Paintings, just like profound words, beyond description only, make account of significant moments. We are amidst one such moment. Outside, we await yet another winter storm, some believe of blizzard proportions. However, the golden-white-hot-yellow hue of MZB’s palette shines brightly from within this space, as if the Knapp Gallery had captured the sun. Taking in this brilliant light, a radiant glow tuned keenly to a wavelength akin to 1000 watts, we are bathed continuously in a visceral and visual balm; yes there is healing.

Maybe that’s what’s so taking about these paintings and the vessel by which they were painted. Beyond the color, the love, the care, there is a remarkable profound sense and understanding of light.