"Text" at Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

While the art-fair madness overpowered the scene in Manhattan last week, the ripened energies of the late summer season in the Hudson Valley added a perfect touch to a cheerful opening for “Text” at Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham this past Sunday. Goldstein—an astute gallerist, artist, and doyenne of her generation—gracefully greeted the mingling crowd while seated at her desk in the back of her charming one-room space. Founded in New York City in 1992 and in Chatham in 2005, this quaint spot at the edge of town is a local gem. Curated by Eric Wolf—a painter and designer who studied at RISD and has exhibited widely, including Salon 94 and Barbara Gladstone Gallery—“Text” is his second presentation at Joyce Goldstein Gallery. The show is a mix of paintings, drawings, collage, books, and small sculptures by 38 artists, most of whom live in the Hudson Valley.

click to enlarge "Text" at Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham
"McCormick Food Coloring," Matt LaFleur

With language as the baseline for this lively exhibit, the range of artworks offer an encounter with the provocative and persuasive nature of words, turning them into a protean muse of every variety. A rainbow-colored vinyl LP titled Hidden Wheel of Fortune (2022) by Ori Alon-Ray, for example, is dense with words such as OBESE, BANKRUPT, ELDER, and HOMELESS and is positioned in direct dialogue with a glowing neon sculpture Intent (2023) by Francine Hunter McGivern hung high up on the wall just above it. Three small colored pencil on paper sculptures by Matt LaFleur that re-present kitchen familiars such as McCormick Food Coloring (2017) and Bell’s Seasoning (2017) instantly won me over. Bold, bright paintings by Chris Pennock, Sue Muskat, and Geoff Young are literal visions of text as full disclosure—Muskat’s Timeless and Untrammeled (2022) solicits a smile with her repetition of “you again” as the refrain—while more esoteric works by Richard Saja and Joan Grubin use text as a murky vehicle for alteration and inquiry.

click to enlarge "Text" at Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham
"Nine January," Fern Apfel

Motley group shows often sing an unanticipated song, even with a conceptual motif to steer the melody, and with “Text,” a pleasant poetics fills the room. Two ink-on-paper drawings by Evan McGraw, Thick (2023) and Ligature (2023), demonstrate the lost art of exquisite penmanship, while two acrylic and pen on wood panel paintings by Fern Apfel, Dearest Honey (2023) and Nine January (2019), disclose the meticulous nature of letters as the intimate keepers of biographies and confessions. Two fabric pieces, ouch (2012) and TOUCH (2012), by Cynthia Atwood prove that thread never goes out of style, and among the more ambitious text-based explorations are paper-cast pieces by Pamela Lawton, who engages with street graffiti to achieve her sunk-relief effect in works such as Ghost (2023).

Wolf states that text as medium or subject in art has interested him since the 1970s, when he became aware of Pop Art, concrete poetry, Egyptian hieroglyphs, illuminated manuscripts, Cubism, collage, and a diverse world of signs and semiotics. His curatorial effort reveals his adoration of text as an indispensable darling of art and life, indeed adored by all. A dynamic group exhibition such as this one presents the impossible task of summarizing a bevy of flirtatious artworks within a word-count limit, alas the confines of text! Nevertheless, the moments recounted herein are a mere slice of the fun. This exhibition expresses a kind of “we are all feeling the same thing” by way of words as text, and text as the ineffable passage from one thought to the next, as we revisit meanings and their means ad infinitum.

"Text" will be on view through October 14 at Joyce Goldstein Gallery in Chatham.

Taliesin Thomas

Taliesin Thomas, PhD, is a writer, lecturer, and artist-philosopher based in Troy, NY.
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