Mortals, Saints & Myths

Mark Beard, Juan Garcia-Nunez, Carl Grauer, Kahn & Selesnick, John T. Unger & 2nd Fl. Photographs by David Sokosh

Artist's Reception: Saturday, June 15, 5-7pm

June 12, 2019 through July 28, 2019

Carrie Haddad Gallery is pleased to present Mortals, Saints & Myths, an exhibit that explores the idolized and idealized figures that preoccupy our realities- both real and imagined. This special group of Hudson Valley artists are best known for their representation of the figure via painting, photography and installation. Featured artists include Mark Beard, Carl Grauer, Juan Garcia-Nunez, Kahn & Selesnick, John T. Unger, and David Sokosh. On view June 12 – July 28 with a reception for the artists on Saturday, June 15th from 5-7pm. All are welcome to join us!
In tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, Poughkeepsie based artist Carl Grauer debuts The Lavender Temple of Their Most Fabulous, a new series depicting notable figures of the LGBTQ+ movement. Portraits of gay rights advocates, such as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in US politics; Barbara Gittings, lesbian rights activist; and Audre Lorde, humanist poet and civil rights activist, will be encased in handmade frames resembling Catholic altarpieces. One room will be dedicated to a shrine-like installation to celebrate these “saints” for their advocacy. Using religious iconography as a celebratory and educational tool came naturally to the artist, who grew up in a conservative household in rural Kansas. “Religion has played such a strong factor in my existence, whether through faith or rejection…It is important to me to deliver artwork that depicts our history, so these events and people are acknowledged with reverence and not forgotten.”
Collaborative artist team, Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick, will exhibit photographs and drawings from ‘Madam Lulu’s Book of Fate’, a series that expands on the adventures of the Truppe Fledermaus, a traveling cabaret troupe whose mischiefs and bizarre realities are powered by the effects of climate change. Exploring the concept of the carnivalesque, Fledermaus characters adorned in fantastical costumes and masks jubilantly parade in harsh environments, “finding pleasure amid the florid decay of a world in decline”. Three 72-inch panoramic images give vision to the Dance of the Dead while circular photographs lend the viewer a ‘peep-hole’ perspective into brief moments of the truppe’s masquerades. These wild costumes and characters are first envisioned with round drawings of pastel and conte crayon, which will also be on display, salon style, along side the photographs, giving full breadth to Kahn & Selesnick’s imaginative process.
The master of all mediums, Juan Garcia-Nunez, will present new watercolor drawings re-envisioning Dionysus, the Greek God of fertility, wine, ritual madness, and religious ecstasy. The boyish deity is shown from the neckline downwards, while his sensual torso is veiled by twisting vines and blooming leaves in an array of cool toned monochromes. A subtly translucent black pane covers the figure’s sex, focusing our attention to the bountiful foliage and the delicate skin of never-ending youth. Nunez’s festive images of body and nature taps the energy of this tender age, full of exuberance and endless summers. Born in Venezuela and trained as an architect, Nunez’s work is informed by the theoretical and poetic exploration of space and form.
For those who are mystified and mesmerized by Mark Beard’s parade of fanciful figures, this new selection is not to be missed. Assuming the artist persona of Bruce Sargeant, an early twentieth century painter (who never actually existed), Beard teases the queerness out of an era in art history that often refused to acknowledge the homosexuality of its leading luminaries. Beard’s creative rewriting of history is outright convincing as he seizes the opportunity to insert bold visuals of homoeroticism into traditional academic painting style. Beard’s coquettish audacity coupled with a good dose of naughty humor results in delightful scenes of sexy men engaging in socially accepted environments such as on the field, on the hunt, or even in the locker rooms. Beard simultaneously paints the anatomy and sexuality of men with an ease and freedom that doesn’t exist in the historical texts.

Hudson based artist, John T. Unger, will debut two pieces from his monumental series of mosaics based on 16th century anatomical engravings. His passion to depict the human body in stone was rekindled 10 years prior while working on a commission for a physical therapist’s office where he realized it was the perfect material to render anatomical detail. Eventually, Unger found himself on the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website where he discovered the inspiration he had been searching for; Bartholomeo Eustachi’s Tabulae Anatomicae. From there, he began his quest to replicate 14 of Eustachi’s drawings in life-sized mosaics. Unger’s figures stand 7 feet tall in active poses displaying varying degrees of exposed muscle, tendons, cartilage and bone. Working from a range of colored stone, Unger chose marble, travertine, onyx, and limestone to represent muscle and tissue while the circulatory system was completed in lapis lazuli and red jasper; eyes are comprised of red-brown ruby or sapphire cabochons. Each piece of stone was hand-cut, mostly from 12 x 12-inch floor tile, and took 2-4 months to complete. At the series’ end, Unger will have carved 3 miles of stone. While the mosaics themselves are not for sale, fine art prints on aluminum will be on display and available. After this inaugural exhibit, Unger plans to tour the entire series as a museum exhibit with the original drawings.

The self-proclaimed “geeky scientist”, David Sokosh, has long held a fascination with vintage technologies and aesthetics. In addition to his other interests (clock-making, vintage car rebuilding) it’s no surprise that Sokosh favors the 19th century photographic process of Wet Plate Collodion in his own image making. Sokosh uses an authentic Victorian lens fitted to a handmade camera to photograph staged scenes in a daylight studio in Claverack, NY. His tintypes are a far cry from geeky; sophisticated still-lifes are mixed with contemporary (and sexy) subject matter. But no matter the contents, each photograph is veiled with the illusion of time past. All plates are unique, however, he occasionally will photograph the same subject several times to mimic multiples. The selection on view in this exhibit brings together imagery of the living and the mythical in a century old time-hop.

Kahn & Selesnick

Carl Grauer

David Sokosh

John T. Unger

Juan Garcia-Nunez

Mark Beard