Pierro Gallery

Saturday, September 15- Saturday, October 27

Extrapolate: to use known facts as the starting point from which to draw inferences or draw conclusions about something unknown.

In the history of art, there are few artists who in developing their own work, also resulted in helping to push one major art movement into the next. Tony Smith has played this remarkable role in the contemporary art world in the subtle art historical transition from abstract expressionism to Minimalism. While often named a ‘Minimalist’ he, in fact, began creating his sculptures through an abstract expressionist approach, building small models, tearing down, building again, to the desired effect. “Morris and Judd and all those guys really thought about what they were doing,” Smith was quoted as saying. “I never thought about anything that I did. I just did it.” However, although his conceptual ideas as well as his model building had an organic approach, his architectural background is evident in the final product.

While the relationship of the works by Tony Smith with many contemporary artists today may not be immediately obvious to a viewer, his influence is manifest through references, inferences, and suggestions of his own processes, inspirations, or ideals.

Each of the 21st century artists in the exhibition Extrapolate: Suggestions of Tony Smith approach their work from a perspective that mid 20th century Tony Smith would recognize. Sarah Bednarek creates remarkable sculptures from simple construction materials like wood and metal. She builds these structures using cool repetitive mathematical forms imbued with emotional elements taken from abstract expressionist painting techniques. Frank Gavere’s small air brushed paintings reference the supporting architectural structures in bridges as well as the minimalist grid. Ethan Greenbaum is enamored of contemporary manufacturing and printing processes. He creates works of art that fool with notions of weight, materiality, vision and the beauty found in our ordinarily mundane urban landscapes. Michael Clyde Johnson makes two kinds of sculpture, the kind that rests in a room and has a presence, and the kind that creates an interactive presence with a viewer in a site specific public place. Both utilize surprising materials and forms and both are equally beautiful.

Tony Smith can be said to have created his work in the space between the deep emotional intensity of abstract expressionism and the cooler, headier take on the psyche favored by the minimalists.  Karen Margolis’s sculptures and works on paper depend on mood and emotion for their form, yet the result echoes that of the growth of cellular structures- a reproducing of shape and color that is familiar in natural structures that contain life. Tom McGlynn presents us with two recent paintings that humanize the grid, making the a wonky color palate that vibrates and sooths at the same time. Gary Petersen’s take on the vocabulary of geometric abstraction is slyly delightful with restrained candy colors and almost anthropomorphic shapes. The resulting introduce humor and its resulting humanity into his paintings. Kim Schoenstadt uses re-created images of Tony Smith sculpture interlaced with drawings of architecture created directly on the wall in her site specific works.  The Pierro Gallery is exhibiting an installation shot of a piece she made for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn. Kati Vilim creates quietly beautiful geometric paintings that while pristine, manage to show the artist’s hand.

An important element of art is to engage the viewer to see the world, and possibly their place within that world, with new information and added perspective. It forces new and different comparisons and reflections. It often leads to dialogue and debate. Our goal as curators for Extrapolate: Suggestions of Tony Smith, is to present yet another platform for seeing what today’s contemporary artist is saying and provide another viewpoint for further insight to their process and ideas.

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