Joe Stefanelli’s paintings resonate with the exploding color, charm and the emotion of the Cedar Bar, where he hung out with Willem DeKooning, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock.Andy Hammerstein III has a rich heritage, being the great great grandson of the famed Broadway composer Oscar Hammerstein.
Joe Stefanelli’s paintings resonate with the exploding color, charm and the emotion of the Cedar Bar, where he hung out with Willem DeKooning, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock. In 2009, he’s the last man standing among all the well-remembered, second-generation abstract expressionists, still merging his varied techniques, and still painting in the vivid yellows and muted blues; still exhibiting, in this case with drawings and paintings done as early as the ‘40s, on up through work completed in 2002.
Included in the Lift Trucks Project show are 20 oils and18 watercolors. The show, hung and curated by the extraordinarily talented designer Danielle Arps, combines the masterful drawing with the complete freedom to splash paint around that’s been Stefanelli’s forte for 75 years. Additionally, the 87-year-old is walking history, having painted in studio with DeKooning, and having picked a drunken Pollock out of the gutter. The Cedar Bar served as a something of second home in those days, the site of many an artistic alcohol-fueled fisticuff, where quarrels centered over real versus phony art. The pugilistic legacy serves as the billing for the Lift Trucks show, with its announcement a simulation of an old fight poster. The reason? The fight against the current art world’s propensity to look away from the abstract expressionists’ gifts, instead in search of the next sensational shocking thing, from side-sliced carcasses in formaldehyde to whatever else, meanwhile ignoring the masters’ gifts in plain sight. Also on display are Stefanelli’s seldom-seen, exceptional figure drawings, depicting various nude forms, with some more primitive and tribal, perhaps an ode to his year-long Egyptian stint in ‘67.
SOUTH SALEM, NY – Andy Hammerstein III has a rich heritage, being the great great grandson of the famed Broadway composer Oscar Hammerstein. His dynamic artistic ability is shown through his stunning works of art, which are inspired by nighttime car rides on the Saw Mill Parkway. Think of his work in terms of a musical score, jazz for example, has a theme, a form, a melody and improvisation. Looking at ‘Shenandoah Twilight’, a large scale oil on canvas, the blue overtones could be thought of as the theme, form takes shape in abstracted geometry, complementary colored shapes among this sea of blue capture the melody, while change in color intensity serve as artistic improvisation.
“In these abstracts, I am synthesizing the experience of driving down a road. I am on one road, but that road divides into many possible roads, seen as overlaid fragments in the distance. My paintings attempt to capture, not a single moment, but, rather, the distillation of driving over time. They are a collected, streamlined, stylized memory of the experience of highway driving, from the blur of the guardrail to glimpses of unknown roads beyond the bend. My highway paintings depict the road’s seductive lure and the thrill of where it may lead. This is a metaphor for my life – perhaps, yours, too.
I am an old-fashioned Modernist. Like the Abstract Expressionists, I value individuality, immediacy and the power of color. Like the Futurists, I endeavor to compress many events into a single image, distilling the essence of a visual experience. (Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase and the many works of Italian Futurists like Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla are informed by a similar depiction of movement, speed and intent.) I have always sought to bring an intimate, personal immediacy unburdened by intellectual and political declarations or ironic detachment. Post-modernism bores me. I favor the direct, simple statement. Each painting has its own personality. This highway theme focuses all my painting techniques to one purpose. In this way I can gauge my own progress – learn from what came before and to go further still.”
The show will be on display from October 10 to November 24, and will also feature the modernist abstraction works of Andy Hammerstein, multifaceted and exceptionally skilled, who will have five paintings and 20 drawings on display.