Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Second Acquisition is also from a group show.

This piece, "Les Bon Moments a Rue Condorcet" by Yvonne Gayle-Butler, was purchased at a group show sponsored by the Young Communist League, I believe. My friend Robin Crutchfield had a few pieces in the show so I went to check it out.  While I enjoyed his work, this particular piece caught my eye.  The art on display was not for sale; it was just a way for people to get their work shown.  But I tracked down the artist and negotiated a price with her.  I have not been able to locate Yvonne Gayle-Butler in a quick internet search.

This piece consists of three sheets torn out of a sketchbook and assembled behind a paper mat which has some stray puffs of paint and the title of the piece written on it.  The three panels are also entitled on the mat.  In order of the three watercolors, left to right:  1. A robe hung on a doorway, backed by elaborate figurative wallpaper with the title  "Regard, regard, le voisin (?) regard encore."; 2. Slippers on an ornate rug, with the artist's knee and drawing hand with the title "A quatre heures avant crepuscule dans le salon avec l'air de paix."; and 3. Clothes drying (?) on a radiator with a box of toys (?) nearby with the title "La fenetre en le bord le voisir (?) regard par son gout".  

My translations are partial because the word "voisir" does not exist in any French language reference I have checked and the last word in the 3rd entry is illegible.  In order:  "Look, look, the ________ look again."  "A quarter hour before dusk in the peaceful living room." "By the window, the _________ looks at her _____."

While the draftsmanship is not great, there is a fair amount of attention to detail, particularly in rendering the wallpaper and the carpet.  The colors are muted except for the centerpiece, which is rendered more richly.  Besides the artist's signature on the mat, each page is also signed.

Why I like this piece:

The informality of the work, along with the slapdash way of composing the images into a triumvirate of domestic . . . something.  Maybe not bliss, but a sensibility almost as appealing and perhaps more engaged.  The robe hanging on the wall looks to me not as if rest is waiting to be had, but rather that rest has been put aside for the moment.  The second image of the artist actually at work is the centerpiece of the work and the centerpiece of the thought about being at home and working.  

In other words, three domestic and very serene still lifes.  The mundane becomes the subject of the artist's work. The third part is the clincher, as the haphazard arrangement of clothes and things waiting to be put away means there is other work to be done as well.  So the home is all things at once, where work is done and waiting to be done, but where "rest" at least resides, even if it's moment is temporarily gone.

What this piece reminds me of: 

I am reminded immediately of how impulsive I was then.  To track down the artist and arrange to buy a piece of art directly was not something I had ever done.  I don't know if the piece or my general compulsiveness about art drove me to it.  But I have never felt untouched when I look at the piece, so it must have been something more.  The site of the workhall on 23rd Street where the Young Communist League held the show has become a Gap store, if memory serves correctly (the northeast corner of 23rd and 8th Avenue).  

In the 80's artwork and the art world was more accessible, as I've mentioned previously. 

There were plenty of artists and many who worked in obscurity unless you made it to the type of unhyped and under-attended shows like this one.  I think I was one of about 3 people in the room on a Saturday afternoon.

And it reminds me of Robin, who remains a friend (or at least acquaintance) to this day.  We met at the gay clubs in the meat market district.  His bio is on the link, but I did not know he was an artist in his own right until we got to know one another better.  This show, which he was a part of, was not until 6 years or so later. 

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