December 5, 2013
Salvatore Emblema and ‘Transparency’
Parson The New School For Design, 12/05/2013
Amie Zimmer

Parson The New School For Design
December 5, 2013
Amie Zimmer

Salvatore Emblema’s paintings are like Rothkos dipped in water. The vibrant colors usually centered around the canvas’ midlines drip out of bounds and lose saturation along the way. One is struck by the same purposivity of color in Emblema’s paintings characteristic of the Neo-Geo, Minimalist, and Abstract Expressionist works contemporaneously being produced. “Transparency” is a feat of artistic excellence, and it’s surprising that the show at BOSI Contemporary is the first one in New York chronicling the artist’s work. Emblema spent a year in the mid-1950’s in New York on a Rockefeller Grant, during which time he came to meet Mark Rothko. This was early in Emblema’s career, at a time when Rothko had already established himself as an eminent American painter. Rothko’s influence permeated Emblema’s work from then on, with confidence in using color characteristic of Rothko’s work then being adapted by Emblema’s unique pairing of broad brushstrokes with earthy materials. Twenty paintings and one instillation in the space on the Lower East Side chronicle the life and works of an artist better known internationally than in the states, a fact that BOSI’s invitation will hopefully change.

Emblema’s paintings use burlap as canvas and volcanic soil as detail; the coarse quality bridges a gap often created by abstractionism between form and matter, between a metaphysical beyond and the ground we walk and live on. In this way, Emblema works both in and against the post-war tradition of abstractionism and minimalism embedded in his historical time. The dense materials give rise to a certain thickness undergirding the more ethereal topcoats of minimal paint. His manipulation of the burlap’s fibers creates a physical clearing; some paintings become transparent, their canvas thinned until the space behind them can be seen. Emblema grew up in Terzigno, a small town on Mt. Vesuvius. I stepped up to “Untitled/Landscape (Paesaggio)” and sniffed to see if I could smell the ash and the earth of Pompeii. Regardless of where the materials are from, the paintings carry the invitation to create stories and histories. Art critic and curator Peter Frank says:

Emblema worked in relative isolation. He anticipated broader developments—like the French Support/Surface movement, for instance, or even Arte Povera—or backed into them. Emblema fit comfortably into none of them, seeming instead to lie across so many or to combine them even as he prefigured them. Emblema’s work rarely, if ever, entraps itself in a certain period. It clearly comes from an era, responding as it does to the existential and perceptual questions of the 1950’s and early 60’s, but it is never of an era.[

Slightly right of the center in one of his “Untitled 2005” series is a bundle of burlap that looks like it’s been clenched under a fist, held together tightly and leaving a trace of the human component the way blankets tussled in a bed or a lukewarm cup of coffee on the table feel intimately related to the person who just left. Moments like this in Emblema’s work embody an emotive and corporeal materiality that even the most acclaimed abstractionists sometimes fail to achieve. While the New York outside the gallery space moves into a rainy winter, the paintings feel like they were brought in after being left out in the elements, altered by the moisture but not destroyed. The exhibition evokes this emotional narrative and offers a silent strength in their resistance to destruction; Salvatore Emblema is here to stay.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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