Art News from September, 2009

Art From Anything!

Artist Kevin Van Aelst creates art from objects you might find in your kitchen and office. Nothing escapes his grasp- apples, tape measures, Cheetos, coffee, and even donuts are turned into art creations. Because his work is temporary, he records it with his camera.


Says Kevin, "My color photographs consist of common artifacts and scenes from everyday life, which have been rearranged, assembled, and constructed into various forms, patterns, and illustrations. The images aim to examine the distance between the ‘big picture’ and the ‘little things’ in life—the banalities of our daily lives, and the sublime notions of identity and existance. While the depictions of information--such as an EKG, fingerprint, map or anatomical model--are unconventional, the truth and accuracy to the illustrations are just as valid as more traditional depictions. This work is about creating order where we expect to find randomness, and also hints that the minutiae all around us is capable of communicating much larger ideas." [1]


Art Teacher of the Year

Donnalyn Shuster portrait

Above: Frankfort-Schuyler Middle-High School's art teacher Donnalyn Shuster, named art educator of the year.

Kevin was born in Elmira, New York but was raised in central Pennsylvania. He recieved a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University in 2002 and an M.F.A. from the University of Hartford in 2005. He currently resides and works in New Haven, Connecticut. He has taught photography classes at the University of Hartford Art School, Middlesex Community College, and currently is teaching at Quinnipiac University and ACES/Educational Center for the Arts High School Program. He is a recipient of a 2008 fellowship grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. Photos of his can be seen weekly illustrating "The Medium" in the New York Times Magazine.


1 Comment

Mrs. Shuster Is Awsomeeee

November 6, 20098 4:38 PM


Dying art galleries

Last year, many art dealers were discussing plans for multinational expansions. With the recession, the art market has now gone bust. Nowhere has that been felt than in New York, whose galleries represent the full spectrum of the art world. In New York alone, two dozen galleries have closed.


Art dealers have slashed prices and deepened already discounted items to no avail. They now are laying off employees and dropping artists with poor sales records. Some have approached current customers for help. Hit hard has been the Chelsea Art Galleries (Archived because it is now out of business). The crowds have thinned in all their galleries.


Charles Cowles gallery

The Charles Cowles Gallery in the Chelsea Gallery district is no more. It closed at the end of June.

Now the galleries are bracing for the summer. "Art galleries typically bring in very little revenue from mid-June to October," said Josh Baer, founder of the art industry newsletter Baer Faxt, "which is already pretty tough on the cash flow. But when business is off 50 to 80 percent, one wonders how many galleries will reopen in September." [1]


The Charles Cowles Gallery closed at the end of June and it was at the heart of the Chelsea gallery district. Says the owner of the gallery, Mr. Cowles said, "It’s shocking how bad business has been. I didn’t see a single major collector in the gallery." [2] It seems that executives on Wall Street used to come by and routinely buy art work worth over $10,000. With many of them out of work or with declining portfolios, those days have come to a halt.


The few people who are buying are taking fewer risks and selecting large galleries with prestigious collections. Galleries are canceling expensive installations and no longer printing catalogs. More successful are younger dealers are promoting low-priced art and joining forces with other dealers. The Winkleman Gallery offered art produced in multiples from $100 to $300. They don't have employees and they are paying less for the property because they are not in prime locations.


All of this does not bode well for international galleries. With the cutbacks, dealers are not attending foreign art fairs as they have been. It's not completely a desert out there. Artist Albert Oehlem sold on picture for $375,000 at the Luhring Augustine.


Hit hardest of all are budding artists who have yet to achieve success. With 50% of the sale from a painting going to the gallery, the galleries have had to focus on higher priced art from successful artists. This is because they need the money to pay the bills. For some, business is 20% of what it was at the height of the market.

Armoury Gallery

The Armoury Gallery in Milwaukee has been one of many art gallery casualties. It closed in May.

Also hit is the Chicago market. Among many, the Lisa Boyle Gallery (WARNING: Profanity is included in the article) closed after four years in the business. Art dealer Larry Gagosian is closing all his galleries in New York, Los Angeles, London and Rome. He is considering putting all the art from the closed galleries in one large gallery to be located in Manchester, England. The Armoury Gallery in Milwaukee recently posted on their blog that they closed on May 2.


Although the galleries are suffering, apparently art museum attendance is up. The Chicago Tribune reports that although the Art Institute of Chicago's endowment dropped 25%, attendance is up 50%- in spite of an increase in admission prices. With endowments declining, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced it is cutting 250 jobs and close 15 museum stores across the country.


Although it appears that the economy hasn't hit its bottom, all artists can do is hope and pray that the brutal recession will come to a close quickly.


Etching by Kowta Rammohan Sastri

Mr. Kowtasriprakasa from India e-mailed me a picture done by his deceased father, Kowta Rammohan Sastri. He says his father was a student of the Royal College of London and studied under Professor Osborn. The dry point etching below was done between 1928 and 1930 and is number 1950 of the series. It is of a portrait of Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel. Anyone who is interested in buying any etchings done by his father should e-mail


Etching by Kowta Sastri


Charles Cowles gallery

Once you click on the door on Valley Christian's site that says, "Enter Site" you are transported to this Flash page.

Great School Art Department Websites

We continually get links submitted to IAD and I recently received a link request from art teacher, Debra Calie. When I visited the site, I was very impressed with the site. It has multiple galleries and department news. I especially liked their Animation Gallery. The school is located in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.


There are many other great school art sites out there. One I like is Valley Christian High School's. The entire site is done in Flash. I'm not sure if it was professionally created or whether the art teacher is a wiz at web design. The school is located in San Jose, California.


Frontier Academy Art in Greely, Colorado even has their own domain name. The page is well designed, although at the time of our viewing some information was missing from the page. It is possible that because they are on summer break, it is blank. My favorite page is their student artwork page. You can click on art work to see a larger image and there is a row of thumbnail pictures you can click on.


If ever there was a site with huge amounts of information and images, it is that of Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, Illinois. Although several links told me I had an outdated Flash player and I have the latest release, you can still click through. My favorite pages are the Great American Bagel Show pages (No longer online or on the internet archive). I'm not sure I know the history of the show, but somehow I think it relates to bagels.


Finally, the Kankakee High School site has 72 pages of student art since 2003! Every thumbnail image can be clicked for the larger image. There is 2D, 3D, and graphic art images. All of this is that of only one art teacher,Mr. Knudson.


There are many more wonderful school art sites, but quite frankly, there is not enough time or space to cover them all. If you have a site you think deserves to be featured on this page, e-mail me. My e-mail is on the upper-right column on the left.

Do you have art news you want to share? Are you an art teacher and want to brag about your students here? E-mail me with your news and I will put it here next month.

Art News from September, 2009