Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Info:

Friday, February 5, 2016


Katonah Museum of Art Presents The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature
March 6 - June 19, 2016

PAUL VILLINSKI, Self Portrait, 2014, steel, birds nest, 68 x 20 x 8 inches

Katonah, NY: In a provocative display that incorporates contemporary art, relics from the natural world, and items of material culture, the forthcoming exhibition The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature, examines the exquisite beauty and profound symbolism of the nest in art and culture. Organized by the Katonah Museum of Art, the exhibition opens March 6 and remains on view through June 19, 2016 in the Beitzel and Righter Galleries. It continues the KMA’s two-season thematic cycle of environmentally focused work.


Artist and naturalist James Prosek will create a new site-specific installation in the Museum’s Atrium. Prosek’s past wall murals—featuring black and white images of numbered, silhouetted birds and other animals—have contemplated the ways in which humans attempt to order and classify the natural world. His work for the Katonah Museum of Art will incorporate wall-bound sculptural elements into the painted graphic imagery, representing a new evolution of the artist’s practice.

Investigating the ways in which birds themselves act as makers, German artist Bj√∂rn Brauncollaborates with a pair of zebra finches he has raised to create nest sculptures from re-purposed materials, such as aluminum foil and colored string. Judy Pfaff’s work, Time is Another River, integrates varied materials such as honeycomb, plastic, cardboard, and foam in a human-scale, nest-like form that evokes the making methods of both organic and architectural construction.

Dove Bradshaw weaves together honey locust thorns in an accumulative strategy akin to that used by birds when making their nests. Titled Home, the work suggests the animal and human need for dwelling, and the effort to create a structure of protection. In another work, Bradshaw casts a goose eggshell in 18 karat gold, invoking the Aesop’s fable The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg—a warning against greed and the desire for immediacy.

Rather than considering tales related to the nest and its occupants, Paul Villinski explores the relationship between the nest and the physical human body. His life-size, sculptural self-portrait includes a bird’s nest settled in the figure’s belly. Additional artists (including Sharon Beals,Sanford Biggers, John Burtle, Shiela Hale, Fiona Hall, Porky Hefer, Nina Katchadourian,Louise Lawler, Hunt Slonem, Kiki Smith, Andreas Sterzing, and David Wojnarowicz among others) continue such lines of investigation into the aesthetic forms and metaphorical themes of the nest.

The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature provides an unexpected lens through which to observe the fascinating parallels between human and animal behavior, raising timely questions about the survival of the birds and their habitats in our increasingly fragile ecological world.

GINA PHILLIPS ||| Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art

Jan 18th, 2016 - Feb 29th, 2016

Works by New Orleans artist Gina Phillips are on display now through Feb. 29 at the Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art at Piedmont College in Demorest.

Phillips is a mixed media, narrative artist who grew up in Kentucky and has lived in New Orleans since 1995. The imagery, stories and characters of both regions influence her work. She started her career as a painter and has increasingly incorporated fabric and thread into her work.

A reception and artist talk with Phillips will be held from 5–7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, at the museum, located at 567 Georgia Street, Demorest. Admission is free, and museum hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, contact director Daniel White at or call 706-894-4201.

Phillips has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Kentucky and a master’s in fine arts from Tulane University. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the country, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas; Asheville Art Museum; Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans; and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Monday, February 1, 2016

THORNTON DIAL ||| The New York Times

Thornton Dial, Outsider Artist Whose Work Told of Black Life, Dies at 87
Thornton Dial, 2011, in his studio in Bessemer, AL by Josh Anderson

Thornton Dial, a self-taught artist whose paintings and assemblages fashioned from scavenged materials told the story of black struggle in the South and found their way to the permanent collections of major museums, died on Monday at his home in McCalla, Ala. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by family members.

Mr. Dial, the illiterate son of an unwed teenage mother, spent much of his childhood in rural poverty in western Alabama and, after moving to Bessemer, an industrial suburb of Birmingham, labored at a wide variety of occupations, all the while making works from castoff materials that he came to think of as art only when he was in his 50s.

In 1987, Lonnie Holley, a self-taught artist living in Birmingham, showed William Arnett, an Atlanta collector interested in Southern folk art, one of Mr. Dial’s decorated fish lures. The two men went to see Mr. Dial, who, once he realized what Mr. Arnett was looking for, pulled a painted, welded-steel sculpture topped by a stylized steel turkey out of a turkey coop.

“I knew I was witnessing something great coming out of that turkey coop,” Mr. Arnett said in a statement issued by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which he established to preserve and document African-American vernacular art. “I didn’t know at the time that it wasn’t simply the sculpture that was special. The man who had created it was a great man, and he would go on to become recognized as one of America’s greatest artists. I can’t think of any important artist who has started with less or accomplished more.”

Mr. Arnett championed Mr. Dial relentlessly, with remarkable success.

In the early 1990s, as Mr. Dial’s work began appearing in museum shows, he gained recognition as a remarkable artist and storyteller, with a turbulent, expressionist manner that drew comparisons to Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Anselm Kiefer.

“Dial’s paintings are like patches of rough seas in which the faces and figures of living things rise and sink among waves of detritus and color,” Roberta Smith wrote in The New York Times in 1993.

Intense interest in the previously neglected area of outsider art only enhanced his stature. Over the years, his work was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Ten of Mr. Dial’s works were acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013 as a part of a larger donation from Mr. Arnett’s foundation.

“From the complex, exuberant textures of his assemblages to the deft, fluid lines of his drawings, Dial’s facility as an artist was truly extraordinary,” Sheena Wagstaff, the chairwoman of the department of modern and contemporary art at the Met, said on Monday. “He leaves us with a body of work that is a rich visual manifestation of a life history, one that witnessed a remarkable time of change in the world from the perspective of an African-American man.”

Thornton Dial was born on Sept. 10, 1928, in Emelle, Ala., on a former cotton plantation where members of his extended family worked as sharecroppers. His mother, Mattie Bell, was unable to care for him, and from the age of 3 he was raised by his great-grandmother on the farm of a cousin, Buddy Jake Dial, who liked to make sculptures from bits and pieces lying around the yard.

Thornton picked cotton, drove a mule around a hay baler, herded cows and helped with the milking. Busy and energetic, he raised vegetables on small plots scattered around the area. He rarely attended school.

“I went enough to learn a little bit,” he told Mr. Arnett in a series of interviews in the 1990s for the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. “They told me, ‘Learn to figure out your money and write your name. That’s as far as a Negro can go.’”

When he was 12 he was sent to live with relatives in Bessemer, where he worked on road crews, painted houses, loaded bricks and did carpentry. For 30 years, he was a metalworker at the Pullman Standard Plant, which made railroad cars. After the plant closed in 1981, he started making metal patio furniture with his sons in a shed behind his house.

In 1951, he married Clara Mae Murrow, who died in 2005. He is survived by a half brother, Arthur Dial; a daughter, Mattie Dial; three sons, Thornton Jr., Richard and Dan; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mr. Dial made his work from anything at hand, from bits of rope to bones to scrap metal. “I like to use the stuff that I know about, stuff that I know the feel of,” he told Mr. Arnett.

“I’m talking about tin, steel, copper, and aluminum, and also old wood, carpet, rope, old clothes, sand, rocks, wire, screen, toys, tree limbs and roots,” he added. “You could say, ‘If Dial see it, he know what to do with it.’”

A large canvas-on-wood work from 1992, “Graveyard Traveler/Selma Bridge,” incorporates rope rug, tin, wood, wire, plastic bags, paint-can lids and pine cones.

Initially he made art to please himself, or to ornament practical objects. He drew on plywood with an elegant, sinuous line, switching to paper in the early 1990s.

When he began showing his work in galleries and museums, he often played variations on the image of a tiger, a symbol of strength, tenacity and the survival instinct that he used to express the tragedies and triumphs of black life.

In “The Last Day of Martin Luther King” (1992), a somber black and white tiger made of painted mop strings stands in for the murdered civil rights leader, while the four spindly, brightly colored “All the Cats in Town” (1993), interlocked like a puzzle, strut and pose with attitude.

Mr. Dial often commented on current events. He translated wildfires in California into a mixed-media work of wood, tin and soil in “Out of Control” (2003), and around the time of the American invasion of Iraq, he shredded and reassembled the Stars and Stripes in “Don’t Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together” (2003).

Other works stayed close to home. When several cows that he bought died, he used their white bones to make a work of sculpture, “Lost Cows” (2000-1). His response to an 1869 painting by William Merritt Chase, “Still Life With Watermelon,” was a celebration of Southern cooking, “Setting the Table” (2003), with a bunch of grapes made from a beaded car seat, and an actual frying pan glued to the canvas, with painted eggs inside.

“I mostly pick up stuff,” Mr. Dial told The Times in 2011. “I start on a picture when I get a whole lot of stuff together. And then I look at the piece and think about life.”

In 1993, his work was the subject of a large exhibition, “Thornton Dial: Image of the Tiger,” which was presented simultaneously at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the American Folk Art Museum in New York. The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, presented a major exhibition, “Thornton Dial in the 21st Century” in 2005, and in 2011, the Indianapolis Museum of Art mounted a traveling retrospective, “Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial.”

“Art is like a bright star up ahead in the darkness of the world,” Mr. Dial told Mr. Arnett. “It can lead peoples through the darkness and help them from being afraid of the darkness. Art is a guide for every person who is looking for something. That’s how I can describe myself: Mr. Dial is a man looking for something.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

NIKKI ROSATO ||| The Mockingbird

NIKKI ROSATO featured in The Mockingbird 
Issue 6 Page 47

article by Ethan Richardson

NIKKI ROSATO ||| Grounds for Sculpture

Opening May 1, 2016
NIKKI ROSATO, Untitled (Merged I)[detail], 2014, hand-cut road map, 64 x 48 inches

Treating the small lower level gallery annex as an installation site, Nikki Rosato will fill this room with her figurative works cut from road maps. Rosato cuts away all the land masses from the maps, leaving linear forms created from the leftover roads and waterways. The lines of the map are a metaphor for personal journey. 

“As we move though life, the places we inhabit and the people that we meet alter and shape us into the person that we are in the present day. I am interested in the idea that a place I visited as a child has affected the outcome of the person that I am today.” Nikki Rosato

This exhibition will highlight the exaggerated lines of Rosato’s work by playing with light and shadow and will also focus on her use of volumetric negative space, which forms a spatial counterpoint to the solidity of Ayami Aoyama’s work displayed in the adjacent gallery. 

Begins: May 1, 2016
On View Until: September 18, 2016
Location: Domestic Arts Building

Friday, January 22, 2016

SKYLAR FEIN ||| Friday Nights at NOMA


January 22 AT 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Tonight at NOMA, Skylar Fein will give an Artist Perspective in conjunction with the exhibition Visions of US: American Art at NOMA. Join us for great art, live music, free art activities, a cash bar, and more!
5-8 pm: Art on the Spot
5:30-8:30 pm: Music by Phil the Tremolo King
6:30 pm: Artist Perspective with Skylar Fein: “Larry Rivers’ Eulogy for Frank O’Hara”

Skylar Fein on Visions of US: American Art at NOMA

Forget that he once won a lot of money on The $64,000 Question. Forget that he painted Napoleon as “The Greatest Homosexual,” forget the scandalous “Frank O’Hara Nude With Boots” — even forget (if you can) that the model (O’Hara) was his lover and a world-renowned poet and a curator at MoMA at the time. Forget all of that. The topic on January 22 is the eulogy. Rivers’ eulogy for Frank O’Hara was one of the most infamous and explosive art world events of late-Sixties New York, but you’ve never heard it. During this lecture, Skylar Fein will read the eulogy, courtesy of NYU Library special collections, and relate it to the Rivers painting on view in Visions of US: American Art at NOMA, situating this history within his own work, and the larger history of Pop Art in the United States.


Skylar Fein was born in Greenwich Village and raised in the Bronx. He has had many careers including teaching nonviolent resistance under the umbrella of the Quakers, working for a gay film festival in Seattle, stringing for The New York Times and as pre-med student at University of New Orleans where he moved one week before Hurricane Katrina hit.

In the fall of 2008, his Prospect.1: Biennial installation, Remember the Upstairs Lounge, shined a spotlight on an overlooked piece of New Orleans history: a fire that swept through a French Quarter bar in 1973, killing everyone inside. The worst fire in New Orleans history has never been solved. His installation walked visitors right through the swinging bar doors, and offered visual riffs on politics and sexuality circa 1973. The piece was praised in Artforum, Art In America, The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker, among others. In late 2009, Fein had his first solo museum show, “Youth Manifesto,” at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The exhibition was an ode to punk rock as a force for social and cultural upheaval. True to form, the opening reception was shut down by police responding to the look of the unlikely art-going crowd.

Skylar Fein was the recipient of a 2009 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award and his work is in several prominent collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, The Louisiana State Museum, The Birmingham Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art.