Installing "Big Red"
"Big Red", 115h x 57w x 32d
Portrayals Imagined and Observed
May 9th- November 1, 2019
May 9th Opening Reception
The current exhibition at the Blue Hill Art & Cultural Center delves into the imagination and upon artist’s individual perception. An exhibition of diverse works by a wide range of artists, the show of paintings, drawings and prints engage the viewer.
An exhibition within an exhibition features the works of the late Martin Lyons, (1923-1995).
MARTIN SPENCER LYONS
James Lancel McElhinney © 2019
Martin Spencer Lyons showed great promise as an artist, poet and philosopher in his early teens. As a protégé of Robert Brackman, and as a student at the Art Students League of New York, Lyons was on a trajectory that would have given him immediate entrée into the art-world. His cousin Norman Hirschl became a prominent art-dealer. His parents were socially connected with noted art-patrons like the Thannhausers. Lyons’s painting displayed intelligence, confidence and facility rarely found in artworks by one so young. In his late teens, Martin Lyons suddenly presented signs of mental instability that led to hospitalization. Subjected to a regimen of treatments that today would be unthinkable, at various times he seemed to recover, before suffering cyclical relapses. Throughout the course of his life, Lyons made paintings and drawings, leaving behind a remarkable body of work.
His early works are more conventional, displaying great skill at representational drawing, and a sound grasp of painting technique. Lyons’ mature works can be divided into portraits, florals and landscapes. A series of graphite drawings of family members and mental patients probe the sitters’ characters—evoking perhaps Otto Dix, or the madhouse portraits of Gericault. He produced hundreds of obsessive drawings of gestural landscapes that seem to recall familiar places, like Central Park, or Brackman’s house in Connecticut. The mark-making in these drawings suggests mental exercise, like old-fashioned curlicue practice-sheets for students of cursive penmanship. Another series of drawings represent repeated attempts to capture the likeness of an unknown woman—perhaps a lost lover, absent friend, or object of desire.
Lyons’s landscape paintings range from expressionist trees reminiscent of Soutine, to dreamlike vistas punctuated by boulders and otherworldly arborials. His floral compositions combine the gestural exuberance of his landscape drawings with a joyous palette. Flowers are often seen as metaphors for erotic sensuality. Here Lyons seems to be celebrating both hope and pleasure.
In his late works, Lyons returned to portraiture. Sometimes observed, but mostly imagined, the same man, and the same woman appear in a series of pendantportraits. Some exhibit a specificity that comes from observation. As the series progresses, the faces become more idealized—almost iconic. More colorful, nuanced backgrounds give way to black. Paint is allowed to build up, most likely because underneath each of his final pictures, Lyons had painted a dozen more.
One wonders sometimes why art is necessary. Perhaps the best reason is to give us something we can use to transform the confusion, mayhem and mortal terror of human experience into something meaningful. Rather than placing Lyons into the pigeonhole created by scholars and the market for art by mental patients, it would be best to remember him as a person in perpetual crisis, whose artwork provided him with refuge, hope and pleasure. Seen in this light, his story must surely be a source of inspiration.
During the weeks between art exhibition changes at Blue Hill Plaza, do you ever wonder how the large sculptures all of a sudden appear in their places?
It takes quite a lot of planning and coordinating with many people to make it happen! Read the article below by sculptor, Peter Strasser, whose work was exhibited in "Revealing Common Ground", Nov 2014 - Apr. 2015 .
"The Daunting Experience of Safely Transporting Large,
by Peter Strasser, Sculptor
March 12, 2015
Recently I was invited to display some of my sculptures along with a number of other talented fine artists in the art show, “Revealing Common Ground, “ at The Blue Hill Art and Cultural Center. The show, curated by Barbara Sussman, will be on view until April 17, 2015. Two of the four sculptures that I was displaying posed additional care and planning because of their great size. Each weigh between 1000-1500 lbs. and reach heights of 10 ft. Below is a guide for accomplishing the successful installing of these pieces.
There are 5 stages in the movement of large sculptures
from artist studio to gallery space.
The first stage is planning. An inspection of the
gallery or space that they will be displayed in must
be undertaken. Special attention must be given to
any obstructions in moving them through the interior,
such as door widths and heights, curbs, stairs and
ceiling heights, as well as protection of the existing
floor if necessary while transporting the heavy
sculpture across the floor surfaces.
The second stage is protecting the piece for shipment.
It is necessary to secure the piece if it is fragile at the
studio, and in my case, wrapping each piece up with
cloth moving blankets, and then a good deal of plastic
wrap, so the final piece resembles a huge mummy. I
always put two slings around the sculpture near the top
and bottom prior to wrapping so that once completed, one end of each sling still protrudes from the protective wrapping for future lifting of the sculpture.
The third stage is to carefully lift the pieces into a truck and secure or onto an open trailer which we did with my sculptures. I used a Kubota tractor with a front loader and attachable forks to lift the sculptures up and onto a trailer, and another piece onto an open pick-up truck. Once secure we slowly drove the pieces to Blue Hill Plaza.
The forth stage is unloading the 1000-1500 lb. sculptures. The trick is to carefully remove them from the trailer and pick-up truck. Because the trailer
had a ramp we were able to wheel the larger sculpture
off the trailer with half a dozen riggers. The second
large sculpture was hand carried by the six riggers
from the rear of the truck to the ground. Once on the
ground the pieces were on a wheelbase dollies and
moved into the interior of the plaza for
The fifth stage of the process is to stand up the
sculptures and secure them to a pedestal in an area
that the curator deems most fitting for display. My
process was to use an aluminum gantry with a sliding
trolley and chain hoist. Once the gantry was erected it
is moved over the horizontal wooden sculpture. The sling that was secured in the protecting stage is hooked onto the chain hoist, and the process of hoisting the sculpture begins. This has to be done incredibly slow and carefully, constantly looking for any potential danger of something slipping or moving unexpectedly. Once the sculpture is standing in its upright position it is carefully unwrapped and any additional securing to their bases with bolts is completed.
An audible sigh of relief is heard when the sculpture is standing proudly on its pedestal and secured properly.