Exhibition Duration: March 1 – 29, 2013
Curator: Jeffrey Wechsler
Awards Ceremony: Announcing the winners of the New Brunswick Art Salon 2012 Juried Exhibition
The Alfa Art Gallery is a non-profit institution serving the New Brunswick community with exhibitions and multidisciplinary arts related activities since Jan 2008. In this exhibition, the Alfa Art Gallery celebrates the wide-ranging spirit of public service in the arts by featuring another non-profit gallery – the Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery, located at 417 Lafayette Street, in Manhattan.
The common bonds between the two non-profit galleries are seen in their mutually shared activities and ideals:
- Presenting established and emerging artists and thematic group exhibitions, including artists of regional, national, and international scope
- Advancing art education through the engagement of interns pursuing careers in the visual arts, communications, design, and related fields
- Offering educational and cultural programming for the general public
The Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded by Korean-born American artist Po Kim and his wife, American artist Sylvia Wald. The Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery’s primary mission is to preserve, maintain and perpetuate the legacy of the founders’ uniquely accomplished artistic careers and to exhibit the founders’ art works to promote and widen its public appreciation. In 2009, working with local and international cultural institutions, the Gallery began to host special temporary art exhibitions covering a wide array of themes and media, and now maintains an active schedule of such displays.
Due to the significant status held by Po Kim within the field of modern Korean art, as well as his continuing professional relationship with his native land, the internship program at the Wald/Kim Gallery has focused on students from Korea who are pursuing degrees in the visual arts at institutions in the metropolitan area. This exhibition presents work by Sylvia Wald and Po Kim, along with work by six individuals who currently work at the Gallery: the interns Woojae Kang, Tina Hyun Jin Kim, Winter Gyeoul Kim, Hwa Jin Lee, and Suji Park – and also Sumin Hong, the Gallery Manager of the Wald/Kim Gallery, who had been an intern. The works by the interns offer an intriguing look into the development of artists during the early years of their careers, in media including painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. In subject, the works range from pure abstraction to mysteriously surreal figuration.
The art displayed by Po Kim and Sylvia Wald comprises a very small sampling from the many styles and techniques used by the artists during their long and productive lives. Po Kim, born in Korea in 1917, came to New York in 1957; Sylvia Wald, born in Philadelphia in 1915, had been living in New York since 1937. They met in New York in 1968 and married soon after. Wald passed way in 2011; Kim continues to live and work in Manhattan.
During his first years in America, Kim showed a direct engagement with his new art environment, embracing Abstract Expressionism. Yet his work was also visibly suffused with the aesthetic of his Korean heritage. This is especially evident in the fluid, calligraphic movements of his brushstrokes in a series of more than 180 small paintings on paper Kim produced from 1960-62 that feature independent and overlapping swirls, thick and thin rapid gestures, and elegantly dispersed blots. The paintings concentrate within reduced surfaces the energy seen in his contemporary large canvases. Never satisfied to work in one method and thus forgoing a signature style, Kim abruptly shifted his approach in the 1970s, creating highly realistic still life drawings of fruits and vegetables, meticulouslyrendered in colored pencil, such as Pear 3 and Celery 3 in the present exhibition. From the 1980s onward, Kim practiced variations on expressionist figuration and abstraction.
Sylvia Wald was always something of an artistic polymath, concentrating on a particular medium – printmaking, painting, sculpture and assemblage – through stretches of time. Wald’s greatest reputation lay in the field of printmaking, and this aspect of her work is featured in the current exhibition, which includes silkscreens and woodcuts from the 1950s and 1960s. She is particularly admired for her innovations with the silkscreen medium, which made great use of the viscous properties of screenprint ink and its potential for a wide range of textural effects. Wald’s prints often incorporated semi-spontaneous forms, controlled within her compositions through her full understanding of her medium. This is well demonstrated by her Abstract Expressionist silkscreens, among the earliest and most coherent uses of the print media within that style. Works like her Written in Sunlight I present the explosive linear and gestural power of “action painting,” filled with linear motifs that zigzag through the image like lightning bolts. Wald could also produce masterful prints with realistic subjects, such as the carefully observed and subtly printed Sleeping Dog.
The exhibition was curated by Jeffrey Wechsler, who retired in 2011 as Senior Curator from the Zimmerli Art Museum of Rutgers University.