featured gallery for March 1999


"Reflections: Seven Artists" is the first in a series of exhibitions for the Visual AIDS Gallery on the Web. These exhibits are an invitation to become acquainted with the three hundred and some artists who comprise the Visual AIDS Archive Project.

Visual AIDS was founded in reaction to the pandemic proportions of AIDS and its specific impact on the arts community. The mission of Visual AIDS is to help and to further the trajectory of visual artists living with HIV/AIDS, by promoting productivity as part of their own survival and, as such, the survival of art.

At a time when being a disabled artist means being restricted to a low, fixed income, Visual AIDS has come to the forefront in its advocacy for the arts by distributing grants and building in a support system; such offerings often make the difference between stagnation or reaching a fully professional career in the visual arts. Indeed, Visual AIDS describes itself in one of its programs, The Archive Project, as a facilitator and proactive agency to provide the following:

A repository of photo-documentation of works by visual artists for curators, historians, art-consultants, dealers, and journalists;
Slides free of charge to be used by artists in compiling their portfolios for the dissemination and promotion of their work;

Grants for art supplies for low-income artists;

Advocacy to increase opportunities for exhibiting the artist's work in a professional context;

Access to legal assistance in the preservation of the artist's estate as well as in the protection of his/her work;

Counseling on the intricacies of gallery representation and on the preparation of grants;

Basic referral to the appropriate social service agencies.

In addition to the support offered by Visual AIDS, equally important has been the colloquium among the participating artists and the resulting solidarity, which serve as an impetus for work of the highest caliber.

So I am honored to contribute on this occasion, in the discipline of painting and on behalf of Visual AIDS, a curatorial exhibition comprising seven artists, including myself. The seven artists included are in alphabetical order as follows:

Bradford Branch
Bradford Branch was born in Brooklyn, NY, and attended F.I.T. Between 1990-1993 he was associated with the Art Students League as a Class Proctor, received several merit awards, a scholarship, and participated in three group shows. He has had one man shows at the Harlem School of the Arts (NY), the Martin Pierce Gallery (Brooklyn), and the POCC Gallery (Brooklyn). He has been in group shows at the Aljira Center for Contemporary Art (NY), the Brenda Hall Gallery (San Francisco), the Outdoor Museum of Art (Brooklyn), and the Jadite Gallery (NY). His etchings have been used by the Book of the Month Club on several occasions.

1. "Oranges and Pussywillows," 1994
Monoprint, 22" x 16.5"

2. "Oranges and Pussywillows," 1994
Monoprint and Japanese Watercolor, 21" x 15"

Bradford Branch is not satisfied with the reproductive qualities of the printmaking medium so much as he is interested in creating one-of-a-kind, unique images of a strong and painterly quality. He focuses on variations of the still life. His use of familiar objects as a pretext to recreate lyrical forms that borrow at once from the geometric traditions has evolved from Cézanne's interpretation of form and from the formidable development of planes by the Cubists. Lending to these sources a very energetic and refreshing outlook, Branch works in a very refined and exciting context, constructing and deconstructing the art of printmaking.

James Greenwood
James Greenwood was born in Harrisburg, Mississippi.

3. "From My Dimension to Yours," 1996
Acrylic on canvas, 26" x 34"

4. "Untitled," 1997
Acrylic on canvas, 24" x 36"

James Greenwood is a surrealist who works on paintings about angelic aliens. His images invite us nonconfrontationally to participate in an interior world that is both whimsical and joyful. Greenwood's fascination stems from devotion to his subject, which he describes as angels from outer space, whose healing power is to be found in the properties of color. The strength of his images and warmth of his pallet are transfigured by the use of complementary harmonies producing a child-like charm that is as attractive as it is relaxing. He expresses his fantasy with conviction and humor. The aura of his alien beings sparks cheerful, even comical, explosions of star-like confetti which emerge from within. This is the kind of painting that energizes by its presence.

Frank Holliday
Frank Holliday was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, and has received an award from the N.E.A., and a Painting Fellowship from the Clocktower Studio.

5. "Faceless," 1996
Oil on canvas, 16" x 20"

6. "Sir," 1997
Oil on canvas, 34" x 30"

Frank Holliday's paintings focus on movement and action of form in space as a primary force. Holliday restricts his subject matter to portraiture and calls attention to the human head; here the intellect seems to undergo elastic distortions and superimpositions: a device that conveys in a single glance different facial expressions throughout time. Unique to Holliday is the attention given to well-defined volume in some of the forms, either inscribed within geometric shapes or juxtaposed against flat planes. The result is a flow of forms as if reflected from collapsing concave and convex mirrors. Disjointed and uniform at the same time, like a machine in action, these portraits are filled with the dynamic energy that the Italian Futurists sought from the accelerated impact of industrialism during the first quarter of our century. Similarly, Holliday imparts a sense of multiplicity to his work -- with the speed of the older order metamorphosing into a distinct kaleidoscope of organic forms.

Eric Molnar
Eric Molnar was born in Manhattan and attended Parsons School of the Arts (NY). He has been included in group shows at: Studio 24 (NY), the Boston Center for the Arts (MA); Lobby Gallery of the Times Square Hotel (NY), the Center for the Contemporary Arts (Newark, NJ); the Gershwin Hotel Gallery (NY); and the Roundabout Theater Gallery (NY). He has participated in both GMHC's and in the Positive Traveling Gallery's Silent Auction. His work appears in Visual AIDS' 1996 Catalogue: "Arts Aids Communities, Realizing the Archive Project."

7. "Study Room," 1995
Oil on canvas, 42" x 38"

8. "View From the Ledge," 1995
Oil on canvas, 34" x 34"

Eric Molnar is an artist with tremendous poetic strength, akin to the European expressionist school of the '30s. These paintings are full of a demure and charged psychological tension that is powerful and unsettling. He lends to his figurative images the élan of a sinister aesthetic mystique, which defines its forms within a moody and vibrant context of dissonant colors: his subjects seem to be turned away, knowingly exposed and luring one to a scene beyond the boundaries of the frame. Without a specific disclosure his subjects almost seem to expect a reaction from the viewer. This mysterious sense makes these paintings appeal to one's curiosity while enforcing a tantalizing beauty.

Ricardo F. Morín (curator)
Ricardo Morín is an American of Venezuelan birth. He received his BFA in Painting/Drawing from S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo, and his MFA from Yale University. He has had solo exhibits at: the Venezuelan Gallery (NY); Hallwalls Gallery (Buffalo.); Alamo Gallery (Buffalo). He has participated in group shows at: the Ascaso Gallery (Venezuela); Municipal Gallery (Maracay/Venezuela); Bronx Museum of the Arts (NY); Albright Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo). He had received numerous awards including: The Reed Foundation Award; Creative Visual Arts Scholarship Award from N.E.A.; Whittet Scholarship Award, and grants from the Ministry of Education and the Foundation Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho of Venezuela. He had also received two Emmy nominations and a 1995 ACE award for his work as a Stage Design/Art Director.

9. "Self-Portrait," 1998
Watercolor on paper, 11 5/8" x 7 1/4"

10. "My Lover in Recovery," 1998
Watercolor on paper, 10 3/8" x 8 3/8"

11. "Billy and Sal," 1998
Watercolor on paper, 10 3/4" x 13"

My interest in portraits and interiors as such (e.g., "My Lover in Recovery") has evolved as a means to document my life and that of those I hold dear. Expression is central to my work; my lover's, my own image, as well as the portraits of all those friends who suffer with AIDS. It has become a theme about people who have rebounded from death, who had formerly given up; their distinct glances reveal the courage and sadness in the challenge of beginning anew. It is also a theme about those faced with the consequences of AIDS, though not directly affected; their expressions are imbued with fear and confusion. It too narrates the poignant human dimension of new lovers, strengthened by the embrace of a common affliction, as in "Billy and Sal." I desire to recreate a genre of the afflicted that is at the same time tangible and painterly. I draw my metaphors from the tradition of 'El Realismo Mágico' as well as from my long relationship with the professional theater as a set designer. I suffuse my images with my own vision, evoking the tropical warmth of my Latin roots and a desire to celebrate my renewed hope in life.

Gregory Russell
Gregory Russell was born in Washington, D.C. He received a BFA and MFA in painting and drawing from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and subsequently spent eighteen months in Zimbabwe as a Fullbright Hayes Research Fellow. Mr. Russell was also recipient of The Purchase Award. Some of his exhibits have been at: the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Alternative Museum of New York.

12. "Conspiracy," 1991-1992
Oil and collage on paper, dimensions unknown

13. "Send Me No Flowers," 1991-1992
Oil and collage on paper, 42.5" x 86"

Gregory Russell's paintings from 1991-1992 establish an iconic vocabulary intended to disseminate a critical view on victimization and the vulnerabilities resulting from the AIDS pandemic. Enraged, his imagery clamors to break the apathy of the time period. In "Conspiracy" we have a triptych of enshrined images. The first image, from left to right, arrays the American flag, an institutional building, and an ornate burial casket flanked by menacing spears that bear flags with a cross. This station is followed by a central panel depicting the paraphernalia of a laboratory with a background of unrelentlessly repeated dollar bags. The third panel portrays -- against what appears to be an abstracted, hellish conception of society at large -- a head staring blankly and wearing a gas-mask. These are satirical images that conform to the dilemma of power struggle: respectively, among deluding institutional politics, the money-making exploitation of the health system, and the resulting confusion and despair of a society in decay. On the other hand, "Send Me No Flowers," by its very title and the explicitness of its pictorial elements (losing a loved one, e.g., a black swan to be cremated; or a burial site, e.g., the inset of photographs of grieving widowers and contorted bodies), deploys another kind of satire about the banality of ceremonial 'bandages.' Russell's pictorialism contextualizes a cosmos and comments dialectically on his pathos and perception of American society today.

Martin Wong
Martin Wong was born in Portland, Oregon. He has had one man shows at: The New Museum of Contemporary Art (NY); P.P.O.W. (NY); San Francisco Art Institute (CA) and Exit Art (NY). He has been reviewed in the New York Times, ART News, Mother Jones, Art Forum, Art in America, Details, and the International Art Arena.

14. "Mei Lang-Fang," 1992
Acrylic on linen, 96" x 42"

15. "In the Studio," 1992
Acrylic on linen, 30D

Martin Wong evinces a beautifully poetic voice closely akin to his Chinese ancestry. In "Mei Lang-Fang," a comely woman stands at an eighth hour, contemplating a telephone languidly. This modern maiden wears a foreboding, black evening-gown and her pose has the solemn sobriety of a theatrical gesture. The clock on the wall spells the word REGULATE. Is it a time of destiny? Her right sleeve overlaps a black picture frame, as if breaking the illusion behind a proscenium. The caption in Chinese characters, spells out "Farewell My Concubine," the very title of a classic, Chinese opera (the story of the legendary concubine Yu, who proves her honor and love by killing herself). "Mei Lang-Fang" is not the legendary Yu but the name of the actress in a play of the same name. On the other hand, "In the Studio" (a title that appears in Chinese above the threshold of the door) opens the eye to the intimate and sensuous world of the artist at work. As a piquant underpinning, a female painter dangles a foot over the picture frame. She has not yet begun her canvas, and seems absorbed in her own amusement or, perhaps, embarrassed, for she avoids looking at the impertinent nakedness of her male model. The viewer cannot help wondering about her own lack of underclothing and the smirk on her face. In contrast, a second and more circumspect painter is looking at the surface of his canvas, undisturbed and oblivious to his companion. The clock, a common motif in Wong's paintings and perhaps signifying the force of destiny, appears here again, regulating the changes that are about to take place. These poetic and quizzical pictorial narratives of Wong's bring us a vivid reflection of the costumes and traditions of Eastern culture.

Text edited by
Billy Bussell Thompson
and with
Special thanks to Nelson F. Jewell