Culture Vulture, July 16

- July 18, 2011

"Farmers Market and Saturday at the Railyard"

Farmers Market each Saturday is such a feast for the senses. I hate missing this time of community and friends – what a feast!

This Saturday was a feast of a different sort at the LewAllen Gallery in the Railyard, where I went specifically to see 23 etchings in a neo-classic style from Picasso’s Suite Vollard.  The majority of the plates are line etchings (occasionally with drypoint), a technique in which Picasso was especially expert.

The Suite came about in an interesting way: In 1934, when Picasso asked to buy paintings by Renoir and Cezanne from Ambroise Vollard's private collection, the dealer instead offered to swap the paintings for a group of 100 plates - the future Suite Vollard. Stylistically, most of the images in the suite reveal the neo-classical phase of Picasso's work since Picasso had come into contact with ancient art a year earlier in Rome, where he had gone to produce the sets and costumes for the Jean Cocteau/Erik Satie ballet Parade for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes – a favorite subject of mine, but more on that later.

Picasso's young mistress and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, is at the center of the Suite. She is found throughout, with her wide, oval face centered by a Roman nose bridging straight from the forehead, and crowned with short, cropped hair.  I’ve seen works from the Suite before, but never quite so many in one place.

I didn’t go to LewAllen prepared for the other show, a rather comprehensive showing of the color field paintings of the late Robert Natkin. Not always a fan of color field work, I was impressed by the range of textures the artist had achieved in these works. Often incorporating the textures of fabrics or what appeared to be lace, there was a depth of coloration not often seen in this genre. I particularly liked the work that superimposed a large depiction of a newsprint listing of one of Natkin’s shows imbedded into the piece.

I had just a few minutes to get to the Railyard Performance Center to listen to and experience the Saturday ritual of African drumming and dance hosted by Elise and Eric Gent. The energy in that space on any given Saturday could solve our state’s energy needs into the next decade. Just poke your head in the door on the train track side and smile.