Glitter and Be Gay: Art in Newburgh, New York

McCorkle, Dividing Plant Cell at Anaphase

The word came to us from Rome. No, not that one, but rather Rome, Georgia. Mery Lynn McCorkle, an artist who resides there presently, alerted us to an exhibit at Ann Street Gallery, in Newburgh, New York.

I’ve been wanting to see McCorkle’s work “up close and personal” ever since I first became aware of it. I mean, how does she paint with glitter? Along with, what the heck is she doing in Rome, Georgia? (I’ve actually visited there, in an earlier incarnation—and come to think of it, a marvelous soprano, Jamie Barton, hails from there as well.) But still. Here’s a video that will explain it all to you.

McCorkle’s work was part of a group exhibit, Interaction of Colour. As the gallery explained, the exhibit “looks at the various ways that contemporary artists make use of color in their work.”

Included in Interaction of Colour are over forty works by fifteen artists: paintings, drawings, sculptures and installation works. Each artist’s work chosen for its expressive and chromatic qualities, as well as, for being visually stimulating. These qualities combined, help to drawn the viewer in and create the opportunity for an even greater appreciation of color’s symbolic, cultural and historical meanings.

Virginia Walsh’s curation (Walsh shown here with artist Judy Thomas) is to be credited with collecting together an astonishing array of creative approaches, allowing each work full, individual expression at one and the same time as they engage in reverberant conversation. In addition to McCorkle’s works in glitter and acrylic on rag paper,

Schmitt, Light as a Feather

Conny Schmitt used vintage book paper for her collages and assemblage,

Christensen, Detail

Hilary Christensen “painted” vivid landscapes out of meticulously arranged plastic buttons and toys,

Emmerson, detail

and Susan Emmerson transformed Tyvek with acrylics.

Thomas, Cadence

Judy Thomas’s two works hung in vibrant loops, one filling an entire gallery. The stated materials were pex and nylon/lycra, but that hardly told the story. Thomas came in to the gallery while we were there, so I asked about the materials she used, and what a story it was! It all started, as I recall it, with trying to find a sort of container for others of her creations, and she came up with women’s tights—because they stretch two ways. Who knew? Thomas, an irresistible force of nature who hails from Osceola, Iowa, invited us to her studio, regaling us with a local tour and stories about her works along the way.

I have been through Osceola in another earlier incarnation, and it turns out she and McCorkle crossed paths while both were in Brooklyn, so the dots among us all connected in all sorts of scintillating—or should I say glittery, coiling—ways.

The exhibit is on view through October 14. If you’re not able to get there “live,” there are several samples of the works on exhibit on line here. For information on Dmitri Kasterine and his photographs of Newburgh (included in the slideshow), click here.

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Listening List

Leonard Bernstein, Overture to Candide



Leonard Bernstein, Glitter and Be Gay, from Candide, sung by Barbara Cook


Credits: The sources for the quotations may be found at the links in the text. The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.

20 thoughts on “Glitter and Be Gay: Art in Newburgh, New York

  1. David N

    Any exhibition that focuses on colour – and despite Delaunay’s insistence that it can be ‘form and subject’, not enough art seems to celebrate it at the moment – is good by me. McCorkle is the standout IMO, though I love Schmitt’s ‘Light as a Feather’ too.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      It was an entrancing exhibit, to which my words don’t begin to do justice. On the subject of color, Virginia Walsh was a wonderful guide to the paintings, explaining as we walked along how use of color changed in various historical periods. I’d never thought about that aspect, and I appreciated being given a new way to look at and think about color in paintings.

      The McCorkle works were dazzlers, literally and figuratively. It would be fascinating to be able to view them in natural light as it changed over the course of a day, as the colors take on different aspects with the change in the light. The Schmitt assemblage was a favorite of ours, as well, along with someone else’s, for it had been sold before we walked in the door.

      Judy Thomas’s coils were a joy, and a direct reflection of the exuberance of the artist herself. The entire experience offered a vivid demonstration of the vitality art and artists bring to a community as nothing else can. I experienced both Walsh and Thomas as the finest of ambassadors for the arts. Thomas creates a lot of public art, involving the community in active engagement, including, sometimes, in the very the act of creation. There isn’t, to my mind, anything more invigorating than that. While Newburgh has its share of difficulties, it is much more alive than my own town, and the difference is clearly due to the presence, in Newburgh, of a vibrant artistic community.

      1. David N

        Yes – art, by which I mean all the arts, can transform a place. If only everywhere was alive to the possibilities that transformation brings in terms of visitors and reputation – and hopefully community involvement too (here, there’s no funding for arts without that proviso, and I think it’s right, even if it can sometimes smack of tokenism. I;m shortly to write about an organisation called Bold Tendencies which has revitalised the Peckham arts scene by taking over the top floors of a multi-storey car park).

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          Yes, definitely, the arts, all of them. As I wrote this post, I recalled one you had written about an outdoor arts event in London (I only wish I could remember the location!) that, as you described it, worked just such a transformation. I love the very title, “Bold Tendencies,” and look forward to your post on that, as well.

          1. David N

            It’s up as a Proms review on The Arts Desk, but I do at some stage want to put up some pics on the blog of the roof with its terrific views over the central London skyline, its art installations, its bar and restaurant, and its homage to Derek Jarman’s Dungeness garden.

  2. hilarymb

    Hi Susan – I’d have loved to be able to visit … and to hear Virginia Walsh explain how colour had changed through the historical periods. McCorkle’s works are just brilliant aren’t they … love them.

    My question is – why is the exhibition on colour with an ‘U’ … yet talking about it – it’s color without the ‘U’ ..?

    Must have been wonderful to see – cheers Hilary

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Hilary: Without looking back, on the issue of the spelling of “color,” Virginia Walsh is, I believe, English, so the “u” is included in the spelling. When I am writing, here in the US, I automatically default to our spelling here, without the “u.”

      1. shoreacres

        I was completely entranced by this article on the nature of color, and was a little stymied about who I could share it with. It fits with your post and your reaction to the exhibit beautifully, I think. Enjoy!

        The very thought of glitter made me happy. I’d forgotten what a staple of a grade-schooler’s artistic life it was. Glittered pine cones at Christmas were a particular favorite. I remember the stuff coming in slender glass tubes, and it was true, metallic glitter in true colors: not the plastic, fluorescent stuff sold today at the craft stores.

        “Dividing Plant Cell” reminded me of mosaic work, of course, but my reaction to the Christensen “Detail” was idiosyncratic. It reminded me immediately of my Camp Fire Girl’s vest, with all of my wooden beads sewn on it intricate patterns. As for Emmerson’s “Detail” — what could those yellow bits be but Peeps? My favorite of all is Christensen’s work: every piece of it.

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          There’s so much more to think about when it comes to color than meets the eye (so to speak), isn’t there? I very much enjoyed your associations to the various works. (I’d forgotten about those pine cones!) I can’t begin to imagine the drawers and drawers of stuff Christensen has to have at hand to create her works. In some ways, I enjoy the details as much or more than the whole, perhaps in part because I can see in such detail her remarkable ability to move from one shade of one color–and shape–to the next.

        2. hilarymb

          Thank you so much for the Aeon link … that article is wonderful about colours … the Himba tribe of Namibia see colours very differently to ours … it’s a fascinating area to learn about. One day I’ll get to write a longer post on colours … just such an amazing subject – cheers Hilary

  3. Steve Schwartzman

    The part of McCorkle’s linked statement that grabbed my attention was: “The mantra of the conceptual art world has been anorexic – less is more. And while that can be as structurally illuminating as prairies and deserts, I’m Southern and like lushness, decay and shiny things, awkward, elegant work.” More is more.

      1. Susan Scheid Post author

        Now, somehow I have closed MYSELF out of commenting, as I took so long to respond, but yes, you’ve captured the essence of McCorkle’s philosophy. We were back in the area last weekend for the open studio tour & got a chance to see the whole exhibit once again, not to mention a treasure trove of art in situ at artists’ studios. It was a lot of fun!

  4. sackerson

    I like Judy Thomas’s loopy sculptures. It’s great when straightforward ideas throw up fantastic end results like that. My dad was an artist and had a note pinned on his studio wall: “keep it simple”.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Sackerson: that’s a note worth pinning up on everyone’s wall, isn’t it? Judy Thomas’s pieces exhibit a playful exuberance that’s of a piece with the artist herself. This weekend, we’re going back for another visit to the gallery, and it’s also open studio weekend. I can’t wait to see what else is in store!

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