AC Rec: Southern Rites – Gillian Laub

Gillian is the daughter of one of our long-time Artful Circle members, Carol Laub. Artful Circle is happy to share this news…


Southern Rites – Gillian Laub

Benrubi Gallery 521 W 26th St, NYC

xhibition Dates: May 14 – June 27, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday May 14th, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm

2A4DFC58D-0EDF-6407-26C1B64AFFB167AB_jpg_pagespeed_ce_36i0Wik8t5qgjDoPwOK1  SOUTHERN RITES DEBUTS MAY 18, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO

John Legend and Gillian Laub, The New York Times Talk

John Legend and Gillian Laub, The New York Times Talk

Benrubi Gallery, in collaboration with the International Center of Photography, is pleased to announce Southern Rites, the new exhibition from award-winning photographer Gillian Laub, whose previous exhibition at the gallery, Common Ground, dealt with the relationship between Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinians. With Southern Rites, she again takes on a story steeped in generations-long tensions, and tells it with power, sensitivity and enduring poignancy.

Southern Rites is a provocative twelve-year visual study of one community’s struggle to confront long standing issues of race and equality. In 2002, Laub was invited to Mt. Vernon, Georgia, to photograph its segregated homecoming celebrations. She kept returning to the community and in 2009, The New York Times Magazine published a photo-essay by Laub titled, “A Prom Divided,” which documented Georgia’s Montgomery County High School’s racially segregated prom rituals.

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The New Whitney Museum of American Art – Part One

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By Debbie Wells

When Franklin Hill Perrell and I began our on-line publication, Artful Observer, in January 2015, we thought it would be the perfect vehicle to showcase the artists, art galleries and museums that caught the attention of our groups during our Artful Circle strolls. Our goal is to provide insightful articles based on our years of experience in the art world combined with our unique “behind the scenes” viewpoint. First, we addressed many of the questions that arose during our sessions by writing in-depth entries, such as outlining the family tree and love interests of Pablo Picasso that were integral with the Picasso exhibits on view at several art galleries last season. We have reviewed some of the blockbuster museum exhibitions, including the Matisse Cut-Outs at the Museum of Modern Art and Richard Estes show at the Museum of Arts & Design. We will also continue to take you along via Artful Observer to places of interest like the Armory Show on the piers of NYC, Central Park, Salmagundi Club in Greenwich Village and artist studios in New York City, Long Island and beyond.

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Press Preview: Reporters and photographers walked throughout the building.

After 84 years on the Upper East Side, the Whitney has much to celebrate as they open at 99 Ganesvoort Street in the Meatpacking District between the High Line and the Hudson River. This ideal location situates them among the art galleries of Chelsea right in the center one of the trendiest neighborhoods of the city. Designed by Renzo Piano, the building is 9 stories high with a strong and strikingly asymmetric design that both fits in with the landscape of the meatpacking area, while boasting a contemporary and sculptural presence. Read More

An Artful Afternoon

By Jennifer Merz
April 23rd, 2015

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining an Artful Circle Tour ( for a trip to some blue-chip 57th Street galleries in Manhattan.  I was the invited guest of Debbie Wells, with whom I gave my Triangle Factory talk for the Art League of Long Island, and her business partner Franklin Hill Perrell, a very intelligent and distinguished art curator who was as informative as he was entertaining.  It was an afternoon of Artful fun, and now you are invited to come on this armchair tour with me!

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Richard Estes: Painting New York City

 by Franklin Hill PerrellThe-Plaza2

Richard Estes finally is accorded a feature exhibition at a New York Museum. Bravo to the Museum of Arts and Design! In reading Ken Johnson’s review, NY Times, Friday, March 20, the critic suggests that Estes and his photo-realist colleagues revive the veneration for bravura technique associated with the era of Bougureau and Gerome, the stars of the French salon who were supplanted by the Impressionists. While Johnson acknowledges the “spirituality and morality” of Estes art, he implies that its detail and veracity contrasts with 20th century modernists who de-emphasized if not abandoned technique. My question is, what happened in between? Read More

Artful Circle Report on Roz Chast

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by Debbie Wells

Artful Circle took our groups to visit Chelsea to kick off our first session of our Art Gallery Spring Series. One of the highlights was to Danese/Corey to see the original drawings, tapestries, and pysanka (dyed eggs) by Roz Chast. A cartoonist with over a thousand works printed in The New Yorker since 1978, her art epitomizes our lives today – filled with family relationships, humor, technology, worry and wit. Chast, age 61, was born in Brooklyn and received a BFA in from Rhode Island School of Design. Her working relationship with The New Yorker started almost immediately, as well creating editorial cartoons for countless publications and authoring and illustrating her own books over the years. Read More

She Never Gave Up: Mona Lisa of Austria in Triumph at the Neue Galerie

by Franklin Hill Perrell

Astonishing as a work of art, Gustav Klimt’s quintessential masterpiece, “Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” 1907, is at once the defining icon of Jugendstil, “young style” – Austria’s art nouveau, an embodiment of the period’s pinnacle of glamor, wealth, and aesthetic innovation, and above all an enduring testament to the triumph of good over evil.
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(L-R): Neue Galerie in NYC; “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” and Woman in Gold movie poster

The painting’s rightful heir, Maria Altmann (1916-2011), niece of its’ subject, Klimt’s patron Adele Bloch Bauer, never gave up on her just claim despite seventy plus years of lies, cover-ups at the highest level of government, and devious legal wrangling intended to deprive her of her rights, ever since the painting was stolen by the Nazis. Read More

Artful Circle’s Top Picks of the Week: Chelsea

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Hauser and Wirth, 511 W. 18th St., has a spectacular exhibition of Subodh Gupta, acclaimed as the Damian Hirst of India. Everyone has been very impressed with the first piece encountered: This is Not a Fountain (see above left) which displays a huge mound of well-used pots and pans with continuously re-circulating flow of water from pipe-mounted faucets throughout. Such cook-ware, in middle class Indian families, up until recently was likely passed from generation to generation and the wear and tear, as well as repairs attest to how essential, and valued, these may be, along with fresh water for cleaning and the renewal of life. There are also fool the eye sculptures and paintings that abound with symbolism and history which attest to the artists prodigious and diverse talents, along with the installations for which he is best known. Gupta’s rise to prominence is in keeping with India becoming a first class player in the world economy, edging up to China in rivalry, and meriting a significant market now for both its modernist and contemporary art.

At 550 W. 21st St., Skarstedt presents “Keith Haring: Heaven and Hell”, featuring giant works in fluorescent acrylics (see one example above on right). These include the artist’s boldly stylized images of televisions with the atomic symbol, vintage computers in densely populated compositions. Here, mutations of sexuality and species in an apocalyptic vision express Haring’s anguish in confronting what proved to be his ultimate demise from aids. Paradoxically, the colors couldn’t be more cheerful.

At Gagosian, at 522 W. 21st St. is the type of highest quality museum survey we have come to expect, considering the gallery’s history : John Elderfield, famed as Curator for MOMA, has put together In the Read More

A Visit to the Roth New York Bar at Hauser & Wirth in Chelsea

by Franklin Hill Perrell, Artful Circle

Our recent visit to Hauser and Wirth (511 W. 18) to see the exhibition of Sobodh Gupta yielded an unexpected surprise: the Friday and Saturday free espresso service at Roth’s New York Bar. If you didn’t know, the New York Bar is a permanent installation, in effect an art piece that does double duty as a functional bar. While in practice

this is not a liquor bar serving the public (though that would appear to be the theme, with actual liquor bottles on display) , it is a coffee bar- which purpose it certainly serves. A discrete sign indicates the availability of espresso on Fridays and Saturdays. I was able to secure a latte, and many other guests appeared in due course. Above all, however, it is a work of art and one that should be experienced as such.


Hauser and Wirth’s Chelsea Gallery, at approximately 25,000 square feet, is a second floor space, formerly the Roxy Discotheque-Roller Skating Rink. Read More

March is Women’s History Month – “Honoring the Women of the Historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911” Lecture at the Art League of Long Island, March 15, 2015

Click here to view video clip:
TSF Lecture at Art League of Long Island

by Debbie Wells

In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Art League of Long Island (ALLI) presented a lecture, “Honoring the Women of the Historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911” in a unique way by having two speakers, both artists, describe their personal connections to this important part of American history. As the Chair of the Board of Directors of ALLI, I arranged for this dual lecture as a way of portraying my personal experience of researching the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (TSF) tragedy and also reckoning with it as a subject for art.

About the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was a company of over 500 employees (mostly hardworking young Jewish and Italian immigrant women) located in the heart of Greenwich Village, right near Washington Square Park. In typical sweatshop conditions, this company produced crisp “Gibson Girl” style blouses that were then the rage. The building, restored to its original glory, is now part of the New York University campus, but has a plaque commemorating its history that every American child learns about in school.

What happened was this: On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the TSF 8th floor at the end of the workday. Chaos ensued. It is contended that the doors were locked. There were certainly many fire hazards inside. People on the street witnessed helplessly as workers jumped out of windows to escape the flames. Fire trucks were ill equipped, lacking ladders high enough to reach the upper floors. Elevators ran as long as they could as workers pressed into
the cars, while some tumbled down the elevator shaft. All of this happened in only 18 minutes. In the end, 146 people died. Shortly after, there was a trial, but the two owners, known as the “Shirtwaist Kings”, were acquitted of wrongdoing, arousing the cry of injustice from the public. However, the lives of these workers were not sacrificed in vain because the tragedy impelled change in America – the rise of the labor union movement and fire safety regulations.

Uncovering My Family History and the Connection to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

a Annie NicholasAnnie Nicholas (1893-1911)

About 12 years ago, my son was doing his American History homework and mentioned that he was learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. My grandmother-in-law, Anne Nicholas-Lerman, was visiting from Florida and explained that her aunt was one of the 146 victims. The whole family immediately wanted to know more. Then she showed us a beautiful photograph of 18-year old Annie Nicholas, who was a button-maker at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. My son has the framed picture in his bedroom and we all treasure this family heirloom.

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Artful Observations of the Armory Show & Quiz by Debbie Wells

Armory Show at Pier 94, NYC – March 5-8, 2015 When one attends the annual Armory Show, it is easy to expect to be overwhelmed. One of the most celebrated international contemporary and modern art fairs, this show is always a whirlwind of color, media, canvases, photography, sculptures and more. Strolling through the aisles, I Read More

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