Alfred Leslie, NA Receives Lee Krasner Award 2018

The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc. was established in 1985 for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to individual working visual artists of established ability through the generosity of the late Lee Krasner, one of the leading Abstract Expressionist painters and the widow of Jackson Pollock.

“The Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s mission is to aid, internationally, those individuals who have worked as artists over a significant period of time. The Foundation’s dual criteria for grants are recognizable artistic merit and financial need, whether professional, personal or both,” says the release of Bruce Silverstein gallery. The Lee Krasner Award is a tribute to and recognition of artists with long and distinguished careers.

Alfred Leslie’s, NA  most recent body of work, known as the “Pixel Scores” will be hosted at the Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, Texas, opening in September 2018.

Painter and filmmaker Alfred Leslie, NA was born in the Bronx, New York in 1927 and currently lives and works in Manhattan. In the late 1940s, he emerged as an experimental filmmaker and a second generation Abstract Expressionist painter. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was associated with a community of avant-garde artists and writers, including Joan Mitchell, Larry Rivers, Robert Frank, Frank O’Hara, and Jack Kerouac, with whom he often collaborated. The quintessential Beat Generation film “Pull My Daisy” (1959) was codirected by Leslie and photographer Robert Frank, with subtitles and narration by Jack Kerouac. “In the early 1960s, Leslie’s style evolved from pure abstraction to figurative realism, distilling his background in film to be fully realized through painting. Over the last 15 years, he has taken these interests one step further, incorporating them with new digital technology to create paintings on the computer, which he has named Pixel Scores,” writes Bruce Silverstein gallery.

His notable works include “100 Views Along the Road” which is a series of elegant black-and-white watercolors of American scenes that Alfred Leslie, NA made between 1981 and 1983. “They were all painted in Leslie’s studio from drawings he had made, mostly in his car,” the gallery says.

His work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in the permanent collections of numerous institutions, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, washington, D,C., Washington University in St. Louis, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

2018 AIA Gold Medal awarded to James Stewart Polshek, NA

The New York-based architect, James Stewart Polshek, NA is being recognized for his career-long focus on design, collaboration, and research.

James Stewart Polshek was elected as a National Academician ANA: 1983; NA: 1994

Aislinn Weidele

Aislinn Weidele

James Stewart Polshek, NA, FAIA, has been awarded the 2018 AIA Gold Medal, the Institute’s highest honor for an individual or pair of collaborators whose work has had a lasting influence on the state of architecture. Earlier today, the American Institute of Architects board of directors voted to honor Polshek for his visionary leadership, which has focused on combining design excellence with research and collaboration to produce lasting architecture that continues to influence the built environment.

William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little rock, Ark., completed in 2004.

William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little rock, Ark., completed in 2004.

Polshek was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1930, and earned a Master of Architecture from Yale University in 1955. He worked in New York—for I.M. Pei, FAIA, among others—before starting his own firm in the city, James Stewart Polshek Architect, in 1963. Over the last 54 years, his firm—which was rebranded most recently as Ennead Architects in 2010—has carried out countless projects, with a particular focus on cultural and restoration work, as well as education, civic, and commercial spaces. All told, the firm’s work has garnered more than 200 design awards, 15 national AIA Honor Awards, and the 1992 AIA Architecture Firm Award (as James Stewart Polshek and Partners).

American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space, New York, completed in 2000.

American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space, New York, completed in 2000.

While continuing to lead his practice, Polshek also served as the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation from 1972 to 1987, and oversaw a revision of the school’s curriculum. And his commitment to research and collaborative thinking can be seen clearly in projects such as his 1987 renovation of New York’s Carnegie Hall. That project included the restoration of many of the hall’s original details, the integration of contemporary technologies, and a master plan that became a case study for helping to ensure the continued success of landmarked buildings that had come under siege from changing market pressures. Polshek’s approach to design, which includes a thoughtful use of transparency and opacity of form, has been showcased in projects such as the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York (2000); the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark. (2004); the Newseum in Washington, D.C. (2008); and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia (2010).

"James Stewart Polshek has had a remarkably generous career—he has empowered generations of students through Columbia University, which he made a significant impact on, and also through his practice, which has brought together talented architects and allowed them to do their very best work," says AIA's executive vice president and CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA. "In his own role as an architect, critic, and teacher, that studio has now grown and flourished so his legacy is broad. It isn’t only his individual design work, which is excellent, but the generosity of his academic spirit that has imbued an entire office and inspired other people to do their best."

Newseum, Washington, D.C., completed in 2008.

Newseum, Washington, D.C., completed in 2008.

"Polshek’s sensitivity as an architect and his willingness to give credit to others—whether they be his clients, staff or collaborators — have helped restore the promise that architecture can be an uplifting force in the world. Everywhere that he has worked, and throughout his eloquent writings, he has raised the level of discussion while pursuing an unambiguous goal of architecture as a healing art," says the AIA press release announcing the award.

"It's been a 55 year trip...and I'm not done yet," Polshek said in response to his win.

Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, New York, completed 2017.

Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, New York, completed 2017.

The 2018 AIA Gold Medal jury included chair Jonathan Penndorf, FAIA, of Perkins+Will in Washington, D.C.; David Greenbaum, FAIA, of SmithGroupJJR in Washington, D.C.; Alan Greenberger, FAIA, of Drexel University in Philadelphia; Wendy Hillis, AIA, of Tulane University in New Orleans; Thierry Paret, FAIA, of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; Karina Ruiz of DOWA-IBI Group in Portland, Ore.; Moshe Safdie, FAIA, of Safdie Architects in Somerville, Mass. (himself the recipient of the 2015 AIA Gold Medal); and Takashi Yanai, FAIA, of Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects in Culver City, Calif.

The AIA Gold Medal will be conferred at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York in June, where Polshek will join the ranks of previous AIA Gold Medal recipients, including Paul Revere Williams (who last year was the first African-American to receive the honor); Robert Venturi, FAIA, and Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA(who in 2016 were the first pair to win the AIA Gold Medal concurrently); Julia Morgan (who in 2014 was the first woman to win the AIA Gold Medal); Thom Mayne, FAIA (2013); Steven Holl, FAIA (2012); Fumihiko Maki, Hon. FAIA (2011); and Peter Bohlin, FAIA (2010); among many others.

“I Wanted to Make Art that Told a Story”: Alison Saar, NA on Her Eloquent Sculptures


At her home and studio, Saar elaborates on her powerfully direct stories, particularly as they pertain to the African American experience.

One of Alison Saar’s works in  Topsy Turvy  at LA Louver (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

One of Alison Saar’s works in Topsy Turvy at LA Louver (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES — The artist Alison Saar, NA, set a goal for herself long ago: to clearly communicate her ideas and emotions through the power of form. Her sculptures have their own personal vocabulary that speaks in a direct language about history, race, and mythology. If her sculptures are the melodies that capture one’s soul, the narratives behind them are the lyrics.

Saar draws from many sources to create her sculpture, graphics, and paintings; she is influenced by the art of ancient Europe, Africa, African American Folk Art, and German Expressionism. Primarily, though, her works tell the stories of the African American experience and these change through time as the times change. Her current exhibition at LA Louver, like her last one there in 2016, is moving and cathartic, addressing the current political climate and how history repeats itself. Although much has changed, Saar conveys how old systems are still in place, impacting the lives of people of color.

Alison Saar grew up in a family of artists: her mother is the renown Betye Saar, an African American artist who gained national attention for her work in the 1960s that directly addressed racism and cultural stereotypes. Alison Saar’s sister, Lezley Saar, is a painter and installation artist whose work engages with the myths and fluid conceptions of both biracial and transgender identities. And her father, Richard Saar, was a ceramic artist. He also had a business for conserving art where Alison Saar worked for many years, intimately learning techniques and styles by restoring works of art ranging from ancient Chinese frescos to African sculpture.

Alison Saar at her studio in Los Angeles

Alison Saar at her studio in Los Angeles

Alison Saar was born and raised in Los Angeles. I visited her home and studio in Laurel Canyon, just a few miles from the house she grew up in, where her mother still lives. Her current home is nestled along one of the narrow, serpentine streets that traverse these magical canyons, filled with architectural jewels including several mid-century, case study homes. As I drove up she was casually dressed, having just arrived home from walking her dog. We spoke in her living room, a space filled with her art, including that of friends and family, as well as folk art that she has collected.

Alison Saar’s studio in Los Angeles

Alison Saar’s studio in Los Angeles

“As a child we often visited Watts and my mother’s grandmother had lived near the Watts Towers. My mother grew up while Simon Rodia was still building them,” said Saar at her studio. “We also visited Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village and Trapper John’s Old West Lodge; this work had an impact on me, influencing and shaping my vision.”

While in school at Otis College of Art and Design, Saar worked with fiber art, creating works that referenced Mark Rothko and Tantric Art. At a certain point she realized that she wanted to create art that communicated clearly. “I wanted to make art that told a story, that would engage people. I wanted them to be moved by my work, whether it was specifically what my intentions were or not did not matter. I wanted them to be drawn in and affected by my sculpture.”

For her thesis in art history at Scripps College, Saar focused on the work of self-taught African American artists such as Horace Pippin, William Edmondson, Nellie Mae Rowe, Clementine Hunter, Bill Traylor, and others. Their work, which is often spiritual and spoke directly about their life experiences, affected Saar deeply.

Alison Saar, “Stanch” (2017) (left) and “Breach” (2017) (right), woodcut on vintage seed sacks

Alison Saar, “Stanch” (2017) (left) and “Breach” (2017) (right), woodcut on vintage seed sacks

Ancient European art has also been influential for Saar. She is especially drawn to the Kouros, an ancient Greek sculpture of a young, naked man. “There is something in the power and force of its form. The tension between movement and stillness,” she observed. All of these influences can be felt in her sculptures, which explore the power of form to invest a work with emotional resonance.

After Saar graduated from Otis, her husband, Tom Leeser, accepted a job in digital effects in New York City, so they moved into a loft in Chelsea, long before the galleries came. At that time in the early 1980s many people were renovating their spaces in Manhattan — gutting them to make leaner, more modern interiors. Saar was drawn to the tin tiles with designs pressed into them that covered the walls and ceilings of 19th– and early 20th-century buildings. The tin tiles would become a signature element in her work, sheathing the sculptures and adorning the frames of her assemblages. She also salvaged posts and beams from the streets of Manhattan, the found materials giving her works the patina of age, the dilapidated look of time weathering and corroding our world. After living in New York for 15 years and giving birth to her two children, Saar and her family returned to Los Angeles.

Installation view of  Topsy Turvy  at LA Louver (image courtesy LA Louver)

Installation view of Topsy Turvy at LA Louver (image courtesy LA Louver)

Saar moves freely and seamlessly from the deeply personal to more political work, dealing with the history of race in America. She has made work that speaks of her experience of becoming a mother, creating narratives about the African deity Yemaja, a mother spirit and patron saint, especially of pregnant women. In her current solo show at LA Louver, Saar addresses the history of slavery in America. The title of the exhibit, Topsy Turvy, is a reference to the character Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In the novel, the inhuman treatment that rendered her callous and indifferent to life is transformed through love, leading her to be filled with hope and a desire for good.

Saar interprets Topsy as a symbol of defiance and strength. The sculptures stand with various tools of servitude; a sickle in one and a clothing iron in another. One senses that these tools could be turned into weapons, creating a powerful emotional charge to the work. The patina of hammered metal, the tin tiles that Saar has used for years, adds an aura of melancholy pathos to these sculptures. Their tone brings to mind a quote by Zora Neale Hurston, “Grab your broom of anger and drive out the beast of fear.” It is as though these words could have been written about Saar’s work.

Her intimately personal, politically charged works speak of the tragic histories of racism in America that have been reawakened and made more visible in our current times of political turmoil. “Perhaps the difference between the latest body of work is that in the past my work has always viewed politics and the sword of healing approach, and I think this is the first time I’ve had a show that is just out right angry and maybe a little more aggressive in terms of pushing back,” said Saar of Topsy Turvy. “Often the work will look at contemporary issues through a historical lens.”

As one visitor, who was at the exhibition opening at LA Louver from the beginning to the very end, said of Saar’s work, “It tells so many stories, so many histories.” It is this vision that Saar had long ago: To use the power of art to tell stories, and especially ones that matter.

Alison Saar: Topsy Turvy continues at LA Louver (45 N Venice Blvd, Venice) through May 12.

Renzo Piano, NA Building Workshop’s First Residential Project in the United States

Preview_Eighty Seven Park_Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s First Residential Project in the United States  (Courtesy: Terra via ArchDaily)

Preview_Eighty Seven Park_Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s First Residential Project in the United States

(Courtesy: Terra via ArchDaily)

Renzo Piano, NA Building Workshop’s first residential project in the United States is coming up in Miami, on the city’s North Beach. Pritzker Prize winning Italian architect Renzo Piano has collaborated with interior architects Rena Dumas Architecture Interieure (RDAI) and landscape firm West 8 to design the luxury condominium “Eighty Seven Park.” The architects conceptualized the project as a “coastal sanctuary” floating above North Shore Park’s lush landscape featuring a fluid design to “blur the line between imagination and craftsmanship.” The building appears simple in form and motif, with an emphasis on intricate attention to detail, noted ArchDaily.

“Eighty Seven Park” offers 66 residences in the configuration of one bedroom to five bedroom units. Wrap-around balconies and large glass doors frame the panoramic views of the Atlantic ocean, North Shore Park, and Miami skyline. A variety of amenities including two swimming pools, a relaxation spa, and a wine cellar complement the residential scheme.

Shells, pebbles, leaves, and grasses find their way in the nature-inspired palette for the interiors. Venetian terrazzo floors and light oak flooring evoke the white sand of Miami beaches and the aged sea grape leaves respectively.

Denis Montel, Artistic Director of RDAI, says: “The palette created for this project was inspired by the surrounding natural elements of North Beach. Capitalizing on the architectural vision of Renzo Piano Building Workshop, we wanted owners of this building to feel that they were one with nature from their first step inside.”

A two-acre private park with gardens, terraces, lounges, and an outdoor pavilion along with a series of public and semi-public spaces designed by West 8 add a touch of lush to the residences.

Frances Barth, NA: Recent Awards + Studio News

Congrats to Frances Barth, NA on her solo show at SILAS VON MORISSE gallery!

Frances Barth.jpg

Check out the artists, writers, and critics who wrote about the paintings: David Cohen, David Brody and Karen Wilkin.

Karen Wilkin: The Hudson Review

David Brody: ArtCritical

Film Festival News

Frances' short doc/portrait of the painter Regina Bogat, "Regina B" just premiered in Amsterdam at The New Renaissance Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best International Documentary, and won a special Honorable Mention. What an Amazing Film Festival!!  and the awards were presented by Lady Galore.

AND Frances'  animation  "JONNIE IN THE LAKE"  premiered in South America with Spanish Subtitles at the Findecoin Film Festival, Venezuela! BRAVO!!!

Project of Artist Photos From the Late '60's to 1980 

Many more photos are uploaded to three galleries now.

Photo by Jack Whitten

Photo by Jack Whitten

With a second hand Pentax, a darkroom in the bathroom, and a desire to be the Fred McDarrah of the 1960's and '70's, Frances took thousands of photos of downtown loft artists and landscapes. This is an ongoing project as most of them were shot on film and slides and are being scanned into digital for uploading on the new photo site:

Seaside Prize Winners include Walter Chatham, NA


2018 Seaside Prize Winners: Ernesto Buch, Walter Chatham, NA, Robert Orr, Alexander Gorlin, and Deborah Berke.

Walter Chatham, NA and Co-Chair of the Board, is a six-time winner of the Distinguished Architecture Award from the American Institute of Architects, a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and a board member of the Architectural League of New York. Walter has a long association with Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and their firm, DPZ, having collaborated on numerous charrettes that champion both modern architecture and traditional urban planning. He and his firm were early leaders in the environmental design movement. They seek to design all projects to LEED standards, completing multiple projects with state-of-the-art energy management and conservation strategies. Walter is active in building rehabilitation, with multiple projects in Soho, Providence, and Miami. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Maryland, completed post-graduate studies at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Walter's Seaside work - along with three Ruskin Place live/work units and two cottages - includes Chatham House on East Ruskin Street.

The Seaside Institute awards the Seaside Prize each year to individuals or organizations who have made significant contributions to the quality and character of our communities. The recipients of the Prize influence how our towns and cities promote walkability, diversity, beauty, and sustainability. Seaside Prize fellows are leaders of urban design, planning, architecture, development, and education.

Please join us to recognize the 2018 recipients of the Seaside Prize - the Pioneer Architects of Seaside - during the Seaside Prize weekend February 22-25, 2018. “The Seaside Prize weekend will be a wonderful reunion of people who were part of Seaside’s infancy. We look forward to a celebration of Ernesto, Walter, Robert, Alexander, and Deborah’s pioneering work in Seaside as well as their distinguished careers on a larger stage,” says Robert Davis, co-founder of Seaside.

Plan now to join the celebration. Everyone is welcome! Click here for registration information, or download the registration form.