Fischl + Saul + Schutz + Heffernan: Audio Now Available

Painters on Painting, presented by the National Academy of Design on September 25, 2018, was an opportunity to hear from game-changing artists Eric Fischl, NA; Peter Saul, NA; and Dana Schutz, NA about how their engaged methodology for viewing and interpreting extends to other artists’ work. Julie Heffernan, NA, moderated the conversation.

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Interview of Pat Lasch, NA in her studio at the National Academy of Design

 By: Léa MIRANDA, Intern, National Academy of Design, New York

On a Tuesday afternoon, the sculptor Pat Lasch welcomed me into her luminous and quiet studio, on the second floor of the National Academy of Design’s building in New York. She is currently working on new pieces, which will be exhibited at the Meredith Ward Fine Art Gallery from September 20 through November 13, 2018. “People describe me as a feminine feminist” she said while raising up one of her new sculptures: a washy pink cake with tints of nacreous green and white. Covered by intricate, hand-made, piped-paint lace –the artist’s signature–, roses, pearls, and other shiny and delicate elements, her cake sculptures are the consecration of hours of work and an impeccable discipline. I pointed out that her work was similar to a monk’s labor. She burst out laughing and invited me to have a seat.

Léa Miranda: How and to what extent did your relationship with your father -who was a German pastry chef- influence the way that you work?

Pat Lasch: My relationship with my father is important because I learned his trade, but I was more interested in time. For me, cakes mark time, they mark celebrations of our life: our birthdays, our weddings. I also made a series of black cakes because nobody makes us a cake when we die.

LM: Is that a way for you to expose ordinary and everyday life objects in museums?

PL: I like the focus, yes. They are ordinary objects, everyone experiences them, and they are an important part of our lives. I think it is a very feminist view point, because women are the ones who, most of the time, make the cakes for the family and organize the social events that go around. On the top of that, I just love doing these works! I was trained very young, at thirteen.

LM: You were trained at making cakes or making cakes as artworks?

PL: At making cakes! Nobody that I knew did cakes as artwork. Now people do because I started, in the late 1970s. I made real cakes from thirteen to nineteen, but I was also going to art school. There, I realized a lot of things. Let me give you a wonderful quote from Antonin Carême, a French pastry chef from the early nineteenth century: « there are five branches of fine arts: there is painting, there is sculpture, there is poetry, there is music and there is pastry making of which architecture is a sub branch ».

Images provided by the artist of the 5-foot-2-inch-tall cake sculpture she created in 1979 as part of MoMA’s 50th anniversary

Images provided by the artist of the 5-foot-2-inch-tall cake sculpture she created in 1979 as part of MoMA’s 50th anniversary

Christening and wedding dresses (2016) exhibited at the Palm Spring Museum in 2017 for the artist’s retrospective ‘Journey of the Heart’

Christening and wedding dresses (2016) exhibited at the Palm Spring Museum in 2017 for the artist’s retrospective ‘Journey of the Heart’

LM: One of the first things that you said to me when I arrived today was that you are a “feminine feminist.” What does it mean?

PL: I love to make beautiful things. I love looking at them, I love looking at things that delight my eyes. But sometimes they are hard… Look at my new black cake! It looks like it is toxic, venomous, but it is also very beautiful.

I notice that in life many things become very beautiful when they decay. Sometimes you see a tree that is diseased, and it’s so interesting. I remember the last day before my father died, I just want to paint his face. He became so exquisite! It was only in that last day -I didn’t notice it before- when the blood was withdrawing of his face, that he looked translucent. It was very magical, because he was beautiful and dying.

LM: But do you think only women can make these beautiful objects? Do you think art is gendered?

PL: Most of the time I cannot imagine a man making these.

LM: Even as your father was doing his pastries?

PL: My father taught me, but I took off on my own things and made wonderful cake sculptures, just like a pastry chef! I did think men were supposed to cook for me, but they didn’t! What a disappointment! She laughed.

LM: For you, what does feminism mean when it comes to art?

PL: Expressing your soul with the experience of the other ones. For me, it’s about expressing corrections, wishes of what I could have done in different ways. My work has a lot of emotions, and it’s calling out to the universe. You know, I really like pink. But I also made series of black cakes and I wrote letters to the Dead in 1998. Everyone experiences death, because everything dies.

LM: What kind of impact do you hope that your work has? To new generations? To women?

PL: I hope my work leaves people with a sense of joy, a sense of fleetingness of life. Both are beauty, and they are difficult.

Kathy Butterly, NA, 2017 Tiffany Foundation Grant Recipient

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Congrats to Kathy Butterly, NA for being amongst 30 recipients of the 2017 biennial grants from The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation!

The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation announced the recipients of its 2017 biennial grants. Thirty artists who work in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, craft, and new media will each be awarded $20,000 in order to produce new work. In May 2018, their artwork will be documented in a catalogue published by the foundation.

The recipients were chosen from a pool of 156 people, who were nominated by artists, critics, museum professionals, and foundation trustees. The seven-member jury was made up of Phong Bui, cofounder and artistic director of the Brooklyn Rail; Ruth Estévez, the director and curator of REDCAT Gallery in Los Angeles; Alison de Lima Greene, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Chrissie Iles, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art; artist Charles LeDray; artist Kerry James Marshall; and Bruce W. Pepich, the executive director and curator of collections at the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin.

“Few events are more exciting and encouraging than being nominated to compete for prizes you can't apply for,” Marshall, a former grantee and foundation trustee, said. “It is the kind of endorsement that gets the wind at your back, and since my 1993 Tiffany grant, it's been full speed ahead.”

Established in 1918 by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Tiffany & Company founder Charles Louis Tiffany, the foundation has distributed nearly $10,000,000 in awards to five hundred artists nationwide since it launched its biennial competition in 1980. In November 2017, the Aspen Institute recognized the foundation’s service to artists with its service salute.

The full list of recipients is as follows:

Nina Chanel Abney, Jersey City, NJ

niv Acosta, Brooklyn, NY

Kathy Butterly, New York, NY

Karon Davis, Ojai, CA

Abigail DeVille, Fort Lee, NJ

Rafa Esparza, Pasadena, CA

Raque Ford, Brooklyn, NY

Juliana Huxtable, Brooklyn, NY

Kahlil Joseph, Los Angeles, CA

Titus Kaphar, New Haven, CT

Ellen Lesperance, Portland, OR

Candice Lin, Altadena, CA

Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Philadelphia, PA

Zachary Meisner, Austin, TX

Ebony G. Patterson, Lexington, KY

Beverly Penn, Austin, TX

Sondra Perry, Perth Amboy, NJ

Peter Pincus, Penfield, NY

Sean Raspet, Los Angeles, CA

Wendy Red Star, Portland, OR

Cameron Rowland, Queens, NY

Jessica Sanders, Brooklyn, NY

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, San Juan, PR

Regina Scully, New Orleans, LA

Kaneem Smith, Houston, TX

Matthew Solomon, Lake Huntington, NY

Jesse Stecklow, Los Angeles, CA

Martine Syms, Los Angeles, CA

Kazumi Tanaka, Beacon, NY

Tomas Vu-Daniel, New York, NY