BERT KATZ (1934-2012)
LOST & FOUND: RECLAMATION and CELEBRATION
October 6 - 28, 2018
ABOUT BERT KATZ: Rhode Island Debut
and raised in New York City, Bert Katz trained at
Alfred University under Harold Altman, and
Providence-native and RISD-graduate Clara Nelson; and,
at Hunter College under Robert Motherwell. Traveling
to France in 1955, Katz had an extraordinary chance
encounter with Pablo Picasso in Vallauris. Katzís
photographs of that meeting are at the Musee Picasso
Paris. In 1958, Katz returned to France on the Queen
Mary with his wife, the playwright Leah Napolin
(1935-2018) where they lived for a year while Katz
completed his masterís thesis on Daumier. Upon his
return to New York, Katz had his first one-man shows
at the Workshop Gallery and The Weintraub Gallery. In
a teaching career that spanned over 50 years, Katz
taught at The Ohio State University, where his 1973
Symposium on the Visual and Performing Arts brought
together notable artists Robert Wilson, Robert
Smithson, Otto Meuhl, Peter Blake, Viola Farber; and,
art critics Lucy Lippard and Harold Rosenberg; Parsons
School of Design; and, the Gallatin Division of New
York University, where his course, Drawing and
Painting, was a staple in the curriculum for more than
two decades. Throughout his career, Katz had numerous
solo exhibitions and took part in important group
shows at galleries and museums including the Dayton
Art Institute Museum, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery,
J.B. Speed Museum in Louisville, and Akron Art
Starting in the 1960s, Katzís interest in abstract surrealism led him to produce 12 large-scale paintings using a small airbrush and latex-based house paint mixed with water. With titles like Big Biological Babe; Halt! Nicht Anruhren; and Green Androgyny in Yellow-Land, Katz juxtaposed provocative biomorphic forms with geometric shapes on lush, flat planes of color. As the next decade approached, Katzís work took on a more draughtsman-like approach with his Trance Drawings. Using a rapidograph pen, Katz tapped into his unconscious mind to produce unpremeditated biomorphs to which he added airy geometric renderings. In the 1990s, Katz produced The Container Series and the Alexameta Series, gouache paintings in highly saturated colors. Katzís work for this show was curated by the Deblois Gallery and Nancy Whipple Grinnell, Curator Emerita of the Newport Art Museum.
|RL STETSON: Artist Statement
My artist statement is very simple: create whimsical art that produces smiles, that makes the viewer chuckle and possibly, for a few seconds, makes the world go away. My art itself is very simple. Carved and shaped wooden sculptures with found / repurposed items attached to the wood as focal points.
I never start a project with a speciﬁc subject in mind, such as a dog or a cat, as all my sculptures have started with one found object which speaks to me and tells me what it wants to be. This one object will drive the entire project. The trick to putting a sculpture together is ﬁnding other objects that will be compatible, will have a similar rust pattern or patina and will complement the focal object. This type of art has three separate but equal parts; the hunt for the objects I use as focal points (ﬂea market twice per month), the engineering of found focal points to sculptured wood, and the execution.
In the sculpture pictured above the cat began with an electric drill that was given to me by my father as a 14th birthday present. Two days before this drill turned 50 it failed and died in my hands. To honor its service I took the drill apart and when I got to the interior motor housing I found I was looking at the head of a cat. I cut some of the motor housing off, grinded other sections down and then built the body of the cat around it (using my own cat, Puck, as the model). The ears were shaped from the drill's exterior housing and the butt (not seen in photo) from the exterior housing also. The base of the tail is the actual rotor of the drill. I added compression springs above the cat's feet to enhance the illusion of lift. The body and tail are carved from reclaimed wood.
Since I made this cat sculpture every single person who has seen it has broken into a big smile or grin, there is excitement in their eyes and voices as they comment on it and I receive my payoff for it is the smiles that I am after.
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The Container Series
Mama Was a Squeezebox