Gallery Ehva features contemporary Provincetown art and offers 2-week long off-season residency program. To celebrate it's 5th year Gallery is adding new year-round program Art Haven Workshops.
Spring Hours Thur-Sunday
Ewa Nogiec, Director
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Artists represented by Gallery Ehva:
Richard E. Smith
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Guest Artists at Gallery Ehva:
Miriam Laufer (estate)
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Gallery Ehva + Art Heaven Workshops
74 Shank Painter Road
P.O. Box 1426
Provincetown, MA 02657
© 2009-2013 Gallery Ehva
All rights reserved.
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I take a multi-disciplinary approach to making artworks. The various mediums I choose –painting, photography, collage, computer-generated imagery are interchangeable and inform each other in the process.
I also practice an unrestricted approach toward content. I work in both figural and non-figural genres. I enjoy alternating and contrasting rigid patterning and unsystematic chance, intense color and subdued monochrome.
The ground, or surface on which I work, be it paper, linen, or wood is essential. The initial choice of ground, tracks the work through whatever permutations of paint, varnish, scraping and repainting that follow. The ground establishes the perimeters of the work, wherein all the proportions come into play: the edges, the center, weights and balances, the symmetrical and the asymmetrical aspects. It remains an inescapable element of the finished piece.
I work in serial units, and have numerous works in process at any given time. This I find results in an efficient use of materials and avoids blockages. This approach encourages a clear appraisal of works in progress.
Much of the work inescapably references art historical sources.
My interests run the gamut from pre-Columbian ceramics to Byzantine icons, and include literary sources, the full moon, spirits, birdsong – whatever in the pervading world lights the blue touch paper.
Joseph B. Aiken
My father worked in advertising and was a 'Sunday painter'.
Art materials were always on hand in our household.
For my generation Andy was the guy who opened the door to contemporary art. The fusion of pop-ular culture and fine art brought it all home. Dad, the ad man, had designed a Lux Soap box: for the first time I felt like part of the mosaic.
Jean Louis Andre Theodore Gericault
This supreme Romantic- rode with the Grey Musketeers at Napoleons' side, fast horses and a charged short life. The Raft of the Medusa is the perfect mix of pathos and politics. Just for the asking the Fogg Art Museum let me leaf through his precious drawings and prints. Later, I traveled to Rouen and in Paris stood by his grave in the Pere Lachasise Cemetary.
I guess biography plays an important part in my choice of influences. Pollack was my father's generation-roaring 20's through the depression, tough times, tough lives; they both shared the same disease. I waited many years for the 1998 Pollock retrospective at MoMA and it was awe-inspiring.
Beuys does not exactly fit in my canon. My first love is straightforward uncomplicated (nonverbal) working painters and although Beuys can at times match some of this description he is anything but uncomplicated. Perhaps because I photographed his seminal action (performance) Coyote: I Like America And America Likes Me 1974, I feel such an obligation to come to terms with him. There is a book in the works.
Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio
In 1978 I read Walter Friedlaender's Caravaggio Studies. The direct account of what was and was not known about the artist was a refreshing take on art history. I wanted to see for myself and on my next trip to Europe I made sure I did- from England, France, Italy, (a little side trip across Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco) and back through Spain to England. On this, my grand tour, I exercised my eye and developed a sense of confidence.
The City of New York
At two weeks old, my family and I flew from Boston to the New York borough of Queens and took up residence (quite near the airport) in Flushing Meadows. It was about the time that Willem de Kooning was having his first one-man show. In fact a renaissance of American Art was underway in Manhattan. As an infant I was of coarse oblivious to that pervading world.
In the winter of 1973 I moved back to New York City with my future wife Susan Hannah and took up residence in a loft on the periphery of SoHo bordering Little Italy and Chinatown. When I signed the lease It became official- I was an A.I.R.-Artist In Residence. In 1973 The Vietnam War was grinding to an end, and with it, the tremendous pressure of that cruel backdrop to American life was easing. For an uncertain duration art and that broke and broken down city appeared in perfect unqualified harmony
Stephen Aiken is a painter and photographer living in Wellfleet, Massachusetts and Sarasota, Florida. He is the director of 234 Gallery Hannah in Wellfleet.
Mr. Aiken is currently working on Joseph Beuys' Coyote: Documentation, Memory, and Remains a photo-book with commentary on Beuys seminal 1974 performance.
In 2007and 2008 he worked as a curator for The Seaport District Cultural Association in lower Manhattan, and exhibited his paintings at the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery.
In 2005 his paintings were exhibited at the Winfield Gallery in Carmel, California.
His photographs and articles on contemporary art have appeared in Art News, Art in New England, and Provincetown Arts Magazine
From May 6 -18, 2011 Aiken's photographs of Joseph Beuys will be on view at Provincetown Gallery Ehva where he will deliver a lecture on May 7.
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PROVINCETOWN ARTS, VOLUME 10, 1994
Text by Stephen Aiken
Joseph Beuys came into my awareness in 1972 after I saw his first one-person exhibition in America at the Harcus-Krakow Gallery in Boston. I became familiar with some of the elements of his art: the sleds, the felt suits, the fat and the flashlights, and the little Swiss crosses colored the red brown of dried blood. My first impression was that these were somehow sanctified objects, the cherished vestments of a lost tribe of the avant-garde, relics of some forgotten cult of modernism. Beuys had fought on the Russian front as a dive bomber pilot for the Luftwaffe. Returning from a mission, he crashed in the Crimea. A mythology now surrounds the story of his rescue by nomadic Tartars. Beuys suffered serious head wounds and was blinded temporarily. At some point he was smeared with fat and blanketed with felt to preserve his body heat. Swaddled and anointed, the man who emerged from this trail would maintain a lifelong attachment to those materials associated with his rescue.
In opposition to the Vietnam War, Beuys had refused invitations to visit the U.S. He was also increasingly reluctant to let his activities be regulated and confined by the mechanism of the art world. When at last he did visit in New York in 1974, he ignored traditional artists' venues and appeared in public dialogues at education institutions, except for one exhibition of "invisible sculpture" which consisted of an empty room at the Ronald Feldman Gallery. I attended a dialogue at the New School for Social Research--his long-awaited American debut. There was a kinetic excitement in the air, a full house with an overflow crowd banging on the doors to get in. Patiently responding to the ruckus of wild range of questions, Beuys illustrated his ideas with chalk on blackboard. I took a few photographs, impressed by his ability to calm the multitude.
Four month later Beuys returned to America with a singular intent. Directly upon his arrival from Germany, bundled in felt, blindfolded and strapped to a stretcher, he had himself delivered via white ambulance to the Rene Block Gallery. He remained there for five days, caged with a live coyote known as Little John. At the end, he reversed the manner of his arrival and returned home. This action he titled, Coyote: I like America and America Likes Me.
I walked in the gallery almost by accident. A glimpse of the event sent me home for my camera. I returned to the gallery, spent an hour, and made a single contact sheet of photographs. Beuys wore his usual uniform-- a rumpled felt hat, outdoorsman's vest, boots, and jeans. He carried a few tools of his oeuvre--a cane, flashlight, felt, and a triangular chime hooked to his vest. Fifty copies of the Wall Street Journal were delivered daily, along with a pile of hay. Heavy steel mesh gates separated the space for visitors from the much larger space where the action unfolded. Beuys had delayed the action for a few days until an original metal fence was replaced with a more imposing barrier, indicating the importance Beuys placed in these gates, which reveal Coyote to be a prison story. Periodically, the sound of a prerecorded turbine machine blasted from speakers in the gallery, interrupting the call of the wild with a grating dissonance, a monstrous urban shriek.
The beauty of Coyote was in the harmonious truce that formed between man and animal, a peaceable kingdom with its own rhythms of activity and rest, pacing and waiting. Long moments of downtime passed, with Beuys smoking a cigarette, the coyote curling up into the felt, its eyes nodding off near the flashlight. There were sublime moments looking out a sunny window together. There were dramatic moments with Beuys cowling himself like a monk with the hook of his cane held high, repeating penitential bows while Little John, with the rapt attention of an anxious acolyte, growled and prowled around him. And there were moments of secular comedy when Beuys would sweetly twang his Pavlovian triangle while the coyote urinated on the Wall Street Journal, which carried a desperate account that week of the upgrading by the FBI of Patty Hearst to the "armed and extremely dangerous" category or a report about President Nixon who is said to be "at peace with his decision not to quit." Beuys, punning on the meaning of the verb, to mark, connects the markings of artists on paper with the habit of animals to mark their territory with droppings and urine. Later, the soiled newspapers, with their intricate lists of financial quotations were bound, signed, and sold, proving the Beuysian axiom that capital equals art.
Beuys believed that the real capital of human beings was our capacity to generate ideas. Thinking itself became a form of sculpture and every human being became an artist. Although he produced a vast array of works, he viewed the art object as a secondary consequence of the primacy of his ideas. An action, without the rehearsed theatricality implied in the term "performance," was a means of empowering a concept with an energy that would transcend confinement in the art world, reaching broader social realms. In his own critique of Coyote, Beuys claimed to have "made contact with the psychological trauma point of the United States's energy constellation: the whole American trauma with the Indian, the Red Man. You could say that a reckoning has to be made with the coyote, and only then can this trauma be lifted."
Coyotlinauatl, Texcatilpoca, Heuheu-coyotl, Coyolxauhqui, are some Native American Nahuatl names of coyote deities. From tribe to tribe these names change, but the veneration of the coyote is consistent among Native Americans. The coyote arrived here as the Asiatic wolf, about the time the first people began to inhabit the continent. In response to the rigors of the Ice Age, a remarkable evolution occurred: some wolves became coyotes. Thousands of years later, the farmers and ranchers who arrived from Europe brought with the a demonology of wolves that extended to the coyote. They were shot on sight. Since the 1940s over five million have been killed by the Animal Damage Control Program of the U.S. Wildlife Service. Neither god nor devil, this creature continues to defy eradication. From the woods of Cape Cod to the alleys of Los Angeles, the coyote remains in our midst. For his brief incarceration in a New York gallery, Joseph Beuys chose for his cell mate the greatest escape artist in the American animal kingdom.
In their majestic accommodation, man and animal succeeded in changing the nature of their environment from imprisonment to freedom. Beuys brought art to politics, extending the democratic principle beyond mankind to include animals. His fundamental assumption was that "love is the most creative and matter-transforming power," and its is to this power that he refers the isolated individual seeking emancipation.
© Stephen Aiken. All rights reserved.
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