Fresco: The Golden Time

An interview with Skowhegan Fresco Instructor Sean Glover, A'03

  Participants in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn, 2013.

Participants in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn, 2013.

Fresco has been part of Skowhegan since its founding in 1946. Campus remains one of the few places in the United States where this technique is still taught and practiced by contemporary artists. In this interview, Fresco Instructor Sean Glover, A '03 gives a history of the medium at Skowhegan and a provides a glimpse into the practice on campus today.


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What is the history of fresco at Skowhegan?

Skowhegan was founded by four artists  (Bill Cummings, Henry Varnum Poor, Sidney Simon and Charles Cutler) who came together after  World War II, at the end of an era in which social realism and mural painting were very popular. They wanted to create a space not only for artists to go and practice and reflect and learn from one and other, but also pick up practical skills. Because fresco was still a part of the broader artistic conversation of that moment, people could learn fresco at the school and use that skill to get commissions for major jobs. Henry Varnum Poor had worked on frescoes with Diego Rivera, and we still use some of his techniques at Skowhegan today.

Since then, the culture has shifted. There are different materials, different approaches to making art— post-studio practice, conceptualism, time-based media like video—all of these things have come into the fold and fresco has moved to the periphery. So when I talk about fresco at Skowhegan, I try to emphasize that by participating in it, you're contributing to the history of the school and coming into contact with its foundation.

Fresco is a unique process that has emerged in many different cultures, often ones that  have had little or no contact with each other. When you work with fresco, you’re interacting with something really ancient, but also something very immediate. You're touching base with different sites and architectures, different cultures, and of course a broad range of subject matters. I describe it as a kind of "meta-process," or "meta-material." It's loaded just by participating in it. Fresco is unique in that way.
 

  Sean Glover (A ‘03) and participants preparing pigments for fresco, 2015.

Sean Glover (A ‘03) and participants preparing pigments for fresco, 2015.

What is fresco?

Fresco is the process of painting into wet plaster. The plaster is made of calcium hydroxide, or lime. When you paint into the plaster, you're participating in what is called a "fresco cycle," where the material begins as a rock, is processed and aged, and then is applied to a wall. When the plaster is applied to the wall, it wants to return to its initial rock state, so your time painting is actually the very end of that cycle. As the plaster dries, a calcium carbonate crystal forms over the paint and retains the pigment, which is what sets fresco apart from other mural painting: the painting is physically a part of the wall, physically set into the architecture. It's not laid on top; it's fused with it.

Working with fresco requires negotiation with the surface. A newly formed, newly wet wall—what I call a “young” wall—does not completely absorb paint, forcing you to temper yourself and slow down. Then as the wall begins to dry, it becomes important to approach the painting holistically, hydrating the wall by adding water to the entirety of the surface as you work. This process extends the painting and forms stronger crystals.

The Fresco Shop is an interesting dovetail to the time-based work done in the Media Lab, where you can go back and edit your work. You can go back in time in a certain way. In fresco, it's not as easy: if you try to go back and lift up or erase, you compromise the surface in a way that actually dampens the color. So there's this kind of balance you have to strike with the surface.

At the end of the fresco cycle, a shift occurs where you are able to start employing the traditional conventions of blending and moving paint on the surface, techniques that you initially have to put aside. This stage is what the Italians call the “tempo doro” or the golden time.

There is the romantic idea of the artist working alone in their studio and having this kind of intimacy with the image. Tempo doro is a rare moment where the romantic image of the artist and the chemical reality actually coincide. By spending your time working with the wall, you actually earn that moment. It's a transformation that you bear witness to which can only happen if you're working with the wall constantly, with sensitivity to the character of that material.

What impact does fresco have on the participants?

I trust the participants to make their own image. I don’t give them input on the image during the workshops, but I do hold them accountable to the wall. In addition to participating in the history, and having that moment where it’s just the artist and the wall, I want them to understand that the labor put into the surface is inherited by next year’s class. Participants work with the wall for roughly three hours. This can be a revelatory experience where they start to confront labor and really begin to understand the intensity of having to refine themselves and respect the craft. Often people remark that this experience really shapes them and makes an impression on their practice.

In the painting process, the inability to edit as you go has sparked conversations with participants about accepting mistakes and then actually integrating them into the work, as well as the concept of “perfection.” Putting aside some of the preconceptions of what painting is lets new gestures—new ways of working and thinking about the wall—emerge. This is generally how things shift: by offering flexibility, you end up with some surprises. I find it really exciting to hear different approaches of working with the material. As I've taught over the years, the conversations have shifted toward thinking about working with something other than ourselves, and exploring how that translates to more than just painting.
 

During the summer of  2017, artists at Skowhegan created a 25 ft. x 15 ft. Fresco Grotto, linking the history of meditative sites of refuge to the experience at Skowhegan as space of creative practice and reflection.


How did this project come into being?

The Fresco Grotto began with resident faculty artist Angela Dufrense saying, "Why don't we try doing a fresco that is off-site, away from the barn?” She started with this theme of “the grotto.” With Angela Dufresne's aesthetic, it aligned with not only the way she paints, but also the way she thinks of the world, or some of her interests in the world. People became really energized and excited about that possibility, and the class’s openness and willingness to contribute is really where it began.

We took some risks with the Fresco Grotto, because we had limitations regarding the installation—we couldn't attach a permanent fresco inside the building without having to dismantle it or figure out a tricky way to attach to the wall, so it needed to be temporary. We found an underutilized space and created this system of splicing together foam, which, with respect to the broad history of fresco, is a brand new approach. The participants organized themselves to build this in phases over the course of the summer.

All together, I believe there were 20 to 25 people involved in the creation of the Fresco Grotto. Not everyone was interested in painting and instead simply wanted to participate, contribute, and help others realize it. They wanted to see what they could do, and how they could collaborate to make a unique presentation of fresco on campus. There was a spirit of curiosity and a willingness to do some hard work. They pulled it together and made it happen. It was really remarkable and I couldn't be more pleased with it.

After the 2017 session ended, a group of alumni with advanced fresco expertise participated in a 10-day fresco intensive on campus with Fresco Master Renato Giangualano who traveled from Italy to lead the workshop. The group took a deep dive into materials and techniques that expanded their knowledge of the medium, passing the tradition of this material from one generation to the next, and ensuring that Skowhegan will continue to hold knowledge of this increasingly rare practice.


A second workshop was held in August 2018. This session also concerned the conservation of an outdoor fresco from 1955 by Annie Poor commemorating Skowhegan’s Founding Families and located at Sap House, next to Red Farm. Preserving this part of Skowhegan’s history and recognizing Poor’s critical role  in the first three decades of the school are meaningful in setting the stage for Skowhegan’s future.


What are the next steps of this restoration?

The wall on which Annie Poor’s fresco is mounted is a little unstable, in part because it is wicking up moisture and salt through the cement. Currently, we're in the process of creating alternate vents so that the wall no longer draws in salts from the ground, which is damaging to the fresco. This process began with Bill Holmes, Grounds and Maintenance Manager, and his crew excavating underneath Sap House and putting mechanisms in place to ensure that not too much water comes up. We're doing the final parts of that process, slowly going in and reinforcing the back of the wall and coating it with materials that allow it to breathe, but not draw in water.  

The other part is the restoration of the face of the fresco. Fresco Master Renato Giangualano, who led the workshop, helped us devise the restoration plan. He is lending his expertise for all aspects of the restoration, but with regard to working on the face of the fresco itself, he will actually come in and have his hands on it.

Each participant in the fresco intensive came from a different background. Was Renato Giangualano surprised by the diversity of experience?

He was excited by it, while also bringing his own traditional knowledge and perspective. When people would share their own methods, he might say, "You can do it that way, but here’s the way it is traditionally done." He's very well versed and intimate with the process, but he understands that he's just one voice in the tradition. It’s more important to him that people are invested in learning and exploring.

In my case, I am a sculptor. My first encounter with fresco was when I signed up to be a fresco monitor during my summer as a participant just to hang out with Daniel Bozhkov, A '90, F '11, and longtime fresco instructor. I am not really trained as a painter, but that has never waivered Renato’s interest in sharing his knowledge with me. I'm really grateful for that, and that's something I know Oscar [Rene Cornejo A ’14, Program Coordinator and Fresco Assistant] and I try to provide to participants as well. We want to engender a kind of openness and push things toward that spirit of curiosity.

What Renato appreciates and what he loves about Skowhegan is that investment in exploration. People here are very committed to searching through material and art with real sincerity. They let down their guard and they can show that sincerity in a way that’s not always possible outside of this place. And it’s that tendency toward openness which begins here at Skowhegan that can often resonate beyond the summer.

 

An Oral History of Fresco

From the Archive

  Pariticipants in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn, 1947.

Pariticipants in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn, 1947.

Over the course of Skowhegan’s history, fresco has been taught by a small group distinguished fresco artists, including founder Henry Varnum Poor, Anne Poor, Stoney Conley, Walter O’Neil, and Daniel Bozhkov. These knowledgeable and dedicated artists have added to Skowhegan’s rich catalog of recorded lectures with their presentations on the history and technique of fresco.


Presented below are excerpts from the lectures of Stoney Conley, Walter O’Neil, and Daniel Bozhkov. These lectures are included among the over 650 lectures in Skowhegan’s Lecture Archive. Dating from from 1952 to the present, the Skowhegan Lecture Archive comprises recorded talks delivered by visual artists, poets, architects, philosophers, journalists, curators, historians, and choreographers to artists-in-residence during the School's annual summer program. 


To view our complete holdings or to schedule a visit to the Skowhegan archives, researchers may see here. For questions or more information, please contact Paige Laino at plaino@skowheganart.org


Anne Poor

The Italian Tradition of Fresco, 1972

Anne Poor on the steps of the Old Dominion Fresco Barn, 1957.

A lot of the things that you’ll see when you look at the Italian High Renaissance, and all the frescos done in Italy, are the insistence on architectural detail. This was something that is also part of their way of life. If they didn’t have windows where they wanted them, they painted them there. They used the most primitive means to achieve a kind of elegance. And they painted marble surfaces, they painted every kind of surface they wanted to have. The houses are almost all masonry in Italy, so you have this kind of rich, decorative finish to every wall, and the way it was finished, the thing at that time, was fresco. Of course [now], we’re in another situation.

The point about tradition is that it gives you freedom. And I think that nothing changed very much, basically, through all these years in Italy (I’m just going to talk about Italy). Things were developed and they were repeated over and over again by different artists. It was sort of a competitive thing, to see whether you could make a better man than the next person. And if you see, there are two—there’s a Michelangelo of a man holding another man, a dying man. He did that in his Sistine Chapel; Signorelli did exactly the same thing. This was a fascination and, I think, is sort of what you call a tradition.

The fact that we don’t have any tradition makes us isolated. We depend on ourselves and we are kind of—there’s a word for that, when your energy is kind of absorbed, enervated by this. I feel that everybody is aware of it. It’s what Paul Jorges was talking about, and I feel that this is why when you go to a museum and you see a white canvas on a white wall, it means something; it means that this person is making a statement about the world he lives in.

So you’ll see in these pictures that there was something they wanted to say. They were telling stories and they made everything as real as they possibly could. They were explicit. If they wanted to show that God was there, they stuck him there, up in the sky. And if Eve was coming out of Adam’s rib, she came out—great, big, fat woman—and floated through the air. They had devils, and they had torture, and they had every kind of violence they portrayed in their paintings from the very beginning, in all the churches. They’re pictures! It’s like a picture book. They did the grandiose and the extravagant, but they also did the unexpected. And I think everybody did a little bit of it.

 

Stoney Conley

Preparing the fresco surface, 1984

  Participants in the fresco shop, 1984.

Participants in the fresco shop, 1984.

Okay. Now in the next process we're applying thin layers of the prepared mortar, with the trowel. The idea is to cut slices and press it into this layer, at about an eighth of an inch, between an eighth and a quarter, consistently in depth, because you want it to dry at the same period.

Now this is the hardest part for Americans to learn, because we didn't grow up in a culture that had a lot of lime stucco houses, and none of us have done a lot of troweling. If you go to the Mediterranean, everybody does it. Every time they have a crack in the wall they slap some up, and the Italians are the best plasterers in the world. They're usually the people who do this.

I'm hoping you'll be able to see over my shoulder. It's a process of cutting thin slices, forcing it onto the wall, pressing in, and pulling down a little bit. You can see how a team of plasterers would be considerably faster, which is why this is usually done, especially in the old days—Every painter had a workshop where you went to apprentice, and learn the trade from them.

The other part about this is that you get a surface—if you press this in, and every time you trowel across it you pull off a certain amount of lime, out of the sand, it sticks on the trowel and you want to get rid of it, you want to wipe it on anything available—if you glop that into the surface, that's where your cracks appear, because you get high concentrations of lime without any sand. So as it dries, that part dries quicker or slower, depending on the temperature. [Sounds of rubbing and troweling].

So in the old days—assuming that we're talking about a Renaissance workshop—the painter—say, Ghirlandaio, would be up here with a trowel, with a couple people throwing water on the wall (including the young Michelangelo), and he'd have somebody else behind him doing the second part, where you're doing a finishing trowel, getting it all smooth and making sure the seams disappear. If you can imagine—Michelangelo frescoed the Sistine Chapel without any help. He had some help from Florence but he didn't go on with them, and he fired them. He didn't spend a lot of time in Ghirlandaio’s studio, and he considered himself a sculptor. But when the Pope summoned him, you don't turn down the Pope, so he agreed to do it, and he spent two, three, four years doing this. [Laughter].

 

Daniel Bozhkov

Mexican Mural Painting, 2006

  Daniel Bozhkov and participant in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn.

Daniel Bozhkov and participant in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn.

Mexican mural movement was so powerful, and also time-wise fit, and somehow historically captured such a vast amount of that cultural imagination of that time that it’s too difficult to—I spoke recently to a curator in Austin who is like one of the foremost curators of Latin American art in the States. And he was still complaining about—it’s difficult to see other artists of that time working with, in a completely different kind of like vein, like a conceptual artist and other, because these things were so kind of dominant in some ways, in terms of how art was kind of like understood and what art is for and all that. Of course now we’re slowly getting out of that, but it was a very particular period. As you know, a number of so-called New York School painters, through the WPA and…many of them were actually quite connected to the Mexican muralists, being assistants and, directly, I mean Jackson Pollock was very involved.

So there is this kind of strange kind of heritage there that has to be rejected to come again, formally as well.

In the history of Skowhegan itself, one of the four very closely involved in the beginning of the school, in the founding of the school was Ben Shahn, who was himself an assistant of Diego Rivera and participated in the scandal of Rockefeller Center frescoes that, Diego Rivera painted and then Rockefeller wanted to remove because he painted a portrait of Lenin in the center of Rockefeller Center.

[...] And it’s very interesting to me how we, contemporary now, currently, what is our view of type of work as well, that particular art that has a very specific agenda, that has a very particular kind of political position. It’s unapologetic in what it’s trying to teach you, almost like didactic stuff that many of us now would completely, stay away from or not  be interested in at all. But it’s interesting the angle we have here, and what this particular kind of work comes down to and what it does. Almost like what is it for in a way.

 

Walter O’Neil

Fresco At Skowhegan, 1990

And just in closing, why is fresco done in Skowhegan? It seems like a really weird place—you have contemporary artists coming to Skowhegan every summer, you people from all over the country and all over the world coming here and there’s fresco going on.

Fresco is part of Skowhegan because [one of the founders], Willard Cummings, loved fresco and did fresco as well as Henry Varnum Poor, and Cummings starting the school in the Forties, sort of out of that tradition of WPA people doing frescos; and... it’s continued ever since. This is an example of a fresco by Joel King—that far back wall—that was done in 1954, well—along with six other artists, in the South Solon Meetinghouse, which is six miles down the East Madison Road; that the Skowhegan School arranged for them, took plaster—and it’s really—to paint it in true fresco; and it’s really wonderful to see... I mean, it’s sort of... the Sistine Chapel of Maine, in a sense. (laughter) And there’s a wide range of techniques that are used there as well, so it would be interesting for you to go see sometime. We might have a class trip sometime in July to go visit it as well.

  Walter O’Neil with participant in the Fresco Shop.

Walter O’Neil with participant in the Fresco Shop.

 

Cerrie Woodner Bamford Joins Skowhegan as Director of Development & Events

Cerrie Woodner Bamford Joins Skowhegan as Director of Development & Events

  Photo: Travis Emery Hackett

Photo: Travis Emery Hackett

Skowhegan is pleased to announce the appointment of Cerrie Woodner Bamford as its new Director of Development & Events. Ms. Bamford joins Skowhegan from The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) where she spent 14 years in the Special Programming and Events, Development, and the Affiliate Programs Departments. She currently manages The Friends of Education at MoMA, a membership group focused on diversity initiatives with a mission to foster a greater appreciation of art created by African American artists and to encourage African American participation in the activities and membership of the Museum.

At Skowhegan Ms. Bamford will work closely with the Board and Staff to lead fundraising efforts that leverage Skowhegan’s distinguished history, current programs, and ambitious future. In a statement, co-directors Katie Sonnenborn and Sarah Workneh said: Cerrie is a passionate advocate for artists who shares our deep commitment to advancing opportunities for artists from many backgrounds. In this pivotal moment for Skowhegan, as we embark on a campus Master Plan and look ahead to the school’s 75th Anniversary in 2021, we are thrilled to have her on board.

Ms. Bamford holds a Bachelor of Arts in Photography & Communications and a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology from St. Edward’s University, and an AAS in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu. She is the Board President of Hivewild, a contemporary movement initiative dedicated to community engagement, and a member of POWarts.

2018 Barabara Lee Lecture Series

Julieta Aranda  •  Kevin Everson  •  Fritz Haeg  •  Josephine Halvorson  •  Dave Hardy  • 

Lyle Ashton Harris  • Simon Leung  •  Fred Moten  • Jeanine Oleson  •  Henry Taylor  •  Anicka Yi

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Old Dominion Fresco Barn
Skowhegan Campus, Madison, Maine

 

Lectures begin at 8:30 PM and are free and open to the public. Please call 207.474.9345 to confirm date and time. For directions to campus, please contact mail@skowheganart.org. Assistive listening devices are available if you call to reserve a headset at least 24 hours prior to the lecture.

 

Lectures presented by resident and visiting faculty have been an essential element of Skowhegan's campus program since its inception in 1946. Beginning in 1952, the lectures have been recorded and collected for the Skowhegan Lecture Archive, which now contains over 650 lectures delivered by faculty artists in the uniquely intimate setting of our campus in rural Maine. The lectures have amassed into an invaluable collection of candid talks by artists as diverse as Vito Acconci, Janine Antoni, John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Kiki Smith, Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, and Fred Wilson. The archive continues to grow each summer.

 

Helen Frankenthaler at Skowhegan

From the Archive


Helen Frankenthaler came to Skowhegan during the summer of 1986 as a visiting faculty artist. In addition to conducting studio visits with participants, she gave a lecture on campus in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn. This talk, excerpts of which can be explored below, is preserved in Skowhegan’s Lecture Archive, a trove of lectures by faculty and other artists who spoke at Skowhegan dating back to 1952.

On October 5th, 2017, Skowhegan announced that it has received a $250,000 gift from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. The funds will provide for a new studio building which will be named in Frankenthaler’s honor, acknowledging her deep commitment to studio practice, and will accommodate discrete workspaces for three visual artists. When complete, the Frankenthaler Studio will be the 15th studio building on Skowhegan’s 350-acre campus, joining those named for other artists who taught at Skowhegan, including founder Willard “Bill” Cummings and Jacob Lawrence.

Read the full release to learn more about the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation's gift.

TRANSCRIPT


Helen Frankenthaler:  “Okay. New work. I wrote this in the middle of the night, in quite a panic, one night, feeling I'd been looking at all this new work and very alone for about a year and a half. I had this body of work, and I felt, I don't know if it means anything. Then I felt, well, what about my past, and other artists' pasts, and everything else. So for a few nights, on and off, I would just make some notes about new work. These are some of them, in no particular order.

New work: People often go up to an artist and say, ‘Are you doing any new work?’ Or, ‘I hear you have a body of new work.’ The artist is usually taken aback by such a confrontation. Recently, after many such inquiries, I literally sat down and gave some thought to what, really, new work means.

  1. What does it mean when an artist presents new work? Recent work? Or fresh work, the beginning of a new phase, or spirit? A new direction or the hint of one?

  2. Does the artist fully realize what he's accomplished, what he's doing, what he's up to?

  3. How does it look different?

  4. How has it developed? Does it make a new statement? Hopefully, does it enlarge one's truth? Are we shocked or puzzled by it in a fresh way? And are we shocked in a way that goes beyond initial shock? That is, beyond entertainment, but, instead, a shock that eases us into seeing and enjoying, and growing with beauty?

  5. Is the new work a minor departure or a significant breakthrough? A new way ‘to see’? A magic that combines a repetition of the past within a new vision, within the context of the artist's whole aesthetic gestalt — the eye, the mind, the wrist, the leap of heart that physically places the mark.

When an artist is developing a departure within his aesthetic, there is an initial shock, or surprise, of a first picture. For myself, I can think of how I felt first looking at Mountains and Sea, 1952; or Sesame, 1970; Roulette, 1978; or the blue one [Out of the Blue], 1985; the one I said I'd painted just about a year ago, the first of a series.

Then a body of work usually follows those pivotal pictures and grows within the context of that initial shock. Eventually that core of work enhances and restates and explains, that first surprise picture. Nothing comes out of the blue. Mountains and Sea, for example, was followed by many years of soaked, stained work, placed on unsized, unprimed cotton duck. Which really isn't true. It wasn't many years. It was maybe one of the first, but many years of pictures that led up to it. Also, what I forgot to write was that I'd spent a summer of doing nothing but landscapes in Nova Scotia that year and suddenly did Mountains and Sea after many, many small landscapes. I'd already been an abstract painter, but I spent the summer just doing what I call ‘verbatim landscapes’ — the tree that looked just like the tree.

Small’s Paradise, 1964, and Buddha’s Court, 1964, reinforce the format of the square and also began what later, much later, became tinted ground, tinted ground rather than merely leaving the duck the color it is, naturally.

The blue one painted in June 1985 spawned many pictures. I would guess about one third of those I destroyed in the process, right or wrong, out of doubt.

The following new body of work, what you saw, hopefully continues to resolve that first surprise picture, which seemed awkward, inevitable, and at the same time to have the sense of rightness, the certainty of the mark. A new painting has the authority of saying, in effect, ‘I had to be made!’ It has the sudden look to it, and to the artist himself. But when we look at that one, seemingly simple gesture of the new work, of a new picture, all the effort, search, failure, confusion, and often depression that preceded it seems to show not at all.

That is one side of the coin — it doesn't show at all. [From the other,] you know that, in order to do this, the artist must have felt certain ways — and I think the older you get the more you appreciate that — even if it's the most sunlit, primary-colored, left-handed dream of a picture. Well, that's one reason you can tell the difference, in a flash, between a kid's picture and a grownup's. Very often people say to you, ‘Who made this?’ And I'll say, ‘A very free, wonderful four-year-old who has no guilt yet, just an angel, but a kid.’ And they'll say, ‘Gee, I would have sworn it was a Matisse.’ I feel [like saying], You dope! [Audience laughter] It’s another trip.

Where was I?

It's only a lucky moment, all things combined, that the artist and the picture itself, together, say ‘give’.

And then I just have some other notes, such as space and light: The shapes and forms that one first puts down are the need and excuses for putting down the right colors, exactly where they belong, in a given space. There should be a constant dialogue between color and line, and all within the perfect scale and light. And you have an intuitive sense of placing within that scale.

And that's it on new work. So. Speak. Or don't.”

Skowhegan receives $250,000 gift from Helen Frankenthaler Foundation

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Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, one of the nation’s leading residencies for emerging visual artists, announced today that it has received a $250,000 gift from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. The funds will provide for a new studio building to be constructed on its rural campus in central Maine.

The new building will be named in Frankenthaler’s honor, acknowledging her deep commitment to studio practice, and will accommodate discrete workspaces for three visual artists. When complete, the Frankenthaler Studio will be the 15th studio building on Skowhegan’s 350-acre campus, joining those named for other artists who taught at Skowhegan, including founder Willard “Bill” Cummings and Jacob Lawrence.

“This remarkable gift is deeply meaningful for Skowhegan, which was founded by and for artists. It carries forward that legacy and underscores the critical role that alumni and faculty play in its long-term success,” said Skowhegan Co-Director Sarah Workneh. The sentiment was echoed by Co-Director Katie Sonnenborn, who stated, “Skowhegan is a place that cherishes legacy, and the presence of previous generations is palpable through its archives, historic campus, and honorific spaces like the Frankenthaler Studio that are so inspiring for artists to work within.”

Frankenthaler came to Skowhegan during the summer of 1986 as a visiting faculty artist. In addition to conducting studio visits with participants, she gave a lecture on campus in the Old Dominion Fresco Barn. This talk, excerpts of which can be heard on Skowhegan’s website is preserved in Skowhegan’s Lecture Archive, a trove of lectures by faculty and other artists who spoke at Skowhegan dating back to 1952.

Clifford Ross, Chairman of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, stated, “The Foundation is extremely pleased to support Skowhegan in offering new studio workspaces that will carry Helen’s name. She valued exchanges with students and young artists throughout her life, finding her time at Skowhegan not only meaningful, but also productive for her own work.”

Elizabeth Smith, Executive Director of the Foundation, added, “We are delighted to contribute to Skowhegan’s broader efforts in a way that also signals Helen Frankenthaler’s commitment to the serious work of studio practice.”

The Frankenthaler studio will be one of several new or renovated spaces being conceived by Skowhegan as part of a holistic campus Master Plan. Approximately 750 square feet in size, it will be sited atop a ridge with expansive views to the north, east, and west, and buttressed by dense woods to the south. It will house three Skowhegan participants, who will be among the 65 emerging visual artists selected annually, from a pool of about 2,000, to participate in the summer program. Construction will begin within 24 months, with the first artists in residence in the new spaces by summer 2020.

The gift will be marked on October 23, 2017, when Douglas Dreishpoon, Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Catalogue Raisonné, will moderate a conversation at the Foundation among artists Tom Burckhardt, Byron Kim and Lisa Sigal who were participants at Skowhegan in the summer of 1986 when Frankenthaler visited. Seating is limited, and reservations are required. For information or to reserve a seat, email Cori Spencer at cspencer@skowheganart.org.  


ABOUT SKOWHEGAN

Skowhegan is an intensive nine-week summer residency program for emerging visual artists located on a historic 350-acre farm in rural Maine. Each year Skowhegan brings together a gifted and diverse group of individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to artmaking and inquiry. Founded by artists in 1946, and still governed by artists, the program provides an atmosphere in which participants are encouraged to work free of market or academic expectations. For additional information, visit our About page.

ABOUT HELEN FRANKENTHALER AND THE HELEN FRANKENTHALER FOUNDATION
Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), whose career spanned six decades, has long been recognized as one of the great American artists of the twentieth century. She was eminent among the second generation of postwar American abstract painters and is widely credited for playing a pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. In addition to unique paintings on canvas and paper, she worked in a wide range of media, including ceramics, sculpture, tapestry, and especially printmaking. Her work, which continues to have a profound impact on contemporary art, is represented in museum collections worldwide and has been the subject of numerous national and international exhibitions and substantial publications. 

The New York City-based Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, established and endowed by the artist during her lifetime, is dedicated to promoting greater public interest in and understanding of the visual arts. For more information, visit: www.frankenthalerfoundation.org.

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2017 Barbara Lee Lecture Series

2017 Barbara Lee Lecture Series

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Nayland Blake • Angela Dufresne • Torkwase Dyson • Ron Gorchov • William E. Jones • Ralph Lemon • Judith Linhares • Dave McKenzie • Dean Moss • Eileen Myles † • Wu Tsang • Mario Ybarra Jr.


Old Dominion Fresco Barn
Skowhegan Campus, Madison, Maine


Lectures begin at 8:30 PM and are free and open to the public. Please call 207.474.9345 to confirm date and time. For directions to campus, please contact mail@skowheganart.org. Assistive listening devices are available if you call to reserve a headset at least 24 hours prior to the lecture.

Lectures presented by resident and visiting faculty have been an essential element of Skowhegan's campus program since its inception in 1946. Beginning in 1952, the lectures have been recorded and collected for the Skowhegan Lecture Archive, which now contains over 650 lectures delivered by faculty artists in the uniquely intimate setting of our campus in rural Maine. The lectures have amassed into an invaluable collection of candid talks by artists as diverse as Vito Acconci, Janine Antoni, John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Kiki Smith, Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, and Fred Wilson. The archive continues to grow each summer.

Personals

Small Objects 4 Large Table

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Presenting gestures sized for the space of senses and placed in the realm of conversation, Personals is a show of small sculptural works installed together on four large tables. The 99 exhibiting artists span 65 Skowhegan alumni years, 3 continents, 6 countries, and 19 states. They are joined here in an installation that is inherently about making room for others and connecting with one’s peers.
 

Personals was curated by the Skowhegan Alliance Small Objects Committee: Barb Smith (A '12), Gabriela Salazar (A '11), and Sarah Mattes (A '15).

 

Skowhegan New York Program Space 
136 W. 22nd Street, Ground Floor, New York, NY 10011

Open Hours:
Monday - Friday, 10AM - 5PM and by  appointment.
(Monday, May 29, 2–5PM)


The exhibition has been extended to June 15, 2017, closing reception from 6–8PM

 

  Exhibition map.

Exhibition map.

  Personals installation.

Personals installation.

ARTISTS EXHIBITED

Alejandro Acierto (A '14)
Matt Ager (A '11)
Rick Albee (A '02)
Ramón Alcoléa (A '84)
Betsy Alwin (A '01)
Trevor Amery (A '13)
JD Beltran (A '98)
Doug Bosch (A '91)
Matt Brett (A '14)
Sara Bright (A '10)
Teresa Booth Brown (A '88)
Mike Calway-Fagen (A '11)
Carlos Castro (A '10)
Lili Chin (A '10)
Eun Woo Cho (A '08)
Peter Dudek (A '78)
Chris Duncan (A '75, '78)
Jonathan Ehrenberg (A '11)
Catherine Fairbanks (A '11)
Gordon Fearey (A '73)
Robert Flynt (A '74, '76)
Judy Fox (A '76)
Winslow Funaki (A '16)
Mary Louise Geering (A '92)
Cadence Giersbach (A '95)
Alex Goss (A '14)
Sophie Grant (A '15)
Mark Haddon (A '91)
Julia Haft-Candell (A '16)
Bang Geul Han (A '07)
Dave Hardy (A '04)
Jane Fox Hipple (A '09)
Audrey Hope (A '14)
Sarah Hotchkiss (A '10)
Joanne Howard (A '84)
Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford (A '11)
Ginny Huo (A '15)
Christina Hutchings (A '77) 
Kristian Blomstroem Johansson (A '13)
Lois Johnson (A '96)
Andrew Ellis Johnson (A '99)
Matt Kennedy (A '10)
Baseera Khan (A '14) 
Marcia Kure (A '12)
Gary, LaPointe (A '13)
Tim Lewis (A '98)
Peter Lipsitt (A '61) 
Laura Lobdell (A '99) 
Gregg Louis (A '09)
Jennifer Macdonald (A '05) 

MaryKate Maher (A '08)
Jason Manley (A '04)
Christopher Manzione (A '12) 
Sarah Mattes (A '15)
James Maurelle (A '15) 
Colin McMullan d/b/a Emcee C.M., Master of None (A '07) 
Nancy Modlin Katz (A '78)
Bridget Mullen (A '16)
Julie Nagle (A '10)
Monika Napier (A '93) 
Jann Nunn (A '91)
Erik Patton (A '15) 
Jonathan Peck (A '10) 
Benjamin Pederson (A '13)
Anna Queen (A '15)
Birgit Rathsmann (A '04)
Macon Reed (A '16) 
Matt Rich (A '10)
Kari Kaplan Rives (A '82)
Andrew Ross (A '11) 
Christy Rupp (A '74, '92 F)
Naomi Safran-Hon (A '12)
Gabriela Salazar (A '11)
Annesofie Sandal (A '15)
Vabianna Santos (A '13)
Cathy Sarkowsky (A '93)
Renata Manasse Schwebel (A '51)
Matt Shalzi (A '16)
Zoe Sheehan Saldana (A '00)
Kate Shepherd (A '90)
Rudy Shepherd (A '00)
Gina Siepel (A '08)
Barb Smith (A '12)
Jessica Snow (A '92)
Edra Soto (A '00)
James Southard (A '12) 
Susanna Starr (A '85)
Draga Susanj (A '02)
Millette Tapiador (A '98)
Steed Taylor (A '97)
The Estate of Larry Warshaw (A '57, '58) 
Elizabeth Tubergen & Erica Wessmann (A '15)
Robert Wechsler (A '06)
Steven Weiss (A '76)
Erica Wessmann (A '15)
Andrew Wilhelm (A '98)
Lynne Yamamoto (A '96)
John Zappas (A '12)
Monika Zarzeczna (A '06)

PERSONALS OPENING


OBJECT DETAILS

 

In(queer)y

SkowheganReads


In(queery) is a collectively led intersectional feminist reading group that meets every other Friday at the Skowhegan project space at 6:00. To sign up to attend meetings, or to request the reading material from past meetings, please fill out the form on this page.