Thursday, December 4, 2014

Carl Solway Gallery's Marcus Ratliff Exhibition Reviewed in AEQAI by Karen Chambers

“Marcus Ratliff: Collages & The Art World: Forty Years of Graphic Design” and “Marcus Ratliff: Collages,” Carl Solway Gallery, through Dec. 20, 2014

December 1st, 2014  |  Published in *November 2014
Cincinnati should be proud that it has produced some of the most important artists of the latter half of the 20th century: Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004), Jim Dine (b. 1935), and Marcus Ratliff (b. 1935). It may seem like hyperbole to include Ratliff because he was a commercial artist, a term that seems quaint today. But he was as much a part of the rarified circle of groundbreaking artists who emerged in the early 1960s as his Cincinnati compatriots were. Ratliff was responsible for much of the material produced for galleries to promote them.
Marcus Ratliff, Ephemera designed by Ratliff for galleries and museums.
Ratliff’s association with these soon-to-be-blue-chip artists began in 1956 when he moved to New York to attend the tuition-free Cooper Union after a couple of lackluster years at the University of Cincinnati. DAAP didn’t exist, and the school did not have a studio art program, only offering courses in art education and practical design.
In 1959 Ratliff was living in the international and interracial Judson Student House on Washington Square in the West Village. It was run by Judson Memorial Church1, which in the 1950s was a hotbed of artistic activity in theater, dance, literature, and fine arts.In the Judson Gallery, which was started in 1957 in an unused space in the impressive late 19th-century church3, Ratliff gave Claes Oldenburg his first New York exhibition in 1959. He also showed fellow Cincinnatians Dine, the “bad boy”4 in his art classes at Walnut Hills High School, and the slightly older Wesselmann who he met in New York.
After graduating from Cooper Union in 1959, Ratliff attended Yale University School of Art for a year, but was drawn back to New York where the action was. Ratliff apprenticed with a former professor from Cooper in his letterpress shop learning to set type and to print. Galleries like Cordier & Ekstrom and the Contemporaries used the shop to produce letterpress invitations and posters, and Ratliff became the liaison with them
Even after landing a job with Time-Life in the book division and then with Fortune magazine, Ratliff’s social life revolved around the art world. When a friend who had been designing posters for Leo Castelli moved to California, she recommended Ratliff to take over; Castelli gave him a chance and he delivered. Ratliff then began to take on more and more free-lance assignments until his boss, who had been covering for him, finally gave him the choice of continuing at Fortune or striking out on his own.
Forced to make the decision, he consulted Castelli who asked him how many clients he would need to feel comfortable taking the leap. His answer was five. “Castelli reached in(to) his vest pocket and took out his little black address book and started calling people right then and there, friends like Pierre Matisse and Robert Elkon, Virginia Zabriskie, André Emmerich, and Richard Feigen, who he knew would give me work on his recommendation,” Ratliff recalls. “From that point on (1967), the phones did not stop ringing.”5
Marcus Ratliff, Ephemera designed by Ratliff for galleries and museums.
Ratliff’s clients eventually included Eleana Sonnebend (Castelli’s ex-wife), Virginia Dwan, Allan Stone, and Arne Glimcher’s Pace Gallery. As a graphic designer, Ratliff produced memorable posters, invitations, catalogs, and other ephemera as marketing materials for leading galleries. His exhibitions “Marcus Ratliff: Collages & The Art World: Forty Years of Graphic Design” at Carl Solway Gallery features a large selection of ephemera from Ratliff’s personal collection and shows the breadth of his commercial work.
His work always captured the essence of the artist it was serving; there never was a specific Ratliff “style.” For a 1969 Fred Sandback show at Dwan Gallery, the image used on the poster was the diagram for his site-specific string installation. Ratliff chose a crisp sans-serif typeface for the essential information. To not divert attention from the line drawing, the text is in a small font and printed in about as light a gray as possible to still be read. I can’t imagine a more apt design to communicate exactly what Sandback’s art was about.
Until the introduction of the Mac in 1984, graphic design was a matter of cut and paste, just like the collage process. Before becoming a successful graphic designer, Ratliff had made some collages and returned to the medium after closing his design studio in 2007.
Marcus Ratliff, Under the Arches, 2013, collage, 12 ¾” x 17”
After years of subordinating his personality (I don’t think unhappily) in his graphic design work, he became free to reveal it in his fine-art collages, which are meticulously executed, witty, and very, very smart. “Marcus Ratliff: Collages” includes three done in the 1960s as well as more recent examples. Ratliff’s collages bookend his entire career of cutting and pasting.
Marcus Ratliff, The Birds, 2013, collage, 6 ¼ x 8 5/8”
Ratliff says every piece starts with a story, and viewers are welcome to concoct their own. Incongruously in Duet, a corseted Victorian lady and a workman in overalls and a turquoise baseball cap share a balcony or maybe they’re standing on a bridge. He’s emptying a garbage pail of pots and pans and other household items while she stands erect holding a book at her waist. With her mouth open, she might be speaking or singing. It’s a Duet.
Marcus Ratliff, Duet, 2013, collage, 9” x 7 ½”
At a reception a woman approached Ratliff and proceeded to give him her feminist reading of the collage. She told him, “I know exactly what you’re saying here. It’s a very politically active suffragette rebelling against all those domestic things.” Ratliff replied that he was glad she had “such a strong interpretation, and I guess I have to agree with that one interpretation, but it’s not what I had in mind.”7 Instead Ratliff saw Duet as being about a lot of noise: the woman declaiming or warbling, and the garbage man making a percussive racket.
Marcus Ratliff, The Visitation, 2013, collage, 9” x 7”
In The Visitation a voluptuous odalisque stretches out on a chaise longue, displaying all of her charms. She’s partially covered by Ingres-worthy blue and purple drapes. (I haven’t been able to locate the source of this image, but it obviously exists.) A gentleman, wearing a floppy artist’s beret leans toward her, inspecting her backside. Hovering over her like an angel in an Annunciation scene (there are even celestial rays emanating from him) is a bespectacled and bearded mad-scientist-type offers two girdles (definitely not Spanx shape wear), suggesting to the haughty nude that her body is in need of perfecting.
Ratliff could not have foreseen the recent flap over a Victoria’s Secret’s ad for lingerie with the tag line “The Perfect Body.” The models were standard issue for the underwear company with ample bosoms, flat stomachs, and a few prominent ribs. The ad launched a petition, and coincidentally (?) the line was changed to “A Body for Every Body.”
I wonder if Victoria’s Secret will ever present more realistic body types à la the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which launched in 2004 and features real women. Victoria’s Secret might spurn Ratliff’s odalisque, but Dove would be happy to show her off.
Marcus Ratliff, Oral Exam, 2011, collage, 8 ½” x 11”
Being a brilliant graphic designer doesn’t guarantee being an exceptional fine artist, but Ratliff is both. These exhibitions at Solway confirm that with the bonus of providing a history lesson about the art world during a particularly exciting period.
–Karen S. Chambers
“Marcus Ratliff: Collages & The Art World: Forty Years of Graphic Design” and “Marcus Ratliff: Collages,” Carl Solway Gallery, 424 Findlay St., Cincinnati, OH  45214; 513-621-0069, fax: 513-621-6310, Through December 20, 2014.
This was part of Judson Memorial Church’s community outreach mission that began the moment of its founding as the Berea Baptist Church in 1875. (Today the church is affiliated with the American Baptist and United Church of Christ denominations.) The church’s location on the south side of Washington Square Park was selected because it marked the divide between the upper crust in Fifth Avenue mansions and immigrants in the tenements to the west of the Square.
Throughout its history, Judson has sponsored many programs aimed at serving the poor and the persecuted. In 1895 it built the Judson Hotel as affordable housing for the impoverished. A fountain on the northeast corner of the church provided cool water for those unable to buy ice. During the Great Depression, it allowed homeless men to sleep on its pews. In the 1960s, it opened the first drug-treatment clinic in Greenwich Village, and before Roe v. Wade, the church operated an abortion counseling and referral service. In the 1980s Judson was one of the few churches to acknowledge the AIDS crisis. More recently it has become involved with fair trade, gay rights, and the New Sanctuary Movement championing immigrant rights.
Starting in the 1950s, Judson gave up-and-coming dancers and choreographers like Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, and Yvonne Rainer a place to practice and perform. The Judson Poets’ Theater presented work by Sam Shepherd, Lanford Wilson, Joel Oppenheimer, and Obie-award winning musicals by Al Carmines, the associate pastor. Ratliff founded the literary quarterly Exodus with poetry, short stories, and essays with drawings by Oldenburg and Red Grooms. The Judson Gallery exhibited emerging artists including Robert Rauschenberg, Daniel Spoerri, and Yoko Ono as well as Dine and Wesselmann in addition to Oldenburg and Grooms. Ibid.
The church (1888-1893) and campanile (1895-1896) were designed by the McKim, Mead, and White firm with Sanford White taking the lead. Its style has been dubbed Lombardo-Romanesque, and the edifice combines Byzantine, Romanesque, and Renaissance elements. Seventeen stained-glass windows were designed by John La Farge, arguably Louis Comfort Tiffany’s chief rival. Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed a marble frieze for the baptistery, but it, along with the pews and crucifix original to the sanctuary, was removed in the 1960s. Paul Gallagher, intro., A Monograph of the Works of McKim, Mead, and White, 1879-1915.( New York: De Capo Press, 1985) on site. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the sanctuary, campanile, and attached Judson Hall as landmarks in 1966; they were added to the National Register of Historic Places eight years later.
W. David Powell, “Marcus Ratliff: Master of Cut and Paste,” Saranac Review 10 (2014). p. 97.
Ibid., pp. 99-100.
Ibid., p. 102.
Ibid., 104.

Carl Solway Gallery Participates in Ink Miami Art Fair

Carl Solway Gallery at Ink Miami Art Fair

Presented by the IFPDA

Suites of Dorchester, Suite 155  
1850 Collins Avenue (19th St)
Miami Beach, Florida 33139

Preview Breakfast 
Wednesday, December 3, 9 am - 11 am

December 3- 7, 2014

William Anastasi
Harry Bertoia
John Cage
Merce Cunningham
Buckminster Fuller
Peter Halley
Ann Hamilton
Channa Horwitz
Jasper Johns
Tom Marioni
Nam June Paik
Edouardo Paolozzi
Richard Pousette-Dart
Marcus Ratliff
Robert Rauschenberg
Joan Snyder
Pat Steir
Julia Wachtel
Andy Warhol
Tom Wesselmann
William T. Wiley
Hannah Wilke
Jody Zellen 

Fair Hours 
Wednesday, December 3, 12 pm - 5 pm
Thursday, December 4, 10 am - 5 pm
Friday, December 5, 10 am - 8 pm
Saturday, December 6, 10 am - 8 pm
Sunday, December 7, 10 am - 3 pm

Top to bottom:
Peter Halley, Exploding Cell #10, 2013-2014, pearlescent acrylic paint (#201/202/213) on digitally milled polystyrene, 1 of 16 unique hand-painted works, each a different color + 2 unique hand-painted production proofs, 40 x 40 inches, published by Carl Solway Gallery; Andy Warhol, Flowers,1964, offset Lithograph, 21.5 x 22 inches (image); Tom Marioni, Untitled, Blue Nest, 2011, graphite on paper, 24 x 22.5 inches; Ann Hamilton, Book Block – The Tragedy Of, 2014, cut paper, 8.5 x 9.5 x 6 inches; Julia Wachtel, Precariously Close to 5 Billion Points of Confusion, 1990, portfolio of 9 prints on Magnani Incisioni paper, combination lithograph and screenprint, edition of 64, 22 x 30 inches each

424 Findlay Street Cincinnati, OH 45214
Tel 513.621.0069 |
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00-5:00;
Saturday noon-5:00pm

Monday, November 10, 2014

Jay Bolotin Press from the IFPDA Print Fair

Jay Bolotin's new print portfolio, The Book of Only Enoch, presented in Carl Solway Gallery's booth at the IFPDA Print Fair, received a featured mention in the Art News blog article by John Chiaverina.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Carl Solway Gallery Features a New Portfolio by Jay Bolotin at the IFPDA Print Fair

Carl Solway Gallery premieres Jay Bolotin's new portfolio, The Book of Only Enoch, at the 
IFPDA Print Fair, opening tonight at New York City's Park Avenue Armory, Booth 106.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Carl Solway Gallery Features a New Portfolio by Jay Bolotin at the IFPDA Print Fair 2014


The Book of Only Enoch  
at Carl Solway Gallery/IFPDA 2014

November 5-9, 2014

Carl Solway Gallery · Booth 106
Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Avenue at 67th St.
New York, NY 10065

Opening Night Preview
Wednesday, November 5, 6:30 - 9 pm

Fair Hours
Thursday, November 6, 12 - 8 pm
Friday, November 7, 12 - 8 pm
Saturday, November 8, 12 - 8 pm
Sunday, November 9, 12 - 6 pm

Carl Solway Gallery presents The Book of Only Enoch, a new portfolio of twenty combined woodcut and etching prints by multi-disciplinary artist Jay Bolotin. The portfolio is in an edition of  twenty (with five artist’s proofs). Of the twenty prints, seventeen measure 23 x 31.5 inches, one folded print measures 46 x 31.5 inches, and two folded prints measure 63 x 23 inches - all drawn and cut by Jay Bolotin over a four year period, 2011-2014.  A catalogue of the portfolio is available at the booth.

The Book of Only Enoch is a remarkable tour de force of printmaking that combines Bolotin’s written text printed as etching amongst woodcut images depicting the story of Only Enoch, the son of the only Jewish coal miner in Kentucky. As described by writer and critic Ilan Stavans, “The protagonist is Only Enoch, a sensitive Jewish boy in Kentucky who is named after an apocryphal [i.e., non-canonical] book left out of the Hebrew Bible…It is said that Enoch was the only human who could reach into heaven and spy upon angels.”

The Book of Only Enoch is a mesmerizing visual and language pilgrimage, an ambitious journey through the Kentucky landscape with all its mysterious topography, strange human characters and animals passing along the way making up Only Enoch’s universe. Ilan Stavans, in his essay, Jay Bolotin’s Phantasmagoria, continues, “Jay Bolotin’sPhantasmagoria, however, is, more than anything else, an astonishing visual feast and it needs to be understood in artistic terms. As far as influences go, one thinks of William Blake, particularly the dualism of Marriage of Heaven and Hell. As a pre-romantic, Blake was drawn to the Bible but was critical of institutionalized religion, as Bolotin seems to be.”
Jay Bolotin was born in Fayette County, Kentucky in 1949. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design and then apprenticed with sculptor Robert Lamb. He is known for works that cross multiple disciplines. Bolotin’s visual work is represented in collections including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Seattle Art Museum; Cincinnati Art Museum; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art; Australian National Museum in Canberra; Georgia Museum of Art; Smith College Museum; University of Richmond Museum and the collections of Bucknell and Vanderbilt Universities. Bolotin is a prolific songwriter, performer and filmmaker. Bolotin composed the opera Limbus: a mechanical opera, for which he wrote the score and created the set. This opera was produced in 2001 at the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. He has contributed music to dance productions, films and documentary television programs. His songs have been recorded by Dan Fogelberg, Porter Wagoner, Dickey Betts and David Allen Coe. Bolotin’s first motion picture, completed in 2006, titled The Jackleg Testament, part one: Jack & Eve, is believed to be the first movie constructed from woodcuts. It won “best animation” at the 2007 Santa Fe Film Festival. The movie, along with all its source material, has been the subject of many solo exhibitions at museums in the US, with special screenings in England, the Pokoleniy Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Festival Internacional De Animacion in Valparaiso, Chile.
424 Findlay Street Cincinnati, OH 45214
Tel 513.621.0069
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00-5:00
Saturday noon-5:00pm

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Julia Wachtel Exhibition Opens at the Transformer Station in Cleveland

Opening October 11 from 12 - 5 p.m.

Landscape No. 15 (mutant ninja chernobyl), 1991. Julia Wachtel (American, born 1956). Oil, flashe and screen ink on canvas; 152 x 335 cm. ©Julia Wachtel. Photo: Alan Wiener. Private collection. 

Artist Talk: October 11, 2 p.m.
Transformer Station 

Born in 1956 in New York, Julia Wachtel lives and works in Brooklyn. Active since the early 1980s, Wachtel became known for her paintings employing cartoon characters appropriated from sources as everyday and relatable as greeting cards and magazines, deliberately commenting upon our quickly evolving visual culture. Often comprised of multiple panels, her paintings also include pop stars, figures from so-called primitive cultures, and scenes from Hollywood films.

“This exhibition will survey Julia Wachtel’s career from the 1980s until now,” said Dr. Reto Thüring, associate curator of contemporary art. “It will include early paintings that juxtapose outlandish cartoon figures and politically charged imagery to her most recent works, which continue to investigate the ever-increasing pace and complexity with which images proliferate and merge."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Carl and Michael Solway Featured in the ADAA Website's Gallery Chat

The website for the Art Dealer's Association of America features a gallery chat with Carl and Michael Solway.  See the link below.

Carl Solway Gallery Participates in the 30th Fine Print Fair in Cleveland

Carl Solway Gallery at FINE PRINT FAIR

The Print Club of Cleveland’s 30th Annual Fine Print Fair

September 25 - 28, 2014

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Ames Family Atrium 
11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, OH  44106

Lynda Benglis
Harry Bertoia
Alexander Calder
John Cage
Paul Cezanne
Marc Chagall
Merce Cunningham
Richard Diebenkorn
Marcel Duchamp
Jean Dubuffet
Buckminster Fuller
Alberto Giacometti
Milton Glaser
Nancy Graves
Ann Hamilton
Jean-Pierre Hébert
Jasper Johns
Ik Joong Kang
William Kentridge
Lee Krasner
Sol Lewitt
Edouard Manet
Tom Marioni
Joan Miró
Claes Oldenburg
Nam June Paik
Ben Patterson
Pablo Picasso
Richard Pousette-Dart
Robert Rauschenberg
James Rosenquist
Peter Saul
Laurie Simmons
Joan Snyder
Saul Steinberg
Frank Stella
Julia Wachtel
John Wesley
Tom Wesselmann

L.H.O.O.Q. Shaved
1965New York
Ready-made: reproduction of the Mona Lisa on playing card (3-1/2 x 2-7/16")  pasted on the invitation card to the dinner given on January 13, 1965,  on the occasion of the preview of the Mary Sisler Collection, Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery,NY
Signed in ball-point pen, from the edition of approximately 104
Paper size: 8¼ x 5 3/8 inches
Schwarz 614, Philadelphia Art Museum cat. # 375

A Prints of A Party
Thursday, September 25
6:00 - 9:30 pm  
7:00 pm Curator’s Choice tour of booths with Dr. Jane Glaubinger, curator of prints, the Cleveland Museum of Art
Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a cash bar; Tickets required in advance
Fair Hours:
Friday, September 26, 11 am - 6 pm
Saturday, September 27, 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday, September 28, 10 am - 5 pm

The Print Club of Cleveland’s 30th Annual Fine Print Fair is a benefit for the Department of Prints of the Cleveland Museum of Art, with support from Britton Gallagher and Key Private Bank. Fifteen dealers exhibit and sell fine prints, from old master to contemporary. FREE ADMISSION (Friday to Sunday)
424 Findlay Street Cincinnati, OH 45214 | Tel 513.621.0069 | 
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00-5:00; Saturday noon-5:00pm