Collection Insights: Recent Acquisitions

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On Permanence

Islip Art Museum has come to define contemporary art on Long Island through its annual roster of six envelope-pushing exhibitions at Brookwood Hall and the ever expanding season of site-specific installations that take place at its historic Carriage House. The museum has ushered a larger world into the hamlet of Islip, a bedroom community located 30 miles east of New York City. So…what is Long Island and what does it have to do with contemporary art? Within its 1,377 square miles of housing, colleges, nature preserves and shoreline, Long Island has been the birthplace, residence and vacation destination for some of this country’s most significant writers, performers and artists. Its close proximity to Manhattan has bestowed upon it the moniker of “6th Borough”, and indeed from stem to stern the island is as much defined by the New Yorkers who visit here as it is by its full time residents. This places Islip Art Museum, set squarely in the center of Long Island, in the unique position of focusing its permanent collection on not only our neighboring population, but the larger, more diverse group of artists that are filtered through communities across the Eastern seaboard.

It is a special pleasure to have this opportunity to examine some of the works most recently added to Islip Art Museum’s Permanent Collection in this show, Collection Insights: Recent Acquisitions.

The exhibition consists of nine artists: Monica Banks, Perry Burns, Deena des Rioux, Regina Gilligan, Nade Haley, Michael Rosch, Judy Richardson, Karen Shaw and Drew Shiflett. Each of these artists have ascended to  mid-career, developing in their art and vision as they move forward in defining the visual culture of our time. For Nade Haley, the fact of urban life is fodder for her examinations of natural phenomena such as bird migration, tide flows and language. In Untitled, the image of gently rippling water is etched on to a thin circle of glass that rests atop a brushed aluminum bowl. Resting at its bottom, as if drown in a shallow pool, is a polished steel fish hook. Dangerous and alluring, the three images collide in a depiction of acute dislocation.

In Michael Rosch’s work, Hornet, the artist traces a kinetic line of action that creates a twisting figure of energy, elasticity and muscle. Similarly, sculptor Monica Banks bends and coils a single steel ribbon into a snaking curl. In her sculpture, Hula Smoke, black twirls ascend as if driven upward by an agitated wind.

Perry Burns creates a field of falling lobes that float across the painterly surface of E Print Series #3. The luscious color supports a rich figure/ground relationship that seems to meditate on itself. Drew Shiflett’s, Untitled #08, examines the margins of an immense map of internal space, its poetic network of lines converging in a mesh of graphite sequences.

Regina Gilligan takes her inspiration from a cultural conscience that examines the redemptive quality of art. In Votive for Lori P, the artist pays tribute to the first American service woman to lose her life in the Iraq war. Mournful and reverent, Gilligan made casts of beeswax candles in the image of a maternal female. Judy Richardson takes a sobering look at life as well in her work, Lonely Man. Here the artist places a makeshift bed on top of stacked tin kitchenware of the type a boy scout might load in his back pack.

The associations that arise take us from homelessness to the stuff of dreams – purgatory vs. dreamscape. Deena des Rioux places her photographic lens on home and hearth, focusing on the living room mantle in, Nostalgia. Inserted in the context of her family of man is a concept ripe with environmental terror: the artist has placed gas masks on each of the family member’s heads, an eerie reminder that all is not as it might seem.                                   

Finally, the art of Karen Shaw, Islip Art Museum’s chief curator, is represented here with her work, Golden Ear, a recent addition to the Permanent Collection. Ironic and mysterious, Shaw examines word systems, linguistics and the art of acupuncture. The precision employed by the ancient Chinese to pinpoint physical meridians is re-articulated in this work, creating a poetic distillation of words and numbers that celebrates the elastic nature of language.

Janet M. Goleas