Midday Cowgirl

June 24th, 2015

The new Village Voice cover by Steve Brodner says a lot.


According to the Voice, the illustration “commemorates the confluence of pride and country music in NYC, ahead of this weekend’s Pride March and FarmBorough fest.

But it also says a lot about some pressing questions sharpened by recent events.  These include fluidity of gender, heightened sensitivity across races, and even gentrification:

  • By crossing their legs, typically a “feminine” gesture, men are more fabulous to other subway riders than their manspreading counterparts are.  What other unchecked, gender-specific behaviors might compromise harmony?
  • In the wake of Rachel Dolezal, and more importantly, horrible police- and extremist-violence against African-Americans, many New Yorkers are reflecting on their own race-complicated exchanges.  Are we building all the bridges we can?
  • With Taylor Swift enthroned as the NYC Global Welcome Ambassador, gentrification is pushing young faces further into unfamiliar neighborhoods the names of which might make their parents shudder.  What will happen to their industrious immigrant neighbors?


So while Steve Brodner seems to address one particular confluence in this weekly publication, he masterfully stirs together broader currents worth preserving.  This cover is a keeper.

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Showing the Way

June 17th, 2015

Jerry Saltz credits Andrew Castrucci, SVACE faculty member, as a guardian angel of outsider genius Melvin Way.  Read Jerry’s words in Vulture:


“We owe his being discovered at all, saved, and brought to public light to the capable artist Andrew Castrucci, who discovered Way in 1989, when he was conducting art workshops in Keener Men’s Shelter, a hospital-cum-prison for the mentally ill on Wards Island. Seeing genius immediately, Castrucci devoted himself to Way — working with him, helping him in and out of institutions while the artist would sometimes disappear for long stretches, going on benders, turning up in emergency rooms or drug rehabs, other times arriving at Castrucci’s door with as many as 200 or 300 rumpled new drawings. Castrucci introduced Way to tidal charts, hermetic diagrams, medieval cosmographies, navigation maps, and Post-Impressionism, another art made up of an infinite number of marks. He introduced him to da Vinci’s notebooks and backwards writing, which Way claims to have decoded and interpreted. And Castrucci has always passed earnings from sales onto Way.”

We mentioned Melvin Way and Andrew Castrucci in a recent SVACE blog post, too.

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The Ghost Army Exhibition

June 13th, 2015

SVACE faculty member Elizabeth Sayles has curated a special exhibition featuring the artwork of “The Ghost Army!”

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“Cafe de L’Est” by William Sayles, 1944

Nicknamed “The Ghost Army,” the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops comprised a select group of artists recruited by the U.S. Army in 1943 to deceive the enemy through camouflage and artifice.  The 1,100 men of The Ghost Army were embedded in the battlefields of Europe, ordered to design the illusion of large battalions and conceal the presence of soldiers.  Their “mission was to fool the Germans — with battalions of rubber dummies and inflatable artillery — into thinking that there were huge concentrations of troops and matériel where there weren’t,” as Steven Heller sums it up.

Victor Dowd drawing in Normandy, 1944

Victor Dowd sketching somewhere in Europe, 1944


In between missions, the artists would venture out with pencils, inks, and watercolors to capture their surroundings with drawings and portraits of the people, architecture, and views around them. “We were sleeping in hedgerows and foxholes. But nothing kept us away from going someplace to do a watercolor.”-Ghost Army artist John Jarvie


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Pages from “The Ghost Army of World War II by Elizabeth Sayles and Rick Beyer


Prompting the exhibition, The Ghost Army of World War II is a new book co-written by Elizabeth Sayles and Rick Beyer.  It tells the Ghost Army story and features its artwork.  To bring the artwork out of the book and onto gallery walls, Elizabeth, whose father served in The Ghost Army, has hunted down this artwork and designed the exhibition.  To see original watercolors, drawings, and sketches of The Ghost Army (including three works by Ellsworth Kelly!), visit the Salmagundi Club.

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Flyer for the Salmagundi Club exhibition



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