The Laffer Gallery Presents: “Cartography & Choreography”
Featuring John Van Alstine and Erik Laffer
June 17 – July 30, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 17, 5-8pm
SCHUYLERVILLE, N.Y., June 1, 2017 — In honor of our 5th Anniversary, The Laffer Gallery is proud to present Cartography & Choreography, an exhibition of works by renowned artist, John Van Alstine and gallery founder, Erik Laffer. Join us for an opening reception on Saturday, June 17 from 5-8pm to view inspirational works, enjoy live music with Hot Club of Saratoga, mingle with artists and celebrate the gallery’s growing success as one of Saratoga and the Capital Region’s leading independent fine art gallery.
Cartography & Choreography brings together two prolific artists exploring the connections between the natural, the man-made, and the personal.
Assembling stone and found-object metal, Van Alstine contrasts the timelessness of stone with industrial elements of the 20th Century. His works create a poetic balance between the choreographed, floating earthbound stone and strength of metal.
Laffer’s abstract personal narratives are logical and experimental explorations of place– past, present and future. Identifying his own struggle to understand self, family and society, his paintings re-describe the world with a language of symbols, reminiscent of cartography.
John Van Alstine
John Van Alstine is an American sculptor living and working in Wells, NY in the Adirondack region of New York State, best known for stone and metal abstract sculptures exhibiting exceptional balance and poise. The works are often multi level with references to the figure, classical, nautical, celestial and western mythological themes.
During the span of his more than 35 year career his central theme has been the exploration of motion and balance through the natural forces of gravity and inertia in monumental, large scale and smaller works located in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. He has participated in more than 80 solo and group exhibitions.
Van Alstine has won numerous awards, fellowships, grants and citations from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation, Gottlieb Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Yaddo Fellowship, the Louis C. Tiffany Foundation, New Jersey Council of the Arts and most recently the Merit Award in Beijing for his construction of a large-scale public sculpture in the Olympic Park Garden. He is recognized as a leading artist of his generation emerging from the tradition of David Smith, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Kenneth Snelson and Mark diSuvero.
Van Alstine’s works are in many major museums, institutions, public and private collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburg, Corcoran Gallery of Art Washington D.C., Dallas Museum of Art, Denver Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., Museum of Fine Arts Houston, National Museum of American Art, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ and the Phillips Collection Washington D.C. Overseas his work is in the collections of Tsinghua University Museum Garden Beijing, Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Beijing Olympic Park Collection 2008, and in the U.S. Department of State “Art in Embassies” collections in Bolivia, Chile, Jamaica and Nepal.
Since 1970s, his sculpture has been reviewed in several publications such as the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, USA Today, New York Times, Art in America, Art Forum, Art News and Sculpture Magazine. “John Van Alstine has created an ambitious body of remarkably interrelated outdoor and indoor sculptures, site-specific installations, public art projects and drawings. His prolific and consistently engaging output, ranging in size from small and delicate to vast and monumental, has earned the artist a reputation as one of America’s most important sculptors of the late 20th” and 21st century, according to Nick Capasso, curator of DeCordova Museum near Boston.
In 2000, Grayson Publishing Co. published a mid-career survey entitled “Bones of the Earth, Spirit of the Land” connecting Van Alstine’s sculptures, drawings, photographs and large-scale works to the landscape in the Western U.S. and Adirondacks. It was based on an extensive interview conducted by Sculpture Magazine editor Glenn Harper with an accompanying essay by DeCordova curator.
Born in Smithtown, New York, in 1982, I was the seventh of eight children. At the age of three, my family moved to a small town in upstate New York, where I lived until I was 14. Then we moved again, to Delmar, a suburb of Albany, New York. I have been moving ever since. Given my nomadic background, it’s almost natural that I’ve come to express myself—rather look to shape my identity and better understand myself—in maps. While my early landscapes and figurative works were influenced by the rural environment I grew up in, as well as the feelings of isolation I felt as a child with a learning disability, the representational abstracts that make up my current Cartography Series are not so much a study of emotion, as my earliest works were, but more of a logical and experimental exploration of where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I hope to be tomorrow. My goal with the Cartography paintings is to, as J.B. Harley writes, “redescribe the world,” or at least the small world of Erik Laffer. And just as there is a language of mapmaking, there is style and body of symbols in my paintings that define the landscape of each work and identify my struggle to understand self, family, home, and culture: boats, clocks, buildings, bridges, anatomy, arrows, and, among many others, lines, color, and texture. There’s a popular expression: “you’ll learn more about a road by traveling it than by consulting all the maps in the world.” While I recognize the truth in this, I also believe there is great value in history and charting where we have been and where we are going. And this is what my Cartography Series represents. After all, some roads—racism, sexism, classism, poverty, and all other forms of oppression and discrimination—are better to understand than experience.