Expansion/Renovations: Future Opening

Mike Smith, Operations Manager at the Academy, shows the future opening to the new spaces at the Academy and gives a brief update about the new Library.

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A True New Englander Artist Whispers in my Ear...

DAY TWO - New England Painting Tour
by Seth Ruggles Hiler (MFA 2005)

Seth gazes out over a spectacular vista (wishing he could
have hiked his easel and canvas up to the summit!)
Although radical to conventional religious belief, the poem “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church” by Emily Dickinson explains how nature serves as a place of worship for this great American artist. She lived in a small New England 19th century town. So, I saw fit to share her words with you as I describe my 21st Century New England adventure...

(I hope not to offend with her replacement of traditional understandings of certain religions. Dickinson’s metaphors enrich and enlighten my experience of nature and the sublime. This sounds rather grand when discussing a writer of such simple meter, but for me it is the truth. Just to clue my contemporary readers in: the “bobolink” is a songbird and provides the music of the poet’s sacred outdoor space.)

Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church (#324)

SOME keep the Sabbath going to Church - 

I keep it, staying at Home - 

With a Bobolink for a Chorister - 

And an Orchard, for a Dome - 

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice -
I just wear my Wings -
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church, 

Our little Sexton - sings. 

God preaches, a noted Clergyman - 

And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last - 

I'm going, all along!

- Emily Dickinson


Seth Ruggles Hiler

Seth Ruggles Hiler is an artist and arts educator from Boonton, NJ. He received a BFA from Syracuse University in 2002 and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2005. He is a portrait painter at heart, but landscape is his mistress. Grab your French easel and enjoy the ride!

Out of the Studio and into the Light

DAY ONE - New England Painting Tour
by Seth Ruggles Hiler (MFA 2005) 

I traditionally am a studio painter, working from my own digital photography of people and places. My daily life-drawing and painting at the New York Academy of Art has packed my toolbox with anatomical knowledge and an understanding of light that only the naked eye can teach. The memory of such life-lessons inform my daily studio practice, but refreshing unfiltered observation makes all the difference in the world.

My last landscape series, "EarthScapes," is comprised of several small and medium-sized oil paintings which I completed at the Vermont Studio Center and in my own NJ barn studio this winter. There is a vast difference in process between painting inside and out. Painting indoors is comfortable, temperature and lighting-controlled. Reference photos safely provide the information with which I paint. Plein-air painting is a whole other animal all together. Weathering the elements, which burn the artist's skin and constantly topple his or her canvas, is a minor problem compared to the overwhelming panorama provided by Mother Nature. But in this frenzy comes calm and SO many more possibilities.

My instructor for the week, Jon Imber, encourages the openness forced upon us by such monumental vistas. There is no view-finder, locking our eyes into one limited composition. So this challenge excited and inspired me on my first day out. Our group of twelve unloaded our supply-packed vehicles on the side of the road, in front of a lily pond on Deer Isle. Paints laid out, turps wafting in the breeze, I pondered my composition. A tree stump in tones of pink grew at the bottom left quadrant of my 30 x 30 inch canvas and would remain there throughout the phases of the day.

The rest of the painted scene, however would be a clumsy evolution. When not satisfied with the image as a whole, I broke for lunch. Upon my return, I decided to rotate my easel 45 degrees to the right.

This is the great thing about plein-air painting, explained Jon, you can take a branch from here, a beaver dam from there, and perhaps move the split rock over a bit. Well, I followed such sage advice and continued reconstructing my composition to a point with which I would be satisfied. Ironically, I will need to finish my painting back in my studio from a combination of memory, digital snap-shots and invention. But, I would not have felt the freedom of composition and the expansive color opportunities, from which to choose if I had not exited the sliding glass doors of my studio, into the light.

Seth Ruggles Hiler


Seth Ruggles Hiler is an artist and arts educator from Boonton, NJ. He received a BFA from Syracuse University in 2002 and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2005. He is a portrait painter at heart, but landscape is his mistress. Grab your French easel and enjoy the ride!

For all of you video artists...

A special note for you from Maria Kozak, the Academy blog's roving ArtWorld reporter...

The Guggenheim Museum and YouTube have teamed up to showcase innovative work in the ever expanding realm of online video. Now through July 31, 2010, participants are invited to submit new or existing videos created within the last two years. Submissions may include any form of creative video, including animation, motion graphics, narrative, non-narrative, or documentary work, music videos, and entirely new art forms. Two hundred entries will be chosen for an online exhibition and 20 of those will be shown at simultaneous exhibitions at the each of the Guggenheim institutions. Judges include Darren Aronofsky, Takashi Murakami and Stefan Sagmeister among many others of equal distinction.
For more information click here.

Expansion/Renovations: Lighting

Mike Smith, Operations Manager at the Academy, describes the new bar system which will be used for improved lighting in the studios.

Follow our blog and see regular updates on the project!  See our Flickr page for more photos.
Please click here to contribute to the project.

Aus Deutschland: Critiques

by Aliene De Souza Howell (MFA 2011)
We have been fortunate to receive an esteemed line of artists and guests during our time with LIA. Christiane Baumgartner, largescale woodcut artist, was the first to visit our studios in early July for a critique in addition to graciously taking us into and showing us around her own studio.

Christiane Baumgartner (second from left)
speaks with Tyler Vouros (green shirt) about his art. 

Baumgartner's impressive woodcuts, as big as 102 x 138 in. are printed manually, entirely by her own hand. Her work combines the historical technique of woodcut with the contemporary medium of video. Her subject matter is derived from her own video footage taken from cars, trains and media. This enables her the idea of motion, a central theme in her pieces.

Two members from the Mayor's Department of Leipzig came, excited to foster international relations and extend a gracious hello from the City with free symphony tickets. Reaching from even farther lands, Nishiraj Baruah, Associate Head Editor of India's most widely circulated newspaper with a team of support and Leipzig officials, interviewed us about our work and experiences here.

David Schnell contemplates Ian Cao's new work.

David Schnell, famed Leipzig School painter, was the most recent to call on the LIA studios. His dynamic work tows the line between abstraction and representation, painterly and precise, with perspectival explosions bursting with color. His critques were incredibly insightful and considered to suit each person's work.

Schnell talks with Rabecca Signoriello about her paintings.

His feedback was crucially timed at the end of our visit, allowing him to see our creative development here. He left us in contemplative discussion and will certainly prove advantageous for our Thesis work in September.

Schnell gives me (Aliene) some feedback about my work.

With a day to process the last critique we are now in the throes of preparing price lists, titles and the like for our exhibition marking the final days in Leipzig and the pieces we've worked so hard creating here.

Expansion/Renovations: Studio Spaces

Mike Smith, Operations Manager at the Academy, takes us through what will be the new studio spaces on the second floor at the Academy.

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Direct from Deutschland: The Work!

by Aliene De Souza Howell (MFA 2011)
We are all making work to flesh out and inform our Thesis, which will commence this fall.

Ian has brought a sculptural sensibility to new media and has branched out into photography and video projection. He is transforming the feeling of trepidation he had upon moving to a more fringe New York neighborhood. Always sentient to his surroundings, Ian would look people in the eye to measure their intentions. He is manifesting this into a new series by taking ultra close up photos of people’s eyes from all walks of life to see what the viewer can judge from their eyes. 
Tyler is continuing two series already in progress at the Academy. His first series focuses on blown up and cropped images of dead flowers. These pieces are executed in velvety black and white charcoal challenging the ideas of macro and micro. His second series explores group portraiture and the palpable relationships between the figures themselves and theirs to the viewer. 

Rabecca is also continuing with a series that found its beginnings at the Academy. She is working on large-scale multi-figure parochial nudes and small-scale paintings of buildings around Leipzig.  

I am attempting something new which I have wanted to explore for some time and feel spurred on by the Leipzig school. I follow the news daily and am mournful for people across the world affected by the numerous recent natural disasters and have a strong desire to help but am bound to my own financial and professional obligations. So I am trying to convey this sense of disconnect from quotidian activities to these catastrophes.

Expansion/Renovations: Overview 3

Mike Smith, Operations Manager at the Academy, finishes up the Overview with a look into a new classroom space in our new addition.

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Heat Busters

A Review by Maria Kozak (MFA 2011)
Summer is a great time go see art. Galleries and museums not only show work outside of their usual programming but offer the ultra cooling power of central air.

Catherine Howe, “Proserpina (Pinks)”

A multitude of NYAA alumni, faculty and friends are currently on view at Danese Gallery in The Other as Animal, curated by April Gornik, and also at Sloan Fine Art in Nice to Meet You. Afterwards while in the Lower East Side, you can do a gallery crawl of Lush Life, an homage to Richard Price's latest book. It that takes place at nine different spaces each corresponding to a chapter in the gritty New York novel. Galleries participating include Salon 94Collette Blanchard Gallery, and Lehmann Maupin

Luo Qiuguang, "Spring Breeze"

In Soho, there is a group show at Eli Klein Fine Art called Do Not Disturb featuring some of China's emerging figurative painters. Also check out The Hole, Kathy Grayson's new venture. The former gallery director of Deitch, along with Meghan Coleman, recently opened her first show in a temporary space entitled Not Quite Open for Business, a selection of unfinished work in an unfinished space with an installation by Taylor McKimens.

Speaking of Jeffrey Deitch (see Martha Mayer Erlebacher's "Lightning Rod" question, his first show at MOCA in LA opened last weekend and is a retrospective of works by the late Dennis Hopper. You can also see Jeffrey on the July 22 episode of "General Hospital" in a performance piece by James Franco. As for Franco, his first NYC solo show is up at the Clocktower right now and he'll be representing the US at the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale next year.

Rackstraw Downes, "Cast Hall (Lawrence & Josephine C. 
Wilkinson Hall) N. Y. Academy of Art

In Chelsea there is a drawing of the Academy's Wilkinson Hall exhibition space by Rackstraw Downes in his show at Betty Cunningham. Mary Boone has a selection of David Salle's paintings from the 80's. A retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein's Still Lifes is at Gagosian, who continues to mount museum quality shows. He did say he was holding out for the Louvre.

Charles Burchfield, "An April Mood"
As far as actual museums go, The New Museum is hosting a block party at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Saturday, July 24 and it will include free admission for the day. There are P.S.1 parties every Saturday if you haven't seen the Greater New York show. The Whitney has a summer concert series on Friday nights and an amazing Charles Burchfield exhibition. For a more relaxing afternoon, enjoy the view from the roof of the Met and the bamboo installations by Doug and Mike Starn. The Picasso show is also particularly cool.

Seth Ruggles Hiler - New England Painting Tour 2010

After my opening for the Monmouth Museum's "NJ Emerging Artist Series: Seth Ruggles Hiler - Portraits" on July 16th, in Lindcroft, NJ - see video, below - I hit the road, traveling north to Maine. Leaving behind my "20-Something" Portrait Painting Series (I am so over 20-somethings!), I am ready to avert my gaze to the landscape and engage in plein-air painting for the rest of the summer.

My first stop is Stonington, ME on Deer Isle. Stopping in Portland to visit artist Rachel Watson Sunday evening, and getting lost on the last leg up Monday morning, I arrived to meet artist and instructor, Jon Imber, by noon. I first met Jon in March during my residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT. Jon was a visiting artist who lectured and gave studio crits with the over 35 VSC residents. I was very impressed with the work from his forty years of professional painting - he has focused on themes with which I often grapple: the figure, narrative, landscape, color, the fine line between representation and abstraction... (he was also a student of Philip Guston!)

Each day, a dozen artists meet up at 9 a.m. at a designated vista on Deer Isle. Jon does mini-visits with us throughout the day and a group critique at 4:30 in his studio. Day 1 for me was yesterday on the lily pond... I will post some HD Flip videos of my experiences and go into deeper description of my new-found painting process in my upcoming posts!


Seth Ruggles Hiler is an artist and arts educator from Boonton, NJ. He received a BFA from Syracuse University in 2002 and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2005. He is a portrait painter at heart, but landscape is his mistress. Grab your French easel and enjoy the ride!

More aus Deutschland: Print Museum, Berlin and Halle!

an antique wood engraving
by Aliene De Souza Howell (MFA 2011)
Leah Flam, the director’s intern, has been the most kind translator and ambassador to Leipzig we could ask for. She brought us to the Museum of Printing Arts in Leipzig. Gutenberg’s Printing Revolution found much enthusiasm here and the museum has preserved presses from the 1500s, the oldest known worldwide which STILL work!

One of the staff gave us demonstrations on multiple machines and even let us print our own.

a brief bit of the demonstration

an installation from the Berlin Biennale
After exploring more museums in Leipzig, Berlin seduced me yet again. I voyaged there with Anita DeSoto, a New Zealand painter who is also doing a residence here at LIA. We made it through 3 of the 6 venues housing “What is Waiting Out There,” the title of the 6th Berlin Biennale. The title is indicative of the work, which had a largely political bent, its statement rejecting the notion that art is separate from the global socio-economic climate. In the Alte Nationalgalerie contemporary works were shown adjacent to Menzel, producing a historical dialogue and a surprising aesthetic sparkle given the overwhelming contemporary mediums of choice were video and installation. Also in Berlin, Anita and I were taken with the Martin-Gropius Bau Museum, exhibiting Olafur Eliasson’s Innen Stadt Au├čen and the Frida Kahlo Retrospective.

We finished the trip with the Holocaust Memorial. It was somber, artistic, provocative and just abstract enough to let one walk away with a unique experience.
("protecting the castle")

Back in Leipzig long enough to get some solid painting in, we were treated to Leah’s largess once again, and were whisked away to the town of Halle, half an hour outside of Leipzig. Our first stop was the medieval castle Moritzburg which housed a large collection of the Die Brucke painters and a selection of impeccable ancient crafts. The rooms ranged from musty and castle-y to elegantly carved and inlaid wood walls and ceilings. The next stop was the house of Handel! Its highlights included an antique piano as large as a Manhattan bedroom, costumes from opera performances and a white wrought-iron vine tunnel room.
chocolate SeaHorse made by a local art
student (maybe time to switch mediums?)

And our final destination there was an olfactory extravaganza, Germany’s oldest chocolate factory! And yes, there were free samples. This was a tasty way to see Germany’s industrial history as well as witness the production of some of the world’s favorite treats. The entrance to the museum was designed to assimilate the deck of a ship, sailing the viewer through the voyage of the cacao bean. The final rooms conjured the spirit of Willy Wonka, with one room made entirely of chocolate. There was also an exhibition of chocolate pieces made by local art students including a larger than life sea horse, chess set and bustier!

Meanwhile we are working fast and hard in preparation for our final exhibit, which opens one week from today!

Lightning Rod - Martha Mayer Erlebacher

Martha Mayer Erlebacher was trained originally in Abstract Expressionism, but (along with her husband Walter) broke from this school in the late 60’s and quickly became recognized as one of the leading representational figurative and still-life artists in America. As a faculty member at the New York Academy of Art for several years, she has served as Faculty Chair and directed the anatomy program. She regularly shows her work nationally and internationally and her work has been featured in many books and periodicals. Erlebacher’s work examines the deep metaphorical and social themes of contemporary culture through her painterly and aesthetic images.

In January, New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch was chosen as Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. This is the most recent example of the close and interconnected relationship between museums, their boards of directors, collectors, gallerists, auction houses and artists. How or will the further tightening of relationships among these groups impact on the world of representational or figurative painting or of the creation of visual art in general?

Expansion/Renovations: Overview 2

Mike Smith, Operations Manager at the Academy, continues his Overview this week and will be updating us throughout the summer.

Follow our blog and see regular updates on the project! See our Flickr page for more photos.
Please click here to contribute to the project.

Hallo aus Deutschland: Leipzig, Berlin

by Aliene De Souza Howell (MFA 2011)
We have also explored Leipzig’s thriving cultural scene! The Fine Arts Museum of Leipzig currently is displaying half of a massive retrospective of the prolific local master, Neo Rauch, in honor of his 50th birthday, the other half being shown in Munich. I stood in awe of the vibrant colors and seamlessly combined compositions of personal and local political history. The Stasi Museum and History Museum here provided insightful and provocative insight into GDR era Germany. Together we attended a stunning performance of the Leipzig philharmonic performance as part of the Bach festival in honor of his 225th birthday.

Kylie Manning's Thesis painting at the NYAA
We also had the opportunity to support one of the Academy’s own, Kylie Manning, at The Caps Lock Project gallery in Berlin. (http://www.liap.eu/de/) There we also enjoyed the phenomenal museums home to the country's capital with an incredibly extensive Egyptian Art Collection. The breadth of the trip is difficult to convey and I dare say has been culturally rewarding and has had a strong artistic impact on us.

Get Out of Town!

A Review by Maria Kozak (MFA 2011)
If you feel like escaping the city this weekend then head out to Bridgehampton. You can checkout ArtHamptons in the morning and then spend the rest of the day at the beach. It's a few hours on the Long Island Railroad and you can bring your bike on the train for easy transportation upon arrival. You can also rent a Zipcar or take the Jitney bus though bikes are not allowed. There is a surprising amount of figurative work at the fair this year and not from the usual suspects. You can see recent NYAA Fellow Philip Thomas's painting at the Richard J. Demato Fine Arts booth. Then head down Ocean Road to the beach!

Another option is to head upstate on the Metro North Railroad to Beacon and checkout the DIA:Beacon The museum houses the DIA Art Foundations collection of art from the 1960's to the present. It is renowned for its site specific installations and is situated on 31 beautiful acres in an old Nabisco factory on the banks of the Hudson River. Definitely worth a visit.

Hallo aus Deutschland!

I am Aliene De Souza Howell, a current Academy student who received one of four residency grants to work in Leipzig, Germany for 2 months this summer. This opportunity was earned through hard work of course, in the form of strong grades, volunteer contributions to the academy and an attitude cognizant of an individual’s responsibility to a community. The other students who are currently here are Ian Yi Cao, Rabecca Signorello, and Tyler Vouros. My posts in this blog will detail the work and experiences being made here in Germany.

The Leipzig school is a vital and indispensable part of the figurative microcosm of the ever-expanding contemporary art world. It is amazing to be here, in the same converted cotton mill studio building as Neo Rauch, the forerunner of this narrative surrealist movement. It has galvanized all of us to experiment with our freshly acquired Academy skills.

More photos to come!

Expansion/Renovations: Overview

As you may know, the Academy began upgrading facilities at 111 Franklin Street to better enhance our curriculum. Last summer (2009), the classrooms and hallway on the 5th floor were renovated to be brighter and use space more efficiently. A new track lighting system was installed, too. In between the classrooms, the hallway was widened for a new gallery space. The Dean’s office (formerly on 5th) was relocated to 4th floor. The jogs and jags of the walls in the “Cast Hall” on main floor have been evened out in order to better exhibit artwork.

This summer, the Academy is embarking on the second phase of a major renovation, including an all-new fresh air ventilation system. New studio spaces with permanent walls and enhanced lighting on 2nd floor along with a new classroom will provide better workspaces for students and instructors. The fall semester of 2010 will see the opening of our new space at 105 Franklin which will house our new and improved library, an additional classroom and an expansion of the gallery space in the front entry on Franklin Street.

Mike Smith, Operations Manager at the Academy, will be updating us throughout the summer and has just uploaded three introductory videos on our YouTube channel giving you a sneak peek of the progress.

Follow our blog and see regular updates on the project!

Please click here to contribute to the project.