RIVAA Members Explore Memories
review by David Stone
At a reception on Saturday, September 19, the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA) opened an exhibit of all new work, and introduced Hanne Stevring and Anna Eppel, both recent arrivals in New York, showing their creativity with RIVAA for the first time.
The exhibit, Memories, fills the walls at the Octagon Gallery, just off the lobby at 888 Main Street, and will remain through October 31.
Hanne Stevring (“Støvring” in Denmark, where she was born) moved to New York last year. In Denmark, her work is described as “full of life stories” (Mikkel Nørgaard). But New York has exerted an influence on her style. “More strong colors have appeared in the sceneries – bright red, green, yellow, and blue. Very vibrant and energetic,” she says. “The city has an impact and an influence on me, as on everyone else. It’s very exciting how I and my artwork will develop over the next years.”
In addition to RIVAA, Stevring currently shows her artwork at multiple locations in the New York area, including the Danish Consulate, and in several galleries in her native country.
For this Octagon show, she contributes Times of Our Lives I and II, acrylics on canvas with matching, warm color schemes. Abstract figures bathed in greens, blues, and yellows relax near what appears to be a campfire in I. In II, other figures relax on benches, engaged in conversation. Every feature, including the indefinite atmosphere, expresses mood in lovely, harmonious tones. Each of Stevring’s images suggests a narrative. A viewer can read into it objectively or subjectively, as the soft focus leaves interpretations open.
A very different artist in style and expression, Anna Eppel is new to Roosevelt Island, and recently joined RIVAA. She was born in Russia, but moved to Israel with her family as a child, and developed her skills in Tel Aviv. Her unique work in this show shows her growing attachment to New York.
A veteran of numerous styles, from vibrant landscapes to portrait studies, Eppel chose a highly original collection of miniatures – images of New York City painted on sea shells – for her first RIVAA appearance. Roosevelt Islanders will recognize the Queensboro Bridge, in a view from our home, curled inside the previous residence of an ocean mollusk.
Detailed images of skylines and urban landscapes painted into the curves and grooves of the shells reflect an accessible style that adapts comfortably to unconventional surfaces and allows one-of-a-kind expressions. An active public artist, Eppel sells these works from a mobile art stall in Manhattan, along with more traditional canvases that reflect her observations of life in the city and beyond.
Joining Stevring and Eppel at the Octagon is another of RIVAA’s up-and-coming artists, Deepti Shukla, whose Pose introduces her skills as a portrait artist. Her picture of a young woman is expressionistic with a casual flair, a step apart from her earlier graphic paintings.
Piaskowski chimes in with Dandelion, an acrylic on canvas that is much more visually dynamic than the simple title suggests. This veteran artist calls up her insights into color and composition to create a lyrical, surprisingly arresting image of danger, loss, and foreboding. Similarly, Rachel Garrick’s Spacecraft offers much more with expressionist flourish.
Two floral collages by Galina Petrov warm the center of the gallery. Love depicts beauty and complexity in an arrangement of wildflowers, carefully organized and calmly set in place. Tulips also demands a second look. More expressionistic, her flowers discard the idea of still life by flaring into view.
On the final wall of the exhibit, motivating visitors to complete the circle and deftly reminding us of its theme, Memories, is Dan Nistor’s painting, Shed. A ramshackle building, literally patched together, sags in a rural setting. A realist, Nistor blends a fading past with the cobbled-together style of remembrance that makes the setting a virtual magnet for the eyes.
The Octagon Gallery welcomes visitors seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.