May 3, 2011

Hermine Ford's enchantment

 Hermine Ford, "In the Museum," 2010,  oil paint, ink, watercolor, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil on linen on shaped wood panel, 58.25 x 52.5 x .75" oil paint, ink, watercolor, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil on linen on shaped wood panel.

Shaken by 9/11, Hermine Ford and her husband, painter Robert Moskowitz (who currently has a show at D'Amelio Terras), left their Tribeca loft for a four-month residency at the American Academy in Rome. Wandering the ancient streets, Ford found Rome’s historical resilience consoling, Here was a city, she thought, that had been destroyed countless times and yet had always been rebuilt. Fascinated with the mosaics and patterns cobbled together over centuries from the marble rubble, Ford began drawing and collecting images that have fueled her paintings. She returns to Rome each year to gather more material. Three of Ford’s delicately nuanced, shaped paintings are on display at STOREFRONT through May 22.

Last week I visited Ford at her studio. In her seventies, she is the daughter of Jack Tworkov, one of the Abstract Expressionists from the legendary New York School. She calls herself a late bloomer. “I was always defined by my relationships to others—first as Jack’s daughter, then as Bob’s wife and Erik’s mother—and it took me a while to find my own way.” As a lifelong New Yorker, she has seen many artists come and go, and neighborhoods change. Her neighborhood, once full of striving artists, is now the enclave of flush professionals. When she and Moskowitz go out, they are often the oldest people in the room, and they wonder where everyone has gone.

This sensitivity to what and who came before reflects Ford’s preoccupation with history’s layered progression. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed an interest in older civilizations. When I was young, I was interested in archeology, but I moved away from it,” she told me. “Walking around Rome, it all came back to me. I felt enchanted. I couldn’t tear myself away. As you age, the contemporary loses its glamour. I recently retired from teaching at MICA, where I would watch the grad students worry about their careers.” Here she paused for a sardonic laugh. “It becomes harder to lend yourself to that.”

For Ford, making work now is much easier than it was when she was younger. “I have developed a huge vocabulary—I have so many ideas in my head that I want to see, and I love making them,” she said. “It’s fun to draw the shape and pattern out, although I don’t like the process of building the supports, but I love the painting—I get carried away. I like the juncture between nature and artifice. After all these years, my paintings finally match the way I experience the world.”

 Hermine Ford, Untitled (113-030, 2001, ink on linen on shaped wood panel, 8.5 x 11.5 x .75." Before her trip to Rome after 9/11, Ford worked on small shaped pieces like this that were inspired by the landscape in Nova Scotia where she spends the summers.

 Tworkov's painting chair is at home in Ford's Tribeca studio.

Ford with ii ss, a beautiful limited edtion book recently published by Granary Books, publisher of new projects that explore the intersection of word and image. Ford collaborated with poet and old friend Kathleen Fraser. "ii ss  addresses the double-bind of to be—being human and being dependent upon the natural world for pleasure and sustenance. In this knowledge we have been awakened, with a harsh jolt, to earth’s gradual melting and shifting due to man’s deliberate avoidance patterns, both greedy and neglectful, leading us to the careless destruction of our planet home." --Kathleen Fraser and Hermine Ford

"Hermine Ford: Paintings," STOREFRONT, Brooklyn, NY. Through May 22, 2011. Additionally, an exhibition of Ford's work on paper is on display at STEVEN AMEDEE (41 N. Moore Street, NYC) through May 31. A fully illustrated catalog featuring work from from 1970 to the present, with a preface by Jason Andrew, has been produced in conjunction with the exhibition.

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In the back gallery: "Suzanne Goldenberg: our horses feeding inside," STOREFRONT, Brooklyn, NY. Through May 22, 2011.

1 comments:

Thanks for the peek into the studio of an artist with whom I was not familiar. I love the connection between Ford's the old work and the new. Love the new work. And love this comment of hers: "After all these years, my paintings finally match the way I experience the world.”