But Wait! No One is Screaming!
A woman walks with her dog along an orange and yellow path, their shapes united by a turquoise shadow. A canopy of multicolored trees curves, arm-like, overhead, while interesting and benign creatures frolic in and out a dream-like space. A paean to color and light, “Canopy” is the work of artist Stacie Flint, whose one-person show, “A Show of Color,” is on exhibit at Art Society of Kingston (ASK) until September 29.
With flowing compositional lines and boundary-free colors, Flint’s paintings are reminiscent of the expressionist tradition of the past century: visually, “Canopy” recalls Munch’s “The Scream,” only in reverse--as if the owner of the archetypal screaming head had worked through her/his agony with the help of a good, no-nonsense therapist (or several) and found, at last, a hard-won peace. Other works on display are unabashedly non-abstract, depicting people and pets at play or at rest in settings created with pure, out-of-the-tube color. Characters, surrounded by their favorite things, invite the viewer to step into their world. Moreover, “Canopy,” like its riotous companions blazing off the gallery walls, lacks any reference to those horsemen of the modern apocalypse—malaise, anomie, irony, and meaninglessness. There are no screaming heads or empty spaces in Flint’s universe.
At first glance, Flint’s works appear determinedly happy, as if such a state were worthy of expression outside a greeting card factory; the overall impression is one of love and respect for daily life viewed in casual moments. And, because they depict recognizable forms, they invite a “gut” interpretation, rather than the labored, cerebral search for an underlying concept that today’s viewer must undertake (or appear to undertake) when faced with a work of abstraction with no accompanying textual explanation. Flint’s work, on the other hand, shows a refreshing indifference to the modernist’s objection to representation, being rich in implied narratives that resonate with a viewer’s personal experience. These images invite scrutiny and are rewarding because they link us, in an engaging and often humorous manner, to aspects of life we all recognize.
Without question, Flint’s art occupies its own conceptual corner. One must look more than once to grasp the depth of feeling underlying these deceptively simple works of art. A case in point is a triad of paintings of Flint and her family: painting #1, “Our Happy Home,” shows the artist, her husband, and two young sons gathered on a sofa in a closely furnished living room, surrounded by their pets and some favorite things. The two boys are small; the mother, kneeling on the sofa, occupies the highest position among the four, referring to the artist’s perceived importance especially to the children. Composition lines are jumpy and unsettled; a framed picture hanging behind them depicts a haunted house with a witch and a devil- monster in attendance, referring to the relationship energy of the spouses. A candle-lit wall sconce, next to the artist’s head, signifies a higher inspiration. Painting #2, “Our Happy Home Revisited,” shows again the same setting with the artist, her husband, and the now teenaged boys, along with pets and familiar objects. The boys tower over their seated mother, referring to the artist’s humorously perceived importance to the kids. Composition lines are less jumpy. The framed picture with the haunted house is still there, but now is smaller and has less power than in #1. Painting #3, “My Family Portrait 2011”, shows the family as four adults, all the same size, relaxing together on the sofa, and focuses on just the figures. The framed picture of the haunted house appears as a small sliver in painting #2, visible, but devoid of power.
One sees in these portraits a visual record of a particular family’s life stages—one that implies hope and the possibility of gaining a measure of hard-won but true happiness—a theme restated in other ways in the balance of work on display. Such happiness, in Flint’s created world, has weight—as much gravitas as, say, depression, anxiety, or despair. It is seen and felt by the artist as a positive force rather than the mere absence of misery. In Flint’s own words, her paintings represent “a physical actualization of the relationship between my life’s everyday points-of-view with life’s larger creational energy and joy.”
Is Flint’s work worthy of consideration as serious art? Indeed, can any work of art be deemed serious if it deals directly and unashamedly with such “lightweight” subjects as peace, joy, or common contentment? Mainstream art critics tend to think not, expressing this view by ignoring the output of artists whose works embody positive values. One has only to reflect on the horrors of the present and past centuries to understand this strand of criticism. Nonetheless, the demand for novelty persists, even as novelty in art becomes increasingly hard to come by. Perhaps there is an end in sight. Perhaps, in this context, Flint’s descriptive, colorful, and value-rich work can be considered the epitome of novelty, standing on the very cutting edge of post-modern art—in short, concrete expressionism.
Wilda Gallagher, September 2012
Embracing Expressionism’s sense of freedom, the brilliant color of the Fauves, and Pop with a personal twist, she uses lively brushwork and rich visual imagery to tell each story.
“Women may be blue haired and figures distorted, because the work is not about visual reality, but invention. The mood may be high or calm but it is always transforming, while the subject matter might refer to suburban-urban life, contemplative interior moments, or the dynamics of my personal family relationships.”
Flint’s paintings and portraits have been collected nationally and internationally. She has exhibited extensively throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley and in New York City, New Jersey, Florida and Quebec, Canada. Her commissioned public art is on permanent display at Ulster County Area Transit in Kingston, New York.
Magazine covers include Chronogram, The Valley Table, The Ulster County Community Guide, HITS Program Guide, and The Van Wyck Gazette. She has illustrated a children's book, "Ten Pigs Fiddling," and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Hudson Valley Magazine, Poughkeepsie Journal, New Paltz Times and more.
Flint was born on Long Island and now resides in New Paltz, New York. She studied Fine Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and at SUNY Empire State.
July 16, 2012, Hyde Park, NY – Molloy Pharmacy has installed a public art sculpture, which they have sponsored in support of Abilities First, at their 4170 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY location. The art is part of a series of pieces that are being unveiled throughout Dutchess County. The project, Leaf A Legacy, is a fundraising endeavor carried out by Abilities First to support people with disabilities in the Mid-Hudson Valley region.
The sculpture, a four by four foot molded leaf, was painted by artist, Stacie Flint who is an expressionist, figurative oil painter based in New Paltz. She and Bill Erwin, owner of Molloy Pharmacy and long-time supporter of Abilities First, worked together to select the subject for Molloy’s leaf. The art on the oversized leaf illustrates the history, icons and symbolism that Hyde Park is known for.
The figure of a maple leaf was chosen by Abilities First to represent the Hudson Valley’s widely loved fall foliage and the sugar maple tree, the official state tree of New York. Sponsors to date are: M&T Bank, Dyson Center for Cancer Care, Hudson Valley Renegades, Key Bank, Abilities First Board of Directors, Poughkeepsie Journal, BNI International, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Foster Flooring, Molloy Pharmacy, Stewart’s Shops, Rhode, Soyka & Andrews, RT Landscaping, Rose & Kiernan Inc., and Superior Wireless. Sponsored leaves are placed on display at the sponsor’s site or other public location. Many of the leaves will later be sold at auction.
For information about sponsorship of a leaf, call 845-485-9803 x 384 or visit www.leafalegacy.net.
Abilities First, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides educational, vocational, clinical, and residential services for approximately 1,200 people with developmental disabilities in the Mid Hudson Valley region. All proceeds will benefit the organization’s endowment fund.
Serena Marrero, Director of Development
Abilities First, Inc.
70 Overocker Rd.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Phone: 845-485-9803 ext. 227; Fax: 845-485-5234
The following article by Lynn Woods appeared in the Kingston Times, July 8, 2010 and the New Paltz Times, July 15, 2010
Stacie Flint’s frenzied depictions of modern life
The recent show of Stacie Flint’s oil paintings at Donskoj & Co. gallery was a jolt of color and jumbled forms, in which women, kids, dogs, and cats cavort at home or on the street amid a chaos of ringing cell phones, buzzing hair dryers, and urban traffic.
The bright hues and irrepressible energy of these medium and small-sized canvases signify a joyful celebration of life, seen though a closer look reveals some subtle schisms: the people in Flint’s paintings never quite connect. Each personage seems caught up in her own drama of distraction, surrounded by the props of cell phones and other ubiquitous gadgets.
“Everybody’s in their own world,” said Flint. “I can’t make people look at each other.” The pets – which Flint paints with an innate sympathy, masterfully capturing in her fluid line the animals’ leonine grace – are always, true to life, in the middle of things, yet their obstinate demand for affection is definitely a domestic scenes.
Flint’s flat, cartoon-like style, in which the set pieces of windows, tables, and doors are as animated and full of character as the humans, is part of r. Crumb and dr. Seuss; its chromatics and nervous line hark back to the fauves and its subject matter to those masters of domestic life, Matisse and Bonnard. (Flint also cites David Hockney and Alice Neel as favorite painters, while stopping short of calling them influences.) But the extreme style of the works can’t hide the fact that they are about the tensions and pleasures of ordinary suburban life, and one recognizes many details that ring true.
For example, the black cat self-consciously plopped down on a magazine, which the woman seated at the table is trying to read, in In the Orange Room, echoes the battle this writer has with her own feline every morning in attempting to read the paper. (Something about the cat’s pose indicates it knows its being bad, but nonetheless won’t budge until forced.) The small round table with the glass and plate of food, the curtained window with the sunny view of blue hills, the tropical plant in the large pot in the corner of the room all capture the day-to-day pleasures of bourgeois life, in which we are all enmeshed. I don’t have a lime green top like the woman in the painting, and my dining rooms walls are gray olive green rather than orange, yet the self-indulgent niceties depicted in the painting are completely recognizable, heated up a few degrees.
Flint, who grew up on Long Island and attended SUNY New Paltz, says her suburban theme reflects the fact that, while many of us live in rural or semi urban areas, the car-based, the lifestyle is inescapable. “I live in New Paltz, but it’s not rural anymore,” Flint Noted. “Most of the people who live here are from Long Island and New Jersey. It’s all imported suburbia. Her busy households, complete with TV, kids, toys, animals, and car in the driveway, reflect her experience as a housewife raising kids in the early 1980s, doing laundry, eating out in restaurants, getting together with woman friends.
She avoids the stereotype of suburbia as vapid and full of quiet despair; on the contrary, the works are affirming and forgiving. The disheveled women standing in these kitchens or collapsed on the sofa or comfy chair, one shoe off, chatting on the phone, cats sparring and kid out of control are sympathetic figures. They occupy the centers of social vortexes, their isolation like the eye of a joyous hurricane, surrounded by the trappings of relative affluence. The abundance of this milieu, not its lack, are celebrated, and even when Flint is depicting the culture of envy – most obviously in her New York series; in one work, diners at Dean & Delucca ogle a svelte society woman slinking past with her small dog – it’s the stuff of comedy.
“I can’t make two things that are the same,” Flint said, noting that she paints her pairs of eyes, legs and feet in different colors. “I also very rarely make the hair the color it would be. I break the rules.” The titles sometimes underline the sly subversive quality of the narratives, such as Cake Before Dinner (a barefoot woman pulls on a curtain and holds a forkful of cake in front of a photo of presumably proper relatives) and Constant Companion (a woman brushing her teeth is accompanied by a dog, cat on the window sill, and singing bird out the window.)
Flint has had numerous shows in the area also does commissioned portraits. A painting of hers is included in the forthcoming book How to Paint a Donkey, complied by Scotswoman Louise Greig, who commissioned 52 artists from around the world to illustrate the poem of the same name by Arab/American writer Naomi Shihab Nye. Besides the solo show of 14 pieces at Donskoj, she also has shown pieces recently at the Tivoli Co-op, Varga Gallery in Woodstock, the Woodstock Artists Association Museum, and Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie. In July, she is participating in a show at the Pritzker Gallery in Highland and her work will be displayed at the Millbrook Winery Show, sponsored by the Dutchess County Arts Association.
The artist also commissioned to do a painting by HITS-on-the-Hudson, which is featured in the Saugerties organization’s upcoming Arts Exhibition and Auction. Closer to home, one can see five large canvases of Flint’s at the Ulster County Area Transit building on Golden Hill. She was one of the four artist selected by UCAT to create art for the new building, which was funded by a federal grant exclusively targeted for the creation of public art.
The paintings, which are hung in the conference room, depict the UCAT dispatchers and mechanics, as well as passengers boarding a UCAT bus and can outfitted for people with disabilities (several of the personages, including a blind man with a purple dog, are real people.) The other commissioned works are also well worth a look. In a corner of the lobby is a wonderful black metal sculpture, with uses silhouettes and empty space to suggest scenes, depicting different modes of transit by the late Diana Bryan. Housed in a special oak cabinet, with a light to highlight the shapes Bryan cut out of the flat piece of metal, the piece has three narrative lines: the uppermost a series of silhouetted planes, cloud, hot-air balloon, and bridge against the sky, the middle consisting of cars, trucks and other road-bound vehicles, and the bottom showing a ferry boat, raccoon, kayaker, grass, rabbit, and hills dotted with houses against empty space, which here represents water.
Also in the lobby is a large photograph of elderly UCAT bus rider Carol Cruikshank, who became ordained as a pastor at the Dutch reformed Church at the age of 70, by Fawn Potash. Handsomely displayed in a solid black frame, the photo has a collage like composition, with the sign for the Astoria hotel in Rosendale, where Cruikshank lived, visible in the background outside the bus window. Potash’s photos of four other regular bus passengers, with items indicating their occupations displayed in the scrim above their heads, hang in a hall upstairs. Colorful, sign-like paintings showing transit modes in the 1800s, 1900s and the 2000s by Franc Palaia, who also designed the exterior sign (camouflaging as a bus), complete the collection.
The works are a county treasure, showcasing the diverse talents of a few local artists who have transformed the seemingly ho-hum works of whimsy and made the ordinary circuits of citizens into something grand and monumental. Check it out.
The following interview appeared in HV BIZ, week of July 26, 2010
How would you describe your art?
“My paintings reflect my life, which is a colorful, direct, playful narrative of ordinary daily moments, inspired by the fast paced suburban lifestyle. In these vibrant expressionist oils, people, pets and things from my imagination appear isolated, but interact within a bold composition. Even if the figures sit quietly, they vibrate with energy. The paintings evoke a feeling that it is good to be alive. In addition to my personal work, I paint private and public commissions.”
How long have you been an artist?
“From early childhood I knew I was an artist.”
Was there a moment when you saw art as a true calling?
“Although I have made art my whole life, it has been well into my adulthood that I have gotten to know and appreciate my unique self enough to embrace it and call my calling ‘true.’”
Do you have advice for amateur painters?
“Find what feels good for you and keep following it no matter what. Learn from others, but keep looking ahead to the next idea, and the next, which is the way you stay in the creative flow. Utilize constructive judgment within the process, never making it destructive (personal). Your work is your voice, unique and valuable unconditionally.”
Does your art symbolically speak to larger issues?
“Individuality and self-belief.”
What does the future hold for your work?
“I’m still finding that out, but I feel that I will love it.”
Are you associated or affiliated with any art groups or galleries you would tout? Any upcoming events?
“Memberships: Dutchess County Arts Council; Mill Street Loft; Barrett Art Center; Long Reach Arts Artist Cooperative; Unison Arts; Women’s Studio Workshop; Arts Society of Kingston; Donskoj & Co. Gallery, Kingston.
“Summer Events: through July 30, ”Summer Break,” Pritzker Gallery, 257 S. Riverside Road, Highland. Through Sept. 5, Dutchess County Arts Council: Art in the loft at the Millbrook Winery, 26 Wing Road, Millbrook. Through September: HITS (Horses in the Sun)-on-the-Hudson exhibition and auction, curated by Tom Fletcher of Tom Fletcher Gallery, Woodstock. Rotating exhibit throughout Saugerties; August exhibit at Fletcher Gallery, 40 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock; reception Aug. 7. Auction Sept. 10.”