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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

Arts Calendar

"Before & After 2015" Beavers
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"A New Subjectivity' exhibition looks at Expressionism in new way

Date(s):  October 23 - December 15, 2017
Venue: Carroll Reece Museum
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN 37601

JOHNSON CITY For the first time, the Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University is offering a gallery tour specifically designed for the low-vision and blind community in conjunction with the traveling exhibit "A New Subjectivity: Figurative Painting After 2000."

"This exhibition, composed entirely of paintings by women, attempts to categorize expressionism in new terms," says curator Jason Stopa, a New York City writer and painter and who holds an M.F.A. from Pratt Institute. Originally from the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York, "A New Subjectivity" features female artists Gina Beavers, Katherine Bernhardt, Katherine Bradford, Jackie Gendel, Liz Markus and Rose Wylie.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m., Reece Museum docents will lead tours for the low-vision and blind community. These free tours include verbal descriptions of the works and hand-held tactile boards of the paintings.

"We see outreach to underserved communities as an ongoing responsibility of the Reece," says Reece Museum Director Randy Sanders.

The special tours have been crafted with assistance from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, along with the ETSU Office of Disability Services. Jessie Rogers, a blind ETSU student, has served as a consultant.

"Her insights have been invaluable," Sanders says. "Jessie has gently guided us towards better outcomes."

All patrons will be able to experience these 12 large-scale paintings by the six contemporary women painters free of charge through Dec. 15.

The exhibition has received positive reviews. "In a lively group show of large canvases at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, curator Jason Stopa makes a strong case that contemporary painters, particularly those working figuratively, are cultivating a new form of Expressionism," says Sharon Butler on the "Two Coats of Paint" website. "He cites popular culture (cartoons, fashion photography, YouTube videos), personal narrative, and our embrace of online life as the driving forces behind this new direction.... [T]hese paintings hint at narrative direction and critical perspective, but ultimately beg for an emotional response to the handling of the paint and choice of image. With Expressionism, articulating deeper meaning is optional."

In what Stopa calls a significant return to figuration or figurative painting, this "new subjectivity" is "equally invested in the language of abstraction the drip, the gesture, and color as experience," he says. "Some have made paintings from subject matter that has been historically considered unfit: cartoons, fashion spreads and personal narrative. Their work, and arguably the role of Expressionism itself, is often to create divisive space within painting, leaving gaps for the viewer to create structure and meaning."

"A New Subjectivity" is a good show for the special accommodations, as well as for those who do not require the additional assistance, says Reece exhibitions coordinator Spenser Brenner.

"A lot of the techniques that are being implemented by these artists can really be appreciated by students of art and lovers of art," Brenner says. "I can say this: generally, it is a loud show. There are bright colors. It's an almost eclectic kind of show as far as how these women paint.

"You really have to "think outside the box' whenever you're trying to describe a color to someone who has never seen a color, (or) to someone who potentially has never seen a color, or give people frames of references. You might say, "It's as big as a bus,' but how big is that bus? You might instead say, "Maybe it's the size of three of your beds,' or something like that. It has been great to have to sort of get outside ourselves in creating the low-vision materials."

Auditory scripts are being developed by the Reece staff. These scripts will be recorded and made available on the museum's website, A digital music player will also be available during "A New Subjectivity's" run for those low-vision and blind visitors who are unable to attend the tours on Oct. 24 and 28.

In addition, Saro Lynch-Thomason, a North Carolina-based ballad singer, illustrator and folklorist, and Reece student worker Jill Childress are designing composition boards for the paintings and will also create a few surface boards for the more textured paintings.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m., Stopa will give a free curator's talk in the Reece Museum that will be followed by a reception.

"Jason is an artist, as well as a writer and a journalist and, like many artists, pieces together a lot of different things to make their living," says Anita DeAngelis, director of exhibition co-sponsor Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. "We are not only excited to hear his presentation on "A New Subjectivity," but to have him at ETSU to talk with our Art and Design students."

Regular Reece Museum hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more information, call the museum at 423-439-4392. For more information about transportation needs for the low-vision and blind tours, please call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346. For more information on the Martin School of the Arts, visit

Topics: Art, Exhibits

Jason Stopa is the exhibit curator.


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