Cloud-like layers, minimalist abstractions, mid-century palettes -- most would agree that the paintings by Miami-based Lynne Golob Gelfman appear to be art. Her most recent exhibit (she's been in over 80 to date), O the Games We Play, is a group show that opened on June 11th and runs through July 1st at Fredric Snitzer Gallery, the Miami gallery that's been representing her for over a decade. But when I ask how long she's been an artist, Lynne traces her beginnings back to childhood excitement over a new box of crayons and says, "I don't even like that term anymore ... art with a capital 'A' ... it's just so charged."
In spite of being an alumnus of Columbia's MFA program who is included in collections like the Smithsonian's and although she has been showing her work internationally for over 30 years and has taught art at Manhattan's Dalton School, universities, and museums, she explains that she doesn't consider herself a career artist, that it wasn't an intellectual descision. Lynne's answers are at once fitting and modest. As Miuccia Prada was once quoted as saying, "it's just what I do." Learning more about Lynne and her work, I realize that these two female figures share more than a similar outlook (and a penchant for 50s colors and abstraction). Namely, both Lynne and Prada's oeuvres are standout examples of what happens when art meets design.
On one hand, Lynne's multi-disciplinary approach and nontraditional techniques seem to suggest something outside of fine art. Four of her wallpaper designs were installed last year in the Sonesta Hotel in Coconut Grove, FL, including the finely-patterned shimmering curves of silver ripple (2002, pictured at top) and one of them, titled lichen (2002), was also made into a rug. Her current pocketbook designs involve canvas constructions covered in reptilian patterns that Lynne creates with onion bag netting, a tool that she uses in her painting as well.
In her body of fine art (for which she is most well known), though generally following a standard rectilinear format, unconventional tools such as sanders, combs, trowels, chemical reactions, spray-paint, and sticks play starring roles. The result is an allusion to the artist's practice, a sense of the time and experience that goes into making the piece. Hints at process are reinforced by characteristic paint drips that run along the edges, acting as a kind of event log that points out the horizontal plane. The historical information that the drips of paint bring also lend a raw presence, a contrast to the subtlety of the richly worked surfaces, and a nod to sign-painting trades and related graffiti art traditions.
Citing among her influences Agnes Martin, early Willem de Kooning and handicrafts, such as a Colombian basket used to carry eggs, the particular ways that art, craft, and trade intersect in Lynne's work makes sense. She belongs to an era of artists who radically experimented with materials and technique, bringing a modern sensibility to a culturally diverse and information-rich time. Her paintings are as much about a synthesis of these influences and her place in art history as they are simply, like she puts it, about illusion.
Look for her two solo shows next year, one at Fredric Snitzer and the other at the New York gallery that has represented her for the past three years, Suite 106. You can contact Lynne directly by email at lyngelf [at] yahoo [dot] com.