Alice Bernstein - Journalist & Aesthetic Realism Associate

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Roseanne Backstedt in Group Show
at the Terrain Gallery

By Alice Bernstein

Paintings by artist Roseanne Backstedt whose studio is in Port Jervis, New York are in the group exhibition at the Terrain Gallery, “Line-Shape-Color, the Artistic & Human Drama,” opening on Wednesday, September 12, 6-8 PM at 141 Greene Street in Manhattan's SoHo district. This show, which runs through November, features works by 10 artists, in various styles and media: Richard Sloat, Rolph Scarlett, Su-Li Hung, Chaim Koppelman, Selina Trieff, Tom Kranjac, Dorothy Koppelman, Benedicte Caneill, James Juthstrom, and Ms. Backstedt.

Now celebrating its 52nd year, the Terrain Gallery, which is part of the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation, is among the world's distinguished and avant garde art centers. Since it opened in 1955, its exhibitions have honored art, past and present, and in all media. The Terrain's motto, a statement by Eli Siegel, founder of Aesthetic Realism, “In reality opposites are one; art shows this,” has informed the conception, selection, and hanging of work, and is the source of lively, deep commentary integral to every exhibition.

In the 1960s, Roseanne Backstedt studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute with William Wiley, Tom Holland, Jack Jefferson and William Morehouse. She then studied with Morris Yarowsky at the University of Oregon where she also taught at the Maude Kearns Art Center. Her study of Aesthetic Realism began in 1976 in consultations with the teaching trio The Kindest Art in New York City. “I began to learn,” she says, “that my intention as an artist was to put opposites together, and that this was also my intention in life.” Ms. Backstedt's study continues today at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation where she attends “The Visual Arts and the Opposites” a museum/gallery class taught by artist Marcia Rackow, and The Critical Inquiry, where works in progress by visual artists are discussed by Dorothy Koppelman, painter and founding director of the Terrain Gallery.

Says Roseanne Backstedt: “It was a joy to comprehend myself and my work—to see that the opposites connected many styles I had worked in. I love trees, mountains, rivers, triangles, squares, circles, and shapes of all kinds. I began exploring what was inside the shape and what was outside. Inside and outside are opposites I am trying to put together as a self. I love learning from Aesthetic Realism that the purpose of life is to like the world through knowing it, and this is the purpose of art. Studying this is a beautiful way to spend one's life.”
Roseanne Backstedt. Photo credit: Barbara Singer

Roseanne Backstedt 's paintings have been exhibited in galleries, universities, and alternative spaces in New York, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania, and Germany, as well as on New York City subway panels; and have been reproduced in newspapers, books, and ArtSpeak magazine. Her work has been shown since 1991 at the Ceres Gallery which is run by women artists. In 1999, there was a performance at Ceres by interpretive dancers representing her paintings. In 2005 Walter Wickiser Gallery ( New York ) published a book of Ms. Backstedt's large and small paintings, Pathway, with comments by the artist and a preface by David Cleveland, a regular reviewer for ArtNews.

The earth, sky, land, and nature of Port Jervis and nearby locales in New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania are subjects in many of Ms. Backstedt's paintings—including Intense Departure on view at the Terrain. In this acrylic on unstretched canvas (90” x 72”), a sunset glow reveals fall's departure. As a few leaves delicately cling to branches and greens change to browns, a vibrant swath of brilliant orange paint—below earth and on top at once—intensifies the scene and surprisingly also gives it repose. In Water & Smoke, acrylic on canvas (18” x 18”), the artist shows the subtle and exciting sameness and difference of natural and manmade forms and colors, arising from the landscape of Milford Beach in Pennsylvania.

These sentences from The Opposites Theory by Eli Siegel, quoted in the announcement for “Line-Shape-Color, the Artistic & Human Drama” are an indispensable guide to our enjoyment and comprehension of what we see:

“Shapes widen and narrow; come to a point and curve; rise, fall—and these things we do too. The drama of colors and shapes and lines is humanity's drama. The intensification and muting of color in art go for one thing; and we wish that intensity and lessening go for one thing in us. How this can be, we mightily want to find out, and art can tell us.”

The works at the Terrain, figurative and abstract, should be seen by all people hoping to understand what art can mean in their lives! For hours and further information, call (212) 777-4490, and visit the website TerrainGallery.org

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© 2004, 2007 by Alice Bernstein. For permission to reprint please contact me by
email: Ajoybern@nyc.rr.com, or call  (212) 691-2978