Artist of the Day #60: Reuben Negron

The human figure is the most common subject in the visual art world. It is something probably every artist has attempted at some point in their career and/or training. It continues to challenge both the painter and the patron. And it being such a common subject it can point out the most subtle differences between one artist and another. Two artists from the same town, who went to the same school, and handed the same set of paints to paint the same person, will give you wildly different results. Personally, it is something I struggle with quite a bit, so when I see it done well, I am quite intrigued. So when I came across the work of Reuben Negron, I was very intrigued. His work was not only technically impressive, but had a level of vibrancy and emotion that really made you understand something about the subjects. Whether he is choosing to give a highly detailed background to his subject, or leave them standing in dead space, it does something to intensify part of the subject’s character. He has a sense of light that feels real and imaginary at the same time, like you could step into the work and have super powers or something.

I was originally introduced to Reuben’s work through the recent Art’s not Fair show at Like the Spice Gallery in Brooklyn. Mr. Negron had a very interesting installation of his work. He had three areas set up with the sketches, color studies, and photographs that influenced one of his finished pieces. Then to view the final piece, patrons needed to use their smart phones to follow a link from a QR code. The installation studies come off like the introduction to a story. It is almost like reading the back cover to a novel you might buy. Before you read the full story or view the final piece, your mind is already starting to piece together how the different elements might come together. He calls for you to participate in order to see the final piece. You don’t just move on down to the next chunk of wall space, you have to interact with the QRC code and find the finished piece online. With this, his work becomes very investigative. When you see the final piece you start to see how the developing ideas fed into that completed work. And then within the final piece itself you begin to piece together certain elements about the individual that might have sparked Rueben’s interest and inspiration in the first place. Our homes are often a reflection of who we are, so what are these homes telling us about the subject? Through the nudity of the figures and the natural state of their surroundings, Rueben gives you a full portrait of the individual’s pure physical form and cultural identity.

Perhaps the aspect of this whole experience that I like is the fact that the finished piece is the thing he is keeping from us. The part of the work that took the most time, and he makes us work to get it. Is this a statement that to him, the process is more important than the finished product? Is he trying to comment on the fact that people often only appreciate something they have worked for, rather than something that is just handed to them? Whatever reason he has for this, it is innovative. I have a feeling we will see more of this kind of thing in the near future. His incorporation of this QRC code and the use of popular technology got me thinking a lot how this kind of thing might change the way we experience art. Museums and galleries might end up doing away with the audio tours and provide patrons with QRC codes that connect to an audio file through the phone they are already carrying around. Maybe some artists will do the opposite of what Rueben did and provide links from the finished piece to show interested parties the process they underwent to create the piece. Or it could be a way people leave feedback on art they see for others to reflect on. You could visit a gallery and instantly post your reaction to it for others to participate in some kind of a social interaction based on the art. Perhaps I am going to far with this, but it does certainly get me thinking, which contrary to what some ex-girlfriends might say, I believe is a good thing.

 

* To clarify how the installation was set up, there was an installation of the various studies as in the pic: “Safara Study”, accompanied by one of those weird QR code images. With the right app on your smartphone, this would link you to a high res pic of the finished piece, “Safara,” that was nowhere else to be seen in the gallery.

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Donegan’s Homework Club

Needs your Help!

We need volunteers to assist students from Kindergarten thru Grade 5 to complete their Homework.

Monday thru Thursdays 3:30 to 4:30

Come on the days you are available.(Program dates listed below.)

About 200 students are staying daily!

Dates for the program:

March
26, 27, 28, 29

April
2, 3, 4
10, 11, 12
23, 24, 25, 26
30

May
 1, 2, 3
7, 8, 9
14, 15, 16, 17

Volunteers would come to the school from 3:30 to 4:30 Mondays thru Thursdays and assist students with their daily homework.
This program is VITAL for Donegan’s kids. There are a number of Lehigh University students who are helping, but more hands from the community would be great. Please consider helping, if you can.

Touchstone Theatre Puts the “Story” in History with The Civil War/Cemetery Project

A Cast of 100 Community Members Connects Today’s Spirit to Those from the Past
(a press release from Touchstone Theatre)

Beneath Bethlehem’s soil lie the stories of citizens who lived through the Civil War. Touchstone Theatre has unearthed these stories to share and honor them with today’s community as part of Historic Bethlehem Partnership’s yearlong commemoration of the war’s 150th anniversary. Over the course of three days (April 13th, 14th &15th, 2012) and at nine different Bethlehem venues, Touchstone will connect the citizens of today to the spirits of those past through a new community-based play, panel discussions, and a guest lecturer. The feature play, A Resting Place, is written by Alison Carey of Oregon Shakespeare Festival and produced in partnership with Moravian College.

“Touchstone has been working on this project for three years,” said Lisa Jordan, Managing Director and an Ensemble Member. “It’s rewarding for us to see all the research and hard work come together in this celebration of Bethlehem’s deep roots in American history.”

Touchstone Theatre is offering The Civil War/Cemetery Project free to general public, and donations are welcome. The events and activities aim to gather the community in an interactive and entertaining exploration of their local history. Assisted by the art of story, enchantment of theatre, and gripping true-life accounts, the performers, panelists, and guest lecturer will lead audiences through the history of the souls that walked through Bethlehem during the Civil War.

The Civil War/Cemetery Project includes events to be held at indoor and outdoor venues including Central Moravian Church, Lehigh University, Moravian College, Bethlehem’s City Hall Plaza, and Historic Bethlehem Partnership locations. The performances of A Resting Place will be held outdoors on both North and South sides of Bethlehem.

Outdoor venues were chosen as the script developed around Dan Rice, an entertainer who actually visited Bethlehem during the Civil War with his traveling circus. In A Resting Place, when Dan Rice’s traveling show magically appears in 21st century Bethlehem, the performers don’t realize that today is going to be a day like no other. Spurred on by the persistent questions of a teenager in the audience, the circus folk go “off-script,” improvising a new show to tell the story of Bethlehem during the Civil War. Along the way, we meet a collection of colorful characters raised from the dead, who—along with the carnies in the show—force ringmaster Dan Rice to confront secrets from his past that he would prefer remain buried. The process reveals the messiness of the Civil War and proves that digging up the past sometimes forces us to confront issues alive today.

On Friday, April 13 the play A Resting Place will premier at 6 p.m. on Moravian College’s North Campus outside the Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Complex. Following the performance will be the Panel Discussion “How the Civil War Affects Us Today” from 7:45-9 p.m. at Moravian College’s Haupert Union Building.

Saturday, April 14 will bring another performance of A Resting Place at 1p.m. on the South Bethlehem Greenway behind Touchstone Theatre. Following the performance will be the Panel Discussion “Building Community Through Theatre” from 2:45-4 p.m. in Touchstone Theatre. A Resting Place will play again on Lehigh University’s Packer Chapel lawn at 6pm that evening.

On Sunday, April 15 there will be another performance of A Resting Place at 1 p.m. at Bethlehem City Hall Plaza. The Panel Discussion “Bethlehem’s Civil War History” will follow the show from 2:45-4 p.m. at Moravian Museum of Bethlehem’s Gemeinhaus. The final showing of A Resting Place will take place at 6 p.m. at the Colonial Industrial Quarter. Guest lecturer David Kincaid will wrap up The Civil War/Cemetery Project with a discussion on Civil War Era Music at 7:45-9 p.m. in the Central Moravian Church Old Chapel.

“The Civil War/Cemetery Project aims to restore life and pride in those who built our community long ago and those who inhabit it today by connecting us to history through stories that lie silently below our feet,” said Jp Jordan, Artistic Director and Ensemble Member. “Touchstone Theatre not only strives to entertain and educate with this production but also to inspire and excite our community with artistic experiences.”

The community can get involved by listening to podcasts that will be featured on The Civil War/Cemetery Project blog and by purchasing a project souvenir book that follows the projects creative arc.

This program has been supported in part by The National Endowment for The Arts; The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ We the People initiative on American history, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, and ArtsLehigh.

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About Touchstone

Celebrating over thirty years, Touchstone Theatre produces and presents cutting edge original productions, with a dedication to the renewal of theatre as a vital art form. Touchstone works to foster collaboration on a local and national level through educational and youth empowerment programs, using theatre as a community-building tool. Visit us on the web at www.touchstone.org