Michael A Rosenfeld
Opening reception April 18, 2009 7pm-9pm
Gallery hours TBA-Pedestrian viewing 24/7, Private viewing by appointment
Location: Phantom Galleries LA Long Beach on Pine Ave
309 Pine Ave, Long Beach 90802
Dirigibles, or airships, once had a strong hold on the public imagination. During the first half of the twentieth century, these lighter than air technical marvels were used as transatlantic passenger carriers, as military cargo and personnel carriers, for bombing missions, and for anti-submarine coastal patrol. Current uses of airships, particularly blimps, are largely commercial, less audacious, more mundane. The three Goodyear blimps now operating in the U.S., for example, are used as platforms for advertising and for aerial shots during televised sports events. Still, it is rare to see a Goodyear blimp in flight, and when you do spot one, as I did at this year's Rose Bowl game, it can leave you awestruck and just plain happy.
Michael A. Rosenfeld's paintings of dirigibles have a similar effect. The seven paintings in the show capture the dirigible from a number of perspectives -- in flight, on the ground, close up, from afar -- and, as a series, they are a beautifully obsessive study of an object. Done in monochromatic oils, the paintings look more like charcoal drawings or grainy newspaper photographs. Because they attend to detail and evoke a dream state, they ride the line between realism and allegory. Not only are the paintings technically superb, they are emotionally resonant.
The works showing dirigibles in flight, in particular, have an eerie and poetic quality to them. In the large format "Dream Number Four", a dirigible hovers over the grid of a city that might be. As in all his other paintings in the show, the presence of humans is only implied, namely because the scale of the airship would make it difficult to include people. This absence, however, lends it a slightly sinister quality - what is the purpose of the flight, who is flying the dirigible, where are the inhabitants of this city? In "Tamara" the airship is suspended against clouds; close viewing reveals a speck of a city way down below in a small break in the clouds.
By contrast, "Dream Number Ten" -- one of two paintings where the dirigible is grounded -- forces the viewer into a more direct, head-on encounter with the object and its industrial origins. Here, one end of the dirigible is visible, framed by a massive hangar. Parked inside its home, the dirigible looks even more imposing than when in flight. In "Dream Number Three" Rosenfeld positions the dirigible within nature. Resembling a cruise ship, the dirigible is tethered to the ground and surrounded by grasses and palm trees. The natural setting softens the airship as well as Rosenfeld's style. There is more movement and expression in the brush strokes and he includes a warmer brown-yellow tone.
Rosenfeld's obsession with one object in many different contexts is a beautiful thing to behold. I admire his singularity of vision, particularly in a world that seems to prize multi-tasking and constant movement over focused concentration. Like a really good monograph, Rosenfeld's project inspires in-depth exploration of a fascinating subject.
. – Elizabeth Anderson-Kempe for Artillary
Liza Simone, PGLA firstname.lastname@example.org 213-703-4362
Artist Contact: http://www.antiquesart.com/mars.55/
"The Long Beach Redevelopment Agency is proud to partner with Phantom Galleries LA, not only to revive empty storefronts along our major corridors, but also to showcase the arts and build a sense of community and culture in our Downtown," said Craig Beck, Executive Director of the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency. LongBeachRDA.org
About Phantom Galleries LA
Phantom Galleries LA is a Los Angeles County based organization that transforms properties in transition into temporary 24/7 public art galleries. Each installation is a unique relationship between the participating Artist, Curator, and Property Owner. Exhibits are curated by local Arts Organizations, Galleries, Independent Curators, and Artists. www.PhantomGalleriesLA.com