Ward Schumaker: selected paintings from the composer series
For exhibit 25 we are showing recent paintings of San Francisco artist Ward Schumaker, selections from his ongoing series on the composers. Schumaker's painting combines elements of illustration and design with improvised gesture and a repertory cast of
personal icons and poetic text. This is his second solo show here. In his own words:
"I frequently ask myself, what is the difference between design and art, between illustration and painting? For this series, I created work inspired by posters in the 2009 Contemporary Jewish Museum show of Russian Jewish Theater, employing the names of classical composers whose work I admire. In the 1970s, Ray Johnson of the NY Correspondence School (see the movie, How to Draw a Bunny) had sent me art work with letterforms that looked a bit Russian, cyrillic-like, and I liked that connection with the posters at the CJM, so I decided to use my variation of it.
My first pieces (Stravinsky, Prokofiev) ended up quite poster-like, with large letterforms of the composers’ names cut from paper. Later, in some (Bartok, Stockhausen, Andriessen) the names disappeared under layers of paint. In others, (Janacek, Dodge, Byars, Weill, Gorecki) words appear which derive from descriptions of the composers’ works. And in some pieces (Copland, Satie, Berg) I included recognizable images, drawn simply and hearkening back to graphic design and illustration. Design or art? I felt I had come full circle."