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Caroline Ramersdorfer and John Van Alstine

September 13 - October 17, 2014
The opening reception takes place on Saturday, September 13, from 6 - 8 PM, in between evening performances of the Lake George Jazz Weekend which takes place in adjacent Shepard Park. This event is FREE and open to the public.

Caroline Ramersdorfer

John Van Alstine

Caroline Ramersdorfer’s carved and polished marble sculptures integrate light as a sculptural medium. In her series of recent work, Inner View, she explores the radiant, refractive and reflective nature of light. Blocks of marble are sliced and carved with textured and polished interior spaces that capture and reflect light.  For her these inner carvings represent an interior world both physical and spiritual, something she calls “an architecture of the soul”.  She says:  “My approach to sculpture is a continuous challenge to create a bridge between art, world culture and the substance of human experience. The choice of materials generates a dialogue between the environment and the ideas. The sculptural installations consist of layers and fragments that are combined to create interior spaces that capture and reflect light—illuminating an unseen world. This interaction of stone, space and light is a significant part of their presence, inviting eye and intellect to embark on a journey to analyze, reflect, and—ultimately—be inspired.”

Caroline Ramersdorfer started her studies in 1979 focusing on philosophy, African art history, museum science and Renaissance fresco restoration.  She also studied etching in Florence from 1981-1983 and sculpture in Carrara, Italy in 1988. In 2001, the Austrian Ministry of Art and Education supported her multimedia project Inner Views, which resulted in ten years of work and study in Japan. Caroline has exhibited worldwide and has been commissioned for several large, site-specific sculptures including her 2008 installation Seed of a Unified Spirit permanently installed in Beijing Olympic Park. Her sculptures are installed in permanent private and public art collections in Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, U.S.A., China and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she was awarded first prize at the 2005 Emaar International Art Symposium for Inner View.  Other awards include the Golden Award at the Renaissance & Rising International City of Sculpture and Cultural Year (2006) in Zhengzhou, China.  Ramersdorfer was nominated for the 12th International Cairo, Egypt, Art Biennial in 2010-2011. Inner View-Open was selected for 2011 installation in the Campus Sculpture Park for the Centennial of Tsinghua University, Beijing.  Ramersdorfer now lives and works in Wells, NY.

John Van Alstine’s sculptures combine natural stone, usually granite or slate, with human-made found object steel.  While exhibiting remarkable balance and poise, the tension and interaction of these two materials is a major focus of his work. He says:  “On the most basic level the work is about the marriage of the natural with the human-made… I use stone as an assemblage element, the way a welder uses steel, rather than in the traditional manner of subtraction. In contrast to the timelessness of stone, the found-object metal (sometimes cast bronze) is time-specific - 20th century industrial. The industrial / structural characteristics inherent in the metal are often employed to physically connect or suspend stone elements allowing a "choreographing" or "floating" of stone. At their best, a compelling visual / physical irony is created.  The works strives to communicate on a number of different levels; physical, symbolic, metaphorical. The duality of an eastern or oriental acceptance of stone and a 20th century industrial American “can do” attitude toward metal is central to the work and an important characteristic that distinguishes it.”

John Van Alstine was born in 1952 in the Adirondacks, New York. He received a BFA from St Lawrence University in 1974, and an MFA from Cornell University in 1976. In 1987 he returned to his hometown, where he now lives and works. Van Alstine’s work has been widely exhibited in the United States, Europe and Asia. His work is held in numerous private, public and corporate collections. Selected public collections include the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, Museum of Modern Art, Lisbon, Portugal, among others. In 2008, Van Alstine was one of 50 artists to have his work chosen to be display at the 2008 Summer Olympics.  In 2011 the City of Saratoga Springs installed Tempered By Memory, a 30’ high outdoor memorial sculpture using World Trade Tower steel remnants, a work made in collaboration with artist Noah Savett.  Recent exhibitions include shows at The Opalka Gallery at Sage Collge, Albany, NY; Gerald Peters in Santa Fe, NM; Nohra Haime in NY; and C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore, MD.  A hardcover book, “Bones of the Earth, Spirit of the Land: The Sculpture of JOHN VAN ALSTINE”, released in 2001 by Grayson Publishing, recaps his first 25 years of work. Van Alstine lives and works in Wells, NY.

Exhibition Reviews online:
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"Confluence of Opposites:" A Perspective

My idea is to create soul architectures that reflect/provoke an approach into an inner world. Its transparency and openings allow light to be a significant part of their presence, making visible intermediate spaces.  - - Caroline Ramersdorfer

Albert Camus, the French existentialist in his essays “The Myth of Sisyphus” used this myth to illustrate his notion that reaching one's final destination is not always the most important. In fact if one “reconsiders Sisyphus” as Camus suggests, the struggle or journey reveals itself as ultimately the most meaningful - an idea that I and many others believe is central to the creative process.
- -
John Van Alstine

Below is a recent essay about Caroline and John's work from Caroline Welsh,
former Director, Adirondack Museum:

Making art is a journey for both Caroline Ramersdorfer and John Van Alstine. Both work in stone: Ramersdorfer in marble and Van Alstine in slate and granite. Both come from mountainous places: Ramersdorfer from the high Alps at the intersection of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and Van Alstine from the Adirondacks of New York State. Each artist is profoundly influenced by nature and environment and are driven to find meaning in the intersections of art, life, and nature.

The mountains of Van Alstine's native Adirondacks and the American West are an abiding source of inspiration for him. His artistic sensibilities are informed by nature and the man-made dynamism reflected by industrial remnants. Carefully selected "found" pieces of slate or granite are combined by the artist with "found" pieces of processed iron and steel tools or industrial chards to form works of exquisite craftsmanship, technical perfection, and elegant design. The formal beauty of the works challenges the viewer to look beyond to the inherent tensions suggested between nature and industrialization. Reminiscent of the works of David Smith, also of the Adirondacks, Van Alstine artfully assembles objects from nature and man's work, releasing an expressive language to reinforce his theses of work and process and balance in life and nature.

Trained in Italy in an environment of generations of marble workers, sculptors, and masterpieces, Caroline Ramersdorfer's highly original works are a fascinating complement to the sculpture of John Van Alstine. Rather than assembling elements with minimal manipulation, Ms. Ramersdorfer's works are major manipulations of blocks of marble. She reduces marble to slices that she carves into solids and voids; ridged and columnar, fluid and sensual surfaces interact, revealing an almost microcosmic world within the stone. The slices of stone, mounted in polished steel frames, interact with light to become ethereal systems of light and translucent stone. Like veils, the pieces of stone reveal inner spaces that serve as metaphors for the meanings found in cerebral journeys of analysis and reflection.

The work of these two gifted sculptors affirms the tradition of sculpture as a medium based on formal principles and deeply held abstract ideas about life and nature.

 - - Caroline Welsh, former Director, Adirondack Museum

This exhibition is funded in part by The Sherwood Group and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. The Courthouse Gallery hours during exhibitions are Tuesday through Friday 12 – 5 pm, Saturday 12 – 4 pm, and all other times by appointment. The Courthouse Gallery is located at the side entrance of the Old County Courthouse, corner of Canada and Lower Amherst Streets, Lake George, NY.

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