Caren Canier: Town & Country: Paintings
The Painting Center is pleased to present Town and Country: Paintings by Caren Canier in the Project Room. Caren Canier’s paintings, executed in mixed media including collaged photographs and paint, are musings about the way people inhabit the landscape, rural or urban. Social norms and relationships transcend the linear conventions of history in these paintings, confounding inhabitants from different times, places and memories. The artist borrows freely from historic and contemporary sources to orchestrate unexpected and curious meetings between past and present dwellers, whether commonplace or idealized.
“West Hall” is a reverie about the parking lot of the Arts Building at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, perched above the Hudson River Valley in Troy, NY, where Canier teaches. Here, Elie Nadelman’s sculpted figures, Edweard Muybridge’s figures in motion and a wooden Sienese saint from the Renaissance, comingle among the parked cars. The mundane, contemporary site is populated by unlikely commuters and set in the context of the majestic expanse of the Hudson River Valley beyond.
“Albergo Sole”, offers a view from a hotel window in Rome, in which a Nadelman head looks down on an urban piazza, alive with ancient Roman figures, Edweard Muybridge’s 19th century figures in motion and Nadelman’s sculpture of the 1920’s. The lineage from ancient to modern Rome to the New World of Nadelman and the transience of life in the hotel are evocative of collective memories of the Grand Tour undertaken by artists, writers and intellectuals since the 17th century.
“Bendicó’s Fall” is in homage to “The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and Lucchino Visconti. Lampedusa wrote the novel, Visconti made the film and here, as the famous ball scene swirls around the picture plane, the actors, director, Garibaldi and his Redshirts meet for a mashup in the Sicilian landscape. Bendicó, the faithful dog, who appears in the closing paragraph of the novel, falls both physically and metaphorically. The actual making of the film becomes a part of the historic context, emphasizing the timelessness of the work of art.
The series “The Nadelmans Frequent the Stettheimers”, chronicles an imaginary visit by Nadelman figures to the renowned dollhouse of Carrie Stettheimer, constructed in the 1930’s and now housed in the Museum of the City of New York. Collaged skyscrapers painted by Charles Sheeler surround the dollhouse and its occupants. These tableaus speak to the social norms of New York society and intelligentsia of the period.
Finally, the McC paintings are in homage to the landscape of rural upstate New York and it’s citizenry through time. Here, classical figures of the ancient world that informed 19th century architecture and artifacts, mix with Shakers and soccer moms to reflect the artist’s experience of life upstate.
Caren Canier is a native of New York City, educated at Cornell University and Boston University. A Rome Prize Fellow and recipient of many awards, she divides her time between upstate New York, Umbria and Brooklyn. She has exhibited widely in New York, New England and Italy and has been a Professor of Painting and Drawing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1978.