Painter Charlotte Lichtblau Exhibits Seeing And Believing In Times Square
Painter Charlotte Lichtblau will have an exhibition of her paintings, beginning June 13th, 2011 at St. Mary the Virgin in the heart of Times Square at 145 West 46th Street. The retrospective, entitled SEEING AND BELIEVING, runs through July 31st with admission daily from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM by appointment. There will be an opening reception, free to the public, next Tuesday, June 28th from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. There will be Open House on the following Mondays, from 5:00 - 8:00 PM, also free and open to the public: July 11, July 18, July 25.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Vienna in 1925, Charlotte Lichtblau came to the United States in 1940 with her parents and sister. Since 1950, she has returned repeatedly to Austria, primarily to Vienna and to her childhood summer home in Altaussee, in Austria's Salzkammergut region. She has painted the mountains, lakes and countryside in and around Altaussee, Austria, for more than seven decades. Her range of work includes landscapes, fantasias, mythic figures, and biblical scenes, often transported to this remarkable Alpine world. For the past five decades, Lichtblau has exhibited her works in galleries, museums, universities, and churches in New York City, in Europe, and throughout the United States. She has had two major career retrospective exhibitions in Austria, one at the Palais Palffy in Vienna (1994) and the second in the Pfarrheim Arts Center in Bad Aussee, near Altaussee (2002), along with a 2010 retrospective at the 8th Floor Space in Chelsea.
The Austrian exhibitions led to the publication in 2000 of Origin and Transformation: Life and Art of the Painter Charlotte Lichtblau by Albert Lichtblau (no relation to the artist) and Bruce Payne. Her drawings were published in Fr. Patrick Ryan's books When I Survey The Wondrous Cross: Scriptural Reflections for Lent (1989) and The Coming of Our God: Scriptural Reflections for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany (1999). For more than four years, her drawings were published weekly in America Magazine.
Lichtblau has also been an art critic, writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Herald Tribune, Arts Magazine, and other publications. Her collected reviews and other papers can be found at the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art.
This exhibition, SEEING AND BELIEVING, is curated by Bruce Payne, Executive Director, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.
Without love, one cannot see. Without great intensity of attention and of caring, the shapes and stories of our world are only dimly present in our lives. Works of art, similarly, are all but invisible to us without some measure of passionate commitment to them.
My work starts from a basic and essential modernism, growing out of the European tradition of expressionism. That tradition was meant to strip away the academic and baroque overlays of moralizing and mythologizing. It brought with it a clear emphasis on form - the absolute cognition of what is - which is to say a commitment to finding such truth as one can, whether in depictions of contemporary life or in pictures of historical or biblical subjects.
What this came to mean for me is that images and narratives should be shaped by inquiry rather than by sentiment. Some of these works are about biblical themes and subjects. My concern in them has not been to illustrate the Bible, nor have I wanted in any way to predetermine the impact of its troubling claims and tales. Instead, I have tried to let the works speak to the viewer directly about essential matters of life and death, love and sorrow, joy and despair.
Some of these paintings re-set Biblical stories into the world as I have known it, respecting and building upon generations of such interpretation. The Lake Birth, for example, shows St. Mary the Virgin, her mother St. Anne and the infant Jesus on a lake in the Austrian mountains. We see this ancient tale in its new context, which is our context, just as centuries of observers have placed these stories and images in their own landscapes and lives, searching out their meanings by experiencing their forms.
Others works address the modern world in even more direct terms. The plagues of my own time, and Camus' insistence on resisting them, were central to the City Triptych. And The End of the Brownstone Era, in particular, originated in dismay at the destruction of a venerable New York neighborhood for the building of the World Trade Center. This was not created as a prediction, by the way. Only decades later did its terrible prescience seem evident.
The struggle for humanity against the forces of destruction and death never goes away. When 2001 ended with televised pictures of explosives destroying the mountain caves of Tora Bora, painting once again became for me a kind of protest, while hoping still that mountains and humans might survive even this. Both Jesus and the woman in the burka found their way into the image.
The Church has long been a leading forum for art. Its continuing vitality, both in memory and in the present gatherings of the faithful, is all too often ignored by today's critical media. So I invite you to see and ponder these works, here in this forum, with whatever questions and passions you may bring to them.