Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Leather Paintings of Winfred Rembert

Short post, but today I found out about Winfred Rembert, a folk artist from Georgia who works his narrative paintings into leather, a skill he picked up in the maximum-security prison in Reidsville, GA.  
"Memories of My Youth"
We found ourselves with the use of a car, and so--instead of taking the subway to Brooklyn for the closing hour or so of the Feminist Zine Fest after work--we got into the car and drove out of the city, up the Hudson River and into Yonkers where we had 30 minutes to peruse the Hudson River Museum before it closed.  The Hudson River Museum is just like it says, right on the Hudson and seems mostly devoted to the art of painters from the Hudson River School and the ecology of the river--natural-history style, but they had this incongruous show on the lower level, and I was drawn immediately to it.  The paintings in it exuded energy and movement and as I got closer and absorbed the narratives, the artist's statements in curatorial cards next to each, I was--there are no other words--shaken to my core, especially the paintings of the artist's near lynching.

Finding art like this and so unexpectedly makes me feel like my life's not over yet. Does that make sense? That I can still be shaped by what I see and do. Does this sound lame?

"The Baptism" 

Then we got back into the car and drove through Hastings on the Hudson to Dobbs Ferry to eat, a trip that took about 15 mintues, the towns are so closely clustered.  But after seeing Rembert's show, I had a nagging question:  why is Yonkers so depressed (shuttered business, pawn shops and check cashing shops, drug and alcohol rehab centers) and Hastings--right next door--so affluent?  What happened to Yonkers?  

Here's a video from Rembert's opening at the Hudson River Museum:

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