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The Street Painters
at the Art Students League of NY
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New York Notebook

A Review

"The Street is Their Beat"
The Street Painters

Exhibition of Paintings at ASL

On View: September-October

Although we have seen other exhibitions by The Street Painters over the years their most recent, in the gallery at The Art Students League of New York, 215 West 57th Street, NYC, showed this loose-knit group of painters at their raucous best.

Formed in 1977, the Street Painters have been praised by elder colleagues no less distinguished than Alice Neel, who cited their "passion and immediacy", and Raphael Soyer, who enthused about their pictures "fairly bursting with vitality and energy."

There's Myron Heise
There's Myron Heise !

 

Myron Heise has his own grasp of Gotham's nocturnal mystery in his darkly pristine paintings of smoky, funky cellar jazz clubs ight out of a novel by Jack Kerouac; atmospheric little streets illuminated by glowing storefronts; subways or porno theaters populated by lonely zombies; or visions of bridges, boats, and twinkling skylines that flirt with black velvet kitsch - yet rise above it to become compelling statements by sheer virtue of Heise's passion for the city in all its aspects, from the seamy to the scenic.

The Street Is Their Beat

Also including strong work by Andy Pizzo and Vincent D'Alessio. Other Street Painters, such as Tad Day and Ronald De Nota catch the spirit of the city from slightly more mellow angles - a church steeple soaring high above the humped backsof parked cars, a sunny day in a funky park - contrasting transcendent and mundane elements to powerful effect. Strong portraits by both Richard Castellana and Ivan Nunes bring their sitters alive through vibrant color and vigorous paint handling.

Jessie Benton-Evans, the sole woman in the group, captures the visionary aspects of nature. The League is where members of the Ashcan School such as Robert Henri and John Sloan once taught. Among their students were Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop, and Raphael Soyer, who could have been called Street Painters in their day. Ken McIndoe teaches at the League and it appears that the loaded brush of lively, humanistic urban genre painting is being passed like a baton to a new generation.

Peter Schwarzburg
Peter Schwarzburg

Strictly speaking, not all of the Street Painters specialize in streets. The name seems to bespeak an attitude rather than a required subject. Peter Schwarzburg paints landscapes that appear lit by neon rather than sunlight.


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