The title Entropvisions is in homage to my mother, the poet and art critic, Harriet Zinnes. In 1990 New Directions published a collection of her poems titled Entropisms, a word she made-up combining entropy - the tendency toward disorder - and tropism - the growth towards or away from a stimulus. Similarly, my short reviews combine entropy and tropism by suggesting growth towards a vision of art from the chaos of the art world. Through the back door, my title also pays homage to my physicist father, Irving Zinnes, whose long discussions with my mom got her thinking about entropy and tropism in the first place.
Jake Berthot at Betty Cuningham
The Jake Berthot show at Betty Cuningham Gallery, up through April 15, is knock-out must-see show. Spanning the early 1970s until his death in 2014, the exhibition is a mini-retrospective of Jake’s painting career. I had forgotten just how powerful his paintings are, especially his late ones when he paints the moon and its glow over darkened fields or silhouetted trees, casting a light from another world, looking toward the inevitable end of life while holding on to being here in this one. These paintings made me cry. I have often wondered why Jake started with gridding out the locations and relationships of parts, since ultimately he is such a romantic, such an instinctive painter, and though his drawings are not in the exhibition and the grid lines rarely show through in the paintings on view, I began to understand why he needed that internal structure. These are paintings from his imagination, from deep within his soul, and despite their dreamlike qualities, that crisp armature gave Jake the organizing structure on which to roam. The grid is not about finding the relative locations of actual trees, but rather the structure out of which trees, horizon, light and expression grow. In his earlier paintings he began with formal or technical givens and questions, for instance the relationship between the frame’s edge and frame itself, (in the paintings of rectangles, Jake felt he’d put the painting within itself, trying to understand where it ended), and in the later work, the grid became the given, the thing to hold on to, give definition to. I’d like to add a personal note: Jake was a lovely human being, being a wonderfully supportive teacher of mine at the NYSS eons ago, and more recently donating work to anti-fracking benefits I organized. Thank you, Betty Cuningham, for keeping his work alive and in front of us.