Sunday, April 25, 2010

R.E.Levine Exhibit Opening Reception 4/30/10, Works on Canvas,Paper and Panel

I saw this exhibit in May, 2007 in Washington D.C. The work is quite beautiful, original and moving. Interestingly, some of the work is on pre WWII Japanese paper that the artist happened upon in a store in NYC. After obtaining the paper Ruth Levine started getting copies of old Japanese newspapers, and looking into Japanese history of the time. Below is the press release. And below a portion of an interview I did with Ruth Levine in which she discusses this work on the Urban bytes blog.

"Please attend the opening of Ruth’s exhibit at the Melwood Gallery at Pittsburgh Filmmakers on Friday, April 30, from 6 pm – 8 pm. R.E. LEVINE: Patterns: echo shift and rescript
Reception: Friday, April 30, 6–8pm
Exhibition: April 30–May 23, 2010, Wednesday through Saturday 11am–5pm
Pittsburgh Filmmakers
477 Melwood Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15213 - 412-681-5449
Gallery hours are Mondays thru Thursdays: 12:00–7:00pm, Fridays: 12:00–6:00pm and during Melwood Screening Room shows.

Patterns: echo shift and rescript is an exhibition of works on canvas, paper and panel by R.E. Levine, artist and educator. Patterns: echo shift and rescript has as its underlying theme the nature of patterns – their iteration, shift, interruption and redirection as well as their function. This exhibit is Levine’s exploration of the decorative, kaleidoscopic, and confounding nature of patterns, in a variety of contexts.

Levine uses Tokyo newspapers from 1931-34 to illuminate the redirection of an entire nation’s pattern – the “imperial rescript” of pre-World War II Japan. Newspaper sticks hold 20 handmade books of period paper overlaid with newsprint, abstract design, and language from Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (Herbert P. Bix). A video loop of the pages is overlaid with a history of the incident that changed the direction and re-patterned a nation.

Levine received both her BFA and MFA at the American University in Washington, D.C. An accomplished artist whose work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions for more than 45 years, Levine was co-director and coordinator of the National Endowment for the Humanities; co-director, coordinator and deputy director for programs at the National Endowment for the Arts; and manager of traveling exhibitions for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., as well as an adjunct faculty member at American University. She has exhibited her own work locally, nationally and internationally, including Italy and the Czech Republic. Her website is"

Portion of interview from Urban bytes blog (ie my very occasional interview blog)

:.........the last show I had there was this year ’08. And it was called "Patterns". I became very much interested in patterns because I saw and owned patterns from Africa, where the patterns change. And I thought it’s only in the West where we make things line up left and right. And top and bottom. African patterns, like life, change and segue into different shapes. So I went at it from a very abstract and geometric point of view.
And then I started thinking about the other meanings of patterns. And found some wonderful paper in a New York art supply store that was simply labeled, " Pre World War II Japanese paper" It was a dollar a sheet. And I bought two hundred sheets. And my husband said, "What are you going to do with two hundred sheets?" Eventually,I decided to turn them into books. The papers were then layered with photo-transfers of Japanese newspapers from Tokyo from the years 1931 to ’34.
I didn’t know very much history, but I did know about the invasion of Nanking by the Japanese was their designated start of the World War II. And what I didn’t know, which I subsequently found out, and what went into these newspapers, was that it really had started much before then. Because the Japanese army had had its appropriations cut by the Emperor, who was afraid of the army's influence.
And the emperor made a big mistake when he cut their appropriations because they staged an incident in Manchuria. Claimed the Chinese had done it, and got their appropriations and more back. And went on to invade a number of places. And that was a change in the pattern of a nation. So I had these wonderful papers. And they were up on old newspaper poles, stuck in tables on a ledge. And I had a video of all of these news paper pages running continuously. And felt very good about it.

Jean: And then also, with the photo transfers on the paper there’s also painting as well.

Ruth: Yes, there’s painting and with different kinds of metallic and non-metallic water colors. And there are stamped images, Benday dots( which are like the dots that newspapers traditionally used). And so some them have a lot of verbiage and some of them have a lot of abstraction. One is prettier but not as clear, the other is clearer and not as prettier.
{For installation images, click here}

Jean: And there’s a video of the work.

Ruth: And there’s a video, and the title of then show changed to "Patterns: Echo, Shift and Rescript". The rescript was because the emperor, when he realized that the people of Japan really loved what the army was doing, issued what was called an Imperial Rescript. And he said, everything I’ve said so far was wrong. What I really meant to say was that the army has saved our country. That it has saved our honor. It has honored the emperor and we salute the army. So that was the pattern shift and rescript."

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