Art Opening: Secret Gardens at Dorian Grey Gallery Lowell Nesbitt and Philip Van Aver

Exhibition: Secret Gardens—the works of Lowell Nesbitt and Philip Van Aver
Where: Dorian Grey Gallery, 437 East 9th Between 1st and Ave A, NYC
When: TONIGHT March 13th, 6pm-9pm

In the Secret Garden you can look forward to a solid exhibition from two established artists.  The late Lowell Nesbitt (d.1993) was a well regarded artist who experimented with printmaking in the 1960s. He was the official artist for NASA’s Apollo 9 and 13 missions.  He is best known for his signature hyper-realist style floral works… he made four hundred of these!  With elements of post Renaissance concepts in Western art, Philip Van Aver injects his work with the preoccupations of surrealism and other forms of modern art movements.  His works are included in the collections of several major art institutions.

Nesbitt Water Garden I,1993, oil on canvas, 28 x 28in

Nesbitt Water Garden I,1993, oil on canvas, 28 x 28in

Lowell Nesbitt was born in Baltimore in 1933. He graduated from Pennsylvania’s Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1955 and attended London’s Royal College of Art from 1955 to 1956. His first exhibition was in 1957, and was followed by more than eighty domestic and international solo exhibitions in his lifetime. His paintings, drawings and prints are included in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1969 and 1970, NASA named Nesbitt the official artist of the Apollo 9 and Apollo 13 missions. In 1980, the US Postal Service released a series of stamps based upon his floral paintings.

By 1963, Nesbitt had moved to New York City and by the early 1970’s, had emerged as one of the most well regarded artists of his generation. He is best known for the more than four hundred floral works he created, all rendered in this signature hyper-realist style. He began experimenting with printmaking in the 1960’s and produced more than a hundred original prints over the course of his lifetime, primarily in the mediums of silkscreen and dry point engraving.

In 1976, Nesbitt purchased a former police stable at 389 West 12th Street. The studio and living space provided a fitting backdrop for his larger-than-life paintings. Nesbitt called the space “The Old Stable” and hosted many celebrated gatherings there for his friends and fellow artists.

In 1989, Nesbitt became involved in one of the most important First Amendment controversies of our time. Nesbitt’s close friend Robert Mapplethorpe’s show at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. was canceled amidst claims from social conservatives and national politicians that Mapplethorpe’s work should be deemed obscene. In a demonstration of solidarity and courage, Nesbitt publicly revoked a $1.5 million bequest he had committed to Corcoran. As a young man, Nesbitt had worked as a night watchman for The Phillips Collection and often cited this experience as a major influence in his development as an artist. After revoking his bequest to Corcoran, he bequeathed the gift to The Phillips Collection instead which has one of the most substantial collections of his art. Lowell Blair Nesbitt passed away in July 1993 at 59 years young.

In 2013, Dorian Grey Gallery was pleased to reintroduce this important artist with the first New York City exhibition of his work in twenty years. The gallery continues to proudly represent this artist’s paintings and prints.

VanAver Herm of Pan 1982-brush and ink drawing 6x5in

VanAver Herm of Pan 1982-brush and ink drawing 6x5in

Though Philip Van Aver has lived in the same apartment on East 6th Street since 1969, this exhibition of his works dating from 1976 to 2014 is his first gallery show to take place in the Tompkins Square Park area of the Lower East Side.

“I am often annoyed when my works are compared to Persian miniatures” Van Aver remarks. He continues, “though my works contain ornamental elements, the composition and treatment of pictorial space are derived from post Renaissance concepts in Western art”.

Philip Van Aver grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Our current exhibit contains four pictures relating to that part of America.

“Ever since I was a child I have been drawn to small scale objects and miniatures. Because I have always had this preoccupation at some point I decided to incorporate this obsession into my artwork. Since surrealism and other modern art movements tend to elevate the obsessional, I do not avoid this compulsion. Though I utilize traditional landscape, still life and figurative subjects, I inject these preoccupations into my depictions. In an attempt to create a fusion of visual ideas relevant to the subject matter, I am employing elements derived from classical antiquity, post cards, many kinds of decorative art, fashion and botanical prints, the movies of Luchino Visconti, old engravings and erotic material.

Years ago, a young friend of mine said, ‘all your pictures tell a little story’. Though I do not make a conscious effort to carry out that idea, I do accept the comment as being of interest when I evaluate some of my paintings, drawings and miniatures.”

During the over forty years Philip Van Aver has lived on the Lower East Side, he has been very involved in the politics of the area. Beginning in 1976 he became a member of the Citizens Committee to Keep the Ottendorfer Library Open. At the time, the New York Public Library was attempting to close eighteen branches, including the historic one on Second Avenue. Besides blocking the closure, the committee succeeded in having the exterior and parts of the interior landmarked. Since then, he has worked with preservationists, building owners and elected officials to designate the Charlie Parker Residence and The Children’s Aid Society building, both on Avenue B; P.S. 64 and other area sites. As a steering committee member he has worked with the Friends of Tompkins Square Park in 1985 and 1991 to stop proposed redevelopment of the park. He was on the executive committee of the Lower East Side Joint Planning Council, which was mostly concerned with housing issues, and was a founding member of CoDA, a Lower East Side Democratic party activist organization. More recently, he worked with the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative to implement the massive Second Avenue/ East Village historic district proposed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Philip Van Aver’s works are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.

Philip Van Aver has been a member of the Metropolitan Post Card Collectors’ Club since 1970. On May 10, 2014 Philip will be seventy-five years old.

Gallery Contact:

Luis Accorsi 716 864 1459

Christopher Pusey 516 244 4126