Acrylic • Encaustic • Enamel

Art Exhibit at Figureworks: Saturdays & Sundays, March 13–April 17

(artwork at left) Michael Sorgatz, The Expanding Universe, 2021, acrylic on board, 36″ x 48″ (artwork at center) Joanne Ungar, Blue Insert, 2022, encaustic & cardboard on panel, 5.7″ x 6.38″ (artwork at right) Howard Eisman, Festival, 2022, enamel on hammered copper, 16.5″ x 13″ x 1″ image courtesy of Figureworks

Just before spring reaches full flush, the walls of Figureworks (168 North 6th Street) will be blooming with color. The exhibit: Acrylic • Encaustic • Enamel will feature works in each of those mediums by three artists (respectively, Michael Sorgatz, Joanne Ungar, Howard Eisman).  Established in April 2000, Figureworks is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary and 20th century fine art of the human form.

“The energy and excitement is completely recognizable where figures emerge and disappear in chaotic landscapes,”

Randall Harris, director of Figureworks

Michael Sorgatz utilizes the vivid qualities of acrylic in surprising ways. “There’s a wide variety of subjects in these paintings, from mythological creatures and urban landscapes to legendary and fictional quests. I take that initial idea and start massing shapes of color and respond to their interactions, working on the painting until it develops a character and direction of its own,” states Michael Sorgatz’s artist statement on his website.  “The energy and excitement is completely recognizable where figures emerge and disappear in chaotic landscapes,” described the press release from Randall Harris, director of Figureworks.

At the opening reception (l to r): Joanne Ungar, Michael Sorgatz, Randall Harris, and Howard Eisman

Encaustic painting is simplistically defined as hot wax painting.  This style in Joanne Ungar’s hands utilizes found boxes, which she flattens, then paints, and then embeds with wax. “There is a well-defined set of rules that guide this work: the dimensions of the piece are dictated by the dimensions of the opened flattened box within and the title of the piece is taken from what is printed on the box. In addition, each of the smaller pieces is made with three interacting systems in mind: the natural creases and cuts of the manufactured box, my graduated painting, and the top layers of more translucent waxes,” Ungar said when interviewed by Etty Yaniv in a March 5, 2019 article in Art Spiel. Ungar was a resident of Williamsburg beginning in 1996, “Randall Harris was one of the first people I met when I moved there. I met him because I responded to a pull-tab ad for local figure drawing sessions. The rest is history!” Figureworks still hosts 3-hour life drawing sessions on Saturdays from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. for $10 a session. “From 2000-2018 my husband and I owned a DIY converted loft on Powers Street near Manhattan Avenue. I have had various art studios in the area throughout that time, and my current studio has been in Bushwick at the Active Space Building since 2014. My husband and I sold our loft on Powers Street in 2018 [and moved to the Lower East Side (LES)], but I still commute to my Bushwick Studio every day that I can. I have no plans to leave this studio! I am thrilled and honored to be showing at Figureworks (courtesy of [former Williamsburg now LES’s] Front Room Gallery [which has represented her since 2014]) along with 2 longtime Figureworks artists,” said Ungar.

Enamel artist Howard Eiseman photo provided by artist

Howard Eisman’s works in enamel have been shown at Figureworks since the early years of the gallery. Eiseman spent his early years in Greenpoint, when his family moved to the neighborhood’s Kent Street. “Greenpoint was a poor neighborhood when I moved there in the 1940s.  It was one of the most heavily industrialized areas of this country. Most of the people living in Greenpoint worked in the factories located near the East River and Newtown creek. It was a Slavic area with Polish being spoken perhaps as much as English.  A loud factory whistle rocked the neighborhood early in the morning to wake everyone up and a second whistle sounded later to tell everyone that it was time to walk to work.” He began vitreous enameling in 1980. He says of this series, “My goal is to create enamel art which conveys the idea that life can be a colorful, exuberant adventure.”

The Acrylic • Encaustic • Enamel exhibit at Figureworks (168 N. 6th Street) will hold an opening reception on March 13, 2022 from 1 p.m.–4 p.m.  Regular gallery hours are Saturday & Sunday 1 p.m.–6 p.m.  or by appointment. Ph. 718-486-7021

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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