Riches deep on Spaight St.
Jonna Rae Brinkman heard the horrible news and ran up to the roof of her apartment building across the East River from Manhattan. The first tower was ablaze and she watched in disbelief when another plane crashed into the second World Trade Center tower.
"Then she went down in her basement and spent the next month painting, doing what an artist has to do to make sense of what had happened," Andrew Weiner says.
The results of the artist's work are some of the most memorable artworks in a current show of deep and marvelous riches at Spaightwood Galleries, 1150 Spaight St., that runs through Aug. 15.
The show, "A Few of Our Favorite Things (and) Some New Favorites," is Spaightwood's farewell to Madison.
"It's just our way of saying goodbye," says Weiner, whose soft-spoken words are freighted with bittersweet feelings about leaving and hope for a new life in Upton, Mass. "But there still will be Spaightwood Galleries," he adds.
Yet things will never be the same on Spaight Street. That's why a final visit will reveal the vibrancy and historical depth of these unique Madison galleries in the home of Andrew and his wife, Sonja.
Brinkman, a Wisconsin native whose career Spaightwood has nurtured, moved to New York a few years back, but she remains a Spaightwood favorite. Brinkman's recent semi-pictorial 9/11 paintings add a remarkable emotional dimension to her strong fluency as an abstractionist.
This show also features newly acquired work by two artists with singular distinctions to their biographies. Several drawings are by Eva Gonzales, who was the famous impressionist painter Edouard Manet's only art pupil. One Gonzales drawing is a shadowy portrait of a gypsy.
Especially close to the heart of Weiner, a Shakespeare scholar, is artwork in the show by Giulio Romano, the only artist that Shakespeare ever mentioned in his plays ("Oh, rare Giulio Romano," from "The Winter's Tale").
These artists underscore the historic range of Spaightwood's massive inventory. This show provides a good sampling of that range. You'll see works by Kathe Kollwitz, whose people-packed street scenes and haunted self-portraits embody human suffering and resilience. Also on display are strong works by German expressionists and by abstract expressionist masters Willem DeKooning and Robert Motherwell.
A huge, recently acquired canvas dominates the living room gallery, and resembles a heroic-sized X-ray of a human spine, by an artist named Lois Lane. No, the X-ray is not Superman's. "But her parents had a wicked sense of humor," Weiner says.
Other art that reflects Spaightwood's lighter spirit includes two new, large Miro prints and several enchantingly red-hued and ethereal figures by Claude Garache.
Miro had an affinity for the younger artist's work, says Weiner, because Garache's figures are so "sensuous and physical and yet so evanescent that they might just dissolve at any moment." Although their styles differ greatly, Miro's "own figures were made to be the same way," Weiner says.
Madison will surely miss Weiner's resonant insights and his infectious love of art.