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Archive for June, 2008

25th Jun 2008

Art Promotes Religious Tolerance

Do fine art and visual images help promote religious tolerance?

Many faiths are flourishing in America, but a new study indicates that religious tolerance is flourishing as well. Yesterday, the NY Times ran an article about a study that was conducted by the US Religious Landscape Survey that indicates that “although a majority of Americans say religion is very important to them, nearly three-quarters of them say they believe that many faiths besides their own can lead to salvation.”

The survey (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) did not search for the causes of this tolerance, which goes beyond the principles of the Constitution where Americans are granted religious freedom. There is a huge difference between tolerating another’s right to worship as one pleases and accepting that there are many paths that can lead to “eternal life”.

This shift, especially for American Christians and Muslims is recent. Although Americans have always been legally able to practice whatever religion they choose, more Americans have investigated other beliefs and practices and even switched religions or denominations than ever before. The survey as well as what seems to be called the Oprah phenomena shows that strict adherence to the theology or dogma of one’s religion is no longer the norm. Religious Americans, those who attend services and practice their beliefs have also incorporated other practices and beliefs into their lives.

What caused this shift?

The rise of personal religious tolerance and freedom seems to parallel the spread of the use of Internet and Cable TV. We have more access to alternative programming and ideas. We also know how to easily pick and choose, taking what we like and leaving the rest.

An example of this is how we manage to tune out advertising messages that accompany our selected shows and sites. Back in the early days of TV, if people liked the show, and then they would buy the advertised product by association. Statistics show that concept is less relevant today. We have learned to pick and choose what part of the message we appreciate and accept and what we ignore.

Oprah Winfrey Psalm 133 by Judy Rey Wasserman

PSALM 133 (Oprah Winfrey)

Essence Portrait series by Judy Rey Wasserman


Strokes: Original letters of Psalm 133

Pen & ink

Oprah Winfrey has introduced her TV audience to many different and new paths, some spiritual, others religious. Oprah explores whatever she finds that seems to offer improvement and hope for the lives of her audience, yet sometimes appears skeptical of what her “expert” guests advise. Yet, Oprah is tolerant and quite generous to others who are less tolerant. A quick look at the discussion boards on the oprah.com website reveals posts by those who vehemently disagree and even dislike both Oprah and her show while proclaiming their own religious theology as the only to (using the survey’s words) “eternal life”. As long as these posters follow the normal web comment and discussion post guidelines, they are permitted to air their views on Oprah’s website. In addition to Oprah, apparently most Americans are applying their skills to pick and choose messages that are relevant for their own lives to their own religious beliefs and practices.

Oprah Winfey’s communications empire has expanded with our technology. Oprah knows how to use visual imagery, her own and others, to create an impact. She uses film clips and images more than any popular talk show host or show.

Our technology not only connects us, is visually connects us. If you access the Internet on a daily basis, have a mobile visual device and TV, you probably see more images created by people (including those with cameras) on a daily basis, than have been seen before by anyone in any previous time before the Internet, cable TV and mobile devices.

Thanks to the Internet, we have instant access to the visual image of many of the world’s great art treasures. As I create blogs and the ebook I am working on that refers to various famous artworks and artists, a quick Google search provides plenty of links to information and images. Try it for yourself. Google the word “Guernica” for Picasso’s famous painting and pages and pages of links come up. Then go to Google Images, and use the keyword, “Guernica”. We can easily find images of people, places and things on the Internet, and for images, language is never a barrier to communication.

We not only see more images, we see them more rapidly as our brains have learned to decode the meaning of the rapidly changing light rays into images quickly. Commercials, films, videos that are made today, especially those with FX, would have been difficult for people to actually see seventy five years ago as many of the images flash by too rapidly. We learned how to see rapidly changing, even flashing images.

Although most of the films with exciting visual images and F/X are aimed at that teenage male audience, they are also the films that are generally the real box office hits. People, including me and I am a boomer gal, do go to see these films when storyline combines with great F/X on the big screen. Our love of the visual is helping sell those big and wide screen TVs, too. Visually, films have taken us into to strange and exotic places, including ancient temples, pyramids, mosques, churches, synagogues, and other real or imagined holy sites

The art market continues to boom, despite economic problems in other sectors. Museum attendance, gallery show attendance and the public’s interest in art, including for Contemporary Art, also continues to grow. We flock to see images even when they are not on a screen

Artists tend to create works, even commissioned religious works, that show their own religious or spiritual understandings. Rembrandt, van Gogh, Da Vinci, Chagall, Kandinsky, and Rothko had different personal understandings and theologies. A major art museum is dedicated to showing great art, and easily tolerates all theologies if the art is great.

As a society, we revere our art museums. Cities and communities that have art museums tout their exhibits and if possible, collections. When people travel (and possibly coincidentally, but as the use of the Internet has grown travel has also increased) these museums) to New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Rome, Madrid, etc., they often include visiting the famous art museums. Great art museums are modern castles in the kingdoms that stand for religious tolerance.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses art that ranges from almost prehistoric to Contemporary. The collection’s pieces include art that is religious or spiritual from every current major world religion, many minor religions and religions that are no longer practiced, plus items that archeologists and art historians believe may have had some religious importance for an ancient people. And, these artworks are important to us, to the visitors and the community.

The Met and all the great art museums of the world have large and active websites. We want to show our collected communal treasures to the world.

Have visual images, especially art helped promote religious tolerance? Have the new technologies that allow us to easily and quickly share our images with one another, across former boundaries of nationality, age, gender, race, language and religion promoted more tolerance amongst Americans?

As an artist and founder of Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory, the first theory of art to actually reference most of the world’s great religions (plus science), I think art can impact how we see our world. What do you think?

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art & Inspiration Comments 1 Comment »

20th Jun 2008

Science of Vision and Art

Recent understandings in medical and neuroscience about how we see has tremendous importance for visual artists, and also anyone involved in the art world.

Vision is the primary perceptual sense for anyone who is not seriously vision impaired. Visual perception is so basic that it is the one sense we must shut off when we go to sleep.

The fact that we stand tall, gives us an advantage over most animals on the planet, which is how we developed our reliance and fairly well developed vision. Carnivorous flying birds also enjoy especially excellent eyesight, in some ways usually better than our own, especially birds who hunt at night such as owls or soar the highest, eagles and hawks.

All that our eyes actually perceive are light rays. Those eagle, hawk and owl eyes may perceive more light rays, but we still have better vision. Human beings can see more than any living creature on earth. Why?

Our human brains.

We have binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, infrared lenses and other inventions that allow us to see far beyond the capacity of our eyes, or those of the birds.

Each normally sighted individual had better functional vision based on his or her brain. One half of the back part of the human brain is devoted to the business of seeing. There are over one hundred billion nerve cells in the cortex, the area of the brain that most deals with sight.

As an artist this gives me a kind of job security. Visual art is never going to go out of fashion when half of a person’s brain is devoted to seeing!

Neuroscience has also recently discovered that a person’s brain can continue to grow and expand, make more connections, grow more cells throughout life. In relation to sight they have learned that when a person’s brain is injured, from a stroke, injury or operation that often over time the person can make new connections and that one area of the brain often takes over the former duties of the damaged or missing part.

Therapies, such as Vision Restoration Therapy, based on breakthroughs in neuroplacticity, help people learn how to see when parts of their brains that are necessary for full vision are compromised. Visual exercise for the brain can help create stronger brains and sight.

Medical advances have repaired eyes that were blind in adults who have been blind from birth or early childhood. After the first few operations, after the doctor removes the bandages, examined the patient and declared the operation to be a medical success, the family and friends of the patient gathered around so the patient could see them. Much to their dismay, the newly sighted patient still could not see them!

Although the formerly blind now had eyes, they had no information in their brains to compare the impressions of light that their eyes were receiving to, so they could decode those impressions into meaningful vision. The newly sighted only recognized who was in the room by their voices, being still functionally blind.

If you can read this text you have well trained and sophisticated eyesight, far more sophisticated than that of the majority of people who have lived on earth, just by the fact that you can recognize the different letters one fro another, and then their combinations into words, which you also differentiate.

There is a story, that I have heard in various ways, that seems to be true. Essentially a century or so ago, a missionary, or perhaps it was a doctor or doctor or anthropologist took the chief of a very primitive tribe on a special trip to a city to introduce “civilization”. They went to a museum or special traveling exhibit of famous realistic artists (probably Impressionism was too new to be included back then). The chief looked at the paintings, following his friend who marveled at the works. As they discussed the paintings it became apparent that the chief only saw bright colored stuff (paint). He had no idea that the paint created images, as that is a learned idea and experience. Only after the idea was shown to the chief did he begin to see the images and appreciate the art.

Now science tells us that the more art the chief saw the more experiences data his brain would collect, which would increase his ability to appreciate art. The connections in his brain would increase from his new visual experiences.

People who live in industrialized society where a steady stream of images from PCs, TVs, magazines, billboards, neon signs, images on cell phones, etc., are normal are developing visual vocabularies that allow them to understand visually transmitted information faster with greater depth of understanding than all previous generations.

Perhaps the art market remains booming not only because it is now fully international, but because people of wealth and/or education have a more developed visual sense than ever before, making visual art all the more relevant.

Since so much of the human brain is devoted to sight as it is the dominant sensory perception, and a healthy human brain can continue to make connections, create cells and hence “grow” during a person’s whole lifetime then a visual artist has opportunities, challenges and perhaps self-selected responsibilities beyond other kinds of artists. That humans vision is sighted humanity’s primary perceptual sense gives visual artists a better chance of inspiring and communicating with others, assuming the artist has talent, training and a vision (world view, spirituality, wisdom, etc.) to share and can make it accessible to others.

Great visual art was changing individual lives, including mine as a young girl growing up in NYC, prior to recent scientific discoveries about the way we see and how the brain works. Artists and art lovers knew that art could be meaningful and important; we just didn’t know that humans are especially wired to make visual experiences more relevant than any other kind.

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art & Inspiration Comments 1 Comment »

13th Jun 2008

Annual Hamptons Show Kicks Off the Art Season at the Springs Fireplace Project

Aside from the warm weather, various events signal Hamptonites that the summer season has begun. This year’s annual show of artists who live in the Hamptons held by Edsel William’s Springs Fireplace Project gallery signals that a wonderful summer is unfolding for us.

The show is curated by Klaus Kertess, who is also an art writer, former art gallery owner and past curator of the Whitney Biennial. Amazon has three pages of books and catalogs on some of the best artists around that are written by or contributed to by Klaus Kertess. As a gallerist he introduced and showed artists who are now renowned. Already impressed by the show, in preparation for this article I Googled “Klaus Kertess” and discovered all this. Now I am even more impressed.

Not quite two years ago I set out to discover the current contemporary art world of galleries and people beyond artists. As a then preparing-to-emerge artist who stumbled into what has became a new theory of art, I was finally returning to my first training and love: painting. I continue to stumble up into discovering galleries, artists, and the many good and talented people who inhabit the art world in various roles.

I only write about shows or what I see at fairs that I especially appreciate, which is what I did as a journalist covering independent film. There is more that I want to write about than I have time for considering the weekly blog deals with topics other than shows and my basic work is painting. I have a kind of ongoing list of artists I am waiting for the opportunity to cover, when their shows collide with my time and blog space. On that list was the artist Billy Sullivan, whom I have mentioned twice before.

Last summer I discovered Billy’s workat Scope Hamptons and gave him a brief good mention. Next, when he was the artist who created last year’s Hamptons International Film Festival’s annual poster. Billy was at a signing at the same gallery that simultaneously had a reception for my friend, photographer Pat Field, whose work covering the film festival was featured in Autumn 2007 edition of the local magazine Vox. Billy had left by the time I arrived, but I gave both him and Pat brief good mentions, in the side column that existed on my former blog software.

One of my other discoveries last summer was Edsel Williams and his gallery, so when I saw that Billy Sullivan was going to be in this show, I headed to the opening as I was hoping to write about Billy’s portraiture. The catch was that I needed to be able to especially recommend this show, beyond Billy Sullivan, and I had no idea what to expect. Plan B was to wait the time when Billy Sullivan had a solo show the Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery.

Today, Googling along, I discovered that Billy and Klaus share a home in East Hampton during summers. This came from a NY Times article about the 1995 Whitney Biennial.

Covering this show became a sure thing the moment I entered the gallery when the first work I saw was one I had hoped to find from a year ago March, when I wrote the first version of “The Manifesto of Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art – a Painting’s Meaning is Inherent in its Stroke.” Only James Nare’s work is far better than what I envisioned as possible.

The manifesto, from the initial scribbled draft to the new revised version has always begun: “The only essential material element of any painting or drawing is a stroke . The stroke is made to show the intention(s) of its creator. An artist can only physically make one stroke or part of a stroke at a time.”

James Nare creates one long sensuous, undulating, seductive and joyous stroke across his canvas. When I was a preteen and teen, somewhat hiding out and growing up at the Met, I would rush through the galleries comparing a stoke stared at and memorized by Rembrandt to one by Velazquez and then Monet, or others. I spent a lot of time comparing the strokes of painters.

Well, James Nare’s work has me at “Hello” as I entered the gallery. I have waited all my life for such a glorious stroke! For me, James Nare’s work is a visual gift. Thanks!


Delete All Gaps, 2008

Oil on Linen

60 x 60 inches

There is much more wonderful work to discover in this show.

Divided Light a work by Cynthia Knott does not easily reveal its strokes (neither does Vermeer) but the atmospheric effect is lovely.

Mary Heilmann has two pieces in the show, and her work intrigues me and is worth another article one day. My list of artists’ work to write about continues to grow

Last autumn after spying a portrait of Queen Elizabeth in a group show being hung at Luhring Augustine, I was inspired to return and write the article, “Questioning What is a Portrait — in Chelsea.” Although I do frequent Billy Sullivan’s’ gallery, I was hoping at that time that I would find work from him there to include in my article, but that is how I discovered Elaine Reickek’s work.

Billy Sullivan’s portraits are for me a continuation of the portraiture work by Andy Warhol. This is a high complement when as my own first portrait I my Essence series was Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol) in tribute to his work. Like Andy, Billy has an exceptional ability to simultaneously show a person’s mask, plus the vulnerability that lies beneath it. While Warhol dealt more with a media representation type of mask, Billy Sullivan paints the mask we project to the world while peeking beneath it.

Billy Sullivan’s painting is an elegant, sophisticated presentation of a woman who presents herself, in make-up, dress and demeanor as elegant and sophisticated. The painting is at once sumptuous and lush but hard edged and slightly abstracted and in places almost raw and unfinished. Thus the painting itself not only depicts but becomes as vulnerable and not-quite-complete-and-perfect as its subject. These people are engaged in living and socializing, and we sense that if the artist’s focus panned to the left or right other people would be revealed. In Jane 5.20.08t the subject appears to be riding in a vehicle, unaware that the back of her hair, blowing uncontrolled in the wind has turned into colorful waving ribbons, her demeanor remains smartly poised, with a tight bright red lipsticked smile that matches her stylish dress. It seems that many of Billy Sullivan’s subjects are his friends, and he reveals both what they want us to see and admire as well as their vulnerability and humanity that really makes them likable.



Jane 5.20.08,2008

Oil on Linen

30 x 20 inches

Speaking of friends, it was good to see Edsel Williams again. I look forward to the shows he is curating, too. Aside from finally meeting Billy Sullivan, and then Klaus Kertess and James Nares, it was a pleasure meeting the lovely Lisa Phillips, who I recognized from her pictures at Art Forum online.

Time and space prevent me from doing more than mentioning the other artists in this well curated show,who all deserve a good mention. They are: Robert Harms, Judy Hudson, Tony Just, Jake Patterson, Michael Theterow, Darius Yektai, and Joe Zucker.

* * *
Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true?  See for yourself. See more. Read:  In the Beginning

To download a free copy of In the Beginning as an ebook in PDF format simply click: DOWNLOAD. The PDF will open in another widow and you then save it to your disk. Offer ends June 9, 2014

Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.

Download a free copy click: Manifesto of Post Conceptual Art– A Painting’s Meaning is Inherent in its Stroke.

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05th Jun 2008

Money is Art

Many people claim to have a problem – even problems with money in general. Almost no one has a problem with art in general. And yet, money is almost always also art.

Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol)

Andy Warhol knew this. He was a master of painting images and portraits of the icons of his popular culture. He especially focused on images of people that were created by other artists. For instance, his portraits usually involve media images photographed by others.

When Warhol created paintings or prints of objects they were usually popular commercial items that were designed by other artists and designers, such as the Campbell’s Soup cans.

All legal tender issued by United States Mint is art. The coins and bills all carry images and drawings. Andy Warhol knew this and understood the irony, which is now intensified as his paintings of dollar bills now fetch upwards of $ 4 million.

The currencies issued by most of the governments in the world contain art, both coins and paper tender. Stamps, which are a kind of currency in that they have a face value, are art. Some small countries earn part of their revenues from issuing beautiful limited edition stamps, mainly to collectors from other countries. Most everything that is issued with a face value and has no other purpose but to represent that value (as opposed to the items intrinsic worth and use or tickets to events), is imprinted with images and design. Bonds, stocks, discount coupons, often even gift certificates issued by small local businesses usually include art.

Granted, a great deal of this art is chosen for its PR value. The images and design visually promote the issuing source. For instance, the gift certificates available at a local restaurant have the logo or an image of the restaurant. Governments issue money with images of their leaders.

Money, stamps and fine art are all also collectibles. When a coin, bill or stamp is rare, for instance there was an error and the printing run was shortened, that makes them more valuable. There is always a limited amount of original work produced by any artist that can be collected, whether or not the value of the artist’s work increases over time..

The value of any art and any money is created by the decisions and actions of its creator/issuer and those who aspire to own it. It is the ultimate supply and demand paradigm, since other than the worth we assign to it, both art and money, especially paper money is basically worthless.

Artistic merit and worth are decisions. Like art created on and with materials that do not have much intrinsic value, the paper even a dollar bill is printed upon is worth less than the assigned value of $1.00. It is just a little rectangular piece of paper.

Oil paints applied to a canvas have no special value, and the artistic assignments of middle school students usually end up in the trash when they go off to college to study other disciplines. When an artist, such as Andy Warhol, uses paint on a canvas, over time the worth of that painted canvas increases as more people decide it is valuable. A Warhol canvas is far more valuable that the costs, which have increased since Warhol’s time for the canvas, framing materials and paints. No collector buys the materials, but rather what the artist created with them.

Although most recognized art collectors are also worth a great deal of money, they actually physically have and experience more fine art than money. The art is in their homes and offices and collections, which they see, maybe every day. Their money is indicated –but not actually shown – on ledgers, bank statements and reports prepared by accountants and financial executives. How many millionaires have actually seen a million one dollar bills at the same time – if ever?

There seems to be a connection between appreciating and collecting fine art on a regular basis and accruing greater wealth. This applies to individuals and societies. Although collecting art takes funds beyond what is required to obtain life’s necessities, those individuals, companies, communities and countries that revere and collect visual art prosper beyond any increase in the value of the art. In fact, emerging companies, professionals and business people will often collect newer artists, as they are affordable and offer a new vision.

Artists need patrons and collectors to survive, and obviously patrons must have the wealth to be able to afford art, but only to a degree. Historically, whenever a society began to emphasize and revere visual art (art that exists only to communicate and/or inspire) that society blossomed and became wealthy and influential. If and when the society’s artistic community became artistically regulated, when artists either were not encouraged or lacked the freedom to experiment then the societies or regime began to lose power and wealth.

Currently, although the stock market, real estate and other economic indicators are signifying problems in the USA, the art market continues to prosper and grow beyond expectations. Emerging collectors and museums have created an international market for art that for the first time ever, allows the work of living artists to span the globe.

Money is art. Money follows art. Anyone who is experiencing a lack of money – or wealth, is most likely also experiencing a lack of authentic, inspiring and visually challenging art.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art — Andy Warhol

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