Jonathan Levy

‘Reclaiming Space’ Art Shots GreenEdgeNYC

Gallery House Grassroots Eco-Themes a Clinton Hill Delight

Waves of Decision

“Style of Nature” artist Jonathan Levy's latest artwork at current “Reclaiming Space” exhibition at the
Gallery House on Clinton Hill.

By Harold Egeln
7/29/2010
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CLINTON HILL — Since it opened a year ago, there is a strong green edge to the Gallery House, highlighted by its latest art exhibition of nature-related work, tied to supporting environmental organizations that are making a difference for a sustainable city.

The current, delightful “Reclaiming Space” fine art group exhibition, showing through August 31, has been holding a series of auction/raffle receptions in support of GreenEdgeNYC, a vibrant social eco-network composed of groups focused on various aspects of environmental activism.

“This is our third exhibition. Each one has given support to environmental cause groups as well as bringing together artists from Brooklyn and beyond,” said “Style of Nature” artist Jonathan Levy of the Gallery House (www.galleryhouse.org), which is in an historic 1877 brownstone at 272 Clinton St. between DeKalb and Lafayette avenues near Pratt Institute.

“Reclaiming Space is about this space in this wonderful house we are restoring and how we reclaim space in our lives and the world,” said Levy, a curator of the exhibition, about the two-room, first floor space.

“It showcases the multitude of languages in which New York City artworks speak today. Our receptions give space for communicating and sharing new ideas, a creative mix,” he said. The next receptions are on August 5 and August 21 from 7:30 to 11 p.m.

The GreenEdgeNYC collaborative was founded over three years ago by Carolyn Gilles to create and expand a community for a sustainable future through social networking and the formation of associated focus groups. Executive Director Judy Harper coordinates the activities.

These include groups for foraging, green buildings, sustainable farming, trash and recycling, filmmaking, sustainable design, a neighborhood supper club and the Brooklyn Green Team.

Among activities of the groups are the Solar Power Film Festival, Solstice Soiree, Green Crafting and the Annual Birthday Bash for GreenEdge, recently having its third. GreenEdgeNYC is financially sponsored by the Open Space Initiative, part of the Citizens Action Program.

Art Inspired By the Natural World

There is an intriguing “color shift” in Levy’s art, entering “a digital stage” with somewhat slightly subdued hues but still vibrantly full of life’s motions. It is a joy to view, along with his “Primordial Soup.” His inspiration in the natural world came from the time he spent in Hawaii.

To observe his creative outpouring at work, the paintings in his current series include a floor spot with a video screen and wonderful videos of Levy in the act of creating his artwork in swipes, swirls and swoops across and around the canvas. “The work comes from within as I go along,” Levy said.

Among all the wonderful and diverse artworks by 11 artists on exhibit are the back lit “Dendrites” on paper by Brooklyn artist Jenna Bonistalli, and the wondrous “The Tortoise and the Hare” imaginative landscape or mindscape by Tom Long.

Another of the intriguing artworks by mixed media artist Adrian Roman is his “Cage De La Memoria Viva” box painting, with its four sides floating above space in the rear gallery featuring a fascinating face that invites the viewer inside the workings of its head.

Placing one’s head inside the box floating above the viewer is truly entering the mind of the artist, with the inner four-sided surface filled with a collage of old family and friends’ photographs, written items and reminders of long-gone times, a memory treasure trove.

One of the show’s artworks that incorporated an American flag, “Evolve” by Clark Clark caused a little public controversy ended by a decision to withdraw the piece from the exhibition shortly after it opened, the only hitch in the popular summertime exhibit.

The “Reclaiming Space” show once again, as in the two previous exhibits, inspires the spirit, sparks a creative stream of consciousness and brings artists together to share their ideas, igniting new ways to look at life through art.

 


eARTh’ Exhibit Helps MillionTreesNYC Project

Uncut NO26

“Style of Nature” artist Jonathan Levy's “Uncut Flowers” painting series. He is the curator of the “eARTh” exhibition at the Gallery House in Clinton.

Clinton Hill Show Aims To Raise Eco-Consciousness

By Harold Egeln
3/11/2010
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CLINTON HILL – Trees are the life and breath of Planet Earth, keeping the carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange cycle around the globe in balance. Bringing that fact and concerns about threats to that life-giving cycle is an art show called “eARTh” at a gallery in a 19th Century house opened last summer in Clinton Hill.

With the immense loss of tree-rich rainforests worldwide and other threats to the environment’s stability, an exhibit at the Gallery House (www.galleryhouse.org), located at 272 Clinton Ave., has been celebrating trees, raising ecological awareness and encouraging environmental activism with its attractive “eARTh” exhibition. The exhibit also benefits the MillionTreesNYC project.

“This has been an environmentally themed group exhibition, in both form and function, that is meant to celebrate and highlight the challenges our planet is currently facing,” said the Gallery House group of artists and supporters in the exhibit’s press release. The show opened in February and will run through Friday, March 12.

“It is critical for our survival that we learn to put a priority on the environmental needs,” the Gallery House statement said. “Many of us have become so immersed with day-to-day responsibilities and possessions that we have begun to neglect the stage that our lives play out on. And ‘eARTh’ refocuses the viewers' attention to nurture through the medium of art.”

The current show, Gallery House’s second after its grand opening “Style of Nature” exhibit by artist Jonathan Levy and other artists last summer, has Levy as ‘eARTh’ exhibit curator. It is dedicated to helping the city’s MillionTreesNYC project (www.milliontreesnyc.org) to plant one million new trees citywide by 2017, with 400,000 already planted.

The planting project, recently the focus of special presentations at community boards throughout Brooklyn, is a public-private partnership between the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation and New York Restoration. Board presenters inform members of the tree species planted in their districts and how the trees are maintained.

The city is committed to plant 60 percent of the trees in all its parklands and playgrounds, while New York Restoration operates 40 percent of the plantings, a project launched by Mayor Bloomberg a few years ago with the goal of one million new trees planted by 2017.

Three receptions, the first two hobbled by snowstorms, have served as occasions to raffle off exhibit paintings to raise funds for the MillionTreesNYC project, noted Levy. He voiced support for the project, with the goals to “plant, protect, preserve and participate.”

There are 17 artists and photographers in the exhibit, with a total of 40 artworks and photos. Among them are some Brooklyn artists, such as Erik Maniscalco with the riveting “Gates of Change,” Amanda Gentile with her awesome “Sky,” Jenna Bonistalli, and Aaron Mauder with “Divination.”

Mauder’s almost surreal work, explained Levy, shows the future-tech world of the human mind divorced from a connection with nature. Levy, as curator, smartly juxtaposed “Divination” between two beautiful tree paintings.

Levy’s “Uncut Flowers” painting series on display creates an experience of the life of flowers untouched by human intervention as the flowers’ colors swirl around. “If someone views the cutting of flowers as being even a little bit wrong, how will that affect the cutting of trees?” Levy wonders.

His experience of nature was inspired while living in Hawaii where his “Style of Nature” artwork took off, and also by his work earlier in a state forest in Rockland County and being fascinated by the variety and beauty of trees, Levy said.

Among the outstanding artworks are “The Blue Path” and “The Enchanted Forest” by Brittney MacKensie, a New York-area artist whose paintings can make viewers feel like they are in the woods and enjoying the experience of trees.

 


Parking Lot Gallery

NYC Winner 11/23/2009

Jonathan Levy’s extremely unique style blends acrylics on canvas to creates patterns that appear almost digital in origin.  Using twirling wisps of color, he loosely solidifies his image and creates little areas of sporadic motion which challenge the eye. It reminds me of stumbling around in a drunken stupor or maybe it represents the fragments of memories which are pieced together the morning after.  Real, fictitious or somewhere in between; the women in the painting is a beautiful way to remember any evening.

Violet

 


‘Green’ Art Show Highlights New ‘Gallery House’ in Clinton Hill

Humming River 3

“Style of Nature” artist Jonathan Levy's Humming River paintings
at the new Gallery House in Clinton Hill.

 
Exhibit Helps Council on Environment

By Harold Egeln
8/11/2009
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CLINTON HILL – An impressive 19th century brownstone that developing into a new arts venue here is housing an exhibit that benefits both the idea of the human spirit reconnecting with nature and the Council on the Environment of NYC.

The show in question is the “Style of Nature” solo art exhibit by Jonathan Levy. It is in the first-floor space of a five-story 1877 brownstone called “Gallery House” at 272 Clinton Ave., an exciting new venue that celebrates the arts in all forms.

Gallery House and the inspirational show opened on July 24 with a reception followed by a second reception over this past weekend. At other times the exhibit can be viewed by appointment only by contacting Gallery House.

The venue is a gift of joy to its restorers and artistic community, said Levy, a Pratt Institute fine arts graduate. “The silent investors want to use this space as a way of giving back to the community. We’re grateful for their commitment,” he explained.

“This is a fantastic place to work and be in,” said architect Patrick Malloy, another Pratt Institute graduate who is part of the working group restoring Gallery House. “We’re fortunate to be in a great neighborhood with a wonderful cross-section of people who bring their energy and involvement into the area.”

Gallery House, its mission statement says, “is a Clinton Hill-based organization dedicated to the sharing of ideas pressing our world today. Through our hosted receptions, we aim to gather and communicate ideas through art, music and other types of artistic expressions.”

The centerpiece of Gallery House’s first show is Levy’s Style of Nature solo show celebrating the patterns, movements and colors of the natural world that surrounds us but which is not usually noticed in people’s daily activities, noted Levy.

“Soon after I graduated Pratt I went to live on Maui in Hawaii in search of inspiration,” said Levy, who was on Maui from 2003 to 2008. “It was there that my eyes opened with a new perspective with my creative drive inspired by the flowers, ocean and land of that wondrous and beautiful island. There I developed my artistic style of nature as I observed the random movements and patterns in nature’s forms.”

In 2005 he first got his first show at the 27th Annual Juried Exhibit on Maui with his acrylic on canvas paintings. In the last two years he has been in several exhibits across the nation and at the International Art Expo-New York at the Javits Center in 2008 and 2009.

Levy’s paintings are a wonder to view and experience. His Humming River, Walk Under the Shadow of the Tree and Setting Sun series of paintings, and individual paintings such as Lake Nowhere, Cross the Pond and Violet make one linger near their colorful swirls. The show helps people focus on nature and gets them away from a focus of everyday activities.

Fifty percent of the sales of Levy paintings sold from this exhibit will be donated to the Council on the Environment of New York City. Levy and Malloy are excited about the opportunity to promote the appreciation and study of the urban environs through the three-decades-old council and its multifaceted work.

“Our partnership with Jonathan Levy and Gallery House for Style of Nature reflects a shared vision of preserving the natural beauty of the city,” said Council Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. CENYC is responsible for programs such as Greenmarkets, Open Space Greening, Environmental Education, Office of Recycling, and Learn It, Grow It and Eat It.


B’klyn Artists Exhibit At International Expo:  Flowers, Levy and Heck Show Works at Javits

By Harold Egeln
3/4/2010

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

JAVITS CENTER — Brooklyn is a creative city for curious minds when it comes to its ever-growing community of artists, and a few members of that large community displayed their latest works at the city’s largest annual international public art exhibition and trade show this past weekend.

The natural random rhythms of nature and intense personal energy redirected onto canvas were the central expressions displayed by three Brooklyn artists who attracted much attention at the five-day 31st International New York Art Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, ended yesterday.

“I am a professional actor who decided five years ago to find another way of expressing my creative energy,” said artist Washington Flowers Jr., smiling at his booth among his varied artwork, seen in all its glory on his web site. Obviously happy to be there as thousands of people passed by, the brightly smiling artist told of his work.

“It’s a way that challenges my internal and external energies and corrals them onto a blank canvass, expressing the truth of life in the flow of time,” said Flowers. “This Art Expo is a wonderful opportunity to meet so many interesting people and share my art.”

The “Aloha Spirit” of Hawaii had an impact on Brooklyn artist Jonathan Levy, bringing the garden of earthly delights alive at his “Style of Nature” booth. “I’ve been painting since I was a little boy; that’s nearly 30 years ago,” he said with a broad and pleasant smile. “But it was my five years living on Maui on the Hawaiian Islands that opened me up to nature and the art I do now.”

That life-changing experience for Levy, who earned his Fine Arts degree at The Pratt Institute, was profoundly inspirational. Levy explained at his booth and on his web site (www.styleofnature.com), that people usually are engrossed in their day-to-day lives with a focus on “things, possessions and routine responsibilities.” That is the way of the world; but something is missing, he said, that can both help humans and planet Earth.

“Our collective focus on ‘things’ has contributed to a philosophy that is progressively destroying our planet,” Levy writes on his web site. At the expo, he said of his time living on Maui that it is “a beautiful place where I experienced a revival of my natural senses. That drove me forward to create artworks fostering an appreciation of the natural world’s patterns of design and its random movements.”

What the Heck?

Literally drumming up attention was Brooklyn’s own popular pop artist Ed Heck at his spacious “The World is Going to Heck Again” display and performance space at the expo. Four times during the weekend, legendary rock drummer Carmine Appice, who started out with the Vanilla Fudge rock group 40 years ago, performed on his drums. He and Heck were signing posters of their joint new work, “Drum City.”

Fans queued up after the performances to chat, as Heck and his son sat at a table. Heck, who works out of the Morgan Fine Arts Building in Greenpoint, is noted for his weird, quirky and whimsical, colorful doodle-like paintings of flying saucers, dogs, birds, crayolas and everyday objects. “It’s kind of oddball art with brilliant color and bright fun in the mix,” said Heck to a fan.


Prizma

From Stephen Sawyer, Juror:

"As a fellow artist the notion of judging something as beautiful and subjective as original art is daunting.  The selections for Prizma Virtual Gallery's Best of Show, First, Second and Honorable Mention are clearly as uniquely subjective as is each entry.  I found real accomplishment and skill in all of the entries and am therefore hoping each artist will continue pursuing excellence in their chosen medium(s) and unique visions of the world whether they won an award or not."

Best In Show

Humming River 3

"Humming River 3"
  29 x 23 Acrylic on Canvas
  Jonathan Levy  

Juror's Commentary:

Levy's creation is unfair of comparison but, at first, I could only think of "beyond contemporary" as if this was a new Van Gogh.  While the work may have been done meticulously, as I view this painting, the motion and interrelationship of color and object seem to explode through what was once a normal lens.  

It is very refreshing to see the illusion of reality done in this way.  At first glance it looked like a Photoshop "smudge" technique.  As I inspected it further I was really pleased to see the effort taken to manipulate the paint.  There is an immediacy of this painting's motion which does not seem frozen in time and if that can be duplicated in another painting there is a talent here that I and many more people would like to see more of.

 


Absolutearts.com

JONATHAN LEVY" by Michael Corbin

Jonathan Levy is a young, New York City bred artist who I met while visiting "The Artists Fair" at Art Basel Miami Beach in December 2008. I was struck by his style, which he calls "Style of Nature." He's a very talented artist and I asked him if he would consent to an interview. Starting off, I asked him about how he was surviving as an artist in this current economy. He sent me a really great, but long email that not only addressed that question, but several others. So, with his permission, I broke up his answer into the conversation that you see below. In short, I got creative, but this remains true to his voice. I think you'll enjoy his insight and his website at www.styleofnature.com but first, here's our chat:

MICHAEL: First of all Jonathan, thanks for talking with me. How did you start out as an artist?

JONATHAN: Six years ago when I finished up with school (Pratt Institute), I realized I needed to figure out two very important things. First, I needed to find a painting style that I loved to do and needed to figure out what to do with it once I found it. I was on the first plane to Hawaii in search of these answers. My search led me to Maui because I had heard it was one of the art capitals and I was in search of some serious inspiration.

MICHAEL: Hawaii sounds like a fantastic destination. What did you do when you got there?

JONATHAN: (Well,) that five-year hiatus proved to pay off. I landed on my feet, running as fast as I could. I applied to every gallery on the island for any type of work I could find. It was important for me to learn the business end of the "Art World" which I was willing to do anyway. After sending out nearly 80 resumes and receiving no response, I finally got an interview with a contemporary art gallery for a sales position. During the interview, I was told the only reason I got it was because I accidentally applied on four different occasions in a two-week span. Luckily, that was viewed as persistence and I guess they appreciated the effort.

MICHAEL: It sounds like you hit the ground running. What did you do?

JONATHAN: In five years time, I worked in three different galleries whose work ranged from $50 local Hawaiian style paintings to $500,000 original Chagall paintings. I worked in a wide range of positions such as (mainly) sales, administration, marketing, restoration, framing, crating and shipping. This experience taught me one very important thing. The business end and the art end of the art business are about as different as opposites can be. Unfortunately, I found it is just as important for an artist to be a salesperson as it is to be an artist. Two perfect examples of 20th century masters are Picasso and Warhol. They were adored personalities who everyone has a personal story about. These two gentlemen were more than just charming and charismatic characters. They were salesmen!

MICHAEL: You were all over the place. What are some of the more important lessons that you've learned?

JONATHAN: Primarily, I worked in art sales. I consider this to be more valuable to my career than my formal art education. I compare it to the epiphany I had when I was 4 years old and I first colored within the lines of my "Tom and Jerry" coloring book. It was made very clear that once you romanticized the artist, the buyer’s interest would increase substantially. I witnessed firsthand on many occasions that people who had a mere interest in a work could be transformed into enthusiastic art lovers in less than half an hour. Unfortunately, art does not sell art, people do! Another piece of evidence is "actor art". I'm not going to mention any names, but there are a few actors out there who have decided to switch to the fine arts. I'm no critic, but much of these works look like ragged canvases pulled from the back of the racks of a high school art class. Yet, they fetch up around six-digit prices. Why is this? People, more or less, want to own a piece of the artist. Who wouldn't want to brag that the original painting above their fireplace "was made by Moses"?

MICHAEL: Basically, what I hear you saying is that
ART IS WORK. It seems as if the real work comes with sales and promotion. During work, did you meet many collectors?

JONATHAN: While on the gallery floor, I also met many collectors, dealers and art enthusiasts from around the world. They would start as clients, become friends and end up as contacts. This is why galleries value keeping old collectors more than making new ones. If you treat a collector right, they will be back for more. This concept is magnified ten times when the collector is dealing directly with the artist. People love to know the artists of the works on their walls and appreciate the occasional email or mailing of a "new release". People are a lot more willing to give their money to someone they like opposed to someone they don't. I know that as an artist, it is much easier to crawl within yourself than it is to poke your head out of the ground to see what’s going on. That mentality could be the difference between painting for a living and getting (another) job.

MICHAEL: Most of the art that I own comes from artists with whom I've had direct contact. I will never buy art from a gallery without first talking with the artist. It's simply the most soulful and gratifying part of collecting for me. I've always felt that contact with the artist is more important than acquiring the work itself.

JONATHAN: Another factor is that art needs to be seen in real life with real eyes! In my work, photos can never do the actual pieces justice. My paintings were not selling until I began to bring them to the people. A small postcard or digital image can never contain the energy or magnitude of any work of art. Unless the buyer is familiar with your style and quality of work, it is extremely difficult to purchase something you have never seen in person. People assume it is like waiting in line at a fast food restaurant. You never get the same burger you see pictured in the window.

MICHAEL: I also think that art needs to be affordable. While “affordable” varies from person to person, I think that nothing intimidates everyday people more than seeing art that is priced WAY out of their reach. Obviously, no one should try to take advantage of struggling artists, but wouldn't their art sell better if it were more accessible?

JONATHAN: Art needs to be priced to sell. I know that with many artists, they spend so much time making something that they have difficulty parting with it. This is clearly reflected in the price of the artwork. It is a wonderful thing for an artist to form relationships with their art, but not if they become unwilling to let it go. You may be able to find works of art auctioning off for close to a half-billion dollars, but that doesn't mean all art is worth that money. Sadly but true, you might have to give away your first few pieces until some sort of demand is created. I always thought it would be an interesting idea to send my 20 best pieces to the 20 richest people in the world as a gift. If one of them takes a liking to my work, it could make the whole shebang worthwhile. So, along with these concepts, the support of my family and friends, I have been able to make a living as an artist in this art unfriendly economy. But to me, the support from those whose opinions I value far outweighs all the rest. This extremely good fortune of having people in my life who I both love and respect has fueled my efforts and turned a seemingly impossible mission into short, simple steps.

MICHAEL: Fantastic! Thanks for chatting Jonathan.

You can see Jonathan’s work in person at International ArtExpo New York at the Jacob Javits Center, booth 532 from February 26th to March 2nd or check out his website, www.styleofnature.com

MICHAEL CORBIN IS AN AVID ART COLLECTOR AND AUTHOR OF THE AWARD-WINNING BOOK, "THE ART OF EVERYDAY JOE: A COLLECTOR'S JOURNAL." CHECK IT OUT AT WWW.ARTMAESTROGALLERY.COM