Thursday, December 26, 2013

Arts Centers Blossoming in the Valley

It had been my hope, while I was Chair of the Amherst Public Arts Commission to re-utilize a decommission school (East St. School) to make the Amherst Arts Center. While gathering a group of knowledgeable and influential people to help me plan this arts center, it became apparent (to me) that in order to make this happen, I would have to give up my own artwork,  as well as significant personal & family time and devoted myself completely to this endeavor which would have involved constant fundraising. After a lot of soul searching, I realized that at this stage of my life that it was more than I cared to sacrifice. So I was so pleased to hear that a new arts center is being created in a former bank building in South Deerfield, by an entrepreneurial spirit, Fiber Artist, Jane Trigere. She has three goals for the Deerfield Arts Bank - have fun, build community and pay the bills. She has asked me to "mentor" her and help organize some exhibits. The first exhibit will highlight artists from Deerfield during the month of April. Later this Spring a call for art from artists in the Pioneer Valley will be posted. If you would like to be consider for either of these exhibits send 3 low res jpegs to directly or links to your websites for consideration of our exhibition committee.

This Arts Center is still evolving, there will be art classes, art supply store, performances and many wonderful events to enrich the cultural life of the Pioneer Valley. 

Also more good news on the Arts Center front is that the Northampton Center for the Arts has found a new home at 33 Hawley St, Northampton.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Friend Joe

Young Joe, photo Tom Byrne
This Summer I lost my dear friend, Joe DeStefano, who I've known since the days of my youth in Brooklyn, NY. He was a calming, creative force in my life, a young man who introduced me to Paul Winter's Winter Solstice performance at St. John of Divine and other delights such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy .On a special occasion, I  traded a painting for one of his inspired poems.  A group of old friends gathered late this Summer to celebrate his life at a bar he frequented near Times Square, NYC. At this gathering, I had the pleasure of meeting a mutual friend and talented writer, Robert E. Murphy whose written for The New York Times & Huffington Post, He also wrote After Many A Summer  (The Departure of the Giants and Dodgers from the city and a Golden Age of New York Baseball). Robert also wrote this poignant piece about our dear old friend, Joe.


I want to say something about Joe DeStefano, one of my longest-standing friends, who died last week in Las Vegas. I think most of us survivors of Class 101(at Bishop Ford High School, Brooklyn, NY) will remember our first impressions of him. He got our attention by knowing such things as that the fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was the “Cradle of Civilization,” so we voted him class president. I don’t think he would ever have declared himself a candidate. He was too independent for that, not the sort to seek a significant role in high-school society or even to line up the high grades he was well capable of earning. He sought learning in his own  fashion, read plenty, enjoyed literature. He was an aspiring writer who never joined the school newspaper.

Boy and man, Joe was a low-key personality. Although he could be a fierce observer of people and events, I don’t believe I ever heard him raise his voice. But he was hardly dull, and by senior year, as, I suppose, his boredom with school life was speaking, he revealed a bit of a wild streak. He, along with other classmates, enlisted in a student-volunteer program at Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, and – Joe at least – soon became less interested in studying textbooks than in perusing student nurses and the beer menu at the Coach Inn on 7th Avenue. Joe was 17 and big, and a lot of his companions, including the females, were older than he, so none of the barmen questioned his age qualification. Indeed, though I was a year younger, I lost my barroom virginity at the Coach under Joe’s shadow. We were there together, with John, too, I think, and maybe Al, on graduation night in our white tuxedos. Big. Tall, that is, and heavy. And blond. He looked not Italian at all, but Nordic.Nor did he sound like a guy who had grown up in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. He drank like a Northern European and loved Irish music and literature. Regarding these incongruities there is a tale that I think may now be told – in just a minute. He and I and an old friend of his who also became a close friend of mine hung together a lot during college days and after, often in the Coach. For several years we would meet there every December 23rd heard from him at Christmas.

He moved, I’m not sure why, to Chicago in the ‘70's, married and divorced, and eventually returned to Brooklyn to look after his aging mother. This surely was a sacrifice, because he had established himself as a marketing copywriter out west and had to take on some odd jobs back here. In those years I began to appreciate Joe’s character more than ever. I liked, even envied, his calmness, and I gained a new sense of his moral integrity. I don’t think he ever went back to the Church, but I noticed that he had developed spiritually. Oh, no, he didn’t proselytize, but he quietly rejected modern secularists who dismissed the reality of religious experience. His mother died, and Joe, her only child, was left to manage her postmortem. And among her papers he learned definitively what he probably long suspected – that he had been adopted. I feel that it’s alright to mention this here because Joe was open about it, and he leaves no immediate family. It would seem a shocking truth for a man to discover this in his 50's, but Joe, serene as ever, appeared unfazed. He told me that his natural father had been a college teacher. That made sense. He spent his last years in Las Vegas, working again at his writing trade. He would send me e-mail messages when certain memories or perceptions touched him, and in lieu . Joe was always nostalgic about that, and I often of Christmas cards, he began to compose online New Year’s messages. A few years ago he offered these words to me: What I guess I'm trying to get at is something like: be safe, be comfortable, love and be loved. In short, be happy. Be happy January first and December thirty first and every day in between. Enjoy it all every day and don't take anything for granted.


It takes much character and maybe even courage for a man to write like that to an old friend. And his having done so is one of the reasons I wanted to share some memories and thoughts of Joe DeStefano with his classmates & friends of exactly 47 years ago.

Robert E. Murphy
Edited by Terry Rooney

After Many A Summer, Robert E. Murphy

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reflections & Results

Terry in home studio, Brooklyn '72
This has been an incredible year for me on so many levels. I've had the opportunity to revisit past loves, reflect on our histories and experience the loss of a dear friend. On top of this, dealing with the health care system for two family members with some success and some neglect. All of which, because of legal issues, I can not rehash here. But these times have also brought forth moments of grace, such as my mother-in-law receiving a book of Pushkin's poetry (in Russian), saying she has been looking for this poetry, all her life. And then reciting this poem in Russian to me from memory at 91 years old.

On the upside, my sources on the Amherst Public Arts Commission have confirmed we have reached our fundraising goal to make the Portal a permanent installation in Kendrick Park, Amherst. It feels to good to make the dream of bringing permanent public art in one of our town's parks, a reality. Thanks to all our supporters for making this happen. We will have a commemoration probably in Spring. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Piece of Heaven

A question I'm asked frequently is "What is my artwork about?" Many things, though my main focus for years has been house/home as an extension of the woman's body. One of my 3-D constructions that caught the attention of viewers years ago was a house construction with the earth superimposed on it, with a slice of heaven (clouds) and another house on the top of it. Having a stable home is my piece of heaven. I wanted to find out what other people's heaven on earth was, so for two years I asked everyone I met what was their heaven on earth. The responses ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, from having a baby to an empty bladder, from chocolate to a long organism. Their answers opened a window into their souls, and let me live vicariously. I would like to invite viewers of this blog to tell me what their heavens are, as recent events are leading me back to this work and could use some inspiration. The last time I exhibited this work was back in 1999 at Hampshire College and it's time to revisit this body of work and see what the new millennium brings forth.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Times They Are A Changing

Anita Licis Ribak photograph opening night  Shedding Light
As I've been transitioning back to the studio while juggling care-giving, my time seems limited to pursue large productions like the Amherst Biennial.  So I'm stepping aside as Chair of the Amherst Public Arts Commission after almost 9 years at the helm of this town's commission. It's time to pass the baton onto new talent.

It has been a great ride and one that has helped me grow as an organizer, producer and artist. It all started with Shedding Light. Erika Zekos's created this huge ephemeral public art installation by lighting up a tobacco shed for Amherst's 250th anniversary. This site-specific installation on the Swartz Family Farm in 2009, opened the door for bigger public arts installations and exhibits. In 2009,  I produced & curated Pioneer Women which travelled from the Pioneer Valley to Tabla Rasa Gallery in New York City. City.
The following year looking to include the talented men in the valley and New York City artists I created Pioneer Women & Wonderland taking over a former warehouse at Paper City Studios in Holyoke, MA.
Mo Gareau Ringey, Detail from Mosaic  Frig

This was a warm-up for the Fall's big event, the first Amherst Biennial: Art in Expected and Unexpected Places.  <>  in 2010 which had fourteen sites ranging from storefronts, a decommissioned school, galleries and art in expected and unexpected places. This first Biennial brought "Art in the Park", Matt Johnson's welded sculpture The Portal to Kendrick Park, Amherst. This has been a dream of mine for years, to bring public art in Amherst's parks. (more on this later)

My goals for the second Amherst Biennial was to have all three colleges in Amherst participate, assemble more prestigious sites and continue promoting the quality of artwork created in the Pioneer Valley. This time around, we indeed had all three colleges (Amherst College, Hampshire College & UMASS) participating as well as the Directors/ Curators of the Mead Art Museum, Elizabeth Barker & Loretta Yarlow, University Museum of Contemporary Art as my co-curators. We also had five museums and four galleries for more than 20 sites this time around. This was done on a shoes-string budget and a small crew of volunteers. As some of you may know, who have produced huge productions such as this, it takes over your life and can take a toll on many areas of our lives. So I'm stepping back from these huge art productions for the time being to reassess my work and life and see how I can move forward.

Terry Rooney, Liberty with Snake Tatoo, 2013 (detail)

Presently, I'm looking a various options for future exhibitions for my work as well as possibly expanding this Biennial to include all of Western MA. especially the Berkshires. You can check for updates at this site in the future for further developments. <> . Also I will continue to list the accomplishments of the Amherst Biennial artists as time allows on this site.  So stay tuned to see what's the next chapter is... in my brilliant career!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chesterwood - Contemporary Sculpture

The Housatonic, Rick Brown & Laura Brown at Chesterwood
While exploring the local arts scene in the Berkshires this Summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see two wonderful site specific sculptures at Chesterwood, summer estate of sculptor, Daniel Chester French who created the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.. Besides providing tours of this lovely estate and studio of French's, it also hosts contemporary sculptures all over the landscape and woodland trails. The first sculpture which caught my attention was created by a husband and wife team, Rick & Laura Brown. This dynamic duo ask Chesterwood to take down a dead pine tree, which they created this impressive sculpture on site within a week. They utilized the remains of the trunk and top of this tree as bookends to this "fanned" slices in the middle of the tree. Wow, this blew this away.

There were some other interesting sculptures down the woodland path at this sculpture park and the one that caught my eye was this parade of small painted flags by two artists, whose name escapes me at this moment that were like the flags that mark where utilities wires are but to me they were a miniature parade of munchkins in the woods. It was a delightful splash of color in the earth-tones of the forest floor.

These artworks gives me ideas for future Biennials.......WEMA Biennial  '15

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Save Art in the Park = Celebration Event Portal, Kendrick Park, Amherst 6/30/13 @2PM

Matt Evald Johnson's Portal sculpture forged from worn-down snow plow blades in Kendrick Park, Amherst
Thought I could exit quietly as Chair of the Amherst Public Arts Commission, but it seems my committee had other ideas. Public Arts Commission would like to bring attention to the work I've done over the last 9 years and invite everyone to join us in June,to Kendrick Park at the sculpture, which was installed the first Amherst Biennial '10. So come join us, rain or shine (tents will be provided). Bring your frisbee's (Ultimate Frisbee started here didn't it?), we will provide lemonade and cookies. Come celebrate the Art in the Park, my work and this wonderful diverse community. Help us reach our goal and support the arts programs of the Public Arts Commission. Meet you at Matt's sculpture in Kendrick Park, Amherst (across from Bertucci's -  Sunday, June 30 @ 2PM.  See you there.                                                                                                         

All my best,
Terry Rooney 


Friday, April 12, 2013

OZ Totem - Not TOTO this time

In my first exhibit of OZ, I wanted to present this wonderland of OZ from a different perspective. The original artworks were from paintings from the knees down! I then realized, that this perspective was from Toto's point of view!!!

Presently revisiting this body of work, I've been experimenting with the different elements of this series, playing with them as if they were building blocks. The most successful of this experimentation is this new OZ totem, which combines a child's mannequin with the yellow brick road leading to OZ painted on it, sitting on a cube showing different parts of Dorothy's life. Tthis makes external our journey through life onto a body and on a building block.

Below is link to an article on the first OZ exhibit at Nash Gallery, Easthampton, MA

Thursday, April 4, 2013

OZ & The Ruby Slippers

As I journey down the yellow brick road, exploring the tales of Frank Baum's OZ, I discovered that in fact the "ruby slippers" were silver in his original tale. When MGM released their film version of this story in Technicolor, they changed Dorothy's slippers to ruby for greater visual impact. In the studio, I've been moving the various components of my OZ pieces around and coming up with some surprising pieces. To the right I've combined a small section of Dorothy at the crossroads,  which is the small painting with the X with the mannequin piece with the yellow brick road, which used to have the ruby slippers pictured above. Journey Down the Yellow Brick Road, the hands beckoned viewers to journey down the road with me.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Liberty & The Snake

For over 10 years the Statue of Liberty has been confronted by the Snake in my artwork. Liberty is my muse and the snake represents many things, evil or transformation.. This is a detail of a 3D painting I've been reworking this week in the studio. A friend commented after viewing this piece "She (the Statue of Liberty) looks protective and almost most hopeful, or pleading for hope." Hmm, I like that and also the fluidity in this piece. After focusing on printmaking for 3 years and running two Biennials, I'm enjoying the solitude of working in my own studio and doing what I love best... painting.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pioneer Women & Biennial

Susan Montgomery, detail of Pope Johanna
There were two openings this week of two Pioneer Women artists who also were selected for the latest Amherst Biennial. First, Susan Montgomery's Pope Joanna enlightens APE Gallery in Northampton. A timely installation addresses the possibility of a woman pope in the 9th Century. Susan first presented this body of work at Pioneer Women & Wonderland in Holyoke at Paper City Studios in 2010.
One of the large watercolors in the exhibit evoked Richard Yarde's work, who passed last year and had once told me, Susan was his favorite student.
On the other side of the state, Rosalyn Driscoll continued her exploration of the fragility of skin/body with a large sculpture at Boston Sculptors Gallery which plays a large copper covered cubed with light and hide evoking water.
I highly recommend both exhibits of these extremely talented local artists.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Studio Installation

It's been wonderful to be "snowed in" for the last 3 days, making a lot of progress on several pieces from the Statue of Liberty and OZ series. These pieces seem to be talking to each other also. Mixing up several components of the OZ series and they areworking quite well in this new format. The center piece is an OZ totem combining Dorothy at different stages of her life and the mannequin from the piece offering the "ruby slippers" to join me on this journey. The Liberty series includes a piece on 9/11, Church & State- some timely contemporary topics.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Liberty Revisited

As I'm slowly getting back to a rhythm of working in the studio again, I'm amazed how taking a break for almost a year while producing the Amherst Biennial has cleared my eyes. Recently I pulled out some older paintings from the racks which had stymied me years ago. But now I'm looking at them with fresh eyes, They are speaking more clearly to me. Here's a detail of one of the series of the Statue of Liberty, which I started in 2004. The title for this painting is Newtown.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cable TV Interview with Me & Tony Maroulis

Julie Lapping Rivera, In the Garden, mixed media collage
This interview took place in the Spring of 2011 with Tony Maroulis, Director of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce & Co-Curator of the first Amherst Biennial 2010, former Director of wunderarts.

After this program was recorded, Town Manager John Musante announced that he was giving the East Street School to Amherst Media, ACTV. So plans for the Amherst Arts Center have been put on hold. Terry has now just produced a second Amherst Biennial with all 3 colleges, 5 museums, 4 galleries, a nature preserve & storefronts. Presently, she is focusing on her own work & considering various projects for the future.

Monday, February 11, 2013

For the Love of Art

It has been so gratifying the response to the latest Amherst Biennial and that the Town of Amherst is making Matt Evald Johnson's sculpture a permanent installation in Kendrick Park  More good news, the Amherst Cultural council just awarded the Amherst Public Arts Commission a $1,000 grant towards the purchase of this sculpture. This brings the grand total raised to $7,000 with only $3,000 left to raise to make Portal a permanent installation for our community park.We will be launching a fundraising campaign on Valentine's Day. Check out Amherst Biennial webpage for details and gifts.:

Also I've continued updating the Amherst Biennial website with recent accomplishments of the Biennial artists, exciting things being created by Nancy Winship Milliken in Boston' and wonderful collaboration with Rosalyn Driscoll & Sarah Bliss coming soon.  The Biennial also recently received a nice review in Big Red and Shiny