Blueprint: A House, a Novel and Victoria Palermo’s Sculpture
Victoria Palermo, the local sculptor whose reputation reaches far beyond the confines of Warren County, is one of three artists whose work was included in “Blueprint,” an exhibition at Union College organized by another artist, Brece Honeycutt.
Honeycutt based the show on a novel, Simon Mawer’s ‘The Glass Room,” which was itself inspired by a house designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for a cosmopolitan Czech couple named Fritz and Greta Tugendhat in 1930. The house, with its glass walls and floating rooms, is regarded as a masterwork of modernism and is now a museum.
“Just as one uses a guidebook when wayfinding in a city, ‘The Glass Room’ serves as an architectural guide to the works of painter Sharon Butler, installation artist Peter Dudek and sculptor Victoria Palermo,” said Honeycutt, who has based artwork on texts herself in the past, most notably in an exhibition in the Bronx titled “Emily Dickinson Rendered.”
Palermo, who had read “The Glass Room” before being asked by Honeycutt to participate in ‘Blueprint,’ created new pieces specifically for the exhibition.
“Palermo constructed fantastical small scale-sized buildings, each built from slabs of brightly colored silicone, which she placed atop large tables, giving one an eye-level view. The planes meld together, not only to form a structure, but also to make different colors,” said Honeycutt.
Honeycutt said Palermo’s sculptures remind her of a passage from the novel: “There is… some quality of light that reminds him of a painting… the broken, refracted shapes of light and color.”
“It’s almost as if Mawer had the vibrant planes of Palermo’s structures in his mind’s eye as he wrote,” said Honeycutt.
“In my imagination, these sculptures or three dimensional paintings were larger; they contain spaces that I want to be inside of,” said Palermo.
In his novel, Simon Mawer imagined the family’s life within the rooms’ glass walls, and how those walls may have shaped the inner lives of those who occupied the house later, Nazi and Soviet officials among them.
That relationship between architecture and daily life intrigued Palermo as well.
“People behaved differently; they were more open, more transparent, living within glass walls. Real conversations took place within those walls,” she said.
Honeycutt said the work of all three artists can be related to one another, and that she would have chosen to group them together even had she not been inspired by Mawer’s novel to organize “Blueprint.”
According to Honeycutt, the three artists have all exhibited widely. Butler, of New York City and Connecticut, has had exhibtions in New York City, Hudson and Seattle. She publishes the influential arts blog Two Coats of Paint.
Dudek has exhibited at galleries in the U.S. and Reykjavik, Iceland. He teaches sculpture at the School of Visual Arts and Hunter College in New York.
Palermo, who teaches sculpture at Skidmore and Adirondack Community College, has participated in shows in Saratoga Springs, Lenox, Mass. and Los Angeles. She installed a permanent bus shelter – Bus Stand, commissioned by Kidspace at MASS MoCA, in North Adams, Mass.
Honeycutt said she knew all three artists well – she and Palermo were undergraduates at Skidmore together in the 1980s – and all three were familiar with each other’s work.
“Blueprint” closed on February 27.