“Worlds Seen and Unseen” is the name of this show featuring five well-traveled women who have been practicing their art for many years. It opens Friday, March 29th, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and will run from March 29th through April 20th, 2019. The hours of operation are 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday to Sunday. The show is curated by Maggie Hinders, who is doing it for the first time.
The Westbeth Gallery, at 55 Bethune Street, is a very large space that has been hosting art shows for nearly 50 years. Other mid-level galleries have gone under due to rising Manhattan rents, thereby making Westbeth, simply by remaining a space to show, increasingly desirable. Additionally, whereas it was once in a less-popular location, by staying where it is, it now has the Whitney Museum as a four-blocks-away neighbor, as well as the Highline and the revitalized waterfront.
Now, Westbeth has a rule that an individual artist or group of artists can only show there once every three years, to give some others a chance. Last year, 60 applications were received for eleven places. The woman running the gallery is Karin Batten, who has been the director of the gallery for three years. She selected the women in the upcoming show, all women in their sixties, all from the New York area, all in full command of their media.
KARIN BATTEN was born in Hamburg, Germany, and came to New York by way of London, where she studied art at Central Saint Martins College. She has an MFA from Hunter College. She arrived in New York City in 1973 and moved to Westbeth in 2001, two months before 9/11. At that time she had been awarded a grant to paint views of New York. The grant provided for a studio on the 91st floor of Tower One. She would have been up there on 9/11 but was detained that day because she wanted to vote in the New York mayoral primary election and the voter lines at Westbeth moved slowly. All her work was lost, and someone she had been planning to meet that morning had to walk down 91 flights of stairs and was never the same after that.
Fortunately, Karin’s work was not among the artwork that was lost when Hurricane Sandy overwhelmed Westbeth in 2012, where ten feet of water accumulated in the basement, but she has lost other works due to leaking water in old buildings.
Some of Karin’s works are representational and others are abstract. She repainted some of her representational views of Manhattan from photos and memory. She is represented in New York by the June Kelly Gallery on Mercer Street. She has been with that gallery for thirty years. She has had numerous shows there and elsewhere, and has won many painting awards. Just recently she was in the news for having won a second Pollock-Krasner Award.
Karin’s abstracts are influenced by her trips to Costa Rica, Vieques, and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. She taught an art class in the Dominican Republic and was an art teacher at Parsons for twelve years. She uses collage elements such as cloth, sand and lava in her work. “I love texture. I have a lot of texture in my work,” she explained. She mentioned a museum in the Dominican Republic dedicated to the Taino people; they have been an inspiration to her.
BARBARA RACHKO’S influences include Man Ray, Mexican and Guatemalan cultural objects like masks, papier-mâché figures, toys, and carved wooden animals. She collects masks made by indigenous people, and then paints them. She uses pastels with sandpaper as a surface. Her work shows a unique, very private landscape. She retired as a commander in the navy, and was not at the Pentagon on 9/11; her husband Bryan was killed onboard American Airlines Flight 77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. He was an economist (and the highest ranking civil servant killed on 9/11) who worked at the Pentagon, but he was traveling to California on government business that day.
CAROLINE GOLDEN, transfixed by the fairytales of childhood, makes three-dimensional collages using found objects, emphasizing the scary forces that enter our lives. Her work explores familiar stories and legends from a unique perspective. She creates surreal new worlds and invites the viewer to investigate these narratives again.
CAROLYN OBERST was a dress designer and worked in fashion. Her dreamlike paintings are colorful—with designs, flowers, and geometric shapes all floating in the picture. She works in paint, drawing, mixed media and wood relief. She is also inspired by sock dolls, and paints them into her pictures. She has lived in Southern Spain, Morocco, and London. Some of her work recalls the Spanish modernist Miro.
MAGGIE HINDERS has been a book designer at Alfred A. Knopf Publishers for 27 years and is now a senior designer. She paints exuberant stripes and splashes of color. She is also a talented, witty, and charming cartoonist with a blog called little-pix.com.