Published on April 11, 2022 at 10:55 p.m.
Arlene Abend Creates Abstract Metallic Landscape and Resin Sculptures in ‘Resolute’ Exhibit
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Upon entering Arlene Abend’s home and studio in south Syracuse, nothing stands out. At first glance, the house is like the others that surround it on the edge of Drumlins Country Club.
Outside of the unique art and carvings scattered around the walls and ledges, the first floor doesn’t look much different from what one would expect of a 90-year-old home. Cute, clean and prepared for a visit from her daughter, who now lives across the country in California. Photos of family members rest next to small sculptures on its shelves, and plants inside the house add to its cozy atmosphere.
But downstairs, past Abend’s stair glider, is a room that most 90-year-olds don’t have in their homes. It’s what Abend calls his “piece of heaven”: a large workshop that contains welding tools and unfinished sculptures.
“I had a store downtown…and the Labor Day storm took the roof right over my store,” Abend said. “So I had a partner here and I built an attachment to the house, with financial help. And so I have what I call my piece of paradise. The thing is an example for me. Even the bad things turned out to be good things.
Before entering this revered space, there is a cluttered drafting table and a small room containing some of Abend’s earlier work. This room is a miniature gallery unto itself, containing all of the works not on display during Abend’s exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art, entitled “Resolute”. This work spans decades up to the past five years.
The Everson exhibit is featured along with the exhibit “Woe” by Dawn Williams Boyd and “Soundtracks for the Present Future” by Charley Friedman. “Resolute” will be on view until April 17.
Here in his home gallery, the unselected works feature traits similar to those on display at the Everson: abstract metallic landscapes, a cast resin bust of his own face, and small metal figures that Abend says add breadth and personality to his works. .
But it is through this piece that the magic happens. Abend’s shop looks like that of an average welder, only a few centimeters smaller. The framing of her studio, like the tables and cabinets, was fabricated by Abend herself, as the welding equipment in stock was usually too big for her, she said.
I also think I’m bored. One of the reasons I went into soldering is that I hated flat surfaces.
Arlene Abend, local artist from Syracuse
On the walls and tables of his studio are pieces that have not yet been completed. Pieces of metal from previous projects are hung and modified as Abend carefully works to create finished works. Her inspiration doesn’t always come from grand or abstract ideas, she says. Instead, she enjoys experimenting and creating new ways to answer tough questions.
“My art is just different. I’m going to another area. … I think about the material and my life experiences,” Abend said. “It’s a lot of stuff, and other times it’s playtime with absolutely nothing behind it.”
One of his works that came out of “playtime” on display at the Everson is “Desert Tree”, a piece produced by Abend in 2018. Its creation is the result of Abend’s constant search for new ways to create art, she said.
While working on a large commission, Abend melted a brass rod onto a steel plate and noticed the spatter created by the brass. She began experimenting with the splashes and scraps of this commission and eventually created “Desert Tree”, as well as jewelry using the same inventive techniques.
“Art doesn’t have to be with a capital ‘a’,” Abend said. “I also think I’m bored. One of the reasons I went into soldering is that I hated flat surfaces.
Metal work isn’t all Abend has exhibited. On the other side of the gallery containing his work, the Everson displays his resin sculptures. Jay Lurie, a local Syracuse filmmaker who made a film about Abend, credits Abend with creating a new form of sculpture.
“(Abend’s) love for experimentation led to pushing the boundaries of sculpting with ordinary fiberglass resin,” Lurie said.
Abend created this new way of sculpting after talking with an SU professor about sculpting with resin. The professor told Abend that the resin she was using would not give her the thickness she was looking for. The process of creating these resin sculptures usually requires several installments, and the professor didn’t think Abend would be able to create a sculpture with the resin she had.
But when she finished the big sculpture, the professor approached Abend and asked “How many installments?” Abend responded by simply holding up one finger (although now she said she wished she was holding a different finger).
From experimentation, she created works such as her 2007 piece “Remembering”. The sculpture contains a resin bust of his face, with one of his small metal figures dangling in front. The work freezes this act in time; the face always looks at a memory of the past. “Remembering” shares a similar theme to much of Abend’s work: while the sculpture contains his face, it compels the viewer to think about his own personal past.
Even with all of her past work, her 2022 exhibition “Resolute” is the first solo exhibition she has presented at the Everson. Steffi Chappell, assistant curator at the Everson, said her exhibition was a long time coming.
“(Abend) is loved in the community. She is well known in the community. But somehow she’s never had an exposure to the Everson before. So it is way past time,” Chappell said.
Although Abend said she doesn’t work as hard as she used to, she’s still looking for new ways to create and invent. She said, however, that her motivation to keep creating is more than just boredom.
“I don’t know why I’m doing this. In fact, at this point in my life, I have no religion.
anchor or something,” Abend said. “But I have a spiritual sense. I’m always childish and I ask questions that have no answers. And I found something at least that makes me feel comfortable. And it’s just a few words: ‘I know that I don’t know.’ »