Stephanie Hightower and Dorothea Hokema discuss with artist and moderator Cyriaco Lopes, their Art Wall on Third and Photo Walls in Picture Collection exhibitions titled Urban Arcadia: Landscapes of New York and Berlin and the existence of aesthetic harmony within even the most anti-Arcadian environments. They examine the Arcadian idyll and contemporary landscape as constructions, interpreted within the classical genres of landscape painting and photography. What is the relationship between the physical environment we inhabit and the one we imagine? What is landscape scientifically? Do contemporary landscapes exist and what would be special about them?
Landscape as the Arcadian idyll with shepherds, meadows, muses and mild sunshine may only exist in our imagination and our collective knowledge. When rural, pristine environments did exist, they were not seen as Arcadia. Arcadia is a construction. There are contemporary urban situations that radiate a similar enchantment as the traditional Arcadian idyll. They too are constructed in imagination. This is what the show is about: the very personal or subjective perception of urban landscapes, their beauty and their special character. We explore constructions of landscape by referring to various urban situations – that may or may not include natural elements – and by translating them into photography and painting. We find colors, structures, and constellations that convince us of the existence of aesthetic harmony within even the most anti-Arcadian environments.
Stephanie Hightower is a visual artist and professor of painting and drawing. Hightower is the recent recipient of a research/lecture fellowship, entitled What is a Meadow – Landscapes of New York, with City University of New York hosted by Technische Universitaet of Berlin. Other awards include grants and residencies with The Bronx Council for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Edna St. Vincent Millay Colony, and the Excellence in Education Honoree for NURTUREart. Hightower’s work was selected for exhibitions at the Andrea and Andrew Shiva Art Gallery at John Jay College, The Cooper Union, the Bronx Museum, Fordham University, Monroe College in Rochester, and University of Connecticut among others. She serves as director and faculty member for the School of Art Pre-college Program at The Cooper Union, and as Associate Professor of Art at John Jay College. Hightower teaches painting, drawing, visual thinking, and contemporary art issues. Hightower has delivered lectures for Learning through the Arts at the Guggenheim Museum, as curator for numerous national arts competitions and graduate student exhibitions, and was commissioned as a muralist for Brooklyn Public Schools through the Rotunda Gallery. Hightower was awarded the Potowatomi Tribal Scholarship for graduate study. She holds degrees from Pratt Institute and the University of Dallas. She is represented by Cheryl McGinnis Gallery in New York.
Dr. Dorothea Hokema is a gardener and landscape planner living in Berlin and New York. After working in planning consultancies during the time of societal upheaval in reunifying Germany in the 1990s she now teaches landscape planning at Technische Universitaet Berlin. Her scientific interest is the contemporary understanding of landscape. In 2013 she published her dissertation titled Landschaft im Wandel (Landscape in Flux) which studies German landscape discourses in science, planning, and everyday language. During a research residency in New York 2012-2013 she surveyed US-American citizens’ understanding of landscape. Besides the intercultural comparison of landscape discourses she is interested in the interdisciplinary exchange.
Cyriaco Lopes is a New York based Brazilian artist whose work has been seen at the Contemporary Art Museums in Baltimore and Saint Louis and at El Museo del Barrio in the U.S., at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, the Museum of Art of São Paulo, and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Brazil, at Artforum 3, Freiburg, Germany, at Art Cinema OFFoff, Gent, Belgium, at Mire/Lieu Unique, Nantes, at Centre D’Art Contemporain Faux Mouvement, Metz, and at Centre Wallonie Bruxelles, Paris, in France, and at Casa Degli Artist, Milan, Italy, among other venues. Lopes won The Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis Project Award (2003), the World Studio Foundation Award (2001), the Phillips Prize of trip to Europe (1997). In 2013 he exhibited at Kabine Nadire, Istanbul, Turkey, and the Armenian Centre for Contemporary and Experimental Art in Yerevan. In the past year Lopes has also presented lectures at Centro Nacional de Cultura, Lisbon, Portugal, at the Salford Museum, Manchester, England, and at Backstage Rome, Rome, Italy. He is an assistant professor at John Jay College, City University of New York.
Initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni in 2004, Artist Dialogues Series provide an open forum for understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. Artists are paired with critics, curators, gallerists, writers or other artists to converse about art and the potential of exploring new ideas.