PRESS RELEASE For more information, contact: Nancy Donskoj email@example.com Chris Gonyea firstname.lastname@example.org
Multiple Todd Samara Exhibitions in October Will Preview Auction of Hundreds of His Paintings
Kingston, N.Y.---For over 30 years, Todd Samara lived and painted in Kingston’s Rondout neighborhood, translating its hilly streets, tight rows of 19th-century gable-roofed houses, sailboats, bridges and panoramic river and mountain views into poetic visions characterized by simplified, textured forms and rich, glowing color. To preserve his legacy, two Kingston galleries are hosting exhibitions of his work in October, which will precede an auction of more than 300 of his paintings in November.
The exhibitions, at The Lace Mill, located at 165 Cornell Street, and The Storefront Gallery, located at 93 Broadway, will open on Saturday, October 6, from 5 to 8 pm. Three businesses with Samara’s works on their walls--Dolce, at 27 Broadway; A.I.R. Studio Gallery, at 71 O’Neil; and Tony’s Pizzeria, 582 Broadway, which has a couple of stunning murals—will also be open to visitors during the First Saturday gallery openings on October 6. The map of gallery locations, which is printed by the Midtown Arts District each First Saturday and will be posted at www.madkingston.com, will also show the location of three outdoor murals by Samara, two of which grace the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
“We’re celebrating October as Todd Samara month,” said Nancy Donskoj, owner of The Storefront Gallery and a friend of the artist. “We want to make sure Todd’s important legacy is not forgotten.” She noted that many of the scenes painted by him will be recognizable to long-time residents, given that the subjects include a neighborhood laundry mat, local bars, a schoolroom, a friend’s basement, even late mayor T.R. Gallo’s funeral—collectively a compendium of the working-class culture and artists’ community of downtown Kingston in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Samara, who is currently unwell and residing in a nursing facility, was described as “the quintessential local artist” by American Artist, which published an eight-page spread about him in its July/August 2010 issue. He exhibited at numerous galleries in Kingston and sold his paintings at local restaurants, real estate offices, and bookstores. Seemingly indifferent to the pressures of the art world, he would sometimes stroll down to Gallo Park with a cache of small works, selling them to passersby for $10 or $20.
He was born in Brooklyn in 1943, grew up in Queens and upon graduating from high school joined the Navy as a reservist, serving on an aircraft carrier stationed in Europe and the Caribbean. He painted portraits of the other sailors as well as the ship’s signs and insignias and a mural of Moby Dick in the officer’s lobby, works that earned him “a generous leave” at each port, he recalled in a 2010 interview. After quitting the Navy in 1969, he rented out two storefronts in Queens as a studio and eventually moved to Rosendale, where he bartended and painted murals and portraits of the town’s counterculture residents. At age 35 he began studying art at SUNY-New Paltz, eventually earning a BFA.
In the late 1990s, he resided in a steel-hulled, turquoise-hued boat moored at Kingston’s Hideaway Marina, spending winters in a shack onshore. After meeting his late partner, Leslie Miller, a ceramist, in 2001, the couple rented a small, 19th-century house on Hone Street, where Todd painted in a low-ceilinged, crowded studio in the basement.
He painted from memory, frequently walking the streets of Rondout for inspiration. Leslie’s tragic death in 2009 caused a shift in his palette to more somber colors. Some of the best of these dreamy, often otherworldly landscapes of Rondout, whose luminosity is achieved partly by juxtaposing warm and cool hues and complimentary colors, will be on view at The Storefront Gallery.
Samara also painted figures and portraits, including depictions of his musician friends, cats, and interiors; some of the paintings of his studio suggest a cubistic space due to shifts in perspective from the many paintings-within-the painting. The Lace Mill exhibition, which is curated by Chris Gonyea, an artist and former gallery owner who is organizing and conducting the auction, will consist of an overview of all these categories of Samara’s work, loosely arranged chronologically, from his student work to paintings from a couple of years ago. Among the highlights will be some knock-out landscapes and a series of self-portraits (several of which, including a portrait of the artist in white made with a palette knife, show the strong influence of late 19th-and early 20th-century French painting).
“The exhibitions will be a preview of the best stuff,” said Gonyea, who has been cataloging the hundreds of works. The auction will take place in November, with the exact time and place to be announced in a couple of weeks. It will be “no reserve,” meaning that there will be no minimal price set, he added.
All of the proceeds from the auctioned art will be donated to a scholarship fund benefiting local emerging artists. The fund will be administered by Midtown Arts District (MAD) and the Kingston Arts Commission.
“In trying to decide how best to deal with all of Todd’s artwork after he went into long-term care, his friend, Jay Bedient, suggested the possibility of an auction and using the proceeds towards a scholarship of some kind,” explained Tom Samara, Todd’s brother, who resides in Bordentown, New Jersey. “Since Todd and most of his work had such a connection to Kingston and the people there, we, his family, felt a scholarship would be a great way to keep Todd’s presence alive in the art community and to offer a little help to other artists.”
For more information contact Nancy at 845-514-3998 or visit the Facebook page, Facebook.com/SamaraProject
Calendar Listings: Saturday October 6th Opening Reception 4-9pm Todd Samara, A Retropective The Lace Mill, 165 Cornell Street http://thelacemill.com/
Todd Samara's Rondout Continued Downtown Cafe, 91 Broadway Reception: 5-8pm
Todd Samara Through the Years Dolce Cafe, 27 Broadway Reception 5-7pm
Todd Samara Retrospective from the private collection of Jim Marzano and Nina Silverman A.I.R. Studio 71 ONeil Street Oct 6th 10am to 2pm Nina Silverman Physical Therapy 111 Maiden Lane Oct 6th 2pm-5pm
Todd Samara Murals-on permanent display during business hours Tony's Pizzeria, 582 Broadway
Public Murals Hudson River Maritime Museum Catholic Charities playground wall on lower Broadway