“I do not propose to attempt to tell my reader how to see things but only to talk about the art of seeing things…. It is a matter vital in the eye and ear” – John Burroughs, 1908.
Artist Kate Newby, curator Tim Saltarelli and writers Jennifer Kabat and Anna Moschovakis are pleased to present “The January February March.” A rolling year-long project of site-responsive installations and writing, its first installment launches this February over Presidents Weekend in the Western Catskills. The project is meant to explore places and moments that might be ignored or overlooked.
Writer, naturalist and Catskills’ native son John Burroughs wrote in ‘The Art of Seeing Things” that observation wasn’t teachable, wasn’t a science, that it was art. In other essays he wrote of snow, birds, rocks and walks (calling them a “more vital co-partnership”) as well as invoking grit, gravel and quartz. All of these, but especially his thoughts on the art of seeing, could be called the guiding force behind the first installment of “The January February March.”
The intial events in Delaware County will involve narrated audio walks by Kabat and Moschovakis set among Newby’s installations, while each phase of the rolling project will serve as “research” evolving into a larger publication at the series’ end. The impetus for collaborating came in part from Newby’s interest in streetscapes and walking and Kabat’s way of writing about art and artists that is more essayistic than critical. The ethos behind the collaboration is about trying – and risking – drawing attention to small details and histories, and achieving that comes with the possibility others might not see it.
This has been key to New Zealand artist Newby’s work throughout her career, as in her skimming stones (handmade porcelain rocks and pebbles). Part of a series, the stones are also a performance piece between artist and audience (often just a single person) where the rock gets skipped in a body of water. The pebble, her art, is meant to be thrown away, drawing larger questions about what is art, or where it is and creating a subtle critique of how art is received.