Charles Loring Elliott, Portrait of Matthew Vassar, 1861

In the News

Site-specific installation, "Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall," on view at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, January 29 - May 18, 2010.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY— Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall, is the inaugural installation of a new program of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, curated by Mary-Kay Lombino, The Emily Hargroves Fisher '57 and Richard B. Fisher Curator and Assistant Director for Strategic Planning at the Art Center. This program will provide contemporary artists a chance to create site-specific works on the walls of the Atrium Gallery. Professor and chair of the Art Department at Vassar College, noted artist Harry Roseman’s works include the 600-foot-long permanent public art installation Curtain Wall in John F. Kennedy International Airport, awarded the New York City Masterworks Award.

Roseman will begin installing Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall in mid-December once classes are over and during Winter Break (December 10 – January 19). Visitors to the Art Center will be able to view the work-in-progress during this time. The official opening reception of Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall will be on Friday, January 29. During the opening, the public is invited to attend a screening of Woven Walls: The Movie, preceded by a lecture by Roseman, as well as the premiere of composer/violist Adrienne Elisha’s new musical work, “Circle Voices”—inspired by Roseman’s installation—that explores sonic dimensions of the artwork in this unique “sound-space.”  Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall will be on view to the public through May 18, 2010.

The Art Center commissioned Roseman last spring to design and create a temporary site-specific installation directly on the walls of the Atrium Gallery, a bright, airy space that serves as the entryway to the main galleries. High overhead is a large round window that serves as the inspiration for the title of the exhibition. Against a base of orange, Roseman will paint a drawing across the entire wall in response to the unique architecture and scale as well as other features particular to this space.

“The towering walls of the atrium gallery, the verticality of the space, and other architectural elements will be incorporated into the new installation,” advised curator Lombino. “The artist intends to accentuate the height and airiness of the space by addressing issues of gravity and the elongating effect of the long and narrow proportions. The resulting work will alter the viewer’s experience of the space and the nature of the Art Center’s atrium gallery, breathing new life into this now 16-year-old building.”

During an interview with curator Lombino about the installation (see below), Roseman noted that Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall “is his conversation with this place [the Art Center], this space, [and] someone else’s vision of this space, in this case Cesar Pelli’s.” The interview with Roseman will be posted as a podcast on the Art Center website. In addition, there will be a time-lapse video of the installation that will also be posted online at a future date. 

As in his 2008 installation at the Kleinert/James Arts Center in Woodstock, Roseman’s installation at Vassar will consist of a drawing in acrylic or latex paint, applied directly to the now orange walls. “The making of the wall drawing is an intuitively driven, a fluid process with details falling into place in response to the space,” explained Lombino.

This is the inaugural exhibition of a new contemporary artist program, which “provides artists a laboratory-like environment to create new work on site,” according to curator Lombino. “The program takes full advantage of the Art Center’s distinctive architecture and reflects our commitment to featuring contemporary art in the context of Vassar’s world-class collection. One of the goals of this new project is to offer a new perspective on the museum environment as a place not only where art is exhibited, but also where new art is produced.”

The new program is a continuation of the strong tradition of many successful programs that involve Vassar College bringing living artists to campus to create original works of art on the premises. The campus has hosted remarkable and memorable site-specific artwork in its rich history — from Tree Dance, the famous 1971 performance in which Gordon Matta-Clark created a performance in a tree inspired by spring fertility rituals, to the 1997 installation of one of Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings, which was executed by studio art majors in the 20th-century galleries.

The installation is sponsored in part by The Agnes Rindge Claflin Fund – a gift of the Friends of the Vassar College Art Gallery (now the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center) to the Art Department to bring distinguished lecturers in art and art history to the college and to support other programs for the department and the Art Center.

Interview with the Curator and the Artist

Mary-Kay Lombino: When did you first begin to think about your work in a site-specific way? Can you give a few examples of earlier site-specific projects?

Harry Roseman: My first and second realized site-specific works were two very large public commissions: “Subway Wall,” a large sculpture I did from 1987-1990 and “Curtain Wall,” an even larger sculpture, 1997-2001. Both these works were conceived for their particular sites and were commissioned works.

Before both of these I had done a number of theoretical site-specific works. Works that were ideas for site-specific possibilities, but were not particularly meant to be produced [really] meant as thoughts.  An example of one was a collage on a post card of the Mills Mansion in Hyde Park, NY. It had a towel thrown over the corner of the building, as if someone had just come out of the shower and tossed it there. The towel went from the roof to the ground.

For about 15 years I have wanted to do a large site-specific drawing related to the drawings I have been doing. I am a very patient person. These drawings were and are mainly weaves and marks. Last year I had the opportunity to realize my first large site-specific drawing at the Kleinert/James Art Center in Woodstock. My assistants and I drew “Woven Walls” directly on the walls of the Art Center in Woodstock, as well as doing two smaller works in the bathrooms. The bathroom works are still at the Art Center. “Hole in the Wall” at The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center will be my second large site-specific drawing.

Mary-Kay Lombino: How does this work at Vassar relate to and differ from these past projects?

Harry Roseman: The work I am about to embark on at Vassar comes out of the Kleinert/James work as well as out of the drawings I have been doing for the past 20 years, and most specifically will be a result of an interaction with the Atrium of the Lehman Loeb Art Center. Over the last six months I have done a number of drawings exploring ideas specifically for this space. In order to help me better understand what I wanted to do at Vassar I drew on top of large photographs I had taken of the space. The Kleinert/James project came out of my weave drawings. I didn’t want to use the weave structure in the Lehman Loeb for a number of reasons. The narrowness in relationship to its extreme height brought me to ideas of verticality. The window, thus the name, “Hole in the Wall” was another element I see as important. As the sketches progressed it became more important.

The very nature of site-specific would make this work different from any other work I had done before. It is a conversation with this place, this space, [and] someone else’s vision of this space, in this case Cesar Pelli’s. I want to acknowledge a given situation and like a conversation, a discourse to see where I can be in synchronicity with its ideas and where I can push the conversation/the experience to someplace new.

Mary-Kay Lombino: Originally, you had conceived this project as more monochromatic and now it has become quite colorful. What inspired you to change your mind?

Harry Roseman: The shifts in the project come as a result of thinking about the space and the process of doing the preparatory drawings. The particular shifts came out of a growing understanding of how I wanted the work to sit in the space and alter the nature of the space, to be part of it while speaking for itself. The color ideas were specific to the light in the atrium, but mostly come out of visual, aesthetic and experiential moves. My assistants and I spent nine days in October in a large room painting full-scale versions (though not full size) of the work. I would have us change relationships between the circles and the lines and change colors from version to version until it tasted just right. It is a very physical operational process.

About the Artist

Artist Harry Roseman has been creating compelling art in various media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography, for nearly three decades. A talented artist and excellent professor, he has gained a great deal of recognition for the diversity and the high caliber of his work. He has been a professor of art at Vassar College since 1981.

Among his major public art commissions are, for the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Arts for Transit program in 1990, the 40-foot bronze polychrome wall relief Subway Wall created for the Wall Street Station. This work conveyed to commuters a sense of the geology of the area – of the earth underneath the urban setting. In 2001, his 600-foot long sculpture Curtain Wall was installed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the International Terminal. This work that explores the elements and which received the New York City Masterworks Award, hints at wind and suggests clouds and the sky.

Roseman has had numerous one person exhibitions, including at the Menil Collection (Houston, TX); in California at the University Art Museum of California (Santa Barbara), Daniel Weinberg Gallery (San Francisco and Los Angeles); Dart Gallery (Chicago, IL); in New York City at 55 Mercer Street Galley, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Davis & Langdale Company; and at Gallery Joe in Philadelphia. His work is included in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts, Addison Gallery of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cincinnati Museum of Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum of Contemporary Art/San Diego, Museum of Fine Art (Boston), Philadelphia Art Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, The Menil Collection, Houston, TX, Walker Art Center, and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. Davis & Langdale Company and Gallery Joe represent Roseman.

Adrienne Elisha’s “Circle Voices,” A Musical Response to Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall

Roseman will work with composer and violist Adrienne Elisha on a collaborative component of the installation, which will result in a live musical performance of her new composition, “Circle Voices,” to be performed twice - on January 29 and February 4.

Elisha, who often uses visual images herself during the formative stage of her musical compositions, is fascinated by the inherent possibilities of visual image, perception, form, structure, dimension, and visual space. She explores their translation into musical form, color, and timber through the use of sonic imagery and it's resonance in structural and "musical space.”

Her chamber works have been often been inspired by visual art; most notably her string quartet, Vega Nor (after Victor Vasarely) and Once Emerged from the Grey of Night for six players (after Paul Klee). The latter of which is currently being featured in an exhibition, paired with the painting, at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland.

Because of the strong influence visual art has on her work, Elisha often makes abstract drawings as a preparatory step in structuring new work. The two artists, who have similar working styles, will work together and maintain a dialogue throughout the entire process, continually responding to one another’s work. The performances of Elisha’s “Circle Voices,” are presented in conjunction with the eighth annual Modfest, a campus-wide festival celebrating the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Roseman met Elisha and suggested an artistic collaboration following her solo performance of her work, Inner Voices, at Modfest in 2007. Their collaborative work led to Elisha’s composition, Roseman Variations, created in conversation with Rosen’s Woven Walls, the 2008 installation at the Kleinert/James Gallery in Woodstock.

About the Composer

Adrienne Elisha’s compositions have been performed and commissioned by The Chamber Orchestra of Boston, The American Chamber Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, The Denali Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, and the Arditti String Quartet. Her works have been featured nationally and internationally at numerous concerts and music festivals, including June in Buffalo, The Colorado Springs New Music Symposium, the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, and the International Bartok Festival in Szombathely, Hungary, where she has performed her own solo and chamber works as well as premiering those of other composers.

She was featured as soloist and composer on Polish Radio during the 1996 Warsaw Autumn festival, where Elisha performed unaccompanied new works for solo viola in addition to a broadcast of her own compositions. Her cello concerto, “Cry of the Dove,” which was written for and performed by her husband solo cellist Steven Elisha, was commissioned and premiered by The Cleveland Chamber Symphony in 2000 and performed by the Grand Rapids Symphony in 2004.

Elisha is principal violist with Cleveland Chamber Symphony, The Center for 21st Century Music Ensemble, Buffalo Chamber Ensemble and frequently performs with Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She is the recipient of awards, including the Thayer Award in Music Composition (2007) and Ohio Composer of the Year (1997). A resident of the Hudson Valley, Elisha was a visiting assistant professor of composition at Vassar College during the spring 2007 semester. She was most recently awarded the 2009 Herrenhaus-Edenkoben Composer Residency by composer/conductor, Peter Eotvos.

Related Events

All programs are free and open to the public.

Installation Opening: Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall
January 29, 2010

Taylor Hall, Room 102
Modfest Documentary Film Screening
A discussion by the artist about his new installation, Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall, precedes a screening of  Woven Walls: The Movie, a documentary by Katie Hickman '08 about the artist’s 2008 work.
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Concert and Exhibition Reception
Adrienne Elisha, composer and violist, debuts her new musical composition, Circle Voices, inspired by Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall. Presented in conjunction with Modfest 2010. A reception in the Art Center will follow.

Modfest at Late Night at the Lehman Loeb
February 4, 2010

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Atrium Gallery
Composer Adrienne Elisha will perform a reprise of her newly commissioned work, “Circle Voices.” Presented in conjunction with Modfest 2010.

About the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building's primary donor, opened in 1993. The Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 18,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college's inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American 20th- century painters. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with a permanent art collection and gallery, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar's extensive collections.

Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free. The art center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00am–5:00pm; Thursday, 10:00am–9:00pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00pm. Located at the entrance to the historic Vassar College campus, the Art Center can be reached within minutes from other Mid-Hudson cultural attractions, such as Dia:Beacon, the Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites and homes, and the Vanderbilt mansion. The Art Center is wheelchair accessible. For more information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, January 28, 2010


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