NATHANIEL GALKA: WANDERLAND
January 14 – March 6, 2016
Curated by Joe Baker
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 14th, 7 to 9 pm
Members Preview: 6 to 7 pm
I am immensely proud to present the work of Nathaniel Galka. We missed meeting by two weeks 22 years ago during the Summer Seminar where I was teaching at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation. Galka was a high school junior on scholarship for the Summer Seminar. We met for the first time in New York in 2015.
The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation was established in 1985 to provide assistance to individual artists of demonstrated talent for gifted high school students. The Foundation’ s first full-scholarship studio-art program was initiated in 1987 for gifted high school juniors on the campus of The Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO. Artist faculty for the first studio included William T. Wiley and Joe Baker. The Foundation convened a meeting of 26 artists at Philip Pearlstein’s New York Studio, hosted by Chuck Close and facilitated by Irving Sandler. Other participating artists included Joe Baker, Janet Fish, Harriet Shorr, Cynthia Carlson. The Artists Information Hotline administered by the American Council for the Arts was the first program developed by this artists committee. Other programs developed included the Space Program, New York, New York and a handbook, A Visual Artist’s Guide to Estate Planning. However, what remained central to the mission of the Foundation was the Summer Seminar for High School Juniors that continued for 28 years. I had the privilege of teaching in this program for the first 13 years.
Nathaniel Galka was selected to participate in the Summer Seminar program in 1993. Harriet Shorr and Jim Long were artist faculty during this session. He credits this experience as pivotal in his decision to pursue art as a full time career. Shorr is known for her fluid still lifes and magical landscapes; her influence has remained central to Galka’s art practice.
Historians have studied changes in the way people ascribe meaning to landscape. According to W.T. de Groot, “For our distant ancestors – hunters and gatherers without a permanent residence – nature was taken for granted as immediate, an omnipresent religious universe. Trees and stones were thought to be animated. Nature and culture were not separated. As agriculture entered human history, permanent settlements were built. Man projected intentions onto place; for example, a place has be a field to grow corn. Nature then became separated from culture. Nature was considered disorderly, producing weeds, vermin and plagues. In the Middle Ages the ocean was regarded as the chaotic domain of the devil, abandoned by the gods, inhabited by sea monsters and ruled by death. In the modern era, man started to master nature through technology. The fear of primeval nature slowly faded as writers, explorers, philosophers and painters constructed romantic images of nature. “ 1
Galka’s work might be described as “romantic,” but feels squarely rooted in the present. A transfer kicks in when viewing his work whose details – resin surface, metallic transparencies, painstakingly rendered animal and bird forms – are all staged within a green suede environment. And much like a walk in the woods, a sonic element in the exhibition interprets the wintry clang of barren branches; rustle of leaves, rush of winds transporting the viewer to other worlds. Complexity makes a scene interesting, and mystery raises the expectations that there is more to learn. Nathaniel Galka: Wanderland beckons the viewer to enter a new land, filled with trees, mists, and solitude.
– Joe Baker
Special thanks to sound artist, Dyllan-Kevin White, for his minimalist ambient work, Gaze into the Trees
1) Groot W.T. de (1990) Van vriend naar vijand naar verlagene en verder. Nijmegen, Nijmegen, University Press