Friday, April 8, 2011

CHANGES: New Gallery in Randolph

The Korongo Gallery Opens in Randolph

by Dian Parker

Living in the East Village in Manhattan in the late 60's and all through the 70's, I’d often hang out with artists at a street café and we’d talk about our work incessantly. Bongo drummers lined 2nd Ave and the small alcove of my eight-floor walk up was often a place for bums to sleep. Artists opened their apartments as tiny makeshift art galleries. On one wall hung a tie dyed sheet and on the floor a double mattress. Not much else except art. And more art. It was everywhere, some of it not very good, but it was an outpouring nonetheless; a place to be seen. We never thought the East Village would become what it is now, one of the hip places to live in Manhattan, still filled with art, only much more expensive.

Along comes the Korongo Gallery to Randolph and we have promise again of a beginning that could very well burgeon into something hip and wonderful – a place for artists and writers to display and read their work, congregate and hang out. At the opening on March 17 there was a feeling of excitement and expectation that we might just be on the verge of a new happening, right here in downtown Randolph. The gallery was packed. Patrick Texier, the owner, schmoozed with the folks and Laurie Sverdlove Goldman, the painter, talked about her work which hung on three of the walls. Jack Rowell took photographs and everyone was smiling and milling about. The food was delicious. This was a real opening in a new little gallery that has a big and bright future.

Texier was born in France and spent his early childhood in the artists’ colony of Les Baux in Provence, where his next-door neighbors were the renowned engraver Louis Jou and the Belgian sculptor Adrien Mertens. His grandfather was an American painter and his grandmother was an artist’s model, who met in Paris in the Twenties. As Patrick tells it, "I wanted to be a painter, but my father said it wasn’t an option, so I became a safari guide in Africa instead." He’s now also published two of his illustrated children’s books, for sale in the gallery, inspired by living close to wild animals in Africa.

The inaugural show at the Korongo Gallery is Battlefields: WWI, the work of California landscape artist Laurie Sverdlove Goldman, who moved to Randolph from the Bay Area three years ago. Describing this body of work Goldman says, "I became interested in war landscapes as an outgrowth of my interest in other manmade landscapes. Explosions, mud, barbed wire, grass, sky, death – the conundrum that terrible and terrifying things can be beautiful." In the current show are two large composite paintings, oil on canvas, each composed of eighteen or nineteen 10" x 12" smaller paintings shown in a grid, either with off-white or black backgrounds, Soldiers in Trenches/Black and Soldiers in Trenches/White. These are accompanied by two 34" x 46" pastels of explosions, Battlefield 1 and Battlefield 4, elegant blasts of color in subtle shades of pink and blue, yellow and green, and they ARE beautiful. Goldman’s work has been widely exhibited in San Francisco, L.A. and San Diego and is included in many corporate and civic collections.

Besides showing art, the gallery’s other business is to layout, design and print books in small quantities for authors who would like to self publish (no editing however). Patrick and his wife, Sara Tucker, will also use the gallery for events such as receptions, readings, writing workshops, story-telling, and informal discussions.

Across the street from the gallery is the new restaurant, Black Krim, which will coordinate some of its events with Korongo. Imagine a glass of wine in one hand, a Nori sushi in the other, listening to a writer read from her new novel or an artist talk about his work, surrounded by art on the walls while Edith Piaf sings softly in the background. A bit of Europe, a bit of New York City, and every bit itself. It can happen, but we must frequent the gallery and come to the events. Korongo is a happening place if we make it so.

The next exhibit will open on April 29 and feature cartoons, stained glass, and sculptures by artist Phil Godenschwager. It will also include Jack Rowell’s photographs of Godenschwager’s work.

Gallery hours – Tues-Sat, 11 am – 7 pm
18 Merchant’s Row

Images by Laurie Sverdlove Goldman:
Soldiers in Trenches - White/ series, oil on canvas, 12" x
Soldiers in Trenches - Black/ series, oil on canvas,
12" x 10"