• by Katherine Stanek

The Curator's Vision

I am the grateful beneficiary of a curator's vision.

I am an artist and contemporary figurative sculptor existing in the space between.

My work too recognizable for abstractionists and too abstract to garner the attention of the representational art world. But that does not concern me and here is why...

The timing is pure coincidence yet quite serendipitous. Two curators approached me around the same time. One curator approached me as an artist, the other appealed to me as a gallery owner and both with a vision that has strong ties to Philadelphia.

This week my gallery will honor the master portrait painter, Nelson Shanks on the second anniversary of his passing through the exhibition of artists he directly influenced. Shanks, a name that inspires a passionate response from all who knew him and his work. His influence is immense even among his critics.

Next week I will travel to The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan where my work will be on display alongside Auguste Rodin and sixteen contemporary sculptors in an exhibition that honors the master sculptor on the hundredth anniversary of his passing. Rodin remains profoundly influential despite highly vocal critics of his time.

Though they existed in a different time and in different worlds, both Rodin and Shanks find common ground in Philadelphia. Rodin with a museum in center city Philadelphia and the largest collection of his work outside of Paris and less than a mile away, Shanks with a highly successful and growing figurative art school, Studio Incamminati. Another common thread among these two influential figures is the unrelenting drive both artists have for their vision and artistic style. It seems that those who criticize them are as passionate as those who praise them.

I have spent some time considering the reasons why this is the case only to conclude that it doesn't matter. What is important here is that they inspire. They evoke passion. They followed their own path defying the trends of their time. They believed in something greater than themselves and persevered. I did not know either artist personally so the fact that they both achieved a high level of notoriety and financial success or even how they achieved it is not as important to me as the work itself. The lesson I glean from this experience is the importance of understanding your own values, knowing your priorities, believing in your vision and never allowing the naysayers to influence your decisions.

Thanks to Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Chief Curator and Vice President of the Horticulture and Sculpture Collections and Exhibitions at The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan for recognizing the dialog that exists between my work and the masterful work of Rodin and for inviting me to exhibit in "Rodin and the Contemporary Figurative Tradition".

Thanks to the vision of Natalie Italiano, Artist, Curator and Instructor at Studio Incamminati for recognizing the significance of Nelson Shanks and his work, and the importance of sharing his vast influence with Stanek Gallery, the Philadelphia community and his followers throughout the world in a special exhibition of "Nelson Shanks and His Influence: Past, Present & Future".

Truly an honor.

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