William Ris Gallery in Jamesport will host an opening reception for its new duo exhibit, “Syncopation,” this Saturday, August 18, from 4 to 7 PM.
The show, which will run through September 9, features Bethpage native Michael Ingui and New Jersey native Robin D. Williams and focuses on the interconnection between music and artwork.
Ingui is also an architect and partner at Bat Ingui Architects PC in New York city. He was influenced by his high school art teacher, John DeGuardi, who made him realize he could pursue art and architecture simultaneously “by simply continuing to do both.” Williams is a self-taught artist and member of the Drawing Center of Manhattan.
Together, they exhibit for the first time on Long Island and conclude the summer season at William Ris Gallery.
How did you get involved with William Ris Gallery and Robin D. Williams?
Ingui: My brother and sister-in-law Jules and Janna introduced me to this incredible art gallery that I just had to see. They were right — it’s not just the gallery (which is incredible on its own merits) it is the creative culture and energy that surrounds
Mary Cantone. It is clear that she and this gallery, full of beautiful art, act as a beacon that so many creatives flock to.
We have left the gallery many times saying it was the high point of the weekend — so many fantastic conversations, such thought-provoking art. It is a place you want to be a part of and I couldn’t wait to show some of my paintings there.
How do architecture, music, and artwork tie together?
Ingui: Architecture, painting, and design are all conduits to express creativity and music just makes everything better. For me, one ties into the other seamlessly.
Painting or sketching inspires me to be more creative with architecture. I love working on many things at once, and there are times when I have architectural designs on one table and paintings on the next, with a note pad always close by.
Which passion was discovered first?
Ingui: Architecture definitely came first. My parents saved plans and elevations of houses I designed in grade school. I don’t know how I learned to draw them, but I feel like I was influenced by taking long rides in cars and the fact that I truly love looking at houses.
I still do — I love walking through a house and thinking about what could be different or through a great house studying why the designers made the decisions they did. I love the craftsmanship of incredibly well-built objects, homes, and the way details are completed.
In junior high, I learned of Miro, Picasso, and Motherwell, and my mind was blown open with Jackson Pollock. The feeling when you are in front of those paintings is just indescribable. I painted all of the time. I sketched all of the time. Sometimes it was houses, sometimes it was a designed object, and sometimes it was just a crazy abstraction. I never made a distinction or thought about why I drew one or the other.
I have been told by many people that I needed to choose between art and architecture, but I am surrounded by so many talented people both at my architectural firm and in my life in general that this just doesn’t seem like it will ever be the case.
What music ignites a fire in you?
Ingui: I am drawn to many genres, from jazz to dubstep, from rock to electronic music. I am influenced by the seamless ways that musicians feed off each other or how a DJ can mash together worlds that were not originally intended to be, just to create something new and fantastic that another will then mutate again.
The way they can run in and out of the song’s structure and how the musicians bring everyone in the audience along with them is incredible. You can see and feel this in a jazz club as much as you can in a mosh pit or in a dance club. It is that energy and the movements that surround it that I hope to capture.
How did you get involved with William Ris Gallery and Michael Ingui?
Williams: I became involved with the William Ris Gallery when a close friend asked if I would be willing to share/show images of my work that relate to jazz to the manager and owner. I said: “Sure, of course!” They loved the work and invited me to be in a show with Michael Ingui.
I took a look at Michael’s paintings, loved his work immediately, and decided to grab this opportunity to show in New York again.
What was your first blind contour drawing?
Williams: I think my first blind contour was of two women sitting at a Paris side walk café enjoying their gossip, beverage, and croissant.
How did you come into that format?
Williams: I came to drawing/seeing/meditation through the words and instruction of Frederick Franck. His books The Zen Of Seeing and The Awakened Eye are my drawing bibles. These books are guides for meditation, and describe a path for living and drawing.
Tell us about your artistic journey.
Williams: I have been an artist all along. First through singing. Then, in my teens and early 20s I wrote poetry, essays, and short stories.
It was in my early 20s when a friend was moving and said, “Hey, Robin, you want this box of paints?” I took that box of paints and started experimenting, creating expressive, abstract paintings. Drawing came later.
How does music most influence you?
Williams: Music is part of this life’s journey. It is someone telling a story, sharing an experience. I want to know and relate to that experience. I want to travel on the road with that musician. To share the journey, hear their story.
The opening reception for “Syncopation” will also feature a live special performance by Grammy award-winning producer and musician, Gil Goldstein, while Williams creates one of her signature blind contours of the performance.
William Ris Gallery is located at 1291 Main Road in Jamesport. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday and Sunday, 12 to 5 PM, and Saturday 12 to 7 PM and by appointment. Visit www.williamris.com or call 609-408-5203.