The traveling exhibit of the late Joseph Fiore’s work is taking a pit stop at Rider’s Art Gallery.
This latest exhibition utilizes watercolors and charcoal to create both abstract shapes and landscapes, including 48 drawings, pastels and watercolors that were created from 1946-2000. The Fiore/DRAWING exhibit has been on display since March 14 and will be showcased until April 21 in the Art Gallery in the Bart Luedeke Center.
“These pieces are a survey of his life’s work,” said David Dewey, trustee and creator of the Falcon Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization that holds Fiore’s artwork and seeks to bring it further recognition. “The drawings were like his diary and became part of a storyline of who he was. It was a type of biographical representation of his artwork.”
Near the end of Fiore’s life, he wound up creating abstractions, but they still related very closely to “representational images and ideas,” according to Dr. Harry Naar, director of the Art Gallery and professor of fine arts.
The gallery’s opening night featured an artist talk with Naar and Dewey. They also had a documentary presentation, Joseph Fiore: The Nature of the Art, which was part of the Maine Masters project by famous videographer and director, Richard Kane.
“It was the first time the documentary had ever been shown and it wasn’t in its final stage yet,” Naar said. “I think that it is really important because it talked about Fiore’s early beginnings until his death.”
The documentary featured interviews with other artists who knew Fiore both personally and professionally. According to Dewey, it encapsulates Fiore’s body of work.
“It was a beautiful film that captured his work,” Dewey said. “It was rich in information on his experience at Black Mountain College. Fiore was a quiet man, which was reflected in the film in an intimate way.”
Considering that Fiore is “not a popular name that everyone knows,” the show was deemed a success and about 50-60 people came, including other artists, art enthusiasts and students, according to Naar.
In his youth, Fiore attended summer and Saturday studio classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art and pursued his degree in Black Mountain College and California School of Fine Arts, now San Francisco Art Institute.
Fiore later became a professor at four colleges: Black Mountain College, Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), Maryland Institute College of Art and Parsons The New School for Design. He was also a visiting artist and critic at the Artists for Environment Foundation from 1972-83.
Dewey and Naar were both undergraduate students of Fiore in the 1960s at the Philadelphia College of Art.
“He was a quiet professor,” Naar said. “He would look at your work and wouldn’t say a lot, but when he did say something it was very important.”
Fiore’s teachings had a profound impact on Dewey as well.
“I was influenced by him from back when he was my professor,” Dewey said. “I was very interested in his work. Then years later I became the curator of his estate.”
Fiore had previously had an exhibit at Rider back in 2004, which was his last major exhibition before he passed away in 2008, according to Naar.
“When Fiore had his one-person show here, he really liked it so he gave Rider an incredible oil-on-canvas landscape, ‘Pemaquid Point, ME’ — which is located in North Hall on the second floor,” Naar said. “Now from this show, we were given three more paintings. It’s pretty exciting.”
This current exhibition traveled and originally started at The Firehouse Center for the Falcon Foundation, then went to the Asheville Art Museum, N.C., Gordon College, Mass., and finally ended here at Rider, according to Naar.
The gallery’s hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
The next stop for Fiore’s traveling exhibition is at the Meredith Ward Fine Art gallery in New York.
Printed in the 4/12/13 edition.