BY STEPHEN DiLAURO | Since the 1980s, when the art world was colonized by Wall Street bankers, misconceptions about the value of art have abounded. In spotlighting these artists, with the help of a curator who is making waves, I hope to bring public awareness to the fact that there is some wonderful art being created by enormously talented artists who are not part of the art world stratum catering to billionaires and driven by exorbitant gallery rents.
I chose women artists who are emerging and midcareer. That’s the way it worked out this time around. Maybe I’ll devote attention to artists who are men at some point. Meanwhile, dear reader, please understand that art is an investment in the health of your mind, soul and psyche. Forget about art as a financial instrument, such as Internet sales of “fractions” of paintings by dead artists, paintings that the “investor” never sees. That’s a Ponzi scheme. Buying work from living artists whose art clicks with you? That’s good karma.
Maxine Hoover is the curator who brought this roster of artists to my attention. Shows she puts together almost weekly, in the fourth-floor loft of the Landmark Arts Building, at 547 W. 27th St., have challenged the moribund hierarchy of Manhattan’s gallery and museum scene. No question, she is a happening presence to be reckoned with. Also an artist, her large canvases reflect her fascination with spiritual energy and yoga, a family tradition. Her paintings, primarily executed with acrylic, oil paint and mixed materials, explore the concept of self and the relationship between the physical and spiritual world. Hoover may also be the first artist on Mars. She is currently part of the Mars Ocean Analogs™ training program preparing Earthlings for interplanetary travel. To keep abreast of her doings and events, follow her on Instagram at @maxinehooverart.
Madeline Martin first burst onto the New York City art scene in 2016. Her process as a painter leads to her creating works that display a feminine whimsy while exploiting color for its potency. Her free-flowing lines imbue her abstract compositions with a sense of joy. She cites a variety of influences — choreographer George Balanchine, master painter Cy Twombly and Hawaiian ukulele legend Israel Kamakawiwo’ole — that reveal refreshing cross-discipline investigations into the nature of aesthetics. She cites “childlike playfulness” as both her inspiration and what she hopes to impart to those observing her work. More about this artist can be found on her Web site, femtotale.com.
Hillary Hava Mizrachi is a prolific artist whose compositions evince a passion for beauty. Her color palette is both exciting and soothing. She works in mixed media to create powerful pieces that can include cultural references to jazz and other inspiration. Recently she opened up her process to collaborate with another artist — Lucas Goly — for a new series titled “Myth and Madness” that examines the ancient myths that have inspired art, poetry and theater down through the ages. Mizrachi’s cultural influence is growing. She was recently tapped to design a new sneaker in collaboration with Bad Bunny and Adidas. Her Web site is flowlabspace.com.
Jeena Raghavan mesmerizes and enchants with bold colors and an alphabet of colorful symbols that allow her paintings to sing with joy and vibrate with energy. She seems to have arrived at an artistic awareness that painting is the point: painting to reach that place of passion where true artists let the world fall away and immersion in the work is everything. Her mixed-media compositions display depth and texture. Born in England, her Indian heritage comes through in her work, as evinced by her color palette, especially. Very much a 21st-century New Yorker and cosmopolitan, half the income from her sales during COVID-19 has helped underwrite arts education for underprivileged children in her ancestral homeland. Learn more at JeenaRaghavan.com.
Rachel van der Nacht is a French artist based in New York. Her paintings express duality at every level. Surface whimsy draws in observers, who find themselves face to face with dark observations that are often at the core of her works. “Think of a cactus offering free hugs,” she says. She presents a sometimes-wry look at the concept of the interconnectivity of all things. Colorful and metallic acrylic paint often adumbrates dark sentiments that are the deeper message found in her imagery and sometimes text statements embedded in her delightful and challenging compositions. She offers viewers of her work a chance to chuckle at the chaos that imbues contemporary life. Van der Nacht is certainly a vibrant and welcome presence in the contemporary art world. For more about her and her work, visit Rachelvandernacht.com.
Dayana Beisenova is a native of Kazakhstan who completed her art studies in London and New York. Now a full-time painter and multimedia artist, she likens her powerful abstract compositions to “Rorschach tests” and emanations from the realm of dreams. She believes her paintings unveil “the unspoken connections between our environment, emotions and the boundless avenues of creative expression.” Dayana’s pieces are visual explorations of the intricate interplay between the tangible world and the ethereal landscapes of the mind. The undeniable intensity of her vision presents a compelling desire to contemplate and understand. As I have written elsewhere, it takes a special sensitivity to create abstract paintings that are comfortable with evincing beauty. Dayana Beisenova explores the power of beauty while challenging the mind. Dayanabeisenova.com.
DiLauro is a playwright and poet and roving culture correspondent for The Village Sun.