July 11, 2004

Descendants of Sarah Opens July 31st

CONTACT: Camilla Calhoun or Nancy Kiesendahl: 845 838 1177

"DESCENDANTS OF SARAH", a family of artists, opens Saturday July 31st and shows through September 15th at the Kiesendahl+Calhoun Contemporary Art gallery in Beacon, New York. 
The show's title, "Descendants of Sarah" comes from three women artists who share a paternal grandmother and great grandmother. This mother, daughter and cousin, reveal themselves as astute observers through paintings and photography that dive beneath layers of skin, rock, water or psyche. Renee Ehrlich Kalfus, resident of Millwood, New York, a renowned costume designer of such films as "The Cider House Rules" and "Chocolat", trained in fine art, has returned to serious landscape and portrait painting in the last few years. Renee's intriguing oil portrait series began after a skiing accident that kept her housebound for months. Visited by friends during her convalescence, the artist wished to capture an intimate moment and connection with her visitors. These multi-layered portraits illustrate great color and texture sensibility, reflecting a style reminiscent of the painters Ernst Kirchner and Alice Neel. Her latest oil landscapes are bold portraits of rock structures, illuminated and rendered animate by the same personal connection to her subject as her portraits of people. 

Renee's daughter, Rosy J. Kalfus, whose photography has shown at the Wooster Art Museum, has recently created a curious, compelling series of large black and white silver gelatin prints, portraits of friends or relatives shown in their own private space. As a young woman out of college and living on her own for the past year, the artist observes how people live their lives as a way to understand and affirm her own self. In "Sara and Russell" we are allowed to share intimate moments in the subject's space, partially defined by the objects they have chosen for their surroundings. Transported into personal space, the viewer is arrested by the subject's mood, position, or unexpected, lonely expression. The photographer has captured a human essence that is both revealing and unnerving, almost like she is determined to map the uncharted, unspoken terrain within us. The result is an eerie photograph that might allow us to understand the reticence of certain indigenous cultures that believe taking a person's image steals their soul. 

Jane Ehrlich, Renee's cousin, a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, an artist who has exhibited for years in galleries and museums in Massachusetts, is showing for the first time in New York at Kiesendahl+Calhoun in Beacon. Her mysterious pond series, oil on wood, recall a time of nostalgia, of childhood romps in the woods, of fascinations with frogs and the jewel-like, fleeting light reflected on the gossamer wings of dragonflies lighting on dark water. Her naive style calls us to return to the days of muck oozing through our toes, to wonder what lies under the floating lily pads. The artist draws us into the mystery of water, the home of salamanders, of frogs and childhood fantasies. "Descendants of Sarah", this exhibit of three artists from the same family, shakes us from our world of distractions and detachments and reminds us to pay attention to the truth that we humans all share and seek a connection, a kinship to our animate and inanimate surroundings.