Newspapers Into Art

Threatened but not yet extinct in the age of the Internet, the printed newspaper lives on. In the hands of artist Joan Giordano, the physical fact of newspapers and magazines from all over the world are an inspiration. They serve as subject and artistic foundation. Bold black headlines, writing and calligraphy that runs vertically or horizontally, color images, and torn or burned pages are all collaged into stunning relief compositions, often punctuated by areas of the artist’s signature lacquer red. The works are accented by rolled up newspapers that look like something one might find on a rack in a coffee house or freshly delivered to one’s doorstep. The rich bounty of a newsstand is also brought to mind. Giordano, a New York resident who most recently showed her work at the June Kelly Gallery in SoHo, has studied paper from many angles, including papermaking in Japan. She often includes her own homemade paper, in one case casting hands from this material, fittingly signifying the work of the hand that goes into art and other productions.

Celebrating a Trio of Asian American Sculptors
Another notable recent exhibition was called “The Unseen Professors,” held at the Tina Kim Gallery in New York’s Chelsea district. Showcasing the work of three Asian American sculptors, the exhibition was curated by art critic and poet John Yau. The three artists all had productive careers as teachers of art, which sometimes upstaged their careers as artists. Their names had been somewhat forgotten until this auspicious re-appreciation.


Leo Amino (1911-1989), of Japanese ancestry, emigrated to the United States as a teenager – already a precocious art student. During the Second World War, he worked as a translator for the U.S. Navy. Immediately following the war, he was introduced to polyester resin – plastic – which had been declassified from military use. He was one of the first to use the material in art, making uniquely colorful abstract compositions that were ahead of their time. He continued to work in acrylic for the rest of his career, while also teaching at the influential Black Mountain College with Josef Albers and later at New York’s Cooper Union. This was a timely look at an artist who should become a household name.
Japanese-born Minoru Niizuma (1930-1998) came to the U.S. in the late 1950s, also settling in New York and becoming a professor at Columbia University. His abstract sculptures in stones of various types are beautifully crafted and evocative. In his later years, he helped forge an artistic partnership between Japan and Portugal, where he sourced much of his marble and stone.
The still-active John Pai (born 1937) immigrated from Korea to the U.S. as a child during a turbulent period in his home country. He showed artistic talent from an early age, and began teaching art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, while he was still a graduate student there. He meticulously welds delicate metal filaments into alternately curved or spiky shapes, making what can seem like vessels or natural forms – using the same principles of building being erected just outside the gallery tend to echo his sinuous shapes.