Critics at Vyt – The Art Students League

Critics at Vyt

Visiting artists, critics, art historians, and League Instructors are invited to come to Vytlacil to speak with artists-in-residence at Vyt. Each month, we select 5 people from a broad range of artistic philosophies to visit with residents in critiques and studio conversations. With the League’s foundation as a teaching institution, these casual conversations are an opportunity for Vyt’s residents to receive feedback, ask questions, hear other points of view, expand their networks, and gain a deeper understanding of how one’s artwork resonates outside of the studio.

Visitors have included Grace Knowlton, Sharon Butler, Michael Gitlitz, Mark SafanMax Ginsburg, Catherine Redmond, Hugo Bastidas, Elizabeth Demaray, Naomi Campbell, Jillian Russo, Lynn Stein, Karen Wilkin, Laura Straus, Hans Witschi, Aileen June Wang, Tyrone Mitchell, Mariano Del Rosario, Silya Kiese, Edward Schmidt and others.

 Catherine Redmond

Catherine Redmond is a New York artist living and working in the Garment District in Midtown Manhattan with her Border Collie, Molly. After an undergraduate education at Cornell University and Harpur College, SUNY Binghamton, she spent five years at The Art Students League of New York. Since then Redmond has devoted herself to formal queries into the tensions and unexpected adhesions between the internal and the external psychic stage. “This is where it all plays out, all the dramas,” she acknowledges.Redmond’s work has been shown in: Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; The Babcock Galleries, NY; The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Contemporary Art Center, Cinncinati, OH; Contemporary Realist Gallery, San Francisco; Cranbook Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield Hill, MI; David Findlay Jr. Fine Art, New York; Indianapolis Center for Contemporary Art; Herron Gallery, Indianapolis Center for Contemporary Art; Jan Cicero Gallery, Chicago; Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, Vermont; MB Modern, NY;

She is in public and private collections including: The Art Students League of New York, The Butler Museum of American Art, Citibank of New York, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Luther College, Decorah, IA, Museo Carmelo Fernandez, Venezuela, Northern Trust, Chicago, Progressive Insurance, Cleveland, OH, Reading Museum, Reading, PA, and Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA.

Read an interview in LINEA with Catherine Redmond here.

Mark Safan
“Abstraction can still tell us much about the world, ourselves, and painting itself. As one of many painterly idioms it has been the one of choice for many painters of the last century and remains so for many today. Through various approaches that participants will bring to the project, we will examine how and why abstraction best suits our expressive needs with a focus on the question of meaning itself.  If we understand the language of abstraction we can be more precise in its usage.”

Mark Safan studied at the University of California, Santa Barbara; the San Francisco Art Institute; and the Vancouver School of Art, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Hans Witschi

“I integrate ugliness, to make the world more beautiful.”

Hans Witschi, born 1954, is a visual artist who studied painting in Zurich under Gustav Guldener in the 1970s. He moved to New York City in 1989 when he received the Studio Grant by the City of Zurich. Witschi”s works have been shown at the Shedhalle (Zurich), Kunsthalle Palazzo (Basel), Ursus Books (New York), Kunsthistorisches Museum Schloss Ambras (Innsbruck).

His work is in numerous collections including the Rockefeller University, the Graphic Collection of the National Library in Bern and the Mus”e d’art et d’histoire de la Ville de Neuchatel. He is the recipient of the Federal Visual Art Fellowship of Switzerland (1992).

The documentary “Witschi Geht” from Paolo Poloni was shown at the Locarno Filmfestival 1992, the Filmfestival Montreal 1993 and diverse television stations throughout Europe and depicts besides the life of the artist Witschi’s emigration to the US.

It has been said about his work that his paintings of human beings are incompatible with the familiar images which persecute us day and night. He presents no idyl, no mythical scenes, nor utopias; neither does he depict sexual obsessions, nor irruptions that veer off into Surrealism. Just those people twisted in space. He paints nightmares, that which has been collectively repressed, left in the dark; that which had better not appear in the wealth of images of a brilliantly simulated world.

Max Ginsburg

Max Ginsburg has taught drawing and painting at the High School of Art & Design (1960–1981); School of Visual Art (1984–2000); and the Art Students League, where he currently teaches classes and workshops (1997–2000 and 2008–present). Ginsburg received his BFA from Syracuse University in 1953 and his MA from the City College of New York in 1963. However, it was not these schools, but his father, the portrait painter Abraham Ginsburg, who taught him how to paint realistically.

Most recently Mr. Ginsburg has sought public venues to reach larger audiences with his message to promote realism in form with realism in content.  Recent solo shows were held at the Butler Institute of American Art (Ohio, 2011); Salmagundi Club (New York, 2011); Missing Peace Art Space (Ohio, 2009); and the Martin Luther King Labor Center (New York, 2008). Mr. Ginsburg has recently come out with a coffee table art book, Max Ginsburg Retrospective. 

Among his many awards, his most recent was the “Best in Show” at the Art Renewal Center 2010/2011 Salon competition for his painting War Pieta.  Two of his paintings, Bus Stop and War Pieta, have been selected by the World Art Museum to tour five Chinese museums in Beijing, Shanghai, Hunan, Sichuan and Guangdong in 2012, along with work by other League instructors, through an organization of leading American and Chinese realists called ACOPAL.  From 1980 to 2004, Mr. Ginsburg was one of the leading illustrators in America.

See more at and

Hugo Bastidas

Hugo Xavier Bastidas was born in Quito, Ecuador. He received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and his MFA from Hunter College.  His awards include a Robert Smithson Scholarship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Pollack-Krasner Grant and a NJEA Grant. Other solo exhibits include those at the Gyeongnam Museum of Art, Gallery KunstDoc, and Bonn Gallery—all in Korea. His digital artwork is represented by Gallery Boreas (Lenox, MA and Reykjavik, Iceland) and has been included in the DiVA shows (in Paris, Cologne and NY) and the AAF (NY). He is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Design and is represented in their collection. Mr. Bastidas is also a member of the Century Association (NY), and represented the US in the Cuenca Biennial (Ecuador, 1999) and the Sharjah Biennial (UAE, 2001). His work is in collections worldwide; see more at

“His painting can be appreciated as a second generation of the rebirth of representational painting in the late 20th Century in the United States. But unlike the paintings of Mark Tansey, these quasi-conceptual monochrome artworks generally do not critique art theory – or challenge art world dogma. Like Tansey’s paintings they are also monochrome, but they stay within the color palette of white and black. As a second-generation practitioner, Bastidas also joins the mission to rethink representation, and to look more closely at the content of representational modes of expression, to exploit the language of the embedded idea within the pictorial structure itself. His subjects vary from social and or political concerns, to complex pictures that conflict visual perception against cerebral comprehension.”
– “Autobiography as Critique” by Howard McCalebb 2014, Dada Post, Berlin Germany

Elizabeth Demaray Elizabeth Demaray is a sculptor who is interested in our culture’s interactions with the natural world. In this vein, she builds listening stations for birds that play human music, cultures lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City and designs alternative forms of housing for hermit crabs, out of man-made materials. Her current work, The IndaPlant Project: An Act of Trans-Species Giving, involves creating light-sensing robotic supports for plants. Called floraborgs, these carriages allow potted-plants to move freely in a domestic environment, in search of sunlight and water.

She is the recipient of the National Studio Award from NY MOMA/P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, the Headlands Center for the Arts residency and the Art Omi residency. In 2014 she was the featured artist at the Association of Environmental Science Studies Symposium in NYC titled “Welcome to The Anthropocene.”

Demaray is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Rutgers University, Camden where she is head of the Sculpture Concentration. She is on the curatorial board of the College Art Association’s New Media Caucus and is a co- founder of the DigiHuman Laboratory at Rutgers New Brunswick, which is dedicated to supporting art practice in the fields of computer vision and machine learning.

Laura Straus

Laura Straus founded Piermont Straus Gallery, which opened in 2011. Laura is also the founder and president of two non-profit organizations, the Piermont Chamber of Commerce and Piermont Straus Foundation.

Laura worked as professional photographer for 25 years, and has published ten photography books with Andrews & McMeel and Hearst Publishers, including A Child’s World, What Mothers Are, What Love Is, and many other titles. In 2002, she won the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography and then went on to teach through a NYFA fellowship at Cornell University. This fellowship allowed her to continue her work documenting the American Family.

While working as a photographer, she spent 17 years with the Artists Rights Society (ARS), an organization in Manhattan representing the estates of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, and 65,000+ other artists. During her time at ARS, she eventually served the artist membership in the field of product development for many museums of America as well as the commercial licensing in this area. She was the auditor for all royalties received from this client group. She has also worked for Magnum Photos as a photo editor and Abbeville Press as head of their rights and reproductions department.

Recently, her non profit group Piermont Straus Foundation has collaborated with the Piermont Chamber of Commerce to initiate a series of public art programs, one of which is Art in the Park, an art fair free to artists that was generously supported by Orange & Rockland Utilities.

Forming the new Piermont Chamber of Commerce, after the Village’s mayor, Chris Sanders, urged the business community to become more active in the wake of Sandy (the Village of Piermont was profoundly effected by this storm), and becoming an organizer, has led to Laura’s involvement with Scenic Hudson and the DEC serving on the board of their Piermont Waterfront Resilience Task Force. Her new work in the non-profit sector has been aimed at finding public and private funding for issues related to climate change, public arts, and the promotion of tourism in areas of need.

She currently lives in Piermont, New York, and opened her ceramic studio in early 2015. Her work is currently on view at Piermont Straus Gallery.

Lynn Stein

Lynn Stein has been the Artistic Director and Curator for RoCA, Rockland Center for the Arts in Rockland County N.Y. since 2011. She is responsible for developing, curating and programming 5 exhibition spaces including the Catherine Konner Sculpture Park. She has collaborated with hundreds of artists and has curated over one hundreds exhibitions while simultaneously maintaining her own art practice.

“Trusting my imagination is my truth,” says Stein, who notes that she has a passion for exploring what makes us unique, who “paints what she wants, what she needs, and who and what she wants to be and know.” She says her process has evolved into a “much more fluid, spontaneous personal process that I am in control of. I approach my work like short stories concerning my interaction with my subjects the moment the photos were taken.”

Her gouache paintings on paper are autobiographical, layered with deeply personal meaning. Using her iPhone, she collects objects, color combinations, architectural spaces, and people. She haunts the halls of Facebook with its unlimited resource of ideas and inspiration.

Silya Kiese

Silya Kiese’s lively demonstrations and lectures in contemporary sculpture and installations have inspired many students. Ms. Kiese attended the Art Students League of New York; the University of California, Los Angeles; and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received her MFA degree.

A distinguished lecturer in art, philosophy and art history, Ms. Kiese has spoken at the School of Visual Arts, New York City; Rutgers University, N.J.; and the Silvermine School of Art, Conn.  She was a visiting artist and lecturer at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Germany; Seattle Pacific University and Evergreen State College, Wash.; and University of California at Berkeley. Her installations and life-size sculptures are exhibited internationally.

Ms. Kiese currently teaches two classes at the League: Experimental Writing and Artmaking; and Sculpture, Varied Materials, Three-Dimensional Construction and Design.

Edward Schmidt

Edward Schmidt works primarily with the human figure. He was the first instructor at the New York Academy of Art when the school began in 1982. In that same year Schmidt was awarded the Prix de Rome, and he followed the prize to then study at the American Academy in Rome. While the majority of Schmidt’s work is figurative and appears largely Neoclassical, his early art education was rooted in abstraction with Gabriel Laderman – a student of Willem de Kooning and Hans Hofmann, and Stanley William Hayter – a Surrealist and teacher of Jackson Pollock. He attended the International School in Geneva as a child, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and Atelier 17 in Paris.  He notes that he prefers to work from life, sometimes from photo reference, and very often from memory and invention. Read more about Edward Schmidt.


Tyrone Mitchell

Tyrone Mitchell is an American sculptor, who was born in Savannah, Georgia, where he lived until he was ten years old and his family moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Though his family moved north, the Southern tradition moved with them, and a huge part of that tradition is storytelling. Mitchell’s sculptures are the stories, rather conversations, about the cultural, musical, religious, and political crossings of our time. His work has earned him numerous prestigious awards and honors, including the Guggenheim; Lila Wallance Reader’s Digest Award and Residency at Claude Monet’s estate in Giverny, France; the Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship; the Seagram’s Purchase Award: Studio Museum in Harlem; and, the Forma Viva Grant (Slovenia). Mitchell’s work is included in prestigious collections. He is a professor of art at Queens College, CUNY. His studio is outside of Hudson, New York, where he lives with his wife.

Aileen June Wang

Aileen June Wang is the new associate curator at the Beach Museum, Kansas State University. Prior to her current appointment, she taught as assistant professor of art history at Long Island University Post and worked at Christie’s New York as a client advisor developing Asian and Asian American client bases. She specializes in contemporary art, with a focus on Chinese and Asian American, and secondarily on Renaissance art. Wang was awarded a fellowship in the 2012 National Endowment for Humanities Summer Institute on Asian American Art at New York University. She delivers lectures for Long Island University’s popular Hutton House Lectures series and for Christie’s Education, and writes exhibition reviews for Art in America and online art and culture magazine Current research interests include graffiti and street art, and artists utilizing digital media and Web technology as artistic platforms.

Naomi CampbellNaomi Campbell is a graduate of Champlain College, Quebec, Canada; was classically trained in painting, drawing and printmaking at the Art Students League of New York; and has studied with many nationally recognized watercolor artists. Her signature memberships include the National Watercolor Society and the Transparent Watercolor Society of America. Ms. Campbell has won several awards for her work, in watercolor and other media, including four Gold Medals of Honor. Her figurative work has been featured in many art magazines and 16 book publications on multiple media, including American Artist Magazine; Watercolor Magic; Pure Color, The Best of Pastel; and 100 Mid-Atlantic Artists.She has exhibited nationally and internationally, in such places as France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Korea. Her work is in international and national public, corporate and private collections, which include the MTA Arts for Transit, the ASPCA, Maimonides Hospital, and Swift Pan-Americas, all in New York. Her work is in the permanent collections of the City of New York; the City of Irving, Texas; the City of Geochang, Korea; the Art Students League of New York; and the Trenton City Museum, New Jersey.

She has contributed to art journals and has lectured at several schools and art organizations, including Lehman College, City University of New York. In addition to watercolor, Ms. Campbell works in pastel, oil, acrylic, printmaking, installation, sculpture and public art. For further information on Naomi Campbell, please visit her website:

Jillian Russo

Jillian Russo joined the Art Students League as curator in 2013. She has organized exhibitions on illustrator and printmaker Peggy Bacon, in collaboration with the Archives of American Art, on Ai Weiwei and his teachers, and on the impact of the GI Bill on the Art Students League. Previously she was adjunct assistant professor at Pace University and Kingsborough Community College and was a curatorial assistant at the Museum of the City of New York where she contributed to the exhibition catalogue Glorious Sky: Herbert Katzman’s New York.  Her areas of interest span American modern, post-war, and contemporary art.  Her forthcoming publications include exhibition reviews on Robert Gober and Kehinde Wiley for and Panorama journal.

Mariano Del Rosario

Born in the Philippines, Mariano Del Rosario is a painter and installation artist who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He holds a MFA degree in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art and a BFA degree in painting from the University of the Philippines.Selected exhibitions include those at OK Harris Gallery, New York City; Roger Smith Arts, New York City; Galeria Galou, Brooklyn, N.Y.; David Klein Gallery, Birmingham, MI; Soho Center for Visual Artists, New York City; Andrea Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Hunter College Gallery, New York City; and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila. Selected group exhibitions include: Fundacao Eugenio de Almeida, Evora, Portugal; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, DE; Zentral Bibliothek, Zurich, Switzerland; National Library, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Shore Institute of Contemporary Arts, Long Branch, N.J.; Leroy Neiman Art Center, Bronx, NY; Goliath Visual Space, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Affordable Art Fair, New York City; Queens Museum of Art; Baltimore Museum of Art; Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; APA Gallery, New York University; Tokyo Art Expo; Bronx Museum of the Arts; Everson Museum of Art; Glassell School of Art, Houston Museum of Fine Arts; School 33 Art Center, Baltimore, Md.; Museum of Philippine Art, Manila; National Museum of Thailand, Bangkok; and Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong.

Selected grants and awards include the Asian Cultural Council/Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Pollock-Krasner Foundation; Thirteen Artists, the Cultural Center of the Philippines; Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Arts, Newark, N.J.; BCAT/Rotunda Residency, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Best in Show, Washington Square East Galleries, New York University, New York City; and Grand Prize, Embassy of Spain, Manila, PH. He is listed in Marquis Who’s Who and is represented in numerous private and public collections.

Read more about his process in this “Tools of the Trade” article on LINEA.

Sharon L. Butler

A painter and arts writer, Sharon Butler is widely known as the publisher of the influential art blog Two Coats of Paint, which has been sponsored by numerous arts organizations, including The Brooklyn Museum, The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum, New York Studio School, the School of Visual Arts, Creative Capital, and the Warhol Foundation.

Frequently sought after as a visiting artist/critic, her visits and affiliations have included Cornell University, Brown University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the School of Visual Arts, Parsons The New School, and currently, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.  Her work is shown regularly throughout the country, with exhibitions at such venues as NADA New York, Theodore:Art, Storefront Ten Eyck, Pocket Utopia, Union College (Schenectady, NY), Real Art Ways (Hartford, CT), SEASON (Seattle, WA), George Lawson (San Francisco, CA), and Matteawan (Beacon, NY).

Butler is New-York based, and maintains a studio in DUMBO overlooking the Manhattan Bridge.

Michael Gitlitz

Michael Gitlitz began training in art history in 1985 at Milton Academy, Massachusetts and continued his studies in 1986-87 with the John Hall Course in France and Italy. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College, Ohio in 1991, which included study with the Scuola Lorenzo de Medici and Scuola Dante Alighieri in Florence, the Middlebury College Language Schools in Middlebury, Vermont, and University College, University of London. In 1992, Mr. Gitlitz received a Post-Graduate Diploma in the Fine and Decorative Arts from Sotheby’s Institute, London. 

In 1993, he joined the Department of European Art at Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York. From 1993 to 2001, he handled American and European works of art from the 17th to the 21st centuries for an international clientele of private collectors, dealers, museums andother public institutions. There he curated and organized catalogues for numerous exhibitions, discovering both masterworks and artist’s estates. In 2001, in addition to his role in the Department of European Art, he was appointed director of the contemporary gallery, Hirschl & Adler Modern. 

From 2001 to 2015 Mr. Gitlitz held the position of director at Marlborough Gallery, New York, where he handled contemporary and modern art for private collectors and institutions worldwide. Since 2015 he has continued to advise clients in 19C, 20C and contemporary art for an international group of collectors.

 Grace Knowlton

“I began as a painter, and at a certain point I started to make my paintings three-dimensional. In the process, I discovered form and space–in short, I began making sculpture, but still with a strong interest in surface–line, color and texture. She says, “The elements we will deal with are form, space and surface; we will experiment with interplay and balance, using various materials of our choosing.”

Grace Knowlton has traveled freely through various art forms, methods and materials. Her work includes photographs, drawings, paintings and sculpture made from both natural and synthetic materials. She was graduated from Smith College with an MA and BA in Art, and received an MA in Art and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has exhibited in numerous exhibitions, and her work is represented in many public collections including the Smith College Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Newark Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and others.

Ms. Knowlton recently retired from being a League Instructor at the League’s 57th Street location.

Karen Wilkin

Karen Wilkin is a New York-based independent curator and critic specializing in 20th century modernism.  Educated at Barnard College and Columbia University, she was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship, to Rome.  From 1971 through 1978, she was Chief Curator of the Art Gallery of Alberta.  She is the author of monographs on Stuart Davis, David Smith, Anthony Caro, Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Isaac Witkin, Giorgio Morandi, and Hans Hofmann, and has organized exhibitions and lectured on the work of these artists internationally.

She has been a contributing editor, with William C. Agee of the Stuart Davis Catalogue Raisonné, (Yale University Press, 2007) and the Hans Hofmann Paintings Catalogue Raisonné, (Lund Humphries, 2014). She is the Contributing Editor for Art for the Hudson Review and a regular contributor to The New Criterion and the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Wilkin teaches in the MFA program of the New York Studio School.

Recent projects include the touring exhibition American Vanguards: John Graham, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning and their Circle, 1927-1942, for the Addison Gallery of American Art, Philips Academy, Andover, MA, (with William C. Agee and Irving Sandler), (named best exhibition of 2012 by the Boston Globe) and Hans Hofmann: Magnum Opus (with William C. Agee) for the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Germany, 2012. Ms Wilkin is also preparing a retrospective of the work of John Graham for the Parish Museum, Water Mill, NY, and a retrospective of Hans Hofmann’s works on paper for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, FL, and the Portland Art Museum, ME.