Making a Mark

Most everyone likes to think that they make their mark somewhere, somehow, in their life’s journey. Some make their mark by a deed, an idea or a lifetime pursuit. Artists like to think of the mark they make as their body of work or their signature style, their artistic vocabulary or their conceptual musings. To me, there is something most compelling about “drawing” that conveys the immediacy of those marks. That is why we used to mount a “Drawing Show” once a year at the Boston Center for the Arts when I was there in the late 80’s. That is why, too, the current show at the Katonah Museum is so interesting.

Sixty-six artists who make their mark on drawing is now on view at the Katonah Museum through May 1 ( and ably curated by Ellen Keiter. Dancer Trisha Brown has taken a pen between her toes to draw her feet in a relaxed pose. Then, there’s Composer John Cage, who crafted a series of 61 smoke-embedded drawings, one of which is on view. And speaking of pyrography, Deborah Gottheil-Nehmad burnishes her image with a hot metal stamp. The diverse drawing implements used by artists to make their mark give this serious show a few chuckles. For instance, Mark Williams uses a deodorant stick cover as an implement; Win Knowlton creates abstract “cigar ash” drawings; Christine Hiebert animates blue carpenter’s tape; Lynne Woods Turner’s ethereal drawing is stained with tea and Anne Chu stitches an embroidered line drawing of a square.

And speaking of the serious mixed with humor, there’s an on-going 24-hour a day drawing in which Tristan Perich has installed a pen operating by itself on a huge white wall, marking the synthesis of randomness and order. Presumably the drawing will be finished by the end of the show. There’s no shortage of deeply thoughtful works, such as Russell Crotty’s “Hale Bopp over Acid Canyon” in which he contrasts a once in a lifetime event with a site that for 20 years was a dumping ground for radioactive waste.

Most personal to me were the reductive drawings by sculptors Mark DiSuvero and Richard Serra. DiSuvero’s bold silver and black strokes evoke my memories of Queens, driving down Astoria Blvd where DiSuevero’s sculptures ruled the airspace above the gated studio he occupies on the waterfront. The studio is next door to the Socrates’ Sculpture Park ( and across from the Noguchi Museum (, both “must sees” in Queens. Serra’s elegant image of his “Tilted Arc” reminded me of the brouhaha that ensued near my downtown office before it was sadly removed from 26 Federal Plaza in 1986. If you like drawing as much as I do, check out the Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn (, and the Dorsky Gallery in Long Island City ( And, if you hurry, you can still see the exhibition “On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century” at MOMA ( until February 7.

Drawn/Taped/Burned: Abstraction on Paper is on view at the Katonah Museum, 134 Jay Street, Katonah, New York, until May 1. Museum hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-5pm, and Sunday noon – 5pm.