An indicator of an exceptional artist-one who makes a significant mark in and of their time -- is the balance between unique statement -- unequivocally recognizable in a crowd -- and historical and aesthetic references. Exploring this circle from past to present to future provides one of the great pleasures in experiencing a Van Alstine work.

We recognize a surrealist reference and a minimalist one; the joy of the found object and free association; a play with scale from an apparent jeweler’s care like Cellini to a monumental work of mammoth size in the blink of an eye. Sensitivity to material, both complimentary and contradictory, is among the sculpture’s qualities as they fit nicely into art historical modernist-postmodernist categories.

For all this understanding, it does condition us to the seriousness of John Van Alstine’s work; it does not explain the life, the energy, or the animation of these objects. These sculptures are not anthropomorphic; they do not reference our systems but they have a system and they have an identity that will accompany us if we please.

There will be much more to be said about John Van Alstine’s works after we live with his objects during this exhibition. The Plattsburgh Art Museum at the State University of New York is honored to present this material to the college community.

-Edward R. Brohel

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