Dusti Bongé at Betty Parsons Gallery

Museum and gallery representation in New York has always been essential for the reputation and profile of American artists. Still is. Surprisingly. Despite the internet and Instagram and TV and the ease of travel, New York continues to exert an influence on the art world that in many circles renders anything outside of it as lesser than. Dusti Bongé showed at the old Betty Parsons Gallery in New York along with first generation Abstract Expressionist artists like Jackson Pollock. Had she continued to do so, I firmly believe her name would be equal to the other “9th Street women” of the era including Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler.

Instead, Dusti Bongé chose to leave New York following the death of her husband and return to her native Mississippi to raise her family and continue her art practice far, far… far outside the artistic mainstream – even by today’s standards, but particularly for the mid-to-late 20th century.

Today’s entry from the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi to See Great Art through our partnership takes a look at Dusti Bongé’s history with the Betty Parsons Gallery closed its doors in 1981. Insight, as always, from the Executive Director at the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation, Ligia M. Römer.

Betty Parsons Gallery: Window Paintings by Dusti Bongé, 1975, Betty Parsons Gallery Exhibition Announcement.

In 1975, Dusti Bongé had her last solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. At The time they had been friends for about 30 years. This show came after a fairly long hiatus, during which time both Dusti and Betty were involved with the respective curve-balls life had thrown their way.

This exhibit offered Dusti an opportunity to show a whole new dimension of work she had been exploring for several years. In the 1970s she started learning from a boat builder friend how to work with fiberglass. She figured out a way to make fiberglass “paintings’, which were in fact sheets of fiberglass she would cast with various dry colored pigments in the resin.

The works she created were inspired by her early days, when she lived in New York with her husband Archie, and explored a distinct memory she had of living in small city apartments. She noted that when living in New York, one often didn’t have a view out of one’s window, but rather that the window was merely a source of light, looking out onto a light shaft or blank wall. It was something that had always bothered her.

Now she had a solution. The fiberglass paintings she made were “Window Paintings,” created specifically to address this window problem. Given their translucent nature the paintings were meant to hang in front of the window so that during the day the light could still stream in, but your view would be much improved.

At night, the reverse would occur, with the panels becoming visible from the outside as the light within was transmitted though the window.

We are thrilled to say that soon, Dusti will once again be shown in New York at the Hollis Taggart Gallery!

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