Past Is Prologue

Curated by Charles Goldman

325 Project Space, 325 St. Nicholas Ave, Ridgewood, NY, October 20 to November 5, 2023

Past Is Prologue

 In 1986 my dealer Patricia Hamilton brought Richard Feld to my studio on Broadway in Tribeca. I showed them the current work in the studio and Richard was particularly taken by my large charcoal drawings and a recent sculpture that I called White Smoker. The sculpture is a conjunction of two disparate parts: a closed off bell shape in white plaster and an organic looking “smoke” plume coming out of the top of it. In those days I was inspired by Scientific American and old National Geographic magazines and as I recall I took the smoke plume from an article about undersea hydrothermal vents called black smokers. Richard bought a drawing called Study for Fountain and the sculpture White Smoker. 


 I installed the sculpture in Richard and Kathy Feld’s house in the summer of 1986. Richard was a little trepidatious about attaching the sculpture to the floor but I just screwed the mounting bracket right through the carpeting. They seemed very pleased with it and told me they would get the drawing framed. Richard and Kathy invited my wife Sabine Reckewell and me to dinner along with some other friends that September where we had a great time discussing art. That was the last time I saw White Smoker until this year. 


 In the spring of 2023, I received an email from Richard’s son, Jeff Feld. Jeff said that he had possession of the sculpture having rescued it from the floor of his mother's bedroom where it had rested, in parts, for over 30 years. Jeff had never seen the work assembled or installed and he told me that he planned to install it in his home in Ridgewood and finally experience it as intended. We exchanged many emails over several months and it was great to see Jeff’s own works on his website Jeff mentioned that he sometimes used his studio as an exhibition space called 325 Project Space, which he described as “An unpredictably, periodic exhibition and event space.” Jeff showed the work to Charles Goldman, who, sharing Jeff’s excitement about the work, expressed his desire to curate a show featuring White Smoker. After thinking over group exhibition possibilities, Charles felt it might work better to show White Smoker along with some of my contemporaneous large charcoal drawings from the 1980’s and he chose several drawings and other works to exhibit. Jeff and Charles’s enthusiasm for these early works inspired me to revisit my extensive collection of drawings from this period and I even started a sculpture called Uvula Arch which is currently in production in my studio, based on the large charcoal drawing Study for Uvula Arch

Stephen Whisler, October 2023

White Smoker,1986, plaster, papier-mâché, plastics and pigment, 100”x 30”x 36”

Study for Quadruped, 1986, charcoal on paper, 88”x60” and

Study for The Semicircular Sculpture, 1986, charcoal on paper, 82”x60”

The Gap, 1988, 53”x 24”x 6”, cast iron

Split Void, 1987, 65"x 20"x 10”, cast iron

Installation View, Past Is Prologue