Category Archives: News and Events

McElhinney Hawai’i Painting Journal, June 29-July 13, 2015, on View at UNTITLED MIAMI

Dawn, July 2, 2015, from the summit of Kilauea.

I am honored that Bravin-Lee Programs will be exhibiting HUDSON HIGHLANDS at UNTITLED Miami. The fair opens tonight.
Also on view will BE KILAUEA KULANIAPIA, my Hawaiian painting journal from June 29 to July 13, 2015. The book contains journal entries, 17 color page-spread paintings, one map and two monochrome paintings, presented in a buckram-covered foil-stamped handmade Solander (clamshell) box produced by Cat at The Wyvern Bindery in London.
Other artists featured in the virtine at Bravin Lee Prorgams include Robert Birmelin, Brian Butler, Douglas Florian, Dianna Frid, Judith Henry, Elektra KB, Jonathan Lasker, Marilyn Minter Jason Polan, Charles Ritchie, Martin Wilner, and Amy Wilson

(Above) Painting the crater at Kilauea at dawn, July 2, 2015, using the summit marker as a worktable

Kilauea. 11:00 pm. July 1, 2015

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau. July 9, 2015

Twin Rocks, Omea Bay. July 4, 2015

Kilauea. July 2, 2015

Punalu’u. July 2, 2015

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau. July 9, 2015

Kahua Ranch Chapel. July 8, 2015

Fresxco by Jean Charlot, Kahua Ranch Chapel. July 8, 2015

Kulaniapia Falls

Omea Falls. Saturday July 4, 2015

Palm at Hunanunau; Kulaniapia Falls

Sorry engaging the zoom feature is beyond my present skill-set.
Please visit Bravin-Lee Programs at Untitled Miami, tonight though Sunday December 10

The Genesis of the HUDSON HIGHLANDS Suite

Images (left to right: In the Hudson Highlands, Atop Mount Greylock, Dawn: Kilauea Summit)

For the past ten years the majority of my new paintings have migrated into books. The change occurred gradually, not as any kind of plan. No theoretical epiphany preceded the shift. The idea just caught up with me. As a bibliophile fond of travel, I succumbed to my fate without protest. It was liberating. Personal mobility actually expanded my artistic practice. Whatever materials I might need could be carried in my pockets, travel-vest or shoulder-bag.

Someone asked me, “Where is your studio”
“You’re looking at it” I replied

Having completed hundreds of page-spreads, the question that arose was how to exhibit them. The traditional solution would be to lay them out in vitrines, open to single page-spreads. Another method was to transform painting-journals into animations, such as those that greet visitors to this website’s homepage. Neither mode of presentation could simulate the experience of perusing one of these books manually. Given their nature, it would be complicated logistically, exposing the objects to potential damage. If I were to exhibit these works in the conventional way, I had to be open to selling the books without cutting them up to accommodate some form of wall-display. Receiving a list of book-binders from the Center for Book Arts in New York City I found a few who could build me an octavo-sized solander (clamshell) box in which the original painted books could be housed. Following every conversation I came away with a case of sticker-shock. Many of these skilled craftspersons had a backlog of several weeks. I decided to do more research.
In August of 2016 my wife presented a paper at a symposium at Tate Britain. After visiting several paper-shops and binderies in London I brought one of these books to Wyvern Bindery on Clerkenwell Road. Stepping through the storefront door transported me to a Dickensian workshop filled with rolls of fabric, glue-pots, bustling workers and front-man Mark standing behind a wooden counter. I described my predicament. At the end of the following day he presented me with the solution, at a lower cost than would have been possible in New York. Manhattanites presume that everything on the planet is for them just a cab ride away. Not so. During the past two years, we have witnessed the extinction of the last privately-owned full-service art-supply stores in New York. Many bookstores have suffered similar fates. My impression is that London retains a culture of artisanal binderies, and a deeper commitment to books as works of art–not just delivery devices for texts and images. There are exceptions of course–the museum shops and venues like Strand, Printed Matter, McNally-Jackson, relocated Rizzoli and others. Books seem to be gaining visibility in museum exhibitions. Vitrines displaying sketchbooks and ephemera were seldom seen twenty years ago, but now are de rigeur.
One question remained unanswered. As I continue to paint in books, how might I recreate for purposes of exhibition the experience of having a book in hand, open to a painted page-spread? I brought one of these books to a number of prominent New York art-dealers, who generously shared their suggestions.
With a wink, Dick Solomon wondered aloud what kind of lunatic would ever think that painting in books had any commercial value. The question he said, was “how to get the genie out of the bottle.” He suggested that I consider turning them into prints. A month later I found myself in Berlin, spending the better part of a day in the back room at Walther Koenig Buchhandlung, at 27 Burgstrasse, next to the Museum Island. While most of the books were by contemporary artists, historical precedents became obvious. Not only did I envision a dialogue with Claude Lorrain and Piranesi, but also with Hogarth and Turner. Producing a suite of prints would create a dialogue between my work, and William Guy Wall’s Twenty-four Hudson River Portfolio. Combined with Benson J. Lossing’s The Hudson from the Wilderness to the Sea my project could look to precedents in the history of American art and with expeditionary artists who described places that tourists would later visit. Thus were pictures of the land inscribed upon our collective identity.

Several challenges arose. The first was finding a printer who could transform my page-spread diptychs into archival digital prints. My visit to Walther Koenig had reinforced an esthetic decision to “break” the books into single sheets, while leaving the book itself intact. This returned me to the idea of setting the prints into some kind of portfolio, or loose binding. During a visit to Amsterdam I had taken in the Hercules Seghers exhibit, which later came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The bookstore at the Rijksmuseum had commissioned a suite of reproductions of seven Seghers etchings, housed in a rigid portfolio with side-ties. The companion booklet (chapbook) was the same size as the prints. I found it unwieldy, but the idea of seven prints resonated with me. Dick Solomon has recommended six, but I liked the idea of a baker’s half-dozen.
While I was at Yale in the mid-1970s, I had acquired a suite of reproductions of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s circus drawings, with text by William Seitz, published by Harry Abrams in 1967. Like the Seghers, the prints were held in place by a series of paper flaps, inside two boards hinged at the spine. The Lautrec suite did not have the vexation of grosgrain ties. Too me it did not feel enough like a book. And so I settled on the idea of a cloth-covered Solander (clamshell) box, like the one that had been built for me at Wyvern Bindery in Clerkenwell. Likewise I settled on a chapbook that would be closer to the size of a 19th-century chapbook; octavo, landscape.
The prints were developed with help from the production team at Brilliant Graphics in Exton, Pennsylvania, to recreate the feeling of a whole book, open to a single page-spread. Some aspects of each painting is easier to read in this secondary iteration, than in its original book-form. For this reason, it was important that the prints not be seen as reproductions, but as enhancements of the originals.
I had settled on Brilliant on the recommendation of friends, and positive experiences I had in my interactions with them. The fine work they do for galleries and museums in producing books and catalogues tipped the balance for me, and we went to work.
One hurdle remained, which was how I would be able to pay the printer.
My first solution was to work through a fiscal sponsorship with an organization I shall refrain from naming. After shepherding my proposal through all the proper channels, others who had not been privy to the conversation about this project created a misunderstanding that proved mortal to this particular partnership. Following weeks of conversations back and forth between accountants and others, failing to make any progress, I walked away and shifted direction.
Follow a subscription model, sufficient funds were raised to pay the printer. In mid-August a sudden windfall in the form of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation artist-grant gave me the flexibility needed to move forward. Without it I might have been forced to cut corners, or to sacrifice key elements of the publication. News of the grant stunned me. It also motivated me to work harder, to be worthy of such recognition.
This week (September 5) I placed the order for the boxes and committed to a production schedule. The Hudson Highlands suite will be published officially on November 1, 2107. There will be launch events and other festivities, to be announced very soon. All will be posted both here, and on social media.

Below is a preview of the limited edition, with two PDFs; a prospectus, and a sample copy of the chapbook. Comments are welcome. Please share this link with others who might like to know about Hudson Highlands.



North Gate


Storm King


Crows Nest


Western Highlands




South Gate



West Point

Look inside the chapbook:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

For more information on the Hudson Highlands Suite, please see the PDF below:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

To order:


Download (DOCX, 37KB)

A chapbook is a companion volume (booklet) for content published in different form. The word comes from “cheap”, something bartered for produced at an affordable cost. The original chapbooks were the first “paperbacks”, mass-produced printed matter for popular consumption during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, making their appearance alongside the first broadsides, tabloids and periodicals. Chapbooks were often produced (as here) to accompany a suite of loose prints, or perhaps a finely bound volume. Popular music and political rants were published in this form, as were serial fictions known as Penny Dreadfuls, the forerunners to 20th-century comic-books.

The concept driving the limited-edition Hudson Highlands suite arose from my awareness of 19th-century expeditionary art, and from a conversation with Dick solomon of Pace Prints. Returning from his exploration of Latin America to Europe by way of Philadelphia, Alexander von Humboldt advised Thomas Jefferson that artists were essential to the success of future military explorations. While in South America and Mexico, Humboldt had been forced to produce his own drawings, which were later elaborated and refined for publication by professional artists in Paris.

Artists like Jacques le Moyne, Frans Post, Albert Eckhout, William Hodges, William Bartram and others had already paved the way. Taking Humboldt’s advice to heart, Stephen H. Long enlisted artists Samuel Seymour and Titian Ramsay Peale II as members of his 1821 expedition to the Rocky Mountains. West Point superintendent Sylvanus Thayer modified the curriculum of the US Military Academy at West Point to require two hours of draw a day for second and third-year cadets.

Later artist-entrepreneurs like John-James Audubon, William Guy Wall, George Catlin and Alfred Jacob Miller explored the boundaries between art, science and ethnography, seeking private funding for their expeditions and popular audiences for the artworks they produced. While original works were exhibited and sold, the greater audience for these artists was reached via publications in the form of books and prints.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Dick Solomon, to collect an oral history from him for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. A few months later I saw him again, at a print show at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue. I asked if he would give me a few minutes of his time to show him something. After some time had passed I called and made an appointment to meet at Pace Gallery, on East 57th Street. I showed him the Hudson Valley painting-journal, for which Wyvern Binderyarchives of american art
, on Clerkenwell Road in London, had produced a Solander (clamshell) box. Solomon leafed through the book. He looked at me, and with a wink said,
“if I were to see this at a show, I would wonder what kind of lunatic thought this had commercial potential. You’ve got to find a way to get the genie out of the bottle. Consider producing a suite of archival prints.”
I took his advice to heart. After showing the book to a number of other dealers and collectors, it became clear that producing a limited edition of prints would be the best option. I found myself reviewing the careers of Audubon, Catlin and others, which brought me to the realization that if I had revived a centuries-old artistic practice (painting in books), I might be forced to resort to centuries-old marketing strategies.

This iteration of the Hudson Highlands chapbook is undergoing final, minor adjustments. The limited edition of Hudson Highlands will be published on November 1, 2017 with a retail price of $1,500.00 The pre-publication price is $1,000.00
Subscribers who order a copy of the limited edition prior to October 15, 2017 will be thanked, and listed as sponsors on the Acknowledgements page of the chapbook.

To place your order, send a check for $1,000.00 to:

Needlewatcher Editions, PO Box 142, West Haverstraw, New York, 10993

New York residents add 8% sales tax ($80.00)

To use PayPal:

Look inside the chapbook:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Hudson Highlands: Limited Edition. Pre-publication Special Offer

Hudson Highlands, a suite of seven archival digital prints, drawn from the painting-journals of James Lancel McElhinney, will be published in a limited edition of fifty copies on November 1, 2017. The suite of facsimile images is printed on 100 lb. archival paper and housed in a fine cloth-covered archival clamshell box. A companion chapbook identifying each location in enclosed.

(Clamshell cover design)

(Cover sheet/image key)

Copies of this limited edition are now available for sale from Needlewatcher Editions, at a pre-publication discounted price. Subscribers who complete their purchase by October 15 will be listed as patrons on the acknowledgements page pf the companion chapbook. For details, please open or download this PDF.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

To order:

Dr. Katherine Manthorne to speak at Frederic Church’s Olana on Saturday, May 20, 2017 (Click on any image to learn more)

Dr. Katherine E. Manthorne of the CUNY Graduate Center Doctoral program in Art History will speak in conjunction with the exhibition “Overlook: Teresita Fernandez Confronts Fredeic Church at Olana“; works from the Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros curated by Teresita Ferndandez.

Launch Party and Book Signing at the Art Students League


Launch party and book signing at the Art Students League of New York, Harriman Gallery, 5:00-7:00 p.m., on Friday January 31, 2014,
215 West 57th St, New York.

Featured speakers: Dr. Katherine Manthorne and James L. McElhinney.

Mapping & Mobility: The Sketchbook Art of James Lancel McElhinney, Volume 1.
Essay by Dr. Katherine E. Manthorne. New Arts Publishing.

Gesture/Mapping/Writing With James McElhinney And Emma Shapiro

gesture_mapping_aIn this drawing event, participants respond to observation via movement, working from a live model—performance and graphic artist Emma Shapiro. Exploring visual experience through gesture puts the act of drawing in dialogue with poses generated by the model. A series of exercises on regular white copy paper leads the participants to a fresh understanding of drawing as a path from vision to knowledge. The class culminates with a giant floor drawing in which “everyone is on the same page.”

  • Date:  November 19, 2013
  • Time:  7:00 pm to 10:00 p.m.
  • Location:  The Art Students League, 2nd floor, 215 West 57th Street, New York