work lives on: Carol Luce Lighten Up.
They say bad things happen in threes. Of course, that can’t
be true—but we do tend to think of things in threes (examples
abound) so, when I learned recently that Scott Asbury had
lost his battle with cancer late last year, being the third
area artist I know to have suddenly left us within a span
of a few months, I felt it was time to comment on the losses.
Asbury’s death at 39 followed quickly on the heels of Frank
Broderick’s untimely demise, of an aneurism at the age of
29, around Thanksgiving; Carol Luce was similarly struck down
out of the blue in early April—she was 46.
What did these three have in common other than the coincidence
of their too-early deaths? All three were particularly talented
painters, in greatly diverse styles: Broderick made exuberant,
Zen-like works on paper with an almost automatic feel; Luce
labored intensely to produce color-saturated amalgamations
of built-up patterns; and Asbury worked in almost total obscurity
on meticulously crafted combines inspired by popular culture
and his particular muses, the beat poets.
These three artists also shared the fact of being underappreciated,
mainly because they had shown rather little, and of having
fairly recently emerged somewhat more into the spotlight of
the Capital Region art scene. Asbury was the most reclusive
of the three, working as a picture framer at Hill’s Stationery
in Troy and showing his work to favored clients there, some
of whom were in a position to support his work and/or help
expose it to a broader audience.
One such follower of Asbury’s art was Michael Oatman, a Troy-based
artist and professor who was instrumental in getting him a
showcase at the Arts Center of the Capital Region about a
year ago. Some of the work in that show had been part of the
ACCR’s 2002 Fence Show.
In a review of the Fence Show, I wrote about Asbury’s piece
titled Homeless-Man Art Gallery: “Expertly deploying
a compendium of styles and techniques, from pop-ish cartooning
to Michelangelesque rendering, Asbury has created an homage
to ’80s art star Jean-Michel Basquiat that simultaneously
sends up the museum system, collectors’ vanity, outsider-artist
posturing and the New York City hustle in general.”
Asburys Charles Bukowski.
stepdaughter, Cara Cerone, has catalogued his work for the
possibility of a show in the near future in Troy; a memorial
scholarship for young artists is also being discussed.
Broderick earned a bachelor’s degree in painting from SUNY
at New Paltz and an MFA from the University at Albany; he
taught classes at the Arts Center of the Capital Region and
Columbia-Greene Community College. A couple of years ago,
he had a show sponsored by Albany Center Galleries of his
remarkable calligraphic pieces in black ink on cream-colored
paper at the Lark Street BID office. I saw the show, but was
unable to write about it—still, it made a lasting impression.
During his last year, Broderick spent several months as a
visiting artist in the Dominican Republic; born in Barbados,
he greatly enjoyed the return to paradise, and had been making
plans to go back when he died.
work by Frank Broderick.
the same time, he was expected to be curator of a new gallery
that was slated to open this year upstairs from Ruby’s Hotel
restaurant in Freehold, where he had once tended bar. Instead,
the gallery now bears his name: The Broderick Fine Art Gallery
opened Saturday (June 5). Its debut exhibition, Frank Broderick:
A Memorial View, will hang through late July. Another
exhibition of his work is set for the Fulton Street Gallery
Luce was the best known of the three, perhaps as much for
her other activities as for her painting. A Skidmore alumna
with an MFA from UAlbany, Luce had not long ago received tenure
as an art professor at Siena College, where she also ran the
Yates Gallery. Her colleague at Siena, John Caputo, has carried
on running the gallery and will pick up her course load next
year while the college runs a national search to fill the
Despite a streak of self-deprecation, Luce was noticed and
collected by important institutions, including the Albany
Institute of History and Art. In a group exhibition at the
Chapel + Cultural Center at Rensselaer in 2003, her work inspired
me to write this description: “Luce manipulates patterns and
colors like a conductor controls an orchestra—dashingly, defiantly,
brilliantly. Her painterly meditations can bristle with energy
or soothe the weary spirit, depending on palette, size and
The legacy of Luce’s work will be continued with a show next
spring at the Yates Gallery.
There is a scene in the film The Razor’s Edge where
a brutal but beloved sergeant is cut down in battle. The hapless
soldier nearby, played by Bill Murray, doesn’t want to show
his grief at the loss of such a curmudgeon, so he eulogizes
him simply by saying, “He will not be missed.” While the artwork
of Scott Asbury, Frank Broderick and Carol Luce remains to
reminds us of what they lived for, it is not enough. The truth
is, they will be very much missed.