Thursday, November 14, 2013

Metal for Dishonor

Artist:  Lynn Duggan at
    The Geisel Gallery at Bausch & Lomb Building
    downtown Rochester, NY

Lynn Duggan, on the faculty at Nazareth College, presents in exhibition a series of artworks titled "Transgressions".  This installation at the Geisel Gallery in the Bausch and Lomb Building in downtown Rochester comes at the end of a long string ( for 18 years! ) of selected art exhibitions by some of the best visual artists in the region.

The space that is the Geisel Gallery leads from the central atrium down a well lit hall full of artwork  to a large room with a recessed exhibition space that provides a focal point.  There on a little pedestal is one of Lynn Duggan's poignant sculptural works - a skeletal amalgamation topped with a pair of old jawbones.  This could be a casualty of war, except that the parts - and the way they align with each other build on visual notions that owe a debt to surrealists like Max Ernst and contemporary sculptors like David Smith ( particularly for his "Medals for Dishonor" ).

"The Sacred and The Profane"
  mixed media,
  by:  Lynn Duggan

I like the narrative possibilities of the bas relief paper construction "The Sacred and The Profane" - this is a kind of collage with a robins nest, an egg, a ladder, a figure and a balancing teacup.  There are also commemorative necklaces for such hot button issues like fracking, and a figure made from an old crutch that gave a different perspective on a jobs program.

"Transgressions" goes from one political statement to another with editorial fervor, but I might say that I most admire her ingenuity to create wall sculpture like her "Flesh and Bone" which may be more effective as a statement due to its simplicity.

The Geisel Gallery

Many thanks to Jean Geisel and her assistant Amy Vena for all the good work they put towards this venue, there are so few places like this for contemporary art that serve this community.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fabulous Fiber Artists

"De-Constructing Colin"
  "Fabulous Fibers" at Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs, NY

Among the most memorable shows I have seen while I was living in New York City were exhibitions of quilts - on view were Amish Quilts one year, and then several years later at The Whitney Museum they held the show of quilts from Gee's Bend.  The Amish quilts were collaborations, and one can imagine a regular social circle that met to create striking abstract art as important as any Joseph Albers painting.  The Gee's Bend quilters were extraordinary and had such a high aesthetic vision of what could be accomplished with some patches of fabric.

So, I have been influenced by fabric arts going way back into Chinese embroidery, Ikats, Pre-Columbian Peruvian weaving, batik from Bali, printed chintz from India and Japanese kimonos.
I have collected fabric art, so I was interested to see the show called "Fabulous Fibers" from the group known as R.A.F.A. ( Rochester Area Fiber Artists).  As with any show of this size ( over a hundred pieces in the exhibition ) there are always going to be some exceptional things to see, so I thought that I would share this with you.

"Cisne y Pichone"
by Pat Berardi

"Fabulous Fibers" just opened two days ago and it runs to December 29th, 2013, and it is being held at the new gallery - Main Street Arts, over in Clifton Springs, about 35 minutes southeast of Rochester by car.

"Random Windows" by Beth Kelly

On view is all manner of fiber art - from quilts and three dimensional felt pieces, wearable art and other woven surface design.  Among the medium size works on exhibition are two geometric quilts by Beth Brandkamp, an abstract work of curving stripes on a strong magenta field by Pat Berardi, and in the front window was a hanging fabric construction titled "Random Windows" by Beth Kelly.  Most of the artwork on view requires time and precision to make convincing and satisfying use of the dyes and fabrics and needlework necessary. 

 There are a few wearables in the show and one pictorial piece titled "Journey" by Judy Warner which looked like a painting with thick impasto, except everything was made out of whole cloth using ingenious stitching that conveyed a scene out of Alaska with two small figures wearing red hats in a boat.  Just like that.

"Journey" by Judy Warner

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Camera Work

  "Tree as Photograph" 
     by Larry Merrill
      at Nazareth College Arts Center Gallery

Striking new photographic images are on view in the galleries this month, so I went out to look over some shows starting with "Tree as Photograph" by Larry Merrill ( through December 8th ) at Nazareth College Arts Center Gallery.  Once in the gallery, I also see trees on a folding screen, and photographs of trees presented as free standing objects on low pedestals - all of which point towards an open interpretation of the photo as more than just something that sits in a frame on your wall.  In fact, this show does without frames for the most part, and the lustrous color prints are presented with a white border around the image that separates it from the wall in a nice simple fashion.

Larry Merrill has an eye for detail and color, but what I am most struck by is the abstract quality of his compositions which owe something to an almost painterly framing of space like what one might find in a work by the artist Clyfford Still.  The trees that Larry Merrill has in his viewfinder have dynamic organic character and the spaces between trunks and branches are sensitively captured.

Gallery r  at 100 College Avenue has a life lesson for all gallery goers who come in to experience the show titled "Becoming Visible" by Jessica Catherine Lieberman ( there is also a book for sale at the gallery by the photographer ).  The show is on thru November 27th.  This is a test of endurance for the person who has been diagnosed with a lethal disease, and we get to witness this through the documentary quality of the photos that portray gradual stages of treatment along with wall labels ( essays really ) that feature established protocols of pain management.  This is a strong show and the viewer leaves with a deeper respect for the transient nature of our lives on this planet.

Joan Lyons
  at Spectrum Gallery

Next door, in the Spectrum Gallery at Lumiere Photo,  Joan Lyons has a colorful series of sequenced photo montage works on view that create an image in the mind akin to haiku poetry.  Each photo has a little shift in perspective - a composition in her work might have a photo of a painting on the right hand side and then on the left there is a purely photographic image giving the total composition a different meaning.  Is this the activity of metaphor?  This is like this?

I was attracted to Joan Lyon's photos of painted murals on the sides of buildings and the funny dislocation in these images moves me off into a provisional space neither here nor there.  It is into this breach that the feeling of art resides - perhaps it is just the sensitivity of the artist at work and how she captures my attention.

The large Luna moth in one photo makes the space behind it more palpable, while in another photograph across the room decorative coy fish are superimposed on a watery world on a slightly different scale.  There is a wry humor and comparison drawn in another composition where a painted prehistoric jungle bumps up against some scrubby palms in a scene right out of the Everglades.
It is Before and After, similar but different.

Melissa Huang
   at The Arts & Cultural Council
   for Greater Rochester

I want to take a moment to congratulate all of the students who participated in the juried show in the gallery at The Arts & Cultural Council that also opened on November 1st, right around the corner from the Spectrum Gallery.  Local teachers can be proud of students who have the chance to show their artwork and offer the opportunity for us to view these creations by an up and coming generation.