Get Out To See The Sights / Sites
as winter breaks ... ( and hope springs eternal )
There are five stars in this constellation, and you can get to them easily - you don't need a rocket ship, just a little interest in seeing what's up and out there. I am talking about a supply of fresh art in the galleries to open a new season. I buzzed around to get a glimpse of what is being shown, and I even had a chance to speak with most of the artists. First Fridays offers you the opportunity in downtown Rochester, New York to walk down the block and encounter unique objects, paintings and prints, and it is an experience worth your time and effort.
Denton Crawford at Joy Gallery
498 West Main Street
1. First, I want to mention the Joy Gallery and the show was called: " You're NOT Here" and the artist is a fellow R.I.T. art teacher, Denton Crawford. This is the first solo show of Denton's that I have seen, and it featured new paintings, drawings, and installations. Some of the paintings took off from a reading of "The Lord of the Rings" - visualizations that hoped to bring to life some aspect of that literary kingdom ( but nary a Hobbit to be seen ).
At the Joy Gallery there were site specific installations ( see the photo above ) which included two abstract paintings, a bright pink plexiglas box, and a pieced together skull sitting at the nexus of a tall pyramid. I think that this aggregation of signs and symbols becomes more complex when he throws in a circular painting that has more organic rather than geometric shapes on its surface. Denton is a capable draftsman, and in one series of works in colorful frames he takes the same figurative elements and plays with the patterns and the sense of surrounding or attendant atmosphere. Here at the Joy Gallery, the artist is an imaginative story teller, working on embroidered fictions.
Photographs by John Ganis
at Spectrum Gallery
2. Certainly not fictive, the photos on view at Spectrum Gallery in Lumiere Photo are the work of John Ganis, and their factual nature is a slap in the face, that makes you wake up. These are photos of the devastating impact that a series of hurricanes has had on the beaches and homes of coastal dwellers, and what the outcomes now look like a few years after. Efforts are being taken to reclaim sand dunes and re-build housing, but the clear message is that we will probably see more of this kind of thing with climate change and rising tides. The photographer told me that there will be a book published to enlarge upon this show of over twenty prints titled: "America's Endangered Coasts" which has been years in the making.
3. Next door, at Gallery r, some of my students are putting on a show for their senior thesis. A wide variety of sculptural objects, paintings and prints can be found there. Patrick Morabito in the back room seems to like to make chain-mail that harkens back to the middle ages, while Laurie Monahan has called my attention to Deaf Culture, with her print she called "The Greedy Ear".
The Greedy Ear, 2015
4. Over at The Hungerford Building ( 1115 East Main Street ) Warren Phillips is showing works on paper by Mary Orwen ( b:1913, d: 2005 ) - an artist who was born in New York City and who lived and worked in the Rochester area for many years. Her show is called "REDISCOVERED" but this is the first time I have seen her work so for me it was just a discovery. These medium to large scale artworks allude to the landscape and reminded me of other artists working in this manner including Joan Mitchell. Mary Orwen is much more polite and well-mannered. There is a deft feeling of simple color arrangements, with a light airy touch that avoids being overly fussy.
Mary Orwen " REDISCOVERED"
at Warren Phillips Fine Art & Frame
5. The Axom Gallery at 176 Anderson Avenue now has a new show of sculpture by Lee Hoag, and it also has a new wall of retail items all based on a modern aesthetic that would make pleasant gifts for those you care most about.
Lee Hoag, sculptures
"Object Alchemy" is the title of this show that contains almost thirty recent objects that range from near miniature to major work like "Dead Ringer" at over 60 inches tall. These sculptures are often made out of re-purposed goods, and this is Lee Hoag's brand of alchemy. He has been working in this way for the past five years, and before that he was involved with video prior to this for ten years, so he is an interesting artist with a variety of tricks up his sleeve.
"Dead Ringer" by Lee Hoag
When you see this show, many of the sculptures look like something else you might be familiar with. I thought of salt shakers, and hand tools, but there is also an aspect of this work that is treated like a fetish, or symbol of desire or a comic action. When you visit this show you can seem to feel that it has a bit of folk art in it as well, and it represents a sophisticated take on form and color - worth the effort to climb the stairs and confront.