"The Ordinary and the
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
We are so used to seeing contemporary art that is trying to be larger than life that it comes as something of a surprise to visit a new exhibition of paintings by Kathy Calderwood that appear to be efforts at portraying just what she sees at the size of life. What she presents is here in all of its mysterious glory, painted with a patience and care as if nothing else mattered but bringing forth this single clue to her life as an artist: a slice of lemon, a single blueberry, a lock of hair, an empty plastic packet, half a dead bunny rabbit, and a few portraits of magic crystals to ward off bad karma.
Kathy Calderwood at Rochester Contemporary Art Center
I went back to see the show she calls "The Ordinary and the Divine" after Kathy Calderwood had given her talk about her artwork on Saturday. She showed me her necklace with numerous "engagement" rings, which she forgot to show to the audience earlier, but this adornment was meant to relate to her new suite of paintings she has titled: "The Hall of Suitors and Paramours". Not surprising is her wit and wisdom as a speaker, and a teller of tales, and this all comes out in the paintings which can appear as allegories though they are sometimes a bit hard to parse.
The artist in person at RoCo
Saturday, April 2, 2016
This exhibition at Rochester Contemporary Art Center continues to May 13th, so there is time - if you can come back for a second viewing, while you think about that first visit to the show. For Kathy Calderwood this exhibition is long overdue, I have seen her artwork in small groups - but never such a large gathering, and to think that most of these paintings are very recent is really amazing. There are two reminders of the fire that engulfed her home and studio a few years back in this present exhibition - they are curio shelves presented here behind glass. The shelves have melted and blackened memorabilia - a sobering experience for a painter surrounded by her assets in her artwork.
"Wood", in acrylic by Kathy Calderwood
Calderwood's paintings are diminutive in size, but not in scope. She paints with acrylics and her brushwork is delicate and considerate of each form - or each subject and how it is presented in the light of her studio. The choice of what to paint originates with a feeling that generates an idea that causes a response and that is about a communication for the particular aspects of the things she wishes to portray; nothing is an accident in this art, it is all very deliberate.
"I Told You So" by Kathy Calderwood
In the past, some of Kathy's artwork has been very surreal, but the paintings in the present show are more direct. There is a funny painting in the back ( "I Told You So" ) with some pop imagery and surreal cliches like the floating red lips and the liquid bacon, but in the majority these paintings can give you a quiet nudge, rather than being blatant or causing a spectacle.
137 East Avenue, Rochester
You might have a theory about the psychological aspect to what is being portrayed here and why. The paintings almost beg to be interpreted. We feel that the painting is more than the sum of its parts and in particular I was attracted to one work simply called "Wood". It shows a cross section of a tree trunk on a neutral background in an interesting circular frame with what looks like a cracked or crooked smile and it has a suggestive effect of being a portrait ( maybe one of her suitors? ).
Around the back of the RoCo space is also a room full of clever collage art by Manny Aloha. I was amused by his "Bird of Paradise", though to me it looked more like a vulture. Go see for yourself.
"Bird of Paradise", collage by Manny Aloha