Monday, October 10, 2016


Brandon Ballengee 
part of a five person show at
Rochester Contemporary Art Center
137 East Avenue
Rochester, NY

Having just come home from a performance of "Tristan and Isolde",  live from the Metropolitan Opera, I have been very moved thinking about love and loss and the strong ties that bind us to each other and the earth, so it was perhaps very timely that I should walk into the new exhibition simply titled: " Vanish " at Rochester Contemporary Art Center.

Just within my circle of the arts, Rochester lost Nathan Lyons recently and then just this week the writer Zena Hampson.  So, we like to project ourselves as hail and hardy but there is also the specter of our mortality behind everything we do.  Sometimes we just can't help ourselves, other times we are effected by the tides of the business world with changes of fortune or maybe the climate has an effect on us and we feel like a speck of dust lost in the universe.

Aaron Miller at RoCo

In this new show the comfortable armchair life is deeply bitten into and disturbed in the installation art of Aaron Miller.  Flakes of coal dust that were used to print the tall scrims that greet a visitor to this recently opened show create a little pile on the floor.  This installation is like a stage set, with chunks of coal and the blackened appearance of two - no longer - comfortable chairs set up in the front of the gallery.  An elegy to the passing of a way of life?  Brought to you by an artist who grew up in a coal mining region out west, and whose family worked the mines for years.

Dorene Quinn makes "HISTORY"

Dorene Quinn is a sculptor from Syracuse and she puts it quite succinctly: YROTSIH, that is - "History" - but seen from behind and below, like if you were just buried!  You can't miss the point.  Her other work is a towering lacy wall work of dirt encrusted wire that lets us know that this is the LAST.  How foreboding.  Is it a last will and testament?  

Dorene Quinn with "LAST"

Brandon Ballengee cuts into Joseph Gould's Hummingbirds


At a recent Armory Show in NYC, I got into a long discussion with the artist Brandon Ballangee
because of his use of older artist's prints which he deftly cuts into to excise the subject of his concern.  We can experience a sense of loss in a visceral way when we are at RoCo, and this becomes very obvious when looking over the selection of artwork brought to us by Mr. Ballengee.  This sense of loss translates into the reality of species gone extinct - they are gone from this earth, known only in a distant memory or in the portraits made by artists and photographers now found only in museums and in books and not outdoors in nature where they belong.  Ballengee could go on and document the insects, fish, and marine life like sponges, coral and more.  This is an art that can make you feel responsible for making the necessary changes.  Engage your representatives, and right the ship.

Yvonne Buchanan, videos at "Vanish"

Yvonne Buchanan presents videos, one of which has no moving image but a curious soundtrack of singer Mahalia Jackson and her mellifluous voice.  Other videos from Buchanan include a black man speaking to the camera, we can't hear what he is saying, rather we get thought bubbles that project images of a variety of African textiles that change as the video images progress.  Thinking in pictures - of what may be lost or is in the process of disappearing.

Peter Edlund's paintings in series at " Vanish"

In one series of paintings, Peter Edlund, builds on the use of the silhouette to highlight places, and species of birds and animals that may be on the verge of major change.  There is also a relationship being built around specific locations where native American languages are fast disappearing, and with it a history and an understanding of a culture.  Peters' paintings are mild mannered, but they also get their point across, especially if you take the time to read the wall labels at " Vanish".

Peter Edlund's paintings on view at RoCo through November 13th, 2016