Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Artists Double Down

"Doubles and Doppelgängers" at The Oxford Gallery
267 Oxford Street, Rochester, NY
thru June 17, 2017

We have a show by a pair of artists, and we have another show where a group of artists focus on "Doubles and Doppelgängers".  Either way - we double down in this month of May.

In the back of my mind I have been thinking about whether you can draw a line between illustration and fine art.  Does such a distinction still exist?  When I was a student in college, illustration was considered strictly "commercial" - in other words if you were a real artist you didn't "sell out".  Back then the student artist had  leverage to go against commercial imperatives.  Still, that left open the question of how an artist could make a living - you know - pay your bills!    Society was different during my student years, or my perspective when I was younger was more of an idealist.  I wonder whether younger artists feel the same way about how their art is perceived today.??

Rachel Cordaro and Cordell Cordaro at The Geisel Gallery

There is much more pressure from the global marketplace to have the skills to make  your art, but also promote your art and still have it please enough people in the social networks that we have  subscribed to.  I want artists to survive, but I also want them to push harder on the norms to create something truly unique.

Going around to gallery shows, I see many artists are responding to themes put forward by their galleries, giving artists something to think about, and bounce their ideas and concepts off of.  Maybe for some artists this limits their freedom, while other artists need an anchor in the real world of discussion and decision.  So this is what  I was thinking about when I went to look at shows.  We can begin with the Geisel Gallery, at the former headquarters of Bausch & Lomb in downtown Rochester, New York.

"France", Rachel Cordaro

Cordell Cordaro and Rachel Cordaro have a show of paintings that balances the light and lively with a view towards the life of "La Boheme".  There is a bit of the fashion world, a nod towards interior design, there is a touch of nature both botanical and human, and some form of hybridization as well. Both artists have an idiosyncratic way with paint, with Cordell's art you get a sense of a modern day Lautrec or Manet and with Rachel you get a modern painterly approach that is somewhat decorative with Van Gogh in the background and a wink to the  eccentric Florine Stettheimer.

"Night Out" by Cordell Cordaro

What you see in this art is a personalization of a painterly skill set that can on one hand illustrate Cafe Society - and I would love to see a greater development of the environment here, and on the other hand there is a characterization that hints at a deeper emotional content.  I think there is an implicit challenge here to go further and dig deeper, that the language of painting can stand the scrutiny and we are all looking for an image that "moves" us.

Daniel Mosner at the Oxford Gallery

The Doubles and Doppelgängers show that is now on at The Oxford Gallery, is filled with surprises and it also has some works that take the theme literally ( as in a pair of paintings by David Dorsey at the top of this post )  In the analysis of this show I am looking for poetry not prose.  Faced with the theme of "Doubles and Doppelgängers" some artists show that there are different ways to interpret  their theme by delving into mirror reflections and other forms of doubling.

Sue Leopard's " Day and Night Owls "

The theme is rendered more abstractly in the sculpture of Bill Keyser and the carved marble of Ray Colaruotolo.  Amy McLaren goes direct to the figurative resemblance while a mixed media piece by Margery Pearl Gurnett creates a stacked image, an architecture of yin and yang.

Barbra Page's Varanasi 8:00 Am and 8:00 pm

Other surprises were found in the mixed media work of Barbara Page which incorporates pieces of broken mirror.  I also liked the straight forward approach to watercolor that  Phil Bornarth took with his tree and reflection.  David Dorsey goes for the double your pleasure principle by creating a painting in duplicate with a flowering still life on  a table top.  You have to look closely to see the difference, and that is the driving force in this show of "Doubles and Doppelgängers".