Friday, June 30, 2017


June 29, 2017
Artist Jim Sanborn unveils:
"Argentum: Double Positive
The Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York

Pause for a moment and think about all the activity that you read about and see around you.  On the political front it can be dispiriting but on the artistic side, your spirits will brighten.  In Rochester, at the Memorial Art Gallery a new installation is happening outside, and inside as well.  The Memorial Art Gallery is reaching out to the community, and engaging in a discussion about how they will position themselves in the coming decade/s.  There are the new projection cylinders by Jim Sanborn out front, and inside there is a mural underway - just the kind of thing to help establish a new dialog with the public in attendance.

Some of the texts cut into the cylinders by Jim Sanborn

Many were present at the moment the spotlights went down and the installation was illuminated from within.  It took a few minutes to warm up but the inaugural lighting called: "Flip the Switch" attracted a crowd on a summer night.  During the day you will see these twin cylinders with texts that have been laser cut to be read in a variety of languages.  At nightfall the lights go on to project these texts onto the ground and the side of the building, and the effect is a drapery of words - sure to start many new conversations...

Sarah Rutherford at work on
"Her Voice Carries"

Inside, along a corridor that leads to the MAG auditorium, I found Sarah Rutherford painting away on that same evening in June; and her mural is taking shape.  On the wall are monumental portraits of women from our community whose stories must be told.  Sarah's project is called: "Her Voice Carries" and it is a key part to larger goal to include murals outside the museum in locations around the city devoted to the lives of women.  This is history in the making.

Painter Sarah Rutherford

Sarah Rutherford's outdoor artwork frequently displays her skills drawing and painting birds, so this new art at MAG represents a shift of focus, and a welcome one that will engage a larger community that may want to follow up by going out to search for the related murals that will be created around the city, making this a destination.  In a way this is an outgrowth of Wall/Therapy - and it has inspired artists to think BIG when working on the sides of buildings in and around Rochester.

CASA Mural by my class at R.I.T. in the Parking Garage at The Court Building on Fitzhugh Street

I remember engaging in this kind of work myself with my class of art students at R.I.T. We received a commission from a group called CASA ( Court Appointed Special Advocates for children ) to create a mural for a downtown parking garage.  This was our first action as painters for a social cause here in the Rochester area, and there would be several more back in the mid 1990's.  A wall mural provided several challenges for my class including how it would be done, and who would design it?  The art materials were donated and the large scale drawings were made with help from a local billboard company.  It was designed and completed in the winter, and all the students in my class took  part in the production.

Allison Saar in "The Female Gaze"
at The Memorial Art Gallery

Back inside the Memorial Art Gallery before they close for the night, I visit a little show in the Lockhart Gallery of  "The Powers of The Female Gaze".  I notice a work by Allison Saar who was a neighbor of mine back in Brooklyn, and she presents a print and a knot that looks like it could be very theatrical.

Elizabeth Catlett's "Harriet" a linocut from 1975

Elsewhere in this show the artist and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett gets into the graphic nature of Harriet Tubman with her gun in hand, leading the people.  The Memorial Art Gallery is a museum that gives you a lot to think about, even if it is only to go upstairs, and contemplate the scenes from the impressionist painters.  Coming out to the museum is one welcome activity that leaves the lights on.

Paul Cezanne at The Memorial Art Gallery
Rochester, New York