Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Poster at the entrance to Axom Gallery
Rochester, New York

About the time I was putting the finishing touches on my own show at Axom Gallery here in Rochester, I went out to check on some of my R.I.T. colleagues who now have their own exhibitions in our area.  I have worked with these people that I write about here, usually as an advisor or instructor at R.I.T., but in most cases as I have watched them work it is I who have learned from them, and continue to do so.

Highland Park 

It has been cold and snowy, and I found my way up to Highland park to check out one of my favorite views.  It is remarkable how I can find so many similarities in the real world when I compare these views to the abstraction in my paintings, like the snow scene here, and my painting I call "Electrical Storm" at the top of this post.

I walked over on cold winter night to the opening of "A Day's Gonna Come" - which is a two person show for Jacquelyn O'Brien and Zach Dietl, now on view at the new RIT City Art Space.  This show is on until February 23rd, and it features new sculpture and prints by these young artists who are beginning to speak in an artistic  language of their own.

Jacquelyn O'Brien
"A Day's Gonna Come"
at RIT City Art Space

Actually, Jacquelyn's work is an evolution for the kinds of sculpture she was making while still a grad student a few years ago at R.I.T.  Her art has a penchant for declaring it's own weight, and she has a flair for pink.  Her art expresses a kind of pressure that one might have seen in the art of Robert Gober from twenty years ago.  That pressure her sculpture exhibits, I equate with a social anxiety, and it certainly has to do with weights and measures.

Jacquelyn O'Brien at City Art Space

I was glad to read in a fine printed brochure that accompanies this show that Jacquelyn has won awards for her work, because it is certainly memorable.  I think her large sculpture with dangling cement cylinders is like some sort of arcane musical instrument that has the potential to ring out with a thud by crushing that furry thing underneath.

Jacquelyn O'Brien "Weights"

I have a tendency - thinking about a psychological diagram when I am looking at these sculptural and conceptual works, and I also think about the title for this show "A Day's Gonna Come" - and what that may mean in regard to this work.  Like Louise Bourgeois, we may be regarding this work in the future like a trend setter, so we will see.....

RIT City Art Space features work by Zach Dietl

In Zach Dietl's sculptural art there is a certain matter-of-factness that may cause one to think of the rigging of ships and other historical associations.  Some of Zach's artwork has a light humor to it - modern jazz effect of a few squeaky squawky notes in an otherwise solid performance like tooth picks sticking out of a wood beam.


Down the block at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, I walk back to a room to see some intimate drawings by Cory Card.  Cory also has a droll sense of humor and his suite of drawings called: "Sweepings" include very sensitive renderings (in graphite) of materials that we often overlook or just vacuum up.  These drawings are hard to characterize, but they are, or almost could be,  mere shadows.

Very meditative... and curious!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Nature of Change

"Landscape and the Unbuilt"
at Rochester Contemporary Art Center
137 East Avenue
Rochester, NY

Of course we are not alone, but our species inflicts un-natural change on our environment - something to think about as we go through periods of difficult climate.  What can be done about it?  What can I do about it?  While I contemplate this and walk up East Avenue to Rochester Contemporary Art Center, I anticipate a show that will engage me in the local situation and I feel the impact immediately at a well-attended opening for the show: "Landscape and the Unbuilt".

Totem by Patti Russotti

The group of artists in this large and textured show have been charged with finding visual stories to tell about this place we call home, and that can start with a look at a map and maybe a journal entry or memories of a hike or two in places like Corbett's Glen, or other properties managed by the Genesee Land Trust.  Patti Russotti in her display tells the viewer about what she found there in the Glen - trees of great height almost 150 years old - only a few hundred yards away from the mainline of the railroad that passes through this area.

Phyllis Bryce Ely - her focus is on the landscape

I said my congratulations to Gay Mills, the Executive Director of the Genesee Land Trust at this exhibition - her organization is responsible for the stewardship of many properties with a mission to protect the wilds and conserve the habitat.  Think of what this can accomplish when you have a drink of the fresh water that serves our community, or consider what our region would be without the habitat for wildlife among other things.

Nate Hodge painting and bookshelves and nature guides

Rochester based artists are featured in this exhibition and the art that each of these creative individuals puts on display is augmented with a map of an area that is their focus.  This is bringing the art of landscape into a new and different concern - more than just a pretty painting over the couch - hopefully this show creates an active agency to help us think about conservation and construction more wisely.  Your involvement could start with a visit to this show.

Jean K. Stephens graphite drawing

We are moving away from the romantic view of the landscape especially with harsh news of wildfires and frigid conditions here in the USA.  Citizens need to unite and urge caution and thoughtful development of our natural resources.  In the present show there are reminders of the past through the art of Aaron Delehanty ( he misspells John James Audubon throughout ) reworking well known prints of this 19th century pioneer.  Also there is the sculptural presence of a falconer from the Middle East to throw us back in time.

Aaron Delehanty studies Audubon

The ancient art of Falconry

Jennifer Schinzing presents the facts as best she can through the art of taxidermy.  She found road kill, animals that met with accidents, and she presents them in their little glass coffins.  I am not sure that this is a hopeful sign, just something that we all face - the reality of our own mortality as living beings.

Jennifer Schinzing presents her taxidermy at ROCO

Each of the featured artists writes a short testimonial to their own involvement with nature, and the artists also focus on particular areas of concern.  Perhaps it is a trail, like the El Camino that George Wegman selects that runs through our town, or maybe it is farmland that is celebrated in the peaceful artwork by Andrea Durfee that greets you at the door.  On my way out of the show I stop to admire the drawings by Bill Stephens who manages to convey the ongoing mystery of nature and one way of approaching the amazing complexity of life.

Bill Stephens drawings at ROCO

George Wegman on the El Camino Trail
Landscapes and the Unbuilt