Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stepping Out For Art

Andy Gilmore in  "Geometries"

The sponsor for this blog deserves a lot of credit - First Fridays is a new incarnation of what was once called "Gallery Night", but now it should be called a hit - and credit can be given to all those who come out to the venues to see what is new, and support the visual arts.  Enthusiastic crowds of people who jam the parking lots, and maneuver their way to the gallery venues - make all this effort worthwhile.  For the artists who are on view - their work would not be seen in such large numbers were it not for the collective effort of gallery owners who stay open a few more hours on a Friday evening once a month.

The Design Gallery at RRCDC is a few steps up from the parking lot at The Hungerford Building on Main Street. The lot is full and First Friday ( Oct 1, 2010 ) is getting underway.  "Slow and Steady" is a photography show that celebrates the slow food movement and is a testament to the produce and the people found at public markets in and around our area.  Our public markets, where farmers and their customers meet, are uncut gems just for the finding.  Christin Boggs presents a suite of photos as her MFA Thesis exhibition and they have a tinge of nostalgia around the edges; maybe it is the belatedness of the color or the casual cropping of the images....

A recent closing of their Park Avenue location has meant that R.I.T.'s student run Gallery r has to look for temporary space to stay with its schedule of exhibitions, and it has gotten off to a rousing start with a friendly amalgam of art and music in a rambling show capitalizing on the same spirit of enterprise that brought Black Mountain College to national prominence over fifty years ago.  At The Hungerford Building the show is called PORCH, and there is interactive art being produced - the notion of collaboration is alive and well.  Installations, and separate works of art indicate a lively, inquisitive student body, which holds much promise for the future.

Recent graduates take over the Joy Gallery on Rochester's west side for a two person essay on the state of abstract art in a show titled "Hard Work".  Here lyrical layers of color in deeper tones by Bradley Butler rub shoulders with hard edge grids of color by Rick Minard.  Butler has a knack for improvisation and the experiments can be dark, poetic and oceanic.  Minard on the other hand is more analytical, precise and buoyant in his color choices.

The whole notion of analysis is paramount in the show titled " Geometries" at Rochester Contemporary Art Center.  This show also catches the wave of journalism that informs many contemporary art projects, in the sense that artists keep track of the days they work, and are conscious of the passage of time.  You could say that the art of Christopher McNulty is cumulative, and embodies meaning,  even makes meaning manifest in the content of his art (marking time).  A circular work on paper is created by making 20,193 little burn marks to commemorate each of the days that an actuarial table predicts that the artist has left to live. Some artists have that ability to make the notion of time palpable, and I think of the delicate drawings of Vija Celmins, and the many photos of Muybridge - who literally demonstrates the duration of actions and reactions on bodies.

Perhaps most telling are the prints left by an auto exhaust pipe in common use by the artist. Set up like pages from a diary, I began to wonder if the marks made were more than Mr. McNulty had hoped for - this is literally your carbon footprint.  For gallery goers looking for beauty- this kind of exhibit can get you to think but also reward you for your efforts.  "Geometries" contains experiments in color by Andy Gilmore  who is a designer/illustrator passionate about form and making eloquent use of the inkjet print.
Max Bill had his way with primary colors in the old analogue days, and Mr. Gilmore updates this pursuit with digital blends and layers that are simple, clean and elegant.

Mitch Messina, and Karen Sardisco had their opening reception in Nazareth College's Arts Center Gallery, and they look like two artists who grew up together.  This juxtaposition of cast metal sculpture alongside mixed media paintings in frames makes the space of the gallery vibrate with figuration.  Karen Sardisco's art contains fragments and diagrams of plants and cell structures, grids and other accumulations usually in dark marks on a light ground, in some ways reminding me of art by Terry Winters.  Messina, a popular teacher who now heads the department at Nazareth College is an active sculptor with a social message:  the figure found in groups or singled out - is vulnerable, and maybe won't fit into the machines that are built for them.

Remarkably, I saw all these shows in one evening with a return to the Hungerford Building to see an installation by my neighbor, Sterz.  He is a sculptor of light and action - in this iteration we have two florescent pink sheets of acetate hanging from the high ceiling, they dance in a breeze from an electric fan - through which a theatre spot light casts its ethereal glow on a white wall.  The thin sheets hanging from a thread move about within a small circumference, the effect of the dance of light and color is mesmerizing. I am reminded of a line from William Carlos Williams:  "so much depends upon a red wheel barrow"..  and I am thankful for an art that merges into poetry, into psychology, into simplicity,  into life.