Saturday, September 26, 2015

Flip Side of Counter Culture

Robin Cass presents
"Menagerie" at Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

When I was growing up in the mid 20th century, the prevailing conversation about art and artists was that "they" represented the counter culture.  In this country we were being brought up in a new corporate world, so "those people" who did not fit in ( artists and other minorities in the social fabric ) and they took it upon themselves to fight the urge to conform.  Now, forty years later, everyone thinks of themselves as more favorable towards a creative lifestyle, and the political stance of the "counter Culture" no longer carries much cachet.

Artists in mid 20th century stood out because they were unlike the majority, but here in 2015, there are so many artists working in our midst that they tend to blend in to society, and they even have a reputation of adding something to the community.  The arts may contribute to our prosperity, and they can establish a dialogue about matters we feel strongly, even though we may not be able to put those feelings into words.

So artists want to show you the territory they inhabit.  It is a world of imagination that has been given a physical form, and looking at new artwork the best bet is to keep an open mind.  New artwork can bring you to a place you have never been, and it is part of the artist's job to provoke new thinking, new concepts, and a new feeling.

Robin Cass creates "Ocular bulbulpods"
blown, painted, and fabricated glass, 
silver, steel, brass, rubber, and felt

Step into the new show titled: "Menagerie" at Axom Gallery in Rochester, and you might have the feeling that you are looking through a series of portholes into a unique science experiment.  You can behold the glass work and constructions of Robin Cass ( a colleague of mine at R.I.T. ).  In these works she combines metal work with blown glass and the effects of lighting on her new pieces can be very engaging.  Looking at these mixed media so artfully combined may remind you of a primordial world of organic forms seen under magnification.  Robin titles her work like examples from a science textbook: "Stigmate paddlepod", and "Ocular bulbulpods".  I have remarked before that Robin's artwork calls to mind the wonderful glass flowers on view in the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants at Harvard University.

Looking at "Menagerie"
by Robin Cass

There is also a bit of the haunting universe of H.R. Giger, the illustrator who died recently.  I see that in the suspended metalwork cages that act as a frame for some of the larger constructions in this new exhibition.  I enjoy the patina and color of many of these works and there is enough to suggest that we are just seeing the beginning of their existence.

Eileen Feeney Bushnell
The Mill Art Center, Honeoye Falls, New York

Down in Honeoye Falls, New York, we have a new show of printmakers from our region at The Mill Art Center.  Different methods of making prints are on view in a variety of different sizes and styles and this one caught my attention with its layers of imagery, and I found myself wondering what teeth have to do with an acrobat balancing on the head of a statue of Buddha...?  There must a story behind this print so we will have to ask Eileen Bushnell - just what is going on here?

Greg Smith in a "varied edition" of Looking Back

If you are in the market for some works on paper you will find some very attractive art in this new show, and the price is modest compared to what you will find elsewhere.  Take a look at the monoprints of Richard Harvey, or Dennis Revitzky - these are artworks by seasoned professionals and they have much to offer.  Tarrant Clements has some large abstracts, and Elizabeth K. Durand is showing new prints at The Mill Art Center.  You have to see it for yourself.

Pompeii landscape by D. Revitzky
at The Mill Art Center