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