Friday, August 6, 2021

Longevity and Maps for Tomorrow

 I spent some time today, here in my first month of full retirement from teaching at Rochester Institute of Technology, and lo and behold - I found my way back to the Bevier Gallery to see the show from the Arena Art Group " 70 Years In Making".  If you don't know the Bevier Gallery it is found on the ground floor of Booth Building at R.I.T.  The show closes soon, so you should get in your car and get ready to rock and roll!

Painting by Zanne Brunner of 
The Arena Art Group show
"70 Years In Making"

You have to celebrate a group that has been involved in the visual arts here in Rochester - especially a group with such longevity!  I have become familiar with many of the artists, and at the show there were many pleasant surprises.  Just for this past year the Bevier Gallery had been occupied as a studio/classroom, so it is nice to see that it has returned too its original purpose.

Paintings by Jim Thomas "Flow" and "Contain #2"

When I came to teach at R.I.T. in 1988, one of the artists I met and worked with on the faculty at R.I.T. was Jim Thomas.  Jim is represented in this new show with two large abstract paintings full of color and movement.  We actually taught a drawing class together when I first came to Rochester.  I was glad to see Jim's new pieces and happy that he is up to the challenges that we face in the studio.

Richard Harvey with his ceramic collages of "Main Dog" and "This Side Up"

When I left the New York City area to move up to Rochester, I didn't know what  I would find at R.I.T. having only been familiar with a few university programs such as the one I attended at Cornell University. I remember there that the faculty had a difficult time with one another at Cornell but I found the opposite at R.I.T.  In fact, the working environment at R.I.T. was so supportive that the faculty actually worked well with each other and this made for an enjoyable transition for me and my family.

Courtney Gruttadoria paints the "Devils Bathtub"
in Arena Art Group Show

I started out writing about art when I was living on Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY.  Back then in the early 1980s I was paid by magazines to publish my articles on art, but now in the 21st century I write this blog for free  because I get a great deal of enjoyment and connection to this community of artists here in western New York.  I like to follow the exhibitions and it is great to see the Arena Group in this present show.

Paintings by Steven W. Justice including a portrait of Greta Thunberg "I Told You So"

Artists and their artworks evolve, and some have a signature style and purpose.  Stories can be told through artwork which can show great character..  Take a look for example at the paintings by Steven Justice, or the painting that introduces this show on the postcard by Zanne Brunner.  Steve Justice paints a portrait of activist Greta Thunberg whose hair here resembles heavy chains.  Zanne Brunner mates the Horseshoe Crab with a lens on the Finger Lakes in a reminder of how precarious the natural world may seem in these days of a global pandemic.

"Orange Is The New Black" painting by Sherry Tulloch

Even seemingly abstract work such as the one painted by Sherry Tulloch we are again confronted with signs of the times.  "Orange is The New Black" is the title of her work and the painting asks you to sort out what you are seeing - are those handcuffs and restraints?  This heavily textured acrylic painting is made by an artist who was in one of my first classes that I gave at R.I.T.  It brings me satisfaction to see one of my students going on to make a really powerful statement!

The Community of artists represented in the show at the Bevier Gallery gives you some idea of how vital the arts are in our region.  The show lets us know that this group is "70 Years In Making"  from 1951 to 2021.  And to think I was only one year old when they started up!  I take my hat off to them!

Maps for Tomorrow is the name of a printed book I picked up later at Shop One on the campus at R.I.T.

I understand that the artists who made this beautiful product ( Cecily Culver, Rebecca Aloisio, and Sarah Kinard ) also staged a show of their work which unfortunately I did not know about.  I have been following the art by these three women who are painters, printmakers and sculptors and they really deserve a much larger venue for their achievement.  A local museum should take this cue and put together a new show for them that traces a new trail for art to take.  I expect to see much more from this group!

"Maps For Tomorrow" features art by Sarah Kinard, Cecily Culver and Rebecca Aloisio