TROY — The latest exhibition to open at the Arts Center of the Capital Region is rich in texture, color and subject matter.
Called “Fence 20,” the exhibition features more than 100 works from Arts Center members. The Troy gallery traditionally hosts “Fence” shows each year as a way to spotlight a range of local artists and this year the exhibition is juried by Ian Berry, director of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery.
The show opens with the dark and slightly grotesque sculpture of a frowning figure, its skin peeling away and muscles deteriorating. The piece, called “Forgotten Pain” by William Fillmore, sets a gruesome tone, though there are plenty of other works in the exhibition that strike a lighter chord.
Take Virginia Scholz’ vibrant landscape with its glowing sky and delicately branched tree, called “Old Best Road.” Or there’s the lush green abstract from Natalie Boburka, and the humorous “Van Gogh with iPhone 11,” by Meghan Cioffi, with the “Starry Night” background.
Overall, the exhibition is grounded in the current moment, meaning there are plenty of works ruminating on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the most obvious, and the largest, is “Conversations in COVID,” by Annette Chesser which features sculptures of the coronavirus plastered with emails and social media posts about how life has changed during the pandemic. One post says “Other jobs: we r closing down due to the corona. My job: some of u may die but that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.”
In another nearby work, several guitar necks, stripped of their strings, are fanned out on a white canvas. Bows, with their horsehair strings cut, are displayed in between the guitar necks. Titled “And We Danced All Night,” by Phil Teumim, it could be read as a remembrance of an evening of celebratory music that went on for so long that the strings simply fell off. However, today, it’s a reminder of the absence of live music and the silence of local stages.
Nearby, there’s an eerie painting, blue-hued with a blurry figure looking just past the viewer and wearing a mask. The edges of the David Austin work are dark, blue-black and the background features a slitted light that puckers around the figure. In terms of size, it’s an unassuming piece, but it’s powerful in the subject matter.
There are also echoes of other national and global crises, like climate change. Katarina Spitzer’s sweeping hyperrealistic landscape of Glacier Bay, Alaska, is one stunning example of that. Titled, “Our Vanishing Landscape: Glacier, Bay, Alaska,” the work features sunlit mountains surrounded by a thinning strip of ice.
In another room, silhouetted figures walk with the heads down in a grey-cityscape. Peter Watrous’ “Refugees” is a reminder of another global crisis that’s slipped out of headlines in light of the pandemic.
“Fence 20” is a weighty exhibition of regional talent and artistic discourse. It runs through Nov. 7. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday-Thursday. For more information artscenteronline.org.