Saratoga Arts takes viewers beyond the Capital Region and below the sea in its latest exhibit, which features works from four regional artists.
It opens with vibrant and immersive works from Juliana Haliti. In “Nature 3,” which spans the better part of one exhibit wall, a bright coral reef featuring colorful, healthy-looking coral polyps fill the canvas. There are burnt-orange tube-shaped corals, nestled next to a bundle of blue corals. On the other side of the canvas, deep purple corals huddle together with glowing green ones and a sea anemone or two.
Down the center of the canvas is a passage to what looks to be bleached coral or at the very least coral that’s not as vibrant as the one found in the foreground. This stark contrast perhaps speaks to the rapid decline of coral reefs, which has been well-documented across the globe.
Indeed, in Haliti’s artist statement, she discusses how she is in awe of the scale of “mass abuse of life.”
“Around us, exquisite patterns, infinite palettes, microscopic architectural masterpieces, and a broad collection of sentience, glimmers in stark contrast to mass consumption, overpopulation, factory farming, pollution, and privilege,” Haliti writes.
Nearby, in “Nature 2,” viewers get even closer to the coral reefs, with fan-like pink corals, and a range of others. Haliti’s preliminary collages for the riveting paintings hang on another wall, giving one an appreciation for the artist’s precision.
On the other side of the gallery, viewers can go above sea level and travel across the United States and beyond with Gary Larsen’s stunning photography series on trees.
“I find trees offer an intriguing variety of inspiring subjects for my photography. Their seemingly infinite shapes and ability to sustain life in unforgiving locations are lessons in accepting change and confronting challenges,” Larsen wrote in his artist statement.
In one photo, titled “Angel Oak,” an enormous tree fans out across the composition, its numerous branches nearly level with the ground and reaching toward the sky. In another photo, a winding line of trees is reflected precisely in a body of water in the foreground. Called “Bosque Reflections,” it’s devoid of the usual greens or bright oranges typically found on these types of trees and instead is seen in degrees of black and white. The entire series plays with color, depicting trees in colors not found in their natural shades. It helps viewers to remove their expectations and see the trees not as everyday scenery but as impressive sculptural and natural wonders.
Elsewhere in the exhibit, viewers find work by H.C. Tiffany Lo, whose patterned works are influenced by the intersection of eastern and western cultures.
In “Reality Dropbox,” viewers see a host of painted pattern swatches, layered together in a dizzying array. In another work nearby, called “Derive: Blooming Jungle,” similar patterns are featured, though they’re placed in a spiral and divided by lines of brilliant gold.
“Inspired by the photographs I’ve taken, photos collected by family, and online references, it takes the shape of a puzzle. Once complete, you can see the influence of my upbringing in Hong Kong on full display. Instead of painting cityscapes of home, I am more focused on the creation of a piece that combines western and eastern art with patterns that demonstrate the cultural differences that have shaped who I am today,” Lo writes in her artist statement.
Lo’s work is also an interesting juxtaposition to Tom Ryan’s watercolor paintings, which are featured in another section of the exhibit and focus on Adirondack landscapes.
Similar to Larsen, Ryan pushes boundaries when it comes to color. In “Beautiful Day,” a landscape of a tree-lined sunset (or sunrise), the trees are all shown in an Easter-egg-colored palette, with their reflections bleeding together in a body of water in the foreground.
In “Gazing Over the Farmstead,” he depicts a pastoral scene, with a figure in the foreground looking out across a color-filled field with a farm and home nestled in the distance.
While Ryan doesn’t strictly adhere to nature’s color scheme, there is something convincing about his works. His hues may be exaggerated but the warmth and the chill of seasons spent in the Adirondacks come through in each composition.
The exhibit, which winds its way throughout the Arts Center building, will be up through April 3. Saratoga Arts is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. It’s located at 320 Broadway. For more information visit saratoga-arts.org.