TROY — The galleries at The Arts Center of the Capital Region are filled with bold and contemplative pieces, both from area students and artist Jamie Rodriguez.
The first exhibit one comes across is “Warenfetischismus: Commodity Fetishism,” a solo exhibition featuring Rodriguez’s work. It opens with two richly textured and transportive landscape paintings: “Portuguese Landscape #1” and “Olive Groves (Catalunya, Spain).” The former depicts a pastoral path, leading to a building in the distance, while the latter is a vividly colored work, with twisting trees reaching toward a periwinkle sky.
Nearby is a large installation, featuring a backdrop of windows filled with tiles and landscape paintings. The foreground is dotted with carefully recreated bottles of Lysol, as well as a package of Domino Sugar, fruits and vegetables. There are also small pond-like sculptures, accompanied by a sculpture of a raccoon with two faucets springing from its side. Called “Polarity Integration: The Universal Game, Zwischenzug, Spiritual Algorithm, end-game ‘Transcension,’ Think, Think Tank? Paradigm shifts,” it’s a layered work, encompassing themes about the environment and the human condition that the artist returns to in other installations.
In one such work, large, industrial-looking Lincoln log-like pieces are placed on pockets of muddy ground. Behind that, small, pond structures are placed right before haphazard brick structures. Rodriguez seems to work in the juxtaposition between the natural environment and environments that have been inhabited by humans. In his artist statement, Rodriguez writes “I would describe my work as being inspired by the historical significance of the landscape and the universality of the human condition in relation to the environment.”
Rodriguez uses anthropomorphized animals in his installations, perhaps pointing to how people have impacted the natural world. In one installation, a fox has trapped a lamb, using a piece of meat, tied around its neck. In another, a wolf with spikes for fur is seen with a tire swing wrapped around its middle, golden bullets at its feet. These dire scenes seem to be a warning of trials to come. Many of the installations in “Warenfetischismus: Commodity Fetishism” share that tone, though the landscapes seen throughout the exhibit provide a reprieve.
In one such series of seven landscapes, called “The Great Sand Dunes of Alamosa, Colorado,” the artist reflects on the beauty and the mutability of the environment. These, like the opening paintings, are heavily textured and they all share a similar color palette, rich with tawny hues, interspersed with vivid whites and blues. Each gives a different perspective of the dunes, some focused on a close-up look at the snow-covered dunes, others zooming out to give viewers a look at the dramatic sloping of the landscape.
In the next gallery, more than 80 works from regional collect students take center stage.
The juried exhibit, called “120 Degree Intercollegiate Regional,” is presented by Saratoga Arts, The Arts Center, and the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council, and includes pieces from artists who are studying at a college or university within 120 miles from the Capital Region.
To start, there is a gathering of photographs and archival inkjets, two from Union College student Stephen Nadler. In one titled “Sky,” a figure is seen standing on a ledge, seemingly above the clouds, looking out at giant giraffes and hot air balloons.
Further on in the exhibit, is a richly colored still life featuring flowers, draped material, and perhaps most impressive, several different types of glass. Called “Lágrimas de Cristal,” it was painted by Sophia Paulino Adames, a student at Skidmore College.
There are a few sculptures seen in the exhibit that illicit a feeling of unease. One of the more eerie pieces is “The Power I Appointed” by Brianna Petkovsek of Russel Sage College. It features a large human head topped with linked sausages and a mass of other raw meat, all made of painted stoneware. Another work, called “Calloused” by Lilian Newton of SUNY Albany, features grey-gold sparkling hands made of plaster and studded with crystal-like pieces.
Beyond the sculptures, there’s also a captivating portrait called “Dad” by Emily Moziak of Cazenovia College. In it, a figure sits behind what looks like a red leather couch, looking thoughtfully just above the viewer, with his fist against his face. It’s a convincing and heartfelt portrait.
Both “Warenfetischimus Commodity Fetishism” and the “120 Degree Intercollegiate Regional” will be on display at The Arts Center of the Capital Region through April 16. For more information visit artscenteronline.org.