You’ll have to travel if you want to see the Mohawk Hudson Regional exhibition in its entirety this year, but it’s well worth the journey.
For the first time in its 85-year history, the regional is being hosted by three venues, stretching from the Albany Center Gallery to Opalka Gallery to the Albany International Airport Gallery. It’s also got three jurors; one for each gallery space.
Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, a mixed-media artist whose work is on view at the Mandeville Gallery, chose work for the Albany Center Gallery, while public art director Tommy Gregory chose for the Albany International Airport and gallerist Pamela Salisbury chose for Opalka.
“As the leaders of these institutions, we have thoroughly enjoyed the plunge into this uncharted territory,” said Kathy Greenwood, director of Albany International Airport Gallery. “By facing the challenge together, inviting new voices and imagining fresh possibilities, we have landed upon something richer and more rewarding than any of us could have achieved alone.”
The changes led to a record number of nearly 100 artists featured across all venues. (Also noteworthy is that 561 artists/artists groups submitted work.)
At Opalka Gallery, there’s a wide range of materials and subject matters, making for eye-catching juxtapositions. Take the brightly-colored needlepoint work of Mark Olshansky, which is placed next to the earthy sculptures of Laura Cannamela.
Some artists, like Scott Brodie, faced inward. Brodie’s painting “Bok Choy” is a comforting still life featuring a head of cabbage standing up in a small dish. Nearby, Joel Longenecker seems to look outward with a heavily textured abstract “Going Going Gone,” which combines oils and acrylics with crushed coral.
Not too far away, Beth Caspar’s playfully geometric “Shape Alphabet 1” stretches across one gallery wall. Twenty-six shapes of alternating shades of orange, green, red, blue and white make for an intriguing meditation on language.
“Despite the wide variety of meaning and materials, work by these artists shares a visual primacy – the formal language is foregrounded, and the narrative follows,” writes Salisbury in a juror’s statement.
In downtown Albany, the Albany Center Gallery features an array of mediums, from striking abstract works to stunning photographs. In a statement about the exhibit, Sikelianos-Carter writes, “The state of the world is consistently chaotic and increasingly hard to process. I was honored to receive this opportunity to curate my first-ever non-student exhibition and to experience, in a more intimate way, how art can and does transform our state of mind.”
Ray Felix zooms in on the state of the world in a series of black and white photos of Black Lives Matter demonstrations. In one image, a young woman is screaming, eyes closed and a mask tucked just beneath her chin. Nearby, another photo shows a couple, one person looking right at the viewer with his fist raised, while the other has her phone out, filming, and her hand held aloft, fist raised toward the sky.
In another powerful work, called “Mothers before me,” artist Jahniah Kum uses oil and quilting to depict a woman working on another’s hair. The pair is featured in a room with family portraits and a cross.
“Janiah Kum’s ‘Mother Before Me,’ Ray Felix’s ‘Black Lives Matter — May 31, 2020 #404, Power Couple’ and Maryam Adib’s ‘Abiding Echos’ bridge these ideas, depicting the inner self made physical, the desire to endure and thrive, and the imperative to fight for, connect with, and remember each other,” Sikelianos-Carter writes.
In one particularly contemplative work included in the show, artist Victoria van der Laan quilts and pieces together discarded American flags, reflecting on the role of women’s work in modern art and challenging viewers to unpack their beliefs on the social/political systems at work in the United States.
At the Albany International Airport, the exhibit is rich in texture, especially with works like Hanna Washburn’s “Swell.” A ball of recycled clothing and textiles in a mish-mash of shades and prints is held up by four dainty-looking legs. Adding to that is Deborah Zlotsky’s “Dearest Darling,” a wall hanging made of vintage scarves stitched together.
Another standout piece is “Ready Set,” by Niki Haynes, which depicts two cloud-filled skies, topped with a geometric sun, which seems to flood the composition with a warm orange glow.
“I was surprised by the impressive turnout and variety of artworks submitted,” writes Gregory in a statement. “I tried to choose works that would enliven the space with color, dynamic composition, or a unique perspective.”
The Mohawk Hudson Regional will be up through Oct. 9 at Opalka Gallery and the Albany Center Gallery. It will be up through Nov. 8 at the Albany International Airport Gallery.
For more information visit opalka.sage.edu, albanycentergallery.org or albanyairport.com. A virtual version of the exhibition at the Albany Center Gallery is also available to view on the gallery’s website.