Surreal and sci-fi on view at Saratoga Arts

Left: “Atomic Sediment (Regular Edition),” by John Dobbie, at Saratoga Arts. Right: Sculptures by Amanda Michael Harris. (provided/Indiana Nash photos)

Left: “Atomic Sediment (Regular Edition),” by John Dobbie, at Saratoga Arts. Right: Sculptures by Amanda Michael Harris. (provided/Indiana Nash photos)

The surreal and sci-fi come together in the latest Saratoga Arts exhibition.

It’s the first in a series of five juried exhibitions that the Broadway arts center will host this year and it showcases four artists, including John Dobbie, Seth Butler, Taylor Butler and Amanda Michael Harris.

Dobbie creates alien worlds by digitally zooming in on images of inanimate objects, so much so that the object itself is lost. Instead, an abstract composition is drawn out, which Dobbie distinctly colorizes through screen printing.

The result is a mix of microcosms, some reminiscent of a map one might find in a science fiction novel.

“By working digitally, I can delve into the depths like I’m a deep-sea scuba diver and forget about which way is back up to the surface,” Dobbie writes in an artist statement. “It is there in the depths where the composition starts to reveal itself. Having the digital turned physical by way of screen printing is an important aspect of my work because it allows for precision but gives it a warmth only a human touch can bring.”

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Not too far away, Seth Butler serves up the surreal with paintings of strange lands and abstractly proportioned figures. In one piece, titled “Wandering,” a figure is propped up on stilts in the foreground, with a single eye and nostril taking up the entirety of their face. The background is lush with vegetation, none of which seems tellurian.

His style is informed by impressionism, especially evident in idyllic landscapes featured in “Mountain Home Road” and “Utopia.” Even in paintings depicting scenes rooted in reality, Butler tends to use unexpected colors, bathing skies in shades of peach and mountains in pastel purples.

Elsewhere in the exhibit, Taylor Butler considers earthly landscapes and their seemingly ephemeral nature.

In “Electric Lot,” the artist outlines a cityscape, with the ink of lines bleeding down the canvas.

“Flat Mountains,” one of the more striking works in the exhibit, features a dizzying combination of brightly colored triangles, some pink, others a snowy white, all placed on the base of a large triangle colored with a wood grain pattern.

Neither work is framed, furthering the notion that these canvases, as well as the landscapes depicted within them, are transitory.

Harris’ works stand in contrast to the others on view. Her sculptures of crumpled soda cans feature phrases like “People-pleaser” and “Anxiety,” accompanied by pop art-like illustrations. Many of them are displayed on shelves or platforms that Harris created to echo turquoise-colored tiles. The illustrations make them seem like appealing commercial objects for purchase, though their crumpled nature and the phrases themselves create a discordant juxtaposition.

At 7 p.m. tonight, Saratoga Arts will host a virtual artist talk highlighting each of these artists via Zoom. Before that, at 5:15 p.m. vocalist and banjo player, Carolyn Shapiro will perform at Saratoga Arts (320 Broadway).

2022 Juried Exhibition Series 1 will be on view through March 19. For more information visit

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Categories: Art, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs


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