The Albany International Airport has long been a meeting point for people (and creatures) both local and not so local. “The Life Around Us,” the latest exhibit to open in its gallery, reflects that juxtaposition.
Bringing together lush depictions of wild flora, fauna and creatures from around the world with domestic scenes, it features the works of Ashley Norwood Cooper and Heidi Johnson.
The latter, who is a Patterson-based artist, offers vibrant, large-scale paintings featuring tropical birds either near or in cages, with mundane scenes depicted in the background.
In one piece, titled “My Husband is a Reptile,” a mix of native and non-native plants frame the composition, which is foregrounded by two turtles swimming in a glass bowl. A parrot sits in a cage in a corner, clawing at the bars, and a reptile poses on a branch above a figure mowing a lawn. It’s a packed composition and one well worth spending extra time with.
Brightly colored birds, some feeding, others preening, fill the foreground of “Iced Coffee with Friends,” nearly hiding two figures that are reading in the background, apparently oblivious to the birds.
Using a painterly style, Cooper, who is based in Cooperstown, also incorporates animals into her work. However, they tend to take a backseat, as the artist focuses on family relationships and dynamics.
In “Cats and Crows,” a young girl reads a book in a rocking chair by a window overlooking a tree dotted with crows. A woman with an orange cat gazes at the young girl, who is surrounded by three other cats. In another piece, called “Blue Sofa,” three figures lounge about, either sleeping or lost in music or a book, while a dog naps on the carpet in front of them.
“These paintings reflect a sensitivity to the thrum of life,” said Kathy Greenwood, the director of the airport’s Arts & Culture Program and exhibit curator. “The artists depict animals, plants and insects whose apparent range of freedom and captivity, satisfaction and longing, exuberance and solitude mirror our own human experience over the last couple of years.”
Beyond “The Life Around Us,” the stairwell leading up to the gallery features a sweeping site-specific installation by Laura Moriarty. Called “Stream,” it includes a 15-foot encaustic monotype print, hanging alongside two six-foot prints, each with earthy-colored striations that reflect Moriarty’s interest in geologic events.
Six framed sumi-ink prints, made on the waterways that adorn local hiking trails, are also included in the installation. The artist used biodegradable ink to capture the fluidity and movement of water.
“Stream” will be on view for a year, while “The Life Around Us” will be up through August 29.
The Albany International Airport Gallery is located in pre-security on the third floor of the airport’s main terminal and is open to visitors during hours of airport operation.