Albany Center Gallery is celebrating its past, present and future with three concurrent exhibits.
Its present is represented by “Passports,” curated by Willie Marlowe. It features works by 14 regional artists, each inspired by their experiences traveling outside of their familiar cultures and landscapes.
Two paintings by Laura Von Rosk take viewers to a frigid and ominous Antarctica, with clean white lines marking melting pieces of ice adrift at sea. Rosk traveled there twice to assist with a scientific research and dive team. She helped to create dive holes for scuba divers to collect specimens of foraminifera living on the ocean floor.
“As a dive-tender, I spent many hours intensely looking at these holes, anticipating air bubbles signaling the safe return of our scuba divers. Inevitably, these dark blue holes made a mark in my memory, and found their way into my paintings,” Rosk writes.
Not too far away, artist Langdon Quin takes viewers to Italy, with earth-toned paintings of rolling hills and homes tucked at the bottom of a valley. Quin’s painterly style lends the landscape a sense of tranquility.
John Hampshire’s work “Labyrinth 339” is also tied to Italy, though perhaps less directly. Up close, Hampshire’s sweeping ink landscape is filled with a maze of impressively detailed and intricate line work. When taking a step back, a mountain emerges, with smoke billowing out across the composition. Hampshire notes in his artist statement that the work was inspired by Paolo Uccello, whose work he’d seen during visits to Florence.
While many artists took inspiration from the landscapes they saw during their travels, Phyllis Galembo’s work reflects more on cultural rituals and costumes. Galembo creates striking photographs of figures dressed in a mix of traditional garb possibly from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Mexico. All of the figures are masked or wearing intricate headgear.
Following “Passports,” is “Connections,” a show featuring work by members of ACG and friends who have been invited to exhibit their work by ACG members. It’s a tightly packed show featuring a mix of mediums. One standout is an eerie photograph by Henry Spliethoff, which depicts two models posed in the dark windows of a store, small white orbs hanging above them. Nearby is a compelling and richly lacquered abstract piece by Alex Waters, which contrasts a white intricately patterned background with a moving mix of dark blues and blacks in the center.
Beyond its main gallery walls, ACG celebrates its 45th anniversary with a look into its past. The hallway display cases feature a mix of archival photographs, newspaper clippings, books and other ephemera from ACG early years.
Founded in 1977 by Leslie Urbach, ACG has exhibited works by thousands of contemporary regional artists over the years, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printing, fiber arts, video, mixed media, installation and most recently artist books. The gallery’s location has changed over the years but it’s continued to help contemporary visual artists showcase their work and connect with the community.
A 1992 newspaper clipping on view attests to that with a quote from painter Harry Orlyk “Albany Center Galleries is the one regional institution that has given its wholehearted attention to artists who are alive.”
On Friday, ACG will celebrate its anniversary with pARTy @ ACG from 5-8 p.m. There will also be an artists’ reception for “Passports” and “Connections” along with live painting, music and food.
Both exhibits run through August 20. Regular gallery hours are noon – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. For more information visit albanycentergallery.org.