On a sunny spring day, there’s nothing like a trip to downtown Troy.
At the Arts Center of the Capital Region, the Fence Show, now in its 46th year, is stronger than ever. For the next three weeks, you can see more than 500 paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture and other artworks by its members exhibited salon-style on the first floor.
Walk up River Street and turn the corner, and the 35-year-old Photo Regional lives on at the Fulton Street Gallery and the Photography Center of the Capital District.
35th Annual Photography Regional
WHERE: Fulton Street Gallery, 408 Fulton St., Troy, and The Photography Center of the Capital District, 404 River St., Troy
WHEN: Through Saturday, June 15. Fulton Street Gallery is open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, noon to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The Photography Center is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
HOW MUCH: Free
20 receive awards
Twenty photographers who were selected to exhibit in the 35th annual Photography Regional received awards for their work:
• Tom Santelli was honored with the largest award, $300 cash and a $250 gift certificate, for “El Sagrado Corazon.” That award was sponsored by McGreevy ProLab.
• Janet Wolkenstein received the Photography Center’s purchase prize for “Hudson River Paper Co.,” and Newbold Bohemia was honored with a purchase prize from PhotoGraphic for “The Good Wife.”
• The Fulton Street Exhibition Award went to Tom Delooza, and Photography Center Exhibition Awards went to Ian Creitz and Robert Feero.
• Other award winners: Christina Coogan, Dan McCormack, Susan Myers, Jeanne C. Hildenbrand, Jennifer Grainer, Stephen Honicki, Luba Ricket, Katria Foster, Joseph Schuyler, George Guarino, George Simmons, Doug Mitchell, Diane H. Reiner and Dana Trudeau.
There’s outdoor artwork, too.
Wherever you go, on sidewalks and street corners, you are sure to encounter a 5-foot-tall man with a beard and a top hat. In the early spring, local artists painted and embellished the 30 fiberglass figures of Uncle Sam. They hit the streets on April 26 and will hang around for the next six months.
On a recent Saturday outing to see the Photo Regional, this Gazette reporter sniffed bread, cheese and flowers at Troy’s famous outdoor Waterfront Farmers’ Market, spooned up some velvety lemon-chicken soup at The Greek House on Third Street and topped off the day with a pilsner at Brown’s Brewing Co., across the street from the Photo Center.
Back in place
In 2010, the last time the Fulton Street Gallery hosted the photo show, it was in the Uncle Sam Atrium, home of Troy’s indoor winter farmers’ market.
Apparently the photographers weren’t too happy with that venue, so this year it has returned to the same locations where it was in 2007: Fulton Street and the Photo Center.
“I definitely did not want to do it in the Atrium,” says Ray Felix, director of Fulton Street Gallery. The space was fine for larger works but the lighting was a challenge for small and midsized works.
This is Felix’s first time curating the Photo Regional. He took over the gallery in 2011, when founder Colleen Schiff retired after 15 years as director.
More than 100 photographers submitted 353 images, which, according to tradition, were hung in a salon from April 17 to 26 at Fulton Street and the Photo Center.
This year’s juror was Shelby Lee Adams, a prominent photographer with works in 60 museums who is known for his Appalachian portraiture and documentary work.
Adams, who traveled to Troy to see the works and give a talk at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, selected 71 photos by 59 photographers.
“It was all based on actual work,” says Felix. “That’s the way it was when Les Urbach [founder of Albany Center Gallery] set it up.”
There were two changes this year.
Salon photographers were limited to three images instead of the usual five, and the geographic region for submitters was tightened, from 100 to 80 miles.
Felix considered lowering the limit to 50 miles, “but a lot of areas don’t have opportunities like this. We wanted to reach out to Utica, Oneonta and areas to the north.”
Hanging the salon and then the juried show is labor-intensive, but “the community seems to like the salon show,” Felix says.
When Albany Center Gallery hosts the show, it skips the salon, and when the Opalka Gallery is the sponsor, the exhibit is an invitational.
Adams’ show is eclectic, with a range of styles and processes.
At Fulton Street, where most of the photos are hung, there are many portraits, faces and figures.
On one wall, the theme is female nudes, with works by Mark McCarty, Jennifer Grainer, Dan McCormack, Deborah Segel and Doug Mitchell.
Grainer’s “Morningdew” is a heart-stopping, Madonna-like image of the lower face and torso of a young woman wrapped in a fraying blue towel, her hands crossed over her chest, her skin rubbed rosy pink.
McCormack offers a silvery, almost metallic female nude posed in a room with a mirror and a chest of drawers.
“Marble Nude” by Deborah Segel shouldn’t be so warm and expressive, as the image is made of cold white stone not human flesh, but somehow you can’t stop looking at it.
On the opposite wall, there’s “Vicarious,” a color photo by Rich Cavagnolo that spins a story about a grandmother and her grandson. The gallery volunteer says that many people stand for a long time and look at that one.
“Warren” by Anthony Salamone, a portrait of a middle-aged man, has a sad expression that draws you closer.
Beyond the faces
Most of the photos are not about faces.
The largest and most unusual is by Susan Myers. It’s a cyanotype, a fabric banner of robin’s egg blue printed with the image of a woman’s dress hanging from a tree.
In “Peeling Paint” by Ian Creitz, light falls on the shapes of pale aqua shards of paint that curl away from a wall; and Jill Peck Vona looks at the underside of a cat’s tongue as it scrapes its fur.
And there’s something truly erotic about “Peppery” by Brian Williams, especially before you check the list of titles and it doesn’t occur to you that it’s only a dissected red bell pepper.
In the mystery and mystical category, we find Jim Allen and Tom Santelli.
“Reminds me of Venice,” my companion says of Allen’s gauzy, romantic image of a young man standing and poling a boat near an arched bridge. It could be what the English call a punt, a flat-bottomed boat that’s moved along by using a pole to prod the riverbed.
Santelli appears to borrow his themes of death from the religious symbolism of Mexico.
In “El Sagrado Corazon,” the face of Jesus is covered with an anatomic picture of a heart. “Mata del anima Sola” looks like a skeleton, its head covered in snakelike vines.
On the north end of River Street, just past the Collar City Bridge, the exhibit continues, with 15 more images on the walls of the Photo Center.
“Steps,” a richly illuminated shot of the ornate staircases in Albany’s Capitol building, is by Michael Brown.
“Iron Age” by Robert Feero is a mirror study of the geometric design and rusted colors of colossal girders, a ghost perhaps of a long-gone building.
And in a final note, it must be mentioned that the 2013 Photo Regional may also be remembered as the show that was touched by violence.
At 11 p.m. on April 25, the night before the salon reception, Felix, who lives in downtown Troy, was robbed and attacked by two unknown assailants at Fourth and Congress streets. Pushing him down to the sidewalk, they beat and kicked him, breaking bones in his face.
When Felix showed up at the reception with his face swollen and bruised, the photographers, many of them longtime gallery members, rallied around him.
“That’s part of what got me through it,” says Felix.