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On Exhibit: Questioning the American dream

On Exhibit: Questioning the American dream

Is it really the American nightmare for some people?
On Exhibit: Questioning the American dream
“Walliecamp: Modular Epic Landscape” by Alexandra Hammond, 2013, on exhibit at Collar Works.
Photographer: Provided

All's not quiet in the art world, and that’s a good thing. 

“What is that leaping in your chest?” the latest exhibition to open at Collar Works, examines and questions the American dream through intricate sculptures, political signs, and an expansive painting echoing the desert.   

The large exhibition, including over 50 pieces, is curated by Alexandra Foradas, an assistant curator at Mass MoCA. Collar Works put out a national call to artists and Foradas helped to sort through the entries and put together a show which is as entropic as it is focused. 


Drones, homes, and a church, all made of a mix of wood, cardboard and discarded objects greet viewers in one area of the exhibit. The piece, called “Village Drones,” was created by artist Vincent Romaniello, is eerie, and not just because many of the drone-figures have large eyes. But its eeriness harkens back to the question of the American Dream and what it means today.  

The term was first used by historian James Truslow Adams in 1931. Adams declared the dream available to any man or woman in the United States regardless of position and birth.

Since many sociologists and politicians have questioned that definition and have questioned its availability. 

The exhibit takes on those doubts and asks if the American dream is really the American nightmare for some people. 

In “Please Exit, Doors Are Closing,” a monoprint/collage installment by Tatana Kellner, statements like “Actions Are Illegal Not People,” and “Perilous Journey,” seem to burst from their canvases and echoing the experience of immigrants. Other pieces and installments take on the materialistic values that sometimes come with the American Dream and everything from modern-day social issues to hyper-consumerism. 

“We hope that [this] provides the public the opportunity to engage with current, contemporary art and enter into important dialogue about access to the American Dream from a multitude of diverse viewpoints,” said Elizabeth Dubben, the executive director of Collar Works. 

The 16 artists featured include; Susan Anthony, Fern T. Apfel, Simone Bailey, Joyce Chan, Ryan Chase Clow, Megan Galbraith, Alexandra Hammond, Tatana Kellner, Darian Longmire, Rob O'Neil, Fernando Orellana, Vincent Romaniello, Allie Wilkenson, Holly Wilson, Quay Quinn Wolf and Mike Yood. 

The Collar Works (621 River St., Troy) exhibition runs through December 30. 

Memorial Exhibition 

A bittersweet exhibition is coming to The Hamilton Hill Arts Center. In honor of founder Margaret B. Cunningham, her works will be on display in the Jerry Burrell Gallery at the Center. 

Cunningham, who passed away last year, was instrumental in giving the Hamilton Hill neighborhood a place to cultivate their creative side and was always trying to instill pride in the local culture. She also co-founded Black Dimensions in Art, a grassroots organization which educates the public about artists of the African Diaspora and encourages young artists of African descent.   

She was prolific in her own artistic career as well, creating a large collection of pottery, collages and paintings. The exhibition at the Arts Center will include some of her experiments with realism, abstract design and collage, all spanning from the 1940s to 2014. 

Much of her collection will be given to her family members and this will be the last chance for the public to see it. According to the Center, the show will be up for several months. 

New portrait at The Clark 

While there is a focus on deaccessioning in the art world, The Clark Art Institute has been focused on an acquisition. Earlier this week, the Institute added “Portrait of Achille Deban de Laborde” by Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet to its collection. 

The rather large oil-on-canvas portrait features a young boy in military garb, in honor of his father Baptiste Deban de Laborde, who was killed in the battle of Wagram in 1809. It’s an elegant and melancholy piece which highlights Dubois-Drahonet’s control of line and light. 

The piece, on exhibit at The Clark, provides a juxtaposition to “Comte Henri-Amedee-Mercure de Turenne-d’Aynac,” a portrait of a war hero by Jacques-Louis David, which is also a part of the Clark collection.   

Winter Invitational

A Winter Invitational exhibit opens on November 18 at the Jan Rutland Memorial Artist Space at the National Bottle Museum (76 Milton Ave. Ballston Spa). The show features artists Timothy Pendergast, Fred Homan, Tom Hansen, Matthew Chinian and Ronda Anderson. An artist reception will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sun. Nov. 19. The show will be up until Jan. 13. 

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