Rarely does an exhibition elicit all-out laughter, or even quiet chuckles.
But that’s exactly what you might hear when you walk into “So it May Seem,” on exhibit at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.
“There’s a lot of humor in this show,” said Belinda Colon, the exhibition's curator.
While the title might seem a bit ominous, that notion is discarded when one first wanders into the gallery and spies a vintage-looking portrait of a young girl with bright, blue butterfly wings and a cat chasing a line of marching bugs.
The show, which features four artists and one author, is centered around the use of found objects and photographs. Most of the black-and-white or sepia photographs in the show have been embellished and recreated, adding a touch of humor and whimsy.
Laura Christensen — who created the piece mentioned above — is one of the four artists featured in the exhibition. Her works are uniquely framed so that it seems as though they’re encased in boxes, sometimes with sliders or curtains to create interactive frames, which often adds to the humor of each piece.
Robert Gullie and Anthony R. Pezzula, on the other hand, use opposite framing styles, making the characters in the vintage photographs almost move toward the viewer. Their pieces in the show are from their project “Obituarium, End Prose and Portraits.” Gullie is the artist, combining the vintage photographs precisely with modern mixed-media (cuts from magazines for example) and other things to draw out the “untold” stories of the subjects.
The label copy beside each character, or subject, is where Pezzula’s artistry comes in. He creates the intricate backstory for each subject, to both memorialize them and embellish on what the viewer sees in the mixed-media piece.
Steve Rein’s pieces are perhaps the most unique to the exhibition. He takes discarded photographs, ones that didn’t come out quite right, and paints them onto reclaimed wood.
“In these overlooked and discarded images, I find fascinating moments; often hastily composed, lopsided, cluttered, ill-timed and misdirected glimpses of unpolished humanity,” Rein said in a statement.
His background in animation and graphic design comes out in the composition of each piece, and especially in the expressions on his subjects’ faces.
The exhibition runs until Wednesday, Dec. 27, and there will be a gallery talk with the artists at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14. For information, visit artscenteronline.org.
'When We Were Young'
The University at Albany Art Museum is filled with pointed perspectives on abstract art.
“When We Were Young,” is the museum’s 50th-anniversary exhibit, and it feels more like a compendium of modern abstract art, with pieces from the late 1960s to recent years.
“I wanted to think about abstraction as a unifying theme,” said Corinna Ripps Schaming, curator and interim director of the museum.
A series of 16 works by Chryssa, titled “Gates to Times Square,” acted as an anchor to the exhibition, along with a series of works by minimalist Donald Judd.
Many of the pieces in Chryssa’s series seem to shape-shift, the colors and shapes seeming slightly different upon a second or third look, which reflects on her work as a sculptor. She used color screen prints on found paper to create the bold series; one source material included is a fragmented letter from an appropriated neon sign in Times Square.
“Chryssa is a well-known artist, but I think she’s underrepresented,” Schaming said.
For many, the exhibition has offered a rediscovery of older works and a glance forward into what modern art means today.
“It was exciting to see work that had been in flat file drawers for 20 years,” Schaming said.
Another perspective on modern art hangs just behind Chryssa’s work. Marrietta Hoferer, an artist who often uses everyday objects, created an intricate work out of graphite paper and lined tape that at first glance looks snowflake-like.
“Lot Walking,” a piece by Richard Garrison, is another that reflects the more recent techniques in abstract art. Strong lines of various lengths are shown all meeting at one point in the piece. Each line has the name of a place (convenience store, library, gas station, etc.) written adjacent. Garrison created the piece after tracking exactly how far he walked from his car to various places over the course of six months. The underlying commentary on the more mundane aspects of life is at once depressing and comical, depending on the viewer and their mood.
“As a curator, you want to be continually surprised and excited. I’m learning from the exhibition all the time,” Schaming said, adding that a great exhibit should ask more questions than it answers.
“When We Were Young,” will be on exhibit until Dec. 16. For information, visit albany.edu/museum.