Artistic constraints can sometimes bring out the most creative solutions.
Between the twisted trees, the layered brush strokes, and the racing resin on display at the Saratoga Arts Center it’s clear that for these artists, a 10 x 10 restriction has pushed them in a good direction.
In one piece, searing blue eyes peep out of a collage of bright red paper. It’s made all the more mysterious by the shadow box it’s placed in and its accompanying title, “Red, White and Blue?” (by Judy Scarlata).
A thick wave of yellow paint streaked with red is enveloped in a vibrant blue background in another piece, called “Circus” by Matthew Grandy. Both are part of one of the “10x10” exhibit, which opens on Saturday, which inadvertently became a tradition for Saratoga Arts Center four years ago.
“Originally, it was to celebrate the centennial of Saratoga. It was so popular they decided to keep it going so this is the fourth year,” said Rebecca Zeh, the exhibitions coordinator.
Though she’s only been in the position for a few months, she’s a longtime Saratoga Arts member and volunteer and has helped to hang previous exhibitions in the gallery space on Broadway.
“It’s definitely our most inclusive show. It’s very much in line with our mission, which is to make the arts accessible to all,” Zeh said.
Artists of all ages and skill levels can enter the show, making for a mix of mediums and subjects.
This year, 580 pieces were submitted by artists spanning ages 4 to 90 and up.
“The majority are from the surrounding eight counties, but we do have a few out of state people. One artist is from Connecticut. We have a few from Vermont and Massachusetts,” Zeh said.
Some, like John Smolinsky, have played with the 10 x 10 dimensions, using a mirror background as well as twisted found wood and wires to create 3-D pieces. Other artists, like Ilona Zabolotna pushes painting to a new level.
“This artist paints with coffee on canvas. I’ve seen artists do that before, but her [works] stand out,” Zeh said.
The Mechanicville artist creates stunning characters and whimsical scenes, all in caffeine-infused sepia tones.
Not too far away from Zabolontna’s painting is a work made from another grocery store product. An amber-colored bottle, made entirely of cast sugar, melts into its marble mount. The piece, made by Schenectady artist Rebecca Flis, stands out in terms of medium, as well as dimension.
Most of the pieces in the show are exactly 10 by 10, hence the title.
However, some artists brought in sculptural work that fit well under those dimensions.
Putting the show together is a bit like fitting a puzzle together, only the distinctive edges are missing and the only clues the curators have are within the pieces themselves.
“It’s definitely challenging,” Zeh said. “I try to spread out color because I feel like color is one of the first things that people react to.”
Thus, works like Zabolotna’s “Yang Dancer” are displayed close to the shimmering waves of acrylic blues, whites and browns of Michele Benton’s “Surf’s Up.”
Kelsi Lytle’s intricate wood-burned pieces of elephants and a tiger are placed close to an urban-looking piece from Paul Bouchard. The rough texture of Bouchard’s “The Forgotten” makes the piece seem heavy, as though it’s made of cement when in reality, it’s made of installation foam. The uneven edges and star-shapes cut out of the middle add to the illusion and to the depth of the piece.
The “10x10” exhibition is one that visitors will want to stroll through on a few different occasions this summer. Stop in just once and one is guaranteed to miss a few gems.
Each work in the exhibition is for sale and most go for around $100.
“It’s a great opportunity to add an original piece of artwork to your collection by a local artist at an affordable price,” Zeh said.
“10x10” will be on exhibition from Sat. until Sept. 7 at the Saratoga Arts Center (320 Broadway). There will be an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. on Sat. July 6. For more information visit saratoga-arts.org.