The serious and the silly play out in “Fence Select” exhibit at the Arts Center of the Capital Region.
Things start on a sweet note, with a friendly-looking hedgehog in one stoneware piece (by Susan Nowogrodzki) and then get stormy in another, with a dark wood tree bending in an unseen wind over a tiny rabbit (by Janet Barnett). Not too far away hangs a vibrant painting; blue hues streak across a cloudy sky, hanging over a beach where it looks like a baby is coming out of the sand as a seagull looks on. The piece, by Kevin Kim, is aptly named “Mother” and it speaks to the variegated styles included in the exhibition.
The “Fence” show has become a tradition for the Arts Center. It started years ago when members would hang their artwork on the fence around Washington Park in Troy, the former location of the Arts Center. This year, over 400 pieces were accepted and from there juror Nicole Hayes, the curator of Art Omi, picked just over 50 pieces to include in the exhibit currently up at the Arts Center.
Judging from the work in “Fence Select,” Hayes must have had her work cut out for her.
The show is varied in just about every way, from medium to tone to composition, yet it all comes together to highlight some of the most talented artists in the area, some established and others up and coming.
A dark comedy plays out in one of the most unusual works in the show, which mixes 3-D mixed media pieces with a 2-D piece. An abstract painting echoes a forest scene and serves as the background for a beaver gnawing on a wooden leg. The leg is draped across a pseudo-forest floor, touching a tiny pond, with a koi fish in it and a bird looking on.
The kicker is the title, “It’s Unfortunate What Happened to Peter Stuyvesant and his Peg Leg.” It’s no wonder that the artist, Jamie Rodriguez, won Best in Show.
Not too far away is “Pug Chihuahua Mix,” created by Jeff Wigman, a runner up. It’s perhaps one of the most mysterious pieces in the show, verging on disturbing. The tongues, eyes, noses and fur of several dogs combine into a ball that’s half in shadow.
Things take on a more serious note with works like Susan Hoffer’s “Just Vote — But Not Against Your Own Interests.” Hoffer’s mastery of lighting shines through, as the subject is illuminated from above. An older gentleman sits cross-legged on a couch, with a what could be a cell phone poking out of his shirt pocket and his arms gesturing as if he’s about to give a lecture or advice. His expression, with brows raised, adds to this sense.
Jacob Shen’s “Bolero Inspiration” is another stand-out piece in the show. It’s a chaotic, Noah’s Ark-like drawing of peacocks, dogs, cats, foxes and other animals parading and playing instruments. Some are seated in long caravans labeled “Wildlife Music Festival” or “Bolero Inspiration,” while others march alongside. They all seem to be heading away from a city-scape with sweeping towers and spires, a mash-up of architectural styles.
To catch these pieces — and the other 50-plus works — head to the Arts Center before Sunday, when the show officially closes.
If you go, check out “Drawing on Experience: Mary Sherwood,” an exhibit from the 2018 Fence Best in Show artist. That exhibit is up until Sept. 4.
The Arts Center of the Capital Region is located at 265 River St. Troy. For more info visit artscenteronline.org.