The Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council (LARAC) opened its Fragments art exhibition last month in the architecturally beautiful Lapham Gallery in downtown Glens Falls, New York, showcasing substantial artworks juried and envisioned by Gallery Curator Jenny Hutchinson. As one of four artists selected for this exhibit, I traveled over 250 miles each way from my New Jersey homebase to participate and present a gallery talk about my one-of-a-kind jewelry, Widget Lockets on display, along with fellow artists Anne Stagg, Liz Parsons and Nick Squadere. The gallery itself is quite expansive at 1900 square feet, and to see my entire collection of Widget Lockets in one gallery, alongside the stunning abstract paintings and installation work of my fellow exhibiting artists was quite a thrill to view, in-person.
Florida-based painter and educator Anne Stagg’s vast collection of oil paintings across two perpendicular gallery walls brought a welcomed infusion of gorgeously vibrant colors into the gallery space. Her canvases presented a kindred spirit of decorative patterning to my chased/repoussé 3-D ornamental jewelry pieces being shown on pristine, white pedestals. In her Discourse canvas, Stagg uses imagery that resembles blue waters flowing around a stream of concentric circles that never quite seem to find their match; environmental, social and economic issues pervade Stagg’s work. In her gallery talk on opening night, she shared how she feels personally uncomfortable with stereotypes one may hear of growing up in the American South and how currently, she channels awareness of social issues into her painterly work, coming out through her extremely detailed iconographic symbols and patterns. Seeing Stagg’s work recalls the vibrant details inspired from the Pattern and Decoration Movement in U.S. painting history, such as Mississippi-born Valerie Jaudon or New York’s Joyce Kozloff.
Get Her Words Out is a full-room installation by New York state artist Liz Parsons. Parsons labored ten long months prior to the debut of this opus, fastidiously and quite obsessively creating the bands of text that filled her nearly full-year stream of conciousness. In addition, Parsons received a Community Arts Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) to create and install her large-scale, text-ribbon environment: first at the Lapham Gallery, then to be re-created in its permanent home at the Glens Falls’ East Side Center. During her Artist Talk opening night, I asked Parsons how she felt after creating and self-installing such a grandiose scaled piece – specifically, each section of typed text “ribbon” is very meticulously either plastered or T-pinned or stapled into a section of gallery wall or ceiling; the artist confided that she is physically exhausted and rightfully so. As most artists nowadays find “teams” or staff for such an undertaking, Parsons spent approximately a full week or more, adding each piece to the whole, while not removing aspects of being all handmade. Though not pictured here, there are also numerous drawings done by Parsons that accompany this installation on the gallery floor and walls. Besides inviting the viewer to participate and walk through the installation, as many gallery visitors such as myself did opening night – the artist has included a found-object and now-antiquated typewriter, with a notation above that invites visitors to type-out any sentences of his/her choosing. Parsons plans to add these newly typed verses/fragments to the final installation when it reaches it permanent location.
Local Glens Falls artist Nick Squadere presented several large-scale abstract paintings and drawings, including his Yada Yada Yada piece. Squadere creates his paintings intuitively with inspiration from everyday language, symbols and archetypes. Interestingly, it appears as though sections of canvas are overlapped and either attached in some way to resemble a hand-sewn process. Even a label is torn off an indeterminable object and placed in a haphazard way on the canvas’ lower center half to help the viewer visualize how Squadere aims to keep his canvases ‘spur of the moment’. During his gallery talk, the artist shared some of his influences, naming New York painter Ellsworth Kelly as one of his personal favorites. Squadere, however, breaks from Kelly’s very ordered geometric shapes while instead maintaining a painterly ‘looseness’ with his brushwork; the bright color palettes of Ellsworth Kelly paintings are a visible influence in Squadere’s latest works, though, especially in his Cold Turkey canvas.
Fragments, an art exhibition presenting substantial works by artists Patricia Sullivan, Anne Stagg, Liz Parsons and Nick Squadere, is on view at the Lapham Gallery at LARAC, located at 7 Lapham Place in downtown Glens Falls, New York through September 19th, 2014.
(Images appear courtesy of the artists and Lapham Gallery at LARAC.)