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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mary Pat Wager at Albany Center Gallery

A visitor contemplates one of Mary Pat Wager's reliefs at ACG.
photo by Mike Wagner
In the great tradition that Albany Center Gallery has become in its 35+ years of existence, the current retrospective by sculptor Mary Pat Wager is a big, sprawling show of important work covering a span of several decades. Wager is a familiar face on the regional art scene including at past ACG shows, but this major exhibition is still a long time coming and a welcome sight.

Featuring scores of works from 1978 through 2014, Collections: A Retrospective was independently curated by Jackie Weaver and includes wall-hung and free-standing pieces in steel, wood, copper, bone, bronze, stone, brass, glass, paper, and more, usually combining several of these materials in one piece. It's organized clutter, marvelously inventive, sophisticated-yet-direct assemblage by an inveterate collector (some would say hoarder) of stuff.

Yes, Wager loves stuff, and she lovingly turns it into art. It's almost that simple, and would be if she were less of an artist. But where craft fair or roadside sculptors are entertaining, Wager is deeply engaging. Her direct involvement in metal casting, often represented by free-form melted bits she's scavenged from the process, is just one source of the profound connections Wager forges with her materials and thereby shares with her audience.

If you love pure form, if symbolism turns you on, or if you just kinda like steampunk, see this show. I like it because I see fascinating conjunctions and droll juxtapositions throughout; I like it more because I see a very clever eye at work; and I want to go back because that's only the beginning of the fountain of
creativity on display here. But you better hurry, because it ends on Nov 21. Albany Center Gallery is open from noon to 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 518 462 4775.

Solitary Confinement, 2014 mixed media by Mary Pat Wager
all other images are sculptures by Mary Pat Wager

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