Get Visual is the proud recipient of a grant from The Christos N. Apostle Charitable Trust

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Folk Modern at Albany International Airport Gallery

Installation of found-object assemblages by Jack Metzger, 2006-2015
all photos with this post are courtesy of Arthur Evans
The creative process can be deceptively simple, but I find exposure to it is almost always uplifting. There's a delight in seeing how a person, whatever their flaws, can draw from within themselves the strength, imagination, and skill to produce something new and wonderful to behold.

Giselle Potter, Bark 2014 gouache on paper
Folk Modern, the current exhibition at Albany International Airport Gallery (on view through May 8), explores how eight regional makers (perhaps a better word in this case than "artists") have delved into that creative impulse and, as such, is a celebration of it. Emblematic of the special qualities of this process is the work of Jack Metzger (pictured at the top of this post), a shop owner who seems to just really like to collect odd, old stuff and mess around with it. His installation in the show reveals a discerning eye, a sense of wit, and a reverence for the integrity of a good, mysterious object. It's also great fun.

John McQueen, Teeter 2012 (left) and Sitting Pretty 2011 (right)
media include metal, wood, cardboard, wax string, willow
The mounted text that introduces the show makes the point that "the wall between folk and fine art has been crumbling for some time, and inhabitants of both sides have been finding much common ground." Indeed, one would honestly have to admit that, without peeking first at a resume, there's no way to tell which of these people is on which side of that fading divide.

Not unexpectedly, a good range of media are represented here - painting, collage, sculpture, installation, and illustration - and there's enough work by each participant to get a sense of who they are individually, though the show works well, too, as a whole.

Steve Rein, installation of paintings dated 2013-2015, lettering enamel on wood

Common ground links one artist to the next. Like Metzger, Steve Rein incorporates found material into his work, starting with scavenged anonymous snapshots and reinterpreting them in enamel on found bits of wood. Formerly a sign painter by trade, Rein seems to exemplify the "outsider" artist who uses non-traditional materials that come easily to hand (but, in fact, he has an art-school pedigree). He also seems almost too productive, as though compelled by external forces - his installation in the show includes more than 40 individual pieces, overwhelming the viewer.

Anima Katz, Bottle of Negrita Rum 2014, oil on canvas board
I found the work of neo-primitive painter Anima Katz easier to concentrate on. Her intricately textured works are the result of a distinct personal drive (begun when she was 52 years old) to emulate the great artists she admires. In this exhibition, she presents heartfelt homages to many of them in the form of portraits of the artists amid carefully copied miniatures of some of their best-known works. The result is a curiously original form of imitation that transcends mere reproduction.

Nancy Natale, Look at America 2011, found and invented elements
with encaustic and tacks on birch panel
Nancy Natale is just about at the opposite end of the spectrum from Katz - from a distance, her paintings look like art-smart abstractions of stripe, color, and shape. But, when you get closer you see that they are constructed of many inch-wide rectangles of found material, nailed in place and slathered with colorful encaustic. Natale's source materials include the banal - food packaging - and the more cerebral - book spines - but it is all part of a rich blend that resembles a pieced quilt more than an intellectual studio exercise.

Matt LaFleur, Gift World 2015, site-specific installation
Susanna Starr's work also reveals a relationship with traditional textiles, in this case by transforming patterned doilies into large, wall-hung slabs of wood veneer. Her painstaking cutting re-creates the intricacies of lace in an unexpected material that is nevertheless still aesthetically appealing and safely domesticated (see image at the bottom of this post). The other artists included in the show are Matt LaFleur, John McQueen, and Giselle Potter.

Note: Albany International Airport Gallery is open to the public - not behind security - from 7 am to 11 pm daily. Parking in the short-term lot is free for the first half-hour - if needed, the staff of the airport's DepARTure shop will stamp your parking ticket to allow a longer visit free of charge.

Susanna Starr, Dresser Doily 2005, hand-cut mahogany wood veneer

1 comment:

benilhalk said...

Incredible artwork! You are such a talented person. I also want to learn painting. I am a self-learner and currently looking for the beginner workshops at venues in NYC. I wonder if you can share some useful information to help me!