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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Regionals, regionals ...

Juror Karen Davis peruses the Photo Regional Salon at Albany Center Gallery
Thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic, we now have a perfect storm of regional exhibitions that are all on view simultaneously. With three annual juried shows having been rescheduled, and a new lockdown-themed juried show now open at a prominent college gallery, it’s a boon to regional artists and their fans.

Laura Brodsky's fatherhood 2 won one
of four top prizes at the Photo Regional

First up, the 42nd Annual Photography Regional at Albany Center Gallery began on Sept. 8 with a salon-style installation of 200-plus submissions by more than 80 photographers. Karen Davis, co-owner of Davis-Orton Gallery in Hudson, then culled those submissions into a Select show that re-opened on Sept 18. It features 43 photographers (of which I am one) and includes 49 pieces, with 11 of those works receiving special recognition. Heads-up: The Photo Regional will close this Friday (Oct. 2), so you’ll have to hurry if you want to take a look. I recommend that you do.

Jill Baucom's Blackberries won one of
four top prizes in the Photo Regional
Also recently opened, on Sept. 19 (through Jan. 3, 2021), is the 2020 Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region (aka the Regional), which is the most significant show in the annual calendar locally and, now in its 84th year, one of the longest-standing shows of its kind in the nation. The Regional rotates among three venues, and is hosted this year by the Albany Institute of History & Art, which tapped MASS MoCA Senior Curator Susan Cross as juror. In keeping with Regional tradition, an accompanying catalog with an essay by Cross is planned by the Institute and will be available in a few weeks.

Amy Silberkleit - 1918 stone lithograph
Perhaps due to Cross’s high profile as a curator in the region, the show attracted more than 700 entries by nearly 250 artists across all media. Cross whittled these down to 108 works by 73 artists (of which – you guessed it – I am one), also selecting 19 among them for special awards that range from $1,000 cash to $100 gift certificates. She then planned the installation of the show in five contiguous spaces within the museum, using the variously sized galleries as venues for thematic groupings.

Deborah Zlotsky - Yours, Mine, Ours
vintage scarves

The largest of those galleries contains vast splashes of bright colors provided by works in many media – painting, sculpture, photography, collage, and textiles among them – with a large portion of those pieces being abstract. In a nearby, somewhat smaller room, again featuring the full array of media, the theme is landscape.

Yet another medium-sized gallery includes works that mostly engage in political or social commentary, again with many media represented but, in this case, weighted much more toward photography (not including my own, which are abstract, and hang in the larger gallery).

One feels the effects of 2020’s global and national upheavals in Cross’s selection of prizes, many of which went to the more topical works in the show, yet the overall effect of this Regional is what it should be: a well-distributed cross-section of the region’s best art, organized - but not dominated - by theme.

Jeff Wigman's oil on panel Arrival in Hell is included in Infinite Uncertainty.
Wigman also has work in the Mohawk-Hudson Regional and the Fence Salon.
Fortunately, another local gallery took up that thematic challenge by specifically requesting topical work for an open-call show juried by Sharon Bates, Stacey Robinson, Ellen Letcher and Julie Torres. Infinite Uncertainty opened at Sage College of Albany’s Opalka Gallery on Sept. 1 and includes approximately 100 works selected from over 250 total submissions. It closes on Oct. 10 so, again, you’ll have to hurry if you want to see it - and I recommend that you do.

It’s worth noting that seven of the 33 regional artists included in Infinite Uncertainty are also included in the Mohawk-Hudson Regional (in which four of them received awards), an overlap that underscores the meaningful relationship between the two shows. Like the Regional, Infinite Uncertainty features work across many media, a good bit of it colorfully or monochromatically abstract, but much more of it representing interpretive responses to our current social issues.

Tatana Kellner - Scream
collage, acrylic, and charcoal on paper
Each artist’s work is accompanied by statements that explain the impetus for the selected pieces, ranging from technical adaptation to using available quotidian materials during art-supply-chain shutdowns to direct commentaries on hot topics like the pandemic and BLM protests. The writings provide a telling window into the interior lives of artists, and make a strong statement about both their resilience and the power of art to buoy the human spirit in hard times.

Altogether, Infinite Uncertainty is a relatively rare instance of a carefully curated large group show at an urban Capital Region gallery featuring only regional artists. Though 33 seems like a lot of participants, the spacious gallery has enough room to accommodate multiple pieces by most of them, and numerous pieces by many, making for a great degree of depth in this presentation.

This mixed-media collage by Paula
Drysdale Frazell is in the Fence Salon
Finally, the Fence Salon show opened on Sept. 11 at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy and will remain on view there through Nov. 7, after which it will be rehung as the Fence Select, which will be juried by Tang Museum Director Ian Berry. Please note that the Arts Center is operating on a modified schedule – open Tuesday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or by appointment.

Here, too, there is significant overlap with artists who are also in the Mohawk-Hudson Regional (I counted nine), which comes as no surprise considering the prestige of the juror and the longstanding tradition of this show, which I have often referred to as “the other Regional.” There’s also some artist overlap between Fence and the Opalka show, as well as between Fence and the Photo-Regional. I can only begin to imagine the thought processes that went on with these artists as they tried to determine which works to submit where. 

I will revisit the Fence show on this blog after it has been juried and re-hung as Fence Select.

In the meantime, please do yourself a favor and get out to see these treasure troves of high-quality, current regional art while you can.

Mike Glier's oil on canvas Swallows Hunting is part of the Mohawk-Hudson Regional.
Glier is one of three former Regional jurors who have work in this year's show.

1 comment:

Robbie-Bobulon said...

“September Madness” (as opposed to March)