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Monday, December 14, 2020

In Brief: Fence Select at ACCR

Michael Oatman - American Spring (after Wallace Bergman), collage
Part all-inclusive members' show, part juried regional, the longstanding Fence Show at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy is a unique annual event. Like many other exhibitions this year, Fence was delayed a few months due to the pandemic, and so it is still on view in December, though it would normally be a summer show (historically, the show got its name because it was hung outdoors on a wrought-iron fence that surrounds a private park associated with the former location of the ACCR).

Victoria van der Laan - To Dash Against Darkness
sewn and quilted cotton
This year's Fence Select was chosen by Tang Museum Director Ian Berry, with additions selected by ACCR staff (possibly a first) and, if memory serves, this was the first time the show restricted entrants to just one submission each. Naturally, this would lead to a far less comprehensive presentation than a juried show with the typical three or more entries per participant, but it still resulted in a representative cross-section of many of the region's most interesting artists.

In this way, despite its limitations, Fence Select serves as a handy augmentation of the Annual Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region (aka the Regional), currently on view at the Albany Institute of History & Art through Jan. 3. Coincidentally, this year's Regional also features just one work by many of the participating artists, and several of those artists are in Fence Select - so a careful observer can actually combine those in their minds' eye to develop a fuller understanding of each of those artists.

Fern Apfel - The Yellow Envelope
For example, Fern Apfel, whose acrylic and pen on wood panel received the Best in Show award at Fence, has two related pieces in the Regional; and Victoria van der Laan, who was named runner-up at Fence for her lyrically graphic quilt, has another outstanding quilted work in the Regional.

Other important artists represented in both shows include Niki Haynes, Michael Oatman, John Hampshire, Mandi Coburn, Jeff Wigman, and Dorothea Osborn. I also noticed a few favorite photographers in Fence Select, such as Chris DeMarco, Ray Felix, and Jennifer Duke Anstey, bringing to mind the recent annual Photography Regional at Albany Center Gallery, where some of them were also represented.

Apart from these various associations, Fence Select stands alone reasonably well, but it is a bit thin, due to the relatively large space it inhabits at the ACCR. I suspect this underfilling may be the reason that five staff picks were added (making for a total of 28), and I'm glad they were, as they include some of the better works in the selection.

Fence Select remains on view only through this week, with open hours Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - so , if you want to catch it, be sure to act now.

John Hampshire - Labyrinth 623, ink on polypropylene


Roger Owen Green said...

Merry New Year and Happy Christmas.

John Rowen said...

David: Nice writing. That Labyrinth art reminded me of the ominous weather we had, first in October and now with the snow storms in December. What a timely choice of illustrations!