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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lit at Albany International Airport Gallery

Scott Nelson Foster, Real and Imaginary Houses 12 - oil on panel
The sky was performing spectacularly at the end of a stormy day, which provided the ideal preparation for Lit, a theme show about phenomena of light at Albany International Airport Gallery that runs through Sept. 13. As with all the shows presented at this generous venue, Lit is intelligent and friendly, and features outstanding artists from the greater Capital Region as both a showcase of regional talent and an oasis of uplifting culture for weary travelers.

But you don't have to be traveling to enjoy these exhibitions - the gallery area is open to the public, parking is free for the first half-hour, and the hours (7 am to 11 pm daily) make it the most accessible high-quality art space anywhere. I was drawn to this show particularly by the inclusion of a few of my favorite artists from around these parts, but also by the theme. After all, without light, we wouldn't exist.

Lit features six artists and a collaborative: a spare number, yet enough to cover a lot of bases here, including sculpture, industrial design, two extremely different approaches to photography, drawing, painting, and projection. The work in the show is approximately evenly divided between color and monochrome, with most of the color coming from the palettes of sculptor Victoria Palermo and painter Scott Nelson Foster.

Victoria Palermo, Up and Down
Palermo alone contributes a nearly eclectic collection, including wall-hung combines of paint and colored plastic, totemic towers of rubber, and small architectural constructions that appear to be made out of jelly (actually, they are also rubber). In addition, her site-specific installation of wood, plexi and dichroic film in the staircase leading up to the gallery (shown at right) is both part of this show and an independent, longer-term project. All these works play with transparency and the fleeting effects of changing light and color; they also are exquisitely crafted, clever, and fun.

Foster contributes a number of related painting from his series on real or imagined suburban houses, including a group of six that examine a modest trailer home in different light, almost like a postmodern Monet (as with haystacks and Chartres cathedral). His color sense is as profound as his irony is subtle; he also includes five very small black-and-white watercolors of similar subject matter that are equally adept.

Kenneth Ragsdale
Lewis and Clark Go Car Camping/Arlington, digital print
Other familiar names in this show are Larry Kagan and Kenneth Ragsdale. Kagan shows three wall relief metal sculptures that astonishingly translate tangles of metal into perfectly articulated shadow portraits of iconic political figures (George Washington, Mao, and Che Guevara). Ragsdale features color photographs made from his own meticulously crafted (yet still playfully rough) dioramas of '60s-era campsites, which he ingeniously lights to create cinematic tones. One diorama is included, complete with its nifty tiny lights and color gels in place, with a wall switch you can flip to see the effect.

The revelation of the show is Yael Erel, an RPI architect whose light projections reflected off metal surfaces produce sharp, stunningly organic motifs that rotate hypnotically. Her collaborative, lightexture, which includes Avner Ben Natan and Sharan Elran, has contributed several metal and ceramic lighting fixtures to this exhibition; they are designed to cast sculpted light patterns through manipulable apertures, and may be the first example of industrial designer products to be part of an exhibition here.

In almost direct opposition to the technical approach of Erel and lightexture, yet aesthetically quite similar, Jared Handelsman presents several delicate gelatine-silver photograms, which he makes by exposing light-sensitive paper to ethereal sources such as moonlight and passing headlights. The resulting shadow pictures of natural plants evoke the quiet of a summer night.

Yael Erel, Moon Record, aluminum LED source, aluminum reflector, rotating mechanism, audio recording

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