Strohl, Fowler-Kellogg exhibitions a study in color contrast


Amy Stark and her son Robert, 4, view Bill Reid’s “Untitled III,” on display as part of the “Animal Craft” exhibition currently open at Fowler-Kellogg Art Center. Photo by Ellie Haugsby.

Anthony Bannon | Guest Reviewer

‘A very colorful, just odd enough show’

And how we love our animals.

Our animals.

We tame them. We worship them. We sleep with them. We admire them. We eat them. We use them for sport, for fashion, for profit. We nurture them, cultivate them, hunt them, kill them. They are devils. They are gods.

And here we have an art show about them, “Animal Craft,” on the second floor of Fowler-Kellogg Art Center.

Enter the mountain gorilla, Anne Lemanski’s creation, made from copper rods, paper, leather and stitched together with artificial sinew, mounted to the wall like a trophy in a hunter’s den. The artist makes the point that there are only 680 of the gorillas remaining.

The gorilla is installed next to a lion made of cloth from the Maasai people, redstriped blue plaid. And the lion has silly pink ears. This is a complex ecology. The artist makes the point that the lions are being killed by a poison that is packaged in pink containers. The Maasai are poisoning the lions because the lions are killing the Maasai’s cattle.

This is a very colorful, just odd enough show: Great ceramic pots with elephant and rabbit handles by Christian Kuharik and a hammered rusted steel stag trophy, almost close enough to be termed representational.

Speaking personally, I was particularly taken by the cartoon fierce clay dogs by Wesley Anderegg, who makes dogs doing silly things while trying to act menacing.

I am also partial to the amazing narratives that Bill Reid constructs with his welding equipment and then paints up in jumpy colors — an owl, for instance, holding under its wings the icons of sea and sky and land, all there beneath its outstretched wings, which, just by the way, reveal a mouse and its cheese right there at the owl’s heart.

And it goes on like this with vigorous imagination: the teapots and baskets and a vase honoring birds, and a wall full of tiny clay bunny heads cheerfully celebrating a birthday or masquerading behind a mask.

Finally, Lisa and Scott Cylinder have the invention to make animal-shaped jewelry out of a piano hammer, a clarinet key and a bottle opener. The artists’ mind holds no bounds.

Need a pick-me-up? Missing your pet? Wondering about how strange humankind can be? This is the ticket, through July 21.

‘All a bit silver-tongued’

Across Wythe Avenue is a gentle crosscurrent on the second floor of Strohl Art Center. This one is all about silver. That’s right. Just silver. And, of course, it is called “Silver Lining.” It, too, is the invention of Galleries Director Judy Barie.

So there are silvery lined glasses and a tall vase, which really are pewter, and silvery teapots, which are hollowware, and aluminum mesh sculpture that stands off the wall in a variety of ways inferring fundamentals, such as a double helix.

Carol Prusa, a Florida artist, has the corner on fundamentals, particularly with her wall-mounted domes. Several of the domes emit tiny points of light, one a centering red, and their delicate silverpoint designs infer the basics of the ocean, while the dome shape itself suggests spaces for basic shelter and elaborated worship.

Her other works in the show are circular panels. For an artist, this commitment to spheres and circles is a risky business; the circle shape is about as exhausted as a form portending singularity as is a sonnet today about love or God.

On a lighter note, Nicole Ayliffe takes the prize for cleverness. Inside a blown glass vessel fit for flowers, she lodges black and white photographs — silver prints! — one of the ocean and the other of railroad tracks, off to the vanishing point.

It is all a bit silver-tongued, but the show should be forgiven its excesses for the sake of its friendly charms. Through July 28.

Anthony Bannon is the Ron and Donna Fielding Director of George Eastman House, the International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y.