Anthony Bannon | Guest Reviewer
Scrap metal, cereal boxes, tea bags, plastic container lids: “Recycle. Reuse. Reinvent.” It is an exhibition of art sponsored by the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution.
But are there no limits, no boundaries, for the artist? Scrap metal?
• Gather hunks and panels and columns and tubes of rusted metal and create a Cubist tangle — a poetic sprung rhythm — upon a discarded wheeled carriage and declare it a sculpture called “Art Rover.” That’s Ron Bayuzick’s passion in Cambridge Springs, Pa.
• Cut a cereal box into tiny strips and cluster the strips by their dominant hue and weave a 6-foot high urn, or basket, or free form sculpture, and place tiny beads to mark a boundary for each stitch at a certain level, or plateau, on the object. That is the compulsion for Amy Lipshie of Pittsburgh.
• Join the thin paper of used tea bags, beautifully stained, already steeped in memory, delicate skins like a precious vellum, toned in the hue of the Earth, and shaped into a child’s dress, or a mermaid’s skin, scales dropping off. That is the new signature of Judith Olson Gregory of Chautauqua and Davidson, N.C.
• Stack those transparent lids from supermarket food containers into a totem of industrial beauty, a redemption of disposable practice, who knows why, or what the impulse — redemption being a fine purpose for the basis of that interpretation. And why not such a meditative practice?
“Recycle. Reuse. Reinvent.” is Judy Barie’s nominative for a harvest of invention, for an art that looks out and beyond rather than drilling analytically into some reduction. Barie is VACI curator and director of the galleries on Wythe.
One might figure Barie’s parallel exhibition in the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center as a counterweight notion to the ebullience of the ecology of “Recycle.” The parallel show is called “Transitions in Black and White,” meaning how one essentially black and white work in one medium transitions into a black and white work in another medium.
But guess again. Those artists are more interested in addition than subtraction.
(Now, there are many fine artists who get to addition through subtraction, who reduce the structure of their art to a single proposition of hue or form so that a universe of ideas might become possible — and those are across the street in the Strohl Art Center’s abstract expression exhibition.)
Bottom line: Artists are mischievous people.
Jim Morris, professor of art at SUNY Brockport, lays one linear abstraction translucently over another, the bottom image often upon a printed text. The forward image appears computer-drawn but is handwork after all, just manipulated through scanning and electronic copying. The bottom image is an energetic swirl of line, opposing the form-based front image, an attractive visual rhetoric.
Black and white? Yes. Reductivist? Hardly.
Angela To, professor at Alfred University, creates shining surprises, large acrylic and resin on panels, huge silhouettes of leafed branches against colorful compositions of fantastic drips, swatches, grids, bands and dot patterns.
Keep it simple? Not here.
As if throwing down a dare to Barie’s proposition of mostly straight-up black and white, the artists have declared challenges with resolute wonderland ideas:
• Karen Sardisco of Monroe County Community College with black and grey biomorphic marvels;
• Ron Desmett of Pittsburgh with glass dialectics of the rough and the smooth, a rich black lava of glass, yet unformed, still massing, holding perfect globes, also in black glass;
• Yoko Bove, of Waynesboro, Pa., with the most delicate faint flower urns, black line upon faint green, vessels fit for ritual.
It is deep, thoughtful work, committed to the grace and wonder of complex ideas, even when simply fashioned. It is exhibited through July 19.
Anthony Bannon is executive director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center and research professor at Buffalo State College. Previously, he was director of George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. and an art writer for The Buffalo News.