Firework smoke, tape measures: ‘Circle/Square Game’ opens

Circles. Squares. The most basic figures in art, they rarely make solo appearances in galleries; however, a new exhibit, “The Circle/Square Game,” is opening today at the Strohl Art Center to celebrate these two basic shapes. The debut also features a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. today at Strohl.

“Sometimes I just see one thing that sparks a show,” said Judy Barie, Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution galleries director.

In this case, it was the artwork of Rosemarie Fiore, who used firework smoke to color paper and then collage it in circles. While debating other artists to include, Barie thought the circles could be a common link between artists. The squares would be a nice complement, she said.

This show also provides a counterpoint to last year’s exhibit, which was devoted to surfaces and textures. Barie described that show as quiet.

“I didn’t want to do that again,” she said. “I wanted something that was bold and flashy.”

One particularly bold series of sculptures is made from old metal measuring tapes. The sculptor, Tim Yankosky, is no stranger to using basic forms in his work.

“A lot of my work is created in circle and square form,” Yankosky said.

“[Barie’s] challenge to me for this show was to, in some of the works, to incorporate both the circle and square shapes.”

Yankosky acquires the metal measuring tapes through auctions and old tool collectors, then glues them onto a three-dimensional form before carefully nailing them down and sealing the entire sculpture.

“The challenge [with this form of sculpture] was eliminating the painting and to somehow use just the measuring tapes to tell the narrative,” Yankosky said. “I do miss the painting, but I certainly love the challenges and problem- solving that is required to create the current series.”

In contrast to Yankosky’s narrative-inspired pieces, featured artist Macyn Bolt works in abstract, colorful paintings of intersecting planes. Bolt describes these as sculptural forms that are in tension with the flat surface on which they are painted.

“My interest in abstraction — and particularly geometric abstraction — is because I feel they have an energy and presence,” Bolt said.

While Yankosky’s pieces have titles that allude to the idea he is trying to portray, Bolt’s works are largely untitled.

“You’re not assigning any kind of meaning to the work [if they don’t have titles],” Bolt said. “I don’t want them to be restrictive.”

Bolt might not try to convey narrative, but he does find poetry, literature and especially music inspiring for his work.

“Jazz artists fill up the sound space of my studio,” he said.

Thelonious Monk, in particular, inspired him while he painted the works in “The Circle/Square Game,” but he also finds inspiration in contemporary rock ’n’ roll and DJ music. Bolt is also one of the artists attending the opening.

In addition to the firework collages, metal tape measures and colorful abstractions, the opening will include found metal boxes, light up sculptures, ceramic vases and more.

“[It would] not be as interesting if they were all paintings,” Barie said.