The opening of the new show at the Imogen Holloway Gallery on Friday coincided, as it does each month, with the latest “First Friday” event in Saugerties. Partition and Main Streets were buzzing with activity in the early evening hours of Oct. 5 as couples and small groups of friends moved from restaurant to shop to gallery. They sampled Spanish wines at the Partition Street Wine Shop, filled the tables at ‘Cue, munched on cheese and crackers at Paper Goods while checking out the merchandise, and even added details to the painting of the moon in the windows of the Marleau Gallery, assisted by a mime.
The cozy space of the Imogen Holloway Gallery was filled to overflowing with a steady stream of visitors who came to see “Paper Works,” which, true to its name, is an exhibit of works on paper by Brooklyn-based artist Mary Judge and Poughkeepsie-based artist Charles Geiger. The window exhibition space of the gallery debuted a showing of casted plaster works by artist Jelena Gazivoda, originally from Serbia and now residing in New Paltz, where she teaches drawing at SUNY. All three artists were present at the opening to chat about their work with gallery-goers.
This mixture of different styles is just what gallery owner and director Diane Dwyer has in mind. She tries to curate shows that feature two artists whose work is not especially similar, but together form an interesting and harmonious effect. It’s the power of contrast, and Dwyer does it well.
In addition to style, there’s place: one of the artists in each exhibit is local, the other is from elsewhere. The intended effect is to create an artistic “conversation” between the Hudson Valley and the rest of the world. It also allows her to host gallery chats with local artists, like the one planned for Thursday, Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m., when Poughkeepsie-based artist Charles Geiger will be in the gallery along with Jelena Gazivoda to share a glass of wine with visitors and talk in depth about their art.
Charles Geiger is a former research scientist who once made his living writing computer programs for IBM and other firms. After years of viewing the world through a microscope, he’s returned full-time to his early passion for painting, and translated a scientific fascination with the substructure of matter into works of art densely packed with the stuff of physics: energy, force and motion.
Like any good scientist, Geiger is interested in what lies beneath. His paintings meticulously detail botanically-influenced forms and processes of nature; a giant Technicolor vision of what appears on a scientist’s glass slide. He’s currently interested in the idea of rhizomes, where something produces roots and develops new offshoots. “It’s a metaphor for interruption and renewal in life,” he says.
According to Geiger, the starting point for his paintings often comes from environmental issues. Most of the works on display at the Holloway are acrylic ink and gouache on paper, in sizes ranging from 16 inches square up to a fairly large 44 inches by 55 inches. The most recent paintings, like “Untitled WC-5428” (catalogued like a scientific slide, admits Geiger) or “Red-face Liars” appear initially to be flat, patterned surfaces teaming with biomorphic forms, but up close, the layers are revealed, as the skillful use of transparency and opaqueness along with the contrast of warm and cool colors work together to create dimensionality.
The macro view
If the work of Charles Geiger is microscopic, suggests Dwyer, then the work of Mary Judge is the opposite; something more akin to aerial views of earth as seen from a height above.
“Mined Structures Series #3” is a 42-inch-by-30-inch-work on handmade paper in which powdered pigments were applied with a pouncing technique and a stencil, the method imparting a translucent quality to the sections of built-up color and softening the edges of the geometric forms in a painterly way.
According to the artist, everything in her work starts with a drawing, and she tends to work in a series and with the same motif over a long period of time “until it’s exhausted.” The works on exhibit here are all versions of symmetrical geometric and circular designs, but what sets them apart from hard-edged paintings with similar motifs is the glowing quality of the colors achieved by the use of the powdered pigments and the softness of the edges of the forms; something not apparent in photographs of the work but visible when seen in the gallery.
The exhibition space in the gallery’s windows is devoted to two works by Jelena Gazivoda. Of the colorful “Contrapposto, Three Gracias,” she says that the 16-inch high red, yellow and orange forms in the work are torso shapes modeled in porcelain and then cast in plaster, the figures turned upside down and placed in relationship to each other so as to represent a sense of displacement and loss of identity, and as generalized metaphors for the human condition. The all white “Contested Site,” one in a series of her latest work, has to do with her experience as an immigrant, says Gazivoda, reflecting on the concept of displacement and what “home” means.
“Paper Works” will remain on view through Sunday, Oct. 28. The Imogen Holloway Gallery is located at 81 Partition St. in the village of Saugerties. Gallery hours are Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. or by appointment. For more information, visit www.ihgallery.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (347) 387-3212.