Opening receptions were held this past week for three new art exhibits in the village. The Saugerties Public Library hosts Polly M. Law, who plays with words in “The Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words Illustrated.” New-in-town Intima Gallery waxes poetic with “The Poetic Print,” a group show featuring letterpress and photographic prints in an interplay of media. And Imogen Holloway Gallery packs a punch with small vibrant oils by Gene Benson that abstract the Catskill landscape.
Playing with words
The art exhibition space at the Saugerties Public Library (SPL) provides an opportunity for people to see art who may not regularly frequent art galleries or museums. And while the exhibits mounted there don’t have to have anything to do with the library’s primary focus on books and the written word, it’s fun when they do, like the current exhibition, “The Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words Illustrated.”
The artist is Polly M. Law, working in the “bricolage” style she’s made her own. It’s a mixed media approach, melding dimensional figures made of illustration board and any matter of ephemera—fabric, feathers, wire, crepe paper, buttons and the like—with acrylic-painted backdrops inside glass-fronted boxes. The artist uses the humble materials with a sophisticated sensibility to create works that are like mini stage sets, in a way, with the figure(s) at center stage playing out some kind of drama—and the viewer wants to know what the story is.
Law defines the bricolage technique as “the artful use of what’s at hand.” She makes a distinction between bricolage and assemblage or collage works (assemblage works generally put together objects that had a previous life and collage uses pictorial images that represent dimensional objects). The care that Law takes to differentiate the techniques reveals that the use of language is important to her, so it’s no surprise to see that reflected in the subject matter of the works she’s created in her ongoing “Word Project” series.
Each depicts a visual representation of an odd or obscure word, like “gawmless,” (having hands too cold to function), or several archaic words, like one work that depicts a zaftig woman who is “ventripotent” (having a large belly) being carried by a satyr-like figure that illustrates “bajulate” (to bear a heavy burden). The words, in tiny letters, are also worked into the compositions.
A pronunciation guide isn’t included on the gallery wall labels, but it’s intriguing to sound out the words and to then see how Law’s droll sense of humor and whimsy finds a visual equivalent for the archaic verbiage. (And most of the words one would never imagine meaning what they do.)
Law says she began collecting the obscure words years ago when a friend gave her an email subscription to Anu Garg’s “A Word A Day” email, which piqued her interest and led to other sources of unfamiliar words like a battered copy of Halliwell and Phillipps’s Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words. The words provided inspiration for the project, for which she’d created 112 examples by the time she compiled images of them as volume one of “The Word Project” in a self-published book funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
Law continues to play with words—volume two of the project is in process. The upstairs gallery walls at SPL display recent works from volume two while the downstairs gallery shows original art from volume one. The exhibit remains on view through the end of December at the Saugerties Public Library at 91 Washington Ave. For more information, visit www.saugertiespubliclibrary.org.
The Poetic Print
The recently-opened Intima Gallery on Main Street next to the Orpheum Theatre has a group show, “The Poetic Print,” an interplay of photographic and letterpress prints made by gallery owners Mindy Belloff and Steven Gentile along with their colleagues in their respective arts.
The photography work in the show includes images by Elizabeth Bryant, in which she captures botanicals in a way that is both delicate and graphically bold, and Linda Ellwein, who shows small landscapes with sharp photographic details embedded amidst a lovely painterly quality. Steven Gentile’s photographs display a soft, muted palette played out in close-up images of sea glass and reflections in moving water. Like the other photographs in the show, they were chosen for exhibition for their poetic qualities.
On the letterpress side, Mindy Belloff contributes several abstract monoprints along with letterpress works that include “Moving Ahead,” a copper plate etching incorporating text by poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Pam Markham Heller and Richard Turnbull round out the exhibition, showing graphic word-based letterpress broadsides. Gallery owners Belloff and Gentile say that their intention in showing all of the works on view together is to “present an elegant dialogue between literary and visually expressive prints.” The exhibit will remain on view through Friday, Oct. 25 at 196 Main St.
Intima Gallery is currently seeking submissions for the upcoming Small Works show to begin November 1, with 99 works on display—each selling for $99. More information on how to submit works and gallery hours can be found at www.IntimaGallery.com.
Vibrant abstracted landscapes
The Imogen Holloway Gallery on Partition Street is exhibiting “From the Side of the Mountain,” small abstracted landscapes of the Catskills by Gene Benson painted in oil on canvas or board in rich vibrant colors—deep indigo blues, cool greens and bright autumn golds, oranges and reds. The works are small but visually powerful, packing a lot of energy into their relatively small sizes. And while the paintings here do show a debt to both the Catskills and landscape painting in general, they’re also uniquely the vision of the artist, who abstracts the forms of nature in a playful way in which the forms become almost figural, as if the trees and shrubs were people gathered together for some joyous event about to happen. It’s a striking first solo exhibition for the Boiceville-based artist. The show continues at IHGallery, 81 Partition St. through Sunday, Dec. 1. For more information or to view the images in the exhibition catalog put together by the artist, visit www.ihgallery.com.