The sentiment seems to be universal this year: After the harsh winter we’ve endured, it’s time now to get out and go places again. And what better way to shake the monochromatic tones of winter out of our psyches than to go view some colorful art?
Two new art exhibits opened this week in the village. The Saugerties Public Library is showing Beth Humphrey’s “Imaginary Botany,” delicate watercolor paintings suggestive of botanical forms. The Imogen Holloway Gallery on Partition St. is exhibiting a dual show of vividly energetic mixed media work by artists Mandolyn Wilson Rosen and Pier Wright.
The whimsical watercolors by Saugerties-based Beth Humphrey on exhibit in “Imaginary Botany” have the spontaneity of ink blots while suggesting the controlled qualities of a botanical illustration. While the works carry titles that relate to a nature-based inspiration (“Spring,” “Roots,” “Gather” or “Rain,”) they depict a somewhat abstracted view of imagined forms rendered in a candy-box palette on notebook paper or watercolor paper. In the “Seeds” series, the roots of a plant resemble a head of hydrangea blossoms growing upside-down.
Humphrey has this to say about her process: “I wanted to paint or collage each idea alone, thinking about details and parts of plants, roots, seeds and the invisible exchange of energy. Taking each piece as if it has been placed on a table for examination, or under a microscope, focusing my attention on configuration. The images are details, separated and screened away from the whole. I work in watercolor because it lends itself to unfolding, evaporation, leaching and absorption.”
Humphrey has been the education curator at the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum in Woodstock since 2007, coordinating educational outreach into three area school districts, providing programming for home-schooled students and partnering with Ulster BOCES on teacher development countywide. She is also founder and president of Saugerties Art Lab, which provides free and low-cost arts programs for area youth. Humphrey is an exhibiting artist and received her BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The gallery space at the Saugerties Public Library is divided between the walls downstairs and those flanking the elevator upstairs. The library changes exhibits every three months; beginning in January of 2015, that will be reduced to two months to allow for more exhibits.
The library will dedicate and officially re-name its gallery in honor of the late Steve Crohn on Sunday, April 27 from 1-3 p.m. Crohn initiated the Arts & Exhibits Committee as a member of the Library Board and founded the gallery to support exhibition space for local artists. “Imaginary Botany” remains on view through the end of June at the Saugerties Public Library at 91 Washington Ave. For more information, visit www.bethhumphreyart.com or www.saugertiespubliclibrary.org.
New works at IH Gallery
The Imogen Holloway Gallery at 81 Partition St. is exhibiting a dual show of dynamic mixed media works by Northport, Michigan-based Pier Wright and Saugerties’ Mandolyn Wilson Rosen. As with prior shows at IHGallery, the artists are paired in an exhibit in small part because one is local and the other is from a distance away (creating a dialogue between our area and others), but in larger part because gallery owner Diane Dwyer’s curatorial eye finds a visual connection between the two artists in which the viewing experience of each is enhanced by its juxtaposition with the other.
The works on exhibit by Wright are color-packed with strong gestural effect. The artist used acrylic paint on Duralar (Mylar’s sturdier cousin, as Dwyer explains) then cut his expressive marks out and reassembled them in layers supported by a Masonite panel cut to the outer (irregular) borders of the work. Textural effects come into play when the artist assembles some of the Duralar pieces in reverse so that the brushstrokes disappear.
Wright runs his own gallery in the Saginaw, Michigan area during the summer months where he represents a number of contemporary artists. The winter is for his own work. Regular visitors to IHGallery may remember Wright’s work included in last year’s “What I Like About You” exhibit when the space hosted a group show of works in collaboration with a Brooklyn-based gallery. Wright has an extensive exhibition history and his work is in many prominent collections.
Mandolyn Wilson Rosen also frequently exhibits and has a BFA from Cornell University and an MFA from Bard College. The works she contributed to the exhibit in Saugerties combine collage with acrylic paint on canvas or wood panel.
In an interview last year, the artist spoke about working with the idea of “haptic space” (relating to the sense of touch). “It can make the work suddenly jump into the room and pick up on the stuff around it,” she said. In “Smells Like Rain,” the viewer sees a striped collaged form, suggestive of a shirt blowing on a clothesline, which somehow seems to evoke that feeling of a summer day when impending rain is in the air. Eyes are another motif that Rosen uses, she says, to make the patterned surface feel “inhabited.” In “The Mantle of Insomnia,” several collaged eyes gaze back at the viewer in a slightly surrealistic image.
Gallery-goers can hear Rosen speak for herself about her work at IHGallery on Friday, April 18 at 7 p.m. in an artist talk. The event includes an informal “bring-what-you-wish” potluck dinner.
Next month IHGallery will celebrate its second anniversary with “Top Drawer,” an exhibit of work from the gallery’s flat files. Visitors to the space can always find drawers full of unframed works on paper to peruse (an affordable way to buy art, in fact) but this time around, the works will come out to play on the walls, pinned up in profusion. An artists’ reception will be held on Friday, May 2 from 6-9 p.m.
The current show remains on view through Sunday, April 27. Imogen Holloway Gallery is located at 81 Partition St. in the village. Gallery hours are Thursdays 3-8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, visit www.ihgallery.com.