Modern trends, historical undercurrents at the Dorsky Museum in New Paltz

(Left to right): Carl Walters, Whale, 1927, glazed ceramic, private collection, courtesy of Conner-Rosenkranz, NY (photo Mark Ostrander); Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Jokes on You (detail), 2016, acrylic polymer and inkjet prints on acetate on plexiglas, and hardware; courtesy of the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery (photo by JSP Photography).

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY-New Paltz will host a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 4 to unveil four intriguing new shows.

The Morgan Anderson Gallery will house “Carl Walters and Woodstock Ceramic Arts,” curated by Tom Wolf. This retrospective exhibition surveys the 40-plus-year career of Carl Walters (1883-1955), a pioneer of modern ceramic art in America, presenting prime examples of his witty and original three-dimensional figures as well as his elegant plates and bowls. The first major exhibition of Walters’ work since the 1950s, this show situates him in the historical context of Woodstock ceramic arts, spanning the Byrdcliffe colony in the early 20th century and the work of Woodstock modernist artists in the 1920s and ’30s.

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The Sara Bedrick Gallery will showcase the recent output of an emerging contemporary artist, Brooklyn-based Sara Greenberger Rafferty. “Gloves Off,” curated by Andrew Ingall. Over the past decade, Greenberger Rafferty has become increasingly well-known for unsettling mixed-media works that contend with topics like domesticity, the body, consumer culture, fashion and violence. The boxing term “gloves off” here describes the many subtle aggressions, all-too-common in contemporary American culture, which Rafferty’s work lays bare. On Saturday, April 1 at 2 p.m., Greenberger Rafferty and Ingall will lead a gallery talk at the Dorsky.

Another exhibition, set up in the Howard Greenberg Family Gallery, is titled “Text/ures of Iraq: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Oded Halahmy.” Curated by Murtaza Vali, it’s a group exhibition featuring nine contemporary Iraqi artists, including Halahmy himself, a Jewish sculptor born in Baghdad and now based in New York. Organized around the notions of text and texture, the varied works reference modern Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy; some evoke the art of hurufiyah, using the swoops and curves of the Arabic alphabet as painterly gestures. These works demonstrate the importance of the literary – of letters, words, books and language – in Iraqi society, culture and visual arts of the past and the present day.

In the Alice and Horace Chandler and North Galleries is a group show, “Intimately Unfamiliar: New Work by SUNY-New Paltz Art Faculty.” This exhibition of new work by more than 20 full-time art faculty presents a rare confluence of diverse artistic media, technologies and subject matters. United by their expression of a deep and abiding tension among recognizable objects, situations, places and spaces of everyday life, these works gesture toward the uncanny moments when we comprehend how seemingly ordinary aspects of modern being are endlessly complicated, often deceptive and ultimately unknowable.

Participating artists include Thomas Albrecht, Robin Arnold, Lynn Batchelder, Rimer Cardillo, Amy Cheng, Bryan Czibesz, Francois Deschamps, James Fossett, Andrea Frank, Matthew Friday, Michael Gayk, Kathy Goodell, Joshua Korenblat, Rena Leinberger, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Itty Neuhaus, Jill Parisi, Emily Puthoff, Nadia Sablin, Thomas Sarrantonio, Anat Shiftan, Suzanne Stokes and Dimitry Tetin. Curated by Michael Asbill, it will run until April 9.

Thomas Albrecht, associate professor and assistant dean of Fine & Performing Arts, will present performance art in the gallery from 12 noon to 2 p.m. on February 11, 18 and 25, March 4, 11, 18 and 25 and April 1. Guest curator Michael Asbill will give a Gallery Talk on Saturday, February 18 at 2 p.m.

The Dorsky Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, excepting holidays and college intersessions. Admission is by a suggested donation of $5. For more information about the spring exhibitions, visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum/programs/public_programs.html.

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