found it: Dennis Herbert’s Untitled #8.
By David Brickman
A Fragile Peace
Fulton Street Gallery,
through April 5
Sanctuary: The Art of the Dreamscape
The Chapel + Cultural Center,
through May 1
In these days of post-specialization, musicians can be curators,
critics display their art, and art galleries host the work
of activists. All this mixing of roles can challenge those
of us who like neatly defined boundaries with our entertainment
dollar, but for the rest of us, it’s refreshing to go out
and be surprised.
In Loop Sanctuary: The Art of the Dreamscape at the
Chapel + Cultural Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
ambient music composer Sara Ayers has selected an exhibition
as eclectic as the curator’s résumé, featuring four Capital
Region artists who also teach, write and make music.
G.C. Haymes, Dennis Herbert, Carol Luce and Marie Triller
employ a variety of media to credibly fulfill some of the
expectations elicited by the show’s title, which was inspired
by Ayers’ musical ideas, then led to the creation of the exhibition
to accompany an upcoming concert in the same venue.
Of the four, Luce is probably the best known and, in my opinion,
the most accomplished. A painter who recently was awarded
tenure at Siena College, Luce manipulates patterns and colors
like a conductor controls an orchestra—dashingly, defiantly,
brilliantly. Her painterly meditations can bristle with energy
or soothe the weary spirit, depending on palette, size and
Two smallish Luce pieces titled Veiled Bower and Bringing
Together make a strong pair as they form a duet of counterpoint
between earthy sunset colors and tart lime green. One group
of her more ambitious pieces is presented as a trio. Among
the three, Lighten Up succeeds by balancing swaths
of black-and-white collaged prints with spring-themed shades
of yellow, pink and baby blue. In this and all of Luce’s paintings,
it is sometimes difficult to tell where the printed patterns
end and the paint begins—a fun eye-teaser.
Haymes and Her -bert are both musicians, and both employ assemblage
to create their surrealist images. Herbert can be amusing
and irreverent, as in a deep-boxed diorama featuring a velvet
Elvis, some neon and a couple of adoring terracotta supplicants.
He also freely mixes sanctity and sin, as in a small box construction
juxtaposing crucifixes and dice (acceptable in this liberal
Among Herbert’s nine pieces (all untitled), four are lit from
within, including one that requires the viewer to peer through
a lens at a scene that resembles a speakeasy. As with his
other conglomerations, Herbert asks the viewer to take the
time to look closely, and rewards that effort with hidden
Haymes presents a couple of similarly religious-themed and
witty assemblages, as well as nine small newsprint-on-black-paper
collages from the ’90s. Though they resemble ransom notes,
each is a haiku, and appropriately Zen-like. For example:
WALTZING through THE HUMAN hills
Haymes has framed these poems with newsprint-covered mats,
each of which bears a swatch of an article carrying his byline
by way of a signature. These pieces perhaps represent a transitional
period for the writer-turned-artist.
His later, three-dimensional works are bolder, more engaging.
Better yet, one of them—a hovering yet subtly dangerous-looking
angel—provides an Ayers-penned ambient soundtrack that goes
perfectly with the show and the space.
Triller’s contribution to the show consists of five digitally
printed photographs taken during a summer stint on a working
ranch in Laramie, Wyo. Using soft focus, color shifts and
other tricks of the trade, Triller creates a photo essay more
dreamy than real in which horses play a key role.
The best of the group exploits the potential of roll-fed digital
printers by adopting a 12-inch by 7-foot format, laminated
and held to the wall with grommets. The image is of a ghostly
line of dark horses, actually shadows cast on the dusty-bushy
side of an arroyo. Another Triller photo, of a reversed cutout
sign embellished with bucking broncs that marks the entrance
to the Albany County Fairgrounds makes local viewers do a
double take—it’s in Wyoming, not New York.
Another Troy show featuring photographs drawn from a traveling
adventure is on view at Fulton Street Gallery as part of their
“Blink” (as in “if you blink, you might miss it”) series of
short-duration exhibitions. But Connie Frisbee Houde’s Afghanistan:
A Fragile Peace is hardly meant as a tourist’s view; rather,
she aims to get beyond personal impressions to capture the
heart and soul of Afghanistan and its people in her pictures.
a great extent, this selection of 22 photos and a collage
succeeds in that goal. Houde is adept at portraiture and her
close-ups of bearded men, beggars and street kids are sensitive
and affecting. She also presents a number of landscapes, in
which the fragility of human structures and machines is dominated
by a majestic and brutal-looking mountain range.
One of the better examples shows a graveyard on the outskirts
of Kabul. In the photo, the barely adequate stones of the
graves reflect a similar pathetic quality to the low buildings
of the city beyond. One is reminded of the painful legacy
of recent wars that have left scarcely one stone on top of
another in this unfortunate country.
Perhaps the best picture in the group, however, could almost
have been taken anywhere, and this is its strength: A man
rides a bicycle through a park; snow-covered trees in the
background frame the sunny scene. The message seems to be
that, despite the worst having happened here again and again,
life goes on—the human spirit has survived.
In conjunction with the Loop Sanctuary exhibition,
Ambient Night at the Chapel, featuring live music by
Sara Ayers, Dreamstate and Mindspawn and video by Twisted
Pair, is scheduled for Friday, April 25, at 7:30 PM at the
Chapel + Cultural Center. Admission is free.