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Best of 2002
Critic: David Brickman

As I began covering art for Metroland only in late August, I cannot claim to have seen, much less written about, all the best art exhibitions held in our region in the past year. However, I got out a good bit and saw plenty of great (and not-so-great) stuff. Here’s what knocked my socks off and remained memorable:

1. From Pop to Now: Selections from the Sonnabend Collection
The Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery

Where else last year could you go to see Warhol, Rauschenberg, Dine, Johns . . . and so many more huge names—without leaving the Capital Region? I went expecting not to be impressed, but ended up babbling happily. Undeniable greatness throughout.

2. American Impressionists Abroad and at Home: Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York State Museum

It’s tough to compete with resources like this—but so what? The State Museum deserves kudos for bringing in these lovely treats from the Big Apple year after year—and for offering free admission, to boot.

3. Private Eye I and II
Albany International Airport Gallery

A brilliant concept, expertly executed: These shows displayed quirky personal collections, from miniature buildings to cow anchors, antique dartboards to ceramic donkey carts, fake fireplace logs to paint-by-number artworks. The result was a hoot, and far better than most shows of art by actual artists.

4. Susanna Coffey—Self-Portraits
The College of Saint Rose Art Gallery

A strong, tight, small collection of painterly paintings by a mid-career established artist never before seen in this area. A perfect example of the kind of show that a little college gallery can bless us with once in a while.

5. Robert Blood Retrospective
Schenectady Museum

An impressive display of excellence and commitment by an artist in his twilight years, looking back on a lifetime of achievement and expression in three dimensions. Rare instance of a major solo exhibition mounted both indoors and outdoors.

6. Visualizing the Blues: Images of the American South, 1862-1999
The Hyde Collection

This collection of historical and contemporary photographs traveled from Memphis (hence the theme) and was well worth the trip. Many stellar names, many dazzling prints, and an intriguing history lesson as well.

7. 66th Annual Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region
Albany Institute of History & Art

OK, there were some serious problems with the installation, but this was a juicy cross-section of regional artists, some of them truly great, back for its first time in the gorgeously renovated institute. A nice homecoming.

8. 24th Annual Photography Regional (salon version)
Fulton Street Gallery

Excessive and inclusive, this floor-to- ceiling roundup had something from everybody, for everybody. A return to the show’s grassroots that would have made late founder Les Urbach very happy.

9. Orchestrated Objects: Photographs by Jed Devine and Abelardo Morell
Mandeville Gallery, Union College

Transcendentally beautiful silver prints by Morell and rich, subtle platinum prints by Devine, both of whom are well recognized nationally and internationally, made this the best small show of photography I saw in 2002.

10. Factory Direct 1 and 2
The Arts Center of the Capital Region

A show too big to be contained in one exhibition (so it became two), Factory Direct was the result of a concept perhaps too big to be fully expressed in the artwork. But the idea—to match artists with industries and just let ’em rip—was enough. Nice catalogue, too.


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