Jeanne Flanagan and Paul Mauren
Gallery, through Nov. 1
husband-and-wife duo have everything in common and, yet, remain
totally independent as artists. Both work at the College of
Saint Rose, hence are seen there together in faculty shows
on a yearly basis, and both are often included in regional
shows of sculpture, including one now on view on the campus
of Hudson Valley Community College.
Jeanne Flanagan and Paul Mauren do not collaborate, and this
two-person exhibition could as easily be by an unrelated pair
of artists. To be clear, this is a strength. Another great
strength of the work shown here is that it demonstrates the
rare innovation that each artist has accomplished.
you think its no longer possible to create new forms
in art (without being sensationalistic), think again: Both
Flanagan and Mauren have done this, in perfectly unlike ways.
works mainly in large outdoor installations of slate, so some
of her pieces are represented in the gallery by large color
photographs. The prints effectively convey the undulating,
chameleonlike nature of her formshow, from different
points of view, they change tremendously. Poised on grassy
slopes, they are also destined to be transformed by changes
in the weather and seasons.
also shows a great number of small, delicate watercolors,
nearly all of which are in shades of purple, and which appear
to greater and lesser degrees to be studies for her slate
sculptures. Either way, they explore form in an unusual and
satisfying manner that, though hand-done, somehow resembles
scientific computer modeling. The images are abstract but
feel animated, often replicating in a symmetrical arrangement
suggestive of cell division or other organic growth.
Mauren has created a large series of wall relief sculptures
that incorporate extremely modest materials, framed in wood,
which nevertheless transform in appearance as the viewer moves
around and by them. Using layers of yellow nylon mesh and
little lead spinners (intended for fishing), Mauren creates
odd sensations of depth and transparency, and evokes concepts
as diverse as data filing and carpet bombing.
his compositions are mostly based on a strict geometry of
vertical columns in square formation, the free-floating feeling
of the suspended spinners, whether sparse, densely packed,
organized or more dispersed, gives surprising variety to the
pieces. Some are quite small (maybe 7 inches square) while
others are quite a bit larger (about 3 feet), yet all the
pieces have a similar gravity.
Both Mauren and Flanagan seem to be artists of the highest
level of seriousness;
the result is that their obsessions have given us work of
great power and subtlety.
Paintings and Drawings by Stevan Jennis
The Arts Center of the Capital Region, through
Chris DeMarco: Remembrances
The ACCR, through Nov. 2
The ACCR, through Nov. 23
under the overall title Tales, these three shows are otherwise
Paintings and Drawings by Stevan Jennis, a trained artist
is taking on the conventions of untrained (or folk) artists,
and hes doing it in several nearly unconnected ways.
Most prominently displayed are several gridded reconstructions
of found paint-by-number pictures; Jennis has sawed them into
2-inch squares and reassembled unrelated images into larger,
more complicated ones.
this is entertaining, it is by now a somewhat tired variation
on any number of camp conventions and postmodernist concepts.
Curators notes commenting on the meaning of Gainsboroughs
Blue Boy juxtaposed with pink flamingoes and such only serve
to overstate the obvious.
drawings, however, seem more heartfelt. In them he compulsively
renders numbers and circles into large, semichaotic compositions,
in what feels like a desperate struggle to order the universe
of his relentlessly churning mind. The results are definitely
worth a lingering look.
another group of pictures depicts in colorful, magical layers
odd scenarios out of classrooms or laboratories (an electric
eel in a wired tank illuminates a row of light bulbs; a rabbit
is variously experimented upon)or maybe theyre
out of nightmarish dreams.
is left wishing that a fellow as ingenious as Jennis would
find and present a better unity in his work.
DeMarco: Remembrances is a set of 20 color photographs taken
in cemeteries, mostly in the South, where people connected
to the departed have acquired the habit of festooning their
gravesites with all manner of decorations and gewgaws. From
the expected flags and flowers to pinwheels,
holiday-themed displays and garish creations such as a blue-and-white
floral guitar, these mementos express the ongoing relationship
between people living and dead; equally, they have taken on
the presence of a form of folk art.
DeMarcos photographs perfectly capture the tension between
kitsch and reverence that these scenes embody. She is neither
too fawning nor too ironic in her approachwhile clearly
being enamored of what shes finding at these places
of death, she is also something of a sociologist, keeping
a documentarians distance from the subject.
best of the pictures contain both DeMarcos personal
response to the displays and the sentimental-yet-serious nature
of the displays creators. Subtle qualities of light
and seasonal effects (such as snow) are used to fine advantage.
One can look forward to more of the same as DeMarco pursues
this ongoing project.
occupies the main gallery of the Arts Center, as well as some
of the foyer area, but it has just nine pieces by six artists
(five of them sculptors), allowing the viewer plenty of space
in which to contemplate them. All but one of the artists lives
a significant distance away, though the curator, Lucy Bowditch,
is an associate professor at Albanys College of Saint
seems the concept of fantasy in contemporary art is all the
rage these days, as evidenced by the yearlong Fantastic! show
now on view at MASS MoCA and last springs Whitney Museum-sponsored
exhibition at the New York State Museum titled Once Upon a
Time. I went to see Wonderland fully expecting to be bored
by ridiculous offerings.
on the whole, I found the show delightful. Except for the
overly maudlin, loudly weeping installation by Joonhyun Kim,
the work is sophisticated, imaginative andwell, fun.
contraptions dominate, including Randy Polumbos autoerotic
machines, Bill Bergmans exquisitely crafted useless
devices, and Brian McCutcheons irresistible turbocharged
backyard barbecue. A geyser of countless plastic fast-food
giveaway toys organized by Patrick Miceli commands the center
of the room with its rainbow of unfulfillable expectations.
directly connected to the Alice reference of the title is
a video projection by Anita Thacher that plays loosely with
time and space in a white interior corner. At 10 minutes,
it is tolerably paced, unlike much similarly styled work in
has done a good job of assembling a challenging and diverse
set of artists with related concernsbut her writing
is a touch overwrought. An example: Narrative, banished
by Greenbergian modernists and still held at bay by many postminimalists,
is prevalent in the exhibition. This sort of explanation
I could have done without.
of civilization: Thomas Coles The Course of
Empire: The Consummation of Empire at the New York
The Course of Empire: Thomas Cole and the Hudson River
School Landscape Tradition
New York State Museum, through
much has been written over the last 150 years about the Hudson
River School that I see no reason to add to the pile. Suffice
it to say that The Course of Empire: Thomas Cole and the Hudson
River School Landscape Tradition is not to be missed.
around a five-painting allegorical cycle depicting the rise
and fall of a great civilization that Cole painted on commission
from 1833 to 1836, and incorporating outstanding examples
of work by Coles followers and friends (most notably
Asher Durand, Frederick Church, Jasper Cropsey, John Kensett
and Martin Heade), all of it from the collection of the New-York
Historical Society, this exhibition is a rare opportunity
to see all this seminal work without a trip downstate.
to say, Coles allegory of primitivity-become-culture-become-excess-become-ruin
retains its relevance in the 21st century. And the other artists
lovingly detailed, glowing paintings of such sites as Lake
George and the Catskills are as gorgeous and soothing as they
were when they were first made.