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Splendid subtlety: Helen Suter’s Music to my Ears.

Minimalist Marvel
By David Brickman

John Greene: Sculpture
Helen Suter: Works on Paper
A.D.D. Gallery, through May 16

Spring has sprung, and the valley will soon fill with weekenders and summer people. It’s a good time to beat the crowd and take a drive to Hudson, where a number of art venues await, from the rootsy ’60s-flavored Time & Space Limited to the slickly successful Carrie Haddad Gallery. Perhaps unjustly overlooked among them is little A.D.D. Gallery, surely the region’s only private art space devoted to the minimalist, industrial aesthetic.

Though the name may bring kids on Ritalin to mind, it actually stands for Art Design Digression Ltd.; it is the personal project, since 1998, of interior designer-artist-curator Jeff Snider, a New York City native, weekender since 1980 and full-time resident of Hudson since 1994. Snider is committed to a certain kind of art at a very high level of quality, and the current show of combines by Helen Suter and painted sculptures by John Greene provides an excellent window into that quirky world.

The space itself is always part of the show—formerly a restaurant, it has been stripped of all but the most essential elements and recast as a purely functional display space, small but uncluttered, brightly lit but not glaring, hard-surfaced but somehow warm. The movable wall suspended from steel I-beams, bare light fixtures mounted to conduit and angle iron and expertly poured concrete floor are all calculated to create an atmosphere ideal for showing and enjoying the art—and, like the machinery of industry that inspired the style, it works.

Greene has rather few pieces in this exhibition, but they are nicely showcased. There are several small, square, deep paintings on canvas that emphasize his strict focus on pure paint and reduced color, as well as three elegant wall-hung sculptures consisting of geometric found objects that have been altered. An additional painted wooden sculpture sits on a tabletop; it is gestural but tightly geometric, spare, painted red—like a delicate three-dimensional Malevich.

Greene’s other sculptures (all untitled) have wit and warmth—characteristics that Suter’s work positively effuses. Her pieces, all wall-hung and mostly framed, are lyrical combinations of found objects and simple materials, carefully organized and presented in a lightly ponderous manner. If that sounds self-contradictory, so is the work—in a very successful way.

Augmented by particularly thoughtful and evocative titles—Landscape (think), Canned Future and Don’t Tailgate (flash) are a few good examples—Suter’s witty, understated pieces invite interpretation and reaction. They are not merely reductive like a lot of minimalist art seems to be. A Swiss native now living in Germantown, Suter has carried with her a European tradition of concerned cynicism that is in fact very pleasantly engaging (think, for instance, of her countrymen Jean Arp and Paul Klee).

A number of the framed works on paper are presented as apparent series in varying sizes; they build one upon the other to create a mood. Additionally, there are several pieces hung directly on the walls, often consisting of separate elements that activate the white space between and around them. Two favorites of mine are hung together—both Blitz-pillow (talk) and Music to my Ears make the humblest of materials speak most eloquently. Simply put, Suter is a marvel.

A.D.D. Gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 and by appointment. Call 822-9763 for more information.

All wrapped up: Boo Boo by Shannon Phinney.

Traditional to Digital

26th Annual Photo Regional Exhibit
Fulton Street Gallery, through May 15

Since the invention of photography not quite 200 years ago, the evolution of technology and the nature of artistic curiosity have greatly expanded its use: From strictly recording events and communicating information, it has evolved to include the more complex roles of telling stories, conveying meaning, changing perceptions, and creating realities. Each spring, our local galleries take turns presenting the annual Photography Regional Exhibit in honor of this evolution.

The Photo Regional was created 26 years ago, in reaction to the exclusion of photographic art from the Mohawk Hudson Regional Exhibit. This exhibit is a tradition born of the insistence of photographic artists on having a voice, and on being taken seriously as a creative force in their community. Of course, the Regional has long since come to accept photography as fine art, but the Photo Regional remains the preeminent showcase for regional contemporary photography.

Hosted this year by the Fulton Street Gallery in Troy, organized by Susan Myers, and juried by (photographer, Yale graduate and Bard professor) Tanya Marcuse, this show has more points of interest than I can address in this limited space. It’s worth a look.

The 71 pieces (by 44 artists) hanging in the Fulton Street Gallery represent a fairly broad range of styles, modes and concepts—without much danger of falling over the cutting edge. (Every piece is a two-dimensional wall-hanging pictorial image.) There are a surprising number of traditional, chemically processed prints, including silver gelatin, cyanotype and liquid light to balance the less surprising plethora of digital images. The work ranges from crisp and contemporary to dreamy and nostalgic, from choreographed to serendipitous, from austere to effusive.

The top prizes, not surprisingly, go to some of the area’s most noted photographers. Dedee’s View, Coinand France by David Brickman won first place. The color image shows a view out an open window, of a French vista, its lush vegetation and moody sky both anchored and juxtaposed by the angular frame of the window.

Mark McCarty was the second-place winner, with his Jean, a poignant black-and-white portrait of a woman of advanced age. Her eyes are closed as she holds her face in her brittle, aged hands in an intense moment of reverie.

The third prize goes to Jeri Eisenberg for her dreamy, (very) softly focused, high-contrast black-and-white image of lakeside trees. Lake Edge evokes a feeling of being between states of consciousness, in a realm of fantasy or memory.

As it happens, all the prize-winning photographs, and an honorable mention or two, are within 15 feet of the front door. Interestingly, the prizes were awarded (by the juror) after the exhibit was hung (by the curator.) Is this coincidence, or subtle curatorial influence?

It is clear that a good deal of attention went into the presentation of this exhibit, from the clever, spacious groupings, to the PowerPoint presentation of the “salon.” It is a thoughtful, cogent and well-paced exhibition—an honor to the show’s history, and a welcome upswing for a community gallery run largely by artist volunteers.

—Pam Barrett-Fender

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