Gloria Betlem, pastel
“Canadice Spring” at St. John Fisher College
Like a canary in the proverbial coal mine, Gloria Betlem describes herself being diagnosed in the late 1990’s with acute reactions to pesticides, solvents and other chemicals. This can prove to be difficult for an artist who uses paints and thinners as a painter or printmaker – and so one has to alter their practice and keep in mind the strictures put in place because of health concerns. It is also this sensitivity that makes one more aware of dangers in the environment – and dangers to the environment – and once again if you are an artist – this could become the theme of your artwork.
“The Finger Lakes: Above and Below” is the result – a show of primarily pastel paintings and mixed media that highlights the beauty of the Finger Lakes region, and at the same time their vulnerability in the face of natural gas exploration and exploitation. An interesting tableau – a map really – to the individual lakes as seen from above – is juxtaposed with a view below ground that features the famous shale formations in which natural gas is found – this is all part of a new exhibition that just opened July 10th in the Patricia Ross Art Gallery in the Joseph S. Skalny Welcome Center at St. John Fisher College.
Small and medium size pastel paintings from the past seven years have brought Gloria Betlem, who is a teacher and graduate of R.I.T., some notoriety – especially since people are waking up to the fact that their environment may be changed irrevocably if the petroleum industry gets their wish. Look at this art, and then look around you – this art heightens our awareness of what could be lost, and for that reminder Gloria deserves our thanks.
In another part of town, on West Main Street, in the historic Susan B.Anthony district, my colleague Luvon Sheppard has re-opened the Joy Gallery and I look forward to seeing the shows at this new location.