Meeting The Makers

Carl Chiarenza reads
  a letter at Rochester Contemporary Art Center

Makers & Mentors opened this week and continues thru to March 16th at RoCo, 137 East Ave.
The featured artists are: Carl Chiarenza, Lisa Bradley, Bruno Chalifour, and David Haas.

I have been teaching for over 25 years, so I have a great respect for those who can get up in a crowded room and speak clearly about their art.  It is not always easy to find the right words to describe your experience.  While you are doing your art, are you thinking about what to say about your creative process, or is it a feeling that drives right through you as you work?  At RoCo this past Saturday, the artists in this most recent iteration of “Makers & Mentors” entertain the crowd but take a personal approach to explaining what it is that they do and why.

Carl Chiarenza said it is all about play, and take that – from an artist who has been so successful at it for over fifty years.  His recent shows at Spectrum Gallery and Axom Gallery in Rochester presented large scale photographic prints, while the aggregation of smaller works at RoCo are all intimate collages ( made up mostly from torn photographic prints in interesting juxtapositions ).  In this grouping of collages – each named after musicians and composers – I could see some relationships developing between Carl’s art and music, although this really creates a comparison between two different forms of abstraction.

There is a video interview with Carl that is part of the show ( in the round room ), so on Saturday Carl read from a letter written by his wife and collaborator – and this provided some perspective on the creative stance that he takes.  Carl also read a statement from art critic Jerry Saltz and then a quote from Hans Hofmann, a 20th century abstractionist, which said in part that he ( Hofmann ) did not want to know what he was doing ( while painting ).  His transformation of materials into a painting is generated by feeling rather than a logical representation of known facts.

Lisa Bradley speaks about her art at RoCo

Lisa Bradley is an artist – a painter whom Carl Chiarenza has championed and it is really interesting to see the work of Lisa, Carl, Bruno and David in comparison to one another.  There are threads of relationships and some similarities that can be drawn from the experience of seeing all of this art together.  Abstraction may be going through a transition, and in Lisa Bradley’s comments to the audience she kept coming back to her spiritual quest which drives her in part to paint.  As a maker it is hard to express the profound feelings when one is “in the zone”.  Making art is a commitment – time slows down – and letting go of pre-conceptions the artist is suspended in their own field of action.
Bruno Chalifour introduces his photography at RoCo

Bruno Chalifour seems to be in control of what he has accomplished and like an editor, everything in the images he presents is there for a reason.  Bruno likes to say that there are no accidents in this art, he traces his steps very carefully, but likes to keep on the move.  His favorite hunting ground for images at the moment is in Mendon Ponds Park.  Each sequence of three images in his section of the show are beautifully printed, and the textures are engaging and reward quiet contemplation.
David W. Haas 
at RoCo

David Haas admitted to wanting the freedom to not be so literal – and so some of his prints on view are actually made from layers of negatives skillfully printed in the darkroom.  A bit of a traditionalist, David has worked for the National Park Service, and has been around the country even though he says that some of his favorite images in this show are right in his own backyard.  He has printed for other photographers and he is a thoroughly talented professional.  What is photography – but drawing with light – that is the quote that David left the audience with, and it is so apt, yet so open ended.
This month in the Lab Space at RoCo, you can find the colorful abstractions of Joseph Tarantelli, a recent graduate of R.I.T. from their Masters program.  His suite of hand-pulled prints is titled “Scraped, Scratched, and Splattered which sounds like one recipe for abstract expressionist art which is what you will find in this enticing exhibition.

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