To Spring Ahead

art critic for
The Nation,  Barry Schwabsky
visiting Rochester Institute of Technology
and the Bevier Gallery

Along with the aroma of sweet magnolias blooming in my front yard, the relative freedom of Spring has burst upon us.  It has been my plan to host Barry Schwabsky, the art critic for The Nation as my guest speaker and I am grateful that he has taken this opportunity to present a performance concerning contemporary drawing for one evening at The Memorial Art Gallery.  The specific drawings come from a Chicago collector Irving Stenn and you can look at this link for more detail:

After I introduced Barry to the audience,  we heard an extended philosophical prose poem while flashing images of contemporary drawings were seen on a large screen behind the speaker.  Barry explained at the start that he had thought about researching artists to find their images and apt quotes but then determined that the best way to proceed would be to write his own statements and submit them as “anonymous quotes”.  So from the stage he commenced to intone 116 of them, and with the projected drawings it was like a mental concert.  Trying to get to the heart of what the act of drawing is like – so difficult, yet so much fun!

Earlier in the day at R.I.T., Barry and I dialog on how to prepare for a life as an art critic and what the publishing field is like for this career path!  We only scratched the surface..  Upstairs in the Bevier Gallery some R.I.T. graduate students were having their Thesis exhibitions.  An Asian student, Wen-Hua Chen has painted a floral motif on a baby grand piano, surrounding her were rows of watercolors and prints as she practiced her Bach for opening night. Barry and I check out Marchelo Vera’s prints and video installation talking about the tech revolution and how it effects the up-and-coming artist.

Wen-Hua Chen at the piano

At the Bevier Gallery you can find Marchelo Vera’s prints which were made in collaboration with a composer,  and the prints are used as a kind of score to be translated into audible tones.  On a monitor a visitor can interact with an ongoing animation of a spinning globe wrapped with one of the print images (all very high tech) and the result is an engaging linear networking – all very black and white.
Across town, there is another exhibition that has a remarkable similarity – prints by Kristine Bouyoucos in the Project Room of the Rochester Contemporary Art Center.  Her prints in color are indebted to classical music composition and the images include parts of musical scores in tribute to the composers.

WORK IT is the show that addresses labor and employment issues for the public and artists alike now at The Rochester Contemporary Art Center.  A wall of photos by artist Clark Conde represents a kind of field guide to the working world in and around Rochester.  One photo is presented for each day of the year, along with a little story about the featured workers and what they do.  At this show there are also 3d silk screened objects that parody children’s consumer products by Jonathan Stewart, some fairly straight photo realist paintings of abandoned factory sites by Morgan Craig, and map-like quilts made by Kathryn Clark that show neighborhoods in red.  Zones in these quilts correspond to foreclosed properties that draw our attention to a financial disaster that hits so many so hard.

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