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Viewpoints Exhibit: Review, LARAC’s Lapham Gallery

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Viewpoints, at LARACs Lapham GalleryViewpoints, the current exhibit at the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council’s (LARAC) Lapham Gallery runs through September 18th and showcases the artwork of five regional artists, whose work reflects the diverse interpretations, or “viewpoints,” of the artists’ world. The artwork and mediums on display here are as wide-ranging as the points of view they expose—included are works of photography (John Kudukey), mixed-media (Judith Plotner), landscape paintings (Robert Hacunda), ceramics (Dolores Thomson) and metal and glass jewelry (Anne Havel). Within this diversity is contained a strong common thread, with each piece revolving around or taking from nature, and exposing the artists’ personal connections with life and earth; in many of these works, in particular those of Kudukey and Hacunda, the visceral connection between artist and subject matter is so acute and intimate that viewing their work truly feels as though one’s experiencing it through the eyes of the artist themselves. Though some are more tangible in their interpretation of the word “viewpoint,” each artist brings a unique and welcome addition to the exhibit and LARAC as well deserves credit for assembling such a vast and diverse show.

The Battenkill River is the subject of John Kudukey’s stunning black and white photography. By focusing his attention on the ever-changing elements of nature juxtaposed with its more immutable forces, ie water against rock or mountains, Kudukey exposes, not only the inner workings of nature, but the inner workings of all life. His scenes are picturesque yet clandestine glances—supple, tranquil and meditative—a yin and yang of nature and life; here are simple yet powerful scenes of water flowing against rocks, butting against mountains, rippling against the tide, and rain falling, brief and intermittent. The beauty of Kudukey’s photographs is contained within their intimacy and in the minutiae of each moment he captures, which through their glimpses depict nature’s magical attributes. The photographs Summer Rain, Poplar Branch and Eagleville, NY deserve special mention, with their vivid focus on the river’s ever-changing themes.

Judith Plotner’s fiber collages and large-scale textiles make superb use of the mixed-media form. Plotner’s works are the most abstract of those on display here, using various pieces of dyed fabric, stitched thread, and with them, combining text and painted forms, to arrive at her finished canvas. Her large pieces, all of which are art quilts, range in subject matter from the beauty of her natural surroundings to the social issues of our time—each containing bold, vivid color schemes and patterns. Diary of a Sunset, one of the most stunning pieces here, depicts a sunset after twilight has set in. An almost “confusion” of colors spurns through the bottom portion of the quilt, incorporating many typical hues of a sunset—towering above it is the dark and haunted twilight. In Requiem for 9/11, a piece that focuses on the tragic event of 9/11, Plotner uses a combination of vibrant and stark colors—reds, blacks, smoky greys and whites—along with bold slashes of fabric and truncated words and phrases. Red is the dominant color here, and long thin strips of fabric with bold stitching are used to show the two towers as almost skeletal frames. In the Goddess Myth, another of her social issue pieces, Plotner confronts the stereotype and objectivity of women. A black and white background scribbled over what appears to be shadowy figures of women provides the main landscape, on which the words “Goddess” and “Slut” are crossed out; at the bottom of the piece is a window-like opening, from which two figures of women can be seen; from here, the word “Woman” rises untouched.

Viewpoints, at LARAC’s Lapham GalleryRobert Hacunda’s landscape and abstract paintings focus on various aspects of nature and season. Hacunda uses harsh and coarse brush strokes to depict his chosen settings, which range from fields of flowers to winter woods to lakeside views. Like Kudukey, Hacunda’s paintings contain within them an intimacy, a private exchange between artist and subject, and a feeling of peace and utter stillness, which manifests itself within the viewer. Hacunda’s winter scenes, particularly Mt. Zion Winter View, are especially engaging. Upon first glance, the painting is a stark, bleak, isolated yet intriguing portrait of a winter landscape. A vast sky fills the canvas, exposing the viewer to the perspective of a mountain top view, peering down on an isolated village. The painting reminds one of the coziness of winter, as well as the vast expanse and omnipresence of nature.

Drawing from Native American and Japanese designs that share a spiritual connection to the earth, Dolores Thompson uses multiple glazes and drips to give her ceramics a fluid sense of oceanic movement. Rumba, a piece of Raku-fired stoneware gracefully and poetically resembles the form of a female dancer and is complimented by its use of a blue and copper glaze. Orion, made from Sagger-fired porcelain, features a magnificent use of black and white glaze, incorporating delicate, yet vibrant splotches of black, white, pink and blue, reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s paintings. Thompson’s use of glazes and dips also bring to mind the cinematic style of experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, who was known for scratching his negatives and then painting over them with various color combinations.

Enamellist and metalsmith Anne Havel adds another unique dimension to the exhibit with her jewelry. By giving her pieces names like Lopsided Tears Ring, and incorporating purposeful, yet delicate imperfections, Havel illustrates her views on the imperfections of nature and life. Her jewelry, which is stunningly and expertly crafted from a variety of materials, including borosilicate glass, sterling, fine silver, gold, copper and others, plays with various forms, colors and geometric shapes, infusing within them feelings of movement, time and space. On display are a variety of pieces including bracelets, rings, earrings, pendants and cuff links.

LARAC’s exhibition runs through September 18th, and was made possible in part by funding from the New York State Council on the Arts. LARAC’s Lapham Gallery is located at 7 Lapham Place in Glens Falls, and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am-3pm. The gallery is closed on Sundays and Mondays. For more information, call 518-798-1144 or visit www.larac.org

–Monica Sirignano and Dave Bower are Co-Publishers of The Free George.

Short URL: http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/?p=3701

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