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Review of Saratoga Arts’ Current Exhibit, The Visual Dynamic

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The Visual Dynamic at Saratoga Arts, Review

Jason Paradis, The Visual Dynamic exhibit, Saratoga ArtsThe Visual Dynamic, featuring work from artists Jennifer Hunold and Jason Paradis, is open from April 2 to May 28, 2011 at the Arts Center Gallery in Saratoga Springs. Although the work of each of the artists is very different, there are similarities, both at first glance in general appearance and after contemplating their thematic expressions. The exhibit as a whole is a colorful exploration of the relationships between past, present, and future, playing with barriers through the reinvention of different mediums and the layering of ideas.

Walking through the front door off of Broadway brings you into the sparse white gallery with a visitor’s desk straight ahead. In an alcove to the left is the work of Jason Paradis. Paradis received his MFA from Stony Brook University and currently lives in the New York City area where he is an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University and St. Joseph’s College. His work featured in The Visual Dynamic is a unique series of bright colors, geometric shapes juxtaposed against amoebic-like free-forms, and mixed mediums. One piece is a painted wooden board with a hanging branch and a sparkly ribbon extending from its middle. Another shows a man’s torso and legs sliced apart by sunbursts and color blocks. But the main attraction on the Paradis half of the exhibit is a set of three paintings on three walls with dozens of monochromatic strings of yarn extending to one pile of rocks in the middle.

The mixture of natural elements and bright, shiny man-made materials nods to the tension between the world we live in and the way we perceive it, and to the Northern Canadian wilderness that inspired the work. A common thread in all of Paradis’ pieces here is the sense that they are growing toward a point but that all we can see is the journey. The reaching threads, the extending branch, all seems to be headed somewhere. Paradis stated that he was exploring “a sense of contemplation or of reverie that speculates on fundamental mysteries,” trying to represent “a moment where the past, present and future collide.”

Jennifer Hunold, The Visual Dynamic exhibit, Saratoga ArtsOn the other side of the gallery is the work of Jennifer Hunold. Hunold received her MFA in Studio Art from the University at Albany and still lives and works in the area. If there was to be a superficial common thread between the two artists, it would be thread. Hunold’s pieces in The Visual Dynamic are almost entirely needlepoint. Most are part of a project called Be Nice (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), which is simultaneously sincere and pedantic. One piece of needlepoint lays out the rules of courtesy regarding farting and pooping. Another outlines how to behave while grocery shopping, complete with intricate produce and a shopping cart in thread. Hunold says she gets different reactions to this part of her work, from defensiveness to receptiveness. In many cases, people find the sincerity subversive.

The exhibit also features needlepoint floor plans and aerial views alongside mesmerizing abstract needlepoint forms. While Paradis examined the boundaries between the past, present, and future, Hunold is melding past with present to create something innovative and new. She essentially reinvents the medium of embroidery, bringing it through the lens of painting to examine the boundaries between mediums. The technological base of a subject such as architecture is reexamined by using the old-fashioned and necessarily slow art of needlepoint. In one piece Hunold takes it even further, rendering a floor plan “in the language of embroidery with colored pencil,” so essentially reinventing drawing within the boundaries of needlepoint.

Together, Paradis’ and Hunold’s work examines the perceived boundaries between the unbroken thread of existence by breaking them apart and reinventing them. You can see their work until May 28 at the Saratoga Arts Center Gallery. For more info on the exhibit, visit www.saratoga-arts.org. For info on the featured artists, visit www.jenniferhunold.com and www.jasonparadisart.com.

–Jessica Nicosia is an Assistant Editor for The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

 

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