Saturday, February 24, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
The link to their web page is gone now (mid May), so here is a copy of David Raymond's review in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Black artists connected through the ages
The importance of art is passed along through 'Generations'
(February 19, 2007) — Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest.
"Generations," the current exhibition at 1570 Gallery at Valley Manor, began with curator Jean Pope Boyle's desire to have a Black History Month exhibit, and her invitation to popular local artists Cheryl and Don Olney to serve as guest curators. The former social worker (Cheryl) and toy maker (Don) turned full-time artists had never curated an exhibit before, but they were willing to try.
All they needed was a theme — and they needed it fast, since the exhibit was due to open in a month. But they found it, inspired by a recent commission to design and create a wooden Sankofa. The West African symbol's name means "return and get it," or as Cheryl Olney interprets it, "the process of learning from the past as we build the future." This gave them the idea of generations of artists, sometimes literally related to each other, building upon one another's work.
Cheryl, "who knows everyone in town," according to Don, immediately started asking friends and professional acquaintances for work. With the quantity and the quality of the responses, the show quickly "developed its own energy," as Cheryl puts it.
That simple idea turned out to be remarkably rich. The art that arrived at 1570 Gallery truly spanned the generations, from acrylic paintings by 11-year-old Kimicah Roberson, to photographs by junior high school students, to work by professional artists of long standing. All currently live in Rochester, and most are Rochester born and educated as well.
The moment you enter the gallery, your eye is immediately drawn to the Olneys' Generations, a vibrantly painted wood piece showing several generations of African-American women in red, green and purple outfits against a glowing blue background.
The exhibit is rich in inviting, exuberant pieces like the Olneys', including the quilted piece Exotic Perennial, by former Garth Fagan dancer Frances Hare, which also hangs near the entrance to the gallery. This rare bloom is resplendent in gold, orange and brown, and its tendrils reach right out to the viewer.
These fanciful pieces are countered by striking, somber images like Eddie Davis III's two Clown Paintings — done entirely and unexpectedly in black, white and gray — and complex, thoughtful work like Shawn Dunwoody's collage Brown is the Magic Number. Full of references to recent African-American history and to education, Dunwoody's piece carries the "Generations" theme in a nutshell: If you want to move ahead, know what came before you.
While many of the pieces in "Generations" delineate contemporary African-American life, others seem to reach back through the centuries. Faruk Kaiyum's delicate silver and white-gold jewelry would befit a princess, and Calvin Hubbard's clay stoneware pieces recall ancient pottery. At first sight, Hubbard's Mother and Turtle seems to refer to some sort of folklore or creation myth, but Hubbard says his inspiration was his mother, who "proceeded slowly, but always went forth in spite of all obstacles." The piece is a tribute to persistence.
House Maid, by MCC professor emeritus Betty Hopkins, gives a black interpretation to Vermeer's iconic European painting of a servant pouring water from a pitcher. Hopkins' daughter, Leda Hopkins-Mack, is represented in the show by her two hand-woven fabrics, Red Delight and Purple Mist. And Hopkins' professional colleague, MCC faculty member Athesia Benjamin, contributes several untitled oils, the most striking of which is a large, imposing portrait of an older black couple.
José Flores' simple but haunting Darfur, an oil pastel of an African woman in native dress with a sad expression, is the last image you see in "Generations," and it stays with you, saying as much about the costs of war and racial conflict as a more obviously political image.
A highlight of "Generations" is a group of seven black-and-white photographs by students from Studio 789, the Wilson Foundation Academy Photo Club. The subjects range from Janet Jackson, to a baby in a bath, to a powerful study of a group of locks from chains formerly worn by slaves. Rodney Allen Young contributes a group of vivid color photos of Senegalese and Ghanaian natives.
"Generations" unites several generations of black artists, but since many of them graduated from, are enrolled in or have taught in Rochester schools, it also highlights the artistic creativity flourishing there. "We were thrilled not only to encourage the young people," says Boyle, "but also to combat all the negative things we hear about the Rochester City Schools."
David Raymond is a freelance writer.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Today we were in Baltimore - had a good day with three new gallery customers, and several nice orders! The Sankofa piece - see above picture - lower middle, and January 26th entry below, is selling well. It is always so great when a new item sells well. People seem to really appreciate the piece itself, as well as the message behind it!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Here is the view from the front of our space. Lots and lots of unconverted space.... vans being unloaded... electric cords laid out ready to power lights, etc. Last week, maybe there was a car show here, next week maybe a boat show. Week after next maybe a foot of dirt will be right there with flowers growing out of it for the flower show? About 30 years ago, I attended a Dave Brubeck concert here ---- I think the stage was right behind where that white van sits now.
Just empty space that several hundred of us will mark out with walls, curtains, sheets of cardboard, to seperate our 10x10 foot space from the next 10x10 foot space. And it will really be our space. Most of us will be very friendly, like the US and Canada, even helping each other out with heavy walls, or sharing our food from the deli. There will be some border disputes however. Somebody may decide that the space behind their curtain is the perfect place to store those extra boxes, but the space behind the curtain is my space, and like the US and Mexico, I will try to send their stuff back. The most common problem is folks pushing those ugly orange extension cords under the curtain into the next booth so they won't clash with the beautiful glass vases! (somebody needs to invent attractive extension cords) I like our hard walls - folks can't slide that big vase to the back of the table, creating a big bulge on my side of the curtain! On the other hand, when we like our neighbors, which is 99.9% of the time, we can't just slide the curtain aside and say Hi!
Below is our space, as I marked it out today, and put up our stuff! That big crate is inside the grey display on the left. I learned long ago that it can take hours for the show folks to return the empties at the end of the show! I don't know who will be next to us on the right - still empty space when I left tonight, or the space behind. To the left is a big aisle that will carry the crowds our way. In front, between us and the aisle is nothing --- just a line in the carpet, but folks will generally stay outside the booth, thinking that they need some sort of passport to cross the line. I remember the "line" my brother and I drew down the middle of our room. "MOM! He's looking at my side!" We want them to look, and we'd love for them to come in, but most won't, even if we specifically invite them.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I'm off to Baltimore for a wholesale and a retail show with our work - Louise's Daughter
Three days of wholesale only to sell to the galleries around the country that carry our work, and then three days of retail - open to the public if you are in the Baltimore area next weekend .... the 23rd to the 25th at the Convention Center. Cheryl is now at a wholesale show in Philadelphia, and I'll go pick her up on Monday after I set up in Baltimore. I'm going to try to keep this writing and pic thing from the road, so stay tuned for some pics of very nice work, and hopefully some good stories.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
We love to get pictures from our customers showing our work in their home. This lovely view of three of our large wall spirals is from a home on Sanibel Island! An added bonus is one of our dancers off to the right : - )