Spent Saturday tooling around Chenango and Madison County NY paying my first visit to the renowned Earlville Opera House's art center to see two shows with folks from my Utica posse -- A solo exhibit of strikingly new work by my homeboy Tony Thompson, and a group exhibit of female artists exploring landscape prospects which featured my Project-U group co-Char Jenna North. Here's some of what I saw.
Click here for the Earlville Opera House online including information on its gallery shows & theater bookings.
They had me at the giant chicken. Which are actually turkeys, but I have a thing about giant chicken paintings, see. They make me smile.
Left: Leigh Yardley
Right: Jenna North
Jenna North, who was scheduled to be in the Maldives this week pursuing her public arts project this work is related to. Long in the preparation and sadly derailed after a coup de tat deposed the democratically elected President, who had been a proponent of Jenna's undertaking. The State Department forbade her to go as the country was thrown into unrest just last Friday when "El Presidente" (as I call him) was sentenced to 13 years in prison for terrorism charges trumped up by the pro-Islamic military junta which overthrew the government. Great.
I asked her My dear, can't we find you a nice island in Canada to save? Or maybe Florida. You could go see Julie on the weekends and not need an armed bodyguard trained in crowd tactics. But no.
Click here for Jenna's web blog and website with information on her Underwater project.
Marion Wilson, and I wished I'd gotten a closer look as this was pretty impressive stuff.
Amy McKinnon, and that thing RULES!!!!
Leigh Yardley visiting with Amy McKinnon in front of Leigh's marvelous multi-materials creation, which I sadly neglected to get a closer shot of, in addition to Lynette Stephenson's "Flood". Repeat visit coming up in April! Now let's go upstairs.
Tony Thompson's show was in the upstairs exhibition space, and this sight literally stopped me dead in my tracks as I had not understood upon glancing up at first entering that this was Tony's art. Or rather what it has become, as followers of the blog are hopefully familiar with his traditional junkyard maestro turned gallery artist approach. For one thing, I've never seen him use blue before, or at least no blue like that.
He's also using brushes and scaling down (at least for what we saw in this gathering of work) the size of his paintings. The largest work in the show was the mural painting board he did at the Utica Music & Arts Fest in the fall, and if I read Tony's progression correctly the motif he chose to pursue with it led to a whole new visual language for him. It's cleaner, tighter, more sober, almost precious, and concerned with its material form in a way which stopped me dead in my tracks.
Tony Thompson, and we'll take a closer look at these below.
Tony Thompson, and without even trying to that is installation art of the first order, using the native architecture as part of the display rather than just covering it with stuff.
Tony Thompson, and the large work is his board from 2014 Utica Music & Arts Fest live mural mural painting performance at the Utica Memorial Autorium. Use the navigation menu at left for September to view coverage of the event!
Tony Thompson, and this was my favorite of his works during my first walk around.
Tony Thompson, and that is about the "nicest" painting I have ever seen from him. Most revel in their scruffiness, now here's Tony being downright fussy about his results. I call it growth.
Tony's setup with a video screen showing a smartfone made time lapse film of him painting the mural board at left during the UMAF event in September. Perfect, bring it to the Tech Garden I say.
Tony Thompson, and subsequent to sorting these pix this is one of my favorites from the whole group. Peter Leone called it as one of the best, and he was right.
Reconsidering the stairwell installation.
Tony Thompson, and upon reflection that's the strongest work in the show just for the risks he was taking going beyond his usual methods. The clouds with solid blue verticals underneath also made me think of faucets being opened. Wash it all down the drain, homes.
Tony Thompson, and these three started looking pretty damn good back at home when sorting pix. I already know I want something from this show ...
One last look at these, which Tony later told me were individual works grouped together and meant to be sold as individuals. Good.
That. I want it.
Tony discussing his work in a very serious manner with sculptor Peter Leone, who is rarely serious at all.
Tony with artist Douglas Cummings, one of the mural painters from the 2013 Utica Music & Arts Fest, and a showing of all the mural boards from both years is under planning for this summer at the Macartovin Building space in downtown Utica. I think.
Who loves ya baby.
Ooo yes, with Tony's hot sister Tara. You bet.
And Tara's addition to the things I learned yesterday -- the MonoPod, a smartfone selfie rod on a telescopic boom which can be used for panoramic selfshots. Gotta have one! This lady leads.
Had to have a look at the auditorium before departing.
Earlville Opera House, Earlville NY.
A look from the stage. Have heard rumor that Robert Fripp played here at some point, searching for confirmation. And now of course that I've set foot on it, I want more, including getting Catherine Wright up on here, and Jenna North, Kayla Cady, Allison Sarenski, all of the artist/performers I've had fortune to cross paths with. Someone passed off a business card and I'll be using it.
One last look! Hate to be a jerk by calling stuff like this when nobody asked, but best out of them all. And I want it.
Some wish fulfillment earlier while visiting the Broad Street Gallery in Hamilton, where my paintings are now on display next to busy-box creations by my former SU art history instructor Jim Ridlon. And along with works by Lauren Bristol, Arlene Arbend, Tim See, Diane Menzies, Tony Thompson, Tim Rand, Maria Vallese, Christopher Cirillo, Karen Burns, Kara Rusch, Marc Larens, Jan Burke, Mark Pittarilli, Patrick Vedder, Ashley Stagner, that guy with the thing, and many others I can't recall the names of. I even hear Linda Bigness has been by, and there's an event on tap for Saturday April 11th. Same day as the Golden Foundation show at the plant gallery conveniently nearby. Larry Bakke would be loving this.