Made in New York 2012, on display at Auburn’s Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, is an exhibit that re-emerges each year with a new roster of artists and a different identity. The 2012 show, for example, presents more digital works and fiber pieces than other recent exhibitions. There’s also an emphasis on artworks exploring a sense of place. And the current exhibit is expansive enough to include Yvonne Buchanan’s video, Visitations, and Takafumi Ide’s “Breathe,” a small work with a powerful emotional impact.
The pieces delving into a sense of place come in many packages: “A Building on Bay Avenue,” Joseph Horansky’s fiber work depicting a big-city block; Karen Kozicki’s “59th Street,” a small photo; Christopher Baker’s gouache, which captures the interior of an aqueduct near Rochester; and “Discarded Farm,” Mark Larsen’s silver gelatin print.
“VFW,” Dewey Fludd’s digital image, not only portrays a specific Veterans of Foreign Wars post but also provides a glimpse of Americana. In creating “The Scaffold,” an oil, Nelson Alvarez focused on environmental problems in inner-city America, stating bluntly that pollution of various kinds is killing people.
Alvarez’s piece is one of several artworks that reference a specific issue. Anne Punzi’s “Tar Balls II” addresses the catastrophic oil spill that took place off the Gulf Coast just about two years ago. In addition, Rebecca Mushtare’s digital print, “Self-Disclosed,” gets out in front of identity thieves: Her piece lays out a wealth of information about herself, including professional and financial connections.
Elsewhere, the exhibit displays works that move in a different direction. Ide’s artwork, consisting of a paper work and a small, illuminated light bulb, was inspired by the end of her mother’s life. The bulb represents a bit of the human spirit and will resonate with many viewers.
Buchanan’s digital video, meanwhile, begins with a five-sided spaceship flying across the sky. For some viewers, the opening sequence will evoke Star Trek, but mass-culture references play no role in Visitations. Throughout the video, the spacecraft changes color and the background morphs drastically. The piece, both contemplative and visually interesting, seems to concentrate on spirituality, on notions of an afterlife and its relationship to our current existence.
Beyond that, the exhibit presents other noteworthy artworks: “Incubation,” Mary Begley’s excellent oil; “Crow’s Perch,” a monotype created by Alyson Markell; and Lee Hoag’s sculpture, “Dream Drill.” Leigh Yardley’s “What I Didn’t Notice” consists of 15 small panels with acrylic; the panels build on the artist’s relationship with nature and her observations on everyday scenes.
Bryan Valentine Thomas’ piece, “Untitled, Afghan,” combines hundreds of tiny soldiers, positioning them on a wall, in groups ranging from a dozen to many more. It’s a visceral work open to a viewer’s interpretation. And “Project Alex,” a mixed-media artwork created by Mary Giehl and Robert Loring, sprawls across an entire room. The piece is influenced by the artists’ opinions about the fashion industry and by research into Auburn’s history. The local penitentiary is where the electric chair and the practice of dressing prisoners in striped uniforms originated.
Within the room there are multiple items: small images of chairs on canvas, a chair with a light bulb underneath, garments and accessories all of which have a black-and-white striped pattern, and more. On one hand, the piece isn’t suggesting that the fashion and prison industries are entirely equivalent. On the other, it’s a provocative work that definitely challenges viewers.
Made in New York 2012 follows its own path and fulfills the exhibition’s mission of showcasing work by artists throughout New York state. Indeed, the 73 artists participating in the 2012 show come from Syracuse and Rochester, Brooklyn, Boonville and New Paltz. All of them submitted work for review by jurors Richard Kegler and Sydney Waller.
The show continues through May 20 at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. Suggested admission is $6. For more information, call 255-1533.