Annie Bissett is a master print maker, utilizing the ancient Japanese technique moku hanga to illustrate socio-political ideas. Her writings from her father, superimposed on moneyed symbols prints were in the last Amherst Biennial. This series was selected from over 700 applications to be featured in the International Print Biennial in Newcastle, Great Britain. You saw this first at the Amherst Biennial '12 at Hope & Feathers Gallery, Amherst, MA.
Matt Johnson sculptor of the Portal, Photo credit Rene Theberge
Yesterday, we had a dedication ceremony for the permanent installation of the Portal sculpture by Matt Evald Johnson in Kendrick Park. This sculpture was placed on this site during the first Amherst Biennial in 2010. The artist selected a knoll in the northern section of this 3 acre park for this installation. This sculpture acts like a bridge between downtown Amherst and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This "Portal" which to me, acts like the Stargate portal drawing local residents and students to this green oasis with this enchanting sculpture. It's such a pleasure to have the dream of permanent contemporary sculpture in one of Amherst's park become a reality.
Terry Rooney & Matt Johnson at dedication in Kendrick Park
Special thanks goes the the Business Improvement District, Amherst Public Arts Commission, Rene Theberge, Chair, John Musante, Town Manager Massachusetts Cultural Council, Amherst Cultural Council, Tony Maroulis, Susan Loring Wells, the Krasznekewicz and all the community members who contributed to make this dream come true. Hopefully this will be the first of many sculptures of Art in the Park.
Alicia Renadette caught my eye the first Amherst Biennial with this moving installation of a woman's torso with pieces springing out of it. She continues to mine recycled materials from family heirlooms to re-purposes materials, party favors or what ever catches her fancy in her newest installation pieces. One of which, Repeat is featured in the installation space of the new Deerfield Arts Bank and appeared in the last Amherst Biennial '12. This installation utilizing her grandmother's broken chair which was revitalized with fabric, ribbons evoking the feeling of caring and playfulness in this piece.
Rendette, Repeat, Mixed media installtion
Renadette,concurrently has an exhibition at Brown University featuring Ruining Wonder. Alicia describes this project in her own words. "I am currently using materials such as holiday or "special" occasion flourishes, housekeeping implements, appliance packaging, drug-store cosmetics. Polynesian cocktail adornments and foisted family heirlooms. For the installation Ruining Wonder, at Sarah Doyle Gallery at Brown University, I created a structure reminiscent of a temple, parade float, or perhaps a lavish cake. Inspired by the forms and legends of the Wonders of the Ancient World. I built this piece as a sort of future-archeology. I am curious about what form object attachment and sentimentality take in the age of mass-production and planned-obsolescence. My work always aims to unravel inner-conflict.
In the case of Ruining Wonder, the viewer may be immediately delighted by the celebratory decorations and find themselves seduced by the shimmering lights on what appears to be a magic castle. Once drawn in, darker themes are revealed. The initial reaction is quickly tainted. Familiar materials which were charming and whimsical now appear sinister and noxious. The surfaces appear bruised, punctured and diseased rather than merely embellished.
Alicia also had a dialogue with the collection at Historic Northampton earlier this year. Reinventing items given to her from the maternal side of her family and interacting with historical items found in the collection of this historic museum. From the archive she chose three items, a bear trap, a cradle and an embroidered mourning portrait. The heirlooms she chose to interact with the collection were baby dresses worn by her mother, sisters and various items from her grandmother and great grandmother. Renadette says she animated the artifacts in unsettling scenarios....rather than to display an illusion of sentimentality.
There's a wonderful piece on the history of the Art Salon starting at the Chancellor's House at UMASS and it's newest incarnation traveling the Valley. It's next event is at the new Deerfield Arts Bank tonight starting @ 7 PM. Seating is limited so come early. There are two Amherst Biennial artists Samuel Rowlett and Tim deChristopher are just a few of the dynamic artists that will be featured in tonights Art Salon.
Amherst Biennial, Samuel Rowlett has now taken his walking canvas from Amherst, to New York and across the border to Canada. In the lastest iteration of this performance piece. . Nice article in the New York Observer's "Gallerist NY" which features Samuel's work and gives an oversight of this traveling exhibition.
Here's an excerpt from Rowlett's discussion with the Nature Conservatory about his exploration of the Mill River, Amherst and what lead him to explore the river in this way.
When I’m hiking around with a canvas on my back, I feel the same spirit of discovery and exploration that inspired painters from the Hudson River School, like Church, Durand and Cole, who were searching for spiritual and philosophical meaning from nature. The Connecticut River has in effect been “lost” for a century due to its industrial past. We now have a chance to rediscover it. Samuel Rowlett
Rosalyn Driscoll will be in exhibitions this spring in Cuzco (Peru), Nancay (France) and Berlin. In June, a London-based collective of which Rosalyn is a member, Sensory Sites, is producing an installation-event, Water Water Everywhere, to coincide with an international conference of The Center for the Study of the Senses in London, a group of scientists and philosophers researching and rethinking the senses, with whom Sensory Sites is collaborating.
I’m collaborating with filmmakers Sarah Bliss (Montague) and Tereza Stehlikova (London) to create sculptures or environments that receive and transform their moving images. The work with Bliss received the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship for Sculpture and Installation last year, and the work with Stehlikova was shown in London at GV Art Gallery in November.
Driscoll & Bliss Collaborative Piece
Driscoll will return to Dartington Hall in Devon, England, for another month-long residency later this year to make work for a London exhibition in the fall organized by Encounter Fine Art, a curatorial, marketing and consulting group in London.
Liz Chalfin, the Founder & Director of the Zea Mays Printmaking Studio, Florence, MA has been a pioneer in establishing this non-toxic print studio in New England. She recently travelled to Havanna, Cuba to introduce artists there to this alternative-green printmaking.