As the pandemic loosens its grip, art is making a comeback, especially in local galleries, including at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and some other area campuses. Here are snapshots of new and current exhibits worth checking out.
University Museum of Contemporary Art, UMass – “Prince,” an exhibition of prints by New York-based artist Nicole Eisenman, remains on display in UMCA’s main exhibit area. But two smaller shows can also be seen through May 5, including “From My Heart to You – Dance and the Unifying Force of Social Consciousness” and a new exhibit, “We Must Get Out of This Place – Transportive Art.” .
“From My Heart to You” centers on photographs of Pearl Primus, the seminal mid-20th-century African-American dancer and choreographer who danced at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket and lived in the Valley in the 1980s, when she taught ethnic studies at UMasse. The show, which includes paintings, films and other works by other artists, reflects the transformative nature of dance and “the role of the imagination in creating positive social change”, as the authors put it. program notes.
And after months of COVID-related lockdowns, fears and strife, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ features a selection of works by various artists designed to give viewers a means of escape – as the ratings say. of exposition, ‘out of ourselves and into another realm.
Paintings, photos, mixed media pieces and sculptures by (mostly) contemporary artists, including Caitlin Cherry, Sam Gilliam, Kara Walker and Valley printmaker Anne Beresford, explore the themes of “home, fantasy, escapism, nature, strangeness and the ways in which history haunts everyday experience” according to the program notes.
The exhibit was curated by UMass graduate students Tirzah Frank and Cecily Hughes, and it was funded in part by a fund named after Eva Fierst, UMCA’s first curator of education, a position in which Fierst worked closely with graduate students in particular to prepare them for careers as professionals in the arts.
Smith College Art Museum — Among a number of exhibits, SCMA features works by Maya Lin, the sculptor and architectural designer who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, as well as the redesign of Smith’s Neilson Library.
In “Mappings,” which runs until August 22, Lin used a variety of materials, including steel pins, marble, and bound atlases, to create sculptures and objects that speak to environmental issues such as climate change and species extinction, as well as man’s broader relationship with the planet.
“The Red Sea,” for example, is a three-dimensional view of the long stretch of water between northeast Africa and Saudi Arabia. But like an inverted topographic map, the wooden sculpture uses a smooth top to represent the surface of the water, while below, tapered contoured lines, like an upside-down mountain, show the depth of the sea. and the land around it. The whole design rests on a white pedestal.
Another piece, “Pin River—Sandy,” was created with thousands of stainless steel pins and shows the extent of the flooding along the eastern seaboard of the United States caused in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy. Over 10 feet long, the sculpture clearly shows the outlines of parts of New Jersey, Long Island in New York State and parts of northern New York.
The exhibition includes a virtual component, “What’s missing? which Lin calls her “last memorial.” It examines environmental issues, including the loss of species, as well as works of art and scientific efforts to protect the planet, such as planting trees. “Together we can save two birds with one tree,” she wrote.
William Baczek Fine Arts – Northampton Gallery, known for showcasing lush landscape paintings and resonant still lifes, looked a little more on the lighter side in its latest exhibition. “Animal Kingdom,” which runs until April 9, features works in which four-legged creatures and winged species are the center of attention.
More than a dozen painters (and a sculptor) portray cows, sheep, tigers, birds, frogs, crabs and other critters, in peaceful as well as surreal and bizarre settings.
For example, Robert Sweeney, who teaches art at Amherst College, contributes pastoral landscapes of cows and sheep on the Hawley and Cummington prairies, while New Jersey painter Jeff Gola’s “Peafowl Pair” depicts two of the elaborately plumaged birds perched on a wooden rail. in a winter forest.
In contrast, Ashfield artist Jane Lund has created a series of crazy watercolors populated by strange animals and strange-looking people. And in “Guardians,” Californian painter Chie Yoshii, who studied art in Boston, depicts a young woman with blonde hair looking serenely at the viewer seated next to a tiger, a panther, and a fox.
OxBow Gallery — At the Easthampton Gallery, a new exhibition featuring the works of painters Frances Kidder in the main room and Doreen LaScola in the back room opens March 31. Kidder, who works in oils and watercolors, offers semi-abstract landscapes and portraits, and his most recent work is called “Sacred Encounters,” a series of paintings based on biblical stories.
LaScola, who also works with encaustics, has a new exhibit called “Breakthrough” which she says combines elements of her plein-air paintings and studio work with “the meditations she began during the COVID isolation”.
The current Oxbow exhibit, by painter Cyndy Sperry, continues through Sunday, March 27.
Augusta Savage Gallery, UMass — An exhibition opening March 28 (artists’ reception 5-7 p.m.) at Augusta Savage Gallery features the large, colorful and disturbing paintings of Kabu MBII, a painter from New Mexico to California whose work spans inspired by social, political and global issues. events, especially those of upheaval: war, protest, environmental destruction.
Among a number of influences, he counts Hieronymus Bosch, the 15th-century Dutch painter who created many works featuring surreal depictions of hell. Indeed, MBII’s work is also replete with surreal scenes, teaming up with characters that appear somewhat human but can have oversized body parts, twisted faces and more, often set against menacing urban settings.
Also at Augusta Savage, jazz bassist and composer Avery Sharpe will give a free solo concert, incorporating double bass, electric bass and vocals, on March 31 at 7 p.m.
Gallery A3 — Also in Amherst, “Interwoven: Words & Images” at Galley A3 features the work of six female artists: Marianne Connolly, Laura Holland, Sue Katz, Nancy Meagher, Rochelle Shicoff and Janet W. Winston. Some are visual artists who also write, another is a writer who designs accordion books, and one is a writer and photographer.
Calling themselves “Women of Words,” they began meeting in the gallery in late 2019 to share their writings, then moved online during the pandemic. They continued to work both individually and collectively. Their current exhibition includes painting, photography, handmade books and more, and runs until April 3.
Steve Pfarrer can be contacted at [email protected]