Photo Caption Top: "Untitled 2," from "The Space In Between My House and Yours," is one of the three photographs by Karisa Centanni of Troy" Photo Caption Bottom: "We're All in This Together," a 4-by-14-foot wall sculpture by Peter Iannarelli, is made of thousands of crayons that were melted and re-shaped.



Photography has big role in Regional art exhibit

UAlbany show features works by 38 artists

By KAREN BJORLAND for The Daily Gazette

Lilly Wei, juror for the 2006 Mohawk-Hudson Regional, had a Herculean task.

         In April, she inspected 1,000 slides that were submitted to the University Art Museum by more than 200 artists.

         Maybe there were so many entries because, like last year’s juror, Ivan Karp, Wei has impressive credentials.  Based in New York City, she’s an independent critic and curator who scrutinizes contemporary art around the globe.  She has been writing for Art in America for 24 years, and two years ago, she was in Poland, curating the first International Biennale of Lodz.  Wei is on the boards of the International Association of Art Critics, Art in General and Art Omi.

         “She has a very eclectic, wide knowledge of art-- not one aesthetic,” says Janet Riker, museum director at the University of Albany.  

         From our area’s ever-deepening pool of talent, Wei plucked 38 artists and 51 of their works for the 70th annual Regional.

         “The range was impressive, as was the technical expertise, although I found it curious that new media were not much in evidence,” she writes in the catalog.  

         Her exhibit is small compared to last year’s show at the Albany Institute of History & Art, with 71 works by 70 artists, but here we see a little more of each artist, which is satisfying and maybe more appropriate to the museum’s lofty, two-level space.

         Let’s not forget that the last time the Regional visited the University Art Museum, in 2003, there were only 17 artists.

         For Regional watchers, the dearth of “new media” is really not a surprise.  This summer, there is only one video work.  The Internet, installation art and sound art pieces are absent.  



         What is stunning is that there are many more photographs than paintings and quite a bit of sculpture, too.  Twenty-six artworks, nearly half the exhibit, are photographs or works that incorporate photographs.  

         Thirteen of the 38 artists are photographers, and we just saw four of them-- Martin Benjamin, Chris DeMarco, Jeri Eisenberg and Jim Flosdorf-- in the Photography Regional at the Opalka Gallery.

         Another distinction of this Regional is that it has been lovingly dedicated to Nancy Liddle, museum director from 1977 to 1992, who died in 2004.  At the reception, the crowd toasted Liddle and watched a video presentation about her life.  

         On the first floor, a parade of impressive photographs marches across one entire wall and half of another wall.

         “Weather Report,” a color photo by Allen Bryan of Saugerties is a beautifully composed still life with the richness and depth of a painting.  Like a Renaissance masterwork, the work reveals both the interior and exterior of the rural cabin and the minute details of its various objects, softly lighted by a round, glowing lamp over a bare porcelain sink.  

‘2006 Artists of the Mowhawk Hudson Region’

WHERE: University Art Museum, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany.

WHEN: Through Aug. 5.  Museum is open from 10a.m. to 5p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 4p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  

HOW MUCH: Admission is free; parking is $5 on weekdays, free on weekends.

MORE INFO: 442-4035 or

Photo Caption: Sharon Bates won the Albany Institute Of History & Art Purchase for "Cluster," a group of seven sculptures.

Karisa Centanni of Troy studies the narrow spaces between city houses in a series of three C-prints that compel us to look intently at the colors and textures of brick and siding, the slashes of sky caught between buildings.

         In “Biloxi Windows” by Glenville photographer Kelly de la Rocha, window frames become light as birch bark as they peel away from the surface of a house.

         Remember Michael Oatman’s greenhouse?  The one made of hundreds of glass plate photos that was in his exhibit at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery?

         It looks like Oatman used four of them to create a mysterious “Nocturne” series, in which flowers and leaves stretch across photos of long-dead and forgotten souls.  With numbers hung on placards around their necks, the two men and two women each wear a different haunting expression: proud, desperate, frightened, oblivious.  



         The most colorful piece in the show is “We’re All in This Together,” an inventive wall sculpture by Peter Iannarelli that spans 14 feet.

         Before one reads that it’s made from 64 boxes of crayons, there is the appeal of flattened, waxy tiles of 64 delicious colors that loosely overlap, like crazy roof of a funhouse. To make these shapes, the crayons must have been melted or cooked, and we see that evidence in the bubbles, craters and the pencil-like shapes that emerge here and there.

         On the second floor, Patrick Cuffe’s 12-foot-long wood and steel sculpture, “Sprinkler System,” is installed in the small alcove off the mail gallery.

         Made at Sculpture Space in Utica, the huge, skillfully crafted spigots and pipes have a Pop Art look like a soft sculpture by Claes Oldenburg.  

         Back on first floor, there is a stimulating sculpture corner, where works by Kathy Greenwood Lorrie Fredette and Sharon Bates harmonize and play off each other.

         First, there’s Greenwood’s “But I’m a Vegetarian,” a cheeky trompe l’oeil in which 13 serving utensils are painted on a pristine, cloth-covered table.  

         In Fredette’s “Pores,” doily-like half circles climb single file seven feet up the wall.  Reminiscent of old-fashioned paper cuttings, they cast lacy shadows.  

         “Cluster,” Bates’ assemblage of seven mixed-media sculptures, seems to echo this idea of lost feminine domestic arts.  From 2.5 to 7 feet tall, made of stools, baskets and bowling pins painted black, gray or silver, they are round, stacked and cage-like, with graceful legs.  



         Among the small group of painters, you’ll find Georgia Wohnsen, an undergraduate art student at UAlbany, and Tommy Watkins, one of the founders of Albany Underground Artists.  

         Wohnsen’s “Circumstance,” a 4-by-6 foot, acrylic, is arresting and eye-boggling from a distance, like an Op Art piece from the 1960s.  Moving closer, we see that the three oval shapes are sewn onto the canvass with interesting zigzags of thread.

         Watkins’ “Loyal Brethren,” oil pain and ink on canvas, is an abstract work with a supernatural feeling, as an organic form that looks like the dark wing of a raptor floats on a blue background marked with geometric shapes.  

         Besides “new media,” the other element missing from this show is the Schenectady Museum, which traditionally awarded a purchase prize.

         The Schenectady Museum has announced that it will no longer host the Regional as it moves toward the new mission as a science and technology museum.

         The University Art Museum and the Institute, the remaining sponsors, have not announced where the 2007 exhibit will be held.

         Will there be a new third venue?  Will the Regional ever return to Schenectady?

         “There are some irons in the fire,” says Riker.


2006 Regional Awards

Sharon Bates of Troy received the Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase Award, and Michael Oatman of Troy recived the University of Albany Purchase Award.

Seven artists recieved $500 juror’s awards: Dorene Quinn of Utica, Richard Garrison of Delmar, Karisa Centanni of Troy, Patrick Cuffe of Albany, Jim Flosdorf of Troy, Georgia Wohnsen of Dolgeville and Kathy Greenwood of Troy.

Peter Iannarelli of Beacon was honored with a $200 juror’s award.

Juror’s awards of $100 were given to Lorrie Fredette of West Camp and Martin Benjamin of Schenectady.

Four artists received gift certificates: Sharon Bates of Troy, Kawther A. Elmi of Albany, Chris DeMarco of Albany and Michael Oatman of Troy.