Group show at Carnegie Art Center
by Jack Foran
City Strings and Lines
Everything ties together in the current exhibit at the Carnegie Art Center, North Tonawanda, called City Strings and Lines. The work is about, and prevalently features, strings and lines, in literal and metaphorical terms, as media, as connectives, as networks, as social fabric or the absence of social fabric. Proceeding—as to direction—from literal to metaphorical, and figurative to abstract, in the exhibit overall, and in the works of several individual artists.
Such as Amanda Maciuba, who has two works, one called Entanglement III, a sculptural installation of a number of doll-house-size houses on a layout of street lines that alternate between urban-characteristic efficient straight lines and suburban sprawl-characteristic rambling, erratic lines and cul-de-sacs, and overhead an array of airplanes around a foreboding black disaster cloud of dried vines, apparently, interconnected by conspicuous strings, and the airplanes and disaster cloud held aloft by tenuous, scarcely visible strings, and another called Entangled Layers, consisting of collages of many of the same items as in the sculptural piece—houses, airplanes, even strings—but in abstract jumbles of these items usually, and often amid a flurry of abstract forms related to the figural items in the sculptural piece—boxes, cubes, etc.
Sara M. Zak has a series of bold, painterly depictions of neglected or derelict buildings with strings attached, or more particularly thread, running off to the side or above or below the frame of the painting in a tangle of possibly frayed social fabric as basis and cause of the architectural decay. The buildings in these paintings are vaguely recognizable to identifiable—in one case by a street sign—examples of Buffalo region infrastructural neglect. Then proceeding in the direction of abstraction, a large hanging piece from a curtain rod, a kind of tapestry in ruins, just tangles of black and white and red threads attached to a vertical grid of supporting member strings attached above to the curtain rod. It fixates on the frayed social fabric idea of the architectural paintings, going directly to the larger, societal problem.
Francisco Amaya draws in scribble lines that coalesce into dark and light tonal values in depictions of a score or so of great Buffalo buildings that aren’t here anymore. The Larkin Administration Building, Bank of Buffalo, Erie County Savings Bank, the old Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. The precise imprecision of the scribble drawing technique lends an appropriate wistful, dreamy air to the depictions. Amaya also has a group of three large drawings in more standard technique that play on the idea of grid as network, and play off of one another. One a dense screen of trusswork girders of one of the Grand Island bridges, one a plan view schematic of the streets of Manhattan, one a network of branches of a large tree.
Tim Raymond seems to start with abstract and go in the opposite direction. He has a number of essentially doodle drawings in basic grid patterns that look to be—in the way of doodles in general—psychologically cathartic as well as potentially generative of other, possibly more figurative work. Which seems have happened, in a larger piece he calls Man in the Holocene, that is, the present era, in which the doodle lines coalesce (somewhat in the manner of the Amayo scribble drawings) into darks and lights vaguely suggesting a human figure in some kind of physical and/or intellectual struggle. Man in the Holocene is the title of a book by Max Frisch. Raymond explains his artwork with a quote from a critic, Michael Magras, writing about the Frisch book: “This is a portrait of a man who is surrounded by erosion, nature’s and his own, who struggles for one last moment of clarity in which to make sense of himself and of civilization.”
Alternatively, the psychological reference regarding the doodle works suggests cerebral networks of infinite synapse locations, infinite messaging routes. The brain as a computer. Rather than you can’t get there from here, there are infinite alternative ways to get wherever.
Another large, colorful work, centrally positioned in the exhibit, called Border Town, goes back to abstract grids.
The sole non-local artist in the show, Brooklynite Ben Schwab has eight pencil sketches of urban commercial-office-type buildings in various locations in New York and Philadelphia and Tokyo. Buildings in prosperous circumstances at present at least, but in shadowy renderings evoking the extreme fragility of the urban architectural scene and situation.
The excellent exhibit was put together by Sara Zak and Amanda Maciuba. It continues through November 4.blog comments powered by Disqus
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