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Daemen College 2013 Visual and Performing Arts Faculty Exhibition

"East California" by Brita D'Agostino
"Her Hair" by Nathan Naetzker.
"Under Pressure" by Steven Appler.

Those Who Do, Teach

In June 1988, I left a developing relationship with a major gallery in New York, choosing instead to raise a family and teach painting at the Fine Arts Department of the University of Texas at Austin as a visiting artist. For months before the annual faculty show, I threw myself into my studio work knowing I had to put up New Yok City grade art to compete against the teaching artists long installed in faculty tenure. Over the holidays that first winter, my wife, new girl baby, and I boathouse-sat in Contra Costa County, California for my sister-in-law. Shivering in the chill damp of the boat basin, I painted the oil tanks and docks of the Oakland freight yards and the fog-gauzed silhouette of Mount Tamalpais across the East Bay.

Back in Austin that spring, when the time came to hang the work, I had seven large paintings and chose three for the show. The work was well received and public exhibitions followed. Still, after 18 months scrambling for every class hour I could get, my time was up—visiting artist was visiting artist and there was no way to secure any further employment at UT, no matter how hard we tried to look like a resident faculty family. Meanwhile, the ties with my New York gallery had frayed to gossamer threads—I hadn’t kept up sending slides, writing letters, and making phone calls to massage my gallerist in Manhattan. We soon left Texas and moved up to Buffalo, where at Daemen College I went back to school to study for a degree to teach high school studio art.

So it was a bittersweet occasion to see an exhibition by a fine arts faculty of which I was not a part…but viewing the annual faculty show in the recently opened Haberman Gacioch Center soon blew away the graying cobwebs of my melancholy reverie. Both full-time and adjunct faculty presented a multi-various display of diverse talent including works on paper, sculpture, figurative and landscape painting, photography, and ceramics sensitively curated by art historian faculty member Brian Hammer. Artists exhibiting their most recent work included Kevin Kegler, James Dana Hatchett, Kate Stapleton Parzych, Amanda Besl, and Nathan Naetzker.

Kegler’s paintings, prints, and sculpture have been in view regionally, nationally, and internationally in Guangzhou, China, and Berlin, Germany at Gallery Zuhause, where he was awarded a solo exhibition in 2011. As a professor of graphic design, Kegler displays the formal expertise of a cabinet-maker in two standing sculptural pieces, one formed of white cedar, painted copper, and white pine, and the other of Douglas fir and ink. Both works are enigmatically titled but call to mind psycho-sexual fantasies of a possibly nautical nature.

Dana Hatchett was listed as exhibiting abstract constructions displayed lately in a solo show at C. G. Jung Center this past fall, audacious wall pieces in a hardware bin of conflicting materials, including nails, sheet Plexiglas, bits of metal, and wood scraps summarily painted and,constructed for visceral response. Rather, he chose to exhibit intimate landscapes in oil on paper, each picking out a view concentrating on the middle distance of a clearing, a lake bed, forest, or pasture, in a muted palette of grey greens, blues, and browns in a series of reflective meditations on nature’s architecture.

Amanda Besl’s small acrylic and graphite focused on a woman’s knotted, twisted hair investigating the tactile details of toilette.

Nathan Naetzker, an HRH Prince of Wales Scholar and a widely exhibited and collected painter, presented another precise portrait study of a careless coiffeur delineating a woman’s profile in minute sun struck strands.

Adjunct professor of photography Kate Stapleton Parzych is an inventive photographer using both digital and darkroom printing in a non-silver process to produce images of tree trunks and tracery in cyanotype scrolls of subdued and disarming elegance. One is featured here in the manner previously displayed at Hallwalls, the Western New York Book Arts Center, and the Albright-Knox.

Additional faculty members work include gallery director and director of fine arts Dennis Baraclough’s painted swatch-like color field studies. A faculty member since 1972, Baraclough’s work is in many public and private collections. Brita D’Agostino’s high-definition digital photos, Kenneth Doyle’s graphite compositions, Anthony Pismarov’s digital paintings (i.e. ink-jet reproductions printed on canvas from computer-generated images) are examples of the finessing attributes of computer-assisted artwork much in the contemporary mainstream.

Instructor Gary L. Wolfe’s mixed-media oil on paper work, 1S53.1, a drawing of a man’s face with the words “hearing not, seeing not” as if tattooed across the forehead, and an LED apparatus that illuminates the eye sockets in the manner of a pair of sunglasses, to reveal a miniature interior of collaged images timed to repeatedly brighten then fade out, is a thoughtfully arresting installation.

Maria La Rotonda and Craig la Rotonda are both represented in digital collage jet print reproductions and mannerist painted macabre figuration respectively. Mike Parker displays two life-sized figurative studies in charcoal.

The small earthenware vessels of Steven Appler have imaginatively illustrated surfaces incised with numbers, letters, and characters set in an ancient Japanese ceramic technique producing a uniform pocked porous surface. A practicing professional potter, Appler specializes in wheel-thrown and hand-built decorative ceramics.

Representing the performing arts faculty is a flat screen display of the Motion Picture event held this past summer at Silo City in commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, produced by Torn Space director and theater instructor Dan Shanahan, with scenic photography by Lukia Costello.

The Daemen faculty exhibit runs through January 17.

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