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Part Six

Americana (installation proposal sketch) by Caitlin Cass
Part Six
Amin/In WNY exhibit continues at Hallwalls

Just in time for the Bills’ post-regular-season quiet contemplational period—undisturbed by any unseemly playoffs commotion—artist Joan Linder’s ink and pencil portraits of some players and coaches in post-game press debriefings over the past several years, together with excerpted remarks made on the occasions, on display in the current Hallwalls Amid/In WNY exhibit.

American Landscape (detail) by Jay Carrier

The remarks a heady mix of tired sports clichés and sincere and genuine sentiments and insights. Former Bills running back C.J. Spiller after a come-from-behind win: “We got down early, but stayed together. We didn’t let that fluster us. We didn’t start complaining. Nothing like that. We just stayed with the game plan. Then guys started making plays...” Quarterback Tyrod Taylor in high spirits after the Bills’ gut-check recent victory over the Jets, extinguishing the Jets’ playoff aspirations: “Definitely was a big win for us. An opportunity to sweep another division team. We knew it when we went out there, and we got the job done. I think I’ve grown every week.”

Artist Jay Carrier paints landscapes, literal and metaphorical. A large-format landscape/waterscape of roiling waters of the Niagara River Whirlpool and background cliffs of dense greenery. And huge-format painting on two canvases in radically different styles—casual figurative in the one case, the other strikingly reminiscent as to imagery and technique of paintings by German fierce expressionist Anselm Kiefer shown at the Albright-Knox some months ago. All in all making the astute connection between comic book superheroes that loom so large in American pop culture and the schoolhouse and other locales random mass shootings we’re lately experiencing such a plague of. And further connection—via the Kiefer-reminiscent canvas—to Nazi German berserkerie. The huge-format work is called American Landscape.

Charles Clough has a few dozen stereophoto paired images of snow scenes in East Aurora that read simultaneously as realist and abstract. With instructions to viewers to “cross your eyes to superimpose the pair of images, refocus, and see the third dimension.”

Scott McCarney makes scrapbooks of items someone with a lesser penchant for collecting—versus just discarding—might simply throw out. Or better, attempt to recycle. Two scrapbooks on display, one of plastic bags with logos, one of logo T-shirts, or the logo portion. “The relation between collecting and discarding parallels that of remembering and forgetting,” he says. “As I get older, I remember less and accumulate more.” Don’t we all.

Caitlin Cass has a potpourri installation of drawings and objects and narrative text—some fact, some fiction, some fantasy—including a flier on flying and an actual potato. The potato relates to a pseudo-historical story about Gilded Age brother entrepreneurs who invented and operated a vegetable-fueled railroad that ended up consuming all available produce throughout the entire Midwest. Poor people starved. A story about the one percent.

David Mitchell has an admittedly less than coherent assemblage of items related, as he says, to “the artist’s naïve explorations into the supernatural, his often misguided lifelong search for transcendence, and perpetual spiritual crisis.” Mixed media, including archival inkjet prints, a taxidermied dove with a gilded stone on its head, wooden arrows, thumbtacks, a broken wooden picture frame, photo lights, and a plant in a pot.

Nicholas Ruth has a series of drawings of cell communication towers and the like structures. “I am interested in things around us that signal our values and desires, and describe how we communicate,” he says in his artist’s statement.

And Todd Lesmeister a collection of freaky portrait drawings, such as one of a guy with the top of his head open and brain exposed, that turns out to be a cluster of worms that a couple of birds are picking at. Another guy looks like he’s been interrupted mid-suicide—he’s got a double-barreled shotgun in his mouth—by an importunate fly landing on his nose.

One more from the Joan Linder portfolio. Former coach Chan Gailey after a Bills loss to the Colts: “We had some opportunities and we did not take advantage of opportunities when we had them.” Alas.

This exhibit continues through February 26.

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