Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring show

During my visit earlier this month to UpFront Exhibition Space in Port Jervis I was overwhelmed and disappointed: Overwhelmed by the amount and variety of creativity in this gallery, and disappointed that I had driven past this place so many times and not stopped in.

The building, formerly a Hardware store, has creaky wood floors and every wall is covered in colorful paintings and photography, while works of silk and sculpture sit in the corners and a front window. My first visit to UpFront fell during the spring art show. Almost 50 artists were represented including Joe Petrosi and Adrienne Butvinik. In 2012 Petrosi’s detailed colored pencil drawings made him the #1 ink and pencil art in the Hudson Valley according to the Times-Herald Record. He was at the gallery during my visit, adding to a new work at a table near the center of the room. One of Butvinik’s dresses was displayed front and center near the door. I’ve seen her fabrics and silks, decorated with batik, tie dye and fabric paint, at Hudson Valley craft fairs for years. The spring show’s reception was April 9th and it runs through May 22.

Landscapes, baby elephants, driftwood sculpture, slag glass, lusciously-locked Donald Trump, and a fullsize Boba Fett costume…there’s something for everyone.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Golden joinery

On Saturday we crossed the Hudson River and ventured to the Putnam County town of Cold Spring and checked out some art galleries. Geometry/Gesture, a 7-artist group show of paintings and sculpture, was on exhibit at Buster Levi Gallery on Main Street. Upon closer look at Ada Pilar Cruz’s work Game 11, a rectangle of wood fired clay pressed with circles, I immediately recognized the artist’s incorporation of Kintsugi into her piece. Kintsugi, meaning “golden joinery,” is the Japanese art of using brightly colored lacquer to fill cracks in pottery. Not only is a damaged piece restored, but the color, usually gold, purposefully brings attention to the imperfection.  

For one of my Toastmasters speeches I presented on the Japanese idea of embracing imperfection, known as wabi-sabi. One of my examples was the art of bonsai, in which miniature trees are cultivated to look ancient and some even are even manipulated to appear struck by lightening or worn by years of wind from living high on a cliff. Kintsugi was another example I used to illustrate wabi-sabi. The art stands in stark contrast to contemporary values of perfection and consumerism, and I found Pilar Cruz’s use of the technique an unexpected and welcome surprise.  

Ada Pilar Cruz:
Buster Levi Gallery:

Friday, April 15, 2016


“Half an hour in a spring evening is worth a thousand gold pieces.”
-Japanese Proverb

Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the element of wood into springtime health regimens. It’s used by practitioners, and the other elements of fire, earth, metal and water, to promote healing with food, herbs and acupuncture points. This year’s season of regeneration was particularly welcome. We didn’t have much snow this past winter, but frigid temperatures and freezing rain followed us until almost mid-April. Interspersed were a few days of 50-degree weather which prompted spring buds to come out only to soon be covered in ice.

Many Hudson Valley parks begin their warm weather season in April and May, and galleries extend their hours as well. The season is a pleasant change and brings motivation. The Hudson Valley has definitely seen worse winters, but that doesn’t make this particular spring any less deserved.