Review: Stone Canoe annual exhibition

Visual arts exhibit at the Community Folk Art Center is full of complex thoughts and expressive images.

On January 26th, the Community Folk Art Center opened the Stone Canoe annual exhibition, featuring work from 29 artists with connections to the Upstate New York region. The show is curated by Amy Cheng, professor of art at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz and visual arts editor for the 7th issue of Stone Canoe, a journal of arts, literature and social commentary, published annually by University College of Syracuse University. The exhibit includes a multi-generational medley of paintings, photos, designs and other works that defy simple monikers, depicting the full spectrum of emotional expression.

Elizabeth Terhune’s paintings, only a foot or so tall, capture a chaotic but dreamy clash of ink, watercolor and acrylic. As with Dali’s little-seen illustrations for "Alice in Wonderland," the tendrils of colors are sprawled all over the small canvas, with parabolas of blue and black rising up out of the acrylic sea in triumphant arcs. Terhune’s work demands time to gestate: after a few minutes I saw Melville’s White Whale penetrating the oceanic magnanimity.

Perhaps the most ontological pieces in the exhibit, Elizabeth Condon’s vast, sprawling paintings of acrylic on linen, have an ideological scope as expansive as their visual. Fiery blooms of orange-red wrath loom from the left side of the frame, like a wave of flame washing the serene town on the other side of the canvas. Trees linger before the fury, devoid of any Sisyphean hopes. The skeletal, unfilled outline of a motorcycle leans against a trunk. Condon contrasts the impending scorch with sweeping swirls of blue and white for the sky. An epochal sublimity resonates from Condon’s work that my words won’t fully reflect.

But not all the works are so esoteric. Dandelyon Holmes-Nelson oil-on-paper pieces show a young woman, her eyes swollen and red, like tear ducts are about to burst. They pack an emotional punch but don’t bore existential holes in your soul—a welcome, if somewhat melancholic respite from the more monolithic works. And Craig Barber’s series of black and white photographs are steeped in un-nostalgic Americana. A tinge of stagnation, but not quite timelessness, permeates the 10 x 12 inch photos— desperate, desolate woods enveloping stoic workers machinery that looks obsolete but is in fact still operating as of 2011, when the photos were snapped.

For more information you can call 315.442.2230 or email the Community Folk Art Center, which is located at 805 E. Genesee Street.The Stone Canoe art exhibit runs through February 23.

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