While the image of the contemporary visual artist tends to be deeply individualistic, the art world in practice is inevitably a social place—often held together through relationships of friendship and admiration. For the latest exhibit at Corners Gallery, director Ariel Ecklund asked a handful of familiar standbys; each was encouraged to invite an additional artist of their choice. Up through Jan. 25, “Plus One” features 15 artists (all but three are women) working in a range of media. Not the most cohesive or collectively satisfying of presentations, the show nevertheless highlights both the range and ambition of the gallery as well as an able balance of local and non-local art.
Barbara Page’s gifts as a painter sometimes get lost in her eclectic, brainy oeuvre. Two square-shaped oils on canvas, “Homeward Bound” and “East is East” return to her roots, while maintaining her signature interest in aerial topography. The former, depicting or imagining a landscape of forests and farm fields cut with an approximate grid of gray roads, gives voice to an interplay between nature and human intervention. The latter, with its pale shades and mosaic-like assembly portraying urban blocks, has a less naturalistic, more abstracted cast.
Similarly to Page’s best work, Rosalyn Richards’ weds humane touch and texture to a scientifically-inspired subject matter. This is most striking in her intaglio prints, which suggest micro- and macro-cosmic settings. Two color etching-aquatints, “Beacon” and “Fabric of Space,” convey a Leonardo-esque fascination with the more alien realms of the universe.
Both Richards and her invitee, Devon Stackonis, spring from Pennsylvania. With their patient realism, measured tonality, and mechanical texture, the junior artist’s black-and-white mezzotints evoke photography while remaining emphatically hand-rendered. Working from elaborately constructed still-life setups but evoking landscape, both “Entropic Space” and “Reunion” conjure an uncanny fantasy of natural and architectural forms.
Local abstract sculptor Ann Reichlin is generously represented, with two wall-mounted works as well as a freestanding piece. Both framed, “Measures of Happiness (a)” and “(b)” feature gridded arrangements of wood, masonite, house paint, and graphite constructions evoking pie charts and cakes. “Iteration #18,” a layered, see-through box of wire mesh and green plastic netting, has a similar rough grace.
Wedding Romantic dreaminess to the layered gesturalism of Abstract Expressionism, Suzanne Onodera’s abstract landscape oils have a grandeur unique in local painting. “By The Nature of This Place” is characteristically rich: both far away and up front, pull and push. Pale blue and salmon strokes accent an already dense palette of grays and browns—flickers of light and matter congealing in a suggestion of smoke, water, and sky.
While Onodera’s canvas holds it own here, single pieces by abstractionists Patricia Bender, Amy Callahan, and John McLaughlin unfortunately come off as afterthoughts. One wants to see more, in particular, of the former two.
Combining printmaking and drawing, Minna Resnick presents suggestive, purposefully disjoint sign-scapes exploring feminine role-playing. Eclectic virtuoso Stan Taft is showing “Fanzago’s Confession II,” a brash oil canvas combining realistically rendered drapery with fancifully decorative spiralings. In contrast, Cuba Ray’s two winter landscapes, also in oil, are modest if able variations. Mixed-media abstractions by Masha Ryskin and Ruth Sproul offer just-enough space for these distinctive voices. Less familiar locally, veteran artist Carey Corea of Rochester presents large encaustic panels dense with color, texture, and pattern.
If Corners has a signature approach to photography, it’s one that favors the oblique and the lyrical over the more straightforward. In that light at least, three small digital photo landscapes by Rachel Dickinson seem out-of-place: well enough done but without the heft of most of the work here.
It is somewhat unusual to see a local show with this approximate number of artists. Exhibitions with a couple or a few people are common enough, while both the State of the Art Gallery and the Community School of Music and Arts notably hold annual year-end juried shows with much larger groupings.
“Plus One” comes off as a bit of an odd duck—neither deep investigation of particular bodies-of-work nor survey of anything in particular. Given the size of the gallery space, some sense of incompleteness is probably inevitable. Still, one might have hoped for a somewhat fuller and more equitable presentation of the artists.