“Figurative”, a show by local abstractionist Michael Sampson, is characteristic of the searching work presented at the Corners Gallery.

Anybody wishing to familiarize themselves with the local exhibitions scene would do well to attend downtown Ithaca’s monthly Gallery Night, held on the first Friday of every month (from 5 to 8 p.m.). For anybody with a different schedule or anybody looking for a less social setting, a self-guided tour will also do. Most galleries rotate shows every month or two and it is possible to see everything important in town. 

Several longer-term and upcoming shows and events are worthy of particular notice. (Almost all are free of charge.) 

Among independent local venues, Corners Gallery (cornersgallery.com) in Cayuga Heights consistently has one of the most interesting and diverse programs. Ariel Bullion Ecklund, who owns and directs the frame shop and display space, is professional and ambitious in all her work. 

Derived from life drawings, “Figurative” (September 10-October 28), a show of paintings by veteran local abstractionist Michael Sampson, is characteristic of the searching work presented at Corners. Next up is “Quartet” (November 5-December 30), featuring the work of Ithaca College-associated artists Susan Weisend, Carla Stetson, Minna Resnick, and Lin Price. All are known for their eclectic approaches to style, media, and/or technique.  

Ecklund is an artist herself, working in ceramics and photography. She will be showing next month (October 1-October 23) with local abstract painter Domenica Brockman at The Gallery at South Hill, inside the South Hill Business Campus (southhillbusinesscampus.com).

Owned and run by Wendy Gherity, the new Mix Gallery (mixartgallery.com) on the Commons appears to still be finding its footing. With “Non-Zero-Sum,” an exhibition by abstract painter Jeffrey Hansen of Saint Paul, Minnesota up for most of the summer, the future of the walk-up gallery has seemed unclear. 

Recently announced, their October show “Duality” will feature painter Joy Adams, of Trumansburg, and sculptor Jason Griego. I can’t speak here to Griego’s work, which I have yet to see in person. Adams, however, is a superb artist—bending “old master” styles and motifs in a way that is playful and distinctly contemporary. Both artists will also be showing at Mix in the future. 

Cornell University holds an overwhelming number of exhibitions and events: most notably at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (museum.cornell.edu) and in galleries run by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (aap.cornell.edu). 

One lower profile event is deserves special notice. Julianne Hunter, a visiting critic at the AAP college, is reprising her exhibition from last fall at the Ink Shop Printmaking Center downtown, where she was the 2021-2022 Kahn Family Fellow. The show takes place in the Experimental Gallery in Olive Tjaden Hall and runs through this Friday (September 19-23). 

As they have done since 1973—with an intermission during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic—the Johnson hosts several concurrent exhibitions, open to the general public. (Admission is free.) 

Sadly, the museum’s calendar of special events has yet to make a full recovery. Of particular note is their upcoming annual Stoikov Lecture, to be held on September 29, starting at 5:15 p.m. Curator and art historian Navina Haidar, head of the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, will be presenting on the “new” Islamic galleries there—which she helped to establish. The lecture will be accessible online as well as at the museum. 

The Cornell Council for the Arts (cca.cornell.edu) is hosting their 2022 Biennial on the characteristically lofty theme of “Futurities, Uncertain.” Curated by council director Timothy Murray, and running from July through December, the extravaganza includes forty artists, showing at both the Ithaca campus and at Cornell Tech in New York City. 

The sprawled displays will appeal most to devotees of the “radical” and the outlandish—others may find some of the work perplexing. I was struck by an installation by Canadian artist Sara Jimenez, “At what point does the world unfold?” (September 15-October 27). Bright pink, elaborately textured suspended fabrics currently fill the university’s Arts Quad. The manifest beauty of the piece carries a subtext of political critique—nearly obligatory in contemporary academic art. 

In connection with the goings-on on campus, The Cherry Arts theatre (thecherry.org) is hosting an in-town group exhibit, “Local Futurities” (September 23-October 30), in their new Cherry Gallery. A reception will be held this Friday evening (5-8pm). Look out for the work of sculptor Grace Sachi Troxell, a recent Cornell M.F.A. graduate.  

Folks interested in literature as well as the visual arts—and a broader geographic perspective—would do well to attend open house events at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts (saltonstall.org). Founded in 1995, the foundation hosts juried residencies for New York State artists on the beautiful Ellis Hollow property of the late artist and activist Constance Saltonstall. Upcoming open houses at Saltonstall will take place on October 9 (from 2-4pm) and 27 (5:30-7:30pm). 

The Syracuse University Museum of Art (museum.syr.edu), an important regional venue, is hosting “Anni Albers: Work With Materials” this fall (August 25-December 11). Featuring textiles and prints by the great German-Jewish Bauhaus artist, the show includes “over 100 objects from the collection of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.”

Another regional show will be of particular interest to Ithacans. Mary Shelley’s folk-style painted wood reliefs have long been a memorable part of the local culture. She is having a solo exhibition at the Fenimore Museum (adults $10, children free) in Cooperstown (fenimoreartmusem.org). Opening this week, “Mary Michael Shelley: Art of the Everyday” will run through the end of the year (September 21-December 31). 

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