This fall season brings a characteristically rich variety of exhibits for followers of local visual art. Running on a mostly monthly cycle, several stalwart venues – most of them downtown – put considerable work into presenting shows that highlight Ithaca’s uncommon range of talent.
Currently in its 29th year, the State of the Art Gallery is Ithaca’s oldest independently run exhibition space. The cooperative generally features rotating displays of its members: typically either solo shows or groupings of one, two, three, or four. (A wider sampling of the SOAG’s offerings can be found in their back room “salon.”)
September 5 through 30 brings a two-person show featuring David Watkins and James Spitznagel, who both work with abstracted digital imagery. In October the gallery will feature digital illustrator Frances Fawcett and photographer Susan Larkin, both exploring the natural world.
Founded in 1999, the Ink Shop Printmaking Center is a cooperative of a rather different stripe. The hard-working collective incorporates a working print studio with an ambitious exhibition program that leverages the accessibility of the print medium to bring in local, national, and even international work.
From September 7 to the 28, the center is given over to a “Members Exhibit” featuring work by the Shop’s talented Artist and Printmaker Associates. October offers up “Dreams and Pressings: The journey of two artist friends Genie Shenk and Mary Ellen Long” while November through January brings the “20th Mini Print International Exhibit.”
The Shop, which has occupied several locations, currently rents a space on the second floor of the downtown building owned by the Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA). The CSMA itself has a lively program of exhibits – often drawing off the diverse concerns and talents of curators from the Ithaca community. September continues their “Faculty Show” (August 3 through September 28) highlighting work from the school’s teaching faculty. October is dedicated to “Agua Kinesis,” presented by CULTURA Ithaca, a Latina/o cultural organization, while November continues the emphasis on diversity with “The Bright, The Bleak, The Enigmatic,” with Haitian work from the Benson Collection. December and January are dedicated to their popular juried “Annual Open Show.”
Located in Center Ithaca, the Community Arts Partnership – our government arts council – is yet another venue for ambitious local art. In September (the 7 through the 30), their ArtSpace gallery will show an unusually auspicious pairing in the form of painter Gillian Pederson-Krag and mixed media sculptor Victoria Romanoff. Extraordinarily, both artists are 1962 BFAs from the Rhode Island School of Design, with subsequent MFAs from Cornell. Pederson-Krag’s still-lifes translate quotidian objects into meditative scenarios. Romanoff, known for her architectural restorations, brings a bricolage sensibility to her abstract but often metaphorically figurative sculptures.
October highlights artists from the council-run Greater Ithaca Art Trail while November will be dedicated to the popular “CAP-A-Palooza” – a benefit art sale for the organization.
Located in Cayuga Heights, Corners Gallery is a frame shop as well as perhaps Ithaca’s most ambitious “white box” gallery. Particularly following a 2014 expansion, owner Ariel Bullion Ecklund has brought it a range of solo and group shows featuring both local and non-local artists. The sensibility and presentation is cool but accessible.
Currently Corners is collaborating with Domenica Brockman of Petrune, on the Commons, to bring “The Duality Show: In Darkness and in Light,” (September 7 through 27) an expansive group show featuring a remarkable 59 artists split over two locations. (Home to the much-missed Eye Gallery, the second-floor space above the popular clothing boutique is a charmingly intimate venue. One hopes to keep seeing art displayed there.) The “theme” is perhaps less important than the impressive roster of local artists assembled by the two jurors.
October at Corners brings a one-woman show by excellent local painter Suzanne Onodera, who works between romantic landscape and abstract expressionism. Many local exhibits, sometimes of considerable merit, take place in informal and non-conventional venues. It’s impossible, in an article of this scope, to highlight all the spaces that show worthy art. But I’d be remiss in not pointing out two rather different home-based galleries, both admirable efforts to expand the scope of Ithaca’s show spaces – often felt to be limited.
Located in a converted garage, the Mink Gallery houses a revolving selection of paintings by Barbara Mink, by one of Ithaca’s leading abstract painters. September will feature a second month of Mink’s work shown against that of Cortland painter Thomas Partigianoni – whose mixed-media pieces show a grittier approach to non-figuration.
Displaying an eclectic and more self-consciously “contemporary” approach, Neighbors is the work of Mara Baldwin, who also runs Ithaca College’s Handwerker Gallery.•