May 29, 2012 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The most memorable art – be it a painting or a book, music or a movie – shines new light on our everyday world so that we see it with fresh eyes.
Familiar surroundings, no matter how drab, become luminous. Routine scenes and situations suddenly pulsate with momentous meaning. Streets shimmer. Faces radiate. Landscapes glisten.
So it is with the artworks in the Everson Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibit, “People, Place and Progress: Local Landscapes in Paint and Print.” Presented in collaboration with the Onondaga Historical Association, the exhibit will hang from June 2 through Sept. 2, at the Everson, 401 Harrison St., at the corner of South State Street. Admission is free.
The exhibition showcases paintings of local historical scenes from the collections of both institutions. Images will include the Erie Canal, rural vistas, area waterfalls and gorges, plus architectural landmarks such as former breweries, mills and stagecoach inns.
One of the show’s most eye-catching paintings is Adelaide Morris’ delightful 26×21-inch watercolor, “Durston Building from Parking Lot,” which she painted in 1952. Plump as melons, the automobiles appear to have a life of their own as they await their downtown drivers. The yellow car at the center looks like a face, twice; its windshields are sad eyes while its headlights are giddy glimpsers, ready to roll.
Hanging simultaneously with “People, Place and Progress” will be photographs by the Missouri-based photographer Julie Blackmon. Her exhibit, “Other Tales from Home,” will be on view at the Everson Museum of Art through Sept. 2.
Blackmon’s photos are an ingenious mix of realism and fantasy. In one, swim-suited children cavort in a backyard under a blue sky as white umbrellas hover overhead. In another, an old bag lady, a blonde girl child, a young man in black and a tiny Chihuahua converge on a stop sign in a city alleyway.
Authentic and dysfunctional, Julie Blackmon’s photographs strike a resonating chord in both children and adult viewers. Inspired by humorous 17th century Dutch paintings and her own childhood as the eldest of nine, Blackmon digitally reconstructs scenes of family life with an eye for humor and the underlying chaos that causes it.
Morris, who was married to artist Fred Gardner, was 54 years old when she created the image of Durston’s with its 1884 cornerstone clearly visible in the structure’s cornice. For a watercolorist, Morris’ imagery is incredibly crisp. Her fun-loving sense of scene transformed this otherwise dull urban parking lot into a playground of possibilities.
On the other hand, oil painter Beatrice Wose-Smith gazes deeply into the dark in her 1937 painting “Winter Night, Fayette Park.” The artist was just 29 years old when she put this image to canvas, a noir-ish cityscape suggesting a depth of melancholy and foreboding rare for one so young.
Barren tree limbs curl like malicious fingers toward the center of the painting framed by the park’s wrought-iron fence in the foreground and East Fayette Street in the background. The University Club’s welcoming columns call out as a possible safe haven as an unseen evil overshadows all. The black trees loom above autos on the street and throw murky shadows on the otherwise pristine snow.
Within two years of Wose-Smith’s work, nine Syracuse firefighters would lose their lives in the Collins Block fire on Feb. 2 and 3, 1939. A memorial was later erected by the city on the east side of the Fayette Park, now known as Firefighters’ Memorial Park.
Although created just a few years after the magical realism of “Winter Night” and a decade before the scenic hyperrealism of “The Durston Building,” Wilfred J. Addison Jr.’s 47×30-inch “DL&W Depot” revels in impressionism. His feathery brush strokes depict the train station that was located on West Jefferson Street roughly where the OnTrack station now stands. The same year he painted the depot, Addison embarked on a personal journey when he married his North High School sweetheart, Jennie DiStefano. The couple later studied fine arts together at Syracuse University.
Because “People, Place and Progress” brings together the curators and collections of both the Everson and the OHA, most of the artworks will be accompanied by photographs which put the artists’ visions into perspective.
“The exhibition pairs these paintings with historic photos and prints of the same scene, documenting either the particular image or the actual historic landscape that inspired the artist,” said Debora Ryan, the Everson’s senior curator. Viewers will see, she said, “how the artist chose to interpret that Central New York setting and why those places help shape our regional identity.”
An opening-night reception is scheduled from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 1, at the museum. The reception is free for Everson members, and $10 for non-members at the door. For information, visit everson.org or call 474-6064.