ALBANY — The public will have an opportunity to meet new Albany Museum of Art Executive Director Andrew James Wulf at the AMA’s Autumn Exhibitions Reception Thursday from 6-8 p.m..
The three new exhibitions are “Origami Variations,” work by Gloria Garfinkel, in the Haley Gallery; “Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings,” photography by Nancy Newberry, in the East Gallery, and the 26th annual juried exhibition of the Georgia Artists Guild of Albany in the West Gallery.
The event is free and open to the public, but those who want to help children enjoy a happier Christmas can get an early start at the reception. The AMA is participating in the 2019 Toys for Tots campaign and will accept unwrapped toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves program. Last year, Toys for Tots provided holiday gifts to more than 5,400 underprivileged children in the Albany area.
“I am so delighted to join the AMA at this time of creative transformation,” Wulf said. “This museum has and shall continue to make its top priority the drawing in of Albany’s diverse communities through its meaningful and boundary-pushing exhibitions and programs.
“I am honored to work with the AMA’s talented staff and to build on the substantial success of my predecessors. Together we will ensure this museum has an incredibly bright future.”
At the reception, Wulf will provide guests with insight to the “Origami Variations” and “Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings” exhibitions, and Guild officials will announce the winners of their competition. Wulf then will meet and greet guests.
The paintings, prints, and maquettes for large-scale sculptures in Garfinkel’s “Origami Variations” will be on view through Feb. 8.
In a career spanning almost 40 years, Garfinkel has proven herself an artist of unquenchable curiosity and tireless invention.
“I don’t think I’ve ever painted anything that wasn’t new for me,” she said. “Having a vision, and having it come out well, and the excitement of doing it, that’s what I’m all about.”
She has made prints since 1980, first as a student of the celebrated printmaker Mohammed Khalil at the New School in Manhattan, soon becoming his collaborator. She uses whatever medium suits her particular needs and is willing to combine them, cut and collage them, and add details by hand.
The Kimono Hanabi prints (1992) included in “Origami Variations” are made by printing a number of multicolored etchings, then cutting them into sections and combining and reassembling them. The Can Cri prints (2002) employ the same cut-and-paste technique with woodcuts and are notable for the fact that there is hardly a single straight edge in the entire series.
There are no simple rectangular paintings in “Origami Variations,” but more provocative are her paintings in motorcycle paint on aluminum. The Flip series and pieces like “Double Discs” and “One Circle in Rectangle” (all 2008) feature hinged or rotating sections that allow the spectator to entirely change the picture’s appearance. The artist says she wants people to be “involved” in her work, “so that they can see how wonderful it is to make a painting.”
In her “Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings” exhibition, which will continue through Jan. 4, Newberry found close-to-home inspiration. Fact and fiction from the legendary Wild West meet with playful attitude in her photography.
“Photographed in both Texas and Mexico, this project is a survey of my own backyard, merging documentary portrayals with dreamlike creations to investigate notions of nationalism and community,” said Newberry, an internationally known Texas artist whose work explores the interplay between individuality and social affiliation.
The artist said her mother’s Italian heritage and her Texas upbringing influenced the exhibition, which “draws inspiration from classic Spaghetti Western movies, the 1960s subgenre of Italian Western films made famous by director Sergio Leone.”
Appropriating, reinterpreting and questioning Western mythologies while also reflecting cultural and political conditions of Europe after World War II, Spaghetti Westerns “developed into a repository for issues concerning national identity on both sides of the Atlantic,” Newberry said. “I am intrigued by the present-day use of ‘the Wild West’ to either approve of or to disparage the new frontier, and I am curious in what it could say about the current state of the American myth.”
Subjects in the photographs, which emphasize costume and uniform, act out characters that are part of a group or team.
“In ‘Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings,’ Mexican charros, American cowboys and military soldiers become suspended in a playful sense of preparedness at the Texas-Mexico border — a territory of blended nationalities, legendary historical battles, contested land and a very famous wall,” she said. “This is the true Wild West.”
Also continuing through Jan. 4 will be the Georgia Artists Guild of Albany’s 26th annual juried exhibition. It will feature about 20 paintings, photographs and sculptures submitted by a dozen members of the organization.
Awards in each of the categories are to be determined by the juror for the competition, Laurel Robinson, a professor of art since 1978 and department chair since 2007 at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus. She teaches all levels of drawing and painting at GSW.
The Pittsburgh, Pa., native received her BFA in Painting in 1974 and her MFA in Painting in 1977, both from the University of Cincinnati. She has done post-graduate study at UCLA in Paleoecology, Sculpture and Scientific Illustration (1982); the University of Tasmania Centre for the Arts in Semiotics (Australia, 1986); the University of Tel Aviv in Hebrew (Israel, 1988), and a variety of coursework at GSW from Sociology of Religion, Literature, to Math and Culture (1979-2011).
She has taught or presented visiting lectures at a variety of universities. Robinson has exhibited her work at regional, national and international venues. Her work is included in several museum permanent collections, including the Jewish Museum of New York City, the Skirball Museum at New York University, the Cincinnati Museum of Art, List College at Columbia University, NYC Collection, and the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon.