Thursday August 9, 2012

by Keith Shaw, Special to Berkshires Week

ADAMS -- Five years ago New York-based artists Mari anne Petit and Matthew Bel anger established Greylock Arts in a charming art-deco building here. Its current exhibit, "Five," celebrates this half-decade of activity by highlighting the artwork of 35 artists from past shows.

Greylock Arts is not a commercial gallery but rather a project space promoting mostly experimental art with a special penchant for work incorporating technology. "Five" reflects this focus. The artists are drawn mainly from New York City and the Berkshires, and many familiar names from the North Adams area appear. From where I stood, these are some of the standouts.

Larry Alice’s piece is a showstopper: a hodgepodge assemblage of toys coated in plaster and brightly painted. Piled pell-mell into a makeshift boat, they form a quirky Ship of Fools whose figurehead is poignantly a blindfolded Energizer Bunny. Resembling an overloaded rol ler coaster, the vessel zips aimlessly through space. It’s a fascinating example of fantasy art.

I have reservations about photography, but they are all silenced each time I see Kay Canavino’s work. Her images always balance an artistic eye with intellectual content. In her photo of hanging pelts, complete with heads and tails, richly textured earth tones portray themes of beauty and death. It could be a poster child for animal-rights activists.


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Ven Voisey offers a geometric painting of an open cargo crate set in clean perspective. The neutral gray frame effectively activates the orange door. Spilling out of the box is a paper cutout suggesting the concept of volume. While space may be the final frontier in science, in art it’s the first. Voisey’s work is a succinct commentary on the cohabitation of perspective, flatness, and volumetric illusionism in traditional painting.

Daniel Rozin is an interactive digital artist, and his kinetic sculpture is essentially a computerized mobile. Placed in the storefront window and visible at all times, a large black frame contains a grid of pivoting slats. The strips are programmed to swivel, creating compositional patterns of ripples and rectangles. It’s art making art.

The video sculptor Gabriel Barcia-Colombo places a glass Victorian display dome on top of a vintage black-and-white television set; both are outdated modes of presentation. Small figures seem to emerge from the set and climb into the dome, where they mime a one-act play. This "live" performance references an even earlier mode of presentation: drama. The piece nicely layers our human experience, updating the timeline to include video.

Artist-critic Charles Giuliano makes collages of photos taken from various places; when combined, they conceptually assemble a unified landscape. The multiple shots create the sensation of movement and lapsed time, a full narrative of a given locale.

And for the traditionalist, there is Greg Scheckler’s captivating painting. His rendering of two feeding swallows is an example of art as visual poetry.

"Five" is a strong exhibit, justifying a trip to Adams. There is a wide variety of work, and the pieces are well presented and logically arranged. Hours are ex tremely limited, but special viewings are welcome by ap pointment.

While in Adams, turn the corner and stop by the gallery in the Baer’s Den Bakery Deli at 3 E. Hoosac St. to see the Bruce MacDonald exhibit curated by Richard Harrington -- one of the artists in "Five." Mac Don ald’s hand-colored etchings are phenomenal.

These satirical essays, which nail our society dead on, are a delightful and mesmerizing mixture of Bosch, Peter Brue gel, political cartoons and Vol tairean wit. Trust me, this show is one for the must-see list.