Buzz, excitement, anticipation; all of these are words that can be used to describe this past First Friday held on April 6th. With the spring season still fresh in our mind, feeding our yearning for the “new”, the downtown art scene followed suit. Art tyros from college students to first time exhibitors made their presence felt across the First Friday universe. “Start right where you are…” was definitely the rallying cry.
At AFA Gallery and Artworks, Keystone seniors exhibited their creations to robust crowds; a swell of supporters who packed both venues. Wall mounted paintings, post-modern meets pop-art sculptures, sumptuous blown glass vessels, Chamberlain-esque forms, and more were on display as the seniors from the local college expressed their depth of knowledge in their chosen craft. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/first-friday-newcomers-tap-into-market-1.1296615#axzz1rYIMfO4c The public took notice with a response that rivaled Walmart on a Saturday afternoon, though less bizarre and more bazaar in light of the potpourri of art forms.
Marywood University art students responded to the zeitgeist with their bricolage pieces at greenbeing. In the fourth annual installation of their work Ted Michalowski’s Marywood bricoleurs assembled improvisational collages. Given the types of materials some of the work was surprising – one person’s junk is another’s treasure – and could be found as wall mounted works, sculptural floor pieces, or hung from the ceiling mobile-style. Marywood was also on display in an exhibition at Cameraworks gallery. The invitation featured a variety of print media which highlighted the student’s understanding of spatial relationships and form.
Mike Lambert a former Marywood graduate himself proudly exhibited his work at Wayne Bank, their first foray into the First Friday scene. Both were well-represented. Lambert’s work harkens back to the proud days of modernism while looking forward to more painterly abstractions. The work at Wayne Bank displayed his consistent and proficient affection for surface and textural relationship akin to Tapies. Harmonizing with the color fields were monolithic rectangles that floated horizontally and/or vertically and served as either windows or dimensional forms allowing the viewer a respite from the soporific color.
If color was your interest then a short jaunt up Adams Ave. led you to Josef Selvin. Selvin’s watercolors brightened up the Hilton’s hotel lobby and matched the enthusiasm coming from PJ’s Pub where a raffle and art support was being held. Josef’s skill was on display in his athletic representation of equine scenes, America’s favorite pastime, and nautical adventures on the high seas. From transparent washes to opaque shapes, Selvin’s collected work celebrated the marriage of water and color.
Spring is a transitory period and often inspires some more unconventional marriages. This communion wove its way through many of the shows in April, specifically the group show held at New Visions Studio and Gallery. IAC took over New Visions and provided oblique perspectives on art making and its process and materials. As a group of young artists, the independent artists collective, is always taking on projects to motivate a group synergy, an aesthetic, and real change. Installations, paintings, sculpture, and more served as an expression of this goal.
Using art as a tool for social expression served as Matt Wheeler’s agents of change at The Keys. Highlighted by the Times Matt Wheeler’s Monkey On Your Back exhibit served up graphically styled depictions of well…monkeys. The musically inclined primates performed on brightly colored surfaces while spinning records, dancing, etc. Being that the work was hung in bar asks a simple question, who’s aping whom?
With April having past, First Friday is already looking forward to May. Even warmer weather looks to catapult more artists forward and engage the area’s supporters in a frenzy of creative activity. Of course if you’re ever downtown and not sure where to go on First Friday you can always stop by First Friday’s information station because, drum roll please, after a brief respite due to the wintery weather the First Friday Headquarters is back and functioning as a great information resource.
***Keystone Senior Exhibition @ Artworks and AFA Gallery; Recent Works by Michael Lambert at Wayne Bank; Marywood University Student Invitational Exhibition at Cameraworks; IAC Group Show @ New Visions Studio; Matt Wheeler’s The Monkey On Your Back @ The Keys; all exhibits open until end of April.
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