All posts by Bradley Butler

From The Director: Hanging Jewelry on The Wall

5-Brad_Multifaceted

From the DirectorA series that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibitions and events that take place at Main Street Arts, as well as insight from the director’s perspective on the artwork and artists featured.


A grouping of work in Multifaceted

Multifaceted exhibition, a view from the second room

As with all of our exhibitions, I have been looking forward to installing our current show, Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry. One of the greatest thrills of curating and hanging an exhibition is in the process of laying out the work and going through the different possibilities for making the exhibition the best version of what it could be. So many variations of the same exhibition exist prior to making the final decisions to make THE exhibition.

FTD_Jewelry)planning2

Preparing for installation…

I knew it would be a challenge to install jewelry, especially since we wanted to put as much as possible directly on the wall. One of the main concerns was making sure the exhibition would adequately fill the space. When all of the work was taken out of boxes and bags, it was all able to fit on a table and a hand full of pedestals—I started to get a little nervous! However, as pieces started to be set in place, we could see that we had enough work. Our next concern was that we didn’t want the individual pieces to get lost on the large walls of the gallery. Painting a variety of circles in a muted blue helped to give context to jewelry groupings and provided a rhythm to the wall as a whole.

FTD_Jewelry)planning1

Trays, bowls, vases, and other circular objects proved helpful when painting circles! Pictured: Necklaces by Boo Poulin and a brooch by Juan Carlos Caballero-Perez

We also used mirrors, painted with a metallic gold, to add another dimensional element to the layout. As you pass by the sections with mirrors, you notice something moving in your periphery and—I hope—it causes you to stop and look closer at the surrounding collection of jewelry. They also serve a practical purpose in this exhibition, since most of the work in this show is made to be worn.

Multifaceted Installation shot, with mirrors.

Multifaceted Installation shot, with mirrors.

Ultimately, I wanted to do this exhibition to change the context of how we look at jewelry. My hope is for people to experience these pieces as if they were looking at painting or sculpture and spend time considering the meaning behind the work. The jewelry is out of its usual case in the gallery shop and is taking its rightful place on the walls and on pedestals of the gallery—seen as the works of art that they are.

Stop in to experience the exhibition in person before it closes this Friday, August 18.

From The Director: Utopia/Dystopia

Installation view from "Utopia/Dystopia", painting in foreground by Polly Little

Installation view from ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, painting in foreground by Polly Little

Juried exhibitions are interesting from my perspective as a gallery director. There is much less control of the outcome in an exhibition like this. Typically, I get to choose each artist—and many times, each specific piece—that will be included in a show. From the beginning, I have an idea of how the exhibition will come together and how it can be installed to become an interesting thing unto itself. However, in a juried show I have no control over what will be displayed, only how it will be  displayed.

The usual exhibition at Main Street Arts has its beginnings in seeing a specific piece by an artist and slowly building the idea for the exhibition around that. The place that I end up may be different from where I started but it is this organic process that keeps things interesting for me from year to year.

The current national juried exhibition, Utopia/Dystopia features 40 artists from 15 different states selected by our juror, John Massier—visual arts curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY. The idea for this exhibition came to me last year during the strange spectacle that was primaries and started out only as “dystopia”, with no brighter side. As a little time passed, it became important to add in “utopia” as the counterpoint with the hope for an exhibition that presented competing visions of the future. The resulting exhibition brings the realization that the themes of utopia and dystopia can be left to interpretation.

Installation view of 'Utopia/Dystopia', Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

Installation view of ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

There are of course pieces in the show that are always read as depicting  dystopia (i.e. things that are on fire or demonic figures) and then there are those that could be both. Endless Pool by Anna Pleskow could be read either way, I see both isolation and serenity. Fretful Mickey by Jennifer McCandless  is meant to be “a dystopian Disney that is hot, crowded, and the only thing to eat is a giant turkey leg” (a quote from the artist) but I could also see this as an alternative version of the Disney classic that is perhaps even more captivating.

(left) "Endless Pool" by Anna Pleskow (right) "Fretful Mikey" by Jennifer McCandless

(left) “Endless Pool” by Anna Pleskow (right) “Fretful Mikey” by Jennifer McCandless

Even though I had a complete lack of control in selecting the work for Utopia/Dystopia, I am very happy with the selections made by our juror. It is an eclectic mix that makes you laugh, scratch your head, and maybe even get a little creeped out! Stop in before June 30, 2017 to see the show before it is gone.

From The Director: Re-Emerging Artists

Installation shot from the exhibition

Installation shot from the exhibition

Our current exhibition, Re-Emerging Artists features two painters who have both been making art for longer than I have been alive. Considering this fact as a painter myself, I find it so encouraging and inspiring to see two artists making such fascinating work after more than six decades of making art.

John Greene and Robert Marx met each other around the year 2000 but their history goes back to the 1950s when John purchased a print of Robert’s in a gallery on Madison Avenue in New York. Over the years, John acquired more of Robert’s work and was delighted to find out that he lived and worked in Rochester when he was in town for a meeting at the Memorial Art Gallery. The two met in Robert’s studio and immediately became friends.

Fast forward to 2017 and we have the first showing of their work together in an exhibition at Main Street Arts!

In Robert's studio at Anderson Alley. An early, in-progress shot of the painting "Solana" that is in the exhibition.

In Robert’s studio at Anderson Alley including an early, in-progress shot of the painting “Solana” that is in the exhibition.

I had the pleasure of visiting both artists in their studios multiple times in preparation for this show. With Robert, both in his studio at Anderson Alley and in his current basement studio in his home. He spent almost 30 years in the Anderson Arts building on Goodman Street in Rochester. He now has the convenience of not having to commute to and from the studio—unless you count the walk from the kitchen to the basement steps.

Making the initial selection of work for the show back in May of 2016

John and I in his studio, making the initial selection of work for the show back in May, 2016

I visit artist’s studios frequently and going to see Robert was a quick trip to Rochester. However, visiting John’s studio meant going on a bit of a road trip—he lives in the Hudson region about four hours southeast of Main Street Arts. During our first visit in May of 2016, I was thrilled to be welcomed into his home studio to see his encaustic paintings in person for the first time. I was particularly drawn to the “Dimensional Landscapes”, four of which are included in the exhibition. I had never seen a painting stick straight out from the wall before!

Dimensional Landscape, oil and encaustic on wood—John Greene

Dimensional Landscape, oil and encaustic on wood by John Greene (two views)

The seeds of this exhibition were sown in September, 2015 at an opening reception at Main Street Arts. Grant Holcomb, former director of MAG and Marcia Lowry, on the board of managers at MAG, approached me with the idea of having a show with Robert and John. Already being a Robert Marx fan—and soon to become a fan of John Greene—I quickly obliged and we set the date of April, 2017 for the show. All of us thought that 2017 sounded so far away, but here we are!

One of the sections of the show where John and Robert's work is paired together as one

One of the sections of the exhibition where John and Robert’s work is paired together as one

One of the things I looked forward to the most, besides seeing all of this work in person, was being able to curate it together in one space. I am always drawn to the idea mixing things up. Rather than have John’s work in one room and Robert’s in the other, we have sections like the one shown above, where pieces by each artist are hung as a cohesive singular installation. Other areas of the show allow for specific pieces to be highlighted on their own but for the most part the exhibition is a unification of both artist’s work.

Pictured from left to right: Marcia Lowry, John Greene, Gwen Greene, Bradley Butler, Francie Marx, Robert Marx, Grant Holcomb

Pictured from left to right: Marcia Lowry, John Greene, Gwen Greene, Bradley Butler, Francie Marx, Robert Marx, Grant Holcomb


Re-Emerging Artists runs through May 12th, 2017. On Saturday, April 29th, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., John and Robert will be discussing their work in the gallery (discussion begins promptly at 11 a.m.) RSVP by calling or emailing the gallery. More info: Artist Discussion Facebook Event

Purchase work from the Exhibition in our online store.
See photos from the exhibition and opening reception on Flickr.

From The Director: Post One

One of the things that I have dreamt of for a long time (over a year!) is to write a reoccurring blog post from my point of view as a gallery director and a curator. So far, I have only dreamed. I have not yet put the pen to the paper… or in this case, the finger to the key. This changes now, with the first post. I will call this series From The Director, and I hope it will offer insight into the behind-the-scenes activity at the gallery along with my own perspective on exhibitions, artwork, and the artists themselves. This first post is a bit of a preview of what is coming up this year.

Sarah

Sarah Butler – Gallery Manager and Graphic Designer

First, I would like to announce that my wife, Sarah Butler, has joined us at Main Street Arts. She started at the beginning of 2017 as our gallery manager and is also taking on all of the graphic design projects  at the gallery. She comes to us with a Masters in the Business of Art and Design from MICA and a BFA in Graphic Design from RIT. I know I am biased but she is a wonderful addition to the gallery team! If you have not had the chance to meet her yet, please feel free to introduce yourself the next time you come to the gallery.

Trying to Understand the World

Trying to Understand the World

2017 is going to be a great year for exhibitions at Main Street Arts! Our first show, Trying To Understand The World has just ended and was very well received. It was a great way to start out the year on a high point. You can read a review by Rebecca Rafferty here, in Rochester City Newspaper.

I will be discussing our next show, Alternative Photographic Process in a full post soon. Until then, here are a few highlights of other shows that are coming up this year:

Left: Untitled (encaustic colorfield) by John Greene, Right: Solana, (oil and gold leaf on canvas) by Robert Marx

Left: Untitled (colorfield) by John Greene, Right: Solana by Robert Marx

April 8–May 12, we are ecstatic to have an exhibition featuring John Greene and Robert Marx! The exhibition is called Re-emerging Artists and as the name suggests, these two artists have emerged, become established, and are now “re-emerging” to a new audience and a new generation. The show will feature more than 50 paintings, drawings, and sculptures by the two artists.

Utopia/Dystopia

Our upcoming national juried exhibition, Utopia/Dystopia will open on May 20 and will be juried by John Massier, curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo. The deadline for submissions is March 27, and we welcome submissions in all media. Learn more about this call on our submissions page.

From Kathy Calderwood's Studio

From Kathy Calderwood’s Studio

Another exhibition of note, is our Upstate New York Painting Invitational at the end of the summer. It will open on August 26 and will feature painters in a variety of media and styles. I have been doing studio visits with painters in the region and will continue to do so as the exhibition begins to come together.

Visit our website and stay tuned to our social media outlets to learn more about these shows and the others that are coming up on both floors at Main Street Arts. We also have new artists in residence coming through the gallery for one or two-month residencies and a regular schedule of workshops.

We hope to see you at our next opening on Saturday, February 25, 4–7pm for Alternative Photographic Process. An exhibition of sketchbooks by Genine Carvalheira-Gehman and Andy Reddout also opens that same day in our second floor gallery space.