Tag Archives: Harry Littell

From The Director: Into the Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

The three bodies of work presented in this exhibition are entirely different. Jasna Bogdanovska, Harry Littell, and Nigel Maister have each explored specific concepts through their imagery. Some are abstracted views of reality while others are a document of a specific time and place.

During the installation process of Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

During the installation process of Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Although each body of work is different, there is an overlap between them and a connection from one idea to the next. The name of the show Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar comes from my thinking about each of the artists and distilling their ideas surrounding the work into one word.

The Liminal #31 and #32 by Nigel Maister

The Liminal #31 and #32 by Nigel Maister

Unknown pertains to Nigel’s work and the way that he is investigating the relationship between the real and the imagined. He is using abstracted views of branches, leaves, and other flora as a way to depict the unseen. By pushing the values and colors of his images taken in the dark of night, he creates new worlds that are neither completely real nor entirely a figment of his imagination. The Liminal #31 and #32, part of a larger series (The Liminal) show two sides of his intentions. Both of these images may exist in a dream but one is more like an overload of saturation and visual stimulation, while the other could be a foreboding scene from a nightmare. The push and pull between being overstated and understated is one of the interesting things about the series as a whole and it makes for a varied experience when taking in the exhibition.

Farm drainage tile, Romulus by Harry Littell

Farm drainage tile, Romulus by Harry Littell

Overlooked came to mind when thinking about Harry’s project. He is investigating the upstate NY landscape and the small towns that we live in, drive through, or remember from years past. His photographs sometimes document a rather lifeless subject in a way that brings a depth of possible meaning or emotion. In Farm drainage tile (Romulus), a simple bundle of drainage tile sitting in a field becomes many things all at once. It is a monolithic structure, it is a stand-in for a large bale of hay typically seen in a field, and it is also waiting to go in the ground for its intended purpose. Without Harry finding beauty or an interest in this image, we may have just driven by and not paid any attention.

"Palimpsest" by Jasna Bogdanovska

“Palimpsest” by Jasna Bogdanovska

Unfamiliar connects to something in Jasna’s images. She is investigating her own identity, a dual identity. Born in Macedonia but living in the United States, she found the exact geographic midpoint between her two homes in the town of Grindavík, Iceland. This place that was once unfamiliar to her now became the symbol of her dual identity and the springboard for a series of photographs. Through a layered symbolism, she explores personal stories and ideas that relate back to this. The image pictured above, Palimpsest consists of a book resting on a rock in a shallow body of water. The meaning of the title has to do with a change occurring to something (i.e. a piece of writing or a place, perhaps even a person) with the original still showing through after the revision. In a way, this could be a self portrait. The book may have originally been written to describe a person who was born and lived in Macedonia. Pages inside have then been erased and rewritten, describing someone who now lives in America. The book is resting on a rock, which may represent Iceland, the place that is in between.

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

So, even though Jasna, Harry, and Nigel make completely different work, the overlap between them is present in this exhibition. I would suggest seeing it in person to find your own parallels and connections. Stop in before the show closes at the end of the month!

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar

Installation shot: Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar


See Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar at Main Street Arts through Friday, March 30, 2018. You can also preview the exhibition on Artsy: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.

Inside the artist’s studio with Harry Littell

Exploring near Horseheads. Photo by Roger Freeman

Exploring near Horseheads. Photo by Roger Freeman

I live in Ithaca, NY, where I’m a teacher (Tompkins Cortland Community College) and fine art photographer. I think of my studio broadly as the upstate New York region. A sense of place is important in my work.

House with asphalt shingles and vinyl siding, Union Springs, 2016

House with asphalt shingles and vinyl siding, Union Springs, 2016

In 2016 I began a collaborative project with friend and writer Ron Ostman to explore the upstate cultural landscape including houses, schools, businesses, industries, theaters, signs, thrift stores, and places of worship.  The unadorned vernacular architecture of the old farm house above attracted me with the mundane beauty of its simple lines and patterns.

Rhinehart Sand and Gravel, Corning,2017

Rhinehart Sand and Gravel, Corning, 2017

We strove for a  focused aimlessness in our weekly treks. We had no fixed destination. The key was to stop. Often. A main interest became sites that reflect the flux of the built environment. We saw evidence of industries in decline or completely gone. The hulking rusted machinery at a gravel mining operation near Corning is a reminder of a different era.

Cayuga Milk Ingredients plant, Aurora, 2017

Cayuga Milk Ingredients plant, Auburn, 2017

We also saw new industry. The  Cayuga Milk Ingredients plant near Auburn is a high tech milk processing plant serving a collective of dairy farmers, its pristine facade rising above the surrounding agricultural land.

Petrified Creatures Museum, Richfield Springs

Petrified Creatures Museum, Richfield Springs, 2017

I keep my photo technique simple. For this project I used a full frame mirrorless digital camera and two manual focus prime lenses, a 35mm and a 50mm. Some of the artists I look to for inspiration include Walker Evans, Edward Hopper, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Lee Friedlander, and Thomas Struth.

Elmira/Horseheads contact sheet

Elmira/Horseheads contact sheet

Double page spread

Double page spread

Towards the end of 2017 I began to put the project into book form.

InDesign layout in progress

InDesign layout in progress

I use InDesign to combine photographs and text. It’s challenging and fun to find visual and thematic connections between images. The screen grab above shows a glimpse of the process involved in finding a pair of images for a double-page spread. Images that don’t make the cut live in the limbo of the pasteboard outside the page layout. Ron wrote an introduction about our process and an afterward with thoughts on the state of upstate.

Storefronts

Storefronts

The shop signs in the photos above provided an idea for the title of the book, as seen in the cover image below.

Cover, UNROOM: New 2 U

Cover, UNROOM: New 2 U

I used MagCloud, a print on demand publisher, to print UNROOM: New 2 U.  Signed copies are available at Main Street Arts. The book can also be purchased directly from MagCloud.

Printing and framing

Printing and framing

I print and frame exhibition prints in my office at home. Here are two images being prepared for the exhibit at Main Street Arts. A big thanks to Brad for his interest in this project!

Dundee storefront

Dundee storefront, 2017

Ron and I are continuing to work on two offshoots from this project. One is a series of photographs of storefronts,  such as the above second-hand store in Dundee.

Robinson's Wood Shop, Cortland

Robinson’s Wood Shop, Cortland, 2017

Another is a series about upstate New York people and their stories, such as this environmental portrait of Steve Robinson at his wood mill in Cortland.

Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers

Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers

Ron and I have collaborated on a number of books about historical photographers, the most recent of which is Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers: The Photographic Legacy of William T. Clarke, published by Penn State University Press in fall 2016. For more about this project see the New York Times Lens Blog.


See 12 of Harry Littell’s photographs in Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar at Main Street Arts on display through Friday, March 30, 2018. The exhibition can also be viewed on the gallery’s Artsy page: Artsy.net/mainstreetarts.

From The Director: End of 2017 Edition

The last exhibition of 2017, "Small Works"

The last exhibition of 2017, “Small Works”

It’s the end of the year, so naturally we are getting into a reflective mood and reminiscing about all of the great things that happened at the gallery in 2017. This is also a time when we start to get really excited about new things on the horizon in the year to come. If you are thinking to yourself right now, “I wish I could look back at 2017 with Main Street Arts and see some of the exciting things coming up in 2018″, well you are in luck! Keep reading!

Top: Multifaceted, jewelry exhibition; Middle: Re-emerging artists: John Greene and Robert Marx; Bottom: Sacred Curiosities

2017 Exhibition Highlights – Top: Multifaceted, An exhibition of fine jewelry; Middle: Artist talk with John Greene and Robert Marx during Re-emerging Artists; Bottom: Sacred Curiosities

This year, we hosted  fifteen exhibitions on two floors including artwork by a total of 246 artists. Through five solo exhibitions, three two-person shows, four group invitationals, and three national juried exhibitions, we presented a variety of media and artistic perspectives over the course of the year. Highlights for me include hanging jewelry on the wall, hosting an exhibition featuring two artists with over 100 years combined art making experience, and an exhibition based on found objects.

2017 Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition: Self Portraits

2017 Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition: Self Portraits

We also held the 4th annual Finger Lakes Regional Student Painting Competition, which featured 5×7 self portraits by 203 student artists in grades 6 through 12 from 10 area school districts.

May/June, 2017 Artist in Residence, Nick LaTona

May/June, 2017 Artist in Residence, Nick LaTona

Our artist residency program, now well into it’s second year of existence, has been an exciting and meaningful addition to Main Street Arts. This year, we welcomed 18 different artists into our community, including our first ceramic artist in residence, Mandy Ranck, providing them the time and space to focus on making their art. We had artists from the Finger Lakes/Rochester areas; Brooklyn, NY; Staten Island, NY; Jersey City, NJ; Lenox, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Austin, TX.

2017 Workshop Highlights – In order from top left to bottom right: The Beauty of Small with Cathy Gordon; Printmaking with Chas Davis; students from Penn Yan Academy on a field trip to the gallery making Collage/Assemblage pieces; Encaustic Collage with Ali Herrmann

2017 Workshop Highlights – In order from top left to bottom right: The Beauty of Small with Cathy Gordon; Printmaking with Chas Davis; students from Penn Yan Academy on a field trip to Main Street Arts, making Collage/Assemblage pieces; Encaustic Collage with Ali Herrmann

Artists in residence have the opportunity to teach workshops during their stay at the gallery. In 2017, we ran workshops with 7 of our artists in residence in the following media: ceramics, embroidery, encaustic wax, painting, printmaking, and mixed-media collage. We also offered several workshops in jewelry making and fiber arts with a handful of regional artists as the instructors.

Artist Talks

2017 Event Highlights – Top: Upstate NY Painting Invitational Artist Talk; Bottom, left to right: Sketch session with Andy Reddout and Genine Carvalheira-Geman; Artist talk with John Greene and Robert Marx; and Tintype Demo with John Coffer.

In addition to showcasing the artwork of great artists, we sometimes also ask them to come to the gallery to talk about their work. This year, we hosted artist talks with Robert Marx and John Greene in April in conjunction with their Re-emerging Artists exhibition, Genine Carvalheira-Gehman and Andy Reddout in March for their exhibition of sketchbooks on our second floor, along with a talk with 7 of the painters featured in the Upstate New York Painting Invitational in September. We also invited nationally-known tintype photographer, John Coffer to do a demo here in March as part of the Alternative Process Photography exhibition.

Students and their art teacher, Sherry Blanco during their field trip in October

Penn Yan students and their art teacher, Sherry Blanco during their field trip in October

In October, we also had a group of 15 art students from Penn Yan Academy come in for a field trip to learn about our Sacred Curiosities exhibition and to make their own mixed media collage/assemblage pieces!

Now onto 2018…

The first exhibition of 2018, "Dream State" will open on Saturday, January 13.

The first exhibition of 2018, “Dream State” will open on Saturday, January 13.

We have an exciting schedule of exhibitions planned for next year. Our first exhibition will be called Dream State and will include the work of four artists. Through painting, sculpture and photography, this exhibition is an exploration of time and space, a suspension of reality, and a journey into a personal mental space. The four artists included in this invitational exhibition are Matt Duquette of Buffalo; Bill Finger of Seattle, WA; Carrianne Hendrickson of Rochester; and Lin Price of Ithaca.

“Former King Ferry Scoreboard”, photograph by Harry Littell (Selection from the new book “UNROOM: New 2 U”, a collaboration with author Ron Ostman documenting the surrounding region, finding the beauty in the everyday built environment.)

Next up is an exhibition called Unknown, Overlooked, and Unfamiliar. This exhibition opens on February 24 and will present three distinct bodies of work from three photographers. Each series of images is an investigation into a unique and distinct subject matter. Presented together, the similarities and differences between each body of work will be amplified as parallels between different concepts are made. 30 Photographs by Jasna Bogdanovska, Harry Littell (pictured above), and Nigel Maister will be included and an artist talk will take place on Saturday, March 10 at 1pm.

Main Street Arts’ profile on Artsy, showing our eight represented artists

In April, we will open an exhibition called Cultivate and it will be an introduction to a new gallery program. Main Street Arts will be representing a roster of regional artists. This is something I have wanted to do for a few years and I am so excited to start with eight wonderful artists: Pat Bacon of Lyons, Chad Grohman of Buffalo, Patrick Kana of Geneva, Meredith Mallwitz of Canandaigua, Lanna Pejovic of Honeoye Falls, Jody Selin of Buffalo, Mike Tarantelli of Rochester, and Sylvia Taylor of Ithaca. Work by our represented artists is regularly available on Artsy and at the gallery. Expect to hear much more about this in the new year!

Photo from a visit to Lanna Pejovic's studio in June

Photo from a visit to Lanna Pejovic’s studio in June

There will be a solo exhibition each year for one of the gallery artists, and this year we are excited to mount a solo exhibition of paintings by Lanna Pejovic in October. Stay tuned for more info…

Aside from a solo exhibition and perhaps a group exhibition including these artists each year, I am still excited to have invitational exhibitions which include artists from our region and beyond. A majority of the year will still be filled with the types of exhibitions you have come to know (and hopefully love!) at Main Street Arts.

The Cup, The Mug 2017; our last show of the year on the second floor

“The Cup, The Mug”; our last show of 2017 on the second floor

As we continue to focus our efforts, things will be a little bit different on our second floor. In order to focus on the eight main exhibitions per year in our first floor gallery space and promoting the work of our represented artists, we will no longer have regular exhibitions on our second floor. That space will be dedicated to showing the work of our artists in residence, our gallery artists, and special pop up exhibitions.

And now for 2018 and beyond…

Finally, I would like to announce that this coming year Main Street Arts will be starting the process of converting from a commercial entity to a non-profit. From the beginning, in 2013, we have been graciously funded by Marjorie Morris and the Morris family. Mrs. Morris has, and continues to be, a wonderful patron of Main Street Arts and by extension, all of the artists we have been fortunate enough to show here. Moving forward with a non-profit status will allow us to function in a more sustainable manner and help us to continue to promote the work of artists for many years to come.

This also means that we are able to accept donations and are currently accepting them for a scholarship fund for our artist residency program. If you are interested in supporting our residency program, please contact the gallery for more information.

Main Street Arts, decked out for the holiday season, 2017

Main Street Arts, decked out for the holiday season, 2017

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your support over the past four and a half years. We look forward to many more years of continuing our mission of promoting the work of artists from our region, encouraging the creation of art, and fostering a creative community through exhibitions, artist residency program, workshops, and events.

— Bradley Butler, gallery director and curator


There were so many great exhibitions, workshops, residents, and events in 2017 and it was impossible for me to talk about everything in a concise manner. So, I encourage you to look back and see everything in detail for yourself: 2017 Resident Artists, 2017 Exhibition History, Photo Albums on Flickr.