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ART REVIEW: Where art lives

"Home is Where the Art Is" @ 1975 Gallery


After four years, 1975 Gallery finally has a home of its own. The inaugural show at this permanent, white-walls location is a celebration of Rochester art and a lesson for those who think world-class art is only being created by a handful of established individuals in our city. For "Home is Where the Art Is," 1975 owner Erich Lehman invited 15 of his favorite artists living and working in Rochester, sharing the work of some of Rochester's most talented young artists who are making a consistent, earnest attack at a career.

Lehman didn't provide a theme for the artists to work from, but invited them to show what they've been working on in the past year. "This show is a survey," says Lehman, "in part, of the history of 1975," and also a sampling of the future of Rochester's art scene. Some of the artists have shown with Lehman since 1975 began in 2008; all three who participated in "Inauguration" — Adam Francey, Lea Rizzo, and Sarah C. Rutherford — are represented in this show.

Rutherford's work, "The Ones We Love," is a continuation of her series of epic tributes to her beloved friends, this time their identities slightly hidden in old time-y garb, the pair surrounded by rodent pals, ornate decorative borders, and bits of lost-and-found objects. Rizzo created a colorful, decorative, mixed-media assemblage in three boxes mounted on and spilling onto the wall, with tin ceiling bits from Lehman's house, old fabric scraps, wire and fabric birds' nests, and snake imagery. Francey's works are line-heavy ink drawings of beasts and beauties, death and flora, with washes of color ink and watercolor or coffee stains.

1975 Gallery "is dedicated to exposing talented artists to a community that might otherwise overlook them, and facilitating the would-be collector," says Lehman. "Now that I have a dedicated space, the focus/purpose will shift just a little in that I want it to be a true gateway for our city. I want to use it as a way to expose Rochester's artists to the 'outside world,' so to speak, and city-exchange shows with other cities like Detroit and Denver are already in the works." Lehman also plans to bring artists he's long admired to Rochester.

"I also will be expanding to feature more 3D artwork now that I don't have to worry about how the primary business would operate" around the pieces, he says. (Previously 1975 operated nomadically, staging shows in hair salons, and other established businesses.) Lehman wasted no time in including 3D art, and for this show, brought in three glass works by recent RIT graduate Shane Caryl, who cleverly and skillfully melds iconic classical sculpture with pop-cultural icons (see "Michelangelo's Peter Pieta," where Christ is replaced with Spidey).

Other established Rochester artists included in the show are St. Monci, Mr. Prvrt, Hannah Betts, Jonathan Rutherford, Mike Turzanski, Lorraine Bohonos, and Caitlyn Yarsky. Some are relatively fresh into the professional world and have caught Lehman's eye, including Justyn Iannucci, Shane Caryl, Adam Maida, and Mike Carnrike. "I'm watching these artists," says Lehman. "I feel the artists selected consistently create great work and keep challenging themselves to become better at their craft."

Lehman says that working with St. Monci has been one of the highlights of the last four years, and he has been impressed with Monci's exploration of new directions in his work. Over the years, St. Monci's work has retained the kinetic energy it always had, but the chaotic sprays and splatters have tightened up to form architectural, shatter-y and splinter-y compositions. In this show, three panels done in oranges, grays, and teals form an abstract triptych with a retro feel to it.

Monci's fellow Sweet Meat Co. artist, Mr. Prvrt, shows off three familiar but reimagined worlds in this show with stencils and spray paint. An ornate wooden frame contains a not-so-innocent Alice amid a castle, glass bottles, gears, mushrooms, and rabbits in all acid trip colors.

Painters John Perry and Caitlyn Yarsky hold down the front end of the gallery, differing greatly in style but united in their exploration of the enigmatic. Perry provided two monochromatic, realistic portraits of men. One man looks back over his shoulder while another releases a silent scream, the focus on a white crescent of teeth and starlight spittle at midnight. Yarsky's weeping siren clutches fabric in her blood-soaked arms and hovers outside a boat near a portal where we spy a man's face within.

Mike Turzanski's complex, biology-obsessed works include his typical fingers, tongues, horns, and sprays of fluid popping from eyes and other orifices, but this time the works are assembled from cut paper arranged in layers. Adam Maida's screen prints are gritty and have a vintage feel to them. "Industrious" is all gears and gams and utilizes old imagery, while "Always Waiting/Big Brother" is a graphic red, white, black and blue robot.

Lorraine Bohonos included three portraits of watery, ghostly women. Two are painted in grays, one is flushed, berry stained, little more than eyes, nose, mouth, hints of jaw. Justyn Iannucci's hirsute ink-drawing diptych depicts a man and a woman blanketed in their own flowing locks, in a twin gesture of rest. Poking from the coat of hair, the naked legs, arms, faces, make the figures seem more vulnerable than if entirely nude. The hair turns the figures into strange egg-shaped forms, hinting at connotations of security and fragility.

Hannah Betts included a diptych pulled from her series of bright portraits of her adorable niece, who here confronts the viewer with huge blue eyes. The stacked images form an intriguing portrait of transition: up top, the subject clutches two dolls that are as blonde and bright eyed as she, and below the toys are dropped to her sides.

Jonathan Rutherford's photography is represented by three of the black-and-white portraits he created of the "Wall\Therapy" mural artists DALeast, How Nosm (with bulldog), and Case. Mike Carnrike is "on a boots and leggings kick," says Lehman of the RIT grad, who works for Kink BMX as a photographer, but here has snapped three figures in sparse settings with great attention to detail and hints of debauchery. In one image, a young woman's boot and tight-clad legs stick out from a toppled trash can, the reflection of her young flesh glowing on the metal inside.

"The Ones We Love" by Sarah C. Rutherford is part of 1975 Gallery's current show, "Home is Where the Art Is." PHOTO BY GOATMOUTH STUDIO