‘Pandemonium’ exhibit displays nature’s urgency


The sea turtle, especially as Kathleen J. Graves has portrayed it, communicates a silent, urgent message aiming straightaway to the viewer. It’s a benign and knowing look, but also a reminder that Earth is fragile and his home, too. Vibrant colors, corals, turquoise, purple, delicately grace his beautiful body. “I’ve been trying to expose endangered animals in my work,” Graves explained. “I drew the turtle on a computer—there are all kinds of electronic brushes that can be used—and printed it on canvas.”

“Sea Turtle,” 46 inches by 36 inches, is just one of over 30 works in the “Pandemonium: Nature and Time” exhibit opening Friday, Sept. 17, 5 to 7 p.m., at the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society, emphasizing the issues of our time with nature, climate change, and the artists’ concerns for the human influence over it. Graves is curator and producer of the show, renting the BBHS space.

Eight artists, most from Long Island, will display an interesting offering of painting, performance, photography, video, sculpture, ink on washi and digital drawing. (Most of the artists will be at the Friday opening.) It will be at BBHS until Oct. 31, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The artists include Helen Rousakis, Jamie Dearing, peter campus, Andreas Rentsch, Mary Boochever, Antonio Trimani, Graves and Elyzabeth Meade.

An East Patchogue artist, Graves utilized mixed media for “Sea Turtle.”

“I chose French knots, ribbons,” she said, gesturing to material that delicately adds to the work’s substance as well as colorful plastic wisps from vegetable and fruit containers. A beautiful brocade-like commercial fabric frames the subject, also emulating the turtle’s home, aqua and gold with leaves and flowers that seem to float underwater. 

Elyzabeth Meade, the Bellport resident who created her Storefront Window Project, produced a riveting video collaboration with peter campus for this one.

“She’s encased in this sculpture, dress made up of repurposed plastic,” Graves said. As a dancer, Meade incorporates movements trying to escape the plastic. Five screens will be stationed for videos. Meade’s is in there, and so is Antonio Trimani, an Italian artist from the hills of Rome. His work, “Chora,” was made at sunrise when mist rises from the sea, creating a beautiful composition, like moving roses; the mist-like fog is really dioxin.

Two vitrines will be bolted into the floor. Jamie Dearing, a Blue Point artist, created weathered plant-based waste constructions from washi drawings.

All the works will challenge your thinking; but Graves’s “Janice and the Polar Bears” will get a chuckle. Janis Joplin stamps are used in repurposed, yellow, green-blue, red, yellow and orange; throwaway trash is used as images of polar bears. Graves used photography, computer, handmade, and throwaway trash items in her work.

Graves’s resume has impressive national and international heft with exhibitions in South Korea, Italy, the Czech Republic.  But so do the other artists. Boochever has taught at School of Visual Arts and shown extensively at galleries and museums in the U.S. and Europe. campus is widely recognized as one of the seminal figures in the development of video art. Dearing has made art since the late 1950s of primarily paintings, drawings, photographs, objects and small buildings. Rentsch is a recipient of two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships and two grants from the Polaroid Corporation. Rousakis’s photos are in many collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Polaroid Corporation. Trimani has been present at the 54th Venice Biennale and has taken part at the sixth Moscow Bienniale of Contemporary Art. Meade has created improvisation as a musician and actor, and received her Ph.D. in music composition and intermedia music technology at The University of Oregon.


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