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Coming Up: ‘The Only Home We Have’ at Pelham Art Center

The Warming (1996) by Janet Culbertson
The Warming (1996) by Janet Culbertson

Pelham Art Center is presenting a group exhibition addressing climate change topics called ‘The Only Home We Have.”  Curated by Candace Taubner, Kathy Rutsch, and Nancy Warner– all Pelham residents and longtime board members of the center.  The show will be on view from September 11 through October 24, 2015.

Eight artists in the exhibition offer a wide range of objects including pencil drawings, large scale paintings, and unique sculptures. The artists  are mostly from the tri-state area and Maryland.  They are: Rebecca Clark, Janet Culbertson, Maurisse Taylor Gray, Jimmy Greenfield, Judith Lipton, Colette Murphy, Joy Wulke, and Tricia Zimic.

Says co-curator Candace Taubner, “I see this show as an opportunity to showcase artists who share a sense of urgency about the impact of climate change and who create art that is not only beautiful, but contains  a multi-layered message to those willing to pay attention.”

Artist Rebecca Clark’s sensitive drawings of bees and birds capture transient moments of grace and beauty.  Her delicate rendering makes us look closely to appreciate the imperiled biodiversity around us.

In contrast, Janet Culbertson has been a strong voice for the environment through her drawings and paintings for over forty years. In 1987 she began her series of Billboard Paintings which feature ads of pristine marshes and waterways along roads that wind through devastated landscapes. In her latest series, called the Industrial Park, iridescent pigments are combined with collage debris mirroring industrial waste. The paradox of man’s love of untamed nature and the rampant exploitation of it remains a powerful theme.

Co-curator Kathy Rutsch brought the talented sculptress, Maurisse Taylor Gray into the exhibit. Gray currently is in residence at Harvard University on a fellowship. She uses the human figure and inventive glazes to show the ravages of climate change. Gray’s porcelain, black and red stoneware sculpture in the show, called “Gaia 2100,” conveys a sense of the extreme stress and damage climate change is expected to cause by the end of the century.

Jimmy Greenfield uses the earth itself to build his sculptures. He created a huge cast dirt map of a parched and devastated world. It looks more like a lifeless moonscape than an image of our fertile earth.

Co-curator Nancy Warner brought Judith Lipton to the show. Lipton works in NYC and will recreate an installation piece. Her most recent installation explores the theme of absence and presence confronting viewers with the experience of loss through the fragile and emptied out interiors of cracked eggshells.

Artist Colette Murphy, based in Brooklyn, works on raw unpainted linen. She creates haunting scenes combining incongruous elements that upon viewing become a new reality. The texture of the background suggests nature itself.

According to Taubner, artist Joy Wulke who recently died, was a champion of public art and founded Projects for a New Millienium in New Haven, a multi disciplinary endeavor that fused art, music, science, dance and ecology. Her daughter, Gioia, was willing to take on the task of recreating a gorgeous installation in the front gallery,  which promises to be a key highlight of the show.  Joy Wulke has created sculptural installations of glass, fabric, steel and natural elements.

Tricia Zimic uses the triptych, a popular form for altar paintings from the Middle Ages onward. In the first panel she presents a peaceable kingdom where humans coexist with the natural world in perfect harmony. In the second panel, our world is showing the effects of climate change with nature and humanity colliding. Finally the third panel depicts the end of life as we know it. Armageddon. A modern day parable.

An opening reception and a free, all-ages art workshop open to the public on Friday September 11 from 6:30 to 8 PM. The Center’s mission is to provide public access to the arts in a community setting.

Pelham Art Center is located at 155 Fifth Avenue Pelham, NY 10803 914.738.2525

Photo courtesy Janet Culbertson’s website.

Joyce Newman
Joyce Newman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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