THAT WHICH ROARS
by Robert Sievert
Peekskill is a sleepy little town up the Hudson
River that has undergone decline, renovation and
rebirth. It has a real Americana charm. Once a
middle-class suburb it is now a burgeoning art
community. There is artist housing, and new
galleries all set in a prewar town filled with
vintage storefronts that inspire images of a
former America. But the 21st Century has moved in
and Galleries such as Innovative Arts are ready to
supply upper Westchester with a hip bohemia and
(Susan Roecker: Spirochetes)
Judith Solomon: (construction)
One enters Innovative Arts through a stair well
that is hung with the work of Judith Solomon. It
is excitingly creative assemblage that promises an
artistic experience as one ascends to the gallery.
The gallery, which also functions as a studio that
offers an array of art classes, has exposed brick
walls and is well lit. It is not a "White box
gallery" but has a variety of levels and
interrupted wall space that offers a nice
distribution of art work on view.
Innovative Arts fall show is titled THAT WHICH
ROARS / Beasts of the Imagination. It is a
collection of paintings, sculpture and assemblage
that draw upon personal demons. Artists have long
been inspired by their dreams and anxieties and
worked to give them form which makes it an
excellent theme for a show of contemporary artists
wresting with some form of inner conflict.
Kelli Bickman: The Demon That Sits at the Top of the World
There is a wonderful resemblance in Kelli
Bickman's work to the paintings of Marie Roberts
and other Coney Island artists. It's brash and
makes a big "look at me" kind of statement. Like
the Coney Island crowd there is an avoidance of
fine art issues. Left behind are the years of
art history and canons of fine painting and what
is left is a raw pictorial instinct. Her THE
DEMON THAT SITS AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD is
ferocious in both image and color. Another of her
paintings pictures a fire-breathing dragon that is
fierce and at the same time personable. There is a
lot to like about her work.
Susan Roecker's three panel painting (see above) of the
spirochete (Lyme disease) that invaded her over
the last year is a creative and engaging solution
to dealing with an illness and healing process.
She has imaged the debilitating disease that
affected her as dragon-like beasts at different
times of its engagement. From infection to
treatment to the throes of her beast making its
final roar, Roecker's paintings are boldly
expressive and almost jump off the canvases at
you. There is a freedom of the brush as it bounces
around this beast in vivid color.
I didn't quite get the connection of Robert
Barthelmes' lovely watercolors to the Beast theme,
but I enjoyed them a great deal. I especially
loved his CARNIVAL AT PENELOPE PARK and GOING TO
THE CARNIVAL, FINKTOWN PEEKSKILL, NEW YORK, JULY
13,1948 which picture night views of a carnivals
set in a small town in the hills. Mr. Barthelmes
and I must come from the same generation because
his painting brought me back to my youthful
excitement of the carnivals and tent shows that
visited my hometown during the 1940s. That aside
Mr. Barthelmes is a wonderful watercolorist. He
perfectly captures the bright lights of the
carnivals set in the darkness of a different era.
His paintings tug at the heart the same way a
Hopper does. Images of a long-gone America set
down with technical perfection.
Amy Ernst: The Masked Poet
I was also intrigued by Deborah Lecce's high-fired
ceramic work. Her "Deer" was elegant and
beautifully formed. But it was a ceramic mask ('The Masked Poet') that
impressed me. From where I was seeing it, it
seemed to frame the room rather than provide an
alternative identity that most masks do. I think
it had to do with the eye holes that ones eye was
drawn to look through.
Berenice Pliskin: Day Laborers and Protesters
Berenice Pliskin created a political statement painted
on silk,very unusual, Her control of the medium
was impressive. She painted a group of protestors
condemning various social inequities.
Brian Ben Taylor has a flair for imaginary
portraits. They are powerful presences painted in
a gifted personal style.
There was the work of several other interesting
artists which I hope to have the opportunity to
comment on at another time. Innovative Arts seems
to have no trouble attracting first rate art and
showing it with a sense of style.