Art in the round: Area galleries offer a variety of exhibits in the new year

  • “Mother’s Helper,” sculpture by Larry Slezak from his exhibit “Light in the Rabbit Hole.” Image courtesy Anchor House of Artists

  •  “Under the Bed,” sculpture by Holly Murray from her exhibit “On the Home Front.” Image courtesy Anchor House of Artists

  • “House on Mill Street,” egg tempera on panel by Jeff Gola. Image courtesy William Baczek Fine Arts

  • “Black Plums with Birds,” oil on canvas by Yin Yong Chun. Image courtesy William Baczek Fine Arts

  • “Summer Cabin in Winter,” oil on panel by Scott Prior.  Image courtesy William Baczek Fine Arts

  •  “Back to Georgia,” colored pencil by Raul Colón; from the Children’s Illustration Celebration at R. Michelson Galleries. Image courtesy R. Michelson Galleries

  • Paintings by Sean Greene are part of a new exhibit at PULP gallery in Holyoke. Image courtesy PULP gallery

  • Work by potter Steve Théberge is part of a new show by PULP Gallery in Holyoke. Image courtesy PULP gallery

Staff Writer
Thursday, January 21, 2021

Art soldiers on despite the pandemic and the onset of winter, so here’s a look at what a number of area galleries are offering this month. Most are open, with various safety protocols in place, for in-person visits, though in some cases appointments have to be made in advance. Check with each gallery ahead of time.

Anchor House of Artists

The Northampton gallery is currently featuring two exhibits: “Light in the Rabbit Hole,” a collection of paintings and colorful sculptures by Larry Slezak, and “On the Home Front,” a varied installation by Holly Murray and Rebecca Graves that examines the repercussions of domestic violence.

Slezak, a former professor of fine art at Springfield Technical Community College, has produced what the gallery calls “highly refined” abstract paintings, pulsing with color and varied patterns, including one set of pigmented, two-dimensional works that are backlit in one of the three galleries devoted to his show.

Many of his humorous sculptures, meantime, seem to spoof the cliched images of extra-terrestrials: orb-like structures with strange projections, mounted on spindly, three-legged stands.

In describing the exhibit, Slezak says that many of the pieces “have roots reaching back to the work I was making in the ‘60s. However, the work I’m making today is just as much influenced by my life as it’s unfolded, which has provided seeds for new elements emerging.”

Murray’s “On the Home Front” offers 11 small, mostly wooden structures, such as a chest of drawers, a miniature bed, and stark, doll-like houses with open fronts. All of the pieces are designed to highlight the problems of domestic violence, and seven of them represent real locations — most notably in the Valley — where attacks took place. Some of the newspaper clips from those cases are part of the exhibit.

The exhibit also includes 11 mirrors, etched with words by Rebecca Graves, that some of the women the two artists interviewed for the project shared with them, such as “You promised me you would never do it again.”

It’s a sobering presentation, but one that Murray, in exhibit notes, say is important for giving voice to survivors of domestic violence: “There is a stigma attached to women who have been or are in abusive situations ... By showing this work in a variety of public spaces and speaking about the unspeakable, as artists we give power to these women and children and awareness to the viewer.”

Both “Light in the Rabbit Hole” and “On the Home Front” are on view through Feb. 27. Visit anchorhouseartists.org or call 413-588-4337 to arrange a time to visit.

William Baczek Fine Arts

On Main Street in Northampton, the Baczek Gallery is wrapping up a two-month, combined show of various artists, including landscape painters Jeff Gola and Charlie Hunter, still life artist Yin Yong Chun and sculptor Sara Catapano.

A number of the landscapes speak to the season, such as Gola’s “House on Mill Street,” an egg tempera on panel work that depicts a worn brick and wood house, hills in the background and snow covering the front yard; a leafless tree in the foreground and a mobile home parked in the distance attest to winter’s grip.

Hunter’s “Junction,” meantime, an oil on linen painting, presents a view of wintry New England fields and hills that’s almost abstract in its starkness.

Several works by Valley painter Scott Prior are part of the show, including “Summer Cabin in Winter, ” an oil painting of a small cottage with a lighted window and footprints leading through snow to the front door. On another note, the exhibit includes three bright works by Latvian painter Jana Brike, who offers portraits of young women and girls in dreamlike, pastoral settings.

The “Winter” exhibit runs through Jan. 30. For more information, visit wbfinearts.com or call 413-587-9880.

Michelson Galleries

Also in Northampton, the R. Michelson Galleries this month are wrapping up a longstanding tradition, one that now dates back 31 years: a celebration of the art of illustrators of children’s books.

The gallery website notes that children’s book artists who exhibit there have won 16 Caldecott Medals and 35 Caldecott Honor Awards during that three-decade span. The artwork is on view through the end of January both online and for “masked and distanced gallery visits,” as the website notes.

Among the dozens of artists whose work is featured are many local names, including Diane deGroat, Tony DiTerlizzi, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Grace Lin, Barry Moser, Hillary Price, Ruth Sanderson and Mo Willems. The exhibit also includes work by hallowed names in children’s literature such as Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Raul Colón and Eric Carle.

For more information, visit rmichelson.com or call 413-586-3964.

PULP Gallery

In Holyoke, PULP was one of the first galleries to reopen its doors last summer for (limited) in-person visits, with a show that was dedicated to “mail art” — artwork produced right on the front of various-sized envelopes that people mailed directly to galley co-owner Dean Brown.

PULP has hosted a number of exhibits since then, most recently the paintings of Christy and Roger Patrick, married painters from Easthampton. On Jan. 23, the Race Street gallery opens a combined show featuring painter Sean Greene and potter Steve Théberge, both from Northampton.

Théberge, who works out of the Brushworks building in Florence, spent three years living in a monastery in Japan, an experience he says has since informed much of his work. “I was struck by the way that ceramic objects enter into almost every sphere of life there, one material elegantly erasing the boundary between sacred and mundane,” he says on his website.

Today he makes a variety of stoneware pots, cups, dishes and other items, drawing both on historical pots from the American Northeast and South and the firing techniques of Japan and Korea.

Greene, an abstract painter who works on canvas and paper and also paints murals, uses bright color and distinctive geometric shapes in much of his work, though his paintings for the PULP show employ more muted colors and less clearly-defined shapes.

That more recent work, he writes on the PULP website, “reflects a desire to explore color and its relationship to emotion and visual power…. For me, it provides a way of discovering balance within circumstances of uncertainty.”

PULP is available for limited in-person visits Friday to Sunday and by appointment. More details are available at pulpholyoke.com.

Both Gallery A3 in Amherst and the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton continue to offer window displays of art, and the Oxbow has now reopened with limited hours Friday through Sunday for rotating group shows. Visit oxbowgallery.org.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.