Adam Blue: AstroExplorer – A Guide to the Heavens

Main Street Museum, White River Junction, Vermont  |  through November 18

Review by Laura Di Piazza

Adam Blue’s current exhibition AstroExplorer – A Guide to the Heavens, at the Main Street Museum, takes us through three distinct spheres.  “Constellations for the New Millennium”, which consists of 84 drawings and text pieces, provides concise and sometimes blunt discourse on current environmental, political and social issues, as well as pop culture. Its range is wide; from the garbage dump epidemic in the Pacific Ocean to easily accessible online porn. Sprinkled within the commentary of our times is what I view as the ‘consolations’ of the constellations in the form of horoscopes. I was born under the sign of the Predator Drone. When things do not go well for the Predator Drone, AstroExplorer’s horoscope wisely advises: “never you mind, you can always take refuge in the Pringles and Mountain Dew that feed your soul”. (WoW, it’s like that was written just for me.)

In this series Blue also juxtaposes contrasting features. For example Goth Fairies is a drawing of a levitating fairy in Dominatrix style attire, with crop in hand, and angelic wings.

Not all is fun and games, there’s also serious commentary on social injustice.  As seen in ‘There’s Margin$ in the Marginalized”.

In this series Blue accurately depicts, in an uncensored manner, the tone of our current and common form of modern-day information consumption: “sound-bites”.

The next series in this exhibition is called “How the White Cube Hangs Once the Gallery Has Closed”, which is a photographic collection of site-specific journeys of the White Cube.  If the “Constellations for the New Millennium” is like the WiFi in the home then “How the White Cube Hangs Once the Gallery Has Closed” must surely be the balcony. Here, the moment calls for reflection and space. The traveling minimalist White Cube becomes part of the landscape by being a participant within a site, however still it may appear. The White Cube makes observations that we may ourselves ponder, like when in the produce section of the supermarket: “Eating organic whenever you can is important.”

Raking leaves can be totally zen.

The final series is a collection of 12 finely executed gouache drawings that unfold like riddles. This series reminds me of the coziness of bedtime stories and the vast inner-space those words can hurl me into.  In this case Blue’s paintings sends my imagination running and questioning. Will Artificial Intelligence one-day wonder, “Who am I”? Does our internal forces no longer shield itself within powerful symbols but instead hides itself within sugary snacks? Why is that monkey swinging with a cell phone in his hand? Is he too distracted by the ever-shifting monkey-mind that plagues my sleep before important meetings/events the following day? I wonder.

Adam Blue is the Education Director at AVA Gallery and Art Center, a nonprofit community art center in Lebanon, NH and is an art editor of The Whitefish Review, a semi-annual, nonprofit, literary and arts journal.

Street Level

Review by Laura Di Piazza

Galen Cheney detours us away from any expected pleasantries and motors us straight to the gritty and raw levels of the streets, be they our internal, external, peaceful and/or chaotic spaces. Cheney’s current exhibit Street Level at BCA in Burlington, Vermont, includes the multi-layered, graffiti style abstract pathways of Street Fair, which can be reminiscent of NYC street art in the 1970’s and 80’s.

Galen Cheney, Street Fair, 2011, mixed media on birch panels

Born in Los Angeles but showing her New England roots through the use of birch panels, Cheney separates and positions these panels in Cross Town and Lariat (lasso type rope) that reveal the disconnections and flow of a city’s accessibility for or from it’s inhabitants. One city and countless ways to move around it or get stuck within it. Cheney inscribes ancient letterforms in urban settings and includes 19th and early 20th century calligraphic lettering, which in some places pop out or hide out among the high-energy spaces of the paintings.

The brilliant colors and labyrinth-style paths, the eyes try to follow, express the vibrancy of a highly alert state. If one is sleeping will they fall off the Dr. Seuss-like striped highways?

In the Calligraffiti paintings there’s interconnectivity among the tubular shapes that do not appear to be constrictive. In them Cheney develops her own curvaceous alphabet.

Galen Cheney, Calligraffiti 1, 2 & 3, 2012, oil on birch panels

Galen Cheney, Periscope, 2012, oil on birch panel

The artist describes her work as having it’s “own energy and direction almost apart from [herself]”. When viewing the external scenes, and possibly internal ever-negotiating psyche in pieces such as Periscope, Street Level journeys us out of any lazy-boy cushioned bubble we may live in when we walk through it.

Galen Cheney is a Vermont-based artist. Street Level is on exhibit at BCA until June 23rd. Cheney is currently co-curating Natural Constructed Spaces at The Painting Center in New York City.