PCCA welcomes two new exhibits Aug. 23-Sept. 20

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published August 13, 2013

 Sandi Wheaton’s “Bombay Beach Home” will be on display in PCCA’s first-floor gallery though September.

Sandi Wheaton’s “Bombay Beach Home” will be on display in PCCA’s first-floor gallery though September.

Photo provided

ROCHESTER — Two new exhibits will open next week at the Paint Creek Center for the Arts.

“Constructed Realities: Artist’s Dioramas” and “Sandi Wheaton: The Salton Sea” will be on display at the PCCA, 407 Pine St., Aug. 23 through Sept. 20.

PCCA Exhibitions Director Mary Fortuna said the PCCA’s main gallery upstairs will house “Constructed Realities: Artist’s Dioramas,” a seven-person group show that features artists who build their own versions of reality and others who seek out such constructions and photograph them — selected by the PCCA Exhibition Committee.

The show features the work of JenClare Gawaran, of Sterling Heights; Adrian Hatfield, of Ferndale; Cyrus Karimipour, of Bloomfield Hills; Michael McGillis, of Royal Oak; Azucena Nava-Moreno, of Royal Oak; Scott Northrup, of Dearborn; and Christopher Schneider, of Hamtramck.

The artists work in a variety of media to explore the parameters of their invented worlds and bring them to life, Fortuna explained.

While Gawara uses traditional printmaking techniques to create works that exist somewhere between multilayered prints and three-dimensional constructions, Fortuna said Hatfield’s painting-based multimedia work examines the modes of visual communication developed within religion, science and fine art, and the role they play in humanity’s attempt to understand itself and its place in the universe.

“Hatfield makes little artificial worlds that have some weird meaning. It’s always very weird and very fun and very humorous with him, so I am very excited to have his work in the gallery,” Fortuna said.

Karimipour’s photographs will be on display as part of the exhibit.

“He manipulates a transparency of a photograph that he shot and he’ll cut figures out, or he’ll burn the edges, or he’ll do things to them, and then he’ll set them up in a little environment and then he’ll photograph them again. He’s photographing and creating a world and then re-photographing that world a couple levels removed from any kind of reality,” Fortuna explained. 

McGillis, who has created numerous outdoor works, will use items he has collected over the years for his work.

“With my smaller pieces and dioramas, I’ve inverted the scale of my sited work, fixating instead on concepts of omniscience, the impermanence of natural places and the representative potential of minor materials,” he said in an artists statement of his work for this exhibit.

Nava-Moreno works with wood, metal and other materials to create artworks that incorporate images with three-dimensional objects that sometimes draw on her Hispanic heritage. She describes herself as “a painter, a sculptor, a visual storyteller and an object maker.”

“I love her work so much,” Fortuna said. “It’s always very imaginative and beautifully crafted, and there are a million different ideas pouring into something that seems very simple at first, and then you see layers and layers built into it.”

Northrup’s varied body of work includes assemblage, photography, film and video, as well as other nontraditional media. Northrup said he is most interested in and inspired by “the big abstract questions of romance, loss and longing — the feelings we secretly harbor for each other.”

“He has this way of taking very simple stuff and making it weighted with emotional density. It’s always surprising and always a lot of fun,” Fortuna said.

The photographs of Schneider — founder and program director of the Cranbrook Summer Art Institute and a founding member and president of HATCH, a Hamtramck art collective — will be on display during the exhibit.

Schneider said in an statement that his aim is “to exploit the absurdities of this world — to laugh at it, revel in it, rage against it and wonder at it” — through his art.

“It is my way of making sense out of it all, of enjoying what I do, and spreading this sense and enjoyment to you,” he said in statement.

“He finds a way to make this sort of ordinary thing into something quite special,” Fortuna added.

A solo exhibit of photographs by Sandi Wheaton, “Sandi Wheaton: The Salton Sea,” will be displayed in PCCA’s first-floor gallery.

The exhibit features 12 archival inkjet prints of Wheaton’s digital photographs of the Salton Sea, a lake in the middle of the southern California desert that was created by an engineering mishap in 1905.

Fortuna said the lake was being developed as a resort destination during the ’50s and ’60s, but flooding in the ’70s, pollution problems and the high salt content over time made it unsuitable for use as the recreation paradise that had been planned.

“It’s just a disaster now. There are abandoned town sites and trailers left behind that are literally crumbling to the ground, and you can see the salt and the minerals all over the surface of the soil,” Fortuna said.

Wheaton’s photographs offer a clear-eyed look at a desolate landscape, and show stark beauty that can be observed in spite of the waste, according to Fortuna.

“The photographs are sort of beautiful and devastating at the same time,” Fortuna said. “She likes to really get a look at a subject and really dive into it and really get serious. She does a lot of research and finds out a lot of information, and it almost can take on a journalistic quality, but at the same time, she’s not forgetting that it has to be art and it has to be beautiful and interesting to look at. So she has this really great balance.”

A closing reception for both exhibits will be held 6-9 p.m. Sept. 20 as part of the Downtown Rochester Fall Gallery Stroll and a gallery talk will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 21. Admission to the exhibits, closing reception and gallery talk is free and open to the public.

For more information, call the PCCA at (248) 651-4119 or visit www.pccart.org.