Young talent highlights main gallery exhibition at PCCA

Work of Sarah Burger displayed on first floor gallery

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published October 3, 2012

 “Untitled #3,” by Sarah Burger, will be included in the first-floor gallery show.

“Untitled #3,” by Sarah Burger, will be included in the first-floor gallery show.

ROCHESTER — Two new exhibits, “Close to the Bone” and “Sarah Burger,” will open at the Paint Creek Center for the Arts with a joint reception 7-9 p.m. Oct. 5. Both will be on display at the PCCA, 407 Pine St., through Nov. 2.

The PCCA is turning its main gallery over to a group of three young artists for “Close to the Bone,” featuring the work of Austin Brady, of Detroit, Carla Butwin, of New York, and Adrienne Lesperance, of Warren.

“These are three artists whose work I would characterize as emotionally raw and kind of on the edge,” said PCCA Exhibitions Director Mary Fortuna. “It’s a chance to show something that’s a little different from what people are used to seeing — there’s a toughness to it and a willingness to kind of go out on a limb and be expressive and out there.”

Although Fortuna said she came across Lesperance’s work quite awhile ago, she hadn’t quite figured out how to work with it until she came across a couple of artists who seemed to be on the same pulse.

“We’re often showing the work of artists who are later on in their careers, and they’ve buttoned it down a little bit or have moved in a different direction. These three artists are a nice fit together, because they are all sort of in this very young, kind of wound-up phase, and I really like seeing that. We’re always trying to mix it up and show the whole range of everything that’s out there. I’m pleased to have this work,” she said.

Lesperance, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the College for Creative Studies, has participated in numerous group shows around the United States and many online exhibits. Lesperance said in a statement that her work speaks about human connection, “whether that is a connection of power, of struggle, of hurt or fear — or a connection of storytelling, of family, of hope.”

Fortuna said Lesperance’s acrylic paintings draw on personal narrative and direct experience.

“She’s had a rough time emotionally, and she kind of just pours it all into the drawing and painting. … I consider Adrienne as being pretty fearless. … (Her work is) very personal and very exposed,” she said.

Butwin, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Oakland University, also exhibits a fearlessness in her work that Fortuna is drawn to.

“Her paint application is very rough and very immediate. She does a lot of scratching and scraping into things, and there’s a kind of aggression there that’s interesting. She’s not holding back and being polite in her paintings. We’re happy to have some nice big canvases from her,” she said.

Butwin, who recently moved to New York to take a job as an art director for Saatchi & Saatchi, said in a statement that her work often deals with deconstructed and manipulated body imagery.

“Using a repetition of forms and lines, I try to create a sense of space and help emphasize a feeling of tension between the images on my canvas,” she said in a statement.

Rounding out the main floor gallery show is Brady, who is currently enrolled at the College for Creative Studies.

Fortuna said it is rather unusual for the PCCA to show student work, but she — along with the rest of the Exhibitions Committee — was “very taken” with his creations.

“I had personally seen his work in a student show at CCS last year, and I was really taken with his willingness to kind of expose himself in a way that was sophisticated and intelligent, and had some craftsmanship and some really interesting thought processes that were evident,” she said.

Brady explores many media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, mask making and video. Fortuna said he brings together his experimentation in video and installation projects that explore his personal, dark mythology.

“He’s very young, and he’s exploring and pushing himself in really challenging directions, and I’m really happy to see that,” she added.

Brady said in a statement that he hopes to guide the viewer into “a dreamscape” with his work.

“I want to capture a contemporary mythology and material culture to craft sub-intuitive narratives. I really want to nurture and watch these stories and ideas, characters, monsters and everything to slowly become one another,” he said in a statement.

PCCA will also present a solo show of recent works by Sarah Burger in its first floor gallery.

Burger earned her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Michigan, has taught with the College for Creative Studies Community Arts Partnership Program in Detroit and is currently employed at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Burger creates abstract constructions using layers of felt, stitching, dressmaking patterns, paint and other materials on wood panels. Fortuna said the compositions recall topographic maps, tracing the contours of mountains, valleys, rivers, coastlines, continents, islands, peninsulas and other geographical features.

“The work that Sara makes is really beautiful. She creates what I consider topographical maps out of layers of felt. They are laid on top of each other and stitched and assembled into place, so you get this sort of beautiful abstracted view of a landscape that’s not a view that we have access to,” she added.

The opening receptions are free and open to the public. For more information, call the PCCA at (248) 651-4119 or visit