PCCA’s 2018 exhibitions to focus on ‘A Future in the Arts’

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 30, 2018

 A beekeeper is seen harvesting honey while working with the Elephants and Bees Project in Sagalla, Kenya, in 2016.

A beekeeper is seen harvesting honey while working with the Elephants and Bees Project in Sagalla, Kenya, in 2016.

Photo by Jessica Van Fleteren, from “The Price of Progress”

ROCHESTER — The Paint Creek Center for the Arts is celebrating 2018 with a year of exhibitions themed around “A Future in the Arts.”

“It stems from the struggle to keep the arts in education and the popular misconception that the starving artist mentality is the only mentality, as far as moving forward and pursuing art as a career,” said Jenny Creech, the PCCA’s manager of galleries and digital media. “We are featuring artists and shows that are really going to show there are many different lucrative avenues that you can pursue with art.”

The first in the exhibition series is “A Future in the Arts, Photography.”

The show, which will run through Feb. 10, consists of over 40 works of photographic art, both film and digital, from 12 artists.

With no two artists approaching the medium in the same way, Creech said, the exhibition highlights the diversity and potential of photography.

Gene Meadows, who owns the architectural and fine art photography firm Meadows & Co. in Royal Oak, has five pieces from his “de-con-struct” series in the exhibition.

Meadows was personally impacted by the destruction of the flood of 2014 in southeastern Michigan — when basements and belongings fell victim to several feet of backed-up sewer water after the pumps failed at a local sewer pumping station in Royal Oak.

“The flood was a devastation. As an artist, we work through things — good things, bad things — that happen to us. We sort through them and we use our experiences to create,” he said.

After sorting through his basement and putting nearly everything out on the street for the trash hauler, Meadows refused to let go of his computers and hard drives. As he began dismantling his ruined equipment, he discovered tiny, delicate, beautifully designed and engineered core components made with platinum, gold, silver and copper elements.

“It was more of a process of not wanting to throw something that valuable away,” he said. “When you open them up, you find gold, you find copper, you find silver, you find all these precious metals, and I have a hard time throwing something away with value — even though it’s not valuable. But I used the value in photographing them and being able to share those things with other people that haven’t seen things like that before.”  

Meadows then began collecting and photographing each item like a treasure, enlarging, printing and fusing the images to 30-by-36-inch panels of glass.

“It gives me great pleasure, what came of it. I haven’t seen anything like it before, so I think it is unique and different,” he said.

Jessica Van Fleteren, a documentary photographer from Chicago, has a number of images from her series “The Price of Progress” in the show.

Thanks to a National Geographic Young Explorer grant, Van Fleteren traveled to Kenya in 2016 for four months to document the use of beehive fences by the Elephants and Bees Project as a way to keep elephants from crop raiding.

“Most people don’t necessarily think of humans and elephants and the type of conflict that evolves when elephants start to eat farmers’ crops,” she said. “African elephants are deathly afraid of African killer bees because the bees are very aggressive and will sting their trunks and their eyes … so the elephants usually stay away from the farms where there are bee fences.”

The photos that Van Fleteren chose to display in the exhibition are visual descriptions of the human-elephant conflict.

“There is a photo of a large elephant crossing over this giant black pipeline that is running through the middle of this landscape, and it kind of shows how humans are kind of impacting this once-natural state, and how elephants are kind of moving through life trying to navigate the impacts of globalization and the dynamics of that,” she said.

Photographers Justin Cox, Marilyn Feather, Hannah Korte, Christina Ley, Keith Lowrie, Michele Lundgren, Italia Millan, Christopher Schneider, Homayoon Vahidi and Melissa Vize are also featured in the exhibition.

The PCCA is located at 407 Pine St. in downtown Rochester. For more information on the exhibition, call (248) 651-4110 or visit www.pccart.org.