Saturday, September 24, 2011

REVIEW: Pat Adams and Bhakti Ziek at BigTown Gallery in Rochester

by Janet Van Fleet

I attended the opening reception and artist talks for Geomancer: Paintings and Textiles by Pat Adams and Bhakti Ziek at BigTown Gallery in Rochester on Saturday, August 27, 2011. The next day Hell broke loose, (see here and here), cutting off the village of Rochester and leaving residents without power for many days. Traffic into the village is now restored (though I would call the gallery at 802-767-9670 to inquire about the best route and to confirm their opening times). NOTE: due to the unfortunate downtime caused by Irene, the exhibit has been extended through November 20.

BigTown’s exhibits are always of the highest quality. Pat Adams is a painter of serious power (and reputation) and Bhakti Ziek’s weavings are equally impressive. As always seems to be the case in the exhibits Anni Mackay assembles, the work of each artist is having interesting conversations with those of the other, facilitated by an arrangement that mixes the work together, rather than segregating each artist’s work.

Adams’ paintings range from the very large (Therefore, 34 x 153") to the small and jewel-like (Arc, Diagonal, Circle, Square, 6.5 x 9"). Therefore is a composition employing circles that appear to be caught in various stages of rotating down the long, horizontal canvas. In her artist talk, Adams revealed that she had used a large metal hoop to make the outlines of the circles that create the painting’s forms. Among Adams’ smaller pieces that especially delighted me, Of, From, Toward I (2002, 8.25 x 30.5") features hot, red enameled circular plane figures of various sizes, seated in a complex surface textured with sand.

These circular forms, natural materials and earth references are conjured in Bhakti Ziek’s work through the use of other kinds of celestial imagery, with several pieces using a cloud motif. Ziek says she manipulates photographs she takes to create the images woven into her pieces, though in most of her work the origin of her imagery is not at all obvious.

Ziek also uses letterforms, saying in an artist statement, “It seems quite powerful, even poetic, to embed text in a medium almost as old as language itself.” In Down Pour, letters are sifting down above a central band where the threads become slack, emerging transformed and elongated at the bottom.

The back room of the gallery is a more intimate space, with big, fabulous pieces by both artists. Ziek’s Emperor and Empress are executed in black and white, while Adams’ Over Over (hung over the gallerist's desk) presents a vivid, otherworldly landscape.

There’s still time to see this show, and the gallery’s website says “We would greatly appreciate it if you would please come and support us as we greatly need it.” That seems like a call to action, and the action is making your way to Rochester and appreciating this fine show.

Down Pour
by Bhakti Ziek; 33.75”h x 29”w, 2011 silk, bamboo, tencel, linen, rayon boucle, natural dye extracts painted warp, damask and weft-backed jacquard
by Bhakti Ziek; 24.5”h x 29.5”w, 2011 silk, cotton, tencel, bamboo, metallic gimp, indigo dyed warp, plain and satin weft-backed jacquard