One would think that the arrival of new art galleries wouldn’t be ‘a thing’ during a pandemic, but when it comes to Buffalo’s cultural progress, nothing can apparently keep it down.
I’ve been watching the unfolding of Allentown’s newest gallery, Rivalry, for quite some time. Not only has the construction work been visible from College Street, it’s also been visible from Wadsworth Street (parallel views). The view from College Street is very impressive, especially when you know what this relatively obscure building (106 College Street) used to look like (especially pre-mural). Before the remodel, it was pretty much an annex garage that appeared to be used for storage/studio. But now there is a ‘wow factor’ that cannot be denied.
For the most part, other than watching from afar, this project flew pretty much under the radar, which is par for the course when it comes to galleries popping up around Allentown.
As for Rivalry, the contemporary gallery and production space is described thusly:
Rivalry is founded on the competing motivations of artist and curator, Ryan Arthurs, to create an arts space that can function as both a site of exhibition and production of contemporary art. Rivalry exhibits emerging, mid-career and underrepresented artists working in all media, but with an emphasis toward contemporary photography.
More than anything else, the construction and the opening of another high profile gallery in Allentown brings us back to the roots of the village. After all, this is the home of the Allentown Art Festival, and has always been considered the artsy-bohemian flavor of the city. Any residential/commercial neighborhood prides itself on cultural advancements of this nature, especially when Rivalry is such a prime investment in the community and rewarding undertaking for artists, residents, and Ryan Arthurs himself. We’re not talking about a new splash of paint on the walls, we’re talking about a serious renovation inside and out that will quickly become a coveted and prized art destination in WNY.
While the pandemic means that the gallery is undergoing a ‘soft opening,’ there is an inaugural show – Breaking the Material Plane – in the works that will take place:
- Part I: January 4 – February 19, 2021
- Part II: February 22 – April 2, 2021
Altogether, there will be six artists featured in the mixed media show, with a bent on “physically breaking the borders of the pictorial plane, transforming the mundane into something new and extraordinary.” The goal is to deliver works of art that break the barrier between two and three dimensional forms.
Breaking the Material Plane has been organized in two parts allowing for more work to be exhibited by each artist.
By breaking out with two exhibits, not only are the artists able to show more of their works, they are also able to present binary storylines. This aptly allows them to create “alternative realities” for viewers to consider.
Artists participating in the show are as follows:
Nando Alvarez-Perez’s installation, Living Situation VIII: Corpse Pose imagines the gallery as a yoga studio or meditative space. With this artwork Alvarez continues his exploration of combining photographs along with supplemental objects –science fiction books, religious iconography, drug paraphernalia, divination tools— alluding to the ways we attempt to make meaning of the world and predict what’s to come.
Elizabeth Atterbury’s studio practice is fluid, fluctuating between picture making and object making. Fascinated with the autonomy of the artifact – objects disassociated from their original function and context – Atterbury’s practice considers the distinction or lack thereof between artifact, prop, model and sculpture. Drawn to materials such as paper and sand, Atterbury constructs ephemeral tableaux specifically for the purpose of transfiguring and recording them. Both her photographs and sculpture build upon a continued interest in display and its visual structures, along with a more recent interest in language, ritual, and abstraction.
Dan Boardman’s artwork consists of thousands of exposures made in-camera using masks over 4×5” negatives in an attempt to understand photography’s ability to showcase psychological and emotional eccentricities. “Behind all of my photographs,” he says, “are questions about the human experience. I am concerned with the present ‘in body’ experience I know, the historical precedent of the world we all have inherited, and the legacy of the place that continues after we die.”
David Lefkowitz’s work reflects an effort to embody some basic contradictions. He combines objects or materials like lumber, cardboard, and sheetrock, with imagery depicted in oil paint or other media, to draw attention to the paradoxes we live with everyday- between the real and the ideal, nature and culture, fragmentation and wholeness, abstraction and representation. Lefkowitz’s work is humorous and deceptively accessible. David Lefkowitz has an uncanny ability to transform material culled from consumer culture, and build new, imagined environments.
Susan Metrican’s paintings attempt to depict the unseen and force viewers to confront and make visual the invisible. This invisible subject is the gap between the viewer and the piece itself, exploring questions and relations of perception and the experience of seeing and understanding a thing. Metrican’s sculptural paintings do not attempt to represent or render these abstract subjects. Rather, she utilizes figurative narrative or realized subjects as points of departure, using their rendering and realization as a means of revealing material relations and perceptions of objectness.
Sean Downey’s paintings blend imagined West Coast landscapes with figures portrayed in cinema and literature, to create a fictional place populated by colorful and unsavory characters. Downey’s paintings of Western figures, cowboy and lumberjacks, are cast as tragic figures rather than action stars or heroes. Downey writes, “this body of work is an aggregate of sources, images, and fictions drawn from American history and seen through the lens of autobiography jumping-off point for allegorical images that nod to cinema and history-painting, but that ultimately tell a much less linear story.”