By David Brickman
Extensive open hours may not be the best reason to like a gallery, but it’s a factor in my positive assessment of Union College’s Mandeville Gallery in the Nott Memorial, where a show intriguingly titled “Radical Kingdoms” is on view through June 18. It’s great that you can go see it any day from 10am to 6pm.
But a more substantive reason to like the Mandeville is its eminently able leader, Julie Lohnes, who deftly organized the show around a theme of botanical and biological illustration by contemporary and historical artists, drawing connections from the past and linking traditional scientific illustration to more expressive modern iterations of the style.
A visit to the Nott is always a step into the past, as it is a unique structure that exemplifies the state-of-the-art design and engineering of 100 years ago, and that makes this show a particularly comfortable fit for the unique space that the gallery occupies on a circular, second-story balcony. Lohnes has chosen works by five contemporary artists, augmented by examples of work by ten historical illustrators drawn from Union College’s archives that range from an anonymous 19th-century printmaker to the uber-famous John James Audubon.