Get Visual: Galleries are re-opening! (Part I)

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Whether by appointment only, masked and sanitized, or take a number and wait, greater Capital Region galleries are starting to re-open with fresh shows, and it feels good to be let in the door.

I recently visited Albany Center Gallery, where two solo shows have been mounted, each with a particularly poignant place in our current historic moment.

Nurse Patricia (Nurse Patti) gouache on paper

Steve Derrick, a video game developer by trade, took inspiration from the global coronavirus pandemic to create scores of gem-like portraits of front-line healthcare workers, many of whom have already received the portraits as gifts from the artist.

Half the gallery space is devoted to a fine set of 30 of these works, all about 6 by 8 inches vertical, hung unframed on little clipboards in a continuous line where we can confront and examine them at eye level.

This works perfectly, as many of them feature the subject face-on, giving direct eye contact. Whether behind masks, goggles, and face shields, or uncovered, the individual faces depicted have a powerful presence. Not insignificant is the fact that, in this selection, only three of the workers depicted are men, and the majority are people of color. This is who we rely on to save our lives every day.

Nurse Ema
Stanford Health Care, San Francisco, CA
gouache on paper

Derrick, a highly skilled painter in gouache, applies a masterful touch to his brushed-on colors, often creating beautiful passages of pure paint where the subjects’ colorful clothing is involved, and in equally rich areas depicting skin. His doctors and nurses often bear glaringly apparent PPE marks, along with bloodshot, sometimes tear-filled eyes.

But it’s not all anguishing, as many of the workers also display their fierce humanity in the form of deep, searching, compassionate stares that, when you step in closer, drill right through you.

Entitled Healing: Portraits of the Pandemic, Derrick’s show is not to be missed, as much for its artistic skill as for its emotional honesty.

Duane Ivan Todman, a young painter whose life was tragically cut short in May, is the subject of a memorial exhibition in the other half of the gallery that highlights his finished works along with many sketches or works in progress (please scroll down to see my previous post for a fuller story and two of Todman’s exquisite images).

Duane Ivan Todman at work

While the literal fact of this show’s existence is nothing short of heartbreaking, I believe Todman would be proud of the result, which is entitled Shining Light. I knew Duane, and was deeply moved by the experience of viewing his work on display. I think you will be, too, whether you knew him or not. Both shows continue at the gallery at 488 Broadway in downtown Albany through July 18.

A celebration of Todman’s life will take place in a small park outside the gallery from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 11. Tickets purchased here with a $10 donation to the Duane X Arts Foundation are required in order to attend.

Read more at Get Visual

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