Posted by: lizl3wis | December 13, 2021

REVIEW — A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery Art Show, December 10

On December 10, the current art showcase at the A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery in Northampton, MA held an evening reception in celebration of the gallery’s Flat File Exhibition’s featured artists, one of whom was my beloved roommate. She had a print of hers accepted to the show, so I came to the reception to support her and see the artwork on display. As a pleasant bonus, this meant I also got to enjoy a night of milling around, looking at visual art, and speaking to local artists — an event that was entirely lovely in its own right.

The reception was held in the evening, and offered drinks, but no formal speeches or otherwise structured time. Instead, people were encouraged to walk around and look. The showcased work was sourced from members of the Western Mass community, ranging from Smith College art students to local Northampton retirees. Mediums included acrylic and oil paint, pastel, pen and pencil on paper, screen printings, photography, cyanotype on handmade paper, textile weavings, digital art, and even a multimedia project consisting of an old skirt smeared with a globular, textured paint that may have been constructed out of food matter. There was much more than that, as well, in just about every flat medium you could think of. Many of the showcased artists and photographers were present. I got to speak to several of them about their work, often by accident, which was the case for the piece below.

I couldn’t stop staring at this photograph in particular. After a few minutes of doing so, a man came up behind me and told me it was his photo. When I asked how he got a shot like this, he explained that it was the upside down reflection in a puddle on a bike path he was walking on. To me, it didn’t even read as a reflection when I first tried to make sense of it — there’s an otherworldly quality to it, as though the reflected trees are really there, behind the puddle. The mirrored effect also makes for some interesting visual elements, such as the white flecks in the upper half, which almost read as stars or snow in this imaginary scene. I love everything about this photo, but I was most intrigued by the beige leaf, which, to me, looks like a tear in an oil painting, or some similar artistic break in the scene. In actuality, it’s just naturally part of it. This photo played so many fascinating tricks on my eyes and mind, just by virtue of its staging within a reflection. (Zoom in for the photographer’s name — I didn’t want to make his name searchable on the internet without his consent.)

While this photographer toyed with the eye through reflection, several other artists played with distorted visuality in intriguing ways. My favorite, not that I’m biased, was the work of my roommate, Olivia Brandwein ’22. Below is her print, “Shadow.”

I love the way that this artwork forces the viewer to examine the relationship between the hands and the shadow they produce. It reminds me of the optical illusions I used to love as a kid, because they, like this piece, make me think about image and perspective as intertwined. I love what this piece does to my eyes without even trying — whenever I look at it, I see the bunny first, and then I move to the hands to puzzle out how exactly a rabbit came from those shapes. The shadow rabbit takes on a life of its own, no wrist shadows attached, emphasizing that the shadow is a creation in itself, and is, in a way, its own work of art. This piece also reminds me, in a heartwarming way, that so much visual art — whether it’s the bunny or the print itself — begins with your hands.

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