The built environment is what intrigues the three artists whose work is being featured in Cross Contemporary Art’s April show. Each artist investigates a different aspect of our mad-made world and, particularly in the work of Laura Hexner and Claire Lambe, its interface with the natural world.
Laura Hexner’s meticulous drawings and paintings document some of America’s great feats of architecture, great bridges, overpasses and dams. Mary Anne Erickson is concerned with the disappearing world in which she grew up – the road-side diners and small family-run motels. Claire Lambe is documenting the future – she imagines the built environment being reclaimed by guerilla tactics of the natural environment, a kind of “Fall of the House of Usher.”
The exhibition starts on April 2 with an opening reception from 6―8pm at Cross Contemporary Art, 81 Partition St., Saugerties NY, and runs through April 24. Curator, Jen Williams Dragon, writes in the exhibition essay, “The ever-growing need for mankind to manage resources for living leads to the building of heroic structures…At odds with these systems are the destruction of rivers, vistas and natural habitats by concrete pillars, asphalt highways and ill-conceived housing projects. These structures are physically built to dominate and harness nature as well as facilitate the transit of natural resources. However, it is nature’s relentless superpower, entropy, that will ultimately dismantle and destroy all massive efforts to control and re-contour the environment.” She notes how these three artists, Lambe, Erickson and Hexner each consider the Pyrrhic victory of human constructions within the backdrop of an immense, relentlessly eroding and infinitely patient natural landscape.
Irish-born Claire Lambe may be best known in the Hudson Valley area for her portraits, so the work here at CCA seems like a departure. “I love portraits,” says Lambe, “and have painted them on and off throughout my life, but I make a lot of other kinds of art too; I do love story and I love that this exhibition tells a story of the past, the present, and the future, through our particular lenses at least.” Lambe was among the artists in Hudson Valley 2012 at the Dorsky Museum and for that exhibition she produced a huge installation entitled Rock, Paper, Scissors and, although most of the work in this show will be painting, she will be installing a smaller piece from that suite. “The game of chance underlies everything and, I fear, between us and the planet, it’s looking like we’ve embarked on a game of winner-takes-all. I’m betting on the planet.” Much of her work in this show was done during a four month sojourn in Costa Rica. What captured her imagination there was the proliferation of construction projects – mostly condominiums — by foreigners (gringos) on choice pieces of coastline while, paradoxically, the coastline was littered with abandoned (ghost) building projects in the process of being reclaimed by the forest. “Thankfully, not enough to spoil it. Yet.”
Hexner has been painting and drawing the often overlooked subjects of everyday life: bridges, dams, telephone poles and highways – monumental projects that become interventions in the landscape. Her technical elegance with seemingly mundane subjects creates an abstract drama characteristic of her work. Some of the images are rendered from high up – a bird’s eye view – while others are more of an ant’s eye view creating a sense of vertigo and adding emphasis to the grandeur and also to the loneliness of her subjects.
Erickson has long been fascinated by the deterioration and decay of vintage roadside American culture. Her color saturated photo-realist paintings capture the faded bucolic optimism of the Post-War years against the backdrop of a vast and empty western landscape. “In 1950’s post-war America there was a sense of adventure when you set out on a ‘road trip.’ The whole country was a vacation playground with family-owned “mom and pop” motels, restaurants, and diners catering to travelers with their regional themes and local food specialties. Each business did their best to create a unique name, sign, or building that would attract attention and boost their notoriety,” says Erickson. “The beginning of the end came in 1956 with the opening of the Interstate Highway system and the proliferation of hotel/motel chains such as Holiday Inn. But some relics still remain, often abandoned, while many have been torn down to make room for a new strip mall or parking lot.” It is these icons that Erick seeks out to memorialize in her work. The four new pieces in this exhibition stem from a road trip on Route 66 Erickson took with CCA owner Jen Dragon with “Ride for the Relay,” a cancer research fundraiser.
Opening Reception Sat. April 2, 2016
— 6-8pm — on view thru April 24, 2016
Cross Contemporary Art 81 Partition St. Saugerties, New York 12477
Featured Image: Claire Lambe, Midas (detail), 2016. Acrylic and gold leaf — 20 x 40”
Images courtesy of the artists.
For more information about the exhibition and the gallery,
go to www.crosscontemporaryart.com, or call (845) 399‑9751