Element of place

2 new exhibits open Saturday at Crary

Photo submitted to Times Observer One of Eck’s mixed media pieces at a prior installation.

The element of place looms large in the new exhibition at the Crary Art Gallery, opening Saturday, Aug. 4.

Two new artists will be showing:

Deb Eck, a U.K. native who’s been living and working in western New York for over 20 years, will be opening her show entitled “Working in Place.”

The collection features pieces created using material from, and reflective of places Eck has traveled.

Paper, text, and thread represent the bulk of Eck’s preferred media.

Photo submitted to Times Observer Eck enjoys combining thread and paper as one of her many explorations of mixed media.

Eck says in her artist’s statement on this show that she finds herself “drawn to repetitive making; most of my work requires tens, even hundreds, of hours of intensive hand labor to create.”

The work, says Eck, is meditative, each piece unfolding over time, as Eck finds what each piece is through its process of becoming. Her process, she says, “allows for ideas to fully manifest, for the threads of thought to untangle and re-weave themselves into new forms.”

It’s not surprising, given her preferred media, that Eck’s work spends a significant amount of time exploring “the space occupied by women in society.” Eck says that her work has lately become a meditation on “how work and women are historically connected, and especially with the uneasy space occupied by women’s handicrafts in the Art world.”

Eck received her BFA in painting from the University of Buffalo, as well as her MA in Visual Culture from the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, U.K. She’s an adjunct teacher at Jamestown Community College and SUNY Fredonia, and has ties with numerous regional arts and cultural organizations. Her work has been shown internationally throughout her career. She has a background in bookbinding and creates hand-embroidered spine bindings as well as functional and artist’s books. The materials she uses come from the places she’s been, and reflect the spirit of those places in their role within each finished piece.

The second artist opening at Crary this weekend is Paige Kleinfelder. Her show, “Catalyst,” features portraits of aging signage and buildings. Kleinfelder says in her artist’s statement for the show that her subjects “are everyday buildings and structures that I view as the physical memories of the cities in which they are located.” Just as memory fades and warps over time, so too do the facades of buildings and the signs that denote what they were, and what they were about. Of her subjects, Kleinfelder says that “most of these buildings are no longer pristine or functioning, and yet they remain present and part of the urban landscape.”

Photo submitted to Times Observer “New Model Bakery,” New Castle, Pa.

“Catalyst” contains exclusively oil paintings in various sizes from miniatures to medium-sized pieces, Kleinfelder says. As to why she chose oils, she says, “the oil paints allow for layering that assists in conveying the effects of time on the subjects being rendered.” Kleinfelder hopes that this exhibition will “provide an outlet for viewers to draw upon their own memories in response to the paintings. Rather than needing the audience to have connections to the specific locations, the narrative created by the paintings stand in for similar locations town to town.”

In addition to the two formal shows opening Saturday, there will also be works from this summer’s residency program, featuring workshop leader and artist-in-residence Samila Sosic.

The exhibition opens at the Crary Gallery, 511 Market Street in Warren, on Saturday, Aug. 4. Gallery doors open at 6 p.m. Saturday with a reception that runs to 8 p.m. with artist gallery talks starting at 7 p.m. For more information on the upcoming show or the gallery itself, visit craryartgallery.org.

Photo submitted to Times Observer “Conneaut Lake Park,” Conneaut Lake, Pa.