David Pollack and Jim Krewson: Two Person Exhibition at 24 Main Gallery in Phoenicia
The visual arts in Phoenicia rise again! With the closure, a few years back of the Cabane Gallery and the Arts Upstairs, the visual arts in Phoenicia Village have had very limited opportunities for exposure. However, in 2022, the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice opened an event, performance and gallery space in what was previously the Phoenicia Wesleyan Church. The downstairs offices now serve as the headquarters for the annual Phoenicia Voicefest and the upstairs nave with its stained glass windows and 20-foot high ceilings is re-imagined as an event, performance and visual arts exhibition space.
In July, the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice launched 24 Main Gallery with the inaugural exhibition of paintings by David Pollack. This introduction of artwork into what was once a religious space demonstrates the compatibility between contemporary art and traditional American religious architecture.
The paintings of David Pollack are vibrant abstractions that have deep roots in nature. The main part of the exhibition is The Harbor Series. These lozenge-shaped canvases are of varying heights and display color bands that evoke a bar graph of color weights, depths and inter-relationships. Each painting documents the simple elements of pigment minus the three-dimensional distractions of figurative space and form. This minimalist clarity is calming and the balance of Pollack’s 21st-Century artworks intermingled with the 19th-century stained glass windows of the Wesleyan Church is a poetic combination.
On October 7, 24 Main Gallery added the expressive sculptures of Jim Krewson to the ongoing exhibition. Krewson, a versatile artist known not only for his sculpture but for his figurative paintings and considerable banjo skills, exhibits several plaster busts on free-standing pedestals.
In this ecclesiastic gallery, the three-dimensional portraits evoke Catholic reliquaries and wealthy donor portraits ranging from expressive grieving women, a humanoid camel’s head, a shark in a baroque wig and a grimacing female portrait bust. The addition of Krewson’s artworks to the exhibition reflects on the history of Christian visual arts tradition with the addition of a typically Catholic depiction of saints, sacrifices and portraits of “great men”. These wry creations serve as an excellent foil for the minimalist and non-figurative simplicity of traditional Protestant ornamentation (1).
With its 100-year-old woodwork and stained glass windows, it is inevitable that the installations in 24 Main Gallery will at once influence and be influenced by the original religious purpose of the space. However, 24 Main Gallery continues the tradition of bringing together community which has always been the purpose of the Phoenicia Wesleyan Church. This new incarnation as a cultural center continues this purpose with art serving as the beacon.
24 Main Gallery
24 Main Street, Phoenicia NY 12464
Gallery hours: Sat. 12-5 pm or by appointment
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(1) This contrast of religious aesthetic traditions of the Catholic sacramental imagination vs. the Protestant/Judaic transcendent vision is explored in the book “Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art” (Silver Hollow Press, 2018) by Phoenicia resident, Eleanor Heartney.