ITHACA, NY – The Ithaca exhibits scene, which has steadily recovered throughout the year, is set for a big bloom this fall.
The big news is the reopening to the general public of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and the Handwerker Gallery at Ithaca College, both closed since the start of the pandemic. Occupying Cornell’s historic IM Pei Tower from 1973, the Johnson Museum (museum.cornell.edu) is a must visit for any local art lover.
Their big contemporary show this fall (until December 19) is “Art and Environmental Struggle”, which “brings together the work of 20 artists responding to the environmental challenges facing their countries and communities.” A related symposium, “Rythms of the Land: Indigenous Knowledge, Science, and Thriving Together in a Changing Climate,” will be held at the museum and Cornell Botanic Gardens from October 11-13.
Other current or upcoming exhibitions at the Johnson explore documentary photography, Southeast Asian art, Dante’s illustrations, and “the art and design of women’s lives”.
Under the leadership of Mara Baldwin, the Handwerker (www.ithaca.edu/handwerker-gallery) does a great job of representing faculty and students and often invites emerging artists from out of town. The emphasis the curators place on the work of female and minority artists is also clear. (Baldwin is also co-hosting, with partner Sarah Hennies, Neighbors, a home gallery and performance space. It’s on hiatus this month but will reopen in October.)
The Handwerker’s current program (until October 13) features the work of two faculty members from Ithaca College. “Thicker Than Forget” by Paloma Barhaugh-Bordas integrates painting, printmaking and photography as an investigation into cartography, perception and nature. “First Light, the Skylarks Sing” by photographer Lali Khalid explores current topics on immigration and identity through the traditional genre of portraiture. Barhaugh-Bordas will give an artist talk on September 14 and Khalid on September 16; both interviews will start at 6 p.m.
Located across Route 96B from Ithaca College, The Gallery at South Hill (www.southhillbusinesscampus.com/gallery-at-shbc/) experienced a new life under the direction of local painter Michael Sampson. “Jessica Warner: The Color of the Distance” (September 18-October 17) promises to be a highlight of the season, with her iconic abstract expressionist still lifes in welcome abundance. Next is Sidney Piburn, an accomplished and introspective abstract painter.
In Cayuga Heights, Corners Gallery (www.cornersgallery.com) juggles an irregular schedule of mostly informal exhibitions. Their current group show, “Project Polaroid” (through September 17) is an exception. Co-organized by gallery owner Ariel Bullion Ecklund and photographer Rachel Philipson, the exhibition is fun and varied. Upcoming will be “Mundane Marvels / Paintings by Jennifer Small” (September 25 to November 6). Abstract painting is a highlight at Corners, and the Delaware artist’s vivid and colorful geometric pieces promise interest.
Much of Ithaca’s independent galleries scene remains focused in and around Ithaca Commons. The definitive list of downtown art exhibitions is courtesy of Gallery Night Ithaca, which is administered by the Community Arts Partnership (CAP). A monthly listing on their website (www.downtownithaca.com/gallerynightithaca/) includes shows not listed here as well as announcements for popular “First Friday” gallery walks.
CAP (artspartner.org/) also operates its own gallery, located in the former Tompkins Trust building in Bank Alley. Their current exhibition, “Finding Wholeness in Imperfection” (until September 26) features paintings of ambitious figures by Julia Bertussi, a student at Ithaca College. Upcoming shows include their October exhibit on the Greater Ithaca Arts Trail, a Native American Heritage Month exhibit the following month, and their “CAP-a-Palooza” folk art sale in December.
Founded in 1989, the State of the Art Gallery remains an anchor of the local gallery scene. This month’s member exhibit “Life Within and Around Us” (through September 26) features a characteristic eclectic group of 18 gallery members, including new member Vincent Joseph.
Located across State Street, above the Community School of Music and Arts, the Ink Shop Printmaking Center (ink-shop.org/) is another long-standing co-op. Their “Membership Show 2021” (through September 25) shows them as strong as ever. An upcoming show, “Dan Welden: Aesop’s Fables (Color Sequel) (October 1-24) is expected to be a special treat, spotlighting a series from a legendary technical innovator.
Finally, it would be remiss not to mention See Beyond Art (seebeyond.art/), another collective, which recently set up an evolving ephemeral space at the Ithaca Center. They are supporters of what writers David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro have dubbed “wild art” – beyond the whims of the suffocating guardians of the art world like yours. Regular evening hours have been extended until September 18.