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Sara Farrell Okamura

Sara Farrell Okamura has 20 articles published.

Sara Farrell Okamura, a resident of North Adams, is an artist, arts educator, and writer.

It’s A Painting, It’s A Drawing, It’s A Sculpture, It’s Ceramics, It’s Beautiful — Lauren Mabry: Fused

Abstract scupture by Lauren Mabry, Loopy Cylinder Black Textured with Striped Interior Detail, ceramic; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura
Lauren Mabry, Loopy Cylinder (Black Textured with Striped Interior), detail, ceramic; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura

Enter Ferrin Contemporary, a gallery dedicated to ceramic artists, from MASS MoCA’s parking lot and find your self gazing at an array of beautiful, vibrantly colored vessels, relief paintings, and sculptures. What resemble the most vivid, glistening rubber band-like loops hang from a myriad of pegs on voluminous vessels and relief paintings that are round, rectangular, and square. The inside of each vessel is glazed in unexpected hues that play with the sense of depth and width. This is the work of Lauren Mabry, an artist re-imagining the definition, technique, and outcome of ceramics.

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A Wake-Up Call at MASS MoCA: Suffering from Realness

Cassils, Inextinguishable Fire, 2015, Single-Channel Video with Sound and Fourteen Encapsulated Breaths, 2017, Hand-Blown Glass, Each Unique; photo by Hideyo Okamura.
Cassils, Inextinguishable Fire, 2015, single-channel video with sound and Fourteen Encapsulated Breaths, 2017, Hand-Blown Glass, Each Unique; photo by Hideyo Okamura.

by Sara Farrell Okamura

It opened with a funeral procession. A mariachi band, the artist, Vincent Valdez playing trumpet, led a band of mourners channeling a New Orleans jazz–styled funeral march through the newest exhibit to open at MASS MoCA. Pallbearers hoisted Requiem, a black patina bronzed colossal carcass of an American Bald Eagle, to their shoulders, carrying him past the monumental charcoal drawings of Robert Longo, past Robert Taplin’s giant alabastrine clown, Punch (Punch & Judy puppets) silently preaching to an imaginary crowd, past the immense green squares of MPA’s examination of binaries, past Hayv Kahraman’s Three Celebrities, depicting an image of three women arguing over a pile of gold, a treasure secured by appropriating the suffering of refugees, past Christopher Mir’s paintings, symbolizing anxieties and hopes, past Titus Kaphar’s paintings and sculptures correcting history. The American eagle, created by Valdez and fellow artist Adriana Corral, was lowered to lie in repose in front of Corral’s white wall with 243 dates embedded into the museum’s drywall, submitted by 243 Americans (one for each year designating the age of the United States). Each of these dates symbolized a personal or historical event. Suffering from Realness was now on view to museum visitors.

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Panther on the Prowl:
Katherine Bernhardt GOLD

Katherine Bernhardt, Love Online, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura.
Katherine Bernhardt, Love Online, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura.

While making your way through Hudson Valley’s pastoral countryside, it is easy to understand what inspired the Hudson River School of painters such as Thomas Cole and Federic Edwin Church. Your destination is Ghent, New York, a present day farming community about 20 or so miles north of the city of Hudson, and Olana, Church’s family estate, now a historic site. Passing halcyon landscapes, dotted with yellow dabs of color emanating from forsythia and daffodils, you arrive at Art Omi, a contemporary sculpture park, gallery, and international artists residency that rests on 120 + bucolic acres. After initially being greeted by Chicago artist, Tony Tasset’s giant sculpture of a fawn, you enter a contemporary edifice, the Beneson Center, housing the Newmark Gallery. BAM, to quote Roy Lichtenstein’s early pop painting, you have left the serene world of idealized romanticism and entered the universe of master painter, Katherine Bernhardt.

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What We Leave Behind

Dan Devine, Calf, plaster detail; Dan Devine, Calf, plaster; Giroux Gallery (photo: Sara Farrell Okamura).
Dan Devine, Calf, plaster detail; Dan Devine, Calf, plaster; Giroux Gallery (photo: Sara Farrell Okamura).

Impact, New Works by Dan Devine, Thompson Giroux Gallery

Enter Thompson Giroux Gallery in Chatham, New York from now until May 5 and you are walking into Impact, the latest body of work by Dan Devine. Chalky white plaster sculptures cast from the metal remains from collisions and crashes are installed throughout the space. On the walls hang rubbings on creamy white paper, from ruined remains of motors, a melting icicle, a toy assault rifle, and the skeleton of a lamb. The immediate sensation is you have wandered into an anthropological museum, situated on some newly settled planet, circa 2100, dedicated to treasures recovered from the demise of Earth and the empire where we now reside.

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The Body Stops Here:
Works by Keiko Narahashi and Sarah Peters.

Installation, The Body Stops Here: Keiko Narahashi & Sarah Peters, Usdan Gallery, Bennington College; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura.
Installation, The Body Stops Here: Keiko Narahashi & Sarah Peters, Usdan Gallery, Bennington College; photo by Sara Farrell Okamura.

Editor’s Note: This exhibit closes March 31, 2019.

After arriving at Bennington campus through wrought iron gates, you ascend a meandering road until you reach the crest of a hill. Before you is a behemoth of a building—a 1000,000 square foot cathedral of wooden high beams and glass, dedicated to creating something from nothing in visual art, dance, and performance. This is VAPA (visual and performing arts) Center, situated on a summit against the surrounding vistas of the Green Mountains. Visitors enter by climbing the industrial stairs to the Usdan Gallery. It was modeled on the 3rd floor of the Whitney Museum when the museum was on the Upper East Side of New York, now the Met Breuer. Like the building, the gallery is mammoth. Constructed 40 years ago with the spirit of mid-century large scale color field paintings and minimalist sculptors such as Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitzki, and Anthony Caro, who were students and faculty at the college.

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Trenton Doyle Hancock
Mind of the Mound: Critical Mass

A Once in A Lifetime Odyssey

“At some point I realized the fractured self is the true self, and that to go by the script society gives, telling you that you only have this one road that you can go down, is actually the antithesis of the American dream.

Trenton Doyle Hancock, Interview with Katy Henriksen, in the Creative Independent, 2017
Trenton Doyle Hancock, next to his longtime super being creation, Torpedoboy; photo courtesy the artist.
Trenton Doyle Hancock, next to his longtime super being creation, Torpedoboy; photo courtesy the artist.
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Jane Hudson, recent paintings: an artists’ artist in our midst

Enough Said, II,, Jane Hudson; acrylic on canvas, 24” × 30”, [source, the artist].
Enough Said, II,, Jane Hudson; acrylic on canvas, 24” × 30”, [source, the artist].

“Our hearing of colours is so precise … Colour is a means of exerting a direct influence upon the soul. Colour is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many strings. The artist is the hand that purposely sets the soul vibrating by means of this or that key. Thus it is clear that the harmony of colours can only be based upon the principle of purposefully touching the human soul.”

Wassily Kandinsky

Jane Hudson is a pioneer. Not just any pioneer, but one who, for over 40 years, has assumed the mantel of courageous trailblazer. Jumping into digital media, a male dominated field, when it was in its gestational state, she contributed to video and performance being recognized as an art on par with painting, drawing, and sculpture. Hudson’s accomplishments are well documented. Grants ranging from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to the George Gund Foundation to the Mass Cultural Council all acknowledged her brilliance as a video and performance artist.

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The Immortal Material

Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials
Smith College Museum of Art

Aurora Robson, Isla, 2014; Plastic debris (PET + HDPE), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic, and mica powder; [Source: Aurora Robson].
Aurora Robson, Isla, 2014; Plastic debris (PET + HDPE), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic, and mica powder; [Source: Aurora Robson].

Plastic. In most cases it is imperishable, non-biodegradable, and close to everlasting. It is so ubiquitous in our life that we barely notice how much we use. According to the New York Times article, The Immense, Eternal Footprint Humanity leaves on Earth: Plastics (7.1. 2018) by Tatianna Schlossberg, 5 – 13 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, and since the 1950s, 4.9 billion metric tons is in landfills or spread throughout the environment. With these facts in mind, it is well worth a trip to Smith College Museum of Art to view, Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials organized by Pennsylvania State University’s Palmer Museum of Art.

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17 Years Boy: Epilogue
Works by Dr. Imo Nse Imeh

Imo Nse Imeh, Ovation, mixed media/canvas, 2018; [Source: artist / Readywipe Gallery]
Imo Nse Imeh, Ovation, mixed media/canvas, 2018; [Source: artist / Readywipe Gallery]

“ To me, this new body of work symbolizes the challenging, yet beautiful journey down the path of healing, to transform the horror of unspeakable tragedy into a renewed sense of life and celebration, I wanted to make something new, I wanted it to be reflective of a dark past, but also hopeful for the future.  It needed to be about healing and the celebration of Black boys.”

Imo Nse Imeh

Following a disturbing rash of racially motivated incidents at Westfield State University, Dr. Imo Nse Imeh, an associate professor at the college, launched a live multi media performance that reexamined the travesty of the death of 17 year old, Trayvon Martin. Using the span of Martin’s life, Dr. Imeh painted a large scale portrait of Trayvon Martin as a video taped performance that culminated in the destruction of the portrait in the final 17th hour of the show. This final hour mirrored the life of a 17 year old boy whose life was cut short for no other reason other than racial hatred. Over the course of the next year, Dr. Imeh created 17 new works, each one integrating fragments from Trayvon Martin’s portrait saved from the first performance.

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School Vacations! New Spring Exhibits!

Emily Eveleth, Big Pink, 2016, oil on canvas, [Source: the Artist and Danese/Corey, New York] on view: Like Sugar, Tang Teaching Museum
Emily Eveleth, Big Pink, 2016, oil on canvas, [Source: the Artist and Danese/Corey, New York] on view: Like Sugar, Tang Teaching Museum

School vacations are upon us! In addition, a welcome sign winter will not last forever-new spring exhibits are beginning to pop up everywhere! You can drive within an hour and view a recently opened exhibit composed of internationally renowned artists whose work has focused on sugar, both the sweet and sour aspects, at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs to a beautiful group exhibit, Be Mine, presenting the many interpretations of love curated by Julie Torres at LABspace in Hillsdale, New York, or stay in your own back yard and finally try out the free snowshoes at the Clark Art Institute.

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Two Distinct Exhibits In A Historic Building

Terry Winters, Untitled (2), 1999; gouache on paper, 44 1/4 X 30 1/2 inches; private collection [Source: Matthew Marks Gallery]
Terry Winters, Untitled (2), 1999; gouache on paper, 44 1/4 X 30 1/2 inches; private collection [Source: Matthew Marks Gallery]

Xylor Jane: Counterclockwise & Terry Winters: Facts & Fiction

“I saw it in New York,” or “I saw it in the city” is an often-heard response when an exhibit of well established artists come to the mountains and valleys of western Massachusetts. It happens all the time at MASS MoCA. My response generally is, “Well, did you see it in a gallery the size of a football field? Could you look down on it from above?” One such show, slightly to the east of us, is now on view at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center, which houses the University Museum of Contemporary Art.

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New Shows! New Performances! Not to be missed!

Paul Feeley, 1910-196; A Girl With A Doll, in Works on Paper: A Decade of Collecting [source: Bennington Museum]
Paul Feeley, A Girl With a Doll, on view in Works on Paper: A Decade of Collecting [source: Bennington Museum]

Supposedly, February is the off-season for cultural happenings in the Berkshires and neighboring communities. Don’t believe it! From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s incredible Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, New York, to Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, to Smith College Museum of Art’s opening exhibit, Plastic Entanglements, Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials, the breath, depth and diversity of our region knows no bounds. The above are, but a few of the incredible opportunities within an hour of north county to witness new, innovative art or fresh new discoveries of Vermont Folk sculpture. Fortunately most of these exhibits are on view for at least a month and some through the spring season. Plan ahead and enjoy!

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