Objects and Ideas: Emerging artists on display at North Country Cultural Center
by Robin Caudell
Press-Republican, Out & About – January 13-20, 2005
“Metaphor in Structure” features the paintings of James Juron, sculptures of James Ryan and video installation of Ryan J. Wilson at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh.
The show is presented in collaboration with Norte Maar of Rouses Point.
“Plattsburgh has great support for students and young artists and great support for senior and retired people,” said Jason Andrew of Norte Maar.
“As far as emerging artists, I don’t think there is in place an organization that can catch these artists before they fall off.
“Plattsburgh State University is such a fabulous art school. It seems ridiculous that the community doesn’t want to tap into that and hold on to that.”
Norte Maar helps artists such as Juron, Ryan and Wilson to segue from academia to exhibiting and talking about their works at galleries.
“These artists are very passionate about what they are doing and are willing to sacrifice for their arts,” Andrew said.
“And along those same lines, they are not willing to compromise artistically.”
Though James Juron pays homage to the old masters, particularly Rembrandt and Caravaggio, he brings a 21st-century aesthetic to his many-layered paintings – “The Gate,” “The Cage” and “The Temple,” which are from a series that explores a figure walking through architectural spaces.
“I’m using the look of the old masters but they’re (paintings) not narrative,” said Juron, who majored in art at Plattsburgh State.
“They’re totally ambiguous going against what an old master painting really was with all these points of meaning. I’m much more ambiguous.”
Juron responds visually to certain light and architecture.
In his statement, he writes:
“My work has no fixed meaning or identity. The works neither represent an actual space nor an imagined one. They are a combination of the psychological and observed, operating as a form of primary writing. I do not consider my work to be a language.
As a primary writing the works have the ability to exceed linguistic constraints. There is no relation to the spoken word, no text that they narrate. They activate silence and operate visually within it.”
“Hand Over Hand Climbing Up a Rope On Fire” is one of James Ryan’s sculptural-energized forms.
“There is something happening in the piece as you look at it,” Ryan said.
In Ryan’s works, there is always a condensed force, tension, within.
“Working in this manner, I give myself a problem to solve. I wanted to find a way to harness the energy and bend those beams.”
In the “Blanket of Blind Faith,” an angle-iron arch houses a hand-dyed, dark gray curtain that visually and conceptually divides the space.
“Which is why faith is in the title,” Ryan said.
“It’s a spiritual thing that happens between people and belief. You never see it whatever it is. You never meet someone but they exist kind of thing.”
In his artist statement, Ryan writes:
“The structure of my process explores the nature of my chosen materials and the level of my personal response to their inherent characteristics. The strength of connections, such as that of threads on a bolt, or a weld fastening two pieces of steel together, plays a very important role in the construction of my art.”
Ryan J. Wilson’s “Oil is Blood” video installation is ironically placed in the former Merchant’s Bank walk-in vault inside the center. In 1922, it was the largest vault north of Albany.
“I noticed the vault every time I went in there,” Wilson said.
“It is a perfect place for a video installation. Instantly, I thought of this footage for it, for the unrealistic sense of values… just over the top, imaginary portrayal of this unrealistic world of endless oil supply in America.”
Wilson acquired and deconstructed this mid-20th century film footage, “Oil is Blood” from the National Archives Records Administration in College Park, Md.
“It seems to be an educational film, something they showed in schools,” Wilson said.
“The point of it is America had this wealth of oil supply, and we were ahead of the rest of the world and we were self sufficient.
“What captivated me about it is how extraordinarily ironic it was put in today’s context.”
About the installation, Wilson writes:
“As a result of naturally increasing public knowledge of environmental issues and incredible globalization of international politics, today’s world is one of highly sensitive environmental issues and complex international affairs.
“Oil is a resource of such influential value that suspicions of greed and appropriation accompany any news of the subject.
“It’s a much different world that the early twentieth century, when oil was a miraculous natural resource that promised a better tomorrow with countless uses.”