Two New Exhibitions Open Saturday, July 8th!

West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park presents two exhibitions of new and recent works by Helen Shulman, Water Horak, Dave Laro, and John Joseph Hanright this July, with an opening reception on Saturday, July 8th from 6 – 8 pm.

“Real Deal” (2016) by Helen Shulman, Oil and Cold Wax on Panel, 28″ x 76″

July 8 – August 13, 2017

Right Here, Right Now: Helen Shulman & Walter Horak

“Developing a relationship with a painting, like a friendship, starts from the outside and works in.” – Helen Shulman

At a time when it seems almost impossible to disconnect from the constant bombardment of stimuli in our day-to-day lives – to unplug, logout, and go offline – Helen Shulman’s paintings and Walter Horak’s sculptures invite us to press pause, if only for a moment. With an artistic philosophy related to her professional experience as a psychotherapist, painter Helen Shulman acknowledges the powerful positive effects of allowing oneself to be briefly removed from external demands, encouraging viewers to turn that energy and focus inward instead. Helen’s atmospheric abstract landscapes beg viewers to linger, first luring them in with hints of a horizon line, visibly overlapping layers of paint, and legible fragments of numbers and text. She then sands, scrapes, and scratches into that heavily textured surface to create contemplative spaces amidst the action. These quiet retreats invite viewers to take a deep breath, drop their shoulders, and shift their gaze internally.

Exhibited in conversation with Helen’s paintings, Walter Horak’s bronze figurative sculptures remind us that presence of mind is not an inherently solitary pursuit. The structural integrity of Walter’s gravity defying, elegantly choreographed figurative sculptures relies quiet literally on each individual’s ability to support another. Using the human figure to create “metaphors in three dimensions,” Walter’s acrobatic formations are testaments to the positive power of community and significance of human connection. Whether peacefully lost in thought or engaged in conversation with a friend, the artists in this exhibition bid us to tune out the noise and be, right here, right now.

“Had It With The Hotshots?” (2017) by John Joseph Hanright, Ephemera, Acrylic, Oil & Resin on Panel, 50″ x 40″

July 8 – August 13, 2017

Tell Me If You Find It: Dave Laro & John Joseph Hanright

In this two-person exhibition opening July 8th, 2017, artists Dave Laro and John Joseph Hanright repurpose vintage ephemera and found objects to create pop-inspired works in varied media. Combining elements of collage, text, and oil painting, John Joseph Hanright mines original publications, advertisements, comics and Pop Art iconography to create densely layered assemblages, both in terms of content and imagery. Dave Laro’s sculptural “pop constructions” give forgotten relics, thoughtfully plucked from flea markets and neglected attic corners, a second chance. Graphic patterns, bold colors, and clever compositions carry an immediate visual impact that lures viewers into the artists’ work, but it is the elements of nostalgia and curious storytelling that persuade them to linger.

Removing items, images, and salvaged materials from their original contexts, both artists suggest new readings of these objects and challenge viewers to independently resolve intentional plot holes in the narrative. The artists may deliberately encourage certain associations with particular works, whether through politically suggestive titles or provocative imagery, but as the late sociologist John Berger wrote, “… the story’s voice makes everything its own.” Personal experience and opinion fundamentally color one’s reading of pieces like Hanright’s “America’s First” and Laro’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And so, regardless of provenance and clues courtesy of the artist, viewers are called on to finish the story.

An opening reception to celebrate both exhibitions will be held at West Branch Gallery on Saturday, July 8th from 6 – 8 pm. For more event info and to let us know you’re coming, click here!