Review of SSDK — by Steven Specht

This was the review that Steven Specht has composed that will be posted on www.collageart.org.

September 27 - October 28, 2009
The Mohawk Valley, in the heart of New York State, has been historically significant since before and during the time of the Revolutionary War. The scenic towns and villages along the Mohawk River and the old Erie Canal served as important cultural and commercial stops along the corridor between the Western frontier of Ohio and Pennsylvania and the Hudson River and harbors of New York City. Although the Mohawk Valley still offers a convenient navigation route for travelers these days, the commercial viability of the area has suffered since the hundreds of industrial mills have fallen victim to more global economic opportunities. The good news is that the cultural events which fill the valley continue to create exciting artistic vitality in the area. One of the gems along the river is the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts in historic Little Falls, NY. I recently enjoyed the opening reception for collage artist Julie Sadler whose exhibit "Sharon Springs DK" is now on display at the MVCA gallery (through October 28). The exhibit was inspired by Sadler's exploration of the ruin-like remnants of what had been a thriving health, mineral springs spa for wealthy New Yorkers and others in the late 1800s.
With over 40 pieces, this exhibit speaks to Sadler's creative vigor and varied interests. The exhibit consists of a number of exquisitely constructed collages, such as "Lady DK", which resemble ornate portraiture. In addition, a number of pieces, including "Hanging in the Balance", portray interactions of Victorian "couples" amidst intricate, vaguely narrative backgrounds. The composition, color and balance within Sadler's pieces invite the viewer to enjoy further exploration of the scenes and create a feeling of vague, kaleidoscopic nostalgia (a la the dada works of Max Ernst and Johannes Baargeld). Also included in the exhibit are small wall hangings incorporating wood elements added to small collages, and more elaborate assemblages such as "Star Juggler" and this reviewer's favorite - "Eddie had a Pileated Heart". Sadler is also exploring new areas including incorporation of more original sources of collage elements such as her own photography of the Adirondacks, rather than relying on ordinary ephemera. She has also been experimenting with painted elements in her collage. Both of these approaches come together impressively in such pieces as "Mother Nature Looked at What She Had Done and Saw It Was Good". Some of these pieces can be seen on Sadler's website: www.sharonspringsdk.com as well as her blog (see below).
Ms. Sadler has also recently been creating short videos using seductive music and various elements from her still collages which she tapes in stop motion photography and combines with a variety of other interesting digital enhancement techniques. Reminiscent of Gilliam's collage animations from Monty Python-but without the silly humor-- Sadler's work is smart and provocative at the same time being visually impressive. A couple of these videos can be found on Sadler's website: collageclearinghouse.blogspot.com.
For anyone interested in collage art and within 100 miles of Little Falls, this exhibit is a "must see". I enjoyed Sadler's works so much, I bought one!
Steven Specht (c) 2009 New Hartford, NY

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