I am actually away from Mad City right now, back east for a little family & friend time as well as my college reunion. It can be a bit challenging to find quality stuff to do around my hometown area, so I dragged my dad over to Saratoga today to check out the Tang Art Museum at Skidmore College. I was just hoping for some moderately entertaining artwork, and maybe a better sandwich in downtown Saratoga than I could get around Hagaman, but instead got walloped by a case of serendipity.
The Tang museum is actually kind of stunning, especially for its location on the campus of a fairly small liberal arts college. The building is beautiful, and the quality of the exhibitions blew me away. On the ground floor, an exhibition of senior thesis work by Skidmore art students that definitely paid credit to the art program there. And upstairs, an amazing exhibit of work by Fred Tomaselli, who I'd never heard of before. I've admitted in the past that I'm no art critic, so you won't be getting any sharp analytical insights of his art here or even a biographical review. But let me just say that from the brief amount I've read, too much emphasis is put on Tomaselli's technique. He uses actual leaves, fungi, pills, and other organic material in his work, under a layer of resin that he then paints over. The effect is interesting up close, but what really blew me away was the incredible detail of his art, as well as the brilliant thought behind it. Of the paintings I saw, my favorite was probably "Expulsion," an obvious reference to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, rendered in anatomic detail, seem to be pushed away by a swirling vortex emitting beams of energy, which up close are comprised of drawings of songbirds, flowers, tiny sea creatures, pills, and other random objects.
This was one of the few occasions I could remember of actually feeling enraptured by an artwork. The last time was about a year ago, when I took my dad to Williamstown and discovered an exhibit of Julie Mehretu's work at the Williams College art museum. I mean, I still hate Williams, but I now love Julie Mehretu. And Fred Tomaselli. And yes, I did have a good sandwich in Saratoga. And the weather today was awesome.