PERRY – After a year of taking reference photos, touring the vast Genesee Valley region, and painting in fields or in their studios, the pieces created for the latest “Genesee Valley 100” community art project are on view.
A record 109 artists participated in this year’s project. The artists’ original paintings are displayed at Silver Lake Brewing Project, 14 Borden Ave. An opening reception is set for Sunday.
The project, organized by the Geneseo-based Genesee Valley Conservancy, was created to draw attention to the local landscapes the organization is working to protect: the habitat, open space, and farmland of the Genesee Valley region.
“These landscapes are a familiar sight, but in our busy lives people often do not stop to appreciate the beauty and importance of these places to our livelihoods, our quality of life, and to the local environment,” says Ben Gajewski, executive director of the Genesee Valley Conservancy.
“Creating time to stop and consider the landscape that surrounds us is the primary goal of this project,” Gajewski says. “It also has the added benefit of highlighting many remarkable artists that live locally.”
Artists from 43 towns participated this year, creating the 115 pieces that hang in the show. The works feature farms, forests, open spaces and include subjects ranging from people and wildlife to farm animals and sunsets.
This is the fifth Genesee Valley 100 show. The project debuted in 2018, missed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and returned last year with a show featuring the work of 17 fiber artists. Past shows have featured painting and photography. All shows have focused on the Genesee Valley, which is defined for the show as a vast geographic region from the New York-Pennsylvania border to Lake Ontario, including the entire four-county region of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
Art and land conservation have a long history together, dating back to the days when the country’s population was predominantly on the east coast and travel was something afforded to very few. Paintings were the primary means to showcase the western landscape to the public. These early paintings helped inspire Congress to create the National Park Service in 1916 to protect natural landscapes so they would not be privatized and exploited by development, but owned by the people and maintained for their environmental benefits.
Artists in this year’s show – the third to feature paintings – have a range of abilities and styles.
“Part of what makes this show so wonderful is that everyone is invited to show their views of the landscape and pick a subject that is meaningful to them to paint,” says Gajewski.
Participating artists range from professionals to hobbyists who have never had a painting hang in public. Student works from art classes at Perry and Geneseo Central schools also participated and have pieces hanging in the show.
There were just two rules for the project: painters had to use the provided 12-inch-by-12-inch canvas and they had to paint something inspired by the Genesee Valley.
The first rule was set to challenge artists, Gajewski says.
Square paintings are not the norm, especially for a landscape. The GV100 rule was intended to force an artist to slow down and give extra thought to how they would create a piece to reflect the Genesee Valley.
Practically, this format also makes the work of volunteers hanging the show easier as they layout a grid pattern at Silver Lake Brewing Project.
The second rule was to keep the focus of the project on the landscape that surrounds us in the Genesee Valley: the lands which support the region’s agricultural economy, the views enjoyed by those live here, and the natural resources that surround them.
“Anything in the Genesee Valley was fair game,” Gajewski says. “The Conservancy wants to keep this project local and highlight the very lands they are working to protect in and around our communities.”
The end result is a mosaic that creates a whole new piece of art when viewing all of the works from afar.
“It is wonderful to have these available online to view, but to really appreciate each individual painting and the brush strokes, one needs to see them up close and in person” says Gajewski. “By viewing the pieces in person, you also get the added benefit of the diverse mosaic of styles and colors that is created.”
Gajewski says the installation is “very reflective of our local landscape – a diverse mix of types of land that have different functions and benefits for the community, and all are equally important. We need local farmland, local habitat, and local places to recreate.”
WHAT: “Genesee Valley 100,” an exhibition of works created for the community art project.
WHERE: Silver Lake Brewing Project, 14 Borden Ave., Perry.
WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 to 6 p.m. Sundays. The show will be on display through the end of 2022.
OPENING RECEPTION: 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 20. Remarks planned around 5:45 p.m.
INFORMATION: Go to www.geneseevalleyconservancy.org, where the paintings may be viewed online. The Conservancy’s website is where all sales of the artworks will take place. Sales benefit both the artist and the Conservancy.
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