During the 2015 holiday season, Kolman & Pryor Gallery hosted an “Art Up-Cycle” buy-back event. The community was invited to bring into the gallery any unloved, neglected or unwanted work on canvas, which Kolman & Pryor purchased for $1 a piece. In June, the event enters its next phase when selected local artists transform those pieces into new works that incorporate and build on their current practices. Art Up-Cycle: The Exhibition opens June 4 and closes July 23. A free reception will be held on Saturday, June 18, 7-10 p.m.
The artists who were selected to upcycle pieces from the holiday event include gallery co-owner and curator, Patrick K. Pryor, gallery artist, Jodi Reeb, and local artists, Jim Dryden, Laura Hallen, Nathanael Flink, Erik Benson, James Holmberg and Carolyn Swiszcz. Each artist was invited to select three to four pieces to work with. “These are folks I knew would be able to have fun with the idea, which was to take an already existing canvas and deal with it, or alter it, in ways that transform the work in some way,” says Pryor, who organized the exhibition.
“Some artists will be adding aspects they feel are missing,” Pryor says. Benson, for instance, says he chose landscape paintings to work with, “probably because it’s the vernacular that I’m interested in, but also because these paintings seemed to be missing something. I felt in some regard my approach was finishing an incomplete sentence, albeit in a direction significantly different from the one the original artist intended. I really wanted to tune into the original narrative and add my own voice.”
In his case, Pryor removed a glass mirror incorporated into the work and will paint over a photograph of a sunset in his current abstract style, while a mechanical device inside the work creates the sound of waves. “Everyone’s approach acknowledges what the piece has already,” he says.
The exhibition addresses up-cycling in another way, as well. Several unaltered canvases will be exhibited in the show—and be for sale. “What does it mean to buy a cast-off work for $1, re-contextualize it within a gallery setting, and put a new price tag on it?” Pryor asks. “We’re exploring ideas of authorship, value and aesthetic. And we can’t avoid dealing with kitsch, with issues of sentimentality, and with amateur art that’s well done.”