Beyond that, the quartet of chairs makes
it clear Futrell has thought about traditional notions of chairs and
decided to take his own path. In shaping and trimming the hardwoods
used to make his chairs, he lets the wood extend beyond the frames and
thus evoke branches and, by implication, nature. Although several of
the chairs could be used for sitting, he also has a miniature chair on
display, a work that’s both visually and thematically interesting.
Too legit to sit: This colorful Hermon Futrell chair is one of four on display at Community Folk Art Center.
Frazier creates stand-up decorative screens, each a pair
of panels joined by a hinge. Working with paint, mosaic tiles, and
relief-carved and stained wood, she references the biblical narrative
of Adam and Eve in two separate screens. In one of those works, Frazier
combines a tile background, Eve wrapped in lush green colors, with a
snake coiling at the bottom of a panel. This isn’t a retelling of the
story of the Garden of Eden; rather, it’s an artwork with an innovative
design and distinctive color and texture. Another work depicts a
mermaid, using greenish colors to evoke the sea.
A fourth set of screens, entitled
“Josephine,” seemingly refers to Josephine Baker, an African-American
singer renowned for her performances in Paris nightclubs during the
1920s. Here Frazier both pays homage to Baker and demonstrates a
free-wheeling approach. On one panel she includes a watermelon motif,
reminding viewers that the watermelon was originally a positive symbol
within African-American culture, not an object associated with
MacDonald has participated in many
exhibits during the course of his career, having shown his clay
sculptures at CFAC, the Everson Museum of Art, the Edgewood Gallery and
other local venues as well as galleries outside Central New York. The
current exhibition presents a dozen of his pieces, again showing his
ability to improvise, to incorporate small triangles, zip-zip patterns
and other shapes into his sculptures without being in any way
In addition to his stoneware plates, MacDonald has two
larger works on display. One, a large divination plate, specifically
references West African culture. The other, an earthenware sculpture
that’s part of his Middle Passage series dealing with transportation of
slaves across the Atlantic, includes three striking images portraying
horrific conditions on slave ships.
In spite of its title, the exhibition
has little interest in revisiting decades-old arguments about the
respective roles of art or craft. Instead, it focuses more on the
artworks themselves and on their creators’ various styles. In that
respect, the show succeeds very nicely.
CFAC is also showing a second exhibition, Selections from the Dar-ul-Islam Historical Photographic Collection,
a series of black-and-white images taken by Khalil Abdulkhabir in New
York some 40 years ago. Many of the photos document Dar-ul-Islam, an
Islamic community, portraying a wedding, a school-award community and
individual members of the group. The exhibit also presents a sampling
of Abdulkhabir’s street photography; one of the best images shows the
late Shirley Chisholm, then a member of the U.S. House of
Representatives, talking to street vendors.
Both exhibitions are on display through
March 7 at the Community Folk Art Center, 805 E. Genesee St. The
gallery is open Tuesdays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays,
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 442-2230.