Review of “Horses and Horizons” by Carl Mellor

“Horses and Horizons,” the current exhibition at the Edgewood Gallery, has several agendas. It showcases a cooperative art project involving local artists Jim Ridlon and Alyson Markell. It displays media ranging from mixed-media to collages and ceramics and jewelry. And it presents images of horses seen in blazing colors and subdued sea scenes.

The equine images, a highlight of the show, offer non-traditional portrayals of horses. In “The Grey Horse,” the subject isn’t seen in a stable or pasture. It appears in lush orange-and-red colors. There’s an illusion of movement as the horse leans down.

Another work,” Mustang Rein,” depicts several horses on a misty day. Once again they aren’t located in a specific place. It’s a fine artwork, but “Spring Grazing” is even better. It features several multi-colored horses and communicates a sense that they are on the move. In addition, “Barn Escape” highlights one horse, with our view of a second horse obscured.

These pieces began with Markell doing charcoal drawings of horses, followed with consultations on a color scheme. Ridlon then finished the background for each work.

That isn’t a formula for collaboration between the two artists. With collages they start with a group of large paintings on paper which are then cut up into small pieces. Then Markell and Ridlon have discussions on reassembling the pieces. This isn’t a linear process; it’s more like the improvising seen in free jazz.

And the collages exhibited at Edgewood reflect that visual dialogue. Some of the smaller works, like “Titan Turmoil” or “Storm’s Edge,” integrate intense waves and choppy water. There’s a sense of discord, of turbulent times on the water and beyond.

Elsewhere, there are works with a very different point of view. “Hills of Onondaga County,” for example, emphasizes greenery and the notion of a local landscape. “Sunset Awareness” is optimistic and welcoming.

For Ridlon and Markell, the collaboration isn’t premised on generating work for one exhibition. They have worked together for roughly three years and exhibited their creations at Cazenovia College, Syracuse’s Century Club, and other venues. They are currently working on multi-media works interpreting the COVID-21 pandemic. These would combine collages communicating turbulence with audio.

The Edgewood show encompasses not only the collaborative pieces but also other artworks. Leslie Green Guilbault, an artist based in Hamilton, N.Y. , has created a range of pottery including bowls, vases and pieces carved from animal bones. In the current exhibit, she’s represented by small works depicting horses and distinctive pieces of pottery. The texture is enhanced by horsehair, and viewers will observe black streaks in the artworks.

Finally, Susan Machamer’s jewelry is part of the exhibit. She’s a metalsmith who works with sterling silver and gold, making bracelets, broaches and other pieces. Her jewelry is often inspired by nature.

“Horses and Horizons” is notable for several reasons, including its vibrant portfolio. Beyond that, it calls attention to the collaboration between Markell and Ridlon, two veteran artists. In fact, his artistic career spans more than six decades. And it’s the first exhibit Edgewood has mounted since galleries were shut down during mid-March 2020. It’s definitely open to visitors but asks them to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The exhibition is on view through August 7, 2020. The gallery, located at 216 Tecumseh Rd.,  is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and on Saturdays from ten a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, go to


On The Periphery,” at the Edgewood Gallery, mixes photos, art glass and jewelry, as it moves from city streets to cars made before 1960, from forms stressing color and harmony to hand-painted miniatures. The exhibition encompasses diverse artistic approaches.

Heidi Vantassel, for example, creates grainy, black-and-white images playing off reflections from store windows and tinkering with reality. “In Beach Daze,” for example, a man walks down the street but appears as a shadowy figure. Clouds swirl about, a beachfront comes into view, and sunglasses come from nowhere. This photo isn’t digitally manipulated; it springs from the artist’s take on an everyday scene.

The largest of her images offers a panoramic view of a mannequin, shop window, the sky, palm trees, a passer-by, and the sea. Once again, this isn’t documentary photography. By interpreting reflections, Vantassel places the scene into a different visual context, one’s she created.

The photos on display at Edgewood nicely explore the scope of her work. One photo emphasizes a small skeleton figure seen in a shop window. Another portrays many hats, a ladder and a figure holding a camera: that’s Vantassel herself.

Taken as a group, the photos depict a variety of street scenes: outside the Manlius Cinema, by Boom Babies on Westcott Street, in a city where palm trees flourish. And they demonstrate a talent for spur-of-the-moment photography. Light and shadows change, and reflections fade away. Yet, the photographer is able to create innovative images providing a sense of illusion.

Stephanie Parks, meanwhile, has only color images on display, all taken during a 2015 trip to Cuba. In that country, older American autos, manufactured before 1960, are still on the road, in active use. That’s because of conflict between the governments of Cuba and the United States and an ongoing trade embargo.

And so, Parks’ lens captures an Oldsmobile, Chevy Bel Air, and other vehicles on Cuba streets. On one level, she’s documenting a societal phenomenon; it’s estimated that over 60,000 of the American cars still are driven in Cuba. On another level, it’s obvious Parks was interested in presenting non-repetitive photos.

And so she took “In the Fast Lane,” which depicts a car on a roadway, and “Rainy Day: Weatherman’s Dream,” with its portrayal of rain falling down. A third image, “Las Pisadas,” depicts footprints on a garage floor. In other photos, Parks has shot cars from various angles, influencing viewers to take a longer look at the images.

A third artist, R. Jason Howard, has displayed his blown-glass forms in previous exhibitions at Edgewood. In the current show, he scores with pieces like “Horns of Dilemma,” in which glass objects, each with a circular mouth, are mounted on stone.

As it happens, most of the works come from a different series,” Soul Cages: An Exploration of change, time, and process.” In one piece, six objects appear on stone, and there’s a medley of red, green and blue color. In another, blue and grey colors dominate. All the works express a sense of celebration, feelings of warmth arising from harmony, rich color, and capturing light.

The works presented in the current exhibit represent a small sampling of Howard’s creative output. He’s created numerous glassworks, including prayer bowls. Beyond that, his pieces are found in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cafesjian Center for Arts In Yereva, Armenia, and the Kobe Lampworking Museum in Kobe, Japan.

Finally, Eva Hunter is a local artist best known for her paintings; she’s taken part in shows at the Tech Garden Gallery and other venues. The Edgewood exhibit offers a change of pace, presenting cuff links, earrings, and other items of jewelry made by the artist. Most come from Hunter’s “Swirling Stones” series.

The exhibition is on display through February 21, 2020 at the Edgewood Gallery, 216 Tecumseh Rd. It’s open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and on Saturdays from ten a.m. to two p.m. For more information, go to  


Review of “In Nature” by Carl Mellor

“In Nature,” on display at the Edgewood Gallery, covers a lot of ground. It provides a gallery premiere for the “Amazing Women Plate Series,” a project created by Jen Gandee and Lucie Wellner. The exhibition alsot presents a range of Gandee’s ceramic works, as well as Wellner’s watercolors and mixed-media solar prints. And the show encompasses jewelry and miniature boxes made by Magdeleine Wellner.

First, the plate series, a collaboration between Wellner and Gandee, references both contemporary figures like the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg and female activists, authors and artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. Ginsberg’s image appears on a plate, along with a quote from the U.S. Supreme Court Justice: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

 Other plates depict Mother Jones, a legendary labor organizer; Dolores Huerta, a pivotal figure in the United Farm Workers; and Zora Neale Houston, an author, filmmaker and anthropologist. Syracusan Adelaide Alsop Robineau, an influential potter and member of the Arts and Crafts Movement, is also part of the series. Images of Robineau, and her best-known artwork, the Scarab Vase, appear on a plate.

The series extends from Maria Ressa, winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize and author of the book “How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future,” to Zitkala Sa, a writer, editor and educator of Yankton Dakota ancestry. She wrote for Harper’s Monthly and Atlantic Monthly and was co-founder of the National Council for American Indians in 1926. The group advocated for the rights of indigenous people.

Another plate depicts poets Amanda Gorman and Phillis Wheatley. Gorman read the poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 inauguration of President Joseph Biden. Wheatley is believed to be the first African-American woman to author a book of poetry; although she was an enslaved person, she was one of the best known poets of her time in the United States.

“In Nature” presents a variety of other artworks including Wellner’s watercolors inspired by the E.M. Mills Rose Garden at Thornden Park. Viewers will see lush depictions of red roses and the best of these works, ” About Face.” That piece stands out because of its subtle treatment of light and use of a blue background.

The artist pays homage to a field behind the her Pompey home with mixed-media solar prints portraying both Monarch butterflies and the milkweed plants that are the only food source for the insects. The prints view the butterflies’ habitat in depth, exploring their dependence on the plants.

Several of Gandee’s ceramic pieces have miniature landscape imagery inscribed on them. Thus, a large bowl has fern imagery on its exterior, while a second bowl is decorated with images of vines. The artist also has vases and cups on display at Edgewood.

Gandee’s involvement with ceramics extends beyond her own expertise and creative energy. In her gallery, located in Fabius, she’s hosted various exhibits showcasing ceramic work. During July, the gallery presented the annual group show of the Independent Potters of Central New York.

Finally, the Edgewood exhibition displays earrings, necklaces, miniature boxes and other pieces created by Magdeleine Wellner. She works primarily with woven glass seed beads. Some of her work has a figurative element and depicts butterflies.

“In Nature” works with various media, with colorful depictions of plants and insects, and with the informational network of the “Amazing Women Plate Series.” Yet, the exhibit isn’t disorganized or difficult to follow. It’s interesting both in terms of visual appeal and its internal narrative.

The show is well worth a visit to the Edgewood Gallery, 216 Tecumseh Rd., where it’s on display through August 12. The gallery is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 315-445-8111 or access

Carl Mellor covered visual arts for the Syracuse New Times from 1994 through 2019. He continues to write about exhibitions and artists in the Syracuse area. 


Review by Carl Mellor


Nature inspired artwork including carved cedar sculpture, wood and mixed media wall pieces and wood and metal jewelry