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 edgewoodartandframe.com.