On The New Paltz Paper Trail

It’s back to not-so-basics with Unison Arts Center’s newest exhibition,  “Group Works on Paper,” a collection of paper pieces by local artists, currently on view until Wednesday, Oct. 31.

The show displays the work of artists “working in very distinct manners on paper, with paper, and sometimes about paper,” according to Unison’s website. While some works focus on the images on paper, others focus on the paper itself as  a medium and as “the carrier of a message,” the website said.

April Warren, the show’s curator and one of its 16 exhibitors, said the pieces in this show — her first with Unison Gallery — are connected by their labor intensive and well crafted creation.

“This may seem obvious — I mean, well crafted? But the marks and choices made by these artists are very deliberate and their attention to detail is stellar,” she said.

Warren was formerly co-coordinator at the Unison Gallery at Water Street Market with Eileen Hedley, where they put on another group paper exhibition for Valentine’s Day in 2011, the “Paper Hearts” show. The exhibition featured many of the same artists as the current show, some of whom have a connection to SUNY New Paltz.

“I think that seeing how well they worked together gave me inspiration for this grouping,” she said.

Participating artist Shanti Grumbine, a part-time resident of New Paltz with an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, is displaying for the first time at Unison with pieces from her  “Kenosis” project. She said she creates her work using “slow, methodical ritualistic paper cutting techniques” to excise images and text from New York Times articles as both a tribute to, and comment on, the media.

“Removal of content [works] as a commemoration of journalism and to make a space for voices not represented in the media,” she said.

Vernon Byron, a New Paltz alumnus with a BFA in printmaking, is displaying four graphite portraits in the show, which consist of what he calls “simplified organic forms that contour and curve in accordance with the structure of the figure,” and are made using an overhead projector.

“Conceptually speaking, the drawings are an exploration of how the body alters the space around it,” he said. “In truth, these drawings are a diagram of space, rather than the body…. Each piece represents a past movement in space, and as a group, the works create an expanding system of related movements.”

Warren said the show, which does not necessarily carry a connective theme between its works, is unique in its attitude toward craft over content.

“I have a special love for group shows in general,” she said. “My own philosophy regarding art is that I enjoy beauty and craft and detail as much as I appreciate the message of the art itself…. A lot of gallery shows…seem more interested in the message, so I think that alone makes this show unique among other contemporary exhibitions.”