Roost Studios latest exhibition featured artworks from the director herself. “Sensual Surfaces” by Marcy Bernstein ran from Aug. 18 to Sept. 9. The exhibit is characterized by a blend of mediums and an emphasis on textures.
The first piece in the gallery, “First Ghost,” which resembled a piece from an old wooden shutter, green from age on nearly every inch. A small wooden tree was carved in the shutter as well, painted at the bottom with globs of bright red and blue paint.
Another piece, “Palimpsest,” played with that concept further; the piece had to have layers upon layers of paint on it, most being dark blues and greys. There was a large, box-shaped indentation in the middle of it; there, the colors were more vibrant, prominently featuring two large streaks of red and white paint.
“The colors may change, the sizes of pieces may change,” Bernstein said.
Personal techniques that she developed, such as scraping away paint layers with metal tools, painting with her hands and layering works from the past have barely changed.
Some of the most important themes of Bernstein’s exhibit were “recycling, reusing and incorporating surfaces and objects” in her work, specifically ones that show human impact over time.
Nearly all of the artworks featured dedications to those who inspired Bernstein’s art. Some works are dedicated to philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche and Camille Paglia, and to poets like George Bernard Shaw and Emily Dickinson. One piece is dedicated to her children, and another is dedicated to the Huguenot settlers.
“My work is inspired by all of them,” Bernstein said. The quotes, lyrics and poetry that these individuals and others have made inspired her work; she explained that each piece wasn’t directly inspired by a quote or lyric, but she was more generally inspired by them.
Bernstein also draws inspiration for her work from darker incidents in her life, such as a biking accident she experienced in 2015, when she was biking on some rough terrain and landed headfirst on the ground. Her condition was so severe that she had to be airlifted to the nearby hospital. The time for recovery took her away from her teaching job as well as her art.
“I’m gonna say something that was a surprise to me,” Bernstein said. “I became braver with the work. Having an accident like that where you almost you die… you start to realize you don’t have forever to fool around; if I feel like they’re personages, go for it!”
The reactions to the artwork have been mostly positive, and she had already sold two of her pieces. Outside of general positivity, however, one of the strongest reactions had been from one man who was compelled to write a poem about the artwork.
This man was attracted to the show when he saw advertisements of it.
“He had like, all these thoughts that he wanted to write down, then he came to the show and looked at the art,” Bernstein said. “He wrote me a three-page poem about the work, with the most amazing adjectives.”
She mentioned three upcoming shows, one featuring Barbara and David Holt, a painting husband and wife duo that will occur between Sept. 13 and Oct. 7. The next show is by Peter Sheehan, a New Paltz alumnus and mixed media artist, which will occur between Oct. 11 and Nov. 4.
For more information, visit the Roost’s website at roostcoop.org. They can also be found at 69 Main Street, right in New Paltz.