Review of "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

by Carl Mellor

"Nothing Gold Can Stay," on display at the Edgewood Gallery, pursues a complex relationship with nature by presenting a range of media--acrylic paintings, pottery and sculptures, jewelry featuring birds and leaves. Viewers will encounter leaves seen both in glorious color and in a state of decay, pottery dealing with the effects of climate change, artworks that are visually interesting and also thematic. Among other things, the exhibit covers a lot of ground.

For starters, "Nothing Gold" offers an in-depth look at Dan Bacich's series showcasing leaves. That might sound like an odd choice for a project, but Bacich has the skills to put it off.

And so, the show presents acrylics like "Autumn Semaphore," with its mix of bright red leaves, green leafs and red-tinged gold leaves. It joins "Yin Yang Leaves," a large work with an array of colors, as well as "Gold Leaf," in which brown leaves crowd out a solitary gold leaf.

Color is just one of the variables in Bacich's paintings. He works large, as in "Cardinal Leaves," and small, as in "Under and Over." He depicts leaves in various forms: gigantic in one work, smaller and packed together in another.

Moreover, it's clear that he isn't focusing on leaves as eye candy. He takes a different approach in "Being and Nothingness," with its nod to existentialism. This is a two-sector artwork, with the left sector a blank space and the right featuring a selection of leaves.

Beyond that, "Ugly Is Beautiful" references the inevitable demise of leaves, and all living things. The painting looks at a large brown leaf, at other leaves starting to decay.

These acrylics are one facet of Bacich's portfolio. In the past, he created assemblages such as "The Judas Kiss" and "American Excess." And he's taken part in exhibits at the Maxwell Memorial Library, the Baltimore Woods Nature Center, and other venues.

Len Eichler, meanwhile, has his own series, "Stressed Earth," underway. Influenced by visits to Alaska and Arizona, he's created landscapes on ceramics that communicate the impact of global warming. Within the series, he visualizes concrete examples of that phenomenon.

A stoneware piece includes tiny polar bears on ice floes drifting away from shore. Blocks of ice floating in water refer to melting in the Arctic region. "Maritime Disaster," with its display of small sea horse figures, seems to focus on how warming of oceans and widespread pollution has affected sea creatures.

Eichler heads down various roads in the series. In one instance, a vessel is cracked open to symbolize rapture in the natural order. In "Futurescape," a stoneware bowl, he portrays a city built in the middle of a desert, posing a pertinent question: in a time of drought and depleted aquifers, where will the water be found to sustain such a city?

He returns to drought in pieces like "Dry Sunset II" and also turns to the issue of fossil fuels. In one of his best works at Edgewood, a vase is decorated with depictions of oil rigs, and handles resembling gears.

In addition, the current show documents Eichler's ability to create a variety of ceramics: blue-sky mugs, a stoneware piece depicting dry desert and red mountains, "Time Vessel," a work from an earlier series. That piece, a raku-fired vase, suggests that our civilization will someday fade away, leaving artifacts for future archeologists to consider. Various items, such as a small phone and a leaf, are embedded in the vessel's exterior.

The third artist, Shawn Halperin, is a painter, carver, and jeweler. She utilizes all those arts in making necklaces, earrings and other pieces, as she works with metals like bronze and sterling silver and woods such as spalted maple and birch. Halperin calls the birch wood "Adirondack Turquoise."; she lives most of the year in the Adirondack region. Her artist's statement indicates that any wood she uses is harvested on a sustainable basis.

"Nothing Gold Can Stay" is on display through November 18, 2022, at Edgewood, 216 Tecumseh Rd. The gallery is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 315-445-8111 or access edgewoodartandframe.com.

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