By Alison Rooney
It’s almost part of an artist’s job description to distill the ordinary into something more. Capturing something in their line of vision and altering it through a lens or paints, or creating something altogether new, most artists feel they see with a different eye. Cindy Booth and Jane Soodalter, who are joined together in Gallery 66 NY’s Visions, Formed and Found exhibit, each have that different eye, but they come at things in almost opposing ways, and that is part of the point in pairing them.
“Our aesthetic is shared,” said Soodalter, a photographer, “and we’re able to come at it from opposite ends.” Booth, who uses solder and patinas to produce chemical reactions on copper sheets, concurred. “We have so much more in common than we knew,” she said. Soodalter added, “We just have a totally different tool chest.”
It was Gallery 66 NY Director Barbara Galazzo who paired the two artists up. A member gallery with about 17 artists working in different mediums, it generally showcases two artists each month and also tries to include smaller works by other members to fill out the exhibition. Booth first saw Soodalter’s work at the very first opening of the gallery.
Soodalter recalled: “Barbara was thinking of who to share with me. The opening show had a couple of pieces by each artist. In that context, other people, their art and who they are become clearer.” Both artists are looking forward to getting their work up in the gallery space. Soodalter said, “When a show has two artists using different mediums, the essence of the connection is in getting it to lay out so you can see it with clarity.”
The connection between Booth and Soodalter lies in what gallery notes call their “unique yet symbiotic views of their environment.” Booth said: “I love layers and texture. Being able to see, when I look at a piece of art, what’s underneath — the depth, the surprise of the reaction of chemicals, the oxidation. I can use the same chemicals on a copper sheet and it comes out differently each time.” Humidity, temperature and other environmental factors play a role. Booth uses solder on top of copper and watches for “the movement that it creates — I love mixing it with the chemicals; they dance together.”
Gallery 66 described the results in her “abstract fabrications” as akin to “fantastic landscapes and aerial views.” Soodalter described Booth’s work as “although they’re metals, they come out very earthy; they feel of a different element.”
For Peekskill’s Booth, who grew up in a household where artistic leanings were encouraged, the route to her new pieces traveled through sculptural welding. Leftover copper from sculptures she was making led to “playing around with it; it morphed into this wonderful art form.” Declaring that she “didn’t like chemistry in high school,” she’s not sure where all this came from, but she always loved art and has enjoyed a career painting decorative finishes on cabinetry and walls, along with some graphic design. She calls herself lucky to have had “very few jobs that didn’t have to do with art.” Still new to exhibiting her work, she debuted these pieces last year and expects to display something like 12 to 15 abstract works of varying sizes.
Soodalter said that despite spending “150 years” as an occupational therapist, she’s been a photographer all her life. “At some point I started wanting to see things really close up. My sister had a stereomicroscope. You could put a finger in and see tiny bits of skin.” Soodalter’s purchase of a macro lens a few years ago led to a leap in creative vision. “When I look close up, my eye and my brain see differently. I started taking pictures of flowers, plants. Slowly, I found that the closer I got, everything that defined the picture as relating to reality got in the way. All that’s left of the real color or shape got transformed into the abstract, not attached to the concrete world.”
Soodalter has found inspiration from the construction landscape of dumpsters, containers and trucks near where she lives in Cold Spring — “My ‘studio’ is right outside,” she said wryly. By getting closer and closer, reality falls away from her images and they gain an altogether different texture, sometimes evoking corrosion and the effects that the elements can have as things begin to age and “come to have a life of their own.”
Soodalter said she can now look at something and see how it can be transformed by her lens and eye. “The biggest challenge is getting things in focus. I love getting the shots and creating the art pieces, but now discovering them is the most exciting.”
Gallery 66 NY described the results: “Much as scientists look ever deeper into the nucleus of an atom, Soodalter searches for complex, elegant and surprising worlds that exist beyond the range of unaided vision. She uncovers hidden beauty in the cracked, peeling and corroded surfaces of everyday weathered objects.”
Soodalter’s photography has been exhibited in several juried shows, at such venues as bau Gallery, Beacon; Garrison Art Center’s PHOTOcentric; 1650 Gallery, Los Angeles; Darkroom Gallery, Essex, Vt.; Hudson’s Limner Gallery; and Still Point Online Gallery. Her portfolio, Eulogy, is featured in the spring 2013 edition of Stone Voices magazine.
The show runs from May 3 through May 31. There will be an artists’ reception on Friday, May 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the gallery, located at 66 Main St. in Cold Spring. For more information, contact Gallery 66 NY at 845-809-5838 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit gallery66ny.com.
Artwork photos courtesy of the artists