Beacon exhibit unfolds on July 8

Eleni Smolen curated a show that opens on July 8 at The Lofts at Beacon Art Gallery about leporello.

Not familiar? Don’t be intimated. The Italian art form is more cheeky than rarified.

“Leporello is the name of Don Giovanni’s valet in Mozart’s opera,” Smolen explains. “He is the one who unfolds a booklet on which are listed the mille e tre mistresses of the seducer. In Europe this name has been given to small booklets folded accordion-style.”

Sunok Chun's "Daedunsan Forest," acryllic and ink
Sunok Chun’s “Daedunsan Forest,” acryllic and ink

Inspired by the “luminous leporellos” made by poet, essayist and artist Etel Adnan, (1925-2021), Smolen invited 11 artists to create leporellos and related 2D work for the show, Unfolding Vision Leporellos & Corresponding Works Vol. 1, which opens with a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. and runs through Aug. 26.

Smolen says she is “intrigued and attracted by the idea of the portability —what could I make that could easily be sent off in the mail as a gift to family and friends? Then I saw an article on Etel Adnan’s leporellos and thought, ‘Yes!’ It was perfect: portable, intimate, readily storable.”

For Smolen, who runs the TheoGanz Studio, the toughest part of curating this exhibit was narrowing down the artists invited to participate, although she was comforted by the thought it could be a series of shows.

Adnan frequently copied poems composed by writer friends and illustrated them with watercolor or ink on pre-fabricated fold-out books from Japan. By contrast, most of the artists in the Beacon show made their own leporellos with archival paper suitable for photographs, drawings, painting or watercolor.

Elana Goren, a printmaker, illustrator and graphic designer, said the dilapidated barn in her leporello (which has covers made of barn wood) is a metaphor for “a farming system that is broken, unsustainable and illustrates human neglect and obliviousness to animal suffering.

Elana Goren's "Gristle Mill” (above and closed, 
below right); barn wood, twine, oil monotype on tan paper 
and mixed media monotype on black paper
Elana Goren’s “Gristle Mill” (above and closed, 
below right); barn wood, twine, oil monotype on tan paper 
and mixed media monotype on black paper

Elana Goren Gristle Mill closed“Since my work reflects the dark subject of the plight of animals in the human world, the leporello provided three-dimensional, sculptural aspects which enabled me to create physical depths, recesses and shadows that are only simulated in my two-dimensional works.”

Matt Frieburghaus, who spent several years exploring the landscape of Iceland and last year was on expedition with the Arctic Circle Residency in Svalbard, based his leporello on those experiences, focusing on Arctic landscapes and icebergs with laser-cut shapes.

“The title, ‘Arctic Ghosts,’ is a metaphor for melting ice in the Arctic and the quick rate of glacial retreat, while the grouping of leporellos — considered a single work — is clustered to create spaces like the fjords of Spitsbergen.”

Ghosts of Iceburgs 1 run as pair

Details from Matt Frieburghaus’ “Ghosts of Icebergs,” companion pieces to his leporello
Details from Matt Frieburghaus’ “Ghosts of Icebergs,” companion pieces to his leporello

“Thermal Exchange,” a leporello created by Beth Haber, combines photographs and poetry. “It’s an encounter in time, place, date, latitude and longitude,” she says. “It is a kind of weather report of unstable transitions between one season and the next, where nature spools its own story” in the “interchange between weeds, leaves and the fractal blooms of thin ice.”

She said she found the accordian form exciting because “it allows the ‘report’ to unfold with a rhythm that moves between the 2D image and the 3D experience.”

The other artists and their contributions are Joseph Ayers (“MDCCCLXXXIX [1889 Sketchbook]”), Sunok Chun (“Daedunsan Forest”), Vivien Collens (“The Story of Color”), Ronnie Farley, Matt Kinney, Michael Bogdanffy-Kriegh (“Beach Stories and 14 Days by the Sea”), Samantha Palmeri (“Buzzing”) and Joe Radoccia (“Rogue Garden Suite”).

The Lofts at Beacon Art Gallery, at 18 Front St., is open Monday through Thursday from 1:30 to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 to 3 p.m.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Rooney has been writing for The Current since its founding in 2010. A playwright, she has lived in Cold Spring since 1999. She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she majored in history. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: Arts