Calendar - Friday, May 11
April 28 - June 03, 2012
Francis X. Driscoll and Michael Lavery
Keepin' It Greene!
Dates: April 28-June 3, 2012
The growing conviction that the word 'Green' is embodying more and more within the consciousness of people's minds around the world today has a special and direct intensity for those of us who know and love the Mountaintop and so spell it with a final 'e'.
Francis X. Driscoll, whose landscape photographs of the Catskill Region are widely recognized and loved, and Michael Lavery, folk artist in the lively, animated Tramp Art genre, have come together as friends and fellow artists to share with us their inventive and thought-provoking expressions created as a direct result of their involvement with experiences before, during and after Hurricane Irene.
Driscoll and Lavery, both full-time residents of Greene County, were deeply affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. As they traveled separately from town to town surveying the devastation and lending a hand wherever needed, each was struck by the spontaneous appearance of the cooperative efforts of family, friends and strangers that quietly and modestly infilled a certain inner order and peace they found prevailing in the midst of the mindless destruction surrounding the area.
This inspiring observation began each of them thinking about collaborating with other area artists in an effort to express a cooperative artistic re-creation of this same incredible and beautiful grassroots phenomena they were witness to.
The exhibit "Keeping It Greene" is the result. The theme of the works on view might be summed up by saying that these pieces are witness to a sense of wonder and respect--that out of such terrible havoc that has been inflicted on Greene County and throughout the Catskill Region, the generosity of spirit and the natural good will of mankind emerged magnified far greater than material destruction and painful human loss.
Francis X. Driscoll, known affectionately as 'Fran', has photographed the landscapes throughout America and his reputation is well-known. He's a quiet man about his work who lets his camera do the talking. He explains, "Living in the Northern Catskills affords me the opportunity to be close to some of the most beautiful scenery in this country." When encouraged, he further says "To hike some of the same trails as the famous Hudson River School artists has been both an honor -and," he adds with a smile, " sometimes a well-needed release from the outside world."
Photography in general is a solitary art. In commenting about where the idea for a collaboration came from, Fran has said "Sometimes when two or more people join together with a common goal, they can accomplish much, much more than they could alone." He also said that this realization was inspired directly by the extraordinary cooperation and valor that he and Michael saw during the flood.
So this became the point at which the "Keeping It Greene" exhibit was born.
Michael Lavery has been friends with Fran for a long time. Michael is a well-known folk artist with a wonderfully animated sense of creating something from whatever is at hand. This is the definition of Tramp Art, a style of sculpture taught to Michael back in 1957 by a "tramp artist hobo" laid off by the railroad near where Michael grew up.
Michael was once homeless himself and he says it was then "that I began to put to use those skills that this old road man had shown me." He says, "I started creating tramp art full steam in 1978 and haven't stopped yet."
By the way, Michael tells us a little bit of Americana folklore in that the word "ho-bo" originated as railroad slang for the designation "homeward-bound".
Michael is a tireless artist, never at a loss for inspiration or creativity. His works are recognized today internationally. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton collects his work and he has a piece in the Vatican Collection in Rome. Also of note is that movie director Steven Spielberg contracted him to build the Ark in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" starring Harrison Ford. Check it out the next time you're looking for a good movie to relax with -- the Ark at the end of the movie is built in Tramp Art style.
Michael has chosen around twenty-two of Fran's pre-flood photos and has built the frames that go around them as a continuation of the spirit he witnessed in Greene County of people helping to rebuild and the hope that this effort sprang forth.
Michael remembers talking to Fran, "he (Fran) confided in me that he doesn't take devastation photos, but would rather photo beauty -- which I agreed. It just seemed that people needed to see more beauty and being committed to recovery in homes, jobs, and nature."
Michael's frames are built around Fran's evocative pre-flood photographs of Greene County with the found wood and some of the debris left in the hurricane's path and memory. He intimated that there are a few surprises in store for viewers who come to see this show.
In creating this artistic homage to Greene County, these two remarkable artists have paid tribute to the indomitable spirit of all those who have suffered by the effects of the storm and flooding of Hurricane Irene. Through a time of devastation, trauma and loss, their work celebrates joyfully the enrichment of the strength and spirit of the American people and the spirit of our land.
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