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  • Emma Hines

Roost’s Third Artist Salon Invites Three New Artists

This past Sunday was the third installation of the monthly event held at The Roost. Yvette Lewis, Mel Hyman, and SUNY New Paltz student Megan Reilly showed their work in the studio and were part of some fantastic conversations. Keep reading for a summary and analysis of the interesting ideas that were born here!

Mel Hyman

Mel’s interest in photography where he took a class during his senior year at the University of Rochester. He described a less than glamorous ‘studio’ in the basement of the football stadium but the lack of a professional facility did not decrease the passion that was cultivated there. He began taking photos all across the Hudson Valley and eventually became the photographer for the town of New Paltz. His vast experience in the field most definitely showed through the variety in the work he hung at the gallery, with some pieces feeling very fluid and painterly as they captured moments of dripping paint, versus some collage-like pieces that felt more like graphic pop art.

The pieces exhibited elements of fast and slow pace, and each photograph appeared to have its own mood and story. Mel has a talent for evoking an incredible variety of memories, feelings and experiences for each viewer. I went from feeling the mischievous fun of a night in New Orleans to a casual day in New York city to the warm remembrance of a distant and pleasant memory. One viewer described feeling invited to take a second and third look, and once they found an avenue in the photograph to dive deeper in, they looked for this magical portal in the other photographs.

One piece seemed as though it was definitely a digital collage of some sort, but Mel assured us he doesn’t not manipulate any of his photos, simply “…just see the shot and you take it,” with little planning involved. This masterful degree of intuitive art illustrated decades of skill and practice. It was a joy hearing Mel speak about his photographs because he loves each and every one of them, not only because of their aesthetic nature but his love of taking photographs and being around people.

Megan Reilly

Megan Reilly’s work is unapologetic, emotional, and beautiful in unconventional ways. Her photos were described as “a study of aesthetics” where she captures moments from seemingly benign yet eerily familiar spaces, grouped in a way that condenses time. Her interesting juxtaposition of imagery and partially censored text creates moments of tenderness, anger, and humor. She partially censors the text that floats above the photos to keep parts of her internal narrative private, because it is. The viewer does not need to know everything, but the illusion of being given a glimpse into these intimate thoughts creates a sense of curiosity and wonder.

I was drawn in and took a closer look at what was impossible for me to see, but was given enough information to extrapolate and project my own ideas and feelings. The moments are personal enough to feel real, and general enough to be relatable. This cryptic text along with thoughtfully fragments images created an almost dreamlike narrative of moments in life that we do not pay great attention to in our waking moments but return to us when we unconsciously try to make sense of the world. Like dreams, the photos seem to tell a story, not necessarily with a beginning middle or end, but narrative nonetheless.

Megan brings photographs together in the same piece but leaves some negative space occasionally embellished with graphic color to further describe the mood of that moment and balance the composition. When speaking about the works, Megan talked about the photos as a sort of explorations of a new romance, with these images representing the ambiguous and random nature of interacting with other humans. Overall I found her work to be thoughtful, provoking, and brilliantly composed and I’m excited to see how her photos grow and change over the course of her education and career.

Yvette Lewis

Yvette Lewis is not only a talented artist, but caring and innovative educator. Her work and teachings are informed by her love of nature and its powerful, organic shapes. Yvette’s large, colorful paintings are full of movement, sensual energy, and unapologetic life. I was captures by the swirling brush strokes that entangled me like friendly vines, and her voluminous abstract shapes were reminiscent of seeds pregnant with new life about to burst from their pods. I was most intrigued by the three distinct styles I saw within Yvette’s work: her full, colorful enveloping shapes, the rapid, loose compositions with free flying leaves and patterns, and her more quiet yet surreal still lives. There was a clear progression from a more grounded and still abstract representation of life, but it was clear to me Yvette’s most recent work was confidently relaxed and fluid.

She seems to be exploring new avenues of texture and color relationships, while still staying true to her earthy and exciting palette. She is playing with combinations and varying techniques for applying paint that feel very promising and effortless. In the background of one of her more recent paintings I was drawn to an interesting pattern of unrecognizable symbols, like an undecipherable language. It reminded me of some lost communication from a time where life and community was more cherished, a time we must work to return to in order to survive this world, with the symbols being part of hidden jungle of wisdom and energy. Seeing the work shift from more concrete developed shapes to a fluid and open space was very exciting to experience, inducing the feeling of growth we encounter as we go through the journey of life. Watching Yvette’s work develop before my eyes echoed the conceptual ideas she is often inspired by which was fascinating to take note of and I am sure she will continue to nourish the incredible talent and work ethic she displayed that evening.

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