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WITH THESE HANDS: a celebration of the work + artifact Opens

Updated: Jun 4

As some of you already know, I broke one of my fingers in December. It is only now beginning to heal. I've weathered one of the flattest, soulless winters yet this last little while, full of excitement and openings and professional growth, but oddly reduced without my piano or my loom, or full strength. I've never been more aware of the subtle importance of my hands. Being unable to properly weave, sculpt or even properly speak, since apparently I need my wild gesticulating hands to do that too, I am more in love with and protective of my hands than ever. I'm also more aware of my vanity; my left pointer will never be the same without surgery.


So timing was ripe earlier this spring when my friend and photographer James Sedwick approached me looking for a place to show a series of alternative portraiture he had undertaken nearly ten years ago focusing on Artists and Their Hands.


One of my first pieces I wrote for the East Aurora Advertiser was an interview with James Sedwick about his photography.



"Here," James Sedwick, 16x12, palladian print, Meibhom Fine Arts



That conversation not only pushed my own private work with cyanotype and alternative photography and contributed to my growth as a writer but turned into a wonderful friendship, and James has been a consistent and supportive presence during our time building COMMA and Blu at 17 Elm.


Photos by Renea Lauck


James Sedwick is a photographer and a graduate of SUNY at Buffalo who retired from the

practice of psychotherapy in 2015. He has photographed since high school and shows his work with the Buffalo Society of Artists, Artists Group Gallery, and Meibohm Fine Arts.


In addition, his photographs have appeared in The Sun and Orion magazines, the journals Steam Ticket, LensWork Extended 99, Looking at Images (LensWork Publishing), and have been included in private and public collections. He studied with Andrea Modica, Keith Carter, and Dennis Stock.


Although he photographs with a digital camera, he prints his images in the darkroom with

palladium chemistry and other alternative processes. G.K. Chesterton’s statement informs his

work: "The function of the imagination is not to make strange things settled but to make settled things strange."


The idea of collaborating with James and combining my work with his to hang a joint show, obviously, didn't need much thought, but it was a done deal when I fell in love with these: simple high relief black and whites of artists' hands in large scale accompanied by the de-emphasized portraiture of the artists that belong to them.


And just like that, we have ourselves a show.


In addition to the expected photography during these sessions, James spoke with these artists turned subjects about their process and motivation; why they continued to make things, be it objects, poems or prose, and how they remained creative, turning their sessions into mini-interviews about their motivations and the work they engage in.


Says Sedwick, “Here are the hands and portraits of seven East Aurora residents, present and past. Their words and photographs are ten years old. I emphasize hands rather than portraits--when we meet others, we regard hands less than faces and bodies, yet they are the tools for creating.”


The series of work in high relief black and white emphasizes the hands and action of creating over the traditional portraiture poses of the artists they belong to, emphasizing the hands of the artists as their primary identity. Full of light and flaw, there is a poetry to these images capturing hands engaged in the act of creating. Instead of reducing them, the vulnerability James has captured highlight their power. I can also say, after spending time hanging these, that there is an odd undefinable sense of voyeurism in viewing these. They are surprisingly intimate, in a way I wasn't prepared for, and not really ready to put into words. Perhaps someone will share at viewing and help me define it.


In short, they are truly lovely. Profound, powerful, graceful and lovely in their simplicity.



WITH THESE HANDS highlights these hands series, raw hung without fuss or circumstance, paired with smaller traditional portrait of the artists the hands belong to together with biographical and anecdotal prose by Sedwick from his interview sessions to form a story of a persona. The series of seven subjects and work from these hands of mine makes this the perfect final show for saying goodbye to this space that has meant so much. I've documented so many iterations and changes in my own identity through artifact with these hands of mine here on Elm, and hanging this show yesterday felt like a fitting way to say goodbye, as these hands take me on to somewhere new.


I still have the post-it with James' scribbled post-publication words of praise on my fridge. Maybe one day, I'll have a portrait of my hands; complete with flaw and disfigurement, but valuable, themselves, as a basis for all the things I've created in the short, intense time I've been here, as important as a painter's paint stained palette or wiry, exhausted brushes.


Join us today to open WITH THESE HANDS, artifacts of my creation hung side by side with work by James Sedwick documenting his photographic sessions with:


Gay Baines


Charlie Clough


Bob Herrmann


Janice McDuffie


Rick Ohler


The Artist Himself


and


Judy Weidemann


We'll be gallery from noon - 4pm today in tandem with CONVERGE, CONTRAST, ILLUDE at The COMMA - our final group show in our current location. This final think piece puzzle for my fellow art makers asked artists to submit works that contemplate visual intersections, perspectives, vanishing points, and forms arising from line, wave and negative/positive space.


Almost 50 pieces of art traverses these themes while suggesting concepts that include counterpoints, crossroads, illusions, differing or converging points of view and linear interplay from a wide breadth of media.



It may also be our strongest hang yet.


Something sweet and powerful by me is hanging next to and providing subtext to something magnificent by Peter Fowler. It's the first thing I created intentionally on Elm, tucked away in the tiny winter studio next door at 21. There's a lucky gold thread hiding in the warp. I struggled over creating new work for this show (see opening paragraph) and in the end, it just felt right to bring Moon Rising out to shine.




CONVERGE, CONTRAST, ILLUDE will be on view through June 21.

A closing reception will be held from 3 - 7 p.m. on June 21.


James and I will hold an artists talk in gallery on Saturday, June 8, together with the subjects of these portraits, about the power of creating with these hands. We will be joined in conversation by Charles Clough.



You can also join in the conversation on Sunday, June 9, where I'll sit on panel with


Jennifer Dowdell

Cindi O'Mara

J Tim Raymond

Dana Hatchett


for our final CONVO at The COMMA on Elm.



Both shows will be on view through June 21. We'll close with a celebration of space with a party to end all parties. Come by. Say hey. Thanks for coming along for the ride.


xo, T #blu

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