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Expressions of love

‘Be Mine’ exhibit at the Alliance Gallery

By MARY GREENE

NARROWSBURG, NY — When Arts Alliance Gallery Curator Rocky Pinciotti approached me about co-curating a show combining poems and photography on the theme of Valentine’s Day, I was skeptical.

Not that love is not a great subject for poetry and photography, because it is. But how could poems be displayed for sale in a gallery and hold their own alongside large, colorful, visual photographs?

Pinciotti came up with an idea. “How about if we turn the poetry into objects,” he said.

The result is a delightful, inventive and thoroughly satisfying exhibit on display in the gallery, housed in the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance on Main Street in Narrowsburg, through February 14. The opening, which took place on Saturday, January 31, was a full-throttle affair with enthusiastic art aficionados rubbing shoulders with the artists, and poets taking the opportunity to recite their poems as part of the fun.

The poem objects take one central theme from the poem, such as distance (represented by a letter), or the seashore, represented by a bucket of sand and shells, adorned by a stick with prayer flags. A poem that mentions “piping bird songs” ended up as a birdcage with a carved fungus bird suspended within. One poem with a pantry image became a poem inscribed in three parts on three tin cans, placed on a shelf. A love poem that mentions music became the label of a vinyl record. Viewers are assisted in “reading” the poem object by having all the poems printed in the programs.

In many cases, the poem objects were created as a collaboration between Pinciotti and the poet. We solicited ideas from the poets, and Pinciotti then worked with the poets to refine and, in some cases, to execute the idea for the piece. Not to be outdone, the 14 photographs create a vibrant backdrop to the poetry objects scattered on podiums and tables throughout the gallery. The photos range in subject from romantic love to friendship to flowers to houses decked out for Valentine’s Day.

Of the Be Mine exhibit, Pinciotti said, “It’s inspiring and exciting to be part of something new like this. One of the ideas when we were putting this show together was to open it up to a wider vision of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day can be kind of sappy; there is some fun with that as well. We have a photo of a tree that is in the shape of a heart. We have someone who drew an anatomical heart on her poetry booklet. We have animals; we have two monkeys affectionately grooming each other. We have photographs of statues representing lovers. When you see the show, you have to think a little bit. The poetry makes you think; the photographs make you think. There is a wide variety, and the idea of love is not a narrow idea.”

Pinciotti began working as Alliance Gallery director in 2005. He has an MFA degree from Pratt Institute and is well known in the art world as a pioneer in the field of neon art. He and his wife, photographer Joan Glace, along with 10-year-old son Gabriel, moved from New York City to Cochecton as full timers five years ago. (For more on Pinciotti, see Community Spotlight on page 27.)

Photographers represented in the Be Mine Exhibit are Armand Agresti, Andrea Anderson, Eddie Bell, Karen Bell, Jane Biron, Ken Cavanagh, Chip Forelli, Gino Garlanda, Kit Jones, Glenn Lieberman, Lindell McElfresh, Hank Schneider, Nancy Wells and Leslie Yudelson. Poets represented in the show are Jacqueline Renee Ahl, Norma Ketzis Bernstock, Karen Blomain, Therese Broderick, Nancy Dymond, Cass Collins, Carol Glaser, Dorothy Hartz, Liz Huntington, Judith Lechner, Tom Lisenbee, Sandy Long, Marcia Nehemiah and Amy Watkins.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information call 845/252-7576 or visit artsalliancesite.org.

TRR photo by Sandy Long
Be Mine poets Marcia Nehemiah, left, and Dorothy Hartz enjoy the opening as they stand before the notions box created to represent Hartz’s poem “More Than Fifty Ways to Grieve Your Lover.” (Click for larger version)
TRR photo by Sandy Long
Poem objects “For Sharon” by Tom Lisenbee and Alliance Gallery curator Rocky Pinciotti, left, and “Afterlife” by Cass Collins, are part of the Be Mine exhibit running through February 14. (Click for larger version)
TRR photo by Sandy Long
Be Mine co-curators Rocky Pinciotti and Mary Greene. (Click for larger version)