This past weekend, I finally made my way to the Whitney Center for the Arts. The building is one of Pittsfield’s latest additions to its arts scene, and I have been wanting to check out this new space. That chance came on Saturday, for local artist, Leo Mazzeo’s, art show opening. His event, entitled ‘ Inspection and Introspection Redux”, was being held at the Colt Gallery, inside of the arts center.
With the snow gently falling, I found a parking spot in the back lot of the building. This little perk was a definite plus for me, as I often find it frustrating to want to attend an event, without having to park a mile away. Making my way inside, I was instantly enthralled with the rich architecture of the building. Originally the Women’s Club for the city, it now houses the arts center, with galleries below and space for the artist’s in the building’s upper rooms. Ornate moldings frame the windows and doorways, and period-styled furniture pieces still fill the space with their exquisite designs, instantly warming up the grandiose rooms.
Once inside the Colt Gallery, I felt myself comfortably surrounded by Mazzeo’s art. There were fifteen of his original oil paintings, hanging unassumingly amidst the sumptuous room. The paintings are richly narrative in nature and I believe the artist intended for the viewer to delve into an introspection of their own, as well as grasping the deeper meanings of the artist’s personal reflections. Hung on the walls, along with antique mirrors and above a decorative fireplace, the paintings seemed oddly at home. I was immediately struck by one of the larger paintings, entitled ‘Swift Pursuit’, featuring a group, vaguely resembling humans, running towards an adrift kite, pursuing it, as a symbol of addiction(think ‘high as a kite’) or reaching for that loss of innocence that we all experience at some point. The theme of addiction and loss of innocence is clearly felt in the distress of the individuals in the painting, who are chasing the swiftly escaping kite. Another painting, ‘Blue Dancers Too’, is loosely based on a Degas painting, and shows haunting images cowering from an overhead source of light. The colors and hues the artist uses, adds an emotional depth to the works, each evoking a different emotional depth, which left me with a bit of an uneasy feeling that I couldn’t quite place. The focal piece of the show is a diptych, and is set in front of an alcove of windows. The piece, ‘To Dance’, shows on one side, individuals gathered as a group, each of them in different states of impassioned gesturing. The smaller side of the painting shows a man, seemingly split by his decision to join the group, as a woman motions for him to take part. My favorite piece of the night was a smaller piece, entitled ‘Diaspora’, and shows mountains in the background, with a singular, very strong figure in the foreground, waving towards the horizon, to welcome? To bid farewell?
As it was the opening reception, there were snacks and refreshments available. Fittingly to Mazzeo’s ‘Peter Pan’ like nature, the food of choice was peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, and Kool Aid as a drink choice. Though I opted for a bottled water instead, I had to smile at his cleverness, and I was secretly longing to dive into one of those fluffernutters. Though the night was a snowy one, a wonderful crowd filled the gallery and I was only able to interview the artist briefly, as many were eager to chat with him. ‘Inspection and Introspection Redux’, will be on display in the Colt Gallery, until March 1, and is free and open to the public. I will be returning to view it again on a quieter day, when I can delve into each painting, and reflect on the emotional pull that I was feeling from each one. Some art can be viewed randomly and quickly, its meaning instantaneous. I prefer art that confuses and arouses my thoughts, as well as delighting me, and Leo Mazzeo’s work certainly does that.
Tags: art, art opening, arts indie, berkshire county, berkshiregirl, colt gallery, inspection and introspection redux, leo mazzeo, Massachusetts, pittsfield, whitney center for the arts