By Suzanne Volmer
Jamestown, RI – Stewardship at Jamestown Arts Center operates as a think-tank of free flowing information to connect audiences with the power of ideas. This refreshingly transparent organization responsively adapts to link with motivated people utilizing very specific contacts drawn from its immediate community and from afar. Led by a group of individuals that have complimentary experience it is being organically molded like an entrepreneurial start-up. Its leadership profile vibrantly reflects intellectual curiosity innate within Jamestown’s creatively driven population. This group is accustomed to high quality art and cognizant of the benefits of exploring challenging concepts as catalysts for innovation.
The media strategy firm that has recently re-designed the center’s website is Worldways Social Media, which specializes in developing identity for businesses creating healthy social change. Innovation is extremely important to Jamestown Arts Center as it aspires to lead. Its decision to align with Worldways helps to codify its mission to reach out in welcome.
Executive director Lisa Utman Randall observes that the center’s collective dynamic is its strength and from that individual ideas can be carried forward with the greatest potential. Its board of directors has exceptional experience with organizational nurturing in Kenneth Case Newman (Special Liaison for Ford Foundation Grantees, and Independent Political Consultant specializing in NGO’s and foundations and risk management) and Pebbles Wadsworth, who was director of UCLA Performing Arts Center and the Performing Arts Center at the University of Texas, Austin.
Jamestown Arts Center has the de rigueur white-cube Kunsthalle exhibition space with high ceilings that’s emblematic of serious presentation aspirations. It also has out-of-the-box physical potential that can be achieved by lifting an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling garage doors that connect interior gallery space with the public domain.
Marketing and education director, Jess George, said this flexibility once inspired a theater company to drive a car inside for dramatic effect. Also on the JAC board of directors is Joselyn Donaghue, who regularly attends the Sundance Film Festival. As the center’s film coordinator she has made partnerships with Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Manhattan Short Film Festival. Lisa Utman Randall also talks about the Heifetz International Music Institute, which they partner with to present innovative music. The center’s community educational goals mingle to energizing effect.
“Paper-Made,” its current contemporary art exhibition on 3D paper art, is on view at Jamestown Arts Center through August 30. Karen Conway, whose previous professional experience has included jobs at Whitney Museum of American Art and Vivian Horan Gallery in New York, curated the show.
Showing 18 artists at once can come across as an overburdened survey, but not the case here. Conway has made a very airy, elegant, thoughtful and beautifully installed exhibition.
Included are Rhode Island talents, artworks from broader New England, New York, the Mid-West and Colorado. World dynamics are represented by Korean Joomchi papermaking and there are influences from the United Kingdom also.
Connecticut-based designer Jo Lynn Alcorn’s ephemeral paper constructions have enhanced advertising campaigns for brands such as the French Champagne Perrier Jouët. Rarely has Alcorn’s work been included in exhibition, so this is a chance to consider it as art.
Through the context of wearable art this exhibition speaks about history, place and identity in works by artists Jiyoung Chung and Heather Cherry. One can also see in the show a broader garment politic that mingles high fashion with street art influences. For instance, artist Rebecca Siemering makes a gentleman’s suit from discarded lottery tickets. In contrast, an odd but wearable fascinator by UK artist Jessica Palmer conjures runway ready haute couture.
Michelle Samour has beautiful tondos in this show and Matthew Shlian is the modernist working with mathematical relationships. Xander Marro brings zine culture. There’s a visual featheriness in sculptural work by Wendy Wahl as well as in cut paper works by several other artist in the show. Delicacy and refinement ultimately do not overshadow statement and overall curator Karen Conway constructs a sophisticated conversation about what is happening in the world.
In the long view Jamestown Arts Center likely will embrace immersive art experience and there is talk of branching out to develop an art district profile. Presently without mentioning all the artists in the exhibition it should be said that “Paper-Made” is an expertly nuanced and defining show.
(“Paper-Made” continues through August 30 at Jamestown Arts Center, 18 Valley Street, Jamestown, Rhode Island; the gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call (401) 560-0979.)