Adrian Carr performed pieces from his previous recordings at the opening of his new show, “The Hidden Art of Adrian Carr—A Retrospective 1976-2005,” on display at ROTA Gallery in Plattsburgh through Monday, May 6.
If You Go
What: The Hidden Art of Adrian Carr—A Retrospective 1976-2005
Where: ROTA Gallery, 50 Margaret Street, Plattsburgh
When: The gallery is open daily, from noon-5 p.m. Carr’s show is up through Monday, May 6.
On Saturday, April 20, Adrian Carr put his life on display at ROTA Gallery.
His show, “The Hidden Art of Adrian Carr—A Retrospective 1976-2005,” includes about 20 pieces and is open through Monday, May 6.
It all starts with Carr’s first oil painting, “Farmhouse,” completed in 1976.
It’s of his grandmother’s farm in Wilson, NY, located in western New York.
Carr admitted that the hills in the brightly colored painting are a bit exaggerated, but said that is how he saw them.
It is in this way that Carr’s surroundings affect his work.
In 1977, Carr painted a blizzard in Buffalo. The colors aren’t as bold as they are in “Farmhouse”—instead, its whites are splashed over grays in a lively, twisting fury.
And then Carr moved to New York City, and his paintings changed again.
It was there that his “Subway Series” was born.
The pieces in that series have a dusty, grimy appearance. There is a feeling of movement to them, a soft, geometric monotony expressed in tarnished watercolor whites and incomplete blacks.
“When I went to New York (City), everything changed. Your whole vision changes when you hit New York City,” Carr said.
Carr’s surroundings certainly illicit a distinct response, as do events in his life.
“You don’t put brush to canvass unless something inspires you,” Carr said.
Perhaps most striking is “Black Squares,” a piece that represents Carr’s reaction to the World Trade Center bombings.
A painting so large it spans two canvasses, Black Squares is as abstract as any of Carr’s other pieces, but what comes through clearly is something intangible.
“You can see movement and the passion of the strokes, which has a lot to do with the emotional experience of 9/11,” Carr said. “The broken squares are like the broken pieces of the buildings.”
Those broken squares are black, uneven and painted against an intense earth-tone backdrop.
Beneath the squares there are broken pieces, above them there is a series of smaller squares, bright and bleeding.
In 2005, Carr left the city and moved north—far north—to be with his wife in Montreal.
He met at the trailhead to Rocky Peak Ridge, the last High Peak he needed to climb to become an Adirondack 46er.
The soon-to-be couple got to talking; he warned her about an impending rainstorm and they exchanged cards before parting ways.
Carr visited Montreal soon after that, and got a hold of her. In 2004, they were married.
And once again, his paintings changed.
His marriage inspired another two-part painting, “He Said, She Said,” Carr’s interpretation on the need for, and difficulties of, communication in a marriage.
Carr’s most recent work, is a series called “Spiritual Light,” and is the result of his life in the North Country.
“I think that the different geographical locations impact on your psyche,” Carr said. “They bring different things out that you want to explore.”
Unlike his previous work, the pieces in “Spiritual Light” were done using charcoal on paper.
The images depict a brightness that seems to emanate, or perhaps rise, from a darkness and are balanced by black lines drawn elsewhere on the otherwise white canvass.
Carr said that showing his work helps him see it from different perspectives, something Carr said he has enjoyed.
“It’s like looking at your life from a new angle,” Carr said. “ROTA Gallery is such a great space because they’re giving people like me, and everybody, a chance to do something that might otherwise have never been done.”
At the opening reception of his show, Carr mingled with gallery-goers and announced that he was raising money to record a new CD.
Shifting gears from the medium of expression hung on the gallery’s walls, Carr, who studied at Juilliard School in NYC and has performed in Carnegie Hall, sat behind a keyboard and played two short sets of music from his previous recordings.
“I’ve been doing art all my life,” Carr said. “I really wanted to share something with the people of Plattsburgh who have been so kind to me.”
When he isn’t painting, Carr lectures at Plattsburgh State and teaches piano at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts.
To hear Carr’s music, or to donate money to help fund his upcoming CD, visit adriancarrpiano.com