Art appreciation

Occhiogrosso’s art reflects pandemic, women in his family – The Daily Gazette

It’s the perfect time to visit Gina Occhiogrosso’s “Surfacing” exhibit, which recently opened at the Capital Region Arts Centre.

Of course, it’s a timely exhibition, with works created over the past five years, some of which reference the pandemic; others focus on the boundaries between fine arts and crafts, and the feminine in contemporary painting.

On another, simpler level, the bright, bright colors used by Occhiogrosso are exactly what the eyes of those living in a dreary Capital Region winter are looking for. Even when the context of the pieces is dark or touches on harsh reality, the tactility and dynamism of his work are an ingrained force.

Occhiogrosso, a resident of Troy and a native of Niskayuna, covers a lot of ground in “Surfacing” through a wide range of mediums, including painting, assemblage, sketching and video.

One of the first pieces viewers encounter is “Cascade,” an abstract painting made of pieces of polyester sewn together. The dots create borders between the white tube-like shapes and the lime green background of the work, alluding to the tension between fine art and craftsmanship.

In another painting nearby, titled “Tomorrow Will Be Different,” the lines between each piece of muslin making up the canvas are even more defined, and uneven diamond shapes are scattered across the foreground of the piece.

Nearby, another painting features sections of gray and white muslin stitched together with dark red thread. Thickly layered circles of paint float throughout the work.

“I have been greatly influenced by the work of the women in my family,” Occhiogrosso writes in an artist statement. “My parental grandmother, an Italian immigrant, was a seamstress, and my maternal grandmother, an Austrian immigrant, created very intricate lace. [tatting] for tablecloths and other linens.

Elsewhere in the exhibition, the artist reflects on his experiences during the pandemic. In one of the larger assemblages, called “December 5-February 7, 2020,” painted grocery bags are layered in a geometric pattern. Pickup tags are visible on each bag, some with the word “fragile” scrawled on them. In similar work nearby, Occhiogrosso reuses take-out boxes from various restaurants, unfolding them and painting them in shades of greens, yellows, reds and whites.

Towards the center of the exhibit are two concertina sketchbooks, both deployed on curved platforms. In one, titled “Morgan Avenue,” Occhiogrosso depicts the interior of his childhood home and the experience of living there during the pandemic, with a television showing the total number of cases. It’s an intimate piece and it’s easy to relate to the nostalgia and feeling of cabin fever elicited by the rough sketches.

“Surfacing” will be on view through March 11, and there will be an artist reception during Troy Night Out on Friday, January 28 from 6-8 p.m. Occhiogrosso will hold an artist talk on Wednesday, February 9 at 6:30 p.m. pm

On Thursday, another exhibit titled Adam Tinkle’s “Screenbathing” opens in the Arts Center’s black box foyer and theater. It explores the lives we lead on and off screen and the light screens shed on our lives. It will be until February 12.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit

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Categories: Art, Life and Arts