With the current show at the Winter Street Gallery, “On Genres,” owners Ingrid Lundgren and George Newall have chosen to take a centuries-old tradition and look at it in a new light. Described on the website, “’On Genres,’ a group exhibition that takes a look at 17th century genres in painting through a contemporary and multidisciplinary lens.”
While the word genre as used to describe artwork today may be seen as a simple classification system, during the post-Renaissance period, genre played a role almost akin to class distinction among people. According to the Winter Street website, “Historical and religious paintings were deemed to hold the most prestige and cultural value, followed by portraits, genre scenes, landscapes, animals, and lastly, still life.”
In the contemporary art world, no such hierarchy of genres comes into play — a portrait has no less relevance as a work of art than a landscape or a still life. “Today, categorization in art has become increasingly nonlinear as new media and alternative discourse surrounding the Western-centric art canon have dismantled the boundaries of established art hierarchies,” the site states.
With their current show, the gallerists have managed to curate an exhibit that has taken that starting point and provided a wide-ranging array by an international group of artists, each of whom has a distinctive and imaginative style.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is an installation by Georgina Trevino, a Mexican-born jeweler based in San Diego. For the Winter Street Gallery, Trevino created a series of tiny silver chalices that are the focal point of an assemblage using all sorts of found objects, many of which were collected from the beach and thrift shops around the Island. For the opening, the artist added some offerings of bejeweled fresh fruit to the display and visitors were invited to partake of the refreshments, and even take a random bit of costume jewelry home with them. “It’s a really exciting experience,” says Lundgren. “This is the first time we’ve ever had an interactive demonstration.”
Among the other truly unique works in the show are a digital video display by French-American photographer and filmmaker Michael Auder, and a photo of a Roman bust of Hercules that comes to life as a lenticular print.
The show includes paintings on wood, copper, and canvas, as well as work in graphite, mixed media, and photography. “The show embraces the full range of categories of art, cross-blending with the historical ones,” says Newall, who adds that the participants range from young artists to more established ones, some of whom have shown work at major museums and other institutions in New York City and elsewhere.
In all, 11 artists are represented. “On Genres” provides a wonderful glimpse at the world of 21st century art as it relates to an important era in art history.
Winter Street Gallery, 22 Winter St., Edgartown. Visit winterstreetgallery.com. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm.