Second Nature: First ‘Review’ with N at The Albany International Airport

In observation area near Third floor gallery

In observation area near Third floor gallery

If you read my first post you’ll remember one of the reasons for writing this blog was to catalog my experiences with my youngest daughter during her last year before starting school.  One of my ambitions is to take her to a variety of local/regional exhibitions and have the chance to experience the artwork together. It’s difficult for me to get out to most of the openings/receptions as they occur at the pinnacle of meltdown/bedtime hour(s), yet there is a fair amount of contemporary work I want to see in this area during any given month.  The Albany international Airport’s Art and Culture Program  is one I have long admired and luckily for me, they just opened their latest exhibition on their third floor gallery: Second Nature.


The show features the work of eight artists “for whom the perception and interpretation of natural phenomena are central to their work.” Jenny Kemp, Karin Stack, Jill Parisi, Laura Moriarty, Jason Middlebrook, Adam Frelin, Katie DeGroot and Roberley Bell’s work will remain on view through March 9 in the third floor gallery.

If you have never been, the gallery at the Airport is the perfect venue to take your children to and has been on my list of time-killing things to do for a few years now. There is always exciting, contemporary artwork  to look at and talk with your children about; Second Nature, was not an exception.

The exhibition statement reads, “Nature is a word often used to describe the things we have not manufactured or meddled with, but today, it’s hard to identify what we haven’t modified-by choice or by chance.” Much of the work on view has a direct connection to the landscape (albeit, abstracted, flattened or conceptualized) and the human hand upon it.  In the work of Jenny Kemp, organic systems and structures are invented and revealed through intricate line work and flattened out areas of color. At once these paintings and stop motion video reference microscopic organisms and topographical patterning.

Jenny Kemp: Second Nature: Albany International Airport

The video shown above is created by photographing the process of her work resulting in choppy, stop motion, staggered video, suggestive to me, of footage from weather satellites or from deep ocean exploration dives.

Watch Jenny Kemp’s video

The video compliments the paintings nicely as you at once can appreciate the looseness of her process and the tight, controlled finished product.


I loved hearing N’s reaction to Kemp’s work as she took a quick look and stated matter of fact, “that ones a bladder Mom”.  “Hmmmm…maybe it is” I reply. Wouldn’t it be liberating to have the air of certainty a four-year old possesses? Check out more of Kemp’s work here.

The work of Laura Moriarty perhaps more directly references the modification of natural form(s) as she creates small rock like structures from pigmented beeswax.  These particular sculptures were created and then used as drawing instruments  to mark the scroll of paper hanging behind the collection.  The repetitive marks add up to a long meandering section of strata referencing geological mapping and the human hand within this process .  With the combination of drawing and object Moriarty creates an appealing commentary on how science intersects with our day to day lives and perception of time. second nature image 2


N examining the work of laura Moriarty from the Second Nature exhibit at The Albany International Airport

These objects were undeniably my daughters highlight of the show. It may because she is used to looking at objects in general as opposed to 2D work,  but more likely it is the undeniable fact that these petite structures are luscious in their color, surface and form. I like, N, really wanted to get a closer look at everything that was happening on the surface and, unfortunately  the nature of the gallery makes up close and personal viewer interaction difficult. We were both sitting and laying on the floor trying to check out the underbelly of the larger rectangular structure  wishing closer inspection was possible with all these pieces.


laura moriarty


You can check out more of Laura Moriarty’s artwork here

There is an array of interesting responses to these “familiar hallmarks of our environment” in Second Nature. From the obsessively beautiful lithographs of Jill Parisi to the projected video work of Adam Frelin each response is distinctive and unique, yet I found an overarching theme of artificial materials and/or color palette throughout the show.

N admiring the work of Jill Parisi at Second Nature

N admiring the beautifully obsessive work of Jill Parisi

second nature image Jill Parisi



In fact, some of the best commentary I had with N. regarding work in the gallery was over the video work of Adam Frelin. It’s probably a testament to how plugged into technology children are-but if there is any video work in any show my kids gravitate towards it. Running time was approx. 10:30  on Terranauts and N appreciated every box pushing moment of the work. Our conversation for those 10+ minutes mainly had to do with ‘what was in the box’ and ‘where the box was going’ but my favorite comment was N stating that ‘maybe we are in the box right now and we are spies spying on what is going to happen in that box’ …whoa dude deep…Frelin’s video is a response to viewing the landscape through a controlled framing device and so in a sense, I suppose she had a point.


Adam Frelin, Terranauts, single channel video, 10:30 min, 2012

N enjoying Adam Frelin's video work

Adam Frelin, Terranauts, single channel video, 10:30, 2012

There is too much work to respond to every piece, though it could be warranted. After over an hour or so of looking and talking and watching some planes we made our way downstairs to the Annex gallery where Stephen Lack’s exhibition Strangely Familiar is on view. Here N was able to refuel and take a break (always helpful to reward the 4-year-old critic with a sugar fix).


Enjoying Stephen Lack, Strangely Familiar, The Annex Gallery, curated by Elizabeth Dubben, Director of Exhibitions, Saratoga Arts

Doughnut chompin’ done and we were headed off to pick up the big brother at school. If you do visit the Airport Galleries make it a point when departing to leave, not through baggage claim, but the opposite side of the building where you can walk beneath Benjamin Entner‘s American Gothic and past Dana Filbe‘s Flight of Fancy. The Arts and Culture program at Albany International Airport has a fantastic site specific installation program in which many artists of the Region create large temporary work that remains on view for two years.


Benjamin Entner: American Gothic: 2012: taffeta,wood,electronic components

As their website states. [The Airport] “is a busy hub not only for travel, but also for celebrating and learning about local culture. Through exhibitions presented in the Albany International Airport Gallery and the Concourse Galleries, the Exhibition Case Program, free public programs and group tours, the Art & Culture Program has extended the reach of area artists and museums to an audience of more than three million people each year.”

This is the perfect exhibition in the perfect venue to take your children to; there is contemporary, exciting work for you to look at and talk to your children about. (There will be plenty that will hold their attention and spark their imagination believe me). The gallery itself is located on the top floor of the airport and shares space with an open observation area giving your kids some freedom of movement and plane gazing. If you do visit and enjoy your experience take a minute to vote Albany one of the 10 best airports for art in USA Today. Survey can be found here.

View from observation area near gallery

View from observation area near gallery

For more information on the Arts and Culture Program at the Airport contact: Sharon Bates, Director
Art & Culture Program, Albany International Airport,

Gallery hours:
7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. daily.
whew..first ‘review’ down.  Next week we’ll tackle Troy.


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