GO ART! celebrates all things ‘Prohibited’ with latest show

Sep 30, 2016

A knock on the back door. A whispered password. Suddenly, entry is granted into a dimly lit bar where people intoxicate themselves not only with drink but also the electricity of rebellion.

That’s life in a speakeasy, those hidden rooms where people could drink alcohol during Prohibition.

The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council will recreate that feel Thursday night with the opening reception of its latest members’ challenge show, “Prohibited.” The directors at GO ART! have transformed the long-unused barroom in the rear of the gallery, 201 East Main St., into a speakeasy reflective of life in the 1920s. And since they just received their liquor license, the gallery will serve alcohol for the first time.

“You have to come to the back door in the alleyway between GO ART! and the Senior Center. You give the password “Swordfish,” and we let you in,” said assistant director Gregory Hallock.

The back room was once the bar area for the old Batavia Club, and more recently has long been used only for storage by GO ART!. But when Hallock and director Jen Gray looked at it, they agreed they needed to have a speakeasy party. Speakeasy led to Prohibition, which led to “Prohibited,” the one-word theme given to members for the exhibit.

The walls of the barroom are now adorned with each members’ interpretation of “Prohibited.” Some pieces reflect forbidden lifestyles, while others reflect physical spaces that are off limits.

Mary Jo Whitman’s piece, “Paradox of Ironic Process,” delves into the Ironic Process Theory in psychology.

“The theory suggests that the more we try to suppress a thought, desire, emotion, etc., the more salient it becomes sometimes even to the point of obsession,” she said. “The consequences to this process can affect many aspects of one’s life: social skills, motivation, performance, self-esteem, self-perception, as well as mental and emotional states.”

Joe Ziolkowski submitted a photo of a naked man that he calls “Blue Velvet.”

“This photograph is part of a series dealing with a time in my life when I was going through loss and change,” he wrote in his artist statement.

Sharon Larsen went verbal rather than visual with her poem “For Those Who Are Not Roses.” In it, she writes “This is for all the boys and girls taught to be ashamed of the color of their skin or the shape of their body or the toys they want to play with or simply who they are: Don’t give up on yourself.”

In her explanation, Larsen wrote: “Sometimes I think we permit too many negative things and prohibit too many positive things.”

In all, more than two dozen pieces of art comprise the exhibit, each demonstrating a different interpretation of the theme.

“I think it’s awesome,” Hallock said of the variety of art. “It just means we have a diverse group of people, and I love diversity. I love all different opinions and thoughts. We have a diverse group of members. You see where their minds go.”

Thursday’s speakeasy reception starts at 6 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested.

For more information, visit www.goart.org

By MATT KRUEGER, Batavia Daily News