New exhibits feature everyday art

Feb 15, 2018

BATAVIA — A feather drifting in the wind, the lilt of song, a muddled street puddle reflection. For most, these sights and sounds, swept up in the passing hours, lost in the midst of a million different things, slip away forgotten.

But for artists Shirley Nigro and Alex Segovia, those singular instances of beauty serve as a starting point — as inspiration for something greater. In their minds the artists collect these memories, until, whether on canvas or with clay, they transform them into something lasting, something that will endure.

For the next six weeks, those memories transformed into physical art will be on display at the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. Nigro’s exhibit, “Where Do I Go From Here?,” is located in the Batavia Rotary Club Room Gallery, while Segovia’s “The Kite Boy” fills the Oliver’s Gallery in the Seymour Dining Room.

“I walk down the street all the time,” said Nigro. “I will see a feather on the ground, or I will see a piece of fungus that’s fallen off a tree, and I’ll collect it.”

And when she stumbles upon a way to fit it into the shapes she’s working with, it becomes just one more intricate part of the creation.

Typically a dollmaker, Nigro began creating the ceramic pieces for her exhibit in an attempt to prove that art is not merely something hung on a wall — that it can be so much more than just a picture or a painting.

“Of course, I believe we live in art,” Nigro said. “Go outside and look at a tree, look at its shape, look what’s going on there. To m, that’s very inspirational.”

So too are pictures of people and places — especially cultural festivals and colorful world events. They provide images that Nigro feels she easily can draw from.

“I don’t do pretty little dolls, I do people,” she said. “I stop people on the street, ask to take their pictures. I have a lot of different cultures ranging from African, African-American, Native American…”

And once you get “you want to hear their stories, you want to know what they’re thinking,” according to Gregory Hallock, executive director of GO-Art!

“Even if you think they’re a bit creepy because they’re doll-like and staring at you, they’re still gorgeous and amazing and incredible,” Hallock said. “There are so many pieces in Shirley’s collection — I don’t even know how it’s possible. Everybody who comes in looks around and says, ‘This is all one person?’”

Since August, Nigro has completed nearly 20 works of ceramic — and has included other mediums, too, like paper mache and cloth to show her challengers that ceramics mean so much more than just picking up a piece and adding paint, she said. She’s added detailed scenery and bisque to morph everyday objects into realistic people.

“I look at them and I want to know more,” Hallock said. “Their faces are just incredible.”

And while Nigro’s pieces deal in a realm closer to real life, Segovia’s work is perhaps more difficult to pin down — he deals mainly in the abstract, he said.

Segovia grew up in Central America picking cotton in fields to help his family stay afloat.

“Most people back then as I was growing up were very poor,” Segovia, an El Salvador native, said. “We were peasants. We worked out in the fields picking up cotton.”

Even as a young child Segovia knew he wanted to create, but his family did not have the means to buy the art materials he needed. So he drew and spent his free time making kites, which children sometimes asked to buy from him. Thus, the title of his exhibit.

When Segovia came to America and gained access to different materials, like paints, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself at first, he said.

“It was a transition,” he said. “About four years ago, I started on my sketches again on regular water color paper.”

And for Christmas, a friend gave him small little tubes of acrylic paint.

“From there, I started trying little by little,” Segovia said. “Now I’ve got very fond of them, so I’ve been buying bigger and bigger tubes and hopefully I will move on to oil paintings in the future.”

Segovia said he draws from the things he sees all around him.

“Could be people, nature, things that I see in stores, animals,” he said. “And sometimes I see other paintings online and that takes me to different places and gives me different ideas, and I go from there.”

One of his first pieces, a 36-by-48 inch canvas, titled “Redemption,” is one of his favorites, he said.

“I call it ‘Redemption’ because it’s, you know, how I see myself in my teenager years,” Segovia said. “From then to now, I have grown a little bit more wiser, I hope.”

Hallock said Segovia’s work is particularly inspiring given his tory.

“You look at his work and you think, ‘Wow, this belongs in the Met,’” Hallock said. “To realize this art wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t been able to come to this country and have this chance is just so incredible, and we are so blessed and grateful to show his work.”

Hallock said Segovia’s work is vibrant and “a breath of fresh air.”

“You just walk in that room and you just want to stare at his work,” Hallock said. “It’s so awesome that his moments bring out different thoughts and memories for people.”

Both Segovia’s and Nigro’s works will be on display at 201 E. Main St. until April 7, with an opening reception tonight from 6 to 8 p.m.

“They’re two incredible artists, two different artists, whose work is amazing in its own rite,” Hallock said.

Proceeds from Nigro’s art sold during the show will be used as a donation to open up a new Go-ART! gallery, Nigro said.

By Jessica Dillon, Batavia Daily News