A record 109 artists participated in this year’s Genesee Valley 100 project hosted by Genesee Valley Conservancy. After a year of taking reference photos, touring the area, and painting in studios and out in the field, the artists’ original paintings created for this year’s show are now on display at Silver Lake Brewing Project in Perry.
The project, organized by Genesee Valley Conservancy, was created to draw attention to the local landscapes the organization is working to protect: the habitat, open space, and farmland of the Genesee Valley region. These landscapes are a familiar site, but in our busy lives people often do not stop to appreciate the beauty and importance of these places to our livelihoods, our quality of life, and to the local environment.
Creating time to stop and consider the landscape that surrounds us is the primary goal of this project. It also has the added benefit of highlighting many remarkable artists that live locally. Artists from 43 towns participated this year, creating 115 pieces that hang in this year’s show.
Art and land conservation have a long history together, dating back to the days when the country’s population was predominantly on the east coast and travel was something afforded to very few. Paintings were the primary means to showcase the western landscape to the public. These early paintings helped inspire congress to create the National Park Service in 1916 to protect natural landscapes so they would not be privatized and exploited by development, but owned by the people and maintained for their environmental benefits.
Artists in this year’s show have a range of abilities and styles. No one is turned away. “Part of what makes this show so wonderful is that everyone is invited to show their views of the landscape and pick a subject that is meaningful to them to paint,” said Ben Gajewski, Executive Director of Genesee Valley Conservancy. Professional artists to hobbyists who have never had a painting hang in public are part of this year’s show. Art classes from Perry Central School and Geneseo Central School also participated and have pieces hanging this year.
There were just two rules for the project: painters had to use the provided 12”x12” canvas and they had to paint something inspired by the Genesee Valley.
The first rule was set to challenge artists. Square paintings are not the norm, especially for a landscape, and this rule was to force an artist to slow down and give extra thought to how they would create a piece to reflect the Genesee Valley. Practically, this format also makes the work of volunteers hanging the show easier as they layout a grid pattern at Silver Lake Brewing Project.
The second rule was to keep the focus of the project on the landscape that surrounds us in the Genesee Valley: the lands which support our agricultural economy, the views we enjoy as we live here, and the natural resources that surround us. Anything in the Genesee Valley was fair game. The Conservancy wants to keep this project local and highlight the very lands they are working to protect in and around our communities.
While each individual painting is wonderful to take in, the sum total of the project is a beautiful mosaic that creates a whole new piece of art when viewing all of the works from afar. “It is wonderful to have these available online to view, but to really appreciate each individual painting and the brush strokes, one needs to see them up close and in person” says Gajewski. “By viewing the pieces in person, you also get the added benefit of the diverse mosaic of styles and colors that is created. It is very reflective of our local landscape – a diverse mix of types of land that have different functions and benefits for the community, and all are equally important. We need local farmland, local habitat, and local places to recreate.
Paintings are on view at www.geneseevalleyconservancy.org.
In person viewing is at Silver Lake Brewing Project, 14 Borden Ave, Perry during their regular business hours beginning Wednesday November 16th at 5pm. The brewery is open Wednesday and Thursdays from 5-9pm, Friday and Saturday noon-9pm, and Sunday from 2-6pm. The show will be on display through the end of 2022.
The Genesee Valley 100 is proudly underwritten by Steed Energy.
Genesee Valley Conservancy is a nationally accredited non-profit conservation organization working to protect the habitat, open space, and farmland in the Genesee River watershed. Over 27,595 acres of natural habitat, productive farm, and forest land have been conserved by Genesee Valley Conservancy’s work with private landowners. The organization also owns nature preserves open to the public year-round for recreation and education. For more information visit www.geneseevalleyconservancy.org