SUNY Buffalo State presented “Fuel for the Restless Mind: Russia, China, Italy Paris, and Mexico” on Oct. 6 at 12:15 p.m. in Upton Hall 230. This was the first in this semester’s series, Artists on the Road: Travel As Source of Inspiration. The event featured artist and lecturer of fine arts Bruce Adams.
The “Artists on the Road: Travel As Source of Inspiration” series began in spring of 2014 as a project developed by the design department’s Student Concerns and Development Committee. Believing firmly in the college’s mission of internationalism and realizing that both students and faculty were having excellent experiences abroad that affected both their lives and their art, this series was established to encourage others in the Visual Arts to travel.
It has become an important forum featuring three presentations per semester co-sponsored by the design department and the office of international and exchange programs. It is free and open to both the college community and the general public. Carol Townsend has been its coordinator since its inception.
Bruce Adams is best known as a figurative painter who references various painting styles. He is also a public school art teacher, college art instructor, arts advocate, and a writer.
Adams began the event by discussing how traveling can “enrich your understanding of the world around you,” adding that his travels have influenced his art greatly, and led to a deeper appreciation of people throughout the world.
Adams explained that in order to be influenced, you need to go out there and be influenced, rather than sit at home and wait for it.
“Buffalo has influenced my work in many ways,” Adams said. “Buffalo has a rich art environment, but it’s very hard to sell work here. However, Buffalo has cheap rentable space which makes it possible for me to have a studio that would be ideal for most artists and also make it easy for me to afford whatever I need to make and sell.”
In 2012, Adams told an interviewer:
“I went to Buffalo State for art education, so it was there that I took a wide range of art courses, but honestly, I learned almost nothing of value about art there.”
My real education came from my involvement in the art community, especially with Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. Hallwalls is where I either learned what I needed to know, or where I discovered what I didn’t know.”
In the 1980s, Adams worked as director/curator of Peopleart/bflo, a small storefront gallery. He later served at Hallwalls as an Artist Advisory Committee co-founder, long-time board member, and board president. At the same time, he worked as an art teacher in public schools in Western New York for more than 25 years, and he has taught at SUNY Buffalo State at various points in his career. In 2000, the National Art Education Association named him the New York State Art Educator of the Year. Adams on his own art style:
“The first thing you notice is that each series of paintings look different. That’s intentional. I prompt contextual associations through references to historical painting. I am also frankly just too restless to stick to one signature style for my entire career.” Adams continued:
“I tend to build concepts in strata, heaping on layers of meaning, acknowledging layers of separation. I don’t tend to think of individual paintings as discrete works. Rather, I visualize the group of work as a unified whole that is best appreciated when seen together.”
Adams’s work is included in several museum collections, including the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Adams is also a critical and creative writer who has published art reviews in the Buffalo News. He won the bronze award in art criticism in the 2005 National City and Regional Magazine Editorial and Design Awards.
The next presentation will be held on Oct. 20, featuring, Briana Alford, a junior wood/furniture design major. Alford was part of a small team of nine from Buffalo State to have made history as pioneers in the first study tour to Borgne, Haiti.
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