WESTFIELD - The Octagon Gallery at Patterson Library will exhibit paintings by distinguished artist Alberto Rey.
"Biological Regionalism: Selected Streams of Northern Chautauqua County, New York, USA" will run from Friday through March 30. An opening reception will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday. Rey will also speak at the library at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 15. Both events are free and open to the public.
"It seems like a perfect venue to exhibit these devotional paintings of some of my favorite stream locations in this area,'' Rey said.
Pictured above is an example of the work of Alberto Rey. An exhibition of Rey’s work will open Friday at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield. The exhibition runs through the month of March.
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1960, Rey received his political asylum through Mexico in 1963 and moved to Miami, Fla., in 1965. In 1967, his family relocated to Pennsylvania and in 1982 he received his bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 1987, he received his mater's degree in painting from the University at Buffalo and began teaching at the State University at Fredonia in 1989, where he still teaches. Rey's paintings can be found in over 20 museum collections and have been in more than 130 exhibitions.
When Rey settled in the area in 1989, he was intrigued by the salmon runs in Canadaway Creek but it was several years before he had time to learn more.
"When I did begin the research, I concentrated my efforts on the history of Canadaway Creek, the introduction of fish species into the Great Lakes, the history of towns located along the creek, regional geology, entomology, weather patterns affects on local fish's physiology, fish biology and hydrology,'' Rey said.
He befriended local biologists, Department of Environmental Conservation officers and local anglers. His obsession led him to start a youth fly fishing program and to become a fly fishing guide as a way to fund his obsession and to keep him out on the streams.
In 2000, after finishing a series of paintings on Cuban and American culture, he began the Biological Regionalism Series. The series incorporated the research he had been acquiring over the previous years and motivated him to investigate and research many other streams in western New York and the Catskills as well as bodies of water in Massachusetts, Florida, Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania and also Wales, England, Iceland and Cuba. The regions investigated are usually a short walk or drive from the exhibition venue. When a viewer experiences the installation, Rey hopes they begin to create or recreate a connection to their immediate environment.
"As my travel and exhibition opportunities drew me further and further away from my local waters, I found little time to document the specific regional locations where I had logged hundreds of hours studying the stream's hydraulics, observing the different holding patterns of fish through the year, guiding clients and trying my own fly patterns on migrating fish,'' Rey said.
"This exhibition provides me the opportunity to exhibit the work in Patterson Library's wonderful architecture and collection of paintings and taxidermy specimens. For this exhibition, I have concentrated entirely on landscapes or the depiction of the environment as a way to have the area's resident reconnect with memories from these locations and/or to create new connections to nearby environments. I hope the exhibition can also create opportunities to discuss topics related to historical and contemporary theories of aesthetics, migration of fish species, history of these locations, environmentalism, and geological formations. While the regions investigated are specific, the issues raised are universal."
For more information about Rey, visit albertorey.com.
The Patterson Library's art gallery program is paid for in part by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Re-grant Program administered by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council.
For more information about Rey's exhibit or to host an exhibit, call Nancy Ensign, gallery curator, at 326-2154 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.