The Burchfield-Penney Art Center reminds us again of the individuals representing Buffalo's tremendous creative energy -- past and present. Artist Diane Bertolo, who currently lives in Brooklyn, owns an unquestioned place in that pantheon, as one of the founders of Hallwalls. Bertolo's work has been seen all over the world, and now it comes proverbially home in an exhibit of her diary-style digital photographs.
The show is part of the Burchfield-Penney's 2:2 series, highlighting Western New York artists. Bertolo's work is being shown, along with painter Mike Herbold's, through March 4 in the art center, in Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave. To follow along or observe her intimate, calendarlike work, go to www.dianebertolo.com.
>You grew up in Syracuse in what you've described as a not-particularly artistic family. How did you come to be an artist?
I just knew it was meant to be -- I think that people have something innate that they know they must do. To make it happen combines circumstance, luck and work.
My stars seem like they were aligned; I went to Buff State for a few years and ended up running into people at the right times. Things were just happening at that very moment.
>You are talking about Hallwalls?
Yes. In 1974, Charlie Clough and Robert Longo had studios in the old ice building, and they decided that there would be a show literally in the hallway. It was fabulous for us as young artists. Very "by the bootstraps." In artist-run spaces, a collective mentality exists; you are making stuff happen yourself. It is difficult for artists to survive in our culture. But you know you have to do it, so you start thinking, "How can I get by?"
>What attracts you to newer media?
There was a time that digital tools were pretty new. I picked them up because of that freedom; not having art connotations, a history or system in place. Also, the Internet sprung open around the same time, providing a kind of audience that wasn't already prescribed by the art world.
>The exhibit is small photographic works combining a screen shot and an image, usually connected in some way. What does this project represent?
I have been doing this on and off since 2002. I wanted to note the moment, the everyday, the banal. I was interested in making work that is not gigantic, about little things, daily life -- specifically the two parts to my life: the virtual and the very out-in-the-world. It's like a calendar.
-- Jana Eisenberg, Special to The News