by Ed Healy

cloche-in-situOpenings at CEPA Gallery, Buffalo’s gallery dedicated to the photographic arts, are always fun affairs. And no opening is more fun than the annual members exhibition when Buffalo’s photographers gather to celebrate their latest work, share some insights and partake of some delicious food and drink. This year’s Members Exhibition, which opened on Saturday night, was no exception. A full house reveled in the high quality array of still images and video.

The 2009 exhibit is highlighted by a solo show from Canadian photographer Penelope Stewart. Stewart’s “Echo Topias” is an impressive exhibit of beautiful large scale, multiple panel color photographs, interspersed by a series of duraclears that resemble large format glass plate negatives. Impressive as the color photographs are, the negative images are startling in their originality and presentation and well worth a visit by anyone with a love of visual art. A second solo show, “Memory Mapping” by artist Sue O’Donnell, is a provocative piece of conceptual art executed with skill and panache.

The members show, housed in CEPA’s Underground Gallery, is an eclectic array of contemporary photography. Buffalo’s photographic community never fails to impress with its creativity and experimentation and this year you’ll find gorgeous old school black and white prints, large-scale digital color work, video, and collage. It’s yet another example of the vibrant arts community to be found in Buffalo. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Art Center may be Buffalo’s internationally recognized art museums, but smaller spaces like CEPA, Hallwalls, Big Orbit and Buffalo Arts Studio each contribute to a vibrant visual arts scene that equals or surpasses those found in much larger cities.

CEPA Gallery is located in Buffalo’s historic and beautiful Market Arcade, 617 Main Street. The Members Exhibition and the Penelope Stewart and Sue O’Donnell solo shows run through March 21st.