WESTFIELD - Alberto Rey, a SUNY Fredonia distinguished professor of visual arts and new media, will unveil his new exhibit, "Selected Streams of Northern Chautauqua County, N.Y.," at an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Octagon Gallery in the Patterson Library in Westfield.
The exhibit marks Rey's latest installment in "Biological Regionalism," a series that encompasses streams in Western New York and the Catskill Mountains, as well as bodies of water in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alaska and the seven Western states, as well as the countries of Wales, England, Iceland and Cuba.
Intrigued by stories of salmon runs in Canadaway Creek after moving to the area in 1989, Rey conducted extensive research into the creek's hydraulic characteristics.
This painting of Laona Falls by Alberto Rey is one of many which will be part of his new exhibit appearing at the Patterson Library in Westfield beginning Friday.
He focused on the creek's history, the introduction of fish species into the Great Lakes, the history of towns located along the creek, regional geology and entomology and weather pattern effects on fish physiology, fish biology and hydrology. Due to that research, Rey later began a youth fly fishing program and became a fly fishing guide himself.
Rey's broader investigations included painters of the Hudson River School of the 19th century and their role in American society.
"The study of biology, botany, geology and art was popular amongst the residents of the new country and piscatorial art and nature painting was considered a form of 'high art' during this period," Rey said.
Though mass media and consumerism have made American culture more homogeneous, the one element that remains true to a region is its natural environment, Rey said. Most landscapes and their biological inhabitants characterize a region's nature, despite society's attempts to manipulate it to fit its needs.
"The knowledge of a region's distinguishing natural elements is being lost as generations continually become more disconnected from a lifestyle that relies on the landscape for survival and spiritual renewal," Rey said.
For his upcoming exhibition, Rey concentrated entirely on landscapes or depiction of the environment as a way to encourage area residents to reconnect with memories from these locations and/or to create new connections to these nearby environments.
Another exhibit goal is to create discussion opportunities related to historical and contemporary theories of aesthetics, migration of fish species, history of these locations, environmentalism and geological formations.
Rey said he is pleased to have the exhibit housed at Patterson Library, citing its architecture and painting and taxidermy specimen collections.
"It seemed like a perfect venue to exhibit these devotional paintings of some of my favorite stream locations in this area," he said.
Rey will also present a lecture at the gallery at 7 p.m. on March 15.
To see examples of the paintings in this exhibition and some documentation of the process, visit www.albertorey.com/biological-regionalism-selected-streams-from-northern-chautauqua-county-new-york