University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

Vegetable Rites: Birds in the Moon — Nickard, Reitzenstein, Wallace

November 7, 2007  by: Dom

Rite Végétal

Gary Nickard
Reinhard Reitzenstein
Patty Wallace

December 1st 2007 to January 27th 2008
Galerie d’art Stewart Hall Art Gallery

More than 300 years before the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite and American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, Oliver Cromwell’s England had its own ambitious space program. Dr. John Wilkins, a 17th-century scientist, theologian and brother-in-law of Cromwell, proposed the first serious attempt at a manned flight to the Moon – his spaceship powered by harnessed geese and gunpowder.

From our perspective the effort may seem ludicrous, but Wilkins was quite serious. He was also part of a period of scientific inventions and the astronomical revelations of Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler. Inspired by the discovery of other continents and the great sea voyages of explorers such as Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, Wilkins’ “Celestial Chariot” was conceived as an equally ambitious plan to explore outer space.

Unfortunately, Wilkins never had the chance to test his theories, and the Jacobean Space Program was eventually grounded.

The Stewart Hall Art Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition Vegetable Rites – Birds in the Moon, in which artists Gary Nickard, Reinhard Reitzenstein and Patty Wallace, through the dark art of Necromancy, bring the Jacobean Space Program back to life and pick up where both Wilkins and Cromwell left off…

The “vegetables” in question are, of course, Reitzenstein’s signature trees (actually in this case, huts made of organic vegetal materials) – huts that, in addition to being a contemplative environment, perhaps, provide shelter for the “moon birds.” The “rites” are not only the ritual aspects of art making, but also the “necromancy” by which the artists raise the spectre of Oliver Cromwell’s era and his brother-in-law’s (the “scientist” Wilkins) musings about the moon and its inhabitants. Stir in Nickard`s alchemy-based investigations and experimental physics with the paintings of earthly nests and celestial craters of Wallace (nests of another kind?) and the visual and conceptual transformations are set in motion. It is an exhibition that is guaranteed to titillate, provoke and question our perception of the historical past, fictional reality, and a boundless future.

Ontario sculptor Reinhard Reitzenstein and American conceptual artist Gary Nickard have collaborated on several exhibitions that explore the realm of science and art. Both teach at SUNY Buffalo and are joined in this exhibition with painter and new media artist Patty Wallace from Williamsville, NY.

Centre culturel de Pointe-Claire, Stewart Hall
176, chemin du Bord-du-Lac – Lakeshore
Pointe-Claire (Québec) H9S 4J

Free admission – accessible by elevator
Gallery hours: Monday through Sunday, from 1 to 5 pm
Monday and Wednesday evening, from 7 to 9 pm

202 Center for the Arts, North Campus
Buffalo, New York 14260-6010
(716) 645-6878
(716) 645-6970 fax
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