Photos & Story by Dave Warner

On Saturday, the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts held an opening reception for the exhibit “The Dark Forest.” Two artists combined their work for the show. Garlyn MaGinnis from Fort Plain and Julie Takacs from Canajoharie were both in attendance for the event.

MaGinnis earned her BA in Graphic Design from The College of St. Rose and has been a multimedia artist for over 20 years. According to MaGinnis “I primarily work in Acrylics, but sometimes I work in oils and I also integrate other materials into my work, like coffee grounds, foil, newspaper, string, just about anything.”

MaGinnis’ work ranges all the way from representational to abstract and everything in between. “I’m actually fascinated with what happens in between. It’s something I want to explore more in the future,” she said. “It’s the space between substance and non-substance and the element of surprise.”

She feels like things happen when you just paint intuitively and allow things to happen. “Not trying to force something specific. There is the element of surprise that really excites me,” stated MaGinnis.

You’ll see some of that intuitive approach in the work that she has on display in the exhibit.

MaGinnis said she got started with art as a child. Her mother was an artist and her dad a carpenter. “There were always all these projects going on in the house and I always loved making things,” she said.

She went to school for graphic design, but was always drawn to the drawing classes that she took. MaGinnis said “Painting is where my love was. I’ve just always been painting really.”

MaGinnis has been in some other group shows, but this is her first shared show. “I’m happy with that,” she said.

There are 22 pieces of MaGinnis’ work on display for the show, with an additional piece that was a unique collaboration with the other artist in the show, Julie Takacs. MaGinnis said “That’s the first time I’ve collaborated. We actually both started canvasses and swapped to finish them, and what came out I think, is pretty amazing. We seemed to work very very well together.”

Julie Takacs has spent her entire life as a creative in upstate New York, exploring the back country and rural areas of the region. She is an adjunct professor of Graphic Art and Design at SUNY Cobleskill and works part time as a Graphic Designer for Lee Publications.

According to Takacs, her work is a mixture of both mixed media collage work and recycled materials. She chose the pieces based on the theme of the show “The Dark Forest.”

“I like to use a lot of various materials from our daily life and I’m especially interested in recycling. Some of the pieces here, I broke trail and decided not to frame them in the traditional way. I’ve tried to mount them on board and get more immediacy from them by having them not behind a frame,” she said.

She has tried using different substrates, like a dresser drawer as a surface for her work. She took it apart in order to recycle it and be a leader in using these types of pieces in her work. “Instead of using new materials. That was kind of my own personal quest…to try and use those other things and present the work a little bit differently than just the normal behind the glass approach,” said Takacs.

Takacs says she’s been an artist all her life, but when her daughters moved away she was able to really focus on her work and do what she wanted to do.

“This fuels my work for the SUNY students because I can try out new ideas and and expose my students to the work that I’m doing,” said Takacs.

In some of her work, she not only used recycled pieces of furniture, but also recycled some pieces of her own work that she had felt as a whole, where not what she wanted. “Watercolor pieces, where one area looked really great. I cut those areas out and used my own work in a recycled piece,” she said.

“It’s recycling plus recycling and trying to promote that whole idea of reuse, recycle in the world, for the sake of our planet,” stated Takacs.

Takacs has had some solo shows in the past, but this is her first dual show. She had a solo show at the MVCA almost nine years ago. “Back then I was doing just collage, so I’ve been moving along on my own career path,” she said.

Both artists looked at each others work and decided to collaborate on a couple of pieces. Takacs said “Those pieces are here in the spirit of art and collaboration. What was really cool was, when it was all done, to see what she (MaGinnis) had done with it. You don’t have any idea what’s going to happen to it when you give it away to another artist.”

According to Takacs “We just wanted to add that spirit. Art tends to be so much behind that glass…pristine and we can’t touch that, or I can’t afford that feeling. With this show, people can touch it, get a little closer to it and you really can feel it.”

The exhibit runs from October 6th until November 10th. The Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts hours are 12-4 pm Wednesday through Saturday. For more information visit