The sharecropper shacks that dotted the flat agricultural landscape of Tidewater Virginia in Robert Hite’s youth, and the metal-roofed sheds that he saw on his travels throughout Latin America, providing shelter for the poor from tropical downpours, are the “building” blocks of Robert Hite’s art. In paintings, wall reliefs and sculptures both miniaturized and full-scale, he populates an alternate reality with renderings of these ephemeral structures that turn them into characters in their own right.
Hite’s most recent project, titled “Imagined Histories,” is a series of photographs of his fanciful architectural models temporarily relocated to new real-world settings such as the shores of the Hudson River or in local swamps. Dislocation, displacement and social justice are the underlying themes of his work, he says. If it is true that in our dreams, a house is a symbol of the “larger self,” then a hut thrown together from found materials to create the most basic of shelters speaks volumes about the larger questions of what it means to live in the Third World, to struggle daily with poverty, to have little control over where one may dwell, to be forced to flee again and again before the juggernauts of history.
A one-man show opening this Saturday, May 18 at the Wired Gallery in High Falls collects many of Hite’s recent works, including paintings, sculptures and photographs, with an emphasis on the “Imagined Histories” series. “It is an absolute honor for this young gallery that just turned one to host its first solo exhibition with Robert Hite,” says Wired Gallery director Sevan Melikyan. “The selected works, many of which are new, promise to leave a deep impact on anyone’s sense and imagination.”
Complementing the Hite show will be a display on the Gallery’s Dedication Wall of photographs by the artist’s Esopus neighbor, Jeffrey Lewis. Lewis is a survivor of a rare and life-threatening brain condition called Rasmussen’s encephalitis, which required him to have a hemispherectomy at age 4. “Throughout his life, Jeffrey has been an inspiration to many people,” says Hite. “His grace, warmth and humor make him a pleasant young man to know. This past winter, as I holed up in my warm house on some of the most unpleasant weather days, I would see pictures that he took while bundled up and out on his various walk routes. That passion for his needed walks and picture-taking has inspired me.”
An artist’s reception from 5 to 7 p.m., catered by the Big Cheese in Rosendale, will officially launch the exhibit, which will stay up through June 30. Hite will give a gallery talk on Saturday, June 1 at 4 p.m. Located at 1415 Route 213, the Wired Gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. For more information call (682) 564-5613 or visit www.thewiredgallery.com.
“Imagined Histories” by Robert Hite, opening Saturday, May 18, 5-7 p.m., up through June 30, Wired Gallery, 1415 Route 213, High Falls; (682) 564-5613, www.thewiredgallery.com