A.J. Fries, one of Western New York’s most popular and prolific young painters, is in the midst of yet another moment. His most recent exhibition, a collaboration with artist Barbara Baird at Studio Hart in October that grew out of his obsession with headstones, gave us a view into some of the more colorful work he’s done lately – although the subject matter was really anything but colorful. In the past two weeks, as word spread of the demise of Hostess, his photorealistic painting of a package of Twinkies in the Burchfield Penney Art Center Collection has been making the rounds on Facebook.

And now, Fries is presenting a new body of work, “Light in Shadow,” in the Big Orbit Gallery (30D Essex St.). His new paintings, scenes of the seemingly mundane reproduced in monochromatic oil paint, each capture a quotidian moment familiar to almost every Western New Yorker. There are scenes of the Grand Island bridges as seen through the water-streaked windshield of a car on a foggy day. There are air conditioners poking out of walls, shot glasses on the bar. Nothing very out of the ordinary. That is, until you really look.

The exhibition runs through Jan. 21. Call 560-1968 or visit

– Colin Dabkowski