Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sunday afternoon opening at Jennifer Jane Gallery

Jennifer Jane Gallery
838 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 494-9905
Yumiko Izu: Secret Garden
Opening Reception: Sun., Nov. 2, 3—6 p.m.

Press release

Yumiko Izu: Secret Garden, an exhibition of platinum-palladium and carbon pigment prints is scheduled to open with a reception on November 2, 2008 from three to six pm at Jennifer Jane Gallery in the Westville Arts District of New Haven, CT.

Yumiko Izu is a master of the technical demands of platinum-palladium printing. She chose this medium to capture the nuanced tones of her complex and delicate subjects. The evanescent blooms of Secret Garden are preserved as contact prints, made from her original 8 x 10 inch negatives, are the extraordinary examples of this sensuous 19th century medium.

Under Izu's direction, Martson Hill Editions, located in New Haven, CT, have made four large scale prints using high resolution digital files from her original negatives. The soft carbon pigments, the rag paper, and the extended tonality, reflect many of the same qualities and sensibilities of the platinum-palladium prints.

Yumiko Izu began her photographic studies in her home town of Osaka, Japan. She continued her training in California and New York where she has worked extensively on advertising and editorial assignments.

To complement the exhibition, Brenton Evans Pianos will be featuring a restored vintage piano from his shop located at 963 State St, New Haven. Performing at the opening reception will be well-known jazz pianist and composer Tony Aiardo (Web). Tony will be playing his interpretation of jazz standards and a selection of his own compositions.

Sunday opening at Kehler Liddell

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Occupational Spirit: Frank Bruckmann (paintings) & Steven Whinfield (sculptural ceramics)
Oct. 30—Nov. 30, 2008
Opening Reception: Sun., Nov. 2, 3—6 p.m.

Press release

Frank Bruckmann wants to praise the "small business owner, the working guy". In Westville Village where he lives, these are mechanics, chefs, massage therapists, hair stylists, gallery, pub and restaurant owners, and unique retailers. That he chose this subject for an extensive body of paintings doesn't surprise. Bruckmann has shown his appreciation for New Haven in the vertigo inducing series of New Haven Cityscapes (March 2005), and his homage to West Rock (November 2006). The wonder lies in the amount of detail and intimacy his paintbrush captures, drawing us into an ordinary beauty and timeless world that exists alongside us in these small shops. Bruckmann captures the essence of small town business people. Each painting is a slice of life or history offering a detailed interior view with an almost sociological study of his portrait subjects.

Steven Whinfield also captures the essential in his Raku and Wood-fired clay vessels. After creating a range of functional pottery, "the bowls, teapots and cups I made held feelings, as if they had souls". Whinfield moved on to objects, vaguely automotive—oil cans, spouted buckets—that would ordinarily contain chemical spirits such as oil or gasoline and then be thrown away. He recreates the forms in clay, and in the process and tension of Raku firing , gives these discarded still recognizable forms new meaning and great elegance. "They represent how we move though life, leaving childhood friends, co-workers and family ... emptied from us, but still having left a spirit. These spirits may be haunting as well as precious."

It is fascinating to move between object and portrait sensing the spirit, soul, and grace these artists see in their subjects. Frank Bruckmann and Steven Whinfield heighten what is ordinary and familiar so that we look again and again and wonder at the world on our doorstep.

There will be an Opening Reception Sun., Nov. 2, 3—6 p.m. Public is invited to join the artists and community in celebration. No admission fee for gallery or reception.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Opening today: It's Getting Hot in Here

The Julian Akus Gallery
Eastern Connecticut State University
Shafer Hall, 83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT
(860)465-4659
It's Getting Hot in Here
Curated by Leonie Bradbury and Shana Dumont
of Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA
Oct. 23 through Dec. 11, 2008
Opening reception: Thursday, Oct. 23, 4-7 p.m.

Artists include Vaughn Bell, Ellen Driscoll, Niizeki Hiromi, Katie Osediacz, People Powered/Pat Shannon, Yuken Teruya, Rachel Perry Welty

Press Release

This exhibition presents the work of eight artists using recycled materials as media in a subtle commentary on environmental awareness in the context of global warming. They have turned newspapers, bread tags, old paint, tin foil, cardboard tubes, #2 plastic bottles, glassine envelope windows, and fruit stickers as well as other recycled materials into works of art which are both lovely and which remind the viewer of the importance for our planet to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Curators Bradbury and Dumont say, “The common thread in this exhibit is the art’s ability to function as gentle forms of ‘protest’ art, what we interpret as beautifully packaged political statements.”


Vaughn Bell tending her pieces of land before putting them up for adoption in her ongoing "Land For Adoption" performance piece. "My work examines our relationship to the places we inhabit," Bell says. She sees the relationship as a visceral one, a physical and emotional necessity, yet often fraught with difficulty. Fascinated by our need for control, Bell finds both humor and pathos in the encounter.


Here's the land I agreed to care for. After completing the adoption form, the land was turned over to me. I hope I don't kill it.



Katie Osediacz performing "Sentimental T-shirt." According to Osediacz the performance speaks to the complexities and implications of our collective contemporary impulse to live 'greener,' more sustainable lifestyles. She hopes to reveal the dichotomy that exists between our disposable culture--which perpetuates a compulsive cycle of depraved consumerism–and that part of human nature which compels us to hold on to and create ‘sacred’ objects. At the same time, the performance also speaks movingly of the isolated individual's relationship to the larger community.


Pat Shannon in front of her wall installation, "New York Times, 9/8/05." She painstakingly cut out all the advertisements and text, leaving a fragile, wordless grid.

Other pieces (the gallery has a strict no-photographs-allowed-without-permission-of-the-artist policy) included large drawings made out of cut up fruit labels, toilet paper rolls carefully cut into delicately branching trees, room dividers made from pieced-together envelope windows, and a ten-foot bridge made out of reconstituted plastic containers. Besides the pieces of land, quarts of recycled, relabeled paints are up for grabs, too.

In this era of scatter installations and visually parched conceptual projects, curators Leonie Bradbury and Shana Dumont have thoughtfully bucked the trend, showcasing artists who have meticulously and evocatively transformed cast-off and found materials into visually compelling objects and installations.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Aerosol art" in New Haven on CWOS weekend

Artist Robert Greenberg recruited a number of local artists associated with—how do I put this properly?—the "graffiti style" to collaborate on on two projects the Saturday afternoon of Open Studios weekend. Greenberg solicited a set of office furniture from his father to be painted; the furniture is now on display in the window of the Acme Furniture building on Crown near State Street. A half dozen aerosol artists worked together to paint the desk, chair, wastebasket and cabinets in the parking lot across Crown Street from Cafe Nine. At the same time, several other artists painted a multi-panel mural on a long bolt of fabric stretched across the parking lot's wire fence.
"The idea was to take it out of the graffiti mode and make it aerosol art," Greenberg told me. "Take it out of the vandalistic sense. It's really about—if you don't attack people but rather embrace their talent."

Artist's reception this Saturday afternoon at New Haven Free Public Library

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Poetic Visions: Interpretations of the Poetry of William Meredith by Bulgarian painter Stoimen Stoilov
Oct. 17—Nov. 21, 2008
Artist's reception: Sat., Oct. 25, 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Press release

Stoimen Stoilov, was born in Varna, Bulgaria in 1944 and is a graduate of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. He leads his visual articulations with a Surrealist nature. He works in his studio in Basel, Switzerland, and also resides in Sofia, Bulgaria.

With much affection, Stoilov believes line to be a justified dominating force, and his visions are rich with symbolism and indigenous history. His poetic visions encourage viewers to imagine mythic traditions and lore. He spent time living among the Aborigines in Australia, one of the many cultural influences in his work.

In 1991, Stoimen Stoilov was awarded Gottfried Von Herder Prize by The University of Vienna for completed his works. His work resides in the collections of many museums around the world, and can be seen at the National Museum of Art in Columbia, the Museum of Art Villa Merkel in Germany, the National Gallery of Art in Norway, the Pushkin Museum of Art in Russia, Museum of Art of Switzerland, and the United States Library of Congress.

Poet William Meredith's (1919-2007) imagery lends itself to deep and beautiful painterly visions. Meredith served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1964 to 1987. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1940, writing his senior thesis on Robert Frost. While still a college student, his first volume of poetry was selected by Archibald MacLeish for publication in the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. During World War II and the Korean Conflict, he server as a flyer in the US Navy. From 1978 to 1980, he was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, the position from which in 1985 he became the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. He has the distinction of being the first gay poet to receive this honor. Meredith taught at Princeton University, the University of Hawaii and at Connecticut College, and in 1988 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the Los Angeles Book Award.

There will be an artist's reception for this show on Sat., Oct. 25, from 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

CWOS Downtown (cue Petula Clark)

In the Downtown AIRS, "Butterfly Effect" by Aileen Ishmael, a mixed media work composed of collage, acrylic and copper foil:
Melanie Carr's work "explores the overlap of art and craft, celebrating the freedom from traditional household chores." Utilizing her "domestic skills"—baking, sewing or candy making—she creates geometric patterns. This colorful installation, "Floor Bumps," was comprised of cheesecloth, ink, stiffener, staples, remnants and a golf shirt (!):
Brian Huff told me he does "very minimal collage. I think with collage, people can go overboard and try and layer too much and too many themes." Huff likes to "use [1950's] images as a base theme of conservatiosm and the American Dream. And now we're lost. Where is this American Dream? We're lost. It's such a mishmash."

For "Pompeii," Huff used a New York Times obituary page as the base—this one has death notices for the socialite Brooke Astor—pasting over the type images of running children from a school reader dating back to the early 196o's. Huff finds that newspaper pages—obits, stock quotes—with their lines and grids offer a platform for creating the illusion of depth and perspective. Thick gesso near the top interspersed with buttons adds an unstable element to the composition.

"What I also like to go with, a common theme of mine, is the curiosity of children. They have their faces and they are joyous, but they are running down a path into this storm. And maybe they'll come out unscathed on the other side but you don't know," said Huff. This type of collage allows—invites—the viewer to project their own meaning onto it. I saw the juxtaposition of the running children and the yellowing obit page to be a commentary on mortality and the fleeting nature of youth.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Opening for October shows at Silvermine this Sunday, Oct. 19

Silvermine Guild Art Center
1037 Silvermine Rd., New Canaan, (203) 966-9700
Silvermine Guild Arts Center October shows
Oct. 19—Nov. 7, 2008
Opening reception: Sun., Oct. 19, 2—4 p.m.

Press release

Silvermine Guild Arts Center, located in New Canaan will have a special exhibit curated by Benjamin Ortiz on Contemporary Cuban Art in Reflections: Contemporary Cuban Art/Reflexiones: Arte cubano contemporáneo featuring artists living and working inside and outside of Cuba. Also opening is an exhibit featuring contemporary ceramics by Keiko Ashida,Stillness in Movement 2008, and a Juried Guild Group Show Relevant Issues '08. The public is welcomed to the opening reception from 2—4 p.m. on Sun., October 19.

Reflections: Contemporary Cuban Art/Reflexiones: Arte cubano contemporáneo, an exhibition of 27—30 Cuban artists, focuses and reflects on the contribution of Cubans to international contemporary art. These artists have been grouped together around the idea of self-reflection while creating a national identity through their visual aesthetics. They all share a personal and artistic dichotomy, which for those who live and work outside of Cuba encompasses the immigrant experience and their process of assimilation into the American culture while for those who reside and create in the homeland their aspects of self-identity is challenged by socioeconomic and political issues. Together these artists put forward a cohesive visual language, which results in an ever-growing perspective on this duality.

The viewer will encounter a wide range of styles and themes inspired by politics and social issues, historical events and personal narrative, religion and nature, framed around the perception of identity. How each artist addresses the concept of culture within their work varies greatly. It is a constant challenge for Cuban artists to confront the issues of negative stereotypes and prejudice, weighing their past and present reflections in order to shape a new future. Their imagery gives voice to their combined experiences both in Cuba and in the United States. Some of the artists to exhibit include José Bedia, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Ofill Echevarría, Roberto Estopiñán, Roberto Fabelo, Sita Gómez, Victor Gómez, Wifredo Lam, Manuel Mendive (see image) , Ibrahim Miranda, Elsa Mora, Clara Morera, René Peña, Sandra Ramos, Ruby Rubio, Cepero Selgas, Enrique Wong Díaz y "Zes"Luis Olivera León.

According to Ridgefield resident, Benjamin Oritz, "An exhibition like this which is challenging from a curatorial perspective affords me the opportunity as a curator to bring together emerging, mid-career and established visual artists under one roof in the State of Connecticut. As a cultural worker, I feel it is my responsibility to act as a conduit for bringing these artists together. This exhibition not only has the potential to examine cultural barriers and especially those political, and aims at diminishing the isolation imposed by geographical barriers which are often felt by Cuban artists living in both Cuba and in the USA."

Art is not created in an isolated bubble, but quite often is impacted by and responds to the events taking place within contemporary society. Relevant Issues 08 is a Guild group exhibition that pulls together a variety of work which explores topical issues impacting the world today. Juried by Jonathan Weinberg, Ph.D., painter and art historian, he is a 2002 Guggenheim Fellow in art history, and has had artist-in-residencies at the Getty Research Center in Los Angeles in 2002 and the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover in 2006. Weinberg's books include Ambition and Love in American Art and Male Desire: the Homoerotic in American Art. His paintings are in many important private and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and his exhibition of portraits, People was held at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale University in 2007.

Silvermine Guild Artist Keiko Ashido of City Island, NY, has a one-person show of contemporary ceramics that combine various techniques to express what she feels through her main source of inspiration-nature. Stillness in Movement, according to Keiko, "10 different people would have 10 different interpretations of this statement. When one visualizes one's own concept as an artistic creation, this becomes his or her own identity. When I encounter something, I internalize what I felt from it and visualize it. This is my happiest moment."

Ashida is currently a faculty member at the Silvermine School of Art and Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY. Her most recent exhibitions worldwide include Gallery Colon, Tokyo, Japan; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Japanese Gallery Reading Room, NY; Hammond Museum Invitational, North Salem, NY; Japan USA Invitational in Santa Fe, New Mexico: Craft USA 2005 Triennial at Silvermine Guild Arts Center and exhibits at the Clay Art Center in NY. Keiko's work has also been featured in magazines including the cover of Ceramics Technical and in Ceramic Monthly.

More CWOS 2008 meanderings—Westville, West Haven

Before heading to West Haven, I wanted to post one last image from the Westville AIRS, this being (I believe) "Sub-space Biographies" by John Bent (Web; I wrote about a couple of Bent's installations at Artspace this past March), a work of oil on canvas and gouache on adhesive vinyl as the guts of the image spill onto the wall. Artists shouldn't be afraid to spill their guts.
My time in West Haven was only spent at Gilbert Street. I dropped in on Susan Clinard who has a sculpture studio there. (I did a short post on Clinard for last year's CWOS coverage.) Here is Clinard's terra cotta "Open Spaces":
Nancy Eisenfeld, who has recently been working extensively in combining her new interests in found object sculpture with painting and drawing, was showing drawings—yes, just two-dimensional drawings—as her entries in the West Haven AIRS. Eisenfeld told me she was thrilled to be working on them, and her enthusiasm showed in the work. Vigorous, filled with energy, almost as if she's drawing her idea of sculpture as gesture. She is "Speaking a New Language" (ink, charcoal, pencil):In her artist statement in the Artist Directory, Kathryn Sodaitis writes, "I create abstract paintings composed of lines, shapes and dots. Drawn with an imperfect and imprecise hand, these works express systems poised between order and disorder." At the West Haven AIRS, Sodaitis showed an untitled wall installation that straddled the order/disorder divide—a combination of grids and seemingly randonly placed watercolor painting fragments:
Ann Lindbeck's works meshed printmaking and collage. They were architectural, with a sense of depth. There was a deft use in some of watercolor, interpolating the fluid tones with the stronger, dense lines of the etching. Many of these are monoprints. As Lindbeck told me, the monoprints are created from a base plate—for example, an etching—but before it is run through the press, she adds elements that can change the resulting image, whether the variation is color or paper or collage elements.

Grids are something I've been working with a very long time," she told me. "Some of this came out of spending time looking at Japanese architecture." Studying the Japanese architecture, Lindbeck took note of the asymmetries, the use of woven bamboo and the different kinds of woods in making walls.

"I was looking at that and taking it in a different direction once I got into the studio," Lindbeck said. The titles of the owrks relate to parts of a house. The imagery Lindbeck described as "in-between places—not quite inside and not quite outside." This is "Watari 5," a monoprint collage:Of his obsessive, mandala-like ballpoint pen drawings, TPO said, "It's something I've done since high school. It started out with not paying attention in class and doodling in the margins and took off from there."

They have the pulsating energy of Op Art, although TPO said he wasn't familiar with the genre. At any rate, he starts the works off on graph paper, using a straight edge and pencil to work up the design. "After that," he told me, "all the pen is freehand." (When he told another visitor that the thousands of straight lines and circles were drawn freehand, the man just kept repeating, "No, that's impossible.") TPO said the drawings shown in the AIRS comprised a decade's worth of work. "It takes a while."

"I'm an engineer full time," he said. Working on the drawings is a way of clearing his mind, he explained, "but everyone who looks at it, when I say I'm an engineer, say 'that makes sense.'" This kind of digital photograph can't do justice to the detail of his imagery but this is "20,000 and One Lines," so titled because—well, guess:

Opening tonight at Hygienic Art Gallery in New London

Hygienic Art Gallery
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
Universal Memory
Oct. 18—Nov. 15, 2008
Opening reception: Sat., Oct. 18, 7—10 p.m.

Press release

The Hygienic Art Galleries is proud to present the exhibition Universal Memory featuring the fantastic and surrealist paintings of Czech Republic artist/sculptor Boris Jirku, Prague, CZ. painter and actor Katia Jirankova Levanti and Hygienic Co-op resident artist Troy Zaushny. The paintings and prints are inspired by the life experiences and memories of the artists and their visual interpretations in oils, acrylic mediums and multi-layered prints.

There will be an opening reception tonight, Sat. Oct. 18,. 7—10 pm. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by Supercool, a three piece band, led by Daniel Levanti and musicians from Nashville. Together they have performed in clubs and cafes throughout Europe.

Visiting from Prague, Boris Jirku will be holding painting workshops performing his art making techniques and creating "art of the moment" for local artists and interested patrons on Wed., Oct. 22 and Wed., Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Salon des Independents Gallery at Hygienic Art, 79 Bank Street New London.

Katia Jirankova Levanti •
A Czech artist now residing between Waterford and Praque, was born to a Russian mother and Czech father. Her childhood was marked by flights to Moscow to visit her maternal grandmother, a famous actress from Stanislavsky's legendary theater. Though they were cautious not to flaunt their Russian in public, her and her mother, Lena, always felt most at home in their mother tongue. But in Prague the atmosphere was icy. Vaclav Havel was still musing a long way from his presidency of the 90's, and Katia's father's artistic genius was gaining him no friends in the communist ranks. He was a political, satirical cartoonist who was more than once prohibited from working and forced to live off the small income of Lena's translations alone. Some of the most progressive minds in the country would congregate in Katia's childhood home, well aware of the bugs planted in the walls by the secret police, and aware of a privacy relegated solely to thoughts expressed below a whisper amongst themselves, or through the most cunning means (Such as through children's cartoons, which her father also became famous for). These comrades would later become Havel's minister of foreign affairs, another the prime minister, and her father was honored by the president himself as a foremost prominent figure of Czech culture. These were the environs which molded Katia's artistic ambitions and memories. She studied Philosophy and linguistics at Prague's Charles University and Universita per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy and later with the great Boris Jirku, then Professor at the Praque's prestigious Art Conservatory. The meditative, trance-like state from which her work comes is the birth ground of epiphany itself and Katia brings forth her visions of a world even more secretive and unknown than those magical streets of her Prague childhood.

In creating the exhibition, Katia was asked by Hygienic Art to select the most inspiring artist from the Czech Republic. Her choice, Boris Jirku was asked and accepted Hygienic Art's offer to exhibit his works with his fellow colleague. With generous funding from the Griffis Foundation for the transportation of Jirku and his artwork, this local and international art exhibition became a reality.

Boris Jirku constantly engages in drawing, painting, illustration, graphics and sculpture. He shows his works both home and abroad and participated on many corporate exhibitions around the world. His works also reflects memories and experiences of his life and artistry being oppressed by the communist led government. In 1982 he is held in solitary confinement in a small studio in Prague. There he was inspired to illustrate the writings of Gabriel Garcia Márquez. In 1984 Márquez is awarded Nobel Prize for literature. The Odeon publishing house commissioned Boris Jirku to illustrate Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold in short reprieve (the commission was based on Jirku's previous drawings of the novel in the Svetová literature [World Literature] revue). For this artwork, Jirku was awarded first place in the competition for the year's most beautiful book in CSSR. In 1990 he again won the award for most beautiful book in CSSR for Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. The illustrations (together with those of Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude) are today archived in the National Literature Memorial in Prague.

Boris Jirku teaches figure drawing at VSUP. He founded and leads public figure drawing instruction and figure drawing workshops for Palacky University in Olomouc, West Bohemian University in Plzen, College of Restoring Techniques in Litomysl, Masaryk University in Brno and Fachhochschule Mainz. He holds FIGURAMA exhibitions of works of students and educators from nine European universities in galleries and college areas in Leipzig, Znojmo, Brno, Prague, Vienna, Mainz, and Plzen.

Jirku was elected as Chairman of the Academic Senate of the University of Applied Arts in Prague and in 2002 was awarded prizes in the Czech Republic Print of the Year Competition and elevated to master professor of illustration and graphics by Czech Republic President Václav Havel.

Troy Zaushny, one of Hygienic Art Cooperative's newest resident artists, is a professional career artist. Born and raised in rural Connecticut, his initial inclination to art was sparked by album cover art, posters and apocalyptic imagery found in religious propaganda. From his youth Troy chose subject matter from nature—animals primarily—rendering them sometimes photo-realistically, and other times abstracting them into something altogether fantastical. Attending the University of Connecticut, Troy turned his focus towards printmaking, a method he was introduced to in high school, through silk-screening t-shirts. It was the multi-layered approach to image making that drew him to printmaking. At that time, Troy gained and maintained appreciation for artists such as Albrecht Durer, Henri Rousseau, Michelangelo and Jean-Michel Basquiat, though his muse for his own personal imagery came from some thing less conventional.

As a boy, Troy discovered that certain sounds—the babbling of a brook, the drone of bees, or the electrical hum of a transformer—had a transcendental effect on him. In short, those sounds not only gave him an expanded, multi-sensory perception of the world as he knew it, but also extended his visual imagination beyond what he perceived it to be. Troy's attempt to communicate these experiences has been the driving force behind his art works for the past twenty years. During this time he has honed his skill and, more importantly, his process. His technique matches the depth of layers of his imagination so that, finally, the artist seems comfortable with his stride.

In Universal Memory Troy has compiled a body of work that, taken as a whole, well exemplifies the evolution of his creative vision and process. In its assembly he has managed to create, in a fashion, his own retrospective. From early wood and lino-cuts (reflections and interpretations of, then, unexplained imaginings) to his latest realized poly-frescoes, Troy has come full circle, moving from surreal abstracted imagery to more physically realistic natural subject matter; gentle reminders from an older and wiser artist of experiences common to us all, born in the quiet stillness of a natural setting, when we allow ourselves the connection to our individual and collected inspirations.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Call for artists/artist cooperative in Westville this Saturday, Oct. 18

Westville Art Expo 2008
838 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 494-9905
Westville Art Expo 2008
Call for artists: Sat., Oct. 18, 12—2 p.m.

Press release

Westville Art Expo 2008
November-December

Download your application now at WWW.GROUPX20.COM. Submissions will only be reviewed on Oct. 18 unless other arrangements are made in advance.

THE GOAL: To provide a highly visible, affordable retail space for local artists to display and sell their work during the holiday season, Nov. 1—Dec. 31.

BENEFITS:
• Gallery setting with low monthly costs
• No commission to the gallery
• Exposure in high traffic area on the corner of Whalley and West Rock Avenues in New Haven
• 2,500 sq ft space with great visibility
• A presence in the growing Westville Arts District
• Camaraderie with other artists

MEMBERSHIP REQUIRMENTS: Artists must be accepted by our jury panel. For the cooperative to run smoothly each artist must commit to two 6-hour shop keeping shifts per month. A monthly fee of $100 per artist (approx. $1 per square foot!!) plus a deposit of $50 is due upon jury acceptance of the membership.

JURY PROCESS: A panel of local artists will review submissions keeping quality, originality and price point in mind. Objects made from kits, molds or commercial plans will not be accepted. For information on how to submit work for consideration download the application at www.GroupX20.com

SUBMISSIONS: Saturday, October 18
Drop off work between 12—2 pm. Please bring 3—5 examples of the work you would like to sell. Be sure to clearly label each piece with your name, medium (i.e., glass beads, oil on canvas etc), retail price and a $10 submission fee.

Work may be picked up between 3:30 and 5 p.m. on Oct. 18 or between 12—2pm on Sun., Oct. 19 unless other arrangements are made in advance.

For general questions please email, Art@JenniferJaneGallery.com.
***** PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL YOUR SUBMISSION*****

LOCATION: ArLoW
838 Whalley Avenue (corner of West Rock Avenue)
New Haven, CT 06515

SUBMISSIONS WELCOME FROM: photographers, painters, sculptures, jewelry makers, illustrators, print makers and more.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some CWOS images from AIRS Westville

Some shots from the Westville AIRS. Amber Maida's "Fragmented Urbanism II," a mixed media painting on canvas:Phil Lique showed several interesting mixed media found object sculptures. "Shark: American Dream" was constructed from lumber, aluminum, fiberglass resin, canvas, plastic fence, shingles and spackle:This is "Wail," a Michael Shapcott painting executed with acrylic, graphite and oil paint:

Also at the ArLOW building, I enjoyed checking out painter Steve DiGiovanni's newest work. DiGiovanni is moving away from the powerful oils he has been known for—figurative works that hinted at David Lynch-esque narratives—and into more kinetic, acrylic paintings. The newer works rely more on gesture, nods to collage, and layering of imagery. They retain his exceptional feel for the grace of the human form while representing an increasingly fractured consciousness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Opening and inaugural lecture at Ely House Thursday afternoon

John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
YUYANAPAQ: To Remember
Oct. 15—Nov. 16, 2008
Inaugural Lecture & Reception: Thurs., Oct. 16, 4 p.m.

Press release

A compelling look at political violence in Peru between 1980 and 2000, this selection of forty photographs from the exhibition organized by the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2003 sheds light on the human dimensions of a war-torn society. During this period, an estimated 70,000 people were killed or disappeared, and many more were raped, injured, or forced to abandon their homes. For more information and to view the exhibit photos, visit www.yale.edu/macmillan/lais.

There will be an Inaugural Lecture and Reception tomorrow, Oct. 16, at 4 p.m. Narda Henriquez, of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú, will speak on "Peru's Truth and Reconcilliation Commission, The Report and Aftermath." A reception will follow.

On Thurs., Oct. 30, at 4 p.m., Félix Reátegui Carrillo, Coordinator of Research, Instituto de Democracia y Derechos Humanos, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, will lecture on "Memories of Violence in Peru: Truth-seeking, Denial and Victims' Collective Remembering," with a reception to follow.

There will be a closing reception On Sun., Nov. 16, from 2—5 p.m.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, The John Slade Ely House, The Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for International Human Rights, and The Program on Order, Conflict and Violence.

CWOS AIRS Hamden

I approached City-Wide Open Studios differently this year. I wanted to make as many visits to disparate locations as possible so I didn't spend as much time as I like talking with artists. For example, where in the past two years I spent part of both Saturday and Sunday at visiting studios on the Erector Square weekend, this year I had to squeeze Erector Square into two or so hours on Sunday before I went to work.

I started on Friday with the Hamden AIRS, following that with a visit to Westville. There I took in the AIRS as well as other attractions at ArLOW, and the Kehler Liddell Gallery. Saturday started with Westville-a return to the AIRS and over to West Rock Gallery to savor Gar Waterman's sculpture. From there I headed to Gilbert Street in West Haven, checking out the AIRS exhibitions and the sculpture in Susan Clinard's studio. I ended up downtown, visiting the AIRS and Roberto's restaurant, dropping in on Jerry Saladyga, Steve Grossman, Silas Finch and Jo Kremer at 39 Church and detouring down near Cafe Nine to observe the works in progress of "aerosol art," organized (at least, in part) by artist Robert Greenberg. Sunday started with the Fair Haven AIRS and concluded at Erector Square. Whew!

(Before continuing, I want to note a caveat. I couldn't take notes on and write about everybody. The fact that some artists aren't discussed in this post is not because they weren't worthy of attention.)

The Hamden AIRS focused on photography. I spoke about their art and process with Michelle Reynard, Regan Avery, Cara Vickers-Kane and installation artist Greg Garvey. (I spent more time talking with artists at the Hamden AIRS than anywhere else. I quickly realized that would be a recipe for not getting very far in my explorations.)

Reynard was showing medium format color prints, night photography. The series evolved over the last couple of years, she told me. Her images, several of which were shot at the Shoreline Trolley Museum, featured long exposures, rich colors and sharp focus. Reynard is working with film, not digital, and she appreciates the various ways that different emulsions respond to different light situations. Particularly with night photography, she said, there is a large element of the unknown. The end result is a combination of choosing certain materials, estimating exposure time and "alchemy."

"The film does its own magic. You can sort of but never quite predict it," said Reynard. "The wonderful thing about film is that delayed gratification—not looking at the back of the camera to see what you got."

A lot of the scenes, said Reynard, were shot several different times with different kinds of emulsions, some of which have been discontinued in the last several years. Different emulsions work better in different situations. She noted that Kodak Portra is "more buttery." She used it for three of the images from the Trolley Museum. Working with tungsten light, it yielded images bathed in a nostalgic gold glow. I particularly liked an image of one of the libraries at Yale. Shot through big glass windows at night when the first floor was empty, it has a hint if melancholy. But that note is leavened by the appearance on the floor of a paper airplane.

Regan Avery also still uses film and, like Reynard, her images were primarily shot at dusk or in the night. For this "Mirrors" series, Avery planted a 12x12-inch mirror in the sand on the shoreline, facing away from the water. She shoots with a 6x7 medium format but crops the images square to evoke the mirror itself.

"I like perspective changes. It's one of the fun things about this project," said Avery. "It is actually disorienting to see two things at once."

Avery takes time to set up her tableaux, positioning the mirror both so as to catch an interesting reflection behind her and to have that reflection appear out of synch with the rest of the image. Especially compelling is a picture taken on the shore in Rye, New York. The water and sky are a dark night blue and in the upper quarter of the photo there is a double black horizon line (a jetty with a land mass behind it?). The mirror is planted in the sand in the foreground, angled slightly up toward the left of the image. In strong, almost surreal, contrast to the night darkness, it's an image of the nearby amusement park with lights and a ferris wheel.

One print, shot at a beach in Greenwich—Avery said the placidity of Long Island Sound is more conducive to this concept than the more turbulent ocean—features dark sand and the mirror reflecting an overcast light sky and what appears to be a castle in the distance. It is a well-made illusion, a sand castle small and close. Avery told me she had to spend time building it and getting the perspective right.

Cara Vickers-Kane was raised Mormon and taught that human bodies in general—and the female body, in particular—were one's temple and should always be covered up. She left the faith but the fascination with the body has remained. It has been accentuated by a personal history of gaining and losing weight. For her series "Self-Portraits of Your Mother," Vickers-Kane shot nude self-portraits of herself over a 14-month period during which she was losing weight. In all the images, she is posed on a plush couch, often accompanied by her German Shepherd. The dog is a "symbol of domesticity," she told me.

The self-portraits were shot with a medium format film camera. Vickers-Kane also received permission from the University of Connecticut to use a medium format digital camera to shoot 18 daguerreotype frames from the university's special collection. Using a computer, she replaced the antique daguerreotype images with her own portraits. The reference to the past is bolstered by several of the poses, which echo nudes in paintings by Manet, Courbet, Rubens and others. Vickers-Kane told me she "like[s] the point in history where painting split off" from an emphasis on faithful representation, displaced by photography's superior capabilities in that regard.

Greg Garvey's installation was titled "Don't Push Me 'coz I'm close to the edge/I'm trying not to lose my head..." (derived from lyrics of Grandmaster Flash's 1980's rap hit "The Message"). Garvey's forte is creating installations using modern technology that are both thought-provoking and accessible (see here for a post on his 2006 CWOS installation and here for a post on his 2007 installation). For "Don't Push Me," Garvey erected a mini-theater where viewers can look through security peepholes at video loops playing on iMac computers. The loops could be changed by pressing a button mounted on the wall near the peephole. There were 20 loops. Some were nature scenes shot by Garvey with a digital camera on a walk at Hammonassett State Park. The other videos, found on the Internet, consisted of scenes of military mayhem, both real and made in Hollywood. These included the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, footage from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Trinity nuclear test.

Although Garvey's video compilation was non-narrative in nature, he was influenced by Soviet avant garde filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein's theories of montage. It shares with Eisenstein "the principle of juxtaposing two different perspectives or threads of action." Juxtaposition can create new meanings. Here, contemplation of nature is juxtaposed with the existence—in the same temporal plane if different location—of war. At the heart of "Don't Push Me" is a critique of 21st century fragmentation and alienation.

"The shots of nature and contemplation suggests a way of looking that is literally about being in a Zen-like state, about experiencing where there is simply a sense of a continuum," explained Garvey. "And then suddenly you see something that is all about the action and arrow of time and irreversibility of time and implication of death."

The use of the peephole reinforces the metaphor. It is a security mechanism employed, Garvey said, "in the cocoon of the household through which we peer out from behind the safety of the door." The peephole creates a kind of distancing from the parade of alternately peaceful and disturbing scenes. The video, while created with contemporary technology, is playing on slower computers (by about 5-8 years!). This causes the imagery to stream in kind of a slow, herky-jerky way, adding another element of edginess.

Speaking of edginess, Bradley Wollman's The Little War photographs, which previously were shown in Real Art Ways' Real Room, were even stronger in this setting. The eight photographs—recreations by Wollman with toys of scenes from the Iraq War—were hung in two horizontal rows of four each. The gritty nature of the images resonated in the semi-industrial garage space.

Photographer Keith Johnson's (web) images explored elements of texture, shape and color. There were also some visual puns. One triptych, entitled "CMY," depicted a succession of rundown bungalows. One was painted in a soft blue, a second was colored a washed-out yellow and the bungalow on the right was a stark pink.

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Real Art Ways Real Room opening Thursday night

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Tom Fruin: American Landscapes
Oct. 16—Nov. 16, 2008.
Opening reception and Creative Cocktail Hour on Thurs. Oct.16, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

Real Art Ways presents a solo show by Tom Fruin titled American Landscapes in the Real Room on Thursday, October 16. The opening is from 6—8 p.m. and is part of Real Art Ways' monthly Creative Cocktail Hour, a coming together of creative people for conversation, music, and art. Creative Cocktail Hour runs until 10 p.m. Admission to the opening costs $10, $5 for Real Art Ways members. After the opening, admission to the exhibition is free. Fruin's show runs through Sunday, Nov. 16, and Fruin will give an artist talk on Thursday, Oct. 30 in the Real Room at 6 p.m. Real Art Ways is located in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood at 56 Arbor Street.

Tom Fruin uses detritus from the streets and parks of New York City, where he lives, to make provocative art from forgotten objects. Fruin's latest series of wall hangings explores the hidden taboos of American culture and blows them up to something unavoidable and impossible to ignore.

American Landscapes will feature two "monuments" as Fruin calls them: a quilt of sewn together drug bags and a mountain range of Budweiser cans crafted to look like Klansmen. Fruin's creations confront hard to swallow realities of American history, as well as world-wide issues of intolerance and imperialism:

Now that we as a culture are on constant alert for religious terrorists from the middle east, my attention has turned inward to our country's own imperialist beginnings - fostering terrorism in the form of ethnically intolerant Klansmen. I likewise investigate the remnants of life found in inner city housing projects and transform the detritus into a map to reveal underlying truths.
Somehow these realities form the actual substance of Fruin's works without being too apparent. It isn't until one closely scrutinizes that the true material is revealed:

Budweiser cans emblazoned with Klansmen iconography, discarded drug bags resplendent with illicit residue. This "hidden in plain sight" quality allows one to view one's own country as majestic while ignoring the plight of the everyday.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

City-Wide Open Studios: Thanks for inviting me

Having only attended the City-Wide Open Studios once several years ago, and living outside the New Haven art world, I had no idea what a vast and controversial event CWOS had become. I thought I could see it all on Sunday afternoon. Too bad I didn't set aside more time because I'm sure there are a slew of interesting studios and shows that I missed. Since Hank has already written about the politics, I'll simply share some images from Erector Square and AIRS Hamden. Like Hank, I appreciate the Artist Directory (regardless of image quality), and agree that each neighborhood should have its own weekend. In addition to making it possible to see all the studios, spreading several events out over the course of a year would enable artists to visit one another's studios, fostering greater community among the artists themselves. Forget worrying about pleasing the collectors and curators--if they're interested they'll make the effort however the event is organized.


Artists at Hamden AIRS having their gallerina moment.


Overall, I loved the AIRS Hamden space, the installation, and choice of work in the show, which was curated by Clint Jukkala. On the other hand, I can live without the lengthy wall texts explaining each artist's intention. Let viewers come to their own understanding of the work. Standouts included Jessica Schwind's beach scenes which have a lovely bittersweet sensibility. In Bradley Dean Wollman's recreated war scenes (pictured above) the formal elegance made them exquisitely chilling.



Deborah Hesse and her delicate shifting-shadow studies at Erector Square.


A palette at Erector Square. The studios that hadn't been converted to clean, gallery-like spaces gave visitors a sense of the artist's process.


Mark Williams' drawing with lights.


Nathan Lewis(seated) constructs a narrative with an interested visitor.


Recent MFA grad Barbara Marks thinks of her paintings as words in a sentence.


I covet Megan Craig's painting racks.


Morel Morton with her paintings at Erector Square. A recovering chromaphobic myself, I envy her chumminess with color.

I also stopped by Artspace to see CONNcentric, and probably would have liked the exhibition less had I not already been to many of the artists' studios. Seeing their unedited work provided a context for the individual pieces selected for the show.

My two cents: I hope the organizers do it again next year--there's still plenty of work out there I look forward to seeing.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Project Detonate opening at No Regrets Saturday

No Regrets Tattoo Studio
195 Rubber Ave., Naugatuck, (203) 729-3115
Project Detonate: Crooked Way Academey
Opening reception: Sat., Oct. 11, 6-10 p.m.

Press release

Money can buy happiness! If you haven't learned how to earn it the right way, then you might as well learn how to earn it the Crooked Way! That is one of the main principles being taught at the Crooked Way Academy, an underground school dedicated to misguiding impressionable and abandoned youth into believing that everything that glitters is worth stealing! You are cordially invited to the unveiling of this mysterious yet colorful exhibit of fictitious creatures that have been drawn into a world of mischief and corruption. On display will be paintings, giclee prints in customized frames, as well as vinyl toys based on the five main characters. If you have ever been tempted to steal anything from a candy bar to a pair of sneakers, then you are definitely going to enjoy this presentation. For everyone else, join us regardless-you may find yourself leaving with more (or less) than you arrived with!

This is the first solo show for Project Detonate, the artwork of Yosiell Lorenzo. Project Detonate is the idea that art can be a form of explosion when used as a form of expression.

The Opening reception will be held at the No Regrets Tattoos and Art Gallery located at 195 Rubber Avenue, Naugatuck, CT, on Sat., Oct. 11, 2008, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

My thoughts on this year's City-Wide Open Studios

Artspace
50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios 2008

My overall thoughts on this year's City-Wide Open Studios, in brief.

As a preface, I think it's important to note that there is no way of knowing how the economic meltdown caused by three decades of conservative economics impacted attendance. But it couldn't have helped. According to Artspace Executive Director Leslie Shaffer, a key reason for changing the format this year was to "broaden" the audience. Specifically, the hope was to attract curators/collectors from New York and Boston. Needless to say, this didn't turn out to be the best year to attempt that.

First, the things I liked:

• The Artist-In-Residence Sites, or AIRS. While it is arguable whether they really fit into an "open studios" concept, the AIRS each had their own unique identity. I visited each of them and was impressed both with the art being shown and the general success of the curators in finding threads of commonality.

• The Artist Directory. Setting aside the fact that so many artist statements are impenetrable nonsense, the directory is a great resource. (I do think, however, that the image reproduction could have been better. Most of the images printed dark and/or muddy.)

• Seeing the work of artists evolving over the years. A few, in particular, at 39 Church Street: Jerry Saladyga, Steve Grossman (Web) and Silas Finch (Web). Adding complexity without sacrificing their distinctive personal approaches.

Next, my take on what didn't work:

• CONNcentric. Yes, there is a lot of interesting, professional, well-made art being shown at Artspace right now. But as the anchor exhibit of this sprawling event it failed, in my opinion, miserably.

That letdown was experienced the night of the opening. Where previous Open Studios' openings were packed with visitors—creating a palpable sense of excitement befitting an event kickoff—attendance this year was dispiriting. And it's not surprising. Having several hundred artists showing is a surefire recipe for having a big turnout.

Personally, I also found CONNcentric less interesting than previous main exhibits. The layout of the show seems uninspired and haphazard. I missed the pleasure of finding an artwork that I really liked and cross-checking it against the numbered list. (I don’t think the directory was an adequate substitute.) Yes, I know that many artists felt constricted by having to work within the 18x18-inch format. Too bad. I also very much missed the democratic presentation of previous shows.

• Attendance. My impression and anecdotal accounts from artists indicates that attendance was significantly down from previous years.

I believe that the welcoming and inclusive nature of previous CWOS fostered a broad audience for the entire event. Whether by design or not, the changes narrowed participation and probably constricted the audience. Was the work being shown then, on average, of a consistently higher quality? Probably, but I don't see the tradeoff as having been worth it.

I would be interested to hear from any artists who might have been visited by the coveted curator/collector cohort. From the few artists I talked with in which the subject came up, none of them reported being visited by well-heeled out-of-towners.

• One weekend. Way too little time.

• No alternative space. Perhaps there wasn't an appropriate venue available. No doubt the alternative spaces are logistical nightmares to organize. But they have been major attractions. (Again, I return to the notion that weeding out many artists hurt attendance as well as impacted the democratic nature of the event.)

As always, please feel free to comment. If you are a "local studio" artist, did the changes work out better for the you? Anybody meet any New Yorkers/Bostonians? How do folks feel about CONNcentric as compared to previous main exhibits? Is this the end of CWOS?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Artist's reception for Ken Hanson's Himalayas photos Friday evening

The Picture Framer’s Artshack Gallery
96 Elm St., Cheshire, (203) 272-2500
Kenneth Hanson: Photographs of the Himalayas
Through Oct. 31, 2008
Artist reception & book Signing: Fri., Oct. 10, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

During the month of October, the Picture Framer’s Artshack Gallery will feature the photographs of Kenneth Hanson. Photos on exhibit will be of his journeys to the Himalayas. (I wrote a profile of Ken Hanson for this month's The Arts Paper, published by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. It is available online here. —HH)

“The Himalayas are emblem of the ultimate challenge and the ultimate passage between life and death. As such, they deserve our serious attention.” says Kenneth Hanson, who for two decades has been taking his sturdy view camera to the Himalayas and making dramatic black-and-white prints from his 4x5 negatives. His trips range from the Karakoram in Pakistan (K2 region) to Kangchenjunga in eastern Nepal. They include the hidden realm of Dolpo in Nepal and the approach to Everest from both Tibet and Nepal.

In addition to his pictures, the exhibit will feature his just published book of black and white photographs Himalayan Portfolios: Journeys of the Imagination. The book (11x13.5 inches) consists of over 100 duotone black-and-white photographs and an interpretive essay. The photographs include a fold-out panorama of the Biafo Glacier (11 x 46 inches.) A foreword has been provided by Greg Mortenson, alpinist and humanitarian, co-author of the New York Times bestseller, Three Cups of Tea.

Prior to 1991 Kenneth Hanson was senior research biochemist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. He resides in Orange.

The exhibit will run through the month of October. An artist reception and book signing is planned for Fri., Oct. 10, from 6—8. The book designer and editor, Gail and Charles Fields, will also be present. This reception is free and open to the public.

The Picture Framer is located at 96 Elm Street in Cheshire behind the Town Hall and adjacent to the Watch Factory Shoppes. For more information and gallery hours, call (203) 272-2500.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

City-Wide Open Studios open thread:feel free to comment

I hope to write a bit about City-Wide Open Studios in the upcoming days (my main computer is still in the shop). But in the meantime, I encourage any readers to add your comments. What did you think of this year's Open Studios? If you are an artist who has participated in the past, how do you think it compared? With such substantive changes in the format, it would be interesting to know what people think of this experiment.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

City Gallery Line-Up to run concurrently with Open Studios

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Line-Up
Oct. 3—26, 2008 (with special extended hours City-Wide Open Studios' weekend)
Closing reception: Sun., Oct. 26, 2008, 2—5 p.m.

Press release

City Gallery is pleased to present Line-Up, a mixed media exhibit, by gallery members.
The exhibit is planned to run concurrently with City Wide Open Studios. The hours will be: Fri., Oct. 3, 12—8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 4, 12—8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 5, 12—5 p.m. The Closing Reception is Sun., Oct. 26, 2—5 p.m. Free.

The artists are working in all kinds of media: painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and each is responding to ideas about line.

The artists presenting are: Judy Atlas, Orange; Meg Bloom, New Haven; Phyllis Crowley, New Haven; Jennifer Davies, Branford; Nancy Eisenfeld, North Haven; Freddi Elton, Woodbridge; Barbara Harder, New Haven; Jane Harris, Madison; Sheila Kaczmarek, Guilford; Mary Lesser (see image), New Haven; Deborah McDuff, New Haven; Liz Pagano, New Haven; Jefri Ruchti, Guilford.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Computer problems strike; & a response to Stephen Kobasa

I have gotten quite a few emails with announcements about this weekend's events. Unfortunately, my main computer chose this past Saturday to go on the fritz (screen went black: very Goth). It's in the shop.

Operating with my son's significantly slower eight year old iMac, I just can't post all the announcements as I would like. My apologies.

I did want to take just a moment to respond to Stephen Vincent Kobasa's article "Open and Shut It: A case against artists who sulk" from the Sept. 11, 2008 issue of the New Haven Advocate. I have to dissent from a couple of points made by Stephen (a friend and someone whose writings on art I much admire).

Stephen takes local artists to task—and, I suppose, myself, also—for taking a critical stance re the changes in City-Wide Open Studios. I've written on this question here and here and posted an interview in two parts with Artspace Executive Director Leslie Shaffer and Communications Director Jemma Williams here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

Stephen writes:

Since I have previously made clear in print my preference that the event should be abolished entirely, my willingness to grant the benefit of the doubt to the upcoming experiment with its form should be at least matched by those at the other end of the spectrum who want it enshrined without change. Even its most uncritical supporters would admit—or should admit—that it had evolved into a high-end flea market, flabby and unfocused.

Much of the ire apparently focuses on two juried exhibitions that will be included in the weekend's schedule. There is no point in lingering over the question as to whether those who claim that the process was somehow prejudiced would have made the same claim had they been chosen rather than rejected. In any case, one cannot have it both ways, to have Artspace grant its imprimatur, but not be able to render judgment.

The crucial point is that Artspace is not the only source of legitimacy for who makes art in this community. Why should artists depend on the gallery for a space when they could invent one? The neighborhoods that are the focus of the weekend are well-mapped.

Where are the guerilla galleries: Carts of serigraphs hauled down the sidewalk, sculpture sold from a van or out of a car's trunk, doors open to studio spaces that are not listed on the printed schedule?

I find the idea that hauling serigraphs out onto the sidewalk to be anything akin to a substitute for participation in a high profile art festival a little puzzling. Guerrilla galleries are a nice idea; they are to be encouraged. But that's like saying that writers and readers shouldn't complain when local papers like the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Advocate downsize, cutting staff and content. After all, the writers can take some chalk and write their articles on the nearest brick wall. They can put out their own mimeographed paper. "Why don't we do it in the road?" is unduly dismissive towards real concerns about what appear to be substantive changes to a cherished event (if not by Stephen).

I—and I am not alone—haven't seen the unfocused nature of CWOS as a drawback. It was one of the event's strengths.

A final, and perhaps the most important, point: the relationship between Artspace and City-Wide Open Studios and its participants has not been a one-sided one. It hasn't been Artspace all give, CWOS all take. Having followed CWOS since its inception, I say with some confidence that Artspace's sponsorship of CWOS has been a tremendous boon for Artspace. Without the inclusiveness of CWOS and the excitement it created, I don't believe Artspace would have thrived and grown as it has. Artspce would not now be occupying that choice piece of real estate on the corner of Crown and Orange if not for CWOS.

Not bad for a flabby, unfocused flea market.

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City-Wide Open Studios opens Thursday night, fills the weekend

Artspace
50 Orange St., New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios
Oct. 2—5, 2008

Press release

City-Wide Open Studios is a program of Artspace, a Connecticut non-profit organization presenting local and national visual art, providing access, excellence and education for the benefit of the public and the arts community.

City-Wide Open Studios celebrates contemporary art in all its myriad forms, and is undoubtedly Connecticut’s leading visual arts festival. Art dealers and curators from the region and beyond have used CWOS as a resource to discover new artists, plan upcoming shows, and buy art. One of the largest Open Studios programs in the country, CWOS unites hundreds of local artists with the Greater New Haven community.

The 2008 CWOS partners with five Greater New Haven neighborhoods: Westville, Fair Haven, Downtown, Hamden/Newhallville and West Haven. Our goal is to empower neighborhoods by uniting artists working in these neighborhoods with the local community and businesses. We welcome artists from outside New Haven to also engage with these communities by activating temporary studio spaces. Visitors to CWOS are invited to explore these neighborhoods where they will find art in new and unusual spaces; discover local businesses and restaurants; and join guided walking, bike and bus tours connecting all satellite neighborhoods with the festival hub at Artspace.

Artist Studios • One of the country’s largest concentrations of professional artists is right here in the Greater New Haven region. Hundreds of artists across the city of New Haven, and in the nearby towns of West Haven and Hamden will open their private art studios to the public. Also featured are a number of artists working in temporary studio spaces in local businesses, vacant spaces and in fellow artist’s studios. See the October 2, 2008 issue of the New Haven Advocate for the Official 2008 CWOS Map & Guide containing studio addresses and maps.

2008 City-Wide Open Studios Festival Calendar:

October 2 • 5–8 p.m.: CONNcentric Preview Reception and Festival Kick-off at Artspace

October 3 • 4–8 p.m.: Studios and Special Exhibitions Open

October 4 • 12–8 p.m.: Studios and Special Exhibitions Open

October 5 • 12–8 p.m.: Studios and Special Exhibitions Open

GETTING AROUND:

Getting around the 2008 City-Wide Open Studios is simple. Artspace serves as the hub for the 2008 CWOS and offers many transportation options. Participate in an expert-led bus, bike or walking tour, travel from each AIRS site and neighborhood by shuttle or in your own car. To prepare for your visit, The New Haven Advocate provides a special CWOS section, the Official 2008 CWOS Map and Guide. The Map & Guide lists the participating artists with their studio location, exhibition site locations, and maps of each neighborhood with shuttle routes marked. Additional detailed information, as well as studio locations, maps, tour and event schedules will be available from the City-Wide Open Studios website by September 24, 2008.

SHUTTLE BUSES (SATURDAY / SUNDAY) • FREE Shuttles run back and forth between each site (Hamden, Fair Haven, West Haven, and Westville) and Artspace, coming back to Artspace on the hour. Donations Suggested.

Saturday, October 4 Shuttle runs from Artspace to each Artist-in-Residence Site starting at 2 pm and running until 7 pm.

Sunday, October 5 Shuttle runs from Artspace to each Artist in Residence Site starting at 12 pm and run until 7 pm.

GUIDED BUS TOURS • Friday, October 3 • Bus Tour, Tour meets at Artspace at 4:30 pm. Departs for Downtown and East Rock Studios at 5:00 pm. FEE: $5

Saturday, October 4 • Bus Tour, Tour meets at Artspace at 12 pm. Departs for Westville, West Haven, and Hamden at 12:30 pm. FEE: $5

Sunday, October 5 • Bus Tour Tour meets at Artspace at 12 pm. Departs for Downtown and Fair Haven at 12:30 pm. FEE: $5

GUIDED BIKE TOURS • Saturday, October 4 • Bike Tour. Tour meets at Artspace at 12:00 pm. Departs for Downtown and Fair Haven studios at 12:30 pm. 8 miles round trip from Artspace.

Sunday, October 5 • Bike Tour. Tour meets at Artspace at 12:00 pm. Departs for Downtown, West Haven, and Westville studios at 12:30 pm. 14 miles round trip from Artspace.

NOTE: Helmets, water, and spare tubes recommended. Rides are slow paced and fairly easy. Donations Suggested.

SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS:

The 2008 CWOS introduces the Artist-in-Residence program and CONNcentric, two new and exciting exhibition programs planned alongside the Festival.

CONNcentric is an exhibition showcasing exemplary work by City-Wide Open Studios registrants Connecticut artists, represented by 1–2 artworks each participating in the 2008 CWOS program. The exhibition will be presented in the Artspace gallery at 50 Orange Street in the Ninth Square Downtown neighborhood of New Haven. Each selected artist will be represented by 1—2 artworks.

ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE • An Artist-in-Residence (AIRS) exhibition will be centered in each of the five key neighborhoods: Downtown, Westville, Fair Haven, Hamden/Newhallville and West Haven, occupying vacant buildings or storefront spaces. These five thematic exhibitions showcase the work of 10—15 artists, and are each curated by a distinguished team of jurors—a commercial gallerist and a local university art faculty member. Artists who participate in this program are encouraged to present new work.

AIRS: DOWNTOWN • 122 Court Street (between Orange and State Streets)

AIRS: WESTVILLE • 838 Whalley Street (at corner of West Rock Avenue)

AIRS: FAIR HAVEN • 278 Grand Avenue (between Blatchley and Poplar Streets)

AIRS: WEST HAVEN • 14 Gilbert Street (off Orange Avenue)

AIRS: HAMDEN • 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 6A (off Dixwell Ave across from Hamden High School)