Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Creative Arts Workshop exhibition showcases talented faculty

Creative Arts Workshop Hilles Gallery
80 Audubon St., New Haven, (203) 562-4927
Faculty Show
Through June 26, 2009

On thing that struck me as I wandered through the second floor of the two-floor Hilles Gallery at Creative Arts Workshop, checking out the Faculty Show, is the seductive energy of the gesture. It isn't that there were gestural drawings. Rather, there were a number of works in which the physical dynamism of the approach—or the appearance thereof—is reflected in a compelling liveliness of expression. This gestural current is present in Kelley Kapp's "Mad Plaid," a two-panel monochromatic acrylic on canvas. There's something about Kapp's doodle-like profusion of brush strokes that invites closer inspection.

A sense of fervent commotion also animates Julie Rogoff's "Through the Trees," an oil painting and abstraction. The pastel hues in "Through the Trees" capture the sense of sunlight coursing through the forest canopy. Her "Chomping at the Edge, CT River" relies on a darker palette but still conveys the feel of gestural motion.

This energy is present in Dorothy Powers' "Round Again," collaged and enlarged photocopies of a drawing of objects that look like balls of string. Nancy Eisenfeld's "Vortex," ink on paper, weds sweeps of pen lines with what appears to be stamps of abstract natural forms. Again, whether Eisenfeld approached the execution of "Vortex" in a gestural manner, the drawing pulses with visual energy.

Some works convey this sense of motion and urgency even though the act of creation was likely meticulous, even painstaking. Connie Pfeiffer's "Opening" is a steel wire wall sculpture in which two vertical, parallel lines anchor a chaotic profusion of horizontal threads. It is like a 3-D drawing in black and white. There is also motion captured in the sculptures of David Millen and Susan Clinard—figures poised in one-legged balance.

The exhibition showcases the breadth of media in which CAW's artist/teachers work. One example is the trio of sculptures by Jeannie Thomma. Thomma's poles are wrapped and decorated with felted wool and mixed media—thread, lace, sequins, ribbon. Thomma uses the characteristics of all materials at her disposal—the colors, textures and surfaces—to create complex, visually engaging works.

Downstairs, I loved the contrast between Steven R. DiGiovanni's "Untitled" acrylic on canvas and Josh Gaetjen's "Story and Play II." Lines and form are important for both painters. But where Gaetjen's urban landscape is concerned with accurately replicating architectural perspective and the play of light and shadows, DiGiovanni bends and warps his geometric shapes. He turns space inside out, painting a funhouse mirror of his imagination. Both large works satisfy in their very different ways (although both painters share a command of their craft.)

A short review like this can't do justice to this show. Suffice to say, Creative Arts Workshop is a treasure trove of talent and a real jewel for New Haven.

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