Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

East Neighborhood: Howard Fussiner

City-Wide Open Studios
50 Orange St., New Haven, (203) 772-2709
East Neighborhood: Howard Fussiner
Oct. 22, 2006.

There are paintings everywhere in Howard Fussiner's third floor studio in his home in New Haven's East Rock section. Oil paintings on wooden stretchers. Acrylic paintings on paper in piles. Another work in progress on the easel. And, he pointed out with evident pride, in two books that came out this year. A profile of Fussiner, accompanied by reproductions of three paintings, was published in Artists Next Door: A Great City's Creative Spirit. His acrylic on paper painting, "Flye Point, Brooklin, Maine," was included in Paintings of Maine.

The landscape of Maine has been a source of inspiration to Fussiner for more than four decades.

"I've been going up to Deer Isle since 1962," he told me. "We have 74 acres. We used to have an outhouse but after five years we put in a bathroom."

I looked through the pile of acrylic paintings on heavy paper. They were paintings of Penobscot Bay, Fussiner said. "Sunset, Maine Coast," painted last year, was stunningly beautiful. There is one pine tree to the left and a thin turquoise stream of water in the middle foreground. Another larger body of water is visible in the distance. Boulders are settled into the earth and smears of blue and rust red color the twilight sky. I asked him about his evident attraction to rock forms.

"They're sort of elemental. I work with rocks, trees, sky and water, the most elemental kind of landscape," Fussiner said.

He used to paint with oils on canvas. He would work outdoors and put his big paintings on top of his car to transport them. But he is over 80 now. To avoid the hassle, he switched to working largely with acrylics and from photographs. Along with landscapes, Fussiner also paints a lot of parade scenes. These are more playful than the landscapes, having almost a naïve folk art quality. In one, "A Memory of Parades (Deer Isle)," one spectator holds a camera in front of his face. It is Fussiner portraying himself taking pictures.

He opened a book of photographs from the years 2003-2005. He showed me page after page of shots taken at parades. In one, a young man stands posed with his adopted greyhound. The greyhound, Fussiner said, appears in some of his paintings.

His artistic philosophy is summed up in this quote from Artists Next Door:

In my work, I usually invoke the spirit of joy and celebration. At times I've spoken in a darker minor mode. Since life and art are a combination of joy and sadness, I choose mostly to be on the side of joy, and the work is weighted that way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time has come to honor Howard as the great late painter from Deer Isle---my friend to the end. I will miss him. But we are all going the way of all flesh. I hope to do him an honor sooner than later. In short, Howard Fussiner as this bio does not state has very recently passed on.


8:25 PM


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