Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

West Neighborhood: West Rock Avenue

City-Wide Open Studios
50 Orange St., New Haven, (203) 772-2709
West Neighborhood: West Rock Avenue: Gar Waterman, Frank Bruckmann & Muffy Pendergrast
Oct. 21, 2006.

When I stopped in at Gar Waterman's home/studio on West Rock Avenue he was cradling in his arms "my finest figurative work to date." He was referring to Geffen, his almost two-year-old son, who was obviously awakening from a nap (and, just as obviously, a collaborative work with wife Thea Buxbaum).

The front room was colorful with Geffen's toddler toys and also doubled as something of a gallery for Waterman's sculptures. These included graceful marble and onyx sculptures of seed and bone forms as well as his wild "insect architectural" pieces constructed from castoff metal machine parts.

Waterman graciously escorted me back to his workspace to tell me about a project he is working on, all the while juggling requests from Geffen for mango slices.

"The coolest thing I've got going is a cast glass piece for a hedge fund. I've never worked with cast glass before but it's a very cool medium," said Waterman. Using a water jet, he cut anodized aluminum into the shape of the hedge fund's logo. Two glass discs will sandwich the logo with everything held together by machined aluminum rings. The disc shapes "are based on Chinese bi discs," Waterman told me.

"They were Neolithic forms. The whole in the center symbolizes the pole star around which heavenly bodies rotate," explained Waterman.

Exiting Waterman's studio, I ran into a swarm of bicyclists. It was the Open Studios tour group led by Matt Feiner on a bike with one of the biggest front wheels I have ever seen. It was a fine day to be out and they had been to Daggett Street in the Hill band West Cove Studio and Gilbert Street in West Haven.

For my part, I was just diagonally crossing the street to visit with painters Frank Bruckmann and Muffy Pendergrast. They had moved onto the street about eight years ago at the urging of Waterman and Buxbaum. Bruckmann's studio is in a converted garage behind the house. Muffy Pendergrast, his wife, uses the third floor of their house.

I asked Bruckmann how his traffic had been.

"This year they did a good job on Open Studios, thinking how to get people to go to different areas. I've had a few people in today, which is nice," he said.

In the meantime,the bicyclists group had arrived at Bruckmann's studio and Matt Feiner offered some advice.

"Self-promotion is important, giving out cards," he said. He handed a card to Bruckmann for an installation he is doing this coming weekend at the Alternative Space. The Alternative Space this year is in the former Hamden Middle School; Feiner's installation will be in the nurse's office. The card was a facsimile of a hall pass.

The walls of the garage were covered with Bruckmann's oil on linen landscapes. He works mostly from life. "Clocktower," a larger work of a scene overlooking a corner of the New Haven Green, was started in an office space in the New Alliance Bank building. Bruckmann then brought it home and completed it by referring to photographs and a smaller painting he had done.

"It's just like going to work. You have an office space. During the winter, a number of artists are allowed to use it. It's great because there are a number of changing views," said Bruckmann. A visitor expressed surprise that there were parking spaces on top of one of the buildings in the painting.

"I added those. I kind of changed things around a little bit," said Bruckmann. "I have my artistic license. I'll show it to you."

Muffy Pendergrast uses her artistic license to produce child-safe acrylic paintings. She and her husband had opened up the top floor of the house to make a small loft-like studio space. It was a cheery room with lots of natural light. There were myriad paintings, all of them characterized by bright colors and simple forms—animals, spaceships and dinosaurs. Some included the appropriate upper case and lower case first letter of the animal pictured. Pendergrast also had socks and t-shirts designed with her distinctive imagery for sale.

She started this work shortly before her son, who is now six years old, was born.

"I wanted to do something I could make and sell," Pendergrast said. "I wanted to stay home and be with my son so the whole idea of art for kids came up."


Post a Comment

<< Home