Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Upcoming openings

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Donald Axleroad: The Allegory of Myth and the Modern Mess
Apr. 21—May 26, 2007.

Artist Reception: Sat., Apr. 28, 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Press release

"Myths recount the exploits of the gods of the glimmering civilizations of Greece and Rome, stirring emotions and stimulating creative expression. Myths as allegory intimate the full range of human failings, temptations, sins and virtues in intriguing, larger-than-life stories which have inspired such artists, composers, and choreographers as Raphael, Pousson, Picasso, Gluck, Debussy, and Nijinski," says artist Donald Axelroad.

"In our increasingly binary world—filled with terrorism, genocide, and disease—a resurgence of mythology, celebrating the intersection of human and the divine, has recently been embraced, retelling stories which become more relevant and revealing than ever," he says.

Donald Axleroad, a graduate of Pratt Institute, and a student of Phillip Guston, Richard Linder, and Antonio Frasconi, works the intricate techniques of wood engraving and printing. He weaves together fanciful stories that are cruel, ironic, funny, violent, or tragic. His woodcuts convey a means of escapism and discovery, creating a tapestry rich in imagery and imagination.

Mr. Axleroad's work has been exhibited in national print shows, such as at the Boston Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum, and in a UN sponsored traveling exhibit of 100 American Printmakers. He is an elected artist member of the Society of American Graphic Artists, The Salmagundi Club, Silvermine Art Guild, Art Place Gallery, the Kent Art Association, and the Rowayton Art Association. He has won numerous awards and is represented in many private and public collections.


John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
Annual Greater New Haven Area High School Art Exhibition and Portfolio Competition
Apr. 18—29, 2007.

Reception: Sun., Apr. 29, 2—4 p.m. Awards ceremony at 3 p.m.

Press release

The John Slade Ely House Annual Greater New Haven Area High School Art
Exhibition and Portfolio Competition includes work from public and private schools in New Haven, Hamden, East Haven, West Haven, North Haven, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, Woodbridge, Guilford, Madison and Wallingford.

There will be a reception for the artists this Sunday and an awards ceremony at 3 p.m.

Also: Art from the Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet High School.


Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University
238 Washington Ter., Middletown, (860) 685-3355
The Faculty Show
Apr. 28—May 27, 2007.

Opening reception: Tues., May 1, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

The Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University proudly presents The Faculty Show, an exhibition that showcases the work of ten studio art faculty in Wesleyan's Art and Art History Department. The first of its kind in more than a decade, the exhibition includes the work of John Frazer, Elijah Huge, Jeffrey Schiff, David Schorr, J. Seeley, Keiji Shinohara, John Slepian, Leslie Snipes, Tula Telfair and Kate TenEyck. Curated by Nina Felshin, The Faculty Show will be on view from Sat., Apr. 28 through Sun., May 27.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception on Tues., May 1 from 5—7 p.m. with a faculty talk at 5:30.

Beyond being employed by the same university, the artists in The Faculty Show could not be more different from each other. Not only do they represent a broad spectrum of stylistic and conceptual concerns, they range widely in age and are at various stages of their teaching and artistic careers. The length of their tenure at Wesleyan also varies enormously. The now retired but still part-time teaching John Frazer, for example, began in 1959 whereas Elijah Huge who teaches architecture taught his first course last semester.

"Outside the Frame: Teaching Art in a World of Porous Boundaries," a seminar related to the exhibition, is scheduled for Sat., May 26 at 3 p.m. in Zilkha Gallery on the occasion of commencement weekend. As in other academic disciplines, the boundaries of art have expanded and, increasingly, art is not sharply defined by medium as it once was. How has the evolution of art itself influenced the teaching of art in an undergraduate program such as Wesleyan's? How does a professor's own work influence his/her teaching? How do they prepare their students for life in the art world? These and other questions will be addressed in this seminar, moderated by Zilkha's Curator of Exhibitions Nina Felshin. Panelists include Sidney Russell '07, David Schorr and Kate TenEyck.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hair-raising portraiture

Charter Oak Cultural Center
21 Charter Oak Ave., Hartford, (860) 249-1207
Sam McKinniss: Portraits
Feb. 1—Apr. 27, 2007

Sam McKinniss' small show in the conference room of the Charter Oak Cultural Center is comprised of a mix of small studies based on works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard and larger portraits of contemporary celebrity icons.

The "After Fragonard" series are akin to gestural portraits—quick paint sketches on empty backgrounds with a flurry of decorative brushwork. This seems to be his signature. Where the features of his subjects are rendered with a classicist's attention to detail, McKinniss lets himself go when it comes to the hair. He teases out the naturalism until it explodes in a dayglo fracas of split ends, Carmen Miranda on acid. (The one exception is "After Fragonard 5," based on Fragonard's "Cephalus and Procris," in which McKinniss paints two complete figures and expends his abstract energies in the background.)

McKinniss has a facility for rendering recognizable facial characteristics. Because his subjects already have media visibility that transcends workaday naturalism, it is somehow not odd to see whirling abstraction overtake their hairdos. In a sense these "electric flourishes of expressionistic brushwork," as he describes them in his artist statement, are symbolic of the starmaking machine: the abstraction created when a real individual is transformed into an image or an icon.

The most effective paintings in this show are the ones that McKinniss clearly spent the most time with. These portraits of Dolly Parton, Beyonce Knowles, Arethra Franklin and Diana Ross have colored backgrounds and more fully realized compositions.

It will be interesting to see where McKinniss goes with all this. Deeper into a classicism or, conversely, more fully with abstraction? I'd like to see him try and merge these approaches into narrative paintings and see what develops. At any rate, he is clearly a young artist with a lot of potential.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Grand Projects opening this Saturday

Grand Projects
61 Lyon Street, New Haven, (203) 415-4605
Sonata for Scavengers
Apr. 14—May 6, 2007
Opening Reception: Sat., Apr. 14, 7—9 p.m.

Press release

Grand Projects is pleased to present a video installation, Sonata for Scavengers by Jee-Eun Kim.

Inspired by the aesthetics of Korean nouveau riche domestic spaces, the exhibition space is converted into a parlour room with a mishmash of household furniture and accessories, housing a video work about a janitor who has an ambiguous past. The video piece, “Janitor,” (2007) is a 27-minute video about a story of a Korean woman who works alternate shifts as a janitor between the National History Museum in Seoul and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Jee-Eun Kim is a Korean artist based in Malmo, Sweden.

The gallery is open Sundays 1—5 p.m. and by appointment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Memories are made of this

ALL Arts & Literature Laboratory
Erector Square, 319 Peck St. Building 2, New Haven, (203) 671-5175
Random Access Memory: Colleen Tully and Liz Pagano
Mar. 31—Apr. 29, 2007.

There is something in the cultural moment that is making the concept of "memory" such fertile terrain for artists' explorations. Is it pessimism about the future? Concern that looking ahead is a dive into the dystopic bleakness? (Seen the film Children of Men?) Is fear of the future the impetus for this exploration of the past, this ransacking of the aesthetic intellectual attic? Is there security in memories that an uncertain future doesn't offer? (Which is not to ignore the fact that for some or many, memories are the focal point of terror, hurt and loss.)

Whatever the reason, these days Remembrance of Things Past trumps The Shape of Things to Come.

In the ALL Gallery show Random Access Memory, Liz Pagano and Colleen Tully process the concept of memory in different but not unrelated ways.

Tully proceeds from the physical artifacts of particular memories—old photographs, maps—into abstraction. Specifically, she takes images and scans them into a computer. The scanned images are manipulated: ratcheting up the color saturation, applying halftone dot screen effects and then enlarging the dots. Tully prints out these images on transparent Mylar, layering them against each other in a way that hints at representation while frustrating it.

The photomechanical process that usually serves to make relationships of tone, shadow and contour readable and reproducible is here subverted. What we read is the inner workings of the image. As Tully describes it in her artist's statement, "It was as if I was looking at the molecules of a memory under a microscope and finding links to other memories and new (or long-forgotten) emotions."

In some of these works, Tully adds a hand-drawn element, using a Sharpie marker on the Mylar to sketch circles in pathways or arrays. These drawn shapes echo the digitally printed imagery but also contrast with it. They impose the chaos of human action on the (seemingly) inexorable logic of the machine.

In all her works, the relationship of elements is paramount. The triptych "Delicate City" may have had its genesis in a scanned image of Tully's native New Orleans. But what catches the eye is the way clusters of translucent dots intersect and interact. Serpentine paths of black twist and turn through the three panels. Clearings open and then are enclosed again. Darker dots overlap lighter dots, generating penumbras, eyeballs and stars.

The abstraction is lighter in "Purple Banana Seat Bicycle, 1968." There is a dance in the play of dots that evokes Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein's comic book swipes sans the black lines.

Where Tully works outward from memories to abstraction, Pagano works from abstraction to memories. A printmaker, Pagano has a couple of collaged works on paper in this show. But most of her pieces layer glass and Plexiglass marked with ink, paint and scratches. There is a plethora of nature-derived forms in this imagery. In part this is because Pagano is deliberately making marks inspired by natural forms, for example, wood grain. But it is also because materials like ink on glass behave in a, well, natural way-spreading, congealing, crystallizing.

In constructing her compositions, Pagano, like Tully, layers elements. In these unrelated abstractions, Pagano may then see a relationship. And that relationship is a memory.

These are then, in some sense, triggers of memory. In particular, a series of small works along one wall—"Home," "River," "Uncas Road," "Ice Storm of '73" and the evocatively titled "Swing Set and Skunk Cabbage"—are, for Pagano, visual touchstones connecting her to childhood memories.

Particularly compelling are two large works by Pagano—"Memory Catcher (That Was Then)" and "Memory Catcher (Before Then)." These are assemblages composed inside double-framed windows. They incorporate suminigashi printmaking technique, monotype, etched Plexiglass, string and nails to create 3-D maps of place, topography, time and emotion. In these pieces, memory is understandable as process and interaction, with depth, complexity and mystery.

It is fitting that although Pagano's and Tully's processes are almost mirror images, they both employ overlay techniques to achieve their ends. Memories, overlays: it makes sense. Form suited to content. Memories are always contextual with overlays of backstory experiences prior to the event and situating experiences subsequent.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

ALL Arts & Literature Laboratory
Erector Square, 319 Peck St. Building 2, New Haven, (203) 671-5175
Random Access Memory: Colleen Tully and Liz Pagano
Mar. 31—Apr. 29, 2007.
Artists’ Reception: Sat., Apr. 7, 4–6 p.m.

Press release

Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL), is proud to present a two-person exhibition of recent work by Liz Pagano and Colleen Tully, both of New Haven. In this show, each artist deals with the vagaries of memory, in very different ways and using different media.

For Pagano the mind is a tireless loop, constantly processing patterns of memory and thought. Not unlike the flickering view from a window of a fast moving train (disjointed yet fluid), it is the processing of memory or remembering and what triggers the remembering (a smell or a certain quality of light) that provide the focus for her work in this show. Pagano is a printmaker by nature who uses mostly traditional materials in non-traditional ways. They include the usual suspects of ink and paper; also, she combines wood, layers of Plexiglas and wax, creating images dreamlike in appearance, revealing moments and memories captured.

In a computer, Random Access Memory (RAM) allows data to be accessed in any order and returned instantly, regardless of its physical location. Tully's work addresses a similar instantaneous return of (human) memory, haphazard and impetuous. Once activated, Tully explores her memories in minute detail, if worth keeping (or storing); she blows-up, delves behind, and explores the interstices of the tangible in hopes of accessing the intangible. Tully is a painter who uses computer technology freely in her work; as well as mixed media, including watercolors, markers, Mylar, and digitally manipulated images (childhood Polaroids, and maps to cemetery diagrams) printed on transparent film and layered on Plexiglas and/or paper.

There will be an artist’s reception at the gallery this Saturday from 4—6 p.m.

Photo opening Green Street Art Center Thursday

Green Street Art Center
51 Green St., Middletown, (860) 685-7871
Ben Rowland: Istanbul
Apr. 6—May 25, 2007.
Opening reception, Fri., Apr. 6, 7:30—8 p.m.

Press release

The Green Street Arts Center presents Ben Rowland: Istanbul, a photography exhibition in the Forest City Gallery (606 Main Street in Middletown, CT). The public art gallery, located in a large storefront window, is visible to pedestrians and also to Main Street drivers. Rowland's exhibition features 20" x 30" images of street life captured during a recent trip to Istanbul, Turkey. The exhibition runs from Friday, April 6 through Friday, May 25. Admission is free. For more information call 860-685-7871.

A reception will take place on Friday, April 6 from 7:30—8 at the Green Street Arts Center, directly preceding the monthly open mic night, Green Speak. The reception is free; admission to open mic is $5.

Green Street is currently seeking artists and volunteers to help with its Exhibitions Task Force. Anyone who is interested may come to the open meeting on Thursday, April 5 at 6:30pm. The Green Street Arts Center is located at 51 Green Street, in Middletown, CT. For more information, or reservations call 860-685-7871 or visit

The Green Street Arts Center, which opened in January 2005, is an initiative of Wesleyan University developed in collaboration with the City of Middletown and the North End Action Team to provide an anchor for the revitalization efforts already underway in the North End. Programming in the former schoolhouse at 51 Green Street includes a vibrant after school program and a wide range of affordable classes and workshops for children and adults in music, dance, visual arts, theater, sound recording, media arts and creative writing.