Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Art for Yale

Yale University Art Gallery
1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, (203) 432-0600
Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century
Through Jan. 13, 2008.

While walking into the Yale Art Gallery I passed a class of Yale art students speaking to each other excitedly. “That was great!” a man said to another of one of the pieces. “I never knew we had that here!” This is exactly the sort of effect the curators most likely hope for visitors of “Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century” to have, and what they do indeed achieve. The exhibit is filled with works even regular visitors would not be likely to know that Yale owns—whether because they’ve blended in with the other great work in the building or because Yale is still in the process of acquiring them from donors. Many of the pieces have never before been on public view.

“Art for Yale” is made up of over three hundred objects selected from the nearly 15,700 acquired since 1998. The first and fourth floors are given over to the exhibit. Items range from coins ca 350 B.C., to Mourning Embroidery from 1798, to photographs by Walker Evans, to a box by Joseph Cornell, to rather a lot of pictures by Chuck Close. Auguste Rodin’s “Le main crispe” (“The clenched hand,”) reaches up from a pedestal on the fourth floor. Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin’s “The Silver Fish and the Multitudes Have Lunch and other Myths,” (consisting of a sad-looking real dead fish, cross, a silver flower, wood, and other odd materials,) is in the back room of the first floor. There’s also a corner of three Giacomettis. A photo of Giacometti by Robert Frank taken in Paris in 1964 hangs there as well. In it Giacometti’s face looks remarkably like those of his own sculptures.

One stand-out piece on the first floor is Whitfield Lovell’s “Ode,” based on a photograph taken in the first part of the twentieth century. In it an African-American man wears a suit and tie, hat and boots. He leans against a chair. In front of the picture, which is painted on a large, battered-looking flat piece of wood, are two chairs. They are also battered and threadbare, their stuffing leaking out. The presence of the chairs somehow makes the painting inexplicably poignant.

It’s a nice surprise, one of many well-worth seeing in Art for Yale.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursday night opening at Wadsworth Atheneum

Wadsworth Atheneum
600 Main St., Hartford, (860) 278-2670
again: serial practices in contemporary art
Sept. 22—Dec. 30, 2007
Opening reception Thurs., Sept. 27, 7 p.m.

Press release

A 2004 major gift from celebrated art collector Mickey Cartin has inspired a new exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. A selection from the 125 contemporary photographs gifted to the Atheneum will be on exhibit along with loaned works from the Cartin Collection in again: serial practices in contemporary art from Sept. 22 through Dec. 30, 2007. The Atheneum plans a variety of special programs and events to celebrate the exhibition.

The Cartin gift ranks as one of the most important and largest single donations of contemporary art in the Atheneum's history. According to Betsy Kornhauser, Krieble Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Wadsworth, "While the Atheneum has actively acquired single contemporary works of photo-based art, the Cartin gift which features works by noted artists Roger Ballen, Zarina Bhimji, Edward Burtynsky, Olafur Eliasson, and Arnold Odermatt, among others, is an invaluable and unique addition to the Museum's permanent collection of contemporary art."

again: serial practices in contemporary art features work by fifteen internationally known artists who share the common theme of duplication and repetition to explore single subjects or ideas. Spanning the second half of the twentieth century, the works offer a rich cross section of photographic media and examine a diverse range of cultural issues. The gifted photographic images in the exhibit are supplemented by a selection from the Cartin Collection's own holdings including books, correspondence, video and painting. The exhibit is co-curated by Ash Anderson, a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Art program at Yale University, and Steven Holmes, curator of the Cartin Collection, and is made possible by the generous support of The Contemporary Coalition and The Larsen Fund for Photography.

Works by On Kawara, Ed Ruscha, Hans-Peter Feldmann and Jonathan Monk anchor the central theme of again by exploring the serial processes. Images by Arnold Odermatt, Lucinda Devlin, Joe Ovelman, Frank Breuer and Malick Sidibé evoke traditional documentary photography, the classic use of the camera to dispassionately record and order subjects as varied as execution chambers, industrial parks, car crashes and passersby. The work draws its power from repetition rather than selection, in that the more examples of a subject that one can record, the less important any individual image becomes, and the final collective product then represents a more dimensionally complete record. Meaning is therefore accumulated, accrued, aggregated. Works by artists Spencer Finch and Charles Sandison address time itself, allowing one to perceive what otherwise would remain real, but difficult to perceive. In each work within the exhibition, the word again resonates in different ways—sometimes quietly as in the case of the small paintings by Cecilia Edefalk or sometimes with wit, as in the case of Jonathan Monk.

Mickey Cartin commented, "I have always been interested in making my collection available to as many people as possible. The Wadsworth Atheneum is a very special place, and it has meant a lot to me over the years. I am proud and quite happy to support their renewed commitment to bring exciting contemporary art projects to the Greater Hartford area through curated exhibitions such as again."

The Cartin Collection now holds approximately 2,400 objects by over 400 artists, ranging from fifteenth century paintings to modern and contemporary art. It has recently been listed as one of the top 200 art collections in the world by Art News Magazine. Internationally active with as many as forty worldwide venues exhibiting borrowed pieces from the Cartin Collection at any one time, the collection loans extensively, produces artist projects and encourages institutional partnerships.

During the four-month venue, the Atheneum is planning several dates of special programming:

• On Thursday, September 27th at 7:00 pm, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art will host a public opening of the again exhibit, featuring a reception and free lecture: A Conversation with Mickey Cartin and Betsy Kornhauser, in the Avery Theater at the Museum.

• To follow on Friday, September 28th at noon, again exhibition co-curators Ash Anderson and Steven Holmes will give The Dana Engstrom DeLoach Gallery Talk.

• On Thursday, November 1st at 6:00pm, as part of downtown Hartford's First Thursday series, the Atheneum's "Phoenix Art After Hours" program will offer a Gallery Talk with again: serial practices in contemporary art exhibition co-curators Ash Anderson and Steven Holmes.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Peskine nails it

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Alexis Peskine: Cloué: Bound By History, Class and Color
Sept. 20—Oct. 14, 2007

Alexis Peskine managed to put the finishing touches on "Please Don't Hurt 'Em," an installation that is part of his show in Real Art Ways' Real Room gallery (effectively the contemporary arts center's lobby), barely 15 minutes before the show opening. The opening coincided with this month's Creative Cocktail Hour. There were tasty snacks to be had, drinks served (for a price) and shows new (Peskine's Cloué: Bound By History, Class and Color) and old (50,000 Beds, coming down this weekend).

Peskine, born in France and of mixed Afro-Brazilian and Franco-Russian heritage, has a strong background in graphic design and brings that take to his fine arts work. The works in this show touch on issues of identity, specifically the position of Black people in predominantly white European and American society.

These mixed media paintings on enamel have a dynamic graphic presence. The imagery is akin to photo silkscreen. In fact, in a conversation with Peskine during the opening, he told me that he does indeed use photos in conjunction with Photoshop to set up his imagery.

But the most novel aspect of Peskine's work is his incorporation of nails. Nails with different size heads are massed on the work so as to approximate photo offset halftone dots. They are hammered into the wood at various depths to give it a rolling topographic surface. (They seem to invite the touch and, indeed, I did see one viewer run her fingertips over the nails.)

The images are powerful. The most striking, at least for me, is "Identite." It shows a black man with his hands up against an urban wall, possibly being detained by the police. "Meazinha Revisited" depicts a woman, perhaps dancing, or maybe talking animatedly. (But we all see things in our own way. Another viewer, who saw my reporter's notebook, came up to me and said he thought it was a painting of a woman being Tasered.) "Jim and Gus" uses red, and painted red nails, on a black background to show the dangling feet of two lynching victims. A wide belt with a stock of $100 bills attached to it—"It's all about the Benjamins"—hangs down the left side of that work.

The installation work, "Please Don't Hurt 'Em," is pure black paint on white surface—panel and wall—with only the silvery nails to allow for crossover gray. The image is of a man in motion. It is a frozen silhouette, head looking up slightly and one foot stepping out of the box of the image onto the wall of the gallery.

In this work, I thought I saw a man being shot. But in talking with Peskine, he explained that the piece is about someone trying to step out of the racial "box" most of us get stuck in.

"He's trying to get out of the piece of wood, the place he's confined," said Peskine. "It's ingrained in the DNA of Americans. It's very difficult" for people to get out of their racial boxes.

I asked Peskine about the use of the nails. I could see their strength as a graphic element, referencing halftones, and their tactile attraction. I wondered if there was also a symbolic dimension to their use, perhaps with crucifixion connotations.

No crucifixion connotations, Peskine said. (Although he did note that he had first thought of using them in this way for an anti-George Bush work featuring Jesus in a Batman mask before an American flag. But he decided that in that case the employment of nails would be "too literal.")

"They represent the transcendence through struggle of Black people," Peskine said. They have an aesthetically useful dual nature. They can be painful—spikes—but they can also be used to build things. They also reference, Peskine said, the Nkisi figures of Africa.

He starts with a photo and translates it into a halftone pattern in Photoshop. That becomes a kind of mask for the imagery.

"I have to make sure that the biggest dot doesn't exceed the biggest size of a nail," he said.

The photo in "Jim and Gus" was from the book Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America by Hilton Als and James Allen.

"It was the only piece where I painted the nails," said Peskine. They are blood red. Peskine also left some of the torn paper mask underneath the nails to represent violence and burning. The juxtaposition of the money belt with the lynching image refers to the "parallel between the violence and the illicit things that happen in the Black community today." The flashy belt buckle could be seen as hip-hop style and something that's aggressive; the $100 bills symbolize drug dealing and other aspects of the underground ghetto economy.

"It's about the legacy of racism in America and the effect it has had on the Black community. Self-hatred, Black on Black crime, things like the CIA bringing crack into Black neighborhood," Peskine told me. "And how America got rich off of slavery."

As for "Identite," it is an image of "a person against the wall being I.D.-checked," said Peskine. "This happened to me throughout my youth" in France, Peskine noted, adding that it was a common situation for French of Black or Arab descent. "Identite" "translates the feeling of a sense of shame when you're in this position."

"Meazinha Revisited" is not about the travail of Black life, at least not directly. It is, Peskine confirmed, an image of a woman dancing. The process of adding the nails is very tedious. In response, he "did something very vibrant around" her image, adding contrast to the posterized photo effect with lively swirls of bright paint.

"A lot of pieces are more serious. [In "Meazinha Revisited"] I wanted to talk about the positivity and energy and creativity that came through the struggle of Black people," Peskine explained.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Millen sculptures charm at private show

David Millen: Sculpture

It was a beautiful Sunday in David Millen's private sculpture garden. Millen, a periodontist by trade but a sculptor by heart, was having his annual by-invitation-only show of his work-new pieces and older-and work by his students in classes at North Haven High School and elsewhere. A number of Millen's works, public commissions, are on view at locales throughout the greater New Haven area.

He has a fascination with balance and movement. Perhaps this is inspired by balancing his work life of dental medicine with his spiritual life as an artist. At any rate, his works are overwhelmingly figurative. For a number of years he had worked with cement as his sculptural medium, deriving rough surfaces as he encrusted it over his armatures. But the past three years Millen's work has been inspired by the acrobatic artistry of Cirque de Soleil. He also works in epoxy resin, a two-part synthetic clay. The epoxy allows him to pay increasing attention to the surface, controlling its almost marble-like coloration. He also polishes it to accentuate the sleekness of his stable of acrobats, jugglers, dancers and tightrope walkers.

Millen's figures are simplified, streamlined. It's a graceful shorthand that channels the energy of movement into the depiction of a frozen moment. They are imbued with joie de vivre. And, in the sweet crisp sun of summer's last glimmering, they shined with the pleasure of performing outdoors.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Show opening and Creative Cocktail Hour at Real Art Ways Thursday

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Alexis Peskine: Cloué: Bound By History, Class and Color
Sept. 20—Oct. 14, 2007
Opening reception: Thurs., Sept. 20, 6—10 p.m. ($10 admission for general public, free for Real Art Ways members)

Press release

Alexis Peskine's work investigates the absurdity of racism, nationalism, anti-Semitism—anything that's unjust or hypocritical—by re-contextualizing iconic symbols in odd pairings and unexpected environments. Using a variety of media, these juxtapositions address the viewer's own preconceptions of race and nationality, Peskine's own Franco-Brazilian identity, as well as international understandings of ethnicity. Peskine's work is appreciated and owned by numerous performers and musicians, including Common, Donald Byrd, and Talib Kweli.

Alexis Aliocha Peskine was born in Paris, France, on Sept. 29, 1979. He is a 2004 Fulbright Scholar who holds a B.F.A. from Howard University an M.A. and M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Peskine's use of graphic and commercial images in fine art is informed by his early start in graphic design. At age 15, he was the youngest student to enter the Apprentice Center of Formation for the Graphic Art in Paris; he subsequently worked for Crayures as an industrial designer for clients such as Roland Garros, Malterre and Fly. He also served a stint as Creative Director for Burrell Communications in Chicago. Peskine bridges the gap between graphic design and fine art by using the same design aesthetic to appeal to the masses, as his work often touches on the ideology of consumerism and mass consumption.

As a junior at Howard University in 2002, Peskine was the first winner of the Verizon HBCU Student Art Competition; the following year, he won second place in the same competition. His work has attracted the attention of Chrissie Iles of the Whitney Museum and Yukie Kamaya of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Burrell Communications' Chairman Emeritus Tom Burrell and musicians Donald Byrd, Talib Kweli and Common all own Peskine's work.

Drawing inspiration from his paternal grandfather who survived a German concentration camp, to his maternal grandfather who lived in the favelas of Salvador, Bahia, to the loving marriage of his own Franco-Russian father and Afro-Brazilian mother, Peskine challenges his audience with provocative, cynical and sometimes earnest takes on serious subjects. Much of his work also celebrates family, friends and the beauty and humor of solitary inanimate objects.

The opening reception for Peskine's show in Real Art Ways' Real Room will be held in conjunction with this month's Creative Cocktail Hour, which is this Thurs., Sept. 20, from 6—10 p.m. Creative Cocktail Hour is $10 for the general public and free to Real Art Ways members.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Connecticut Collects Connecticut

The Lynn Tendler Bignell Gallery
286 Whisconier Rd (Route25), Brookfield, (203) 775-4526
Connecticut Collects Connecticut
Aug. 19—Sept. 30, 2007

Curated by Bernice Wollman, Connecticut Collects Connecticut contains work by Connecticut artists and artisans collected by Connecticut residents. Many of the displayed objects are pleasing (I particularly liked the whimsical thread paintings of Washington Connecticut-based Missy Stevens and the clay pears by Ann Mallory of Roxbury. Both Stevens and Mallory's works are displayed in the collection of Manny and Skippy Gerard.) What makes the exhibit most intriguing, though, are its insights into the artist/collector relationship.

Photographs of the interiors of the collector’s houses show how the art is used to create meaningful, welcoming spaces. Some of the pieces, such as those by studio furniture maker James Schriber of New Milford, were commissioned by collectors who fell in love of the artist’s work. Schriber, whose work is collected by Rick and Francoise Jaffe, is quoted as saying that

“Developing long-term relationships is the pleasurable part of what I do. Once the trust is there, and we’ve learned how to work together, I thrive on the creative pressure of a client’s input. Making a ‘spec’ piece to show in a gallery is almost lonely in comparison.”

These relationships can become some of the most satisfying things about the business. Newtown artist Joanne Conant, whose work in the exhibition includes the lovely “Twilight Stallion”—a rosewood box with a picture of a horse under a tree, created from silver granulation enamel—is now teacher to one her collectors, Carol Pascal. Some of Pascal’s work, including a pair of zodiac candlesticks, is also currently shown at the gallery. Conant says of Pascal that

“it is very satisfying to have a fan who really knows what has gone into a piece. Carol understands the metalsmithing, the design issues, the work of delineating cloisons, layering color—every step in the process.”

Brookfield offers many opportunities for fans and others to come to this sort of understanding, as the Center's workshops include classes in blacksmithing, photography, book arts, ceramics, glass, surface design, woodworking, drawing, and many other crafts and arts. The Center also contains a store that's especially worth checking out during the holiday season (November 3 through December 31), as they open up three floors of jewelry, pottery, glasswear, scarves, and other artful gifts.

Blogging last Friday's openings

It was a busy Friday evening for your Connecticut Art Scene blogger, running from show opening to show opening in New Haven. I took in some comic book and cartoon art at the Small Space Gallery in the offices of the Arts council of Greater New Haven, the Faculty Show at Creative Arts Workshop, Dave Gagne's photos of the Connecticut hardcore punk scene at Hope Gallery Tattoo and Silas Finch's found object sculptures decorating Koffee on Orange and the Channel 1 skateboard shop. Herewith some short posts...

Small Space Gallery
70 Audubon St., 2nd floor, New Haven, (203) 772-2788
EXTRAordinary: Contemporary Comic Books and Cartoons
Ends Oct. 31, 2007

Curated by comic book historian Prof. William H. Foster III, the show features a lot of contemporary work by mostly local comic book (or cartoon-style) artists. There was a good crowd in the aptly named Small Space Gallery—the center hallway and conference room of the Art Council's offices. A couple of the artists, cartoonist Jerry Craft and recent School of Visual Arts graduate Raheem Nelson, spoke about their art and what the comics form means to them. The erudite and ever-enthusiastic Foster also talked briefly about comics and, in particular, about the participation of African-Americans in the comics business (and the long term white-ness of the medium). Foster is the author of Looking For a Face Like Mine, a selection of essays, articles and interviews surveying and analyzing the representation of Black people in the comics medium.

I felt some of the work was uneven. But I was taken with the grotesqueries of Paul Timmins and also enjoyed Jackie Roche's well-executed pencil drawings and oil. The steroidal superhero bamalama of Rob Stull with Ken Lashley or Mike Wiering were muscular examples of contemporary comic book art style. While I prefer the less cluttered draftsmanship of the comic book artists I grew up with—Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Carmine Infantino, Jack Kirby, Curt Swan, Wally Wood—Stull's imagery makes sense in our hyper-technological, dehumanized era. Jerry Craft offers a classic cartoony style that seems a throwback to the funny pages of the 1950's. And James Polisky, who got a mention in our review last fall of the City-Wide Open Studios main show, is represented with four macabre technically excellent silkscreen panels.


Creative Arts Workshop Hilles Gallery
80 Audubon St., New Haven, (203) 562-4927
Faculty Show
Ends Oct. 12, 2007.

I kind of stumbled on the Creative Arts Workshop opening. I didn't know it was happening but I was in the neighborhood for the Small Space opening and, well, there it was. The upstairs and downstairs of the Hilles Gallery are filled with work by the CAW faculty. CAW is known for the exceptional artistic talent gathered among its teachers.

I hope to get back there to comment more fully on the show but wanted to note one work in particular that really struck me. When I wrote about Steve DiGiovanni's River Street Gallery show back in June, one of the works I addressed was "Festival of Floats (Handa City, Japan)." The painting was a departure for DiGiovanni in two senses: it was painted with acrylics not oils, and it was more gestural than studied. DiGiovanni's "Portrait of My Son" in the Faculty Show takes this approach to the next level. On unstretched canvas, it is an explosion of imagery, shapes, figures, symbols, color and text. It seems unfinished, an appropriate metaphor for a painting of a child, or, childhood in general. It looks like a breakthrough.


Hope Gallery Tattoo
817 Chapel St., Suite 2F, New Haven, (203) 752-0564
CT Hardcore: The Way We Were
Ends Sept. 23, 2007

The gallery room was packed at Hope Gallery Tattoo Friday night for the show of Dave Gagne's photos. There were dozens of black and white 8x10's as well as one wall with a slew of 5x7 prints. Along with the plethora of images—crowded on the walls like a moshing crowd at a hardcore show—were testimonials to the scene from various participants: band members, audience members (sometimes both). The images were shot in venues like Rudy's and the late lamented Daily Caffe but most particularly at the Tune Inn, the cavernous club that used to be on Center Street in New Haven.

According to Gagne, the photos were taken from roughly 1987 through the late '90's.

"I wanted to show more of the crowd interaction than tight shots of the bands," Gagne told me at the show. "It wasn't just about the music. It was about the people and the scene in general."

With a couple of hundred images to display, he chose putting the bands in alphabetical order as the default organizing principle. As the crowd took in the images-and connected with old friends and scenesters—an iPod played music from as many of the bands as Gagne could find recordings of. He said that aspect of the show was probably more challenging than getting the photos together.

It took about two months to gather the reminiscences, Gagne said.

"I had the concept in my head for a while. I wanted to involve other people. I called up about a dozen people I'm still in contact with now that I knew back then," he said.

Damon Lucibello wrote:

Most of the hardcore and punk shows at the Tune Inn were completely chaotic.

...At some shows, the stage was packed with so many audience members that it became virtually impossible to actually see the performing musicians.

...The breakdown of the barrier between the bands and the audience was a major part of the Tune Inn's charm.
These are images of exultation. Delighted grimaces on the faces of the performers. The gesturing and eyes-closed, open-mouthed shouting like at some tent revival meeting of an underground pagan religion. The full-bodied trust inherent in crowd surfing and stage diving.

There is a starkness to the black and white imagery. For the most part, this was a crowd that gathered at night. I noted one daytime image, of a protest against the closing of the Daily Caffe coffeehouse on Elm Street near the corner of Park. Tarn Granucci holds a sign reading, "In the great tradition of the 9th Square, less culture, more empty buildings."

The essence of what the scene meant to many of the participants is captured in this reminiscence from Kevin Decker:

The most important part of the scene was the camaraderie between friends. You stood by your friends and they stood by you. Twenty years later, I haven't forgotten those lessons. In fact, they play a major role in my life as a union organizer, husband and father. Hardcore has guided me from an angry teenager into a man who stands up for what he believes in and holds his head high with dignity.

Channel 1
220 State St., New Haven, 1-888-SHOP-CH1
Fragments: Sculptures by Silas Finch

Over at the skate shop Channel 1, Silas Finch's sculptures were decorating the walls. Finch uses his old skateboard decks as they canvas or base, which is then decorated with found objects. Finch has a gift for creating effective compositions.

"Always a Part of Me" has a skateboard deck covered with leather. Under the leather there skateboard trucks—essentially the axle mechanism for the board—almost pushing through the leather. One part of the leather is stitched up. Finch had cut into it to perform "surgery" (adjusting one of the trucks) and stitched it up. It reinforces the sense of skin and organism.

The sculpture "8:46 AM" is covered with printing press letters. Two clocks are also mounted on the board, one set to 8:46 and one to 9:03. Those were the times that the two planes struck Towers 1 and 2 of the World Trade Center. The letters, most in reverse, spell out "WTC," "2001" and other references to the terrorist attack.

Finch also has several similar pieces decorating the walls over at Koffee on Orange.

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New blogger at Connecticut Art Scene

Connecticut Art Scene is happy to announce a new blogger is joining the team. Tanya Angell Allen is a freelance writer and a library assistant at the Yale Art and Architecture Library. Her essays have appeared in such places as The New York Times, Pivot, and Chicklit. She is also the webmaster for Choriamb: Poetry News and Reviews. Tanya's presence will help the site cover more shows. So everybody give a warm welcome to Tanya!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Friday night of the living subcultures: hardcore punk, found object skate sculpture and comic books

Hope Gallery Tattoo
817 Chapel St., Suite 2F, New Haven, (203) 752-0564
CT Hardcore: The Way We Were
Aug. 21—Sept. 23, 2007
Opening Reception: Fri., Sept. 14, 7 p.m.

Hardcore punk was (and is) an intensely tribal, high energy variant of punk and rock. The line between audience and performer was permeable. Hardcore was fueled by adolescent and, sometimes, political rage. The scene was marked by a notable sense of community.
David Gagne was right in the middle of the thriving 1990's hardcore punk scene in Connecticut, both as a participant and a photographic chronicler. Gagne is having a show of his photos this month in the gallery at Hope Gallery Tattoo. Entitled CT Hardcore: The Way We Were, it features images from the stages, the clubs, the moshpits and the skateboard streets.

According to the blurb on the Web site:

"This show is based around old Hardcore photos from the Tune Inn and old Daily cafe. So if you're into hardcore music or just remember the good ol' days hangin' at the Daily, you should come check these out. Who knows? You might be in some of them! So spread the word!"
There will be an opening reception for the show this Friday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.


Channel 1
220 State St., New Haven, 1-888-SHOP-CH1
Fragments: Sculptures by Silas Finch
Opening Reception: Fri., Sept. 14, 6—9 p.m.

Found object sculptor Silas Finch has been written about before on Connecticut Art Scene (here, here and here.

He has decorated the new Koffee at Orange at 141 Orange St. in New Haven. And this Friday he will have an opening for Fragments, his new show at the skate shop Channel 1. The opening is from 6—9 p.m. Check it out.


Small Space Gallery
70 Audubon St., 2nd floor, New Haven, (203) 772-2788
EXTRAordinary: Contemporary Comic Books and Cartoons
Sept. 14—Oct. 31, 2007
Opening reception: Fri., Sept. 14, 5—7 p.m.; Artist talk at 5 p.m.

This show, organized by comic book historian Prof. William H. Foster III, features regional comic book artists and writers. According to the show announcement, the exhibit "explore[s] the ways in which comic strip and cartoon art depict subjects ranging from humor, fantasy and adventure to the of ordinary dealings of everyday life."

The reception will be from 5—7 p.m. at the Small Space Gallery, which is in the offices of the Greater New Haven Arts Council. Foster will give a talk about the show at 5 p.m.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Art talk at ALL Gallery opening

ALL Arts & Literature Laboratory
Erector Square, 319 Peck St. Building 2, New Haven, (203) 671-5175
Aug. 17—Sept. 23, 2007

At this past Saturday's artist reception at the ALL Gallery, they did something a little different. About five of the artists showing work in Transformations were on hand and gallery co-director Howard el-Yasin invited them to speak about their art. As el-Yasin noted, the show was "sculpturally based" and addressed the environment as a theme. Almost all the works incorporated found objects and most mixed organic materials—particularly, twigs and branches—with manufactured material.

Joe Saccio spoke first, about his work "Splitting." It consists of a dark creosote-soaked beam with extruded irregular lengths of rattan wood splitting the solid mass.

"When I found it, it was a perfect square with concentric circles perfectly centered," Saccio said of the beam, which he believes he probably obtained at a railroad yard. At the time, he said, he was working on a series where "other alien objects extruded from within a ground object." The splitting of the beam and the insertion of the clusters of rattan wood disrupt the symmetry of the square form and centered wood rings.

"I use the present participle 'splitting,'" Saccio explained, to indicate it is a process that might continue.

Peter Dellert's "Accretion" and "Gleaning," both displayed on the floor, are also part of a series. They are based, Dellert said, "on biomorphic forms—ideal forms found in nature." In this case, the kayak-like shapes are based on seeds. Dellert said that he was attracted to the difference between the scale of the work—each were approximately five feet long—versus "what you might find if you were walking in the woods."

The exteriors of the pieces are made out of opened and straightened tin 28-ounce tomato cans (rusted cans in the case of "Accretion").

"The material spoke to me as a skin. That it would work and lend an industrial quality," said Dellert. He is interested in viewers contemplating the pieces in terms of shape and form. But also, Dellert said as he lifted up "Gleaning" and lightly shook it, he would like viewers to think about what the objects might contain. As he shook it, something rattled around inside. (el-Yasin noted that the gallery does not encourage visitors to touch the artworks.)

Paul Sakren's "Tine Anns an Bolg" is part of his "Skin" series. Sakren used a large bolt of cheesecloth as a vessel. "Tine Anns an Bolg, which translates either as "fire in the bag" or "fire in the belly" references old Irish myth, as well as the discovery and history of "bog people"—preserved bodies of ancient Celts found in peat bogs. Sakren said that one of his initial thoughts was that the work would refer to the "fire in the belly" that spurs an artist to create. But as he delved into myth and ethnology, the story of the bog people and their relationship to fire informed the work.

"In the old days, every household had a fire, and they would keep it going throughout the year," Sakren said. And once each year, they would extinguish the fire and have a communal bonfire. And each household would take an ember home in the sack—nestled for safety within a rich ball of peat—and use that ember as the basis for the next year's fire.

"I was sort of working with time and age, trying to go back as far as I could. The bog people, they're dug out of the bogs. I'd like these 'skins' to evoke that lost world that we find relics of in the earth," explained Sakren.

"Attics of My Mind" is a wall sculpture by Fay Wood. Wood said that" most of my work tends to be circular. I don't know why; it just goes that way." This work is sort of a cutaway architectural interior within a circular frame. Wood used found objects and found paper-printed letterheads that her mother had stored in a trunk in the attic-to construct the sculpture and then added small light bulbs.

"The lighting I added later and it brought out the color," Wood said, noting that with lighting the contrasts are richer.

Having grown up on a farm in rural Harwinton, Connecticut, Mari Skarp bases her work on the theme of disappearing farmlands. She scavenges abandoned farm sites—before their transformation into McMansion subdivisions or big box mega-stores—for bones, roots, branches and lengths of wire. She assembles these found objects to make animals and paintings, "relics of these farms."

"Wire" is in the shape, Skarp said, of a "universal animal. It's not a farm animal or a wild animal" but it's supposed to represent both. It has an armature of welded steel over which Skarp added branches, sticks, twigs and shards of rusty metal trussed together by wire.

Skarp said she loved "the way it meshes into the floor." The gallery has a rough hewn natural wood floor that complements the wood and rust colors of "Wire." It seems to emerge organically from the floor. Skarp's other work, "Remnants IV," is comprised of painted pieces of old barns and other farm buildings.

"It's crud that's left over," said Skarp. "These are mish-mosh pieces. A lot of these barns fall apart over time and they would make patches on the wood." So she incorporated that idea of a patched-together structure and enhanced it with bracing dashes of paint.

Amelia deNeergaard's "Twig Field" is deceptive, looking simple but actually composed with complex elegance. Bright copper wire was used to connect twigs in a grid pattern. Hung against the wall, they cast a myriad of bone-like shadows. deNeergaard said she is "aware of calligraphic associations" and that she sought to create a "field that was very energized with a lot of movement."

"This was very labor intensive, wrapping each stick with wire," deNeergaard said. "It was like building a big jigsaw puzzle to put this together. I like that it has straight edges" but none of the pieces that make it up are straight.

One viewer noted that a lot of the twigs were y-shaped and asked whether that was intentional. deNeergaard said that it was. She has a lot of experience doing paintings, she said, with calligraphic marks and had even, at one point, designed her own alphabet. The y-shape—known as the "firca" in Latin, for fork—exists in many languages, she said. The forked sticks work well from a compositional standpoint, she noted.

"I've done pieces with straight sticks and they are a lot more static," said deNeergaard. "It helps to be able to triangulate things."

"I like branches and twigs. I live in Cornwall, which is very rural, and I like driving around in the winter and seeing the trees without their leaves," she said.

It's a fine show and it would have been interesting to hear from the other artists of such impressive pieces as Stephanie Victa's "Spiral of Horns" and Jason Lanka's "Plumb."

Contemporary art should be able to stand on its own, without explication. And the work at ALL Gallery does so. But the experience of viewing this art was enriched by hearing what the artists had to say about it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hygienic Art opening Saturday night

Hygienic Art Gallery
79-83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
Forces of Nature: Exploring Spiritual Landscapes
Sept. 8-Oct. 6, 2007
Opening reception: Sat., Sept. 8, 7-10 p.m.

Press release

The Hygienic Art Galleries will host "Forces of Nature: Exploring Spiritual Landscapes", a new exhibition of work by three local artists, A. Vincent Scarano, Glenn Hart and Karen Rand Mitchell, opening Saturday, September 8th.

The theme of the show is reflected in different ways by each artist. Scarano's sensuous and dynamic color photographs of southwestern "light canyons" have a brilliant yet haunting allure. They represent a new direction for this New London photographer whose previous work has focused on black and white photojournalism and portraiture.

Glenn Hart of Montville presents richly-hued, life-size, narrative oil paintings of surrealistic landscapes, animals and people. The highly detailed content of the work is dreamlike, offering an opportunity for contemplation.

Stonington artist Karen Rand Mitchell's new work is comprised of mixed media abstract paintings, as well as a series of installed sculptures fabricated from natural materials, including branches, bones, moss and found objects. The overall feeling of the work is one of journeying through a mystical, abstracted landscape, meant to engage the viewer in a personal journey.

Forces of Nature: Exploring Spiritual Landscapes runs from Sept. 8-Oct. 6, with a reception open to the public on Sept. 8th, 7-10 p.m.

Christian Miller opening New Haven Library Saturday afternoon

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Christian Miller: Essence of an Emotional Moment
Sept. 4—Oct. 5, 2007.
Artist Reception: Sat., Sept. 8, 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Press release

"The task of the artist is paradoxical by nature," says Christian Miller. "He strives to create all at once the essence of an emotional moment to be recreated endlessly in the viewer's mind. In this sense, the artist is defining the moment of the present to be recreated infinitely as far as the mind can imagine. Capturing as a photo captures a precise moment of joy, despair, harmony or discord, the artist expresses the event and conveys the sense of that event. "

Miller attended Paier College of Art. He obtained a BA in Art Education from Southern Connecticut State University, and an Associates Degree in Arts/Commercial Graphics from Middlesex College in Middletown, where he was on the Dean's List, and Phi Theta Kappa. He has won art awards from Dime Savings Bank, the Fine Arts Award from TJB,Inc., and the MCAA Patron's Fine Arts Award.

(A couple of Miller's paintings were reviewed on Connecticut Art Scene last October.)

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City Gallery Nest opening on Saturday

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Sept. 8—30, 2007.
Opening reception, Sat., Sept. 8, 4—7 p.m.

Press release

City Gallery announces it first fall season exhibit titled "Nest" The theme was determined by curator Liz Pagano, a member of City Gallery and concerns ideas of the Nest, or the act of nesting. Nest is an ancient word, *ni-zd-os in Indo European, composed of the prefix *ni-"down," plus a form of the verbal root sed, "to sit". Followed by a suffix used to form nouns, *-os. Thus a *nizd-os literally means "(place where the bird) sits down."

The four artists invited to show with Pagano are Meg Bloom, a New Haven based artist and City gallery member, Howard el-Yasin, a New Haven artist and Gallery Director of ALL Gallery in New Haven, Laura Moriarty, a nationally renowned encaustic artist based in the Hudson Valley area of New York, and Colleen Tully, a New Haven artist and the founder of Pixel Pops. (A show at ALL Gallery featuring Pagano and Tully was reviewed on Connecticut Art Scene in April.)

Each artist brings a unique and personal vision using a variety of media, including but not limited to: encaustic, mixed media construction and installation. The work is a range of abstract interpretations. Each artist having his/her own focus on the idea of "NEST". All exhibit regionally, nationally and internationally.

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Kehler Liddell artist reception Saturday: Borax Morrison & Waterman

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Mind Fibers & Tin Men: Edith Borax Morrison & Gar Waterman
Sept. 1—30, 2007.
Artists reception: Sat., Sept. 8, 4—7 p.m.

Press Release

The two person show entitled Mind Fibers and Tin Men featuring the works of Edith Borax Morrison and Gar Waterman will run from Sept. 1—30 at the Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville Village. The artists' reception is on Sat., Sept. 8, from 4—7 p.m.

The detailed organics of Borax Morrison's hyper-controlled introspections make strange, but not uncomfortable, bedfellows with Waterman's chimeric, extroverted fantasies of assembly. Each artist's obsessive creativity is articulated in an engaging dialogue of difference. Whether the line of a pen or a found industrial part, both artists pay careful attention to each element's place in the overall structure.

Edith Borax Morrison is listed in Who's Who in American Art, is a member of the Silvermine Artists Guild and currently lives and works in Trumbull, Connecticut. Her drawings called "Mind Fibers", explore the surreal, mystical and psychological elements of life. Like woven fibers, Borax Morrison's fine sense of composition, sensitive line quality and subtle use of color weave the viewer into a web of mysterious reality. The circular format of the "Mandala" series encompasses the abstract and enigmatic configurations of Borax Morrison's own universe.

Sculptor Gar Waterman is a native of New England who lives and works at West Rock Studio in New Haven, Connecticut. His sculptures in stone, bronze, steel and wood are inspired by the intricate dynamic between formal design in architecture and organic design in nature.

The Tin Men represent a departure from the artist's more organic interpretations of natural form. Made from metal parts carefully culled from the industrial world, the Tin Men sculptures represent a mythological science fiction, striking neoclassical poses with a sly self-conscious humor. Imagine a world somewhere between Frederick Remington's wild West, Alexander Calder's Circus, and the Star Wars of George Lucas, and you will find the Tin Men, taking their place in the traditional art paradigm of the figure contextualized in a particular landscape.

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ALL Gallery reception Saturday

ALL Arts & Literature Laboratory
Erector Square, 319 Peck St. Building 2, New Haven, (203) 671-5175
Aug. 17—Sept. 23, 2007
Artists' Reception: Sat., Sept. 8, 5—7 PM

Press release

Arts + Literature Laboratory (ALL) is proud to present a juried exhibition of recent sculptural work by ten artists from Connecticut and across the nation: Amelia de Neergaard (West Cornwall, CT); Peter Dellert (Holyoke, MA); Rachel Green (Savannah, GA); Jim Jacobs (Ogden, UT); Jason Lanka (Williamsburg, VA); Joseph Saccio (North Haven, CT); Paul Sakren (New Preston, CT); Mari Skarp (Harwinton, CT); Stephanie Victa, (West Palm Beach, FL); and Fay Wood (Saugerties, NY).

Transformations features non-site specific works that explore an innovative bricolage of natural and/or discarded materials as an expression of environmental remediation and the spiritual materiality of the sculptural form. Highlights of the exhibition include:

• "Twig Field" by Amelia de Neergaard evokes a sense of structure and randomness. The artist is drawn to the linear peculiarities of twigs and branches and their similarities to calligraphic markings. By connecting them with man-made elements and form, she seeks to emphasize their naturalness and individuality.

• Peter Dellert's sculptures "Accretion" and "Gleaning" are based on biomorphic forms inspired by seeds, shells, pods, and his imagination. These forms are reduced to a minimal essence while still allowing for multiple interpretations.

• "Shell Game" by Rachel Green is constructed from used shotgun shell casings. Her sculptures examine and question our collective values by transforming postconsumer items.

• "Plumb" by Jason Lanka focuses on his memory of his place within the disappearing residue of an agrarian culture tied so closely to the land on which it depended for its survival. The land has a mythic history within the contemporary experience of what the West should be and what it truly is.

• "Cocoon" by Jim Jacobs is an intersection of processed and non-processed natural materials. The limbs gradually penetrating and disrupting the structured maple are entwined with the processed material overtaking and strangling the mulberry limbs.

• Paul Sakren's "Tine Anns An Bolg" references one of the early tribes of Ireland, known as the Bag People (Fir-Bolg), who carried everything in bags. They were also a people who reverenced the sun and moon, and had fire feasts at strategic times of the year. "Tine Anns An Bolg" means 'fire in the bag', or 'fire in the belly,' and it refers to that skin bag carrying a glowing ember to keep the eternal fire alive.

• "Wire" by Mari Skarp (see image) is a commentary on the disappearance and destruction of farmlands in the United States, and the farm animals, who no longer have the ability to live naturally. All of the materials used in her work were found at abandoned farms.

• Stephanie Victa's "Spiral of Horns" was inspired by the natural growth patterns of horns. Horns of bovids are important social organs; their growth is often indicative of population characteristics and habitat quality. She has stripped away the physical being and left only the fundamental characteristics as a trophy.

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Art openings!

Hiatus is over! This weekend marks the opening of what appears to be a busy fall visual arts season.

Northwestern Connecticut Community College
Gallery at Founder's Hall
Park Place, Winsted
Bob Gregson: Ambiguous Territories
Aug. 27—Sept. 28, 2007.

There are, in fact, a couple of openings today. As I write this, they are probably cleaning up the snacks at Bob Gregson's opening for his Ambiguous Territories show. The exhibit, in the Gallery at Founder's Hall of Northwestern Connecticut Community College in Winsted, will run through Sept. 28. Gregson, who has been written about before on Connecticut Art Scene, describes the "ambiguous territory" thus: "the place between the artwork and the viewer...a place where multiple meanings exist simultaneously."


Mandell Jewish Community Center
Chase/Freedman Gallery
335 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, (860) 231-6339
In the Midst: Paintings by Anne Hebebrand & Kim Sobel
Sept. 6—Nov. 4, 2007
Opening reception: Thurs., Sept. 6, 5—8 p.m.

This evening, from 5—8 p.m., there will be an opening in the Chase/Freedman Gallery at the Mandell Jewish Community Center in West Hartford for In the Midst, a show of paintings by Anne Hebebrand and Kim Sobel. I wrote about Sobel in June in the context of a painting and drawing show at the John Slade Ely House.


Brick Walk Fine Art
322 Park Rd., West Hartford, (860) 233-1730
Anne Hebebrand: Recent Work
Sept. 8—Oct. 20, 2007
Opening reception: Sat., Sept. 8, 2—5 p.m.

Hebebrand also has a show of paintings, Recent Work, opening this Saturday, Sept. 8, at Brick Walk Fine Art in West Hartford. That opening will be held from 2—5 p.m. The show runs through Oct. 20.

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