Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

CWOS opening night and checklist pleasures

City-Wide Open Studios Main Exhibition
50 Orange St., New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios

It was a packed house last night at the opening reception for City-Wide Open Studios. Hanni Bresnick did a fine and creative job of laying out and organizing the main exhibition in Artspace's gallery. It is easy to cross-reference the checklist with the displayed works.

With the main exhibition reflecting the overall unjuried nature of CWOS, it can be hit or miss. But the hits far outnumber the misses, probably by a factor of 9 to 1, or better. My wife felt it was one of the strongest main exhibitions we've seen, and I'm inclined to agree.

The pleasure here is in looking at work and then scanning the checklist. Hmm. Christopher Beauchamp, a photographer I haven't heard of before, took the photo "Innocence." It looks Photoshopped to heighten the cinematic jolt of a young girl running through what might be a seriously decaying school corridor. Or, then there is Gregory Vershbow's C-print "Paperhill." Vershbow's photo is a somewhat surrealist image reminiscent of the works of Jerry Uelsmann. And one could go on and on in this manner, finding new artistic gems and recognizing the signature styles of old favorites.

Then there is the pleasure of seeing work by a familiar artist that explores new territory in still enjoyable ways, showing a seasoned artist taking risks. Printmaker Barbara Harder has increasingly taken to using translucent overlays in her works. I wasn't sure how I felt about this when I first saw works incorporating this device at a show at City Gallery (Harder has a new show there now). The overlays seemed to obscure her wonderful prints more than reveal new dimensions of meaning. But "J Topog 8," the mixed media piece in the main exhibition—wood block with geometric design, an overlay with map imagery in pencil and frazzled found printed newsprint—intrigued me with its artistic possibilities.

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