Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Art opening New Haven Public Library Saturday

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Fluid Abstractions: Artworks by Ioan Popoiu
Mar. 15—Apr.19, 2008
Artist Reception: Sat., Mar. 29, 2008, 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Press release

The Art Gallery of the New Haven Free Public Library is proud to present the works of Romanian-American artist Ioan Popoiu. This exhibition of paintings created between 2007 and 2008, constitute an exploration of color and texture obtained by juxtaposition of many layers of paint and polymer.

"In my work, I use the fluidity of the color as a form of expression," says the artist, "which gives me the opportunity to explore freely and deeply into the universe of abstraction. Time is an important factor in my work: each layer needs a natural time to dry in order to obtain the expression I want.

"I first started using fluids in my work probably sometimes in the '80's, and I became more involved with it, in the early 90's. I use bright, fluorescent colors, perhaps as a response of a previous experience as a young artist in my former country, Romania. When I first visited the region of Maramures, I was fascinated by that experience. People there use very bright colors as a form of expression of their positive vision of life. It is not a mistake that there, it was created, probably, uniquely in the world, the 'Happy Cemetery.' It is called that way because each cross contains a poem and a picture about that particular person. The picture is painted in very bright colors. Each poem talks about that person's life, sometimes with humor sometimes with sadness. There is a sense that there is life after death.

"The shapes and forms in my paintings speak of my surroundings and of the concepts of time and space. The structure and transparency obtained by the overlapping of the multiple layers of color create at times a 3-D effect. These forms of expression are in a continuous change."

Ioan Popoiu, born in 1952, received his BFA from Nicolae Grigorescu Institute of Fine Arts, Bucharest, Romania. Before coming to the U.S., he won awards in Suceava and Bucharest, Romania, and was represented by Dalles Gallery in Bucharest.

As a politically dissenting artist under the dangerous Ceausescu regime in the early 1980's, it became necessary for him to undertake a 45-day hunger strike before finally being allowed a visa to exit Romania under this dictatorship.

He and his family presently live on Roosevelt Island, NYC, where he is active in Gallery RIVAA, (the Roosevelt Island Visual Artists Association), and in 2007 had a solo exhibition there. He has also had solo shows at the East-West Gallery in Manhattan in 2004, at the York Square Cinema Gallery in 1998, and at Morin Miller Gallery on 57th Street in NYC in 1989. He has participated in group and juried exhibitions in many venues each year, and his works are included in private collections in the US and Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, Japan, and Romania. His artworks are in public collections in the Frederick R. Weisman
Art Museum, in Minneapolis, MN, and the Museum of Fine Art Collection, and the National Gallery in Bucharest, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Suceava, Romania.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Woods working

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Nancy Eisenfeld: Out of the Woods
Through Mar. 29, 2008.

Over the past couple of years, Nancy Eisenfeld has been showing works in various local shows that blur the boundaries between collage, painting and sculpture. Out of the Woods at City Gallery in New Haven is Eisenfeld's first solo show of this body of work, and it's a great one.

For an artist who has worked predominantly in two dimensions, Eisenfeld's branching out—so to speak—into sculpture is a successful aesthetic turn. While each piece has its own individual identity, there is an energetic coherence to the show. Eisenfeld has been "out in the woods" scavenging wood and bark, vines, branches and metal screening. Elements of play go into her compositions, arranging and rearranging her materials, riffing off the natural forms and their processed and manufactured analogues.

"Wizard" looks like a giant walking stick. Thick, tightly interwoven vines are topped by a pockmarked piece of driftwood. This driftwood head or crown is styled with ultramarine and cobalt blue paint and pastels. Eisenfeld has integrated the vines, which have a strong swirling visual drive upwards, with the driftwood by dabbing the clipped shoots of the vine with blue and scarlet paint. A brown length of twine is also interpolated into the sinuous curves of the vines. Large spikes of painted wood near the top recapitulate the visual element of the blue and red clipped shoots.

Abstract use of color ties together a large sculptural work like "Whirly Wind Up"—wooden cable spools, painted with splotches of green, bronze and copper, form a trunk around which spirals of vine and copper tubing whirl—and "Over Time," which is more of a flat, mixed-media collage. "Over Time" incorporates birch bark, paper, wood and metal in a jittery gridwork.

As with so many of the pieces here, "Over Time" is notable for a complexity that is fastidious without becoming fussy. There is a rewarding density of visual expression—the variation between the natural and human-made surfaces, paint that is applied heavy and dry versus paint with a fluid translucency. The piece is actually composed of two collaged panels set side by side. Thin curls of string sprout from all along the edges, like tendrils of new branches springing forth from a seemingly dormant trunk.

In "Forest Totem," Eisenfeld cobbles together a blend of curved copper-colored mesh that creates a three-dimensional cross-hatching effect, painted paper, curls of weathered birch bark (some of it decorated with tight tufts of browning moss) and old torn lengths of wood trim. She has arranged and painted these materials—or left some in the state as she found them—in such a way as to allow disparate parts to become an aesthetic whole.

Even the four works that are closest in conception to traditional abstract painting—"Wired," "Night Light," "Glow" and "Soot"—have been engaged with in such a way as to be completely at home in this show.

The elements that make "Over Time" successful are characteristic of this work. The natural and the processed are combined to create something that is both obviously the product of a conscious mind but also appears to have taken on a life of its own, both literally as well as figuratively.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Face of a new century

Guilford Art Center
411 Church St., Guilford, (203) 453-5947
About Face: The Relevance of Portraiture in the 21st Century
Mar. 14—Apr. 25, 2008

About Face: The Relevance of Portraiture in the 21st Century might be described as a postmodern take on the genre of portraiture. Of course, portraiture is a perennial subject. We have an enduring fascination for images of the human face. But, as in all contemporary art, the act of portraiture is increasingly inflected with self-consciousness and historical consciousness. As curator Samantha Pinckney writes in her introduction to this show, "One of the tendencies of contemporary art is the desire to engage in original ways with the art of the past, another is to challenge the conventions of representation in art." These approaches are reflected in the quite disparate work in this show.

Artists Fritz Drury and Marie Cosindas most directly engage with the tropes of formal portraiture. Drury's oil paintings of his (in these cases) female subjects are subtly crafted through the prism of art historical approaches to portraiture. His influences—or references, if that is more accurate—include artists ranging from Caravaggio to John Singer Sargent to Picasso. The result is that the works, painted in four different decades (the oldest is from 1975), look like they could have come from the hand of four different-but all talented-artists.

Cosindas is a photographer, specializing in large-format Polaroid color film. She is represented here with two large Polacolor prints of celebrities, Candice Bergen and Robert Redford, formally posed. Bergen is captured with her mixture of handsome beauty, grace and intellectual confidence. Redford, clutching a bouquet of roses and photographed in his character for The Sting, is propped against a bar. With his head tilted to the side, he projects an ingratiating insouciance.

The large-format photographic portrait of "Jerrod" by Dawoud Bey is part of an ongoing series of portraits of teenagers. Seated outside at a wooden picnic table and dressed in a zip-up blue jacket, the chubby crew-cutted boy directly engages the viewer. His expression is serious and I notice that his forearms and hands appear scarred and raw. There are the hints of bags and darkness under his eyes. According to the photo's title card, many of Bey's recent portraits include text by his young subjects. Unfortunately, there is no text associated with "Jerrod." From the image, one might speculate that his life has not been a bed of roses. But it is in the nature of photography to sever the moment from the stream of time. This image is a photographic choice. There is no way of really knowing from looking at this picture the true facts of Jerrod's life. Perhaps he spent the photo session mostly laughing and cutting up and this image captured his one serious moment.

Text is an integral part of Daniel Heyman's "Amman Drypoint series." Heyman sketched Iraqi men as they related the stories of their confinement and torture by Americans in the Abu Ghraib prison to human rights lawyers. From the likenesses he had sketched on paper, he made drypoint etchings on copper plates. The men are depicted solemn and dignified as they testify to what was done to them—they were all released without charges—and not in the humiliating poses that have become iconic. Elements of their testimony were scratched in reverse into the copper plates (so they read correctly after printing), filling the space around their images, symbolic of the way in which the trauma continues to color their lives. The text tells of disgraceful treatment: beatings, sexual abuse, emotional assault. In the case of one man, the only individual depicted in a full body portrait ("Disco Mosul"), his captors deliberately and continuously exposed a wound on his right leg. Ultimately, the wound became infected and he had to have the leg amputated. Heyman's pictorial style reminded me of the work of German Expressionist George Grosz, whose drawings captured the dysfunction in the German soul that would lead to Nazism. This is portraiture as witness to a crime in which we as Americans are complicit.

With a background in commercial art, June Bisantz-Evans takes a notably contemporary multi-media approach to self-portraiture. She examines the media-reinforced roles for women that were ubiquitous in fashion and women's magazines when Bisantz-Evans was growing up in the 1950's. She collaged her own face onto archetypal magazine images of housewives—ironing, marveling over a sparkling clean wine glass from a dishwasher, grimacing while straightening the hem of her tight dress. The collaged images were printed as life-size cardboard cutouts. The cutouts are displayed before large sheets of paper printed with advice culled from an article, "How To Be a Good Wife," in a 1955 issue of Housekeeping Monthly: "Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes." "A good wife knows her place." "Listen to him. Remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours." There is certainly an element of parody and humor here, evident in Bisantz-Evans' histrionic facial expressions superimposed over those of the 1950's models. But, encountering her installation after reading the testimonies of the tortured Iraqi men in Heyman's etchings, is to realize that oppression exists along a continuum from the flagrantly brutal to the ideologically insidious. The extent to which the subordination of women was normalized by a mass media narrative is striking.

Linda Abadjian's self-portraits are fruits of her 2005 return visit to Lebanon, 20 years after she fled the country's civil war for the United States. As in her works shown last October at the No•Mad II show in Hartford, these works on paper were drawn using Sharpie markers and acrylic paints. Abadjian layered images of herself with interiors and exteriors of places in her former hometown. Only in "and My Heart's War" does the image of her face dominate the foreground. In the other works, her face and hands are effaced by the environments she is portraying, often intermingled with fragments of either English or Arabic text. These are portraits of a person as part of a place, and vice versa. Her presence has been left behind in the rooms and hallways, in the dusty streets. And, conversely, the place has left its mark on her, inseparable from her being.

Margaret Zox Brown
's three paintings eschew concentration on the face for a portraiture of figurative form and gesture: the individual at play, rest or meditation. Her brushwork is raw, rough and broad, fitting for work that endeavors to capture not so much individual likeness as the contours of mood and moment. Beverly Strom Bluth's eight portraits are based on photographs she took of people she met while visiting Wexford, Ireland four years ago. Their likenesses are situated within symbolic compositions reflective of their professions. Bluth has an affecting way with color—she notes in her artist statement that "The occasional surprise of sun-drenched yellow ochre walls on Wexford's building exteriors influenced color choices"—and skill at rendering the nuance of faces.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Creative Cocktail Hour Thursday at Real Art Ways

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Creative Cocktail Hour
Thurs., Mar. 20, 6—10 p.m.

Press release

While you are visiting 56 Arbor St. for the Paper/New England artist reception, check out Real Art Ways' monthly Creative Cocktail Hour from 6—10 p.m. According to Real Art Ways' Web site:

Our Third Thursday event gives you the chance to preview this year's Real party Art Grab canvases. Each year for our major fundraiser, artists (both well-known and emerging) from around the country donate canvases from which ticket holders to the Real party can select to take home. Take a gander.

March also features our annual Slide Slam. The works of art in the Slide Slam are from our open call for emerging artists who live in New York and New England. For more information on GO! and on the recently-opened call for proposals to Step Up '08, please see our visual arts page.

Music this month is by blues vocalist Cat Russell (photo by Stefan Falke). Russell is the real thing. Listen to her sing on her website or-even better-come here to hear her live.

And the mix of people makes this a truly unique gathering.

There is a $10 Cover, $5 for Members (FREE to Members who joined before 9/20/07).

Paper/New England artist reception Thursday night

Paper/New England
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 729-1146
Through May 10, 2008.
Artists' reception: Thurs., Mar. 20, 7—9 p.m.

Press release

Throughout an artist's life they will view countless works of art. There will be a few that have particular resonance and will rest in their minds even while they work in their studios. Artists create work with the hope that theirs will leave this same indelible mark on someone else, tying them to the past and moving them toward the future.In order to celebrate this remarkable link, Paper/New England has created an exhibition entitled Admire/Inspire/Aspire.

Four artists were selected to participate and have each selected two artists. One artist who they have long admired, and who, through their career, served as a source of inspiration. Second, one artist for whom they have served as a mentor, a guide and who has been inspired by their work.

The participating artists are Trudy Raftery, Andrew Raftery, Amanda Lebel, Kris Sader, Siri Beckman, Mary Ann Schwarz, Verne Anderson, John Willis, Jillian Vento (the accompanying image is a Vento drawing with watercolor and acrylic), John Jacobsmeyer, Scott Schnepf and James Munce.

There will be a reception for the show this Thursday night from 7—9 p.m.

Artist networking at Artspace Thursday

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
Artist networking reception
Thurs., Mar. 20, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

As part of Artspace's ongoing Thursday night event series, there will be a networking event for artists tomorrow, Thursday, Mar. 20, from 6—8 p.m. There is a $5 suggested donation.

Mingle with other artists, make connections and share ideas at our semi-annual artist get-together. Enjoy an evening of stimulating, creative conversation while checking out our current exhibits.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In the Press

Here are some of the recent articles on Connecticut artists and galleries gathered from the independent and mainstream press:

Allan Appel has an article in The New Haven Independent on "Guided Men":

"Hill Regional Career High School seniors Malik Graves and Lorraine Gabriel know plenty of people their age who have enlisted in the armed forces for the bonus money. They are exactly the audience artist Baptiste Ibar hoped would view his 'Guided Men,' Artspace's latest installation in The Lot, tucked away just in from the corner at Chapel and Orange."

"Guided Men" Occupy The Lot (3/4/08)

Phyllis A.S. Boros of The Connecticut Post has a piece on Nathan Sawaya's exhibit "Architecture of the Imagination: The Lure of the LEGO Brick" (2/29/08) at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center. (Through Aug. 17)

"Manhattan lawyer-turned-artist Nathan Sawaya is addicted to LEGO bricks. So much so that about 1.5 million of these tiny building blocks can be found in his studio at any given time. For many an artist, oil paint, acrylic, clay or bronze is the medium of choice. But Sawaya fashions his creations out of LEGO bricks — and LEGO bricks only. Although his artwork is unique, his passion for the toy is anything but."

Boros also reports on "Off the Wall/On the Wall/Car-toon-erism: East Coast Artists," at Bridgeport's City Lights Gallery. (Through April 12)

'It used to be taboo for artists to use cartoon imagery in fine art,' [curator Adam] Weisblatt says. But galleries in London, Tokyo and Los Angeles are now full of this type of art, often described as 'low-brow' or 'pop-surrealism.'"

Bridgeport gallery hosts cartoon exhibit Connecticut Post March 12, 2008

Stephan Vincent Kobasa has a moving piece--half review, half personal essay--in The New Haven Advocate:

"Drawing Mortality: Yale University Art Gallery's master drawings finally come home."

The New York Times has an article on New Haven photographer Benjamin Donaldson's work on Leete's Island: It's Not Just a Photography Project. It's His Past. Jerry Guo, 3/9/08

Donaldson is a recipient of a fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. (See their press release for a list of the other recipients.) Voices had an article on this on March 5. The 2008 fellowships were awarded "to 36 visual artists to support their continuing artistic development and enable them to devote substantial time to the creation of new work."


Lyman Allyn Museum Will Present 'Fifty Years Of Collecting' Antiques and the Arts 3/4/08

Such Desolate Beauty: Artworks Created In Wartime Internment Camps On Display At UConn's Benton. Jesse Leavenworth, 5/5/08 Hartford Courant

Art Of And By Women: CCSU Exhibit Brings Together Work Of Influential Feminist Artists. Hartford Courant Matt Eagan, 3/10/08

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thunderbird? Unlikely. Ripple? No way! Boone's Farm? Forget it. Wine tasting at Artspace Thursday night...

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
WINE TASTING with The Wine Thief
Thurs., Mar. 13, 6-8 p.m.

Press release

As part of Artspace's new regular Thursday night programming, sample some fine wines with The Wine Thief.

Enjoy the first in a series of three casual, educational tastings at Artspace, presented by the Wine Thief. For our first session, we selected rich, hearty reds to taste, perfect choices to cozy up with while looking forward to springtime. Tasting fee is $15 per person. Reservations and deposit required, enrollment is limited. Call Laurel at Artspace at (203) 772-2709 to make your reservation.

About Face opening Friday at Guilford Art Center

Guilford Art Center
411 Church St., Guilford, (203) 453-5947
About Face: The Relevance of Portraiture in the 21st Century
Mar. 14—Apr. 25, 2008
Opening reception, Fri., Mar. 14, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

We might all think we know a simple definition of a portrait is: an artistic representation of a person, in which the face is predominant, and in which the intent is to display likeness, personality, and mood. However, when one tries to pinpoint an all-encompassing definition of portraiture as a genre, it becomes clear that it is nearly impossible to gather the properties of the word and achieve universal acceptance.

The Guilford Art Center's latest exhibition, About Face: The Relevance of Portraiture in the 21st Century, will examine new artistic avenues into this enduring genre, as a means to explore its richness and complexity.

Curated by art historian Samantha Pinckney of Guilford, About Face will be on view in the Guilford Art Center's Mill Gallery from Mar. 14—Apr. 25, 2008. Objects in the exhibition include paintings, prints, photographs, digital collages, digital animation, and work accessible only with a computer. These cutting-edge works will encourage viewers to think about portraiture in new ways, and pose provocative questions, such as: Why has the portrait remained so compelling in a society where portraits of individuals are ubiquitous? What are a viewer's expectations concerning veracity? What is the relevancy of likeness and "inner truth," and how do portraits inform our culture?

Artists exhibiting in About Face include painters Linda Abadjian, Beverly Strom Bluth, Margaret Zox Brown, and Fritz Drury, photographer Marie Cosindas, collage artist June Bisantz-Evans, and printmaker and activist Daniel Heyman.

About Face will also include an interactive component that will complement viewers' experience of the exhibition and encourage them to create their own portraits based on traditional and contemporary techniques.

The opening reception for About Face is Mar. 14 from 5—7pm. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, noon—6 p.m., Saturday noon—5 p.m. Admission is free. Docent-led tours can be scheduled by appointment.

Opening at City Lights Gallery in Bridgeport Thursday night

City Lights Gallery
37 Markle Ct., Bridgeport, (203) 334-7788
Off the Wall/On the Wall: Car-toon-erism and Make Your Mark
Mar. 13—Apr. 12, 2008
Opening reception, Thurs., Mar. 13, 5:30—7:30 p.m. ($5 suggested donation, free for City Lights members)

Press release

City Lights Gallery celebrates the act of creating direct expressions: bold lines and words that quickly engage the viewer. There will be an opening reception this Thursday night from 5:30—7:30 p.m. While the reception is free for gallery members, there is a suggested $5 donation for the general public.

Off the Wall/On the Wall is an exhibition in two parts:

The East Coast is home to several artists using cartoon imagery in their work. Although there is a rich history of cartooning in art (think cave paintings), it is only recently that this subject matter has seen an explosion in places like LA, Tokyo and London. Cartooning is an international language with gestures and symbols that are embedded in our cultural psyche. In this way, it becomes a direct way to express an intense array of emotions and ideas. The artists chosen for this show represent a wide range of styles showcasing this dynamic art form.

The exhibiting artists are James Polisky, Mike Falcigno, Adam Weisblatt, Tony "Baloney" Juliano, Lookeetha, Liz Squillace, Ebenezer Archer Kling, and Moses JaenAllen Wittert. Their Web pages can be found here: James Polisky, Mike Falcigno, Adam Weisblatt, Tony "Baloney" Juliano, Looketha, Liz Squillace, Ebenezer Archer Kling, Moses Jaen, Allen Wittert.

Make Your Mark: Interactive Graffiti Wall
One wall of the gallery will be covered in Tyvek, a white building material. Buckets of Sharpie markers will be placed in front of the walls beckoning to anyone who wants to make a mark. The public is invited to use words and images to directly express their impressions of life, politics and being creative in the city of Bridgeport.

Auction Dates for Artwork created in gallery TBA

There will be a Taste of the Arts Lunchtime Art talk by Adam Weisblatt ("Cartooning is a Language") on Mon., Mar. 24, from 12:15—1 p.m. There will be light refreshments available; bring your own lunch.

Suggestive abstraction and temporal meditations at Artspace

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
Unnameable Things
John Bent: Suspended Animation 1 & 2
Through Mar. 29, 2008

Is representational abstract art a contradiction in terms? Possibly, but the show Unnameable Things, curated by painter Clint Jukkala and hanging in Artspace's Gallery 1, offers an argument otherwise. The imagery in most of these paintings straddles the line between representation and abstraction, teasing perception with the suggestion of recognition.

Unlike the Abstract Expressionism of figures like Jackson Pollock, most of these works aren't formalist romps in the interaction of paint and surface. Yet, neither do they "describe" identifiable subjects, be they figures, landscape or still life. What they do is hint at form.

Palma Blank-Rosenblum's paintings are wonderfully layered exercises in devising imaginary machines. Like exploded technical; drawings, her works portray the guts of an aestheticized technology. At the Feb. 7 opening, she noted that she works in layers, from back to front. Perspective is important to her forms, she said, "but not real perspective—isometric perspective." She referred to it as "sculpting through flatness." Her large "Machine P107"-a device with the seeming purpose of levitating a red cube-has entrails of piping, networks of air ducts and detailed maze-work of circuitry. The composition sits on the canvas in a kind of flattened faux perspective. Up close, it's clear that the imagery is layered with tape. There are illusions of translucency and bursts of gaseous liquids approximated by spray paint.

Where Blank-Rosenblum crafts an abstract geometry into the illusion of technology, Chuck Webster paints works that suggest natural forms. Blank-Rosenblum varies her surfaces to enhance the effect of depth and component interaction. Webster's surfaces are buffed to a smooth shine. For oil paintings, they have a very plastic presence. "Slow Path"—an oil on panel—features a long thin form that curls in upon itself. Colored reddish and regularly marked off in segments, it reminded me of a nightcrawler. It was an association enhanced by the black that filled the open space inside the area it bounded and by the green that surrounds it (although, it should be noted, not an association that Webster mentioned in his remarks at the opening). The forms in his other paintings evoked associations as disparate as bacteria, teardrops, tapeworms, trees and tonsils. The compositions are simple and his color application basically flat with little volume modeling or shading.

It seemed to me that a similar approach was at work in Baker Overstreet's two large acrylic paintings, "Good Grief" and "Nice Rack." Overstreet also traffics in simplified form and predominantly flat colors, although in the latter case not so much as Webster. His works featured horizontal mirror-image symmetry, reminding me of Rorschach inkblots, perhaps a fitting projection. (And the conscious urge to project a name or association on this imagery is one of the key elements holding this show together.) Both paintings had sections with white or off-white rounded color marked with two vertical black slots. I saw either pig snouts or electrical outlets. Interpretation?

Chris Martin's paintings incorporate other elements-he uses charcoal in one as well as colored pompoms ("The Pom Pom Painting") and gold holiday garland on "Pink & Green (Homage to Tamara Gonzales)." The interaction of the pompoms, authoritative this charcoal lines and bursts of dayglo orange spray paint in "The Pom Pom Painting" generate a series of interconnections and a pulsating sense of movement. "Pink & Green" is dominated by rounded bright green forms upright in a field of neon pink. The border is decked with an undulating gold Christmas garland. The green forms resemble ripe succulent plants, or cactus without the needles; there is also a lusty female curvaceousness apparent. The painting glows, both because of the stark way that the green and pink rub up against each other and because Martin has emphasized the curves of the forms with zaps of white and black spray paint.

I particularly enjoyed the painterly approach of both Carrie Moyer and Keltie Ferris. Moyers' "Rope Dancer Returns" is, for me, the highlight of the show. It effectively blends intimations of figurative presences with expanses of flat color and a form that contrasts with the grays, whites and beiges by bleeding a wash of delicious intermingling color. Ferris' two canvases, worked with a combination of acrylics, oils and spray paint, most noticeably evoke classic Abstract Expressionism. Colors sweep in and through each other. There is an obvious delight in decorating the surface of each canvas. Ferris' generous use of metallic silver color imbues the paintings with a contemporary urban feel—a shiny dumpster graffiti-trashed for the greater glory of art.

I found Matt Connors' three paintings to be disappointing. The concatenation of shapes and the use of color didn't seem to add up to coherent compositions. To my eyes, the forms were juxtaposed next to each other but didn't interact in any meaningful way.


As I stood in Gallery 1, jotting notes about the Unnameable Things show, I could hear the audio track to John Bent's "Suspended Animation 1." It sounded like one very angry stomach growling. It was a good thing i ate before coming to Artspace or I would have had to leave to grab a sandwich. Bent's installations are in the two Artspace rest rooms, now known as Gallery 6 and formerly the locus of the John/Jane Projects.

"Suspended Animation 1" digs into our guts. The animation, projected high on the wall facing the sink and toilet, features Bent's drawings of entrail-like forms. They curl around each other like an orgy of earthworms, enlarging and shrinking in a simulation of breath or some other cyclical internal organic activity. The accompanying soundtrack has a repetitive quality, like the run-out of a vinyl record stuck in successive crackly grooves. The projected animation is framed by more drawings on the wall in collaged black and white paper and a dripping wash of orange and black. From the ceiling above the video, Bent installed chunky orange stalactites, speckled with red glitter toward the tips.

The external processes of aging evoked by "Suspended Animation 2" complement the internal processes suggested by "Suspended Animation 1". Accompanied by a soundtrack of crackly white noise and guttural growls, video of Bent's impassive face is increasingly spidered by an overlay of lines suggestive of wrinkles. It is as though the frozen visage of life is becoming more brittle by the moment, threatening to crack apart. Where "Suspended Animation 1" offers a sense of circular time, "Suspended Animation 2" plays, in one sense, as more of an evocation of the workings of linear time. But also, by running on a repeated loop, it also suggests the way linear time can become cyclical through generations.

Monday, March 10, 2008

CT Art Scene blogger has article in Brooklyn Rail

Sharon L. Butler, who occasionally bogs here at Connecticut Art Scene has an interesting article up at the Brooklyn Rail Web site. Titled "Tracking Loren MacIver," it investigates the career of this female painter who was one of the representated artists for the United States in the 1962 Venice Biennale.

Butler's article can be found here.