Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Arts Council of Greater New Haven conducting a survey

Arts Council of Greater New Haven
70 Audubon St., 2nd floor, New Haven, (203) 772-2788

Press release

How do you take your art? The Arts Council of Greater New Haven wants to know! In an effort to better understand how the community participates in the arts, the Arts Council is conducting a simple survey online.

The survey consists of several straightforward questions, including where people go to hear live music or catch an exhibit; what people consider their favorite arts pursuits-concerts, plays, visits to museums; and what would make for a livelier arts community in Greater New Haven. All community members are encouraged to offer their input, including those who do not actively participate in the arts.

To take the short survey, visit the Arts Council's website at and click on "Upcoming Events" under "News and Events." For more information, please call the Arts Council at (203) 772-2788.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Silvermine faculty show opening Friday

Silvermine Guild Art Center
1037 Silvermine Rd., New Canaan, (203) 966-9700
School of Art Faculty Exhibition
Aug. 22—Sept. 14, 2008
Opening reception: Fri., Aug. 22, 7—9 p.m.

Press release

The annual School of Art Faculty Exhibition will be on exhibit at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center Sara Victoria Hall in New Canaan from Aug. 2—Sept. 14. The public is invited to the opening reception on Fri., Aug. 22. from 7—9 p.m.

Each year, the School of Art showcases current works of the distinguished artist/teachers. The exhibition represents every style and medium including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, mixed media, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and silversmithing. Works of faculty members such as Robert Baxter (see image below), Martha Bloom, David Dunlop, Dean Fisher, C.J. Guerin, Alex McFarlane, and Raychel Wengenroth, will be featured. All artwork in the exhibit is available for sale.

In addition to being faculty members of Silvermine, these talented artists have achieved success in other areas. Dean Fisher and Josephine Robinson co-wrote Teach Yourself Visually Drawing. With many examples to look over, demonstrations of various techniques and inspiring galleries of master drawings, the book was written to bring out the inner artist. Well-known New York figurative artist Mary Beth McKenzie, a visiting artist at Silvermine offering workshops twice a year, has ten original works in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Claire Watson Garcia published her first book four years ago Drawing for the Absolute Beginner, and is currently working on her second book, Painting for the Absolute Beginner due out next year. And David Dunlop has a new PBS series that is currently airing, Landscape through Time with David Dunlop. Each week, the show takes you to a locale where a famous artist lived and painted, explaining and demonstrating how the artist worked. The works and accomplishments of these artist/teachers are only a few reasons why this exhibit is truly an exciting one to view.

SGAC is a community based non-profit organization that fosters, promotes, and encourages artistic and educational endeavors. For more information about the exhibit, call the School of Art at 203-966-9700 ext. 2 or visit the website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Meeting this Thursday at Artspace re CWOS studio share space

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios 2008
CWOS Studio Share, Where? Meeting: Thurs., Aug. 21, 5—7 p.m.

Press release


CWOS STUDIO, SHARE, WHERE? meeting at Artspace:
THIS Thursday, Aug. 21, from 5—7 p.m.

We will be holding a meeting for all artists who are looking for temporary studio space for CWOS. Please join us if you are looking for a space, have space to share, and to meet other artists interested in forming groups to show together.

STUDIO, SHARE, WHERE? Blog now active.
The blog is a resource for artists looking for temporary studio space for CWOS. There are a number of temporary studio contacts listed, and we will be adding more as they come to us. If you have a studio to share with other artists, or know of a business that is offering to host artists, please email us and we will post the info on the blog to share with everyone: cwos[at SYMBOL]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thursday opening at Artspace

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
Late Summer Exhibitions
Late summer exhibition opening: Thurs., Aug. 14, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

Artspace is pleased to announce our late summer exhibitions on view from Aug.—Sept. 20, 2008. An opening reception will be held Thurs., Aug. 14, from 5-— p.m., celebrating the culmination of the three week long 2008 Summer Apprenticeship Program. Artspace will also hold a closing reception on Thurs., Sept. 18, from 5—7 p.m., to celebrate the exhibitions Fly Away Fly Away, The Best Around, Down Paradise Way, and Art: SCSU.

Fly Away Fly Away: An installation and new work by William Downs

William Downs' work often takes the form of large-scale installations of many small drawings and paintings; involving elements of autobiography, narrative, collage, and text. Verging on the surreal or abstract, the work finds its subject in "fear, worries, memories, dreams, fantasies, secrets, and feelings," and in Downs' interest in "the balance of conscious and unconscious states." During his residency in New Haven, Downs created new work, which premiers with this installation. View the work of William Downs in Gallery 3.

Hawaii: 2008 Summer Apprenticeship Program

Through a three-week residency, Master Artist William Downs shared his artmaking process and concepts with fifteen New Haven high school artist apprentices. They collected paper, old books, magazines, and typewriters, experimented with collage, paint, ink, and various drawing tools. With these materials, the group assembled a combination of many kinds of images and text through which they each strove to express a personal narrative. Together, separate narratives weave into one unified and multifaceted investigation in communal storytelling in the form of a gallery installation. In Gallery 1, view the collective work of: William Downs and Summer Apprentices: Annette Anderson, Kadeem Boothe, Chris Daniels, Simeon Durham, Max Duenkel, Tashaun Fair, Anessa Jackson, Terrencia Lee, James Manley, Marisol Muniz, Terell Palmer, Margie Roman, DaQuaya Scott, Louie Tafuto, and Geeta Talpade.

The Best Around

The Best Around features work by Flatfile artists Caitlin Foster and Juliana Sabinson, who weave found source material into humorous narratives featuring personal stories and absurd situations. View the work of Caitlin Foster and Juliana Sabinson in Gallery 6. Curated by Laurel Coniglio.

Down Paradise Way

Down Paradise Way features four artists represented in the Flatfile who draw our attention to often ignored details in everyday spaces. Asa Chibas photographs details in the landscape, coloring and accentuating using thread and stitching. Ilana Cohen pays attention to street architecture and infuses portraits of parking meters and metal grates with blooming wild flora. Suzanne Siegel's watercolor drawings of big-box store parking lots emphasize overlooked islands, lights and rooflines. Ann Toebbe's drawings turn cluttered functional living space into shattered forms, drawing attention to objects in the rooms. In Gallery 7 view the work of: Asa Chibas, Ilana Cohen, Suzanne Siegel and Ann Toebbe. Curated by Laurel Coniglio.


Through our Community Partner Program, Artspace collaborates with the Art Department of Southern Connecticut State University to present the extraordinary work of their art faculty. Representing a wide range of media including sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, and ceramics, Art: SCSU offers a look at the cutting-edge trends coming out of today's fine art programs. In Galleries 2, 4 and 5 view the work of: Yolanda del Amo, Mia Brownell, Wiley Carr, Greg Cochenet, Arthur Guagliumi, Keith Hatcher, Terry Lavin, Bill Phelan, Jeff Slomba, Thuan Vu, Rachael Vaters-Carr and Jessie Whitehead.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AIRS and CONNcentric artists announced

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios 2008

Artspace has announced the names of the artists chosen for the Artists-in-Residence Sites (AIRS) and the Main Exhibition aka CONNcentric. The AIRS artists can be found here. The list of CONNcentric artists is here. Interestingly, only 61 artists are listed as having been chosen for CONNcentric, a significantly lower number than what had previously been indicated by Artspace. There are 54 artists listed as accepted for the AIRS.

Monday, August 11, 2008

City-Wide Open Studios changes Part 2: A conversation with Leslie Shaffer & Jemma Williams

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios 2008

One of the points Artspace Director Leslie Shaffer and Communications Director Jemma Williams make to me during our conversation is that the Artists-in Residence component of City-Wide Open Studios is now more open than in the past. Previously, Shaffer notes, there were 6—10 artists-in-residence. More to the point, they were invited rather than chosen through open, juried competition. This year there will be 60—80 artists participating. (A comment to my previous posting indicated that the artists chosen by the jurors were notified by email on Saturday night.) And all the applicants had images of their work perused by directors from New York galleries.

As to how the jurying process worked, Shaffer says, "I left it up to them. I gave them space, a computer, a partner and a worksheet. I said 'I'd like you to please find 10—15 artists to put together to make some interesting discussion.' It was a challenge for them because it's an abstract process, and they were given a timeline.

"Each group came up with a different strategy. Some looked at [the work] by medium, some looked at by content," says Shaffer.

"The jurors were tasked with trying to identify an interesting thread or theme running through an artist's work," Shaffer tells me. The siting of different artists might be determined, in part, by medium. For example, a lack of wall space may make a space more appropriate for sculpture or 3-D work. The jurors were to come up with 3—4 sentence comments for the artists regarding possible themes/threads the jurors see in their work.

"The artists will be given the space to install, create new work, put up exactly what they put on the Web site or do with whatever they like, for the most part," says Shaffer.

"It's an opportunity. I like engaging people in new dialogue," says Shaffer. "I hope these exhibitions put together will help artists see their work in a new perspective. Artists showing next to someone they've never shown next to creates a conversation. They get to know each other. For the audience, it's exciting, too."

As to the changes in the Main Exhibition, Jemma Williams says that with CONNcentric, "We're trying to make the exhibition here more exemplary of what artists are working in and showing. It's actually limiting to have everyone in a cookie cutter kind of 18" by 18" square." Artists chosen for CONNcentric may end up showing between 1—3 works, depending on the size of their works. CONNcentric will be up for three months rather than one, giving Artspace the opportunity to do some programming in conjunction with the show. Unlike previous years' willy-nilly juxtapositions (which I kind of liked), Shaffer says CONNcentric will be "thematically organized."

"Artists will drop off their work—one, two or three, depending on size—and the curators will curate the space," she says.

Williams and Shaffer note that their surveys showed that the maps in the New Haven Advocate insert were used more often for seeking out artists to visit than the Main Exhibition.

The corollary to the Main Exhibition's inclusiveness this year will be a bound, printed artist directory and its online equivalent. Williams asserts that the directory will actually have significant advantages for artists over the previously inclusive exhibit.

"It will be a full-color book available throughout the year, not just an Advocate insert. It will be an alphabetical listing. Each person will get a full page with a full-color image and an artist statement," says Williams. There may be cross-referencing by medium, neighborhood, even location in the state. Every registering artist may have a page in the book.

I continue to have some skepticism as to how this will all play out. I think the fact that local artists have gotten less traffic than the old Alternative Spaces and Erector Square has always been a matter of logistics. It's easier to visit a lot of artists in a contained single location than it is to visit studios dispersed over a wider geographic area (and including single artists in their homes).

This is also an awful lot to try and see in a three-day period. That is particularly the case if you want to stop and have conversations with artists about their work, as I often do. (And artists themselves won't be able to participate at all as visitors.)

The diffusion of ad hoc sites for showing art and the prod to artists to self-organization is the real wild card in the deck. It could work out wonderfully. But there are certainly a number of questions. First and foremost, will there be enough available spaces for all the artists who want to participate? As of this morning, there are three locations listed on the CWOS space-sharing blog. According to Shaffer and Williams, businesses that are opening their doors will likely be doling out the space on a first come, first served basis. Some sites, such as the Marrakech social service agency in Westville that has posted on the blog, may have content restrictions (Marrakech: "No derogatory, controversial or sexual content please"). Others may be more suitable for certain kinds of work—painting or sculpture. While empty storefronts or unused studio space may be perfectly suited for ad hoc shows, I'm more concerned about the efficacy of showing in open businesses. Will it feel intrusive to peruse the artwork in that environment? Will the setting be conducive to conversations with the artist(s)?

But for Artspace, this new model is a beginning not an ending.

"This is a first step. We're trying it and if it needs to grow, it will certainly grow," says Shaffer. "If everyone comes to us at the end and says 'this was a huge mistake, we need to go back to three weekends,' we will figure out how to make that happen."

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Pet art exhibit to benefit Humane Society

The Picture Framer Artshack Gallery
96 Elm St., Hartford, (203) 272-2500
Dog Days of August
Aug. 1—31, 2008.
Opening reception: Sun., Aug. 10, 2—4 p.m.

Press release

During the month of August, The Picture Framer's Artshack Gallery is hosting the 2nd annual Dog Days of August show and sale to benefit the Meriden Humane Society. The exhibit will feature artwork of pets by various local artists. Gallery owner Ann Hearn says that the idea for this show came from her daughter, Iris, who is an enthusiastic pet lover. Last year's show was a great success and lots of fun so we decided to make it an annual event.

The entry fees for the show as well as proceeds from the raffles will be donated to the Meriden Humane Society in the form of a Stop and Shop gift certificate. Local pet services are encouraged to set up displays and/ or donate to the raffle.

The opening reception will be on Sunday, Aug. 10, from 2 to 4 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. The exhibit will run from August 1st through August 31st. Please call the gallery for exhibit hours.

The Picture Framer is located at 96 Elm Street, Cheshire, right behind the Cheshire Town Hall and adjacent to the Watch Factory Shoppes. For more information call Ann @ 203-272-2500 or e-mail

City-Wide Open Studios changes: A conversation with Leslie Shaffer and Jemma Williams, Part 1

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios 2008

When the changes to City-Wide Open Studios were announced, I was struck by what appeared to be a drastic downsizing of the event, both in terms of time allotted and participation solicited.

Instead of three weekends—divvied up between Erector Square, local artists and a large Alternative Space—there would be one, Oct. 3-5. There will be no big Alternative Space, home to artists without studios to open (or artists who, for whatever reason, didn't want to open their studios). Instead, the New Haven area has been subdivided into five neighborhood areas (Downtown, Westville, Fair Haven, West Haven and Hamden/Newhallville) and each neighborhood will host an Artist-in-Residence Site, or AIRS. Unlike the Alternative Space of years past, the AIRS are juried. About 10-15 artists will be chosen to show in each of the AIRS. The Main Exhibition, in Artspace's galleries at the corner of Crown and Orange streets in New Haven, had always included works by every registered artist or artist group in past years. This year the show, dubbed CONNcentric, is juried and will feature over 100 artists. Artists who aren't chosen for an AIRS or for CONNcentric are encouraged to find their own space, with or without the assistance of Artspace. (As of this writing, the blog Artspace has created to help connect artists with space is live but doesn't yet have available space. Artspace Communications Director Jemma Williams says that will happen this week.)

My concerns: That it will be impossible to take in all the riches that CWOS has to offer in one weekend; there was a reason why it expanded to three weekends. That the jurying of CONNcentric and AIRS, coupled with the demise of the Alternative Space, would not only have the effect of weeding out "non-professional" artists (my description) but might have been intended to do so. The potential result seemed to portend an off-putting elitism.

But Artspace Director Leslie Shaffer and Jemma Williams, who met with me (at their invitation) to discuss CWOS, say the changes are the result of in-depth consultation with participant artists following last year's CWOS. All artists had the opportunity to fill out an online survey that included both multiple choice questions and more open-ended queries. After the surveys were tabulated, Artspace followed up by convening focus groups. Artists were chosen randomly, every 10th name alphabetically.

Williams says there were a few "big common answers":

• Artists weren't happy that the audience wasn't expanding from "just friends of other artists."

• They wanted to attract a "more professional, or even curatorial audience.

• "Local studio artists felt they never got the audience the other two weekends got."
Williams also says focus group participants were asked whether they minded if the model was changed and whether they were tied to the three weekends. Most respondents, according to Williams, were amenable to changes.

Shaffer and Williams are adamant that CWOS is just as open to wide-ranging grassroots participation as in the past. Williams says that despite the necessity for artists to take a more proactive role in securing exhibition space, "they have as much opportunity as they want to put in the effort to get."

"I know it's a shift but it's just a physical shift, not a philosophical shift," says Shaffer.

"We're trying to broaden it," says Shaffer. Over and over in the consultation process, she notes, artists asked, "'Why don't you advertise outside New Haven? Why aren't we on NPR, CBS Morning News, the Today Show? How can we get the audience that's coming in other cities--collectors, curators?'"

Given the current budget for CWOS—$150,000—and staff, it is only possible to aggressively market one weekend to that target audience from New York and Boston. (Shaffer notes that CWOS has built a strong local audience.)

"How do I choose which of those weekends to put all the marketing effort into? And how do I tell this audience [of collectors and curators outside New Haven] if I can only choose one weekend, which weekend is best for them?" Shaffer says. The choice was made to pare down to one weekend and try to organize it so as to maximize the circulation of visitors.

The goal is to make CWOS a "destination event" in concert with "community partners," the city and state offices that work year-round to gin up tourism and community and economic development. Organizing the event around neighborhood "clusters"—with the added draw in each locale of the Artist-in-Residence Site—will hopefully attract visitors to the under-attended local artist studios. In conjunction with the community partners, Artspace plans to develop an efficient system for shuttling visitors among locations.

Shaffer and Williams say they are getting the word out to businesses about the event and encouraging them to offer space. Can they host an artist or artists or offer storefront space? Can they be open all the hours of the event or, if not, what hours? They are taking note of vacant storefronts and contacting landlords. Williams adds that artists or groups of artists can be doing the same thing, saying, "It's just a phone call, a yes or no answer." (Of course, it's one thing for a landlord to get a call like that from an organization with some community cachet like Artspace and another to get a similar call from some unknown artist.) At any rate, it has become increasingly difficult, Shaffer points out, to find large vacant venues like those used for past Alternative Spaces.

"There is a lot of vacant space, unfortunately. But it is spread out, not in big 150,000 square foot chunks," says Shaffer.

I mention that one artist who contacted me felt that the timeline for "homeless" artists to find space was too short, and that the blog was yet to offer any options. There may literally be hundreds of artists competing for these spaces. Over 100 artists will be showing one to three works in CONNcentric, depending on size of work, and 60-80 artists will be chosen for the AIRS. Artists chosen for AIRS cannot also show in CONNcentric but CONNcentric artists are eligible to seek out spots in the independent locations. Williams says some 200 artists applied online for the AIRS and CONNcentric slots, three-quarters applying to both. (In past years, CWOS has had upwards of 400 participants. This year's final deadline for registration is Aug. 29.)

Shaffer and Williams acknowledge there is a time crunch this year, attributing it to the extended consultation process and reorganization of the event. Williams says she has been focused on assisting artists with the AIRS and CONNcentric registrations but now that that deadline (this past Sunday at 11:59 p.m.) is passed, concentration will be turned to making the blog a resource.

"We hope people see this as a beginning," Shaffer says, adding that planning for next year's CWOS will start the Monday after this year's ends. "It needs to have a year-round person in the office, which has never been the case. We've had temporary directors of Open Studios, who start in July, and it's just not soon enough."

I will post a part two of this piece as soon as possible. Rather than wait until it was all finished—which I do in my spare time—I thought I would get this posted, and then return to the discussion in the next few days. HH

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Artspace has new curator

I was away on vacation when this was announced. When I got back, my computer's power supply blew the first time I tried turning it on. But everything's up and running now. I hope to talk with the folks at Artspace about the changes in this year's City-Wide Open Studios in the middle of this week. So I'll note again, if any artists have concerns about those changes—but don't want to express them publicly—drop me an email at ctartscene [AT SYMBOL]

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709

Press release

Artspace, New Haven's leading contemporary arts venue serving emerging artists, is pleased to announce the appointment of Liza Statton, as the new Curator/Gallery Director.

Liza Statton brings a wealth of experience to Artspace through her professional experience at SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico where she was the first Eugune V. Thaw Curatorial Fellow; and previous curatorial training at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), North Adams, Massachusetts; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Ms. Statton has been involved with the production and organization of twelve major exhibitions over the past four years. In 2008, she co-curated Steina: 1970-2000, the first major U.S. retrospective on the pioneering new media artist Steina Vasulka, and most recently played an integral role in the coordination and production of Lucky Number Seven, SITE Santa Fe's Seventh International Biennial. A graduate of the Williams College Master's in the History of Art program (2006), Ms. Statton is an accomplished lecturer and author, and contributed essays and articles to many art publications and exhibition catalogues, including Stephen Bush: Gelderland, which received a publication award from the American Association of Museums in 2007.

As Curator/Gallery Director, Ms. Statton will direct Artspace's dynamic and innovative exhibition program that presents forty exhibition projects per year in its 5,000 square-foot venue and off-site locations in the Greater New Haven area. The Curator/Gallery Director conceives and organizes two-three scholarly exhibitions per year - Ms. Statton's first major curatorial project will open June 2009. The Curator plans small thematic exhibitions, and oversees the selection and management of guest-curated projects. Ms. Statton will work with the Visual Arts Committee and Artspace staff to implement the Artistic Policy of Artspace, and build the solo show program schedule to fully launch in January 2009. This year, the new Artspace Curator/Gallery Director will team with two members of the Visual Arts Committee to select the work of over 100 Connecticut artists for inclusion in CONNcentric, an exhibition at Artspace planned in conjunction with the 2008 City-Wide Open Studios (see for more information).

Ms. Statton replaces Denise Markonish, who left last July for a curator position at MassMOCA, and will assume the position in late August.