Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faculty & Friends: The Creative Arts Workshop

Creative Arts Workshop
80 Audubon Street
New Haven, CT

An Impulse to Order: Michael Mancari and Rachael Wren
Faculty/Guest Artist Show
Through October 17, 2008
Closing Reception: Thursday, October 16, 5 -8 pm

The Figure: Corinne McManemin and Jerry Weiss
Faculty/Guest Artist Show
Through October 17, 2008
Artists Talk: Wednesday, October 1, 12:30 pm
Artists Talk: Wednesday, October 8, 12:30 pm
Closing Reception: Thursday, October 16, 5 -8 pm

Featuring an updated version of Seurat’s dot strategy, the images in Rachael Wren’s small-scale paintings emerge from a grid of pastel-hued pixel-like forms, hovering between architecture and atmosphere. Michael Mancari’s loud, large-scale paintings use pixel-like forms, too, but the overall effect of the layered, fragmented imagery is of entropy rather than coalescence.

In the upstairs gallery, Jerry Weiss’s portrait paintings and Corinne McManemin’s bronze figurative sculptures remind me of the artwork I used to see at my parents conservative friends’ houses when I was growing up: stolid yet accomplished.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Richard Klein Curates UConn's Inaugural Alumni Biennial

Contemporary Art Galleries
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
(860) 486-1511
Alumni Biennial (One)
September 8 - October 10, 2008

The Benton Museum of Art
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
43rd Annual Art Department Faculty Exhibition
September 2-October 12, 2008

I stopped by my alma mater (MFA 1994) today to check out the inaugural alumni biennial in the Contemporary Art Galleries at the University of Connecticut. Selected by Richard Klein, exhibitions director at the Aldrich Museum, the show brings together a painter, a graphic designer, two performance artists, and an organizer of interdisciplinary public projects. “UConn has an incredibly strong program and the challenge of the selection process was in choosing a small group of artists who could represent the range of accomplishment exhibited in its alumni," Klein writes in his curatorial statement. "The five artists I selected also represent a cross-section of contemporary practice, including painting, sculpture, graphic design, video, and performance. If there is a thread that ties these artists together, it is their willingness to experiment and not be tied down to a particular medium or genre."

Wandering down the hall of the Fine Arts Building, I ran into Professor Ray Dicapua, who was overloaded with teaching materials and an unwieldy, oldstyle boombox. Earlier in the day I had taken my ECSU Visual Arts class to see the annual UConn Faculty Show, which highlights Ray's new large-scale figure drawings (Avedon's "American West" meets Chuck Close) and Deborah Dancy's paintings. Dancy, who is well known for her evocatively leaden use of grey, brown and black, seems to have turned a page: the new paintings are light and open, featuring layers of (gasp) pastel color. I would have posted some images, but the Benton has one of those award-winning no-photo policies. So instead, here's a picture of my excellent class outside the museum.

But back to the Alumni Biennial. The selected artists include:

Afarin Rahmanifar (MFA 1996) is based in Connecticut and is a faculty member at Eastern Connecticut University. Her small mixed-media paintings suggest hierarchical systems of beauty and culture by juxtaposing and combining images from mainstream American popular culture with images from Persian paintings. Gendered, provocative and ultimately indefinable, Rahmanifar’s paintings investigate the role of “bodies,” apparatuses and vessels both infinitely unique and infinitely universal, as it exists in worlds miles apart. Her work has been widely exhibited and collected internationally.

Apirat Infahsaeng (BFA 2003) is a artist and designer based out of Brooklyn, New York. He is constantly absorbed in a wide range of projects, ranging from self-initiated, collaborative and client driven. Apirat’s conceptual framework can best be described in somewhat of an oxymoron: organic digital images. His design delicately balances bipolar modus operandis: navigating technology in order to create images rooted in romantic ideals of universality, integration, and interconnectedness. His aesthetic and interests oscillate somewhere between technological constructions and hand crafted visions that easily translate into dimensional worlds. Infahsaeng, a Senior Designer at BIG has developed projects for companies such as: AT&T Wireless, Coca-Cola, Kodak and Yahoo.

The content of Emcee C.M., Master of None's (Colin McMullan, MFA 2005) work is people: people working, living and struggling. His projects employ spontaneity, teamwork, play, intuition, efficiency, chance, adventure, difference, language, volunteerism, problem solving, recovery, sustainability, comfort, learning, discovery, and attainment: all of these, all at once. After graduating, Colin relocated to New York and has presented projects in Germany, Spain, South Korea and Serbia. He has also presented unofficial and collaborative projects in public spaces and has shows this year at the Bronx Museum and Artists Space in New York. Emcee C.M. and Ted Efremoff (MFA 2006), with participation from the citizen shipwrights of Willimantic and the K.I.D.S., collaborated to organize "Pulling Together: The Legends of Willimantic," an interdisciplinary project that centered around building and sailing a large wooden boat, and the stories and relationships that came out of the process.

Ari Tabei and Rebecca Parker, (both MFA 2007,) are performance artists already receiving positive career recognition. Tabei, currently based in Brooklyn, won residencies with New York's Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Vermont Studio Center. Tabei's dress sculptures, meticulously hand-constructed garments within which she performs, have been gaining recognition. For Alumni Biennial (One), Tabei presents "Dress for Today #5." Made of Japanese newspaper, staples, and black cloth, Tabei’s fifth project in her series is fragile, delicate, detailed and intimate. Simultaneously, however, it is difficult, overwhelming and baffling. The dress, itself a sculpture in its own right, acts as the vessel through which her performance is carried out.

Parker has also had significant professional success. Her work has been included in several juried and invitational exhibitions and was recently performed in New York and Philadelphia. Aside from art-making, Parker curates exhibitions for the Connecticut Commission for Tourism and Culture. For Alumni Biennial (One), Parker showcases two performance projects: the first, "What Girls do in White Dresses," investigates the transitional experience of growing up and the games we play. Through the reenactment of childhood activities she questions the way in which experiences become gendered as we move away from childhood and mimic activities of adults. Parker will also be exhibiting two new collaborative performances, one with Emcee C.M., Master of None and the other with fellow friend and artist Ted Efremoff.

Note: Artist info is from the gallery press release.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Artist talk by Nathan Lewis at UNH Wednesday

University of New Haven Seton Gallery
300 Boston Post Rd., West Haven, (203) 481-4270
Where Heaven Made Fun: A Selection of Works by Nathan Lewis
Through Sept. 26, 2008
Artist talk: Wed., Sept. 24, 7 p.m.

Press release

Painter Nathan Lewis will discuss his current show at the University of New Haven's Seton Gallery tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. A question-and-answer period will follow his talk. (Lewis also has work in the 2008 Connecticut Biennial currently on view at the Mattatuck Museum.

This is Lewis's first solo exhibition since his New York show in Feb., 2008. Four new works have been completed for this show, including a monumental installation, which incorporates a 16-foot boat. The installation is a response to his epic painting "Till We Find the Blessed Isles Where Our Friends Are Dwelling," a contemporary remix of Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware." The work depicts the American flag flying upside down, forcefully speaking to the problematic role of the U.S. in the Middle East and to a sense of hope for the lives of the Americans depicted. Other themes present in Lewis's work are the manipulation of religion in war, the changing cultural roles of the African-American and the Arab, man's relationship with nature, and the human quest for transcendence. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

Nathan Lewis is a New Haven-based painter and installation artist interested in the epic and monumental. He has lived and studied in Russia, Italy, and on both coasts of the United States. He received his MFA from Tufts University and the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He has exhibited at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, the Mills Gallery in Boston, and Jack the Pelican Presents in New York. His work has been reviewed in the Boston Globe, the New York Press, and The New York Times. He is currently an assistant professor of art at Sacred Heart University.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Snaps of The 2008 Connecticut Biennial at the Mattatuck Museum

The Mattatuck Museum
144 W. Main Street
Waterbury, CT (203) 753-0381
2008 Connecticut Biennial: Speak to Me
Through Jan. 11, 2009

Artists in the exhibition: Krysten Bailey, Diane Brainerd, Ellen Carey, Deborah Dancy, Steven DiGiovanni, Ted Efremoff, Sam Ekwurtzel, Letty Fonteyne, Gene Gort, Zbigniew Grzyb, Nathan Lewis, Christopher Mir, Olu Oguibe, Yolando Vasquez Petrocelli, Caleb Portfolio, Kerri Quirk, Nelson Ramirez, and Peter Waite.

Installation shots:

Sal Scalora, former Director of UConn’s Benton Museum, and Janice LaMotta, owner of La Motta Fine Art and former owner of Paesaggio Fine Art, have curated the Mattatuck Museum’s inaugural Connecticut Biennial, Speak to Me. According to their curatorial statement, “excellence in art making” rather than any specific theme was the selection criterion; thus, the work is conceptually diverse, and features new projects by young artists alongside work by older, well-knowns like Deborah Dancy (formerly Muirhead) and Peter Waite. Take a look at these snapshots, check out the links provided (click on artists' names), and try to guess which curator selected each artist. My choice for "Best in Show" goes to Gene Gort's video, Narcissus O.C.D. Gort describes the video as "curious, funny and melancholic." I think it's a perfect metaphor for my life in the studio.

Work by individual artists:

Well-worked prints scrutinize (and mimic) physical and visual decay.

Diane Brainerd (no link available)

Paintings "picturing spaciousness and quiet."

Ellen Carey

Exploring the sealed chemical envelopes of Polaroid film to create photographs that neither narrate nor document.

Deborah Dancy

Digital images that locate "mystery, tension, ambiguity and innuendo."

Steven DiGiovanni

"Original Sin," painted from digital images, ruminates on the uncertainty of the artist's future with his fiancée.

Ted Efremoff

Performance documentation (video) and an installation using objects from the museum's collection investigate the nature of collecting.

Sam Ekwurtzel

Slideshow of TV screen images culled from eBay listings for used TVs. (I wish my image was reflected in the TV.)

Letty Fonteyne

Bronze chainmail-like vests combine a love of knitting and grasses, leafs, and twigs.

Gene Gort

Two videos investigating absence, symbol and allegory.

Zbigniew Grzyb

The painting process calls the shots. "There is no content other than the image."

Nathan Lewis

"I use archetypes to construct narratives that comment on the macrocosm of our culture-at-large and the microcosm of the art world."

Christopher Mir

Paintings based on collages with Jungian allusions.

Olu Oguibe

"Yankee Fetish Series:" Comparing 19th century clocks with African fetishes.

Yolanda Vasquez-Petrocelli

Self-portraits exploring "my own vulnerability and strength."

Caleb Portfolio

Finding ways to "mess with our normal picture-taking methods." (Sorry for this awful image. )

Kerri Quirk

"Born with a neurological disorder that has resulted in autistic symtoms and hearing impairment that requires communication by signing, Quirk connects with the world through her paintings."

Nelson Ramirez (no link available)

"As a priest of the Palo Monte religion, I have created this altar in the public space of the museum in the spirit of personal and community healing."

Peter Waite


"All in all, she's a fine ship; suffering a few leaks, to be expected, and perhaps the side effects of too much acid."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ruchti's body of work at City Gallery

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
...And Then...: New Work by Jefry Ruchti
Through Sept. 27, 2008.
Meet the artist: Sat., Sept. 27, Noon—4 p.m.

Unlike the monochrome grays and blacks Jefri Ruchti worked with in previous shows at City Gallery in New Haven (see 495 Lines, reviewed here), the drawings in And Then... are in color. Most of them are drawn on Japanese paper using pastels.

Ruchti is caressing figurative curves. These aren't illustrations of the figure so much as abstractions where the modeling of the shadows, the twists and turns, suggest the figure. Along with the continuous tone areas of his drawings, Ruchti has added line scrawls in dark colors—purple, dark blue, black. In some drawings they serve to accentuate the continuous tone work, drawing out an edge. In others, they appear to be a private calligraphic language, perhaps commenting on the image.

The drawings are presented in series. When I was visiting the gallery, Ruchti pointed out to me how the "figure" in the five drawings that comprise "Green Blue 5" takes something of a 360-degree turn as the works are read left to right. With this set of drawings—the series that hints most at the realm of the erotic—the calligraphic marks suggest churning water.

There is a genuine gracefulness to Ruchti's modeled forms. I'm less satisfied with the calligraphic marks. While they add a strong, integrative sense of movement in "Green Blue 5," at other times I find them somewhat distracting.

There will be a Meet the Artist event on the closing day of the show, Sat., Sept. 27, from noon-4 p.m.

Iraq and Afghanistan photography and fundraiser Saturday evening

Daniel Smith
United Church on the Green
270 Temple St., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Life in War: Iraq & Afghanistan 2002—2008
Sat., Sept. 20, 7—9 p.m.

Press release

This Saturday there will be a question and answer session with photographer Daniel Smith at United Church on the Green in New Haven. New Haven journalist/photographer Daniel W. Smith has spent 4 of the past 6 months living in Baghdad, and is about to return there. He is raising funds for desperate Iraqi people/aid organizations, and to help bring medical supplies to a Baghdad family clinic.

There will be a showing and sale of photography from Iraq and Afghanistan, along with food, wine and live music. (Suggested donation: $5—$35)

For info, call Daniel at (203) 901-7558, or visit his Web site for directions and examples of Daniel Smith's photography/writing.

Saturday opening at New Haven Free Public Library

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Urban Vertigo: Artworks by Mounira Stott
Sept. 15—Oct. 15, 2008
Artist's reception: Sat., Sept. 20, 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Press release

"Over the last ten years, since immigrating to the USA," writes Mounira Stott, "my work has been influenced more and more by my fascination with the modern city—its textures, rhythms and ever changing patterns—particularly New York City.

Ms. Stott came to the U.S. from Russia, where she received her B.F.A. from the Moscow College of Artistic Professions in 1992. She also studied and worked in the field of electronics and computers, previously receiving her M.S. in Automation and Remote Control Electronics from the Moscow Radio Technology Institute in 1981 and her B.S. in Computers, Instruments and Devices from the Rasplatin College of Radio-Technology in 1975.

"Initially I captured a more representational view of New York, focusing on the play of colors and planes within a clear representation of the scene at hand. More recently however I try to separate my representation of the texture and the rhythm of the city from my representation of its reality, to draw the viewer into an appreciation and a sense of those rhythms without losing his or her connection to their source—the reality of the city. By using a variety of unusual perspectives that surprise the viewer, he at first loses the city's reality and sees only the 'essence' of its vitality in the light, color and planes of the painting. This essence reaches directly to his emotions rather than his mind. However, as the mind has a few minutes to digest what it sees it suddenly penetrates the surprising perspective and realizes that this is an urban landscape and thus makes the connection.

"One might view the works therefore as almost completely abstracted and at the same time as almost completely representational. In some cases the works capture a very narrow segment of the city—a part of a single structure for example, and in others, such as the aerial 'Urban Exploration' series the city's grand overall patterns and textures."

Mounira Stott's artwork is in many collections in the US and Russia, and has been shown in many venues including the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, on the Upper West Side, NYC; the Blue Mountain Gallery, Chelsea, NYC; Ward-Nasse Gallery, SoHo, NYC; and NoHo Gallery, NYC; as well as at the CARTUS Corporation in Danbury, CT; and the Artwell Gallery in Torrington, CT, juried by Cynthia Roznoy, Ph.D, curator of the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.

In Russia, her work was honored to be shown in the Artist's Guild Gallery, and to be in the Office of the President, the State Museum, and in the Ministry of Culture in Kazan, the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Walker Evans photos a glimpse into the past

Jennifer Jane Gallery
838 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 494-9905
Rarely Seen Works by Walker Evans
Through Oct. 6, 2008

The Walker Evans photographs at the Jennifer Jane Gallery were printed using several different processes. Some are hand-printed copper plate gravure from Evans' original negatives. Nine of 12 images from the "Message from the Interior" series are here shown in sheetfed gravure prints, printed under the supervision of Leslie Katz and Evans in 1966. There are eight gelatin silver prints—the traditional photographic print format—printed posthumously from Evans' original negatives. Most of the prints on display are contemporary carbon pigment prints from Martson Hill Editions.

Using the extended tonal range afforded by digital technology, Sven Martson and John T. Hill began printing Evans' images in this manner in 2000. Martson had printed for Evans and under his direction. Hill was a colleague of Evans at Yale and served as executor of Evans' estate.

Most striking are the very largest prints. Evans photographed in large format (for example, 8"x10" negatives). His negatives held a lot of information. Contemplating scenes such as those in "Gas Station, Reedsville, West Virginia, 1935" and "Birmingham Steel Mills and Workers' Houses, 1936" is to step back into time. The architecture, the signage, the texture of the brick of the building, the intersecting lines and angles of telephone poles and wires in "Gas Station" all bespeak a country at the crossroads. (Not unrelated to our present time where wars and economic and environmental collapse present the stark choice between progressive reform or fascism.)

The "Birminham Steel Mills" image is something else again. The contrast between the rickety shacks in the foreground—lined up in a row along the pock-marked dusty road—and the implacable solidity of the mill in the background is emblematic of the disparity in wealth and power. The road to the mill leads through privation. Notwithstanding the socioeconomic implications of the image, it has a defiant aesthetic grace. It's found in the lines, the geometry. The parallelism of the telephone poles and the steel mill smokestacks. The triangular zig zag of the roofs of the workers' hovels. There can be beauty in desolation.

That Evans' photographic gaze was an empathetic one can be seen in images like "Coal Miner's House, Scott's Run, West Virginia, 1935." The image world of consumer capitalism has invaded this humble home—large advertising blow-ups of Santa Claus and happy consumers paper over a corner of the room. But Evans portrays the shoeless boy with a measure of stoic dignity. His poverty is a riposte to the false cheer of the advertisements: documentary confronting lies with the truth.

These are documents of a time long gone. They aren't often on view outside of books. Evans was a practicing photojournalist on the payroll of government propagandists at the New Deal Farm Security Administration (at least for some of these images). But he created art.

Shear pleasure

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
In Sheep's Clothing: Art by Gale Zucker, Laurie Grace & Julie Fraenkel
Through Sept. 28, 2008

In Sheep's Clothing is a wonderful tongue-in-cheek title for a show that brings together three very different artists with complementary sensibilities and subject matter. Of the three, Gale Zucker (Web) offers the most straightforward work, with her photographs from a series on sheep, goat and alpaca farms. Julie Fraenkel and Laurie Grace both use drawing, color, and collage to layer imagery and express emotion.

Grace's works, she told me at the Sept. 7 opening, are about herself. They are symbolic representations of emotional states: fear, grief, happiness. But because she uses animals as her ostensible subjects, it is easy for a viewer to project one's own meaning onto these artworks. Grace layers scanned images of her drawings, collaged paper and gold leaf. On top of this she completes the artworks with daubings of pastels.

A couple of drawings—the same image, essentially, of the faces of two sheep—are differentiated by their varying color schemes. In both, one sheep is nose down while its eyes look directly up at the viewer and the other sheep gazes off into the distance. In the posterized effect she attains, Grace hearkens back to Andy Warhol's celebrity silkscreens. (And, indeed, in recognition of that, they are titled "Two Gold Sheep (Marilyn #2)" and "Two Blue Sheep (Marilyn #1)".) Because of the way it is drawn, with its snout lowered and eyes catching a sneaking peek at the viewer, one of the sheep also looks somewhat wolf-like. It's fitting for this selection of Grace's work that in the visage of this one animal it's possible to read both the threatening glace of the predator and the sheepish deference of the prey.

Predator and prey are upended, also, in Julie Fraenkel's "Granddaughter" and "Red," two takeoffs on "Little Red Riding Hood." In her work, Fraenkel strives for the "physical embodiment of psychological states." She often composes with layers of imagery—collage, drawing, gouache, text. There are scratchings and scribblings akin to the abstract explorations of a child with their first fistful of Crayolas. In these two mixed media on panel creations, Red Riding Hood cradles in her arms the limp body of the wolf, its mouth slack and open, eyes blank. Red Riding Hood is surrounded by blackness in "Red." She's a ghostly figure of the night in her crimson shroud. Shadows ring her face and rim her eyes. Innocence lost. The corpse of the wolf has weight and in her impassive gaze and its death there is the hint of a threat.

The color scheme in "Granddaughter" is altogether more sunny. But "Granddaughter" still courses with emotional turbulence. This wolf is smaller, almost a pup. There is a sense of loss in the way that it rests in her hands. To the left of Red Riding Hood is the image of an old woman—perhaps a drawing, perhaps a collaged photo. She is dressed in black with a white cap covering her curly dark hair. Sitting in a crudely drawn bed with a spindly iron headboard, she clutches at her chest. Storms of cloudy brown colors swirl behind and through Red Riding Hood's head, meteorological disturbances of the world bleeding into emotional tempests. In both works, there is the sense that one does what one needs to do to survive. But a price is paid.

Not all of Fraenkel's offerings in this show are as fraught. There is a series ("Sheep meadow I-IV") of solitary sheep in a field that is positively pastoral. A couple of acrylic paint on panel works—"The Old World (twentythird psalm)" and "The World We Choose"—could be illustrations for a children book with a ram and ewe dressed for a countryside picnic.

Gale Zucker's photographs are a sublime complement to the well-realized roiling tensions of Grace's and Fraenkel's artwork. For the book Shear Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn, Zucker visited ten farms where sheep, goats and alpacas are raised for their fibers. (The text of the book was authored by Joan Tapper.)

These are images steeped in affection for the animals, the rural and ecologically sustainable lifestyle in which they are raised and the knit products for which their fur provides the fibers. The first set of four large color prints is quite striking. There is a majesty to the sheep in the foreground of "Storm, 13 Miles Wool Ranch," shot in Montana last year and framed by a verdant pasture and the distant blue mountains. Unsurprisingly, given the tactile nature of the materials under consideration, Zucker has a keen eye for textures. In "Sheep in coats," shot in Granby, Connecticut, a group of sheep huddle together, each wearing a large cloth shawl around their torso. Standing on a bed of straw with their dreadlocked, matted wool coats, they look like well-fed but disheveled refugees. A brown angora kid is framed by a huge, round galvanized steel water trough turn on its side in "Angora kid at Kai Ranch." The mottled metallic blue of the trough, with its gathering of shadows around the rim, complements the orangish brown of the animal's soft, thick coat.

This is a finely conceived show that weaves its metaphors well.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Erickson performing arts photo show opens at Atticus Monday

Atticus Cafe
1082 Chapel St., New Haven, (203) 776-4040
T. Charles Erickson: Performing Arts Photography in CT, 1978-2008
Through Oct. 4, 2008
Opening Reception: Mon., Sept. 15, 6-8 p.m.

Press release

According to T. Charles Erickson (Web):

This show at Atticus Cafe is prompted by two anniversaries.

It has been thirty years since I photographed Bob Marley and the Wailers at the now defunct Pinecrest Country Club in Shelton, just twenty minutes from where you are standing. It was an amazingly exciting evening for me; Bob Marley was, without doubt, the single most charismatic performer I've seen in my lifetime (and I saw Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock!). I was so near to him that I had to back away because my telephoto lens would not focus that closely! I peered through the lens, mesmerized, for the first hour until it dawned on me that I was not really hearing the music because the visuals were that enthralling, so I put away the camera until the encore and skanked with the crowd! This is the first time these photos have been exhibited.

The second anniversary is even more important to me.

In 1984 I was hired by New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre to photograph my first show for a nationally known producing regional theatre. That show was "Tobacco Road" and it was brilliantly designed and cast; my photos looked like Depression era Farm Security Administration pictures from the 1930's, and that was the beginning of a long relationship with the theatre. It is with great pride and gratitude that I celebrate my twenty-fifth consecutive season as the Long Wharf's photographer. Their support for my work launched a career as a theatre photographer which has taken me to most of the corners of this country to record, and interpret in two dimensions, many of the most significant productions mounted by the nation's very best theatres. In the process I have built one of the largest archives of theatre photography by any living photographer. Last season I was privileged to work for seventeen theatre clients around the country, but it is the Connecticut theatre community to which I owe my most profound gratitude and sense of the great luck I have had by starting in this vibrant epicenter.

Here is a retrospective, representative of the sheer variety and importance of Connecticut's performing arts, encompassing photos captured on film and with digital cameras over the last thirty years. Enjoy them, and support live theatre!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

White Space Gallery opening in New Haven tonight

White Space Gallery
1020 Chapel St., 2nd Floor, New Haven, (203) 495-1200
Clinton Deckert: Conjurings: Where the Surreal and Abstract Collide
Through Oct. 4, 2008
Opening reception: Sat., Sept. 13, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

White Space Gallery features the surreal works of Connecticut artist Clinton Deckert. The exhibit Conjurings: Where the Surreal and Abstract Collide runs Sept. 2 through Oct. 4 with an Opening Reception Sat., Sept. 13 from 6—8 p.m.

Deckert is influenced by the Surrealist movement, Dada and Abstract Expressionism. He draws inspiration from the artists Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali. Deckert refers to his art as "Surreal Mindscapes" a merging hybrid of the Surreal and Abstract. The works are oil paintings that result from combining random abstract thoughts and surreal imagery. His technique is both exploratory and spontaneous.

"The canvas is my magic carpet and is an escape vehicle for me. I hope the viewer utilizes the liberty of their imagination and uses my paintings as a catalyst for their own daydreaming experience," says Deckert.

"The realism and detail of the artist's work is both sophisticated and whimsical with the imagination of a child and the imagery of a surrealist master," says White Space Gallery art consultant Marie Accrino.

Clinton Deckert explains one of his works. "When I started painting 'Beholder,' it started with random brush strokes, then blending and blotting of the paints. Initially it was like a primordial stew. As I worked, it began to exhibit a serpent image and a tribal-like symbol. The upper central area of the canvas seemed to take on the form of a fish, then a bird head and then to the ubiquitous eye. I had no intention to paint the eye but the image emerged no matter how many times I reworked the surface. My paintings often direct which way to go, so I followed along; resolving to its conclusion. It evolved to the point that the painting seemed to be watching me create it. Perhaps it was... "

"Deckert takes it all on-color compatibility, canvas structure, field depth, compositional nesting, classic themes and commentary. Even given days to reflect ... it is doubtful that I would be able to get to the root of the image." Leah Lopez Schmalz, Guilford Courier, 2007

Clinton Deckert lives in Southington CT. with his wife and two daughters where he maintains a home studio.

Latin American art opening tonight at the Hygienic

Hygienic Art Gallery
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
Latin American: Toward an Apollonian Expression
Sept. 13—Oct. 11, 2008
Opening reception: Sat., Sept. 13, 7—10 p.m.

Press release

The purpose of Latin American: Toward an Apollonian Expression, presented by Latins in the Borough Art Gallery, is to provide the citizens of South Eastern of CT with a better knowledge about the diversity and widely creative works of high quality made by artists from different countries and a wide range of backgrounds, but with one thing in common: the same language. The project adds visibility to the cultural heritage of SEC and its people. Each artist has developed a thematic line, which is far from the descriptive style; it shows the essence and depth of beings and myths, topics and concerns of the men of all times, of universal men.

The show features Latin American artists Guido Garaycochea (Web, see accompanying image, "Night's Journey"), Jaime Romero, Pedro Hernandez, Juan Bernal, Lilian Cuenca and Carmen Gloria Maristany.

They are especially interested in uncovering endless material expressions. Their purpose is to discover innovative and unusual factors that are potentially in the elements chosen for their work.

"These artists possess the faculty of making people perceive the micro-cosmos lodged in the abstract spaces of reality. It is as if they wished to look for inspiration in the text provided by nature."

There will be an opening reception for this show tonight at the Hygienic Art Gallery, from 7—10 p.m.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Face to face with wars' impact on service personnel at the Hygienic

Hygienic Art Gallery
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
100 Faces of War Experience
Through Sept. 13, 2008

In one sense, the pictures hanging on the walls of the lower level of the Hygienic Art Gallery are banal. They depict men and women between their late teens and early 50s, some of them in military uniform. All are head and shoulders portraits. The early paintings were mostly based on photographs but these days artist Matt Mitchell meets with his subjects to talk and paint from life.

But the 100 Faces of War Experience is anything but banal. The individuals pictured are all veterans of the Iraq and/or Afghanistan wars or have traveled to the theater of conflict. Each portrait is accompanied by a statement and information chosen by either the pictured individual or if deceased, by his or her family.

Mitchell undertook the project as a way to more deeply understand the impact of the wars and to make their human cost (at least to American service personnel) visible to a domestic audience. Begun in 2005, 22 portraits with statements have been completed so far. A work in progress, it will ultimately consist of 100 portraits and statements. The 100 Faces of War Experience is a not-for-profit project sponsored by the Veterans Education Project of Amherst, Massachusetts.

Many of the statements are poignant, colored by disillusion and loss. I found myself often reading the words, referencing the portrait and returning to the statement. Particularly evocative is the portrait of Rick Yarosh. The Army Specialist, Calvary [sic?] Scout and Bradley Gunner was traveling in a Bradley tank in 2006 when it was struck by an I.E.D. The tank's fuel cell ignited, engulfing the occupants in flames. One of Yarosh's fellow soldiers died within a week from his injuries. Yarosh himself suffered burns over 60 percent of his body. In his portrait he wears a t-shirt emblazoned with "ARMY" on the front. His face and arms are raw. The skin looks like it was applied with a putty knife. His statement concludes, "The day started the same as every other day, but that day has never ended."

The portrait to the left of Yarosh's is that of Tyler Boudreau, identified as a "General Contractor" from Newton, Massachusetts. Boudreau, as a Marine Captain, spent seven months in Fallujah in Iraq in 2004. His statement is titled "The Dangers of Introspection." Describing what he calls the "mission to troop ratio," Boudreau notes that to be an effective commander one must love both but "ultimately he must love the mission a little more." He must be prepared to sacrifice the lives of his men. But what if the ratio gets reversed? Boudreau writes, "From the disparity I witnessed between the policies in Washington and our actions in Iraq, an ambivalence formed inside me." He resigned his commission when he "realized my reverence for [his troops] had overwhelmed my reverence for the mission." Boudreau is pictured in civilian clothes: a plaid, button-down shirt with a pen in his breast pocket. His face is boyish, almost serene, but it is hard not to see a trace of world-weariness and disillusion in his demeanor.

There is no unanimity of opinion about these conflicts. Some of the veterans remain gung ho. Many express anger and a belief that their honorable service was abused by a "dishonorable" President. Throughout, Mitchell's project humanizes these people. While his brush captures their features, they are allowed to express themselves in their own voices.

The exhibit includes portraits and statements from several soldiers who did not survive the conflict—some being killed in action and at least one, Jeffrey Michael Lucey, a Marine Lance Corporal who took his own life upon return as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, Lucey was Mitchell's first subject. A letter that Lucey wrote home to his family from Iraq accompanies his portrait.

According to the press release for the show, the exhibit is being sponsored by the newly formed Wounds of War organization "as way to communicate the plight of returning veterans as they attempt to reintegrate into their lives back home." Wounds of War is a grassroots not-for-profit "formed by concerned citizens to help Connecticut Servicemen and Women who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make the transition back into society."

Wounds of War Director Renee Rhodes says, "In America right now there is an awareness, through the media, of a 'mental health crisis.' There is a tsunami arriving on our shores of wounded men and women. These wounds are not typical mental health wounds but rather the effects of being in a highly stressful, and dangerous situation over an extended period of time."