Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Call for Entries, First Scrap Art Sculpture Contest at Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration
55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, (860) 572-5955

Press release

You may want to think twice before you throw that item in the recycling bin. Instead, think of reusable items as artistic inspiration! Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is holding its first-ever scrap art sculpture contest and is seeking marine-themed art created from recycled materials. Established and budding artists alike may submit their creations through April 17.

Guests during the aquarium’s Earth Day Celebration on April 18 and 19 will select the winner, who will be announced at 5 p.m. on the 19th. The winner will receive a trophy and behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium, which includes a guided tour of the campus, access to a private touch tank, reptile encounter and stops at the top of the Coral Reef exhibit, food prep kitchen and freezer and an animal exam room.

The idea for this contest came from the Youth Leadership Council, a group of high school students who serve as ambassadors for the aquarium and its public conservation programs.

“Over the past few years, aquarium guests and local residents have become increasingly involved in our many conservation projects, and the Youth Leadership Council wanted to build on this trend,” said MaryEllen Mateleska, instructor and public conservation programs manager at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. “This contest is a great way to engage our guests in our annual Earth Day Celebration and get everyone thinking about creative ways items can be reused in the house and beyond.”

All submitted sculptures must consist of at least 75 percent reusable goods, and those goods must be cleaned prior to use. The sculpture should be no larger than 30 inches long by 30 inches wide by 60 inches tall and no heavier than 25 pounds. The work must stand on its own.

This contest is open to individuals and groups of up to 15 of all ages. All art submissions must be brought to the aquarium between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on April 17.

For additional rules and more information, visit, “Fun & Learning, Spring Programs for Families.” All participants must register to exhibit their art by e-mailing by April 10.

About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.:
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Presents are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit, charitable organization incorporated in the State of Connecticut . The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sunday reception at A-Space in West Haven

Opening reception Sunday at Silvermine

Silvermine Guild Art Center
1037 Silvermine Rd., New Canaan, (203) 966-9700
March/April Exhibits at Silvermine
Mar. 22—Apr. 15, 2009
Opening reception: Sun., Mar. 22, 2—4 p.m.

Press release

New exhibits opening at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center, located in New Canaan, CT on Mar. 22 will be showcasing five women artists, all Silvermine Guild artist members. Exhibits range from Director's Choice Janet Baldi featuring her well known body of still life paintings; wall sculptures by Judith Steinberg; ceramicist Florence Suerig; and Fran Henry-Meehan with a selection of works from her Garment series of montotypes with Diana Moore's series of Purses cast in metal in a two-person show. All are welcome to the Opening Reception on Sun., Mar. 22 from 2—4 p.m.

Greenwich artist and Director's Choice, Janet Baldi's exhibit Bodegónes focuses on her body of still life paintings. Through her masterful rendering and understanding of visual space, Ms. Baldi is able to elevate this traditional and common academic subject into a visually complex exploration of the pictorial plane. While she hints at three-dimensional space through her faithful rendering of rounded teapots, pitches and vessels along with the inclusion of the objects' shadows, she manages to flatten any sense of depth of field. This is accomplished through her use of linear composition accompanied by the addition of neutral backgrounds. In effect, Ms. Baldi creates an image that forces the viewer's eye to remain on the surface or foreground of the image. In her work "The Bride," the vessels are accurately portrayed with cast shadows and the straightforward linear composition seems to flatten the picture plane evoking an effect found in the layout of traditional Greek friezes.

Stamford artist Judith Steinberg's exhibition Memory Catchers has a focus that shifts between two- and three-dimensional pieces, with a palette ranging from stark black and white to vibrant color. These wall pieces are part of an ongoing series of three-dimensional constructions that began in the spring of 2007, following a major collaboration with two other artists. A host of new materials have incorporated their way into the work and introduced a new feeling of delicacy, and fragility. Ms. Steinberg's wall sculpture combines both found metals and painted paper into a woven composition that creates a visually lyrical object. According to the artist, "Embedded in these pieces is my love of movement and the delight I feel when interacting with the natural world: the flow of water or air around my body, and the sublimity of these simple experiences. The work is driven and directed by the process of making it."

The works included in Florence Suerig's exhibition represent the artist's latest endeavor to explore the possibilities of non-functional ceramics. Well known for her work in the textile arts, Ms. Suerig's new body of work shows that she is quickly and clearly defining an artistic voice and technical control for the clay medium. The new body of work consists of a series of pure white, fluid, abstracted figural works which work with the visual language developed by the master sculpture Henry Moore, a historical and visual reference that Ms. Suerig is well aware of and directly pays homage to with the show's whimsical title Moore or Less. A resident of Greenwich and a Silvermine Guild artist member since 1982, Florence Suerig began working in clay after a successful thirty-year career as a fiber artist. Her new sculptural works are the result of several years of intense exploration of medium, and reflect the sensitivity to color, form and surface she has cultivated throughout her career.

In her two-person show with Diana Moore, Attire the Second Skin, Fran Henry-Meehan exhibits a selection of works from her Garment series of monotypes. On the surface these works seem to be merely stark representations of articles of clothing as bikinis, suits and evening dresses. However, upon further inspection Henry-Meehan's work reveals something much deeper than simple renderings of recognizable items. Through her use of color, understanding of compositional arrangement, and use of technical traits inherit to the monotype print process, she transform these garments into architecture structures, surfaces of pattern, and symbolic icons.

For many years Diana Moore, an artist member of the Silvermine Guild of Artists since 2006, worked with the human image in concrete, carbon steel and bronze. Some of these works were small and intimate while others were large-scale public works. In 2000, she began working with the female presence in the form of a purse. This became a series of eight purses that reflect different aspects of female anatomy. There is a precision and clarity to the form in the purses and their patterned outer surfaces that suggest female obsession with body shape and its decorative presentation. According to Moore, "This is one of the oldest and often, only ways in which women could express their individuality. Though women now have many other options, this means of self expression remains basic." All of the purses in this series open up and are latched in various ways. The interior of each purse is the negative shape created by the outside purse form. The interiors are plain or without textural embellishment. One could think of this inside/outside as unconscious/conscious or the private/public aspect of self.

The purse has associations beyond its use as a metaphor for the female presence. For the artist, the purses have a rich cultural inheritance as they were inspired by many diverse objects. "Prickly Purse" and "Clutch" have an African feel, while "Seedy Purse" looks like it might be related to Japanese teapots. The idea of "Prickly Purse" came from walking on industrial, rubber pronged mats as well as looking at African fetish figures. "Spiral Purse" was motivated by an ancient Japanese earthenware urn that Moore had seen in the newspaper. The Purse Series, while playful, have a formal presence as well. Cast in carbon steel, rusted and weathered, they look somewhat archeological yet represent a contemporary object.

Sunday artists' reception at Kehler Liddell followed by music

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Vanishing Points: Photography by Bob Gianotti & Alan Shulik
Through Mar. 30, 2009
Artists' reception: Sun., Mar. 22, 3—6 p.m., followed by a musical performance by Bob Gianotti, 6—8 p.m.

Press release
Bob Gianotti and Alan Shulik are photographers working in the genre of landscape photography over many years. Each on an individual journey.

When Gianotti photographs, his ego vanishes. Ice forms are rendered in beautiful silver gelatin tonalities. He composes abstract universes of motion formed from the ring-residua of cut-down tree trunks, fungal forms, and semi-frozen water droplets. Nature is captured as hyper-real, other worldly, and inviting.

Shulik's vanishing points portray traditional landscape or interiors as well as conceptual imagery. He is drawn to faraway and desolate locations, rooftop views of ancient towns, and existential landscapes where people seem to disappear into their surroundings.

Shulik's photographs are of people and places in Connecticut, Martha's Vineyard and Pennsylvania, with new work shot in Tuscany and Sicily (October, '08), and the border towns of West Texas (March, '08).

In this exhibition of selected new works, Shulik and Gianotti suggest Vanishing Points not only as an element of composition or perspective, but a visual and illusive opportunity. The power of these photographs allows the viewer to vanish his or her sense of personal reality for a brief and pleasurable moment, or perhaps, a longer mesmerizing visit.

Springtime is here! Public is invited to join the artists Alan Shulik, Bob Gianotti, Kehler Liddell Gallery Members and community in celebration of this fine exhibit on Sun., Mar. 22, from 3—6 p.m. No admission fee for gallery or reception. The reception will be followed by a live performance by photographer and musician Bob Gianotti, from 6—8 p.m. Acoustic guitar originals to dance party covers, Bob plays it all. Stay to listen, sing and dance along.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Art and Science Connections" opening Saturday night at the Hygienic

Hygienic Art
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
Art & Science Connections and Holography: Making Faces
Mar. 21—Apr. 14, 2009
Opening reception: Sat., Mar. 21, 7—10 p.m.

Press release

A not-to-be-missed interactive, educational experience for the whole family. By integrating art and science the artists of 73 Washington Street in New London, CT, paired with the fascinating and magical Holography of Paul Barefoot and Holophile, Inc. make for a spectacular event at Hygienic Art. Fill the senses with jolting images in this interactive, educational and entertaining experience of art and science. Please contact the gallery to schedule appointments for large groups.

Art & Science Connections • There are many who consider art and science to be separate and quite distinct ways of thinking about the world. In contrast to that, the artists of 73 Washington Street in New London present Art and Science Connections. Seven long-time artists who also have diverse professional backgrounds in science and technology present works that reflect the many ways those professions have influenced, enhanced and combined with their individual approaches to art. Small to very large pieces in the collection of photography, oil painting, watercolor, print, mixed media and digital display imagery depict a wide variety of subject matter including portraiture, landscape, still-life and computational abstractions.

The artists are:

Deborah Curtis • Software Technologist, Artist
Bernice Lord • Scuba Diver, Dive Shop Proprietor, Artist
Rich Nazzaro • Engineer, Artist
Mark Patnode • Artist, Teaching Artist
Annelie Skoog • Professor of Marine Sciences, PhD, Artist
Roger Tremblay • Electrical Engineer, PhD, Artist
Dennis Vargo • M.D., Safety Scientist, Artist

Holography: Making Faces • Inspired by American installation artist Bruce Nauman's 1968 holographic self-portrait of the same name, Making Faces introduces the many types of holography used to record images of people. This unique collection demonstrates the different holographic technologies and techniques that can be used to "make faces," including pulsed portraiture, integral stereograms, embossed and photo-polymer holograms that produce both still and moving images.

There will be an opening reception for both shows this Saturday evening, Mar. 21, from 7—10 p.m.

Friday Photo Arts Collective opening at Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery, formerly the Small Space Gallery

Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery
70 Audubon St., 2nd floor, New Haven, (203) 772-2788
Spectra 2009
Mar. 19-May 22, 2009
Opening reception: Fri., Mar. 20, 5-7 p.m.

Press release

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven presents Spectra 2009 in the Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery (formerly Small Space Gallery) at 70 Audubon St., 2nd floor. The exhibit takes place from Thur., Mar. 19 through Fri., May 22, with an artists' reception on Fri., Mar. 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Spectra 2009 is the annual members show of the Photo Arts Collective, an Arts Council program whose mission is to cultivate and support a community of individuals who share an interest in photography, through workshops, lectures, exhibitions, portfolio reviews, group critiques and special events.

Spectra 2009 includes photographs by Joe Azoti, Christopher Beauchamp, Joy Bush, Penny Cook, Rod Cook, Jim Fiora, Bob Giannotti, Kenneth Hanson, Sharon Hirsch, Art Johnson, Roy Money, Dana Osborn, Maryann Ott, David Ottenstein, Archie Stone, John Weinland and Marjorie Wolfe.

Ott, who sits on the Photo Arts Collective's Steering Committee, said Spectra 2009 is an "incredibly diverse" collection of work that features color and black-and-white photography, analog and digital photography, and alternative and traditional processes.

"This particular show ... is probably our strongest," Ott said.

The Photo Arts Collective, Ott said, is "a place for people who share a passion for photography to gather," collaborate, talk, learn, share and debate. Open to Arts Council members, the Photo Arts Collective meets the first Thursday of each month at the Kehler Liddell Gallery, 873 Whalley Ave., New Haven.

For more information about Spectra 2009, the Photo Arts Collective and the Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery, please call the Arts Council at (203) 772-2788.

Diverse shows at Artspace

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
Mark Mulroney: Wet with Glee
Gail Biederman: 2800/16/65/4100/35/1073/84B
Kwadwo Adae: Kwadrilaterals
David Borawski: Goes Around Comes Around
Steven Millar: Discovering Home
Jeremy Bell: Vestige: Genesis
Geoffrey Detrani: Break & Heap
Through Mar. 28, 2009
Opening Reception: Thurs., Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m.

Wet with Glee, Mark Mulroney's installation in Artspace's Gallery 1, consists of two distinct but related elements. The sculptural portion of the installation is an architectural construction, which wends is way diagonally across the gallery floor. A dark, low-ceilinged passageway, it's built of box cardboard and packaging tape. The entrance and various "rooms" are set off not by door but by long streamers of colored paper. (They reminded me of the bolts of fabric one drives through in a car wash.)

This construction evokes childhood on two levels. First, there is scale. Even for a height-challenged adult such as myself, it is necessary to crawl (painfully) through its constricted hallway. More importantly, in its improvisatory layout and use of throwaway materials like cardboard boxes, it is informed by the architectural endeavors of childhood: forts in the woods, hiding places built of chairs and draped sheets. It is dark inside but light leaks in through the "roof" and seams; the eye adjusts. And, reaching the end, the visitor's gaze is directed by a spray-painted arrow toward a blunt visual joke—graffiti of a full-busted woman, naked from the waist up (with text that reads, "Next time you should stay for dinner. We'll have drinks and I'll make my casserole"). It is symbolic, perhaps, of childhood's end and the onset of (male) adolescence and adulthood. There is poignancy here. The signaling of life's next phase is not the door to another passageway but rather a dead end.

The graffiti inside connects to the graffiti outside, a seemingly random wall mural. With a painting style reminiscent of that of punk artist Raymond Pettibon, Mulroney has rendered a couple of sleepy-eyed mules, twigs and a couple of large hands grasping at or clutching them, lengths of rope, washes of water and squiggles and lines of spray paint. Here again, there is a sense of play at work, ADD artistic energy, harnessed to complete some imagery, distracted in the making of other imagery. The mules might represent work. But who knows? It made me think of a kids' secret universe that one might stumble upon in the woods or at an abandoned industrial site. It is suggestive of freedom, creativity and adventure. It is also a dead end.

David Borawski also makes use of large squares of corrugated cardboard as part of his Goes Around Comes Around installation. The circle has symbolic resonance in all these works—an enclosure, a target, as a reference to cycles of violence. For "Watching You Watching Me," Borawski partially stripped away the surface of cardboard panels to create a series of target-like concentric circles. Borawski abutted nine square cardboard panels to create "Black Out." Cutting away the smooth surface on the four corners, he left a large inner circle, which he painted black. Borawski's installation—which addresses issues of surveillance and corporate control, although a viewer would only know that from reading the posted information—also includes video and "Black Sea," a sculptural installation comprised of a ring of orange traffic cones enclosing a sheet of black plastic. "Black Sea' is intended as a commentary on corporate control of oil but as such, it lacks bite.

As a body of work with intended social critique, Steven Millar's series Discovering Home is far more successful. It is a wry bit of well-executed social commentary. These ink on paper drawings riff off the American fetish for home ownership, and the marketing that feeds that fetish. Millar pairs stark black and white ink drawings of dwellings with a combination of found text, overheard conversation and his own writing. Some of these drawings feature homes one might see on any cruise through the suburbs: a split-level, an A-frame, raised ranch, a contemporary. But more often than not, there is an air of surrealism or dislocation, alienation amid the prefab lifestyle. A giant jet takes off over one house; the text reads, "Even silver has a cloudy lining." Many of the structures are caught in the process of morphing into something else, symbolic of the way one's dreams of life and place are upended by time and circumstance.

Geoffrey Detrani's layered drawings in his Break and Heap exhibit pair natural forms with geometric and architectural shapes. In a work like "Souvenirs and Barricade"—pencil, colored pencil and ink on paper—leaves, twigs and branches spar compositionally with rectangular slots seen in perspective, like looking through open Venetian blinds from the side. If this is a commentary on attempts to subdue and enclose nature, then nature appears to be getting the upper hand (or branch). It reminds me of the way in which weeds force their way through cracks in pavement. Detrani's use of slashing diagonals suggests the design conceits of the Soviet avant-garde. In his drawings, the representational (organic) and abstract/geometric (inorganic) are in dialectical conflict with compositional integrity as the mode of synthesis.

Does the universe have a design, intelligent or otherwise? Jeremy Bell's drawings-using blueprints, a medium almost exclusively associated with technical and architectural plans-suggests that such design may be outside our capacity to fully comprehend it. "Apple" may render the iconic fruit in technical form, as a transparent graphed double ovoid form with visible seeds and stem. But it leaves outside it's design the mysteries of taste, procreation and metaphysics.

One of the most commonly used diagrams in daily life is the map. Gail Biederman meditates on place and memory in her 2800/16/65/4100/35/1073/84B installation. The numbers refer to seven different addresses at which Biederman has lived (in the Connecticut municipalities of Bridgeport, Shelton, Cromwell, Granby and Fairfield as well as Minnetonka, Minnesota and Croton, New York). Biederman has hung from the ceiling seven large "maps" of each of these locations cut out of a long roll of thick, black felt. There is a contrast between the grid-like order of some and the more meandering curves of others. In addition, the way the hanging cutouts of felt sag and twist suggest both the rolling of landscape but also the warping of memory. Biederman has also created a couple of wall collages using the cutouts from the maps, raising interesting questions about which are there real representations of these places, the vehicular circulatory system as represented by the road maps or the locations that they connect.

Kawdwo Adae's eye candy canvases—the four-panel "Kwadrilateral Iterations I" and "Kwadrilateral Iterations II"—approach oil paint not just as a painting medium but also as a sculptural medium. Adae covers the base of his canvas with brash color designs; these are really eye-popping works. With some—"XXIV," "XXIII," "XVII"—he uses broad brush strokes that circle, swerve and roll. The bristles create grooves like a vinyl record. Other panels are notable for more precise design attention. In "XXIX," pink forms evoke a kind of sci-fi architecture. Adae adorns this base with tufts and dots and worms of paint that add three-dimensional character. They suggest Hershey's kisses, paisleys, centipedes, dragons, microscopic life forms, or miniature mountainous landscapes. Adae takes an evident joy in both the color and the materiality of the paint and his pleasure is contagious.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Show of Naumann paintings opens Saturday at New Haven Free Public Library

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Inner Feelings/Inner Thoughts: Paintings by Dana Baldwin Naumann
Mar. 14—Apr. 9, 2009.
Artist's reception: Sat., Mar. 14, 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Press release

Dana Baldwin Naumann usually creates fanciful and fabulous sculpture, mostly crafted from hammered lead sheets. Like his sculpture, Naumann's paintings also depict whimsical, mythic and archetypal scenes. But his paintings have never been shown publicly. Until 1994, Naumann had a successful career as Vice-President of Sales and Marketing with the Westinghouse Corporation in Pittsburgh, but then determined to devote his life to his art, a decision he says he has never regretted.

Mr. Naumann's works are in the permanent collections of The Aetna in Los Angeles, CA, and in Hartford, CT, and Villanova University, Villanova, PA. He designed and contributed sculptures to the permanent collections of United States Special Olympics, and a sculpture created on the theme of the Holocaust was given to the Thomas Dodd Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Other gifts of work were made to the East Shore Adult Day Care Center in Branford, CT, and to the Aids Project in New Haven, CT.

For many years Naumann maintained his artist studio at Bittersweet Farm, Branford, until that property was lost to developers. He and his wife Terrell, who specializes in women's fashions, now share the Naumann Gallery in a former chapel they own at the conjunction on Route 139 and near Route 80 in North Branford. Dana's artworks have been shown at Homestyle Gallery in Providence, RI, Broadfoot + Broadfoot in New York City, Artworks in Hartford, Art Expo in NYC, the Mystic (CT) Art Guild, Vital Gallery in Hawaii, Fre Wil in Los Angeles, CA, at the York Square Cinema Gallery in New Haven, and at the Jewish Community Center in Amity, CT.

Art critic Steve Starger wrote about his work: "Naumann's finely wrought sculptures aren't depressing or oppressive. He draws on African and mythological references to create monolithic faces that are inspired by ritual masks and statuary, like monuments or totems left by a long-vanished civilization. These elongated faces appear aloof and ascetic, but are also strangely poignant, and each emanates a sense of mystery and longing."

There will be an artist's reception for this show tomorrow, Sat., Mar. 14, from 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Group exhibition opens at Guilford Art Center Friday

Guilford Art Center
411 Church St., Guilford, (203) 453-5947
Seduced: the Relevance of Landscape in the 21st Century
Mar. 13—May 8, 2008
Opening reception, Fri., Mar. 13, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

Guilford Art Center will present a group exhibition showcasing contemporary artistic explorations of the landscape. Seduced: the Relevance of Landscape in the 21st Century will take place in the Center's Mill Gallery. The exhibition is inspired by environmental experts' warnings about the current ecological crisis and how society deals with the decline of our natural environment. In response to these warnings, contemporary artists are transforming or overturning traditional depictions of the landscape to reflect the realities of climatic fragility.

Seduced will include landscape works in a variety of media and will encourage viewers to consider many aspects of the genre, including the art historical legacy of landscape, the power of nature, land use politics, and the relativity of aesthetic beauty. The works in the show can be immensely beautiful, but they also represent appalling environmental conditions, therefore expressing the aesthetics of the environment's decline. According to guest curator Samantha Pinckney, "These works seduce viewers with the aesthetic beauty of the landscape and then subtly engage them in contemplating its survival. The exhibition's intent is to expand the viewer's concept of landscape and explore the relevance of the genre in the current context of irrevocable environmental change."

Featured Artists

Diane Burko's on-going series of paintings "Politics of Snow" documents the rapidity of change in natural icons such as the Matterhorn, as well as the shrinking glaciers in America and Iceland, in a series of diptychs of historical visual comparisons that contrast past and present glacial activity. (Web).

Leila Daw's tapestry-like unstretched canvases offer a glimpse into the potential of our experiences, showing a bird's-eye view of the devastating power of nature. Daw allows viewers to simultaneously see the landscape on both a micro- and macroscopic level, blending recognizable elements with abstracted ones - a river overtaking a mapped terrain or a volcano's molten lava eradicating a civilization below.

Karen Glaser's photographs taken in Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve represent a geographical location that is both seductive and sickening. In Florida, unique and breathtaking ecosystems live alongside unceasing development. Glaser documents these ecosystems' allure and mystery and considers the complicated puzzle of their continued existence, one that is increasingly vulnerable to urban sprawl.

Joseph Saccio's sculptures use natural materials (primarily reclaimed wood) joined together in a primitivistic manner, to express personal feelings associated with myth, ritual, loss and rebirth. Saccio's works are often brutal in form and meaning but occasionally suggest the possibility of renewal in the midst of devastation.

Larry Schwarm's photographs taken on the prairies of the Flint Hills in his native Kansas document an essential element in the prairie ecosystem: agricultural burns. Fire benefits the land by destroying invasive plants and trees and encouraging new growth. The metaphor is obvious says the artist, "without destruction there is no rebirth: for every act there is an opposing one." Schwarm's work presents a more optimistic view of our current ecological situation in its representation of the beauty and potential in destruction.

Joseph Smolinski's work explores our need to mask landscape interventions - for example, cell phone towers disguised as trees. Smolinski's "Tree Turbines" mimic the camouflaging of cell phone towers, with rotating trunks converting the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity. These works provide an ironic solution to the controversy over wind turbines which, despite their growing importance as clean energy resources, have been protested by environmentalists for aesthetic reasons.

Joy Wulke's sculptures are inspired by the ever-changing natural landscape with concern for its ecological health. In some works Wulke encases natural forms, evoking the increasing delicacy of the world around us and the need for stewardship, so we may continue to enjoy nature's wonders into the future, not just "underglass."

The opening reception for Seduced is Fri., Mar. 13, 5—7 p.m. The opening is free and open to the public.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

City Gallery opening on Saturday afternoon

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Mixed Media X 2: New Work by Jane Harris & Sheila Kaczmarek
Mar. 5—29, 2009.
Opening reception: Sat., Mar. 7, 2—5 p.m.

There will be an opening at City Gallery in New Haven this Saturday for a new show by gallery members Jane Harris and Sheila Kaczmarek. (A previous joint show by Harris and Kaczmarek was reviewed at Connecticut Art Scene here.) Using paint, paper, fabric, metal, wax and clay, the works by Harris and Kaczmarek explore organic, cellular structure, their evolution and change. The grid of the page and its layering contrasts with the organic flow of the clay pieces.

The opening reception will be held from 2-5 p.m.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Persistence (and deconstruction) of memory

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Hirokazu Fukawa: A Thought at the Edge of the
Continent: Manchuria to Siberia 1942—1947

Through Mar. 22, 2009.
Artist talk: Thurs., Mar. 5, 6 p.m.

It was a war story. It was a common story in Japan, the story artist Hirokazu Fukawa's father told him when he was little. A story of occupation first—in Manchuria in China, then called Manchukuo by the Japanese occupiers. Fukawa's father was a sniper with the Japanese occupation forces. Then it was a story of defeat, desperation. Near the end, Fukawa's father and other members of his troop were each handed a landmine in place of a rifle and commanded to suicide bomb approaching Russian tanks. Fukawa's father waited in a foxhole but no tank came; he survived. With surrender came a role reversal: the occupiers become prisoners of the victorious Soviets, abandoned by the vanquished Japanese government. Fukawa's soldier father was marched across the border to spend years in Siberian labor camps, like the hundreds of thousands of other Japanese in occupied Manchukuo. Unlike many, Fukawa's father survived and was repatriated to Japan two years later.

Hirokazu Fukawa's A Thought at the Edge of the Continent at Real Art Ways is a multimedia sculptural exhibition inspired by Fukawa's quest to confront his father's experience as a soldier and detainee. While he had picked up bits and pieces of his father's story as a child, Fukawa decided four years ago to investigate it in depth as the basis for an art project. Although his father is still alive, he suffers from Alzheimer's. Fukawa had to supplement the unreliable information he gleaned from his father's fading memories with facts from a one-page debriefing document Fukawa's father had written for the Japanese government on his 1947 return. Hoping to more fully understand his father's experience, Fukawa made two research trips, to Japan and Northeastern China in 2007 and to Siberia in 2008.

Memories are multi-layered. They are discrete and inter-connected. They are also ephemeral and subject to contestation and dispute. In A Thought at the Edge of the Continent, Fukawa interprets his father's story through separate but related elements in different media. The most literal attempts to tell his story are a three-channel video installation and the three "Starvation" collages.

The predominant element is "Blizzard," a striking installation of some three dozen fluorescent lights in the main gallery. Braced by solid, unpainted wooden boards, the lights are diagonal lines of force. The viewer can (carefully) walk into and through this installation, which evokes a fearsome Siberian snowstorm experienced by Fukawa's father. Its design was influenced by the lines and sensibilities of the avant-garde Soviet Constructivist art movement.

The other large sculpture in the main room is "The Third International," an homage to Constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin's "Monument to the Third International." Tatlin, as a tribute to the Bolshevik Revolution, had created his model for a planned headquarters of the Comintern, or Communist Third international; the tower was never actually built. Fukawa's sculpture is similar in design but the effect is not triumphal. The unpainted wood boards of "Blizzard" are reprised here, bracing a spiral staircase. The boards and light fixtures of "Blizzard" have an illusory randomness characteristic of the trajectory of falling snow. But the boards in "The Third International" drive up toward a single focus, the platform where the dictatorial leader will stand. Whether it is Stalin or the leaders of Imperial Japan, the viewer's gaze is directed up, up toward those who direct others, up toward those who set remorseless historical forces in motion.

Along with the large sculptural works, there are three smaller plaster creations positioned in the gallery. In contrast to the angular and geometric orientation of "Blizzard" and "The Third International," these works are more organic and natural in shape. Fukawa sees them as "tumors" or "cancers." They are also a source of sound. The form closest to the Tatlin homage plays five songs: "The Internationale" (the anthem of the Communist movement), anthems of the Communist and Nationalist Chinese parties, a Manchukuo occupation song and a song popular in postwar Japan among people waiting for their relatives to return from internment. A second "cancer" recapitulates the soundtrack of the video and the third plays abstract music. There is a layering of sounds. They compete but also complement each other.

The abstract music is derived from "Marching," a map Fukawa drew in pencil of his father's forced march to the several labor camps in which he was held. The line drawing was interpreted as a musical score in the GarageBand computer program.

The three "Starvation" collages deal with the overwhelming hunger the captured Japanese experienced in the prison camps. Over scans of 12th century Buddhist scrolls depicting starvation hells, Fukawa made pencil drawings of his father and some of his soldier colleagues, based on an old photo. Layered over each are dried examples of the wild plants on which the prisoners subsisted: ferns, onion grasses, leaves.

The three-panel video montages footage that Fukawa shot in China, Manchuria and Siberia with video of his father. The soundtrack layers impressions of the ungraspable nature of his quest with details of his father's experience within the broader historical context of the time. One can sense the frustration in Fukawa's efforts. He travels long distances to try and get a sense of the past. But he finds himself in places stubbornly rooted in the present.

There is no fully understanding the past. There is no reliving the past, especially not the past of someone else's jumbled memories. History is often a big story told through the prism of ideology. It is contested. What happened? What was it like to experience the occupation, the war, the imprisonment? Fukawa, in narration over the video installation, found that even in traveling to the locations where his father had fought and been detained, he could not feel his father's experience:

Instead I felt like a void standing in front of a void. Whenever I visited my father's past, whether physical traces remained or not, I felt that I myself was the void, that I was alienated from everything there--out of time and place, floating through lost memories that weren't my own.
These memories were no longer even his father's. Speaking with me in the main gallery at Real Art Ways, Fukawa tells me that when he asked his father where he had been disarmed by the Soviets, his father gave him a place name. Fukawa researched that location for a year before finding out through the official document that in fact his father had been disarmed at another location 150 miles away.

Most of the elements of A Thought at the Edge of the Continent can stand on their own. "Blizzard" is a stunning installation whether one is aware of its back story or not. Taken together, they constitute a moving meditation on political and personal history and the precious yet precarious nature of memory.

"This is my father's story, even though my father couldn't remember. I had to rebuild or reconstitute his memory. Maybe it's not right from his point of view," Fukawa says. "This is my construction/deconstruction of his memory. I tried to fill the gap between his memory and himself and between me and him."

In exploring his father's story, Fukawa touches on the ways the past intrudes into the present. And the ways it remains lost in the past.

Hirokazu Fukawa will give an artist talk in the gallery this Thursday, Mar. 5, at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Exhibit opening at Jennifer Jane Gallery Wed. evening

Jennifer Jane Gallery
838 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 494-9905
The Art of Photography
Through Mar. 31, 2009.
Opening Reception: Wed., Mar. 4, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

Featuring new work by California resident Charles Anselmo, Oregon native Jeff Krolick, Dutch photographer Peter van Nugteren, and Connecticut artists Andrew Hogan, Jennifer Jane, Eliot Lewis, Robert Lisak and Sven Martson.

There will also be an artists reception Meet and Greet, March 22, from 3—6 p.m.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Save The Local Bands Show on WPLR! (Non-visual arts related post)

As a rule, I confine my posts here to topics related to the local visual arts scene in Connecticut. I'm making an exception, as a musician and music fan, to encourage readers to contact WPLR-FM in support of The Local Bands Show.

For over 20 years and more than 1,000 shows, Rick Allison and James Velvet have produced a half-hour show that airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. (They also have a Local Bands Show website.) A labor of love and musical erudition, The Local Bands Show features only locally made music. The show costs nothing for WPLR to air. But now the new management at Cox Radio is dumping the show.

In an era when commercial radio stations ignore the musical grassroots in favor of constricted playlists determined by number-crunchers in distant corporate offices, The Local Bands Show has been an oasis. Along with playing music by a diverse selection of local artists, Allison and Velvet have conducted interviews and publicized important upcoming shows and music events.

James Velvet puts it well:

For twenty-one years we've loved listening to and airing locally made music.
We've met and interviewed dozens of colorful goof-balls from the local scene.
We've had only local sponsors: breweries, bars, a deli, a guitar store, and many more.
We've had virtual partnerships and associations with The Space in Hamden, The Meriden Daffodil Festival, and
Our weekly calendar has been a constant voice for Cafe Nine, Toad's Place and music venues throughout the state.
When we say local we mean "local." We're proud of what we have here in Connecticut.
Just as I'm proud of the vibrant visual arts scene in Connecticut, I've long immersed myself in the eclectic local music scene. As a musician and a writer on music, I've enjoyed going on the show and conversing with Rick and James. I was thrilled that in late January they led off a show with "Psychedelic Winter," a song I recorded with my son, Matt. Rick and James get the importance of local culture to a community.

Please, if you care about the local music scene—or just about supporting local culture in these commodified, corporatized times—contact WPLR and urge them to reconsider.

Letters in support of The Local Bands Show can be addressed to:

Ms. Kimberly Guthrie
General Manager WPLR
440 Wheeler Farms Road, Suite 302
Milford, CT 06461
Please cc copies to Scott Laudani, the program director, at the same address. Rick Allison and James Velvet would appreciate a copy also. You can email them at rickallison [AT]

Support your local bands!