Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mural project at Hartford Public Library

Hartford Public Library
500 Main St., Hartford, (860) 695-6300
American Mural Project
Oct. 28—Nov. 29 2009.
Exhibit opening: Wed., Oct. 28, 11 a.m.
Artist's reception: Fri., Nov. 13, 5:30—7 p.m.

Press release

At 11 a.m. on Oct. 28, Hartford Public Library will open an exhibit of giant painted sections from the American Mural Project. When completed, this huge three-dimensional painting—120 feet long, 48 feet high, and 6—8 feet deep—will be the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world. The exhibit is free and open to the public through November 29th during library hours.

"Hartford Public Library and the American Mural project is a win-win partnership. The Library's glass walls and natural ambient lighting, combined with a 25-foot ceiling, will offer Connecticut artist Ellen Griesedieck's amazing three-dimensional artwork a truly unique exhibition space. The Library is delighted to be able to provide people of all ages and backgrounds in our community the opportunity to participate in American art culture," said Mary Crean, chief development officer, Hartford Public Library.

A tribute to the American worker, the American Mural Project (AMP) was founded by artist Ellen Griesedieck. She is visiting all 50 states and working with people of all ages who are helping her create pieces that will be included in the final artwork.

After eleven years of work, more than one third of the mural is finished and over 10,000 people have contributed to the effort.

The exhibit will feature pieces of the mural, some up to 30 feet high, as well as walking tours, lectures, and projects scheduled all month for students and adults at the library. Throughout the month, AMP will also be leading art activities with kids from local schools, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and many other organizations around the city.

"Eleven years ago, when I started this project as a tribute to working people in America, I could never have imagined it would morph into this giant barn raising of art."

Ms. Griesedieck will be at the library on Oct. 28 and 29 and Nov. 11, 17, 18, 24 and 28. On those days, visitors will be invited to paint, draw, and write on one of AMP's eight-foot recycled paper-pulp 'links,' which will be included in the finished mural along with other similar links that people are now creating across the country. This is your chance to contribute to the piece that will represent the Greater Hartford area.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

They bombed in Bridgeport: Street art show with a mission

The Gallery at Black Rock
2861 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, (203) 814-6856
Off the Grid
Through Nov. 19, 2009

According to Eileen Walsh, director of the Gallery at Black Rock in Bridgeport, there used to be a legal outlet in the city for graffiti writers to practice their art. Called "Fame City," she says it was a truck bay on Boston Avenue.

"The kids made great use of it," Walsh tells me as I check out the street art-oriented show Off the Grid in the gallery. "There was so much of it that the paint is so heavy it's literally coming off the wall. There's like 40 layers of paint."

But that location is locked now. Walsh says the Off the Grid show has something of a mission: "We want to get the city to devote some walls for free expression. There are so many abandoned buildings here," she notes. These are canvases going to waste! Walsh adds that some cities have done exactly that, creating tourist attractions in the process. (Walsh details the process of putting the show together on her blog.)

With the exception of "legitimate" artist Peter Consterlie aka "Pete from Across the Street"—Consterlie is influenced by graffiti style—all the artists in the show are "active graffiti artists," according to Walsh.

"If you're around Bridgeport, you'd recognize recurring names and recurring characters," says Walsh. She adds that a couple of them have issues of "property damage outstanding that they want to avoid dealing with."

"They've absolutely learned in the street 100 percent. There's no education in art for any of them," she says, referring to all but Consterlie.

The works are displayed in the small two-room gallery "visual assault style." The participating artists, besides Consterlie, are Sketch, Filth, Snook, Equip, Mercedes Espinoza and Greg Brown. Equip and Sketch are the standouts. Equip is from Norwalk; the other artists are from Bridgeport. All the works, according to Walsh, were created within the month prior to the show's Oct. 16 opening.

Equip's works are painted on ripped "canvases" of drywall. The torn edge aesthetic suits the spray paint-on-the-run imagery. He is notable because he works with a subdued color palette. Using stencils and layers of color he creates an illusion of depth. "Landscape" delicately balances two seemingly contradictory sensibilities—the urban and the pastoral. As the title indicates, it is a landscape, a sunrise on the horizon over a river bounded by soft green shores. But the color is built up through stencils, spray painted tags, suggesting perhaps a yearning for the garden amid the city. All of this is bordered by the ripped, crumbling edges of the drywall panel. Others of his paintings feature stylized imagery of club deejays or skateboarders; one has a convincingly rendered portrait of the rapper and actor Ice Cube.

Much of this work is graphic shorthand and self-promotional imagery indebted to a now international subcultural language. It is influenced by the goofiness of TV cartoons but with a twist of the macabre: skulls and x-ed out eyeballs are recurring tropes.

The use of repetitive elements and bold colors derive from the need/desire to grab attention quickly. This is important when your canvas is often a surface glimpsed by viewers traveling at 65 miles per hour. But a desire to snag eyeballs isn't necessarily accompanied by concessions to easy readability. The paintings by Sketch owe the most to and are most typical of iconic graffiti style. They feature both a signature recurring cartoon image of a "monster"—a head with a wide open mouth with big teeth, x's in circles for eyes in a helmet-like head covering—and almost unreadable convoluted lettering. His text features three-dimensional characters that jostle and writhe around each other like riders in an overcrowded subway car. Most often these letters spell out "Sketch" but in his Obama portrait, they spell out "hope." There is also a table in one room that displays one of Sketch's sketchbooks showing how meticulously planned his imagery is.

It's a thought provoking show even if much of the work has a distinct amateurish tinge. Graffiti is a decidedly mixed phenomenon. It is true that most of it amounts to little more than another layer of blight in districts already marginalized by postindustrial capitalism. But where the serious writers take the time to exercise their explosive craft, the work can be a bracing visual element in a decaying landscape. And much more rewarding than that other graffiti that spreads like kudzu through our physical and psychic environment: advertising. Here's hoping Bridgeport can meet these artists halfway and designate some free spaces for grassroots artistic expression.

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Parachute Gallery opening Tuesday evening

Parachute Factory
Erector Square, 319 Peck St., Bldg. 1, New Haven, (203) 772-2788
Out of House and Home
Oct. 27, 2009—Feb. 5, 2010
Opening reception: Tues., Oct. 27, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven presents Out of House and Home, an exhibition curated by Debbie Hesse and Joy Pepe that explores the comforts and securities of home and the uncertainties and anxieties brought to bear by the recent mortgage crisis, record foreclosures, and plummeting real-estate values.

The exhibition will be on display at The Parachute Factory, Erector Square, 319 Peck St., Bldg. 1, New Haven, from Tues., Oct. 27, 2009 through Fri., Feb. 5, 2010. An artists' reception is scheduled for Tues., Oct. 27, from 5—7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Out of House and Home (the second of a two-part exhibition, Work/Place, which explores the environments on which our survival depends) examines the places that friends and family, neighbors, strangers, and the otherwise invisible call home.

Participating artists, whose work takes us from the comforts of home to the struggle for survival in the most primitive of shelters, include Tim Applebee, Roland Becerra (see image), Ron Dunhill, Lucas Foglia (Web), Elaine Kaufmann, Jaime Kriksciun, Thomas Lail, Yelizaveta Masalimova, Denise Minnerly, David Ottenstein (Web), Anne Percoco, and Cindy Tower (Web).

The Parachute Factory is a collaboration of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, and Community Services Network of Greater New Haven. Out of House and Home is presented by The Parachute Factory in partnership with Columbus House. The Parachute Factory hours are Wed., 10 a.m.—2 p.m.; Thurs. and Fri., 12—5 p.m.; and by appointment.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Artist reception at New Haven Public Library Saturday

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
The Rapture of Art: Paintings by Jesse Guillen
Through Oct. 30, 2009
Artist's reception: Sat., Oct. 24, 2:30—4:30 p.m.

Press release

New Haven artist Chucho (Jesse) Guillen's interest in painting started from a young age and has since been fueled by his travels, life experiences, and was inspired by his experience studying with Fr. William B. Wasson (1924—2006) in Arizona.

Mr. Guillen's technique is motivated by freedom that forms uninhibited brush strokes, and a sense of the artist's passion and inner-energy emerges in his art works.

His vibrant style and fresh look allows the mundane to become a point of departure, which in turn becomes revitalized and invigorated. This emotionally and energetically charged approach to painting develops a fresh perspective to art.

Mr. Guillen paints murals and is very involved in public art in New Haven, Connecticut, whilst also being privately acquired by collectors and large companies in the USA. Mr. Guillen has developed a following in Amherst, Massachusetts, SoHo in New York City, and many other venues. His painting "Woman in Rapture" was accepted to the 2009 Biennale Chianciano in Chianciano Terme, Tuscany, Italy, and is included in the Biennale Catalog.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Barbara Harder show opens Saturday at City Gallery

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Barbara Harder: J Topog Continuum
Oct. 22—Nov. 15, 2009.
Opening reception: Sat., Oct. 24, 3—6:30 p.m.

Press release

City Gallery is presenting J Topog Continuum, a mixed media exhibition by artist Barbara Harder, from Oct. 22—Nov. 15, 2009. The Opening Reception is Saturday, Oct. 24 from 3—6:30 PM.

Based on observations of natural and man-made objects, Barbara Harder's artwork reflects her Irish Catholic upbringing married with a respect for the Asian sensibility. Using the image of a Tokyo tree and through the process of printmaking, Ms. Harder transforms the images onto paper, wood panels and veneers, and the tree is reconstructed into a new life. Some trees make there way across an old Concordia of the Bible to reflect her heritage, while others are printed onto layers of translucent, billowing paper that provide a interesting juxtaposition with the strong, angular wood reliefs. This installation of the disparate, yet related imagery, offers both a sense of serenity and of energy, inviting the viewer to explore the similarity of forms yet also to peek through layers to see exciting new spaces.

Barbara Harder teaches at Quinnipiac University and at Creative Arts Workshop, where she heads of the Printmaking Department. She has been a guest artist at the Yale University Art Gallery, Fairfield University, Connecticut College and the Center for Contemporary Printmaking as well as a curator of numerous printmaking exhibitions. Her artwork is held in private, corporation and museum collections throughout the country and she exhibits internationally.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pseudonymous artist to debut new paintings at Hull's Thursday

Hull's Gallery One Whitney
1 Whitney Ave., New Haven, (203) 907-0320
Volonté Morceux: Forces of Nature
Oct. 22—Nov. 14, 2009.
Opening reception: Thurs., Oct. 22, 5—8 p.m.

Press release

Fait Vrai presents...

Forces of Nature: Nine New Paintings by Volonté Morceux

About the Show:

(Translated into English by Wang, the Human Unicorn)

Feeling unnaturally selected?

Is genetic modification leading to your intelligently designed extinction?? If so, Forced Adaptation camp will be just what you need....

Winged Monkeys! Human Dodos! Two-Faced Pigs! Man's tinkers. Nature fights back with the weapons left in its Evolutionary Arsenal. Bear witness to extreme biological warfare! Be warned, the crock is ticking. Better will triumph.

Consider most famous High Coup by Sun Sue:

Oh population,
Oh Man-Oh-War, Oh ruined
Racehorse named poison.
About the artist:

Volonté Morceux is a self-taught painter, internationally recognized performance artist, outspoken social critic and post-modern surrealist provocateur. Morceux was once banished from Cannes for screening provocative film strips en plein aire and for libel. He is also widely attributed with starting the new neo-fluxist revolution; however, he decries that movement as a hoax extraordinaire. The scientific establishment has lauded Forces of Nature, Morceux's first exhibition in this country, as "a powerful force of nature and a harbinger of things to come". Some critics disagree.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Show of prints and paintings opens at West Cove Studios Saturday

West Cove Studio & Gallery
30 Elm St., West Haven, (203) 966-9700
Lindsay Behrens & John Bent: New Prints & Paintings
Oct. 15—Nov. 5, 2009
Opening Reception: Sat., Oct. 17, 4—7 p.m. p.m.

Press release

A show of new prints and paintings by local artists John Bent and Lindsay Behrens will open at West Cove Studio & Gallery in West Haven on Saturday. The opening reception will be held from 4-7 p.m.

John Bent's Artist Statement:

In my work, I deconstruct and reassemble the human figure. Working within the framework of traditional figurative painting (portraiture and allegorical narrative paintings), collage, and abstraction, I'm interested in exploring how we construct our identity, the way the surface is used to conceal the inside and how our "insides" can sneak up, bubble forth, and remind us of the dichotomies and contradictions we all dwell in.
Lindsay Behren's Artist Statement:

Sentimentality. Nostalgia. Creating memories. Capturing beauty. Searching for comfort and happiness. Through the impermanence and grace of nature and life, art is an avenue for seeking meaning and purpose. Art makes the impermanent permanent. By internalizing reality or the imagined world, my intent is to create tangible snapshots through figures and structure. Whether creating realistic vantages or surreal environments, a void is filled through paint and print. A sense of peace or glimpse of contentment is experienced.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Art Party Saturday night at New Britain Artists Cooperative

New Britain Artists Cooperative
66 West Main St., New Britain
SUPER THIEF presents: HIRE EDUCATION @ The New Britain Artists' Cooperative
Sat., Oct. 17, 2009, 7—11 p.m.

Press release

IT'S YET ANOTHER ART SHOW/ PARTY! THERE WILL BE DRINKS, FOOD, MUSIC, AND OF COURSE THE ART. IT WILL BE A FUN TIME. This Saturday night, Oct. 17, from 7—11 p.m. at the New Britain Artists Cooperative.


At the newly formed artist cooperative in New Britain, there is an eclectic group of young artists gathering. From painters to sculptors to video artists, the up-and-comers of the Hartford area are displaying their work. The New Britain Artists' Cooperative has been kind enough to host a series of Do-It-Yourself art show/parties-a chance for the young artists to display their work in an art scene that isn't very accepting of new artists.

In Connecticut, it's all about who you know and what connections you have. In order to get a show at any of the "prestigious" institutions in the Hartford or New Haven area, it comes down to one's connections. The New Britain Artists' Cooperative, along with Steve Rand, have taken it upon themselves to help these artists display their work and create a reason for them to continue working. In the vein of Warhol-esque factory parties, these shows become a venue for people to see cutting-edge art/music and have some fun at the same time-breaking down the associated pretentious stereotypes that are conjured up when one thinks of the art world. This is a declaration against the system. This is a rebirth. This is a testament by true artists.


SUPER THIEF cannot really be summed up as one thing.

The group grew out of the passions of 2 friends, Christopher Scottie Lee and Brian Hadsell, and then branched off into a network of friends.

SUPER THIEF is music production that encompasses making fun, danceable, edgy beats and hosting big or small parties.

ST is also a beacon for local artists to which they congregate and talk ideas, concepts, collaborations, creating new work, critiques and reviews of museums, galleries, shows and just the creative process. We are a bi-monthly arts and cultures magazine and e-zine trying to keep up with the current of creative energy.

We are also a brand, a fashion line for fresh designs for the casual and creative lifestyle.

As an organization, we look to promote and sponsor individuals, collectives, other groups and events that share the same passion for the arts and cultures of the untapped and raw energy of the emerging arts community of this region, especially in the college demographic.

If you want to be a part of this and help it grow please contact us immediately.

Everything we do is out of pure goodness and fun. We want to create and thrive on positive energy. We're about helping you as you help us. It's a team effort. We only succeed if we work together.

SUPER THIEF is about to blow up and get HUGE...BE A PART OF THAT AMAZING EXPLOSION and join us in this movement.

Continue doing what you do, but let's raise the bar and do it big...BIGGER with SUPER THIEF! UP HI!

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October shows open Sunday at Silvermine; Dunlop lecture series resumes Sunday

Silvermine Guild Art Center
1037 Silvermine Rd., New Canaan, (203) 966-9700
October Exhibits at Silvermine
Oct. 18—Nov. 13, 2009
Opening Reception: Sun., Oct. 18, 2—4 p.m., special pre-reception lecture: 1—2 p.m.

Press release

Silvermine Guild Arts Center, located in New Canaan, CT will feature a Guild Group Show Narrative Art juried by artist Mary Frank, as well as an exhibit of recent selected works by Ms. Frank, and Director's Choice Scott Bricher's Dreams, Desires & Curiosities. All are welcome to the opening reception on Sun., Oct. 18, from 2—4 p.m. There will be a special lecture to be held just prior to the Opening Reception from 1—2 p.m. with Mary Frank. The exhibit runs through Nov. 13 in the Silvermine Galleries.

In the Director's Choice exhibit, Scott Bricher"s Dreams, Desires & Curiosities dream images join mystical and mundane pairings to create images of discovery. The works ranging from large scale realist oil paintings to small mixed media pieces demonstrates the artist use of multiple themes, while maintaining their separate identities, existing side-by-side to create a suggestive ambience, each with its own chapter or vignette, yet forming a complete story leaving it to the viewer to compile the images for their own meaning. "I isolate and focus on elements versus creating a scene. The works are more stream of conscious in their creation and the multi-image approach breaks the illusion of space," says Bricher. "Every landscape, still life or figure in my work has personal significance. I love painting from life, whether it is a raging river or a portrait of a friend - that direct observation informs my work. I bring that grounded perception of my world to the more dreamlike areas of my imagination."

For over 50 years, Mary Frank has used such diverse media as sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking and encaustic to explore the idea of narrative, suggesting that her primary loyalty is not to a particular way of working or to any medium, but rather to the power of direct expression and to the act of creation itself. In her exhibit of Selected Works, showcasing recent bodies of work from the last three to four years, the viewer will identify with the artists imaginary figures, landscapes and creatures on the emotional, philosophical and psychological levels. Ms. Frank initially established her reputation as a figurative sculptor. Although she had always expressed herself through paintings, drawings and prints, it was not until the 1980's that she began to focus her talent and energy on these media as a means of expressing her own visions of shapes and images that mirrored innately spiritual qualities. Nature resonates in many of her works, with images of owls, trees flowers, landscapes, forests and mountains portraying both turbulence and stillness, immediately drawing the viewer.

Mary Frank will present a lecture on Sunday, Oct. 18 from 1-2 p.m. and cover the chronology of her work, showing slides of her many sculptures, paintings and new photographic work. The lecture will be held in the School of Art Auditorium and tickets are $10 per person which can be purchased in advance or at the Gallery Gift Shop.

The Juried Guild Group Show, Narrative is an exhibition of artworks with social, political, historical and psychological dimensions. Visual expressions of cultural and personal worlds can possess deeply powerful communicative imagery arrived at through literal, abstract and figuratively visual means. The intention of this exhibit is to reveal timeless stories in powerfully evocative ways. Silvermine Guild Artist members have been invited to create artworks in any media that reflects their own narrative through their works. This storytelling exhibit will be juried by the widely acclaimed narrative artist Mary Frank. The Narrative Art committee include Silvermine Guild Artist members and Connecticut residents Suzanne Benton of Ridgefield and Janice Mauro from West Redding.


Silvermine Guild Art Center
1037 Silvermine Rd., New Canaan, (203) 966-9700
David Dunlop 2009-2010 lecture series
Oct. 18 (4:30 p.m.) & Nov. 8, 2009 (4:30 p.m.); Feb. 21 (4 p.m.) & Mar. 21, 2010 (4 p.m.)

Press release

Silvermine Guild Artist and School of Art Faculty member, David Dunlop, returns to Silvermine Guild Arts Center in New Canaan with his popular lecture series, this time as an Emmy Winner! David's PBS series, which began airing in March 2008, Landscapes through Time, won a Daytime Emmy award this year for Outstanding Special Class in writing. His lecture series, which begins on Oct. 18, are always stimulating, fun, and sell out quickly, often with standing room only available.

For 2009—2010, David Dunlop will conduct four exciting lectures, with the first lecture on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 4:30 p.m. on "Where do new ideas come from? The Art of Invention." Following lectures include "Look Back to Move Forward: How the Arts uses other Cultures and Times as Sources," "Art and Science: Cross Breeding Ideas and Techniques;" and "Painting in the Fourth Dimension: Can a Picture Slow Down and Taste Salty?" Each lecture is unique in their topics and David always brings amazing insight into his discussions, actively involving the audience. He is extensively well-read, searching for the underlying principles of art, exploring original sources and recent advances in neuroscience. That he is eager to share his discoveries is reflective in the titles of his lectures.

A resident of Wilton, David Dunlop has been a teacher at the Silvermine School of Art since 1993. His work is nationally known and featured in many prominent collections throughout the United States and abroad. Dunlop has given art history lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and has been a visiting artist/lecturer at multiple institutions, including the Caramoor Museum of Art, Katonah, New York; the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont; and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona.

All lectures are held at the School of Art Auditorium (Sara Victoria Hall) and ticket prices are $10 per person. For more information and to purchase tickets in advance, call the School Office at 203-966-6668 ext. 2 or visit our website.

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Saturday night opening at the Hygienic

Hygienic Art Gallery
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
David Smalley & Friends
Oct. 17—Nov. 14, 2009
Opening reception: Sat., Oct. 17, 7—10 p.m.

Press release

This show features new sculptures by David Smalley and works by 15 of the students and studio assistants he remembers best (James Stidfole, Matthew Geller, Robyn Hillary, Chas Moser, Nat Cohen, Laura Burden, Adriene Krefetz, Sharon Myers, Jenn Collins, Meryl Taradash, Jerold Ehrlich, David Kenney, Jonathan Goldman, Lindley Briggs, Deborah Vileno Esborn).

David retired after a 38-year career at Connecticut College. Now beginning his 6th decade of sculpting, he states, "Each piece is still a struggle, a search, and, ultimately, a discovery. Why else do it? The work is hard and sometimes tedious. The materials often defy me. Solving the puzzle of what each piece is going to be is what keeps me on task". Come join us at Hygienic Art for this extraordinary exhibition.

There will be an opening reception on Sat., Oct. 17, from 7—10 p.m.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two photo shows open in Westville Thursday night

Jennifer Jane Gallery
838 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 494-9905
Amos Chan: One by Two
Oct. 15—Nov. 15, 2009.
Opening reception: Thurs., Oct. 15, 6—8 p.m.

Hungry Eye Gallery
838 Whalley Avenue West Rock Ave Entrance, New Haven, (203) 494-9905
Kathy Conway: Photographs San Francisco Landscapes Bayscapes
Oct. 15—Nov. 15, 2009.
Opening reception: Thurs., Oct. 15, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

The adjacent Jennifer Jane Gallery and Hungry Eye Gallery will host opening receptions this Thursday evening from 6—8 p.m. The photographs of Amos Chan (see image, Chan's Web site) will be showcased at the Jennifer Jane Gallery. San Francisco landscapes and bayscapes are the subjects of Kathy Conway's photographs, on display at the Hungry Eye Gallery.

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Show of Street Art opens in Bridgeport Friday night

The Gallery at Black Rock
2861 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, (203) 814-6856
Off the Grid
Oct. 16—Nov. 19, 2009
Opening reception: Fri., Oct. 16, 6—9 p.m.

Press release

The Gallery at Black Rock is proud to present Off the Grid a show featuring local graffiti and street artists. In keeping with The Gallery at Black Rock's mission to bring art to everyone in Bridgeport we have decided to produce a show that celebrates Street artists. Like it or not, street artists are here amongst us and have survived and flourished in the withering economy.

Bridgeport has long had a street art culture under the radar of many. There are talented artists who prefer to share the work they do for free most of the time. The gallery is working with local artists to give a voice to these artists in a more appreciative environment, and to provide options for them to show work.

The shows will be hung in a visual assault style and will seek to speak to the environment that these artists often work in.

Off the Grid will feature the work of Equip, Sketch, Greg Brown, and Snook among others. Special thanks for curation assistance goes to Keith Rodgerson and Liz Squillace.

The show's opening is Fri., Oct. 16, with an artist reception from 6—9 p.m. The show runs through Nov. 19.

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Photo show opens at Real Art Ways Thursday night

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Zak Ové: Blue Devils: Works from the Transfigura Series
Oct. 15—Dec.13, 2009.
Opening reception and Creative Cocktail Hour on Thurs. Oct.15, 6—10 p.m.

Press release

In conjunction with Creative Cocktail Hour, there will be an opening this Thurs., Oct. 15, at Real Art Ways of the exhbition Blue Devils: Works from the Transfigura Series, featuring photographs by Zak Ové. Admission to Creative Cocktail Hour is $10, $5 for Real Art Ways members.

The Trinidad Carnival is an annual event just before the beginning of Lent, although its roots stretch back to ancient African culture. It's a 48-hour celebration that Zak Ové describes as "an oral history of the peoples - of whom they were, and where they came from."

For 8 years, Ové travelled to Trinidad for the Carnival, photographing the characters created by its participants. In many ways, his process paralleled the Carnival itself: like Ové, the participants in the Carnival return year after year to play the same role, perfecting their performance, some in the same role since early childhood.

As Zak Ové puts it: "by engaging, year after year, with the same character, the Masquerader is involved in a continuous, organic and never-ending process, in which each festival is only a stop, a showcase, for his or her ever-developing 'otherness', in a journey, internal and external, without a definitive destination, or end."

In turn, Ové, by returning to his father's homeland, was looking to "piece together some of [his] own story, there on the island, and further back, in the endless twists of history."

This exhibition coincides with Rockstone and Bootheel: Contemporary West Indian Art.

About Zak Ové:

Zak Ové was born in London during the height of the 1960's psychedelia to an Irish self-made feminist mother and a pioneering Caribbean filmmaking father. His childhood, a riot of creative expression, was filled with outlandish characters and hot political activism. Ové learned the art of filmmaking from his father, and began a career as a music video director in New York, later taking on commercial work in the UK. After his film, I Have A Dream, about the plight of two young, lovestruck Senegalese immigrants, won several international awards, Ové began the photography project that would become Transfigura.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Tinkering with technological concepts

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
The Weekend Inventor
Through Oct. 31, 2009
Artist Talk and Film Screening: Thurs., Oct. 15, 6 p.m.

Not all creative thinking is created equal. Or, to put it another way, not all creative thinking runs in the same direction.

Consider technology. For most of us, the products of engineering and science are considered through in terms of their specific uses: What does this do and how well does it do it? This is in part a function of capitalism. The process of production (and creation) is submerged by commodity fetishism. The object is a miracle (and the system that creates it is miraculous). Production is hidden (a useful thing when that production occurs, as it so often does, on the backs of exploited workers).

Still, behind the products, devices, systems of our contemporary plugged-in world lie a billion acts of creativity. Creativity in design and problem-solving. Millennial breakthroughs and incremental advances. So it is in art, the creative path judged less on use value—although exchange value certainly plays a huge role—and more by criteria such as aesthetics, and philosophical and intellectual content.

These worlds aren't mutually exclusive, of course. An Apple computer, a Louis Kahn building or a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk have aesthetic appeal as well as utility. An immaculate vessel by a master potter has use value as well as visual appeal.

In a technological age it's inevitable that art should be concerned with technology and made with technological tools. The disparate artists showcased in The Weekend Inventor all share a skewed fascination with the technological act of creation, although this fascination finds different outlets. Their works mimic the act of creation for utilitarian purposes. Faux architectural designs. Homage and parody.

There's a Rube Goldberg (Web) quality to the wall-mounted mixed media installation by Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher (Web), "Sky Machine, River." The panoply of circuits, wires, junction boxes, motors, lights and miniature camera are connected to a large flat screen TV terminal and a pair of speakers. By videotaping a miniature film set and creating a soundtrack with a computer and an automated string instrument, "Sky Machine" offers a simulated view of a river shore with dark clouds passing overhead. It's ingenious. When the sky is relatively cloudless—the clouds are created by the filming of shifting grains of sand—the music opens up, becomes almost pastoral in tone. When the clouds roll in, the synthesized orchestration, generated in computerized response to the visuals, darkens, becomes more menacing. Although technology like this has real world applications—if one considers the contemporary media environment to be part of the real world rather than its antithesis—its employment here is purely to spur an aesthetic experience.

Rube Goldberg (and Dr. Seuss [Web]) come to mind, too, when looking at Billy Malone's finely detailed ballpoint pen drawings. Drawings like "Think, Thank, Thunk" and "Werewolf" (the latter reminded me of the Dr. Seuss story "What Was I Scared Of?" about the pale green pants with nobody inside them) depict woody contraptions with no evident purpose other than to hammer boards and panels together in odd yet compelling structures. Sort of drawings of non-existent sculptures. Malone's facility with the ballpoint pen is wonderful.

Martha Lewis' elegant watercolor and gouache paintings owe a debt to architectural and engineering design drawings as well as to maps. (They also reminded me of the technological phantasmagoria contrived by 1960's comic book artists Jack Kirby [example] and Jim Steranko [example] although I doubt those artists were any influence on Lewis.) Intricate and colorful, these geometric designs are situated within an imaginary topographical map like vast power plants in the desert or mountains. In one work, "Plan B: Stirring of Melts Using Rotating and Traveling Magnetic Fields, Phase 2: The Mechanism/Flying Carpet" (the title itself an homage to scientific papers), Lewis printed out a watercolor painting on a large sheet of paper. After crumpling the print to give it a topographical illusion of its own, she suspended it with metal wires between the ceiling and the floor. A blowing fan makes the earth move, a simulated seismic rumbling.

Architecture is an obvious touchstone for artist Jane South. South's wall sculpture "Untitled (Tracing Parameters)" is made of hand-cut paper, balsa wood and acrylic paint and takes up the better part of one wall. It reminded me of the artistic views of the future often found on the covers of Popular Mechanics magazines in the 1930's and 1940's. It is a rewarding look from a wide range of angles, beautifully executed. I was able to catch Peter Sarkisian's "Extruded Video Engine #3" (Sarkisian's Web site) the night of the City-Wide Open Studios opening; unfortunately it wasn't functioning when I returned this past Saturday.

Nathan Carter's whimsical painted sculptures are made from things like backpack frames and guitar strings. They are Joan Miro-like (Web) references to communications devices such as radios and antennas. Molly Larkey's "The Scientist" (Larkey's Web site) mounts a pile of faux-finished gold bricks atop a red and black wooden i-beam base. The work alludes to contemporary science's roots in alchemy. It is an interesting concept, and one that links the inventive technological mind to the sensibility of the artist: the transfiguration of base materials into something different and more valuable.

From Artspace: This Thursday, at 6 p.m., Weekend Inventor artists Nathan Carter and Molly Larkey will provide thought-provoking insights into their creative processes. Following their discussions, artist Martha Lewis will introduce the "inventive" film The Way Things Go (1987) by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Approaching abstraction at Kehler Liddell

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Affinities: Joseph Adolphe & Amy Browning
Through Nov. 1, 2009
Artists' Reception: Sun., Oct. 11, 3—6 p.m.

Affinities pairs off the figurative oil paintings and charcoal drawings of Joseph Adolphe with the abstract landscapes rendered in acrylic paint by Amy Browning.

Adolphe excels at capturing the contours of the human face and figure. Here his subject are mostly his young daughters. While all these works are crafted with concern for pictorial detail, what stands out is the dynamic energy of the brush strokes. From a bit of distance, what registers are the facial features. But move in close and the image becomes a seething mass of broad stroke squiggles and smears of color. The volcanic emotional and physical turbulence of childhood registers as a sojourn into painterly abstraction. With the beach picture "Isabel Running," Adolphe eschews pictorial depiction to capture pure summer motion. Running on a beach's wet water edge, the young girl's flailing limbs are all gesture and camera jitter.

Amy Browning also dines out on the application of paint to surface. With "Heavy Weather," the center of the painting bursts with a profusion of plastic maroon, blue, purple, red, green and orange. These bold colors are surrounded by a more translucent accumulation of glacial tones, water, dripping down the canvas. While I enjoyed the way Browning used the acrylic paints and color, I thought the compositions sometimes lacked coherence.

There will be an artists' reception for this show this Sunday from 3—6 p.m.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Thursday documentary showing in coordination with CAW's "Cultural Passages"

Creative Arts Workshop Hilles Gallery
80 Audubon St., New Haven, (203) 562-4927
Cultural Passages: What's Art Got To Do With It?
Through Oct. 9, 2009
Film showing, The Billboard From Bethlehem: Thurs., Oct. 8, 7 p.m.

Press release

The Billboard From Bethlehem, an award winning, one-hour documentary by billboard developer turned peacemaker, writer and director Bruce A. Barrett, will be screened at the ACES-ECA Auditorium on Thurs., Oct. 8, 2009 at 7 p.m. The screening is the final event scheduled in coordination with the exhibition Cultural Passages: What's Art Got to Do with It? on view in the Hilles Gallery at Creative Arts Workshop through Fri., Oct. 9. (Photo by Bruce A. Barrett, courtesy of the artist)

"It's the story that's winning the awards," says Barrett. "I had the good fortune to catch true peace making on film." The timely documentary tells the story of an American billboard company owner (Barrett) who convinces Israeli and Palestinian fighters (The Combatants for Peace) to recruit Israeli and Palestinian children to paint a giant peace mural inside the West Bank of Palestine. The completed sign then travels to a mosque, a synagogue, and a church before being posted on a busy American highway. The film offers insight into the history of the conflict, the dynamics of the fighting, and a vision for a just and lasting peace.

After the film, producer/director Bruce Barrett will discuss his vision for this documentary that interweaves a tale of billboard design with eight combatants' stories of personal transformation. Local artist Russell Rainbolt will share his inspiration for the design the billboard. The billboard will be displayed during the screening; the gallery will be open prior to the event for viewers wishing to see the full exhibition.

Cultural Passages: What's Art Got To Do With It? features 57 artists from throughout Connecticut who are using their work to tackle issues of identity, sense of place and locality, ethnic heritage, social and economic circumstances, familial histories and personal struggles, and responses to the tumultuous politics of our time. Seen as a whole, Cultural Passages: What's Art Got To Do With It? represents a complex and vibrant collection of individual viewpoints that work collectively to communicate across cultural barriers.

The exhibition is part of the Creative Arts Workshop's efforts to connect the community art school with artists from New Haven and its neighboring communities. Cultural Passages: What's Art Got To Do With It? is generously supported by Yale University.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Quick notes from CWOS 2009, part 1

City-Wide Open Studios
50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios
Oct. 24, 2009

With City-Wide Open Studios taking place within the compressed time frame of one weekend, I decide to start my sojourn over at West Cove Studios in West Haven (rather than have my entire Saturday given over to Erector Square). This site is notable both for the printmaking co-op founded by Roy Smith and for its vast expanses of walls well suited to function as gallery space.

My first stop is with sculptor Jonathan Waters. Waters' expansive studio has a view of the water. Through Oct. 18, he is sharing the wall space of his studio/gallery with painter Emilia Dubicki, showing his "Samurai" series of wall sculptures—both large and small works. Several of his large sculptures occupy floor space.

The smaller of these are made of wood veneer and black paper. They have the looping, geometric presence of Russian Constructivism. Waters tells me he calls them the "Samurai" series because of the motion they suggest.

"They're of the moment. Fragile, like our fragile existence," he says, bemused. In a sense, they are gestural sculptures, unlikely to hold together once removed from the wall on which they were created. That fact doesn't concerns Waters. "The mechanics of it is probably the least interesting art of it for me." It is the use of the materials and their receptivity to the forms he wants to create that interest Waters.

"And there is a kind of physicality involved in doing it. It's almost like a drawing that is three-dimensional," says Waters. "And I'm working out ideas. They're sort of sketches. For what, I don't know."

The larger sculptures share the sense of active energy even though they are constructed from harder, heavier, more substantial materials. Using primarily cut wood boards and plywood, selectively painted black, Waters clustered them in kinetic diagonals. They reveal themselves as the viewer walk around them.

Where Waters is working with blacks and natural wood grain tones, Emilia Dubicki's oil paintings pop with throbbing color. Like Waters' sculptures, they convey a sense of motion and their compositions owe a debt to geometric abstraction (although Dubicki considers them all "nature paintings").

"I paint fast. If I can't get the painting out in one shot, I want to walk away," she tells me. Referring to the painting "Miami Vice," Dubicki says, "I did walk away from this painting and came back another day." She notes that she used a palette knife and a plastic knife "to get a lot of blue on there." The use of the plastic knife is suggested by the lines in the paint left by its serrated edge. I ask about a pleasing accumulation of abstract detail in the lower left corner of the work.

"I try not to think about it too much. If it splatters and the splatter works, it stays," Dubicki says.


I didn't get to meet the artist Barkev Gulessarian but a couple of his works riveted my attention. One was a large hollow sculpture, a Buddha with a dog head seated crosslegged in a robe and painted gold. It projected an odd, goofy serenity.

Gulessarian's other work that captivated me was a large "hippie painting," for lack of a better way of describing it. Painted on three large panels of plywood, it depicts a naked couple lounging toward the back of their pad with a large fetal figure in the foreground. A stereo system sits on the floor to the left. The pictorial details are rendered in simple black painted linework over large areas of poster style colors. The unpainted, exposed surfaces of the plywood are perfectly at home in the factory environment. The painting works because of the believabilty of the scene—Gulessarian's effective use of perspective and depth and the naturalistic flow of the figurative shapes. It should be scented with patchouli and outfitted with a psychedelic exploitation soundtrack.


Anita Soos is showing a few large charcoal drawings in her "Water Walking" series, which she started in 2004. She tells me that she has been photographing water for 20 years.

"What I was interested in was capturing what water felt like," says Soos. "I wanted to get the feeling of what water was doing rather than seeing what water was doing. Water holds mysteries. It holds light, shadow, movements and events and layers."

She notes that one of the drawings, "Water Walking: Primary Disturbance," turns the imagery up on end. The drawing seems to pulsate. The idea of "water walking" turns water "into the event of what it does, walking across whatever surface you're looking at. I wanted it to have a more active role, a more poetic role than just saying what it was."


While at West Cove I also have the opportunity to speak with artists Evie Lindemann and Barbara Marks about their works.

Lindemann, who is a professor of art therapy, is showing etchings, collage and a kind of prayer installation in the gallery space of the printmaking co-op. One series of her etchings is of different color prints of a New Age-y plate called "Mythic World," a piece she worked on while studying with the Mexican artist Gilberto Guerrero in the state of Guanajuata, located in the highlands 5 1/2 hours northwest of Mexico City. It features swirling imagery of an open hand (a reference to a serious hand injury Lindemann suffered a couple of years ago), a male figure, a large dove-like bird, fish forms and small figures that look like they are dancing or swimming. (Lindemann tells me they are actually pilgrims in a sacred Mexican church.) Explicating some of the symbolism, Lindemann tells me, "the bird is a transformational agent for me."

Barbara Marks says, "I love the idea of objective abstraction, not non-objective abstraction." What she is referring to in this case is using an iconic shape—a birthday cake—in a large series to evoke a range of emotions. It is a series on "temporality," in general. But specifically, the 75 monotypes of different birthday cakes is an homage to her husband who died at the age of 75 a couple of years ago. Marks notes that the imagery has a real effect on viewers.

"People will see the cakes and automatically start sharing stories about birthdays and the passage of time," she says.


From West Cove I travel over to Erector Square, which easily absorbs the rest of the day. With a wealth of artists to visit and limited time, I don't bother with taking notes. High points include viewing Willard Lustenader's (Web) virtuoso oil paintings based on still lifes of paper cutouts; meeting and talking with Geoffrey Detrani (Web) about his layered drawings that juxtapose natural and architectural imagery; and Mary Lesser's (Web) gouache postcard paintings of scenes from her travels on the road.

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