Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

42nd Annual Celebration of American Crafts starts this Saturday at Creative Arts Workshop

Creative Arts Workshop Hilles Gallery
80 Audubon St., New Haven, (203) 562-4927
42nd Annual Celebration of American Crafts
Oct. 30—Dec. 24, 2009
Special reception: Connecticut Artists’ Night: Thurs., Nov. 18, 5—8 p.m.

Press release

Now in its 42nd year, the Celebration of American Crafts at Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) presents an extraordinary range of fine contemporary crafts by more than 300 artists from across the country. The two-story CAW Hilles Gallery is transformed into a one-of-a-kind holiday shopping destination offering an array of items, including ceramics, decorative and wearable fiber, jewelry, furnishings, blown glass, handmade toys and more. On view between October 30 and Dec. 24, the exhibition and sale features handcrafted pieces to entice every taste and budget—from the discerning collector to the weekend shopper searching for a unique gift. Displays change daily as new items are introduced. A special reception, Connecticut Artists Night, is scheduled for Thurs., Nov. 18 from 5 to 8 p.m; screenings of the PBS series Craft in America are scheduled for Wednesday afternoons, Nov. 10 and 17 and Dec. 1, 8 and 15, at 12:30 p.m.

"As we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary in 2010, the Celebration of American Crafts is more meaningful than ever as a signature event and fundraiser for Creative Arts Workshop," says Susan Smith, Executive Director. The Celebration began in 1968 as a one-day craft sale that netted $1,000 for the Workshop. Today, the exhibition and sale runs for eight weeks, draws more than 10,000 visitors, and provides major support for CAW's programs. As the largest fundraiser for the non-profit visual art center, all proceeds benefit the Workshop's community programming, including outreach programs, scholarships, and other community-based activities not covered by tuition fees.

The Celebration is made possible by a dedicated group of volunteers who devote an enormous amount of time, care, and creativity to the selection, organization, and display of the thousands of items featured in the sale. The Celebration Selection Committee works year round to discover fresh new talent to showcase—from classic to whimsical to cutting-edge.


Connecticut Artists Night will be held on Thurs., Nov. 18 from 5 to 8 p.m. "We are hosting this special reception to honor our state's outstanding craft artists who have made this show what it is," notes Smith. The reception will showcase the work of Connecticut artisans, offering visitors the opportunity to meet the artists as they shop.

Screenings of the television series Craft in America will take place on Wednesday afternoons at 12:30 p.m., November 10 and 17 and December 1, 8 and 15. In this Peabody Award-winning documentary, dozens of craft artists reveal what makes their work—and their lives—unique.


The Celebration highlights the incredible diversity of contemporary ceramics - hand-built to wheel-thrown, porcelain to stoneware. Delores Fortuna (Galena, IL) works in porcelain, using basic, wheel-thrown forms as her starting point. She then manipulates the clay by hand, shaping it like fabric into one-of-a-kind vessels. Showing at the Celebration for the first time, Paul Eshelman (Elizabeth, IL) creates functional pieces inspired by Japanese and Chinese crafts, European design and the simple, utilitarian objects produced by American Shakers. He works in red stoneware and contrasts glazed and unglazed surfaces to add visual and tactile interest. Also new to this year's sale, Paula Shalan (Stockbridge, MA) hand builds forms from white earthenware clay using a combination of pinch, coil, and slab techniques. The surface of each piece juxtaposes hand-impressed textures with smooth, polished areas.


Fiber enthusiasts will be wowed by the stunning collection of wearable and decorative items at the Celebration. This year s show features the hand painted silk and velvet jackets of Gloria Lewis (Chatsworth, CA). Says Lewis, "I love the creative development of taking a piece of white silk or velvet, seeing it evolve and finally transform into a beautiful piece of wearable art." Another new artist, handweaver Rebecca Noble-Morales (Pittsburgh, PA) employs jacquard techniques to weave stunning cloth in an array of colors and textures. The material is further embellished by stamping and then pieced and sewn into tailored jackets and fluid wraps.


Each year, the Celebration presents hand-turned objects and hand-built wood furnishings that showcase the skill and artistry of the craft. Tom Raymond (Damariscotta, ME) has been turning wood for more than 50 years. Using contrasting wood grains and colors in segmented, geometric designs, Raymond forms functional bowls that are also true works of art. Woodworker Rich Dowin (Durham, CT) began making furniture as a hobby while working in an electron microscopy research lab. Now a full-time furniture maker, Dowin uses traditional, hand cut construction methods to craft elegant pieces inspired by Shaker and Arts and Crafts styles.


The glass artists featured in the Celebration explore the expressive forms and jewel-like colors of glass. One of this year's new artists, Jane Uzwiak (New Milford, CT) was initially drawn to fused glass by its endless color palette. Using transparent, opalescent and iridescent shades, she crafts vibrant plates, bowls and art pieces. Loretta Eby and Jeff Jackson of Loretta Eby Hot Glass (Watkinsville, GA) focus on mouth-blown glass techniques. They collaborate to create ornaments and vases with stunning swirls and spots of pure, deep color.


The Celebration is proud to present a stunning collection of finely crafted jewelry, ranging from high-end pieces to everyday wear. Sarah Katerina Suloff (Mill Valley, CA) works in gold, silver and precious stones to create narrative pieces inspired by the places she has visited throughout her life. By contrast, Armando Suarez (Onancock, VA) works with authentic horseshoe nails to craft unique earrings, pendants and necklaces. Each steel nail is hand tooled and then combined with recycled glass, handmade ceramics and pearls into contemporary pieces of jewelry. The jewelry of Andrea Janosik (Brooklyn, NY) explores interactions between very different materials—how leather lines rubber, how rubber protrudes from openings in silver, how wire and pearls can squeeze soft leather. "My work unifies opposites: soft materials and hard, smooth surfaces and rough, literal shapes and abstract," she says. Mindy Jackson-Jefferys of Stray Cat (Brookfield, VT) designs pieces in polymer clay that are inspired by the natural beauty of leaves, wood, animal skins and stones. Jackson-Jefferys describes working with the clay as sculpting with paint—the vibrant colors in her necklaces come entirely from blending shades of clay. For those preferring a more minimal style, Katherine Rudolph (Nashua, NH) crafts necklaces, earrings, brooches and cufflinks in simple shapes inspired by modernist design. Working mainly in precious metals, she unites geometric forms into larger compositions that are lightweight yet have a distinct presence.


Whimsical toys, quirky sculptures and fanciful cards add to the overall air of fun and festivity during the Celebration. New to this year's sale are the remarkable mahogany puzzles of Jay Hollis of Bogarts Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles (Wayland, MA). Influenced by the early jigsaw puzzle makers of the Great Depression, Hollis strives to create the finest and most imaginative puzzles available anywhere today. Hand cut with a scroll saw, each puzzle contains several pieces cut in the shape of whimsical figures, including one signature piece—a silhouette of Bogart, the Portuguese Water Dog for whom the company is named. Sally Prangley (Bainbridge Island, WA) returns to the Celebration with her spectacular wire baskets. Incorporating wire, found objects and beads, Prangley compares constructing her ornamental baskets to "drawing elegant, three-dimensional pictures in air." Mixed-media artist Aileen Ishmael (New Haven, CT) presents a series three-dimensional figures and collages. Says Ishmael, "I love creating pieces that are drenched in colors and textures. I also like to throw in a dash of whimsy—it's important not to take ourselves too seriously!" Always a customer favorite, Janet Brodie (New Haven, CT) is back with her delightful paper cards and dolls. Collaged from a variety of papers and embellished with rubber stamps, these original and amusing pieces add the perfect finishing touch to a special gift.


Each year the Celebration is proud to feature work by local and regional artists, including many with ties to CAW. CAW Board member and renowned potter Hayne Bayless (Ivoryton, CT) collaborates with CAW Printmaking faculty member Liz Pagano (New Haven, CT) on an exceptional series of lamps. This collaboration, dubbed "Sideways & Askew," explores what happens when paper and clay collide. Each lamp is constructed with a ceramic base by Bayless and a shade by Pagano that incorporates papers, monotype and collage. Bayless' nationally recognized stoneware and porcelain, hand-built using slab techniques and extruded elements, are also featured in the Celebration. Jewelry instructor Connie Pfeiffer (Chester, CT) presents hand-hammered silver rings, bracelets and earrings. Her highly textural forms create an ambiguity of material, transforming metal or paper into peeled tree bark, skin, roots, and bones. Pottery Department Head Stephen Rodriguez's (New Haven, CT) hand-thrown stoneware and porcelain reveals a connection to nature and history. His vessels fuse his deep knowledge of contemporary ceramics and love of ancient Japanese and Chinese pottery. Pottery faculty member Anita Griffith (Madison, CT) creates brightly colored items with clever functions for daily use in the home or office. She uses a combination of wheel-thrown, coiled and slip cast parts, with hand-building and appliqué to add surface interest to the forms. Her signature face pieces stem from "the keen impression a human face leaves on the mind, the memory." Also on display will be handwoven pieces by Weaving instructor Lucienne Coifman (North Haven, CT), small watercolor paintings and monotypes by Painting instructor Judy Atlas (Orange, CT), and metal work by Sculpture Department Head and CAW founding member Ann P. Lehman (Bethany, CT).

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Tattoo influence art show opens at Paris in Plantsville Saturday

Paris in Plantsville
15 West Main St., Plantsville, (860) 426-1149
Skin Deep: Tattoo Influence Art Show
Oct. 30—Nov. 13, 2010.
Opening reception and Halloween Costume Party: Sat., Oct. 30, 7-11 p.m.

Press release

A chance for tattoo artists to show off their skills outside of doing tattooing. The show is up through Nov. 13. The opening reception is this Saturday night and includes a Halloween Costume Party.

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Saturday afternoon opening at City Gallery in New Haven

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Jennifer Davies: A Mano: New Works in Paper
Oct. 28—Nov. 21, 2010.
Opening Reception: Sat., Oct. 30, 2—5 p.m.

Press release

Jennifer Davies is exhibiting handmade papers in A Mano: New Works in Paper at City Gallery, 994 State Street, New Haven from Oct. 28—Nov. 21. An opening reception is planned for Sat., Oct. 30, from 2—5 p.m. Jennifer will also be in the gallery on Sun., Oct. 31 from 12—4 pm to discuss her work in more detail.

For those unfamiliar with her paper work, Davies processes Asian fibers to make paper into which she includes yarn or etchings. Some sheets are patterned by burn marks, ink or clay, and overlaid with translucent paper. "I am interested in the textures and designs of nature," she explains, "Very often, the imagery in my work suggests the surface of the earth or the sky, seen up close or very far away." Included in this new show are weavings of various shapes, dipped into liquid pulp to make translucent nets. The larger rectangles hang from the ceiling, while small circular ones are combined in collages, or hang on their own, suggesting phases of the moon or planets.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Saturday evening openings at Real Art Ways

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St., Hartford, (860) 232-1006
Olu Oguibe
Saya Woolfalk: Institute of Empathy
Oct. 23, 2010—Mar. 20, 2011
Opening reception: Sat., Oct. 23, 6—8 p.m.

Press release

Conceptual artist Olu Oguibe brings a 40-foot New England stonewall into the Real Art Ways gallery to examine its role as an iconic amalgamation of geology, history, craft and metaphor. Working together with local masons and using area field stones, Oguibe has created a stonewall as a neo-minimalist gesture where the natural and cultural histories of New England take form and become art.

There will be a free opening reception Sat., Oct. 23 from 6—8 p.m. Real Art Ways is located at 56 Arbor Street in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood.

Oguibe describes the New England stonewall as both a line and a limn, an illuminated space where the natural and cultural histories of New England take form and become art. By moving the stonewall into the gallery space, and making it part of the vocabulary of conceptual art, Oguibe hopes to generate a new, inclusive discourse that draws no line between aesthetic or formal concerns, on one hand, and environmental, cultural, or social discourses, on the other. Oguibe, an international artist whose work often deals with place, says, "I believe that it is time that New England artists rebuild the bridge between art and the museum public. By returning to the peculiar natural elements and forms that define the region and its environment, I hope this exhibition helps renew the public's interest in the beauty and uniqueness of the region."

Olu Oguibe is a conceptual artist whose work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, including the biennials of Venice, Havana, Busan Korea, and Johannesburg, South Africa as well as the Whitney Museum; PS1-MoMa; the Smithsonian; the Irish Museum of Modern Art; Migros Museum, Zurich; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastrich; Whitechapel Gallery; Royal Festival Hall; the United Nations Headquarters; and many others. He has also served as curator or co-curator for many international exhibitions including shows at the Tate Modern in London and the Venice Biennial. Oguibe is a Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Connecticut.

Using craft based installation, video, photography, drawing and live performance, artist Saya Woolfalk invites Real Art Ways visitors to re-imagine the world through her fictional creation, Institute of Empathy. The piece is an installment in Woolfalk's ongoing creation of another universe in which boundaries between man-woman, plant-animal, machine-human are blurred.

There will be a free opening reception Sat., Oct. 23 from 6—8 p.m. Real Art Ways is located at 56 Arbor Street in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood. Institute of Empathy will come alive with a dance performance from Scapegoat Garden's Deborah Goffee at the opening reception and from University of Hartford dancers under the direction of Stephen Pier and Bonita Weisman during upcoming Creative Cocktail Hours.

Woolfalk has used conversations with Hartford area doctors, political activists, dancers and others as a springboard for Institute of Empathy's subject matter: a group of "Empathics" who seek to understand truth through reason and mysticism, and to change themselves and their world. By blending fact and fiction, Woolfalk constructs playful narratives that immerse us in the logic of another place, ultimately exploring how ideas evolve in our own culture.

Woolfalk says, "Culture is not static. It is an ever-emerging phenomenon and I try to mirror this process in this body of work."

Artist Saya Woolfalk re-imagines the world in multiple dimensions (sculpture, installation, and painting to performance and video). She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, completed the Whitney Independent Study Program in Studio, and holds an MFA in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA from Brown University. She has exhibited at PS1/MoMA; Deitch Projects; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Momenta Art; Performa09; and many others. She has received an Art Matters grant to Japan, a NYFA grant, a Fulbright Fellowship to Brazil, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA grant.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thursday night opening at New Haven Public Library

New Haven Free Public Library Art Gallery
133 Elm St., New Haven
Ada Fine Art Academy Group Exhibition
Through Dec. 2, 2010
Artist's reception: Thurs., Oct. 21, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

Adae Fine Art Academy, located in New Haven , is proud to present a group exhibition of student work. The guiding concept of the Academy is the well-known artist’s adage, "Draw what you see, not what you think you know," a mantra manifested in the paintings and drawings of its students, who range in age from seven to their seventies. This group exhibit presents a splendid variety of subjects and media, reflecting Adae Fine Art Academy’s dedication to individual instruction inspired by students’ interests.

Featured in the show are art works by Theresa Cappetta, Henry Chapman, Alex Lawrence, Christopher Gross, Jeff Chandler, Julia Chandler, Joe Janiga, Ben Huvelle, Sonja Haley, Samantha Santos, Helen Kincaid, Sylvia Arovas, Bill Simons, Terry Stewart, Saul Aboudi, Nicole Andreson, Melina Andreson, Liv Hahner, Candice Gosta, Eli Lee, Corey Patchkofsky, Hannah Kim, Hanna Solligard, Eric Solligard, Dwayne Watkins, William Zhang, and Kimberley Goulbourne.

Classes in all types of drawing and painting media are offered and student interests drive instruction. Enrollment is open; new students aged seven and up are welcome to schedule a free trial lesson at any time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sunday afternoon opening at John Slade Ely House

John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
Figures in the Carpet: Work of Edward Castiglione
Oct. 17—Nov. 14, 2010.
Opening reception: Sun., Oct. 17, 2—5 p.m.

Also showing Oct. 17—Nov. 14, 2010
Lauren Laudano, Sculpture/Installation
Eric Litke, Photo/Installation
Alyssa Sciortino, Paintings
Opening reception: Sun., Oct. 17, 2—5 p.m.

Press release

For over forty years, Edward Castiglione made a life’s work of drawing and painting in his New Haven studio. He showed his art only rarely, and little of it during the last two decades. This exhibition is an anthology made up almost entirely of that unseen achievement, with its extraordinary range of painterly skill and compelling subject matter. With influences ranging from Caravaggio through Anselm Kiefer, his unique vocabulary has long deserved to be more widely known. It is finally presented here through the generosity of the Estate of Edward Castiglione and the John Slade Ely House.

This exhibit was curated by Stephen Kobasa and Paul Clabby.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Futurism show opens Saturday at Gallery at Black Rock

The Gallery at Black Rock
2861 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, (203) 814-6856
Oct. 16—Nov. 6, 2010
Note: Show will be at 51 Crescent Ave., Bridgeport
Artist reception: Sat., Oct. 16, 3:30—7:30 p.m.

Press release

The Gallery at Black Rock is proud to present Futuria, a contemporary look at futurism. The show is being held at the gallery at 51 Crescent Avenue on with an artist reception on Sat., Oct. 16, from 3:30—7:30 p.m.

The future seems more uncertain than ever. The environment, political tensions, economic worries make contemplation of the future a sometimes scary exercise. The gallery asked artists to do just that.

The show will look at the differing visions of artists ranging from the darkly lonely paintings of Harrison Love to lighthearted Science fiction-influenced work. Futuria will include installation, painting, 3-d design, sculpture as well as drawings and music.

Participating artists include, Harrison Love, Mark Derosa, Allan Wittert, Liz Squillace, Michael Johnson, Marci Kovaks, Allan Neider, Robert Beam, and Donald Mctonic.

The show will open with an artist reception on Sat., Oct. 16 from 3:30—7:30 p.m. The Show will be held at the Gallery at 51 Crescent Avenue in Bridgeport’s East side. The show will run for 4 consecutive Saturdays at the space from 12 noon—5 p.m. and by appointment.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CWOS 2010 final weekend miscellaneous images

I just wanted to post images of the work of a few more artists with whom I visited this past Saturday.

Work by Kim Mikenis ("Werewolf Visits Martha's Vineyard"):


A sculpture with toy soldiers from Margaret Roleke's "Weapons of Mass Destruction":


An anamorphic mural designed and painted by students of the Cooperative Arts High School's visual arts after school program. The design was inspired by the anamorphic work of Felice Varini:


A detail from one work by Suzan Shutan:

A window installation by Shutan:

An outside view of Shutan's window installation with enthusiastic visitor juxtaposing a diagonal:


A recent painting by Gerald Saladyga:

A recent drawing by Saladyga that harkens back to work he was doing in the 1980's:

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CWOS 2010 weekend 3

I only had one day for the third weekend of the 2010 City-Wide Open Studios but it was a beautiful day. I spent most of it at the alternative space on the corner of Crown and College streets, taking in the storefront installations and the ad hoc galleries. I made the decision early on to just enjoy the experience and not get as invested in taking notes and interviewing artists as I usually do.


My first stop was in the storefront SERA (Social Experiments Relational Acts) NAIL SALON (Web). The space was still laid out as it had been when the tenants left, including rows of nail polish of various colors on shelves on the front left wall. The overarching curatorial frame was "service." Within that theme, a half dozen or so artists plied their conceptual trades, "serving" visitors in ways interactive, offbeat and thought-provoking.

I regret now that I didn't get a "manifesto massage" by "Ted" (aka Ted Efremoff [Web]). Stationed in a massage cubicle, Ted read from arts manifestos (Stuckist, Futurist, Situationist and more) while giving massages. One young woman seemed to be quite enjoying her Stuckist massage.

I spent the most time with Melanie Carr Eveleth. Mel, as she was calling herself within this context, whose primary medium is sculpture, was facilitating "swaps." Participants could fill out forms indicating what they were looking for in terms of goods and services and what they could offer to swap in return. In fact, Carr Eveleth actually operated a SWAP SHOP in a New Britain storefront briefly as a kind of conceptual art/community involvement mashup. While I couldn't think of anything I wanted or had to offer, I had a lively exchange of ideas with Carr about commodities, art and social theory, capitalist ideology and more.


In a corner room upstairs, Colin Burke was beguiling visitors with an installation that melded art and science. Burke constructed a camera obscura in one corner of the space. Visitors entered a darkened box surrounding two corner windows. Burke had covered each window with thick sheets of black plastic. In front of the black plastic hung big sheets of flimsy light-colored fabric. Light from outside was channeled through small holes cut in the black plastic, projecting real-time imagery from the streets on the hanging scrims. Interestingly, when the imagery from outside is projected by the camera obscura it appears upside down and reversed. It was like entering a magic box where the magic is actually based on measurable principles of science.

Burke had science books on display that detailed how light is bent as it passes through a small aperture (although he confessed he didn't really know why it does a somersault to end ass-up and backwards). But the ancient scientific discoveries of the workings of the camera obscura led directly—if over a thousand years or more—to photographic technology. Knowledge builds upon knowledge and eventually you have crowds of paparazzi chasing after Paris Hilton.

"I'm kind of a science nerd so I like the idea that it all goes together," Burke told me. The installation prompted lots of questions as to how it worked and how visitors might be able to rig camera obscuras in their own homes. Burke was also showing some of his cyanotypes—the name derives from the fact that the emulsion darkens to a Prussian Blue color on exposure to ultraviolet light—and explaining the process by which he made them. Because cyanotypes crave UV light, they are often developed using sunlight. Although cyanotypes can be made through a contact printing process involving photographic negatives, Burke primarily makes his cyanotypes as photograms—placing objects on the treated paper or cloth surface. The result is a negative image. Several of Burke's cyanotypes were of leaves and twigs but he also had an example of a large cyanotype he created by setting a shopping cart on its side on the emulsion-treated cloth.


Harvey Koizim has been doing photography for a long time, starting with the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) when he was 13. Koizim told me he had "gotten very into taking macro pictures of flowers." He lives in the Wooster Square area of New Haven and is one of the founders of the City Seed farmers market there. He began taking photos of the veggies to use as promotional material for the market and then discovered that he loved them as a subject in their own right.

"I really like it," Koizim said. "They're almost three-dimensional."

Koizim shoots with a digital camera because, he said, "Digital is much more adaptable to all kinds of situations. You can push the sensitivity way up," allowing the use of available light rather than flash even in many low light circumstances.

The photos offered a tasty combination of form, texture and color. Looking at the images, I thought of crowds of people. The fruits or vegetables clustered as recognizable groups but each individual had its own identity.


Tim Nikiforuk was showing two disparate bodies of work: portraits, executed either with paint and ink or graphite, and abstract images of viruses warped and filtered in Adobe Photoshop and then colored by hand.

Nikiforuk pointed out that the virus pictures were composed within the frame in almost a mushroom cloud shape, an allusion, he said, to biowarfare. He prints them out as linework on coated paper and then selectively colors them with ink and watercolors to get a pulsating, psychedelic design.

The graphite portraits were impressive in the way Nikiforuk combines photorealist rendering of some features within the context of a contour sketch.


Eric Iannucci used humor and smarts to set up his Artist for Sale room. Iannucci stocked the space with a lively collection of foam masks, clay artwork and assemblages made out of lightweight inexpensive materials.


Lauren Laudano's untitled installation—or perhaps it's called "Elastic Web;" she didn't seem too sure—filled a room. It was a complex netted sculpture made from rubber bands. Painstakingly, I assume.

"It started with the material. I got a bag of rubber bands and decided to create a system to make the piece and this is how it came out," Laudano told me. She said that it was made site-specific to conform to the space.

"For this and another piece, I wanted to use material that's usually discarded. I'm interested in looking at the pieces that people throw away and disregard, to see of they can be looked at in anther way," said Laudano.

The malleability of the material enabled an engaging interplay of line, perspective and form.


Over at 39 Church Street, I met painter Nick Mead. Mead, an expatriate Brit, told me he trained as a figurative painter as an undergraduate. A year spent in the United States as an undergraduate exposed him to a lot of abstract painting. His works combine line and the use of thick blobs of paint that bring an element of relief to the surface of his canvases.

Mead noted that it was "problematical" coming up with one's own voice as an abstract painter because so many ideas have already been explored. He arrived at his present style as a "juncture" of his figurative and abstract work. The compositions "refer to a landscape of sorts, a psychological landscape as much as physical." He emphasized, however, that his "landscapes" were not literal representations.

A third element in the paintings is the staining of the canvas caused by the linseed oil in the linework leeching into the rabbit skin chalk ground. Mead said, "It makes it kind of an active process in itself." The blobs, Mead noted, have the effect of "making the surface not exactly three-dimensional but they physically activate the surface. It creates a kind of ripple.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Opening reception at eo artlab in Chester Friday evening

eo artlab
69 Main St., Chester, (860) 526-4833
Dana Oldfather: Rising Above
Sept. 29—Oct. 31, 2010
Artist's reception: Fri., Oct. 8, 6—9 p.m.

Press release

Ohio artist Dana Oldfather, fresh off exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, and Cleveland, debuts her paradoxical work in a featured artist show at eo art lab. Oldfather, explores the idea of emotional opposites as a singular, integrated feeling in a whimsical, mystical way. The show, entitled Rising Above, runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 31. The Opening Reception will be Oct. 8 from 6—9 p.m.

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CWOS Weekend 3 this Saturday, Sunday: Alternative Space and more downtown

City-Wide Open Studios
50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
City-Wide Open Studios
Oct. 9—10, 2010: Alternative Space (196-212 College St.), 39 Church St., 300 George St.

Press release

This past weekend, over 200 art-seekers explored New Haven's neighborhoods with City-Wide Open Studios. Artists reported heavy traffic, and roughly 50 people participated in guided bike tours led by the Devil's Gear. Saturday night also saw the return of the Artspace Underground, bringing cutting-edge performances, experimental time-based art, and 100 people to the gallery. On Sunday, several workshops and demonstrations were hosted, and visitors left with a better understanding of the creative process - and sometimes even their own creative product.

The final weekend of Oct. 9—10 marks the return of the Alternative Space, located at the Coop Center for Creativity at 196-212 College Street. This year, the Alternative Space promises more interactive, site-specific installations than ever before.

Visitors are encouraged to begin with Colin Burke's (Web) installation, a camera obscura on the second floor of the Coop Center for Creativity. A camera obscura is a darkened room in which images of the external surroundings are projected onto its walls through an extremely limited light source.

From there, visitors can stop by SERA (Social Experiments Relational Acts) Nail Salon at 206 College Street. Set in a vacant, fully-outfitted nail salon, the event examines the notion of art as service and is organized by artist Ted Efremoff. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with artists directly amid massage chairs, nail files, and more. Next door, Gene Beery (Web) and Eric Litke (Web) have created Pictures and Words, a mixed-media exhibit set in the former location of College Wines and Spirits.

At 198 College Street, visitors will find the Art of the Warrior, featuring works by several veterans. The group's collective artist statement acknowledges the profound effect of war on our veterans, and "reflects the personal rather than the political. Many of the pieces in this collection were created not with the intention of selling, but as a way to make sense of, integrate, and even transcend their experiences." At 1 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 9, veterans Lanse Dowell and Esdras Lubin will perform as a musical duo on reeds and bass, respectively.

Visitors can expect another musical performance as well. On Saturday and Sunday between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., Cris Shirley and Marion Hunt will improvise using found instruments in their installation at 202 College Street.

In addition to the 45 artists exhibiting at the Alternative Space this year, two other sites will be open to the public. 300 George Street is home to the Haskins Laboratory and several participating artists. 39 Church Street will also have its doors open.

Discounted parking is available through LA-Z parking, located at George and College. Visitors should inform the attendant that they are visiting City-Wide Open Studios; parking will be $5 on both days.

Artspace has been documenting City-Wide Open Studios with a full slate of bloggers. Check out the CWOS blog for ongoing documentation of the events as they unfold, and see City-Wide Open Studios from a few angles.

City-Wide Open Studios is presented by TD Bank, and is made possible by the support of many other sponsors, including the New Haven Advocate, Yale University, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Alliance Bank, City of New Haven Department of Economic Development, and MacWorks LLC.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

2010 City-Wide Open Studios, weekend 2, Sunday

I just had a couple of hours on Sunday to visit with artists so—as is usually the case—I had to miss more than I could see (but even more so). I stopped first at St. Paul & St. James Episcopal Church on Olive Street where four artists were showing their work. Three photographers had pictures on display: Diane Cushing-Mathews, Gwenith Heuss-Severance and Phoebe Barron. Barron's images were particularly striking. Deftly composed crystalline photos of architectural and natural subjects, they exuded a celebration of pattern, color and form.

Robin Hochstrasser, the only non-photographer in the group, was displaying monotype prints. Hochstrasser said she had gotten interested in monotypes after seeing the work of Sarah Gustafson at the Guilford Art Fair a few years ago. She decided to take a printmaking class taught by Gustafson at Creative Arts Workshop and another taught by Maura Galante.

Monotypes, as the name implies, are non-repeatable prints. (Monoprints, on the other hand, may feature repeated imagery but with slight or exaggerated differences from individual print to print.) Hochstrasser paints onto the plexiglas plate and runs the plate and paper through the press. She repeats the process, she told me, "layering until I get the desired effect."

Hochstrasser's monotypes include elements of collage and show a fine appreciation for the way the ink interacts with the paper. She uses netting, shells, paper cutouts and leaves and branches as printing surfaces in conjunction with her abstract mark making. Hochstrasser creates negative space by flicking mineral spirits at the painted plate.

"I use a lot of found objects, natural objects to print or I create my own shapes," Hochstrasser said, pointing out silhouettes of birds in her imagery. "I put it through the press if I can but sometimes they are too fragile so I press them by hand."

Hochstrasser is a teacher and currently tutors students at Bear Path School in Hamden. She said she has always incorporated art into her curriculum. Printmaking, in particular, offers creative possibilities for young people, she said.

"There so many things you can do with printmaking," Hochstrasser said. Students can use offbeat surfaces such as cut potatoes or rocks to hold the ink. "They always turn out unique and nice and they get some kind of image."

"Most artists, no matter what medium they are doing now, have done printmaking in their lives and love it and want to get back to it," said Hochstrasser.


At a studio on Willow Street, photographer Linda Lindroth is reconsidering the range of work she has done since the 1970's. Examples of her work over the past four decades were on display on the studio walls: street photography in the style of her former teacher Garry Winogrand; photograms of urban detritus a la a digital-era Man Ray; landscapes; a series of images of a Doberman Pinscher dressed in a suit that reminded me of Diane Arbus' or Weegee's pictures; a large mixed media wall sculpture. Lindroth is contemplating her works in terms of the "remix" concept cribbed from the music world: recombining original elements of previous works to create new pieces.

The idea isn't new to Lindroth. For most of the 1990's, she told me, she had worked on mixed media pieces with a photographic base. One of this series, "Trail Trial of Wilma Mankiller," was hanging on one wall of Lindroth's space. The work was inspired by Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, the memoir of Wilma Mankiller, first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. In the book, Mankiller recalled being uprooted and sent by train from her native Oklahoma to San Francisco.

"Trail Trial of Wilma Mankiller" is composed of a background of multiple wood panels large enough to fit 16"x20" photos. Two other panels are attached to the front of the piece, mounted on wheels that ride along a series of rails on the top and bottom. Additional found objects are attached to the work: a rusted, crushed automoblie tailpipe; metal corner brackets from an old trunk on the corners of some of the panels; a metal handle one might hold onto for balance when standing on a train.

Pointing to the effaced imagery on the panels, Lindroth noted that it all came from her own photographic landscapes—a branch with seed pods, a marsh, irises. "Going back to my stock images and selecting them, they become art supplies," Lindroth told me.

"I liked the way that if I smudged the images they looked like smudged windows," Lindroth said. The effect is akin to how the landscape might have blurred by for Mankiller on her train journey from Oklahoma.

I asked Lindroth how she integrated the photographic imagery into the piece.

"I wet the [photo] paper and put gesso on the panel. I placed the photo on the gesso and then squeegeed and rolled it until it was flat. Some of the gesso comes up and dries. Then I sand it with a hand sander so it becomes smooth. If there are bubbles in the paper, they break. You get a surface that is very fresco-like," explained Lindroth. In order to make it appear "more photo-like," Lindroth touched up the images with silver and black oil stick and then went back and sanded them some more.

"I've found with working with found objects, that people volunteer things," Lindroth said, meaning their own memories and associations with objects they have encountered. "It's a talisman of a kind."

The various found objects in the work are evocative of travel—the wheels and rails, trunk brackets, road detritus such as the tail pipe. But the mounted handle also looks like a cross with two crossbars. This is a wonderful double-edged symbol, evoking both physical balance on the journey but also the need to grasp onto something for spiritual balance and grounding.

As she noted, if she hadn't told me it was "about" Wilma Mankiller, I might have made my own associations and interpretation. The viewer, Lindroth said, "has to bring something to a piece like this."

"So it's about the process of life and moving from one thing to another both as an artist and a viewer," said Lindroth.


Constance LaPalombara has her studio on the same floor as Lindroth. LaPalombara had just gotten back the day before from three months in Maine, including a September artist residency on Cranberry Island.

LaPalombara always paints on site or directly from life, whether working on still life’s, seascapes or urban landscapes. This can present some real challenges. I asked about one work, an untitled painting of a moonrise over the water. LaPalombara noted that it was difficult to paint "because I was practically in the dark while painting it. I had done studies [of moonrises on paper] so that helped me." (LaPalombara had a pile of studies on paper for various paintings on a table in the studio.)

The quality of light is LaPalombara's true subject. The moonrise painting is characterized by a feathering of soft pastel colors. The sky graduates from the orange horizon up through a layer of clouds and further through transitions of translucent green, blue and violet. The heavens reflect on the water in purples and pinks.

Her Maine landscape paintings capture the placid feel of the shore. There are clusters of small homes, outcroppings of rock, soft waves, high skies with delicate clouds.

I was struck by the way her paintings capture a powerful sense of mood. LaPalombara is not a fussy painter, preferring to work with an economy of detail. Her urban landscapes—many of which were part of a 2007-2008 show The City at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale—are notable for their blocks of color and architectural shadow. They have a Hopper-esque quality to them, conveying both beauty and solitude albeit without alienation.

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Sculpture/installation show opens at Artspace Hartford tomorrow

Artspace Hartford
555 Asylum St. St, Hartford, (860) 548-9975
Tracy Walter Ferry & Anita Gangi Balkun: Rootage
Through Oct. 16, 2010
Opening reception: Thurs., Oct. 7, 5—7 p.m.

Press release

Rootage, featuring the sculptural works of Tracy Walter Ferry and Anita Gangi Balkun, explores the origin or place where something begins and is strengthened, either biologically or emotionally. New work by the artists includes sculptures and installations. Ferry constructs sculptures that reference genetically modified organisms. Balkun combines found objects, textiles, and photographs to examine memories and the gift of lineage. Ferry and Balkun both received MFA's in painting from Hartford Art School and are residents of Conn.

The public is invited to the exhibition's opening reception on Thurs., Oct. 7, 5—7 p.m. This show has a very short run; it will only be up through Sat., Oct. 16.

(Unfortunately, Artspace Hartford’s Web site doesn’t have a page that showcases their current gallery exhibition, which seems very strange to me. However, both artists have Web sites (see links above) with images and artist statements and are worth checking out. HH)

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Monday, October 04, 2010

2010 City-Wide Open Studios weekend 2, Saturday

On the perfect Saturday of CWOS 2010's second weekend, I checked out the work of sculptor Gar Waterman and painter Joseph Adolphe at Waterman's West Rock Studio. In the front gallery, Waterman was showing a series of sea creatures, sculpted in onyx and marble. The walls were lined with landscape paintings Adolphe made during a sojourn to Italy this past summer.

Adolphe wasn't there when I visited but Waterman was. As always, he was an engaging, humorous and educational host. Waterman—whose father Stan Waterman is a renowned deep-sea diver and producer of underwater films—is presently trying to organize a traveling art/science exhibit around the subject of nudibranchs.

Don't know what a nudibranch is? (The word means "naked gill" in Latin.) Well, Waterman will be more than happy to share his knowledge of and affection for these sea creatures. He led several of us from the front gallery back into his studio for a seminar on the critters and the role they are presently playing in his art.

Waterman said nudibranchs are commonly known as "sea slugs" but that term was a misnomer.

"They are some of the most fabulous, colorful, exotic, wonderful, varied, strange creatures there are," he said. A type of gastropod mollusk like snails, "they evolved away from carrying a heavy calcium shell as protection to [using] chemical protection, because they are toxic."

Flipping through a book filled with pictures of the rambunctiously colored mollusks, Waterman noted that there are over 3,500 known varieties. Members of the diving community love them, said Waterman. They are particular favorites of underwater photographers, according to Waterman, "because unlike the bigger marine creatures they don’t move fast." A photographer can move in close with his or her macro lens and click away.

The group of bicyclists led by Devil’s Gear bike shop owner Matt Feiner showed up at that point and Waterman, like a carnival pitchman, declared, "This is the nudibranch production center of New Haven!"

"Who doesn't know what a nudibranch is? Raise your hand," said Waterman. As most hands went up, he responded, "Well, come in here and I will blow your mind!"

The ebullient host flipped through the pages of one of his books, showing off the images and explaining their physiology. He was particularly amused by the term "parapodal appendages," which refers to body structures some nudibranchs grow to protect their gill plumes. But he was serious too, noting that the creatures' toxins are so sophisticated that they are being studied for cancer research. Additionally, the nudibranchs are current indicators of marine health. They feed on coral reefs so an absence of nudibranchs could indicate problems with the reefs.

"There is a whole crazy world of people even nuttier than I am about these creatures," declared Waterman, referencing, just one of many Web sites devoted to nudibranchphilia. (There is even a blog post about Waterman's sculptures at

Like any good entertainer, Waterman knows he needs to give his audience what they came for and he didn't disappoint. He directed the group over to a piece in process to both show his version of parapodal appendages and explain his sculptural method. Waterman described how he will finish the onyx sculpture—already graced with lithe curves and protruding appendages—with selective polishing, leaving some areas rough for variety.

All his work, Waterman said, is nature-connected. In the past, he has created stone, wood and metal sculptures based on insect and seed forms as well as sea creatures. He showed the bicyclists a display case with seed pods that he uses for inspiration, noting with particular enthusiasm the ingenious design of the devil's claw seed pod.

After they left, I talked with Waterman about how he got started on his nudibranch "bender." As a diver, he said, he had loved them since he was a kid. But it was only within the past few years that he started working on realizing them in his sculptures.

The whole idea of a collaborative show for science museums arose out of a fundraiser a couple of years ago for a marine environmental group in Maine. The benefit was a celebration of his father's 86th birthday and 60 years underwater. Waterman recalled that in a bit of serendipity he saw a piece of stone that looked like a nudibranch.

"I didn't set out deliberately at the beginning to do what I'm doing," Waterman said. It's a way of pulling together all these pieces of his life, Waterman said: his years diving and growing up underwater, the people he knows through his father who are the "crème de la crème" of that scientific community and, of course, his art.

"To access that and take advantage of that is really fun for me," Waterman said. "And it's for a good cause—to raise awareness of the environment and biodiversity and what we stand to lose."


Because painter Joseph Adolphe wasn't there when I dropped by I couldn't speak to him about his paintings. But they spoke eloquently for themselves. Adolphe made all of them this past summer during a trip he took with a class he teaches at St. John's University in New York.

All the paintings were oil on board landscapes, specifically of ruins in Italy. Adolphe's approach, which involved liberal use of a palette knife, was wonderfully suited to the imagery. The painting surfaces are full of energy and texture—evocative of the crumbling facades of the ancient ruins—without losing a bit of their pictorial punch.


Across the street Frank Bruckmann was also showing paintings from a recent sojourn. Bruckmann's series of seascapes and shore images were all painted between January and August of this year in the isolated locale of Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. Monhegan, according to Bruckmann, is accessible by an hour-long ferry ride an hour north of Portland.

Bruckmann said he and his family just "lucked out" in getting the rental for the extended stay. They have usually vacationed there in the summer or early fall. It was a treat for Bruckmann to experience the landscape at a different time of the year. He enthused about "the snow and the light on the horizon. Having winter light was just spectacular."

There was pretty much nothing to do but paint (and spend time with his family). Most of the painting was done outdoors on site in the cold with a little touching up in the studio.

The paintings "Cemetery" and "Whitehead" capture a dulcet combination of light and cast shadow. (I assumed the shadows were from clouds but Bruckmann corrected me.) The hues communicate the frigidity of the season.

Shadows also play a role in enhancing the dramatic impact of an untitled painting of Lobster Cove. The foreground is draped in shadows. The ocean is in the background behind an outcropping of rock. Bruckmann had planned to set up his easel and paint in the open meadow but the wind was so relentless that he moved back into a stand of trees for shelter. The benefits were aesthetic as well as physical. The foreground shadows cast by the trees contrast nicely with the winter sunshine on the brown brush in the middle ground.


Ronnie Rysz's work has evolved quite dramatically over the past half decade. Visiting with Rysz in his 91 Shelton Avenue studio in New Haven, he pulled out a figure painting he made in 2005 while still in college. The small painting of a heavyset nude woman was done in a "classic progressive realist," as Rysz described it. It is accomplished but not striking. Rysz's current work, on the other hand, bursts with personality, style and graphic energy.

"I'm thankful for the skills I earned in school because without them I couldn't do what I'm doing now," Rysz told me.

Rysz was displaying a selection of mixed media paintings and prints—linocuts, woodcuts and multi-plate lithographs. His work synthesizes a wide range of influences: WPA muralists like Thomas Hart Benton, German Expressionism, Frank Stella, Pop Art master Roy Lichtenstein, graphic novelist Charles Burns and more.

His mixed media paintings generally start with a pencil drawing, usually referencing photographic imagery of random models drawn from video or film stills, advertising and other sources. From the pencil sketches, Rysz develops black and white drawings. He builds up layers with cutouts, adding color palettes, embossing. Along with canvas and paper, his mixed media paintings often incorporate wrapping paper, wallpaper, enamel and acrylic paints, industrial screening (which achieves a Lichtenstein-esque halftone effect), rhinestones, jewelry he's found and other found objects.

"It's a pretty involved process," said Rysz. "There are many, many layers of papers, painted papers, pre-made papers."

Losing All Touch, his most recent solo show, at the 22 Haviland Street Gallery in South Norwalk, dealt with the way digital media and social networking is alienating individuals from the physical proximity of direct communication. Many of the works shown in Losing All Touch were on display in Rysz's studio. According to Rysz, his subjects "are disconnected, aloof and distracted."

That the works are a commentary on the alienation inherent in online mediation of social relationships is not immediately obvious. It doesn't matter. Rysz's conception is just a further interesting layer to works that stand strong on visual appeal alone.


My final stop of Saturday was at Ben Hecht's studio in Hamden. Hecht was displaying charcoal figure drawings, paintings of military jackets and egg tempera paintings.

The series of military jackets was partially influenced by the presence of veterans of the current wars in the media today. But even more, Hecht was inspired by family members who served in the military. The jackets he was painting were the jackets of family members.

"When you are growing up, you learn that someone fought in such and such war," Hecht said. But what we learn about wars is often from the movies rather than directly from the (mostly) men who fought. Hecht said he built up a duality of reality and fantasy. "I deal with the reality of their experience in war through the artifact of their uniform."

Hecht noted that one of the paintings was of the uniform of his grandfather, a veteran of World War II. The duality of fantasy and reality has visual corollaries in the light used in that painting: warm and cool, natural and artificial.

"Part of the fantasy you have of the artifact is that that’s what they wore in action," said Hecht. "Then to hear from my grandfather that this jacket was what he was given when he returned, and he was several sizes smaller. Their real jackets were destroyed before they were shipped home."

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