Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home