Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Art=Gift" opens Saturday night at Hygienic in New London

Hygienic Art
83 Bank St., P.O. Box 417, New London, (860) 443-8001
Nov. 20—Dec. 24, 2010
Opening reception: Sat., Nov. 20, 7—10 p.m.

Press release

The galleries will be filled with small, fresh, affordable artworks: paintings, soft goods, paper goods, prints, jewelry, photography, sculptural items and Hygienic T-shirts, ephemera and more. Come to Hygienic Art this Holiday Season to support your favorite local artists and discover new artists. Don't miss this opportunity to acquire artwork from these amazing artists and support our burgeoning art community in downtown New London. It's a blast!

Exhibiting artists: Julia Pavone, Guido Garaycochea, Mark Dixon, Samantha Listorti, Patrice Murphy Nelson, Patti Murphy, Karli Hendrickson, Troy Zaushny, Kim Abraham, Kevin Cooper, Kat Murphy, Judy Holder, Robin Grace, Victor Visockis, Roberta A. Sulls, Eva Leong, Amy Visockis, Marguerita Josefina Hernandez Rodriguez, Greg Bowerman, Karen Stevenson, Cristin L. Gallagher, Denny Rivera, Donna Martell, James Stidfole, Tim Behl, Mara Beckwith, Sara Seip, Robert Hauschild, Lori Rembetski, Christelle Lachapelle, Heather McDonald, Kristine Layman, Cheryl Wawrzynowicz, Gretchen Hatfield, Janice Barnish, Lisa R. Fatone and many more...


Two openings Thursday evening at Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College Pegasus Gallery
100 Training Hill Road, Chapman Hall, Middletown, 1-800-818-5501
Mark Williams: Can’t We All Just get Along?
Middlesex Community College The Niche
100 Training Hill Road, Founders Hall, Middletown, 1-800-818-5501
Thanakhon Likhitlerdrat: Silken Forms
Through Jan. 6, 2011.
Opening reception, Thurs., Nov. 18, 5:30—7:30 p.m. in the Pegasus Gallery

Press release

Mark Williams’ exhibition Can’t We All Just Get Along? addresses issues of militarism introduced to children as war toys. In this series of paintings, the mock art of war is transformed into new modes of visual play. Williams’ positions colorful monolithic forms derived from Play-Doh molds to overpower heroic fixed-posed army action figures. A doughy banana cluster, frog, bear, and a roster form ride piggyback atop toy soldiers posed for action. In works like “untitled (transparent white elephant)”, only a solder’s legs, torso and rifle protrude beneath a pudgy elephant as if smothered in soft squishy amour. Williams’ work transmits a universal statement of peace and critiques the militarist theft of childhood innocence.

Williams lives in New Haven and has exhibited throughout the Northeast, Canada and Bulgaria.

Silken Forms showcases a series of recent silk covered boxes and pottery by Thanakhon Likhitlerdrat. Likhitlerdrat lives in Bangkok, Thailand where traditional arts and crafts associated with silk are highly prized cultural and economic commodities. Thai silk fabric is renowned for its complex surface luster, fine texture and intricate woven patterns. Its production and artesian training is presided over by Thai royalty as a means to preserve its exceptional quality and future practice.

The silk pottery works produce by Likhitlerdrat are at once, intimate, delicate, and electrifyingly vibrant. The finely thrown and sculpted vessels reveal and conceal their three-dimensional forms as the eye is insistently drawn back and forth between surface and form. The sumptuous and elaborately patterned silks and trim reflect light in dynamic and unexpected ways to unify their appliqué surfaces and sculptural complexity.

Likhitlerdrat studied drafting at the Institute of Technology in Bangkok and is training in silk craft practices in a Thai Government program developed to promote arts related entrepreneurship.

There will be an opening tomorrow, Thurs., Nov. 18, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Pegasus Gallery.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

With the (seeming) greatest of ease

The Barnum Museum
820 Main St., Bridgeport, (203) 331-1104
Celebrating the Spirit of P.T. Barnum: The Sculpture of David Millen
Through Jan. 2, 2011

Arrayed in the Barnum Museum's high-ceilinged gallery in a circle beneath four bigtop-like drapes of fabric, David Millen's figurative sculptures radiate kinetic joy. Almost all Millen's works are sculpted with epoxy resin layered over a steel armature. Millen additionally lingers over the surfaces of the works, incorporating textures, colors, bronzing, marbling.

The earliest and most abstract work in the show, dating from 1999, is "Hands on Hands," a 15-foot tall stainless steel sculpture. "Hands on Hands" is minimalist in its design but maximal in its evocation of grace and interconnection. Using burnished steel rods, Millen has one figure, bent at the knees, balancing another figure high over his or her head. Seldom have stick figures seemed so artful.

I assumed that it was indicative of the work Millen had been doing a decade ago. But Millen—who happened to arrive at the gallery with his wife and friends while I was there—said that actually the work was a large scale version of the armatures that inhabit the interiors of all his pieces. The work was based on a smaller armature Millen had made and was assembled to Millen's specifications by Alexander Calder's fabricator.

Trapeze artists, ring dancers, gymnasts, unicyclists, acrobats, jugglers, aerialist, even Pilobolus dancers. Millen freezes them in action as they defy gravity, take wing and execute feats of balance and strength.

The figures are streamlined, built for speed, stylized. The trick, according to Millen, is to construct the armature in the right proportion, based on Greek form. Many of his surfaces are smooth and glazed with marbleized swirls. Others have rugged textured surfaces. The figure in "Ring Dancer" sports an epoxy cloak patterned with a screen pressed into the epoxy while still malleable. Millen further tinted the garment with gold and bluish powders and crushed black glass powder that appears to glitter. Iridescent patterned gold foil lights up the clothing of "Juggler on Unicycle."

The works are testimonials to the glorious side of the human spirit—defying limitations, reaching for the heavens and, importantly, cooperative and supportive endeavor. Most of these works depict entertainers like those one might see in a circus, bringing wide-eyed joy to children and parents alike. But one of my favorites is not of circus performers at all. Created this year, "Mother's Love" shows a woman leaning back and holding her child's arms as she swings him or her through the air. It is a representation of primal pleasure and more—the inculcation of bonds of trust and adventure that hopefully may usher the child fearlessly cartwheeling into the world in their own.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open studios this weekend at American Fabric Arts Building in Bridgeport

American Fabric Arts Building
1069 Connecticut Ave., Bldg 4, Bridgeport, (203) 451-5011
Open Studios
Nov. 13—14, 2010, 10 a.m.—5 p.m.

Press release

The American Fabrics Arts Building in Bridgeport will open it’s doors to the public for an Open Studios event on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 13—14, from 10 a.m.—5 p.m.

The event, now in it’s fifth year, will showcase more than 27 artists in their studios. Last year the event attracted more than 500 art lovers, young and old alike, to meet the artists in their studios.

Each studio reflects the artist’s personal style and is where the creative process happens. AFA has a diverse group of artists. Many practice what you would expect: painting, illustration, photography, sculpture, jewelry, quilting and ceramics. But you can also learn how Neil Pabian, a woodturner, crafts his custom writing instruments, how Trunket manufactures specialty iphone skins, how Emily Larned uses her vintage letterpress for printing and her husband, Chris Ruggerio makes handmade audio equipment, or how Debra Crichton adheres artwork to her retro style handbags. All will share their techniques and process, while offering work for sale.

In a few studios, demonstrations will be happening throughout the weekend. Kevin Ford will be making his signature drawings with a bb gun. The Cotton Press will be demonstrating t-shirt/textile screen-printing as well as machine knitting, and Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong will be throwing pots in her ceramic studio.

This year, sure to draw a crowd is the AFA Free Art Raffle. In exchange for sharing your email you could win: Stationary and notepad from Denyse Schmidt Quilts, hand printed fabric from The Cotton Press, ceramic vase by Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong, or specialty wood skin for iphone from Trunket.

If you are a patron of any of the AFA artists, and purchase artwork, you will have a chance to win: a handmade exotic wood pen by Neil Pabian , a novelty handbag from Artbags by Debra Crichton, an unframed artist proof linoleum cut, Standing Horses, by Janine Brown, or faceted citrine and carved bone pendant necklace by Tamara Wood.

The AFA Free Art Raffle prize winners will be drawn on Sun., Nov. 14 at 5 p.m., on the 4th fl. You do not have to be there to win.

A dedicated crowd is expected for Denyse Schmidt Quilts well-attended Annual Sample Sale held on the 4th floor during the weekend.

The Bridgeport restaurants, Two Boots and Epernay will be serving delectable treats on the 3rd and 4th floors during the event.

Admission and ample on site parking are free. For more information please call (203) 451-5011.

American Fabrics Arts Building Open Studios is part of the 2nd Annual Bridgeport Art Trail running Wednesday, November 10 through Sunday, November 14. Visitors can follow the Art Trail map to view 10 visual arts venues throughout the city, meet the artists, tour open studios, buy original art, follow a historic walking tour of downtown art and architecture. Participating venues include: The newly formed Bridgeport Arts and Culture Council, The Reads Building ArtSpace, City Lights Gallery, The Center for Public Art, The Gallery at Black Rock, Crescent St. Gallery, FrameMakers, and others to be announced.

For calendar of activities, artist profiles, directions and info on the Bridgeport Art Trail, become a fan on Facebook:


Surrealist-inspired "Betwixt & Between" opens Thursday at Artspace in New Haven

50 Orange St, New Haven, (203) 772-2709
Betwixt & Between
Nov. 11, 2010—Jan. 22, 2011
Opening reception: Thurs., Nov. 11, 6—8 p.m.
Artspace Underground: Sat., Nov. 13, 9 p.m.—midnight

Press release

Betwitxt & Between is a group exhibition of contemporary short videos that inject the ordinary domestic landscape with existential content and psychological slippages. Informed by the visual and conceptual strategies of the Surrealists, and echoing their simple, direct methods for constructing dream-like experiences, the artists in Betwixt & Between create works that reveal the authority, alienation, and desire embedded in everyday objects and occurrences.

Exploring the flexibility and contradictory nature of the medium, the artists construct nonnarrative videos that recall the emotional freedom of childhood; the curiosity of wonderment and the intrigue of the forbidden underscore many of the works exhibited. Mundane settings and items are repurposed in unexpected ways to glimpse into worlds uncertain and fantastic. Within these haunted realms, time is stretched, condensed, and fractured to unsettling effect.

The title of the exhibition references Albert Camus’s 1937 collection of short writings, L’Envers et l’endroit (Betwixt and Between) in which the author describes the joys and complexities of being in an ambiguous, intedeterminate space while emphasizing the romantic paradox of human existence. That“there can be no love of life without despair of life” is a sentiment articulated throughout Betwixt & Between.

Although the artists assembled in the exhibition vary in style and practice, their works share an unexpected beauty, and reveal a common aspiration to bring new awareness to the body and consciousness by questioning the moral ambiguity of the ordinary in surprising and often humorous ways. Participating artists include Terry Fox (Web), Nadia Hironaka (Web), Alex Hubbard (Web), Takeshi Murata (Web), Jeff Ostergren (Web), Delphine Reist (Web), Hiraki Sawa (Web), Carrie Schneider (Web), and Tom Thayer (Web).

Betwixt & Between will mark the second time that Swiss artist Delphine Reist has exhibited in the United States. Betwixt & Between is organized by Liza Statton.

An opening reception will be held Nov. 11, 2010, from 6—8 p.m. On Sat., Nov. 13, from 9 p.m—12 midnight, we'll celebrate the surreal once more with another Artspace Underground—gathering cutting-edge performances and experimental time-based art in our gallery. The evening will feature performances by Brooklyn-based dream-pop duo Magnetic Island (Web), local indie-pop band EULA (Web), and New York City jazz impresarios Moon Hooch (Web). Drinks will be provided by 116 Crown, and the event is curated by Madison Moore.

On Jan. 20, 2010, Artspace will host a one-night-only live event, in which choreographers Rachel Bernsen and Adele Myers will execute original performances prepared in dialogue with select video works on view in the gallery. Cathy Edwards, Director of Performance Programs at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, will lead a post-performance discussion with the dancers and several exhibiting artists.

Artspace is New Haven, Connecticut's leading alternative space, and is located in the historic Ninth Square district. Artspace's mission is to connect artists, audiences, and resources; to catalyze artistic activity; and to redefine art spaces. This season's exhibitions and programs are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, City of New Haven Economic Development, Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, TD Bank, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale University, other area businesses and individual Friends of Artspace.

Betwixt & Between will be on view until Jan. 22, 2010. Artspace is free and open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 noon—6 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 12 noon—8 p.m. The gallery will be open by appointment only from November 20—27, and December 18 through January 12. Visit us online at

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Art as burning passion

John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
Figures in the Carpet: Work of Edward Castiglione
Through Nov. 14, 2010

Artist Edward Castiglione, according to Figures in the Carpet co-curator (with John Slade Ely House director Paul Clabby) and longtime friend Stephen Kobasa, "painted only for himself, always." Castiglione died earlier this year. He spent decades painting and drawing in his New Haven studio yet rarely exhibited his work. After Castiglione's death, Kobasa, with the cooperation of Castiglione's estate, examined the works left behind. Conscious as he was of Castiglione's immense talent, Kobasa writes, "I was unprepared for what I found in his studio after his death. Turning one canvas after another from the wall was like being in some new cave at Altamira with its pageant of visions."

Kobasa describes the show as "a miscellany" rather than a retrospective. Castiglione neither signed nor dated his works; the creation dates for many of them are speculative.

Whether the imagery is figurative or abstract, an inner flame of intense passion lights Castiglione's work. What animates these canvasses and works on paper is both virtuosic technique and an incandescent spiritual core.

Flames and anguish are common threads running through this exhibition. For many artists, the act of creation is a form of joy and refuge. Perhaps this was so for Castiglione. Still, the pain of personal existence and the cruelty of social existence is a searing presence in many of these works.

Sometimes this anguish is literalized. In two oil paintings dating to the 1970's that evoke the crime of the Holocaust, emaciated bodies are piled or huddled together. It's almost a travesty to call these works "beautiful," suffused as they are with suffering. But Castiglione's rendering of the figures is so fluid as to imagine him trying to caress and comfort the bared flesh, to offer solace with strokes of his brush. Painted more than two decades before the Iraq War, they also evoke the war crimes of Abu Ghraib to come: prophecy in the form of witness.

In a nearby room, with a series of works made around 1990, Castiglione took a more metaphorical approach. On one wall is a painting of three bundles of sticks—unbound fasces, a symbol of Roman authority adopted by Mussolini's Fascists in the 1920's. Facing the painting are six large drawings in pencil and watercolor. The drawings constitute "a narrative on La Repubblica di Salo, the final manifestation of the Italian Fascist State," according to Kobasa's necessarily fragmentary catalogue for the exhibit. Over the course of these six drawings, the bundle of sticks comes undone, sparks and is consumed in an inferno of orange and yellow flame and black smoke. In the concluding drawing, the sticks resemble bones. The bones of the dead, the poison fruit of war, are scattered and scorched in a miserable gray circle.

As for Castiglione's abstractions—what an immense, commanding talent! On facing walls in one room are two paintings in which Castiglione wedded light, shadow and color to a vision of remarkable depth and emotion. One of the paintings, apparently part of a menorah series dating back to before 1990, is a long, horizontal work depicting eight rectangular panels. The motif of flames illuminates this work, a meditation on gradations of heat and fire. Castiglione has not painted flames in this work. Rather, he painted the idea of flames—their consuming energy, their active motion, their symbolic and spiritual resonance.

On the facing wall is a huge abstract painting that could be a vision of monumental canyon walls. It is a work of complex, thoroughly controlled beauty with nary a brush stroke out of place. Yet, while beautiful, it also provokes deep unease. This is not soothing abstraction for the corporate boardroom. There is the sense, if these are rock walls, that the viewer—or artist—is trapped. The sky may be glimpsed above but there is no way to scale the walls, no escape from this claustrophobic, if awe-inspiring, existential trap.

In his final years, Castiglione worked on a series of paintings inspired by Persian carpets. Perhaps in part a commentary on America's Mideast wars, they deconstruct the patterns on dark canvasses, the imagery sometimes threatening to catch fire. There are hints of fractal geometry, the dark recesses of time and history, the comfort of cosmic order. Although derived from decorative and utilitarian objects, these paintings have metaphysical heft. It is as though the swirling secrets of galaxies are contained within these luminous, ornate spirals. Perhaps, were Edward Castiglione with us today, he would say they are.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Saccio/Saladyga show reception Sunday at Kehler Liddell Gallery

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Joseph Saccio & Gerald Saladyga: Site Unseen
Nov. 4—Dec. 5, 2010
Opening reception: Sun., Nov. 7, 3—6 p.m., with Artist Talk at 3 p.m.

Press release

Kehler Liddell Gallery is pleased to present Site Unseen, a two-person exhibition of sculpture by Joseph Saccio and painting by Gerald Saladyga. This will be Saccioʼs second show at the gallery, and Saladygaʼs debut.

Joseph Saccio is a sculptor who resuscitates life from discarded objects, both organic and inorganic. For this show, trees are the conceptual medium at large and Saccio announces it with vigor in the form of a 15-foot tall circular tempietto (Italian for small temple). With alternating slabs of hallow cedar wood and coils of industrial fencing, “Tempietto” speaks to the inherent ambition and mysticism of nature. This is the story of a tree that exploded itself to become something different, possibly bigger, and half manmade. The interior provides a small space for one person to rest and reflect on fantasies, salvations, and other sites unseen.

Natureʼs inheritance is further pondered in a series of wall-mounted works, which Saccio crafted as memorials to a lost friend. “Requiem for Clint A Thousand Cuts” reads from left to right like a heavy musical scale with oak cross-sections for notes. The composition, honors the life of the oak tree: making accessible the intricate growth rings and vascular rays that circle the innermost heart wood.

Saccioʼs Book Series speaks to our everyday reliance on wood for communication, entertainment, and language. “Leaves of Grass” is a large, open book overgrown with a fern-like moss, the “Book of Catastrophys” is a rotting heap of gossipy magazine page, and a telephone pole sculpture has a book for a belly. Here, pragmatism meets imagination in challenging ways.

Gerald Saladyga is a non-traditional landscape painter who is unafraid of pioneering a 21st century aesthetic. For Saladyga, the romanticism of 19th century landscape painters is out of touch with our reality, which burgeons unpretty things like suburban sprawl, pollution, and human injustice. Thus, his landscapes read more like complex GPS maps and diagrams of cosmic universes than the traditional plein air variety.

For his debut show, Saladyga presents a series of minimal paintings done in a strict palette of black, gray, and red. He uses a mixture of latex house paint and modeling paste in order to achieve a thick, viscous surface. Many of the new works contain Tau crosses, cruciforms, alluding to political violence and the sado-masochistic ritual religious belief during the Age of Exploration. The medieval symbol of the Tau Cross appears in a large triptych that physically dominates the show. A dark green border frames the work, and two small squares rest below, windows to a deep abyss.

As the central theme, medieval religion applies to “The Hours,” as well, a series of 16 works on paper that Saladyga created to reference a popular Christian devotional book used by monks, who also famously illustrated the manuscripts. The series, made up of formulaic compositions of vertical stripes, suggest routine, ritual movements, and the passing of light. The notion of a highly governed and glorified system is at play.

Saladyga painted the works in Site Unseen in the early 1990ʼs, at a time when he wanted to move away from the gore of figuration and expressionism, but still respond to the political climate of the time: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Vietnam. These works represent a conscious effort to change style and content, but not meaning, with a new wave of creativity.

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eo artlab opening on Friday evening in Chester

eo artlab
69 Main St., Chester, (860) 526-4833
Clarence Morgan: Light Affliction
Nov. 3—28, 2010
Artist's reception: Fri., Nov. 5, 6—9 p.m.

Press release

Artist Clarence Morgan (Web) presents fantastical compositions of abstract biomorphic density. Soft and sharp, full and empty, active and still, this seasoned artist delights in enigmatic creations that challenge all our notions of art and life. The exhibition, entitled Light Affliction, runs Nov. 3—28, with an opening reception scheduled for Nov. 5 from 6—9 p.m.

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Artists' and scientists' reception Thursday evening at Haskins Laboratories

Haskins Laboratories
300 George St. 9th Floor, New Haven, (203) 772-2788
Mind Sets
Through Jan. 28, 2011, 2009.
Artists' and scientists’ reception: Thurs., Nov. 4, 5—7 p.m. (with a panel discussion at 5 p.m.)

Press release

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven, in collaboration with Haskins Laboratories, presents Mind Sets at Haskins Laboratories, 300 George St., 9th floor, New Haven. This exhibition will be on display now through Jan. 28, 2011. Regular viewing hours are Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. An artists’ and scientists’ reception is scheduled for Thurs., Nov. 4, from 5—7 pm, with a panel discussion at 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Curated by Cat Balco and Debbie Hesse with Curatorial Assistant Steven Olsen, Mind Sets explores the potential of collaboration between artists and scientists. New initiatives and ideas result from conversations between artists and scientists, offering new ways of approaching concepts through interdisciplinary communication.

Featured artists include Fritz Horstman, Zachary Keeting, Lucy Kim, Eva Lee, Martha Lewis, Laura Marsh, Kim Mikenis, Carol Padberg, Dushko Petrovich, Cuyler Remick, Matt Sargent, Bill Solomon, Susan Classen-Sullivan and Paul Theriault. Students of Natacha Poggio, a multidisciplinary designer on faculty at Hartford Art School and Director of the Design Global Change initiative, have collaboratively produced a catalogue and graphic images for the exhibit.

Haskins Laboratories is an independent, international, multidisciplinary community of researchers conducting basic research on spoken and written language. Exchanging ideas, fostering collaborations, and forging partnerships across the sciences, it produces groundbreaking research that enhances our understanding of—and reveals ways to improve or remediate—speech perception and production, reading and reading disabilities, and human communication.

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven is a regional nonprofit arts organization that provides leadership to, and advocates for, member artists and institutions throughout the Greater New Haven area. Visit the Arts Council at and follow the organization on Facebook ( and Twitter (NewHavenArts).

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