Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ways of looking: Phyllis Crowley's "Fields and Screens"

Paul Mellon Arts Center
333 Christian St., Wallingford, (203) 697-2000
Phyllis Crowley: Fields and Screens
Through Dec. 15, 2012.

Phyllis Crowley's show at the Paul Mellon Arts Center, Fields and Screens, injects landscape photography with a hearty dose of compositional conceptualism. Photography is always about looking, about visual choices, but Crowley's four series—Tilted Plane Series, A Wider View Series, Looking Glass Series and the Horizon Series—overtly foreground the act of looking.

She does this by embracing abstraction, by often choosing to compose around formal elements (shapes, lines and shadows) not so much to convey pictorial information as to marvel at formal relationships. For example, in "Coral Strip," part of her Horizon Series of sea-and-skyscapes, the strong horizon line is complemented by soft vertical shafts of light peeking through the clouds.

The Tilted Plane Series were all shot from the windows of banking planes. My favorites are "Mountain, Cloud, Shadow" and "May Hills and Valleys." The latter image edges most strongly toward abstraction with its alternating of light and dark land forms. In the former, a solitary cloud, seen from above, shadows the hills below. Snow-capped peaks dominate the middle distance and in the background we see the quilted layout of civilization.

Phyllis Crowley: "Red Sea"

The photos "Red Sea" and "Orange Tide," also part of the Horizon Series, are almost Rothko-like. In these two images, the singularity of the horizon line is deemphasized. What we see instead are varying horizontal bands of color both in the sky and reflecting on the water. This motif also animates "Evening Tide," albeit in a harsher, more high contrast way. Particularly interesting in this image is the almost optical illusion-like effect in the way bands of rippling water in the foreground look dark or light depending on whether they are crossing the path of the reflected sun.

This attention to the act of looking is most pronounced in the aptly named Looking Glass Series, which I wrote about when images from this series were shown at City Gallery in 2007. For these shots, Crowley photographed through windows—often smeared with condensation or grease—and screens. Conceptually, the Looking Glass Series comments on the fact that our viewpoints are always filtered, whether through a physical object like these windows or our preexisting perceptual prejudices.

A concept is all well and good as far as it goes. But Crowley's conceptual vision is backed up by an aesthetic vision. Two images shown side by side here—"Shards" and "Streamers"—not only challenge the viewer to pierce the filter but also reward the eye with a pleasing play of colors, lines and shapes.

The Wider View Series piques the viewer's curiosity in a different way. With all these images the content is presented as though constructed of overlapping images a la David Hockney, jagged, irregular edges and all. I write, "as though constructed with overlapping images," because they appear to be single, rather than multiple, images. This is another level of artifice. Where the images in the Horizon Series and the Looking Glass Series prod us to see in a more active way, the irregular framing of the Wider View Series seems designed to disrupt a strictly pictorial appreciation of these particular landscapes.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"No, Seriously," there's an opening at the Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery tomorrow evening

Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery
70 Audubon St., 2nd floor, New Haven, (203) 772-2788
No, Seriously
Dec. 14, 2012—Feb. 1, 2013.
Artists' reception: Thurs., Dec. 13, 5—7 p.m.

Press release from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven

Artwork by Beans Cunningham
The Arts Council of Greater New Haven presents No, Seriously, in the Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery, 70 Audubon St., 2nd floor, New Haven. This exhibition will be on display from Dec. 14, 2012 until Feb. 1, 2013. There will be an opening reception—that will also serve as a holiday party for the arts community—on Thurs., Dec. 13, from 5—7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

No, Seriously will feature works by Ian Applegate, Beans Cunningham, Raheem Nelson, and Vin Paneccasio.

The exhibition is sure to enliven the imagination with its whimsy, satire and artistry. While the artists come from varied backgrounds and have different styles, ranging from marker drawings to iPad renderings, the tradition of animation ties them all together. Debbie Hesse and Steve Olsen curated this winter show.

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Monday, December 03, 2012

On the sunny side of the street: Insook Hwang installation at A-Space Gallery; plus Three paintings by Tony Kosloski

West Cove Studio Gallery
30 Elm St., West Haven, (203) 627-8030
Insook Hwang: Best Wishes from the Magic Temple
Bright Logic: Three Paintings by Tony Kosloski Through Jan. 5, 2013.

New forms within old forms: that was my first thought in trying to process Insook Hwang's Best Wishes from the Magic Temple, currently on display at A-Space Gallery.

Hwang's playfully modular approach to design and installation melds contemporary references to science—primarily cellular biology—and digital technology with an irony-free New Age sunniness. This show grows one mega-installation out of numerous smaller—although not necessarily small—related installations, drawings and paintings.

Insook Hwang: "Jubilation" detail

These works—this work—is situated within the old form of a 20th Century industrial space: well-worn hardwood floors, brick walls and intersecting lines and diagonals of steel. Compared to the geometric precision of the space, Hwang's forms are amorphous, blob-like, suggestive of evolution and single-cell organisms. She uses repeated imagery—most notably in this show a couple of pictograms that evoke two figures dancing—to mimic the self-replication of cells.

But Hwang isn't just commenting on biological processes. She also creates fanciful living creatures—dinosaurs, a unicorn—and structures—a tower, a spaceship—out of linear forms loosely derived from computer monitors (at least, the old pre-flat screen type of monitors). What is "growing" is not just life but life informed by digital interconnectedness.

Insook Hwang: "Blue Dino"

Plenty of others have seen this developing social network in dark, dystopic ways but not Hwang. With her affection for pastel colors, glitter, suspended glass balls, hearts, flowers and lenticular overlays querying, "How are you?" and spelling out "love" in different languages, Hwang radiates buoyant, positive energy.


Also on display in the room behind the main gallery are three large, geometric abstract paintings by Tony Kosloski (Web), dating back to the late 1980's and early 1990's. These works completely defy the usual rectangular space of the painted composition. In fact, defiance of perceived space is the operative principle of these compositions.

Tony Kosloski: "to look at the center of things and find the illusion of difference" detail

The irregular panels struggle to contain the lines of force, bright colors and Escher-meets-psychedelia designs. All three paintings have a giddy, disorienting energy, as if the built environment is in a pell-mell rush to turn itself inside out.

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Landscape show opens Friday at Reynolds Fine Art in New Haven

Reynolds Fine Art
96 Orange St., New Haven, (203) 498-2200
Vista: A Study of the Land
Dec. 7, 2012—Jan. 31, 2013.
Opening Reception: Fri., Dec. 7, 5—8 p.m.

Press release from Reynolds Fine Art

Reynolds Fine Art is pleased to present Vista: A Study of the Land. This group exhibition will feature the work of nine national artists whose approach to landscape paintings are as diverse as their subject. Exhibiting artists are Peter Roux, Bradford Johnson, Gregory Kammerer, Sean Thomas, Margot Nimiroski, Scott Duce, Robert Reynolds, Kyle Andrew Philips and Christie Scheele.

Peter Roux: "The Mysteries No. 26"

Vista is a glimpse of nature as translated through the eyes and hands of nine unique artists. Tranquil, ethereal landscapes are juxtaposed with ones that show signs of a vigorous, ever changing world. While one artist may employ the practice of landscape painting as a retreat from modern life, to stand in awe of natural beauty and recall the ideologies of past masters of the genre, another artist looks at man's imprint on the land and embraces both the tension and harmony created. Each scene, however, captures obsession and memory in paint.

In technique, each artist's approach varies just as much as the land's terrain. Vista is composed of minimalist to highly obscured views of the world. A landscape may be recreated through a very controlled, pensive hand, or its atmosphere may be captured through embracing its unpredictable nature. Whether the landscape is used as the subject or simply as vehicle through which to explore the medium of painting, each image in this exhibition is sure to capture the viewer with its beauty and mystery. Not only are we invited to view the same landscape as the artists who painted it, but also to experience the same place in our own, individual way.

This opening is free and open to the public, and will coincide with the Ninth Square first Friday event, "ShineOn9."

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"GIVE ART" annual show and sale opens at City Gallery Saturday

City Gallery
994 State St., New Haven, (203) 782-2489
Dec. 6—23, 2012.
Opening Reception: Sat., Dec. 8, 2—6 p.m.

Press release from City Gallery

City Gallery is presenting its annual holiday GIVE ART exhibition. All works of art by gallery artist-members will be for sale at $100 each. This is an excellent opportunity to shop for a friend or add to a collection. The exhibit features paintings, prints, sculpture, mixed media, and photography by Amy Arledge, Judy Atlas, Meg Bloom, Phyllis Crowley, Jennifer Davies, Nancy Eisenfeld, Freddi Elton, Roberta Friedman, Barbara Harder, Jane Harris, Shelby Head, Sheila Kaczmarek, Kathy Kane, Mary Lesser, Susan Newbold, Tom Peterson, Paulette Rosen and Karen Wheeler.

The exhibit runs from Dec. 6—23. The Opening Reception is Sat., Dec. 8, from 2—6 pm.